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Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet Evanovich

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 12, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: November 18, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Stephanie Plum's career has taken more wrong turns than a student driver on the Jersey Turnpike, and her love life is a hopeless tangle. In order to save someone dear to her, she'll have to straighten things out in Twisted Twenty-Six the latest, novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Grandma Mazur is a widow...again. This time her marriage lasted a whole 45 minutes. The unlucky groom was one Jimmy Rosolli, local gangster, lothario (senior division) and heart attack waiting to happen...well, the waiting's over.

It's a sad day, but if she can't have Jimmy at least Grandma can have all the attention she wants as the dutiful widow. But some kinds of attention are not welcomed, particularly when Jimmy's former "business partners" are convinced that his widow is keeping the keys to their financial success for herself.

As someone who has spent an entire career finding bad guys, a set of missing keys should be no challenge for Stephanie Plum. Problem is, the facts are as twisted as a boardwalk pretzel with mustard.

bookreview1

Wow, it’s kind of crazy that I’ve read twenty-six Stephanie Plum books! There have been the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I’m really happy that we’re finally circling back around to “the good” again. For a long while there, the books were just getting too silly and over-the-top and they became really not enjoyable. TWISTED TWENTY-SIX went back to some Stephanie Plum roots, focusing more on the family with grandma hijinks and good old-fashioned Jersey mobster threats. (What weird thing to say but if you know the series, it all makes sense.)

One thing I really enjoyed about TWISTED TWENTY-SIX is that we got back to a little character development, which was great! For comedic/cozy mysteries, that’s not always a focus, especially is comedy is more of the goal, but after spending 26 books with Stephanie, it was really nice to see her trying to decide what she wants to do with her life. We’ve watched as she met Ranger, starting seeing Joe, and started working for Vinnie with the bail bonds office, all of which were pretty much supposed to be temporary. I liked that Stephanie questioned what she really wanted to do as a career because it’s been mentioned throughout the series that she doesn’t want to do bail bonds enforcement forever but she never really seriously put that question out there.

I also liked the question of what she wanted out of a romantic aspect in her life as well. We finally address the Morelli/Ranger situation a little bit more, acknowledging that Stephanie doesn’t want to get married (which is cool) but that she does kind of want to settle down and be monogamous and have a nice, happy life. I thought it was great to see a little bit more of Stephanie’s inner monologue when it comes to being an adult and making the big decisions because that really helps push the character side of the books forward, which was been stagnant and kind of boring for so long.

Plot-wise, I think I could have used a little bit more suspense or mystery. These audiobooks go quickly so the story kind of sweeps by but I wanted to be just a bit more engaged and maybe have had the mystery go a little deeper. There were a couple nice reveals at the end which I enjoyed.

These books are easy and fun and I’m so happy they’re starting to get back to their roots. I know I’d keep reading them but this one made me more excited to keep on trucking with the series as it continues!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character development. This book really got me back into the characters! I’m so glad that we got to see a bit more personality from Stephanie again in this book and it makes me want to keep up my interest in these characters’ journeys.
Left Me Wanting More: Mystery. I could have done with just a tad more mystery to really keep me interested and engaged in this one.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you haven’t read the series and are looking for something fun and easy, they’re really light and fun! The middle of the series gets kind of wacky so bonus if you enjoy that kind of stuff and if you’re not into silly, then avoid it all together.

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BOOKS LIKE TWISTED TWENTY-SIX

             

The Swallows – Lisa Lutz

The Swallows – Lisa LutzTitle: The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
Publishing Info: August 13, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: August 16, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Passenger

A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war--with deadly consequences--in a provocative novel from the bestselling author of The Passenger and the Spellman Files series.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?

It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy's new creative writing teacher. When the students' answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there's more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten--the students at the top of the school's social hierarchy--as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.

Ms. Witt can't remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who've started to question the school's "boys will be boys" attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her--including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.

Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can't find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there's Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.

As the school's secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal--and potentially fatal--consequences for everyone involved. Lisa Lutz's blistering, timely tale shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long--and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.

bookreview1

I first found Lisa Lutz with her Spellman Files series and absolutely loved the tone, funny family, and easy mysteries. I know she’s written a few different works and not all of them share the same tone, but I think I excepted something much different from THE SWALLOWS. That being said, that’s not the cause for my rating because I’m happy to read different styles from the same authors, but I just didn’t like the way this book was put together and I don’t think that the structure did the topic as much justice as it could have.

The book is presented as a mystery/thriller, but it doesn’t really get too thrilling until the very end of the book (like the last couple chapters) so those few chapters are the reason I’m throwing a half star in there instead of just rating it two stars. The book deals largely with a secret contest and website held by the boys at the school, rating the girls on their sexual performance and having them unwittingly play a part in this school-wide “contest”. It is off-putting and gross, and yes it’s supposed to be, but I hated how the first half of this book just basically kept going over the details and adding more to the concept, leaving the justice and revenge until the end of the book. I sat their feeling incredibly disgusted and bad for all of these girls while they uncovered the secret of the contest and how terrible all of these boys were. It seemed like overkill to keep developing the concept of the contest and describing the message board when we could have spent more time developing the female characters and getting them ready for their moment of empowerment, and it really felt like a lot of time wasted by giving this contest way more attention than it deserved. It wasn’t just a big reveal or anything, the reader knows about it almost the whole time, so I wanted to see more empowerment on the female side much earlier.

There were also a lot of erroneous things in the book that didn’t really make much of a difference. The weird cottage Alex Witt stayed in didn’t really play a big role. There wasn’t really a reason why this was set in 2009 other than to look back on the occasion but there was no flash forward to 2019 or anything, so that was kind of pointless as well. Alex’s romantic involvements with various characters were irrelevant. A side character’s relationship with her mother I guess tied in at the very end and was supposed to “explain” some of her actions, but I think it was entirely unnecessary and threw in random bits of “mystery” to keep the readers wondering. Lisa Lutz is primarily a mystery/thriller writer in various tones and forms, but the beginning wasn’t much of a mystery or a thriller and read more like general fiction. The tone very much switched in the action towards the end to a chilling thriller-type feel with escalating events and some remorseless acts so it was just kind of a jumble of too many things overall.

I mostly just didn’t enjoy reading this book while I was reading it. It came together at the very end but I wished the rest of the book was like the ending. It really didn’t feel cohesive in so many ways and I just really disliked the structure.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Empowerment. I liked seeing the female characters take matters into their own hands and fighting back against the injustices throughout the book.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. For a book that’s supposed to be empowering, I felt like way too much time was spent dwelling on the oppressive and bad parts, giving them too much power and attention. I wanted to see the plot move forward much sooner to get us into the more empowering moments and actually seeing these girls and women making their stand.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I’m sure some people will enjoy it but I just was far too annoyed, frustrated, and even disgusted to think about recommending it. This one was not for me and I don’t think I’d recommend it to my friends.

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BOOKS LIKE THE SWALLOWS

             

Mini-Review: Providence – Caroline Kepnes

Mini-Review: Providence – Caroline KepnesTitle: Providence by Caroline Kepnes
Publishing Info: June 19, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 10, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: You (You #1), Hidden Bodies (You #2)

A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he's suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and "fit in" with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity—but he's soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters' lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

bookreview1

I knew this was part sci-fi going into it but I still didn’t quite click with PROVIDENCE like I had hoped… and it wasn’t even because of the presence of that element itself. It was more how it was incorporated for sure. YOU was so creepy because the madness was 100% Joe and this was sort of something that was inflicted upon Jon so it took away some of the creep factor.

With all of Kepnes’ books, it didn’t quite feel cohesive but there was an addictive sort of quality and I wasn’t as into PROVIDENCE. I had a little pause in the middle where I didn’t feel the jump to get back in, but it was easy to continue with the audio and good audiobook narrators.

It was definitely an interesting story and Caroline Kepnes always does a great job at pushing that character emotion (or sometimes lack thereof) forward and there were some really nice suspenseful moments in PROVIDENCE that I appreciated. I’ll always be looking forward to more of her books but I think I like the more psychological aspect of YOU more than I did the sci-fi element of PROVIDENCE.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Caroline Kepnes. I’m definitely interested in picking up whatever Kepnes writes! It was exciting to read something outside of the “YOU world”.
Left Me Wanting More: Twists? Things were revealed but I also didn’t feel that shocked or surprised like I was hoping.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a curious little story and it definitely has an addicting quality to it but I also didn’t totally love it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE PROVIDENCE

             

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter EvanovichTitle: The Big Kahuna (Fox & O'Hare #6) by Janet Evanovich, Peter Evanovich
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

A stoner, an Instagram model, a Czech oligarch, and a missing unicorn. Nick Fox and Kate O'Hare have their work cut out for them in their weirdest, wildest adventure yet in this latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series by Janet and Peter Evanovich.

