I have reading up a storm lately, so this set of reviews is another long one. All in all, this was a much better set of books than my last one! I was also lucky enough to receive two pre-releases, so a big thank you to Lake Union Publishing! (I’ve noted those for reference, &, as always, any opinion is strictly my own.) Finally, if you want to keep up with what I’m currently reading at any time, I added a Goodreads widget to the sidebar! Now on to the books!
1. What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin. (5/5 stars)
Andrea & Eli aren’t just siblings, they’re twins. Eli always seemed like the golden child, the street-smart one, while Andrea was the silent, bullied one. But the twins have secrets & lies that bind them together, despite a court order keeping them apart. The story alternates between the twins’ middle schools days leading up to the arson that killed their parents, and the present day where Eli is done serving his 13-year sentence for the crime. This dual storyline allows the past to be unveiled slowly, in tandem with all of the increasingly crazy happenings in Andrea’s life. While I had my suspicions earlier on, I still didn’t have everything figured out until the end. The characters kept me involved & were so interesting! The story was a fast-paced, page-turner that kept me second-guessing what I thought I understood, just like Andrea.
2. Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter. (4/5 stars, released on 3/12/19)
After her husband’s sudden death and the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends, Erin Gaines’ world has become overwhelming. Erin decides that maybe everyone is right & a few weeks at an exclusive Caribbean resort is exactly what she needs. But Erin is beginning to think that someone wants her out of the way. This story starts off slowly, but quickly picks up the pace once Erin’s mental decline becomes evident & her daughter begins to have serious doubts about the company’s app. I was so impressed by the amount of time that Carpenter spent developing the tech company and its signature app, Jax. The story would not have flowed nearly as smoothly if I could not have envisioned the app as well as I did. Because the story alternated between Erin & Shorie’s perspectives, you’re able to follow along with both main characters, seeing information that fits together but still left me guessing until the end. I could not put this book down!
3. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. (5/5 stars)
This award-winning novel starts where most stories end – Korede’s sister, Ayoola, is a serial killer & Korede has been cleaning up her messes for years. Family has always come first for Korede & she has always protected her little sister. Things change when Ayoola starts dating a dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works, a doctor that Korede is secretly in love with. While the topic of this book lends itself to the mystery/thriller genre, the satirical tone had me laughing at Korede’s struggles to save both her sister & the man she loves. Despite the numerous flaws in all of the characters, you can’t help but relate to them & feel sympathy for them. The setting, Nigeria, was so vibrant & was almost a character unto itself. If you appreciate dark humor, this one is a must-read.
4. All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehforth. (5/5 stars)
One summer night, a young woman disappears from her family lake house, leaving behind her real estate mogul husband and 7 year old daughter. 10 years later, that daughter, Charlie, is trying to escape her family’s dark legacy by throwing herself into the prestigious boarding school she attends. Charlie is quickly tapped by the A’s, a secret & elite society who makes pledges play a scavenger hunt of secrets to be used against the faculty, administration, & even former friends. This is another book that starts off slow, but once it gets going is hard to put down. It’s also another book that uses multiple perspectives to tell 3 different stories, each in a different time period of Charlie’s family. Although it’s classified as a YA mystery, I didn’t find the setting or characters to be too young to enjoy. The present-time drama kept me interested while I tried to unravel what happened in the past.
5. The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon. (4/5 stars)
In 1985, Reggie’s mother, Vera, disappeared during a summer kidnapping spree by a serial killer called Neptune. Vera was the only victim who wasn’t found & Neptune vanished. 25 years later, Reggie has left her hometown behind, until Vera surfaces at a homeless shelter. Reggie returns home, reconnects with her outcast childhood friends, & realizes that Neptune may have also returned. There are two mysteries going in this story, that tie in together – what happened to Vera 25 years ago & will Reggie be able to stop Neptune before he kills again? Within the mystery, McMahon also tells the story of friendships rekindled & familial bonds. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I often enjoy McMahon’s books, but it was a good thriller & whodunit.
6. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain (4/5 stars)
Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. After her father’s death, Riley returns to her hometown to clean out her childhood home & uncovers family secrets that have her questioning everything she thought she knew about her family, including whether Lisa really died. I thought that knowing Lisa didn’t actually commit suicide, but has actually been on the run all these years (this isn’t a spoiler – it’s in the book description) would take away some of the suspense, but there was still plenty for me! Riley struggles to uncover why Lisa left under such mysterious circumstances & what has kept her away. As with most of the mystery/thrillers on this list, the story alternates between Riley & Lisa’s stories. I enjoyed this structure because the two stories kept pace with each other, as Riley discovered more about Lisa’s past, Lisa’s story revealed even more.
7. A Spark of Light by Jodi Piccoult (5/5 stars)
Jodi Piccoult is one of those authors who can just do no wrong in my opinion. Her ability to tackle difficult & sometimes controversial topics with courage & care is unmatched. This time, Piccoult is exploring the world of women’s reproductive health services clinics. (Note: this is a book review & I’m not getting into the politics of the story.) The morning begins like any other at the Center, then a distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire in the waiting room, taking everyone inside hostage. Hugh McElroy, a hostage negotiator, rushes to the scene, only to learn that his daughter, Wren, and sister are inside. Through the following chapters, the hours are counted backward from the shooting & we learn the stories of the women inside the clinic & the physician who works there. I found that, regardless of your politics or personal feelings on the subject of abortion, Piccoult handles this timely topic with her usual understanding, fearlessness, & careful research.
8. Trophy Life by Lea Geller (4/4 stars, released on 4/9/19)
When Agnes Parsons’ wealthy husband suddenly disappears, her life of lunch dates & household staff also vanishes after 10 years, leaving her with no money & an infant daughter. In order to take care of herself, Agnes moves across the country to begin teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. Instead of worrying about yoga classes and the perfect outfit, Agnes now has to worry about school politics and the fragile egos of her misfit students. I expected a typical “chick-lit” read from this one, but it had so much more depth & heart. Geller strikes just the right note between unbelievable & truly relatable. As a former teacher, I really enjoyed all of the characters at the school & the relationship that Agnes formed there. I found myself laughing out loud at times & cringing for Agnes at times. Geller honestly & refreshingly explores that idea that the dream life might not be all that it’s cracked up to be, & that sometimes, the life you never knew you wanted might just be the perfect fit.