Audiobook Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Published: May 13, 2014 by Ecco

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Synopsis: Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page. 

Review: WARNING: The best way I can review this book is with a good/bad/ugly comparison, which will almost certainly include major spoilers for this book. Consider yourself warned.

Good: I really love the way Josh Malerman writes. He is very adept at creating suspense. Some parts of this book made me feel like I would crawl out of my skin with the anxiety of the moment. He is a very good writer.

I loved Malorie. She is a strong, kick ass woman. She starts off the book pregnant, scared, and with no idea of how she is going to cope in this new world. But she does. Not perfectly. Sometimes not even competently. But she moves forward all the same, trying to protect herself and her children.

I really loved the uniqueness of this world. I can honestly say that I have never read a book that portrayed the apocalypse this way. An unknown…something, that has a devastating effect on humanity. No one knows why. No one knows how to stop it. No one even knows what it is. It’s a terrifying concept, and I loved it.

Bad: The audiobook narrator was a really bad fit. Every time she did Malorie’s part the narrator made her sound timid and scared. There were undoubtedly moments when that was appropriate. But like I mentioned, Malorie is a tough, kick ass woman. When she stands up in her boat and says “Get away from me!” it is not a trembling, quavering plea. It is a command to GET THE F*** AWAY! In fact, it says it in the text for that line, it is a command, it is angry. So that was really annoying throughout the audiobook.

I didn’t like the villain. It felt really cheap and out of place. I still can’t quite remember why everyone thought he was such a horrible guy originally. The whole plot felt like the author thought he needed a villain apart from the “creatures” so he scrambled to add in this side plot. It wasn’t necessary. It detracted from the overall plot.

Ugly: There were a few things that bugged me the entire way through the book.

Why didn’t Malorie name the children? It was so incredibly weird that she just calls them Boy and Girl. And then says at the end that names are a luxury for safer times. Okay…..that literally makes no sense. Every human calls other humans by a name or nickname to identify them. Even if she called them a cutsie nickname it would have made sense but Boy and Girl? Wtf! It made it impossible for me to relate to them as characters at all.

There were some serious physics problems with how Olympia died. She dies shortly after giving birth to a child. First off, I won’t get into the logic problems of two pregnant women going into labor at exactly the same moment. Or the logic of a whole group of adults leaving the two laboring women all alone in the attic to go argue. But Olympia jumps out a window after giving birth and they mention in graphic detail the umbilical cord getting caught on the window sill and her body being suspended by it. Um, this was very obviously written by a man who has no idea how childbirth works. The purpose of the umbilical cord is to be detach itself from the uterus after birth and then come out. Even if it remains attached if pressure is put on it then it will tear away. There is just no possible way that scene is happening. It was completely bizarre. I had no idea what the point of that scene was except for a gross factor but it was weird.

The “creatures” were also really inconsistent. Most of the time they don’t even seem to be interacting with humans at all. They are simply present and it drives the humans insane. Then, later on, they seem to be physically stalking the humans but only enough to scare them. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, a creature is trying to forcibly remove someone’s blindfold. This particular scenario never happens again. So, which is it? Are they simply inadvertently having this effect or malevolent? Because they display both traits.

So, in the end I enjoyed the story but it was also pretty deeply flawed. I am interested enough to read the next book and see what happens next.

Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Published: December 30, 2019 by Graydon House

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Synopsis: Imagine that your husband has two other wives. You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife? 

Review: I really loved this book at first. I thought it was stupid that the “Thursday” wife’s name was actually Thursday but after a short laugh at the idiocy of it I moved on and had a good time. The plot was engaging. I enjoyed unraveling the mystery.

Thursday was an alright character. A bit naive and jealous but she told us a very concise and interesting story. I liked hearing about her marriage as she scrapped together details of the other wives. Seth was rather useless though. Since we’re seeing him through either the rose-colored glasses on Thursday in the beginning or the “OMG he’s evil!” glasses of later in the book. As a result I never got a good read on who his character actually was supposed to be. He could have been a cardboard cutout with “Husband” written on it and it would have made no difference.

WARNING: Spoiler alert for the ending!!

What brought me down on this book was the ending. Again. Once again we ended up with an unreliable narrator. Thursday is crazy and making it all up. Well, she is crazy but they were also setting her up. It was very convoluted. To be frank, I am sick and tired of endings that go “Ha, see, they are mentally ill and not telling you the truth dear reader, or are they…” It’s cheap, it’s boring and I am really weary of reading it. It cheapens mental illness and it’s become nothing more than a thriller trope.

