Our House by Louise Candlish- a 5/5 Star Review!

Fiona (Fi) Lawson and her husband Bram have separated but are trying a “Bird’s Nest” custody agreement in order to have shared parenting of their two boys. One parent is at an apartment while the other parent has their time with the kids at their enviable home in a well-known suburb. This way the kids are always at the house and the effort for stability is enforced as each parent takes turns between the house and the apartment. They try their best to keep everything together in a civil manner for the kids. That is until everything fell apart.

One day Fi comes to the house for her turn with the kids but someone else is moving into her house and her husband and children are nowhere to be found. How can everything turn upside down in an instant? When the rug gets pulled out from under you by those you trust.

This story is told through alternating perspectives between Fi in a podcast transcript format and Bram in a Word document. It was a unique way to read a story that I had not experienced before but once I got used to it, I enjoyed it. I honestly can’t decide if I liked the comments that were added at the end of each segment of Fi’s podcast with usernames and comments but they did eventually grow on me as the comments became funnier. It kind of reminded me of the comedian Jim Gaffigan and how he imitates what he thinks the audience thinks of him during his skits. It also reminded me somewhat of Shakespeare’s use of the chorus as a character in some of his plays.

Although some of the surprises were predictable, there is so much going on as the complex plot builds that it is almost a relief to have the main character, Fi, discover these secrets. The storyline accelerates as the pieces begin to fit together so, as a warning to my fellow readers, it is increasingly harder to put down the further into it you get. This is a twofold story about loyalty: between spouses and between friends. A balance between renewed faith and betrayal. I highly recommend it for adult readers that enjoy a thrilling plot and betrayal.

For those who may be sensitive/triggered: there are themes of violence, murder, road rage, manipulation, fraud, adultery, sexually suggestive scenarios (mild), bullying, suicide, and alcohol abuse.

Please note: an electronic ARC copy of this novel was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Believe Me by JP Delaney- a 4/5 star review!

Claire Wright is a British immigrant in NYC with a passion for acting.  While waiting for her big break, she moonlights helping a private investigator catch cheating spouses.  Until one night, a client is brutally murdered.  Was Claire the last person to see the client alive?  Did Claire go too far and commit murder?

Another great book by JP Delaney! I should have known better than to think I had Believe Me all figured out halfway through.  It is a roller coaster ride with an epic conclusion.  This book is only similar to his previous book, The Girl Before, was my favorite book of 2017 because of it’s twisted ending that had me floored.   It is very heavy on theater as a whole as well as heavily focused on the poet Charles Baudelaire making the extreme research very apparent.

However, I did take one star away because although the main character, Claire, was dark and complex, I couldn’t feel connected to her.  She seemed very self-centered and shallow for most of the book.  This is told mostly in Claire’s perspective with the occasional input from other characters in script form (again, heavily focused on theater).

For those who may be sensitive to certain themes or triggered: there was mild foul language, graphic violence, sexually explicit scenarios, mental illness, stalking, and manipulation.

Please note: An electronic ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian-a 5/5 Star Review!

Cassie Bowden is a flight attendant known to flirt and known to drink. Commonly known to end up blackout drunk and wake up next to a strange man in a strange city. But this time, she wakes up next to a strange dead man in a strange city. Did she murder him while she was blackout drunk or did someone else murder him and spare her?

YIKES! This book was so intense and the last few chapters things went by so quickly yet tied everything up well. I have already told several people to start reading this book immediately (if not sooner) so that I can finally have someone to talk to about this book! I had hoped for one surprise. I had not expected there to be so many! It does get a bit redundant on Cassie’s routine (alcohol, men, alcohol, men) and a bit long-winded on Elena’s background, however, it is all important in building up to the climax of the novel. The Flight Attendant is very well written and I wish I could go back in time so I could read this book fresh again. I would recommend this book for adult readers who enjoy fast-paced thrillers.

For those who may be triggered/offended: there were sexually explicit scenarios, mild foul language, heavy alcohol abuse, childhood trauma, graphic violence, murder and rape.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft-A 3/5 Star Review

Leah Mills has a life under the radar without friends, partners, or hardly any activity at all. Her only companion is the shame from a traumatic event that happened years ago that has haunted her ever since. She has her quiet job then goes home to her quiet apartment and quietly reads every quiet night of her quiet life. Get the picture?

But one day, she decides she’s had enough of the loneliness and quiet, so she tries an online dating chat website in the hopes of communicating with people she would never meet. Little does she know, this opens Pandora’s Box.

This book jumps from the plot of what happened leading up to the traumatic event in high school to coping with adulthood with the weight of the guilt from that horrific night. This was a bit frustrating for me as a reader because her modern-day adult life was mundane and the idea that she is miserable and alone is beat into the reader’s head. When the story flashes back to her time in high school, she also has that teenage angst of being misunderstood and left behind. The book was so melancholy that it was hard for me to read too much of it at one time.

It was also confusing at times with the present day as she reaches out to people from her past because they kept talking about how awful she is without much support. I understand it is the suspense of what actually happened but it, at times, felt like it exaggerated the concept that everyone hated her. It is not until the last 10%-15% of the book that the reader discovers what happened that night but, even then, the reason for her constant rejection by others is not clear until the very last chapter of the book. However, what does happen does clear a lot of things up (except for how is she not imprisoned? Surely with certain details it would be clear that it was intentional?).

