Thursday, February 28, 2019

Like Lions by Brian Panowich

4 Stars

1500th review. That’s proof I have no life a milestone moment. It would have been great if I had some knock-my-socks-off-everybody-best-run-and-get-it-immediately 5 Star rave or (even better) a 1 Star flamefest. Buuuuuuuuut it’s me who tends to fail despite her best intentions so you get this. On the bright side, Like Lions was my most highly anticipated release of 2019 and it made me break the “I don’t like to read sequels” S.O.P. which are my reading habits.

Okay, let’s get on with things. To say Bull Mountain knocked my socks off would be an understatement and, as I mentioned above, as soon as I finished I was like gimme a sequel now be-atch. Although it took a while and there were not only release date changes but what appears to be a publishing house switch-a-roo as well, my wish finally came true and my family dealt with a wife/momma kinda like such . . . . .

I’m not going to outright spoil things for anyone who hasn’t picked up the first one yet, but I am going to say this 100% didn’t go the direction I thought . . . or hoped might be more accurate . . . that I thought it would. (Maybe it’s because David Joy wasn’t the author haha – Panowich might not be as darksided as my mind wanted him to be.) Even the title was a bit of a bait and switch for me because you know the lioness is the boss bitch and the male??? Well . . . . .

Like Lions picks up where Bull Mountain left us with the Burroughs family legacy. It took me a minute or two to get my head in the game that was actually being played rather than the one I had devised during my impatient waiting period, but once I found the rhythm this ended up being another winner from a great storyteller.

Note to anyone thinking about reading this – it absolutely does not work as a standalone. Suck it up and get Bull Mountain first. Trust me, you’ll have . . . . .

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!


Approved for an ARC yesterday - entire family gone until 6:00 p.m. . . . . .


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

4.5 Stars

Allow me to plagiarize my own idea from The Dry and use it again on this book . . . .

FADE IN: EXT. DESERT – DAY – ESTABLISHING – Aerial pan over Queensland cattle country in the middle of the dry season – the camera zoom narrows over the barren wasteland and comes to focus on a lone acacia, a headstone so battered by the weather only three numbers still can be read and a dead body who has succumbed to the elements. OPENING CREDITS ROLL

My initial reaction after finishing this????

Okay, that’s a lie. Immediately upon finishing I probably looked more like this . . . .

But once I was rehydrated I was totally like DAAAAYYYYYUUUUUUUM. I knew nothing about this one before starting aside from the fact that it was written by Jane Harper and it was a standalone. (No offense to Aaron Falk, but it takes a lot to get me to read past book one in the series and I just wasn’t feeling a continuation of his story would be super believable so I opted to take a pass.) I was also warned by my friend debra that there was a chance Mitchell would hate this one. However, debra also thought Mitchell was my husband at one point so I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on this one anyway. Dear debra, you are one of the best things to ever happen to Goodreads . . . .

Please never change.

But back to the book. Harper is a B.O.S.S. when it comes to the slow roller. You spend so much time getting to know the land and all the people who live on it – and I mean ALL about the people because their skeletons all bust down the closet doors to get out before this thing is over – that the what-happened-to-that-dead-guy-in-the-desert gets put on the backburner and you kind of don’t even care. Until the big reveal and then???????

Keep writing standalones, Ms. Harper, ‘cause you got a fangirl in me. 4.5 Stars.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

4 Stars

“You know what they say. When in Murderland . . .”
After practically crapping my pants over One Of Us Is Lying, I wanted this in my life as soon as I saw it on NetGalley . . . and was immediately denied my request, naturally. Luckily, I have the most awesome of libraries to provide a hook-up.

Two Can Keep A Secret is told from Ellery’s perspective. She and her twin brother Ezra have been relocated to their Granny’s house after their mother had a bit of a run-in with a plate glass window while driving . . . .

Granny’s location? Echo Ridge. A town known for disappearing girls. The first was Ellery’s aunt (and mother’s twin sister) back in the day. Another five years ago. And now???? It appears to be starting all over and once again it appears one of the homecoming princesses may be the target . . . . .

Lemme tell you Karen McManus knows what the eff she’s doing when it comes to teenie-bopper mysteries. As a grown-up (a/k/a not target demographic) as well as an avid mystery reader, I will note that before page 50 I had made a notation that “REDACTED did it.” I’m also telling you . . . . .

