Book Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Not Her Daughter

by Rea Frey
St. Martin’s Griffin – August 21, 2018
My Rating: ★★★★ out of 5

DESCRIPTION
Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

MY REVIEW
Emma is a five-year-old that lives a sad life. Her mother and father are less than perfect parents who don’t seem that interested in their daughter. When Sarah first encounters Emma, she has an immediate connection with the little girl because Sarah’s childhood was a bit sad and she often felt unwanted too. On a chance encounter, Sarah takes Emma. As the two avoid the nationwide search for Emma, they bond. However, Emma’s parents are back home wondering what happened to their child. Amy, Emma’s mother, is taking the worst of the suspicions and attacks on the family. To complicate matters, Amy is an unhappy wife and mother, and starts to question if she really wants her daughter to come back to them.

The story is told from both Sarah and Amy’s points of view. The story also alternates from before, during, and after the kidnapping. This was mostly fine, but there were a few times when the changing of timelines was confusing.

The story is fast-paced and compelling. I wasn’t sure how I wanted things to be resolved, but I wanted to keep reading to see how it would end. It’s sad to imagine a child growing up in an abusive household and feeling unwanted, but it’s near impossible to imagine a child living a safe life with a kidnapper. Basically, both Sarah and Amy were unstable, so I couldn’t really root for either one of them.

Overall, a great debut novel. I would have enjoyed a little more resolution toward the end, but, then again, it’s nice to ponder a few things.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Somebody’s Daughter by David Bell

Somebody's Daughter by David Bell

Somebody’s Daughter

by David Bell
Berkley Publishing Group – July 10, 2018
My Rating: ★★★★ out of 5

DESCRIPTION
In this pulse-pounding novel of psychological suspense from the USA Today bestselling author of Bring Her Home and Since She Went Away, a man must save the life of a little girl who just might be his daughter….

When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife, Erica, unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Her ten-year-old daughter is missing–and Michael is the father. Unsure whether this is the truth but unwilling to leave the girl’s fate to chance, Michael has no choice but to follow the elusive trail of the child he has always wanted but never knew he had.

After Michael departs, his wife, Angela, learns shocking news about Erica and fears for the safety of both her husband and the endangered girl. When a stranger, a man who claims a connection to Erica and her missing daughter, knocks on the door, Angela is drawn out into the night–and deep into the tangled web of Michael’s past….

Over the course of one night, lies that span a decade come bubbling to the surface, putting Michael, his wife, and his whole family in jeopardy. And as the window for a little girl’s safe return closes, Michael will have to decide who can be trusted and who is hiding the truth….

MY REVIEW
Michael finds himself in an odd situation when his ex-wife, Erica, shows up unexpectedly in his life. She needs help finding her missing daughter, who she claims is his daughter too. His marriage to Erica ended 10 years ago, and they have had no contact with one another, so the surprise of a nine-year-old daughter is a big shock to him. Michael is a good guy though, so he wants to help find the little girl, whether she is his child or not. However, this does cause some problems with his current wife, Angela.

The story is told over about a day’s worth of time, but does include flashbacks to explain backstory. One important part of Michael’s life happened when he was a kid. A tragedy in his childhood greatly affected his life, along with the lives of his sister and parents.

The current day story is told from multiple viewpoints, so the reader is aware of the activities of Michael, Angela, and the detective on the case. The characters were not all likable, but they were believable. A lot of people were involved throughout the story, and some of the subplots were not as interesting, or really, even relevant.

Somebody’s Daughter is a suspenseful story full of family drama. A complex and gripping read.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Believe Me by J. P. Delaney

Believe Me by J. P. Delaney

Believe Me

by J. P. Delaney
Ballantine Books – July 24, 2018
My Rating: ★★★ out of 5

DESCRIPTION
In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation.

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions.

The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap?

But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

MY REVIEW
Claire is a struggling actress in New York City. She needs money and has a hard time getting decent acting jobs, so she works undercover with a law firm to catch cheating husbands. It’s not glamorous, but it pays the bills. When her latest client ends up dead, the husband is suspect number one. The police hire Claire to help catch him. They are certain she will be able to get him to confess, but nobody expects the twists involved with Claire on the case.

