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

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2018 Book #45 – The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando

51-IuvSNclLTitle: The Opposite of Here
Author: Tara Altebrando
Date finished: 6/2/18
Genre: Young adult, suspense
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: June 5 2018
Pages in book: 256
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:

There’s no hiding on a cruise ship-not even from yourself. 
Natalie’s parents are taking her and her three best friends on a cruise for her seventeenth birthday. A sail-a-bration, they call it. But it’s only been a few short months since Natalie’s boyfriend died in a tragic accident, and she wants to be anywhere but here.
Then she meets a guy on the first night and sparks fly. After a moonlit conversation on a secluded deck of the ship, Natalie pops down to her cabin to get her swimsuit so they can go for a dip. But when she returns, he’s gone. Something he said makes her think he might have . . . jumped? No, he couldn’t have.
But why do her friends think she’s crazy for wanting to make sure he’s okay? Also, why do they seem to be hiding something from her? And how can she find him when she doesn’t even know his name? Most importantly, why is the captain on the intercom announcing the urgent need for a headcount?
With her signature thrilling storytelling, the author of The Leaving and The Possible explores our vulnerability to the power of suggestion-and the lies we tell others and ourselves-in a twisting, Hitchcock-inspired mystery with high stakes and dark secrets.

My rating:  2.75 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.

The plot for this book on the cover description sounded pretty interesting, so although I didn’t know much about the author I decided to give this one a try. It was a little too teen angst-y for my tastes personally but if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you then this would be a pretty good book for you. The plot line is pretty good and takes some interesting twists and turns. The twist at the end of the book is probably the best one and kind of wrapped up all the plot and the characters into one little circle. And while I liked it, the story overall was still just so very sad. And I felt awful for Natalie, I felt like she was just like a doormat and everyone kind of walked all over her. One of her friends betrayed her pretty badly and the girl barely even apologizes but Natalie’s still fine with it. So anyways, overall I kind of liked the story but I think it would be a better fit for an actual young adult.

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #43 – The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

51C4xxzWsHLTitle: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 6/1/18
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Pages in book: 384
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:

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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.

I had heard a lot of good things about this author recently, but I haven’t had a chance to read any of her books up until now. I was excited to get the opportunity to read this book. The plot line of this book I thought was great, there were so many twists and turns that by the end I couldn’t wait to see what was truth and what was lies. I thought the author did a great job of gently guiding you down a particular path and making you believe things while at the same time presenting facts that would help lead us to the real answer in the end. The answer was right under our noses all along! And the ending really just threw me for such a loop – I didn’t see it coming and it was such a great twist ending. There were a couple small slow parts but other than that I couldn’t put the book down. I also really liked the incorporation of the tarot cards and their meanings. I thought that was such an interesting addition to the story line and also made the whole plot seem a bit more mystical and mysterious. This book was full of danger and heart-pounding tension, and I can’t wait to read more by this author in the future. I would definitely recommend this one!

Link to author website

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

The Duke of Lies BLOG TOUR!!

DUKEOFLIES_SBPR_BT

The Duke of Lies was released recently, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt!

MEET THE AUTHOR

740B2310 DarcyDarcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Verity Beaumont has suffered domineering men most of her life, first with her father and then with her husband. Free from both men, she has finally found peace. Even meeting a kind and hard-working gentleman who just might be the perfect father her young son so desperately needs. But as she dares look to the future, her carefully ordered world is shattered when her dead husband returns.

Imprisoned in America during the war, Rufus Beaumont, Duke of Blackburn, wants nothing more than to return to his native England. He longs for comfort and safety away from the horrors of battle, only the life he returns to is not the life he left. He must convince his wife that their marriage is worth fighting for, that he’s not the man he was. But when the truth about what happened to him leaks out, he must prove that not everything about him, especially his love for her, is a lie.

AVAILABLE NOW1

Read Today!

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EXCERPT

Burke, Darcy- The Duke of Lies (final) 800 px @ 300 dpi high resThe day was warm and bright, and she was looking forward to being outside. The door she’d come through suddenly burst open. Beau dashed out, his laughter immediately filling the courtyard.

He was quickly followed by Rufus, who chased him along the edge of the garden to the center path. Beau didn’t slow as he rounded the corner, and his feet slipped on the cobblestones. He fell down, landing on his side.

Verity dropped the blanket and ran toward him, but Rufus beat her by quite a bit. It was then that she realized he hadn’t been using his top speed to chase the boy. She’d seen that when he’d caught Racer that day at Mr. Maynard’s farm.

Rufus picked Beau up and set him on his feet and squatted down in front of him.“All right?”

Verity had expected Beau to cry, and his face had gone slightly pale. She lowered herself next to Rufus.“Did that scare you?” she asked, stroking Beau’s arm from shoulder to elbow and back again.

Beau nodded. Then a moment later, he ran to the top of the stairs leading to the courtyard.“Comeon, Papa, catch me!”

Rufus stood and offered his hand to Verity to help her rise. She wasn’t wearing gloves, and neither was he. It was the first time their flesh had touched, and it was like grabbing lightning. Or how she imagined it to be—electrifying and hot, and it left a lasting impression.

“Please don’t chase him down the stairs. He already fell once.” She turned to Beau and called,“Please be careful.”

“I am being careful, Mama. And don’t worry about the stairs. I ran down them to the kitchen passage and didn’t fall.”

