EVERY LAST LIE by Mary Kubica

Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★¾

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow’s pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche.

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date — one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

I do love Mary Kubica’s writing, and in EVERY LAST LIE she presents an engrossing tale of a young mother named Clara facing her husband Nick’s secrets and deceit just days after he dies in a car accident.

There was one witness to the crash, the couple’s 4-year old daughter Maisie, who was strapped in her car seat and luckily unhurt. Clara begins to doubt the wreck was simply an accident when Maisie starts having nightmares about a “bad man” being after them. As she digs for clues, Clara finds that Nick was hiding some unsettling secrets, but were they enough to get him killed?

The story is told in alternating perspectives – Nick, in the weeks leading up to the crash, and Clara, in the weeks after Nick’s death. I liked that readers got to hear both POVs, which added to the suspense of what Nick might reveal and what Clara might discover. Not only is Clara dealing with her husband’s suspicious death, she’s also now the sole caregiver of Maisie and newborn Felix. So many anxiety-inducing elements in this story! Clara made some very questionable choices throughout, and I’m sure teetering on the edge of sanity didn’t help.

I guess I have two niggling complaints with the book. First, there were some loose ends and questions that I wanted answers to, and secondly, I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. I read another mystery that had a similar ending, and while it worked there, it didn’t so much with EVERY LITTLE LIE. Nevertheless, I still think this was an intriguing and well-written book, as much a character study in grief as a novel of suspense.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard

Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★¾

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.

In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it.

Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

PLATINUM DOLL is a novel based on actress Jean Harlow’s rise to fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood. In the late 1920s, she goes to California as a teenage bride from the Midwest. The book follows her turbulent marriage to Chuck McGrew, and the struggles she had with her ruthless mother who pushed and pushed an acting career, not always having her best interest at heart.

I enjoy reading about this era, and this book presents an intriguing and well-researched “slice of life” of a promising Golden Age starlet. I liked the author’s portrayal of Jean Harlow – part blonde bombshell, part book nerd – though I wish she would’ve had more of a backbone when it came to her mother. It was fun watching the clips referenced in the book, especially the Laurel & Hardy short “Double Whoopee.” The pacing was slow in spots, but overall it was a “swell” read, as Jean would say.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Masking for Trouble
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

I’m jumping into the Costume Shop Mystery series here at book two. What’s the best time of year for someone in the costume business? Halloween, of course!

Actually, Halloween is not only a big deal for Margo at Disguise DeLimit, it’s a major social event for the whole town. Unfortunately, this year a greedy venture capitalist has ripped through town threatening small businesses, including Margo’s. Things continue to go south for Margo when she finds the man dead at his own Halloween gala, and police put her at the top of the list of suspects.

MASKING FOR TROUBLE was a fun read, especially since I adore Halloween. It was nice to “meet” a group of people who appreciate it as much as I do! The cast of characters was delightful, and the mystery itself was pretty good. Margo did a great job coming up with potential culprits, though she had some not-so-smart moves that kept pointing the finger back at her.

Maybe this was addressed in the first book, but I didn’t understand the need for Margo and her boyfriend to keep their relationship a secret. First of all, they’re adults, and second, their families and friends seem like reasonable, understanding people, so what gives?

Overall, I thought this was a cute cozy mystery with a dash of romance and lots of Halloween fun.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Luckiest Girl Alive
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE isn’t the easiest book to read, though I can understand why it’s gotten so much buzz. None of the characters are particularly likable (except maybe Mr. Larson), but I would caution not to judge the main character Ani too harshly in the beginning. She comes off as shallow and self-centered, but after learning all the terrible things she went through as a young teen, I can only assume her harsh persona is a coping mechanism. I almost felt like there was too much tragedy in this book, as the first ordeal she went through was horrible enough.

It’s not exactly the twisty thriller I was expecting, but Ani’s story definitely held my attention. I kept thinking, “Where are these children’s parents?!?” Ugh, Ani’s mother and father were awful. This is a dark read that tackles some very difficult and important issues. I was pleased with the ending, when some emotion finally came out. 3.75 stars!

P.S. I borrowed the audiobook from the library. Narrator Madeleine Maby was wonderful.

THE VELVET HOURS by Alyson Richman

The Velvet Hours
THE VELVET HOURS by Alyson Richman
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

THE VELVET HOURS is captivating historical fiction inspired by the real-life Paris apartment of Marthe de Florian that sat untouched for 70 years. I remember being intrigued when the story of this “time capsule” apartment came out, and Alyson Richman did a beautiful job bringing it back to life.

The heart of the story is a grandmother telling her newly-found granddaughter about her eccentric life. Marthe was a courtesan during the Belle Époque, and she rose from poverty to become the owner of this lavish apartment filled with amazing treasures. Her granddaughter, Solange, is a struggling young writer looking for inspiration, and definitely finds it in Marthe’s tales.

At times I thought the pacing was slow, a lot of time was spent describing things – paintings, ceramics, and such – but the story picked up when the threat of World War II was upon them. It was here that the characters were truly challenged, and Solange learns from her grandmother that sometimes sentimentality must be sacrificed for a greater purpose.

THE VELVET HOURS is a rich story of history, romance, and survival, perfect for fans of late 19th/early 20th century fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.