Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

4 Stars
She Was the Quiet One
She Was the Quiet One - Michele Campbell

Twin sisters Rose and Bel Enright couldn't be more different. Rose is serious about her education, she's quiet and isn't as pretty as her sister. Bel is a wild child who runs with a bad crowd at their new school. The Odell School is a prestigious New Hampshire boarding school. This was their chance to start anew after leaving California but nothing's gotten better between the sisters. In fact, things have gotten much worse. Especially when one of them is accused of murdering the other.

Sarah Donovan is the wife of a handsome, charismatic, ambitious teacher who is determined to rise through the ranks. She's trying her best to be happy and supportive but she knows her husband well enough to notice the warning signs. Doesn't she? But surely he's not involved in the murder of a student. Right?

I was sucked in from page one. I love stories about boarding schools with all their drama and secrets and coverups. Which twin was killed?! And why? Does it have anything to do with a certain handsome teacher? Could one twin murder the other? Could another student have done it? There were a few different possibilities that kept me guessing. I found part one very compelling and suspenseful. I was so absorbed in the story that I felt like I was there. But once I got into part two my interest started to wane. I found it repetitious, it dragged on and on. Some things were convenient. And I didn't really care for the ending. Overall though I did enjoy this book.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the invite to read this ARC through Netgalley.

4 Stars
Death of a Russian Doll
Death of a Russian Doll - Barbara Early

Liz McCall has been seeing Ken Young, the current Chief of Police, but he neglected to tell her he was married. His estranged wife, Marya, shows up in East Aurora to rekindle their marriage. She's working right next door to Liz's toyshop. And she's involved in the toyshop's doll rehab project. It seems as though no one in town really knows Marya, so it's especially hard to come up with suspects when her body is discovered in the barbershop next door with a hair dryer cord wrapped around her neck. Since Ken is the prime suspect, Liz's father, retired Chief of Police Hank McCall, is asked to take over the investigation. Liz has a few questions of her own and she's determined to get some answers.

This is the third book in the Vintage Toyshop Mystery series and can be read as a standalone. I love the toyshop with all its old goodies. Who doesn't like a trip down memory lane every now and then? The setting, the characters, the mystery - this book has so many great things going for it. And there are lots of puns that will have you rolling your eyes but also smiling!

Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC.

5 Stars
Foe - Iain Reid

Junior and Henrietta are married and live on a farm. They enjoy their solitude. There are no neighbours, the city is far away, and they don't get visitors. Ever. So imagine their surprise when, not only do they get a visitor one night, but this visitor comes with the news that Junior has been randomly selected to travel very far away. Alone. No Henrietta. Arrangements have already been made and Hen will be left in good hands.

I was SO excited when I found out Iain Reid was coming out with another book because I loved I'm Thinking of Ending Things SO much!! I was even more excited when I got my hands on an ARC. Just by looking at the cover you can tell it's going to be creepy and that something sinister is lurking in those pages. I loved everything about this book - Junior and Hen are real and they're living in an old house in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't imagine having to go through what they did. I couldn't get through this book fast enough. I couldn't wait to know exactly what was going on! Junior's frustration was palpable. Definitely a clever, thought-provoking, page-turner.

Thank you to the author, Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC.

4 Stars
Tin Man
Tin Man - Sarah Winman

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they meet and become best friends. They cycle the streets of Oxford, spend long lazy days on the beach, Ellis Sketches and Michael writes. They travel. And in between all that their friendships blossoms into something more. But not quite. A decade has passed and Ellis is married to Annie and Michael is no longer in the picture. But what happened to make it that way?

I did not like that there were no quotation marks at all in this short book. It was PDF and I could not open it on any program on my computer and the text was extremely small and frustrating to have to zoom in on every page on my phone or tablet so I read it on the kindle app which made the story sometimes confusing. However, I did enjoy this story more than I thought I would. I read Sarah Winman's other books and said that I liked them while I was reading them but forgot them immediately afterwards. But this one is going to stick with me. Ellis and Michael have such a strong, true connection that it is enviable. They, as well as Annie, really came to life. Their experiences were written in such great detail that they felt real. I could see everything as I was reading it. A really great story about living, love, loss and friendship that should make us grateful for the time we've shared with loved ones and for us to remember to enjoy the precious moments together with loved ones who are still here.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for my copy.

