Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)Published: May 20th, 2014

Publisher: Anchor

Format: Paperback

Pages: 527

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: 3/5

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.


Where do I even start with this book?

I definitely didn’t love this, but I can’t say that I hated it either. I mean I did finish it after all, but you certainly have to be in the mood to read something like this. Like the kind of mood where you just want to completely disengage your brain and maybe kill off a few cells while you’re at it. It’s sort of how I feel when I sit down to watch an episode of The Housewives of Beverly Hills.

There was something strangely addicting about the drama that unfolded and it certainly lives up to it’s title. Crazy Rich Asians follows the scandal and drama of some of Singapore’s most wealthiest families. And by wealthy, I mean disgustingly wealthy. In their world, it’s totally normal to buy a pair of $200,000 earrings that you don’t even plan to wear. Shocking.

Most of the characters in this book are terrible people, except for Rachel whom you kind of just wish would run as far away as possible and not look back. Nick is kind of an idiot. I mean he has to be to honestly, not even for a second, think it was a good idea to NOT warn Rachel of his insanely crazy family back home. Poor Rachel, totally blindsided.

I gave this three stars because I actually did get sucked into some of the drama, enough that I wasn’t willing to give up reading. But I really felt like this book was to long. At some point I started to skim a little because I was so over the endless paragraphs of descriptive haute couture and designer name dropping that I was ready to tear my hair out.

I’m not entirely sure yet if I’ll continue with the series. I’m morbidly curious so anything is possible, but for now I think I’ll move on.

Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Love it or hate it?

 

 

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Somebody’s Daughter by David Bell

Somebody's DaughterPublished: July 10th, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Format: eBook

Pages: 448

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

Rating: 4/5

When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife, Erica, shows up on his doorstep pleading for help, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Erica’s nine-year-old daughter is missing – and Michael is the father. Unable to quickly determine if Erica is telling the truth, and unwilling to leave the little girl’s fate to chance, Michael has no choice but to follow the elusive trail of the child he has always wanted and never knew he had.

But finding Felicity comes at a price – the closer Michael gets to the truth, the further into jeopardy his marriage falls and the faster his family begins to unravel. As lies that span a decade bubble to the surface and the window for Felicity’s safe return closes, Michael will have just a few short days to decide who can be trusted and who is hiding the truth.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This is the kind of book you pick up when you have a whole afternoon or evening to read completely uninterrupted because once you start, you’re not going to want to put it down. The chapters are short and leave you with a sense of urgency to keep going which makes this a quick read.

The story is told from multiple perspectives: Michael (the potential baby-daddy), his current wife Angela, and Detective Erin Griffin (who sadly felt a little under developed as a character). Multiple POV’s can sometimes be difficult to follow and/or be a little distracting but I felt it was really done well here. Kudos to Bell.

Given the speed of the book, the characters aren’t overly deep but that didn’t really bother me here. The story was so gripping and interesting that I just wanted to know what was happening. The only character that I felt totally disconnected from was Detective Griffin, I even wanted to skim over her parts at times because she just wasn’t very interesting.

As a whole though, this book was a really fun read and the perfect summer thriller! Not every book has to be super deep with over developed characters. Sometimes we just want a show-gun plot that keeps us burning for more and that’s exactly what this book delivers!

 

 

 

 

 

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Providence

Published: June 19th, 2018

Publisher: LENNY

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 384

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 3/5

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 fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters’ lives togehter 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.

Let me start by just saying that this book is not anything like You or Hidden Bodies. If you go into this book expecting Joe, or a character like him, and the darkness that surrounds his identity then you will be very disapointed. This book is completely unique and goes in a very different direction.

The thing I’ve come to really love about Caroline Kepnes is her writing style and her strength in character building and her witty humor. She’s really quite magnificent and even though this particular story was not my favorite, it was still enjoyable to read.

Here’s what I loved about it:

  • I  loved the H.P. Lovecraft inspiration. I wouldn’t say that I’m a die hard fan, but I have read a lot of his work, including The Dunwich Horror, and even recently wrote a paper for a class I was taking. So I have an ‘appreciation’ for his writing and I think Caroline Kepnes did an amazing job with her take on The Dunwich Horror and her ability to make it current. And Providence, RI really is Lovecraft obsessed since it was of course, his favorite place in all off New England.
  • There were also a lot of North Shore references (North of Boston for those not familiar with the area) that I just loved because of course, I’m a North Shore gal myself. It was fun to read a story and have places you frequent mentioned.

Everything else was just…meh.

The main characters are of course Jon, the boy who is kidpnapped and returns as a man with uncontrollable powers. Chloe, the girl who loves him but now must mourn the loss of her best friend and has trouble finding herself without him. Then later on in the story we have Eggs, a dogged detective, and his wife Lo. Eggs has a son with a serious disability that means having to live outside of the home. He never visits him and mourns the loss of the normal father/son relationship he so desired to have. He distracts himself by trying to find out what’s happening with a string of deaths that are eerily similar.

I liked Chloe the least. Actually, I couldn’t stand Chloe. She is annoying, self-deprecating, and pathetic. Ugh.

