Book Review, Fiction, thriller

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan ~ Book Review

29 Seconds and Cupcake

St. Martin’s Press
Release Date (USA): September 10, 2019
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5

This book gave me whiplash in the best of ways. The premise of the plot was simple: After an act of good faith, Sarah Hayward finds herself with the unique opportunity to name one person, with the guarantee that they will vanish without a trace. Although she initially dismisses the idea, insisting that there is no such person in her life, Sarah struggles each day at work against the increasingly deplorable and despicable sexual harassment from her boss, Alan Hawthorne. As Hawthorne’s actions take more and more of a toll on Sarah’s mental and physical health, and threaten her career, she makes one 29-second phone call that changes her life.

A phone call naming Hawthorne as her chosen victim.

From there, Sarah is catapulted into a whirlwind of emotion, during which she constantly second guesses her choices. Every time the reader was led to believe that the deed had been done, and Hawthorne was gone from her life, he would pop up again — almost as unwanted to the reader as he was to Sarah.

The sexual harassment that Sarah and her fellow female colleagues faced is timely in topic, and heartbreaking in description. Logan has insightful narrative surrounding Sarah’s internal struggle between trying to protect her career and reputation, and wanting to stand up for the respect she deserves. The extent of Hawthorne’s power throughout the university the two work at at became increasingly clear, and one by one, the paths Sarah thinks she might be able to take to stop him are closed off to her.

I fully expected the outcome of the 29-second phone call to be exactly what was offered to Sarah at face value. I assumed that the remainder of the book would focus on any backlash or guilt Sarah felt, or perhaps there would be one person who somehow caught wind of what had happened. Surprise, surprise, this book was nothing close to predictable. The twists were well incorporated and very different from thrillers I’ve read in the past.

The only negative comment I have about this book is that some scenes seemed repetitive. Every time Sarah’s rowdy children were discussed, I felt like I was reading the same scene that had already been described several times over.

Despite the fact that I don’t quite understand the details involved in this book being published for the first time in the United States when it has already been released elsewhere, I’m glad that is the case, and that this ARC made it into my hands in time for the U.S. publication date (Today!).

My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5
Buy 29 Seconds on Amazon
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Book Review, Fiction, Horror, Uncategorized

It by Stephen King ~ Book Review

It Book with Rainbow Sprinkle Donut

Viking
Release Date: September 15, 1986
Genre: Horror
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪

Honestly, I’m just proud of myself for finishing this book. At over 1,100 pages, it is by far the longest book I’ve ever read, and suffice it to say, I would not have completed it if I didn’t enjoy it. That being said, I’m not really a horror person. This was my first Stephen King read, and I was a little nervous about being horrified and/or scared to walk around my apartment after dark. I was pleasantly surprised by the content, however. There were absolutely, without a doubt, parts of this book that were pure horror, but it is such a big book, that they seemed more diffused throughout it, and I could handle them at this less concentrated level. 

The book follows the lives of The Losers, a group of seven misfits growing up in Derry, Maine. The chapters alternate between their childhood lives, at about twelve years old, chronicling how they all come together, and their adult lives, as they all return to Derry for the first time since moving away. I need to pause here for a moment to address setting in this story. Derry truly takes on a life of its own. King goes into great detail about the history of the town, as well as the types of people who live there, and a narrative surrounding the homophobia that exists within its borders. Having grown up in New England, and spent a lot of time in small-town Maine, I could picture Derry through King’s descriptions. I feel like I’ve been there, and that was maybe the most horrifying part of all for me.

Within the detailed history of this town, there was also, of course, the history of It, a horrifying being (more of presence really) that resides within the town and preys on children. Although its true form is never seen, it most often appears as a clown named Pennywise, who wears a suit with orange pompoms, and is accompanied by a bunch of balloons. Throughout the book, these pompoms and the balloons taunt the group of losers as a precursor to It’s appearances.

