Reviews

ARC Review: Lock Every Door ~ by Riley Sager

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Review: Lock Every Door ~ by Riley Sager

384 pages ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense 

July 2, 2019 ~ Dutton

My Rating: 4/5 

Goodreads Description:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

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My Thoughts:  

I am a huge fan of Riley Sager’s other two novels, Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied. The Last Time I Lied is one of my favorite thrillers EVER. So I am very grateful to NetGalley and Dutton Books for allowing me to read Lock Every Door early. Although Lock Every Door didn’t have the same type of “keep you up all night” suspense factor that Last Time did, I still really enjoyed it. It was exactly what you would expect from a Sager thriller. The first half of the book is spent building the history of The Bartholomew building. This layering adds to the very unsettling, lurking evil aura around its past. Halfway into the novel, it beginnings to pick up as Jules starts to dig deeper and deeper into the buildings dark legacy and from that point forward, I was completely hooked. Below are my pros and cons: 

What I loved: 

  • Jules- I found Jules, our heroine, to be super relatable and funny. Her tragic past and resent misfortunes really endeared me to her. She is a loyal friend and morally good despite the horrible situation she finds herself in. 
  • Rich vs. Poor– Sager did such a great job of showing the huge disparity between the rich and the poor of New York City. We see this in Jules’ past, in the homeless shelter, and, most importantly, in the Bartholomew itself. Without giving anything away, the ending also manages to capture this disparity and I felt that it was really thoughtfully done. 
  • History of the building– I loved that Sager went into the construction of the Bartholomew, its dark history, and the unexplained events that have occurred there since its construction.
  • The Investigation– Because Sager did such a great job of establishing a connection to the history of The Bartholomew, when Jules finally puts her investigator’s hat on and gets down to business, it was a really thrilling ride. I loved traveling with her around New York in order to uncover the buildings dark past. 

What I didn’t love: 

  • The “big reveal” (or lack thereof)– Jules, and therefore, the reader, figures out the “who done it” with 25% of the book still remaining. As she goes through the process of investigation and finally believes she has her answer, I was thinking – “this can’t be it, there has to be a twist somewhere.” Well, there was, in fact, a twist, but the twist only related to motive and not to who actually committed the crime. Because of this, there was a lack of suspense in the climax of the book, which is supposed to be the most exciting part. This was a little bit of a let down for me. 
  • Some moments were also a little cliche and had me rolling my eyes. It didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the novel, but it did make it harder to suspend belief. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable and thrilling mystery. Fans of Sager’s other work will not be disappointed. It will be a perfect summer beach or vacation read!

Lock Every Door is out today, July 2nd, 2019!!! 

For more information Riley Sager and his books, check him out on Goodreads

Click here SomewhereinPages to find me on Goodreads.

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Reviews

ARC Review: Twice in a Blue Moon ~ by Christina Lauren

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Review: ARC of Twice in a Blue Moon ~ by Christina Lauren 

Gallery Books

October 22, 2019 – Adult Romantic-Comedy 

My Rating: 4/5 

Goodreads Description:

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

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Note: I received an ARC of Twice in a Blue Moon from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are all mine. 

3edaa2d8-9887-495f-ac9a-d2f90de31223My Thoughts: 

I am a huge fan of Christina Lauren’s romance novels. They have never disappointed me, and Twice in a Blue Moon was no exception. While it was not my favorite of theirs, I still really enjoyed it and had tons of fun while reading it. 

Highlights: 

  • Tate and Sam’s whirlwind romance lasts a short two weeks while they are on vacation in London. Even though this is such a short period of time, the story really captured how, when you are young and falling in love for the first time, two weeks can seem like an eternity. CLo really managed to capture what it is like to experience this overwhelming and intense emotion for the first time, and how first love never really fades. 
  • Sam was the first person to ever really know Tate and the first person to encourage her to go after her dreams. In such a short period of time, they manage to help each other figure out who they are and who they want to become as adults. Because of this, their intense connection is even more profound. After all, isn’t this what love is really all about? 
  • The connection to the love story between Luther & Robert/Ellen & Richard was beautifully done. Through the filming of the fictional movie, Milkweed, the reader not only gets to see Tate and Sam’s love story unfold, but also the love story of Sam’s Grandparents. This added a really heartwarming connection and wisdom about love that both Tate and Sam learn from.

Drawback:

  • The only drawback for me was that it ended rather abruptly. I really think that the book needs an epilogue where the authors sum up all of the loose threads. For example, what happened at Tate’s press release? How was the movie received? What did Tate and Sam end up doing with their fame? These were all things that I think most readers will also want answers to. 

Thank you so much Gallery Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read this early edition in exchange for an honest review. Twice in a Blue Moon is out October 22, 2019! 

For more information on Christina Lauren and their books, check them out on Goodreads 

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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.

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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

Reviews

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

304 pages (Hardcover) ~ Literary Fiction/Romance   

April 2nd, 2019 ~ St. Martin’s Press

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

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My Thoughts:  

I read The Girl I Used to Know in one sitting. These two characters captured my heart from the start and would not let go. At first, it seemed to be following the typical trope of a college couple reuniting after years apart, but this story became anything but typical. Reading this book was an emotional, heartwarming, and inspiring experience for me.

The writing is really smart and thoughtful. The story alternates between Annika’s and Jonathan’s perspectives and between two different time periods-  both characters have their own unique voice that is true to their character. Their voices change and grow over the years and really shows the full arc of their characters. Getting to read the unique perspective and understanding of Annika- who is on the autism spectrum- really endeared me toward her. It was really heartwarming to see her grow over the course of the novel and command more agency in her own life. I absolutely fell in love with her character- crying when she was struggling and rooting for her success. It was heartbreaking to read, but also really refreshing and inspiring at the same time.

“I remember feeling stunned when Tina explained that most people draw these conclusions instantaneously, without any extra analysis at all. How amazing but also heartbreaking, because I’ll never be one of them.”Annika

  • The support that Annika receives from those that love her- her parents, Janice, her brother, and Jonathan-  really shows that it is not about those that try to bring you down for your differences, but the precious few that love you because of your differences.

“I’m trying to explain that the way you navigate the world will never be more important than the type of person you are.” Jonathan

My only complaint was that the climax and resolution both seemed a little rushed. I wanted the long, super sappy, drawn-out ending, but I was still really happy with the ending overall. This story has a powerful and heartwarming message that I think will resonate with everyone. It hits bookstores on April 2nd!!

For more information on Tracey Garvis Graves and her books, check her out on Goodreads.

Note: I received an E-ARC of The Girl He Used to Know from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC of The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

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Review: The Beast’s Heart ~ by Leife Shallcross

Paperback 416 pages ~ YA fantasy

Paperback February 2019 ~ Ace Publishing

My Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★

Goodreads Description:

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse. _____________________________________________________________________________

Note: I was provided with an ARC of The Beast’s Heart through NetGalley and Berkley/Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:  

I have always loved classic fairy tale retellings, Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites, and The Beast’s Heart definitely did justice to the amazing story. There was so much to love here so I will start with what I loved most.

img_1529What I loved:

  • The POV of the Beast was, of course, my favorite part of this book. It added a really fresh take on a story that has been told so many times. I really liked the connection to the Beast’s family and his legacy/heritage through the portrait of his Grandmother. Also, the legacy of his father that he desperately wanted to escape. This made the Beast a really well rounded, fully fleshed-out, human character rather than just a mythical fairy tale figure.
  • The magic, the land/house, and invisible servants- I really loved that the magic of the land and the house was connected to Isabeau’s arrival. However, I loved that in this version, Isabeau stays of her own accord. The Beast never wants her to stay with him because of her potential to break the curse. He is not even aware of this possibility until at least halfway into the book. Instead, he is interested in her as a person, and their conversations reflect this mutual interest. I also appreciated that Shallcross didn’t attempt to recreate the servants as enchanted tea-cups, and teapots, etc. Instead, they are invisible forces tied to the house and land that seem to be orchestrating things the best they can.
  • Writing Style- the writing was reminiscent of an old fashion classic – think Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters- I really liked this style and thought that it added another interesting layer to the story.

What I didn’t love:

  • My biggest complaint with the book was that there wasn’t much in the way of conflict between the Beast and Isabeau. While I loved that Isabeau was given a choice in whether she stayed with the Beast or not, this really caused a lack of tension in their relationship. This story is typically one of unlikely friendship/love, but there was nothing really unlikely here. They share mutual respect and admiration right from the beginning. They are considerate and polite to each other and Isabeau never once seems frightened of the Beast. They seem to really like each other, if not love, pretty early on. Therefore, there is no conflict or suspense. 
  • While there is no tension between the Beast and Isabeau, there is tension between the sisters and their father/the Beast and Isabeau’s father. However, this tension is also very simply resolved. I never felt like the book reached any point of tension or suspense. When it did, it was resolved rather quickly. 
  • As much as I loved the connection to the Beast’s family legacy, I really wanted more. I would have loved some flashbacks that showed the relationship between him and his Grandmother/him and his father, rather than just being told what their relationships were like. It’s called the Beast’s Heart, and I really wanted details and experiences that showed what shaped his heart other than Isabeau. All the time spend watching Isabeau’s family would have been better spent diving deeper into the Beast’s character because he was really the most interesting part of the novel. 

For more information on Leife Shallcross and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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