Tuesday, January 21, 2020

REVIEW: The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

Title: The First Mistake
Author: Sandie Jones
Genre: Adult Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Acquired: Print copy sent for review
Goodreads: ADD

From Sandie Jones, the author of the Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller The Other Woman, comes an addictively readable new domestic suspense about a wife, her husband, and the woman who is supposedly her best friend.

THE WIFE: For Alice, life has never been better. With her second husband, she has a successful business, two children, and a beautiful house.

HER HUSBAND: Alice knows that life could have been different if her first husband had lived, but Nathan's arrival into her life gave her back the happiness she craved.

HER BEST FRIEND: Through the ups and downs of life, from celebratory nights out to comforting each other through loss, Alice knows that with her best friend Beth by her side, they can survive anything together. So when Nathan starts acting strangely, Alice turns to Beth for help. But soon, Alice begins to wonder whether her trust has been misplaced...

The first mistake could be her last.

It's important to note that I had not heard of, or seen, this book (or this author) anywhere before I read it. There is rarely a time that I will pick a book up under these circumstances; I've lived a reading life thus far that is so dependent on "what is popular" these days, or books that have the most buzz surrounding it. This is why I found it mildly surprising that not only did I pick up The First Mistake, but I liked that I knew barely anything about it! Who am I !?!

In this adult thriller, Alice is living a coveted life with her husband Nathan, her two daughters, and a successful interior design business that was launched with her late ex-husband, Tom. A small crack in that picture-perfect veneer appears when Alice finds a suspicious item in her husband's car, and thus begins a spiral of events she just can't seem to stay ahead of. Who can be trusted, and how deep is she willing to dig to find answers?

Reading The First Mistake was like cautiously trying out a new dish, and then realizing very quickly that it's delicious and so you start eating faster and faster and then before you know it you've eaten it all and you don't even know how it happened. The cover of this book is so unassuming, and at first glance has you convinced that maybe you're about to consume a domestic drama, maybe a darker romance, but most definitely not a thriller that intensified so satisfyingly with each chapter. Jones has a knack for cliffhangers and shock value. The twists in here were each its own small atomic bomb, and she kept dropping them right until the end. The narrative wasn't psychological (the type of thriller I typically favour), so this meant that the characters weren't complex or particularly outstanding, however, that worked well for this book, where the intent wasn't to build relationships between reader and cast, but rather to keep the readers in the dark just enough to keep them guessing. 

The First Mistake is the perfect in-between book you need to propel you on to a heavier or more lengthy one. I will definitely be checking out the author's first novel, The Other Woman.

Read if you like:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson

Key themes: 
suspicion, betrayal, trust, loss, domestic disputes


credit: us.macmillan.com

Sandie Jones has worked as a freelance journalist for over twenty years, and has written for publications including the Sunday Times, Woman’s Weekly and the Daily Mail. She lives in London with her husband and three children. The Other Woman is her debut novel and a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club pick.

Website - Twitter - Instagram

A huge thank-you to Minotaur Books for providing a hardcopy of this book for review!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Beat the Backlist 2020 Reading Challenge

Welcome to the detail and progress page for the 2020 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year 

I will list each book as I read it, along with the date read and the link for my review. Click the logo above to join the challenge yourself!

1. The First Mistake by Sandie Jones | Read: Jan. 19 | (REVIEW HERE)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

REVIEW: A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Retelling
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Acquired: Purchased for my collection
Goodreads: ADD

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she's pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Logic dictates that it should be easier to write a review for a book that you adored. That the words needed should flow forth from the very veins of your heart. The same heart that was captured and held and squeezed for literally every emotion you possess. But it's quite the opposite for me, and for many of you, I'm sure. I need to ensure that the words I use aren't simple words. I need to use words that will clearly convey how immediately you need to have A Curse So Dark and Lonely in your hands.

Harper was only trying to help a distressed stranger on the streets of DC, but success is futile as she is instead magically transported to the fantasy-land of Emberfall, where a cursed Prince is on a mission to reverse his unfortunate predicament. Prince Rhen has been reliving the 18th year of his life for more than 300 seasons, and with no family left alive, the only person he shares his misery (and his curse) with is his commander, Grey. Harper's accidental arrival in Emberball is met with frustration and confusion, which soon gives way to something Prince Rhen never thought he'd feel again: hope. Is the curse finally going to be broken? And if it is, will it be enough to save them all?

Intensely popular reads in the book community never fail to make me weary. Will I love it as much? Is the hype worth it? Let me be the millionth person to tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT. I have not been this invested and in awe of a YA fantasy book/series in a very, very long time. I went into it expecting to be entertained, but what I could have never predicted was writing that was purposeful and smart; a representation of a physical disability that was respectful and overwhelmingly empowering. Kemmerer did such a brave and interesting thing by bringing Harper's cerebral palsy into a fantasy world where this condition was unheard of and had the potential to be condemned, or scorned. But how she allowed the secondary characters to view it, and then subsequently how she allowed Harper to explain it was fiercely admirable. Her character work on a whole was satisfyingly layered and complex. No two sounded the same; I could have identified each one with my eyes closed and just their voices to guide me. The world of Emberfall was all-consuming and perfectly introduced, leaving just the right amount of room for more exploration in further installments. 

I would have been deeply content in my little beating heart if Kemmerer just ended A Curse So Dark and Lonely as a standalone before the last chapter, but OH how happy I am that she didn't. I literally cannot wait to get the next book in my hands. I may or may not have already ordered it as I type this (spoiler: I did).

Read if you like:

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
fairytale retellings  

Key themes: 
courage, strength, trust, physical disability, friendship


credit: goodreads.com (author page)

Brigid Kemmerer is the New York Times bestselling author of dark and alluring Young Adult novels like A Curse So Dark and Lonely, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost (Bloomsbury), as well as paranormal YA stories like The Elemental Series and Thicker Than Water (Kensington). A full time writer, Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her husband, her boys, her dog, and her cat. When she’s not writing or being a mommy, you can usually find her with her hands wrapped around a barbell.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Nerd Daily 2020 Reading Challenge

Welcome to the detail and progress page for the 2020 The Nerd Daily Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year! 

I will list each prompt, and then the book I read that fulfilled that prompt. I will also leave links to the reviews I write for each book. Click on the image above if you would like to participate in this reading challenge yourself!

  1. Author starting with "A" - 
  2. Female author - 
  3. Purchased on holidays - 
  4. 2020 film adaptation - 
  5. Fantasy or sci-if - 
  6. Recommended by us - 
  7. Under 200 pages - 
  8. Six word title - 
  9. Written by two authors - 
10. Mystery/thriller - 
11. Green cover - 
12. Recommended by a friend - 
13. Set in the past - 
14. 2019 Goodreads choice winner - 
15. A book you never finished - 
16. Protagonist starting with "H" - 
17. Reread - 
18. Non-fiction - 
19. Released in February -  
20. Part of a duology - 
21. New York Times bestseller - 
22. Recommended by family - 
23. Over 500 pages - 
24. An award-winning book -
25. Orange cover - 
26. Bookstore recommended - 
27. A number in the title - 
28. An audiobook - 
29. Debut author - 
30. Inspired by mythology/folklore - 
31. A retelling - 
32. One word title - 
33. Bought based on a cover - 
34. Author starting with an "M" - 
35. Start a new series - 
36. A book released in 2019 - 
37. Male author - 
38. 2020 TV adaption - 
39. A book gifted to you - 
40. Author with hyphenated name - 
41. Released in September - 
42. Purchased years ago - 
43. A standalone - 
44. Author with the same initials - 
45. Told from 2 perspectives - 
46. Romance or thriller - 
47. A protagonist starting with an "S" - 
48. Two word title - 
49. Set in a foreign country - 
50. Animal featured on the cover - 
51. Written by your favourite author - 
52. Based or inspired by a true story - 

POPSUGAR 2020 Reading Challenge

Welcome to the detail and progress page for the 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year! 

I will list each prompt, and then the book I read that fulfilled that prompt. I will also leave links to the reviews I write for each book. Click on the image above if you would like to participate in this reading challenge yourself!

☐ A book that's published in 2020 - 
☐ A book by a trans or nonbinary author - 
☐ A book with a great first line - 
☐ A book about a book club - 
☐ A book set in the city that has hosted the Olympics - 
☐ A bildungsroman - 
☐ The first book you touch on a shelf with your eyes closed -  
☐ A book with an upside-down image on the cover - 
☐ A book with a map - 
☐ A book recommended by your fav. blog, vlog, podcast or online book club - 
☐ An anthology - 
☐ A book that passed the Bechdel test - 
☐ A book with the same title as a movie or TV show but is unrelated - 
☐ A book by an author with flora/fauna in name - 
☐ A book published the month of your birthday - 
☐ A book about or by a woman in STEM - 
☐ A book that won an award in 2019 - 
☐ A book on a subject you know nothing about - 
☐ A book with only words on cover, no imgs - 
☐ A book with a pun in the title - 
☐ A book featuring one of the 7 deadly sins - 
☐ A book with a robot/cyborg/AI - 
☐ A book with a bird on cover - 
☐ A fiction/nonfiction book abt world leader - 
☐ A book with gold, silver, or bronze in title - 
☐ A book by a WOC - 
☐ A book with at least 4-star rating on Goodreads - 
☐ A book you meant to read in 2019 - 
☐ A book about or involving social media - 
☐ A book that has a book on the cover - 
☐ A medical thriller - 
☐ A book with a made-up language - 
☐ A book set in a country starting with "C" - 
☐ A book you picked because title caught your attention - 
☐ A book with a three-word title - 
☐ A book with a pink cover - 
☐ A Western - 
☐ A book by or about a journalist - 
☐ Read a banned book during Banned Books Week 
☐ Your favourite prompt from a past POPSUGAR challenge - 

Bonus (10) prompts:

☐ A book written by an author in their 20s - 
☐ A book with "20"/"twenty" in title - 
☐ A book with character with vision impairment/enhancement - 
☐ A book set in Japan, host of 2020 Olympics - 
☐ A book set in the 1920s - 
☐ A book by an author with 20+ books - 
☐ A book with more than 20 letters in title - 
☐ A book published in 20th century - 
☐ A book with series with 20+ books - 
☐ A book with main character in 20s -