This was so much fun.

And as an old lady, let’s discuss this cover. Once again, MAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDD props to authors who are bright enough to have similar covers. If someone name-dropped Karen McManus randomly, I am 100% certain I’d be all “who?” Buuuuuuuut, thanks to this cover looking remarkably similar to her first YA mystery release, I was all over wanting to read it like stink on a poo poo platter. (Bonus this time with the “One” then “Two” titling. Will a Three be next???? I hope so!)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Unmarriagable by Soniah Kamal

3 Stars

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I have read it a crapton, buy every copy I see at thrift stores and read every retelling/variation I can get my hands on. From general modernizations to gender flips to zombies to even the Hallmark variety . . . .

Because, come on, y’all know Christmas makes your homegirl be like . . . .

In my opinion, when it comes to P&P there is never going to be too much of a good thing. I mean, for real, this DOES. NOT. GET. OLD. . . . . .

(Colin Firth did Darcy so nice, they had to cast him twice. Ha – looky there. I’m a poet and I didn’t know it.)


Unmarriagable is a modern-day Pakistani take on my old fave. The Bennetts have morphed into the Binats (but don’t worry, their mother is still one of the most easy to hate characters in the history of literature), Darcy has become Darsee, Bingley is now Bungles. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate Bingley as well, shall we . . . . .


Where was I? Oh yeah, picturebooking. To date I have not met a P&P revamp that I didn’t like, so even though I got a little bogged down in the billions of characters (most with ridiculous names such as “Hammy” and “Sammy” and “Pinkie” and the aforementioned “Bungles”) and their way-too-detailed family histories, as well as the monotony of what everyone was wearing or eating, this was still an A-Okay way for me to kill time. YMMV, of course. Oh, and if you think I’m kidding about my addiction, please note I have not only Pride checked out from the library, but Ayesha At Least on the soon-TBR as well. It truly is a sickness.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

4 Stars

Ahhhhhhh, a gathering of old friends. You know the sort . . . .

Oh wait, not exactly the same. This one features 9 long-time friends from Uni who gather together annually in order to celebrate New Year’s. Another difference this time around????

“I’ve found the missing guest . . . . I found a body . . . . I don’t think it was an accident.”

So we have:

a. A manor house
b. A dead body
c. EVERYONE’S a suspect

That may not be your particular cuppa, but for Mitchell and myself?????

Not an original idea by any stretch - The Hunting Party follows the standard formula of not only not knowing whodunit, but also not knowing who is dead and slowly rolling your way to both of those reveals. I don't care if it has been done a billion times, I still dug it. Comparisons to Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood are accurate. This is the type of story that you either love or hate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson

2 Stars

I needed this in my life simply because . . . . .

Despite not being hip enough to have ever watched any “webisode” of anything . . . ever, as a middle-aged woman I most certainly responded to the siren song of “from Executive Producer Amy Poehler,” became a Broad City instafan and discovered . . . . .

I mean really, these gals are my tribe . . . . .

There was zero chance I wasn’t going to pick up Abbi Jacobson’s collection. And when I heard it was about her going on a solo cross-country road trip?

Unfortunately, I also expected this to be FUNNY since, you know, Jacobson is a COMEDY WRITER for a living. I didn’t expect free association/stream of consciousness and I was unaware that the whole idea of the trip was inspired due to a breakup. It’s disappointing to report that I may really only be in love with one member of this duo . . . .

I also realize you are not supposed to discount or dismiss someone else’s heartbreak, but because I am a horrible old lady who has been married 147 dog years I will freely admit that it was my knee-jerk reaction to do so and I was more than a bit bummed that this didn’t live up to my expectations. I will say, however, if you frequently find this happening in your life . . . .

The “Sleep Study” chapters may be worth the price of admission.

Bonus: Jacobson might have the most pleasant speaking voice/delivery I’ve ever subjected myself to whilst commuting (and yes, I realize the print version contains “illustrations” of some sort, but really – skip it, audio is the way to go on this one).

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott

2 Stars

After finishing this yesterday, my reaction was pretty much . . . .

The Woman Inside is the latest in a long line of domestic thrillers. This one features a pill addicted wife and a philandering husband. I had a laundry list of issues with it.

To begin with, the blurb tells too much so I’m thankful I didn’t read it before starting. I would have been bummed that the first big “twist” was pretty much spoiled on the back cover.

