Book Review | The Good Sister by Jess Ryder

the good sister

Official Book Description:

“Two sisters. One secret… A lie that could destroy them both.

When her father dies, Josie is devastated to uncover he led a secret life: another house, another family and a half-sister called Valentina.

Both with red hair and icy blue eyes, Josie and Valentina could be mistaken for twins. But the similarities end there…

Josie – Sweet, reserved, jealous, thief.
Valentina – Care-free, confident, dangerous, liar.

Two sisters. One survivor.

A nail-bitingly tense and unputdownable read that will keep you turning pages into the night. Perfect for fans of Gone GirlThe Girl on the Train and Sister Sister.”

I’m not sure about “gripped”, but this book definitely took me down roads I wasn’t ready to go down.  The story opened up with a man named Jerry, dying in a motorcycle accident, after refusing to respond to text messages that seem to be incriminating him in some way.  As a result, his wife Helen and her daughter Josie are alerted to his death and they start the process of grief and moving on.  Josie’s father, Jerry, was a Viking who passed down to her his heritage and philosophy, and it is evident in her appearance and way of thinking.

When Jerry passes, Josie goes to his second residence to clean it up and get it ready to sell.  It’s there that she begins to realize who her father really was.  There is a sister named Valentina who is five days older than she, and another mother she’s never met, and all of a sudden, her father’s time spent away from home begins to take shape.  The betrayal, questions and heartache are all left wanting, as Jerry isn’t there to fill in the blanks.

As the half sisters begin to spend more time with each other, they begin to learn about each other and it’s hard not to compare how one of them was given much, while the other had to struggle through life.  The built up animosity begins to show, and sadly, the lines begin to blur between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Sidenote: At the beginning of each chapter is a “truth” about Viking morals and values, and it prefaces what is about to happen.  These are very contradictory to a healthy functioning family, and seems to give Jerry a pass at not being the best father.

The story shifts each chapter between Josie and Valentina, and even toward the end, it’s hard to tell which is which, so that may be a bit confusing, but it does eventually line up.  And although I enjoyed the suspense of the mothers finding out, the details learned by the sisters, and the antics they go through, I couldn’t help but find myself yelling at one of the sisters in many of the situations, because she seems to allow herself to be led down paths she knows aren’t safe.  What truly is the intention of the “bad” sister?  And which sister is which?  The ending is bizarre, but leaves lingering questions.  However, I read it in less than a week, so maybe it did grip me.

Nature of book warning: graphic sex scene and memories of a rape

Blogger note: I read 50% of this book, and listened to the other half through Amazon Audible.  I loved the narrator, Annette Chown, as she read from Josie’s and Valentina’s perspectives.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bookouture and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Book Review | After He Killed Me by Natalie Barelli

after he killed me

So Emma Fern is back, in the second of two books in this series.  Without giving away spoilers, since I truly am going to suggest that you read the first book, Until I Met Her, this book picks up right after the ending from that book.  Emma is a published author, Poulton Prize winner and she and Jim are happy and moving on after some of the incidents from book one.

Yet within the first three chapters, Emma is struck by a car and things begin to move into motion.  She and Jim seem to have weathered some pretty intense moments in their marriage, and the accident is another one that pulls them together.  Or does it?

After the accident, Emma has some repercussions and as a result, her instinct seems to be a little off.  This time around, Emma needs to write another book, and she coincidentally runs into a ghostwriter who offers help.  Things begin to slowly unfold and Emma’s new reality is revealed.  Prepare for the fast-pace and “what in the world is really happening” moments that are reminiscent of book one.  I laughed out loud a few times, just because Emma always seems to have a plan, and one that involves so many crazy pieces fitting together.

This book made me wish there was a book three, simply because the ending is almost unbelievable.  There’s no way it can just end there.  Do you want to go on the wild ride that is Emma Fern?  Grab a copy, snuggle up by a fire, and maybe grab a bottle of Scotch in honor of Beatrice Johnson Greene.  You’re definitely going to need it!

Book Review | Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli

 

until i met her

Until I Met Her begins with the funeral of an author- Emma Fern’s best friend and mentor.  There is a private admission from Emma that she in fact, killed Beatrice.  And so the book opens to reveal a mousy character who owns a vintage shop, is married to a successful businessman with a mundane life.  But Emma Fern is nothing if she isn’t incredibly unpredictable.

