All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: April 3, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “otherworldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

Review –

The crux of this story is this: a woman begins an affair with her stepson. As the story progresses, readers discover she was involved in a similar affair as a young person, too, and are drawn into this repulsive web of taboo relationships. These relationships are not technically illegal, but they’re most certainly uncomfortable and taboo – and the power dynamics between adult and young person presented within them adds a whole other layer of wrong for readers to unpack. The cycle of manipulation and grooming portrayed here was the author’s way of showing how abuse can beget abuse. And that idea – the idea of examining a cycle of abuse – is not in and of itself a bad thing. When portrayed through the lens of commentary on a terrible and very prevalent occurrence, this kind of examination could indeed be quite effective in sparking an important conversation among readers. But it almost takes over the book, in my opinion .

The story is told from a number of perspectives, with the timeline jumping between present and past as pieces of the backstory gradually begin fitting into place. It’s a narrative path well trodden by the modern-day crime writer – here it can serve to confuse and I defy you to reach the end without having to backtrack a little.

While All the Beautiful Lies never quite hits the heady heights of The Kind Worth Killing, it’s still a great read. You may well work out the killer ahead of time, but I’m guessing the clever final twist will come as a big surprise.

Fantastic read!

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Defy (Sinners of Saint #0.5) by L J Shen

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 207

Format: Audio/Audible

Defy is a smutty, insta-love, insta-lust short novella. Defy is a prequel to Vicious. It is recommended, but unnecessary, to read Defy before reading Vicious.

My name is Melody Greene, and I have a confession to make.
I slept with my student, a senior in high school.
Multiple times.
I had multiple orgasms.
In multiple positions.
I slept with my student and I enjoyed it.
I slept with my student and I’d do it all over again if I could turn back time.
My name is Melody Greene, and I got kicked out of my position as a teacher and did my walk of shame a la Cersei Lannister from the principal’s office, minutes after said principal threatened to call the cops on me.
My name is Melody Greene, and I did something bad because it made me feel good.
Here is why it was totally worth it.

Review –

I usually never read Teacher/Student contemporary romances because they are too “icky”, but this was a prequel to Vicious, which I did want to read, so I read it and I loved it.

Jamie is unlike any eighteen year old boy I knew in my teens, but this is fiction, after all. He is self-assured, cocky, hot and sexy and seems to know just what a woman eight years his senior wanted sexually. 

Melody isn’t your token stiff, boring, literature teacher and they get together when Jamie is  literally three months away from graduation. Melody was relatable in that she owned up to her lust for Jamie right away. She wasn’t a predator, she was more of the prey. Who can resist a guy like Jamie? She was in a tough position in life that makes it easy to understand why she would throw caution to the wind and consider an illicit affair with a student.

One thing I LOVED was Jamie’s unwavering devotion to Melody. He may have been so much younger than her, but he had the backbone and loyalty many full-grown men could use. He wasn’t just a teenager wanting to bang his teacher to have something to tell his pals over a few drinks. Genuine feelings took root and didn’t let go and transformed this book from just a forbidden fantasy story, to something a lot deeper and meaningful. True romance at its best. It won’t take you more than a couple of hours to read this one, so I highly recommend you pick it up right away, especially if you’re planning to read Vicious or the other books in the series.

 

Satin and Pearls (The Virgin Diaries #1) by Lauren Landish

Book Description:

Published: August 19, 2018

Format: E-Book

From Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Lauren Landish comes The Virgin Diaries, a series of take-charge alpha heroes and the sassy, innocent women who bring them to their knees.

I have a confession to make. I hate my math professor, Connor Daniels.

From the moment he walked into class, he’s been a thorn in my side, nitpicking every little thing that I do. It burns me how he expects me to be just as perfect as he is. I get that professors are supposed to challenge their students, but he’s such a . . .

He’s a dick.

Cocky. Big-headed. Egotistical.

So why can’t I stop fantasizing about him? Standing up there in his tight jeans, his bulge practically flaunted in my face. I picture the victorious way he’d smirk as he bent me over his desk, flipping my skirt up and taking me. Like it was inevitable.

But here’s the thing . . .

I don’t want him to just take my body, or my virginity.

I want him to teach me everything.

Review –

I am  not a prude, but overall it just struck me as a book of sex scenes with some filler. The story line wasn’t anything new (teacher/student), just another taboo relationship with a predictable outcome. I was disappointed . I won’t be reading the rest of the series.

 

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

Book Description:

Published: January 3, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

Review –

Five Stars !!!!!

This story pulled me in from the beginning and held me captive to the end.

I see IDENTITY as the theme running through the storyline.  Hattie wasn’t sure who see was so she became what people wanted, the seemingly loving girlfriend, the knowledgeable student, the obedient daughter, the best friend, to name a few, and she hides behinds all of these. Others in the story hid behind their identities to a point: the English teacher behind literature and the sheriff behind his badge but not to the point that Hattie does.

Hattie has an epiphany and realizes that she can not hide behind her “fake” selves and has to come to terms with her true self but it is too late.

She truly loves Peter and he loves her too but as a reader I knew their relationship was doomed  from the beginning so I was not surprised by the outcome, but there is a huge plot twist that I didn’t see coming. 

This is a captivating story and I loved it and I highly recommend it!