Book Reviews

Book Review: The Friendship Pact by Alison James

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Friendship Pact by Alison JamesThe Friendship Pact by Alison James
Published on July 3, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 270
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

I’m Lucy, and I have a secret.I have a beautiful home, that I’m desperate to escape. But that’s not my secret.I tell my friends I’ve never wanted children, when I always have. But that’s not my secret. My husband is a celebrated surgeon, who tries to control me. But that’s not my secret.

Adele knows. Once upon a time, I knew everything about her and she knew everything about me. Best friends forever. But now our secret is beginning to surface. I can trust her more than anyone. We made a pact. And she’s never do anything to hurt me. Would she?

This absolutely gripping psychological thriller will have you forgetting everything until the last shocking twist. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Friend Request, and The Girl on the Train will be hooked.

If you liked Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, then you will already know what to expect from this novel. It’s almost identical in plot and how it plays out.

The most significant difference is the introduction of Adele Watts, former best friend of our main character, Lucy. Their friendship was an unlikely one. Lucy has never known anything but being wealthy and privileged, while Adele is now an ex-con who has lived in or near poverty her entire life.

When we meet Lucy, she is nearing the breaking point of her marriage with a volatile, abusive, cardiologist husband, Marcus. Once she decides to get out of her situation, at any cost, Lucy reaches out to the one person she believes can help her, Adele.

The novel is called The Friendship Pact, and the synopsis teases the secret kept between Adele and Lucy as a pivotal plot in the book. The mystery does come into play, we learn about it through a now-and-then flashback format, but as far as its plot significance, it’s minimal.

The Friendship Pact is split into three parts. The first part is gripping, although I had issues with the portrayal of abuse, in the same way, I did with Behind Closed Doors, but it is more believable and less exploitative and gleefully disturbing in this book.

Once the story reaches its second and third act, all the urgency has seeped out. I found the second half of the book harder to get through, mainly because poor Lucy is passed from one abusive man to another (a mild spoiler, it’s obvious). The plot becomes increasingly predictable too. You may figure it out before you reach the half-way mark, I did. Only one twist shocked me, and it ended the first part of the book.

Another pet peeve I have with thrillers is the idea that everyone in the protagonists’ world is oblivious, stupid, or evil. I understand these things can happen in real life, but some of the side characters’ reactions didn’t seem realistic. And speaking of side characters, there were several who served no real purpose.

Should you read The Friendship Pact?

It’s not a bad thriller, it is engaging, and the author knows how to write in a gripping way. But after blowing through the first part of the novel in eagerness to find out what happened, you may find yourself as deflated as I did when the rest of the story takes a sharp decline into dullness.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder (Naomi Cottle, #1) by Rene Denfeld
Series: Naomi Cottle #1
Published on September 5, 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 274
Format: Hardcover

Source: Barnes and Noble

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Plenty of people adored this book. I, unfortunately, was not one of them.

The Child Finder follows Naomi, a woman who is plagued by her past trauma as a child who had once gone missing. Now she attempts to make up for the pain she suffered by seeking out the lost children of the world.

She is called to a town in Oregon, a place baked in her bleak history, to aid a pair of desperate parents anxious for their daughter to come home. The police have given up. The media has moved on. Naomi is their only hope.

Naomi’s characterization is one of the most significant issues I had with The Child Finder. To put it succinctly, she doesn’t have any. We know she only trusts three people (repeated ad nauseum). She has a semi-incestual love interest in her foster brother. She cares only about her career in finding lost children, which is fine if every paragraph wasn’t layered with manufactured subtext about the meaning of life and weighted significance of even the briefest encounters.

To put it bluntly, this was a dull read for me. The writing is poetic, I can see why people were drawn to it. Many passages were lyrical and beautiful to read. But beyond the beauty, I found it difficult to grasp any depth, or if there was any, it felt forced upon the reader.

I found the writing style leaned towards sentimentality for sentiment’s sake. It was often cringe-worthy with the amount of sap and romanticized moments that hardly needed it.

Mainly, large portions of the story felt overwritten, and I felt my eyes glazing over as the subplots twisted onwards, and the central mystery fell to the wayside.

The character perspective frequently switches, making it difficult to follow where you are in the story at times because of the style and timeline.

Should you read The Child Finder?

My dislike of the book appears to be in the minority. You might be able to find the magical spark of The Child Finder that I missed. By my own experience with this book, I wouldn’t suggest it, but other people would with intensity!

Book Mail

Book Mail: Mother Knows Best

Thank you to Meryl Moss Media for sending me an early copy of Mother Knows Best! I’ll be joining the blog tour for Peikoff’s novel this September so keep an eye out! It’s the crazy story of three people conspiring together to do the unthinkable – create the perfect genetic child from THREE different parents.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Missing Wife by Sam Carrington

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Missing Wife by Sam CarringtonThe Missing Wife by Sam Carrington
Published on June 27, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 400
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Imagine turning up to your own party, and recognising no one. Your best friend has just created your worst nightmare.

Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate.

But when her best friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person in particular she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore.

When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.

Louisa is determined to find the truth about what happened to Melissa. But just how far does she need to look…?

The Missing Wife is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in it. I think my main issue is that I felt like I had read this book multiple times already. There seems to be a strange, growing trend in the psychological thriller genre that involves new mothers struggling to keep their sanity in the midst of having a newborn child. I understand that postpartum depression is a real thing, but it is overused and overdone in books and sometimes even a little insensitive to the real-life mothers experiencing it.

Louise is having serious issues with her newborn baby. She continually forgets to feed him! She has a type of amnesia that makes her forget large parts of her past. All this and yet none of her friends, or even her husband, seriously consider getting her help? Then her husband and supposed best friend think it’s a good idea to throw her a birthday party. The party is where the story’s central conflict kicks off. One of Louisa’s exes shows up. His name is Oliver, and he’s a creep.

Oliver’s wife, Melissa, goes missing during Louisa’s birthday party and Lou can’t seem to remember anything about it. It’s an exciting plot, but again, I’ve read this story before. I admit I checked out about halfway through the story and skimmed the rest to figure out what the ending would be.

I was hoping the ending would make up for the rest of the novel, but it doesn’t, sadly. It’s very over-the-top and nonsensical. For a book that was extremely slow-paced for the bulk of the story, the ending suddenly throws the novel into hyperspeed.

Overall, The Missing Wife was not my cup of tea.

Should you read The Missing Wife?

It’s not a book I would recommend. Two other 2019 releases, Little Darlings, and The Mother’s Mistake, both have similar storylines and have tighter-pacing and more inventive plotting. I’d recommend checking those out instead if you’re intrigued by the main plot of this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and AvonBooks UK for allowing me the chance to read an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuistonRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Published on May 14, 2019
Genres: Fiction, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Romance
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 425
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends...

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

In our current harrowing political climate, a book like Red, White & Royal Blue is an exhilarating breath of fresh air. The romance between Alex and Henry is founded in a strong foundation of snark, charm, and sheer chemistry. Casey McQuiston is a real talent.

Initially, I didn’t think I would enjoy this book as I’m not always a fan of romantic stories but it’s impossible to not find yourself immersed in the world. The characters are richly defined and the romance is sexy yet full of adoration. It is incredibly well-developed and I loved being privy to watching this story unfold.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Dream Daughter

  • Author: Diane Chamberlain
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Published: Oct. 2, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction
  • Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
  • Goodreads

The year is 1970 and Caroline Sears’ baby is diagnosed with a fatal heart defect. She assumes all hope is lost and that she may lose her daughter before she is ever born. Luckily for her, Hunter, her sister’s husband, has a plan in order to prevent that from happening. A maverick of time travel, he has a plan to send Caroline into the future, to the year 2001 to be exact, in order to get the medical care she cannot get in the current era and save her child.

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Book Reviews, Thrillers

Book Review: YOU & BONUS: TV Review

  • Author: Caroline Kepnes23492630
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Published: June 15th, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
  • Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
  • Goodreads

Wow, this book was… a lot to process to say the least. YOU is about a bookstore manager named Joe who falls desperately, madly, and scarily in love with Guinevere Beck. A young Brown student who finds herself in his crosshairs after passing through his shop. What makes YOU unique is that the entirety of the story is told through Joe’s point-of-view. His very scary, violent, and downright filthy POV.

** Spoilers ahead. **

If this book were written by a man I doubt I would have even picked it up to begin with. As it stands, I already felt disgusting and dirty reading parts of it. Kepnes is excellent at creating a sense of foreboding, a sense of utter disgust with what her centric character is doing. Seriously, once I finished this book I felt like I needed to jump in the shower immediately. (Partly because Kepnes made me read the phrase “pussy juice” about ten times). I have to give her credit for not writing Joe in a sympathetic light. I never felt as if she wanted asking her readers to like Joe, just to understand his motives and his delusions.

Continue reading “Book Review: YOU & BONUS: TV Review”

Book Reviews

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish

  • Author: Liv Constantine34043643
  • Edition: Hardcover
  • Published: October 17th, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
  • Star Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
  • Goodreads

Before I get into this review I just want to preface it with two points:

  1. SPOILERS ahead! Please do not read this review if you intend to read the book and would like to do so spoiler-free.
  2. I really ended up hating a lot of things about this book so if you loved it you might want to pass.

I’ll begin with a few of the novel’s strengths before I delve into why I gave this book a one-star review. This book is a highly compelling read. Liv Constantine knows how to write in a way that draws the reader in. I devoured the entirety of The Last Mrs. Parrish in a day, I just wish it hadn’t left such an awful taste in my mouth. I was intrigued by the plot, although I have heard it is very similar to another book I own but haven’t yet read, The Wife Between Us, and I did get sucked into the novel enough that I wanted to see it through even though I had worked out each plot twist before they came to fruition. I knew that Jack was going to be abusive from the moment Daphne panicked when Amber spilled her coffee on the floor, and the moment perspectives shifted from Amber to Daphne, I knew that Daphne would have had a hand in setting Amber up with him. I think that the writing hid these truths enough to be shocking but I’ve read enough books and seen enough television to know plot devices when I see them.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Rust & Stardust

  • Author: T. Greenwood
  • Edition: Kindle Edition
  • Published: August 7th, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical, True Crime, Mystery, Suspense
  • Star Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Goodreads

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says. 

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

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