The return of the adults back to their hometown is initiated by Mike, who has remained in Derry all his life, working in the library. He realizes that It has returned to the town after a break of twenty some-odd years. As children, the losers tried, and nearly succeeded at killing It, and made a vow to return to Derry to finish It off should the violence start again. As they are called back to Derry after so many years away, they realize they had forgotten their childhood entirely, but the horror, as well as the camaraderie, all comes rushing back to them as they begin their return journeys. The terror is so great, in fact, that one of them, Stan, kills himself, rather than facing Derry and It once more. 

The sections and chapters through most of the book are quite long. King goes into details about different children who were killed in the town, and how they died, as well as introducing many friends and enemies of our seven misfits. He is able to go off on descriptions that are pages long about the smallest details (which accounts for the length of this book) but without making the writing feel bogged down. Towards the end, the chapters begin to flip-flop much more rapidly between present and past, showing how the kids tried to defeat It before, and how the adults are copying their past actions to do so again. 

My one complaint about this book is the length. Although I appreciate King’s descriptive style, I do feel there were sections and backstories that did not directly pertain to the narrative that could have been cut. I did read and enjoy the entirety of the book, but by the end I was ready to be done with it, if only to move on to a read that I could fit in my purse.

My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪
It on Goodreads
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Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides ~ Book Review

The Silent Patient

Celadon Books
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5

The Silent Patient was, simply put, fascinating. It opens with our narrator, Theo Faber, taking on a role as a psychotherapist at a facility called The Grove, that houses dangerous criminals. He is particularly interested in one woman there specifically, Alicia Berenson, and seems to be pursuing this job purely to work with her. Alicia was accused of shooting and killing her husband, and since the crime, six years prior, has refused to speak. From the reader’s point of view, it seems that Theo is oddly obsessed with the idea of ‘fixing’ her, and getting her to speak, despite the fact that no one else at the facility has been able to do so. 

Before the murder of her husband, Alicia was a renowned artist. As part of her therapy, Theo convinces the rest of the staff at The Grove to let her paint (I found it a little unconvincing that this wouldn’t have been done earlier). Alicia immediately takes to painting, and Theo feels confident that he will soon have her speaking as well. In his spare time, Theo essentially stalks a number of Alicia’s friends and family members, interrogating them about Alicia’s mood and actions around the time of the murder. He slowly learns that she was increasingly concerned at the time that there was a man following her, and standing outside her house at night.

There are also excerpts from Theo’s personal life and his increasingly tumultuous relationship with his wife, who he discovers is cheating on him. As we witness their interactions, and his life at home, as well as his obsession with Alicia’s past, it becomes clear that there is something ominous about Theo. He starts to follow his wife every time she leaves the house, hoping to catch her with the man she has been sleeping with. The more disturbed he seemed to become, the more I wondered what his true intentions were in trying to treat Alicia.

I absolutely did not guess the ending of this thriller, but I did start to piece together how a few things were related, which made me ever more excited to learn all the intricacies and details at the end. Although portrayed as a dangerous criminal throughout the entire book, I felt a semblance of pity for Alicia by its conclusion, as I was able to see how misunderstood and out of control of her own actions she had been for so long.

Tagalong Bars with The Silent Patient

The varying storylines within this narrative wove together seamlessly, and allowed for connections to be identified slowly and creatively. I read a lot of domestic thrillers, but this one was able to transcend the usual themes I find running through this sub-genre, and present a wholly original story. 

Along with this book, I devoured these tagalong bars, which were able to almost exactly replicate the taste of the Girl Scout Cookies for which they’re named. One tip in storing these: keep them at room temperature rather than refrigerated, so the shortbread base stays soft and chewy.

