I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

Publication Date: October 1st, 2017

“When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.”

Review:

Thank you to Kindle First for allowing me to read this book before the publication date in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was not for me. I tried and tried to get into it, but I struggled a lot. I finished it and I feel like I didn’t really even read anything. I was pretty disappointed with all of the things that went on through this story.

First, I had a really hard time with the characters. The characters intrigued me in the beginning with the story and how things were progressing, but as I got further and further in, I couldn’t find a character that I liked or related to. There were so many point-of-views that I found myself confused and having to restart.

Next, I didn’t really find this book to be all that grasping or mysterious. By the end, I was a little confused and the last chapter just tried to bring everything together. The writing definitely wasn’t my favorite thing, but it did have it’s moments.

Lastly, I think this book would have worked better if there was a difference in either the choice of main character or the plot. I think that this book had a lot of different promising qualities. There just wasn’t enough mmph in the characters or plot for me to thoroughly enjoy this book.

Rating: ★★

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Publication Date: August 8th, 2017

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.”

Review:

This book had a lot of promising qualities, but it fell a little short for me. There were so many things going on in this book that went along with things in today’s society, but it didn’t feel like it went above and beyond.

The characters were good. I enjoyed the brother and sister aspect even though they were stepbrother and sister. I really liked how they were an African American family marrying into a white family and how the author talked about how things were shown and how people would stare. It was parts like this that seemed very real.

The main character is bisexual. I was very happy with this because it seems that people think that bisexuality doesn’t exist. There are people out there that are attracted to both men and women. I was glad that the author did bring up another social problem from today’s society.

When it came to the actual story of what was going on, I felt like I kept getting stuck. I kept having to stop because it wasn’t grasping my attention. I flew through this book because it couldn’t really holding me. The story seemed a little flat. There were no twists or turns and it seemed a little boring.

I really liked the ending. The ending is where I felt like it did grab my attention. The problems that were occurring felt very real and could easily happen to anyone in real life. It honestly made my chest tighten and tear up a little. I applaud the author on a great, great ending.

Overall, this book was good, but it wasn’t my favorite. There were things that this book could’ve used with all the different platforms it represented, but I felt like it wasn’t there.

Rating: ★★★

Midnight At the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

“When a bookshop patron commits suicide, it’s his favorite store clerk who must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the ‘BookFrogs’—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.
But when youngest BookFrog Joey Molina kills himself in the bookstore’s upper level, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions: Trinkets and books, the detritus of a lonely, uncared-for man. But when Lydia pages through his books, she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?
As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago—and never completely left, as she discovers.” 

Review: 

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore was good! I enjoyed this spooky story since Halloween time is coming up! 

Lydia was so awesome. Her character went through so many things in her life and showed that she could be smart and powerful when it came to using her brain! She figured things out that I would never be able to. 

There are a lot of surprises in this book, especially towards the end. Some might say it was predictable, but I didn’t think so at all! It took me until it was right under my nose to understand what happened. 

I really enjoyed this story. It was something that I had never heard of or read before. I love the setting. Bookstores and libraries are my absolute favorite settings! Matthew Sullivan did a great job writing about the details of the bookstore. He wrote things that really grabbed my attention like “The sound of books hitting the floor from the second floor.” 

Overall, this book was spooky and suspenseful. I’d really recommend it to anyone especially those who like mysteries. 

Rating: ★★★★

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas

Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Publishing

One woman’s journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.

But Shirley Pratt–master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law–has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.”

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Marin Thomas for allowing to me have an arc before the publication date. 

This book was adorable! I didn’t know how I would feel after reading the synopsis, but I fell in love with the way Marin Thomas wrote this story.

After being served divorce papers from her husband who is away on business, Katelyn is forced to take her mother-in-law back to Little Springs. Shirley, Katelyn’s mother-in-law, always berates her and makes her feel like she wasn’t ever worth her son. After finding out the reasons why Katelyn and Don’s marriage ended, Shirley and Katelyn started to bond while in Katelyn’s hometown.

The stories that each individual character had were loving, sad, motivational, heartbreaking and more. There was a lot in this book that were extremely realistic. The ending of relationships, returning home to your parents, finding love whether you’re older or starting over, etc. Marin Thomas did a very good job on making it seem realistic.

There were some things in this book that pleasantly surprised me. There were some things that I just weren’t expecting and I think that it made the book better for me.

The characters didn’t shine for me all too much. I really enjoyed Katelyn, but they weren’t all like she was. There were things with the characters that I would change, but not too much that it would change the book drastically.

I think that this book definitely has great potential and I loved the story. I wasn’t really sure in the beginning what to think, but I’m glad I gave this one a try!

Rating: ★★★★

Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka

Published: August 1st, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.”

