Dark Matter

27833670 Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/26/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

My thoughts:

This is not a book I would typically pick up, but I kept seeing it at BEA and never got my hands on it. I requested it on Netgalley instead and was approved so here we are. I wasn’t sure what to think going in as some other reviewers called it Sci-fi (which is definitely not my thing) and others called it Psychological Suspense. Though there is definitely some science-y stuff in it–Jason is a scientist after all–it definitely leans more toward the Psychological Suspense side of things. Jason has no idea what is happening to him, but has limited resources, and lots of knowledge, to figure it out and work his way back to “his world” with very little help. Once he does find his way back to what he thinks is his version of the world, he faces other very familiar obstacles. Based on the synopsis and the different versions of the same world, it seems like this would be a very confusing read, but it actually wasn’t at all. I was intrigued and found all the descriptions of Chicago, in its various forms, very interesting. I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience this kind of bizarreness and to try to get others to believe you.

This was a good read, but not one I would typically pick up or even recommend to my friends. I will keep it in mind though for people who do ask for this kind of book and am glad that I did read it. The end wrapped up a little too easily for me, but I am picky about endings, so it could just be me.

My rating: 4/5

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Truly Madly Guilty

26247008 Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/26/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

My thoughts:

Okay, so this book both intrigued and frustrated me at the same time. I wanted to keep reading to find out the big secret, but was also frustrated that I didn’t know from the beginning. Basically, for the first half of the book, you know that something happened at a BBQ at a neighbor’s house, but you have no idea what that something was. The story is told in both flashbacks to the bbq and current day (weeks later) and is also told in alternating viewpoints. Sounds confusing, but it actually isn’t at all. I had my predictions about what the secret would end up being, and I was close but not spot on. Even though I wish I had known earlier in the book, I still found it to be a pretty enjoyable read. I liked most of the characters (even though some were a little weird or off-putting) and their background stories, especially the story of Erika’s mother and her hoarding habits. I also like learning new things when I read, so I thought Clementine’s cello-playing was pretty cool too. This was an everyday story about everyday people, but that’s what made it interesting.

I do enjoy Liane Moriarty’s storytelling and she is on my list of authors to read each time a new book is released by them. I would recommend this one to friends and family.

My rating: 4/5

Falling

28110094 Falling by Jane Green

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/19/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either.
On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son.
Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.
But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all.

My thoughts:

I had planned on posting this review several days ago. This is normally a book that I could have read in a few days, but I had other things going on that stretched it out quite a bit. This is a good love story though, which managed to keep my interest when not much else was doing so. (I DNF’ed 2 other books right before this, which I rarely do.) I have come to expect these kinds of stories from Jane Green, and I know I can rely on her for a generally good book.

I am not a fan of insta-love in books, so that irritated me a bit; but, at least, there was some questioning and drama to keep it from being too easy. I really liked Emma’s character and that we got a bit of London, but without the story being set there. Dominic was a likable character as well, though I would have liked to know more about his background growing up with lots of domestic issues. How did it affect all of his relationships and how did he keep from turning out the same way? This was addressed a bit, but more would have been nice. One of my favorite characters was Emma’s best friend, Sophie, and I would have liked more of her for sure.

Without any spoilers, I was not a fan of the ending so much, but I can see why it was the way it was. It was necessary for Emma to find out who she really is and what matters most. I felt like things wrapped up a bit too nicely (should be happy about that, right?), but I also can’t offer any critiques on how to change that, so….I can’t really take away from my rating for that. I would recommend this title to family and friends for sure.

My rating: 4/5

The Singles Game

27276380 The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/12/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.
After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying that I love this author, I have read all of her books since I first read The Devil Wears Prada and have enjoyed them all. I was excited to get approved for this one, and then I realized it was about tennis…which is something I am not remotely interested in. BUT, like any good author can do, Lauren made me interested in something that I normally wouldn’t be. I also learned a lot about the game of tennis, and it’s always fun to learn something new!

I love Charlie’s character and found her struggles relatable, even though I’m nothing close to being an athlete.  I also liked the “Hollywood” factor that was involved in the story–gossip, affairs, and all. I also really liked Charlie’s brother, Jake, throughout the story and found myself rooting for him to find a happy relationship. I hated Marco, but could understand why Charlie was drawn to him–we all like the bad boy that everyone else wants sometimes.

Overall, I just really enjoy this author’s writing style: sometimes snarky and always entertaining. I am wondering if there will be a follow-up book…I would definitely be open to reading it if so. Another great read by an already great author! I will recommend to friends and family.

My rating: 5/5

Baby Doll

27415371 Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

**This review is based on an ARC I picked up at BEA in Chicago from the Hachette booth, release date is shown as 7/12/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.
This is what happens next…
…to her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter…and to her captor.

My thoughts:

I just picked this book up as I walked by it at BEA because it just had a cover on it that said “Escape is just the beginning”, so I was intrigued. I am trying my best to read all the ARCs I picked up, and this was a short one, so it was easy to sit down and read it quickly. It was interesting enough that I read it in 2 sittings, but it did have its flaws. I’ll get to this in a second.

At the beginning of the book, Lily escapes from her captor of 8 years, makes sense with what the cover said, so that was fine.  However, I think her escape seemed a little too easy…but that’s just me wanting some suspense I guess. She makes it back to her family and the story goes from there, focusing on the aftermath for Lily, her daughter Sky, her twin Abby, and her mother mostly. There are some other characters that you hear from, as the story is told in the different viewpoints each chapter.

I do feel that some of the things that happened in this book were fairly far-fetched for how I would imagine things would really be like…but, also, how would I know what it would be like, right?  The middle part of the book could have been a little more interesting, but I’m not sure how, so I’m not going to critique it much. Things started to get pretty intense toward the end and I thought that it ended nicely. I like that the captor was someone that people would have never thought, which made things interesting. All that being said, this book was obviously good enough to keep me reading half of it at a time, so I would recommend it to those who like suspense, kidnapping stories, etc.

My rating: 4/5