Just once, can I get a thriller where the character actually uncovers the truth about what’s going on? Couldn’t we have actually had two other wives? The ultimate twist still would have worked! Pointless. Annoying.

Review: The Good Stranger by Dete Meserve

The Good Stranger by Dete Meserve

Published: May 19, 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

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Synopsis: From the bestselling author of Good Sam—now a Netflix feature film—comes another Kate Bradley story about the nature of generosity and finding unexpected connections with strangers.

TV reporter Kate Bradley arrives in Manhattan ready to take on a challenging new position as a national news correspondent. When a massive power outage plunges New York City into darkness, the disaster she expected to cover takes an unexpected turn. Someone is leaving thousands of mysterious gifts throughout the city, and the only clue to the giver’s identity is the occasional note from “A Stranger.”

Together with handsome TV series host Scott Jameson, Kate must make sense of these random generous acts, which quickly escalate in scale and capture the attention of viewers across the country. In early-morning stakeouts and late-night surveillance, they crisscross the city hunting down leads, but the elusive Stranger is always one step ahead.

Menacing letters and videos addressed to Kate threaten to derail the investigation, but she’s determined to uncover the identity of the benefactor. The closer Kate gets to the truth, the more clearly she sees that even the smallest act of generosity can bring about powerful change. And it just may take her own selfless act of kindness to solve the feel-good mystery of the year.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing!***

I am not sure just what I expected when I got this book to read. Obviously I had heard of the book Good Sam, but I have not read it. Readig the synopsis for both books they seem pretty similar to be honest. In the end I liked this one fine, but it didn’t blow me away.

I had a bit of a problem with just how naive Kate was throughout the book. Granted, she had just moved to New York City and it can take some adjusting to become accustomed to the flavor of a new city. But she had been a crime reporter for years in Los Angeles, surely that should have jaded her a little bit with regard to human nature right? Instead, she is surprised when people in the street largely ignore her. Seemed constantly surprised that the news station seemed more interested with stories on crimes and politics than on people doing nice things for each other. And she steadfastly refused to believe that all the good deeds had some kind of ulterior motive. It didn’t seem very realistic to me, it’s not like she was a sheltered small town girl or something here. Her father is a senator, she was raised around the absolute bottom of the filth pit with regard to humanity, and she used to live in Hollywood…the neighbor of politicians in the bottom of the filth pit. It was kind of annoying.

At a certain point I also felt like the story got repetitive. Good things happen, Kate and Scott try to find a lead to the source of it, they fail, they argue about why the station shouldn’t kill the story, and repeat. I also felt like the vaguely threatening messages Kate kept getting of “Stop looking for these people!” was not needed. It ended up leading her to the people that the individual was trying to warn her to stay away from in the first place. Talk about a fail.

The story was sweet and nice. The romance was sweet and nice. And at the end of the day it was a feel good story and not much more. I’m okay with that.

Review: Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawaii Strong Washburn

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawaii Strong Washburn

Published: March 3, 2020 by MCD

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Synopsis:Sharks in the Time of Saviors is the story of a family, a people, and a legend, all wrapped in one. Faith and grief, rage and love, this book pulses with all of it. Kawai Strong Washburn makes his debut with a wealth of talent and a true artist’s eye.” –Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods–a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai’i–with tragic consequences–they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.

Review: I finished this book well over a week ago and I find that I still don’t know quite what to make of it. It was fascinating, interesting, confusing, head scratching, and magical. So in the end I come to a high three star rating, probably closer to 3.5 stars.

I thought that I was going into a book about a boy who is saved by sharks and develops magical powers. And the struggle of his family and larger community to come to terms with the scope of those powers and what they mean. To an extent, this was accurate. But the book was also not about that at all. It was about Noa’s family. The struggle of his mother and father to survive the ever increasing cost of survival in Hawaii while trying to get their three kids to better themselves and their lives. The struggle of a brother and sister who feel overshadowed by their magical brother and cope with that stress in entirely different ways.

I really was drawn in to this family. I was rooting for them and cared for them deeply. I also loved the weaving in of the myths and magic of Hawaii. I could tell just how deeply the author feels connected to his Hawaiian heritage and it was beautifully done. This was a book about things that divide us and the things that mend those divides.

