Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell

BOOK REVIEW: The Perfect Mother by Caroline MitchellThe Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell
Published by Thomas & Mercer on January 14, 2020
ISBN: 1542016649
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley, Amazon Publishing UK
Goodreads
four-stars
Synopsis

She thought they wanted her baby. But they won’t stop there.
Roz is young, penniless and pregnant. All she wants is to be the perfect mother to her child, but the more she thinks about her own chaotic upbringing, the more certain she is that the best life for her baby is as far away as possible from her hometown in Ireland.
Determined to do the right thing, Roz joins an elite adoption service and can’t believe her luck. Within days she is jetting to New York to meet a celebrity power couple desperate for a child of their own. Sheridan and Daniel are wealthy and glamorous—everything Roz isn’t. Her baby will never go hungry, and will have every opportunity for the perfect life. But soon after Roz moves into their plush basement suite, she starts to suspect that something darker lurks beneath the glossy surface of their home.
When Roz discovers she isn’t the first person to move in with the couple, and that the previous woman has never been seen since, alarm bells start ringing. As the clock ticks down to her due date, Roz realises her unborn baby may be the only thing keeping her alive, and that despite her best intentions, she has walked them both into the perfect nightmare…


Once upon a time, I was a huge mystery/suspense fan. I gobbled up as much of it as I could, often devouring a book a day in the dark, twisty lives I found in their pages. But at some point, either the authors started letting me down or I became immune to them. It was like I’d caught on to all their tricks… I went years always knowing how a story was going to end, whatever the mystery might be, I figured it out.

And it put me off the genre altogether.

Last year, I decided to give it another try and I found some great suspenseful reads that I loved! But so far this year, I’ve been disappointed.

Until now…

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell has renewed my hope for the mystery/suspense genre! I can’t go so far as to say that’s it was everything that I ever wanted in a thriller but despite the few annoying bits, I absolutely loved this book. Outside of Agatha Christie, there aren’t a lot of books in this genre I would even consider re-reading, but this would be one!

The Story:

The Perfect Mother is the story of a young woman named Roz, who finds herself pregnant after a drunken one-night stand. She’s recently been fired from her job and she can’t tell the father of the child that she’s even pregnant. All we know is that, whoever the father is, she’s mortified about it and won’t even tell her best friend and roommate, Dympna, who it is.

I was pretty sure I knew who the father was throughout the book. I literally made a note that said: “It’s pretty obvious the father is…” BUT I WAS WRONG! For the first time in what seemed like forever, I was thrown more than one curveball and what I thought I knew was completely wrong! I LOVED IT!

Sorry, I got a little sidetracked there. Who the father is or what all Ms. Mitchell managed to throw me on has very little to do with the actual story at this point, so let’s move on…

So Roz decides her only real option is to give her baby up for adoption. She signs up to this adoption site where couples basically buy your baby. At least, that’s how Dympna sees it. Roz is super excited when a “diamond couple” is interested in her baby. Things proceed rather quickly from there and, despite her misgivings, she finds herself moving to New York to live with the couple until the baby is born.

Once there, Roz finds herself in a horrible situation. Nothing is as it was supposed to be and she realizes too late that she’s made a horrible mistake. No one knows where she is, who she’s with, or why she’d even be in America. So it’s all really dreary.

I feel like that’s about all I can say about the story itself without giving anything away, so hopefully, I’ve made it clear that I LOVED IT!!!!

The Characters:

And here’s where we come to my issue with the book…

I loved most of the characters in this story. Dympna is amazing and funny and well-developed even though she’s a secondary character. The diamond couple, Sheridan and Daniel, who want Roz’s baby and will go to ANY lengths to get it, are complicated and I never did figure them out. I mean, they were the bad guys but I had a really hard time figuring out who was the REALLY bad guy here and there was just so much going on and backstory that started coming out and a whole rabbit hole of “THAT’s CRAZY” that pretty much every character in this book was surprisingly awesome.

