Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

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It’s no secret that I love reading about other people’s drama. So of course I knew I had to pick up a novel about playing the Never Have I Ever game, where you know that there are secrets to be spilled!

The novel really isn’t about the game, Never Have I Ever, it’s about how far you are willing to go to protect your secrets from the ones that you love. Amy has a secret and no one knows the full extend of her secret until a new neighour, Roux, appears. Roux threatens to expose Amy and Amy will do almost anything to protect her and her family.

I found that the story moved along at a quick pace. I thought I had the novel figured out at the 25% mark, but it was like the author knew that I thought I knew. So at the next chapter, my thoughts were completely wrong and I had to come up with a new theory.

The ending was one that I didn’t expect at all, but not sure if I enjoyed it completely. It went a bit sideways and was a pretty dark ending in my opinion. Well darker than I thought a novel about never have I ever would be.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. I enjoyed the novel, but it missed a certain something to get a higher rating. Will look out for the author’s future novels.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man called

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations. 

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Back in June, Fredrik Backman had a small Canadian tour where he visited the town of Uxbridge, which has a large book community. My friend and I journeyed out to Uxbridge where we got to hear author Terry Fallis interview Backman and then we got to meet and get our books signed. I picked out A Man Called Ove, which I quite enjoyed!

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A Man Called Ove is filled with a cast of characters that I quite enjoyed. Front and centre, you have Ove, a man who has just lost his wife as well as his job. He finds himself lost without a purpose or someone to share his life with. The novel is filled mostly with his interactions with his neighbours, whom he tolerates, but doesn’t understand. I loved all of the neighbours, especially Parvaneh and her daughters. I really enjoyed their interactions with Ove.

I didn’t expect to get so attached to the story as well as the characters. The ending definitely got me a bit choked up! I’ve read a few of Backman’s novels, but this one is by far my favourite! It’s amazing how well the novel was translated to English from Backman’s native tongue, Swedish.

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4 calculators out of a potential 5. I highly recommend A Man Called Ove if you haven’t read this amazing novel yet. Also if Backman goes on another book tour and it is within driving distance, I would suggest that you check that out as well!

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The Face of Death (Smoky Barrett #2) by Cody McFadyen

The Face of Death

I want to talk to Smoky Barrett or I’ll kill myself.

The girl is sixteen, at the scene of a grisly triple homicide, and has a gun to her head. She claims The Stranger killed her adoptive family, that he’s been following her all her life, killing everyone she ever loved, and that no one believes her.

No one has. Until now.

Special Agent Smoky Barrett is head of the violent crimes unit in Los Angeles, the part of the FBI reserved for tracking down the worst of the worst. Her team has been handpicked from among the nations elite law enforcement specialists and they are as obsessed and relentless as the psychos they hunt; they’ll have to be to deal with this case.

For another vicious double homicide reveals a killer embarked on a dark crusade of trauma and death: an artist who’s molding sixteen-year-old Sarah into the perfect victim – and the ultimate weapon. But Smoky Barrett has another, more personal reason for catching The Stranger – an adopted daughter and a new life that are worth protecting at any cost.

This time Smoky is going to have to put it all on the line. Because The Stranger is all too real, all too close, and all too relentless. And when he finally shows his face, if she,s not ready to confront her worst fear, Smoky won,t have time to do anything but die.

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This is a book that will not be for everyone. This is a book that is scary and horrible and upsetting. I’m a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers and there were nights that I couldn’t read this novel before I went to sleep because I didn’t want to go to sleep upset. It’s a tough, tough read.

The first thing that I loved about the novel (and the series) is the cast of characters. Each character is flawed and scarred both physically and mentally. Put everyone together and you have a team that won’t let anyone hurt one of their own and will protect one another to the death. I loved it.

I also really enjoyed the mystery and how Sarah’s diary came into play with solving the mystery. It was really hard to read about what Sarah went through, but it was also really important to understand where her mind was at when she meet Smoky.

So my husband read the novel before I did (he loved it) and he mentioned that I would probably tear up at the end of the novel. We were commuting home on the train and he saw that I was approaching the end of the book. He watched my face completely crumble during the last paragraph and I sobbed like a baby. Face of Death just pulled at all of my emotions and I loved it when a novel does that to you.

4 calculators out of a potential 5. I would recommend this novel (and series) to those that enjoy dark thrillers. Make sure to start the series from the beginning since there are spoilers from book 1 (Shadow Man) that are in book 2.

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Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Lying in Wait

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

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Wow what a novel and what an ending! This is my first Liz Nugent novel and it was refreshing to read a novel that is anything from typical. From the beginning sentence – My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it – to the final scene, everything was unconventional.

Lying in Wait isn’t your classic who dunnit. Right from the opening lines, the reader knows what happened and who is to blame. The rest of the novel focuses on Lydia Fitzsimmons, her son Laurence and Annie Doyle’s sister, Karen. Parts of the novel were super creepy especially once you got to know the characters a bit better. I really enjoyed reading about the different characters and how their lives became intertwined.

4 calculators out of a potential 5. If you are looking for something different check out Lying in Wait and I’m excited to check out Liz Nugent’s other novels!

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Lies by T.M. Logan

Lies

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES?

When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

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The concept of Lies is something that has been done before. It’s a game of what ifs. What if Joe didn’t see his wife at that moment? What if he didn’t follow her to a hotel? What if he didn’t see the argument between his wife and Ben (a family friend)? What if he didn’t confront Ben? What if? What if? What if?

I did find that I wasn’t able to put down Lies. I wanted to know what the different lies were and what was really the truth. Yes, there was definitely some parts that didn’t add up to me and Joe was just clueless. It’s rare that a main character doesn’t have any idea what is going on and just accepts what they are told.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. I enjoyed the novel, but not sure if this is a novel that I will remember in a few weeks.

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