Forget You Know Me

Forget You Know MeForget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 5th 2019
Pages: 336
ISBN: 1250184460
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three-stars

Molly and Liza have been close friends for a long time, but distance and life seemed to have gotten in the way. The two friends decide to have a video chat over wine to catch up and things are going great until Molly goes in the other room to check on her daughter. Liza, while waiting for Molly to return, notices a masked intruder walk across the room. Naturally Liza is concerned, she is more than concerned she is freaked out. Who wouldn’t be? She makes attempts to contact her friend and calls the authorities. When she finally contacts her friend the next day, she is stunned by her friend’s icy reception which ends with anger and hostility.

The opening of the book is strong and instantly grabbed my attention. Molly’s reaction to Liza being concerned had me scratching my head. Just what the heck is going on? When Liza returns home, she gets another shock. Then there is Daniel, Molly’s husband who was away on a business trip and is concerned when his wife fails to mention an intruder being in their home. Ummm… that is huge, why not mention it? Sure, their relationship has been strained and over the years, they too have had some distance come into their relationship as hurt, resentment and lack of communication crept into their lives.

It is obvious that there is more going on than meets the eye. The opening scenes along with the book description may make this book look like a thriller but it is really a look at relationships and how relationships can become distant, lonely and lose their luster. It shows how lack of validation in a relationship can damage it. How people want to be acknowledged, heard and respected. It also shows the effects of secrets and how one act of bad judgement, once committed begins to snowball until one is making one poor decision after another. It’s a look at what happens when you get in over your head and you don’t ask for help.

Relationships. Love. Distance. Secrets. Resentment. Guilt. Intruder.

After the intense beginning, this book slows down and has a slower pace as it explores the relationships of the main characters. Strawser is a gifted writer but even with her great writing, this one just didn’t blow me away. Having said that, I did enjoy this book -especially how the Author showed how sometimes life gets in the way and individuals need to make time for their relationships. Friendship is important. Making time for those in our lives is important. Communication is important. I enjoyed Liza but found that I never warmed to Molly or Daniel as I would have liked. I really enjoyed Strawser’s other book “Not that I could tell” and had high hopes for this one. For me this was just a little too slow. I would advise everyone to keep in mind that this book is about friendships, marriage, relationships, choices, secrets and lies. It’s a slow burn which is satisfying but if you are looking for a lot of action, you may be disappointed. This was a solid 3 star read for me. .

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

three-stars

The Little Shop of Found Things

The Little Shop of Found ThingsThe Little Shop of Found Things (The Little Shop of Found Things #1) by Paula Brackston
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 16th 2018
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250072433
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two-stars

The Little Shop of Found Things is the beginning of a new series involving time travel and antiques. Xanthe and her mother, Flora have an antique shop in Marlborough. Xanthe has a special gift of being able to touch an antique object and experience a sense of the past and the story the antique holds. One day she feels a connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine and knows she must purchase it and find out more. While she is examining her new find, she is transported back to the seventeenth century and after is confronted by a ghost who informs her that the chatelaine is a link to that time and that Xanthe must help her right an injustice or else Flora’s life will be in danger.

This book started very slowly for me. I struggled with this. I found that I did not feel any connection to the main character. I decided to carry on and was intrigued by Alice’s story and wanted to know if Xanthe would be able to complete her task. What I did enjoy about this book, besides the beautiful cover, was the emerging romance between Samuel and Xanthe. I found I enjoyed the scenes with Samuel in the most. For me, the last third of the book was the most enjoyable.

There are many high ratings for this book, so this book obviously works for many readers. This goes to show that not all of us will love the same book. What works for one reader will not work for another. I had a real problem with connecting with this book. The premise was interesting to me and I was surprised when I found myself struggling with this book. One part of the book that I did not struggle with was the beginning romance. The romance part was intriguing and reminded me a little of the “Outlander” book series only in that a woman living in the modern age goes back in time and finds romance.

My advice would be to read all the reviews and decide for yourself. Many are loving this. This book has mystery, romance, some history and magic. Many things that will appeal to many readers. Sadly, this just wasn’t for me.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

two-stars

The Night Before

The Night BeforeThe Night Before by Wendy Walker
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 28th 2019
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250198674
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five-stars

This was such an addictive and gripping read that I could not put it down! I was glued to his book and read most of the book in one day. I just had to know what was going to happen next. Walker did not disappoint; the action was consistent and the twits and revelations came at the right intervals to keep me on the edge of my seat wanting more!

I love that the book blurb does not give a lot of information – just enough to pique the readers interest! This book is cleverly told through both Laura and her sister, Rosie’s points of view using differing timelines which are clearly dated and labeled. This was a HUGE plus. I never felt lost and experience no confusion when the timelines jumped around. The book blurb teases the reader with the fact that a woman is missing. I will only tell you that Laura has gone on a date with a man she met on an internet dating site and Rosie, her husband, Joe and their childhood friend, Gabe, become worried when Laura does not show up the next day.

I loved that there is never any downtime in this book. The pacing is consistent and adds to the feeling of dread, suspense and mounting anxiety of the characters (and me while reading). I loved how the Author gives bits and pieces about the main character’s past throughout the book. I loved that I never knew the entire story, so I was continuously guessing and creating theories. For most of the book, I kept wondering who was reliable, who was unreliable, what is real, what is the truth, is anyone lying, and where is Laura?

I love putting on my super sleuth hat while reading! I love when an Author can fool me. I found the storytelling to be clever, extremely well thought out, and riveting. By the time the book concluded, I had experienced so many feelings – anticipation, dread, anxiety, happiness, hope, shock, surprise and although my theories were wrong, the Author tidied everything up so nicely that I was not only happy I was wrong but was thrilled by it. Nothing really came out of left field, one does not really need to suspend disbelief while reading. What you do need to do is find a comfortable reading spot and dive in!

This was my first book by Walker, but it will not be my last.

Highly recommend!

Thank you to St. Marin’s Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an hones review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

*This book does not come out for some time but keep it on your radar!!! You will not be disappointed!

five-stars

The Ancient Nine

The Ancient Nine

The Ancient NineThe Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 18th 2018
Pages: 432
ISBN: 1250182395
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three-stars

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fall 1988

Spenser Collins is a sophomore at Harvard University when he is “punched” to join the Delphic Club, an exclusive all male final club that can boast some of world’s most successful businessmen, politicians, Hollywood legends and Wall Street titans to name a few. Spenser, a basketball player at Harvard, is from Chicago and is the son of a single Mother. He does not quite fit Delphic Club’s membership criteria and yet they are interested in him. Spenser’s friend, Dalton Winthrop, has lived a life of luxury and knows a lot about the exclusive clubs at Harvard. He encourages Spenser to attend the social. Dalton’s great-uncle is the Delphic’s oldest living member. During their talks, Dalton mentions the “Ancient Nine” the infamous secret club within the club. The Ancient Nine is shrouded in mystery and Dalton shares several theories and Harvard Legends about how and why the club within the club exists. Dalton encourages Spenser to check out the club and find out any information he can find about the Ancient Nine. When Spenser meets an interesting man at the first social, Dalton and Spenser have their interest piqued even more than it already was, and they decide to do whatever they can to find out more about the club and the top secret exclusive Ancient Nine. Fueled by a meeting with Dalton’s great-uncle and the request to retrieve a secret book, the two young men must be clever, smart, and cunning to learn the truth.

Through the course of this novel, the reader learns more about the Ancient Nine but also about Harvard, Harvard’s history and secret societies in general. Spenser and Dalton discover there had been a missing person/murder in the 1920’s and as they research, the reader is also shown the library and research system at Harvard.

This book has a little bit of everything: secret societies, mystery, suspense, romance, and has a cat and mouse feel. There is also the objectification of women which may be uncomfortable to some, but I feel is indicative of the time the book is set in and the fact that the book is about frat/secret societies. There are stories within stories and those who want to keep the secrets of the club – just that secrets. Plus, there is the component about religion, the mention of King James and the King James Bible. How is all this related? You’ll have to read this to find out! There is a lot going on in this book – almost too much at times for me.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

three-stars

That Night

That NightThat Night by Chevy Stevens
Published by St. Martin's Press on June 17th 2014
Pages: 372
ISBN: 1250034604
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four-stars

That night…….that night which changed everything for Toni Murphy.

