Review for “Lies She Told”

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Synopsis:  A struggling author is working on her next novel.

 

Liza Cole used to be a successful author, but her last few books have not been well-received.  Her marriage is equally miserable, with her husband being obsessed with finding his missing friend and neglecting her.  Add the fact her struggles with infertility.  Poor Liza has a ton on her plate.  But her friend/editor gives her a chance to write another book.  He gives her a month to write it and send it out to the world.  Liza is up to the challenge.  How will everything turn out?

Our main character, Liza, was certainly interesting. She was very intelligent, ambitious, strong…and unpredictable. I morbidly enjoyed her story.  She gave new meaning to the term ‘unreliable narrator’.  The main character in Liza’s novel, Beth, can be described as her ‘mirror image’ in a lot of ways. Both women are unhappily married to emotionally distant men. And neither of them are ready to give up on these marriages. Both women are close to their moms.   Fertility issues, with different results.  They each deal with attractive men with accents whose names begins with the letter “T”.   Clearly, Liza gave Beth a daughter because she herself is desperate to have a family of her own.  Both women become darker and unpredictable as the story goes on.

Lies She Told kind of reminded me of the movie Nocturnal Animals.  The movie featured an author that tells a story within the story.  Kind of like…..this book. At first blush, the women seemed different enough.  But as the story goes on, despite the different fonts, it gets harder and harder to tell Liza and Beth apart.  It also feels like they’re the same person.  Trying to untangle this web gets harder and harder, but also more entertaining.  I just had to know what would happen next.  And what happened next was quite shocking.  Cate Holahan is an amazing writer, and I hope she writes more books in the future.  I’m sure she will.

The novel was kind of confusing to me at first, especially the end.  I still have no idea how to process everything that I read.  It was quick and enjoyable, but my overthinking mind may be turning molehills into mountains.  Plus, I didn’t entirely get Liza.  I guess that was the point.

Despite those slight issues, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lies She Told.  It was fun, interesting and unpredictable with some surprising twists.  I look forward to reading more books from the author, Cate Holahan.  I’d give it a 8.5 out of 10.  You can find it at your local bookstore.

 

 

 

 

Review for “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”

Review for “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”

Synopsis:  A down-and-out writer gets the opportunity of a lifetime when an aging superstar asks her to write her biography.

 

Monique’s career and life is going nowhere.  She is getting a divorce.  Living in an apartment she hates and a career that is basically on pause.  Out of the blue, Monique gets the news that could change her life forever.  Charismatic screen legend Evelyn Hugo wants Monique to write the story of her life–the good, the bad and the ugly.  She’s ready for the world to know everything.  But neither woman is ready for what happens during this journey.

I have to say that Evelyn Hugo was one of the most interesting protagonists ever–in print, movies or TV.  It is really hard to believe that she’s not a real person.  Evelyn felt very real, very much human.  I liked how honest and straightforward she was.   She was very smart and calculating.  She came across as colorful and nuanced.  She made all the other characters more real than they would’ve been on their own.  Harry was a great character as well.  He was so sweet and I liked his and Evelyn’s special friendship and bond.  He was easily my favorite husband of hers.  Monique was pretty good on her own.  She seemed to learn a lot from Evelyn in such a short time.

The story is told in an unique way.  Instead of the usual chapter format, each husband gets a chapter.  Different men, different periods in Evelyn’s life.  They’re more about Evelyn than her husbands, but it was highly original and well-done.  It’s written like a memoir, a gossip magazine and a diary all rolled into one.  The format was also surprisingly easy to read.  That is kind of ironic because Evelyn is such a complex character. The two biggest twists in the book– Evelyn’s true love and Monique’s connection to Evelyn–came about in a very interesting way.  This is my first time reading a book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but it definitely won’t be the last.

While I found Evelyn Hugo to be one of the most intriguing protagonists ever, there were lots of times where I didn’t like her so much.  Some of the things she did to get ahead were just wrong.  It often seemed like she cared more about fame and fortune than she did about the people in her life.  And those mistakes proved to be quite costly.  She didn’t seem like a good person.  But at least she’s honest about it.  And she was true to herself.  Like a person or don’t, you have to admire someone who’s honest and true to themselves.  My only other grievance was Monique.  She wasn’t a very interesting character on her own.  Kinda boring, really.  It was like the friendship between Monique and Evelyn was supposed to happen.

