“The Breakdown”–Review

51Va0R3MSWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

One evening, after leaving a party, Cass lets her husband know she’s heading home and that she might take a shortcut along a rural road.  Her husband, however, advises her to not do it, that it could be dangerous, especially with the dangerous storm occurring.  Cass takes that road, anyhow.  During the downpour, she sees a car parked on the side of the road.  A woman is sitting alone in the car.  Cass pulls over and wonders if the woman is okay, if she’s having car trouble, anything.  The woman doesn’t even acknowledge Cass, so what’s going on?  While feeling concerned, Cass also fears the worst.  It could be a trap.  Cass ends up driving away.

It isn’t long before Cass hears the news of a woman who was killed on that same night.  And it happened to be the woman who was in that car.  Not a day goes by that Cass doesn’t feel guilty for not doing something.  The worst part is that she can’t even tell her own husband because she’d have to tell him she’d driven through that dangerous road.

It all seems to get worse when Cass starts forgetting things, even simple things.  For example, where she left her car, if she took her pills, even the alarm code, etc.  Despite her troubles, it’s the woman she can’t forget.  The woman she could have saved.  Then the silent phone calls she receives adds to her problems, making her fear that someone is watching her every move.

Although this one wasn’t as enjoyable as her previous book, Behind Closed Doors, I still liked this story.  The surprises had me turning the pages and I enjoyed the plot twist.  I was surprised when it all got to who was behind everything.  Of course, I won’t spoil it for you.  In need a good psychological thriller?  I recommend this story.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

The Breakdown will be available on July 18, 2017.

About the author:  B.A. PARIS is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors. She grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. The Breakdown is her second novel.

“Lift and Separate”–Review

41+3RiLE6kLAfter 33 years of marriage, Marcy Hammer is shocked and heartbroken when her husband, Harvey, the head of a global lingerie empire, says that he’s leaving her.  Although his clothes have been removed from the closet, Marcy still has high hopes that he’ll reconsider.  It’s just a midlife crisis, he claims.  After all, they’ve been married for a long time and they could work out whatever the issues are.  However, Marcy learns that Harvey has been having an affair with his much younger, 32DD fitting model.

While they’re technically separated, Marcy now has to figure out how to go on living without Harvey.  But how will she do it, she wonders?  She’s in her late fifties and feels it’s almost impossible to start over.  With love and support from her friends and adult children, however, she starts learning how to be on her own—even on occasions when she’s close to falling apart.

Along the way, though, Marcy is struck with more surprises and family troubles, including one involving her new, once-in-a-lifetime best friend.  Will she be able to handle it all, along with the fact that her marriage is ending?

This was a great story, with excellent narration, as well.  I enjoyed the humor in each chapter.  With one surprise after another, I thought, “This poor woman.  Isn’t she already going through enough?” While she’s trying to cope, Harvey constantly returns with a new excuse.  What’s Marcy to do?

I’m happy that the author, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, sent me this copy for an honest review, so now I can share it with you all.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author:  For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazine, and married a man she met in an elevator.

Marilyn received a Master of Arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan University and a Master of Arts in Judaic Studies from the University of Connecticut.

“He Said/She Said”–Review

51C2M6jShgL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Who Do You Believe?

With chapters alternating from past to present, this is a story of Laura and Kit, a couple who were young and in love in the summer of 1999.  Kit has always been an eclipse chaser, so he and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun.  It is also a first time that Laura’s witnessing an eclipse.

After the moment is over, Laura wanders about and then just happens to witness what looks like a rape.  Although the accused man, Jamie Balcombe, swears it’s not what it appears, the victim, Beth Taylor, is practically mute and in shock.  But Laura knows what she saw.  After Jamie is arrested and later convicted, an appreciative Beth moves in on Laura and Kit’s lives.  While showering them with gifts as a token of her gratitude, it isn’t long before Beth’s attitude changes.  Kit wants Beth out of their lives, while Laura wants to see the best in her.  However, Laura starts to see that Kit just might be right, so they go to great lengths to get away from Beth.

