I looked at my most recent post, and was shocked to see I haven't shared a single book review on here since January. It has been a a whirlwind of a year (and we're only in April), but it's been great! We were super excited to share our pregnancy announcement in March on our trip to Hawaii. We figured a baby-moon was necessary before things (aka my body) really start to change. We got to hike, walk, swim, snorkel, explore... and it was everything I needed to get out of the winter blues. I have been in major procrastination mode these past few weeks...not wanting to write/blog, photograph, start a baby registry, etc... and its ok! I've been choosing to spend more time with friends, get outside, walk, exercise...and most importantly...read!
In terms of my Goodreads Reading Challenge this year ( 50 books - I figured this was fair, what with having a baby in August and all)...I am well on my way to completing it. So far I've read 21 books, and many of them have been spectacular! It's a great year for new releases, and I will be sharing a post early next week on my favourite summer releases to look forward to.
I've decided to skip over the boring/dreary book reviews (they're really not fun to write), and share my favourites so far this year! I've also been actively using Audible, and I have fallen in love with audio books again. I've found I'm using it when walking the dog, driving to work, commuting in the city, and cleaning/cooking. It's often hard to find a good narrator, so I wanted to share some of my favourites of those as well!
1. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren.
This book was everything! Still swooning over this one. I don’t usually read romcom’s or anything romantic, but this one was hard to put down. For fans of The Hating Game! This book is everything: light-hearted, humorous, and sharp. It had me laughing out loud, by the pool, to myself (and not many books do that). Thank you so much @simonschusterca for this surprise book mail!
2. The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton
If you’re into sociopaths, stalkers, and multi-layered characters, this one’s for you. It will definitely bring new meaning to the word: obsession. Also...is it bad that I was rooting for this lunatic? Such a fun, one-sitting read.
3. Before She Knew him by Peter Swanson
I flew through this book in one day by the pool. It's the newest one from Peter Swanson, and he's back with a new psychological thriller with an unbelievable twisted ending. This one came out March 19! Unreliable narrators, betrayal, and long kept secrets.
4. The Ex by Alafair Burke
This one isn't new, but I got the audiobook to listen to on my commute to work and I loved the narrator! I found this one intriguing, suspenseful and worth investing in. I'm not usually drawn to lawyer protagonists, but this character reappears in another of Burke's book, so I enjoyed going backwards and finding out her backstory. I recommend anything by Alafair Burke!
5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
One of my only 5 star reads this year, and the book we chose as our April Book Club pick. This is spectacularly sneaky and I can't stop thinking about the ending. It's the most impressive story I've read in awhile. Psychological thriller - for fans of crime fiction, Riley Sager, and Alice Feeney.
I am so excited to share the cover reveal for Matthew Farrell's newest book 'I Know Everything.' Farrell's previous book was part of the Winter Reading Challenge hosted through Booksparks. My photo was featured in a blog post by Katherine Heigl on her blog 'Those Heavenly Days.' I can't wait to read his newest book!
I Know Everything:
A psychologist grapples with his own sanity as murder evidence mounts against him.
Police investigator Susan Adler is ready to close the book on a deadly car accident, but after the medical examiner discovers evidence of foul play, she knows she has a murder on her hands. The victim was the wealthy wife of Randall Brock, a renowned psychologist who treats patients with disturbing, brutal fantasies. And just like that, Susan’s got a suspect.
Randall has a violent past but knows he didn’t kill his wife. In the midst of his crushing grief, Randall receives a visit from a stranger with information to share about his wife’s death. But there’s a catch: in exchange for the stranger’s information, Randall must reveal dark secrets he’s kept hidden for years. As this shady figure applies more pressure and Susan closes in, Randall begins to doubt himself, clinging desperately to the pieces of his sanity.
Revelations and suspicious coincidences send shock waves through the investigation, and circumstances spin out of control. Susan must race to put it all together before it’s too late—before the next murder strikes too close to home.
Matthew Farrell lives just outside of New York City in the Hudson Valley with his wife and two daughters. Get caught up on the progress of his next thriller along with his general musings by following him on Twitter @mfarrellwriter or liking his page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mfarrellwriter2. You can also visit his website at www.mfarrellwriter.com for news, events, and other information.
Available August 6th from Thomas & Mercer Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters Indigo
The giveaway is hosted here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/abc066ac277/. It is set to start at 12:00AM EST November 30.
