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You (You #1) – Caroline Kepnes

You (You #1) – Caroline KepnesTitle: You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes
Publishing Info: September 30, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 1, 2016

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

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Well, for all of the hype for this book, it didn’t really leave me feeling shocked or awed or super impressed, but I did find that it left a lasting impression and that I wanted to read the next book right away! I did like the things that were different about it. I really enjoyed the different narration in the second person, hence the title “You”. Main character (and super psychopath) Joe narrates the book to and about his newest obsession, Guinevere Beck. It was an interesting choice of narration and it really gets you in the head of the narrator. I did have a hard time with the book — not in a bad way, but in a way that confused me because this guy is totally nuts. He’s actually crazy and creepy and scary and does some very, very bad things… And yet I felt sympathetic at times! The form of narration really had me feeling for him even though I knew he was totally wrong and deranged. I also really enjoyed Joe’s voice in the sense that it felt more personal. It wasn’t just recounting. He often interrupted himself or interjected with more things that brought one more level to the account.

For all of the hype, I felt like there was supposed to be a twist coming and while that really wasn’t this kind of book. I think I got myself all hyped because of other people’s reactions and it didn’t really shock me like I thought it would, but instead, it was shocking in a very different way. I was so appalled at Joe’s actions and yet it was also a train wreck that I couldn’t stop watching. I really did get myself all psyched for a big twist moment, so I was a bit sad that that didn’t happen, but I also am coming to appreciate those thrillers that can wrap up without a twist because if every book had a twist, they’d all be predictable!

The book was very sexual, and I don’t have issues with sexuality in books, but it did feel overdone at times. I guess that is kind of the point of the book in a way, since Joe’s obsession is romantic on all levels. He’s obsessed with Beck emotionally, physically, and mentally. Clearly he has several psychoses so the obsession is overboard on so many levels. I am used to reading YA which really doesn’t get explicit of course, but there were points that felt like a little much for me.

YOU was interesting and engaging from start to finish and I did enjoy reading it but I think I was just let down by the hype. I kept waiting for a huge moment that didn’t really happen and I thought that’s how the book would end but was also kind of hoping it wouldn’t. Looking back on it as I’m reviewing, I really was totally engaged so that really did leave a good lasting impression! Somehow Joe came off as charismatic in a way and I wanted to pick up HIDDEN BODIES shortly thereafter!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Crazy, messed-up thrillers. I don’t know why but every once in a while, I like a good, messed up book.
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. I guess I did appreciate the lack of a big twist but I was also really expecting it so it was kind of a bummer!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you like some crazy thrillers that put you into the mind of a literal psychopath, definitely check out YOU!

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BOOKS LIKE YOU

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE GOOD GIRL

Mini-Review: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 23, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1)

In the heart of Trenton, N.J., a killer is out to make sure someone gets his just desserts.
Larry Virgil skipped out on his latest court date after he was arrested for hijacking an eighteen-wheeler full of premium bourbon. Fortunately for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Larry is just stupid enough to attempt almost the exact same crime again. Only this time he flees the scene, leaving behind a freezer truck loaded with Bogart ice cream and a dead body—frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans.
As fate would have it, Stephanie’s mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the Bogart factory to find out who’s putting their employees on ice and sabotaging the business. It’s going to be hard for Stephanie to keep her hands off all that ice cream, and even harder for her to keep her hands off Ranger. It’s also going to be hard to explain to Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, why she is spending late nights with Ranger, late nights with Lula and Randy Briggs—who are naked and afraid—and late nights keeping tabs on Grandma Mazur and her new fella. Stephanie Plum has a lot on her plate, but for a girl who claims to have “virtually no marketable skills,” these are the kinds of sweet assignments she does best.