Buy The Silent Patient on Amazon
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My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5

Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough ~ Book Review

Cross Her Heart with Cookies

William Morrow
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5

Ava is just trying to live a normal teenage life. She goes to swim practice with her three best friends, spends time at parties, and hangs out with her boyfriend, Courtney. Ava has a secret though. She is engaged in an online relationship with an older man she has never met. Whenever she gets the chance to sneak away from her friends, she is messaging him, and praying for the day when they will finally get to be together. Ava’s mom, Lisa, is very protective of her daughter, overbearing, in Ava’s opinion. Lisa constantly texts to check up on her daughter, and is always handing off money to her, as if trying to overcompensate for knowing she is being annoying. When she’s alone, Lisa succumbs to flashbacks and nightmares about a little boy named Daniel who is no longer alive. As the story delves further into the lives of the mother-daughter duo, we see a picture of a normal family unit emerging. Lisa has a successful career, and a best friend named Marilyn, she’s developing feelings for one of her clients, Simon, and considering going out with him. The everyday details of their lives were interesting enough to keep me glued to the pages, and, as the flashbacks to Daniel became more frequent, I knew there was a big twist coming. And boy was there ever. In fact, ‘twisted,’ is exactly the word I would use to describe this plot.

[MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD]
After Ava saves a little boy from drowning, and she and her mom are featured in several newspapers, Lisa’s true identity is leaked. Her name is actually Charlotte, better known as the child killer. She was found guilty for the murder of her two year old brother, Daniel, at age eleven, and once she was released from her sentence, was given a new identity in order to start fresh. Of course, once she is identified, neither she nor Ava are safe as who they are. They are forced to change their appearance, and assume new identities. Ava is unwilling to fully part from her past, mainly because, she had plans to meet the man she’s been speaking with on Facebook. Unbeknownst to her mother, Ava slips away in the night to do just that.

The second half of the book is a wild mixture of present and past. Charlotte escapes in a desperate attempt to find her daughter, and is ultimately able to convince Marilyn and Simon to help her. The flashbacks to Lisa’s childhood are heartbreaking and horrifying. Her mother pays little attention to Charlotte, doting upon Daniel instead, and her mother’s boyfriend Toby is abusive. Eventually, they go so far as to use Charlotte’s body to make a profit for the family. The only person Charlotte has to rely on is Katie, her best friend. She and Katie are full of angst and anger, and both detest their families. They spend their days drinking and taking pills, and planning to run away together. Despite the paralleled evil that seems to run within both of them, Katie’s family is respected and well off, and when Daniel’s death is discovered, she gets away unscathed, despite the reader’s suspicion that she was involved. As the reader, we are unsure until the very end if she was indeed involved in this at all.

In present day, Charlotte is convinced that Katie has somehow infiltrated her and Ava’s life by masquerading as someone they know and trust, and has thus been able to lure Ava away. The ending of the story saw these many loose ends tied up as Charlotte pieces together what has happened, and some additional insight is added from the chapters narrated by “Her.” 

I enjoyed the slow beginning half of this book just as much as the crazy, twisty second half, which speaks to the quality of Pinborough’s writing. Some of the layers of the ending seemed a little farfetched to me (I was dubious of the double identity with Katie) but for the most part, this book was fantastic, if not much, much darker than I initially anticipated. Pictured alongside this book are a batch of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (which, in my opinion, are very under-appreciated, and delicious). Keep in mind that this recipe does recommend chilling the dough before baking, so the overall process takes some time!

My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5
Buy Cross Her Heart on Amazon
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Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott ~ Book Review

The Three Beth's and PMS BarsThe Three Beths by Jeff Abbott
Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Genre: Thriller 
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪

Most of the thrillers I read are clear cut domestic thrillers, so although being in line genre-wise with what I read most regularly, The Three Beths had a different feel to it. This book is definitely set up as more of a murder mystery (or, ‘disappearance mystery,’ since there are no bodies to speak of), and the central plot-line revolves around Mariah, as she seeks to figure out what happened to her mother, who vanished without a trace. This is the first Beth we are introduced to: Beth Dunning. Mariah’s father, Craig, has long been suspected of being behind the disappearance, and has largely isolated himself from the outside world as he continues to get threatening phone calls and messages from neighbors who want him out of the area. He disapproves of his daughter’s continued obsession with trying to crack the case, and believes it is preventing her from being able to move on with her life.