The only problem I had with this book is that it dragged in places. It was a heavily character driven plot but sometimes the only thing the characters seemed to want to do was complain for chapters at a time. When I got past those parts the story swept me up in its magic in an instant. But getting through some of those sections was hard. This book felt like it needed one more good pass by the editor’s scalpel to be utterly perfect.

Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Published: June 2, 2020 by William Morrow

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Synopsis: The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Review: This book was one of my most anticipated of the summer. The synopsis is great, the cover is intriguing, and the narrators for the audiobook were great. In the end, it was okay.

I really enjoyed the lead up to the climax of the story. Everyone had an interesting tale and some secrets to hide. Mostly they were not good secrets. They were pretty mundane except for one person. By the time we got to anything interesting we were already in the midst of the climax of the story. But I didn’t really mind because when you think about life most secrets are horrifying for the person keeping it and mundane for most other people.

It was fairly obvious that the author was going for an Agatha Christie vibe with the ending but unfortunately I think she picked the wrong Christie to emulate. By the time we find out who got killed, who killed them and why it just seemed a bit ridiculous. It was very convoluted and an innocent person ended up going to prison. I didn’t like that and it brought the book down for me. I know precisely the Christie ending that the author should have gone for, but I won’t tell. It would give away too much about the story.

Review: The Apartment by K.L. Slater

The Apartment by K.L. Slater

Published: April 28, 2020 by Thomas & Mercer

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Synopsis: It’s an opportunity she can’t refuse. The woman before her tried…

Freya Miller needs a miracle. In the fallout of her husband’s betrayal, she’s about to lose her family home, and with it the security she craves for her five-year-old daughter, Skye. Adrift and alone, she’s on the verge of despair until a chance meeting with the charismatic Dr Marsden changes everything. He’s seeking a new tenant for a shockingly affordable flat in a fashionable area of London.

Adder House sounds too good to be true… But Freya really can’t afford to be cynical, and Dr Marsden is adamant she and Skye will be a perfect fit with the other residents.

But Adder House has secrets. Even behind a locked front door, Freya feels as if she’s being watched: objects moving, unfamiliar smells, the blinking light of a concealed camera… and it’s not long before she begins to suspect that her dream home is hiding a nightmarish reality. Was it really chance that led her here—or something unthinkably dark?

As the truth about Adder House starts to unravel, can Freya and Skye get out—or will they be locked in forever?

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer!***

I am horribly behind on my NetGalley and author requests, so I am on a mission to get caught up before the end of summer. So expect to see my disclaimer a lot in the next few months.

But on to The Apartment. This was a pretty average thriller, as they go. I can’t say it was great. Neither can I say it was bad. It kept my attention and it was entertaining. I ended up staying up late into the night again because I wanted to see how it ended. I already had a good idea of how it was going to end, but I was interested enough to want to see it through.

The premise of this book is a good one. The offer that’s “too good to be true” is a common theme in thrillers. Naturally it gives all readers those “don’t go into the basement, you idiot!!” kind of vibes. I am okay with that. I don’t mind feeling like a character is making an obviously stupid decision. It wouldn’t be very thrilling if they didn’t, right?

Freya is one of those characters. From the beginning I was screaming at her not to move into that house. I didn’t need anything suspicious to happen, it’s a thriller so I know it’s going to go badly. I do feel that she didn’t entirely respond the way a normal person would early on. That can be problematic because it pulls me out of the story. For example, when your new landlord takes it upon themselves to enroll your child into school. You don’t just be internally mad for a minute and then go to lunch. That’s the reaction of a not-normal person. Eventually though Freya pulled it together and was rightly angry and suspicious.

I felt like more time needed to be spent on this book. The ending was a really good one. Predictable, but good. And it was executed really well. But it stretched reality a little too much for me. All of this took place in less than a week. In order to accomplish what the villain was supposedly trying to accomplish there needed to be much more time invested. Unless Freya was unstable to begin with. But the author took great pains to tell me that she was a strong, capable woman. She dealt with a lot in her life and bounced back. So this needed more time to make me believe that she would lose it that way.

Overall I enjoyed it and it was a pretty good thriller. I wish it was longer and a bit more developed though.

