Posted in Must read, Musthave, Recenzie, Recomandare

Review An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

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The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

Last year I had the opportunity to secure via NetGalley and read an advance e-copy of The Wife Between Us, a much-anticipated psychological thriller that once it was published, it quickly climbed up The New York Times Best Seller list. While it was not exactly a read to my taste, a standpoint with which I have been very much in the minority, I foresaw the success of the book and it sparked my curiosity about the subsequent releases of the interesting writing duo formed by Greek Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Having noticed the Read Now feature of An Anonymous Girl on NetGalley, I jumped at the opportunity of reading this new novel of suspense penned by these two authors in advance. I would therefore consider myself a lucky reader for a second time in a row.

An Anonymous Girl is a forthcoming title by Greer Hendricks in collaboration with Sarah Pekkanen, set for publication at the start of 2019. It is a solid follow-up to the much-discussed and twisted The Wife Between Us, a tension-packed, slow-burning psychological thriller that is a neat and overarching representation of this genre characteristics. An Anonymous Girl is a well-structured and coherent piece of writing, with the suspense permeating every chapter of the book and the mystery unraveling gradually so as to give the reader time to make their own suppositions. I thought the revelations had been incorporated into the narrative more smoothly and in a less labyrinthine fashion as contrasted with The Wife Between Us, which had been almost entirely based on a plethora of twists. I personally took to this different avenue utilized by the authors in An Anonymous Girland I was not bothered by the predictability of some of the plot points. One aspect of this book that stands out and is to my liking and did not characterize the debut publication of this writing duo is that An Anonymous Girl succeeds in delivering high quality suspense and being psychologically intricate without depending upon a convoluted narrative structure.

The subject is without a doubt well-researched and thought-provoking and distinguishes this psychological thriller. I enjoyed the occasional references to real-life psychological experiments and studies. The story is told in the first person, from two alternate perspectives. While being on the job, Jessica Farris, a makeup artist living in New York, finds out about a study on ethics and morality searching for female respondents to participate in a questionnaire in exchange for a 500-dollar payment. Enticed by the prospect of easy money and knowing the client she is attending to is unlikely to partake in the study, Jessica surreptitiously gets the details from the client’s phone and arrives at the premises the next day to take the survey. The questions she has to answer are very personal and a bit peculiar, unlike what she expected initially from the study.

Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

Have you deeply hurt someone you care about?

After the conclusion of the participation in the questionnaire, Jessica is invited to take part in the research repeatedly with further compensation. From then on, her involvement in the study expands and the tasks do not limit to only survey completion any more. Jessica also comes face to face to Dr. Shields, an enigmatic and respected female psychiatrist, in charge of the study she is part of and the second narrator of the novel. Jessica experiences contradictory thoughts: she is dubious about the increasingly bizarre assignments given by Dr. Shields as well as the reason behind the study and the money she is paid, yet she inexplicably feels drawn to her. Most of the narrative is thereby centered around the relationship establishing between Jessica and Dr. Shields.

To conclude, I read An Anonymous Girl in one day and I can hence assure you that it is an unputdownable and absorbing psychological thriller with deranged and flawed characters, whose interactions with each other constitute the basis for the finely done psychological suspense. For me it was a significantly better read than The Wife Between Us, deemed a great novel in the eyes of many readers, so I expect An Anonymous Girl to be equally well-received by the psychological thriller reading community.

I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

Imagini pentru 4 and a half star rating

Posted in Must read, Musthave, Recenzie, Recomandare

Review Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea

36296238From acclaimed author Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder—only to find she may be a pawn in a sinister game.

The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.

As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.

Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.

This is the first time I have read a publication by Charlie Donlea and it will certainly not be the last. As a reader and book reviewer, I think that it is very satisfactory to come into contact with the work of an author for the first time and subsequently be speechless and very appreciative of the delivered content. I have remarked that many of my Goodreads friends have been impressed with the novels of Donlea and written enthusiastic reviews so I did not hesitate to request an advance copy of Don’t Believe It when I found the title available on NetGalley. In truth, I started this book completely unaware of its storyline, without having read the synopsis. This was to my advantage since I have had the opportunity to fully experience and react accordingly to the phenomenal twist and turns incorporated into the narrative. I have not read a twisted and suspenseful thriller supported by an impeccable execution for a long while and therefore a 5-star rating can only do justice to Don’t Believe It.

The concept of the book is outstanding and harmonizes well with the thriller and mystery genres. Basically, the narrative builds around a true crime documentary TV series titled The Girl of Sugar Beach, which is filmed and broadcast weekly at the same time as the reader progresses through the chapters of the novel. In this regard, many chapters contain fragments of the interviews and investigations to feature in the documentary. Ten years ago, Grace Sebold, a fourth-year medical student from the US, was convicted of first-degree murder of her boyfriend Julian while vacationing together in St. Lucian, a luxurious Caribbean island where she was invited to attend the wedding of her high school friends. Given that the crime had occurred on the island, the St. Lucian authorities had jurisdiction over the case and following the gathering of conclusive evidence, although with the use of questionable tactics, Grace was sentenced and imprisoned in St. Lucian. Having exhausted all of her appeals and yet convinced of her innocence, Grace reaches out to Sidney Ryan, a budding true crime documentary producer whose series had helped exonerate and release wrongly accused people from prison. After an abundance of letters from Grace, Sidney eventually shows interest in her case and is willing to produce a documentary centered around Grace’s conviction and the possible errors committed by the St. Lucian police force in solving the murder of Julian. Of course, she is also aware of the prospect of the documentary being a hit show among the American audience and thus a massive breakthrough in her career.

I believe that the author has done a fantastic job of describing realistically the experience of being a producer at a major television network. He referred to the network employees’ stress in relation to television rating, the way the series makers’ work is often subject to modification under the direction of their bosses, as well as the competition among producers who have different programmes at the network. Don’t Believe It is written in a partly procedural fashion accompanied by plenty of red herrings. My thoughts on the identity of the culprit oscillated as I moved from one chapter to another and when I finally settled on a plausible explanation, the author turned everything upside down and left me shocked and highly content with the final reveal. I also enjoyed thoroughly the open ending Donlea had opted for because it maintained the suspense until the final page.

A round of applause on my behalf for the incredibly talented Charlie Donlea and his marvelous thriller. I am surprised that Don’t Believe It has not garnered a greater amount of ratings and reviews on Goodreads since the quality of the plot is so high. I for one recommend this book to everyone loving thrillers and mysteries and the publications of the popular novelists writing in these genres.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for supplying me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

Imagini pentru 5 stars rating

 

Posted in Must read, Musthave, Recenzie, Recomandare

Review The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

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Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil–human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. But whoever this nameless woman was, and whatever befell her, is knowledge lost to another time. . . .

Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, Norris Marshall, a talented but penniless student at Boston Medical College, has joined the ranks of local “resurrectionists”–those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market. Yet even this ghoulish commerce pales beside the shocking murder of a nurse found mutilated on the university hospital grounds. And when a distinguished doctor meets the same grisly fate, Norris finds that trafficking in the illicit cadaver trade has made him a prime suspect.

To prove his innocence, Norris must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer: Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress from the Boston slums who fears she may be the next victim. Joined by a sardonic, keenly intelligent young man named Oliver Wendell Holmes, Norris and Rose comb the city–from its grim cemeteries and autopsy suites to its glittering mansions and centers of Brahmin power–on the trail of a maniacal fiend who lurks where least expected . . . and who waits for his next lethal opportunity.

The Bone Garden is yet another example of Tess Gerritsen at her finest. It is the second standalone novel written by this author that I picked out after my experience of Playing with Fire from two years ago. While I am a big fan of the Rizzoli and Isles series, as I have emphasized in previous reviews as well as through either 4 or 5-star ratings, I am happy to tell you that the standalone books are equally good and acquaint the reader with a fairly different facet of Gerritsen’s remarkable story-telling skills.

The Bone Garden is an excellent and gripping read, a well-penned mystery taking in the medical aspects that have come to be considered the author’s hallmark, given her physician background, as well as in a partial historical look at Boston in 1830s. Temporally, the novel shifts back and forth between past and present, with the latter time period being less extensively covered, having the role to direct the focus towards past events. The historical component pays homage to Oliver Wendell Holmes, a physician renowned for his straightforward and revolutionary, hygiene-related proposition that medical practitioners should wash their hands properly before and after attending patients so that unnecessary disease transmission and subsequent deceases could be avoided. Gerritsen crafted a character mirroring Holmes at the start of the medical school and furthermore, she explored certain realities of 1830s, among which the scarcity of corpses for anatomical dissection at the American medical students’ disposal, the unlawful practices of snatching and selling cadavers for the sake of medicine and the general stigma associated with Irish immigrants. All these are conveyed in the fictional context of a series of gruesome murders as well as the menacing, mysterious interest in a newborn, motherless baby girl.

Tess Gerritsen wrote an eventful and twisted tale, featuring well-developed, likeable characters whose experiences throughout the book were riveting. She has also linked intelligently the characters to one another, which in turn resulted in a satisfying, well done denouement. My only criticism relates to the way the romance aspect from the past was carried out. Even though I anticipated the development of a romantic relationship between Norris and Rose at an early stage of the book, I thought the build-up of romance culminating in a mutual declaration of love was too sudden and slightly unrealistic, especially as regards Norris. For this reason, I will stick to a 4/4.5 rating. Finally, I highly recommend you to read The Bone Garden and everything else Gerritsen has written. She can do no wrong and has always been a safe bet for me.

Rating:

Imagini pentru 4.5 stars

Posted in Must read, Musthave, Recenzie, Recomandare

Review The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I am usually a little skeptical about books or TV series there is a lot of hype around. For instance, I have not read the Harry Potter novel series yet nor have I come to watch Game of Thrones. As someone who follows The New York Times Best Seller list on a regular basis, it would have been impossible not to notice the constant presence at the top of the Young Adult Hardcover category of The Hate U Give. Additionally, I have read a myriad of highly positive reviews of Angie Thomas’ debut accompanied by 5-star ratings. Having just finished yet another psychological thriller, which is my typical genre of choice, and being undecided about my next read, I settled upon The Hate U Give. Needless to say, it was the right choice and I can assure you that this book has deservedly received its literary awards as well as the overwhelming praise from critics and readers alike.

The Hate U Give is a raw, emotional and unforgettable tale about racial injustice, family, interracial friendship and relationship and the black community with all its facets. This novel raises awareness of the highly debated and controversial police brutality problem as well as presents the day-to-day interracial imbalances occurring in the life of a teenage girl of color attending a high school where everyone is white. All these subjects the author intertwined finely and objectively to one another, in my opinion, have made me dwell a lot on the differences between European countries and the US. I was born in Romania, a country where you seldom see a black person and where unfortunately, the school environment does not educate us about race, ethnicity, and interpersonal relationship. As a result, it should come as no surprise if a Romanian or other East Europeans behave awkwardly or unintentionally say something inappropriate and of racist nature when they are in the presence of a black person. On the other hand, I have been living for a year now in Belgium, which has a very diverse population and is in general open-minded. After reading The Hate U Give, I came to the conclusion that perhaps the racism and the subsequent problems that come along with it are less intense or rather less evident in some European countries than in the US. I for one feel fortunate to have the opportunity to experience and learn from eye-opening novels such as The Hate U Give. I sometimes read comments of certain people on the internet or even listen to my friends disapproving of the increasing use of themes like politics, racial, ethnic and gender discrimination, sexual orientation in the content of books, TV series, movies and the like and it pisses me off. Of course I am aware they do not always provide a good or realistic representation of the issues the world is faced with but I find them to be somewhat reflective of specific real life situations nonetheless.

The Hate U Give is one of a kind because it is a complete and coherent piece of writing. It is well-written with a first-person narrative properly tailored to be representative of the protagonist’s age. The line-up of characters is another aspect that contributes to the value and significance of this novel besides its selection of important, sensitive themes. Each and every character who is part of Starr’s life and Starr herself are nuanced, complex and well individualized. I loved the genuineness of the dialogues and relationships established between the characters. Love, empathy, devotion and all sorts of other feelings the characters showed towards one another made The Hate U Give an emotional roller coaster. This novel makes you enraged, disappointed, disgusted by the racial inequity and the ugly things that happen in the world but at the same time it also gives hope and encourages you to speak your mind. I laughed at momma Carter’s witty remarks, Sekani’s innocence and funny comments, Starr’s father’s reaction when he found out about the relationship his daughter was having with Chris, a white guy from school or the description of white people’s habits Starr and Seven gave to Chris. I appreciated the gentle manner in which the author revealed the differences in mentality among the black community, especially the members of Starr’s family, for example, the fact that Starr’s mother wanted to move out of their poor and violent neighborhood, while her father did not agree with this sentiment at first, having the feeling he would turn his back on the people of Garden Heights by leaving.

I am honestly at a loss of words when it comes to arguing why The Hate U Give is such an astounding read and it is challenging to capture all its worthy components in a few paragraphs. Although it has over 400 pages, it reads rapidly and you are likely to want to defer the end of the book. The Hate U Give is the best book I have read this year together with Little Fires Everywhere and I am impatiently awaiting the upcoming movie as well as the release of Angie Thomas’ second publication.

Rating:Imagini pentru 5 stars

 

 

Posted in Must read, New, Recenzie

Love Again by Kelly Elliott /Piatkus Books

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“Love Again”

By Kelly Elliott

Book review

Synopsis: Jonathon Turner is going to be the death of me.

Maybe not the death of me…but my panties for sure! They seem to disintegrate the moment he touches me. Looks at me. Smiles at me. Talks to me.

It’s more than physical. He’s breaking through an impenetrable wall.

There’s a problem though—he’s younger than me.

Six. Years. Younger.

Let’s not forget he’s also one of my brother’s best friends.

Oh, the other problem I forgot to mention…

I never wanted to fall in love again.

But you know what they say….never say never.

Love Again is Book four in the Cowboys and Angels Series.

I have been anxiously awaiting Waylynn’s story and I was quickly lost in her book. This book had all the feels! This is the 4th book in the series and you MUST start with Lost Love. I enjoyed her relationships with her family and I wanted to see what really happened to her, as we’ve only seen glimpses. And I wasn’t sure what she would be like. My heartfelt for her and all that she had been through. Although Jonathon was younger than her, it wasn’t as big of a deal as she made it. They fit together and I enjoyed watching their relationship evolve. Even though she’s the oldest of her siblings, her brothers take a protective stance. I enjoyed their family dynamics and while Waylynn is still licking her wounds, her family pushes her along and gives her the encouragement she needs. However, there are things they don’t know.

The Parker family is a close-knit family. Love how Waylynns brothers protect and stand up for her. Even with their good friend. And Jonathon is a dream. What an amazingly strong, swoon-worthy male character. (This is why what Kelly writes is so amazing, her male characters are perfect!!!). The way Jonathon stands beside Waylynn and is always there for her no matter what is awesome.

And of course, I love the stories inside the story. Seeing more of Steed and Paxton, Mitchell and Corine, and Wade and Amelia are fun. I can’t wait for Tripp, Cord and Trevor’s stories.

I love how realistic this book was and the emotions were intense. I loved that her family and Jonathon’s family rally around them when needed. I don’t want to spoil this book for you, but I do highly recommend it! Be prepared to not be able to put this book down!

Big thanks to Piatkus Books for the copy sent.

Posted in Recenzie

More than words by Mia Sheridan

More than words”

By Mia Sheridan

Book review

Synopsis: The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other’s refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed herJessica’s first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen’s music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It’s only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don’t belong in each other’s worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that needs—and something that looks dangerously like love.

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Mia has given her readers another heartfelt story that weaves life lessons throughout, ones that every person needs to be reminded of every now and then, no matter how good they have it. And she does this in a unique way – through the discovery of ancient documents penned by a young woman living in the 1400’s.

I loved getting the point of view of both Jessie and Callen. Particularly Callen, who appeared to be this successful, award-winning composer but in fact was hiding a slew of painful secrets from everyone. The vices he indulged into numb the constant voices in his head made me very sad.

I admired and loved Jessie. She was a strong young woman who had a good head on her shoulders. She knew what she wanted and was doing everything she could to accomplish the goals she set for herself. As strong as she was, she had a weakness when it came to Callen. She’s never forgotten about him, even though he disappeared without a trace when they were kids. He was her Prince and she’s held onto that dream for the past 10 years.

Mia masterfully weaves the letters from the young woman in 1400’s France that Jessie is translating into the present day. The fears and insecurities the young woman felt, not so different than what Jessie and Callen are feeling now. It is obvious these two are very much in love, but how can they ever forge a path forward when Callen doesn’t feel worthy of someone as precious as Jessie is to him?

This story was an emotional roller coaster. I felt all the highs and all the lows these characters felt. I wanted to shake Callen (most of the time) for the things he was doing. I cheered Jessie on when she would put him in his place. I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to overcome the obstacles in their path, mainly Callen’s fears, the secrets he was hiding, and the way his debauched lifestyle kept rearing its ugly head. But fate has a way of intervening when two people are supposed to be together.

Mia never ceases to amaze me with her storytelling, and this book particularly held so much insight into the way she wove the historical element through the present day. I personally love anything history related, and regardless that this is a work of fiction, I absolutely loved reading those translated passages from the past. I waited with baited breath for each one to come so I could find out what was happening with that young woman from so long ago. Would she find her happily ever after? Were Jessie and Callen going to find theirs as well?

Bravo, Mia on this beautiful story of second chance love, forgiveness and redemption. I loved it! Mia has given her readers another heartfelt story that weaves life lessons throughout, ones that every person needs to be reminded of every now and then, no matter how good they have it. And she does this in a unique way – through the discovery of ancient documents penned by a young woman living in the 1400’s.

Thank you Piatkus Books for the copy you provided me.

Posted in Recenzie

Roomies by Christina Lauren

“Roomies”

By Christina Lauren

Book review

Synopsis: Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realizeimg_7622 that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

This book had a few rough spots, but overall I really liked it. The book is written in the first person present tense from Holland’s point of view, which works. Usually, I like my romances to give the point of view of both leads, but due to the nature of Holland and Calvin’s relationship the single viewpoint works and is the best way to tell the story. I could probably have done without some of Lulu’s more crass stories, but I suppose Holland and Calvin felt the same so maybe it’s good they were in there.

Holland is a total spaz (and thus I identify with her on some level). I also get what it’s like to struggle to find your own identity and feel special when you’re surrounded by highly talented, exceptional people. I love her passion for music (and for Calvin), her love of her uncles, and the fact that she was so driven to complete her MFA in creative writing (and I did have to go Google what an MFA is – Master in Fine Arts, for the uninitiated) and then struggled to find her passion/muse/whatever you want to call it once she was out of school and suddenly faced with turning her passion into a career. Holland’s relationship with her uncles is also great (love love love Robert and Jeff!) and I appreciated her interactions with her brother Davis as well (who reminds me a little of my own bearded bro).

I love Calvin. He’s a hot musician so what’s not to love? (haha!) All joking aside, Calvin has a sensitive heart (which he needs to be such a great musician), a sexy Irish accent (which I can hear in my head) and a wonderfully silly way he phrases things sometimes. He does his fair share of stupid boy things and sometimes does better than other at understanding why Holland is upset about things.

Throughout the book, Holland is forced to examine her life, her relationship with (and dependence upon) her uncles, and her relationship with herself. The book is a love story between Holland and Calvin, but it’s also a story about Holland discovering who she is and learning to love herself. That element of self-discovery is what makes this an excellent New Adult novel, and the hunka-hunka-burnin’-love makes it a great contemporary romance.