Except for the main one.

I loved the book and I loved all the characters except for Roz. Which was very unfortunate considering she’s the MAIN character!!!

Roz was way too naive. I mean, it was unrealistic and I wanted to strangle or smack her way too often. She was likable (eventually) but even if I could get past the naivety, she’s whiney and has this attitude like the world owes her something because she had a crappy childhood. I mean, does anyone have a perfect childhood? Sorry, but that doesn’t keep you from accepting responsibility for your crappy actions now that you’re an adult. (That may have been a little harsh, but she seriously annoyed me and I”m still upset about it.)

Yeah, so basically every character is great except the main one.

Conclusion:

I definitely recommend reading The Perfect Mother if you’re looking for a good thriller/suspense book. But you’ve been warned that the main character might drive you a bit batty and make you want to punch someone. It’s worth the read anyway though!

Have you read The Perfect Mother? What do you think? Have any recommendations for my next read? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter!

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

four-stars
Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Man She Married by Alison James

BOOK REVIEW: The Man She Married by Alison JamesThe Man She Married by Alison James
Published by Bookouture on January 13, 2020
Source: NetGalley, Bookouture
Goodreads
two-half-stars
Synopsis

How well do you know your husband?
Since Alice’s fiancé walked out on her, she never thought she’d meet ‘The One’. But all that changes when she meets Dominic. Handsome, charming and kind, Alice can’t believe her luck when he proposes a few months later and moves into her West London home.
Three years on, Alice’s catering business is thriving and she is married to a man she adores. So when she sees that little blue line, it should be the happiest moment of her life: they’re going to have a baby. But then the police knock on her door and Alice’s whole world is turned upside down… Dominic is dead.
Distraught, Alice goes to identify the body. There’s no doubt that it’s her husband. Yet when his estranged brother comes to view the coffin, he insists the man lying there is not Dominic. Alice refuses to believe it at first, but when confronted with irrefutable proof, she finally has to face the truth:
The man she married is not the person he said he was. And if he lied about that, what else was he hiding from her?


I received this book for free from NetGalley, Bookouture. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I just want to begin this review by saying it’s entirely possible I’m missing something. At the time I began writing this review, the average rating for The Man She Married was 4.3 stars.

Unfortunately, it was a 2.5 star read for me.

I think I’m a pretty liberal reviewer. Most of the books I read get at least 3 stars for being “okay.” I don’t think that’s a bad rating. In my reviews, an okay/3-star book means it’s worth the read but it probably isn’t gonna knock your socks off. 4 stars means I loved it but that I found a few nit-picky things to knock a star off for…because I’m stingy with the 5 stars. So if I give something 5 stars, that’s because it blew me away and I either couldn’t find a bad thing to say about it or whatever bad I could say wasn’t bad enough to take even half a star from the book.

Not everyone is going to agree with me. Reviews are opinions and highly subjective. The Man She Married is apparently a great example of people not agreeing with me.

The Story:

Okay. I’m not normally one to keep reading a book I’m not enjoying. So obviously not awful.

I enjoyed the writing itself and my attention was held enough to get me through the book. And seriously… I absolutely loved this opening! It gave me chills!

“As I draw closer, I glimpse the tip of his nose against the pleated white satin of the coffin lining. The sight is so odd and other-worldly, it makes my head swim and the carpeted floor feel unsteady under my feet. My heart is pounding as I get close enough to see him; all of him.

I have no idea who gave the undertaker the suit and tie he’s wearing; I only know it wasn’t me. I take in the curve of his mouth, the sweep of hair from his forehead, the angles of his profile. On his left hand is a wedding ring. I remove my own wedding ring and drop it into the coffin.

The only thought in my mind is how this is like one of those riddles you find inside a Christmas cracker. Because the man lying inside my husband’s coffin is not my husband.

He’s a total stranger.”

