Book Reviews, Books I Read

What I Read | July 2017

What I Read

So I know I usually post my reviews on the first Monday of the month, but I couldn’t wait another week to share all the books I read 🙂 So here I am. I mentioned in another post that I’ve fairly recently joined NetGalley after a year or two of admamently refusing to join, since I don’t love reading e-books as much as real, paper books. But then I got over myself as I realized I could read amazing, legit bestsellers without having to pay a pretty penny for them or waiting for them to come to the library. A-duh! Sold!

*The Heirs by Susan Rieger

Brilliantly wrought, incisive, and stirring, The Heirs tells the story of an upper-crust Manhattan family coming undone after the death of their patriarch. Six months after Rupert Falkes dies, leaving a grieving widow and five adult sons, an unknown woman sues his estate, claiming she had two sons by him. The Falkes brothers are pitched into turmoil, at once missing their father and feeling betrayed by him. In disconcerting contrast, their mother, Eleanor, is cool and calm, showing preternatural composure. Eleanor and Rupert had made an admirable life together — Eleanor with her sly wit and generosity, Rupert with his ambition and English charm — and they were proud of their handsome, talented sons: Harry, a brash law professor; Will, a savvy Hollywood agent; Sam, an astute doctor and scientific researcher; Jack, a jazz trumpet prodigy; Tom, a public-spirited federal prosecutor. The brothers see their identity and success as inextricably tied to family loyalty – a loyalty they always believed their father shared. Struggling to reclaim their identity, the brothers find Eleanor’s sympathy toward the woman and her sons confounding. Widowhood has let her cast off the rigid propriety of her stifling upbringing, and the brothers begin to question whether they knew either of their parents at all. 

This was an interesting character study that I liked for the most part. I enjoyed the format, and learning more about the background and personality of the different characters throughout the book, but the ending felt a little rushed and flat to me. Granted, I can’t think of another way it should have ended, so I don’t really have room to talk. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend it, per se, but if it sounds interesting to you I wouldn’t tell you not to read it.

3 stars.

**13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

I was dead for 13 minutes. I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal. They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

I really enjoyed this book. The above blurb (pulled from Goodreads) doesn’t hardly begin to cover the complexity of the book. If Reconstructing Amelia and Gone Girl had a baby – it would be this. It’s a brilliantly constructed YA book, and I’d recommend it to any one who enjoys YA fiction as well as mysteries and thrillers.

4 stars.

**Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli

4 stars. Read full review here.

**Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka

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. 

This was an interesting look at small town life combined with a tragedy, and how so many lives can be interconnected. While it’s not my favorite book ever, it definitely held my attention. It’s told through 3 points of view, and each had their own unique voice, which I enjoyed. Looking back on it, it did remind me a little bit of The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling, however it’s not as long, or as coarse.

4 stars.

**Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan

Newly divorced and with his career in jeopardy, Detective Connor Parks takes solace in the arms of a beautiful woman he meets at a bar. The next morning, Claire Fletcher is gone, leaving nothing behind but an address and a decade-old mystery. The address leads to the Fletcher family home where Claire’s siblings inform Connor that their fifteen-year-old sister was abducted from a city street ten years ago and is presumed dead. During those ten years, Claire endured the cruel torture and depravity of the man who abducted her. Paralyzed by fear and too ashamed to return to her family, Claire is resigned to her life as Lynn, the identity her abductor forced upon her. Every time she attempts escape or betrays him in the smallest way, someone dies. Even now, her clandestine run-in with Connor Parks may have put his life at risk, as well as the lives of her family. Connor is convinced that not only is Claire Fletcher alive, but that she is also the woman he met at the bar. Driven to see her again, he begins his own investigation, off the clock and without the police department’s consent. He is determined to find her and unravel the mystery of her abduction and odd reemergence. But finding Claire Fletcher proves more dangerous than he anticipates. In fact, it may be deadly.

