Three Stars

Review: Lies by T.M. Logan

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Book: Lies by T.M. Logan [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Format: eBook, free copy from NetGalley for review
Rating: 3.5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES?
When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

What an interesting premise for a thriller! I don’t know about you guys, but as someone who almost solely reads thrillers, I sometimes get meh about them. This one stood out to me. The synopsis drew me in immediately. And it promised lots of twists and turns AND family drama! LOOOOVE!

When I started the book, though, it took a few chapters for me to get into it. I never found myself wanting to sneak in more reading time throughout my day, but I also was not making myself read it. It took about 15% of the book to start to really get my groove with it and about 40% of the book before I was completely hooked. After that, though, it was an incredibly quick read.

What I liked about the way Logan wrote this book was that I couldn’t tell WHO I could trust. Was the son, William, even trustworthy? Sometimes I wasn’t sure if we were dealing with a naive narrator, an unreliable one, or a combination of the two. I do know that no matter what you think is happening, give it a few more pages, and you’ll start to second guess yourself. This is a good combination of predictable thriller story with some nice twists and turns to take you out of the element.

Logan has a good writing style and I look forward to checking out more from him in the future. HIs characters were well written, overall, but I never found myself rooting for someone. However, there’s no reason I need to root for someone in every book I read. It can help with keeping me wanting to read, though.

The cover really drew me in. The blue with the yellow font is really eye-catching and having the father/son at the top of stairs really makes you start to wonder what the “lies” are about. Definitely a great cover for a decent thriller.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


 

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Monthly Recap

January 2019 Overview

I spent a decent amount of time in January reading, not as much time blogging. But I’m tired of making excuses for not blogging. Let’s just keep doing our best this year, shall we?

In the month of January, I read 4 books:

  1. Lies She Told :: Audiobook from Audible (the last one I purchased in March 2018, actually, before canceling my subscription as I wasn’t listening to audiobooks as much)
  2. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark :: Phyiscal nonfiction that I had started in 2018
  3. The Third Wife :: Audiobook from Audible my mom had purchased
  4. Cross Her Heart :: Physical BOTM book

I ended the month of January being on task to finish 50 books for the year. I gave the first three books of the year 4 stars and the last book of January 3 stars. I am pleased with the amount read and I hope to stay on this same path.

Let’s do an overview of my 2019 goals:

  1. Read 50 books :: 4/50 and on track according to Goodreads
  2. Purchase new shelves :: Not yet! It will probably happen later in the year. We want to do some reorganizing in our den area first.
  3. No new Netgalley books until at 80% :: Uh…fail. Claire Allan has a new book and I had to have it! It’s technically already out (I read the publishing date wrong or I would have waited) but I’ll have a review up ASAP! It will be my next read.
  4. 3 blog posts a week :: Yeah, nah. I think I should have initially made this goal “blog more often”. I’ll probably make that change.
  5. Read 5 new to me authors: 3/4 I read were authors I’ve never read before. 2/3 I had heard of before. I’m not sure what I meant by this goal initially but it will probably be met this month.
  6. Read 5 nonfiction books :: 1/4 was a nonfiction book.

Overall, I’m happy with my progress!

 

I didn’t have a goal for not buying books in January. I really didn’t think I would want to buy many. However…I surprised myself when I looked at my list!

  1. The Silent Patient :: BOTM choice
  2. Silent Child :: Audible (techincally free as I got a free month for starting my subscription back up)
  3. The Haunting of Hill House :: Kindle deal
  4. The Library Book :: Amazon
  5. Apple of my Eye :: Netgalley
  6. Lies She Told :: The Bookceller (semi-local used book store) – I couldn’t pass up the physical version even though I just listened to the audio.
  7. Out of Oz :: The Bookcellar (semi-local used book store)
  8. Behind Her Eyes :: Books-a-Million (on sale)
  9. The Mars Room :: Books-a-Million (on sale)

Now, I’m going to put the books I read in order from favorite to least favorite:

  1. The Third Wife
  2. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
  3. Lies She Told 
  4. Cross Her Heart

What was your favorite book you read in January? Least favorite?

Book Talk

Unread Books: Book of the Month Edition

When I decided to use The Bookworm Life planner for 2019, I saw some others using the dot grid pages to keep an updated list of the books they own that they have not read. I did this myself and it was incredibly eye-opening. I have a list of all the books I own — physical, Kindle, Audible — in my planner and I am highlighting them as I read them throughout the year. I am not adding books to the list; this was just for my pre-2019 collection.

One of the sections I made was my Book of the Month books. BOTM is currently my only book subscription, though I’m toying adding another soon. I love BOTM. I love the set up of it and the choices. There are occasionally months where there isn’t a book I want, but for the most part, they throw a book at me that I may have skipped over initially but by them highlighting it, I was able to find a new book/sometimes author for me to check out.

