2018 Book #59 – The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

51Xyv20J3RLTitle: The Home for Unwanted Girls
Author: Joanna Goodman
Date finished: 7/13/18
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Pages in book: 362
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from  Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.

Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.

Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I requested to review this book because of the description. I hadn’t heard anything about this particular historical event before but as horrifying as it is there is some truth to it. The children that lived through this horrendous event are sometimes known as the Duplessis Orphans, as Duplessis was the premier of Quebec at the time these events occurred. Maggie and Elodie’s stories are heart-breaking but more than that, there is a string of hope that can be felt and seen throughout the book that uplifts the story. Elodie suffered tremendously but she still hopes for a better future. I loved that the book was told from both Maggie’s and Elodie’s points of view, this added a lot of important details that the reader would’ve missed otherwise but also allows us to grow attached to both characters. Both their journeys were amazing and inspiring, and although the story is fictional (but based on true events) I found many of the ideas in the book to be thought-provoking. To imagine these things would have happened to real people is baffling to me, that humanity could be that cruel to children for money incomprehensible. Underneath all the tragedy I found that this was also an important story of love, specifically Maggie’s love for Gabriel and also for Elodie. I really very much enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend reading it. It was an engaging and interesting read, and I hope to have a chance to read more by this author in the future.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Advertisements

2018 Book #58 – Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

51vWWmNEwqLTitle: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Date finished: 7/8/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

She went missing. He moved on. A whole world of secrets remained—until now.

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?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read this author’s debut novel, Behind Closed Doors, a couple years ago and I really liked it, and that along with the really interesting cover influenced me to read this book. While there were some repetitive parts to the plot, overall I thought this was a really good books and the short chapters helped to move it along faster. This was definitely what I’d consider a creepy novel. I kind of guessed what direction we were moving in with the plot but still, leading up to the climax of the story I felt the terror and excitement of the characters in their race to discover the truth of what happened to Layla. I would say that the tension between the main characters felt just a tad stale just to me, there was almost a lack of emotion to some of the characters’ interactions. It didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment of the story though. I enjoyed this book a lot and I really liked the twist ending, I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #57 – Dating Disasters of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager

41YWCUmbRRLTitle: Dating Disasters of Emma Nash
Author: Chloe Seager
Date finished: 7/6/18
Genre: Fiction, young adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Online, you can choose who you want to be. If only real life were so easy…

Emma Nash may be down, but after months of wallowing, stalking her ex online and avoiding showering—because, really, who’s going to care?—Emma’s ready to own her newly single status, get out with her friends and chronicle her dating adventures on her private blog.

But life online doesn’t always run smoothly. Stumbling upon her mother’s Tinder dating profile, getting catfished and accidentally telling the entire world why her ex-boyfriend Leon’s not worth any girl’s…um…time… Okay, those were disasters.

But surely nothing else can go wrong?

My rating:  1.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’m going to try and be brief because I don’t want to start going into a rant. This will (hopefully) be a constructively critical little blurb about how I felt about this book. Emma as a character was very naive, but even more than that she was immature, self-centered, obsessive, and completely unsympathetic to those around her. She was also, as is mentioned in the novel, a complete doormat. The fact that she only finds out she’s been dumped by this Leon character when he starts dating another girl is, in one word, despicable. But the fact that Emma then spends month(s?) wallowing in her room and then obsesses about this same boy non-stop is really where the true crime is. This goes past even teen drama to the point of being unhealthy. The idea that young girls might read this and think this is normal behavior is awful. If a boy EVER treats a girl in the way that Leon treated Emma, he shouldn’t be allowed to date anyone. Same with how Emma treated Greg to be honest. Even teen romances should incorporate respect for the other person’s feelings as much as possible.