Jon I sympathized with, I mean the poor guy was kidnapped and held for years in a medically induced coma and when he wakes up, he’s so different. Dangerously different. I craved more history of what Jon experienced. What happened to him? How did he get these powers? Will he find a way to fix himself? I found myself rooting for him, to find his place in life and find a way to live a normal life.

The story was to much about love and love lost and for me. I’m not a ‘love story’ kind of girl and so I really craved a lot more from this one. I didn’t finish it feeling satisfied which is why I gave this one three out of five stars.

Rest assured that I still love Caroline Kepnes and highly anticipate what she has up her sleeve next! I just hope it involves a lot more violent obsession! (don’t judge)

Note: I also listened to the audio version which was fantastically narrated and really made the characters come alive!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gaslight Stalker by David Field

37711689

Released: March 1st, 2018

Publisher: Sapere Books

Format: eBook, Kindle Fire

Genre: Historical Fiction

Buy: Amazon

Rating: 3/5

Jack the Ripper is stalking the streets of London. Can anyone stop the serial killer before more women are murdered?

London, 1888

Whitechapel is full of the noise of August Bank Holiday celebrations. Everyone is in high spirits until a woman – Martha Tuner – is discovered brutally murdered.

Her friend, Esther, a lowly seamstress turned female sleuth, is determined to find the killer.

A young police officer, Jack Enright, takes the lead on the case, and he and Esther soon embark on a professional – and personal – relationship.

When another murder is committed and whispers of a slasher calling himself Jack the Ripper start flowing through the London streets, the search becomes even more desperate. The police are on the wrong track and the young couple take matters into their own hands, and soon find themselves navigating through London’s dark underbelly.

Can they find the murderer before he kills again? Will anyone listen to their suspicions? Or will this dark presence continue to haunt Whitechapel…?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This book is the first in a new historical series called the Esther and Jack Enright Mysteries, a British detective series set in Victorian London.

I do enjoy a good Historical Fiction novel from time to time and the ones I love most are the books set in Victorian London. It’s dark, filthy and there’s just something about that time and place that I find fascinating. This book caught my eye on NetGalley not only because it took place during that time, but was also a take on Jack the Ripper – and I love a good Ripper story.

The story follows our main character, Esther Jacobs, a naïve and innocent young seamstress who has come across hard times. One night she goes out looking for her friend Martha at her husbands request. Martha has a thing for the bottle and frequently disappears leaving her husband home wondering where she’s gone off to. Esther finds her drinking at the local pub with some unsavory characters and with no desire to come home. Eventually Martha tells Esther to go home and she’ll follow along shortly. Only Martha never makes it home. Her body is discovered the next day, stabbed to death.

Constable Jack Enright is put on the job of interviewing Esther, who considers herself to be quite the sleuth and eager to help. Over the course of weeks of working together, Jack and Esther become ‘smitten’ with each other. I say ‘smitten’ because it evokes a feeling of an innocent and childish sort of love doesn’t it? And that’s how I feel about the relationship between those two.

David Field puts his own spin on the Jack the Ripper case which includes an early murder that was never actually associated to be the first Ripper murder. He also played around with who the Ripper actually was which I thought was a great twist!

What I didn’t love was the relationship between Esther and Jack. It was childish and to innocent to feel genuine. It was distracting and might have induced a few eye rolls. I know that courtship was very different back then but give me a little something!

Also, and I don’t know if this is just me being overly picky, but why on earth did the language constantly shift between Victorian English and modern vernacular!? This drove me nuts. The old Victorian English is something I really love about books set in that time but it’s really inconsistent here and I found it distracting. I found myself sometimes forgetting that I was on the grimy streets of London and that’s just not good.

So overall, it was a fun quick read and I loved the spin Field put on such a notorious killer but it wasn’t love for me. I wanted it to be darker and grittier and the relationship between Esther and Jack was not to my taste. I doubt I’ll read the other books in the series yet just because I don’t really have an interest in the Esther and Jack story line but, never say never!

Have you read this series? What did you think? If you’ve read some really great ‘Jack the Ripper’ novels, please feel free to list them in the comments so I can check them out!

Note: I’ve changed my rating scale to be more inline with how I rate books on Goodreads.

 

 

You by Caroline Kepnes

You (You, #1)

Released: September 30th, 2014

Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio

Format: Audiobook

Narrated by: Santino Fontana

Genre: Thiller, Fiction

Rating: 9/10

“When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight – the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joes transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way – even if it means murder.”

I realize I am late to the party when it comes to the story of Joe and Beck but let me tell you, it was worth the wait! An online friend recomended Caroline Kepnes books to me and insisted that the audio version of You was an incredible place to start, so I dived in. I re-started my Audible account souly so I could downlook this book and listen. Best decision ever made.

Here’s the thing, I love a good crazy serial-killer. I especially love it when the story is written from their warped perspective. With that being said, this book is not for everyone: it’s extremely sexual, violent and most likely, very offensive to some. I, however, am not ‘everyone’.

There aren’t a lot of Guinevere Becks in the world – just the one. The first thing I had to find was your home and the Internet was designed with love in mind. It gave me so much of you, Beck.

One of the things that makes this book especially chilling is the realization that in today’s digital and social media crazed society, you can really find anything out about anyone. Honestly, you’ll want to re-evaluate your digital footprint in a hot minute after reading this.

Our sinister-yet-sexy Joe Goldberg is looking for love. He loves to read and is disengaged from modern technology. He’s pretentious and, even though he’s a highschool drop-out, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room. So when a woman walks into his bookstore and they begin to flirt, he does what any man looking for love would do – he googles her name from her credit card.

He begins to stalk her Twitter, Facebook, and Google Maps. He knows her address, her friends and her plans and where she’ll be and with whom. He knows where she went to college and her job. He knows she’s a writer and can read everything she’s written. He can access hundreds of pictures and knows her favorite movies and the books that she loves. And he knows all about her favorite green pillow.

::shudder::

This was real. I press my thumb into the wet ink of your receipt and the ink of Guinevere Beck stains my skin.

Somehow Caroline Kepnes makes you LOVE Joe. I was pulled in by him, completely captivated by him. The audiobook is narrated by Santino Fontana and he really makes Joe come alive. I don’t think that I can ever hear is voice and not think of Joe, in fact, I would happily listen to Fontana read to me all night long if I could. Kepnes pulls you so deep into the mind of Joe that, as disturbing as his behaviour is, there are moments where he becomes sympathetic. He is sensitive and charasmatic and something about him makes you want to love him like he loves Beck.

I just can’t recomend this book enough. Kepnes has earned a spot among my favorite authors and You has earned a place among the few books that I would read again and again. If you can handle the darkness of Joe’s mind, then run and get yourself a copy. Or rather, download the audio and listen the to soothing voice of Fontana (but make sure you have your headphones) and let your imagination go.

The problem with books is that they end. They seduce you. They spread their legs to you and pull you inside. And you go deep and leave your possessions and your ties to the world at the door and you like it inside and you don’t want for your possessions or your ties and then, the book evaporates.”

 

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

Paper GhostsReleased: May 15th, 2018

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Length: 368

Buy: Amazon

Format: Kindle

Genre: Myster & Thriller, Fiction

Rating 7/10

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life – since she was twelve years old – for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer who may or may not have dementia – and may or may not be a serial killer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

I have to start by saying that this totally wasn’t planned, that my first post back into the book blogging world would be by the same author as my last post back in July of 2015! Total coincidence.

Julia Heaberlin’s new novel, Paper Ghosts, is such a unique and captivating tale. Throughout the book I found myself questioning not only Carl and his motives (his he lying or is he really losing his mind), but of the woman whose taken him; because let’s be honest, who in their right mind would think it’s a great idea to take a killer on a road trip, albeit an aging one? She has trained for this moment since she was twelve years old, an obsession so deep that it is all she knows about herself. What happens if she’s not right? Scarier yet, what will happen if she is?

I wouldn’t classify this as your typical serial-killer novel but instead a psychological game of cat and mouse. It’s a slow build, written beautifully with an eerie-edge. A mystery that makes you question everything you think is happening at every turn of the page.

I enjoyed this book more so than I did Black-Eyed Susans and if you’re looking for an emotional and clever mystery, than I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of Paper Ghosts. The ending was clean and poignant and I felt happy with the conclusion. Like a perfect little present. I look forward to seeing what Heaberlin has up her sleeve next!

 

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

23746004Expected Release: August 11th, 2015

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Length: 368

Pre-Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Format: Kindle

Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Rating 6/10

 I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?


Julia Heaberlin is a new author to me but I have to say that I really enjoyed her new upcoming thriller, Black-Eyed Susans.

Tessa is the victim of a serial-killer, left for dead on a pile of bones and bodies, who manages to send her monster to jail where he’s waiting for the death penalty. Now, years later, she is haunted by her past, the “Susans”, and desperate to keep her teenage daughter, Charlie, safe.

She has never been able to recall the details of her ordeal and as the execution date of her monster draws near, she’s beginning to have doubts. Has she let the wrong man go to jail?

The narrative switches between the past and present as Tessa relives her experience, therapy, the trial, and interactions with her best friend, Lydia, who hasn’t been seen since the trial ended.

The beginning was a little slow for me and I didn’t really become engaged in the story until a quarter of the way through. It was even a bit confusing in the beginning which I attribute to having to adjust to the narrative style and the constant flip-flopping between the past and present. It was a bit distracting, but eventually I was able to get into the flow of it.

I also felt that there was a huge emphasis on the court proceedings/death penalty process and less on some of the really key moments, like the explanation of ‘what really happened’ to Tessa, so that was bit of a letdown for me. Though I can appreciate the care and research that went into making those trial moments ‘real’.

I was intrigued by Lydia’s character and wanted more of her. Think manipulative, dark and very secretive. Tessa’s daughter, Charlie, and her eccentric neighbor, Effie, were likeable characters that I felt really grounded the story. And for a teenager, Charlie handles getting dragged into her mom’s crazy world like a champ!

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it to a friend. There were great twists and revelations that made it truly enjoyable in the end! It might even be worth a second read to see if there were things I didn’t pick up on before.

Definitely worth adding to your “to-read” list.