Review:

First, I want to say thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and Danya Kukafka for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story of how a small town suffers loss as a young girl, Lucinda Hayes, is found murdered at the local park. The story is told between three characters: Cameron, Jade, and Russ. Cameron is a young boy who’s father is an ex-cop who went AWOL, leaving him and his mother behind in this small town in Colorado. Jade is a girl who used to be friends with Lucinda. She used to be a lot of things before she secluded herself to only herself, her home, and her sister. She can barely take those things. Lastly, Russ is a current police officer working in that Colorado town. He watched many things throughout the years, including what happened to Cameron’s father, Lee. The three struggle through the death of Lucinda in their own ways, but intertwine and help each other along the way.

The first thing I want to talk about is the cover. Goodness, it’s beautiful. The cover was the first thing that drew me to this book in the first place. After reading the synopsis, it sounded like a book that I would really enjoy. Originally, this book wasn’t marked as young adult, but personally, I believe it should be classified as such. It’s a high school story that anyone would enjoy.

I want to congratulate Danya Kukafka on having such a beautiful debut novel. She really wrote each character delicately, making sure that they seemed like they were living the lives that she had for them. I appreciate when there is more than one character in a book because it’s easy to forget when there’s only one. With three characters, the going back and forth between them all really kept my attention.

The only thing that saddens me is that I feel like there was just something missing. I think it was towards the end, I was waiting for a certain thing to happen between a few people, and it unfortunately never did. It might be just more of a personal preference of what I wanted to happen, but it fell a little short.

Overall, I gave this book 4 stars because it was a great read. The characters throughout were amazing and I really loved a lot of the scenes that Kukafka had written. I wish I could’ve given this five stars, but there were some things missing for me.

Rating: ★★★★

Irish King by Dahlia Rose

Published: February 28th, 2017

“Son. Successor. Enforcer. Alone.

Ian ‘King’ Mordha, son of Collin Mordha, runs one of the biggest crime families in Chicago. If he obeys his father’s wishes and accepts his role, he could lose something he didn’t even know he wanted. One freezing cold night he saved a life and changed his own, but there’s a cost.

Sunshine. Hope. Enemy. Love?

Kiya Gunn, sister of a cop, and a teacher at Chicago’s Art School for Disabled Children. She sees behind the mask to who he really is, his strength far outweighs the power of his fists. The gentleness in his heart belies the cruelty associated with his name.

Family vs Their Rivals with Kiya in the middle.

With a turf war brewing against their rivals. Can he keep her safe or will he lose the only sunshine in his life? Or worse, will he pay the ultimate price to keep the woman he loves safe?”

Review:

Irish mob life in Chicago. Moral of the story. Ian ‘King’ Mordha and Kiya Gunn meet when he saves her from being attacked after clubbing. They keep meeting each other after their initial meeting. That’s when Kiya drops the bomb that her brother is a police officer in the city of Chicago and is basically trying to bring down the mob.

This story was a different contemporary romance. It was more of a war between romance and mob vs. police. There were different stories throughout. It was King vs. his enemies, King vs. Kiya in romance, King vs. his father, King vs. his own head, etc. There were so many things going on, and I really liked that.

However, I had to give this book a lower rating because of the dialogue. I think everything was really well done except for the dialogue. It seemed stilted as some parts and even left me confused a couple of times.

Rating: ★★★

The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick

Published: July 4th, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins

“The New York Times-bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook offers a timely novel featuring his most fascinating character yet, a Vietnam vet embarking on a quixotic crusade to track down his nemesis from the war.

After sixty-eight-year-old David Granger crashes his BMW, medical tests reveal a brain tumor that he readily attributes to his wartime Agent Orange exposure. He wakes up from surgery repeating a name no one in his civilian life has ever heard—that of a Native American soldier whom he was once ordered to discipline. David decides to return something precious he long ago stole from the man he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. It might be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It might also help him finally recover from his wife’s untimely demise.

As David confronts his past to salvage his present, a poignant portrait emerges: that of an opinionated and goodhearted American patriot fighting like hell to stay true to his red, white, and blue heart, even as the country he loves rapidly changes in ways he doesn’t always like or understand. Hanging in the balance are Granger’s distant art-dealing son, Hank; his adoring seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella; and his best friend, Sue, a Vietnamese-American who respects David’s fearless sincerity.

Through the controversial, wrenching, and wildly honest David Granger, Matthew Quick offers a no-nonsense but ultimately hopeful view of America’s polarized psyche. By turns irascible and hilarious, insightful and inconvenient, David is a complex, wounded, honorable, and loving man. The Reason You’re Alive examines how the secrets and debts we carry from our past define us; it also challenges us to look beyond our own prejudices and search for the good in us all.”