So I went into this expecting to love it! But I didn’t really enjoy it until I was 88% done. I know this because I made a note that said “Okay now it’s getting good…here? At Part Three???? What the… “

I felt cheated.

Because the author can write. And she can tell a story. But this story didn’t work for me. It’s too unbelievable and predictable. I know that you go into the story knowing that Alice’s husband wasn’t who he claimed to be – it’s inferred in the title, it’s spelled out in the book description, and it’s literally on the first page. But did everything have to be so easy to see coming?

I really want to give examples, but I’m keeping this spoiler-free. That’s the really hard thing about thriller/mystery/suspense reviews – almost everything is a spoiler!

The Characters:

Ugh. Alice has got to be one of the most naive women to ever have not existed. There were about a billion warning signs about her husband that she flat out ignored. And it’s not because she’s led a totally sheltered life. She just ignores the obvious right in front of her. It’s not just with her husband, it’s with everything! I just couldn’t relate to her at all.

My favorite character was Alice’s best friend, JoJo. She may have saved this book for me. I just wish she’d have shown up on the page more often. She’s smart, funny, independent and wildly loyal and loving despite Alice’s oblivious-ness.

I wanted to murder-kill Alice’s husband, Dominic. Or at least smack him a few hundred times? Which is probably how I was supposed to feel so he’s a good villain.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

Obviously, there are plenty of people who liked this book. But it’s just wasn’t a great read for me. The writing itself is good and I’d read another Alison James book but the characters killed this one for me. The last part of the book was enjoyable though.

What do you think? Have you read The Man She Married? Leave me a comment below!

two-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Dragon Connection by Ava Richardson

BOOK REVIEW: Dragon Connection by Ava RichardsonDragon Connection (The Stone Crown Series Book 1) by Ava Richardson
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
Synopsis

One crown can unite them—or destroy them all.

The three kingdoms lie splintered, their aging dragon riders content with stories of glorious battle victories. But a new evil creeps across the land. Inyene, a powerful noblewoman of the Northern Kingdom, plunders valuable resources to power mechanical dragons in her quest to gain a foothold in the Middle Kingdom. From there she will ascend the High Throne, once again uniting the realms under a single crown.

For the wearer of the Stone Crown can wield unlimited power—if it can be found.

Narissea has spent a quarter of her sixteen years slaving away in the mines, accused of a crime she didn’t commit. When word reaches her of the horrors assailing her village, Narissea knows she must act despite the risk. Already her arm is scarred with four brands signifying previous escape attempts. If she’s unsuccessful in her fifth, it will mean death.

But her life forever changes when she stumbles upon an injured dragon, discovers an ancient shrine, and learns the true purpose behind Lady Inyene’s mechanical abominations.

Now, Narissea has only one choice: gain Inyene’s trust and find a way to thwart her plans, even if it means sacrificing that which she desires most of all.

Her freedom.

This book contains violence.


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

I haven’t read a whole lot of fantasy lately and I was feeling nostalgic for a good ol’ Dragon tale. When I stumbled upon Dragon Connection by Ava Richardson, I didn’t just find one such tale, but discovered an entire series I’m going to need to get caught up on!!

The Story:

 Dragon Connection tells the story of a time when most of the dragons have gone and with them, the Dragon riders. The land is being dominated by a vicious wannabe queen who is enslaving many free citizens under ridiculous charges. Narissea is one of the unfortunate souls taken from her homeland on trumped up charges and forced to work in the mines for the “queen”, Inyene.

Narissea has made multiple attempts to escape. She’s been promised by the overseers that her next attempt will be her last. No more branding her arm as punishment…death will put an end to her misery.

As further punishment for her latest failed prison break, Narissea is sent into treacherous territory to hunt for Dragon scales. She thinks her luck has turned for the better when she discovers more scales than anyone ever has! And not just any scales – these are black, large and fully intact. She follows the trail and eventually finds herself in a precarious situation,which is made all the more deadly when find herself face to face with a living,breathing,black Dragon!