Straight arrow FBI Agent Kate O'Hare always plays by the rules. Charming Con Man Nicholas Fox makes them up as he goes along. She thinks he's nothing but a scoundrel. He thinks she just needs to lighten up. They're working together to tackle the out-of-bounds cases ordinary FBI agents can't touch. And, their relationship? Well, there hasn't been so much explosive chemistry since Nitro was introduced to Glycerin.
Next on the docket: The mysterious disappearance of the Silicon Valley billionaire, known as the Big Kahuna. Kate's been assigned to find him but no one seems particularly keen on helping. His twenty-six year old adult actress wife-turned Instagram model wife and his shady Czech business partner are more interested in gaining control of his company. For that they need a dead body not a living Kahuna.
The only lead they have is the Kahuna's drop-out son, who's living the dream in Hawaii - if your dream is starting your day with the perfect wave and ending it with a big bowl of weed. To get close to the Kahuna's son, Kate and Nick go undercover as a married couple in the big wave, bohemian, surfer community of Paia, Maui. Living a laid back, hippy-dippy lifestyle isn't exactly in Kate's wheelhouse, but the only thing more horrifying is setting up house with Nick Fox, even if he does look pretty gnarly on a longboard. If they don't catch a break soon, waves aren't the only thing she's going to be shredding (or bedding).

bookreview1

This was a really disappointing installment in this series. I felt like it totally reverted to Stephanie Plum-type humor and lost of of the clever heist elements. While I enjoy Stephanie Plum for what it is, I enjoyed the Fox & O’Hare books so much more.

This was the first book without Lee Goldberg (instead substituting Peter Evanovich) and while I haven’t read any Lee Goldberg books, it really did seem to affect the whole tone of this book. I don’t know if that’s the actual factor of the change but it really does seem like it. Everything turned so incredibly goofy with the new characters and adventure. It was not clever and it was not intriguing.

I also didn’t realize what else it was missing until I read other reviews but I realized that we were missing the fun crew that we’ve seen in the other books! Willie and Boyd were nowhere to be seen and the lack of crew really takes away from the concept of a heist/con book. Also, what in the heck happened to the cliffhanger at the end of book five!? At first I thought maybe I just missed something but that was confirmed by reading other reviews as well. It seemed to just move on and also somehow take a step back with Kate and Nick’s relationship. It was all just very messy.

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Kept Me Hooked On: This series, I guess. I loved the first five books. I’m hoping this was just a fluke and there will be something better on the horizon.
Left Me Wanting More: Heists! Crew! Everything! This was so disappointing. I still enjoyed the book enough but it just felt like a totally different author writing this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it, I guess

This was such a blah installment but if it leads us to the next book where it gets better, then it’s worth it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE BIG KAHUNA

             

The Last Time I Saw You – Liv Constantine

The Last Time I Saw You – Liv ConstantineTitle: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 23, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

bookreview1

THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU was an interesting read! The book kicks off with the death of main character Kate’s mother who was well loved and well off when Kate finds out later that her mother was actually murdered. The book continues on with a killer tormenting and threatening Kate and Kate slowly starts to unravel. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be into the concept since the concept was dealing with the “high society” and I wasn’t sure how that would all play into it. I feel like those society rules make the characters feel a little stiffer and I did feel that with each of these characters, but it also adds to a more secretive element because with so many niceties and manners involved, there’s a lot of unspeakable things that get/stay hidden.

The suspect list went around and around a few times so I wasn’t really sure whodunnit or if there was even more than one person involved. It was also interesting with Kate possibly being an unreliable narrator. There was that added question if she WAS an unreliable narrator or if the perpetrator was doing all of these things to mess with her head. I actually really liked that addition to cast some extra doubt and throw the reader off-course if they already solved the mystery.

I almost wished there had been some other clues earlier on in the book, not necessarily to give things away but to give some better ties to the actual answer. I like being left in the dark and not being able to guess the ending but there were a few things that kind of came out of nowhere that were a little too covered up. It was interesting but I also didn’t quite love it — not in a bad way, just a personal preference.

This was a quick read for me! I felt like it took a while to really get into the fast-paced section of the book and wished the pacing had been a little bit quicker form the start, but it was an overall enjoyable read.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Brand-new adult thriller reads. I enjoy a lot of adult thrillers but this one was a totally random pick for me! I was able to select this one from a list of available audiobooks for review from the publisher so I wanted to try this one based off of its genre, not knowing the author or the title or even anyone who had read it first.
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals. I do like when I’m in the dark on the answers to the mystery but I also like being able to see some things revealed along the way to keep me interested and keep my mind racing. I could have used just a bit more.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It was a quick and enjoyable read, and while it wasn’t my favorite in a few different ways, it was still worth the read and I loved taking a chance on a new thriller book and author!!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU

             

My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing

My Lovely Wife – Samantha DowningTitle: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Publishing Info: March 26, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 29, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

bookreview1

This book grabbed me with its description and Dexter comparison but it did stand on its own and was an original story. There were some pieces that I was able to pick out that should have been twists, but I was still okay with that! I think a lot of thriller readers will be able to spot things like that coming and see where the story is going, but there’s also still enough in the book that you just don’t know how it will end.

I actually really liked that this was from the husband’s point-of-view. It was just interesting in the way that the story was told and I liked that creepiness coming from Millicent instead of … him. I just realized that I don’t think his real name is ever used throughout the whole book, only aliases, which is a stunning fact that I never realized. This has actually happened to me before with a different book and now I’m questioning everything I just read. How does one read a whole book and not know the narrator’s name? AUTHORS, YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN.

Anyway, there’s a whole lot going on in this book and it really is incredibly interesting. Even though the husband is the protagonist, it doesn’t mean he’s a hero. He’s still guilty of committing murder with his wife, even if we think she’s the colder, more heinous of the two throughout the book. By the end of the book, I was rooting for him, but should I have been? He still wanted to murder but the way things play out, you almost forget about all of that and want him to stay clear of danger and prison. It’s a really interesting back-and-forth that just really makes you constantly question the motives of each character.

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Kept Me Hooked On: A good “if you liked” comparison. I actually am glad that this one was compared to Dexter because it was definitely a draw for me! It was still unique enough that it didn’t feel like it was too similar to Dexter but it was also similar enough to recognize the appeal for Dexter fans and to be a solid rec.
Left Me Wanting More: Details? Dare I ask for more details in a murder book? I didn’t necessarily want to know ALL the gruesome details of what was going on but there were times when I was hoping for just a bit more to guide my feelings.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I really enjoyed this one! I do agree with the Dexter rec and I had a fun time reading (or listening to) this one and seeing where it would take me!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE MY LOVELY WIFE

             

Someone Knows – Lisa Scottoline

Someone Knows – Lisa ScottolineTitle: Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline
Publishing Info: April 9, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 29, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

From the New York Times-bestselling author comes a pulse-pounding domestic thriller about a group of friends who have been bound for twenty years by a single secret—and will now be undone by it. Someone Knows is an emotional exploration of friendship and family, as well as a psychological exploration of guilt and memory.

Twenty years ago, in an upscale suburb of Philadelphia, four teenagers spent a summer as closest friends: drinking, sharing secrets, testing boundaries. When a new boy looked to join them, they decided to pull a prank on him, convincing him to play Russian roulette as an initiation into their group. They secretly planned to leave the gun unloaded—but what happened next would change each of them forever.

Now three of the four reunite for the first time since that horrible summer. The guilt—and the lingering question about who loaded the gun—drove them apart. But after one of the group apparently commits suicide with a gun, their old secrets come roaring back. One of them is going to figure out if the new suicide is what it seems, and if it connects to the events of that long-ago summer. Someone knows exactly what happened—but who? And how far will they go to keep their secrets buried?

bookreview1

This was my first Lisa Scottoline book, receiving it from the publisher as a review option. I decided to give it a try because I’ve been expanding my reading into more adult (vs YA) reads lately and mysteries/thrillers are definitely one of the places I expand to first! I’ve always been a big mystery/thriller reader and this one piqued my interest.

SOMEONE KNOWS had some interesting points but really, it just felt entirely too long. The book is about a secret that a group of friends (or I guess part of the point is that they’re all not really friends) has been keeping since they were fifteen and how it’s still affecting them as adults, or that’s how the synopsis reads. Really the book is split into two parts: a before, detailing the lives of the teens leading up to the secret, the secret itself, and part of it immediately after; and a “20 years later” which catches up with this group in their adult life. The first half was wholly dedicated to the kids as teens, which I don’t mind since I read YA all the time, but it was not at all what I was expecting and I don’t feel like that was the best way to structure this novel, or at least it felt too separate for my particular tastes. I had really expected this to focus much more on the adult lives of everyone, getting some more thriller aspects in there with how the secret haunted each person and who might spill the beans, MAYBE even keeping us in suspense of what this secret was. The beginning of the book does reveal it pretty quickly so that ended up not being a secret to the readers, although we did have to wait to see exactly how it happened and why.

What bothered me is that 60% of the book was dedicated to this “before” and we got the whole chunk of it all at once. The story was told chronically, which was fine, but I just felt like the “before” lasted way too long. There were a lot of different POVs which doesn’t bother me, but I did feel like a lot of them weren’t really necessary. I’m not even sure that all of the POVs of the main characters involved in this secret were even necessary with the way that the book was written. I can take or leave flashbacks but I think this book could have benefitted from either flashing back to the “before” throughout the book or even just having the characters reveal things throughout the book through plot and dialogue and not even having the whole “before”. It was far too much and far too long for my taste. It did add character development buuuuuut these characters really weren’t that deep for the most part anyway (are most 15-year-olds? Nah.) so it just felt like the focus was in the wrong place for me.

The “after” was okay… some things were messed up. Some things provided an interesting thrill. Mostly, it felt a little anticlimactic. I was hoping for some more natural suspense throughout the whole book and the beginning felt like far too much set-up with the ending trying to jam-pack in the excitement and curiosities.

I wasn’t really satisfied with this one and it didn’t really do a lot for me, but it was still a fine read. I still was engaged the whole time and got to know the characters, so it was pretty middle-of-the-road for me! I’m not sure if I’d directly recommend reading it but I also wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it either…

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult thrillers. I’ve been stepping out of my normal reads to try some new books! I’ve been having a great time expanding into adult mysteries and thrillers for a nice change of pace from YA.
Left Me Wanting More: Or really less… Instead of wanting more, I wanted a little less here. I didn’t think the beginning of the book was really necessary for it to be on its own. I wish the backstory would have been more woven in instead of a block of Before and a block of After.

Addiction Rating
Try it

While I wasn’t head-over-heels for this one, I also wouldn’t discourage someone from reading it either. It has its twists but I didn’t love the format and structure of the book, but that may not be the case for everyone!

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BOOKS LIKE SOMEONE KNOWS

             

Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet EvanovichTitle: Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 13, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: December 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

Stephanie Plum faces the toughest puzzle of her career in the twenty-fifth entry in Janet Evanovich's #1 New York Times bestselling series.

There's nothing like a good deli and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World famous for its pastrami, cole slaw and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

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This was one of the more enjoyable story lines in the series without anything too wacky or crazy! In several of the more recent books, the plots just get too silly (especially anything involving animals), but LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE was one of the more grounded ones for me. I mean, I know they’re supposed to be a little silly and a whole lot of fun, but I can’t stand when monkeys start acting human-like, etc. I always love the wacky antics that these characters get up to on their own and this was one of the better Stephanie Plum reads for me!

I actually liked the diner aspect, which I didn’t think I would when it was first introduced. It allowed the characters to be silly without going way far over the top and added a fun, new atmosphere. It was fun to see where things went with this new atmosphere and added a new spin on the character relationships.

I’ve abandoned hope of a romance going anywhere (that seems to be the theme with these cozy mystery series — just draw things out as long as possible) so I just sit back and enjoy the show. Each time Stephanie moves forward with Morelli, she moves right back in the next book. At least the is one of the love triangles I actually kind of enjoy since I love Ranger (even if I don’t want Stephanie to mix and match love interests).

I also just love listening to these audiobooks. They’re so easy and fun and comfortable. Each one is an easy go-to read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Stephanie Plum series. Things do get a bit too silly for me at times, but then we have books like this one where it comes back to a more normal — but still fun — base. It’s what helps keep me interested in the series.
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. I always wish for more commitment Stephanie/Morelli department. I’ll keep hoping even though it may never happen.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Let’s be honest, if you’re checking out a review for Stephanie Plum #25, you’re already into the series! Might as well continue and enjoy, and no matter what, they’re all quick reads!

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BOOKS LIKE LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE

          

Foe – Iain Reid

Foe – Iain ReidTitle: Foe by Iain Reid
Publishing Info: September 4, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction
Date Completed: June 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: I'm Thinking of Ending Things

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won't have a chance to miss him, because she won't be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.

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After being totally wowed by Iain Reid’s first fictional novel, I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, I was very excited to find out that he had FOE coming out, which I was lucky enough to find at ALA this year. I knew it was something I wanted to pick up immediately, trying to find the same exciting spark but this one just didn’t have the same effect on me, mostly due to the ending, which was the selling point of I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS.

One thing that really did stay consistent was that ever-moving pace. Reid’s writing style just makes you want to race through to the end, constantly clueing readers in on subtle nuances that play a bigger part in the overall story. There are little things to pick up along the way, clues planted, and key points that constantly kept me guessing. I had so many wild theories as to what was going on (all of which were WAY off) and it wasn’t that they were red herrings but there were so many things to pay attention to that I should have guessed what was happening here and I didn’t. This was really similar to my experience read his first book as well, which made for a really enjoyable experience and I pretty much sat in the same place, ignoring everything until I finished.

I also love that this book is another 200+ page novel. It makes it easy to want to just sit there until I’m finished with the book. The pacing adds to the need to binge read and I really didn’t put it down until I was done! I read it within a span of a few hours, not wanting to stop until I found out what Reid had in store for his readers.

I will say, though, that I didn’t love the ending. I do want to talk about it so THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Look away from he rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to read the spoiler part! So throughout the whole novel, there are little hints that this book is set in the future at some point in time. Junior and Hen live on a farm so their lifestyle hasn’t changed so much as far as technology goes, so I wasn’t sure if that was something to lead me off the path, but it really was a part of the story. “Screens” instead of a cell phone, the fact that Junior is even chosen for this space program, cars that drive themselves. All legitimate parts of the book. We find out down the road that this mysterious Terrance is there to create a duplicate of Junior for his wife while he’s gone for two years so then the suspicion is why and is that the real purpose? When it all comes to an end, we find out that the narrator WAS the duplicate almost the whole time and then the real Junior comes home. Definitely twisty but I was really hoping for another psychological twist where Junior was in a psych ward and this was a schizophrenic break, or that some things were real but others weren’t. I know the psychological twist was already done but I didn’t really like the sci-fi aspect of it. I guess I just wasn’t expecting it and was waiting for something huge. I did like the reveal and it was a great concept but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.

I did enjoy the book and it was impossible to put down, but didn’t love the ending. More so, I just love Reid’s writing style and even if I didn’t love this book, I will for sure be picking up anything else after this because the story is so enthralling and I can’t put these books down!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fast-paced novels. Both of the novels I’ve read from Iain Reid had me racing through, not wanting to put the book down! It was so easy to want to keep going to with a short number of pages, easy to inhale without getting up off of the couch!
Left Me Wanting More: Psychological thrills. I liked the psychological element of the first book and while I did like that this book had a different twist, I found myself wanting that same sort of twist.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

It’s an easy, quick, and addictive read. I didn’t quite love the ending but I think I’d still recommend it and find it worth the read!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE FOE

              

In Her Skin – Kim Savage

In Her Skin – Kim SavageTitle: In Her Skin by Kim Savage
Publishing Info: March 27, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 25, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

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This book was so binge-worthy and I didn’t want to put it down! The writing was interesting and kept the story moving with a few nice twists along the way! Once the book started getting into the meat of the plot, my mind started to turn towards some theories (which DUDE turned out to be correct and then some) and things got quite dark.

I really liked the fluidity of a lot of things, from relationships to plot to demeanor. There was room for so many things to develop and grow and change. I loved the interesting turns and it was so interesting to see what the book turned out to be underneath it all. Kim Savage gave readers a lot to play with and think about along the way and I love it when I’m provided with some clues to allow theories to develop.

I always have a hard time with the ending of darker concepts because I can never tell what I actually want to happen. Sometimes I feel satisfied with a happy conclusion and other times I feel happy with a shocking twist where everything falls apart. I obviously won’t say what happens in the end so as not to spoil, except that I found it to be satisfying and yet I still was looking for something more.

Overall, this was a really interesting and quick read for me! I didn’t want to put it down and I was totally sucked in. I had actually pictured the book going a bit differently with the way that the synopsis was arranged but I wasn’t disappointed with how it turned out! Even that little difference was a point of a twist for me so that was kind of neat!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark concepts. Sometimes I Just need something a little dark and this book was really interesting with that ultimate darkness I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Surprises in the end. I loved the twists in this book and yet I was still looking for something juuuust a bit more in the end.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book was so easy to fly through because I didn’t want to put it down! It was interesting and engaging all the way through!

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BOOKS LIKE IN HER SKIN