A fast-paced psychological thriller. This novel keeps the reader guessing as to what is really happening, but it also gets a little confusing. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, though things got a little too twisty for me as the story progressed. Good for fans of twisty thrillers.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron
by Rachel Caine

The fourth book in The Great Library series by Rachel Caine. Jess and his friends are back, and trying to save the Great Library from evil and corruption.

This story is told using multiple points of view. That is different than in the earlier books, but it works for this one. The characters aren’t all in the same location the entire time, and a lot is happening. It was nice to see all of the pieces coming together.

A creative and engaging fantasy world. A great series for fans of young adult fantasy stories set in a dystopian world. I’ve read the previous three books in the series (Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill), and definitely recommend reading them before this one. There is one more book to follow after this one, and I can’t wait to see how the series ends.

I received a digital ARC from Berkley and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Grace and Fury
by Tracy Banghart

Serina and Nomi are sisters living in a world where women have no rights. Serina is being groomed to be a Grace, basically a concubine to the king. In this case, the heir to the throne is selecting his first Grace. Nomi is serving as Serina’s handmaid. With a twist of fate, Nomi catches the heir’s eye. A dangerous secret is revealed, and Serina takes the fall.

Serina is charming and beautiful. Nomi is bold and headstrong. They couldn’t be more different. They desire completely different things in life. Due to unforeseen circumstances, both end up in very different positions than they ever imagined.

The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Serina and Nomi. They face challenges that take them completely out of their elements. However, they are both strong females in a world where women are oppressed.

This looks to be an exciting new YA fantasy series. Twists and turns make for a fast-paced and fun read. Interesting characters in a challenging world.

I received an eARC from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Double Blind by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Double Blind by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Double Blind
by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Kendra Michaels is not too happy about working with the FBI again, but this case has her name on it. Literally. A woman is killed, and on her body they find an envelope addressed to Kendra. Inside the envelope is a wedding video that no one seems to be able to make heads or tails of. As Kendra gets involved, the body count rises and Kendra herself is in danger.

The 6th book in the Kenra Michaels series by Iris Johansen. I haven’t read all of the previous books, but, from the few I have read, this is a fun and exciting series. I need to go back and read the ones I somehow missed.

Kendra was blind and had enhanced abilities with her other senses, making her great at the power of deduction. She is no longer blind, but still has an incredible critical thinking abilities. A strong female protagonist who is smart, brave, and honest.

Double Blind is a fast-paced, light, and entertaining read. Plenty of suspense and a little romance. A good read for fans of Iris Johansen.

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Berries and Birthdays by Leena Clover

Berries and Birthdays by Leena Clover

Berries and Birthdays
by Leena Clover

Jenny moved to the small town of Pelican Cove after her divorce. She has settled in the community, making friends and working at a local cafe. In her short time in Pelican Cove, she has helped solve two murders – Strawberries and Strangers and Cupcakes and Celebrities. With Berries and Birthdays, a local man is killed on his 100th birthday, and Jenny is once again ready to help solve the mystery.

The third book in the Pelican Cove cozy mystery series. This book can be read as a standalone, though I do suggest reading the previous books to be more familiar with the characters.

I enjoyed the mystery in this one more than the previous book. This mystery hits all the high points for an enjoyable cozy read – amateur sleuth, charming setting, a little romance, and interesting characters.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Reading Goals: 2018 Semi-Annual Update

Books on bookshelf

Since we are halfway into 2018, I thought it was a good time to evaluate my reading goals. I set several reading goals for 2018, and have made some headway toward those goals. I have added reading goals and delayed other goals, but, overall, I’m happy with how my reading has gone for this year.

At the beginning of the year I posted a list of reading goals. Those are listed below with my current reading status. In addition to those goals, I also wanted to finish reading a few series and improve my stats on Netgalley. As for the series, I have finished reading one series – Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone (alphabet) series. I am currently reading a few other series, and hope to finish them this year too. These sometimes get put on the back burner while I catch up on other reading goals, so we’ll see how that goes. With Netgalley, I have caught up on my reading and now have a 90% completion ratio.

