Reviews

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

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Review: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

432 pages (Hardcover) ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense, Time Travel

September 18, 2018 ~ Sourcebooks Landmark

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.

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My Thoughts:  

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This book! I don’t even know how to describe it because it is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. My brain literally hurt when I finished it, but in a satisfying- “I just accomplished something” type of way. I had to start taking notes halfway through because there were so many characters and so much detail. The story is a constant roller coaster with twists and turns and “wait what!?” moments. You are kept guessing the entire time. There is witty banter, a dark creepy house with a sordid past, family scandal, murder (obviously), but there is also a really cool philosophical element to the story that you don’t see coming amidst all the scheming and backstabbing. I absolutely loved this book! While I don’t necessarily think this book is for everyone, I do think there are a lot of readers that will enjoy its dark twists and turns. You will most likely enjoy The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle if you like:

  • Clue – (both the game and the movie) You are basically playing clue in this book except your “character” changes daily
  • Downton Abbey – If you like the upstairs/downstairs drama and intrigue, this is definitely for you
  • Agatha Christie – this mystery is set up just like a Christie novel and Turton does a great job of paying homage to her style
  • Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the characters in this novel have to complete tasks before they are free, these “tasks” are designed to help them become better people- rehabilitation is the goal. A very Dickensian theme

Overall, I thought this was a really smart, interesting, unique, and well written novel. The only drawback for me was that the middle section did tend to lag in a few places. But the reward at the end was definitely worth it. This was an amazing first novel from Stuart Turton and I’m so excited to see what is next for him! 

For more information on Stuart Turton and his books, check him out on Goodreads

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

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Reviews

Review: The Song of Achilles ~ by Madeline Miller

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Review: The Song of Achilles ~ by Madeline Miller

352 pages (paperback) ~ Literary Fiction/Greek Mythology  

2011 ~ Bloomsbury

My Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Description:

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights, their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

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87c5788a-3a47-4cd5-964b-0523170c8e46My Thoughts:  

This book was absolute magic. Reading Circe was a transformative experience, and The Song of Achilles had the same profound impact on me. Though I related to Circe’s story more, mainly because it dealt with so many women’s issues, I really loved the way that Miller was able to give so much depth to a story that I thought I knew. Since there are so many beautiful reviews of this book, I will keep mine short and sweet by listing a few of my favorite elements of the book.

  • The guilt of war – in other stories of Achilles he is portrayed as a killer. I really liked that Miller used his relationship with Patroclus to show his guilt over the lives he was forced to take. This conveyed his goodness and Patroclus’ influence on him.
  • The subtlety of their love story – Patroclus and Achilles’ love for each other is never overtly stated, instead, the reader feels how much they love each other through their actions. Miller does such an amazing job of conveying their deep love and admiration for each other in such a poetic and subtle way.

“He is half my soul, as the poets say.”

  • Concept of fame – the story really plays with the idea of fame since this is something that Achilles chases throughout the book. It brings up questions of fame’s importance to history. One of my favorite quotes from the book addresses this question:

“Fame is a strange thing. Some men gain glory after they die, while others fade. What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another? We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory….We are men only, a brief flare of the torch. Those to come may raise us or lower us as they please. Patroclus may be such as will rise in the future.”

I thought this quote was really interesting considering that the book seems to be attempting this very thing.

  • Remembered for his goodness  – The ending of the book was heartbreaking and beautiful. Achilles is a hero who is known for his ruthlessness and his ability to cut men down. However, Miller does an amazing job of attempting to rewrite his history. Instead, we remember Achilles through Patroclus’ eyes. He is remembered instead through this great and epic love story, rather than for death and destruction.

“They do not come as words, but like dreams, rising as scent from the rain-wet earth. This, I say. This and this. The way his hair looked in summer sun. His face when he ran. His eyes, solemn as an owl at lessons. This and this and this. So many moments of happiness, crowding forward.”

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Greek Mythology, however, I think that everyone would enjoy it. There is no need to have prior or extensive knowledge of mythology before going into this book.

If you have read it, or plan to, leave me a message!

For more information on Madeline Miller and her books, check her out on Goodreads.