Fifteen years later, in 2015, Laura and Kit live in a new home and changed their names.  Laura is pregnant and Kit is preparing for his trip to see a new eclipse.  No matter, Beth couldn’t possibly find them.  They’ve been living as carefully as possible and have agreed to not have any social media accounts.  But why have they had to live this way?  And why do they still feel as if they’re being watched?

As the story progresses, more secrets are revealed, including some unexpected twists.

I enjoyed this story because each chapter made me wonder whose side I was going to take.  How far are people willing to go to save themselves?  And who was actually telling the truth?  With every surprise, I wasn’t quite sure whom to believe.  As for Beth and Jamie, was it rape or consent?  It gets interesting, in my opinion.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

He Said/She Said will be available on June 6, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Erin Kelly has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years. A regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Psychologies, Red, and Look, she has also written for Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour.  She also is the author of The Poison Tree and The Burning Air.

“Definitions of Indefinable Things”–Review

51GZ8uMd5rL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“My name’s Reggie. I’m seventeen. My worldview is that we’re all spiraling toward a vast and gaping obscurity we can’t escape, and if we’re lucky, we’re doing so alone. Also, I despise you. And by you, I mean the general human population.”

Reggie Mason believes that, as long as she doesn’t let anyone in, she can’t get hurt. It’s become her defense mechanism. During a quick trip to CVS to pick up her Zoloft prescription, she meets Snake, who happens to be waiting at the pharmacy for his Prozac refills. When Reggie actually lets Snake into her life, she seems to have mixed feelings for him. After all, Snake is smug, arrogant, and he can be a bit too forward. Needy, perhaps. He has an addiction to Twizzlers. And he’s an aspiring film-maker who wants to include Reggie in his work-in-progress. That’s just about everything that makes him attractive.

As the two get to know each other more, it isn’t long before Reggie finds out that Snake has an ex-girlfriend, Carla Banks—a popular queen bee and ex-childhood friend of Reggie’s—who is seven months pregnant. Now that the three of them are in each other’s lives, they endure an awkward journey of mental breakdowns, lame shopping trips, disappointed parents, boring proms, and one embarrassing birthing class. Throughout that journey, Reggie has to get to the bottom of everything that has led to her depression, and that even though—to her—people can be scary, they’re worth having in her life.

This story was worth the read, in my opinion. Oftentimes, I’d get annoyed with Reggie because of her constant mixed feelings toward Snake. She hated him, yet she loved him. He’d summon her and she’d go running to him, even though she swore they weren’t anything to each other. But I think that’s what made the story interesting. They both were struggling with their own problems and were in search of happiness, as well as trying to figure out what happiness was. If you love YA, check out this book.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*Definitions of Indefinable Things will be available on April 4, 2017.

*I received this copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Whitney Taylor is an English and psychology major from Virginia, who likes to pretend she is a supermodel from New York City. This is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter. For more info on the author, click here.

“Still Missing”–Review

51lenbozeel-_sx304_bo1204203200_The story begins with Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, who had three goals for the day: sell a home, forget about that trivial argument she had with her demanding mother, and to be home on time to have dinner with her boyfriend.  After a slow day at the open house, Annie starts packing up to prepare for an evening with her boyfriend, Luke.  Then a van pulls up in front of the house and a good-looking, friendly man steps out and approaches the house.  Although Annie was all ready to head out, she figured giving a last-minute potential buyer a tour of the place couldn’t hurt.

But that turned out to be a mistake.

The story alternates between the year Annie had spent in isolation with her captor and her sessions with her psychiatrist.  She goes into the details of her being beaten, raped, and controlled by a psychopath who apparently had plans for her, including her escape and the ongoing police investigations leading to the truth about Annie’s captor.

This book had one surprise after another and I think it was worth reading.  Just when it seemed as if everything were going to be all right, another twist occurred.  Annie was struggling to put her life back together, yet it never seemed to be over.  I was definitely hooked.  If you’re a fan of thrillers, this may be for you.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press for review purposes.

About the author: Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing. Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.

Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.

You can also check out her page here.

“Behind Her Eyes”–Review

61gp9iiebal-_sx329_bo1204203200_David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling?

