Review -Good Me, Bad Me

Good Me, Bad MeGood Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Published January 12, 2017 (UK)

Penguin Books Ltd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Extraordinary. Controversial. Explosive.

Those were the words that I first heard used to describe this debut novel by Ali Land. Many were saying that this book was going to be one of the more controversial novels released in 2017.

I knew I just had to read it. I wanted to know if what they said was true.

It was!

First of all I LOVED the cover of this book. Gold and black with gold raised lettering….Gorgeous!

I was pulled in from the first sentence:

“Forgive me when I tell you it was me”

The book opens as Annie is talking to a detective who can’t believe what he’s hearing. When she pulls out the stained dungarees so small, the teddy Bear covered with blotches of blood. She tells us that she could have brought more, her mother never knew she kept them. The detective makes a call telling someone to come quickly, his supervisor. He’s unsure if she’s telling the truth. She repeats her story again and again.

She tells them everything…..

Well almost everything.

They send her home and tell her to act normal, that they’re going to come that night. She’s terrified they won’t come but also terrified that they will…

They do come.

Her mother says nothing as she’s dragged from her room. She faces Annie, staring. When no one’s looking Annie nods at her mother.

New name. New family.
Shiny.
New.
Me.

After her mother was arrested, Annie (now known as Milly) didn’t speak for three days. It appeared she was in shock. But now, she is getting a fresh start. She thinks that she should feel lucky but she’s scared. Scared of finding out who she might be and scared of everyone else finding out too.

Her new foster family. Her foster dad, Mike is a psychologist, an expert in trauma. Saskia, her foster-mother just wants to make her feel at home. The Newmonts look like a fantastic family and are they very welcoming…..

Well most of them are. Right away Milly realizes that the daughter, Phoebe does NOT want Milly around.

****Possibly some minor spoilers****

Soon there will be a trial and Milly will have to speak of the horrible things her mother has done. She counts the days until the trial begins. Mike will be working with her both to help her and to help her get ready for testifying.

Milly has ongoing conversations with her mother inside her head which gives us insight into the toxic environment Annie/Milly grew up in. Her mother “training” her since an early age.

“Beautiful, pure things make me feel ugly. Tarnished. I remember asking you when I was three, maybe four, where I came from. I waited for you to sweep me up, rub our noses together in an Eskimo kiss and reply, you came for me, you belong with me, I love you. But you didn’t respond, you walked out of the kitchen left me standing there alone”

It’s not long before Milly starts noticing other things about The Newmonts. She begins to see the cracks in the “perfect” family. School becomes another kind of hell for Milly. Mostly due to Phoebe and a few other mean girls. The one saving grace is Miss Kemp. Miss Kemp is a guidance teacher who’s very kind and helps Milly get into therapy. Outside of school Milly has one friend, Morgan. Morgan also has secrets. Life is definitely not easy for her either. Thankfully nobody knows Milly’s story. They only know the story that is made up. But Milly is terrified that someone will find out and then what? What will they think? What will they do?

The terrorizing at school starts to get worse. But Milly won’t tell anyone. I was a bit frustrated with how everyone in Milly’s life seemed oblivious to what was happening.

With everything going on, It feels like it’s just a matter of time before Milly explodes.

What will happen when Milly has finally had enough?

Wow….This really was quite a book. A chilling read. In my opinion a really well-written psychological thriller. An engrossing, disturbing plot with many well-developed yet flawed characters. There were times that I thought the believability envelope was being pushed a bit far, but I was totally wrapped up in the story and able to overlook most of it.

Honestly, I understand this book may not be for everyone. Some things may be triggering for some people. The subject matter is dark and went a bit deeper than I expected. At the same time I didn’t feel like the author overdid it with descriptions of what happened and I appreciated that.

This is a book that will definitely have people talking!

I think this is a very good debut novel and I am already looking forward to reading more from Ali Land.

Thank you, Michael Joseph Ltd and Ali Land for providing an advanced copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Review – Never Let You Go

Never Let You GoNever Let You Go

by Chevy Stevens

To be published: March 14, 2017

St. Martin’s Press

 

5 STARS!!!

I am a huge fan of Chevy Stevens. “Never Let You Go” is her newest novel that will be released in March of 2017.

After reading the book description I was pretty sure that I was going to love this book.

I was right!

