Evil by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: May 12, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

You know that group of people in school that everyone fears? Popular. Beautiful. The in-crowd?
That was my family. Kind of.
We were above that group. We held court over everyone else. We were the best looking. We were the mysterious and elusive ones. Most of the girls wanted to (and did) date the guys, but they didn’t want to be one of us. They couldn’t be. They were our prey.
We were the feared.
But like every family, nothing is as it seems. That was my truth.
Kellan was in his own league. He was our leader and he was the one no one messed with. No one dared. He was ruthless, powerful, and no one could match him…
Except for me.
I was about to find out just how different I was from my family.

**Evil is a full-length paranormal romance stand-alone.
**This book contains adult/mature young adult situations.

Review –

Not a fan of paranormal romance, but I’m on a Tijan reading frenzy so gave this one a try.

I started, stopped, contemplated whether I should continue, forced myself to continue because I had to know how it ends, got confused, frustrated, and then just deleted it as soon as I read the end. I initially thought this was a “The Walking Dead” version of “Twilight.” You know, where it’s more gory, more sexy, more adult. Turns out: it’s not.

Sexy? No. Bits and pieces of the romance and lust between Kellan and Shay peek out, but — meh. Adult? Nope, it’s really just high school with demons and angels in it. How the story got from the beginning to the end was just a whole lotta “WTH is going on.” What I liked about Tijan’s  books is they are fast-paced. Her writing style is fluid and easy-to-read. She kept me wanting to know what happened next. I normally like twists that I could not predict. There were lots of those in Evil, but the same twists were just… forced, I think. They don’t “fit” well. They were abrupt, unbelievable, and psychopathic in nature. Yes, I know: “psychopathic” fits with “Evil.” But, I’m sorry, I just don’t buy the whole story’s revelation and ending.

Good should triumph over Evil, that’s what we all constantly hope for. In Tijan’s “Evil,” Evil won, ’cause I sure as hell don’t think Kellan and Shay are good.

Will I read another PR again? I doubt it.

 

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The Fire Between High & Lo (Elements #2) by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: March  25, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

Logan Francis Silverstone was the complete opposite of me. I danced while he stood still. He was quiet, and I was always running my mouth. He struggled to find a smile while I refused to frown.

The night I saw the darkness that truly lived inside of him, I couldn’t look away.

We were broken together, yet somehow whole. We were wrong together, but always right. We were the stars that burned across the night sky, searching for a wish, praying for better tomorrows.

Until the day I lost him. He threw us away with one hasty decision—a decision that changed us forever.

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

And for a few breaths, a few whispers, a few moments, I think he loved me, too.

Review –

This is the second book in the Elements series by Brittainy C. Cherry and boy oh boy can she write the Hell out of angst!

The Fire Between High & Low is not an easy book for me to read. There was so much angst. I had to take breaks. I even knew at 4% that this book was going to wreck me, and it did. The author is like a puppeteer who pulls at your heartstrings until you have no choice but to feel. I sniffled, I cried, I bawled big, fat, ugly tears. It wasn’t within my power to NOT feel empathy for these characters and their situation. This made their HEA so much more powerful, too.

Alyssa (High) and Logan (Lo) came from opposite sides of the track. Each had different interests. Each lived very different lives. They were opposite in most every way that should have mattered. But their spirits were the same. Each was damaged from their parents — whom I hated with every fiber of my parental being! Each was lonely and desired to be loved.

What started out as childhood friendship eventually turned into teenage love. They depended on each other for their mental well-being. Spending time with one another, laughing with and supporting each other, they were inseparable. High needed Lo as much as she needed him. And then due to lies and manipulation, Lo left. Leaving High to figure out how to live without him.

Fortunately, this is written in dual POV. I don’t think this would have worked any other way. Because when Lo acted like an ass, we eventually found out why.

This story shows the power of how people can endure so much hurt, but overcome it. They couldn’t catch a break. Bad things kept getting between them until they didn’t.

Their story is a train wreck happening in slow motion and I couldn’t look away!!!!!

Five stars!

 

Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: November 17, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

Erika

I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.

His name is Michael Crist.

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed me.

Michael

Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.

In my city.

Unprotected.

