Category Archives: Fiction

Beatdown in Bangkok

Read Beatdown in Bangkok by Justin Fike and Adam Fleming. I receoved a copy for review. 

Stetson Jeff Stetson (think Bond James Bond) has left Texas for Thailand. He has two reasons to go: investigate a potential business investment and compete in a martial arts tournament (Muay Thai, to be specific). 
This is the first book in a series and I need the other books, like, yesterday. This was laugh out loud funny while not skimping on the action. 
This book is a delight and I bet you’ll agree with me. I do not envy Stetson Jeff Stetson but I’m glad to read his adventures. 

Big Mushy Happy Lump

Finished Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen. It’s hard to describe–it’s a collection of cartoons and sort of nonfiction? 

I’m sure there are people who wouldn’t identify with the cartoons in this book and I am equally sure that those are people I do not want to be friends with. 
If you are quiet and awkward and happier at home, you have found your patronus. 
Highly recommended. 

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Finished I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. 

Jake and his girlfriend are on a road trip to visit his parents. It’s her first time meeting them and she’s a little nervous (both because of that and because she’s considering breaking up with Jake). 

There is no real reason this book should creep the reader out and yet it does. I started feeling uneasy almost immediately, well before I had any reason to. Two people in car isn’t unsettling, right? And yet here, somehow, it was. 

This book, guys. I feel a little bit infected. And maybe, like The Ring, you should read it so that I get better. ;)

(Either way, it’s excellent and highly recommended.)

Never Let You Go

Finished Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens. I received a copy for review. 

Lindsey wants to leave her husband Andrew. He’s emotionally abusive (sometimes physically, when he drinks) and is definitely manipulative. Her young daughter Sophie still loves him (he’s a good dad) but still. This situation cannot last for much longer. She hatches a plan but things go wrong–so wrong, in fact that Andrew is sent to prison. Fast forward about a decade later, and he’s about to be released. And Lindsey knows he’ll be coming for her (and Sophie). 

This book is insanely suspenseful. This is not at all surprising; this is what Chevy Stevens does best of all. 

It’s also really creepy! I read it during a rain-and-windstorm, and the noises from outside sounded not unlike someone trying to break in–a little too atmospheric, thanks. 

If you love thrillers, check this out. You will love it! Recommended. 

The Fall of Lisa Bellow

Finished The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo. I received a copy for review. 

Meredith and her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, are both at a Wawa-style convenience store when it’s robbed. The armed robber takes Lisa with him, leaving Meredith behind. 

This is such an interesting book but first a caveat: there is no resolution. We don’t know what happened to Lisa. And we don’t know for sure that Meredith will ever be OK again. 

I loved this book. I think it’d be easy for other people to not love it (lack of resolution; weird aspects of the plot) but if you’re comfortable with ambiguity, this is totally the book for you. 

Recommended. 

The Widow’s House

Finished The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman. I received a copy for review. 

Clare and Jess have become the caretakers to a house (with a sordid and creepy history); its owner is the writing professor who taught them both. The house and grounds may or may not be haunted; the story involves a woman who died after leaving her baby with its father–she fell through the ice into freezing water; the baby froze to death before being discovered. Now Clare–who has a record of mental health problems–is seeing a woman carrying a bundle in the middle of the night and hearing a naby cry. WHAT IS HAPPENING. 

I am a huge fan of Carol Goodman’s and this book doesn’t disappoint. It’s completely unsettling and, in the best Gothic tradition, everyone is a suspect. It’s hard not to feel horrible for Clare–even while wondering how much, if any, is real and how much is her imagination. 

This book will absolutely haunt you. Highly recommended. 

Exit West

Finished Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. I received a copy for review. 

Nadia and Saaed meet in a college class and are drawn to each other. They start to date, super slowly. (You remember what it’s like.) Meanwhile, their city is on the brink of civil war. It’s minor at first, until it isn’t. Until people start dying. Until the phones and internet go down. Until neighborhoods are kept separate. Nadia and Saaed live in different neighborhoods but manage to reconnect and flee together (first to Greece, then England, then California). 

This book. It’s beautiful and sad. Secondary characters die and relationships fracture. Nadia works to assimilate; Saaed clings to the familiar. They discuss the responsibility of the host country to be welcoming (Nadia understands the less-than-warm welcome they receive; Saaed does not). 

As hard as it is to read, its greatest achievement is that it doesn’t feel like an issues book. Yes, hopefully the reader will feel sympathetic to refugees’ plight but it is about these two specific people. 

Highly recommended. 

The Keeper of Lost Things (mini-review)

Finished The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. I received a copy for review. 

Anthony has been collecting lost objects in the hope of eventually reuniting them with their owners. It’s a compulsion after he lost something precious: his fiancee’s St. Theresa medal–which he lost on the day she died. It becomes his way to atone. 

This novel is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven. As a result, it took me some time to really get into the story. Once I did, though, I was completely in love. 

These characters are all delightful. Be patient, but if you are, you will adore this story. 

On Turpentine Lane

Finished On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman. I received a copy for review. 

Faith’s life is going along fine. She has an easy job that she likes, even if it’s not intellectually stimulating. She has a fiance, even if he’s walking across the country–with enough time to pose for pictures with pretty women but not enough time to call her back. And she has a new house that she loves, even if it may have been the site of a murder. Or two. Certainly no more than three. It’s all murky. 

I adore this book. It’s so clever and fun and Faith is my new imaginary best friend. She’s sort of like an American Bridget Jones, if Bridget had more self-confidence and much less insecurity. 

I think this is my first Elinor Lipman and now I need to find her backlist. 

Recommended. 

Sister, Sister

Finished Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin. 

Clare and her mom have missed her little sister Alice ever since her dad kidnapped her and took her to America. It was supposed to be a quick visit; they never came home. They tried to find Alice, but to no avail. Now, decades later, Alice contacts them. Their dad is dead but he had changed their last name. It’s a great reunion at first…but then Clare has doubts. Alice seems a little–off, we’ll say. But Alice just accuses Clare of being jealous at sharing their mom’s attention. So who’s telling the truth?

This book is INSANE in the best way. I couldn’t stop reading and I kept trying to call the twists (I got most of them, but not all of them). 

That’s actually my one complaint: there are four major, MAJOR twists and that’s at least two too many. Even so, this book is super fun and if you need an escape, check it out.