Narissea has no idea how the connect made that day will change her life – and possibly the lives of her people.  When she returns from her punishment/adventure, she’s in even more danger than before.

The Characters:

I fell in love with almost every character in this book! Narissea, her “uncle”, her best friend Oleer – even the queen’s brother, Abioye. And of course I grew quite attached to the mage, Montfre! I’ve got a special place in my heart for mages and dragons. I can’t wait to start the next book in the Stone Crown series to see where their story goes from here!

Conclusion:

Dragon Connection by Ava Richardson is a fun, exciting, and emotional read. I recommend it to anyone who loves stories with dragons!

five-stars
Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski

BOOK REVIEW: The Socialite by J’nell CiesielskiThe Socialite by J'nell Ciesielski
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 14, 2020
ISBN: 0785233547
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
Synopsis

Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them--but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?


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

So I was browsing NetGalley and had been in a historical fiction kind of mood when I saw the cover for The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski. I don’t know what it was, but I fell in love with that cover and knew I’d be requesting it no matter what it was about! (This is a super bad habit I’m finding myself doing way too often lately.) I’m actually thinking about doing a monthly series titled “I Chose A Book by its Cover and…” But that’s a post for another day.

Basically, the cover drew me in and the description sealed my fate. I HAD TO READ THIS BOOK! So I did (obviously) and I loved it!

The Story:

The Socialite is about two English debutantes who find themselves in occupied France during World War II.

Kathleen Whitford has convinced her father to allow her to travel into Paris in order to retrieve her younger sister, who has run away with a Nazi officer. Kathleen is a mix of bravery, cowardice, strength, sarcasm, wit and naivety all rolled up into one very complicated woman. Of course, it’s not so easy to tell all that when we’re first introduced to her, as she’s about to sneak her way into a party teeming with German soldiers. When it’s revealed the hostess of this get together is Kat’s sister, Eleanor Whitford, my jaw literally dropped open!

Eleanor believes she’s found the perfect man in Major Eric von Schlegel. Despite his Nazi ideology, Eleanor is convinced he’s a good man who will care for her in a way she has never been loved before. So, of course, she’s not interested in going back with Kat to their father’s house, where she’s expected to live by high society standards. She resents that Kat always does what’s expected of her and never seems to just let go.

Kat’s world is further turned upside down by the introduction of Barrett Anderson, a Scottish bar owner she meets as he is also crashing the Nazi party her sister is throwing during Kat’s first night in Paris. Barrett is also living a very complicated life and he and Kat are drawn to each other for multiple reasons…none more interesting/disturbing than the hidden fact that Barrett is working for Kat and Ellie’s father.

Barrett views Kat in much the same light her sister does and he’s pretty uncompromising:

And you always follow the rules, don’t you? No matter who gives them or for what reason. My guess is you don’t ask the reason. You simply obey.

Barrett Anderson, The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski

As the story unfolds, Kat, Ellie and Barrett are all shown to be more than meets the eye. And the trio end up trying to escape the Nazis together among multiple twists and turns that come together to create an amazing story I can see myself reading over and over again!

The Characters:

This is a novel where the characters really make it a memorable, wonderful read. They’re well developed and likable. I even found myself at I’ve point not completely hating evil Eric!

I think it’s speaks a lot to the writing itself that the author was even able to get these characters to a dinner with Hitler and make it believable. In fact, dinner with Hitler was one of my favorite scenes!

My favorite stories are always those where the people and places stick with me for years. The characters in The Socialite are definitely going to do that!

Conclusion:

If I haven’t already made it clear, let me just wrap up this review by saying I absolutely loved reading The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski and definitely recommend picking it up if you’re looking for some historical fiction! It’s way more than just a pretty cover!

five-stars
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BOOK REVIEW: Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald

BOOK REVIEW: Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonaldBehind Every Lie by Christina McDonald
Published by Gallery Books on February 4, 2020
ISBN: 1501184040
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Synopsis

If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?
Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.
Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.
Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Behind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.