OK I’m starting to rant, I’m just going to make a list on my observations:
1- Emma whined all the time
2- Emma couldn’t stop talking about the boy who treated her badly
3- Emma treated everyone else badly
4- There was underage drinking
5- Excessive talking about masturbation
6- I was glad Emma realized in the end she should pursue her own interests and just learn how to be happy just as herself but I hated the fact that it took over 300 pages to reach that conclusion

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #56 – Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

51voySJEiTLTitle: Love and Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 7/3/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Pages in book: 433
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

My rating:  5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read anything by Lauren in the past, but I’ve heard a lot of good things from various other readers so I was excited to give this one a try. This is going to be a hard one for me to write down though, not because I didn’t like it but because there honestly just aren’t enough words to describe how this book made me feel. The emotions and reactions this book invoked from me were powerful and raw. The plot was perfectly captivating, it has been a long time since I’ve read a book that so perfectly captures what that first love feels like. There is joy, but hand in hand with the joy there is also pain, and the situation in this book in particular led to intense heartbreak. Reading the development and intensity of Elliot and Macy’s relationship though was like a testament to true romance. I just couldn’t put it down, I stayed up until one in the morning last night reading it. This book was a roller coaster of emotion that I didn’t want to end. I just can’t say enough, I loved this book and everyone should read it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #55 – Believe Me by JP Delaney

41bWssVS-9LTitle: Believe Me
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 7/1/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions.

The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap?

But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read The Girl Before by JP Delaney last year and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to get the chance to read his new release. And it did not disappoint! This was a really great book, it was dark and mysterious and honestly entrancing. I didn’t want to put it down. The reader really gets drawn into Claire’s character and mindset, and while she can be somewhat of an unreliable narrator, her character was fascinating. I also loved how the dark poet, Charles Baudelaire, played such a critical role in the plot of the book. Baudelaire was an actual French poet, and his most famous work, Les Fleurs de mal, is a dark exploration of sexuality and death. And so too, this book is a dark and twisted exploration of reality and relationships. We as the reader are dependent on Claire’s version of reality, which alternates between seemingly clear and downright delusional. I did not at all see the ending coming, this was one of the few gasp-worthy endings I can remember experiencing. This was really a great book and I would highly recommend giving it a read!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #54 – Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

61pFV5dvJZLTitle: Lying in Wait
Author: Liz Nugent
Date finished: 6/26/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Pages in book: 322
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book was pretty great. It really sucks you in, by about a third of the way through I didn’t want to put it down. Each twist  in the road just made me more addicted to the plot. There was a sick and twisted feeling as the reader connects with the characters though, as many of the narrators in the novel have dark sides and dirty secrets. The book alternates between three different time periods and multiple points of view. I thought it was especially interesting that Lydia and Annie’s characters were both institutionalized at different points against their will. The plot twisted in a way that I did not expect, and I definitely did not see the ending coming at all. The ending was still crazy sad, but I guess I should have expected that based on how the book was going. I also thought it was interesting that the book looked at the difference in upper and lower classes and also the change in generations. Also there are some significant differences between the way things worked in Ireland at that time compared to everywhere else. Overall I thought this was a really great book and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #51 – Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

51-uzv1SVHLTitle: Our Kind of Cruelty
Author: Araminta Hall
Date finished: 6/21/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: MCD
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue . . .

My rating:  1.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book has what I would say is a text book example of an unreliable narrator. Mike is our narrator throughout the whole book and there are multiple examples of scenes that are told from his point of view that I’m sure are not actually how it happened. Which ended up being frustrating for me only because there was a lack of closure in the end with not knowing which items were true and which were entirely false based on Mike’s perspective. It was hard as a reader to determine the truth from the lies, I know this is something that appeals to some readers but it has never been one of my favorite things. Beyond that the plot itself was just so very sad and to be honest disturbing. Mike was obviously mentally unstable and really needed help. He was delusional in many of his thoughts and beliefs and he seemed so emotionally detached from humanity outside of how he felt about V. This book was too dark for me, but it did have an interesting plot line and I can see how it would be very popular. I would recommend giving it a read, it didn’t work for me but I think it would appeal to a large majority of suspense readers.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page