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I currently have 13 unread Book of the Month books. They are:

  1. The Secret History
  2. Still Lives
  3. The Chalk Man
  4. Sweet Little Lies
  5. Cross Her Heart
  6. No Exit
  7. The Music Shop
  8. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
  9. The Clockmaker’s Daughter
  10. Missing, Presumed
  11. Our Kind of Cruelty
  12. The Broken Girls
  13. The Silent Patient (my first 2019 BOTM selection)

My plan is to read at least one of these each month throughout the year. I am contemplating pausing my subscription until I get more of these read. However, I really enjoy that book mail, so as long as I am reading one a month, I am okay with another coming in.

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First up, I am reading Cross Her Heart. This was the bookclub selection for the mother/daughter book club I’ve started with my mom and sister.

Also to assist me in getting my BOTM books read, I have joined the #unreadbotmchallenge on Instagram, hosted by Novel Gossip and Reading Between  The Wines. It’s nice to see everyone’s backlog of BOTM books and to have people to cheer you on as you tackle through this list.

Are you part of the Book of the Month club? How many books are on your unread BOTM shelf?

Two Stars

Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

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Book: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Format: eBook, free copy from NetGalley for review
Rating: 2 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

 

This was my first time reading a B.A. Paris book. I have her other books on my Kindle to read. I was so excited to check this one out! It has a great synopsis, a great beginning, and I love me some Russian Nesting Dolls. However…this book did not deliver for me. And it made me want to get rid of any of the Rusian Nesting Dolls I have in my collection.

This had a great start. Good character development, beautifully written, and an interesting plot. I was completely 100% enthralled for the first 50%, still going strong for the next 30% or so, but those last few chapters just lost it for me. The ending is just ridiculous and honestly knocked a star off my final rating.

I like a book where the characters stick with me. And while I did take a few months to finally write this after reading the book, the names trigger not one memory. The only thing I remember is the ending and how frustrating it was.

This book had great potential. And I see a lot of hope in B. A. Paris’s writing so I will read her previous two books. I will have to decide after I read those if she will be an author worth checking out again in the future.

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The cover, however, is spectacular! Both of the covers I have seen are very interesting and appeal to me. I just wish what was between the covers had fulfilled the promise the cover + synopsis gave me.

 

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Talk

Series I plan to read this year

I don’t read a lot of series books. I much prefer stand-alone books. I like the idea of a series, but most of the ones I have read, I would have enjoyed more as an edited-down-to-one standalone deal-io.

There are two series, however, that I want to tackle this year. Both I have read the first book to and both I own the entire series. So it only makes sense that I finally tackle them.

The Wicked Years
First up, I want to read The Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire. I read Wicked a long time ago and LOVED it. I started the second book, Son Of a Witch, soon after reading Wicked but never finished it. I now own the four main books and would like to jump back into this story. We went to see Wicked: The Musical last year and ever since, I have been wanting to give this series another go.

 

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books
Next, I have been really wanting to re-read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I read this in college and loooooved it. It was definitely a book that stuck with me. I think about it often. And even though I don’t re-read often, this is one I have been wanting to read again for a while. If I’m going to re-read it, might as well read the entire Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. I recently got the other two in the series* while shopping at a used book store. I came home to learn I already owned the second book…and apparently already had the third on Kindle. WHOOPS!

There are a few more series, specifically YA ones, that I am tempted to check out. Maybe that will happen later this year, but as of now, these are the two series I want to dive into very, very soon.

 

*If you click the link, you’ll see that there is a novella and another that has not yet been translated into English. I will probably find the novella and add it to this reading but until the fourth one is translated into English, I got nothing on that one. There is also a short story that is not translated into English. Maybe one day! 🙂

Three Stars

Review: Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane

 

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Book: Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Format: eBook, free copy from NetGalley for review
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 3 stars

What causes a woman to murder her whole family?

Jo’s idyllic life would make most people jealous. Until one day her daughter is abducted and the only way to find her is to unravel her dark past.

Ellie is a devoted wife… until she discovers the pain of betrayal. Now vengeance is all she can think about.

Party-girl Shayla knows how to hide her demons. But when she’s confronted with a life-shattering choice, it will cost her everything.

June knows suffering intimately, though the smile she wears keeps it hidden.

Soon the lives of these four women intersect and one of them is about to snap…

This was an incredibly quick read. I had never read a book by Pamela Crane before but found that this book really drew me in. Immediately, we open on a woman who has murdered her husband and children and we are waiting for her to be found. I mean, how can you not be drawn into a story with a start like that??

