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Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris (June 19, 2018 / St Martin's)

Goodreads Summary: 
Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

My Review:
I tore through this but I'm not going to sugar coat it...It was unbelievable. As in the true sense of that word--not believable. As I read this novel, I thought that the author was setting up the outcome of Layla and Ellen bing the same person but I thought "no way" because there would be too many flaws in that outcome, so I was kinda shocked and kinda not. The "twist" was just not believable in that there is no way that all the other characters could not tell that Ellen was really Layla and there is absolutely no way Finn would not have known, especially if he was sleeping with her/them. She would have had to have a lot more than long days at the beauty salon, she would have had to have head to toe plastic surgery...and even then I'm doubting it. It's really unfortunate that this book went the direction it did because the pacing and style were great and I was truly on the edge of my seat multiple times. 

Review: How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson

How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson (June 5, 2108  / St Martin's)

(Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compesation).

Seven years later, Kate Reddy is facing her 50th birthday. Her children have turned into impossible teenagers; her mother and in-laws are in precarious health; and her husband is having a midlife crisis that leaves her desperate to restart her career after years away from the workplace. Once again, Kate is scrambling to keep all the balls in the air. Surely it will all work out in the end. After all, how hard can it be?

My Review:
I really enjoyed multitasking mom Kate Reddy in Allison Pearson's "I Don't Know How She Does It" so I was excited to see her return in this follow up novel, "How Hard Can It Be?" (June 5, 2018 / St. Martin's). While I definitely chuckled several times, I wouldn't say this is a great sequel. Kate is a whip smart hedge fund manager but she's absolutely clueless about what is happening within her own family. I found it far fetched and frustrating that Pearson made her so ditzy this time around.

Review: A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (June 12, 2018 / SJP for Hogarth)

(Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation).

Goodreads Summary:
A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding–a match of love rather than tradition. It is here, on this momentous day, that Amar, the youngest of the siblings, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. Rafiq and Layla must now contend with the choices and betrayals that lead to their son’s estrangement–the reckoning of parents who strove to pass on their cultures and traditions to their children, and of children who in turn struggle to balance authenticity in themselves with loyalty to the home they came from.
In a narrative that spans decades and sees family life through the eyes of each member, A Place For Us charts the crucial moments in the family's past, from the bonds that bring them together to the differences that pull them apart. And as siblings Hadia, Huda, and Amar attempt to carve out a life for themselves, they must reconcile their present culture with their parent's faith, to tread a path between the old world and the new, and learn how the smallest decisions can lead to the deepest of betrayals.
A deeply affecting and resonant story, A Place for Us is truly a book for our times: a moving portrait of what it means to be an American family today, a novel of love, identity and belonging that eloquently examines what it means to be both American and Muslim-and announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.

My Review:
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza released today, published by SJP for Hogarth (yes THAT SJP). You have probalby seen this book everywhere and heard how wonderful it is, and now I'm here to add my voice to the chorus. Opening with the wedding of the eldest daughter, this moving story bounces back and forth to span the years of an Indian-American Muslim family. While there is definitely a major storyline with the son, Amar, this novel beautifully portrays the layers and layers that make up a family. Told from each family member's unique point of view, debut novelist Fatima Farheen Mirza shows us how the "big" things in life (faith, love, identity, family) are made up of a million tiny decisions, regrets, intentions, and gestures. I was absolutely blown away by this book and will be recommending it to anyone who will listen.

Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox by Christina Dalcher (August 21, 2018 / Berkley)

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial--this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.
Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

My Review:
First of all, let me share the backstory on how I got my hands on a copy of this. When I first came across this novel on one of my upcoming releases searches, I knew I wanted to read it immediately. So much so that I reached out the publisher...twice! I don't ever do that. If I don't hear back from a publisher, I move on and add the release to my "want to read" list in Goodreads so I can buy it or grab it from the library when it releases. I didn't hear back from the publisher regarding either request...which was fine, but disappointing. I really wanted to read this book! When my book buddy Laura (@wonderchick40) posted about giving her copy away on Instagram I was lucky enough to have her send me her copy. 

I love feminist dystopian fiction. The Handmaid's Tale has been in my top 5 favorite books since I read it about 15 years ago and Daughters of the North, The Gate to Women's Country, and Herland all rank right up there, too. I was extremely disappointed in Red Clocks because it was too current (although it could be argued that we are currently living in a feminist dystopia). I absolutely devoured Vox--I mean read the summary! In the near future, women wear "bracelets" that count their spoken words. If the allocated 100 words is passed, the wearer is shocked and each shock is progressively more intense. I don't want to go into too much detail about the story because I don't want to give anything away, but you can imagine that there would be resistance...in many forms. This is a five star read for anyone who loved The Handmaid's Tale and especially those who were let down by Red Clocks

Review: The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn

The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn (January 23, 2018 / 47North )

From the bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the first book in a fascinating trilogy following the quest of a young witch to uncover her family’s terrifying secret history…
Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.
Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

My Review:
I originally planned to request this at the end of last year and then second guessed myself. Then I saw that the second book was releasing so I grabbed this one up from the library in anticipation for that one. In a nutshell, I loved the first 75% of the book. Witches, New Orleans, family (and coven) drama. Then I started getting confused with relations, blood lines, and what was really going on. Thankfully there is a list of characters in the back of the book--that helped me. I'll definitely read the next book in the series, mostly to see if it will answer some of my questions. 

Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton (June 5, 2018 / Doubleday)

(Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review).

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them... They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste...Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon. Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City. 

My Review:
This book had so many covers, but the most popular one (the one with the fabulous eye makeup) isn't shown. However, it wasn't the cover that drew me in. I was initially drawn to this book because of the first line of the publisher's summary, "They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them." I have recently fallen in love with New York City and its High Line so this line alone sold me on the fact that I needed to read this book. I had some problems with the story when I first started reading and very seriously considered giving up on it because I was too overwhelmed by the character of Lavinia. She exhausted me. I had to set aside the book for a while and decide if I wanted to come back to it. That usually means...I don't come back to it. But I did pick it back up a couple weeks later and read it straight through. I found it edgy but problematic. Some scenes needed more detail while others were too detailed. The fragmented storyline kept me guessing and I can see how the author did that to mirror the whirlwind of action around Louise and Lavinia. This book didn't shock or "wow" me, but it is memorable.