Great Reads

ARC REVIEW OUT TOMORROW – A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

michele campbell
Publish Date:
7/23/19
Author: 
Michele Campbell
Started:
6/1/19
Finished:
6/3/19
Pages:
352
Rating:⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy of this to read and review before publication. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

My Review:

This was my second Campbell book and I had some issues with it. I did enjoy it and thought that it was creepy at times but I wanted more from it. My issue with it is that it seemed like two different books to me. Although everything connected, I felt as if after Caroline disappears, the entire novel changes into a completely different book. I didn’t feel as invested at that point even though I had just reached the major turning point. It became somewhat predictable for me and I started to pull much of the plot together. Aiden was super unreliable as a character and I figured that the story couldn’t just rely on him creepy self. I have an unpopular opinion here and I can see why so many readers are giving high praises for this. It just didn’t work as well for me really due to the lack of cohesiveness I felt the story had. I also felt like the author could have given us more into Caroline’s husband’s life and less of Aiden and Caroline herself. That could have helped as I feel like there were some situations that were answered but just a bit cloudy for me. I still finished this read super fast and will pick up Campbell’s future works. For me, this one just left me wanting more.

Great Reads

Drowning Lessons (Red Frog Beach Mystery #1)

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Publish Date:
5/1/19
Author: 
Rachel Neuburger Reynolds
Started:
5/3/19
Finished:
5/6/19
Pages:
357
Rating:⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to Netgalley and Jeepers Way Press for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary:

You are cordially invited to a destination wedding to die for… Welcome to Bocas del Toro, a remote chain of islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama. Five days of glorious sun and lush rainforest await the forty guests celebrating Bridezilla Olivia’s dream wedding—but will a grisly murder sink the catered affair? Before anyone’s got time to start working on a tan, an unfortunate snorkeling accident eliminates a member of the wedding party. Maid of honor Lexie Marino smells trouble, and takes it upon herself to investigate, hoping to solve the case before her bestie’s trip down the aisle gets tropically derailed.
Lexie’s a little too tall, a little too awkward, and a little too brokenhearted, but she’s determined to nail the real killer. Can this unlikely sleuth stay afloat as she’s hit by wave after wave of wildly entertaining characters, including an alpha bride, surfing detectives, and a high school flame long forgotten? You’ll find yourself laughing until the very end of Drowning Lessons, a debut cozy mystery that makes the perfect beach read. Rub in some coconut oil, dangle your feet in the crystal-blue waters of Starfish Beach, and sip a cool drink as Lexie discovers the deductive superpowers she never knew she had. Let the party begin!

This is the first book of five in the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series.

My Review:

Let’s start with a story of myself. Circa 1996, seven year old me, living life at the beach, never have I been anywhere where poisonous frogs have been a thing. I probably just enjoyed my time at the amphibian exhibit at the Cape May zoo. I wake up screaming from a nightmare that I’ve had. Thousands of poisonous frogs chase me into my house located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (the opposite  of any tropical location) where the jump and crawl upon each other trying to reach me as I’m standing on a wooden chair in my parents’ kitchen. I have no clue why I had this dream but my parents won’t let me live it down. Two years later, my father buys me a Beanie Baby frog that I scream over and won’t accept. (see photo below thanks to Google). I have had this irrational fear of poisonous frogs now for 23 years. I knew I had to give this a read and try to at least validate my fears!

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I enjoyed this read! It was less cozy of a mystery than I thought. It contained more scandalous elements than most cozy mysteries ever do and that worked for me. The book was a mystery but also held drama elements as well.  Lexie was a likable character and deserves the reward of the year for being an awesome friend. She is put in situations that I would have lost my mind over and/or told off my friend ten times over. She is not an investigator by any means but somehow ends up pulling off what she needs to after the death of a groomsman during a pre-wedding snorkel activity. I also enjoy how funny Lexie can be and enjoyed many of the humorous scenarios that occur during the read.

My issue with the book was that it could be slow-paced at times. As the first book of the series, there could be more work to be done for readers to discover our character and I do hope that this is why we learned so much about Lexie. I hope that the author continues to use Lexie in this series or it wouldn’t make much sense for some of the background character driven knowledge we gained during the book.

Overall, there is some need for improvement in the series but it was a light-hearted mystery that still reads more than a cozy mystery. I do look forward to more of the series and figuring out the mysteries that Lexie (hopefully) finds herself discovering.

Great Reads

Dear Lily by Drew Davies

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Publish Date: 
5/17/19
Author:
 Drew Davies
Started:
4/28/19
Finished:
4/30/19
Pages:
292
Rating:⭐⭐⭐

Many thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley who provided me this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion.

Goodreads Summary:

Dear Lily,

It’s me, Joy, your much wiser and (very slightly) older sister. I thought I’d start a new tradition of letter writing – now that we’re long distance.

On the plane over here, I began to cry in seat 21C. I think the magnitude of it finally hit me, after everything that happened…

I haven’t even unpacked yet – the only thing I’ve taken out of my suitcase is Harville, your beloved childhood teddy. Sorry for stealing him, but I need him more than you do. Every time I look at that little brown bear I think about our childhood. Remember that dance we made up to Annie’s ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’? (Remember the broom choreography?)

I’m also sorry for abandoning you – I’ve always been your agony aunt, and a buffer in your infamous shouting matches with Mum. But I had to leave, Lily, I had to.

Anyway, I’m here now. I’m here to start over, and to face up to the past. I want to learn to laugh again, and to find someone to love who will maybe even love me back. You always told me I was just getting by, not actually living, so I’m finally doing it. Wish me luck, little sister.