Hands down, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of best novels I’ve ever read.  It’s highly original, smartly written and well-researched.  I wonder who inspired Reid when she wrote this book?  I highly recommend it, giving it a 9.5 out of 10.  You can find on amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other such bookstores.

Review for “The Millionaire’s Wife”

Review for “The Millionaire’s Wife”

Synopsis:  A young woman is haunted as secrets from her past threaten her new life.

 

Everyone has their secrets, even the most open of people.  Anna Blackwell is no exception.  She’s living a fabulous life.  Married to the man of her dreams, great job co-running the family business.  Living a big, expensive seaside home.  Anna is happier than she’s ever been.  Until a gruesome text message is sent to her anonymously.  That person knows far more about her than she’s willing to reveal.  He knows things that can ruin her life forever….

 

They say not to judge a book by its cover.  When I saw the cover of “The Millionaire’s Wife”, I assumed that Anna was some sort of spy or something.  But she wasn’t.  Anna was a very likable heroine.  Smart, strong, independent.  But she was someone with a heavy burden.  Reading about her inner struggles was very interesting, and it made me feel very sorry for her.  At first, I didn’t understand why she kept these secrets from her husband.  But as I got further along in the book, I completely understood why she did.  I don’t blame her for keeping them.  Will himself was a kind, understand and compassionate man.  But he, like Anna, was someone who knew how to take charge when he needed to.  I understood his reactions in the book, too.  The villains in the book were not who I expected them to be.  Man, those people were sick and disgusting!  I felt sorry for Anna, Will and their families.

 

Shalani Boland wrote one hell of a page-turner.  The start of the novel was brilliant, even though I did not know how it fit in at first.  The pacing was near-perfect.  The characters all kept you guessing until the very end.  We see the story being told from two points-of-view–past Anna & present Anna.  It really seemed that I was reading about 2 different women.  It was a very intriguing plot point.  You actually felt sorry for Anna’s ex until you realized who he really was.  Then you wanted her to run away from him and never look back!  I tried to turn off my Kindle app, but I just had to know what would happen next.  I’ll definitely be reading Boland’s other books in the future.

 

But sometimes, I wish that Anna would’ve done things a little differently.  Sometimes, I was a little frustrated with her.  Maybe things would turned out differently.  But apart from that minor complaint,  I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Millionaire’s Wife”.  It was action-packed, scary and overall entertaining read.  I highly recommend this book and give it a 9.5 out of 10.  You can find it on amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Review for “The Couple Next Door”

Review for “The Couple Next Door”

Synopsis: A mystery story about a couple whose child was stolen.

Anne and Marco Conti are just exhausted.  They recently became parents to little baby Cora, and they have no real time to themselves.  For just one night, they attend the party of their glamorous next-door neighbor.  They wanna  let loose and have fun.  Fun without their little daughter, whom they leave home alone.  So they get the shock of their lives when they return home to find Cora missing from her crib.  This is just the beginning of the many problems the Contis will face.  Get ready for a rough ride.

It’s quite a task to write about such unlikeable people.  You have to find a way to make them sympathetic as well.  But I think that Shari Lapena did an excellent job of that.  All of the characters have done terrible things, but somehow, you find yourself feeling sorry for them…a little.  I felt the most sympathy for Cora, the couple’s six-month old daughter.  But out of the adult characters, I felt the most sympathy for Anne.  She has never quite had an easy life growing up.  And she has to deal with a lot of really intense things.  What are those?  You’ll have to read the book in order to find out.  There was some sympathy for Marco.  I could somewhat relate to a few of his struggles in the book.  But for a lot of the story, I didn’t like him very much.  I couldn’t stand Anne’s step-father.  What a twisted man! You just wanted to punch him in the face.

With this book, Lapena used a slightly more traditional format.  From the very first page, you just have to know what happens next.  It felt like I was going through a variety of different feelings–shock, surprise, disgust, sympathy, anger and relief etc.  I wanted to shake Marco violently for even suggesting that they leave their baby daughter at home alone.  That was incredibly dangerous and stupid.  Later on, you’ll see why he did that.  You’ll probably won’t believe it.  It was fun to see things partly from Detective Rasbach’s perspective.  There was tons of secrets that the characters kept form each other.  I liked how they were unveiled one piece at a time.  It never felt overwhelming.  He was an interesting character.   I wish we knew more about him, though.

My biggest issue with the book was the ending.  At first, I liked it.  That ending was certainly a shock. Upon rereading, however, I liked it a lot less.   I know a lot of people hate ‘happily ever after endings’.  But I think it would’ve made more sense this time.  Anne and Marco had gone through enough.