Review:

The Reason You’re Alive involves a sixty-eight year old Vietnam veteran who has a brain tumor. Once he gets his surgery, things in life seem to matter more now than they did before. He has a son named Hank who has a daughter named Ella. He doesn’t like Hank so much, but Ella is his world. He is an honest American man, who doesn’t like any other race than his. He hates how America is run, especially since he’s a veteran. During the time of his brain tumor, he learns the truth about family and friends, and how to continue life in a happy way.

Matthew Quick did it again. I love him and his books so much. I might be a little biased because he is a local from where I am from, so he always puts different things about Philadelphia and South Jersey in his books. This book was the longest I’ve ever taken to read one of his books. However, once I sat down and really got started, I couldn’t stop.

David Granger is a man who no one really would like in today’s society. He seems like he would be one of the guys in the Facebook videos you keep seeing when people record racists. He doesn’t care. He fought for the country. He only wants Americans. I really had a problem liking David. I had to keep putting this book down, taking deeeeeeep breaths, and returning to it. I think that it’s really important to acknowledge that I’m not giving this a bad rating because I didn’t like the character. A book is about feeling a way towards something or someone; it’s about bringing forth knowledge on a topic that you didn’t really know about. Matthew Quick made me feel for David. He made me hate him. He made me switch my mind. He made me watch him see all of these important lessons and epiphanies at age sixty-eight. I think only a really good author can do that.

There were times where I really felt like David was my grandfather. I felt like I was reading a handwritten story for future generations to read. The writing style that Matthew Quick had David portray really made him feel realistic. I felt like I was waiting for a phone call from him.

Lastly, being a Philly girl, I love all of the acknowledgements towards Philadelphia. I love that he brought up going to Phillies games as a kid, hating the Dallas Cowboys, going over the Ben Franklin Bridge, etc. It’s all so real to me. I love that he does that in every book he writes. It’s like he doesn’t forget where he’s from, and when you become a celebrity of sorts, its important to remember that.

Overall, I love this book. I finished it and was very happy with how everything was in the end. Matthew Quick hasn’t failed me yet, and I’m excited to see his next book, whenever that may be.

Rating: ★★★★★

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen

Published: March 23rd, 2017
Publisher: 
Headline Publishing

GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen is a chilling, twisty, compulsive thriller about a woman whose boyfriend has vanished. Fans of I LET YOU GO and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be gripped.

No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you”

Review:

First, I’d like to thank Netgalley, Headline Publishing, and Mary Torjussen for sending me an advanced copy to read in exchange for an honest review. I know that the book was published back in March, but here is my review!

The beginning of this book definitely caught my attention. Hannah goes to work one day, very happy and content with life. When she returns home, her world is shattered when she not only finds her boyfriend not there, but no trace of him. At all. She moves around the house not finding anything of his. Pictures, clothes, etc., are all gone. I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d be furious, hurt, numb, and lastly, inquisitive of where and why he left.

After that initial grab, I really struggled through the middle section of the book. I feel like I didn’t really connect to any of the characters and I didn’t really like them either. I feel like there were just filler words being put there instead of substance that the book needed. From 20% in, I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. Even though my page number was increasing, I wasn’t grasping really anything new. If you are a fan of slow burn, this is a really slow burn.

After contemplating stopping a few times, I decided that I just wanted to see how it ended. I could finish it in a few hours if I really sat down and read it. I reached 70%, and I was so happy that something finally happened. I’ve never given up on a book, so, I was excited to see something catch my attention. However, it was a little short lived. I saw some other things coming from some foreshadowing earlier in the book, but there was one specific part that I did not see coming. I was grateful for that.

Overall, I wasn’t a big fan of this novel. This was described as a gripping, twisty, chilling and compulsive. Looking back at this book, I would say that it was somewhat twisty, but the rest, I didn’t see it being like that. Thank you again for the advanced copy!

Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

Accidentally On Purpose by S.E. Hall, Ashley Suzanne

Published: June 8th, 2017

“After a business conference, Jameson Chancellor, CEO of Chancellor Chemicals, opts for a road trip versus plane ride home… enjoying the prolonged company of his personal assistant, Brenna Dillinger.

When a freak, weather-related accident traps the pair together overnight, in very close quarters, long-hidden feelings and desires emerge. Professional lines are crossed, relationships blurred… and windows fogged.

A perfect pair forced together… accidentally on purpose.”

Review:

I loved the idea of this story. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it.

I understand that this book is a novella. It’s supposed to be fast-paced because of the page count. However, with this type of story, I think I would’ve made it just a little bit longer. It was almost too fast-paced where I was losing the excitement over the story. If the author wrote about what happened before or even after what happened, I think I would’ve liked it a little better than I did.

I love Brenna. She is a sassy, hot-headed woman who doesn’t care what she says. She was my favorite character. I think the author should’ve used her a little more in this book.

Rating: ★★★