Monday, May 31, 2021

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz


Title: The Plot
Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz
Publisher: Celadon Books
Release Date: May 11, 2021

Hailed as breathtakingly suspenseful, Jean Hanff Korelitz's The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he's teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what's left of his self-respect; he hasn't written--let alone published--anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn't need Jake's help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker's first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that--a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker's predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his "sure thing" of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

Jacob Finch Bonner has the story of his life. He knows it needs to be written. Too bad it's not his story to tell.

As an unhappy teacher in an MFA program, Jacob is going through the motions. When classes begin, he meets a sullen student, Evan Parker. Evan is disrespectful towards Jacob. He also doesn't think Jacob can teach him anything and doesn't try to hide his feelings. During their only one-on-one meeting, Evan says he has the best plot for a novel. He's sure when he is done writing it, everyone will want to read it. Publishers will fight for it. He will be famous and Oprah will pick it as the "it" book. After Evan tells him what the plot is about, Jacob disgruntedly has to agree and he knows the book will be a success.

A few years later, Jacob is in a new job. A job that leaves him time to work on a new novel but if he has to be honest with himself, he can't come up with anything good. Jacob's first novel was good but the two after have not been recognized at all.

Over the years, Jacob has never forgotten about Evan's plot. A quick search about Evan's whereabouts on social media leaves Jacob in shock. Evan is dead and he never wrote the novel!

Jacob makes a decision that will forever affect his future. He decides to bring to life the story he heard so long ago. Yet, someone is quite unhappy with his decision.

Quite an interesting novel! I was engrossed reading about both plots, Jacob's and the novel he wrote.

I had some issues about Jacob's guilty feelings. Yes, he used the plot of someone else's but the words were his. Yes, what he did was wrong but he didn't plagiarize a novel. What if Evan found out the hard way, that it can be quite difficult to write a book?

The big twist was not impossible to guess. I was waiting to see which way the author was going to take it and I wasn't disappointed.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Celadon Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Playing The Palace by Paul Rudnick


Title: Playing The Palace

Author: Paul Rudnick

Publisher: Berkley 

Release Date: May 25, 2021


When a lonely American event planner starts dating the gay Prince of Wales, a royal uproar ensues: is it true love or the ultimate meme? Find out in this hilarious romantic comedy.

After having his heart trampled on by his cheating ex, Carter Ogden is afraid love just isn’t in the cards for him. He still holds out hope in a tiny corner of his heart, but even in his wildest dreams he never thought he’d meet the Crown Prince of England, much less do a lot more with him. Yes, growing up he’d fantasized about the handsome, openly gay Prince Edgar, but who hadn’t? When they meet by chance at an event Carter’s boss is organizing, Carter’s sure he imagined all that sizzling chemistry. Or was it mutual?

This unlikely but meant-to-be romance sets off media fireworks on both sides of the Atlantic. With everyone having an opinion on their relationship and the intense pressure of being constantly in the spotlight, Carter finds ferocious obstacles to his Happily Ever After, including the tenacious disapproval of the Queen of England. Carter and Prince Edgar fight for a happy ending to equal their glorious international beginning. It’s a match made on Valentine’s Day and in tabloid heaven.

As soon as I began reading Playing The Palace I was laughing. Carter Ogden and his roommates are hilarious! Every character is if I'm being honest. 

Carter is an event planner from New Jersey who gets most of his advice from Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He just so happens to meet Edgar while setting up for an event at the United Nations, and oh yeah Edgar happens to be the Prince of Wales. They have an instant connection and so much shenanigans ensues. Edgar is used to just being himself without embarrassment so he doesn't realize how careful he has to be when it comes to dating a prince, but Edgar is not going to let him go so easily. They have both been hurt in the past yet are willing to put in the work!

Playing the Palace was such a fun read! With two openly gay male characters and the bunch of crazy family and friends that they have I was entertained throughout the entire story. A great summer read to take to the pool or beach with you. 

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

Title: Heart To Seoul
Series: Seoul Series
Author: Jen Frederick
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 25, 2021

As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.

