Tag: 3.5 stars

Book Review: He Started It by Samantha Downing

He Started It
Author:
Samantha Downing

Published: July 21, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 19-29, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

Jessica’s Review:

I recently listened to Downing’s debut novel My Lovely Wife and absolutely loved it, so much that right after finishing it I picked up the audiobook of He Started It.  I also enjoyed this one.

This is the road trip that you don’t ever want to go on: Estranged siblings who have not seen each other in years must come back together to earn their inheritance by taking a return road trip that they took with their grandfather when they were younger, and also complete his final wish.

Everything is not as it seems as ALL the characters have many secrets, some deadly.  And it appears they have a stalker that is following them across the country…. Or is it a stalker???

He Started It goes back and forth between the past and present: The past is the road trip taken when they were kids, and the present with the repeat road trip.  None of the characters are likeable and this family was very dysfunctional in the past and even more so now.  The novel did drag some for me but then when it got to the ending, I was blown away and totally not expecting things to happen in the way that they did.  The ending did make the parts that dragged on worth it for me

This is one that I do recommend, but definitely read Downing’s debut!!! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

Super Fake Love Song
Author:
David Yoon

Published: November 17, 2020
349 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 18-26, 2020
Jessica’s Rating:  3.5 stars

Book Description:

When Sunny Dae—self-proclaimed total nerd—meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom—with its electric guitars and rock posters—for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

Sunny goes all in on the lie, and pretty soon, the strangest things start happening. People are noticing him in the hallways, and he’s going to football games and parties for the first time. He’s feeling more confident in every aspect of his life, and especially with Cirrus, who’s started to become not just his dream girl but also the real deal. Sunny is falling in love. He’s having fun. He’s even becoming a rocker, for real.

But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it—and if it’s possible to ever truly change.

Jessica’s Review:

Super Fake Love Song is a trope that has been done many times throughout the years- sometimes well done and sometimes not.  The trope is lying about who you are to impress a girl or boy. In this case we have a boy (Sunny Dae) lying about who he is (a total nerd versus being a musician) to a cute new girl (Cirrus).  They meet via their parents occupations and Sunny’s parents want him to show Cirrus around and learn her new town. 

I really liked that this novel took place for the boy’s point of view. We don’t see too much of YA from the boy’s perspective, so this was a welcome change for me.  Sunny and his friends are 1000% nerds: They play Dungeons and Dragons and LARP (Live Action Role Playing).  To me this is not really nerdy as cons (conventions) occur and ‘dressing up’ AKA cosplaying are becoming more mainstream now (though I am a bit of a nerd myself!)   But for high schoolers, I guess it is ‘nerdy’, poor Sunny is even bullied for who he is.

Cirrus is at Sunny’s house and mistakes Sunny’s brother’s room (who is not living at home and is also a rock star) for Sunny’s, and he does not correct her. This one moment puts the novel on the course it goes. Sunny eventually ropes his friends into forming a band and to perform at the upcoming talent show: All to impress Cirrus. 

Of course with this trope you know what is coming: there will be a failing moment and will the girl forgive the boy or not?  Even though you know what is coming, it is enjoyable and there is a bit of an unexpected ending.  There are also unexpected surprises dealing with the bully.

The romance is not the main focus of the novel, it is the boys and dealing with their friendship and ultimately learning to become who you will become.  You do have to disregard the lack of believability of the novel at how quickly the boys learn to play instruments and sing. For being a YA novel and from the boy’s perspective, it is a relatively ‘clean’ novel. Other than the few issues I had while reading, it is a fun and quick read that I enjoyed and recommend. 

Many thanks to the publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons for granting me a copy via Bookish First. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

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A Good Marriage

 

A Good Marriage
Author: Kimberly McCreight

Published:  May 5, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
Dates Read: July 17-27, 2020

Book Description:

Big Little Lies meets Presumed Innocent in this riveting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, in which a woman’s brutal murder reveals the perilous compromises some couples make—and the secrets they keep—in order to stay together.

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

Jessica’s Review:

This was another so-so thriller that had promise. The description is intriguing, but it did not totally deliver for me.  It does show one thing that people do their best to hide: Things are not always how they appear.  You think your friend has a great marriage? You better think otherwise!

We have multiple points of views for this novel: Lizzie who is an attorney, Amanda the murder victim, grand jury testimonies from the night of the murder, and confidential memos. They normally would all be interesting for me, especially the testimonies where people HAD to be there because they were subpoenaed.  It’s all about the secrets people have! 

Amanda was murdered after she attended a ‘special party’ of the wealthy in the area.  This is where secrets are known and what happens upstairs stays there.  Amanda’s husband Zach is arrested for assaulting a police officer after finding her dead, and he is being held under suspicion of Amanda’s murder.  He contacts Lizzie as they were old law school buddies: He wants her only her- and only her- to defend him.

Things are far from what they seem and everyone has many secrets. There is even a little side story of cyber-crime where certain people’s (even their teenager’s) secrets may be exposed. 

I honestly don’t know what this one did not totally intrigue me, as it has everything that usually does work for me. Maybe I am in a ‘thriller slump’ as the last few I read have not worked for me. I do have several more thrillers upcoming that need to be read, and I am hoping maybe one of those will ‘bring me back’ to really enjoying them again. Maybe it was because this was an audiobook and  it just didn’t work well in that format; perhaps this is one that should actually be read. It’s not the book’s fault, it is me in this case.  I would definitely give the author another try.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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