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** Mini-review for TURBO TWENTY-THREE… because once you review one Stephanie Plum book, you sort of review them all! ** 

TURBO TWENTY-THREE was another quick, easy, and fun Stephanie Plum novel! I really appreciate that Janet Evanovich has taken these books a little bit back into the realm of the plausible instead of monkeys-acting-like-humans. Of course, they’re still a little wacky because that is the way of Plum but at least it’s on a believable side again!

This book was a lot of fun, actually. I enjoyed the warring ice cream factory concept and it was funny watching Stephanie try to infiltrate each one, learn the feuds behind the two, and the many different ways to get in trouble in an ice cream factory.

We sort of went backwards again with the love triangle and SIGH. I was so excited to see progress in one direction and now it’s back in the middle. It could be worse because there have been worse love triangles in cozy mysteries that still also haven’t resolved and at least I like Ranger and Morelli both… But it’s been twenty-three books! I’m ready for some resolution on the love triangle thing. I’m getting a bit tired of talking about it but such is life and being a reader of this series!

I do like that I’m really rarely guess the answer to the mysteries! I guess I probably could guess a few if I tried but I love listening to these books on audio because they’re so short and fun and easy to listen to while doing other things. I love zoning out and flowing with these books and it’s great to have a lighter audio!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ranger. I’m personally Team Morelli in terms of settling down… but darn it, I do still love Ranger. How did I get hooked in a love triangle?
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. Come onnnn, just choose already!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan, keep on going! I do like that things aren’t so silly anymore and hey, they may be all kind of the same but I still enjoy them all the time!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE TURBO TWENTY-THREE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 size 12 and ready to rock    MURDER UNCORKED

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train – Paula HawkinsTitle: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publishing Info: January 13, 2015 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 29, 2016

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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After much anticipation, I finally picked up THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN! I totally see the GONE GIRL comparison but I also liked that the book did go in a very different direction. There are so many thrillers nowadays that compare to big titles and they’re big shoes to fill! I wasn’t as blown away by GONE GIRL as some but I did enjoy the many twists and not knowing what to expect. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN had that same sort of feel but the ending actually felt a bit more predictable.

It was really interesting to see the many unreliable narrators in this book (always a fan) and I was always kept on my toes because I was never quite sure who or what to believe! That does create a problem sometimes because I love these sorts of thrillers so I always start to form some wild accusation in my head, and sometimes I like my theories better than the actual book. Not all books can have endings so wild, though, because otherwise it’d be really played out and we’d all expect twists all the time and be able to guess them all! THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN still had a nice twist at the end, mostly putting all the pieces together, but it wasn’t as twisty as I anticipated. I enjoyed that it wasn’t what I expected but I felt after that whole book that it lost a little excitement towards the reveal and I really wasn’t a fan of the villain speech to reveal it all.

I wasn’t super duper in love with the book and yet I really couldn’t put this book down. I was so interested and hooked and I loved the mystery and suspense of it all. The unreliable narrators were great and I actually really enjoyed the writing style, with different POV switches as well as those POVs taking place at different points in time. It was really interesting to see it all come together in the end and I actually appreciate that the narrators were unreliable but in a very realistic and somewhat relatable way.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a very solid mystery and thriller and I can see why it captivated so many people! It really is a great GONE GIRL comparison and it allows readers to step into a relatable role and still distance themselves from these specific experiences. I’m really glad I finally read it!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Rachel // Character obsessions: Her ex-husband, the couple she can see from the train, solving the mystery.
I felt bad for Rachel and not all at the same time. She put herself into so many horrible positions and being an alcoholic made things so, so much worse… And yet she was also incredibly relatable at times. I’m sure a lot of us can relate to those missing pieces of fuzziness after a night of drinking and it just makes you think how much it can truly affect your life after continuing on like that on a consistent basis, and Rachel’s drinking messed up her life on so many levels. It was an interesting tool to use for an unreliable narrator though because it’s something where you’re able to see that a character has missing pieces or false information and it’s not cheesy or a psychological factor after a big reveal. Readers are able to see that Rachel is pretty unreliable and yet she was one to root for to pull her life together.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult mystery/thrillers. Adult mysteries were my bread and butter when I first started blogging and it’s always fun to jump back into that world!
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. I know I said I was happy the twist wasn’t overdone but it’s also hard when you’re expecting something huge and it’s not as huge as you thought it was. The ending was definitely still enjoyable but didn’t have that “omg” factor that shot it up to five stars for me.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you liked GONE GIRL, this is a serious and legit recommendation for you! If not, the book certainly stands on its own two feet and also has plenty of differences.