One day, Mariah is perusing the website of Chad, who she went to school with. Chad has created a real crime podcast and prefers to go by his pseudonym: Reveal. Reveal’s website has a one-off comment about the disappearance of Mariah’s mom, and another Beth in the area, about six months apart. This is enough for Mariah to feel as if she has some sort of lead, and she meets up with Reveal to discuss the possibility of a connection. From there, we are thrown into the whirlwind of Mariah’s investigation. She meets with Beth’s mom, Sharon, and fiancé, Jake, as well as several friends. She quickly learns that Beth was struggling at work, suspected of embezzlement, and dealing with substance abuse in the weeks leading up to her disappearance. She appeared to be spiraling out of control, and was planning to leave her husband, eventually boarding a flight to Houston never to be seen again. 

From the get go, we know that Sharon is hiding something. She keeps a gun on hand, and is clearly scared of Mariah digging into the life of her and her family. She believes that Jake is behind her daughter’s disappearance, but Mariah is not as quick to jump to conclusions, slowly growing closer to Jake as they talk through Beth’s life leading up to when she went missing. Mariah learns that Beth made a new friend during this time, Lizbeth Gonzales, the third Beth. 

The number of characters and tiny plot details woven into this mystery was staggering. At times, it was a little hard to keep everyone straight, and to follow all the connections being made, but by the end, I was thoroughly invested. There was no way I could have figured out how everything fit together on my own, but I loved seeing the picture get filled in, and making realizations along with Mariah. During Mariah’s intense investigation, her father is dealing with more frequent threatening messages being left in his yard, and even an attempt on his life. This subset of the book seemed pretty random and unnecessary to me, and I think most of that could have been cut (it’s a hefty book as is, so it wouldn’t have felt watered down at all without these extra chapters). This was my first Jeff Abbott read, and although a little confusing at times, I am definitely intrigued in looking into more of his books.

(For the recipe for these bars, see my review of Pieces of Her).

My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪
Buy The Three Beths on Amazon
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Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine ~ Book Review

The Last Time I Saw You Book

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
Harper
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 🍪.5

Before getting into the meat of my review, I have a bone to pick with the authors/editors/marketers for this book. This is the second book by the author team that uses the pseudonym Liv Constantine, and after the wild success of their first thriller, they decided to write another. Makes sense, however, what exactly was going through their minds in terms of the title here? Did they think ‘Hey, The Last Mrs. Parrish did well, let’s just reuse half of that title and call it a day?’ Was there really no better option? I’m still not even sure why this title is relevant to the story, but I digress.

The Last Time I Saw You tells the story of Kate English, whose mother is found murdered in her home. We open with Kate attending the funeral, standing by her distraught father’s side, and suddenly seeing Blaire. Kate and Blaire were best friends growing up until they had a falling out following Blaire voicing her disapproval of Kate’s marriage, which kept them apart for the following fifteen years. Blaire quickly reintroduces herself into Kate’s life, and all is forgiven. (This, in and of itself, seemed unbelievable to me). Kate begins to receive threatening text messages from someone we presume to be her mother’s killer, indicating that she will be the next victim. Additionally, the mysterious someone leaves little ‘gifts’ around Kate’s house — dead mutilated animals with nursery rhymes that have been altered to reference Kate’s impending death. This seemed weirdly extreme but also clichéd to me (all in all, not a good combination).

