The Murder House | James Patterson | Number 7 Ocean Drive is a beautiful home with a terrifying past- people have turned up dead on its ground for decades. Jenna Murphy grew up in the area and is back thanks to her police chief uncle. I'll have to be honest- I really didn't like this book. From the tiny 2-3 page chapters to the cliche characters, I didn't find anything about this story to be interesting or innovative. It was a page turner, but one with limited payoff. I seem to be in the minority on this one- there are tons of good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Rating 2/5
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store | Robin Sloan Clay Jannon is a computer programmer by trade who takes a job working the overnight shift at a mysterious 24 hour book store. Few view people buy books here- instead, eccentric characters frequent the store and he realizes there is a pattern. He uses his Bay Area connections to find out what the texts really contain, and what he finds could prove to be more important than he could have ever imagined. This was a really fun, quick read that anyone obsessed with books and reading would enjoy. Rating: 4.25/5
The Vanishing Season | Joanna Schaffhausen This was a solid debut mystery novel. Ellery Hathaway is a survivor- she was kidnapped as a child and managed to escape a serial killer with the help of FBI agent Reed Markham. She leaves her old life- and name- behind and becomes a police officer in a sleepy Massachusetts town. When a birthday card from an anonymous source coincides with a missing person each year, she starts to realize that the past may not be left in the past. A slow burn with a strong female lead, The Vanishing Season doesn't follow the typical thriller path you might suspect. Full review here. Rating: 3.75/5
Beartown | Fredrick Backman Beartown is a small town in Sweden that is stuck in the past. Jobs are leaving and everyone in town is intimately intertwined. Beartown is a hockey town- and finally the boys' team has a chance at winning the national semi-finals. If they win, this means more jobs and more opportunity for all. This book is about so much more than small town small drama or gossip, or about hockey. The story features rich, well thought out characters that don't always do what you expect them to do. Backman is a fantastic author that gets to the meat of what it means to be a human- I can't wait to read more of his work. Rating: 5/5
An American Marriage | Tayari Jones I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley and I can already tell it's going to be a huge hit this year. An American Marriage is a story told from the viewpoint of three main characters- Roy, the husband, Celestial, the wife, and Andre, the lifelong friend to both. Celestial and Roy have only been married for a year and a half when Roy gets incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. Sadly, a black man being wrongly accused of a crime is not a new story, but the intimate look into what happens to one marriage when it gets abruptly cut short is. You will love Celestial, Roy, and Andre throughout the book, but you'll hate them at times, too. The writing in this is incredible; Jones brings you in the story quickly and doesn't let go. It's a story about family, obligation, and choices. This one will stick with you. Rating: 5/5
Lie With Me | Sabine Durrant Another ARC from Netgalley. The book opens with Paul, a complete and total fraud, running into an old friend in a bookshop. Even though the two weren't particularly close, Paul accepts a dinner invitation for the following weekend, because an unemployed author that is about to move back in with his mother has little else to do. He uses his wiles to charm a widow and score an invite to her summer home in Greece. What happens when he's there is banana pants - but be warned, it takes almost 80% (!!) of the book to build up. I first thought this was just an okay book with a mediocre plot- but the ending pushed me up to 3.75. If you don't mind unlikable characters and descriptive writing, you might like this. Rating: 3.5/5
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