Publicat în Saya Lopez Ortega, Uncategorized

The Seduction Expert (The Seduction Expert #1) by Saya Lopez Ortega

Synopsis:

She’s cold, narcissistic, conceited and she has no redeeming qualities.

She doesn’t care, she’s gifted.

She doesn’t care, she’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationships, their breakups, and very often their partners’ affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a superheroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.

Review:

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

I can’t remember ever reading a book whose main character is in the same time, the villain of the story. I know they do exist, but I just haven’t had the chance to read one yet. However, I’ve always been curious to find out what’s going on in the minds of the people who we generally call mean, shallow or bad, to see how they can be so much different from most of us and what motivates them to stay behind their controversial actions.

So when I started this book, it was a whole new perspective for me. Obviously, I did not agree or like any of the character’s moves. But I felt amused and entertained to observe her, to discover how anyone could find satisfaction in things that should be the last ones to motivate you. Instead of looking for true happiness, for love, goodness and peace of mind, there are people who live just for power, reputation and the image they have in the eyes of the beholder. Perhaps this would not be a problem as long as you’re keeping it on a decent level. But for B, or „the Baroness”, how she prefers to be called, these things leave no space for anything else inside her and she becomes just a painted portrait of the person she should have been. And damn, this girl loves her power. Blinded by her love for money, image, luxury and the devotion of her clients, she turns out unconscious of all human qualities. Yes, she’s good at her work, she manages to offer her customers even more than they were even promised with (although the means of doing that are…debatable, to say, at least) but on her way of becoming that famous seduction expert, she loses all her empathy, all her kindness and her humanity. Her whole life is a theatrical performance, all the details are carefully staged, all her lines previously rehearsed in order to manipulate everyone around her, from her employees to her clients, to her friends and future husband.

Of course, this kind of lifestyle will always be at stake, because no matter how much planning you’d do, there’s always something that might go wrong, there’s always someone who might react different to what you were expecting. With all her cautious groundwork, her whole career, love story and future are at the risk of collapse the moment she meets an even more spiteful character whose plans seem to be in conflict with her own. And here is where the book gets an interesting effect over the readers. No matter how much you despise B, the moment when an even more poisonous snake enters the stage, you automatically team up with the Baroness and hope she’ll be the one to win this war.

Before I finish, I just need to mention that according to GoodReads, the book seems to be part of a series and not a stand alone, although there’s no information regarding the next books for now. I came to realize this when I reached the last chapter and instead of an ending, I discovered that the novel stops at a critical point, which definitely needs a follow-up.

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Publicat în Michelle Campbell

It’s Always The Husband by Michelle Campbell

Synopsis:

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.

How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Review:

There’s always something dark inside of us that makes us curious about the lives of others. About the things that are wrong, about what hides under a presumably fake perfect image, about what they’re trying to hide. Probably that’s why gossip is a universal human habit that we hate and love at the same time. Even if we’re trying to be decent humans and avoid it as much as possible, we’ll still do it with our closest ones, feeling a bit guilty, but honestly speaking, so damn satisfied.

This is probably one of the reasons why domestic thrillers have always been successful. They give you the chance to take a peek inside the lives of others, inside their secrets, their complicated relations, their controversial decisions and the reasons behind them.

Perhaps for the readers that are choosing this kind of novels for the adrenaline, for the murder mystery (this is not a spoiler – all of these thrillers are usually built around a murder or disappearance) and for the puzzle they have to decipher in order to find out who’s the guilty one, It’s Always The Husband will feel extremely slow paced or even boring. The book follows the group of three frenemies since they first met in university, until 20 years later, when faith brings them together again, despite their complicated, so-called friendship and all the sins from the past they’ve been trying to forget.

I loved the author’s way of taking her time to develop the story, to describe the unlikely friendship that starts between these so, so different girls, to show you how much hate and frustration can gather behind the bonds that we grow with the people in our lives.

The most interesting part is that none of the characters are flawless, they’re all making mistakes, some more often than others, some only one, big mistake that will mark their destinies forever. They’re not very likeable characters, they’re young, unexperienced, damaged, auto destructive and prone to do the most stupid things. I assume that most of the time the readers will judge them and won’t understand their reasons, but in the same time, there’s something absolutely fascinating in following their actions and seeing all the ways in which people fuck up their lives and how they have to pay for decades for the choices they make when they’re just young and stupid. You dislike and disagree with each of the main characters, you might consider yourself completely uninterested in whatever happens to them, but I doubt any reader will actually put down the book without finishing it. There’s something compelling about it, a magnetism in the story that forces you to turn another page, to finish just one more chapter. And this happens way before knowing how twisted the story will become, way before the crime will take place and you’ll start questioning what in the world happened that night and who’s responsible for it.

