Book Review: The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

last letter

Rating: 3.5 / 5

It is 1960 and Jennifer Stirling has just woken up from a car accident.  She doesn’t remember much about her life, or even that she is married.  Her mother and husband are mysteriously reluctant to tell her about the accident, and seem to not be concerned with Jennifer’s lack of memories.  Even her house is a mystery to her, and when she goes digging, hoping to find something that will trigger her memories, she finds a love letter to her, signed B.

Forty years later, Ellie Haworth is working as a features writer when she stumbles across some letters dating back to the 60s.  The letters have been lost in the archive section, and with the move to the new building, Ellie and her boss have come up with the idea to write a piece reflective of that period.  It is Ellie’s task to find out who the sender and recipient are, and if they ever found their happily ever after.

The Last Letter From Your Lover is squarely in the chick lit genre, and while it wasn’t boring or slow, it was formulaic and predictable.  Jennifer Stirling’s story line was interesting, especially since she lived in a time when women traditionally did not work and were reliant on their husbands for financial support.  That fact added a layer of complexity, for she did not have the means to be independent and by following her heart, she bore the scorn of society, even women she considered her friends, and had expected would relate to what she was going through.

The other storyline is Ellie’s, and it wasn’t strong, mainly because of her immaturity.  It is hard to sympathize with “the other woman” and as Ellie is young, her affair is not the great love of her life.  As a vehicle to drive a resolution to Stirling’s love life, Ellie should have been a stronger character.

The Bottom Line: The Last Letter From Your Lover is somewhat enjoyable, but don’t expect to get your socks knocked off.

Book Review: Missing You by Harlan Coben

missing you

Rating: 4 / 5

NYPD Detective Kat Donovan’s best friend has decided that Kat needs to ‘get out more’ and creates a profile for her on a dating site.  While Kat is perusing the possibilities, she sees one profile which catches her eye, and catches her off guard. She is sure it is her ex-fiance, Jeff.  It’s been 18 years since they broke up, but Kat has always thought that Jeff was the one that got away.  Wondering if there is still something between them, Kat reaches out to him, only to get shunned.  As Kat investigates further, she realizes that although she is positive the picture is of Jeff, there is a sinister conspiracy going on, and people that have reached out to Jeff on the dating site have disappeared.

Harlan Coben’s forte is suspense, and Missing You doesn’t disappoint.  There are two parallel story lines, one about Kat’s personal life and possible reconnection with an old flame, and the other about Kat finally solving her father’s murder.  Both are equally compelling, and each bring out a different side of Kat, making her likable and easy to relate to.

Missing You clocks in around 400 pages, and if you’re holding onto a physical copy, it seems a bit on the lengthy side, but trust me, once you start turning the pages, it’ll be hard to stop.  Before you know it, you’ll easily clear half the book in a sitting or two.  Missing You isn’t a deep, thought-provoking novel, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.  Coben is one of the best with the fast-paced, suspenseful, and engaging novels, and Missing You is a solid thriller.

Book Review: Perfect by Rachel Joyce

perfect

Rating: 3 / 5

In the early 1970s, two extra seconds were added to time.  Byron and his childhood best friend James think it is those two additional seconds which are to blame for the events which changed the course of his future.  On the day that the seconds were added, Byron’s mother takes a different route, one that cuts through Digby Road.  Byron is adamant that his mother couldn’t see clearly through the fog and accidentally hit a little girl on a bicycle.  This one mistake has resonating consequences for both Byron and his family, though it is only Bryon who blames the accident on the added time. (more…)

Book Review: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

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Rating: 5 / 5

Full disclosure: I received an advance readers copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Emily Shepard has been homeless the past nine months.  Though she didn’t get stellar grades in school, her counselor and teachers noted that she is smart, and can’t understand why she doesn’t seem to even be trying.  Emily wants nothing more than to be a poet like Emily Dickinson, and assumes that she’ll get things together before high school graduation.  That never happens, because the nuclear power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a meltdown, and both Emily’s parents were killed.  Both her parents worked at the power plant, and even worse, her father was the lead engineer, and the general consensus is that it is his fault that the reactor melted.  With no where to go, and afraid that people will blame her for her father’s actions, she runs away, only to realize that home is where she belongs.  (more…)

Book Review: The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

farm

Rating: 4 / 5

Full disclosure: I received an advance readers copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Daniel’s parents, Chris and Tilde recently moved from London to Sweden for their retirement, rehabbing a farm in rural Sweden, where Daniel’s mom grew up. He doesn’t give the move a second thought, and assumed this is what his parents wanted.  All that changes when one morning he receives a frantic call from his father, stating that his mother is not well.  Daniel is about to make plans to get on the next flight out to Sweden, when his father calls him again to say that somehow she was discharged and he has no idea her whereabouts.  The phone call immediately after is his mom, informing him that everything his father has said about her is a lie, and she will be on the next flight to London to explain everything to him.  Thus starts the mystery of what is supposedly wrong with his mother, and why is she implicating his father? (more…)

Book Review: The Wolf by Lorenzo Carcaterra

wolf

Rating: 3 / 5

Full disclosure: I received an advance readers copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Vincent Marelli aka the Wolf,  is the head of a powerful organized crime group.  Unlike many upper level members, who were born into the organization, Marelli had a fairly quiet childhood, only entering the mob after both his parents died within a short time of each other.  He is cunning and astute, but after a minor mistake with letting his guard down, his wife and two daughters were murdered.  Thinking that the Russians, led by Vladimir Kostolov are behind the brutal killings, Marelli plans to exact revenge. (more…)

Book Review: ‘A Better World’ by Marcus Sakey

a better

Full disclosure: I received an advance readers copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 / 5

A Better World is the follow up to Brilliance (my review of it here), and it hits the ground running.  I don’t know how well A Better World is as a stand alone, but I highly suggest reading Brilliance before diving into this installment, as much of the groundwork is laid out in the first book.  In the late 1980s, it was discovered that 1% of the children born were abnormal in that they had special abilities.  Although the abilities are non-violent, a chasm was slowly created between the “abnorms” or brilliants, and the normals.  As a result of the tension, the world’s richest man, Erik Epstein, also a brilliant, founded a settlement, the New Canaan Holdfast, in Wyoming, where abnorms could live amongst each other.  Not much is known about why some people are born normal and some are born as brilliants, but a measure to implant a chip in the necks of all abnorms has been gaining traction.  In response, a small terrorist group, the Children of Darwin, has literally shut down three American cities.  America’s best bet in brokering a deal between normals and brilliants is Nick Cooper.  Cooper is weary, though, since the last time he tried to help he didn’t realize he was being used as a pawn in someone else’s ulterior motives.

A Better World is action-packed, which makes reviewing it difficult without giving away spoilers.  What I can say is that A Better World picks up where Brilliance left off, and is equally as compelling and engaging as Brilliance.  I was a bit skeptical with Sakey’s ability to continue to storyline, as so much happened in Brilliance, but A Better World perseveres, with more character development and more action without the “been there, done that” feeling.

It is so easy to classify the Brilliance series as a thriller since on the surface it is a book that moves quickly, with war, fighting, government, and politics.  But dig just a little deeper, and it’s a book that will get you thinking about the broader implications of the “us versus them” mentality, and treating people differently based on disparities rather than working together to embrace their differences.

A Better World is a continuation of the thrill ride that began with Brilliance, and I honestly cannot wait for the third book.