This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

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

If you read my review of The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald then you know why I was excited to read Behind Every Lie. I absolutely loved the way McDonald portrayed the mother-daughter relationship in The Night Olivia Fell. It was emotional, complicated and made the characters come alive for me. I expected the same kind of emotional thriller novel in Behind Every Lie, but it was much more of a straight-out suspense/mystery than being emotionally driven.

Normally, I talk about what I loved about a novel first, but this time I want to get what didn’t work for me out of the way first – mostly because it has a lot to do with how I’ve reviewed the book. I enjoyed the story itself and the characters, but there was a lot that was just hard to believe. I’m a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan so my ability to suspend disbelief is pretty high up there. Behind Every Lie requires that you believe in a series of consequences that, taken by themselves may not be that unbelievable, but when combined just ruined my ability to pretend what I was reading was anything other than make-believe.

Another problem I had with this story wasn’t so much to do with the writing itself, but because I had recently listened to the audiobook Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil. While the plots of the two stories are nothing alike, the characters and their relationships are essentially the same. The result was that I figured out almost every plot twist just because I knew how the relationships were going to play out.

All that being said, I still really enjoyed this book. I’m definitely a fan of the way Christina McDonald writes and this would probably be a full 4- or 5-star book for me, if not for the issues I pointed out above.

I’ve become a fan of books written from different perspectives, but it’s hard to pull this off well and so there are few stories I can even read like this. But Christina McDonald has perfected this way of storytelling. In Behind Every Lie, the story goes back and forth between Eva and her mom, Kat. Kat has been murdered and Eva is suspected of being the murderer. The relationship between Kat and Eva had recently become more strained than usual and we’re slowly let in on the reasons for this most complicated of mother-daughter relationships.

It’s hard for me to say much more about the events or people in the novel itself because SO MUCH happens and is interconnected that this entire review would just be spoilers. So I’m gonna go ahead and wrap this up…

This book is worth the read for anyone who enjoyed The Night Olivia Fell. I know I’ll definitely be picking up the next novel Christina McDonald writes.

I’m curious… has anyone else read both Behind Every Lie and Silent Child? If so, did you see the similarities like I did?

If you’ve read Behind Every Lie, what were you’re thoughts? Agree with me? Disagree? Leave a comment below!

three-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel Of Grace Kelly by Kerri Maher

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel Of Grace Kelly by Kerri MaherThe Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher
Published by Berkley on February 25, 2020
ISBN: 0451492072
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Synopsis

A life in snapshots…

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

A woman in living color…

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real. Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks--her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.


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

Yes, I’m actually posting a book review. You can close your mouth now!

It seems 2019 has been the year of reading books about things I know little to nothing about and The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher continues that theme. I knew the name Grace Kelly and had seen some old movies with her in them but I knew absolutely nothing about her. For instance, I didn’t even know she married the Prince of Monaco!

I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into the life of Grace Kelly. It’s written in such a way that you actually feel as if you’re spying on this icon. The story felt intimate and almost too real. I loved every page of it!

The story goes back and forth between Grace’s struggle to make it on Broadway and her life after she’s left Hollywood behind for life in the palace in Monaco.

Grace spends so much time chasing after approval and dreams. Unfortunately, the two don’t always compliment each other. Her family, and more importantly, her father, don’t approve of her ambition to be a Broadway star. But she’s determined to have it all… Family, friends and a successful acting career. If only the men in her life would agree to let her have them!

If I was going to sum up this book in one word, it would be “brilliant.” Like all great historical fiction, it blurred the line between fact and fairytale and has made me hungry to read more about it’s subject. In this case, I want to watch every movie referenced in the story and find out more about the real life of Grace Kelly.

I recommend The Girl in White Gloves to anyone with even a passing interest in Grace Kelly!

four-half-stars