Publicat în B.A. Paris, Uncategorized

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Synopsis:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Review:

I’ve always had „genre phases”. I would start reading a certain type of books and wouldn’t stop for weeks or months, until my brain is suffocated by that genre till I’m finally ready to move to something else. Lately, I noticed that I’m craving for psychological thrillers and my shelves slowly started gathering such kind of books.

I picked up Behind Closed Doors running through an airport, almost impulsively, barely reading the synopsis from the last cover and devoured the first half of the book during my flight. I kind of loved it, but there are some things that kept bugging me, although I find it pretty difficult to identify them clearly.

From the first pages (and obviously, from the synopsis), you realize that under the illusion of perfection, something is very, very wrong in the marriage of Jack and Grace. The author doesn’t let you wonder for too long, as she starts showing you the darkness that lies behind that perfect couple. You’re jumping with every chapter from the past to the present and both of them look just as terrible, without any traces of salvation, without any hopes of escaping. There’s not a single moment when you can relax and not feel ice flowing through your veins, never knowing what to expect, always assuming something even worse is going to happen.

Despite the satisfaction that I felt while reading it, I got a sense of disturbance, something kept bothering me. I feel like the story was built on a successful recipe without adding any extra flavors to it. Yes, the characters have a background that would explain why their personalities got so twisted. Yes, there is an aftermath that you’re even scared to think about. Yes, the suspense is on its highest. But all of these elements seem somehow shallow, like there’s too little substance to sustain the storyline properly. There are some moments that make no sense, there’s no explanation nor logic behind some of the actions that the main characters do.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a good book. If this is what you are looking for (and I definitely was!), the story will keep you entertained, holding your breath, waiting for the next move and knowing that every moment passing will throw the heroine even deeper in despair and further from salvation. But for me, the novel didn’t make me step in the characters’ shoes, didn’t transfer me to their world. Perhaps it will be different for you but personally, I couldn’t stop feeling the whole time that it’s just a story. A good one, yes, but… just a story.

Publicat în Cyndy Aleo, Uncategorized

Undying (Undying #1) by Cyndy Aleo

Synopsis:

What if the world isn’t ready for your miracle?

Cameron Tattersall’s wife, Adrienne, should not be cooking breakfast when he wakes up. After all, he buried her yesterday. Yet the woman in his kitchen not only claims she is his wife, but also refuses to accept that she’s supposed to be dead.

Cameron doesn’t know what this woman is: hallucination, con-woman, or bona fide miracle. For all he knows, he’s crazy, but her reappearance may return the only thing he ever wanted: a life with Adrienne.When their families discover Cameron isn’t alone in his house, the couple learns coming back from the dead has its own set of trials: angry surviving family members, confused insurance companies, and a media storm that simultaneously wants to build the couple up and tear them down. There’s also the matter of just who, or what, was buried in that coffin. Or not buried.

Thrust into the spotlight, Cameron and Adrienne have to decide whether living under a microscope is a fair trade for a miracle, and to reconcile their need for privacy with the desire for answers.

Review:

I probably cried when I was reading some sad books when I was a child. I definitely remember crying a damn cascade while reading half of the Harry Potter books. But it’s been decades ago and since then, my masochistic brain keeps looking for books that would tear me apart completely and make me feel everything that the characters feel at such a deep level that I’d forget that I’m crying for the pain of an imaginary person.

When I started this book I chose it because of how interesting the idea looked. Maybe it’s a thriller with an impostor trying to impersonate the dead wife of a poor husband. Maybe it’s a zombie book. Maybe it’s a fantasy one. A dead wife showing up in her husband’s bed next day after her funeral? I literally had no idea how things could have evolved. But what I definitely didn’t expect was to cry uncontrollably after the first chapter. I have no words to explain how amazing this book is. Without notice, the story starts flowing through your veins, touching every part of your soul, forcing your brain to feel absolutely every single damn thing that Cameron feels. You’re thrown into a path of pain and anguish so deeply that you feel the story at the most personal level. Because what is the biggest fear of all of us? Not spiders, not monsters, not poverty, not loneliness, not our own death. But the death of our loved ones. And the feeling that no matter how much you’d wish, there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to stop that, to help them, to keep them longer next to you.

Cameron goes through all of this in the year when he finds out that his wife, Adrienne has a devastating form of cancer. She’s young, beautiful and healthy and all of a sudden the terrible news descend over them. And one year is not enough to get used to the idea that the whole future that you imagined is shattering to pieces. But one year of suffering is also clearly not going to make things easy when he wakes up after her funeral to find her in their kitchen. Young. Beautiful. Healthy. Undead. And cooking breakfast.

