ARC Review: The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookotoure for allowing me to read this book early in exchange for my honest review.

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Title: The Honeymoon

Author: Rona Halsall

Pages: 314

Publisher: Bookotoure

Publication Date: June 7, 2019

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4/5

‘I’m your husband, Chloe. We’re a partnership now and we do what’s best for us as a couple. Staying here is going to be the best option.’ He picked up his drink and took a sip. ‘It’s not open for discussion. We’re not going home.’

Chloe had the dream wedding. Dan is her perfect man. They haven’t known each other for long, but as she walked down the aisle and saw him standing by the altar, tears glistening in his eyes, she knew this was forever.

Later, as they relax on a beautiful island, settling in to their new married life together, they congratulate themselves on their lovely wedding day, and Dan jokes that he’d like them to stay there forever.

But as the honeymoon goes on, he becomes increasingly adamant. They shouldn’t leave. In fact, he won’t let her…

An utterly gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Clare Mackintosh, and The Wife Between Us.

Goodreads

This is a better than average domestic thriller. I really liked the way the main character, Chloe, is always questioning and rationalizing her thinking when it comes to her husband Dan. She knows that things are wrong and instead of blindly going along with it she stands up for herself. Sometimes, it feels like too much rationalizing on her part but overall I think the author, Rona Halsall, does a good job of not making Chloe a doormat. Chloe and Dan’s relationship was definitely rushed but at the same time it felt authentic. I fully believed that Chloe loves Dan and I could feel her pain and confusion over what was happening.

In the beginning of the book there are flashbacks and I didn’t like that it didn’t continue throughout the whole story. If you are familiar with my reviews you know that I am big on how a story is formatted. I would have preferred for the book to keep the same flow throughout the story. Also, there were a few times where there were flashbacks within flashbacks and I didn’t find them necessary.

I enjoyed the bulk of the story from when the honeymoon starts until the ending. It was well paced and I liked all the revelations that came out. The ending felt a bit over the top for me but it was still a fun read. I also really enjoyed the whole character arc for Chloe and the growth that she makes as a character. The unpredictably of Dan made the book very suspenseful as well because I was never quite sure what he was going to do or how far he was going to go.

I think that a lot of people would enjoy this book. If you are a fan of romance and/or thrillers then I definitely suggest you check this book out. It does a fabulous job of pushing the limits on what seems like a basic domestic thriller.

~Cassie

May Wrap Up

May was a great reading month for me. Not only was I able to read a good amount of books I also “read” my first audiobook. I have tried numerous times to get into audiobooks but I would just find my mind wandering and would just give up. However, I have heard great things about the one I listened to and I am so happy that I gave it a chance. I will have another mini review post up on Saturday where some of these will be reviewed so be sure to check back then for more of my thoughts on these books.

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I loved this! Review to come.

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This is my least favorite of the series. Which is another way of saying that I really didn’t like this. Review to come.

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This should be required reading in schools. Such an amazing little excerpt of a speech that I want to find and watch. Review to come.

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This is such an amazing thriller. I loved everything about it. Full review to come.

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I was nervous to read this after disliking Beneath the Sugar Sky so much but this is my favorite in the series. So good and I can’t wait for the next book to come out. Review to come.

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Another freaking fantastic book. A definite must read if you love contemporary romances. My review.

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An okay end to the series. I plan on eventually continuing on with the series because I am fascinated by the world these books are set in and I enjoy learning more about it in each book. Review to come.

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A good mystery for fans of Pretty Little Liars. My review.

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My least favorite Wendy Walker that I have read. My review.

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This has the honor of being the second book that I have ever dnf’d. I made it 33% and just couldn’t do anymore. Review to come.

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This book has such a great premise but unfortunately it failed to deliver. My review.

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Another book with a great premise but ultimately left me wanting more. This book is beautifully written though. Review to come.

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My first audiobook! This is an absolutely stunning book. I am so happy that I listened to the audiobook but I also want to get my own copy and annotate all the amazing quotes that this book is made up of. I finished this the day my chance to pick the June book of the month books and I picked her newest release because I can’t wait to read more from Elizabeth Acevedo. She also narrates The Poet X audiobook and I highly suggest you listen if you can because she does an incredible job reading her book so much emotion and feeling. I will further be reviewing this book soon.

~Cassie

June TBR

I was looking at my shelves a couple of days ago and realized that I have so many books that I want to read that I decided to make myself four tbr jars.I have broken down my picks into the different categories of jars that I made. I will also be reading my Fox Book Club June book and the few ARCs I have. I’m also participating in two readathons this month. I have already shared my Smutathon TBR and I will be sharing my buzzwordathon tbr later in the month. I’m also in the middle of three different books right now and I hope to finish them the first few days of the month. I will just be sharing my jar picks and my book club pick here and will do a full list of all the books I read during my wrap up at the end of the month.

Book of the Month pick

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Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating “complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it costs—to face the truth.

Goodreads

My Physical TBR shelves

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Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Goodreads

Most want to read ebooks

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Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all.

Goodreads

Most want to read physical books

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Romance, friendship, and dark, bone-chilling fear fill the pages of this “genuine and truly eerie” (RT Book Reviews) debut in the spirit of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.

Now Stella is seventeen, and she’s over it. She’s the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it’s her small town’s ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She’s got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.

Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.

And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.

Goodreads

Fox Book Club 

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When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Goodreads

This is a pretty ambitious tbr for me but I feel like I can do it since my boys will be out of school next week and my schedule will be more relaxed. I plan on reading lots outside while they are playing and swimming and all the fun summer stuff. We also have a couple of road trips planned so I am hoping I will be able to successfully read all the books I have planned.

~Cassie

 

Smutathon TBR

I have never participated in this readathon before and I was going to pass this time because the next round of buzzwordathon takes places mid June but I have decided to go for it. I have so many romance books on my kindle that I never prioritize and this seems like the perfect opportunity to read some. Here is the link to the official smutathon twitter account where you can find all the official information and links to the hosts. 

 

I’m not sure how many books I will be able to read but I would like to complete as many of these challenges as possible. Here’s what I plan on reading:

One Word Title

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Roomies by Christina Lauren

Friends to Lovers

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My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Finish a book in one day

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Minding Amy by Saskia Walker

Out of your comfort zone

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The Agreement by S.E. Lund

Second Chance

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Adam (Riding Hard #1) by Jennifer Ashley

I’m excited to take part in this fun readathon and also knock some books of my kindle tbr. Good luck to you if you are joining in on smutathon!

~Cassie

Try a chapter tag

I was recently looking at my bookshelves and realized that there are a few books that I either don’t know anything about or I have had so long that I’m not sure if I still want to read them. I thought this would be the perfect tag to do to see if I can eliminate any of them from my shelves. So, I’m going to read the first chapter of these five books and then tell you my thoughts on them.

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Isabel Dalhousie is back, in the latest installment of this enchanting, already beloved, best-selling series.

In addition to being the nosiest and most sympathetic philosopher you are likely to meet, Isabel is now a mother. Charlies, her newborn son, presents her with a myriad wonders of a new life, and doting father Jamie presents her with an intriguing proposal: marriage. In the midst of all this, she receives a disturbing letter announcing that she has been ousted as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics by the ambitious Professor Dove.

None of these things, however, in any way diminshes Isabel’s curiosity. And when she attends an art auction, she finds an irresistible puzzle: two paintings attributed to a now-deceased artist appear on the market at the same time, and both of them exhibit some unusual characteristics. Are these paintings forgeries? This proves to be sufficient fodder for Isabel’s inquisitiveness. So she begins an investigation… and soon finds herself diverging from her philosophical musings about fatherhood onto a path that leads her into the mysteries of the art world and the soul of an artist.

Goodreads

Oh boy. This book is definitely not for me and I’m so happy that I got to try it out and now  I don’t feel bad about passing it on. This is also a fourth book in a series so that may have something to do with me not connecting with it right away. Either way I am happy to pass it on and give someone else the chance to read this.

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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.  

Goodreads

I’m pretty torn about this one. A part of me really wants to read it but another part of me knows that I’m not going to pick it up anytime soon so I should just let it go. But I’m so interested in the format of the story that I am leaning toward keeping it. I think this will end up being a situation where I decide based on a gut feeling when I go to donate the books.

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For centuries, treasure hunters have been eager to possess the stones, undeterred by their corrupting nature. The list is long — Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, to name a few. Now the Stones have found their way to Salem, Massachusetts, and so has Gerwulf Grimoire, adding himself to this rogues’ gallery of power seekers. He’s an uncommonly dangerous man, with a hunger for the forbidden, and a set of abilities that are way beyond ordinary. Abilities that he feels entitle him to possess anything he might desire.

That would include Elizabeth Tucker, the woman he needs to find the Stones. She’s freshly transplanted from New York City to Boston’s North Shore. With a new job as pastry chef at Dazzle’s bakery and an old house inherited from her Aunt Ophelia, her life is pretty much on track …until it’s suddenly derailed by a guy named Diesel, a rude monkey, and a ninja cat.

Lizzy can handle the monkey and the cat. She’s not sure about Diesel. He’s offering up his own set of unusual talents, promising to protect her from Grimoire. The kind of protection that Lizzy suspects might involve guarding her body day and night.

The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy wrath, sloth and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that is wicked. Diesel thinks it also pretty much covers everything that’s fun. And Lizzy thinks Diesel and the Seven Deadly Sins cover everything her mother warned her about.

Goodreads

This is not a particularly great book. However, it is a cozy mystery with a baking element which is my absolute favorite sub genre. I could read this and probably rate it three stars but do I want to invest that time when I have so many other things that I want to read. I’m leaning toward no.

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Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

Goodreads

This just seems like a pretty typical YA contemporary centered around the main character figuring out her sexuality. I have heard great things about this book and I think it will appeal to a lot of people. I haven’t been reading much YA the last few years so I think I am going to send this book to my sister. I feel like she will get more out of this than I will.

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It seemed to June that she had the perfect marriage until the day Ronald Pruett was arrested for the murder of Vernay Hanks. Through her job at an elementary school, June knew both the victim’s child and Pruett. Moreover, on the day of the murder, she had almost taken a ride from Pruett herself. This connection with the murder becomes an obsession – leading June into a deceitful and increasingly complicated relationship with the dead woman’s brother and her child. Pretending to have been a friend of the victim, June inserts herself into their lives – and through this deception, soon discovers some disturbing things about her marriage and herself.

Sharp and full of unsettling twists, Twenty Questions is a gripping story that speaks of violence and betrayal, feminism, and reinvention. Above all, it speaks of the human condition to resurrect itself, whatever the cost.

Goodreads

I really didn’t like the first chapter of this one. The premise sounds right up my alley but I couldn’t connect with the story at all. I think it may have been the writing style but I was pretty bored reading it which is odd because it starts out with the main character reading about the murder of Vernay and her reaction to it. Hopefully the next person to own this book likes it more than I did.

To sum up I am only (maybe) keeping one book out of the five. I feel pretty good about unhauling some books from my shelves and I will probably re do this tag next month. I have more books than I want on my unread shelf so this is a great way of weeding out the ones I no longer want to read.

~Cassie

 

The Inspection by Josh Malerman

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Title: The Inspection

Author: Josh Malerman

Pages: 400

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Genre: Horror

Rating: 3/5

Boys are being trained at one school for geniuses, girls at another. And neither knows the other exists–until now. The innovative author of Bird Box invites you into a tantalizing world of secrets and lies.

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, who think of their enigmatic school’s founder as their father. And his fellow peers are the only family J has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, but their life at the school is all they know–and all they are allowed to know.

But J is beginning to suspect that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.

In Inspection, the masterful author of Bird Box crafts a sinister and evocative gender equality anthem that will have readers guessing until the final page.

Goodreads

To me this is actually a two star read but the actual idea of this story is so compelling to me that I just felt like I needed to give it a three. Also, when the book is actually focusing on giving answers to what is happening it really shined and if the book had been more of that I probably would have given it a four. So my compromise with myself is a three and I feel comfortable with that.

The pacing was really off in this book. There were so many unnecessary pages of details into what certain characters were thinking that it really started to take away from the story. This book would have been a much better story with at least 50 pages cut. I also wish that the characters were older than 12 because it made certain things that happen later on in the story very uncomfortable for me. This is might just be a me thing though because my oldest is a few weeks away from being 10 so it hit pretty close to home. I think 14 would have been a more believable and appropriate age for the kids to be. Also, this whole experiment hinges on the fact that the opposite sex is a distraction preventing us from reaching our true potentials but it is never brought up that there are plenty of people in this world who are attracted to their own sex. It is disappointing that a whole group of people are never even mentioned in this book.