3 Stars
The Amazing Mr. Morality
The Amazing Mr. Morality - Jacob M. Appel

Appel's stories are always quirky, fun and imaginative. In my opinion though these were not his best. It felt like there was something missing from most of these stories to make them truly stand out and be great. The big reason I chose to read this was because of the woodchuck on the cover. A failed television producer wants the woodchuck in his yard gone, so he has it relocated only for it to send him written letters begging to come back. I did enjoy that one as well as the long story at the end in which the title of this collection comes from. In it two ethicists writing for rival newspaper columns answer questions such as 'If you’re going to commit a murder, is it worse to kill when the victim is sleeping or awake?' I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for more from this author.

Thank you to Netgalley and Vandalia Press for an ARC.

5 Stars
Deadly Secrets
Deadly Secrets - Robert Bryndza

DCI Erika Foster stumbles into another murder investigation while on her way to Christmas dinner. Marissa Lewis is the beautiful young woman who has been found brutally murdered on her own front doorstep. DCI Foster discovers that other people have been assaulted in the same neighbourhood and they all have one thing that links them to the murder victim - a figure dressed in black, wearing a gas mask. This case has many layers as DCI Foster uncovers the tangled web of secrets and deceit surrounding Marissa Lewis.

This is the sixth book in the Detective Erika Foster series and I found it to be the strongest one since the first book The Girl in the Ice. I'm not sure what to say that I haven't said in my other reviews - suspenseful, great cast of familiar characters. Erika's taking no bull from anyone. I thought the author was going to lose me towards the end, but everything worked out. This page-turner had no dull spots. I love this series!

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for an ARC.

4 Stars
Don't Believe It
Don't Believe It - Charlie Donlea

Sidney Ryan has put together the most watched documentary in television history. The Girl of Sugar Beach is a true-life mystery that is running in real time. The audience finds out exactly what happened ten years ago in St. Lucia when an American woman was accused of murdering her American boyfriend. Is Grace Sebold guilty or did the police want everything tied up in a neat little package to avoid a drop in tourism and money? The audience seems to think Grace is innocent and it looks as if she's getting out of that St. Lucian prison soon. Sidney has been uncovering startling evidence, things that were overlooked during the original investigation. But as the television series races towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying she got it all wrong.

Charlie Donlea is one of those authors, for me, where I don't have to read the blurb because I already know it's going to be good. If you've read his last book you'll recognize some names in this one, which I liked. I liked the aspect of Sidney Ryan digging around to free those who were wrongly accused and airing Grace Sebold's story on tv in real time. I found it easy to envision a group of friends in St. Lucia for a wedding and then everything being torn apart and everyone having to go on with their lives in different ways. Some things were convenient and the ending was a little far-fetched but overall it's another solid and entertaining read from this author.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington for an ARC.

5 Stars
Dial Meow for Murder
Dial Meow for Murder (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery) - Bethany Blake

It's almost Halloween and the small town of Sylvan Creek is preparing a gala fundraiser for Fur-ever Friends Pet Rescue. It's being held on the lawn of a mansion that is said to be haunted. What's even more frightening for Daphne Templeton is that she finds the owner of the house, Lillian Flynt, dead. Daphne's dog, Socrates, is with her every step of the way as she ultimately figures out who the murderer is.

This is the book that took me out of my reading slump! Dial Meow for Murder is the second book in the Lucky Paws Petsitting series. I have read the third one first then this one but have not yet read the first. I suggest starting at the beginning because there was a spoiler in this one, however I'm sure it won't spoil my enjoyment when I get my hands on Death by Chocolate Lab. I love this series. Everyone and everything seems so real and authentic and so damn cozy and festive. The whole story flows well. The animals all have their own personality. I was suspecting everyone, they all had their own reasons why Lillian Flynt should disappear. This one also includes recipes for our furry babies. I may even attempt the Pumpkin-Peanut-Butter Ghosts! I can't wait to read the first one and the fourth when it comes out later this year! Exclamation points all around!!

