fiction

Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

38745981.jpg

Book: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton [ goodreads | amazon ]
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: eBook, ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis
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.

Cover
The cover is perfection. It was what made me click on this book. I had yet to hear anything, the author was new to me. The cover was everything. Then that synopsis. Oh that synopsis! This book immediately buried itself into my mind before I was ever given the chance to look at the first page. The cover is perfect. Note: The UK cover is also fabulous; I’ll include it down below!

Review
I have been putting off writing this review. Not because this book was bad, no — because this book is that good.

This is a debut piece from Burton and it has cemented her name into my list of Must Buys when new releases come out. Incredibly well written, thought-provoking, spooky, creepy, captivating. I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to think of the right descriptions for this book. I need to do this book justice.

Our main characters, Louise and Lavinia, are both millennials but from opposite ends: Lavinia is in her early 20s, a rich socialite who parties like there is no tomorrow, keeps up with the “right” crowd, and is off from school to write her book; Louise is pushing 30, working three part-time jobs just to kind of make it; she has no real friends, no real life — until her chance meeting with Lavinia, who takes Louise into her life.

36071401.jpg

This is a story that will give the reader anxiety in parts (and I mean that as a huge compliment to the writing). This is a story that will stay with you. If you are anything like me, you’ll start to believe Lavinia is living in your closet and be worried to open the door.

This book won’t be for everyone, though I think everyone should give it a chance. The writing is beautiful. The characters are fascinating. The plot is twisty, turny goodness. You’ll be so caught up you won’t know what day it is in your world; you’re too busy in their world to remember what is actually going on in reality.

I’m wanting to tell more and wanting to not share. I want to keep this to myself, while also making sure everyone picks up a copy and dives right in. I have only bought the physical copy of one book so far that I received for free as an ARC; I will be buying this one when it comes out June 5, 2018.

Burton shows an amazing commentary on the lives we live in this modern world – the ones we choose to share and the parts we keep to ourselves. This book hands over the ability to have amazing discussions on the toxicity found in certain relationships, social media. A cool, modern take on the psychological thriller genre that I cannot wait to read again.

 

Huge thanks to Penguin via the First to Read program and the fabulous author for an advanced copy of this beautiful, creepy novel.

This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge on June 03, 2018.

Review: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

35297219.jpg

Book: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Format: Physical book, from Book of the Month club
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis
From the Goodreads page:

The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down—and protect—before others can get their hands on it.

Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.

While in Los Angeles for Isaac’s funeral, Hazel realizes she’s not the only one searching for his life’s work, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch.

As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac’s favorite son—a theoretical physicist—and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel’s grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives.

Review
I wanted to like this book more. I was so excited when I saw this as a BOTM option. I was a huge fan of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and loved the concept of this book being written in clue form. I mean – it says it right there on the cover: A Novel In Clues.

I felt like that promise was empty. Yes, while we followed Hazel in her journey to find the truth of what happened to her grandfather, I was under the impression (or maybe I just hoped) that we would be given the clues to try to figure out on the way. The clues that were used weren’t what I was expecting. And honestly, I didn’t find that there were a lot of clues to begin with.

Most books I read are written with multiple perspectives. I enjoy a book that handles multiple perspectives well. I do not feel like this book needed the different viewpoints. I would have preferred the story to be solely from Hazel’s point of view. And for the promise of clues to be more…clue-y. This book really reads more as a general fiction/family drama piece, less as a mystery.

I found this book to be well written and the plot idea to be interesting. However, I never found myself exactly wanting to read it. That is not to say I forced myself to read this book; I would rather have stopped reading it altogether than to force myself through it. But…it just wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s honestly a 2.5 for me but I rounded up to 3 stars because I did enjoy the writing. I will even check out another book from Nova Jacobs in the future.

The cover is fun, though! I like the color combo and really enjoyed getting to the part of the book that made me realize why the cover was designed the way it was. I would probably knock off the novel in clues thing, but hey, that’s just me. As a true crime/mystery/thriller fan, I think I was expecting just more from that little line than was intended.

This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge June 26, 2018.

Review: Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

36589624.jpg

Book: Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Format: eBook, provided by NetGalley free for review
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 3 stars

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

Cover Review
I love the colors for this book. The pink on top of the cool tone blue is really popping to me and the color combo is something that I really respond to in various formats (especially yarn). I’m not sure how I feel about the blocky letters taking up the majority of the cover. While the rose stands out to me, it took a few viewings to really notice the woman, which I found very interesting. Overall, I really enjoy this cover and it was definitely one of the reasons why I chose to ask for an ARC of this book.

Review
One of my favorite things about being a member of NetGalley is that I am getting introduced to new/new-to-me authors on a regular basis. Sometimes, I ask for ARCs, sometimes I just write it down to check out later. This was definitely one I knew I did not need to wait until later to read.

Her Name Was Rose offers a joy ride down familiar thriller lane, with Claire Allan putting her own marks on the territory to really make it her own. With interesting characters, beautiful writing, and a fun story, Allan will definitely be an author I check out in the future.

In this story, we follow Emily. Emily has witnessed the death of a complete stranger — the death that she feels (for a few reasons), she is the blame for. Thanks to the Internet age, Emily is able to find out all she needs about this woman. Rose, it would appear (based on the brief encounter Emily had with her and her son plus the social media presence Rose made sure to keep), had the life that Emily dreamt of. Loved and adored by a husband and coworkers; missed by many; beautiful; happy. It doesn’t take long before Emily is just completely enraptured in the life that Rose had. So…Emily decides to put herself into that life.

It seems innocent enough…I suppose. Emily gets a job at Rose’s old workplace. She befriends her old coworkers. And, eventually, befriends Rose’s widower. The deeper she gets into this picture perfect life, the more she realizes that nothing is what she had imagined.

One thing I enjoyed about this book was how well Allan used the multiple perspective writing style, giving us the current story through Emily’s eyes while giving us a deeper look into Rose’s past. And while I did really enjoy this one, it took a bit to get into. (I made note that Chapter 6 was incredibly well done and that I was really into the book about 41% through, as well as a “Emily GIRL whatchudoin???” note 70% through, hah.) Once I was in, though, I found myself completely enthralled with these characters. And even now, a month or so since I’ve finished the book, I still wonder about Rose and Emily.

There is an epilogue. I have weird feelings, usually, about epilogues, but this one was fine. It gave the closure I needed and I felt like the endings for everyone worked out fine.

I very much recommend this book to fans of psychological thrillers and mysteries. I think if you’ve been wanting to try these genres out, I think this could be for dipping your toes into the genre.

 

This eBook was given to me for free for review purposes. All thoughts are my own. Thank you to NetGalley, Avon Books and Claire Allan for the chance to read and review this book. 

This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge on July 23, 2018.