The book starts off from Lindsay Nash’s point of view. It’s November 2005. Lindsay, her husband Andrew, and daughter Sophie are on holiday in Mexico. But this is definitely not a vacation for Lindsay. She can’t just enjoy the sun and relax by the pool. She wears a one-piece swimsuit, a cover-up, a hat and huge sunglasses to the beach. She averts her eyes and tries not to look at anyone, tries hard not to draw attention to herself. To others they appear to be another happy family. That’s not the case. Lindsay constantly has to walk on eggshells, careful not to upset her husband and at the same time try to shield her seven-year old from what’s going on. Lindsay can see the wariness that her daughter’s eyes already hold, how nervous Sophie is around her father.

Something as simple as Lindsay pulling away from his kiss before HE ends it could set him off. It’s a full-time job trying to keep Andrew happy. No matter how hard she tries she’ll never be able to be careful enough. An accidental brush of her hand against the male server is enough to send her husband into a rage. And if he’s been drinking it’s even worse.

But Lindsay is one of the ones who gets away. She leaves her abusive husband and he ends up in jail. It was hard starting over but she did it. She now runs a small cleaning business, hiring women who were once in her position. And she’s very focused on taking care of her teenage daughter, Sophie.

But what will happen when Andrew is released from prison? He promises that he’s not going to bother them when he gets out.

Will he keep that promise?

But then strange things start happening. Lindsay feels like she’s being followed, and even feels like someone has been in her home. It can’t be her ex-husband because he doesn’t even know where they are…does he?

By taking us back to their early years together, we see how the relationship grew into the nightmare it became. Most of the time an abusive partner doesn’t show their true colors right away. However, there are often those little red flags that pop up, that feeling in our gut that something isn’t right.

But there’s so much more to this story. Of course the toxic relationship between Lindsay and Andrew is a big part of it. But it’s also about Lindsay and Sophie, and many of the other characters. The character development was excellent. I liked and admired Lindsay and I also really liked Sophie. I felt their bond was realistic and I found that I related to the close relationship they had.

Of course some of the characters behaviors and choices had me wanting to shout at my Kindle again (but I’ve promised my daughter I would stop doing that).

The book flows back and forth from past to present and is told from both Lindsay and Sophie’s point of view. It was easy to follow along and their different perspectives on what was happening made it even more interesting. I would be positive I had it all figured out but then something would happen that had me second guessing everything I thought I knew. I was always uncertain as to what would happen next.

It was really intense and as the tension grew I knew I wasn’t going to bed until I finished it. Sleep…schmeep….I needed to know how this was going to end.

It was all worth it

This was a fantastic read. Fast-paced and highly suspenseful with plenty of plot twists, believable characters and situations. With a perfect amount of build-up and tension until the intense conclusion when we find out who did what and why. Honestly even if I had gotten lucky and guessed right….I would still have enjoyed the read.

I love the way Chevy Stevens tells a story. I highly recommend “Never Let You Go”. It’s a great read that gripped me from beginning to end.

Please Ms. Stevens….may I have some more??

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Chevy Stevens for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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Review : Kill the Next One

Kill the Next OneKill the Next One by Federico Axat

Published December 13,  2016

 

Mulholland Books

 

 

My rating: 3.5 Stars

When I read the description of this book I thought the plot sounded really interesting. In the blurb it says that nothing is what it seems…. and they weren’t kidding! My head was spinning right from the first sentence.

“Ted McKay was about to put a bullet through his brain when the doorbell rang, insistently.”

He waits because he knows he can’t shoot himself while someone is at the door. Then he hears someone yelling for him to open the door. They tell him they know he’s in there. He waits for them to leave. However, the person keeps ringing the bell, banging and yelling for Ted to open the door.

Thankfully his wife and children are out-of-town.

As he’s waiting for the person to go away he notices a note on his desk. “Open the door. It’s your only way out” the note says. He has no idea where this note came from but the thing that freaks him out is that it’s his handwriting on the note. How could that be? He has no memory of writing it. Ted gives in and opens the door. The man introduces himself. His name is Justin Lynch and he tells Ted he’ll explain everything if he will let him come in. Ted slams the door but then the man says something that makes him open it right back up…

“I know what you’re about to do”

How could this man possibly know what Ted was about to do?

Justin says he knows that Ted wants to kill himself. Before Ted can say a word, Justin tells him he has a proposition for him. He’s inviting him to join a very special organization. A sort of suicide club. However, in order to be a part of this group Ted will need to kill two men. Then in return someone will kill him. The reasoning behind this is that it’s easier for a family to deal with someone being the victim of a tragedy than if the person committed suicide.

But why two murders? And how did they find out that Ted even wanted to kill himself?