2018 READING CHALLENGES

Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge 250/250 completed in June

Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge 23/50 in progress

A-Z Challenge 26/26 completed in May

Color Challenge 0/15 not yet started

Genre Bingo Challenge 24/24 completed in June

Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge 10/12 in progress

Read Harder 17/24 in progress

Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge
Season 5 – 25/25 completed in June
Season 6 – 17/25 in progress
Season 7 – 15/25 in progress
A Year in the Life – 12/20 in progress

Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Hilarious Books 49/100 in progress

Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Books About Monsters 39/100 in progress

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Reading Update: June 2018

Books on bookshelf

It seems like I’ve been reading nonstop lately. For personal reading goals, I finished reading the books from season 5 of Gilmore Girls and the genre bingo reading challenge.

The breakdown for June reading – 29 physical books, 12 ebooks, and 10 audiobooks. My ratings and reviews for all 46 books listed below can be found on Goodreads.

June Books

physical books
1. Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
2. The McCullagh Inn in Maine by Jen McLaughlin
3. French Twist by James Patterson
4. Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
5. The People vs Alex Cross by James Patterson
6. Seeders by A. J. Colucci
7. Lights Out by James Patterson
8. Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke
9. The Kiss by James Patterson
10. The Lost by James Patterson
11. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
12. Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou
13. The Loch by Steve Alten
14. Home by Nnedi Okorafor
15. The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
16. Sunburn by Laura Lippman
17. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
18. The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor
19. Fly Away by Kristin Hannah
20. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
21. The Hounds of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
22. Social Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship by Barrington Moore, Jr.
23. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
24. The Odyssey by Homer
25. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
26. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
27. The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
28. His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle
29. The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

ebooks
1. Murder Most Fermented by Christine E. Blum
2. Cross Your Heart by Kierney Scott
3. Lies by T. M. Logan
4. Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris
5. The Neighbor by Joseph Souza
6. Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
7. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
8. The Revenant Road by Michael Boatman
9. The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer
10. The Hollower by Mary SanGiovanni
11. A Smidge of Crazy by Barbara Venkataraman
12. Cupcakes and Celebrities by Leena Clover

audiobooks
1. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
2. Carrie by Stephen King
3. The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
4. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
5. Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
6. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
7. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
8. I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
9. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
10. The Husband List by Janet Evanovich

Reading Challenges

Status as of 6/30/18 shown in italics. The listed books were read in June.

Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge (250/250) Completed in June

Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge (23/50)
A book with an animal in the title – The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
A book with characters who are twins – The Neighbor by Joseph Souza
A book tied to your ancestry – The Loch by Steve Alten

A-Z Challenge (26/26) Completed in May

Color Challenge (0/15)

Genre Bingo Challenge (24/24) Completed in June
Tragedy – Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Chick-Lit – Fly Away by Kristin Hannah
Epic/High Fantasy – Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Historical Romance – The Husband List by Janet Evanovich
Paranormal Romance – by City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge (10/12)
A banned book – Carrie by Stephen King

Read Harder (17/24)
A book about nature – Seeders by A. J. Colucci
A book of colonial or postcolonial literature – The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A book of social science – Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge
Season 5 books (25/25) – A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer, Social Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship by Barrington Moore, Jr., The Odyssey by Homer, The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Season 6 books (17/25)
Season 7 books (15/25)
A Year in the Life books (12/20)

Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Hilarious Books (49/100)
Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi

Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Books About Monsters (39/100)
Seeders by A. J. Colucci
The Loch by Steve Alten
The Revenant Road by Michael Boatman
The Hollower by Mary SanGiovanni

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Book Review: Cupcakes and Celebrities by Leena Clover

Cupcakes and Celebrities by Leena Clover

Cupcakes and Celebrities
by Leena Clover

A celebrity wedding is disrupted with a shocking death. Jenny is asked to look into the death and find out who is behind it.

The second book in the Pelican Cove cozy mystery series. Jenny is an amateur sleuth with a solid mystery on her hands, and a little romance in her life. The same quirky, fun characters from the first book, Strawberries and Strangers, were back. It does help to have read the first book and be familiar with the characters, but this could easily be read as a standalone. A light and easy cozy mystery.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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