5 Stars
Best Day Ever
Best Day Ever - Kaira Rouda

Paul Strom has the perfect life - he is a successful advertising executive, his wife is young and beautiful, they have two healthy boys together, they live in a big house in a wealthy suburb, and they now own a lake house. In fact, Paul is taking his wife, Mia, to that very lake house for a romantic weekend, just the two of them. Paul promised Mia this would be the best day ever, but the tension in the car is palpable and things don't go the way Paul had planned.

I love the cover and appreciate it more now that I've read the book, which was great from the very first page. The writing is stunning and flawless and allows us to really get to know the characters. The story is from Paul's point of view and we can definitely tell he's a smug arsehole. We also get the feeling that there's something sinister lurking just beneath the surface. I couldn't wait to find out what was going on. There's no big twists, just little bombs dropped here and there that had me thinking 'wow' It's amazing how different Paul's mind works from Mia's and everyone else's in the story, although it focuses quite heavily on husband and wife. This was a quiet but intense read and I absolutely loved every word!

4 Stars
Tell Me No Lies
Tell Me No Lies (Follow Me Back) - A.V. Geiger

After Eric Thorn's phone was found cracked and bloody in the snow, but no Eric Thorn, who knows what's going on? Fangirl Tessa Hart knows the truth. She's been in hiding the last couple of months. But now she's forced to face the consequences. Back in the interrogation room it seems as though there are more questions than answers.

This is the conclusion to Follow Me Back. To be honest I don't remember a whole lot about that book, only that I had fun reading it and it shed some light on the dangers of social media. The same can be said about this book. Instead of focusing only on Twitter like the first book, we learn about Snapchat (okay, maybe I'm the only one who learned about it) and even though it may seem safer, you just never know what can happen. I was a little surprised at who the culprit was in this one. I enjoyed a look into Eric Thorn's life, how demanding and hectic it is to be famous. I'm a sucker for books that have police interviews and Twitter messages and stuff like that so I loved those parts. Overall this was a fast read and a satisfying end for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for an ARC.

4 Stars
The Marriage Lie
The Marriage Lie - Kimberly Belle

Iris and Will Griffith seem to have a perfect marriage - they're crazy in love, they live in their dream home in a nice neighbourhood, and they both have rewarding careers. But on the morning Will was supposed to fly to Orlando for business, Iris learns that he was on a plane going to Seattle. She only learns this because that plane has crashed, killing everyone. Iris has trouble believing this is happening. She has so many questions - why was he going to Seattle? Why did he lie about going to Orlando? And she's determined to get answers.

This book grabbed me from the very first page and kept my interest all the way through. Sometimes the writing itself was just okay, and I wasn't crazy about what went on in the last couple chapters. But the very end, ooh, that was fantastic! I absolutely loved it! Poor Iris was on an emotional rollercoaster. There was one thing after another. I was impressed at how many things the author threw in there and still made it all work. I was shocked a few times. I don't know what I would do if I was in the same position as Iris. A very suspenseful and compulsive read for me.

4 Stars
The Wife Between Us
The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

This book has many layers and they're all cleverly woven together to create this suspenseful page-turner. The two women's stories were so good! The characters and the situations felt real and believable. When I got to the first big twist, I had to stop and absorb it. A great, twisty book about the complexities of marriage and how there are three sides to every story - yours, theirs and the truth.

1 Stars
Providence: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

Jon and Chloe are young, they're best friends. And when Jon finally decides to tell Chloe the feelings he has for her, he's kidnapped on his way to school by an old substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity. Thoughts of Jon are never far away, but Chloe tries her best to fit in with the popular crowd and keep her life moving forward. But all that comes to an end when Jon escapes. He discovers he has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He stays away from Chloe, for her own good. He struggles to find the answers he's looking for that will bring him and Chloe together like they should be. But he's also being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of killings that he thinks are connected.