The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

***Corrupt can be read as a stand-alone. No cliffhanger.

Review –

This is the first book in the Devil’s Night series by Penelope Douglas.  Each book focuses on a different man from the main group of friends. The story takes place in the same world as stand alone Punk 57(whose main character is cousins with a character from the Devil’s Night series). You could read this as a stand alone too because there is no cliffhanger and it’s currently available on kindle unlimited.

The book revolves around the events of one night, three years prior and the revenge planned in the present. There is a lot of going back and forth in the timeline.

Four former students who used to be considered “kings” of the school come back on Devil’s Night (the night before Halloween) to whip the basketball team into shape. They do this by showing the current team how to haze, drink, and screw their way into a brotherhood that can hopefully perform on the court. After helping out their old school team, they then proceed to relive their youth by spending the rest of Devil’s Night pulling off some pranks that include sex with an underage girl, arson, and vandalism. They do all this while dragging along a sixteen-year-old girl and basically daring her to participate while constantly treating her to verbal abuse and veiled and not so veiled threats of rape etc. yet she stays. 

Something goes terribly wrong and the videos of their adventures (yes, they record everything) fall into the wrong hands and three of the four end up going to jail for three long years. They think the girl betrayed them so they spend those three years planning an elaborate revenge that will result in her being at the mercy of all four boys to be used by them in every way imaginable. Do they confront the girl, ummm…no. They just assume and plan. The fact that they did everything they were accused of meant nothing, they were just mad they got caught.

It’s dark, uncomfortable, twisted, creepy, exciting, intense, thrilling, and still very sexy.  This wasn’t a romance story that’s just set within a suspense plot, the romance itself was suspenseful and nerve wracking

This is one where I feel like TRIGGER WARNINGS are important but really the whole thing could be triggering so I don’t even know how piece it apart.  Consent is on the shakiest ground here and there are multiple nonconsensual interactions where the main female  character is clearly saying NO and being harassed or attacked and an almost rape scene situation.  Pretty much all of this behavior is meant to add to the scary suspense of the story and it definitely works, making you question just how far these characters are going to go and if you can handle it.

It had a HEA but it is a f***ed up story meant to push your limits – I’d be getting restraining orders and therapy after this sh*t if it happened to me, but again, what a ride. Also if you’re not into sex scenes in public places and mfm threesomes, steer clear!

Five stars!

 

Until You (Fall Away #1.5) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: February 18, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Have you ever been so angry that hitting things felt good? Or so numb that you actually felt high? The past few years have been like that for me. Traveling between fury and indifference with no stops in between.

Some people hate me for it, while others are scared of me. But none of them can hurt me, because I don’t care about anything or anyone.

Except Tatum.

I love her so much that I hate her. We used to be friends, but I found out that I couldn’t trust her or anyone else.

So I hurt her. I pushed her away.

But I still need her. The sight of her centers me, and I can pool all of my anger into her. Engaging her, challenging her, bullying her…they are my food, my air, and the last part of me that feels anything human.

But she left. She went to France for a year, and came back a different girl.

Now, when I push, she pushes back.

Review –

If you’re expecting Until You to just be a retelling of Bully in Jared’s POV, well, you’re in for a lovely surprise. Until You has so much more than what happens in Bully, and the timeline is longer. We get more of the year that Tate left for Europe (when Jared is totally moping about how Tate won’t be there for him to bully), more flashbacks of Jared and Tate’s childhood , and  more of what happens after the end of Bully. And Penelope Douglas writes this all with Jared’s no nonsense, totally badass POV. 

What is it with boys who are totally hot but complete jerks? And WHY do I still keep on loving them? Maybe it’s the sweet side that they show only to the women they love, or maybe it’s the whole redemption thing, but whatever reason it is, I can’t stop reading about them! And Jared is probably my all-time favorite jerk. He’s the jerk of my dreams. The lovable jerk. Sometimes he takes it too far, but whenever that happens, we know that he feels guilty (even though he tries to be badass and not show it). 

We get to see how devastated Jared felt when he came home from his father’s, and how he kept spiraling downward, and pushing Tate away. But then, when Tate comes back, everything changes for him. It’s not so easy to bully her or to bottle up his feelings for her. Because no matter how many times Jared tries to push Tate away, she is always in his heart. And when he’s finally done with the bullying… He turns on the charm because he knows Tate can’t resist him, just like he can’t resist her, and the two of them together are explosive.

