Posted in Month in Review, Reading List

Month in Review: April 2019 Wrap Up

Here we are at the beginning of another new month!  May is one of my favorites… the flowers are blooming, the temps are warming up, and summer is in view.

But before we launch into May, let’s look back at April… time for Month in Review!  April was busy here, so this was another five-book month for me.  Here’s a roundup!

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Posted in Book Notes, Reading List

Book Notes: Review of “The Mother-in-Law” by Sally Hepworth

Hi, friends!  Today we’re talking suspense again!  I’ve really been enjoying all the domestic suspense novels I’ve read this year… there have been so many great titles coming out.  I just finished another one that I wanted to share.

 

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The Mother-in-Law is a new release from author Sally Hepworth.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author… it’s been getting a lot of Bookstagram buzz, and I was lucky enough to get an advance digital copy through Net Galley.  Here’s a description:

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Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: Review of “The Winter Sister” by Megan Collins

Hi, bookish friends!  As I mentioned in my recent Friday Favorites post, I’ve been reading more mysteries, suspense, and thrillers.  I love a good “who-dun-it” story, and I enjoy the insights it brings us into the characters.  So today I wanted to share a new Book Notes on my latest read!

 

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I recently finished The Winter Sister by Megan Collins.  This debut novel centers on the sudden death of a teen girl, and the fallout that lingers for her family and loved ones years later.  Here’s a description:

 

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we know the people we love most?

 

This book is chock full of family drama, secrets, and regrets.  It begins with the fateful night during the sisters’ teen years when Persephone goes missing.  A few days later, her body is discovered.

Through this storyline we are introduced to an older sister who flaunted the rules; her boyfriend who had acted suspiciously; a neglectful and distant, but grieving, mother; and Sylvie, the younger sister who had a big secret of her own.

We then move forward to Sylvie as an adult, when her aunt (who had stepped in and cared for her after the tragedy) calls Sylvie home to help care for her cancer-stricken mother.  When Sylvie returns to her hometown and her childhood house, it brings back all the pain and turmoil of Persephone’s tragedy.  As she encounters figures from her past (including Ben, her sister’s former boyfriend who was suspected but never charged in her death), she starts asking questions and seeing other sides of the story… leading to answers she never saw coming.

Sylvie is not an unreliable narrator… we’re made privy to her thoughts and secrets early on in the story.  The happenings are revealed to us as she learns them.  There are many things, we discover, that she didn’t know as a teenager and that were not as they seemed.

 

I found this to be an incredible debut novel.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m just getting back into suspense and thrillers, and I really enjoyed this one that I discovered through #Bookstagram and the Book of the Month club.  Collins weaves a tale that keeps you wanting to find answers, and features characters that are complex and flawed.

I always enjoy reading other reviews of the titles that I feature… it’s interesting to see all the different opinions.  Most of the reviews of this were really positive, and for good reason.  Among just a few readers who rated the book lower, it seemed to be for two reasons.

First, it seems there have been a lot of domestic suspense novels coming out recently, and some reviewers felt that sub-genre and the “adult comes home to reckon with her past and discovers secrets” storyline had been overdone.  I can’t speak to that because I haven’t read a lot of them, but even so… it’s a good storyline, and Collins has written it very well.

The other thing some reviewers have expressed is that the mother is very unlikable.  I do agree with that assessment.  However, for me it worked within the storyline.  It’s a subplot of its own to learn why the mother is so detached, why her girls were treated so differently, and what caused her dark days.  That doesn’t mean I related to the mother at all… in fact, I was incredulous at some of her thoughts, feelings, and actions.

This family was dark and dysfunctional.  The novel is a compelling portrait of how family secrets cause unseen ripple effects through generations.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a reveal at the heart of the plot that shifts the narrative.  Early in the novel, I wondered about this particular piece of information, but then thought, no, that’s probably not where it’s going.  Readers, that’s where it went!  Once that piece fell into place, the rest of the story clicked for me.  I’ve deliberately not spoken of most of the characters in the novel… I will say that, as in any good thriller, the people at the heart of the story are often not as they first appear.

This novel gets four and a half stars from me, and I will definitely add Megan Collins’ future releases to my list.  I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good domestic suspense, or appreciates a study in complex family (especially mother-daughter) relationships.

 

Find “The Winter Sister” at:

Barnes & Noble      Amazon

What do you think, friends?  Do you love a good suspense or thriller?  Will you be adding this one to your list?  If you’ve already read this, come let me know what you thought.  Enjoy your week… happy reading!!

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: Review of “The Perfect Girlfriend” by Karen Hamilton

 

I just finished a book that gave me equal parts horror and delight. It was entertaining, twisted and more than a little outrageous.

It felt like an absolute train wreck you couldn’t stop, and I savored every bit of it. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person.  While I ponder that… keep reading to hear more about the book!

 

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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is a suspense novel centered around Juliette.  At least, that’s her name right now.  She’s changed it, you see, because she has a plan.  A big one, that will make life just perfect again.  Here’s the situation:

Juliette loves Nate.

She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

 

Juliette is totally the focus of this book and narrates the events.  We are inside her head to hear her feelings, justifications, and train of thought for all of her stalking and obsession.  And she’s one amazing character.  I felt like she was really well written.  Nuttier than a fruitcake?  Sure… but also deep and complex.

The reader is taken on a rather wild ride through Juliette’s strategy to win back Nate and finally have the perfect life.  As things are tied together and we see the depths of her planning and scheming, we get glimpses of her past and how it influences her present actions.

I’ve seen a few negative reviews of this one that say the character and her actions are too unbelievable. Well… sure.  Juliette has gone WAAAAY beyond extreme.  That’s kind of the point, though, and that’s what makes it so outrageously delicious!

Honestly?  Although I was horrified at many of the things she did, I felt some admiration for Juliette.  She was DEDICATED, and her level of commitment to her goal was quite impressive.

Really, there were only two things I didn’t just love about the book. First, I lost track of all the flights and trips to various locales. I understand that was part of the story but it seemed like there were so many described that I lost track.  The second was actually the ending. Not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that… it seemed a little abrupt and anticlimactic… I felt like it was missing something.  But we can all use our imagination to decide what happens next, and the rest of the story and the incredible main character more than made up for it.

 

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Via Instagram: @the.biblio.blonde

 

My friend Rae over at Thrifty Biblio read this at the same time, so we compared notes.  We were of one mind at being strangely in awe of Juliette’s dedication!  Here’s a quote from her review:

“This book was crazy in the very best of ways! The whole book was a trip, and I loved following Juliette’s life as she masterminds her way into Nate’s life. At times Juliette’s actions were cringeworthy, but mostly, I was impressed by her complete and total commitment to her plan.”

 

This is Karen Hamilton’s first novel and I will definitely pick up her future books.  I found The Perfect Girlfriend to be compelling, entertaining, and just wild!  Four and a half stars to this debut… if you’re looking for a suspense novel with an incredibly twisted love story, give this one a try!  Happy reading!

 

Find “The Perfect Girlfriend” at:

Barnes & Noble     Amazon

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to BookSparks and the publisher for a complimentary review copy of this title.  All opinions are my own.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info