She looked over at Rufus.“Isthat right?”

His gaze drifted to the side, and he hesitated a moment.“Er,yes. We were playing knights and villains.”

“Which one were you?”

“It was my turn to be the knight.”

Verity frowned and shifted a glance toward Beau.“Idon’t like thinking of my boy as a villain.”

“It’s pretend,” Rufus said.“But if it makes you feel better, he only chooses to be the villain because he likes to be chased.”

“Can’t the villain chase the knight?”

His mouth tipped into a crooked smile, and her stomach did a flip. It was as if lightning had struck again.“It’s pretend. We can do whatever we like.” He looked back toward the basket and the blanket on the ground.“I’ll get the things for the picnic.” He turned and started along the path.

“I can grab the blanket,” she offered.

He waved a hand.“I’ve got it.”

Verity went to Beau instead. She took his hand, and they descended into the courtyard, then veered right toward the gateway to the stable yard.“Perhaps I should play knights and villains.” She wondered why they hadn’t done that before and felt bad. It was a stark reminder of how much he’d missed not having a father.

“But you’re a girl.” Beau sounded scandalized.

Rufus met them as they approached the gate.“What’swrong with your mother being a girl?”

“She wants to play knights and villains.” He made a face that clearly showed what he thought of that idea.

Verity was caught between laughter and disappointment.

“It would be better if she joined us,” Rufus said, drawing Beau’s sharp attention.“A knight needs a fair maiden to rescue.”

“Then I am definitely going to be the villain. I don’t wanna rescue a girl.” He frowned, then sent his mother an apologetic glance.“ExceptI do want to save you, Mama.”

Verity surrendered to the laughter. “Thank you.”

“But Papa should be the one to save you. That’s what dukes do, right?”

“That’s what husbands do,” Rufus corrected,“whether they are a duke or not.”

2018 Book #39 – The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

51ehe9xFg0LTitle: The Favorite Sister
Author: Jessica Knoll
Date finished: 5/19/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages in book: 384
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:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

My rating:  3.0 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 had read another of Knoll’s novels a couple of years ago, Luckiest Girl Alive, and I liked it ok. Do when I saw this new release coming out I wanted to check it out. This wasn’t my favorite book. The plot line was pretty interesting and there were a lot of great plot twists, especially towards the end of the novel, but the pace of the novel was frustratingly slow for me and I felt like there was a lot of really dry sections. I also found it kind of frustrating that there was so much vague referencing in the beginning of the book. I know that was kind of the point, to give the reader a tease about the consequence of the action and then later reveal what the action was. But I was frustrated and somewhat confused in the beginning by the flow of events and trying to keep up with who went where when and who wasn’t talking to whom when. The reality show this centers around too just ended up being about catty, bitchy women who for the most part couldn’t stand each other. I definitely wouldn’t call it a feel good novel. It was an interesting plot though, everyone on the show has their secrets but the real question is – whose secrets will be revealed in the end? Read to find out!

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #38 – The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

51rU25aJ4XLTitle: The Other Lady Vanishes
Author: Amanda Quick
Date finished: 5/7/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Seems like its connected to another of her recent books, The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Knew Too Much sweeps readers back to 1930s California–where the most dazzling of illusions can’t hide the darkest secrets…

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they’ll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they’ll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be–and uncover the specter of a killer who’s been real all along…

My rating:  2.25 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 have always been a big fan of this author under all her pseudonyms, and I’ve read a lot of her books. I haven’t read in a couple years, so I was excited to read this one when I was approved for it. There were some things that I did enjoy about the book but unfortunately there was also a lot that I didn’t care for. The conversations between characters felt stilted and awkward, and there was a distinct lack of tension between the characters. I didn’t feel much emotion between the characters. And the plot was pretty convoluted and drawn out, every time I thought the ending was wrapped up there was another plot twist. And everyone kept dying. I thought the plot line had a lot of potential and the scenery and location that was built up was perfect. Overall this wasn’t my favorite of her books but there was a lot of potential to it so I’d still say give it a try!

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #34 – All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

61NMINqPepLTitle: All the Ever Afters
Author: Danielle Teller
Date finished: 4/26/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Pages in book: 373
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss and Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and 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:

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

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 have recently enjoyed the influx of fairy-tale retellings and the tales that are told from a different point of view. I loved the movie that came out a few years ago, Maleficient, and of course one of my all time favorites in this vein was the musical, Wicked. From these stories we learn that evil is not born but made, and truthfully is decided by the story-teller. Tales are exaggerated and told to paint the story teller in a sympathetic tone so that the reader will empathize with their plight. Agnes as a character was much easier to empathize with than I expected, especially considering how well the Cinderella story was ingrained in my mind prior to reading this book. Agnes as a character though was so strong-willed and determined to find a better life both for herself and for her daughters that it was easy to root for her success. And while many things in her life could be defined as “unfair,” her logical approach never let that fact weigh her down and instead she persevered in spite of the unfairness of her circumstances. At first I found the narration to be a tad overly wordy but after a little bit of adjustment it was easy to read, and the words painted such a vivid portrait that infused the text with emotions and feeling. I enjoyed this book immensely and I love that by reading it the reader is made to re-think the truths of good and evil. This was truly an enjoyable novel and I would definitely recommend it, especially for fans of the Cinderella story.

Link to author website

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