Jared’s lantern tattoo!!  The sweetest thing I’ve ever read. Until You is perfect. Reading from Jared’s POV about how much he loves Tate, and how he tries to redeem himself is just the best thing ever. Penelope Douglas is a goddess for creating one of my favorite book boyfriends.

Fantastic read!

Too Much by Ella Miles

Book Description:

Published: April 6, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

A romance that starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.

He’s not coming.
He promised.
He swore.
He said he would always be here for me.
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t fucking here.

Quinn met Hunter five years ago at age eighteen. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was the complete opposite. But they did make a promise that day. If times ever got shitty again, all either of them had to do was text each other for help. For five years, they had always been there for each other until…they weren’t.

A standalone, new adult romance, contemporary romance.

Review –

This was the most confusingest book I have read. I never understood what was going on between the characters one minute they were together and the next they could never be together. And one minute Quinn had Ava and the next she didn’t. It wasn’t until the very end that I understood how all the characters were connected. My brain was literally discombobulated.

The idea of going backwards in their relationship before giving them a HEA was aggravating and I didn’t like it. I think it would’ve been good to have some of the flashbacks, but to also have more from the present to counteract it. The book was entirely about their past with just a few short parts about their present, and I just didn’t feel like it was enough.

There is a bit of “soap opera” drama and I felt the end was rushed. Nuff said.

 

Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: October 18, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me anymore.

Review –

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of “enemy to lover” themed books and this one is up there on my list of favorites.

Tate and Jared grew up living next door to each other. They were as thick as thieves all throughout childhood, but the sweet, generous and loveable boy Tate once called her best friend disappeared overnight, leaving in his stead a guy who made it his daily job to intimidate her, to make her feel insignificant and unwanted, and to isolate her from her peers. No explanation was ever offered, leaving her confused and hurt, and even after countless rumours, pranks, cruel jokes that made the last two years of her life hell, she never stopped missing her best friend. By not understanding his behaviour, she never stopped searching for that kid she once loved in his eyes somewhere, reluctantly hanging on to a memory of him that no longer existed, regardless of all the tears and pain he had willingly caused her.

After a year of studying abroad, she returns to her hometown for the last year of high school, with a new attitude in tow, telling herself that she would not let Jared’s actions affect her again, but her bully is as determined as ever to toy with her. And to make her feel every bit of hatred he feels for her. Until Tate finally fights back

Two years of torment have shaped Tate into the kind of person she most probably would have never become had she not endured such emotional suffering for so long. Her patience has worn thin, she has developed a short fuse when it comes to people putting her down or mistreating her, and when it comes to Jared, she has simply had enough. And so the tables are turned and she goes out of her way to make him feel as insignificant as he has made her feel for so long. And knowing exactly which buttons to press to make him hurt the most ends up turning her into a cruel adversary.

But when Tate finally gets to Jared, his walls start crumbling down and what is left behind them is an angry little boy who is so blinded by his own pain that he hurts the one who represents his greatest weakness in life, the only person he has ever loved, allowing him to fool himself into believing that her pain would take away the pain that is ravaging him from the inside out. And what Tate discovers ends up putting a whole different light on the last three years of her young life.

This book might have started as a very vivid example of the kind of issues many teens unfortunately go through nowadays, our hearts breaking for our heroine and all she has had to endure, but it ultimately turns into a heart-warming romance that was always at the core of these characters’ connection. They could hurt each other so deeply because they knew each other so well, and every action had a reason, a source, a trigger, even though it was difficult for me, as a reader, to swallow some of those reasons at times and find in them a valid justification for such cruel and continued emotional and verbal abuse. As much as I understood the hero, there were times I wished I understood him even more, and for his triggers to have been explained in a more thorough way.

This is a story about the kind of scars we are left with after years of maltreatment, the kind of emotional baggage we carry well after things are said and done, affecting our relationships, our ability to trust those around us, and ourselves. It’s a book that moved me, angered me, made me do the occasional fist pump here and there, and it owned me cover to cover. With a refreshing and captivating writing style, the author pulled me into a world I never wanted to escape, becoming hopelessly invested in these characters, in their stories, and after turning that last page, only too eager to jump immediately onto the next book in the series, which i’m listening to now.

“I love you more than myself, more than my own family, for Christ’s sake. I don’t want to take another step in this world without you next to me.” Jared

Five stars!!!

 

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: October 21, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

Review –

Oh, to be a teenager again. NOT!!!!!!  Been there, done that. I had, what I would call AVERAGE teen years.I was not one of the “in crowd” but I had many friends. I was smart so all the boys wanted me to help with their homework or cheat off my tests and I had many sleepovers with girlfriends. 

The teens in this book are probably more on the NORMAL side(sad to say) and I would not want to change places with them.

This new adult book was a satisfying mix of sexy, fun, and smoldering hot hate. 

Punk 57 isn’t necessarily a new formula, I don’t imagine, but it certainly was refreshing.Two seven year friends who were accidentally made pen pals in the fifth grade continue to write to one another long after the school year ends. They have rules to never exchange phone numbers, to never look each other up, to keep things as they have always been.

But, as they grow older, they become each other’s crutch. They begin to secretly (or not so secretly?) fall for one another, having been each other’s sounding board for so long. And as they begin to near the end of High School, something happens that will irrevocably change their lives…even if only one of them knows about it. And, after all these years, they both finally want to see what the other is like in real life…but what if it changes everything?

But what happens if they meet and see its all been a lie? That they aren’t truly made for one another and after all these years, falling in love with one another is all a big fat waste?

By far the best part of this book is when Misha decides that its all been a lie-that Ryen is a fake, a phoney, and nothing at all like she is in her letters. When he realizes this, sees he has fallen for a girl that is all smoke and mirrors, as fake as a person can be, he snaps. He immediately hates her. How could she be so different than that beautiful girl (on the inside) he had been talking to all these years?

What follows is him taunting her, berating her, trying to show her she is better than she acts-that this facade she is putting out there for the world to see makes her no better than the trash she hangs out with. But by far the best part of the novel…is that she has no idea why the hot new guy hates her so quickly when the rest of the school practically worships her. That’s right-The best part of this book is that she has no idea that the new guy who  seemingly hates her for no reason is her best friend, the guy she compares all other guys to, the one she loves, and the one she cares about most in the world.

Messy up, right ? But oh so perfectly perfect. Need I say more? I don’t think so. For all it’s minor errors and total lack of believability (I mean…a principle would let this much chaos go on? I hardly think so), it was exactly what I needed. So, maybe its for you, maybe it isn’t….but I’ll tell you one thing-It was hot as hell. The drive inn scene alone is enough to read the book!!!!!!

Five stars!

 

 

 

When It Rains by Lisa DeJong

Book Description:

Published: September 25, 2103

Format: Audio/Audible

One night changed my life forever.

Beau Bennett has been my best friend since I can remember. He was my first crush before everything came crashing down, and now he wants more, but it’s more than I can give him. Things are different now. I wish I could tell him why, but I can’t.

I haven’t told anyone.

I never knew how much I really needed him until the day he left for college, and I was completely alone.

Then one day, Asher Hunt rides into town with his dark, captivating eyes and cocky grin. He doesn’t care who I used to be, he’s simply breathing life into what’s left. People warn me to stay away from him, but he helps me forget the pain that has held me hostage for so long; something I thought was impossible before he walked into my life.

I’ve been hurt.

I’ve been saved.

And I’ve found hope.

I thought my story was written that night, but now I know it was only a new beginning. Until one secret turns my world upside down…

Again.

Review –

The basic story line follows the heroine, Kate, who has grown up living next door to a guy, Beau. They’ve been inseparable best friends and as they got older, they both knew in their hearts that they were each other’s forever. Unfortunately, one rainy night without Beau there to protect her, a guy rips away a part of Kate’s life, taking something from her that she could never get back.

Ashamed and confused, she kept her nightmare hidden from everyone in her life for over two years not even telling Beau despite how desperately he cared for her and tried to get her to open up to him about it. He knew something was wrong but he didn’t know what and he was willing to wait for her, be there for her and support her no matter what.

But Kate didn’t feel worthy of his love and kept pushing him further and further away… and finally when he left for college, she severed nearly all their ties wanting him to go on and find his happiness without her.