Love,

Joy x

A beautiful book-club read for anyone who has ever hit rock bottom, longed for a fresh start, or needed to heal a broken, aching heart.

My Review:

There has been many books that highlight mental illnesses recently. I think it’s great but because I’ve read so many recently, I think that I need a break and it may have influenced my overall thoughts on the book. Many of these books have been giving us just a glimpse on how dark mental illness can actually be and they’re all too similar in my opinion. I have recently read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (review found here) and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill which I really enjoyed and the review will be posted closer to publication date. However, even though I enjoyed these books, they are all too similar to one another.

Dear Lily is a tad different as it is presented by letters to our narrator, Joy, to her sister, Lily. It’s through letters that we learn of the struggles Lily is going through in her new country of Denmark. The letters convey so many different levels of emotions. I found myself laughing, cringing, feeling sad, and even upset during some of the letters. There is  a lot of depth to Joy and the letters definitely portray that, however; I was always searching for more. Many of the books that I’ve mentioned have done a good job just portraying everyday humans going through hardships and mental illness, and maybe that’s what’s needed but I am always looking for more drama and more of a story line to follow. This is at no fault to the book itself but more of my preference so I can see many people really enjoying Dear Lily. 

Overall, it delivers a great message and can be very insightful. The format was unique and really helps the story feel personal. I commend Davies for this and do suggest it for a light read on dark themes.

Great Reads

ARC REVIEW OUT TOMORROW – The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

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Publish Date:
5/1/19 
Author: 
Megan Miranda
Started: 3/18/19
Finished:
3/20/19
Pages:
336
Rating:
⭐⭐⭐️

Big thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster fory giving me a copy to read and review before pulication. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Review:

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone known more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.

My Review:

I had high expectations for this but it just did not deliver for me. I really enjoyed some of Miranda’s past works. This for me was drawn out in all of the wrong ways. Although it’s regarding Avery’s friend, Sadie’s suicide, there was too much data about her  assumed suicide without any importance. The book was drawn out unnecessarily in the fact that so much of the chapters were going no where. I like a thriller that keeps me on the edge of my seat and this not that.

The saving grace to this novel was the “didn’t see that coming” moment. I was somewhat satisfied with the explanation of everything and was surprised but I still felt like it was a little out of left field and too unrealistic for me in a sense. On top of that issue, I felt like the book could have used one more chapter to talk more about all of the many characters involved besides just the couple it closed the door for. I know that some people will really like this and I encourage you to read it if you liked Miranda’s past works. I may step away from her for a little bit since this and her last were not favorites of mine.

Great Reads

The Air You Breath

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Publish Date :
 08/21/2018
Author: 
 Frances de Pontes Peebles
Started:
10/08/18
Finished:
10/19/18
Pages:
464
Rating : 
⭐⭐️⭐⭐️

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Riverhead Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride–and each woman’s fear that she would be nothing without the other.

Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music.

One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes–and haunt their memories.

Traveling from Brazil’s inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship–its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses–and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.

My Review:

Dores and Graca’s innocent relationship was inspring. As a house girl, Dores and Graca’s relationship buds quickly and unexpectedly. This shows that even the most opposite people can attract and share experiences. This was beautiful to me. However, the writing was drawn out. I became uninterested quickly in their lives at the sugar plantation and was always waiting for something more. As the girls are sent to to go to school, I became interested waiting for more of a plot to redeem itself. That didn’t really come here either.  However, at literally 25% in, I started devouring the book. The girls adventure truly starts here and it is not only interesting but amazing to read about the culture they experience in Lapa and thus forward.

The book is mostly unexciting with the girls’ friendship at the center of it all. I felt strongly that it was drawn out and repetitive. Oddly enough, I still found this to be 4 stars. Many life lessons are sprinkled through the book. There are intriguing factors. There are major heartbreaks and sadness thrown throughout. Graca and Dores are described so well throughout the book you really understand them. And ironically enough, I grew to love and hate Graca as all other characters do.

This read like a straight memoir and it’s surprising to know that it’s straight fiction. This is a slow read drawn out at times as mentioned but definitely worth the commitment.

Great Reads

ARC REVIEW – The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – OUT TODAY!

Publish Date : 9/18/18
Author:  Stuart Turton
Started: 9/1/18
Finished: 9/15/18
Pages: 512
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐️⭐

Summary from Goodreads;

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…

***

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

My Review:

This book is truly astounding. It’s also known as The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle but common titles led to an American title change under The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It is the same novel with a more clever title! The many facets of this book is so surprising and intelligent it was hard to wrap my head around it. This concept and all of the details had to take a ton of thought to execute. I can’t say enough good things. At first I was not a huge fan and felt the writing dry and unnecessary but I quickly found out how important the first part was and how it shapes the book it it’s entirely.

The book needs your full attention. The book read slow for me because of the intense details but in a good way! I have never struggled so much to write a review. This is beyond brilliant and I don’t know how it is even conceivable. Stuart Turton did not miss a beat in making the most insane connections and I’ll admit, I did not solve a single plot twist until being given the ending on a silver platter. The concept is hard to wrap your head around and I have to admit, I was often confused but that was my fault as I didn’t go into the book with full attention and the understanding of how complex this book would really be.

Turton does a remarkable job of writing characters as you feel like you really understand Aiden and the hosts. He also does a great job writing a unique mystery with even a moral concept of our own possible future of an important judicial system in which I can give no further detail without spoiling something.

This is a twisted tale that’s never been done in which I can’t wrap my head around ever being clever enough to write. For me, the confusion made me feel more like this was a 4 but that was strictly my fault. You must go into this book ready to think and give it your full attention. This makes it easily a five in which I feel obligated to give it.

Bravo!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for a copy to read in exchange of my honest review!