So what follows is exactly what you would imagine. Because Cameron lives in our universe, not a parallel one, not in a fantasy world. He lives in this one, where miracles don’t exist, when you cannot continue your life like nothing happened after the wife that you just buried literally just came back from the dead. The world will not allow it. You will become a „case” that needs to be studied and explored from all the practical angles: legally, medically, by lawyers and doctors and churches and media. Over and over again, since there seem not to be any answers that could solve such a mistery.

I loved how realistic the author treated her idea. She took an unthinkable fact and throw it in our society that is very far from accepting the impossible as possible. There’s nothing forced, nothing romantic and magical about it. Her characters don’t treat the whole thing just like a miracle because the human brain simply doesn’t work like that. No matter how enormous the happiness and amazement can be once they accept that what happened is true, they are still very well anchored in reality and take the whole right and mundane road to understand how was it possible.

Every reaction, every gesture, every word and action, even the ones that piss you off are all perfectly drawn and completely understandable and realistic. I loved the fact that nothing comes easily, that the characters actually go willingly into the chaotic carousel that their lifes became, even if sometimes they cannot feel in any other way than totally overwhelmed by what’s happening to them.

If you have any doubts about reading this book, just take them all and throw them into the garbage right now. You need this book! The storyline is flawless, the writing, the characters, the action, everything has a bright, shinny „perfect” label on it! You will be carried through the whole spectrum of emotions, you will cry, laugh, be surprised, melt into a puddle, die of curiosity and live the whole story at the same intensity as the characters are.

Publicat în David Staniforth, Uncategorized

Imperfect Strangers by David Staniforth

Synopsis:

How well do you know the people you see every day? Sally hardly knows Keith. They’re practically strangers until the day she smiles at him. Would you smile so readily if you risked losing your friends? Would you smile so readily if you risked losing your life? Unfortunately, you can’t begin to know a person until you let them in. Imperfect Strangers: A psychological thriller that simmers to a dark and dramatic climax.

Review:

If you’re an extrovert, this book will probably turn you into an antisocial creature. And if you’re an introvert, already not a big fan of human interaction, well… I’m guessing you’ll feel even less the desire to get out of the house. Like…ever!

I was in such a strong mood for a phychological thriller and this book was honestly the best choice I could have made! I looooved it! I don’t even know how to start describing how perfectly the author mastered the whole story, the evolution of Keith, the main character of the book and the development of the relationship with his object of adoration, Sally.

To how many people do u smile or say „Hello” or „Thank you” to during the day? How many of these people are strangers? The security guys from your office or apartment building, the vendors from your regular grocery shop, the bus drivers on your commute, the courier from your favorite food delivery place. You’re a nice, decent person, so you salute them and acknowledge their presence. You know all of them by sight, but they are still strangers to you. But what if…you are not a stranger to them? Not anymore, since the day when, unlike most of the people, you smiled to one of them in a way that, for him, it was personal and intimate.

Sally doesn’t know it yet, but once she smiled to Keith, the veeery awkward security guy from her office, their relationship started already. And it’s just a matter of time until she will find out as well. And once she does, it might not be in a way that she will like it.

I think the best part of the novel is the way the author built a whole history of his main character. Instead of just throwing an anti-hero that is just mentally disturbed or pure evil, David Staniforth creates a very credible background that facilitates the evolution of a mental illness. We dive into Keith’s childhood memories in the most disturbing way, when the teriffied child inside of him still kicks in and takes control over the adult Keith, reliving those awful years over and over again. There was no way for him to escape that horrible life as a kid and once he grew up, it was too late to even try fixing things. Because his normality looks completely different from our normality and from his perspective, Keith sees himself just a bit awkward. He does know that he’s not quite like everyone else, but in no way he understands or identifies the magnitude of his sickness. And this is probably the most horrific thought that haunts you throughout the entire read. How so many people are living in their own, distressed universe and how little do we know about this. They look normal, act (almost) normal, but once you interact with them, you might discover that it’s like meeting an alien from another planet. That absolutely nothing that makes you, you, is common or known for them. And whatever moulded them in such ways during decades is probably completely impossible for you to comprehend.

The whole book keeps you on pins and needles and every step that Sally takes towards Keith makes you want to scream at her „RUN!”. But she doesn’t. Because she’s a nice person. Just like you are. And you continue to smile politely to all the strangers in your life, to help them if you can, to become a friend for those who seem lonely, completely unaware of the dangers that lie behind their awkwardly sweet replies, having no idea that their brain would never resonate with all the things that you find normal.

I rated the book with 5 stars on GoodReads without even a blink of an eye. The sinopsis is already sending you chilly vibes on your spine and the execution of the whole idea is brilliant.