I know. I know. Every month I make some sort of pledge to not request so many dang NetGalley Books, which I mostly obeyed. Sorta. Somewhat. Maybe. I don’t know. But what I do know happened is all the books I did request were published in January. I had six to read and made it through five. Not too shabby.
The Books I Loved, Liked & Loathed in December
The good news is that my book slump is officially over (knock on paper) and I read this past month. Lots of good books too, which makes me a happy camper. Or reader.
The Books I Loved
The books that made me go oh la la.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Book Description: Meet the old wife, Vanessa: drunk, angry, guilty. Meet the soon-to-be new wife, Nellie: young, vivacious, naive. You think you know their story but you don’t.
Book Review: It is my nature to make guesses before I start a mystery. This is annoying to some, but I simply cannot help myself. So, as usual, I made a bold guess before I even opened the book (based on the description), quickly discovered that I was wrong, right, then wrong but not wrong/wrong. Confused? Good. This is also where I tell you the book isn’t super twisty or full of unreliable narrators either. Now you’re really confused. 😀 Well, know this: I love the book and am completely and utterly hooked with plans to reread it soon. (err … already done).
To Read or Not To Read: Yes, please. This is more psychological thriller than mystery and honestly more mind games than any thing else.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Wife Between Us is now available.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Book Description: A traveling psychic tells the four Gold children the day they will die and the children must decide whether destiny or choice controls their lives and death.
Book Review: I struggle to find the right words to describe how I feel about this book. I hate it because it broke my heart so many times; I love it because it broke my heart so many times too. Yup, I’m complicated. The characters drew me into their lives and became a part of me. This is not a book that I would ever reread (I typically reread books that I love) and yet I think about Simon, Klara, Daniel (less so — the author’s puppet strings were more apparent) and Varya constantly and their beautifully tragic lives. And one last piece of advice: if someone offers to tell you when you’ll die, whether an obvious quack or the real McCoy, RUN as fast as you can and just live.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. But maybe schedule a light, feel-good read afterwards or some quality snuggle time with your indifferent cat. While this does end on a positive, hopeful note, it just broke me into so many pieces that I’m still supergluing myself back together.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Immortalists is now available.
The Books I Liked
The books I liked, from most liked to liked.
The Watson Girl by Leslie Wolfe
Book Description: Special Agent Tess Winnett investigates whether a serial killer, awaiting imminent execution, is telling the truth when he claims three murders attributed to him were done by a copycat killer.
Book Review: This book falls solidly into my wheelhouse: a mystery/thriller with a prickly, smart female lead who faces a worthy villain. While there were some familiar tropes that the author sadly did not subvert, the story was engrossing enough for me to overlook them with minimal teeth gnashing and just enjoy the ride, mostly. I like how the killer breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to us, even though I have mixed feelings about him. He is obviously cunning but also made some real bone-headed mistakes that seem, well, off. Still, I enjoyed this and would continue the series. Note: your apple consumption may decrease after reading this book. You’ll need to read it to understand why.
To Read or Not To Read: Absolutely. It’s a good fit for mystery/thriller fans.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Watson Girl is now available.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Book Description: Bad luck seems to follow Alice and her mother, even with their nomad lifestyle. But when her mother is kidnapped by supposed characters from a classic fairytale, she must find the forbidden place: Hazel Wood.
Book Review: The adolescent Tanya felt such joy and kinship to this story. To be the fair, so did adult Tanya. I enjoy YA but more specifically fantasy or dystopian YA, but this isn’t standard fantasy fare but a living and breathing fairy tale. And not a Disneyfied version with singing animals or one with girls vying for the Prince’s heart, this is old school fairytales — where they are mean, cruel and not apt to let it go. I did find the beginning a bit slow and the ending a bit rushed, so it might have been better to break this into two books (to spend more time in the fairytale land) but I still enjoyed this.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes, especially those who love old school fairytales and YA.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Hazel Wood is available on January 30, 2018.
Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant
Book Description: It starts with a lie. A simple need to impress. A lie that spirals out of control and consumes you. And your life.
Book Review: I enjoy books that pose a question and make me think about how I would respond under the same set of circumstances. This book does that, which I like. What I struggled with is the extremely douchey main character. Paul is narcissistic, petulant and a liar. He is extremely unlikeable in a book of unlikeable characters, which isn’t a deal-breaker, but does mean that the story needs to be superb to keep me interested. His antics wore on me quickly and I started skimming. Ultimately, there was some payoff in the end and I would enjoy discussing with others whether or not they thought Paul deserved the comeuppance he received (my vote is no) but I also wish there was more to this book too.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. It’s not a bad book, but you do have to tolerate a douche of a main character for a long, sometimes agonizing period. To be fair, my tolerance for douche male characters these days is extremely low since I have to worry about a #StableGenius who might confuse his diet coke button with his nuke button every day.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Lie with Me is now available.
Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah
Book Description: Cara Burrows needed a break from her family but while on vacation, she is given the key to an already occupied hotel room and spies the most famous murder victim still alive.
Book Review: Hmmmm … this started out really interesting and I was keen to see where it went but it sorta fell apart. I can do implausible and even ludicrous without batting an eye if the story entertains me … but after awhile I found myself sighing and rolling my eyes. You really need to be willing to suspend belief and go with it to enjoy this book, which was difficult for me because I had just finished The Wife Between Us. Obviously I read the entire thing so I didn’t loathe it, but it didn’t grip me the way I expected it too either.
To Read or Not To Read: Dealer’s choice. This is the kind of story that I can see some loving every part of it, from the Nancy Grace like character to its creative format (interview transcriptions/blog posts/book passages, etc) and its somewhat soapy feel. While others, like me, merely find it acceptable.
The Books I Loathed
None! Yay me! You are such a good chooser of books to read. 😀
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
Okay, to recap: I strongly recommend The Wife Between Us. This is not a mystery, per se, but more a thriller/adult contemporary type of book. I like the book set-up and the fact that I felt a strong need to apologize to a certain character for my terrible and wrong assumptions. The Immortalists is a book that still lives and breathes inside of me and one I also highly recommend. I still remain flummoxed on how to describe it and consider it to be a kissing cousin to The Mothers by Britt Bennet (aka one of the best books I read in 2017) because it deals with the consequences of the choices we make with honesty. The Watson Girl is a solid choice if you’re looking for a fast-paced mystery and The Hazel Wood to YA fans. Lie With Me has a thought-provoking ending but be aware that you’ll need to endure an epic douche without a lot happening besides showing his high level of doucheness to get there.
To More Great Books
Next month looks to be another great reading month for me. On tap: some coveted hold books finally became available and a couple NetGalley books from series I currently read are waiting for me on my Kindle too. And of course, I will find a couple (or a couple dozen) new books to add to my TBR from my favorite link-up, Show Us Your Books hosted by Jana and Steph. As always, I’m linking up and encourage you to visit and see what everyone is reading. After all, just like cats, one can never have too many books on their TBR. 😉
What’s the best book you read last month?