Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart. 

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes. 

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect. 

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place."

My Thoughts:

A Good Marriage is one of those books that I almost let myself put off reading because of all of the hype that it was receiving pre-release.  I know that shouldn't be a thing but sometimes books that are SO popular almost scare me off more than those books which receive little to no buzz (I STILL haven't read The Hunger Games if that tells you anything).  Kimberly McCreight is also an author who I've always intended to read but hadn't yet tried until now.  All of that being said, I'm so glad that I decided to mood read my way through August because it led to me picking this one off of my shelves where it was sitting with all of the other books that I haven't gotten to yet.  I have to say that I really, really enjoyed this one!  I wasn't sure what to expect because as with so many popular books, I had seen a mix of reviews where some readers loved it and others not as much.  The thing about this book though is that for me, it gripped me from the very first page.  It's told from a couple of different viewpoints - one is from Lizzie's point of view as she is drawn into the investigation of what happened to Zach's wife and the second viewpoint is from Amanda's viewpoint and the events leading up to her death.  The combination of the two viewpoints made for a very compelling read.  So compelling that I ended up finishing the last fourth of this book by candlelight at my kitchen table because we had lost power earlier that afternoon from a huge storm.  I just HAD to see how everything was all going to end!!  And while I really, really enjoyed this book - there were a few minor issues that I had with it that kept it from being a five star read.  I cannot share specifics because spoilers but if you've already read this one and want to discuss, just send me a message.  I will say that this book really takes a look at marriages and some of the hard truths that can be behind some of them.  I felt so badly for Amanda for a variety of reasons throughout the book.  And it was hard for me to relate the facts of her death with the parts of the book that were told from her viewpoint because I liked her.  I didn't want that ending for her even though technically it had already happened.  Does that even make sense?  I just came to care for her character so it was hard to see everything that she was forced to go through with really no happy ending to come.  I've seen reviews that compare this to a legal thriller but I don't think that I agree.  There are some legal parts to it but it's not a courtroom setting or anything like that so just a FYI so that you go into this book with the right expectations.  I do think that this is a very suspenseful read - and totally worth all of the hype that it received!  Lesson learned that I should probably shy away from hyped books less...

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am eager to read more by this author.  I believe I already have at least one of her other books waiting on my shelves to be read.  Readers that enjoy mysteries, suspenseful reads that keep you guessing, and those that enjoy books where everyone seems to have a secret or two should definitely check this book out.  Also, I saw a comparison to Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - I can see the comparison (not in specifics necessarily) so if you enjoyed that one you may want to pick this one up as well.  All in all, this is a book that I would definitely recommend!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful and compelling read!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Fifteen years ago Piper Boone’s only child died in a boating accident, and Piper’s almost perfect life came to an end too. After living through a divorce and losing her job, she retreats to Curlew Island and her childhood home—a secluded mansion for the politically powerful Boone family, who are practically American royalty.

But Piper’s desire to become a recluse is shattered when a mass shooter opens fire and kills three women at a cafĂ© where Piper is having lunch. The crisis puts her family in the spotlight by dredging up rumors of the so-called Curlew Island Curse, which whispers say has taken the lives of several members of the Boone family, including Piper’s father and sister.

Forensic artist Tucker Landry also survives the shooting and is tasked with the job of sketching a portrait of the shooter with Piper. They forge a bond over their shared love of movies and tragic pasts. But when police discover a connection between the shooting and two more murders on Curlew Island, they face a more terrible lineup of suspects than they could have imagined: Piper’s family.

Unraveling the family’s true history will be the key to Piper’s survival—or her certain death."

My Thoughts:

Relative Silence was a fascinating mystery that kept me turning the pages!  I love a book where the author really keeps me guessing and unsure of who to trust.  At the beginning of this book, Piper goes through a life changing event that is still haunting her to this day.  Then in present day, she is forced to contend with much more as she realizes that someone may be trying to kill her although she has no idea why.  The book really goes from there and let's just say that I was turning the pages as fast as I could to figure it all out.  I'm trying not to give anything away so sorry if that all feels very vague.  I will say that I liked that we as the reader didn't know who to trust or what was really going on.  The only thing that I knew for sure was that it must tie in to what had happened so long ago (even if I didn't know how or why).  It made for a very suspenseful read in my opinion!  This book is Christian fiction but honestly I hardly noticed.  It wasn't heavy handed or preachy which I really appreciated.  There were some great side characters that I also really appreciated as well.  One was a detective named Mandy who is trying to help Piper out throughout the book.  Piper also grows as an individual throughout this book which I couldn't help but appreciate.  I wasn't too sure of her at first but by the end I was really rooting for.  She had so much strength despite everything and I couldn't help but admire that.  I also really liked the fact that the weather and setting played such an important part of this book.  Being caught on an island with a hurricane bearing down caused the tension to level up quite a few notches for me.  Those last 100 pages just flew by as I had to see how everything would end!

Overall, I enjoyed my time which this book and would definitely be open to reading more by this author.  I finished this book in just a matter of days because I couldn't (and didn't want to) set it down.  It was a really solid mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.  I will say that there were a few things relating to the mystery that I figured out while reading but I definitely didn't guess who was behind it all.  I really appreciated that the author was able to take me by surprise with the way that this book ended.  I think that readers who enjoy suspenseful reads, mystery lovers, and Christian fiction readers would all enjoy this book.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a PICT book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 14th 2020
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0785226184 (ISBN13: 9780785226185)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Carrie Stuart Parks

Author Bio:

Carrie Stuart Parks is Christy, Carol, and Inspy award-winning author, an award-winning fine artist, and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity.

Catch Up With Carrie Stuart Parks:
CarrieStuartParks.comGoodreadsBookBubInstagram, & Facebook

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'Neal (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It’s been years since Zoe Fairchild has been to the small Devon village of her birth, but the wounds she suffered there still ache. When she learns that her old friend and grandmother’s caretaker has gone missing, Zoe and her fifteen-year-old daughter return to England to help.

Zoe dreads seeing her estranged mother, who left when Zoe was seven to travel the world. As the four generations of women reunite, the emotional pain of the past is awakened. And to complicate matters further, Zoe must also confront the ex-boyfriend she betrayed many years before.

Anxieties spike when tragedy befalls another woman in the village. As the mystery turns more sinister, new grief melds with old betrayal. Now the four Fairchild women will be tested in ways they couldn’t imagine as they contend with dangers within and without, desperate to heal themselves and their relationships with each other."

My Thoughts:

The Lost Girls of Devon was one of those books that just felt like the perfect book at the perfect time.  I absolutely love when that happens!  I feel like there is a certain kind of magic when a book fits into your reading mood so perfectly without you even realizing that it was what you were in the mood for necessarily.  There was just something about it that really drew me into the book from the very beginning.  There's a lot going on in this book but it never felt like too much.  I was worried about what happened to Zoe's missing friend throughout the book.  I was also equally concerned about Zoe and her mother's relationship, the romance that seemed to be developing between Zoe and Sage, the secrets Zoe's daughter Isabel was hiding, and the health struggles that Zoe's grandmother was facing.  I was just completely absorbed in their lives - there is really no other way to put it.  Another thing that I appreciated about this book was despite the harder topics it covered, I found this book hopeful.  I can't really explain what I mean about that without spoiling anything but I still really wanted to mention it.  The characters are up against many different things but it still left me hopeful by the end without just wrapping those darker threads into a bow.  This book is also told from each of the four women's viewpoints which was the perfect setup in my opinion.  We got to read from Zoe's point of view the most but she was really at the center of everything.  I felt like I understood each of these women more because of the way that the book was written.  Having the opportunity to really see things from their point of view allowed for the author to bring all of these characters to life for me.  I liked the way things ended with this book but I almost wasn't ready to say goodbye to these characters.  I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more by this author in the future!

Overall, this book really swept me away in its' pages and was a wonderful reading experience.  These are characters that I came to really care about.  I won't be forgetting their story anytime soon.  I'm so glad that I took the opportunity to read this book because it just fit with my reading mood perfectly.  I love when that happens!  Also, can we please talk about how gorgeous that cover is!  It brings to mind (for me anyways) a summer read but I have to say that this book felt just a bit heavier than that.  It may not have given me the summer vibes that the cover did but it really was a compelling read with characters that came to life for me.  I would recommend this book to fans of women's fiction, those readers who enjoy a lighter mystery, and just fiction in general.  I really think that this book would appeal to a variety of readers - I hope that many other readers find it and love it just as much as I did!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  This is one of those books that I found myself just entranced by from beginning to end!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book as part of a TLC book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

**Please note that Blogger seems to have cut out portions of my thoughts - I didn't realize until afterwards so I went back and edited it with my original thoughts as best as I could.  My apologies!