Yes, I did jump at the chance to read this book because of the title alone, because like many others I have discovered K-dramas and have fallen hard. And I mean really really hard! I truly thought this story was going to very a light and quick read, and although I did whiz through it, it was anything but light.

Hara has spent her entire life not quite fitting in. She was adopted from South Korea by white parents and has always wondered why she was given up for adoption. When her father passes away suddenly all of the questions she's had about her birth rise to the surface again and she can't keep wondering any longer, so she flies to Seoul to find answers. What she doesn't expect is to have a spontaneous meet-cute as soon as she disembarks her plane, especially with a guy who looks like a Korean model, but hey she's not going to complain amiright! This is a very heart-wrenching story, from the moment Hara starts looking for her parents it's a disaster at every turn and it truly makes it hard not to be disparaged. I can't even imagine what it would take to not tuck tail and run home, but she is so strong and persist in her search.

So yes I thought this was going to be a lighter read, but it was just packed with so many twists and turns. It has so many elements I love in a book too! There's the mystery element about her parents, there are the friendships that are made and some unfortunately broken, there is the somewhat tense relationship with her adoptive mom Ellen, and of course, there's romance! Now let me just tell you that this isn't the type of romance a lot of us are used to, it's delicate and sweet and in my opinion made the story even better. I both love and hate that this is a series because I wanted the next book as soon as I finished.

I cannot recommend this book enough and if you give it a chance you will agree! I huge thank you to Jen Frederick for giving me Seoul from the comfort of my bed!

4.5/5 Fangs

Cliffhanger: Yes?

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward


Title: The Last House on Needless Stree
Author: atriona Ward
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: September 28, 2021

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies...

You think you know what's inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you've read this story before. That's where you're wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it's not what you think... 

Ted is a loner. He lives in Needless Street and avoids his neighbors. His only companions are his cat, Olivia, and his daughter Lauren who comes for short visits too. 

Ted's parents are both gone and his childhood home is now his house. He tries to maintain the upkeep of his property but he doesn't do a very good job. When he was a kid he used to go to school but he never really developed close friendships. His mother was a nurse and she took care of him after his father left. 

Ted became a recluse when his face was in the newspapers. His face was associated with the disappearance of a young girl. She disappeared near the lake and her body was never found. People said Ted had an alibi, but the girl's sister, Dee is not too sure. 

Is Ted the monster who took Lulu? Did Ted kill her? If so, can Dee find out the truth?

You would have to read (or listen to it like I did) this book to know what really happens. 

Yes, this book is unconventional. Olivia, the cat, has her own chapters which might dissuade some readers. I will say, persevere, IT'S WORTH IT. Furthermore, I think Olivia became my favorite character. 

The audio was superb and the narrator did a wonderful job at interpreting each character and their own turmoil. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Macmillan Audio/Macmillan-Tor/Forge via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Title: The Kindred Spirits Supper Clu
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 20, 2021

Jobless and forced home to Wisconsin, journalist Sabrina Monroe can tolerate reunions with frenemies and kisses from old boyfriends, but not the literal ghosts that greet her in this heartwarming tale of the power of love and connection from acclaimed author Amy E. Reichert.
For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells–the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World–means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina’s always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who’s much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina’s side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He’s charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn’t have time for romance–she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she’s in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe?

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is.

Sabrina Monroe is trying to rebuild her life. She lost her last job and she had to go back home to her parents. She has found a job locally but the mean girl from her high school is now her boss and she is not any nicer than when she was back in school. 

Sabrina can't wait to leave Wisconsin Dells behind. She had a tough childhood due to a very singular situation. She can see dead people!! Moreover, the dead people seek her to have their last will accomplished before they "puff" out. Her romantic life is nonexistent since sharing her real self and what she and her mother can do, has never gone well for her. Then she meets Ray.

Ray is the new owner of a restaurant. He was a very successful real estate agent with his family business but after visiting his uncle in Dells, he decided that the small-town life fits him just well. Ray keeps on bumping into Sabrina and believes there is a reason for this and the connection he feels with her. 

I enjoyed this romance. The supernatural aspect made it more enjoyable since I absolutely loved Molly. 