This is unmistakably not my favourite book by Liane Moriarty. My favourite's are Truly Madly Guilty and Big Little Lies. They're actually a couple of books I highly recommend because they're addictive, compulsive and fiendishly clever. To be completely honest, I kind of hated Nine Perfect Strangers at times, and on the other hand I also loved it. The plot gave me severe anxiety, and spoke to my deepest fears (hello claustrophobia!). Nevertheless, Moriarty effortlessly shares from 10 or 11 points of view, and although I couldn't relate to any of the characters who happened upon Tranquillum House for self-improvement, I did root for one specific family, and they are the sole reason I finished this book. All of the reviews I've read from fellow book bloggers were remarkably positive, raving, giving 5 stars, and stating this is 'her best yet,' so I am apparently in the minority. It's definitely a wild ride, it just wasn't as entertaining as I'd hoped.
Cleverly plotted, complex, and engrossing. One of my favourite genres is Gothic Fiction; a blend of horror, fiction, and romance, with of course, plenty of suspense. The Winters is the perfect retelling of the classic 'Rebecca' by Daphne Du Maurier, a best-seller from 1938. The Winters is a psychological thriller, set in a dark, architecturally grand home, with a romanticized look into its former lady of the home, Mrs. Winter. With all the necessary plot conventions; revenge, family secrets, drama, and unreliable narrators and in the tradition of two of my favourite books: Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre, The Winters was my stay-up-all-night, read-all-day fav book this month. I can't rave enough about this one! For those of you looking to grab it this weekend, check out Costco!
How dreamy is this Hampton's themed dinner party we threw on Saturday night, to celebrate 2 years of book club, and Booksparks 'The Dinner List' by Rebecca Serle. As a Booksparks ambassador, I loved the idea of throwing a dinner party in celebration of FRC 2018 (Fall Reading Challenge). The lovely Mariah Millie joined for her first book club, and it was a full house. 10 Vancouver women with one thing in common - amazing, unputdownable, page-turning books. Mariah captures the best candid photos, and this dinner was no exception. The Dinner List discussion included what 5 people, dead or living, you would invite to a dinner party. The top selections included Sara and Erin Foster (comic relief), Tom Hardy (for obvious reasons), Mindy Kaling (mother, author, comedian, and actress!), Oprah (it would be rude not to), Jesus Christ (has the answers to all my questions), and Chrissy Teigen (because hello...have you seen her twitter account?). The girls loved the book, leaving most with tears at the end. Who would you invite if you had the opportunity? Synopsis of The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle below.
“People in relationships are either flowers or gardeners. Two flowers shouldn't partner; they need someone to support them, to help them grow. ..... There are flowers and gardeners. Flowers bloom; gardeners tend. Two flowers, no tending everything dies.”
"“I had to dim my light. It was not an easy thing to be married to a celebrity. But it's also not an easy thing to be married to darkness. Eventually I dimmed so far I extinguished”"
Synopsis from Goodreads:
We’ve been waiting for an hour. That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.
At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends within her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day,and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.
It is super rare for me to give a psychological thriller 4.5 stars, but this one was incredible, and I devoured it in one sitting. This one is a one-more-chapter-will-be-late-for-work, stay-up-all night experience. Electrifying, heart-stopping, and it gave me all the chills! You really ask yourself the whole time, "What would I do if this was my child?" This super twisty thriller had all my boxes ticked - terrifying child character, secrets, lies, and suspense. I really hope this one graces the big screen. I did not see the ending coming, and thoroughly enjoyed the different POV's. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read this one!
Description from Goodreads:
When Clara's boyfriend, Luke, disappears, everyone believes that he's left her, but Clara thinks she knows the truth. Recent evidence suggests that Luke had a stalker, and Clara worries that he's been kidnapped. Then Luke's older sister, Emma, who vanished twenty years ago, suddenly reappears.
Emma wants to help Clara with her search for Luke, but she refuses to talk about what happened--even though it nearly destroyed her family when she vanished. And the deeper Clara digs into Luke's mysterious disappearance, the more convinced she is that the two incidents are connected.
You know 'those' books...the ones that stay with you long after the last page. The ones that shocked you, forced you to re-read sections, played with your mind, and made you question everything you read and interpreted as fact? Those...are my favourite books! It's hard to find stand-out plot lines like this, with unreliable narrators, but I've compiled a list of my favourites, and look forward to reading your comments. If I've missed one of your favourites, let me know!
1. sometimes i lie by alice feeney
2. the lies we told by camilla way
3. behind her eyes by sarah pinborough
4. the thirteenth tale by diane setterfield
All children mythologize their birth...So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.
The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.
As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.
Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.
5. dangerous girls by abigail haas
6. every single secret by emily carpenter
“A true psychological thriller that will leave you breathless.” —Wendy Walker, bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten andEmma in the Night
Emotionally guarded Daphne Amos always believed she’d found a kindred spirit in her fiancé, Heath. Both very private people, they’ve kept their pasts hidden from the world, and each other, until Heath’s escalating nightmares begin to put an undeniable strain on their relationship. Determined to give their impending marriage the best chance of succeeding, Heath insists that Daphne join him on a seven-day retreat with Dr. Matthew Cerny, a psychologist celebrated for getting to the root of repressed memories. Daphne reluctantly agrees—even though the past is the last place she wants to go.
The retreat’s isolated and forbidding location increases her unease, as do the doctor’s rules: they must relinquish their keys and phones, they’ll be monitored at all hours by hidden cameras, and they’re never to socialize with the other guests.
One sleepless night, Daphne decides to leave her room…and only then does she realize that the institute is not at all what it seems—and that whatever’s crying out from Heath’s past isn’t meant to be heard. It’s meant to be silenced.
7. pretty girls by karin slaughter
Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.
The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.
8. gone girl by gillian flynn
9. we were liars by e. lockhart
10. the good daughter by karin slaughter
A couple years ago I read He Will Be My Ruin by KA Tucker, and I was blown away by the complexity of the plot. I was just getting back into reading, so naturally I veered toward psychological thrillers that packed a punch. I read a lot of books, and oftentimes I find myself desperately trying to remember details of a book or characters names when discussing them with a friend, however this book stayed with me long after the final page. When I received an Advanced Reader Copy in the mail this month, compliments of Simon & Schuster, I was so excited to see KA Tucker's name as the author, however the description was the polar opposite of the thriller genre I had attached to her name. I put off reading it, as I'm not one to read about nature, romance, and slow-moving family dramas. Finally, as August approached, I tackled this large book, and was pleasantly surprised. This book is full of heart, and has a shocking 4.5 rating on Goodreads (which is rare!). The characters are relatable, the conflicting emotions grab you, and I promise that you will fall in love with the relationships in this story. Get ready to be transported to rural Alaska, on an emotional journey that will pull at your heart strings, and have you rooting for this unlikely relationship till the bitter end.
Description from Goodreads:
Calla Fletcher wasn't even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.
She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.
Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.
Almost Famous, meets Nashville & A Star Is Born.
Daisy Jones & The Six has quickly become one of my favourite books this year. It’s chronicles the life of a rock and roll band in the 70’s, and the events that led to their tragic break-up. Told from alternating views, and recounting their experiences through interviews, you’re quickly pulled into the ups and downs of life on the road, music tours, partying, drugs, and the music that defined the 70’s. It was immediately picked up for film rights with Reese Witherspoon, so you know it’s going to be good. It really reminded me of Almost Famous, with Kate Hudson, where a boy was given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine, about an up-and-coming rock band. You literally feel like you’re accompanying the group on the tour. My favourite character, hands-down, was Camilla. In telling my friend this, I read one of the quotes describing her – “You know, people think of Camila as following Billy everywhere, taking care of Billy all the time, but it wasn’t like that. She was a force to be reckoned with. She got what she wanted. Almost all the time. She was persuasive and kind of pushy – although, you never really realized you were being pushed. But she was opinionated and knew how to get her way”…and my friend said, but that’s you! (maybe that’s why I liked her so much J). This one was emotionally charged, raw, honest, and filled with spectacular characters. So uniquely different from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but equally enjoyable.
My favourite quotes:
Daisy: “There’s just as much to hate about you as there is to like about you. And that’s annoying.”
Camila: “It’s not my place to say what happened that day. All I will say is that you show up for your friends on their hardest days. And you hold their hand through the roughest parts. Life is about who is holding your hand and, I think, whose hand you commit to holding.”
Thank you @booksparks for sending me this ARC. It’s a definite collector!
Photographing books, one day at a time.