Review: The Other Mrs by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Published: February 18, 2020 by Park Row

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Synopsis: Propulsive and addictive, The Other Mrs. is the twisty new psychological thriller from Mary Kubica, the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs….

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

Review: I put down an ultimatum when I started this book. If I didn’t enjoy it, then I am giving up on thrillers for awhile (except ARCs that I have obviously). Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the current world of thrillers but it’s not doing it for me.

This one started off well, despite the fact that I found our main narrator (Sadie) incredibly dull. She was so boring. And despite her insistence on reminding everyone that she is a doctor, we never actually see her performing duties as a doctor. Mostly she just navel gazes and complains. We learn very quickly that she is damaged and so is the rest of her family. They have fled to Maine after her husband’s sister commits suicide and they adopt another damaged person into the family. Sadie is not a nice person. She’s judgmental, arrogant, and a really bad mother. The only interactions we ever see her have with her children are when she’s telling them to leave her alone or suspecting one of them of doing something awful with no real evidence.

Despite Sadie, the story drew me in. We were also narrated by Camille, the woman who Will had an affair with. Camille is fantastic. I loved her narration and wish we had gotten more of it. We also hear from Mouse, a 6 year old little girl who is dealing with an abusive stepmother and a father who travel frequently for business. The way these three narratives were woven together was actually very good. Even though the ending was terrible, I thought the weaving of the narrations was masterful.

Unfortunately, it became abundantly clear to me what the ending was going to be about halfway through. One of the twists I predicted was accurate. It wasn’t great but it made sense to the story. The second twist was so ridiculous that I actually laughed out loud. I wonder if that’s the landscape of thrillers these days, come up with an outlandish twist that no one could possible guess. I am not a fan. Usually this means that it is absolutely out of character for the people in the book and makes literally no sense with the rest of the plot. That was the case here. Having a standard thriller ending that everyone knows is coming is not a bad thing. Deciding to throw in twists just for the sake of shocking your audience is a bad thing, and I wish authors would stop doing it.

Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

The Holdout by Graham Moore

Published: February 18, 2020 by Random House

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Rating:

Synopsis: In this twisty tale from Moore, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game, young juror Maya Seale is convinced that African American high school teacher Bobby Nock is innocent of killing the wealthy white female student with whom he appears to have been involved and persuades her fellow jurors likewise. Ten years later, a true-crime docuseries reassembles the jurors, and Maya, now a defense attorney, must prove her own innocence when one of them is found dead in Maya’s room.

Review: This book was both very good and also very average. The author is clearly a skilled screenwriter, this comes through in the depth of the dialogue and characterizations throughout the book. I had zero complaints with either of these aspects. The characters were all unique and likeable/unlikeable in entirely different ways. The dialogue between them painted the picture of their relationships in a real and meaningful way.

The plot was well structured and I enjoyed the pacing too. We alternate between the present, where Maya is being accused of the murder of one of her fellow jury members, and flashbacks of the original trial from each of the jury members POV in turn. This gave a really good view on how each of the different people had viewed the case and the individual reasons why they ended up being swayed to vote not guilty. It was also interesting to hear the snippets of testimony from the Bobby Nock trial and I could not help coming to my own conclusions. Obviously the plot touches on racism and classism a bit, but it was well balanced and not heavy handed.

I have two complaints with this book that kept me from rating it higher than three stars. First, I don’t understand why the not guilty vote was so hard to convince everyone of. From what we were presented about the testimony there was multiple reasons for reasonable doubt. All of the jury members were intelligent people, how exactly did only one of them come to the conclusion that the prosecution hadn’t made a compelling case? The defense thought they had made their case so thoroughly they didn’t even call a witness. That was the right call because they shredded the prosecution’s case every time we heard testimony. I found it hard to believe that Maya was the only one with doubts and that she had to convince everyone else.

The other part I was thrown off by was the ending. I knew that there would be a twist from the fact that the author wrote about admiration of Agatha Christie plot twists (so much admiration that he spoiled the twist to three different Christie novels). But this one came out of left field. There wasn’t even a tiny hint that this person could have been the killer of the juror. There were several very good suspects so I am not sure why we went that route except for the “twist”. The resolution to where Bobby Nock was actually guilty was not surprising, I knew it would be something to that effect early on.

Overall this book was very compelling, I found that I couldn’t stop listening to it. I wanted to know what came next and listened to the whole audiobook in about 27 hours. But I wasn’t completely satisfied with the answers I got.

Review: The Warehouse by Rob Hart

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

Published: August 20, 2019 by Crown

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Rating:

Synopsis: Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities.

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering.

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him.

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here.

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place.

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price.

Review: This book was a mixed bag. I listened to the audiobook and it was an enjoyable listen, but the ending got a bit too unbelievable for me. The narrators of the audiobook were great, I really liked both of them.

Cloud is obviously based on Amazon. The world has gone to waste with global warming, gun violence and increasing influence in government by corporations. Like any good dystopian fiction it takes real life challenges and extrapolates them into a worst case scenario. Most of the world is unemployed and surviving by the skin of their teeth, but for around 30 million people Cloud is a haven. They work and live on a climate control property. They have their own currency system and police force. All you have to do is show up for your assigned job (chosen for you by some algorithm) and achieve high ratings. If you get rated a one-star employee then you are terminated on cut day and asked to leave. This was an interesting world that is obviously extrapolating the steps that Amazon is taking in our world. Though I did have to wonder, if the entire world is in ruins, who is buying all the stuff that employs 30 million people?

The two main characters were pretty good. I liked Zinnia a lot more than Paxton though. At least Zinnia was very clear in who she is. She is a spy. She is willing to use people to achieve her goal because ultimately that’s the only thing that matters to her. I was never very clear on Paxton’s goals. We are told that he used to be the CEO of a small company that was forced to go out of business by Cloud, forcing him to work for the beast that killed his dream. But then later we find out that he didn’t even have a patent yet for the thing his company made, so it couldn’t have been a very long standing dream. Then he vacillates between hating Cloud, then being pro-Cloud, then hating Cloud again throughout the book. It was kind of confusing because the things that made him switch sides seemed arbitrary.

The plot was interesting and made sure to keep a good flow of things happening, otherwise it would have been too repetitive to be enjoyable. It was fairly predictable but the ending really threw me. It seemed like an attempt to make things so ludicrous that it would convince anyone sitting on the fence about Cloud immediately take the the side of Cloud being evil. It was strange and stretched the limits of my belief.

Overall it was a solid book that I liked reading.

Review: Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone

46066517._SY475_Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone

Published: March 24, 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

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Synopsis: She’s cold, calculating, and can deceive with a smile. Jane Doe is back in the Amazon Charts bestselling series – and this time she’s met her match.

After a brutal childhood, Jane Doe has been permanently wired to look after herself and only herself. Now, looking next to normal, Jane has a lover and a job. But she hasn’t lost her edge. It sharpens when she hears from her estranged family.

Jane’s deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece, Kayla, has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane. Until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl’s eyes. It’s the empty stare of a sociopath.

Jane knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Only Jane can help her – by being drawn into Kayla’s dark world. And no one’s more aware than Jane just how dangerous that can be.

Rating: 3 star

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing!***

I really enjoyed this book and found it an easy read. It’s the second in a series but that didn’t hamper the story at all. I found that it wasn’t really necessary to explain how and why Jane got to this place, she did it for self-serving reasons because she’s a sociopath. She explained some of those reasons along the way and that was good enough for me. Her personality is what carried this book. I loved seeing her savage logic applied to situations that had me cringing as a normal human, but also cheering because it was well deserved even if I would shrink away from doing it.

The impetus for the book is a little bit thin. Jane’s niece, Kayla, is missing and no one seems to care. Jane doesn’t care either because she’s not capable but she’s interested because she thinks that Kayla might be a sociopath like her. For some reason that she doesn’t bother to explain, she decides to try and find her….she says it was for “fun.” That isn’t a great reason. Whose fun? Jane’s? Kayla’s? How exactly is this “fun?” It would have been more interesting if she wanted someone around who understood her, but she doesn’t even seem to care about that either.

Despite the poor reasoning behind why Jane is look for Kayla it was an interesting ride. I don’t like that this book is being marketed as a thriller because it was anything but thrilling. It was not really even a mystery. It was an interesting character study and a fun journey. Jane was an engaging character and seeing a little mini sociopath that irritated her so much was good too. My only complaint about Jane was that she got a little preachy on the “society lets men exploit women every day, but not me, I’ll exploit them first.” I got the message the first three times we had the speech, I didn’t need it again after that.

This book did make me want to go back and read the first book, which I take as a good sign that I enjoyed it enough to want to see the character again.