At this point in her life, Asher walks in. Gorgeous, mysterious and totally into her, he pushes her to face her fears and get back the pieces of her life that were stolen from her. For whatever reason, he is the one she can accept help from and she falls hard for him. But he is hiding a huge secret… one that that quite literally changes everything… … and that he doesn’t reveal until it’s too late. Faced with the tragic outcome of his secret, Kate turns back for support to the one person who has been there all along for her and never stopped loving her, Beau.(que the tears)

The ending is bittersweet but, people aren’t perfect and life certainly isn’t a fairy tale. Sometimes it throws curve balls that change everything you’d planned, and sometimes it hands you a lifeline that helps you survive. Overall, the writing is beautiful, and the story is very well put together and truly made me feel

Excellent read, but be sure to keep Kleenex handy.

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan’s Bed by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: January 22, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.

Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.

Review –

This book was an emotional roller coaster ride! This book was heart wrenchingly good. It hit me right in the heart and I was left emotionally drained. It took a while to really get into the story line  because it felt like a typical YA romance but damn the second half totally changed my mind. Ryan’s bed was completely different from Tijan’s other books.  It not only deals with loss, grief, acceptance, and healing but it also deals with  sensitive issues like suicide and depression.

The writing was beautiful and I loved the characters. My heart ached for both Ryan and Mackenzie and the loss they’d both experienced. On the surface they might’ve seemed like an odd pairing, but it just worked. They understood each other and what they were going through and I loved the bond that formed as a result of that. It gave me all kinds of feels. There was a certain amount of escapism, too, as Mackenzie used Ryan to dull her pain, but something beautiful grew as a result of it. It was really interesting to watch Mackenzie develop throughout this book as she dealt with the loss of her sister. She gutted me at times – her pain was so visceral, so real.

Ryan was a pretty special character, too. He was popular and had a certain amount of power, but he was sweet and thoughtful and absolutely all in for Mackenzie. That’s the kind of hero I can get behind so easily. He was absolutely crush-worthy. I wouldn’t call him perfect, because who is really, but he was darn close. He protected and cared for Mackenzie in a way she needed, a way he understood because he’d lost someone close to him, too.

You should give this book a try and if you do decide to read it or listen to it ,expect angst and pain and more than a few heartaches, but know you’ll also find something beautiful amongst all that heavier stuff. At the risk of saying too much, you should also expect a jaw-dropping ending. I DID NOT see that coming. Just to be clear, it’s not a cliffhanger and this is a standalone book, but W O W. It was kinda perfect, but I still couldn’t help but trying to flip further to find more story. I’ll be adding this one to my “must reread at some point” list so I can get the full experience again, knowing the ending.

Five stars!

A Simple Favor by Darcy Bell

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.
A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

A Simple Favor is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

Review –

“The formula is familiar: The author’s debut is a pale facsimile of The Girl on the Train. True to template, the novel tells the same story from the differing and self-serving perspectives of three narrators. Stephanie is a blogger who writes about mom issues. Recently widowed and raising small son Miles alone, she overshares all manner of anxieties on her blog. Her husband and her half brother died together in a tragic auto crash, but later we learn the edgy part: her husband had suspicions about her ongoing affair with her half brother. Stephanie forms a play-date friendship with fellow Connecticut mom Emily, a busy publicist for a top Manhattan fashion designer. Certainly, Emily has an unusual fondness for serial-killer movies and Patricia Highsmith novels—and, thanks to her high-powered job, is always sticking Stephanie with the kids—but Stephanie thinks, and blogs, that she’s finally found a true friend. The two do share a common dysfunctional past: estrangement from Midwestern parents. After Emily disappears during a business trip, however, the POV shifts to her, and we learn that she and her Wall Street trader husband, Sean (who’s the third narrator), planned to fake her death in order to cash in on a $2 million life insurance policy so they and their son, Nicky, could escape the rat race. From here, the typical who’s-playing-whom standoff between the three principals unspools, and violence accelerates. There are plenty of rationalizations cited by Sean and Emily as to why their scam makes sense, in spite of the likelihood that $2 million is a drop in Sean’s annual bonus bucket, and, in any case, how much time away from the rat race would it really buy? This is just one of many unconvincing motivations driving the plot, which will amply satisfy readers’ lowest expectations.

More like “girl on a train wreck.”” Kirkus Reviews

This would make the perfect book to pack for vacation!