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BOOKS LIKE THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GONE GIRL    THE good girl

Curious Minds – Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds – Janet Evanovich & Phoef SuttonTitle: Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1) by Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton
Publishing Info: August 16, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group, Listening Library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 2, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16)

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.
What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

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CURIOUS MINDS is the first book I’ve read from Janet Evanovich that wasn’t Stephanie Plum, which makes it really hard for me NOT to compare it to Plum after reading 22 novels featuring her wacky crew (and even some novellas). I guess in a way, I have to since it’s my frame of reference for her writing.

Truthfully, it was noticeable for me that it was a new series that was not Plum. I guess it wasn’t different in a bad way, but I’ve been reading Stephanie Plum for at least five years and that series just has so much personality and CURIOUS MINDS felt just a little flatter. I know that Evanovich has other series that aren’t Stephanie Plum and now I wonder how those feel — was it this book specifically or am I feeling a Plum-hangover? I liked that it wasn’t as silly as Plum novels get sometimes and yet I found myself wanting a little more from the characters and from the plot. The plot was much more detective-like versus crazy antics which I liked! I always like a little bit of a mystery to solve. I did feel that I was getting just a touch confused with so many characters having their hands in the cookie jar.

I also wonder, since this was co-written with Phoef Sutton, how much that really changed the tone. Did a co-author bring the silliness down or would that have happened anyway? Who was responsible for what? An overall picture written together? Or Sutton responsible for X characters and Evanovich responsible for Y characters? I always wonder how co-written books go! Janet Evanovich’s trademark tone was prevalent throughout the book but it was also noticeably different.

Riley was definitely a Plum-type character although quite toned down. There’s still a lot of classic Evanovich jargon and characterization there but Riley Moon was much more put together. Emerson Knight was a Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory-type character (and was even specifically compared to him) but has just a bit more social skills then Sheldon and his science is toned down just a bit. He’s basically a wealthy genius, overtly labeled an eccentric, and makes for a lot of comical moments with his awkward social responses. I did like this better than outright silly, though!

CURIOUS MINDS was fun, a quick read (aka listen — I listened to the audiobook) and just some brain candy. Like Plum novels, it didn’t really stand out for me but it was fun to experience. It’s not knocking anything out of the park for me but still enjoyable and I’ll continue the series.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Riley Moon // Character obsessions: Her new job, junk food, reputation
I liked Riley! She was fun without being over the top. I think especially because the audiobook narrator was the same as the Plum series, she had a Stephanie Plum sort of feel except her life wasn’t quite as in shambles.
Emerson Knight // Character obsessions: Logic, science, curiosity.
Emerson was very Sheldon Cooper except maybe with a few more socials skills and less emphasis on the geeky side. He was actually really fun! I liked all of his logic and how that played into things from a comedic side.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-Plum Evanovich. I know, I know, that’s like the main focus here but it’s hard not to compare after reading 22+ books by the same author! It was fun though, and a nice change of pace.
Left Me Wanting More: Clarity of characters. The detective work got a little muddy for me when there were so many characters involved and five of them were family members. I had a hard time keeping track, especially when it’s a brand-new series and I’m still getting to know existing characters!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

If you enjoy Evanovich’s other books, this one has a pretty similar feel and tone. If you’re tired of Stephanie Plum, you don’t find too much different here. It’s a light, fun, and a little bit silly read but I enjoyed it!

