Review: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #CallMeStarGirl

Release date: April 18, 2019

Publisher: Orenda

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly… 

Review:

Louise Beech’s writing gets under my skin in a way no one else’s does, her gorgeous prose somehow pulls me in like no other and doesn’t let go until the end. It’s an all consuming experience every time I pick up one of her novels up and she raised the bar with Call Me Star Girl, which is a huge accomplishment as she’s already an amazingly talented author.

Stella is planning something big for her last night on the air as a radio host and not knowing what she had up her sleeve heightened the air of anticipation that was already palpable, you could feel the tension in the air. Which brings me to my next point, this was devastatingly atmospheric, who would’ve thought a radio station in the dead of night could be such a creepy place?! Louise Beech, that’s who and I swear I could feel the intensity crackling in the air while I was sitting in my own living room, it was brilliant and so clever. There was something so harrowing about this one but I mean that in a beautiful and almost poetic way. You have this group of highly complex characters combined with an intricate narrative that took me by surprise more times than I can count. It all concluded with a totally jaw dropping ending and one that I never saw coming but also one that left me awestruck, it was just perfectly executed. Highly recommended for psychological thriller fans, especially those who like ones with sophistication and a sense of noir.

Call Me Star Girl in three words: Slick, Atmospheric and Haunting

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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Release date: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Sarah Crighton Books/FSG

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences. 

Review:

I’m going to start by telling you that the hype and buzz surrounding this book is totally warranted, I had very high expectations after hearing from some of my most trusted friends that this was an incredible book and it exceeded them by a mile. The fact that this is a debut blows my mind, you know those rare debuts that take the literary world by storm? This is that book, it’s going to be huge and will be an extremely popular choice for book clubs for years to come, mark my words.

I don’t have the best track record with literary mysteries, I’ve only seriously enjoyed a couple but this was the best one I’ve ever read, hands down. Sometimes literary fiction in general feels like it’s trying too hard for me, all the flowery descriptions and ramblings tend to make my eyes glaze over but Kim wrote in a literary style that was pure magic. From the incredibly well crafted characters to the descriptions of the town of Miracle Creek and even to the retelling of the events of a tragedy through the eyes of several individuals, I was mesmerized, it was a totally magical reading experience.

You hear from several key people who were present the day of the accident and the story unfolds over the course of four days of trial testimony. Seeing how everyone involved had such different experiences and outlooks about not only the day in question, but also their memories from the months leading up to the event were endlessly fascinating as well. Choices played a huge role here too, how even the smallest, most seemingly innocuous decisions can have a huge impact was another thing that kept me riveted. The idea that a mundane day and a series of basic everyday choices can have consequences that add up to something no one ever saw coming still gives me the chills.

Any book with a character that has a special needs child draws me in, no matter what the subject matter, but when you have a group of parents of special needs kids and their struggles are so painfully honest and relatable, I’m a mess. This is the second book I’ve read this year that deals directly with ASD and also the second that portrays the daily life as a caretaker and advocate in such an accurate manner that I’m totally shook. Kim tapped into some of my innermost thoughts and fears about my own son, the dark and ugly fleeting things that fly through my head from time to time that once again, I felt seen, exposed even. It’s a powerful feeling making this already unforgettable book one that has earned its place as one of my favorite books of all time.

I’ll stop gabbing because we could be here all week if I don’t, but I recommend this one to everyone. If you like to read, add this one to your TBR. It’s incredible and not to be missed.

Miracle Creek in three words: Memorable, Vivid and Intoxicating

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Broadside PR for my review copy.

Revuew: I Know You by Erik Therme @ErikTherme @bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: April 12, 2019

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Sisters Bree and Alissa Walker share a special bond. Neglected by their parents, they have always looked out for one another. But one day, sixteen-year-old Alissa goes missing. When Bree discovers her green backpack with all her belongings, abandoned on the steps of their run-down trailer, she knows that something bad has happened …

Then she receives a chilling text message. Someone has Alissa. But Bree will have to give up something very precious in exchange.

Desperate to save Alissa, Bree looks at everyone close to their family. She’s sure that Alissa’s best friend is keeping something back about her little sister and a boy at school, and why has their estranged uncle, who they’ve not seen in years, been hanging around again?