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: ARC of The Stranger on the Beach ~ by Michele Campbell

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Review: The Stranger on the Beach~ by Michele Campbell

353 pages (Hardcover) ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense

July 23rd, 2019 ~ St. Martin’s Press

My Rating: 2/5

Goodreads Description:

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

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img_2561My Thoughts:  

Unfortunately, this mystery didn’t hit the mark for me. From the start, there were things that just kept preventing me from getting into the story.

  • I did enjoy the fact that both narrators were unreliable, however, because I was never sure who was telling the truth, it made it very difficult to relate or to sympathize with either character. It also made the story difficult to follow because the timelines and events were completely muddled.
  • I didn’t like either character. I found Caroline annoying and Campbell seemed to go out of her way to make her fit into every stereotypically rich white woman cliche possible. Because Caroline’s POV was flippant and, quite frankly, abhorrent, it made the writing appear unsophisticated. I feel that the style the author used for Caroline’s POV was intentionally done in order to make readers question her credibility, however, it just made the book really difficult to read.
  • There were moments when I liked Aiden, but his character was overshadowed by the ridiculous story Caroline was weaving. He also came across completely unrealistic.

Overall, I did finish the book, which means that I was engaged enough to make it the end and I did actually care about the outcome. The ending does have a twist, but unfortunately, it was a pretty predictable twist.

Despite everything, I really liked the questions that the book posed regarding our desire to automatically place blame based on preconceived ideas- ie: male, criminal record, poor. I liked that it portrayed our desire to ignore guilt when it comes to those who are rich, put together, or from a certain class. This was definitely the most interesting part of the book for me.

The Stranger on the Beach comes out July 23rd and it would be a nice “who-done-it” for the beach or a plane ride. Thank you so much to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for sending me the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: The Silent Patient ~ by Alex Michaelides

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Review: The Silent Patient ~ by Alex Michaelides

323 pages ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense

2019 ~ Celadon Books

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

ALICIA

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

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My Thoughts:  

The hype around this book and this debut author is definitely well deserved. The story is crafted so well, the writing is stellar, and there is so much attention to detail. It was insanely fast-paced and nearly impossible to put down once started. It keeps you guessing and questioning yourself the entire time. It was smart, suspenseful, unpredictable, and anxiety-inducing. Everything that you want from a good thriller!

Below are a few things I loved and a few things I had issues with:

What I loved:

  • By far my favorite aspect of the book was the discussion of psychotherapy, the “talking cure” as Theo refers to it. The book questions the merits of therapy throughout. Questions like: how and why does psychotherapy work? What are the limits of therapy? Are some people beyond its effects? How much do we end up repeating our trauma regardless of being “cured?” You never for a second forget that Theo is a psychotherapist and his POV is uniquely colored by both his past, his own experiences with therapy, and his profession.
  • Alicia was fascinating. I loved reading her journals and I felt that her voice was captured really well. Michaelides did a great job of creating a distinct voice for her that was drastically different from Theo’s. I would have liked more of Alicia’s past and her relationships with her father and husband, but I understand there is only so much room to do that in a thriller.
  • Alicia’s use of the Greek tragedy of Alcestis in order to communicate was a brilliant connection. At first, it was so hard to see how the pieces of the tragedy were going to fit with Alicia’s story, but when they finally did, it added such a fascinating and heavy layer to the sadness of it all.

What I didn’t love:

  • The book didn’t have the dark, creepy vibe that thrillers usually have, instead, this book was actually pretty freaking sad. I cried at the end and was kind of depressed. This is probably just me, I don’t really like stories that involve infidelity and child abuse- both of which are center stage here. So, if those topics are also not your cup of tea, probably best to avoid this one.
  • The rest of my complaints involve the ending so I have created a section below that is full of spoilers…so proceed with caution. However, if you have read it, I would love to hear if you agree or disagree with me.

 

Spoiler Below:

You have been warned. There will be spoilers below.

I would really hate to spoil anything for anyone, especially with a thriller.