Her entire world changes when Beatrice Johnson Greene entered her store.  She can’t help but fall all over herself, complimenting her and winning her affection.  The two quickly move from strangers to best friends, and within a short amount of time, trust begins to build between them.  Emma begins to disregard the store, preferring to run off with Beatrice to drunken lunches, and shopping with the rich and famous.

Beatrice confides to Emma that she has written a book that is outside of her genre, and since a previous book of hers had bombed in the past, she was wondering if Emma could be the “author” for a novel she’d already written- take the credit, and be the face of this new book.  At first, Emma is shocked and refuses to do it, but then her dream of being a writer is ignited, and she agrees.

Emma’s lust for fame, and a desire to remain friends with successful, untouchable Beatrice turns to greed as little by little Emma makes subtle changes to the manuscript and takes full possession of the book.  And with no set contract in place, it’s hers, right?

A sidebar to consider in the novel is Emma’s relationship with her husband Jim.  It is incredibly awkward, as she sees no wrong in him at all, and his lack of interest in anything she says/does.  But because of his success, she admires and fawns all over him, even though he’s constantly dismissive of her.  She seems to have a very skewed view of how well her own marriage is going.  Pleasing Jim has always been her main concern, until the book…

Is Beatrice encouraged and thrilled for her best friend to have fame as well?  Or is it truly a passive aggressive friendship that is doomed?  You’ll have to read for yourself.

This was a quick read, one with unpredictable twists and turns, and moments of “what the what!?!!”  I loved the characters, with the exception of Jim, who is so noticeably arrogant, that it makes me wonder what Emma really sees in him.  And even though Emma is nothing like she seems in the beginning, I found that I liked her crazy thinking as she progresses through the story.  She’s feminine, overthinks as many of us do, and a little immature, so I found her to be believable.

I loved Natalie Barelli’s first book in the Emma Fern series, that I’m currently reading the second book, After He Killed Me.  Stay tuned for that review!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Welcome

cropped-stack-of-booksFresh new books before or near their actual release dates!  I’ve migrated forty previous book reviews from my other blog (https://gracielynn.blog) and made this a separate site to browse new books that are coming out for your perusal.  I review books from multiple publishers and clearinghouses to bring you some new material.  My genres include: Christian life, Bible studies, memoirs, fiction, suspense, and psychological thrillers.

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

-GLH

Book Review | The Watson Girl by Leslie Wolfe

the watson girl

This was an interesting thriller!  The second in this series, Special Agent Tess Winnett is seen again (previously in “Dawn Girl”), and this time, she is returning early to work, to interview the “Family Man”, a death row inmate who is slated for execution.

The book, however, does not open with Tess as the main character, it focuses on the killer from fifteen years earlier, on the night of a murder, and after taking out an entire family, realizes he missed one member who is still alive!  Laura Watson is indeed now a young woman in a relationship with her boyfriend, unaware that the killer on death row, may not be the man who murdered her family.  Could there be a copycat?  If so, who, and why?

Tess and her team investigate, interrogate and keep pressing until they get the answers she feels from the beginning of the book.  And switching perspectives between the killer who has a field day “feasting” and taking women’s lives, to Laura who is afraid to undergo regression therapy to see if she can remember anything, to Tess who is convinced of Laura’s imminent danger, this book keeps moving like a runaway train.

You’ll begin to theorize certain people as the book progresses, only to eliminate them as one by one, people are revealed to be not whom they appeared to be.  The book ends with a shocking reveal that threw me for a loop!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  And now, onto book three with Tess Winnett, “Glimpse of Death”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Italics Publishing and Leslie Wolfe. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | A Margin of Lust by Greta Boris

margin of lust

The first in a seven-book series on the seven deadly sins, A Margin of Lust, focused on strictly that- LUST.  Gwen Bishop is a real estate agent who lists her dream home and can’t wait to sell it.  She loves real estate and the long-term goals she’ll be able to accomplish with the sale of homes.  Her husband is a school principal who is very focused on their family and his career as well.  As distance comes between Art and Gwen, enter a killer, who has a tie to the house Gwen is trying to sell, with agendas of his own.  Soon after the listing for the multi-million dollar home goes on sale, a body is found in the house, and Gwen is part of the clean-up crew, as well as the next target.

