What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚

Hello! First of all, I hope everyone is doing well in this uncertain time. It’s coming up on two months since my family and I have been sheltering in place. I’m a special education teacher’s aide, and with our schools closed, we’ve mainly been hanging out at home.

I haven’t been very active in the book blogging community lately, but I have been doing a lot of reading anyway. I’m not as inspired to review everything I read these days. Sometimes I just want to appreciate reading the book, admire the lovely cover, log it on Goodreads, and just move on to the next.

I’m trying to get a variety of reading material from a variety of places, like indie bookstores for paper books, the library for digital downloads, and Barnes & Noble for my Nook books. Of course, I still have many review books from NetGalley and Edelweiss, which I am so grateful for! I’ve just started reading Ruth Ware’s upcoming September release, ONE BY ONE, from Edelweiss. (I’ve also pre-ordered the signed hardcover from B&N, because I love Ruth Ware!!!)

For now, I will (probably) only be writing reviews for books I get from NetGalley, Edelweiss, or publishers. The rest I will include in a reading wrap-up post like this one, though I will only highlight books I gave 3 stars or higher.

So…here’s a look at what I’ve been reading lately (and didn’t review)! ♥ Take care.

by Afia Atakora
(historical fiction, magical realism, american civil war)

This was the B&N Book Club’s April selection! I absolutely loved it. You can view the book club discussion with Afia Atakora on B&N’s Instagram HERE, though you should read the book first to avoid any spoilers. ♥

by Mary Kubica
(domestic suspense, psychological thriller, mystery)

This one was very close to being as good as THE GOOD GIRL (my favorite of Mary Kubica’s books). When I figured out the twist toward the end, I was a little nervous as to how it would be handled, but it was all good.

by Maddie Day
(cozy mystery)

Belle (the parrot) is my all-time favorite cozy mystery pet. She’s hilarious! ♥

by Rebecca James
(gothic suspense, historical fiction, dual time periods)

by Cassie Chambers
(nonfiction, southern women, appalachia)

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.

DON’T YOU CRY by Mary Kubica

Don't You Cry
DON’T YOU CRY by Mary Kubica
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mary Kubica is an auto-read author for me, I don’t even have to read the blurb. DON’T YOU CRY is her third psychological thriller, and though it was a bit different than the first two books, I really enjoyed it.

In Chicago, Quinn searches for her missing roommate, Esther, and discovers many shocking secrets as she searches for her whereabouts. Meanwhile in Michigan, Alex becomes fixated on a mysterious young woman who shows up in his bleak lakefront town.

The big question, of course, is how are the two story-lines connected? Up until the end, it was hard to tell where things were going. Quinn and Alex’s stories were interesting, though maybe not as suspenseful as I was expecting, BUT the ending totally took me by surprise! BAM! I love being caught off guard. Highly recommended to fans of dark and twisty tales.

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

THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica

Publisher: Mira
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Source: Kindle purchase
Rating: ★★★★½

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

I enjoyed reviewing Mary Kubica’s second novel, PRETTY BABY, so I decided to give her first book a try. Loved it! (Maybe even a smidge more than PRETTY BABY.) I would describe THE GOOD GIRL as subtle suspense, with a uniquely constructed plot and an intriguing story.

Mia, the twenty-something daughter of a rich Chicago judge, is kidnapped. The hired kidnapper, Colin, has a change of heart and hides her away in a cabin instead of giving her to his employers as planned. At the same time, Mia’s distraught mother (Eve) and a police detective (Gabe) search tirelessly to find out what became of Mia.

The bulk of the story is told by Eve, Gabe, and Colin in alternating viewpoints, as well as switching between a “Before” and an “After.” Setting the plot up this way made me even more curious about what ultimately happened in the cabin. The characters are well developed, and the author gives the right amount of backstory to each one so we know what brought them to this place and time.

I thought the twist at the end was so good. Well, sad and emotional, but also good. I certainly wasn’t expecting it.

PRETTY BABY by Mary Kubica

Publisher: Mira
Released: July 28, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

A chance encounter sparks an unrelenting web of lies in this stunning new psychological thriller from national bestselling author Mary Kubica.

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

This is the first book by Mary Kubica that I’ve read, and after finishing this one I’m looking forward to reading her other books in my TBR stack. Good stuff! PRETTY BABY is filled with characters that you’re never really sure about. They seem one way on the surface, but what’s hiding underneath?

The story is told from the point of view of three characters: Heidi, the over-the-top, socially conscious do-gooder; Willow, the homeless girl with a baby who Heidi brings home; and Chris, Heidi’s fed up, workaholic husband. Heidi’s stray cats are one thing, but a stranger in their home who might be dangerous is more than Chris can take. While Chris researches who in the heck this girl could be, the whole situation starts to have an interesting effect on Heidi. Woven into that is Willow’s heart wrenching story.

This book contains some dark subject matter, and yep, it’s very sad, but at the same time I couldn’t put it down. It’s fast paced with memorable, complex characters, and some surprise twists to keep you on your toes. I love emotional suspense/thrillers, and PRETTY BABY fits the bill perfectly.

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