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Book Review: An Anonymous Girl

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An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen– Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: January 8, 2019

Acquired: Public Library e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: I loved the first book written by these two amazing authors, The Wife Between Us, so I was waiting anxiously for this one. I may or may not have stalked my public libraries e-book new releases for days waiting for it to show up (I totally did). I had some anxiety over whether this newest release would live up to the hype or if I’d be left disappointed that it wasn’t as good as The Wife Between Us. Oh friends, no need for any anxiety. This book was fantastic. I was afraid I would be comparing the two books the entire time I was reading this one but I honestly didn’t even think of the first book while reading this one. It’s a very unique story that stand on it’s own. 

I went into this book blind. I skimmed the blurb but didn’t read any reviews or any spoilers. That’s how you MUST go into this book. Trust me! I’m trying to be very careful about how I review this one because you need to discover all the twists and turns yourself. And there are a lot of twists and turns, shocks and OMG moments. I waffled for a good 70% of the story about who the “bad guy” was going to be. I kept flip-flopping with every chapter, which made the story all the more enjoyable for me. I thought the ending was very satisfying and made my inner mean girl smile. Definitely one not to miss if you enjoy suspense, thrillers, and mystery. 



Book Review: Strawberry Hill

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Strawberry Hill by Catherine Anderson– As a camp cook, Vickie Brown loves feeding any size crowd in the great outdoors–with one notable exception. She never would have predicted she’d join the crew led by gruff cowboy Slade Wilder, the man who broke her heart just days before their wedding.

Life has gone on since Vickie left him, but Slade can admit his attraction to the one woman he’s ever loved remains stronger than ever. If he wasn’t in such desperate need of an experienced cook for his paying guests, he would send Vickie packing. He knows better than to seek out the company of the woman who broke off their engagement so many years ago.

Except there’s no escaping each other in the confines of the wilderness area, especially once their anger begins to soften in the shared close quarters. But after Vickie finds the courage to confront Slade, it will take a leap of faith for them to put their past behind him, even if it’s the only way to recapture their once-in-a-lifetime love.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: December 1, 2018

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating: 3 Stars

My Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Catherine Anderson for a long time and I’ve read every book she’s ever written. It pains me to say that I did not care for this one. This is book number 5 in her Mystic Creek series, which I have loved up until this point. In fact, several of the books in this series have been favorites of mine. Unfortunately, there are 2 book descriptions out there and I was expecting this book to be about Wyatt, a deaf ranch foreman, and Erin, the new deputy in town. Instead the book is the second chance love story between Vickie and Slade who were torn apart 40 years prior. I think if I had known who the book was about I wouldn’t have been so disappointed by the lack of development with Wyatt and Erin. I was really feeling their interaction in the beginning of the book so I was sad that it didn’t go anywhere. I found Wyatt to be a very interesting character and wanted more of him. 

I think one of my major problems with this book, other than the error in the first blurb, was that the drama was completely caused by a lack of communication. I felt that Vickie’s actions, both past and present, were juvenile and immature. I did not find her to be a likable character at all and therefore I wasn’t invested in her finding a happily ever after ending. She was portrayed as the wronged character but I felt that Slade was the one who was wronged. It was nice to read a book about a couple in their 60’s but Vickie’s juvenile behavior made her seem so much younger. Honestly the star of the book for me was 4 Toes, a bear cub! I’ll definitely keep reading the Mystic Creek series but I probably will continue to borrow these from the library instead of purchasing them. 



Book Review: Turning Point

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Turning Point by Danielle Steel– Bill Browning heads the trauma unit at San Francisco’s busiest emergency room, SF General. With his ex-wife and daughters in London, he immerses himself in his work and lives for rare visits with his children. A rising star at her teaching hospital, UCSF at Mission Bay, Stephanie Lawrence has two young sons, a frustrated stay-at-home husband, and not enough time for any of them. Harvard-educated Wendy Jones is a dedicated trauma doctor at Stanford, trapped in a dead-end relationship with a married cardiac surgeon. And Tom Wylie’s popularity with women rivals the superb medical skills he employs at his Oakland medical center, but he refuses to let anyone get too close, determined to remain unattached forever.

These exceptional doctors are chosen for an honor and a unique project: to work with their counterparts in Paris in a mass-casualty training program. As professionals, they will gain invaluable knowledge from the program. As ordinary men and women, they will find that the City of Light opens up incredible new possibilities, exhilarating, enticing, and frightening. When an unspeakable act of mass violence galvanizes them into action, their temporary life in Paris becomes a stark turning point: a time to face harder choices than they have ever made before—with consequences that will last a lifetime.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: January 8, 2019

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Danielle Steel for year, ever since my grandmother gave me a stack of her books when I was a teenager. So I was really excited to read this one. The subject matter is very timely and current with all of the violence going on around the world. The novel follows 4 ER doctors from various hospitals around the San Francisco area as they participate in a 3 week mass casualty training overseas in Paris. All 4 have personal issues going on in their lives but those issues take a back seat when a traumatic event happens while they are in Paris requiring their full attention. 

The 4 main characters are very well developed and have very distinctive personalities and the secondary characters added so much to the story. While there is a good amount of action in the story, this is definitely a character driven novel. I kept thinking of Grey’s Anatomy while I was reading- there’s a lot of drama, some action, some romance, and some scandalous behavior. This was close to a 5 star read for me but the actions of one of the characters was really over the top for me and I had a hard time with the choices that were made. But that’s a personal preference of mine and others probably wouldn’t feel the same way. The story is well paced and a very realistic look at a traumatic event from the perspective of first responders and emergency personnel. I definitely was drawn into the story and wanted to see what decisions the characters would make after their experiences in Paris. I did feel as though the ending of the story was rushed and could have been drawn out a bit better. It felt a little like tying all the loose strings up into a quick knot. I wish the last quarter of the book had been further expanded but I was pleased with where the characters ended up. 

