All the Wrong Places by Joy Fielding

All the Wrong Places2

A husband’s death, a difficult divorce, a brutal break-up, dissatisfaction with a boring relationship: for various reasons, four women turn to online dating, hoping to right-swipe the way to love and happiness.

Paige and Heather are cousins, locked in a lifelong rivalry that recently culminated in Heather taking Paige’s boyfriend for herself, although now Heather isn’t quite sure she wants him. Paige’s mother, Joan, is trying to get back on her feet after the death of the love of her life two years ago. And Paige’s longtime friend, Chloe, is considering giving her unfaithful husband a taste of his own medicine.

Together, the women are navigating the choppy waters of online dating, until one of them unwittingly makes a date with a killer, starting the clock on a race to save her life.

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Right away the opening chapter caught my attention. I started the novel without reading the description and I was hooked immediately. All seems like it is going well, a couple going on their first date, learning about what has brought them to this point and then a totally 180 shift, where we learn that this date is not going to end well.

I don’t know what it says about me that I got excited when the mood shifted and things got dark and creepy. Sadly, as the novel went on, I learned that this novel wasn’t about a serial killer, it was all about 4 women, the relationships between them and their problems with their man (or lack of).

Paige is our main character and has a strong relationship with her mother, Joan and wants nothing to do with her cousin, Heather, who was caught cheating with Paige’s boyfriend. Chloe is Paige’s best friend and wants to leave her very good looking husband (who abuses and cheats on her), but who is also very good looking. Did I mention good looking?

I wasn’t a fan of any of the women, with the exception of Joan. All of them were complaining about the men in their lives and begin to experiment with online dating (this is where the killer comes in). It took over 300 pages to catch up with the events of the opening chapter. The novel was mostly the day to day activities and interactions that the 4 women went through with a few chapters from the killer’s view.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. Not the novel that I thought it would be. More geared towards family drama than thriller.

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Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Unraveling Oliver

I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbours, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

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Unraveling Oliver is a completely different read than I thought, even though the novel states exactly what this novel is about – unraveling Oliver. Right in the opening chapter, you learn that Oliver has beaten his wife, Alice, into a coma. Then the novel goes back and interviews every person that Oliver has encountered and their thoughts on him and what he has done. I definitely didn’t think that this would be more of a character study as opposed to a mystery/thriller.

I didn’t like Oliver right from the beginning (he has just beaten his wife) and my opinions of  him didn’t change throughout the novel. Yes, you learn a bit about his history and his less than ideal childhood, but I didn’t feel any sympathy for him.

The other problem that I had with the novel is that I didn’t have a connection with Alice at all. You don’t hear her thoughts, you just learn about her second hand from the other characters. So I didn’t feel anything towards her throughout the whole novel.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. If you like character dissection, you should pick up this novel. Those looking for a thriller with big twists will want to look elsewhere.

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The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

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Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend’s house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice—and killed him in cold blood.

Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends’ abductor force Rain to revisit memories she’s worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can’t Rain just let it go?

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Available Tomorrow – September 17, 2019!

Lisa Unger’s novels have been hit or miss for me. In the Blood was the first novel of hers that I had read and I loved it. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find another one of her novels that measures up to that first read. The Stranger Inside is a middle read for me. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

The novel follows 2 characters that have been impacted by a childhood trauma. In ways they have moved on with their lives, but in many ways they are still stuck in the past. At times, I did get bored as the middle part did drag for quite a bit. I was tired of the characters’ inter monologue and was hoping for a bit more action.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. I liked it, but there wasn’t enough going on in the plot to keep my attention.

Thank you to Netgallery and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

An Unwanted Gust

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up.It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.

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I read this at the beginning of September, but I wish I had waited until December or January when there was a snow storm. This book is perfect for cuddling up on the couch with the fire on and with a cup of tea.

An Unwanted Guest just screams spookiness. A remote cabin. Massive snow and ice storm. No power. No cell service or wifi. Oh and people keep getting murdered. I love novels that have a limited amount of suspects, which keeps me guessing on what will happen and who is the murderer. I was wrong a couple times, even with some of my suspects ending up dead.

I wasn’t particularly fond of the ending. I think it wrapped up too simply and I was still left with questions relating to some of the characters’ backstories.

4 calculators out of a potential 5. A big improvement from The Couple Next Door and I’m super excited to check out Someone We Know and Lapena’s future novels.

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