Pieces of Her & Pretty Girls

I feel like these 2 books are the Karin Slaughter dynamic duo. I really can’t decide which one I like more, but I’m leaning slightly towards Pretty Girls. 

Pretty Girls is great, it’s a classic Karin Slaughter novel that starts off with a bang almost immediately. What I loved about Pretty Girls was the character development and realistic characters throughout the story. Sure, a couple parts were a little far fetched- but it also actually felt like it could be totally real overall. I also liked the back stories of the sisters and felt like the way they helped each other and were brought back together was on point.

Here is the Blurb for Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter:

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenage sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.
 
The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it. 

 

Pieces of Her was great and I’m super excited that Netflix is making it into a movie or series. I loved the Mother/ Daughter dynamic, however I felt myself getting slightly annoyed with Andy’s character and her delay in reaction or ability to act quicker in certain situations. Here is the Blurb for Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter:

Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother Laura. She’s knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a Saturday afternoon trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one will ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Fleishman is in Trouble

So, I chose this book because it made a lot of the “Best Books of 2019” lists and received some significant hype. I just finished it and can’t decide how I really feel about it yet.

The book is broken down into 3 sections and I loved the shift that came at the 3rd section. Towards the middle of the book, I resorted to skimming a little bit because I felt some of the back story/past that the novel got into was boring and unnecessary. Overall, I liked the ending and I liked the perspective shift and the way it made you think… I found some of the switch between Toby and narrator confusing and think some of the fluff could’ve been removed in between chapters.

Here is the blurb description from Wikipedia:

Toby, a 41-year-old hepatologist, is undergoing a bitter divorce from his wife Rachel, a successful talent agent in New York. One day, she drops off their children, 11-year-old Hannah and 9-year-old Solly, at Toby’s house while he is still sleeping and takes off. She does not respond to texts or calls from him for the following weeks. The story, narrated by Toby’s college friend Libby, a former writer for a men’s magazine, follows their lives over this period and the events that led to the breakdown of their 14-year-marriage, as well as reflections of Libby’s own life.

The One by John Marrs

Wow! This book is really great. I stumbled upon the recommendation from a Book club online group and read it had been extremely successful in the UK.

The book takes place in a world where almost every single person has been “matched” by their DNA to their perfect person. Some people love it, some hate it- but the novel follows the lives of 5 characters as they go about meeting and finding their perfect match. Each chapter alternates between a different character’s story which makes the suspense of what is happening to each character really be drawn out across the novel. I loved this book, I truly didn’t see some of the twists coming and thought the character development and storyline was extremely well executed.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Also worth mentioning- I am normally a fast reader and this book actually took me a few days! (Which is a good thing!)

Here is the blurb about the book:

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

This book follows the lives of two sisters, Jo and Bethie, from their youth through adulthood. The book started a bit slow for more but progressively gained steam. I really enjoyed the last half of the book and thought all of the characters were wonderfully developed. The writing was excellent and purposely wove a great story. I chose this book based on reviews, many of which hated the ending. I liked the way the story culminated and ended and felt like it matched the overall story and theme.

I liked that the book didn’t necessarily have a “happy” ending, but more of a “hopeful” ending.

Where the Crawdads sing

Okay, woah. This book is a yes.

At the start of this book, I almost put it down because I really wasn’t into the swamp/nature theme and intense descriptions of the wildlife. The writing was excellent, just swamp wildlife isn’t my vibe. However, the story picked up and I decided to keep reading… and now, I get it.

I totally get why this book is a bestseller and I totally get the hype. I really feel the need to talk to people about the ending and the book. My only complaint is that I feel the ending was too quick. I wanted to know more about her writing, etc.

The book is truly an excellent piece of literature and written in an extraordinary way. The background setting wasn’t my cup of tea, but I appreciate great work. I wish the trial had started a tad bit earlier in the book giving us a little more of life after the trial as opposed just going to the end.

Without spoiling anything, I won’t say anymore, other than that I highly recommend this book.

Maybe in Another Life- Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m a huge Taylor Jenkins Reid fan, as one of my favorite books is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so I was super excited to finally get my hands on this novel.

I loved it and I loved the characters, I felt like I knew them and they were so well described. The book takes on dual story-lines and goes back and forth between 2 different choices the main character chooses to make.

The premise that the Universe always works out in our favor, no matter the choice, is something I do believe. However, I felt slightly conflicted with the ending of the book, because I felt like it didn’t exactly match up to the rest of the storytelling.

SPOILER ALERT:

The other characters, like Gabby, no matter their choices- receive the same ending. Hannah, the main character, I was expecting the story to be different but  the ending to be the same. She gets two different endings with the two different story-lines. I liked the book, but I’m curious to know why it had two different endings when everything was leading up to the conclusion that there would be one ending- no matter what choices she made.

 

I liked my Life- Abby Fabiaschi

Wow, I really loved this book. From the get go, I knew it was a book about a woman who surprisingly commited suicide, leaving her family to wonder what in the world had happened. I dove right into it because I was super intrigued by the narrator, Maddy, the woman telling the story after death. Although there are multiple viewpoints and narrators throughout the novel, hers lays the groundwork for the story line and opens the book.

I was curious what happened and why, of course; so I started the beginning of the book reading quickly. Towards the middle of the book, I got a bit antsy and annoyed by some of the overly detailed story points that I didn’t think mattered. There is one chapter that talks about the Husband (Brady) going off to find long lost relatives. I thought this was super boring and frankly, irrelevant to the story at hand. Was it just added in for word count?

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and found the writing to be excellent. It was sprinkled with just enough humor to keep the grief feeling real. The characters were well written and relatable. The ending was perfect and without giving anything away, I really like happy endings and I felt this book gave the reader the happy ending they deserved after a somewhat somber novel.

I would definitely recommend I like my Life by Abby Fabiaschi

Here is the description from Amazon:

Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.

The Lost Man- Jane Harper

This novel was superbly written. The detail and characters were excellent. The story itself was sort of a “Who dunnit”, with a death early on and the remaining characters left to figure out what happened. I was intrigued to read and find out what happened to the brother who died, but I had trouble connecting with the story because the wild outback and Australian desert didn’t peak my interest as a reader as it would for some others.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ending and felt like it tied the entire story together very well.

Overall, it was an extremely well written book, the characters were developed perfectly, and it’s definitely worth reading. It felt like the outback and place where the story occurred was it’s own character. Those that like the outback and nature would definitely enjoy this book more than city folk like myself.

Here is the book description from Amazon:

The Australian outback has never looked as bleak and dangerous as it does in Jane Harper’s latest, The Lost Man. The stockman’s grave is a dark local landmark, the origin of urban legends, and now the site of another mysterious death. There is no detective chasing a killer in The Lost Man; only Nathan, the dead man’s brother, trying to work out how his sibling ended up where and how he did. Family history plays an important role in the story: Nathan, his brother Bub, and their now-dead brother Cam were raised in a house beset by violence. Their father is deceased, but all three brothers have stayed on to work and live in the incredibly harsh surroundings. Cam was the solid one, always responsible, the brother everyone liked. So how did he, of all people, end up dead? Deceptive twists sneak up on the reader, and with The Lost Man Harper has crafted another slow burn mystery that catches the reader unaware right up to the surprise ending

 

The Bride Test & The Two Lila Bennetts

I paired these two books together as one review, but I can’t say I loved either novel. Since both were chosen off of recommendations from other readers, I have to say I’m disappointed.
The Bride Test started out as what I thought would be a cute story, but just never picked up steam. They focused a lot on the loss of the man characters friend and his grief… but really seemed to just tiptoe around the story line of dealing with the grief and the impact of what happened. Overall, I just felt the story line was far fetched and almost sad for the two characters that were being set up together. Sad for the woman who felt compelled to make this man fall in love with her and sad for the man who was being forced into a relationship with a stranger because of his mothers wishes. Just couldn’t get the feels from this one.

The Two Lila Bennetts also started out great. I loved the alternating story lines and felt like I was getting two books in one. Sadly, it felt like we had this great story buildup to a super mediocre ending. Sigh… it was well written but there’s really not much more to say about this one other than I felt like the story was a let down.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

My first Kristin Hannah novel and it won’t be my last! I enjoyed this book, I wouldn’t say it was my favorite that I’ve read lately, but I felt super involved in the story and wanted to know what would happen between the two women. The novel really explores friendship and how far we will go for those friends that we love like family. My struggle with the characters was that one character was all give and one was all take. I never felt like the giving character was able to take from any of the other characters.

Here is the description from Amazon:
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

My only complaint with the story was that from the beginning, we knew that an event occurs that hurts their friendship. However, that event doesn’t happen until almost the end of the book. I wish it happened sooner so we could explore more of the after story. I felt like the book took it’s time covering their lives and their friendship, but then felt it rushed to the end. I really did enjoy it, it made me cry and want to read and write more.
Overall, I would definitely recommend it.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

WOW!!! This is my favorite book I’ve read all Summer!

I picked it up after a recommendation and only lightly glanced over the description. So I did not see the story going in the direction it did.

However, without giving anything away, I thought the actual writing was better than the story itself. There was a chapter in the book where the author describes the type of love and infatuation the main character has for her love interest and WOW. Her writing and description is just the definition of beautiful writing.

I highly recommend this book!

Description and blurb from Amazon:

Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future.

Lock every Door- Riley Sager

I really loved this book and especially liked the way the story was formatted.

Definitely a thriller, with suspense. I was able to figure out who the “bad guy” was fairly early on, however I did not see the overall twist and bigger picture of what was happening until the end. At first I wanted to think it was a far fetched story, something that could never happen… but then again, knowing the depths of how far some people will go and how selfish some people are, it could happen.

My only gripe with this novel is that it did leave a few unanswered questions.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind. 

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story…until the next day, when Ingrid disappears. 

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s sordid past and into the secrets kept within its walls. What she discovers pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.