 



Book Review: The Boy

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The Boy by Tami Hoag– A panic-stricken woman runs in the dead of night, battered and bloodied, desperate to find help. . . . When Detective Nick Fourcade enters the home of Genevieve Gauthier outside the sleepy town of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana, the bloody crime scene that awaits him is both the most brutal and the most confusing he’s ever seen. Genevieve’s seven-year-old son, P.J., has been murdered by an alleged intruder, yet Genevieve is alive and well, a witness inexplicably left behind to tell the tale. There is no evidence of forced entry, not a clue that points to a motive. Meanwhile, Nick’s wife, Detective Annie Broussard, sits in the emergency room with the grieving Genevieve. A mother herself, Annie understands the emotional devastation this woman is going through, but as a detective she’s troubled by a story that makes little sense. Who would murder a child and leave the only witness behind?

When the very next day P.J.’s sometimes babysitter, thirteen-year-old Nora Florette, is reported missing, the town is up in arms, fearing a maniac is preying on their children. With pressure mounting from a tough, no-nonsense new sheriff, the media, and the parents of Bayou Breaux, Nick and Annie dig deep into the dual mysteries. But sifting through Genevieve Gauthier’s tangled web of lovers and sorting through a cast of local lowlifes brings more questions than answers. Is someone from Genevieve’s past or present responsible for the death of her son? Is the missing teenager, Nora, a victim, or something worse? Then fingerprints at the scene change everything when they come back to a convicted criminal: Genevieve herself.

The spotlight falls heavily on the grieving mother who is both victim and accused. Could she have killed her own child to free herself of the burden of motherhood, or is the loss of her beloved boy pushing her to the edge of insanity? Could she have something to do with the disappearance of Nora Florette, or is the troubled teenager the key to the murder? How far will Nick and Annie have to go to uncover the dark truth of the boy?

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Published: December 31, 2018

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: A 7 year old boy is brutally murdered and his panicked mother, battered and bloodied, runs for help. The beginning of the story captured my attention easily. The characters were well developed with enough flaws to make them real. The Boy is book 2 in the Broussard and Fourcade series but I did not read book 1. Honestly I didn’t even realize it was part of a series so this book definitely stands alone. There are so many twists and turns and AHA moments in this story but they all work seamlessly into the plot. It never felt over the top or cliche, both of which are big turn offs for me in a book. I enjoyed the characters of Nick and Annie, two of the detectives assigned to the case. Seeing their relationship both at work and at home added an extra layer of depth to the story. There are a lot of characters in the book- some you will hate, some you will pity, and some you will identify with. 

I honestly had no idea where the story was going for the majority of the book. Every time I thought I knew the who, what, and why another layer of the mystery was pulled back and I was left guessing again. I didn’t figure it out until probably the last few chapters and I was shocked! I did not see it coming but in hindsight there were definitely clues throughout the story. The book deals with some disturbing themes including violence against children but it’s written in such a way to further the story instead of with the intent to shock the reader. 



Book Review: A Life Made of Lava

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A Life Made of Lava by Lissa Del– Evie Danvers has three beautiful, if slightly out of control, children; a stray cat named Dr. Moxley and a best friend who drinks unapologetically at 9 a.m. Evie also has stage four bone cancer and a gallows sense of humour that drives her husband, Nick, demented. 

Nick wants Evie to fight. Evie, on the other hand, is almost ready to die. This is not Evie’s first rodeo. She kicked her cancer twice before. But this time around, Evie knows it’s a battle she can’t win. Instead, she focuses on avoiding her oncologist, playing wicked pranks on her mother-in-law and getting her affairs in order, which includes hiring a nanny to take care of the kids after she’s gone. 

Having Julia Soanes in his house would not have been Nick’s first choice. Julia smells of memories. And sex. Something Nick hasn’t had in a while. Nick’s moral objections, however, are short-lived. The woman he loves is dying. He can honor her dying wish. Can’t he?

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: March 7, 2018

Acquired: Kindle Unlimited

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: I don’t even know if I can do this book justice. I loved it. I loved every single page of this book. This is not a light and fluffy read. The subject matter is heavy and painful. I almost felt like a voyeur watching through the kitchen window as this family dealt with the crap hand they’d been given. The premise is simple. Evie is dying and she needs to hire a nanny to care for her 3 kids and husband, Nick, when she’s gone. She finds Julia and she’s perfect. There are so many layers to this story. It’s told from 3 points of view- Evie, Nick, and Julia. I’m normally not a fan of books told from multiple POV’s because they can be confusing if not done well. It really really worked with this story and it added one of those layers I mentioned. The book would not have been nearly as powerful without reading the point of view of each character.

The characters truly made this book stand out. The 3 main characters- Evie, Nick, and Julia- are so real that you’d swear you knew them personally by the end. But the secondary characters added so much to this story- from Evie’s best friend, Kat, to Julia’s father, Ted, to Nick’s mother, Mary-Anne. They all add an extra layer of depth to the story. Rarely does a book invoke an actual physical reaction from me. I’m a true introvert and I internalize all my feelings. I laughed out loud more than once and cried real tears during the hard parts. I hope that faced with imminent death I would have the strength and grace that Evie displayed. She never lost her sense of humor and when the inevitable happened I felt as though I had lost a real life friend. This book is not only a 5 star read for me but it easily makes my list of all-time favorite books.