Unpopular opinion here and it pains me to say this, but I did not like this book at all. The big clue for me in the blurb should have been "an uncontrollable power that endangers.." and I ignored it. After that part of the story came into play my interest immediately faded. The book did start off great - two young friends at that awkward age are dancing around the feelings they have for one another then the boy is kidnapped and everyone who cares about him is thrown into turmoil. But as time went on I realized I didn't love these characters, I didn't like them nor did I hate them. I just didn't care about them. I didn't connect with any of them and I didn't get any depth from them. It was a boring story, full of nothing. I felt like I was reading forever and only made it to 52% before I skipped (it wasn't even worth a skim through) right to the epilogue which was just as boring and unsatisfying as everything that came before it.

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

4 Stars
Night Film
Night Film - Marisha Pessl

The body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova has been found in an abandoned warehouse. It appears as though she has committed suicide. But investigative journalist Scott McGrath believes this is not true. Ashley's father is Stanislas Cordova, an enigma. He's a film director whose dark, unsettling work can be found underground along with a cult following. Scott believes he may have had a hand in what happened to his daughter. As Scott digs deeper into the Cordova's lives, interviewing those closest to both Stanislas and Ashley as well as those who last seen Ashley before her death, he begins to wonder if he's the next victim.

The hardcover was on sale for $5! Where could I go wrong? I love the iridescent letters and luckily the story inside is good. It's long, I'm happy it's over, but it's solid all the way through. The thing that really bothered me throughout was the excessive italics. Not only was it annoying, it was distracting. I also didn't like the ending. Towards the end I was like 'oh my God, this is good!' then the author started to lose me, but then I thought 'well, this isn't so bad' But the actual ending, ugh. No. I really enjoyed the mystery and secrecy surrounding Stanislas Cordova. There were lots of weird things happening, that's for sure! Some things may not be as they seem. I liked all the characters. Each of them were different and they seemed real to me. Speaking of different, I really liked Nora. I hope New York hasn't taken away her sparkle.

4 Stars
The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn

Anna Fox is a recluse. She suffers from extreme agoraphobia. The only way to know what's going on in her neighbourhood is to spy on her neighbours with her Nikon camera. The Russell's have just moved in across the way. They seem to be the perfect family. But as Anna is looking out her window one night, she sees something unbelievable. And that's just it - nobody does believe her.

When I first stumbled across this book, before it came out, I thought 'Eh. Seems okay. I'm not excited to read it right away but maybe someday' Then the hype. So many people talking and all the good ratings and I needed this book days ago! This was gripping from page one. The short chapters make it easy to fly through the book. I really enjoyed the writing. There was one thing that didn't surprise me, but it all came together in the end. Lots of secrets, lies, deception, all that good stuff. I enjoyed all the characters, I think they all did the job they were supposed to do. Poor Anna. I'm so glad I picked this book up sooner rather than later!

4 Stars
After Nightfall
After Nightfall - A. J. Banner

Marissa Parlette's best friend betrayed her in college and now, after years of not talking, she pops back into her life and seeks forgiveness. As a gesture of reconciliation Marissa invites Lauren to her engagement party. But Lauren has too much to drink. She's flirting. The night doesn't go quite as planned and the morning is even worse - Lauren's body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff. Marissa is desperate to find the answers surrounding her death. She was scared of heights, so did she fall? Was she pushed? Did she mean to end her life? As she digs around for answers she begins to understand that everyone has secrets.

I love that cover! I was only going to read a chapter because I knew if I had plans to read it all the library books I have on hold would all come at once. After that first chapter I wasn't so sure I'd like the book that much. But then I was flying through the pages. I couldn't get enough. What happened to Lauren?! All the little tidbits are weaved together to create a clever story. Everyone is seen as suspicious, they all have secrets. I loved how the book ended. I was surprised at the big reveal, again I appreciate the cleverness, but I wasn't totally crazy about it. But this was still a tense, enjoyable page-turner for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC.