Book Review: Shift by Em Bailey

Book: Shift by Em Bailey – paperback edition, 304 pages.

Synopsis: Olive Corbett is not crazy. Not anymore.

She obediently takes her meds and stays under the radar at school. After “the incident,” Olive just wants to avoid any more trouble, so she knows the smartest thing is to stay clear of the new girl who is rumored to have quite the creepy past.

But there’s no avoiding Miranda Vaile. As mousy Miranda edges her way into the popular group, right up to the side of queen bee Katie – and pushes the others right out – only Olive seems to notice that something strange is going on. Something almost… parasitic. Either Olive is losing her grip on reality, or Miranda Vaile is stealing Katie’s life.

But who would ever believe crazy Olive, the girl who has a habit of letting her imagination run away with her? And what if Olive is the next target?

My thoughts: Honestly, there is nothing worse for me than starting a book only to find out it has paranormal themes in it. Not my scene at all. In this case, it is entirely my fault because I did little to no research before picking this up. I liked Em Bailey’s book ‘The Special Ones’, so I thought I’d give this a go. I persevered with this despite the fact it included paranormal themes, mostly just because it’s rare for me to stop reading a book once I’ve started. It has to be truly terrible for that to happen.

There really wasn’t much I liked about this book. I did like that it was set in Australia, although it took me a while to figure that out (not until the protagonist started using “mum” instead of “mom”). I didn’t like any of the characters in the book, and at one point the main character pissed me off so much I nearly gave up on reading. Who leaves their baby brother home alone (granted, asleep) and goes out to party? I really wish there had been repercussions following that to serve as some sort of lesson, but nope – things carried on as usual. There was also an insta-love thing playing out throughout the book, which I’ve never been a big fan of.

All things considered I actually didn’t mind the paranormal element of this book, it was probably the most interesting aspect of the story. I’m not sure I’d recommend this, but if you’re after a quick read that involves a unique kind of paranormal element, you might want to pick this up.

Rating: 4/10

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Book: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson – audible audiobook edition, 12 hours & 49 minutes.

Synopsis: It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough. Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?

My thoughts: This was such a fun and summery read, and it was exactly what I was in the mood for when I picked it out from Audible’s library catalog. It gave me flashbacks to the summers of my youth (lol, I’m so old), and the all-consuming feeling of best friendship between teenage girls. I really liked the concept of the story revolving around Emily’s summer to-do list, and I thought the way it all played out was adorable. The build to the romance was believable, and there was no “instalove” which can unfortunately feel quite refreshing in a YA contemporary romance. The friendships that blossom throughout the story were well developed and felt real enough to become invested in as a reader.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like about the story. One in particular was to-do list items that Sloane set as a challenge. It was something that Emily had stood up to and flat-out refused to do in the past. The fact that she then felt obligated to do it because it was part of the list bummed me out a little bit. There were also some plot holes that were left unanswered that I really would have liked to see resolved. I wish Emily had came to more of a realization that Sloane was actually not a very good friend at all, but all of the Sloane-related issues were sort of swept under the rug at the end.

Despite those minor issues, I think if you’re looking for a lighthearted summer read, this is definitely worth checking out.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Book: Final Girls by Riley Sager – kindle edition, 352 pages.

(Advanced Readers Copy)
expected release | June 2017

Synopsis: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

My thoughts: This is the kind of book I’ve been looking for since I finished reading ‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes. A psychological thriller that would take me on twists and turns and keep me guessing until the very end. I’d heard good things about this book, and when Tonile from My Cup And Chaucer mentioned it was on Netgalley and available for review, I immediately applied for a copy.

I think with most thrillers knowing less about the story is always more, as you’re able to enjoy the ‘ride’ in an authentic spoiler-free way. With that in mind, I will keep this review short and sweet. I loved the concept of this book, and I loved having the two mysteries playing out alongside each other and coming to a joint conclusion and reveal. I wish there had been more of a push towards the mystery at the start of the book, and that the ending had been a little less rushed and slightly more drawn out; but overall I thought the story as a whole was well executed. It was fast paced throughout the majority of the book, and the flashbacks kept driving me towards the end so I could figure out what the heck had happened. The majority of the characters were unlikable and they make some extremely questionable decisions, but somehow it all still worked for me.

There are a lot of thrillers available on the market at the moment, and this one was unique enough to stand out from the crowd. If you’re looking for an engaging thriller that will keep you guessing right until the end, I highly recommend checking this out when it’s released later in the year.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Masked Innocence by Alessandra Torre

Book: Masked Innocence by Alessandra Torre – kindle edition, 304 pages.

Synopsis: The man was sinful. It wasn’t just the looks that made him dangerous, it was the cocky confidence that dominated every move, every touch. And the frustrating yet ecstatic fact about the whole package was that he could back it all up…

Julia Campbell never knows what to expect with win-at-all-costs Brad De Luca. And she’s starting to like it that way. She gave up safe, conventional relationships when she let the elite divorce attorney seduce her into his world. Now that he’s determined to strip her naked of every inhibition, she’s in danger of falling too deep and too fast.

But their affair begins to feel even more dangerous when a murder leaves a trail of suspicion that points straight to the mob… and Brad. Trusting a man with a bad reputation and a past full of secrets seems like a mistake. But when she’s forced to make a choice, the consequences will take her further than she could ever have imagined.

My thoughts: The first book off the shelf for 2017 was something a little bit different for me, as you could probably tell from the synopsis. I read the first book in this series last year, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. My introduction to Alessandra Torre was through her Deanna Madden ‘Girl in 6E’ series, and after absolutely devouring those I decided to check out some of the other books she had written. Although the majority of what she writes falls more under the chick lit/erotica banner than crime/thriller (which is more my cup of tea), I’ve found that her books are always a lot of fun and I enjoy reading them.

Having said that, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first in the series. I’m not sure if it was because it wasn’t as new and fun to me as the first book was, but I felt like it fell a little flat. I found the protaganist in this book quite grating, and I’m not sure if that was because she made some terrible decisions throughout the book, or because I’m not a fan of “sassy” characters in general. The ‘hero’ in the book was also far less appealing to me than he was in book one. At one point in the story the lines of consent get a little bit blurry, and although I know erotica can push the boundaries in this area I’m still not a fan of the idea in general.

Overall I didn’t find this as fun and lighthearted as book one, which was the appeal for me in the first place. I think if you’re looking for an easy read (that’s more than a little bit raunchy), try Blindfolded Innocence; if you’re a fan of that, check this out… just go into it with mid-to-low level expectations.

Rating: 4/10

50 Book Challenge (part 8)

The Raven Room by Ana Medeiros – 1/10 – Hmm. I really don’t like writing negative reviews for things, especially books. Having said that, I really did not like this book. I think this book should come with a trigger warning of some kind, because it features a lot of physical and emotional abuse and some scenes that border on rape. Really, beyond that is there any need for me to explain why I didn’t enjoy it? I don’t think so.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – 8/10 – I love the way Liane Moriarty writes about Australian life. It’s so honest and her characters are always believable. Although this wasn’t my favourite out of her books that I’ve read so far, I found it really enjoyable and difficult to put down. If you’re after a funny contemporary fiction with a few twists and turns along the way you can’t go wrong with this.
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver – 5/10 – You know that feeling when a main character in the book you’re reading constantly makes mind-bogglingly terrible decisions that don’t really make any sense? That’s what this book will give you. The story is basically laid out in the blurb, so I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying this – the thing that pissed me off the most about this book was the fact that Ella completely took away her parent’s ability to properly grieve the loss of their daughter. Bizarre.
The Girl In 6E by A.R. Torre – 9/10 – So close to a perfect rating! So very close. I enjoyed this book a lot, so much so that halfway through reading it I put a reservation on the second book in the series at my local library. Gotta be prepared. This book was really different to anything I’ve ever read. Murderous female protaganist? Check. Interesting and believable erotica? Check. Romance!? Check. This was a great book, and I highly recommended it – but it’s definitely not for the faint hearted.