It soon becomes clear that the person behind the message knows a lot about the dark truths within the Walker family and will go to any lengths to get revenge. And as the search for Alissa continues, Bree discovers something about her brother Tyler that she wishes she hadn’t, a dangerous secret, which is also the key to bringing her little sister back home …

Review:

This is the second book I’ve read by the author, I loved Keep Her Close, it was one of those perfect binge worthy thrillers that you read in one sitting because it’s just so damn intense and fast paced that you can’t put it down until you finish. This one had that same great sense of urgency that kept me flipping pages but also really explored familial bonds and how they can have such a great impact on our lives and I really enjoyed that aspect, it brought something new and thoughtful to a really exciting story.

Since this was such a snappy, quick read I really don’t want to discuss the plot details at all, but I will say that this went in quite a few unexpected directions and most definitely kept me on my toes. I don’t always connect (with any sort of depth) to characters in a thriller, but I did feel invested in Bree, she’s had a rough life and really hasn’t ever been able to count on anybody but herself and that’s just such a sad way to live that I couldn’t help but be drawn to her. In her race to find and save her sister you learn about her life and that’s where the emotional component came into play. I’m always pleasantly surprised when a thriller can make me feel something besides fear, etc and this one definitely tugged on my heartstrings. Recommended as the perfect read to devour over a weekend, it’s pretty addictive and has one hell of a shocking resolution.

I Know You in three words: Compulsive, Twisty and Absorbing

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

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Release date: April 9, 2019

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran – quite literally – into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either…

Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner.

The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?

Review:

This book had one of the cutest opening and closing chapters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, it doesn’t get any more adorable you guys, seriously, so if you’re like me and had a crush on this one based off the cover/title alone, rest assured the inside is just as great.

This flips back and forth between Kailyn and Daxton and I especially love hearing from both sides in a romantic comedy, maybe it’s getting a guys POV or maybe it’s just interesting to see how two people can interpret the same events so very differently, but whatever the reason, I loved it here. I equally liked both Daxton and Kailyn, she’s a badass boss bitch most of the time, but she’s still that giddy little fangirl deep inside and I found her to be quirky and cute. Dax was everything we all want in a book boyfriend and more, I usually don’t equate book characters to celebrities but I couldn’t help but imagine him as Justin Hartley 😍😍😍 The best surprise for me was Dax’s sister, Emme this kid broke my heart and made me fall in love with her a little bit.

This has both a second chance romance and a bit of an enemies to lovers vibe going on but it also went way deeper than I expected it to. There’s some heavy stuff going on here, but don’t worry there’s still plenty of delicious rom com fun and spice, just wanted to acknowledge that the author did way more than just a fluffy book, and it’s done really well. Highly recommended for romance fans, there’s tons of sexual chemistry (and a few racy moments) but also plenty of sweet and tender times too and lots of laughs along the way.

Meet Cute in three words: Hot, Amusing and Candid

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

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Release date: March 26, 2019

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending.

Review:

Based on the title alone I had a feeling I would like this one, who doesn’t adore books about books and libraries after all?! They’re such fun and with a main character who’s a librarian with an interesting personality and strange family history, I was totally enthralled.

This was such a charming and quirky read, really unusual in the best possible way, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it before. The only book I can even compare it to is Eleanor Oliphant and I liked this one better, it had the same sort of unique protagonist that just steals your heart by the end. Martha lives a simple life, she loves working at the library and she loves helping others. But it’s clear right away that’s she’s been taken advantage of, her kindness and willingness to help people do the kinds of things they don’t want to do themselves leaves her very little time to do what she likes. What sort of librarian doesn’t even make time to read?! 😱 But I just loved her, she grows and changes over the course of the story and finds her backbone again, it was sweet and inspiring.

Besides Martha there are so many kooky secondary characters throughout the book that I loved almost as much as I loved her. There’s also a light family mystery that kept me engaged and added some intrigue to the plot. You slowly learn about Martha’s families past through a handful of chapters told from her mothers point of view back when Martha was a child and I always like a dual timeline, especially when it adds value to the story and it most certainly did here. There was a feeling of magic in this one, the authors style was charming and so was this entire book!

The Library of Lost and Found in three words: Quirky, Lovely and Bewitching

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan

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Release date: April 9, 2019

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

To celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Grace has planned the surprise of a lifetime for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But she never expected he’d have a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone.

Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely…until she meets Grace, and everything changes.

Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious newly single Grace is. Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…

Review:

If you’re like me and have always dreamed of spending a summer in Paris but can’t ever quite make it work then this sweet book may be the next best thing! Not only was I totally captivated by both of the main characters and their individual stories, I felt truly swept away to Paris myself.

This is told from both Grace and Audrey’s point of view as they are both at a sort of a crossroads in their lives. Although they are years and miles apart living totally different lives, when they have a chance encounter in Paris they quickly realize they actually have many things in common. I love stories about unlikely friendships and Morgan did a fantastic job at creating two distinctly opposite characters who actually balance each other out perfectly. I think any woman could relate to this one on some level, Grace is experiencing some difficulties in her marriage and the prospect of her only child leaving for college and Audrey is just eighteen and dealing with so much more than any teenager should be, so you see struggles that both young and more mature women may be dealing with. Seeing them both grow and learn from each other over one single summer was really sweet and they both had my full attention, I was wholeheartedly invested in these two.

Morgan is one of my favorite authors, and for good reason, she always creates characters that resonate with me on some level and then she has this great mix of lighthearted fun and thoughtful depth that just pulls me in. Throw in a gorgeous setting and some light romance and I’m truly happy and satisfied. Highly recommended for spring/summer reading!

One Summer in Paris in three words: Heartfelt, Poignant and Captivating

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Release date: May 15, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky. 

Review:

When I get my hands on a copy of a new CL book I immediately drop everything else and start it, no matter what! It’s rare for me to do this, so that should tell you something about how much I love their books. I’ve been working my way through their backlist and though I haven’t read them all (yet) I don’t think I’ve ever rated their books lower than a 4 either and this one gets all the love from me, it’s absolute perfection.

The enemies to lovers trope is one of my favorites, there’s something about the angry, angsty chemistry and buildup to the romance that always works well for me and this was a total love/hate tale. Olive was extremely likable right from the beginning and although I wasn’t sure what to make of Ethan initially I quickly found myself a new book boyfriend. He wasn’t quite Josh for me but he was damn close! There was plenty of witty banter between the two and several mishaps that had me cracking up, paradise isn’t perfect for these two but they’ll both be damned if they don’t have the best possible trip, it is free after all!

As you’re planning your summer vacation go ahead and plan on bringing this book along with, it’s an ideal beach read and if you’re not sipping a cocktail poolside while reading it, you’ll be wishing you were!

The Unhoneymooners in three words: Hilarious, Delightful and Saucy

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

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Release date: April 9, 2019

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Twenty years ago, in an upscale suburb of Philadelphia, four teenagers spent a summer as closest friends: drinking, sharing secrets, testing boundaries. When a new boy looked to join them, they decided to pull a prank on him, convincing him to play Russian roulette as an initiation into their group. They secretly planned to leave the gun unloaded—but what happened next would change each of them forever.

Now three of the four reunite for the first time since that horrible summer. The guilt—and the lingering question about who loaded the gun—drove them apart. But after one of the group apparently commits suicide with a gun, their old secrets come roaring back. One of them is going to figure out if the new suicide is what it seems, and if it connects to the events of that long-ago summer. Someone knows exactly what happened—but who? And how far will they go to keep their secrets buried?

Review:

I know LS has a huge fan base but for some reason over the years I’ve only read one of her books before. This one sounded exactly like the type of book I would like, there’s always something about domestic suspense that pulls me in and this was no exception, and made me eager to go back and check out her other books.

This is told via two timelines, present day and twenty years ago. It opens with the current day and then the majority is told in the past only flipping forward towards the end. One thing I really liked here was the multiple narrators, you hear from almost every single character in the story at some point and there are quite a few. I wasn’t confused by this, it was fairly easy to work out who was who and how they all related to each other early on. Most of the chapters were on the short side as well making this a compulsive read for me.

The plot focuses on one terrible night when a group of teenagers made typical awful teenaged decisions but their unfortunate choices ended in a tragic death. Along the way you learn that everyone from the kids themselves to their parents have some juicy and sometimes disturbing secrets, so there was also something interesting going on here no matter who’s viewpoint you were currently reading. It is on the slower side as far as suspense goes, it’s a gradual build but the ending packs a solid punch. There were twists, some I predicted and others that shocked me, but overall I was satisfied with how it all ended. It loosely reminded me of a Liane Moriarty novel in that it had the same lighter style but this one definitely had more dark moments too, it explored some heavy issues so keep that in mind.

Someone Knows in three words: Tense, Gripping and Dark

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Trophy Life by Lea Geller

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Release date: April 9, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

For the last ten years, Agnes Parsons’s biggest challenge has been juggling yoga classes and lunch dates. Her Santa Monica house staff takes care of everything, leaving Agnes to focus on her trophy-wife responsibilities: look perfect, adore her older husband, and wear terribly expensive (if uncomfortable) underwear.

When her husband disappears, leaving Agnes and their infant daughter with no money, no home, and no staff, she is forced to move across the country, where she lands a job teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. So long, organic quinoa bowls and sunshine-filled California life. Hello, processed food, pest-infested house, and twelve-year-old-boy humor—all day, every day.

But it’s in this place of second chances (and giant bugs), where Agnes is unexpectedly forced to take care of herself and her daughter, where she finds out the kind of woman she can be. Ultimately, she has to decide if she prefers the woman and mother she has become…or the trophy life she left behind.

Authentic and sharply witty, Trophy Lifeis proof that granny panties and mom coats might not be the answer to everything; they’re simply comfortable (if slightly unattractive) reminders of what happens when one life ends…and real life begins. 

Review:

Don’t let the fun and bright cover fool you, this book had more depth than I anticipated from first glance. Sure, it’s light and has plenty of laugh old loud moments, but it’s also brutally honest and feels refreshingly authentic.

Agnes is living the dream, she has a gorgeous house in Santa Monica, an adoring husband and a sweet baby daughter. Her only “job” is to look good for her husband, their hired help takes care of the rest and when her entire world gets flipped upside down and she is forced to get a real job, teaching unruly middle school boys no less, she gets a rude awakening, and fast. To start with I didn’t think much of Agnes, she seemed vapid and self absorbed but there is much more than meets the eye with this woman. Over the course of the book she undergoes quite the transformation and I was rooting for her hardcore by the end.

This is told over the course of one year as she navigates life as a single mom who’s future is in limbo as she struggles to figure out what her next steps are. While I did like her quite a bit, her boys, (the students she teaches) stole my heart. They’re a group of misfits that have been labeled as troublemakers by the adults in their lives and she seems to be the only person who truly cares about these kids. They were also rotten little stinkers who cause mischief at every opportunity making for some hilarious scenarios.

Recommended when you want a read with that great balance of light hearted fun and subtle depth, especially for anyone that has ever had to start over in their own life!

Trophy Life in three words: Refreshing, Genuine and Funny

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

Goodreads

Release date: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

Review:

Could this book be any more adorable?! It’s been awhile since I read a YA novel much less a romance one but I’m back on the train because I absolutely loved this one. It was sweet, cute and full of heart. And while I have your attention if you have any recs in this genre please let me know!

If you’re a country music fan you’ll appreciate this one, I am and I loved the insight into the industry through the eyes of an already established star and also an up and coming new artist. Besides the glitzy and not so glitzy side of the entertainment industry being showcased this had all the teen angst and drama and I am here for that! There was a lot of will they or won’t they going on, great chemistry and a whole lot of country charm.

This surprised me with the amount of depth and growth the characters experienced, both Clay and Annie have some pretty dark and heavy issues in their pasts which made it all the more realistic for me. If realistic means two teenagers as country stars, but you get what I mean. Overall a wildly enjoyable read for me and the perfect addition to your spring reading lists!

You’d Be Mine in three words: Adorable, Angsty and Enjoyable

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.