Blaire quickly becomes Kate’s rock through the whole messy ordeal. We get some insight into their childhood, and witness how Lily, Kate’s mother, also acted as a mother figure for Blaire. As Constantine piled on the ‘Blaire-is-an-overly-concerned-friend details,’ I was quite literally rolling my eyes. Her obvious role as the ‘wronged friend seeking revenge’ was clear from page one, and had me extremely frustrated. After being wonderfully shocked by the twists and turns in The Last Mrs. Parrish, I couldn’t understand why the majority of this story was so predictable.

The ending added a bunch of previously unimportant neighbors and family friends who were suddenly involved in the death of Lily, and that plus the revelation about Blaire’s biological versus adoptive family seemed like way too much. I was utterly unimpressed with this book, and finished it merely to make sure I wasn’t somehow missing an incredible twist that would change my mind — I wasn’t. For a much more satisfying experience, I highly recommend baking yourself a batch of these Sea Salt Caramel Chip Chocolate Cookies.

My Rating: 🍪.5
Buy The Last Time I Saw You on Amazon
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Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson ~ Book Review

The Other Mrs. Miller with cookies

G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5

The title of this thriller immediately made me think of The Last Mrs. Parrish, and I was definitely getting similar type vibes throughout. It helped that I could see a dark black dividing page right near the middle of my book, so I knew there was going to be some kind of big narrative jump (in hindsight, I think having such an obvious marker was probably a bad call on the part of the publisher, although I did read an ARC, so I suppose that’s still subject to change). In any case, this book pulled me right in, as I was introduced to Phoebe Miller, who spends her days resigned to her home (ah yes, the old reclusive-female-at-home-alone-in-a-thriller trope). Phoebe’s late father Daniel, recently became the center of a sexual assault scandal, and as a result, Phoebe chooses to hide her face for a time, and remain in her home, comfortably surrounded by reminders of the wealth she inherited from her dad. Her relationship with her husband, Wyatt, is clearly strained. Although we don’t get much insight into what their marriage was like when they were happy, they are now sleeping in separate rooms and obviously misaligned in their views about children, and their future.

While Wyatt goes off to work each day, Phoebe looks out her window, voyeur-esque. She notices a blue car stationed outside her house day after day, and becomes increasingly concerned that someone is watching her. That is, until Phoebe notices something across the street that’s more interesting to her: the Napier family, moving in across the street, and specifically, Jake, the hot teenage son of Vicki and Ron. Phoebe, in the throes of a midlife crisis, quickly becomes infatuated with Jake, and makes every excuse to spend time near him. She quickly befriends his mother, and hires him to do odd jobs around her house. Jake, an attractive, uprooted 18 year old, suddenly without any friends and insecure about his plans to go to Stanford at the end of the summer, falls quickly for Phoebe. I didn’t find this totally, completely believable given the frumpy way Phoebe is depicted when the reader is first introduced to her, however, after learning how intensely dysfunctional Jake’s family is, I began to see how the Phoebe’s stability might be appealing to Jake from a mental health standpoint

As Phoebe’s relationships with both Jake, and Vicki grow stronger, Dickson includes alternating chapters titled ‘Interlude’ that are narrated by Nadia, the driver of the car that idles outside Phoebe’s house. Nadia slowly unveils her interest and intent with the Millers, but her real involvement in the story doesn’t come until the second half of the book (remember that black page I told you about?), when she and Wyatt become an unlikely team, as they struggle to convince the Napiers that life at the Miller’s house is fine, after a series of unfortunate incidents. In the interest of not giving away the entire twisted narrative, I will just say that the second half of this book was a whirlwind. The depth of the characters and their issues (think medical malpractice, blackmail, murder, identity theft…) was intense and unexpected, and kept me ripping through pages while frantically yelling at my roommate to pop some frozen cookie dough into the oven for me, because you don’t have time to bake when you’re dealing with the insanity that is the Napier household. The continuation of the ‘Interlude’ chapters in the second half of the book with a different, unknown narrator, kept me guessing until the very end, and the final pages had the classic, good-thriller feel, when you still have no idea how the story will conclude. All in all, a very solid read.