Louise is a single mom who has been in a rut since her divorce. One evening, at a bar, however, she meets an attractive man and they both hit it off. Even though they’d spent that evening only kissing, it was the first in a long time since Louise felt good about having someone touch her.

At the start of a new week, Louise begins her new secretary position at a psychiatrist’s office. And that’s when she meets her new boss, David: the man from the bar, who also happens to be married. Although they agree that their kiss was a mistake, neither one can stop thinking about the other.

When she least expects it, Louise bumps into Adele—David’s wife. Adele insists she’s new in town and seeking a friend. While guilt-ridden, Louise doesn’t feel right about accepting sweet Adele’s friendship.  However, the more time she spends with Adele, the more suspicious Louise becomes of Adele and David’s marriage. Adele doesn’t work.  She often appears anxious at certain hours when she’s expecting David’s phone calls. And her everyday routine is as if she has a curfew. And why is it that David never speaks of his marriage? And is David abusive, according to Adele?

While Louise struggles with her decision to tell David about her friendship with Adele, more strange behavior and secrets accumulate, putting the three of them at risk.  Because Louise constantly hears two sides to the stories, she realizes something isn’t right in this marriage and there seem to be more questions than answers. Although she’s advised to back off, Louise risks her life to get the answers she needs.

I think the storyline, itself, was pretty good. Each chapter speaks from Adele’s and Louise’s points of view, with the occasional chapters from Adele and David’s past. As for the ending, it did surprise me. To be honest, though, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole story. I didn’t love it, yet I didn’t hate it. I became curious about Adele’s plans and David’s reasons for his own behavior. Every chapter made me wonder whose side I should take. Even though there’s been a lot of hype about the ending, it just didn’t move me. But don’t let that discourage you from checking it out. You may enjoy it, perhaps.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Behind Her Eyes will be released on January 31, 2017.

About the author: Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London. Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development. Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in over 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist. Follow her on Twitter. You also can check out her page here.

“The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living”–Review

51whg08igcl-_sx328_bo1204203200_Good afternoon, fellow bloggers!  Here’s a review of one of my most recent reads for my online book club.  Enjoy.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope.

Olivia Rawlings is a pastry chef extraordinare for an exclusive Boston dinner club.  One evening, however, her flambéed dessert catches fire, including the rest of the building.  Feeling humilated, Olivia decides she needs to get away, so she packs a few things, including her dog, Salty, and drives out to Guthrie, Vermont—home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend, Hannah.  Although her stay is supposed to be temporary, Olivia is offered a job as a pastry chef for Margaret Hurley, the uptight owner of the Sugar Maple Inn.  Assuming her days at the club are numbered—including the fact that she’s broke and can’t pay her rent—Olivia takes the job.

With a new job, including free room and board, Livvy creates her famous desserts for the Guthrie residents.  It isn’t long, however, before she learns of the reason for being hired: to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest. No matter, Livvy is a team player.

During her stay, she begins to grow accustomed to the country life.  Will it be worth staying?  Or will she eventually go back to Boston?  Then Livvy meets Martin McCraken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to help out his sick father.  As she gets to know Martin more, Livvy realizes she’s not as alone and confused in the world as she’d assumed.  Then an unexpected arrival occurs in Guthrie, leaving Livvy to decide whether to stay or go, and what it means to truly be home.

I think this was a great story.  It tells the reader that not only does life not turn out the way we planned, it could be even better than we’d expected.  Also, if you’re a foodie, this could be the book for you.  Honestly, my reading the parts where desserts were being prepared made me crave pie.  The only thing I’ve baked is a cake, which was years ago.  The corners of the cake were cracked, but I was happy for my progress.  Perhaps I’ll learn to bake a pie, one day.

As always, feel free to comment.  Happy reading!

About the author: Louise Miller is a pastry chef and writer who lives and works in Boston, MA. She received a scholarship to attend GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, a yearlong workshop for novelists. She is an art school dropout, an amateur flower gardener, an old-time banjo player, an obsessive moviegoer, and a champion of old dogs. The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is her debut novel.