 

Besides the above complaint, I really enjoyed reading The Couple Next Door.  It was a fun, fast-paced read.  In fact, it was probably one of the best mystery books I’ve ever read. Highly recommended,  I’d give it a 9 out of 10.  You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores.

 

Review for “The Woman Next Door”

Review for “The Woman Next Door”

Synopsis:  Two former friends come back together in a strange and terrifying way.

Hester is a sixty-plus widow living a lonely life.  Her dog, Bertie, is her only companion.  Melissa is a fortyish woman who appears to have the perfect life.  These two women have absolutely nothing in common except for the fact they are next-door neighbors.  And they used to be friends.  But murder and scary secrets force them back together.  How does it all unfold?

I enjoyed reading about both Hester and Melissa.  I found Hester to be more interesting and sympathetic , however.  Just by ‘looking’ at her, you wouldn’t think she would be capable of doing some of the things she did.  She does scary things, and is very practical and smart.  But also really eccentric.  She certainly has quite a few screws loose.  But I felt sorry for her because she didn’t seem to have anyone.  And I kinda understood why she latched onto Melissa so hard.  Kinda.  If she were my neighbor, I don’t know what I’d do.

Melissa was still a great character too.  She could be quite mean a lot of the time, but the book did a good job of explaining it.  She had gone through some painful things too, but handled it in a less-than-conventional way.  She was equally smart, less practical and her secrets were more interesting than Hester’s.   It turns out that she was just as twisted as Hester could be.  She just hides it a lot better.   These two women have far more in common than you’d think.

Sometimes, the multiple point-of-views way of storytelling can be quite confusing.  In this book, however, it was done very well.  It was perfectly paced–not too slow or fast.  It really helped you get to know the two women.  The Woman Next Door was completely unpredictable, full of twists, turns and is very dark.  Cass Green did an amazing job, and I hope she writes more books in the future.

 

Overall, The Woman Next Door was a lot of fun to read.  Maybe ‘fun’ isn’t the right word. It was fairly short, but it kept me guessing the entire time.  The ending was…interesting.  You’ll have to find out for yourself.  I highly recommend it.  I give it a 9 out of 10.  You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores.

 

Review for “Life After Coffee”

Review for “Life After Coffee”

Synopsis:  Amy O’Hara, who is a coffee buyer, loses her job and becomes a full-time mom.

Things are not going well for Amy O’Hara.  She just lost her job as a coffee buyer.  Along with that, financial security.  She has a loving, talented but lazy wannabe screenwriter husband at home who refuses to get a job and help her.  And her two young children are a couple of spoiled brats.    Amy is exhausted, overwhelmed and frankly clueless about being a mother.  She was the breadwinner and Peter was a stay-at-home dad, so she never had to worry.  Now worrying is all she does.  How will she deal with everything?

Amy came across as very human to me.  She was a smart, funny and relatable character and I enjoyed my time with her overall.  The author did a great job outlining Amy’s transition from working mom to a full-time mom.  This woman had no idea what she was doing!  But she lived and learned and I felt like I was learning with her. (I have no kids, but hope to have some in the future.)  Her honesty was refreshing, and her sense of humor amazing.   I could see some similarities between the two of us.  However, there were things that I certainly didn’t agree with.  In fact, there were choices of hers that I hated.  But I mostly found her quite relatable.  Her kids were total brats most of the time.  There were times where I couldn’t blame her for wanting to escape.  Peter, Amy’s husband was written as a decent person overall.  But he was annoying and immature, and I could easily understand Amy’s desire to smack him upside his head.  I had a hard time understanding why he didn’t want to help out more financially or around the house. Why did”Daddy mode” stopped the moment Amy got fired?  But his reasons became clearer by the end of the novel.

Have you ever of the saying “It’s funny because it’s true.”?   That was often in the case of reading “Life After Coffee”.  I’m not a mother (though it is an adventure I’d like to have someday.)  But I could relate to some of Amy’s struggles.  Who doesn’t have at least one frustrating family member?  Amy struggling socially and not fitting in with the other women in the book?  Yep, I could relate to that as well.  Maybe that’s why I found the book–and her–to be funny.

Despite some blink-and-you-miss-it flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Life After Coffee”.  It was realistic without being boring.  It was fun, hilarious and refreshing.  This was Amy Franken’s first novel.  I hope she writes more.  I highly recommend it. I give it a 9 out of 10.  You can find it on Amazon.com and other online bookstores.