Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

Big Little Lies

Finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .

A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.”

I absolutely loved this book!  It seems like every time I read a Liane Moriarty book, it’s better than the one I read before it; she’s definitely a must-read author of mine. I’ve also bought her backlist but haven’t had a chance to read those books yet (but soon!).

I love the way that the story unfolds gradually and that quotes from other parents are interspersed in the chapters.  It definitely added to the feeling of trying to figure out what was going on.  (I was also so afraid that one of the characters I loved would be the one that ended up dead.  Obviously I’m not going to confirm/deny that, but there was a definite tension for me while I was reading this.)

I love that her characters aren’t perfect.  I love Madeline but she has a temper and holds grudges (we would be best friends).  The fact that they’re flawed makes them seem much more human and much more identifiable.

Highly recommended.

The Bridge From Me to You

Finished The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder.  I received a copy from the author for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place.

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible–something to truly believe in.”

I’ve never seen Friday Night Lights but this book is what I imagine it to be like.  If I’m correct, I need to start watching that show as soon as possible.

Because this book is about football, at least in part, and it made me wish that I actually understood and watched the sport (at least a little).  This is the highest praise that I can give anything, ever, because I am someone who absolutely hates sports.

This book is for people who love football and people who don’t.  It’s basically for anyone who likes a great story.  :)   I went into this book with super high expectations because I have loved everything Lisa Schroeder has ever written (YA or middlegrade; verse or prose) and this book is no exception.

It’s told from alternating perspectives.  Colby and Lauren are perfect for each other, but they don’t know it yet.  This isn’t a case of insta-love, although they are instantly drawn to each other.  It’s more that they each make the other person better and (possibly because they’re complete strangers) they don’t really have preconceived notions of the other person and they also don’t really have a persona that they have to protect either.  Does that make sense?  For example, with Lauren, Colby doesn’t have to pretend that his entire life is football.

I love Colby and Lauren, but I also love their families…and their friends! Lauren’s new friend Stasia is fantastic but I especially love Colby’s best friend Benny.  (Benny may or may not have made me cry.)

This book is magic.  To get me to care about (and even LIKE) football, it would have to be.

Highly, highly recommended.

Forget Me

Finished Forget Me by K.A. Harrington.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

An edge-of-your seat psychological thriller with a romantic twist

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.”

I read Kim Harrington’s book The Dead and Buried last year and absolutely loved it.  (You may remember that I compared her to Mary Downing Hahn.)  This book is nothing at all like that.

I don’t have a 100% accurate comparison for it, but the closest I can get is that this is kind of Hitchcock in terms of secrets and mistaken identities and shady goings-on.  (Sort of like Vertigo, but not.)

The thing I appreciated the most is the fact that, while Morgan is still hung up on Flynn’s death, it’s mostly because she feels responsible.  They’d dated for two months and she liked him, but he wasn’t the great love of her life.  I feel like it would have been really easy to go in that direction and I appreciate the restraint.

This book is very suspenseful and also fun.  (I also appreciate that I didn’t see the twists coming.  It’s a nice change.)

Highly recommended.

Virgin

Finished Virgin by Radhika Sanghani.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.

Yet.

This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.”

I wanted so much to enjoy this book and I just couldn’t do it.

I expected to be able to empathize with Ellie because (true confessions time!) I lost my virginity at 20, a week before my 21st birthday.  I didn’t really feel like a freak, as Ellie does, but I was also one of the last people I knew to have sex.

Basically, I was just left very underwhelmed by this book.  I didn’t get a huge sense of Ellie as a person; it just seemed like all she wanted to do was have sex—and not because sex was great, but because she felt like the literal last virgin in the world.

Radhika Sanghani is definitely a good writer and (depending on what her next book is about) I would probably read something else by her.

It seems like a lot of people did enjoy it, though, so if you’re interested, definitely judge for yourself.

American Blonde

Finished American Blonde by Jennifer Niven.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom?

In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As “Kit Rogers,” she navigates the movie sets, recording sessions, parties, staged romances, and occasional backstabbing that accompany her newfound fame. She also navigates real-life romance, finding herself caught between a charismatic young writer and a sexy and enigmatic musician from her past. But when one of her best friends dies mysteriously and the most powerful studio in the world launches a cover-up, Velva Jean goes in search of the truth— risking her own life, as well as her heart, in the process.

Set during Hollywood’s Golden Age and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters, American Blonde will mesmerize readers of The Chaperone as well as fans of the Velva Jean series.”

One thing you should know that the synopsis doesn’t make clear: this is the fourth book in a series.  It’s also the one I started with.  It works as a standalone, for the most part, but there are a lot of references to events from earlier books and I think I would have appreciated it more if I had read the other three books.

(Related note: so Velva Jean is a pilot during World War II and a spy.  And now a famous actress—and singer, because yeah, she can sing, too.  That is quite the life for someone who’s still, I’m guessing, only in her twenties.)

The first part of the story dragged a little for me, but I think that’s because I hadn’t read any of the others.  Once she got to Hollywood and we saw a little bit of the studio system, I liked this book a great deal more.

(Related note: I know it’s true, but I still can’t wrap my head around the studio system idea—stars used to be under contract with specific studios and if you were under an MGM contract, you were likely only going to be allowed to be in MGM movies.  You could be loaned to another studio, but it was very rare.  I think the way of doing things now is much better.)

This was a very interesting book and I enjoyed it, but I never felt like I connected to Velva Jean.  I do think she’s had a fascinating life, and I would like to read the third book, which deals with her time as a spy.

I did get Jennifer Niven’s 2015 YA release (All the Bright Places, which is not a Velva Jean book) and am very excited to read that.

Dear Daughter

Finished Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I’m not.’

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?”

This is one of those books that’s nearly impossible to put down.   Be warned though that, like Gone Girl, the protagonist isn’t particularly likeable.  (Understatement.)

This book works on a variety of levels.  Like Janie, we’re not sure exactly who killed her mom (it could’ve been Janie.  We don’t know).  Honestly, though, that didn’t really drive the story for me.  I was more interested in Janie learning about who her mom was before she became a mom.  And I was also very curious about how long it would take for Janie to be found out.

In that particular way, it reminded me of Casey Anthony.  We don’t know where she is, but we know she’s probably somewhere in the US.  And that makes me wonder what kind of a life she has, because it seems like the whole country (justifiably, IMO) hates her.

How do you get a job or date or have friends when everyone knows who you are and thinks you killed your kid and got away with it?

At any rate, this book is very clever. I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Little does next.  (This is her first novel.)

Highly recommended.

Prototype

Finished Prototype by M.D. Waters.  I received a copy from the publisher on Edelweiss.  (Spoilers for its predecessor, Archetype, in this review.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.”

I can’t even adequately express how much I loved this book and its predecessor, Archetype.  And I am very, very sad that the series is only two books, because I will miss Emma and Noah very, very much.

I read these two books almost back to back (thank you, Penguin!) and I recommend that very highly.  It was so fantastic to see and be able to really appreciate the growth of Emma’s character.

She went from a timid person to an actual warrior.  (The timidity is understandable, because she had no memories—can you imagine having to figure out everything about yourself?  Let alone learning that the person you were trusting to help you navigate everything was a liar and creep?)

And oh, Noah.  I loved Noah.  I pictured him as kind of a Michael Biehn-type, circa original Terminator.  And I love his relationship with Emma.  Those two are absolutely perfect together, and the love they have for each other is completely swoon-worthy.

I hope M.D. Waters continues to be this prolific, because I already need many more books from her.  Preferably within a month or two.  That’s doable, right?

Highly recommended.

Like No Other

Finished Like No Other by Una LaMarche.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart? 

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing.

Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).

They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did.

When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.

Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?

In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it.”