Ted decides that he’ll do it. However, things do not go as planned. The intended victims aren’t exactly like Justin described. Then weird things start happening. Ted begins having bizarre dreams. He feels like he’s being watched and that he wasn’t given all the information he would have needed to make a proper decision. Was that on purpose? Is Ted being manipulated somehow? From there, things get even worse and he starts to feel like he’s losing his mind.

Dr. Laura Hill is Ted’s therapist and she feels like she can help him. Through his meetings with Dr. Hill we are given some insight into Ted’s past, his family life and some, very dark secrets.

I will stop there as I will be heading into spoiler territory if I say much more

After such a fantastic beginning I did feel the book start to drag a bit. It was interesting, but it felt like there was a lot of details and extra stuff that could have been left out. Also seemed like there were some holes in the plot which made things a bit confusing.

I enjoyed the book but it was completely different from what I was expecting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There were a lot of good twists and turns that kept me turning pages. Just when I thought I had the real story it would take off in another direction. I would just start to understand a character and their motives….but then I’d be thrown way off again.

I was pretty satisfied with how it all came together and how the author wrapped things up….but the epilogue did baffle me a bit. I may have to check around because I’m curious about what happened. I almost feel like I’m missing something big.

****Note**** There wasn’t a lot of gruesome violence in this book but I will warn readers that there is a scene with an animal that is upsetting. I was able to skip over it but I thought it was worth a mention.

Thank you NetGalley, Mulholland Books, and Frederico Axat for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: A Perfect Murder and Other Stories

A Perfect Murder and Other StoriesA Perfect Murder and Other Stories

by S.R. Nair

Published August 17,  2016

 

 

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Perfect Murder and Other Stories is a collection of fourteen short stories. The stories have different themes but most take place in the US and India. A Perfect Murder and Salma’s Fate are the two longest stories at approximately 25 pages each. The other twelve stories range from three to twenty pages.

I don’t often read short stories. However, when the author contacted me and asked if I would read this collection of stories I was intrigued.

Stories about murder, family honor, arranged marriages, betrayal, revenge, sexual assault, greed, internet dating, social media, citizenship, and more.

It didn’t take me long to read this collection. If real life hadn’t gotten in the way I could easily have read these stories in one or two sittings. Each story drew different emotions from me. Some I enjoyed more than others but overall I thought they were believable and interesting reads.

A few stories really stood out…

Salma’s Fate: Salma is married to a kind man. However, when her father-in-law is around her husband doesn’t treat her with the same respect and will often kowtow to his father’s demands. When her husband has to go away for work, her father-in-law proves how horrible he really is with a horrific act.

iPad: This was my favorite story. A very emotional and touching read.

“Nowadays phone connections are available everywhere”

Koya’s Story: Heartbreaking. Koya is a good man. He is an extremely hard worker, saving for the future. Unfortunately this means many long absences from his family.
Working and saving your whole life for the future…But is that future promised?

Seema: Facebook in India has over 125 million users. Just as anywhere else in the world social media can be used for fun but also to cause trouble. Some pictures that go viral, cause lots of trouble in this story. I loved the ending.

“This Facebook was something else.”

The Grandson: The horrible pressure put on a mother to bear a son for her husband.

The Missing Wife: A man with is accused of the crime of dowry harassment.

“The Dowry system and the demand for dowry often descended into mental and physical torture of the wife.”

The dreaded section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Which was created with noble intentions to prevent this type of harassment.

“But, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

I found this story extremely interesting, another favorite.

Total Eclipse: a man seemingly devoted to his wife as well as his dog.
This story confused and upset me quite a bit. Left with many unanswered questions and an ending bizarre, brutal and in my opinion, unnecessary.

Visa For America: A man falls in love with a woman he meets on an Indian matrimonial network – marriage.com website. Is it true love or love you until I gain my green card?

Another interesting story about love, marriage, US Citizenship, Immigration and K1 fiancée visas.

Zubair: Zubair had no inclination to move to the US. He was quite happy with his life in India. His wife is very traditional and obedient. Zubair feels he’s a progressive man since he allows his wife to continue her education. Eventually family pressure leads them to move to the US. Zubair’s wife does not want to go but keeps her reservations to herself and remains the ever obedient wife.

However, things change when they settle in to their new lives in the U.S. The biggest change? Zubair’s wife. To put it mildly….Zubair is not happy with this change.

This was the last story and I loved the ending….especially the very last sentence.

This was a very good collection of authentic, compelling, and thought-provoking stories. Many with shocking endings that took me by surprise.

Thank you, S.R Nair for providing a copy of your book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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