I had some issues with Sabrina avoiding her responsibility with the gift she was given. Of course, she saw it more like a curse. She also pushed Ray away too many times which annoyed me. On the other hand, Ray was really sweet and supportive. 

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

Title: The Perfect Daughter
Author: D.J. Palmer
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: April 20, 2021

The Perfect Daughter is a thriller that explores the truth or lies behind a teenage girl's multiple personality disorder, from D.J. Palmer, the author of The New Husband.

Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenaged daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive.

Grace blames herself, because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret.

None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny's actions grew more disturbing, and different "personalities" emerged.

Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger.

A young woman has been accused of murder. When the cops come to inform her adoptive mother, Grace, she is devastated. 

Grace can't believe her Penny is responsible. She knows Penny wouldn't do it but maybe Eve could. 

How can this be? 

Well, Penny has DID and maybe one of her personalities is the real killer. Of course, some don't believe in DID. Penny has done things in her past that were questionable and maybe she has a personality disorder instead. Meaning she knew what she was doing and she did it anyway. She knew right from wrong and she decided to end a life regardless. 

Grace feels guilty. She should have done something earlier and now she must seek the help of Penny's new psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh to help her prove Penny has DID before it's too late. 

Favorable things for me: The DID aspect, meaning meeting each of Penny's personalities. Penny's brother's sort of podcasts.

Unfavorable: Grace's decisions. There is one particular decision that she makes that makes me want to shake her. Even her sister-in-law was telling her what she should do but she still decided not to do a single thing about it. 

I was not a fan of the last twist. I thought it was way too convenient. 

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The First Shot by Liv Constantine


Title: The First Shot
Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman
Author: Liv Constantine
Publisher: Audible Originals
Release Date: November 12, 2020

In this gripping prequel to the blockbuster best seller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick The Last Mrs. Parrish, listeners will discover exactly how Amber Patterson transformed from small-town girl to master manipulator - after all, practice makes perfect.

Amber Patterson has many secrets. This much is clear when she sneaks out of her home in the dead of night and hitchhikes across state lines to meet up with a man she hasn’t seen or spoken to since high school graduation. So begins her desperate attempt to leave her old life behind, and she’ll use everything and everyone at her disposal, from social media stalking to the kindness of unsuspecting strangers, to get where she needs to go. It’s not long before she’s ready for the main event: armed with a new identity and a new purpose, she heads to Gunnison, Colorado, preparing herself to meet her future husband among the wealthy vacationers.

Even the smallest misstep could derail this carefully-laid plan, and in the end, can you even truly outrun your past? The First Shot is an absorbing, binge-able thriller that shows just how far some will go to build the lives they want.

This was a short Audible original. Perfect for a couple of hours commute!

I haven't read The Last Mrs. Parrish but now I know about Amber Patterson and her deceiving ways. 

Amber is unhappy with her life and she has decided to create a new one. She moves to Colorado in the hope of arranging a meeting with a man that can give her what she believes she's entitled to. She will make it happen. Are things going to go as planned or is it going to backfire? 

The narrator did a great job of keeping things moving and interesting.  

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs story
4/5 Narration

The ​Crown of Gilded Bones
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Blood and Ash #3

Title: The ​Crown of Gilded Bones
Series: Blood and Ash #3
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Blue Box Press
Release Date: April 20, 2021

She's been the victim and the survivor…

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.

The enemy and the warrior…

Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.

A lover and heartmate…

But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.

And now she will become Queen…

Well, that was exciting! 

I can not wait for the next book. I thought it was a trilogy and now I learned there are going to be six books! 

I do hope the next book is the end for our main couple and maybe there is room for other characters to find happiness (*cough - Kieran - cough*) or not. Whatever, JLA decides, I'm still going to be reading it. 

So, we were left with a huge cliffhanger on the second book and The Crown of Gilded Bones begins right after. 

The first few chapters were action-packed and I devoured them or maybe I should say, I sped my audiobook to a speed I have not gone to before. Anyway, it was so worth the wait. 

Poppy is in the hot seat. She will have to make a choice, become Queen of her own free will and help Atlantia or walk away. As the reader we know, she will never walk away from her responsibility but it was nice that for once she was not forced into something.

Poppy has started to realize that she needs to stand up for herself and that she will always have the support of Cas and Kieran. 

Now, the middle of the book did slow down for me (despite the speed). Would I call it boring? Not really but I felt like there was not much to it. Then the last part is heartstopping with its greatness and let me tell you, if you are a writer and you need your audience to keep on reading your series, THIS IS THE WAY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN! 

What a perfect last scene! 

So many positives in this series. Poppy and Cas complement each other well. Kieran is so cool that I wish I could be friends with his wolf. I want a HEA for him too (with Tawny, please!). I love the mythology surrounding this series and I welcome the action I know JLA will bring. 

The only thing left to say is: I don't want to wait and I hope we get the next book this year. We need some happiness after 2020.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Title: The Good Sister
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: April 13, 2021

From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern's protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart's desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn't realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

There was something about this novel that made me love it. 

I don't know if it was Fern with the way she processed the world or if it was Wally and his hat or if it was the way the author decided on the resolution of the suspense. I just ended up being delighted by it!

Could I guess where the story was going? Certainly. Yet, I love and appreciate the delivery!

The book is about two fraternal twins. 

Fern Castle is a tall blonde girl who has sensory processing disorder. She prefers to follow her routine day by day and hates when her schedule gets changed. Fern works as a librarian and loves her job except when the manager wants her to greet people or learn about the printer or copy machines, then Fern fines her hidey-hole and stays there until she feels safe enough that she can go out again. 

Rose is the other sibling. She is a brunette, shorter than Fern. She's an interior decorator. She is married but she has always looked out for Fern. Her diary is full of passages about how her mother behaved when they were kids and how she protected Fern from her neglect. 

When Rose confides in Fern that she can't have children due to premature ovarian failure, Fern decides that the best way to help Rose is to get pregnant herself and give the baby to Rose. She just needs to find a man and have sex with him. 

Enters Wally, I mean Rocco, an IT genius who is living out of his van. He's nice to Fern. He's patient with her and he seems to understand Fern's limitations and tries to make things easier for her. Having himself some issues, it was easy for him to relate to Fern. Yet can their relationship work?

I love Fern with all her quirkiness, her love for books, her special hidden space. She made the book for me. I did fall for Wally too. Such a nice guy! I want to be friends with them and meet at the library. I just need to wear my goggles (which I already use for work--thank you, COVID) and borrow the noise-canceling headphones from my hubby. 

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Paris Apartment Kelly Bowen

Title: The Paris Apartment
Author: Kelly Bowen
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 20, 2021

A heart-wrenching novel that unearths generations of secrets and sacrifices -- perfect for fans of The Paris Orphan and The Lost Girls of Paris.

When a woman inherits a Parisian apartment undisturbed since WWII, she discovers that it may hold the key to unraveling her cold and distant great-grandmother's secret life -- a past of sacrifice during a mission to protect those she loved.

I'm always attracted to books set during WW2. I think it's because it was such a terrible period for humanity but despite it all, there were always people fighting for freedom and justice. So much courage!

As soon as I saw The Paris Apartment, I knew I wanted to read it. 

Lia's grandmother has passed away and she has left her an apartment in Paris. An apartment no one knew she had!

When Lia opens the door to the apartment, the only way to describe it would be a time capsule from the 1940s. The walls are filled with paintings that probably cost a fortune. The closet is filled with couture garments but the most shocking thing is the nazi propaganda left behind. Lia wonders if her grandmother was a nazi collaborator.

Lia is determined to find out more. She will go in search of true ownership of the paintings and she will enlist the help of Gabriel, an art appraiser. 

Estelle is Lia's grandmother. Her story will be told in the 1940s. During those chapters, we learned what Estelle was really doing during the Nazi occupation of France, her visits to the Ritz, and her relationship with Sophie, a woman who looks like an ice princess and whose sole purpose left in life is to help bring the nazis down. 

The Paris Apartment is a satisfying story of determination and strength. The dual timelines worked very well in this novel. Both were engaging although, Estelle's was way more unnerving for me despite knowing she lived a long life.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.