Lust manifests in many shapes and sizes in this book, and it was a suspenseful quick read, with well-developed characters and a strong plot line. It makes you question every person that Gwen encounters, and with chapters written from the perspective of the killer, the story pulls you in until you reach the very end.  Can’t wait to read The Scent of Wrath, Greta’s second book in the series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Fawkes Press and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html&gt; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

lies she told

This book was one that I could NOT.PUT.DOWN.  It was a little slow at the beginning, but it took off within the first five chapters. If you are a reader who doesn’t mind shifting perspectives, this suspenseful book takes turns like no other.

Your main character is Liza Cole who is an author with a deadline for a new book.  Liza is married to David. Recently, his partner from work, Nick, goes missing, assumed dead in a local river. Liza begins writing her story about a woman who is named Beth, who also is married and a new mother. Beth catches her husband, Jake, cheating with a coworker of his, named Colleen.  And as Liza writes, we learn more about Beth, her complicated life, and Liza herself.

I didn’t mind the perspective shift from reality to the fiction book.  It was believable, and made me question motives, realities, and conversations between characters.  The best part is about midway through when you begin to realize that these two perspectives will align and when they do, WOW!!  This was my first book by Cate Holahan, but since I have The Widower’s Wife in my Kindle app, I’ll dive into that one in 2018.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crooked Lane Publishing and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Book Review | The Switch by Joseph Finder

the switch

This was a fun and fast-paced novel! Michael Tanner went through LAX airport and unfortunately after the TSA check, picked up the wrong laptop.  No big deal, right?  Just switch back with the original owner.  However, the original owner is Susan Robbins, a US Senator with some very confidential information on her laptop, with password protection, encryption… oh, and a sticky note with the password written on it inside of the laptop case!  When Will Abbott realizes his mistake, he is frantic to get it back!

Abbott, the chief of staff, is in charge of retrieving the laptop, and there is definitely an intense need to get the laptop back. What exactly is on it that people will die to protect? You’ll have to read to find out.

Tanner’s life turns upside down as Abbott sends people after him and he goes on the run. I thought the story was easy to follow, I loved the suspense and Tanner is a likable character. There are some extreme moments and I love how the author kept the pace fast. If you like government fiction, grab this!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Penguin Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Book Review | The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn

unexplainable church

The Unexplainable Church is incredible! It’s a ten-week study, or fifty-day journey into the book of Acts, starting in chapter 13 and continuing through 28. Wiggenhorn’s first Acts study is called An Unexplainable Life and focuses on Acts 1-12.

unexplainable 2

Erica begins the study with a divine invitation for us to listen to the Holy Spirit. He calls in Acts 13:2, to “Separate yourself for the special work I have planned for you.” And from there, we chronologically work through the rest of Acts. I found the workbook format to be easy to read, each section is timely spaced, and engaging for groups or individual study. I liked the detailed questions and areas to reflect. I would highly recommend it for groups or individual believers who are looking for a deeper study that makes you think, makes you dig deeper into God’s Word and ignites a greater understanding of the Holy Spirit’s insistence on the urgency to share the truth of the Gospel.

unexplainable 3

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Moody Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken by Katie Davis Majors

daring to hope

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE!  ON SALE AS OF OCTOBER 3, 2017! GET YOUR COPY NOW!

Katie Majors is the author of “Kisses from Katie” and the founder of Amazima Ministries in Uganda.  She adopted 13 girls and made them a family.  And her second book details her life in Uganda, heartache when children are taken away to live with biological parents, friends and loved ones die from disease, and endings don’t go as planned.  I don’t want to share any details, simply because I wouldn’t do them justice.

I grabbed a box of tissues and curled up on the couch, only to weep, read her words and have my heart break with her.  But her story isn’t all sadness and despair.  Her words of truth in describing death and pain draw us nearer to our Heavenly Father and point us to Jesus and the hope that HE is for us.  You just have to read it for yourself.  Allow your heart to break, to hear the Lord’s voice, to see the Lord move and to find a renewed sense of faith in Him.

I am grateful to be a part of Katie’s launch team as she publishes her second book, brings awareness to another part of our world we’d much rather not focus on, and shares the pursuit of hope.  Thank you to Waterbrook/ Multnomah for the Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.  Keep Katie on your list for future publications.  Her eloquence and wisdom is necessary for today’s journey with Jesus.