  • Ok, let’s talk about the ending. I have read a lot of reviews where people claim that ending took them completely by surprise. This was not the case for me. I had a feeling it was Theo the second he found out his wife was cheating on him and he started to follow her. So, about 25% into the book. However, I completely dismissed this theory because of one crucial piece of information that was intentionally left out of the entire book…….THE TIMELINE!! I thought, “there is no way the Theo theory works because Kathy is cheating on Theo 6 years after Alicia’s tragedy.” It was also at this point that I started thinking it was really strange that there were no years listed after any of the dates. I feel like Michaelides was kind of cheating us here. You can’t just leave the dates completely off and then say “Ha Ha I fooled you!” at the end. No! You didn’t fool me, you left off the freaking dates!! This seemed like a cheaters attempt at a twist if I am being honest.

Even though I obviously had reservations about the ending, the book was really enjoyable for all of the reasons that I mentioned above. I would definitely recommend it to other thriller lovers. I am excited to see what Michaelides writes in the future.  

I listened to the unabridged audiobook on Audible narrated by Jack Hawkins from the BBC’s Call the Midwife and Louise Brealey from the BBC’s Sherlock. Both actors did an amazing job of bringing this story to life. If you are an audiobook fan, this is definitely one to check out. Link here Audible 

For more information on Alex Michaelides and his books- Click here Alex Michaelides to find him on Goodreads.

Click here SomewhereinPages to find me on Instagram and here SomewhereinPages to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing ~ by Delia Owens

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Review: Where the Crawdads Sing ~ by Delia Owens

384 pages ~ Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery  

August 2018 ~ G.P Putnam’s Sons

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

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“Kya was bonded to her planet and its life in a way few people are. Rooted solid in this earth. Born of this mother.”

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My Thoughts:  

I am generally leery of overly hyped books, but when your big sister forcibly insists you read something for months at a time, you eventually give in. I am really glad that I finally listened because this book was like nothing I have ever read before. The natural world at the center of this book is remarkable. Owens’ love and affinity for the natural world came through on every page and it was as poetic as it was fascinating.

Biggest Highlight for me:

  • Kya’s life is so rooted in the natural world of the marsh that she relates everything she sees in nature back to human behavior. Unlike most of us who have to relate to the natural world through human behavior, for Kya, it is the other way around. Nature teaches her first. She uses her knowledge of the marsh to try and better understand the choices that the people around her make: ie: the Vixen leaving her Kits, the male birds using their extravagant feathers to attract a mate, the female fireflies and the praying mantis attracting mates only to kill them. All of this was SO beautifully crafted.
  • Owens has used her life as a Zoologist to layer a story that is rooted in the natural world but is also rooted in how we perceive that natural world. What do we really notice and try to understand nature? How much of humankind is reflected back to us from nature? How do our choices show who and what we really are? Are our choices primal or are they truly rooted in intellect? These are all questions that the book attempts to answer. This questioning never felt forced or heavy-handed. There were times that I found myself asking, “why do I need to read about the mating habits of fireflies.” But all of the information that Owens gives, comes into play at some point in the novel. Everything is very intentional and well placed. There were lots of “Ah Ha” moments where I finally saw the natural world the way Kya was observing it and how it was reflected back to her in human life.  

The slight drawback for me: (Spoilers Beyond this point)

The only slight drawback for me was regarding the ending. I really loved the twist ending and I was completely shocked when it came. However, I didn’t feel that Kya killing Chase- plotting and executing such an elaborate story- was completely consistent with her character. Owen’s did such a great job establishing her as a gentle and caring person, that to find out that she was actually the murderer at the end was a little tough to wrap my head around. That said, I loved how the murder connected back to the firefly ritual.

Overall, it was an amazing story of survival, love, and connection to our amazing planet. I think that this is a massive success and accomplishment for her first novel. This book really does deserve all the hype.

For more information Delia Owens and her books- Click here >Delia Owens< to find her on Goodreads.

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: The Kiss Quotient ~ by Helen Hoang

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Review: The Kiss Quotient ~ by Helen Hoang

336 pages ~ Contemporary Romance   

June 5, 2018 ~ Berkley

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

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My Thoughts:  

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said?! Ok, I’ll give it a try…..

Like so many people, I found Stella and Michael’s story to be super sweet, funny, sexy, heartwarming, but also really inspiring. It was difficult at first watching both of these characters beat up on themselves for their perceived “flaws.” They’re both such genuine, honest, and loveable people, but I wanted them to love themselves as much as I loved them. It was frustrating at times that they didn’t realize their own awesomeness. However, this frustration ultimately gave way to inspiration when I saw them come together to battle for each other and for their own dreams.

This book will restore your faith in the healing power of love!

Here are a few highlights for me:

  • It was so interesting and insightful to read a book from an autistic perceptive, written by an autistic author. This really helped me better understand the struggles and the unique way people on the spectrum see the world. Getting inside Stella’s head- her work obsession, her daily routine, her approach to love and communication- this was all so fascinating and was by far my favorite element of the book
  • The sex scenes were actually about love and connection – there was no weird power play or struggle for dominance, everything is very tender and romantic
  • Michael’s family – I really loved the connection to Michael’s mom, sisters, grandma, and cousins. Not only were they all adorable and hilarious, but it was also a really cool look into a Vietnamese/American family. This also highlighted the cultural difference between Michael and Stella and how beautifully they were able to come together.  

Overall, I really loved this book. The only downfall for me was that I found it difficult at times to relate to Stella. However, this did not deter from my enjoyment or my appreciation for Stella as a character. If you are interested in other books that center around autistic characters, The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves is also wonderful.

Happy Reading!!

For more information on Helen Hoang and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ACR- Passion on Park Ave. ~ by Lauren Layne

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Review: Passion on Park Avenue (The Central park Pact Vol. 1) ~ by Lauren Layne  

288 pages (Paperback) ~ Romance/Woman’s Fiction   

May 28th, 2019 ~ Gallery Books

My Rating: 3/5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strong-minded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

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Note: I received a digital ARC of Passion on Park Avenue from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Gallery Books & NetGalley.

img_1883My Thoughts:

Passion on Park Avenue was a super fun, sexy read. I read it in one sitting and while I did find fault with a few things, overall, I enjoyed it.

Highlights for me:

  • The sexy banter between Naomi and Oliver had me laughing out loud through the entire book. The sexual tension and chemistry between the two made this the highlight of the book for me.
  • I also really loved the New York scenes and the juxtaposition between Park Ave and the Bronx. I’m always a sucker for a good New York setting.
  • Oliver was just adorable. He was smart, kind, devoted to his family, and loyal. I found myself relating more to him in this book than to Naomi, which usually never happens for me.
  • The “real life” struggles that Oliver and Naomi have to face- caring for sick parents, etc. was a refreshing departure from typical romance novels.

What I didn’t love:

  • The three friends, Claire, Naomi, and Audrey, become friends really quickly and in a super unrealistic way. I didn’t mind the unrealistic part because I’m not really looking for reality when I read, but the set up of their friendship could have been done better. They seemed to just randomly stumble into each other in Central Park, discover each other’s identities and decide “hey, we should be friends.” This was really hard to swallow. I think that the friendship between the three women could have been better set up and established. It just felt so awkward and forced.
  • There was a constant mention of fashion labels. I get that the author is trying to establish that Naomi has money, but the constant mention of “Chloe” bag and “Chanel” sunglasses became so distracting.
  • The beginning starts with a death and there were completely crass mentions of death and hell by the main character that really turned me off.
  • There were a lot of inconsistencies in the story- ie: characters who had supposedly never meet knew more than they should about each other. There was also a lot of repetition. The main characters having the same observations again and again – I hope some of these errors get worked out before the final edition is published.
  • A lot of cliches – for example- Naomi states that she wants to wear red high heels because that is the opposite of what a “good girl” would wear. What!? Who says “good girls” don’t wear red high heels?
  • Naomi was immature and annoying at times. There were times when I really liked her, but also times when I found her super annoying.
  • Steamy scenes did not deliver enough steam. There was a lot of build up, but very little delivery.

Overall, I enjoyed it- It was a nice palette cleanser and a fun distraction. This story is a perfect vacation or beach read! It comes out May 28th! Just in time was Summer!

For more information on Lauren Layne and her books, check her out on Goodreads 

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi