Monday, March 25, 2019

The Reckoning (Children’s House #2) by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir




Publication: February 12, 2019

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Source: Purchased My Own Copy



Synopsis:

The Reckoning is the stunning follow-up to The Legacy, which was the start of a thrilling new series that Booklist (starred) recommends for fans of Tana French. 

Vaka sits, regretting her choice of coat, on the cold steps of her new school. Her father appears to have forgotten to pick her up, her mother has forgotten to give her this week’s pocket money, and the school is already locked for the day. Grownups, she decides, are useless.

With no way to call home, she resigns herself to waiting on the steps until her father remembers her. When a girl approaches, Vaka recognizes her immediately from class, and from her unusual appearance: two of her fingers are missing. The girl lives at the back of the school, on the other side of a high fence, and Vaka asks to call her father from the girl's house. That afternoon is the last time anyone sees Vaka.

Detective Huldar and child psychologist Freyja are called in. Soon, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.

From the international number one-bestselling author of The Silence of the Sea, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel Yrsa Sigurdardottir returns with the follow-up to The Legacy.



******

This was the first time that I dipped my toe into the international crime novel world and I have to say I'm not even a little bit disappointed. Well I am disappointed that I didn't try this sooner than I did.

The Reckoning was a very well done crime novel. This is the second book in The Children’s House series. I did not read the first book, The Legacy before reading The Reckoning though. There were events that took place in The Legacy that were referenced a few times in this book and even though I didn't know exactly what happened previously, it didn't hinder my experience while reading The Reckoning.

The story starts in the past, where a horrible crime was committed and then we fast forward several years later where we get to see the further effects that that crime has had on several people in this story. We also become entangled in another crime that may or may not be connected. One that might be predicting future murders….

It was hard for me to keep the names straight at first, but after a few chapters I got it down. I really enjoyed getting to know the two main characters Huldar and Freyja. They have very different personalities. They are flawed, but they’re also both smart and determined people. Not to mention, they work well together. The author, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir does a great job of creating a solid mystery and weaving clues throughout the story while connecting all of these characters and their situations. One thing I was super excited about was that I never guessed who the killer was. This mystery kept me guessing all the way to the end. Even after I thought I knew what was going to happen and how things were going to play out...That ending threw me for yet another loop! Well done.




RATING: 4½ out of 5.




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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward



Publication: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Park Row Books/Harlequin
Source: Publisher

Synopsis:
In the most explosive and twisted psychological thriller since The Woman in the Window, a beautiful marriage turns beautifully bad.
Things that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry... That something is really, really wrong with me.
Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.
From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

******

It all started with an emotional 911 phone call and a visit by the police to a quiet well-manicured neighborhood...
Beautiful Bad had a really good beginning that grabbed my attention. I would consider this book to be more of a slow burn suspense/thriller story. The book is told mainly from Maddie’s point of view along with Ian’s POV jumping in here and there as the book progresses.
Maddie was an interesting character to get to know; though I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters. That’s probably the point with a book like this.  My only major complaint was that there were times when I questioned why Maddie and Ian were even together. I didn’t really believe in their love story.
Aside from that, I thought that Beautiful Bad was well written and the author did a good job of building suspense and creating intriguing characters. I liked how the story flip-flops between the past and the present; before the incident and after the incident; which helped to draw the suspense out. I thought I pretty much had it all figured out on how everything would end. I was right about some things, but there were a couple surprises and twists at the end that I hadn’t expected.


RATING: 3½ out of 5.



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Friday, March 15, 2019

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella




Publication: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Dial Press / Random House
Source: Publisher

Synopsis:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything
Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.
So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?
Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?


******

I found that I struggled a bit to connect to Fixie. I liked her in the beginning. But as the story progressed, her personality started to gradually annoy me. She was a bit of a doormat. She constantly allowed people to walk all over her and by people, I mean mainly her brother and sister. They pretty much treat her like she is an idiot.
There were several occasions where Fixie had the opportunity to speak up and put someone in their place, however she just couldn’t go through with it. Even though Fixie may know how to argue with someone in her head, when it comes to reality she shrinks, she stammers, and she basically just lets the offending party get away with whatever they were doing.
It took me a couple of tries, but once I kept reading and got halfway through the story, things started to pick up and improve for Fixie and the people around her. Her character grew and she developed more of a backbone. Overall, I thought Fixie was an okay character. She’s smart, determined, and capable. I loved how sweet and caring she was to everyone she met. Of course I can’t forget to mention the romance! Fixie and Sebastian have really good chemistry. From the moment they met in the coffee shop, I was anxious to see their romance unfold. The ending did not disappoint.
Though I Owe You One wasn’t my favorite book by Sophie Kinsella, I did enjoy the author’s writing style and thought this was a cute romance. Her Shopaholic series still manages to be one of my favorites!


RATING: 3 out of 5.


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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare



Publication: March 5, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Source: Publisher

Synopsis:

In this propulsive, twist-filled, and haunting psychological suspense debut perfect for fans of Sharp Objects and Room, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played on the night her life changed forever.

For the past two weeks, seventeen-year-old Kate Bennet has lived against her will in an isolated cabin in a remote beach town--brought there by a mysterious man named Bill. Part captor, part benefactor, Bill calls her Evie and tells her he's hiding her to protect her. That she did something terrible one night back home in Melbourne--something so unspeakable that he had no choice but to take her away. The trouble is, Kate can't remember the night in question. 

The fragments of Kate's shattered memories of her old life seem happy: good friends, a big house in the suburbs, a devoted boyfriend. Bill says he'll help her fill in the blanks--but his story isn't adding up. And as she tries to reconcile the girl she thought she'd been with the devastating consequences Bill claims she's responsible for, Kate will unearth secrets about herself and those closest to her that could change everything. 

A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind, Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth, even from ourselves.


******


I was confused during the first few chapters. The way the story started, I kept wondering what the heck was going on here. But I'm glad I kept reading. As the story progressed, I became more interested. No character comes across very likeable here. And Evie didn't seem to have much of a personality to me until towards the end. Maybe that was because she couldn't remember much of what happened "that night"? There are some flashbacks of before and after, so I was able to see glimpses into her life before she called herself Evie. She remembers bits and pieces gradually, but can she remember it all before it is too late?


The more I read, the more curious I became and wanted to find out what happened and who the actual cause of all the trouble really was. I don't want to give too much away because this story is best to go into somewhat blindly and to discover clues for yourself along the way.


When reading Call Me Evie, I thought I knew where the story was headed. How it would end. But I didn't know. That's the thing with this story. You'll think you know something....you'll think you have it all figured out, but you won't. Not fully. Not until you reach the end. Call Me Evie is a unique and suspenseful tale that held my curiosity and kept me turning the pages wanting needing to know what happened.



RATING: 3-3½ out of 5.
                                    


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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Romantic Quickie: The Date Dare by Tara Sue Me




Publication: November 19, 2018
Publisher: After Six Publishing, Co.
Source: Publisher


Synopsis:
Who knew three words held such destructive power? No, not THOSE three words. I'm talking about the evil word trio that's my own personal kryptonite, that stole my best friend, and took away the only woman I've ever loved:
I dare you.


I was six when Darcy Patrick moved next door.
By the time we were eight, we were best friends.

At fifteen, I gave a classmate a black eye for calling her names.
At sixteen, she talked me through asking my crush to prom.

I helped her get over her first heartbreak at nineteen.
Two years later, she returned the favor.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine I realized I loved her.
And because I was too stupid to do anything about it,
at thirty, I lost her for good on a dare.

Darcy Patrick is tired of watching her best friend, Elliott Taber, date the wrong kind of woman. When his latest flavor of the month walks out on him, she dares him to let her find his next date. Elliott agrees, but only after Darcy agrees to allow him to do the same.

The dare is on.

The dates take place on the same night. One is an epic fail. The other is just plain epic.

Elliott isn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions hitting him as Darcy seemingly finds everything she ever wanted with the man he set her up with. He should be happy for her. He should leave her alone.

But he can’t.

So he makes one more dare….
 


******

The Date Dare is a short and sweet story revolving around two lifelong friends, Darcy and Elliot. Darcy is an international hotel chain expert and Elliot is a trainer for a professional lacrosse team. Throughout the past 25 years, they have always kept in touch.

Elliot's never been one to settle down into long-term relationships. And because Darcy feels like she knows him better than anyone, she dares Elliott to let her find him a date. Someone who she feels would be a good fit for him. Never one to resist a good dare, Elliot agrees to it on the condition that he is allowed to do the same thing for her.

Darcy and Elliott have a great friendship. You can see how close they are by their interactions. Watching each of them go on their dates was a fun and interesting aspect to the story. But no matter who they went out with or what they did, I was just waiting for that moment when Elliott would realize that he no longer could be on the sidelines when it came to his love for Darcy.

Even though The Date Dare is a short story, it didn’t feel rushed and the characters were easy to like. If you are in the mood for a little romantic pick me up, then read The Date Dare. And while you are at it, check out The Date Deal, the second book involving Elliot’s sister, Carsen.



RATING: 3½ out of 5.
                                    



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Monday, February 18, 2019

The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy




Publication: February 18, 2019
Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc.
Source: Author/Publisher


Synopsis:
A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy. THE RISK takes you back to the world of hot hockey players, feisty heroines, bro banter, and steamy scenes... 

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.


******

I fell in love with Brenna. Beyond her gorgeous looks, she is smart, sarcastic, independent, and very sure of herself. When she wants something she isn’t afraid to go after it.  Even though things in her life hadn’t always gone to plan, she’s determined to turn things around. She’s not afraid to enter into a profession that is mostly dominated by men. I loved her fearlessness and determination.


Jake is smart, witty, and on track to play with a professional hockey team once he’s finished college. He is the top college hockey player at the moment. He lives and breathes hockey. Not only is he really good at hockey, he is equally good looking. And he knows it too. He’s never had to work hard to get a woman’s attention. Until now. Jake’s trying to maintain his good grades at college and still excel in hockey. Brenna comes into his world and shakes things up a bit. He wasn’t expecting that. Well, neither one of them was expecting it.


I loved their back and forth banter. There wasn’t a chapter that I wasn’t smiling or laughing at or with these two. They’re attracted to each other from the beginning, but there was a gradual buildup to their relationship. It wasn’t instant. Despite the fact that Brenna is against having something real with Jake, their chemistry was off the charts.  There was no way that I could do anything but root for these two to get their HEA. The Risk is the second book in the Briar U series, but it was the first book I read by Elle Kennedy. I will definitely be checking out her previous books.



RATING: 4½ out of 5.




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