2017 Book #51 – The Party by Robyn Harding

51kYyM+RHmLTitle: The Party
Author: Robyn Harding
Date finished: 6/10/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.
One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.
Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?
But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.
Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the façade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Hannah Sanders, a young girl whose life is altered forever on her sixteenth birthday. Chafing under the heavy thumb of her mother’s control, Hannah is determined that her sixteenth birthday will be one for the books. Her recent rise in popularity at school means that the two most popular girls in her class are coming to the party tonight, so it can not be lame, which unfortunately means breaking some of her mom’s rules. Tragedy strikes though and Ronni, one of the popular girls at the party, ends up literally losing an eye. Which is crazy and gross and sad. The fallout that comes afterwards will expose every dirty little secret of Hannah’s family, changing her family forever.
Overall I liked this book. I thought it was interesting and it kept you on the edge of your seat. The whole thing was overwhelmingly sad. After the incident the kids at school treat Ronni like crap, which sounds accurate for high school but really was just so unfortunate. There didn’t seem to be a decent person anywhere in the book. Every character in this story had flaws and selfish motivations. I didn’t really like the ending, I thought more justice should have been dealt out and I thought there was a sense of hopelessness instilled at the end. Even though I didn’t love the ending though I still really did like the book and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was really interesting and full of great tension. I didn’t love the way the book ended but I still really liked the book overall.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #14 – The Hidden Man by David Ellis

41mczwmlkl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Hidden Man
Author: David Ellis
Date finished: 3/1/17
Genre: Fiction, crime/mystery
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: September 3, 2009
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Series, Jason Kolarich #1
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Jason Kolarich is a midwestern Everyman with a lineman’s build and an easy smart-ass remark. He’s a young, intelligent maverick, but he’s also struggling with an overwhelming emotional burden—one that threatens to unravel his own life, and possibly the lives of those around him.
Twenty-seven years ago, two-year-old Audrey Cutler disappeared from her home in the middle of the night. She was never found. All the detectives had to go on were vague eyewitness accounts of a man running down the Cutlers’ street, apparently carrying someone. Without enough evidence to suggest otherwise, Griffin Perlini—a neighbor with prior offenses against minors—was arrested, but never convicted.
The case is long closed when Perlini is murdered nearly thirty years later. Now a man named Mr. Smith appears in Jason Kolarich’s office, saying only that he represents a third party who wants the man charged with murder off the hook and that Kolarich is perfect for the job. The new client: Audrey Cutler’s older brother, Sammy—Kolarich’s estranged childhood best friend—a man he hasn’t seen in nearly twenty years.
But when Kolarich starts receiving violent threats from Mr. Smith’s enigmatic employer, he figures out that the secrecy behind this nameless third party—and the key to winning Sammy’s case—is entangled with the mystery of Audrey’s disappearance. With his own life and Sammy’s in the balance, Kolarich has to put aside not only the mounting anxiety of the job but also a heart-wrenching personal tragedy in order to find out what really happened to Audrey all those years ago.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (February). This book tells the story of Jason Kolarich, a lawyer who is still reeling from a recent personal tragedy. In the previous few months, Jason had helped to win a high-profile case against the feds, making him somewhat of a local celebrity. But that’s not why a stranger named “Smith” shows up in his office one day demanding legal services. Turns out Jason’s best friend from childhood, Sammy Cutler, has been arrested for the murder of Griffin Perlini, the man suspected of abducting and killing Sammy’s baby sister, Audrey, 20 years ago. Jason doesn’t understand what Smith’s part in all this is but he owes a lot to Sammy, so he takes the case. But when Smith starts dictating how Jason needs to try the case, Jason wonders what the story is beneath the surface. And as Jason defies the rules and tries the case his own way, he learns there are consequences for disagreeing with the people he’s now working for. And when they start trying to use his brother as leverage, Jason decides its time to figure out what’s really going on, even if he has to do it on his own.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was pretty engaging and I loved how kick ass the plot twists were. I ended up enjoying this one more than I expected to, I would probably even read another from the series if I had time. The ending was a little too neat and tidy for me, everything just kind of worked out ok and the bad guys didn’t fight back much in the end. I would have liked it a lot better if Jason had gone through with his threat to cut off a couple of Smith’s fingers, he definitely deserved it. But other than that, I thought the plot was pretty good. It was engaging and was set at a good pace with lots of plot twists, some of which I didn’t see coming at all. This was a good read and I would recommend it, especially if you like a good mystery novel!

The bottom line: I liked this book ok. It isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own but it was interesting. I would recommend it if you’re into crime/mystery novels.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #122 – Burning September by Melissa Simonson

517rolxrycl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Title: Burning September
Author: Melissa Simonson
Date finished: 12/31/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: September 8, 2017
Pages in book: 222
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kat’s life is going exactly the way her sister has planned it, until a detective shows up at their front door early one morning and arrests Caroline for murder. Suddenly and utterly alone, Kat doesn’t know how to navigate a world without Caroline, the woman who raised her. During the aftermath of the crime, Kat tries to figure out who she is without her sister, but unlocking those doors only leads to more troubling questions. Kat realizes the one person she thought would never lie to her had, and quite frequently. Sorting through the skeletons and secrets might be more than she can handle, but it’s a necessary evil if she ever wants to see her sister acquitted.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Katya (Kat) and her sister Caroline, and both their lives during Caroline’s murder trial for killing her ex-boyfriend in a house fire. Kat told the police that her sister was at the condo all day but the police aren’t listening and arrest Caroline anyway. Caroline is confident that she won’t be stuck there for very long but that confidence is apparently misplaced as after she’s transported to a mental facility for trying to cut her wrists, she’s stuck there for the next few months until trial. And while Caroline is there, Kat starts to realize that her sister has been hiding things from her. Like the fact that she somehow has a very expensive attorney representing her. And that they have a lot of money in their checking account when Caroline mostly just does freelance work. So how much can Kat really trust her sister? And what, if anything, can she believe is the truth?
Overall I really liked this book, it was a really interesting story line and held my attention throughout the book. Kat was a really interesting character, and Caroline also had a lot of interesting layers to her. I liked the way that the author built a lot tension between Kat and Kyle, Caroline’s lawyer. There was a great build up of suspense in this novel, it was almost like a cross between a thriller and a contemporary romance. This was a really good read and I would definitely recommend!

 

The bottom line: I really enjoyed this book, there was some great tension between the main characters and I loved Kat’s character overall as well. Great read, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page