This was fun and fast-paced book, (for the most part) and was a fun break from my regular psychological thrillers, and felt more like a crime novel, if that makes sense (even though they are very similar genres). I loved the alternating POV, something I wasn’t expecting, and I love the way the story unfolded, as well as the way the back story was told, as well. This isn’t quite a “whodunit” as much as a “how will she escape?!” which was refreshing for me! The main characters were likable (other than the kidnapper, of course!) and I found myself rooting for them the whole time. I would have given it 5 stars if not for the fact that for a few chapters right around 3/4 of the way through the story seemed to stall to me, as I was waiting for something specific to happen. It didn’t (which is fine, means I was wrong about the way the story was going!) and then a few chapters later the last main climax of the story happened, which I enjoyed, I just didn’t think the last fourth of the book quite measured up to the rest of it. Still, it was a great read, and I’d recommend it for those who love thrillers/mysteries and who enjoy watching crime shows like Criminal Minds.

4 stars.

**Out Of Tune by Norah McClintock

When Alicia, a talented violinist at Riley Donovan’s high school, is found bludgeoned to death in a field on the outskirts of town, suspicion immediately falls on Carrie, the teen’s musical rival. But Riley isn’t convinced of Carrie’s guilt, and even though her police-officer aunt tells her to stay out of it, Riley goes searching for the truth. Did Carrie really kill Alicia in a fit of jealous rage, or is there another explanation for Alicia’s death?

This was a cute little book, perfect for middle schoolers and some high schoolers, which I didn’t realize when I requested it. It was short, clean, and had a good, thought-out mystery. I’d definitely recommend it for young teenagers who enjoy mysteries.

3 stars.

**The Child by Fiona Barton

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby? As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss. But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

I have seen this book pop up quite a few times recently, so I was excited to read it. And really, how did I not see the ending before it happened?! I think that’s the mark of a good book, when you don’t guess the ending but looking back you can see it plainly and it makes so much sense. And that’s how I felt about this book. Great characters, great writing, a great story. I also enjoyed that it was fairly clean, as crime books go, and that it was tastefully written.

4 stars.

**Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name. When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

While I enjoyed this book, nothing in the plot surprised me. I was expecting It to be a bit darker, a bit twistier, and it never became that. I did enjoy the social media and podcast aspect of it though, which made it just a little more up to date and relevant. I also enjoyed the characters of Josie and Lanie, as they showed that people can react to tragedies in completely different ways. 

3 stars.

**Beneath The Surface by Sibel Hodge

When the teenage son of Holly Gold’s school friend brutally murders his parents before killing himself, her sleepy home town is rocked by the sudden tragedy. Appalled, Holly investigates. What could have caused the happy-go-lucky boy she remembers to commit such a heinous crime? When another teen commits suicide, she uncovers a horrifying link between the recent deaths and a dark conspiracy to hide the truth. But someone doesn’t want Holly asking questions and, as she hunts for evidence to prove her theory, she’s dragged into a nightmare that threatens her life and her sanity. Then tragedy strikes again—and this time it’s closer to home…

I loved this book until the very last page. The story was new and interesting and had enough twists to keep me guessing. It involves big pharma and conspiracies to push drugs and cover up side effects, which was fascinating to read about. But the very last page talked about the (non-existent) link of autism to vaccines and that killed it for me, and so I had to take off a star.

3 stars.

**The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact. The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . Never mention The Pact to anyone. Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples. And then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Even though this book was a little slower for me to get through (whether because of book burnout or just the story itself, I’m not sure) I still give it a full 4 stars because it was fascinating and new territory. A newlywed couple finds themselves members of an exclusive club, dedicated to maintaining a loving marriage. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Instead of a fun-loving club, their new life together takes a turn for the worse when they find themselves the focus of a terrifying cult whose influence runs deep.The main characters were really likable, and I could especially relate to the main character, as he was a marriage/family therapist, just like my husband, and seemed to have a similar temperament too.

4 stars.

Honorable Mention: Our Presidents and Their Prayers by Rand Paul. While I didn’t deeply dive into this book, it was an interesting look at the fact that America was founded on religious principles, and the fact that our presidents have all offered proclamations of faith in God.

Currently Reading: A Selfie As Big As The Ritz by Lara Williams.

On My Bookshelf: Emma In The Night by Wendy Walker and many more!

*I received free product from Blogging For Books in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
**I received free products from NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. 

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  • You read so much! Way to go!

  • Ashley Ziegler

    I’ve been wanting to read “Until I Met Her” for a little while.

    • It was pretty good! I really enjoyed it 🙂

  • I agree with @emilielimaburke:disqus ….how did you read so many books this month?!!?

    • I read all the time! Even when (especially when) I should be doing anything else….. Hahaha.