My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5
The Other Mrs. Miller on Goodreads
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Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris ~ Book Review

Behind Closed Doors Flatlay with Cake

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 🍪🍪.5

I had a lot of free time when I was reading this book. For that reason, I flew through it, which made me falsely believe, at first, that I loved it. However. After a little internal reflection, I realized that I think I really just kind of missed reading thrillers. I’ve been trying to branch out more in my genre selection this year, so it’s been a minute since I read one of my classic picks (honestly not much more than a minute, but it feels like a long time to me). I recently read my first B.A. Paris book, and although that was a flop for me, I thought I’d give her a second chance. My main issue with this book, was that it felt forced, like the classic tropes of the genre were being hammered into my brain. The perfect husband? Who wants his wife to marry him quickly and then stop working and give up everything she loves? Who manipulates her friends and family until they truly believe she no longer cares about them? This is the story of Grace and Jack. And a thousand other domestic thriller couples.

Despite this somewhat scathing introduction, the story was well written. I was sucked in, and couldn’t wait to see how Grace ultimately triumphed as I knew she would based on the predictability of this plotline. I liked the classic approach to a domestic thriller, and the addition of Grace’s sister, Millie, added an interesting twist. Millie has Down’s Syndrome, and is ultimately the one who Jack is after. He hopes that by pretending to be doting friends to Millie, he and Grace will ultimately obtain custody of her when she turns 18 and he will thus have someone he can wholly control. I’m not sure how you get into such a twisted mindset, but Paris writes it with sickening clarity.

I also appreciated how everything tied together in this book. When we initially meet the couple as they host a dinner party, we know that Grace is acting peculiar, but it’s hard to tell why. Why does everything need to be perfectly cooked? Why does her husband dote over the painting she created that is hung on their wall? Why does she need to finish all the food on her plate? Each detail comes back later, as Grace walks us through the depth of Jack’s abuse, and the ways she has tried to either fight, or acquiesce to him.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Book

Although there wasn’t really much action in this book, I liked the way it slowly built on itself, offering the reader more and more insight into Grace and Jack’s relationship. It is first depicted as the fairytale Grace believe it is, and then we delve deeper and deeper into just how manipulative and terrifying Jack really is.

All in all, I would not recommend this book, but it was a decent thriller. The depth and detail was well written, but it was predictable, and not terribly unique to the genre. Read it if you feel like it, but don’t rush out to buy it. Maybe instead, use your reading time to bake a cake, like this crowd-pleasing Insane Peanut Butter Cup Cake. It may be time intensive, but it will never disappoint.

My Rating: 🍪🍪.5
Buy Behind Closed Doors on Amazon
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Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare ~ Book Review

Call Me Evie book

Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪

What a page turner. This book flip flops back and forth between past and present, or rather ominously, ‘Before’ and ‘After.’ During the earlier segments, Kate is living her life as a relatively normal high school student, dealing with catty friendships and her first real relationship. She lives alone with her overly protective (too the point of it being unacceptable) father since her mother died when she was very young. (I definitely enjoyed these parts of the story more than those set in the present). The ‘After’ segments chronicle Kate’s life as she is trapped in a cabin with a man named Jim who forces her to go by Evie and pretend he is her uncle. He explains to her that they can’t go home because the police are waiting to arrest her there.

Over the course of the book, the reader gets insight into what happened back at Kate’s home, but is left largely in the dark. We learn that there was a scandal surrounding Kate’s boyfriend Thom, who leaked their sex tape, and there was also some sort of inappropriate relationship between Kate and her friend Willow’s father. We get to see the slow and very natural seeming progression of Kate and Thom’s relationship as well as the fallout between Kate and Willow, spurred by jealousy between the new threesome. The depiction of teenage life and discontent was very well played out throughout this narrative.

In the ‘After’ sections of the story, it slowly becomes clear that Thom has been killed, and Kate is convinced that it was Jim’s doing, although her memory of the night is impaired and confused. She finds notes she left for herself in a book in her room with warnings not to trust Jim, but she cannot seem to trust herself either. (Side note, what was up with that book? I was waiting for an explanation of when she wrote those notes and what they referred to but just… never got it…). Jim asks her repeatedly to explain to him what she remembers about the night of the ‘incident’, but it is hard to tell if he is intentionally manipulating her memories as she suspects.

Chocolate cookies with Call Me Evie

During Kate’s time trapped in the cabin, she makes a few friends around town who she desperately tries to convince that Jim is trapping her. With her word against him however, he is always able to frame things to make her look unstable. I was constantly flip flopping back and forth with wondering who should be believed.

The last third or so of this book had me completely sucked in. I had no idea who to trust, and couldn’t predict how the story would end. The final plot twists were very well integrated, and unexpected. Overall, it was a very original plot, and a thoroughly enjoyable thriller. There were a few pieces that felt unfinished, like the relationship between Kate and Willow’s dad (It seemed like suddenly everyone knew about their interactions, but there was no real explanation as to how), but for the most part this was a great read! (Also great– this batch of Death By Chocolate Chip Cookies with mini mint Dove bars folded inside!)

My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪
Buy Call Me Evie on Amazon
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Book Review, Fiction, thriller, Uncategorized

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones ~ Book Review

The Other Woman Book

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
Minotaur Books
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Genre Thriller
My Rating: 🍪🍪

I was reading the majority of this book for the ending. The reviews on the back of my copy promised a crazy, unexpected twist, and that was honestly all that kept me going. The beginning of the story seemed like a very clichéd domestic thriller, including all the most overused tropes of the genre, and I found myself literally rolling my eyes as Emily falls into a whirlwind romance and then discovers that her fiancé’s mother appears to be on an absurd rampage to break the two up. Assured by previous readers that the ending would shock me, I trekked along. This in and of itself is enough for me not to recommend this story. Even if the second half of a thriller changes everything you think while reading the first half, both need to be able to stand alone as interesting and intriguing narratives.

None of the characters in this story were especially likeable. Emily is naive and passive, her boyfriend to fiancé-to-husband, Adam, is controlling, his brother James seems to be inexplicably besotted with Emily, although we never really get a clear answer about his actions at the end. As for Pammie, Adam’s mother, she is, as is to be expected, absolutely awful. This seemed incredibly overdone to me. To the point where I almost put the book down for good several times. That being said, it was pretty clear that the ‘twist’ at the end was going to have to do with her not being as bad as she came across. I was intrigued to see how Jones would explain all of Pammie’s actions to conclude the narrative. Unfortunately, the ending fell flat for me. It was predictable at almost every turn, and I didn’t understand why Pammie had to approach everything in such a twisted manner. It becomes clear that she is afraid of what Adam is capable of, and was only trying to protect Emily through the entire plot, but we don’t get a good sense of how scared she is. Why wouldn’t she just try to explain Adam’s violent history to Emily? It was unclear to me how that type of intervention might have gone over.

Congo Bars with The Other Woman

The very ending frustrated me as well. There were definitely abusive aspects to Adam and Emily’s relationship leading up to this point, but when he blatantly admits that he was never, ever faithful to Emily, I didn’t buy it. If this was the case, we needed more hints throughout the first part of the story that their whirlwind romance was not all it seemed to be. As is, it seemed like a random detail thrown in to try to make him seem like the worst person ever at the very end of the story. To quell my frustration about how this book ended up, I ate a whole lot of these Congo Bars. Made with all brown sugar, these are a deliciously chewy variation on traditional blondies. Instead of the baking melts suggested in the recipe, I threw in some Mega M&Ms that I picked up in a clearance Valentine’s Day candy clearout. If you’re able to find some Mega M&Ms, I highly recommend tossing them into this recipe!

My Rating: 🍪🍪
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