Review: The Power Couple by Alex Berenson

Attention book marketers: please make sure that you have good blurb writers. Because I’m totally a blurb reader. I may pick up a book because of its cover but I’m going to read it based on the blurb. So when I read this blurb for The Power Couple by Alex Berenson on Netgalley, I was intrigued.

The story unravels in a unique way. There are three perspectives: the married couple, and their daughter. They take a family trip and the daughter is abducted. What follows is real time as the couple tries to figure out what had happened to her, and then both of the couples’ pasts. And man were they keeping secrets from one another.

It’s hard to know who to trust and the author does a great job keeping the pages turning. I was intertwined by the plot strings for sure. I really wanted to know who was behind the kidnapping plot.

I will say the author got a bit graphic in some of his descriptions which was kind of off putting. I mean I suppose I understand the point but still. Gross.

Overall this was a “domestic thriller/spy thriller” with an unusual plot that had tons of twists and turns. It’s over 400 pages but it’s a quick read. Overall, I’d recommend. 3.5/5 stars.

Review: The One You’re With by Lauren K. Denton

So many yay things about this novel, I don’t even know where to start! First. I have read all of Lauren K. Denton’s novels and they are all lovely stories. The characters are genuine and they are well written. This one is no exception. The story is of a couple at a crossroads in their life, and it flip flops between the present, where the characters are currently living, and the past, where they made the decisions that are impacting how they live now.

I read several reviews saying that they felt as though Edie was shallow, but I didn’t feel that way at all. I am the same age as she is and I feel the same yearnings to make my mark. Something changes when you hit middle age (😳) and at least for me, I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin. And I see that in Edie for sure.

Should she have made the same choices she initially did? The story kind of explains that away a bit.. Edie could have chosen Graham and her life would have turned out completely differently but it still would have been ok. I think that the title is significant in the fact that you choose the one you’re with.

My one complaint about the novel is that I feel as though the characters who are peripheral here (Kat and Graham) could have been given more story. I understand why the author did that.. this is Edie and Mac’s story, after all.. but, Ms. Denton, if you read my review how about write a follow up novel about Kat. She as a character served a purpose and I understand that. But I want to know more about her.

Anyway, I will read anything that Lauren K. Denton writes. I highly recommend any of her novels.. this one ranks up there with The Hideaway as one of my favorites by her.

4/5 stars. Put this one on your TBR list folks, it’s lovely.

Review: Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

I’ve lived in the South my entire life. And I’ve read a ton of Southern fiction by Southern authors. And Southern authors are pretty famous for writing about quirky characters. So much so that I honestly didn’t realize that quirky characters could exist in other areas of the country.

Enter Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny. This novel is full of quirky characters and is set in an entirely foreign place to me.. Michigan. There’s not really much of a plot here, if I’m being completely honest, but that’s ok.. the characters more than make up for it. It’s very slice of life.

I think my favorite characters were Jimmy and Patrice, Jimmy because how could you not love this guy? And Patrice because she behaved the way everyone would love to behave but she gets away with it because she is a small child.

The story is a bit meandering, but the charm doesn’t wear thin. I would love to imagine actors in the roles of the main characters here. Jane could be played by Emma Stone and Duncan could be Ryan Gosling. We could add Kristin Davis as Aggie and just for kicks cast Kyle McLachlan as Gary.

Anyway, if you’re going into this one expecting a fast paced plot, you are likely to be disappointed. But if you go into this one expecting to read about quirky characters in a charming small town, well, this one might grow on you.

3.5/5 stars.

What I read in April 2021

April 2021’s books were so so. I don’t necessarily think that there were any stand outs, but I did read a couple of fun thrillers so there’s that.

The Rise of Magicks, Nora Roberts. I finished the last book in the Year One Trilogy this month and while it was better than the second book, I still think the first book in the trilogy was best, and the most memorable. I honestly don’t remember a whole lot of details of this book. But I assume the series came to a satisfactory conclusion so there’s that. 3/5 stars

Firekeeper’s Daughter, Angeline Boulley. Man, I really wanted to like this book. The cover is gorgeous! And the subject matter isn’t something I’m overly familiar with. Ultimately this one ended up as a DNF because I just didn’t want to pick it up. I may be in the minority though. I just found the book really tedious.