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BOOKS LIKE CURIOUS MINDS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    BODY MOVERS

Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the Ants

MINI REVIEWS

I’ve somehow fallen extremely behind on book reviews (that’s life!) so I’m combining a few audiobook reviews into one post today! Life has been so busy that I’ve been finishing way more audiobooks lately than I have print copies — but I’m always a fan of audios! Here are a few thoughts on 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade, TRICKY TWENTY-TWO by Janet Evanovich, WE ARE THE ANTS by Shaun David Hutchinson.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: 738 Days by Stacey Kade
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 7, 2016

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.
Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.
Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.
To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

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I was in need of a new audiobook when I started 738 DAYS and it seemed the most appealing choice out of my current selection! I had heard a lot of good things about it and although I wasn’t feeling any of my options, this one seemed to be my best bet for my mood at the time. I hadn’t realized it was so realistic/contemporary (I thought it was going to be more thriller/action — ah, the curse of going in mostly blind) but I did enjoy the book! Since I wasn’t in the mood for a serious contemporary novel, I ended up getting a little eye-rolly at some of the mushy parts (it was my own fault!) but 738 DAYS was a really well put together novel.

I thought the characters were quite realistic. I liked the array of emotions from Amanda. I could easily see how the trauma of her past still affected her — and likely would affect her for a long time or even the rest of her life — and yet she was determined not to to get stuck from it and have that trauma hold her life back. I loved her strength and determination. It was nice to see that gusto and not have her be too gung-ho or the type that constantly refuses someone’s help just so she can do something herself. There was a great balance of growth and seeing that moving past this wasn’t easy. I also really liked Chase and that we met him in his days of redemption. I think it’s easier to like a character when the bad stuff is in their past versus watching them go through the periods of self-destruction. It’s easier to distance yourself from that negative side and it was really nice to see Chase already in the process of that change to be a better person. He and Amanda really just clicked together and I liked how easy that relationship felt. I’ll admit that since I was thinking it was a bit more thriller (oops) that I wasn’t really excited about the romance at first (I know, I know, that’s what the whole book was ABOUT) but the great thing is that it totally grew on me. To swing me from not thrilled to totally loving it says a lot!

I’d say this is more of a New Adult title (given age range and sexual content I wouldn’t say it’s YA) and if you’re hesitant about reading New Adult given some of the more cheesy titles that have previously given it a bad name, this is a great place to start! It’ll definitely be one of my New Adult recommendations for people looking to try some.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | 738 DAYS had dual narrators for the two main characters. Andrew Eiden voiced Chase and Shannon McManus voiced Amanda. I didn’t really like Shannon’s voice much but it wasn’t enough that I actively disliked it (which has happened in the past and I’ve turned an audiobook off). Her voice is high and clear, very feminine, but it has kind of that Valley Girl intonation that bothered me a little bit. I did like Andrew Eiden’s voice but I still wasn’t overly in love with his narration. I’d say a solid 3.75 – 4 stars for the narration on this one.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 17, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 19, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16)

Something big is brewing in Trenton, N.J., and it could blow at any minute.
Stephanie Plum might not be the world's greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she's being played. Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), hailed as the Supreme Exalted Zookeeper of the animal house known as Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College. Gobbles has missed his court date and gone into hiding. People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk. Things just aren't adding up, and Stephanie can't shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college - and it's not just Zeta fraternity pranks.
As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug Linken. When Linken is gunned down in his backyard it's good riddance, and the list of possible murder suspects is long. The only people who care about finding Linken's killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Linken, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve.


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I am loving that the Stephanie Plum books are coming back around to being actual stories that I care about and not just throw-away, silly novels. TRICKY TWENTY-TWO actually had the characters addressing serious issues. We hear talk of marriage and serious commitments, and not in just the silly way of how the characters are usually afraid of commitment or Stephanie’s caught up between Morelli and Ranger. I loved that things got a little deeper and the characters became more real again and not just caricatures of themselves.

The plot was better too! Less crazy, wild animals and more actual cases, bringing that sense of mystery back to the book and not just a silly thriller aspect. I do love these books — they’re fun, familiar, and the audios are SO quick. I’m really glad that they’re coming back around and keep me excited for more! For a while I was starting to grow tired of them (not like I’d quit them!) but I’m really happy that I’m getting that faith back in the series.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | As usual, Lorelai King was a lot of fun! I think she’s really good at all of the different voices (and there are a LOT of distinct ones) and she really brings these books to life. I don’t think I’ve read Stephanie Plum book in print for maybe ten books (or more!) because they’re just so much fun on audio and somehow they go by so quickly!!

Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Publishing Info: January 19, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 26, 2016

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.
Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.
What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.


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I hadn’t picked up WE ARE THE ANTS for a while because truthfully, I was afraid of the whole “abducted by aliens” thing. While I will agree that it is a big part of the book, it’s not a main portion of the action. Henry does believe that he keeps getting abducted and that he has the ability to save the world or let it be destroyed but it’s more about the question of his decision than it is about the aliens.

The book is a lot deeper and a lot more realistic fiction than I thought it would be too! Obviously aliens had me believing it was sci-fi but it was really more of Henry’s story, what he was going through since his boyfriend’s suicide, the bullying that’s occurring in his life, and his relationship with his family. It was a heart-achingly beautiful novel, quite realistic and really thought-provoking. It was darker than I had anticipated but there was also a wonderful balance of humor to ease that darkness a little bit. Shaun David Hutchinson did an amazing job and really brought me into a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own (alien abduction is really just a turn-off for me) and I like how that whole idea was incorporated into the book! I was poignant, original, and very well-written.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | Gibson Frazier was a really good narrator! This is the first time I’ve ever listened something he’s narrated (I have a tendency to listen to my favorites) and he was really great! Sometimes a little monotone but I also think that was a bit of the character so I’m not sure if it was him or Henry. I liked how well he seemed to fit the character and I really enjoyed him in this book. Sometimes I did wish for more emotion but I’d be interested to listen to more from him.

The Good Girl – Mary Kubica

The Good Girl – Mary KubicaTitle: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: July 29, 2014 by Harlequin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 13, 2016

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.
When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

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I had been hearing about THE GOOD GIRL and Mary Kubica’s books for a while now (I still remember those giant banners from BEA 2014!) and when this audiobook was on sale through Audible, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I didn’t know what I was in the mood for when choosing a new audiobook one day and I’m always in the mood for a mystery/thriller so I decided to start this one!

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from THE GOOD GIRL. I didn’t know if it was supposed to be another GONE GIRL (I feel like I had heard some comparison like that somewhere along the way) or if it was more mystery or if there was any sort of twist at all. In a way, that was a good thing because I had a few less expectations and I was able to just read (listen to) the book without trying to push it on a certain path. It was also a bit of a bad thing at times because I really wasn’t sure what the point of the book was. I felt engaged the whole time but I started to expect a twist somewhere because while the action was moving forward, I wasn’t quite sure what the end goal was to this story and why it needed to be told. (Not that I didn’t think there was a purpose — I just wasn’t sure what it was!)

THE GOOD GIRL has alternative POVs but it also has alternating timelines with each POV as well — there will be a POV switch and a time frame switch from before Mia was abducted to after. I thought this was really interesting and it really made for a well-rounded story while still leaving big clues out since the perspectives are from Mia’s mother, the detective working the case, and interestingly enough, Mia’s abductor and not Mia. The reader is able to follow the mystery along since Mia is suffering from selective amnesia and PTSD following her kidnapping and return home.

I was actually incredibly interested in Colin, the guy who was hired to kidnap Mia. I thought it was super interesting to get POV chapters from him instead of Mia that detailed how the kidnapping went down and how his decisions really affected the story. I ended up finding myself feeling quite sympathetic towards him and enjoying his POV and I wasn’t sure at first if I was supposed to. As the book goes on, the reader discovers exactly how big his role is in Mia’s story and why it’s important for him to have POV chapters and not Mia.

I was both happy with and a little disappointed by the ending. There’s a little piece of information that really brings the whole book together and made me say, “AH. There it is.” I was glad that everything really came together and that nugget of information really brought that “point” of the book to light and explained why this story was so important. The reason I was a little disappointed was because this happened literally right at the end. It was the very last chapter of the book so I was getting ready to say, “Okay, nice story but meh” so at least that really did tie everything together! I guess I was also hoping for something more… sinister? I can’t help it — as much as I hate Amy Dunne characters because they’re awful people, it’s so incredibly fascinating to watch that trainwreck go down. I will say this is not a light read and it has its dark moments but it doesn’t have that flash of legitimate antisocial personality disorder like GONE GIRL does and in a way, I was hoping for it because such bad behavior just makes those shocking moments all the more shocking!

THE GOOD GIRL was a good read and I’ll probably pick up another Mary Kubica book but it wasn’t as thrilling as I had hoped. The moments in between the action were a bit slow for me, especially the chapters with Mia’s mother because I just didn’t care as much about her backstory or personal life. I’m interested to pick up other Mary Kubica books but I’m also hoping for a bit more of a twist!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Produced by: Blackstone Audio
Narrators: Lindy Nettleton, Johnny Heller, Tom Taylorson, and Andi Arndt
Source: Purchased on sale from Audible.com

Honestly, I was totally surprised to hear Lindy Nettleton kick off the story… with a British accent. The book takes place in the Chicagoland area so I didn’t understand at first but then we do find out that she’s from the UK and moved here when she was a teenager but still has a strong accent. It really wasn’t all that appealing to me since it seemed out of place in a Chicago atmosphere even though I know it was actually accurate.
I really enjoyed Colin’s POV (narrated by Tom Taylorson, who also narrates in PRETTY BABY which is good news for me if I pick up the audio for that book too) and his voice was really enjoyable to listen to. I think that’s also why I ended up being sympathetic towards him — an audiobook’s narrator really affects how I feel towards a particular character!
It was a bit awkward to hear exchanges between Eve and Gabe (Nettleton and Heller) because their voices are just so different that I just feel like they were hard to capture from the other person’s POV. I felt like Nettleton didn’t do a very good American accept and Heller didn’t do the best British accent but things like that don’t usually bother me too much unless they don’t seem to be trying at all.
Overall, the narration was pretty good with Taylorson being my favorite narrator of the bunch and I’d actively seek out other books narrated by him! I will probably not listen to something with Nettleton’s narration again unless it’s a favorite author.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Eve // Character Obsessions: Mia’s case, family, appearances 
Eve was sort of a weird character for me. She loves her family and yet they’re still quite distant. She keeps up with appearances and yet she’s not overly focused on status. She sort of floats somewhere in the middle where you know she comes from money and maybe wasn’t the best mother but she’s not a horrible person. I ended up feeling pretty ambivalent about her but I didn’t really like her overall character either.
Colin // Character Obsessions: Survival, money, taking care of business
I ended up being really sympathetic towards Colin. He’s the antagonist here and yet I found myself rooting for him more and more. His voice felt genuine and you could tell he was just in a hard spot, had a hard life growing up, and was doing these things for the money and to help his mother. That’s not an excusable reason to kidnap someone but that’s also a part of why the story went the way it did.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult thrillers. I don’t really too many adult age-range novels anymore since I’m heavy into YA but it’s refreshing to pick up something different every once in a while!
Left Me Wanting More: Twist. There was a little twist but it came so late that a bit of disappointment had already set in.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I did enjoy this one! Not my all-time favorite and probably other go-to recs before this one but it was a solid, well put-together book and I’m sure I’ll read more Mary Kubica in the future!

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BOOKS LIKE THE GOOD GIRL 

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GONE GIRL    THE PASSENGER

The Passenger – Lisa Lutz

The Passenger – Lisa LutzTitle: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
Publishing Info: March 1, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 29, 2016

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.
She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.
It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?
With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

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I’ve been a fan of Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files series since before I even started blogging (which is right around four years now… wow!) so I was really excited to see that a new book from her was coming out! I was so intrigued that THE PASSENGER was much more thriller and quite darker than the Spellman books since part of what I loved so much about the Spellmans was their quirks and sense of humor, but I had confidence in the writing that I grew to love and couldn’t wait to try out something new from her!

THE PASSENGER was certainly a wild ride. I started and finished the book in one day, finding it really hard to walk away from! It’s definitely more thriller-like and if you’ve grown accustomed to Lisa Lutz’s humor, note that this is quite the step outside of that box. I really enjoyed that though! I always find it refreshing to read two very different-feeling books from the same author and appreciate how well they can pull off two very different styles. THE PASSENGER was thrilling, dark, mysterious, and really did keep me on the edge of my seat.

The book did start off a little choppy for me. Since it’s much more fast-paced, the very beginning of the book really set the tone with short bursts of information and action. It felt a tad rushed to start off like that right of the bat but I quickly got into the rhythm of it and it ended up working out really well for the non-stop action that made up the rest of the book. I did feel like the book was missing just a little something that I can’t quite put my finger on… I think I was hoping for a more emotional connection with the main character (she tries on many different names in the book so I’ll go with Tanya for the review). There was definitely a ton going on and with being on the run, I totally understand how she ends up shutting her emotions down a bit but I did feel like I didn’t quite make that connection with her.

The publisher’s note in the beginning of the book sets up quite the expectation, commenting on an ending that readers will be buzzing about so immediately I was intrigued! THE PASSENGER sets up the story with a question right off the bat: Is Tanya somehow responsible in her husband’s death or was it just an accident? Of course, THE PASSENGER is about so much more than this incident that kicks off the story and several other questions about her popped up along the way. With all of the pieces of the puzzle that come to light and my natural affinity for trying to guess the endings of mysteries, I was wondering the whole time just what in the world was going on. The ending was very much a surprise for me, which I always appreciate! I truly did not anticipate that conclusion so that was really exciting. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it and how it really affected how I felt towards the book but it didn’t lack in surprise!! I did wish that a few more clues had been revealed slowly throughout the book. There was basically a chapter that explained everything about Tanya’s past which was helpful and did a great job at tying everything up but I also felt like readers could have been eased into a little bit more so there wasn’t so much information dropped at once. I’m glad that it was very thorough, though, and everything was clearly laid out!

THE PASSENGER was an exciting ride and I’m glad I picked this one up to be a part of it! The ending was definitely a shock and while I did wish that a few more clues had been scattered for me, I’m really glad that I hadn’t been able to guess Tanya’s secret past all along! It’s not my favorite adult thriller but I think it’s definitely worth the read if you’re looking for a good one!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

the passenger gr update

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Tanya/Amelia/Jo/Emma // Character Obsessions: Secrets, running, survival. 
Tanya certainly kept me on the edge of my seat! I didn’t quite connect with her as much as I had hoped considering she was the main character and the narrator of the story but I also understand her predicament from hiding things for so long. I think she didn’t even know herself or her own emotions anymore and it was hard for her to even fake them at this point.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cross-country thrillers. I loved the fast-paced action in this and normally I don’t get hooked on books that take me from place to place but somehow it worked for me in THE PASSENGER!
Left Me Wanting More: Clues. I really am glad that I wasn’t able to guess anything as the book went on but I also like being just a teensy bit less in the dark. I would have loved to have pieced something more together by the end instead of a whole chapter to fill me in!

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re a fan of thrillers, this was a fun one to read! It was so quick and I read it in a single day.

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BOOKS LIKE THE PASSENGER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GONE GIRL    THE DEVIL YOU KNOW