Review: Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland’s Park Avenue Player

parkavenueplayer

“It’s okay to smile in the midst of darkness.”

Synopsis
To say Elodie and Hollis got off on the wrong foot is an understatement. After the two get into a fender bender, they realize Elodie was on her way to interview for a caretaker position for Hollis’ young niece. Although initially rejected, Elodie ends up with the job and her relationship with young, Hailey quickly builds. Of course, the sexual tension between Hollis and Elodie quickly builds as well. But, the two soon realize that life has a way of complicating things and their pasts are a lot more complicated than they think.


Park Avenue Player is for fans of:

  • slow burn romance and the nanny/caretaker trope
  • romances with emotional plotlines
  • dual-POVs

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
I truly didn’t know what to expect going into this book, but I loved it. I connected instantly with Elodie and rooted for her from beginning to end. I love how strong willed, dedicated, and loyal she was. She served as a patient, empathetic role model for Hailey, and it made me love her even more.

Hollis was also a great lead to read about. He was dynamic, and I loved how he grew into a great father figure for Hailey.

Of course, I also loved the couple themselves. They didn’t have the typical miscommunication-driven plot issues, which was so refreshing. Instead the couple felt real and their struggles and their conflicts were understandable. Their relationship was also slow-build which y’all know is my favorite. There was also some seriously sexy buildup between Elodie and Hollis that had me yelling at them in my head to just get together already.

Fair warning, though, this book was emotional and heart wrenching. For me, it wasn’t as emotional as Hate Notes (another book by this author-duo), but it definitely still pulled at all my heart strings. Ultimately, this book was about hope. It’s a beautiful story and it’s definitely recommended by me.

What I didn’t like:
The only thing I didn’t love about this book was the alternating time lines. There are some sections that take place in the past to explain a character’s backstory. While it was 100% necessary to understand the story and connect with the character, I just have a personal preference for linear stories. I’m always rushing back to the present sections to see what happens next. Again, this is a personal preference and not really an issue with the story.

Overall, I really loved this one and it gets a 4.5/5 from me.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.png.5


Ratings:
My overall: 5/5
Steam: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Friendship: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.54/5


Get More Information:
Park Avenue Player is new adult contemporary, and it was published on September 23, 2019. It’s available to purchase here. As of 9/23/19 it is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Links: connect with Penelope Ward on Instagram; connect with Vi Keeland on Instagram; visit Penelope Ward’s website; visit Vi Keeland’s website


About Penelope Ward: Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

About Vi Keeland: Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author.  With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over one hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-six languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Riley Sager’s The Last Time I Lied

TheLastTimeILied

“Everything is a game, Em. Whether you know it or not.
Which means that sometimes a lie is more than just a lie.
Sometimes it’s the only way to win.”

Synopsis
Camp Nightingale is a summer sleepaway camp for the prestigious elite. At least, it is until three girls go missing, leaving their thirteen-year-old bunkmate, Emma, behind. Fifteen years later, Emma is still haunted and decides to return to Camp Nightingale to uncover the truth about that summer. Yet, she quickly realizes the truth may be harder to unearth than she thinks, especially when its buried underneath some lies of her own.


The Last Time I Lied is for fans of:

  • slow burn suspense novels
  • books that alternate between past and present timelines
  • sleepaway camp settings

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
Honestly, I kind of loved everything about The Last Time I Lied. The plot of missing girls at a sleepaway camp drew me in from the very beginning. There’s just something about camp settings that screams suspense to me. Add in Emma, an unreliable narrator, and a group of untrustworthy characters and everyone became a suspect.

I enjoyed the alternating time lines and found both the past and present interesting and eerie. Both timelines were compelling and provided clues to truth about the girls’ disappearance.

There are so many twists and turns in this one that I was kept on the edge of my seat from the beginning until the very, very end. I had many theories, yet I was still so far off from the reveal(s) at the end.

 I loved The Last Time I Lied. 5/5 stars from me. I continue to be impressed by Riley Sager.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.png


Ratings:
My overall: 5/5
Suspense: 5/5
Character Development: 3.5/5
Ending: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.06/5


Get More Information:
The Last Time I Lied is a thriller, and it was published on July 3, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.

Links: connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; read my review of another Riley Sager book, Final Girls


About the Author: Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer. Now a full-time writer, Riley is the author of FINAL GIRLS, an international bestseller that has been published in 25 languages, and the New York Times bestseller THE LAST TIME I LIED. His latest book, LOCK EVERY DOOR, will be published in July. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient

TheSilentPatient

“Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.”

Synopsis
Alicia, a famously talented painter, lives an idyllic life with her husband, Gabriel — at least she does until she decides to brutally murder him. Yet, the circumstances surrounding the murder remain a mystery as Alicia refuses to speak since his death. Theo, a criminal psychotherapist, is determined to work with Alicia and unravel the truth about that night…word by word.


The Silent Patient is for fans of:

  • thrillers with an intense psychological component
  • slow-burn thrillers
  • books with epistolary elements

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
To say this book starts off with a bang would be an understatement. It captured my attention from the very first sentence (quoted above) and kept it throughout the novel. Personally, I enjoy when thriller novels hook me in and then slowly simmer (slow-burn style). I understand that for a big twist to pay off, a solid foundation needs to be built. I’m ok with waiting like here in The Silent Patient.

I also enjoyed the setting of “The Grove” which is a kind of mental care facility. I don’t read too many thrillers with this setting so it felt unique and gave the story a certain edge.

Additionally, I have to talk about the writing style here. I thought the author was very talented and clever. The writing is gripping and certainly page-turning. I finished this entire book in about a 48 hour period. The Silent Patient demands to be read.

I also really liked the epistolary elements. I wasn’t quite sure how we would really get to know Alicia (as she refuses to speak). The diary entries were interesting and provided a unique perspective on the contrast from Alicia back then vs. Alicia in the now.

What I didn’t like:
While I thought the ending was clever (and clearly a majority of people loved it/enjoyed it due to the mostly positive reviews and ratings) I figured it out just before the reveal. This is always a bit dissatisfying to me as a reader and especially as a lover of the genre. For it to fully make me go wow I need to still be guessing until the author reveals the twist to me.

It’s always a bit of a risk when a book depends on the reader not guessing the one twist for it to pay off. However, I will say there were certainly some elements I didn’t guess and I found them satisfying. For readers who dabble in thrillers, you’d likely really enjoy this one. I think this fell a bit short for me because I have so many other reads to compare it to (and let’s face it, I’m an unusually suspicious reader).

Overall, I would still recommend this one. It’s a quick read and still felt satisfying in the end. I just wouldn’t call this one my favorite. 3.5/5 stars from me.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.png.5


Ratings:
My overall: 3.5/5
Suspense: 3/5
Character Development: 4/5
Ending: 3.5/5

Goodreads: 4.05/5


Get More Information:
The Silent Patient is a thriller, and it was published on February 5, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.

Links: connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter


About the Author: [written in author’s pov] Born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother, I studied English literature at Cambridge University and got my MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. I wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Con is On (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is my first novel.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Alex’s North’s The Whisper Man

TheWhisperMan

I’ve told you many times that there’s

no such thing as monsters. I’m sorry that I lied.”

Synopsis
After his wife’s death, Tom and his young son, Jake, move to Featherbank for a new beginning. Yet their new beginning morphs into something darker, more sinister, and frankly something unnerving. Jake begins to hear voices — whispers — and it appears The Whisper Man, a notorious serial killer, has returned to Featherbank once more.


The Whisper Man is for fans of:

  • complex family dynamics, specifically father/son relationships
  • thrillers intertwined with (fictional) local folklore
  • books with multiple point-of-views

Spoiler Free Review
What I Liked:
I loved the father/son dynamics in the novel. Each relationship was so complex and interesting. I loved how the author drew parallels and distinctions between each pair. At its heart, I think this novel is about complicated, intense, and emotional relationships.

Jake and Tom’s relationship was my favorite because of its realistic portrayal. It might not have been easy between them, but they tried because they loved one another. I enjoyed that the author portrayed Tom as a strong parental figure, but a flawed one. He often wondered if he was making the right choices or doing what was best for his son. These are fears parents have, and I loved the realistic portrayal.

I also loved the folklore aspect of the book. It felt haunting, and it felt unique to their small town. It truly felt like a disturbing tale that could be passed down in a small town. The imagery in the book was certainly enough to keep me up at night and double checking that my doors were indeed locked.

Additionally, I enjoyed the police/procedural aspect of the novel. I love feeling like I’m in on the investigation and picking up clues alongside law enforcement. In general, it makes the hunt for the killer(s) more realistic for me. I thought the author did a great job of showing this side of the story.

What I Didn’t Like:
The ending. I’m sorry! I truly think this is a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. I only bought this book because I saw it was super hyped up on bookstagram and it had high reviews online. I am always on the hunt for my next thriller and this one seemed perfect. I think I went in expecting it to be traditionally twisty with a larger focus on the “horror.” This was not the case.

I found the ending predictable, but I don’t think it was meant to be particularly twisty. I kept waiting for the next twist and turn and had a running list of theories in my head. None turned out to be correct even though I thought it would have been cool if they were (they were particularly dark/twisty theories). I think I just thought this book was going to be something it wasn’t, instead of just enjoying it for what it was – a haunting take on local folklore with an emphasis on complex family dynamics.

Overall, I really did enjoy The Whisper Man and certainly recommend it if you’re in the market for a unnerving read this fall season. It gets a 3.5/5 from me.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.png.5


Ratings:
My overall: 3/5
Suspense: 4/5
Character Development: 5/5
Ending: 2/5

Goodreads: 4.21/5


Get More Information:
The Whisper Man is a thriller, and it was published on August 20, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.


About the Author: Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Camille Pagán’s I’m Fine and Neither are You

I'mFine.jpg

Y’all I had to take a week or two in order to digest I’m Fine and Neither Are You. Even after finishing it a few weeks ago, this book’s message has stayed with me. I have to thank Netgalley, Lake Union Publishing, and Camille Pagán for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

I’m Fine and Neither Are You tells the story of Penelope Ruiz-Kar. She’s a wife, a mother, a friend, the financial backbone of her family, and she’s barely keeping it together. To make matters worse, Penelope feels her life pales in comparison to her best friend, Jenny, who appears to juggle it all. After an unexpected tragedy occurs, Penelope realizes that her best friend’s life was not what it seemed. Determined to take control of her own life, Penelope vows to commit to total honesty in her own marriage. What she doesn’t realize is that total honesty will either save her marriage or tear it apart.

You might like this book if:

  • you enjoy books that are driven by character development
  • you are interested in books that cause you to become introspective upon reading
  • you are interested in the multi-faceted roles adults often play (partner, parent, friend)

You might not like this book if:

  • you prefer plot-driven novels
  • you dislike lengthy inner monologues
  • you prefer linear storytelling (this novel has flashback memories)

The reason I put off writing this review for so long is because I just wasn’t sure what I thought. There were elements that I loved and there were some that I hated. So, let’s break it down. I loved the title and the message that it conveys. How often do we say “oh, I’m fine” when it is far from the truth? Sometimes I’m just not fine (and neither are you.)

Second to the title, I loved the way this book made me feel. After reading, I couldn’t help but look and question my own life. Was I happy? Was I being honest? Am I fine or am I actually fine? Any book that forces me to become introspective is one that I’m interested in.

On the other hand, there were elements I just did not enjoy. While I generally go for plot-driven stories, I can appreciate well-written character-driven stories. With that being said, this character-driven piece had so much inner monologue. So much! I felt like I was being told a story the entire time without being shown. So much of the story seemed to take place in the Penelope’s thoughts/consciousness instead of the actual world. While I understand this may lend itself to character-driven stories, I thought it was too heavy handed.

Further, there was a lack of tension that made me feel a little…bored. While this book did tackle huge, emotional issues, it just lacked tension. Penelope’s life never seemed like it was at risk of ~actually~ changing. I normally need tension/conflict to make me afraid for my characters or nervous to see how it’s going to turn out in the end. I just didn’t feel that here. Although there was character growth – the story lacked tension. It was just a bit boring for me in that regard.

Overall, I have to say that I’m happy I read this one. I thought about this book long after I finished it. It made me think about what I can do in my life to change. Am I fine or am I fine? It was also refreshing to see a woman character that fulfilled so many roles (friend, employee, mother, spouse) and how she struggled to meet the requirements that each roll required. I’m here for any book that shows women in a complex, realistic way. I gave this one a 3/5.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.png

I’m Fine and Neither Are You is domestic fiction, and it was published on April 1, 2019. It’s 270 pages and has a 3.82 rating on Goodreads. As of 4/29/19, it is on Kindle Unlimited.

get more info: visit Camille Pagán’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find I’m Fine and Neither are You on Amazon

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. Netgalley and the publisher were kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Frances Vick’s Two Little Girls

I want to say thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for providing me with an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!

Two Little Girls tells the story of Lisa and Kirsty. They are Best Friends Forever. At least, they are until the day Lisa disappears. It’s 1985 and Kirsty, afraid for her friend and traumatized by her disappearance, helps provide evidence to put the killer behind bars. The killer even gives a confession. So why, ten years later, is Kirsty still haunted by the thought that she made a terrible mistake?

spoiler free: I really wanted to love this one, because I was so captivated by the premise of the novel and the first third of the book. The author wrote a compelling, chilling, and questionable friendship between two young girls. The first third of the book explored their warped friendship through a child’s POV and it was eerie.

I loved how from the very beginning we were introduced to the theme of real vs. fake. Lisa told so many lies that we were left, alongside Kirsty, to wonder what was real after all? I was excited to see how the author was going to play off this theme when exploring how time distorts memory and how the line between real and fake becomes blurrier as time marches on.

It was really the latter half of the book that fell flat for me. I just could not buy that Kirsty was so unconcerned that she potentially put away an innocent man on a murder charge. I kept wanting her to wake up with some drive or intensity to uncover the truth. That never really happened. Instead, Kirsty was pulled along throughout the book until the truth literately fell into her lap. This was unsatisfying.

Further, I felt like the author missed an opportunity to really play up the theme of memory distortion. There were some moments where Kirsty potentially misremembered aspects of her childhood, but she pretty much stood firm on what she saw as a child. I felt like the novel would have been so much stronger (and quite honestly Kirsty’s attitude more believable) if she were constantly questioning what she truly saw back then.

Instead, we were left with the (pretty much) absolute truth of her memory and this caused there to be so few characters to pick from when questioning who the murderer was. There was a minor red herring, but this was hardly strong enough to mislead the reader. Instead, the ending felt obvious and inevitable, which never bodes well for suspense/mystery.

Overall, this was a 2/5 for me. (I did not enjoy the book overall, but there was some aspects that were ok).

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.36.40 PM.png

Two Little Girls is an adult suspense/mystery. It releases on April 17, 2019 and it is available for pre-order now.

get more info: visit Frances Vick’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Two Little Girls on Amazon