I absolutely loved this book.  It’s smart and sweet and, best of all, didn’t go for an easy story or ending.  When I say that, I mean that it would have been very easy for Devorah to renounce her faith and/or family or for Jaxon to decide that he would be willing to convert.  Devorah’s faith is a huge part of who she is, and it would be incredibly unrealistic for her to decide that she was willing to walk away from it (and from her family) to be with a guy.

This is a love story, yes, but it’s also a story of how each character grew up and became adults instead of children.

I absolutely adored this book and hope to read Five Summers soon. (Thanks to the miracle of Penguin’s First to Read program, I may even have read it by the time this review is live on my blog.)

Highly recommended.

 

One More Night

Finished One More Night by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Your presence is requested for another installment in the tale of Julia and Clay, two red-hot lovers. Come inside their world of passion and suspense once more for a deliciously erotic and heart-poundingly dangerous story of pearls, handcuffs, thieves, mobsters, poker and pleasure in the city of sin…

Happy endings don’t come easily. They’re hard-won and Clay Nichols is going to have to keep earning his…
Now living together in New York with her debt safely paid off, sexy bartender Julia Bell and hot-as-hell entertainment lawyer Clay thought their future was clear sailing.
But life doesn’t work that way and the fiery lovers run into a slew of new challenges as Clay tries to put a ring on it. Trouble looms in every corner–trouble from clients, trouble with timing, and, most of all, trouble from her past returns on their trip to Vegas. A dangerous man who knows much more about Julia than he should surfaces in Sin City where they’re supposed to be enjoying a weekend getaway. Following her in the casino, watching her every move at the pool, targeting her as she plays poker.
Too bad Clay is called away repeatedly, leaving Julia alone in a sprawling hotel full of dark corners, back rooms, and unsavory characters. Can Clay save her from danger one more time, and then finally get down on one knee? Or will he be too late for the woman he adores?
Read on in ONE MORE NIGHT, a novel in the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Seductive Nights series packed with more sex, more dirty talk and more danger. And per your request, the recipe for Julia’s award-winning cocktail, the Purple Snow Globe, has finally been revealed in this ebook!”

This was slightly different in tone than the earlier two Clay and Julia books.  They’re already much darker than most of her other books, but this is the darkest yet.  As the synopsis states, there’s a sense of danger all through this book, and while we know it’s coming, we don’t know who the danger is.

But while there are a lot of tense moments, there’s also a lot of the romance (and steamy scenes) we’ve come to expect from Clay and Julia (and from Lauren Blakely’s books in general).

I’m hoping for more Clay and Julia, but I also can’t wait for every other book she writes.  I love that she’s very prolific.

Highly recommended.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Finished Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The newest thriller from Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author

When 13-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.”

First to warn you, I don’t want to discuss the plot too much because it runs the risk of ruining it and you don’t want any aspect of this book to be ruined.

I absolutely loved this book.  I read it over the course of my vacation and it was the best/worst decision I could’ve made.  I didn’t have much free time for reading and it was so hard to walk away from these characters and plot (even though I had a great time).

So I would advise you to learn from my mistake and read this when you have time to read it all in one gulp, because that’s what you’ll want to do.

Like all of his books, this novel is completely intense and the last hundred pages especially are impossible to put down (that’s when I finally basically told Jen to do whatever she wanted to do and that I couldn’t do anything until I was done).

The easy comparison to this book is to The Client, but it’s a lot better.  (No offense to The Client, which I enjoyed when I read it.)  I think the main reason this book completely surpasses that one is the characters. I liked Mark Sway but I love Jace.  Everything about him is believable, including the fact that he’s so obviously a kid who’s way, WAY out of his depth.

But I love everyone—Ethan and Allison and Hannah and all the characters you’ll meet here.  Even the Blackwell brothers, who are the creepiest killers since Anton in No Country For Old Men—they’re unlike anyone I’ve ever seen and I guarantee they’ll give you chills, too.

Highly, highly recommended.