My favorite part of the book was the end because of all the action. I have read one other Malerman novel (Bird Box) and I noticed he did the same thing at the end of that one too. The story just goes along with tiny sprinkles of action throughout the bulk of the story but the end is almost constant action. I would love to read one of his other books and see if he does the same thing in those ones. I’m not against it and I actually think it would be pretty cool if that was his style of writing because I feel like the suspense the reader would be in just knowing that the ending is going to be full of so much horror, action and answers would be a fun reading experience.

I have seen some people classify The Inspection as a dystopian but to me this is a straight up horror novel. Beyond the actual horrific acts that happen or are alluded to the real horror of the story is how these boys and girls are being raised. If you like the Hunger Games or the Divergent and are interested in something darker than I suggest this book to you. Or, if like me, you find the synopsis interesting then I think you will be happy that you picked this one up.

~Cassie

Mini Reviews #6

April was a crazy busy month for me where my family and I did three separate road trips. So, while I wasn’t able to post as much I did do a lot of reading. And my last road trip started me on an intense need to read and I have already finished 10 books this month. A lot of shorter stuff, one I dnf’d, but I’m still pretty impressed with myself. I do have a lot of reviews to catch up on now especially since I finished 8 books in March. Of the 18 I have already reviewed 6 and dnf’d 2. The remaining 10 I will be splitting up into a couple of these mini reviews posts and also hopefully keeping up with reviewing as I finish books so I don’t get behind again (fingers crossed).

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The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

This has the distinction of being the first book that I have ever dnf’d. I made it 20% in and I just couldn’t do it anymore. This book was so painful for me and all of the characters were terrible and I didn’t care to find out who killed who for what reason.

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Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) by Scarlett Curtis

This is a collection of mostly essays from various women all centering on the idea of feminism. Unfortunately I didn’t connect to a lot of the essays and there were only a few that I absolutely loved. What I really liked about this was that it presented all the different ideologies of feminism side by side. It really cemented to me that I am a liberal feminist but at the end of the day a feminist is a feminist is a feminist and I proudly stand with all of them.

Rating: 3/5

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I was seriously underwhelmed by this book. I really liked Ng’s writing and I liked how everything connected together in the end. However, the ending really annoyed me and left me feeling like what was the point. I do hope to pick up her debut novel during the next round of the buzzword readathon so fingers crossed I like it better.

Rating: 3/5

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The Silent Picture by Alex Michaelides

This was a fantastic thriller. I absolutely loved the twist in this story and I didn’t see it coming at all. It’s also incredibly fast paced and I loved the mystery of finding out what really happened with Alicia.

Rating: 5/5

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The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zghibe

This is a heartbreaking story of a woman at an inpatient eating disorder clinic. It tells the story of how she got to where she is and also details her dysfunctional relationship with food. This book could be pretty triggering so just be aware of that if this sounds interesting to you.

Rating: 4/5

~Cassie

ARC Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for letting me read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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Title: Red, White & Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston

Pages: 425

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Queer

Rating: 5/5

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

Goodreads

I don’t read a lot of romance but when I read the synopsis of this book I instantly wanted to read it because it is such an original idea. And it definitely delivered. I am obsessed with the romance between Alex and Henry and I loved how real their relationship felt. I can honestly spend pages gushing about how freaking cute the two of them are together but I want you all to discover that all on your own.

In fact, all the relationships in this book are incredibly well done and realistically told. All the flaws felt so real and the characters were all so well rounded. Also, this gives such a positive spin on politics and politicians and it was a breath of fresh air from the world that we live in. The characters were all working towards making the world a better place and it was done in a really non confrontational way.

This is a world that I want to live in. I was crying at the end of this book because I so badly want this to be the kind of world that my boys have when they are older. Where all our differences are celebrated and it’s ok to love whoever we want. Where people are strong enough to push past old ideas and ways of thinking. But it’s done from a place of love and compassion and not from a negative place.

Honestly, this book is just amazing and I really hope that everyone gives it a chance. This is such a positive book with an amazing love story that I think so many people will relate to. I liked how much Alex grew as a character throughout the story and watching him fall in love with Henry was one of the sweetest things I have ever read.

~Cassie

ARC Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker

Thank you to Netgalley and St.Martin’s Press for allowing me to read an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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Title: The Night Before

Author: Wendy Walker

Pages: 320

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 2.5/5

First dates can be murder.

Riveting and compulsive, national bestselling author Wendy Walker’s The Night Before “takes you to deep, dark places few thrillers dare to go” as two sisters uncover long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control.

Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.

Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date.

When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…

Goodreads

This is my second Wendy Walker book and I think she does a fabulous job writing characters. She does such a great job of putting the reader inside the character’s heads and making them feel so real. There were obviously some things I didn’t like about this book but her characters were a high point.

For most of the book I thought this was going to be a three star read because while I do enjoy her characters I didn’t connect to the actual story the way I wanted to. There were a few things that I didn’t see coming but I figured out the final twist pretty early on. Since I figured out the end twist so early I was really just anxious to get to that point so I don’t think I enjoyed the lead up to there as much as I could have.

The pacing of the story is really well done though so I feel confident that most of my problems with this book are an “it’s me not you” situation. The story is told from both Laura and her sister Rosie’s perspectives as well as parts of Laura’s therapy sessions. All these different parts helped tell the story in a suspenseful way. Things would build up to something and then it would switch to another perspective. Because of that this book just flies by and I really liked all the different reveals.

Some of the things that I didn’t like would be spoilers so I can’t really go into them. I can tell you that I knocked half a star off at the very end because I really don’t like when authors booksplain (I heard this recently and thought it was genius). I don’t need pages at the end of the story to explain things to me. If an author feels it is necessary than maybe a paragraph at the most but any more than that and it comes across as lazy storytelling. Sorry if that seems harsh but booksplaining is one of my bookish pet peeves.

Overall, this is an average (average doesn’t equal bad!) thriller that I think anyone who is a fan of thrillers will enjoy. I know I rated it low but I did enjoy 99% of this book. I also think that someone who enjoys women’s fiction would also like this book because a lot of Laura’s story has to do with dating and relationships. I am also going to link the other Wendy Walker book that I read because I gave that one four stars and I do think she is so great at fleshing out characters. Also, if you aren’t familiar with the name Wendy Walker I bet most of you have heard of her last book Emma in the Night. I think she has written five novels and I plan on reading all of them.

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

~Cassie

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

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Title: Dead Letters

Author: Caite Dolan-Leach

Pages: 332

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: February 21, 2017

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 3/5

Ava doesn’t believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It’s not grief or denial that causes her scepticism – it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda’s usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin.

Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace her errant sister’s last steps. She soon finds notes that lead her on a twisted scavenger-hunt of her twin’s making.

Letter by letter, Ava unearths clues to her sister’s disappearance: and unveils harrowing truths of her own. A is for Ava, and Z is for Zelda, but deciphering the letters in-between is not so simple…

Goodreads

This book had a premise that I absolutely love. The whole thing involving letters from her sister while she is missing gave me serious Pretty Little Liar (season 1-4) vibes and I knew that I had to buy this book. Unfortunately, this book fells short on delivering what I was hoping for but it was still a really solid debut novel and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future.

This book was pretty fast paced and the mystery kept me hooked but all the unnecessary tangents the main character, Ava, goes on in her head started to really annoy me. This book could easily have cut 30 or more pages out and not lost any of the story. Most of Ava’s inner monologue was her thoughts and opinions on random things and it ended up feeling like the author’s ideas and opinions on things.

I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. None of them were particularly likable but I also don’t think they were meant to be. My problem was more that I didn’t really care how the characters ended up. I think that may have been due to the author not having a good way to transition into the next letter. So, sometimes Ava would be doing the most random things completely out of the blue so that the author could have it lead to her finding the next letter. This would take me out of the story and I would just be thinking this girl is so dumb and other times I would think she was being so callous. Instead of Ava’s character having a set kind of characteristics her character became a plot tool to move the story along.

I also really didn’t like the ending. The ending left me wanting so much more and I really felt like it was going to build to some kind of resolution but instead it just fell flat. I did like the journey to get to the end though so I still think this is a decent mystery. I do want to give a trigger warning for alcohol abuse because a majority of the characters are alcoholics who run a winery so there is almost constant talk of it. Also, the characters don’t seem to care that they are alcoholics which I think could be really harmful for some so please be aware of that going into it.

The author, Dolan-Leach, has a new book coming out July 2 and I am so excited for it. It is another book where the synopsis sounds right up my alley. I am going to link it here for you to check it out if you are interested. If you are a fan of mysteries I highly recommend you check out this author’s work.

~Cassie