Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

SocialCreature

Buy it here: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon. 

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

This book is unlike anything I’ve read before. Even now that I’ve finished it, I truly can’t decide what I think about it. But the book itself has stayed with me and I’ve thought about it more than a few times.

Louise Wilson is just a girl trying to make it in New York City. Insecure and unsure of herself, she works several jobs to get by. One, as an SAT tutor, and this is how she meets Lavinia. Louise is easy to forget. You could pass her in a crowd and not think anything of it. But Lavinia, an actress/student/writer/wealthy kid stands out. And once Lavinia pulls you into her world, it’s hard to let go of that lifestyle. This is exactly what happens to Louise.

The way this story is told was enjoyable for me. You feel like the author is actually telling you the story, and that adds an extra layer of depth. It kept me on edge because initially, we aren’t sure how nefarious this story might turn. You really don’t know who is bad and who is good. Both Louise and Lavinia are not the most lovable characters. It’s a delicate push and pull between them and the author maintains a perfect balance so the story always has just the right amount of tension.

This story was fascinating. I would stop reading and I found myself sitting and thinking about Louise and Lavinia and what they would do next. What weird person Louise would meet and how she would handle her changing life. What would Lavinia think as Louise starts to branch out on her own with Lavinia’s friends? I would absolutely recommend this book. It was easy to read, had the perfect elements to keep me on edge (as I think any good thriller should do), and the ending left me speechless.

 

 

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The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

TheFavoriteSister

Buy it here: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

From Jessica Knoll—author of Luckiest Girl Alive, the instant New York Times bestseller and the bestselling debut novel of 2015—comes a blisteringly paced thriller starring two sisters who join the cast of a reality TV series. One won’t make it out alive. So…who did it?

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

 

I know that when you read the synopsis of this book, you instantly think of “Real Housewives” or any of those other reality t.v. shows where the women will do anything to get what they want. And while this book is similar, it goes so much deeper than any reality show could ever attempt to go.

The beginning of this book is a little hard to get into. The characters are introduced so quickly, and its slightly hard to keep track with everyone. Plus, we’re seeing distorted reality since everyone is portrayed, or trying to be portrayed, in a certain light. As I read, I almost felt like I was watching the show, and trying to figure out what was true and what was not. No different than a viewer at home.

An aspect that this book touches on, and I’ve always thought this was true, was the manipulation that goes into reality television. When you think of a camera following someone nonstop, and then you realize you get maybe a 30-60 minute show, how much is tossed on the editing room floor? The public feels like they know the characters, when the truth can be so much darker than anyone could guess.

The show, “The Goal Diggers” follows successful business women. What’s interesting is that this show wants to inspire women to not follow the norms (marriage, kids, etc), and be successful for their own achievements. I didn’t necessarily mind that message but the characters do get a little preachy from time to time, and I admit it was difficult to like or root for any one particular person. I’d go from finding them amusing for how they could play the game to hypocritical to just hating them. Not much unlike when I watch reality television.

If you enjoy shows like “The Real Housewives”, “Pretty Little Liars”, or even “Mean Girls”, you would definitely enjoy this book. The drama is there, the twists keep you pulled in and the murder takes it over the top.

 

 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendriks and Sarah Pekkanen

TheWifeBetweenUs

Buy it here: The Wife Between Us

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

This book is eerie. I struggled to come up with the right word. But eerie seems the best way to describe this tale of new and old lives interconnecting.

Vanessa and Richard were once married; living their happily ever after in a nice home, surrounded by their wealthy friends and fancy things. But then, Richard meets “the replacement” and everything changes for Vanessa.

Vanessa’s character broke my heart. I would feel like I hated her, then could sort of understand her, and I’d move onto annoyance with her behavior and then I’d go back to heartbreak. The authors captured her despair, abandonment, and chaos exquisitely.

Nellie is the soon-to-be new wife to Richard. Nellie is cookie-cutter. She’s this sweet young woman, who teaches preschool, waitresses at night, and somehow manages to find “the one” in Richard. He never wants to talk about his ex and Nellie never pries. She has her own issues that she isn’t sharing either.

One thing about this story is that it moves slowly. This isn’t a fast-paced action thriller. It  sort of carries on, as if it’s on a nice Sunday stroll.  It just is. I think that fact is what lulls the reader into comfort. You think you’re reading about these two women, and their lives. The thrill in this story is how normal it seems. Men and women get married and divorced all the time. Relationships break apart. It could happen to anyone.

Another thing that I didn’t like initially but started to appreciate the more I thought on it is this book has several twists and turns. I figured out one but because this story is so dynamic, figuring out one of the twists didn’t ruin the whole story. You can understand one portion of the puzzle but you still don’t see everything.

This book is reminiscent of “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train”. If you enjoyed either of those stories, you will enjoy this one. I’ve heard a lot of buzz that this book is also being turned into a movie, and I’m not surprised to hear that at all. This book is dynamic, terrifying, and downright eerie. Readers will not be disappointed.

 

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

watch me disappear

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

I finished this book last week. I needed a day to process it all and here I am, a week later, still obsessed with this twitchy tale. I can’t stop thinking about it, and have already debated re-reading it. It’s THAT good.

This story follows Olive and Jonathan, dealing with life about a year after Billie’s disappearance. Olive is having visions of her mother and Jonathan is trying to make sense of everything. His marriage, his wife’s past, who his wife, and her friends, might really be, and then worrying about his daughter, Olive, on top of that. One thing that really struck me with this book was how the characters, even if they did something unscrupulous, managed to keep you on their side.

You want to hate Jonathan as he starts having doubts over his presumed dead wife. You find yourself angry at him for being naive, but then you also feel heartbreaking compassion for him. Olive is trying to find herself. Others see things in her that she herself has yet to discover. You find yourself annoyed at her chasing these visions, but at the same time, you can’t blame her for running headfirst into this mystery.

This is the first book that I can say I actually popped in a post-it note. There were so many pieces that I wanted to remember and hold onto myself.

Billie’s character is exceptional. I don’t know if I mean that in a good or bad way yet. Her character is one that has stayed with me and I can say I’m still thinking about her. When we start to get a deeper look at her life, it makes you question how you feel about her. Is she cruel or was she doing the best she could? Should we love her, hate her?

Anyone who loves a good thriller will love this book. Moreover, anyone who enjoys a good mystery, while also on a search for self-discovery, would adore this novel. I really cannot say enough amazing things about this story.

 

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

EveryLastLie

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

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’ve been on a bit of a psychological thriller kick lately. It’s the genre I naturally gravitate towards and this book honestly reminded me why I love the genre so much. This is a book that, although I’ve received an advanced copy, I will be buying a copy for my shelf. This is a book that every one who aspires to write should read.

Mary Kubica pulled me in immediately. Not with the mystery (which is what usually plagues me for hours on end), but with the emotion in this story. The way that I could physically see Clara and Nick, the stress, the pain, the heartbreak. Everything was so vivid; the home, the heat, the stress, the terror. You could physically feel it along with the characters. You could read, and then close your eyes for a moment and see these characters and just want to help them.

One aspect that stood out to me was the insomnia. Nick experiences it in his final months and Clara experiences it after his death. This author shows this to reader so incredibly well. Insomnia for days on end can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Everything becomes fuzzy and enhanced at the same time. You lose track of things because you’re trying to catch a minute of rest and it just never comes.

Nick was a character that I thought I would hate. But as you see him throughout the story and his love for Clara was so unending, it felt like my heart was ripping apart. Sometimes, you can love someone too much. So much that you never want them to be unhappy or stressed for even a moment.

Clara is someone you want to run and help. I knew she wasn’t real, but in my heart, I kept wanting to find her and help her. The frustration and shame she felt was something I could relate to. You’re in a mess, you don’t really know the magnitude of the mess, and you’re just wading through the muck, trying to deal with it. But you can’t because you don’t know how to, and you don’t even know what exactly is happening.

This book is a masterpiece from beginning to end. I truly can’t recommend it enough.

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Don't You Cry

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

From the author of the New York Times bestseller everyone is talking about THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica returns an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession.

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

I finished this book a week or so ago. I was needing a day to let this book settle in my system, but I still am just blown away by it and I really struggle to find the words for this story.

This book was an absolute mind-fuck. I was so completely twisted and turned around, trying to understand what was happening, what was real. I kept coming back to this book over and over. I’d read for a bit, put it down so I could get something done, and then I’d have my nose right back in it because even when I wasn’t reading, it consumed my thoughts.

Quinn and Esther are roommates and when Esther goes missing, it causes Quinn to question everything in her life. Quinn is described as being a bit of a slow learner, but I personally didn’t see that in her character at all. I felt more like she was a young girl just trying to find her way, and constantly being compared to her over-achiever sister. Which is how she stumbles on Esther, who happens to be looking for a roommate. The two have a great friendship and Esther sounds like the person you’d love to have as your roommate. But are things always what they seem?

When Esther goes missing, Quinn starts finding out more and more about Esther. About her last roommate, secret letters, shredded pictures and documents. Who is Esther Vaughan?

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan town, Alex stops a bewitching girl sitting in the diner he works at. A strange friendship is born between the two. Alex is incredibly smart, but taking care of his alcoholic father consumes his time and money. So while Alex did have a scholarship to a great college, he couldn’t take it because of his father. As a reader, your heart breaks for Alex. From the moment I read his character, I felt he deserved so much better than what he had.

Overall, I loved this story. It hooked me in from the first page. That said, I did feel like the ending was somewhat anti-climactic. I’m unsure if I like that or not, simply because the ending is such a shock to begin with. I’m torn on if I feel like I wanted more from the ending or if I’m happy the way things were. Either way, this story will leave your jaw hanging open at the end because the end is more insane than anything your mind could ever conjure up on it’s own.