Such a Quiet Place, Megan Miranda. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Miranda’s previous books, and I went into this one with super low expectations. But this story about the perfect neighborhood was well written and I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend, especially if you live in a neighborhood where you just KNOW that people don’t exactly live in the manner in which they present themselves.

Do No Harm, Christina McDonald. This is the third novel I’ve read of hers and my least favorite. I just wasn’t a huge fan of the plot line. I felt as though it could have used a hefty editing job. It didn’t have likable characters. It could have been a lot better. If you want to try a book by this author, pick up either of her other two. 2/5

Eight Perfect Murders, Peter Swanson. Swanson by far is my favorite thriller writer and this book is no exception. I enjoyed reading this homage to classic mysteries. Lots of red herrings thrown in as well as a mostly likable main character led to a pretty quick read. My only problem was the ultimate reveal.. I didn’t buy it. But I’m not the writer so there’s that. 4/5 stars.

The Stepsisters, Susan Mallery. When it comes to contemporary woman’s fiction I would like to think of myself as discerning, but honestly I just want a readable story with likable characters. Susan Mallery’s books always fit these criteria so they’re always enjoyable. I’d read more stories about the characters from this one. 3.5/5 stars

The Life Below (The Final Six, #2) Alexandra Monir. This book is suffering from a sophomore slump. It was not nearly as compelling as the first book in the series but it is not so poorly written that I would skip the next. But I don’t really like books about traveling towards a destination. Just get there already. 3/5 stars

The Unhoneymooners, Christina Lauren. This is a cute novel that was pretty predictable. It was cute though. Not much to say about this one. Drew Barrymore would have been great in the lead if she was a decade younger. 3/5 stars

All in all a so-so reading month. But that’s ok. Not everything is going to blow me away. I’m ready for an amazing read though. Got any recommendations? I’d love an amazing novel that I can’t put down.

Review: The Life Below by Alexandra Monir

Sometimes I am just in the mood to browse the lists of available ebooks from my library. It’s a fun way to find books that I might otherwise miss out on. Which is how I found The Final Six, the first in a YA series that I really enjoyed. So I eagerly awaited the release of the second novel, The Life Below. I purchased a copy of this one a while back but I didn’t get around to reading it until just now. Where The Final Six focused on the selection of a group of teen geniuses to lead us into new frontiers of space, The Life Below focuses on their journey towards Europa, a large moon of Jupiter that residents of Earth hope to inhabit due to the climate being out of control here on Earth.

I probably should have made an effort to reread The Final Six before I picked this one up, but I didn’t, so there’s that. I felt that this book kind of is suffering by being a book in the middle. Naomi and Leo have been separated but not for long, as Leo has been specially selected to join the crew that’s headed towards Europa, but he’s flying solo as he wasn’t selected to be a part of the original team. I found much of this novel to be pretty boring if I’m being honest. I’m not sure what I expected but it was not nearly as good or readable as the first one. I can’t find evidence that this is supposed to be a trilogy (although I’ll assume since so many YA novels are.) There’s enough peeks at the action to come in the next installment so I’ll look forward to the third book. All in all, this book was merely ok. It’s kind of like the actual traveling part of a trip. The preparation is exciting and of course you look forward to reaching your destination. But the trip itself could at least be mildly entertaining. 3/5 stars.

Review: The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery

I’ve been reading a steady stream of psychological thrillers, so I was happy to break up the terror a little bit and read a novel by one of my favorite women’s fiction authors. I’ve read several of Susan Mallery’s other novels and they’re always pleasant reads. I’ve read the Mischief Bay series, The Summer of Sunshine and Margot, and California Girls. And now I’ve read The Stepsisters.

There is nothing I can relate to in these novels save the emotional wringer Ms. Mallery enjoys putting her characters through, and while I could relate to a few of the sister’s situations, their lifestyle is a far cry from my own.. but I digress, because I can relate to having a strained relationship with my mother, I can relate to being a working mom trying to do right by her kids, and trying to maintain personal and professional relationships.

This novel was a quick read and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. If Ms. Mallery decided to make this into a series I would totally pick up another.

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery will be published in May 25, 2021. It would make a great addition to your beach bag! 4/5 stars.

Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

I have read a ton of domestic thrillers and I think that Peter Swanson is one of the best writers of the genre. I’ve read most all of his novels and they’ve never disappointed. He’s obviously well read on traditional thrillers and murder mysteries of the past. And that’s what Eight Perfect Murders pays homage to.

Many books have unreliable narrators. Not sure if it counts that he’s a super aware unreliable narrator, but it’s true. Malcolm Kershaw is co-owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston. He’s a widower and a loner, who gets approached by an FBI agent regarding a blog post that he’d written many years ago regarding his “eight perfect murders” in literature.

Red herrings abound as we learn about the circumstances surrounding Kershaw’s wife’s death and the subsequent murder of her lover. I truly thought I’d figured it out and Swanson had more surprises in store.

This was an enjoyable read that is probably best consumed in winter with a nice cup of a tea on your lap and a cat purring nearby. I’m kind of glad I just got around to reading this one so I can put myself on the library list for his next book.

3.5 of 5 stars

Books I read in March 2021

March 2021 was a pretty decent month books wise. I had a couple of meh, a couple of super fun, and one honest to goodness standout. I do not stick to one genre when I read and I enjoy flitting from book to book, not knowing what to expect. I usually can’t even predict how I will feel about a book.

First up, an arc of The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives by Kristen Miller. I initially gave this one three stars because I did finish it. But it’s not good. The story is fun, kind of, but the ending is so far off the rails that it totally ruined it for me. 2/5 stars.

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison. I’d read and enjoyed Harrison’s first novel, Montauk, so I was pleased to be offered this ARC. I really enjoyed the story of this young woman who worked as a part of Ziegfeld’s follies. It must have been an interesting time to live. Harrison has impressed me twice so I look forward to reading more by her in the future. 4/5 stars, look for this book August 10.

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay. This was a debut thriller that I flew through because I just had to know what had happened. Despite a pretty strong trigger warning (rape, a child death and various and other gruesome episodes) I thought this was a well written, taut thriller. I read a lot of this genre so it’s nice to find a novel plot line that doesn’t feel overdone. 4/5 stars

Girls with Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman. This was another novel that was.. novel. This was a unique story about a cutthroat prep school. There is only one slot left for Stanford and three mamas are vying for it for their babies. It was tense and a quick read. The characters were difficult to like but they were intriguing. 4/5 stars

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. This one was not as good as I had hoped it would be. It kept me guessing, kind of, but it was a bit formulaic. It reminded me a lot of other novels and movies of this type. It was a fun read, kind of, but it also kind of fell short for me. 3/5 stars

Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson. Seems kind of appropriate, time wise, to be reading this one, as the trial for the cop who killed George Floyd is all over the news. This is riveting non fiction that made me angry. It made me sad. It made me want to move to action. People should not be allowed to let other people suffer in this manner. Everyone should read this book. 5/5 stars.

I’m in the middle of a handful of other books. I have SO many to read and it’s usually a matter of how a book strikes me as to whether or not I will see it through to finishing it. Overall though, March was a good reading month.

What about you? Read any you’d recommend? What about mine? Have you read any of them? Would you?

Review: Just Mercy

Let me just start by saying read this book. And have tissues handy.

I have always been anti death penalty. It’s just not something I could ever get behind. But reading this book.. man, I’m even more convinced of this. The work that Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative is doing is so important.

Please read this book. Educate yourself about the atrocities that are still committed towards people who don’t have the means to advocate for themselves. And for those who are marginalized by society. This is such an important book and it will horrify you. But maybe we can work towards real change. 5/5 stars

Review: The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse.

The Sanatorium is a book that I just had to read and so I was thrilled when I lucked into a “skip the line” copy at my local library. I immediately dove in and was completely immersed in the story. I find old medical treatments super fascinating, and so I knew this would be a treat.

What I got was, however, a formulaic who dun it that has echoes of lots of previous stories. That wasn’t necessarily bad, but I read a lot of books of this type and it just didn’t live up to the hype, in my opinion.

She may as well have started the book with the line: “it was a dark and stormy night.”

It does read quickly. But I may just have been reading quickly because I wanted to know who did it. And the reason, well, I thought it was stupid.

This is a book that I will forget entirely by this time next month. 3/5