Told from the perspective of four viewpoints, we’re trying to guess which of these women end up being the murderer. We get to really know these characters, inside and out. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that I am a huge fan of character development and I think Crane does a great job with this. I’m used to varying viewpoints, but it took a bit to get into the groove of reading four different viewpoints. Each story is its own and each character has their own voice. This is the only way a multiple viewpoint story will succeed.

There is a lot going on in this book: affairs, child abduction, mental health discussions. If you are like me, at the end of each chapter, you’ll have a feeling of “Oh, it was totally her”, only to change your mind after the next chapter.

There are lots of twists and turns. Some more are more successful than others. I felt like this book had a wonderful start, a strong middle, but in the end, I was just left unsatisfied. It read more like a soap opera at the end, rather than the twisty thriller I thought it was going to be.

I definitely enjoyed it overall, though, and would happily read another book from Pamela Crane again.

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Four Stars

Review: Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

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Book: Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction,
Format: eBook, free copy from NetGalley for review
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars

This was definitely a book that I looked into because of the cover. The black and white with the lines of bright are just visually appealing to me. The simple cover evokes a lot of emotion, for me. And I feel like once you’ve read the story, you will think this cover is pretty darn perfect. 

Sometimes, a book just hits you hard and leaves its imprint on you. Harmless Like You is definitely one of those books. Written in beautiful prose, this book takes you on a journey to the past, to different countries, into different minds.

We follow the story of Yuki whose Japanese family is living in New York. First, we see Yuki as a 16-year old whose father is supposed to head back to Japan. With a lot of fighting, she convinces her family to let her stay in New York with a friend, Odile, to finish out her schooling. Living with her friend opens her eyes and her world to a new sort of life. There’s an interesting twist with their friendship and Yuki’s path hits some unexpected bumps.

The story also follows Jay, who is a new father and is having a hard time coping with this. Jay’s father recently passed away. Jay must now travel across the world to find his mother, who abandoned him when he was two.

This book is slow. It will take you a while to get into it. And you may be like me and you may read it over the course of many weeks. It has nothing to do with the writing or the style, not for me at least. Not in a negative way. Buchanan’s writing wove itself into my body, into my mind, into my heart. I would get…weird anxiety-like symptoms when reading this book. Again, not because I didn’t want to read it. The writing style really brings you into the story, makes you part of the story, makes you live the story. You feel what these characters feel. And a lot of what these characters feel are uncomfortable emotions. So, I would read, get super involved for a few pages, then have to take a step back.

It has been around 6 months since I finished this book. I still think about it randomly when I am doing other things. These characters…they will stay with you.

This is one I will definitely re-read and purchase to put on my shelves. If you are a fan of family relationships, coming of age stories, and beautiful prose, this is a must read for you!

Book Talk

19 in 2019

The new year means my excitement for books and reading is at it’s highest! I always love planning and starting things. I am awful about follow through — it’s my biggest flaw as a person. I am trying to get better, though.

I mentioned in my 2018 overview that I basically failed at reading my 18 in 2018 books. It’s like I made the list and then completely forgot to ever look at it again. So this time, I was a little bit more thoughtful with my choices. I know that I want to read as many of the books off my shelves as possible, so I mostly picked physical books. I don’t want to forget my Kindle books, though, so I made sure a few were on there. I decided to not pick audiobooks I own for this list — I do want to get through as many of my Audible books as I can but I didn’t want to double dip. I wanted this 19 in 2019 to be a challenge of its own.

I broked them up into different sections: 1) Book of the Month books 2) Nonfiction books 3) Kindle books 4) The books on my shelves I want to read the most

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I didn’t want to have a repeat from the 18 in 2018 list, but I also was very annoyed with myself that I didn’t get around to The Chalk Man and Still Lives, so I decided to keep those on here. I also have been really wanting to read The Secret History — I’ve heard such amazing things! My last two are not books I probably would have chosen initially. However, when my mother, sister and I were discussing our mother/daughter book club plans, we knew we had some BOTM books that we all ordered, so we decided our first two months would be Cross Her Heart and Sweet Little Lies. Since I was having a hard time picking two more BOTM books, I decided to go ahead and pick those.

 

 

Nonfiction is not something I tend to gravitate toward. I love memoirs, though, and was ecstatic when I won a Goodreads giveaway for Isaac Mizrahi’s memoir. The book is set to be released in February so I will be picking it up very soon. I also have 3 true crime books, two in book form and one in Kindle: In Cold BloodKillers of the Flower Moon and The Fact of a Body. I decided for my last pick, I wanted something, not true crime related. Quiet is a book I have wanted to read for years. I look forward to picking it up later in 2019.

 

 

I don’t think anyone is surprised to hear that I have a lot of Kindle books. Definitely way more than I expected. I know that I want to lessen my ARCs this year, but I decided to not include those on this list – sans the memoir in the last section. Again, the ARCs are their own adventure that I will be working toward. ARC April will be happening — probably ARC August, as well. But, that’s not what this section is about. I spent the time to go through my 300+ selection of Kindle books and pick the ones that really stood out to me. I am a huge Mary Kubica fan and I can’t believe I still haven’t read When The Lights Go Out. I know that will probably be the first one from this section I will read. I have also heard so many good things about The Cabin at the End of the World and I was so thrilled to get it on a Kindle deal recently. I started It last year and would really like to finish it. And I rounded out this section with In The Vines because it was one of my anticipated reads from last year, and it’s ridiculous that I haven’t read it yet!

 

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For my last section, I literally stood in front of my bookshelf with my I Want To Read Now books and picked the ones that I have heard so many great things about. The Muralist was also on my 18 in 2018 last year — I read B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger a couple of years ago and it was a major fave! I look forward to checking out another book. I read my first Liz Nugent book last year and loved her writing style — Unraveling Oliver was the first one I grabbed off my shelf when coming up with this list. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is one of my most recent purchases. It was another book that I saw everywhere last year. The last two, Sometimes I Lie and The Flight Attendant are books I’ve also heard so many good things about — and I got both of these copies from a McKay’s trip last year!

And there it is! My 19 books I (hope!) to read in 2019. Do you have a list of books you want to tackle this year? Link it below! I’d love to see what books you want to read this year.

Book Talk

Review: The Bookworm Life planner

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Picture from the Etsy Listing from the Peanut Butter Taco Etsy shop 

Let’s have the first review of 2019 be a little different! As you know,  I mentioned in my first post of 2019  that I purchased a new planner. The planner is called The Bookworm Life planner and can be purchased for $35 from the Peanut Butter Taco Etsy shop. I just LOVE this planner! It is very well made and has a lot of ready made pages, including goals, wishlist, acquired books. But it also has lots of dot grid pages so you can really make the planner your own.

 

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When you first open the book, it has a spot where you can personalize it. I was able to get a sticker with my name on it from the shop when I placed my order. I find this page to be incredibly adorable!

There are spots to put your goals for the year, a place to keep a list of book-related things you want to buy, as well as a place to put upcoming releases you are excited about.

 

Every month, there is a nice title page, a full month view, weekly page views, and a page at the end of the month to put the books you acquired. The months are unmarked so you can start this planner at any point of the year!

There are also some fun pages at the end! Places to put books turned into movies/tv shows, books that you didn’t finish, your favorite books of the year, a place to look over your goals from the beginning of the year and spot to give out awards to books you read. There are also some pages for mini-reviews, a few pages to put your favorite quotes, and a pocked in the back to keep your stickers.

There are also tons of dot grid pages to add anything you want!

Overall, I am very thrilled with this planner. I plan to mostly use it for book-related things, but I may use it as a regular planner as well. I already am looking forward to picking this up again next year.

I’ll be putting pictures of my planner during monthly review posts so you can see how I use it throughout the year.

If you are a bookish person (or need a gift for a bookish person), this planner is perfect. It has a great price point, is very well made, has a great layout with fun pages while also having the ability to make the planner your own. The quality is just outstanding and I have not been more pleased with a planner purchase since my first Erin Condren planner.

Did you grab this planner? Do you plan (heh) to purchase one in the future?

 

Book Talk

2018: A Bookish Overview

2018, I’m happy to see you go! As I said in my last post, I didn’t finish my goal of 40 books. I ended the year with 33 books read. I am happy with that number, though. I read a lot of good books [and acquired a lot more haha]. Let’s do an overview of the year.

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I read a lot of great books. When reading over my list of finished books, I have three that I know I would read again — and may read again this year: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoSocial Creature, and Her Name Was Rose. There were a few book I wasn’t in love with: The Bookshop on the CornerThe Last Equation of Isaac Severyand BiteNone of those were awful, they are just not genres that are for more, or in the case of Isaac Severy, I felt I was misled on what the book was about.

 

I had a list of 18 books I wanted to read in 2018. Out of the 18 I chose, I finished 8. I definitely…forgot about this list a lot throughout the year. Hopefully, the one I do for 2019 will go much better, haha!

Books I finished:

  1. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  2. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
  3. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
  4. A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
  5. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
  6. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  7. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
  8. Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land 

 

Let’s do some overall favorites!

Favorite book: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Favorite historical fiction: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
Favorite thriller: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
Favorite audiobook: Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

So, there’s a quick overview of my favorite (and a few least favorites) of 2018! I look forward to what 2019 has to offer me — especially in the reading front.

What was your favorite book this past year? Your least favorite?