Next, the timehops. The wibbly-wobbly is used quite frequently in mysteries/thrillers and works okay for me about 50% of the time. However, in this book the time goes from waaaaaay before to immediately before to waaaaaay after to immediately after and everywhere in between with no indication exactly where you are until you read a few paragraphs and figure it out . . . .

Third, too many POVs. It’s one thing to follow the husband and wife. It’s another to follow them annnnnd a mistress annnnnnnnd a couple of police detectives . . . . .

Fourth, now I’m a gal who likes an unreliable narrator as much, if not more, than the next guy. Buuuuuuuuuuut, there’s a big difference between . . . .

And being unconscious so no one knows WTF is happening at all.

Then there’s the twists and turns. All I can say is . . . .

YMMV, but as a reader who picks up A LOT of thrillers, attempting to heave everything but the kitchen sink at me doesn't mean diddly. Nothing here was a surprise and I saw it all coming a mile and a half away. There's also a big difference between reading a book that owns how much it is over-the-top and is simply bringing the reader along for a crazy ride and one who tries to take itself seriously while being OTT.

I could have saved myself a lot of time and .gif hunting if curiosity would have got the better of me earlier and I had simply Googled these authors. An article about them in EW disclosed . . . .

Both authors are thriller junkies; they volleyed chapters back and forth, each taking on a POV. “Each chapter is in direct response to the one before, and throwing potential twists at each other. That really was fun,” Wands says. Adds Keenan: “The aim to shock and surprise with each chapter was very motivating. We got a little aggressive.”

Basically this was a game of trying to one-up the other. It didn’t work for me.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom by Beth Miller

2 Stars

Let me begin by pointing out that the cover of this book liked like such for me . . . .

There is very little chance I would have picked up the “girl with umbrella” version. Let me also say that the comparisons to Eleanor Oliphant or Where’d You Go, Bernadette? miss the mark as well. At best, this could be compared to specific moments such as . . . . .

Or . . . .

I’m giving The Two Hearts of Eliza Blook 2 Stars simply for my own personal enjoyment. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the writing and a modern Orthodox Jewish main character was certainly refreshing and not the cookie-cutter norm when it comes to female leads. However:

1. I don’t like twatty dudes . . . except occasionally when I pick up a motorcycle/shifter porno.

2. I don’t tolerate liars . . . . except occasionally when I pick up an unreliable narrator type of thriller.

3. I don’t accept cheating. Pretty much EVER.

That being said, my reaction to pretty much this entire thing was a big ol’ . . . . .

If you can get past the issues I had, you’ll most likely have a reaction totally opposite of mine.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

5 Stars

Normally I wouldn’t be posting a review so many months in advance of a book’s release (heck, let’s face it – normally I end up failing miserably and reading half of the ARCs I receive after their release date), but there was zero chance I wasn’t going to talk about this one on Valentine’s Day.

The story here is about Annie. Ever since she was a little girl she has dreamed of the moment she would meet-cute her one true love. She was always sure it would come in the form of a true “a ha” moment – with a man who may or may not live on a houseboat, possibly with a child, maybe after tragically being widowed. Either that or it would be in love to hate form via e-mail correspondence or some form of social media where she sparred unknowingly with the man who was to be her soulmate. But has Annie become so wrapped up in the fantasy that she won’t be able to recognize the real thing when she sees it???

As I told my husband, I have been waiting for Tom Hanks to come for me for the duration of our 22-year marriage (and after going on a .gif hunt for this maybe I’ve been waiting for Meg Ryan too????). There was zero chance I wasn’t going to do whatever was necessary in order to obtain this title. There was also zero chance I wasn’t going to then proceed to crap my pants in fear that I would hate it/it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Luckily there was absolutely nothing to fear. Waiting for Tom Hanks was EXACTLY what I wanted it to be: a classic PG style rom-com, only in print format rather than projected on the silver screen. (However, please note this should immediately be optioned and someone should be calling Chris Pratt’s agent to see how many zeroes he would like at the end of his check in order to play the male lead.) If nothing makes your Grinch heart turn to goo like moments like these . . . .

Get your dollars ready come June.

Happy Hallmark Holiday everyone!!!!!

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Oh, and Berkley? As you know, this was a two-book deal. No pressure or anything, but if I don’t get the second one as soon as it is available?