The book opens as Toni Murphy is a thirty-four-year-old woman being released from prison. She and her high school boyfriend, Ryan have been wrongly convicted for the murder of Toni’s younger sister, Nicole. Now that Toni is out on parole, she is an entirely different person. Prison has toughened her, made her stronger, made her harder, and changed the relationships with those in her life forever. No one believed her or her boyfriend Ryan when the couple steadfastly claimed their innocence. Robbed of years of her life, Toni wants to start over and doesn’t want to do anything to violate her parole.

This book is told through alternating timelines. The reader is shown Toni’s life as a teenager. She is young, in love and has plans for her future. She, like most teenagers, rebels against her parents and is defiant, and breaks the rules. She was also being bullied by a group of girls who give all new meaning to the term “mean girls.”

As an adult, Toni struggles to move on with her life as the past looms heavily over her. Ryan, her high school sweetheart, believes he can find out who really killed Nicole as Toni struggles with her parent’s reaction to her being released from prison. How very sad to be doubted and not believed.

I discovered Chevy Stevens years ago, through an overdrive read along and became a fan. I find her books to be very readable and engaging. She has some twists and turns but nothing comes out of left field and nothing feels unbelievable.

That Night is a fast read with interesting characters. This is the perfect beach and/or plane book. A great way to escape the world for a while. Can easily be read in one sitting. This book kept my interest and was entertaining. I think most will guess the who but not the why when it comes to the killer in this book. As the saying goes – it’s the journey and the destination. Getting to the truth and unraveling secrets is the meat and potatoes of this book.

four-stars

The Dream Daughter

The Dream DaughterThe Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 2nd 2018
Pages: 384
ISBN: 1250087309
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three-half-stars

What would you do to save your child?

That really is the question in this book. Caroline Sears receives word that her unborn baby has a fatal heart defect. She is devastated, she has lost so much already. Her husband has gone missing and is presumed dead in Vietnam. Then one day her brother-in-law, Hunter comes to Caroline/Carly with some startling news. He believes there is a way that her unborn baby can be saved. She needs to suspend some disbelief. The reader needs to suspend some disbelief. As he explains to her how her child can be saved, some things begin to make sense and she decides to make a leap of faith!

I won’t say much more about the plot but to say, this book is about one woman’s journey to save her child and, in the process, grows as a person and learns what being a mother is all about. The reader is also given a glimpse into the progress of medical science and prenatal care. We are also shown the emotional scope of having a child with a birth defect and the struggles to keep your child healthy and the emotions (and exhaustion) of having a child with health issues. When being strong is not a choice but a necessity.

While reading this book, I felt many emotions and it was like a roller coaster ride. Would her baby receive the treatment she needs? Will the child survive? How will she make it back home? How will her sister react?

This was not my favorite book by Chamberlain, but it was enjoyable and as I stated, it does evoke emotion. Chamberlain continues to write thoughtful books which stir the emotions while dealing with real life issues. She does take a chance with time travel in this book and I appreciated that she did not get too technical with how time travel works, etc. I appreciated that she let Carly’s courage to save her baby take center stage and kept the time travel take a smaller but important role in this book.  Obviously the time travel is needed but it does not overshadow the love and sacrifice in this book.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

three-half-stars

How to Walk Away

How to Walk AwayHow to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 15th 2018
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250149061
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three-half-stars

“Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need.”

At the beginning of the book, Margret Jacobsen was right where she wanted to be in her life. She had earned her MBA, she was about to start a dream job, and was in a relationship with the “perfect man”. What could be better? Then on day, Chip, the perfect man, decided to take her flying. He knew that she was scared to fly, he knew that she had reservations, but he talked her into it. Never mind that although he is taking private pilot lessons and is so very close to getting his license – he was not a licensed pilot. He took out a plane and up they flew.

What was supposed to be a romantic flight where they became engaged, turned into a nightmare. During landing they crashed, and Chip walked away without any injuries while Margret was not so lucky. In the hospital, she learned just how extensive her injuries are. She also learned some family secrets, faces heartbreak, copes with her medical situation and prognosis for her future. Her sister, Kit, who has been estranged form the family for several years, comes back into her life and provides a cushion for Margaret (Maggie) as she copes with her current situation, her parents, Chip, Chip’s Mother and her own feelings about her physical injuries. As she struggles with her physical therapy and her attempts to get a smile out of Ian, her physical therapist, we watch as she learns she still has a future, can still enjoy her life, and move on from past hurts.

People show you who THEY are in how they treat you. Chip showed his true colors as he wallowed in self-pity, as did his Mother, who was just plain disgusting in my opinion, as did Ian, who the Nurses felt would be too touch on Margaret but proved to be the one who encouraged her to not give up. I enjoyed how Margaret and her sister, Kit, interacted. They had some humorous and touching conversations. There are some interesting characters in this book with distinct personalities.

A lot of research went into Margaret’s medical condition, burns, prognosis and physical therapy options. I kept wanting to hear the legal consequences for Chip. He was not a licensed pilot, took a plane and crashed. How is he not arrested for theft, held responsible for the crash, sued, etc? I know the focus on the story was about Margaret, but his aspect of the book annoyed me a little. Plus, I felt she was too nice. He should have been responsible for her medical costs.

But, I did like how she is depicted as having various emotions during her hospital stay when learning of her injuries and her prognosis: shock, fear, hope, determination, worry, acceptance etc. I found that part to be realistic and made the book more enjoyable. She didn’t just initially accept things and move on, she needed support which she mainly received form her physical therapist and her sister. Yes, her parents were supportive as well, but I really enjoyed her relationship with her sister and her physical therapist.

This was an enjoyable book about moving on, second chances, inner strength, family, acceptance and not giving up.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

three-half-stars

Black Star Renegades

Black Star RenegadesBlack Star Renegades by Michael Moreci
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 2nd 2018
Pages: 375
ISBN: 1250117844
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three-stars

Galaxy hoping, space rebels, evil characters, pilots, friends, foes, robots, sword fights, backstabbing and an epic quest all take place in this book. The galaxy is at war and they need the “chosen one” foretold by legend, to swoop in and save the day. But what happens when the chosen one meets his demise, and another must step up to the plate?

Cade and his older brother, Tristan, are orphans who travel to the caves of Quarry on a mission. There tragedy strikes, and Cade is the sole survivor. He was supposed to walk out with his brother Tristan who was the chosen one, but they were not the only ones in the cave, which left Cade in possession of the Rokura (mystical weapon), and the responsibility to right wrongs and save the galaxy. Cade does not really want to be the “Paragon” and becomes a reluctant hero in this book.

First and foremost: My advice is to read the glossary. I put a book mark in the back of the book, so I could easily turn to the glossary when I had a question as to who a character was, etc. I found it helped me to keep track of everyone and the places they went, implements they used, etc. I didn’t realize the book had a glossary initially. I wish I would have discovered the glossary in the very beginning of the book. I was struggling a little in the beginning of this book – keeping everything straight. I do not read a lot of sci-fi books and I have a hard time visualizing things/environments/etc and that do not “exist” so having the glossary helped immensely. Plus, characters and places have unusual words, so the glossary proved helpful again. Eventually, I did not need the glossary, but I did find it very helpful.

There is a lot of conflict in this book as one would expect with a “we-must-save-the-galaxy” book! There are battles, sword fights, revelations, and a rag tag group who ban together to save the day…errr, galaxy! The story is a little predictable but that should not deter anyone. Sometimes it is about the journey. This book is an homage to Star Wars and it shows. I think that this book should be read with that in mind. This book has a strong YA feel to it for me, which is not a critique or a bad thing whatsoever. I believe teens and sci-fi fans will enjoy this. I am not a big science fiction reader and I did struggle with parts of this book. Specifically, I struggled in the beginning but found as the book progressed, I enjoyed it more.

I received a copy of this book form the Author in exchange for an honest review.

three-stars

How Hard Can It Be?

How Hard Can It Be?How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson
Published by St. Martin's Press on June 5th 2018
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1250086086
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three-stars

How Hard Can It Be? is a sequel to “I don’t know how she does it”. I did not read the first book and I did not feel that I was missing anything but not having read that book first. This book worked very well as a standalone novel for me.

Kate Ready is almost 50, she is returning to the workforce and finds herself having to lie about her age to be considered for employment. Her husband is distant and appears to be more into his self-help books and bike riding than he is in her or their marriage. Her daughter has taken an inappropriate picture of herself and it was posted on the internet, she has aging parents and is dealing with the onset of menopause. Kate has a lot going on in this book.

There are some zany moments of Kate getting caught, as in she is stuck and can’t get out of it, in her spanx-like underwear and trying to host her daughter’s Christmas party but overall the book this book failed to really blow me away. The main character is dealing with just about everything but the kitchen sink in this book, and although some of it feels cliched, the character is in the age range where she would be dealing with aging parents, teenager angst, pre-menopause, juggling a career with raising a family, etc. So, I can’t really fault the Author for throwing all of those into this book. A lot of readers will also be able to relate to a lot of the issues brought up in this book. To add to Kate’s woes, a man from her past comes into the picture and she feels those long-ago longing stirred up.

This book deals with a lot of issues: how social media can be used in bullying/sharing of inappropriate pictures, infidelity, the aging process, teenage angst, friendship, return to the workforce, and coping with change. This book does deal with some heavy issues but does so in a light manner. That does not mean that this book takes those issues lightly, it just chooses to deal with them in keeping with the characters personalities.

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I would not go out of my way to recommend it to someone, but at the same time, if I saw someone reading the book, I would most likely say “Oh yeah, I read that. Good book”. Good not great. There were parts that I felt went on a little too long. I know there will be readers who will pick up this book and love it, but when there are sections which I just want to skim so I get through them and back to the part of the book which I enjoyed. There were some things I found to be unrealistic in this book such as Kate not telling her husband about their daughter’s issues with her picture being distributed on social media. Perhaps this was done to show the distance between them in the relationship, but I found it unrealistic that she would not have told her daughter’s father about the incident and how this was impacting their child.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

three-stars

The Italian Party

The Italian PartyThe Italian Party by Christina Lynch
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 20th 2018
Pages: 336
ISBN: 1250147832
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three-half-stars

Scottie and Michael are newlyweds living in Tuscany in the 1950’s. What could be better! Sound like the adventure of a lifetime and in many ways, it is. But they both have secrets they are keeping from the other. They really didn’t know each other for too long before they decided to get married. Michael liked that Scottie was educated at Vassar. That meant she came from money, right? She is a blonde from California and he believed she must come from a “good family.” Scottie looks good on his arm. She is quite beautiful, and Michael liked the image they presented. Scottie liked that Michael was educated at Yale. He wore a sharp looking suit and is a handsome man. He is kind, intelligent and charming. Plus, he has a good job. What more could a girl ask for? Plus, Scottie has a secret and has not been forthcoming about her past as she should have been.

Michael also has secrets he is keeping from Scottie. Michael has a secret job. Scottie believes he works for the Ford company and they are in Italy, so he can do business for Ford. Michael really works for the CIA and is in Sienna to make sure a certain candidate wins the election. His goal is to make sure that the current communist leader is not re-elected. That is not his only secret.

When Scottie’s Italian teacher goes missing, she learns many things. There are “truths” out there. The truths about herself, her husband, her marriage, and world affairs. When the “truths” come out, how will Michael and Scottie react? How will this affect them individually, as a married couple and as American’s living abroad.

This was an enjoyable book that touches on many things. It is part humor – part drama – part romance. It touches on living abroad, living with secrets, world affairs in the 1950’s, how secrets affect us, identity, duty, being true to yourself, and living a lie. I found it to be well written and engaging. Plus, the setting and the food will make you wish you were reading this book while vacationing in Italy! Plus, all the characters are likable, engaging and I felt for all of them. Both Scottie and Michael are likable, and I can’t say more about them without giving away some of the plot. What I will say is that this book is charming, entertaining and well written. It’s not a page turner but it will suck you in to these characters world and into their lives.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s press in exchange for an honest review.

three-half-stars