The last thing I did not like: the title. I’m not really sure what it has to do with anything. It seemed like perhaps it would be about someone in the Witness Protection Program or someone with amnesia, but neither apply and it doesn’t seem to fit at all.

All in all, I don’t hate the book, but I don’t want to rave about how great it is either. It’s a book that I am glad that I finished, however, for those that did not finish it-I get it. It definitely drags and is confusing, especially at the beginning. I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended or triggered by the following: violence, murder, rape, sexually suggestive scenarios, stalking, bullying, or foul language.

Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. (Sorry it took me almost 3 years to read it!)

A Lady In Shadows (A Madeleine Karno Mystery #2) by Lene Kaaberbol- a 3/5 Star Review!

Madeleine Karno, a.k.a. “Doctor Death”, is female forensic pathologist in the late 1800s. She also finds herself to be an investigator as one particular case of a murdered prostitute whose abdomen was destroyed. Faced with constant scrutiny based on her being a female, Madeleine is determined to find the young woman’s murderer.

This book is extremely detailed in the scientific aspects where the author has clearly done a lot of research not only in forensic pathology but for obstetrics. Furthermore, it is extremely detailed in the historical aspects which may have history buffs rejoicing. However, it is also heavy with multiple concepts thrown into it which can be confusing at times. I understand that the author was probably trying to point out how very different life was in the 19th century. Especially for a female, a bisexual, and a prostitute-these are actually three different characters. Yet, to me it felt distracting. For example: I am still not really sure what the point of Madeleine’s fiancee’s former male lover had to do with the story. It seemed to be yet another (forced) example of what a wonderful character Madeleine is in her willingness to still be with her fiancee as she would have to provide for him once they were married because this would otherwise put him exile. A lot of the book has to do with other characters complimenting the main character on her strength, intelligence, persistence, caring nature, fearlessness, and her slim figure. Personally, I found her to be my least favorite character as she came across as spoiled, quick to anger, disrespectful, and insufferable.

Although this book is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone. I was not even aware that this was the second book in a series until I went to write the review. For those who are fans of audio CDs and/or audiobooks in general, I would recommend listening to this book on AudioCD or audiobook. Nicola Barber does a wonderful job narrating the book and her inflections and varying voices greatly contribute to the overall tone of the book.

Conversely, I would not recommend this book for anyone who may be triggered or offended by the following: graphic violence, kidnapping, murder, abortion, prostitution, infidelity, sexual scenarios, and anti-feminism. Moreover, if you find that trauma to the eye is especially offensive (like I do), be warned that there is an especially graphic scene involving that horrific concept.

Please note: an audioCD of this book was generously provided by LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

I Know My Name by C. J. Cooke-a 4/5 Star Review!

Washed up on shore with nothing but scrapes and bruises only to discover that the island is as deserted as her memory. The main character is rescued by 4 other people who happen to be on the vacant island for a writer’s retreat. As she struggles to remember anything about herself, even her own name, she also struggles to survive as not everyone on the island is as helpful as they initially seemed.

The story does get very deep as well as jump around a lot from past to present as well as between characters. Mostly between Eloise and Lochlan, her husband who is desperate to find her-alive. Although a time or two it moves into Gerda’s, Eloise’s grandmother’s, narrative. Once I read past the first two-thirds of the book, then it became very hard to put down as everything begins to come together quickly. The last 10% or so is very detail heavy and focused on mental illness which I appreciated, however, it is a big change in tone of the story as it begins to feel more like a lecture on mental illness rather than a work of fiction. On the other hand, it does wrap up the story in a warm manner.

My favorite character was Max. He seemed to portray the polar opposite of what Eloise’s childhood was as well as the “red rope” that tethered Eloise to her own self. He was so pure, so hopeful, so precious.

The only thing that I felt took away from the story was the red herring that brought forward a side of Lochlan that wasn’t really necessary. It was almost a red herring and a half as it is in regards to two side characters that I felt were pretty weak.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy psychological thrillers. I would also recommend this book for readers who are fascinated by mental illness.

Conversely, I would not recommend this book for readers who my be sensitive or triggered by: mental illness, drug abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse to children, rape, violence, self-harm, parental abandonment, cyber invasions of privacy, and infidelity.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.

Poison by Galt Niederhoffer- DNF at 20%

There are too many great books out there for me to waste time on books like Poison. It felt like I was reading a basic outline of a piece of fiction rather than a completed novel. I skimmed through a lot of this 20% that I did read because the writing style is excessive yet basic. For example, when describing the wife it was something along the lines of saying she’s a former single mother of two, now baby makes three, and new husband makes a family of five. She works from home, requiring a babysitter so she can work while at home, working on the household chores while working, baby screaming while she’s on the phone, covering the phone with her hand to block out the screams, yet keeping a professional tone despite the maternal desire to soothe the baby.

I wish I could say that was an extreme example, however, I do not think it was that far of a stretch. It was excessively wordy yet not really revealing anything. The new husband is also excessive. He is over the top in the examples of how seemingly perfect he is supposed to be that I already did not trust him within the first few pages. It is clear that he is a bad guy, but what is not clear yet is why and how. I am sure that is further discussed in the book but, quite frankly, I just don’t care.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free from the Publisher via NetGalley in exhcange for an honest review (thank you!).