3 stars

Freefall by Jessica Barry

Freefall by Jessica BarryFreefall by Jessica Barry
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 8th January 2019
Publisher: Harper
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

When your life is a lie, the truth can kill you

When her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, Allison Carpenter miraculously survives. But the fight for her life is just beginning. For years, Allison has been living with a terrible secret, a shocking truth that powerful men will kill to keep buried. If they know she’s alive, they will come for her. She must make it home.

In the small community of Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter learns that her only child is presumed dead. But authorities have not recovered her body—giving Maggie a shred of hope. She, too, harbors a shameful secret: she hasn’t communicated with her daughter in two years, since a family tragedy drove Allison away. Maggie doesn’t know anything about her daughter’s life now—not even that she was engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, or why she was on a private plane.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers. Immersing herself in Allison’s life, she discovers a sleek socialite hiding dark secrets. What was Allison running from—and can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her?

Told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter separated by distance but united by an unbreakable bond, Freefall is a riveting debut novel about two tenacious women overcoming unimaginable obstacles to protect themselves and those they love.

Freefall was nothing standout as far as thrillers go, but I enjoyed reading it and it’s one that I could definitely see as a movie. There was quite a bit of action, but barely any character development or in-depth plot, so it’s one of those books that are probably best read on an aeroplane or by the beach.

I was expecting a lot more survival stuff, since the main character Ally was stranded in the wilderness after her plane crashed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much of that, because the book is filled with flashbacks and it also focuses on her mother.

Ally was very underdeveloped, and it took me a long time to care about her at all. I feel like the book would have been much better if there had been more about Ally’s background, especially her job and the time before she met her fiance. I would have liked to have seen what led her up to that point in her emotional state, and why she was so desperate for love and approval. Her actions after getting engaged didn’t make much sense or have much impact, since I didn’t know too much about her character. I was just told that she was a good person.

I did like what Jessica Barry did with the mother/daughter relationship. It was a really good balance in terms of the relationship side of things and the thriller plot.

What It It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

What It It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam SilveraWhat If It's Us by Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 9th October 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What If It’s Us was my first read by both Albertalli and Silvera. I know, I know, I’m a disappointment of a book blogger. I just never thought to pick up their books before. I thought this would be a good introduction to their work, so I requested it when I saw it was up on Edelweiss. While I wasn’t disappointed by the book, I don’t think it lived up to the hype that I had built up in my head.

This book is a really cute contemporary. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s fluffy, it’s super sweet, the main characters (one of them, anyway) was adorable, and it was all just really nice. I was expecting something a bit more mind-blowing, considering how much everyone seems to love these authors. I’d be interested to see what fans of the authors’ previous books think of this one and how What If It’s Us matches up.

I don’t know how the authors went about writing this book, but I liked Arthur a lot more than I liked Ben. Arthur isn’t even the type of character I would gravitate towards or connect with, but I thought he was just lovely. Ben, on the other hand, was irritating as hell and I couldn’t get over the stuff with his ex-boyfriend. Just. Nope.

I’ve read that some people didn’t like the ending of this one but I ended up really loving it. Without spoiling things, I loved the way that everything wrapped up, I loved the epilogue, and I just thought it was done really well. I’m not a massive fan of everything wrapping neatly with a cute little bow, so this ending sat incredibly well with me.

To be honest, I was expecting a lot more from both of these authors, but I will still be reading their other books because I really enjoyed this one.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Mirage by Somaiya DaudMirage by Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage has been getting a tonne of hype lately (“lately” meaning pre-release, but I know it’s now October by the time this post goes up) and I totally fell for it. I thought it sounded like everything I loved. Science fiction about a conquered galaxy, a revolution, and some kind of fantasy other than English. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

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American Panda by Gloria Chao

American Panda by Gloria ChaoAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 6th February 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Borrowed
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

American Panda was a pretty solid debut. It was high on everyone’s most anticipated lists because it’s about a Taiwanese-American teenager who goes to college and tries to balance life, family, and two different cultures. I really enjoyed it, and I’d be interested in seeing what Chao comes out with next.

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Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah VaughanAnatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 23rd January 2018
Publisher: Atria
Source: Borrowed
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

I wouldn’t say Anatomy of a Scandal is entirely worth the hype, but it’s certainly entertaining and well worth a read. It’s an incredibly interesting courtroom drama that kept me reading.

I liked the different perspectives in this book. Multiple points of view don’t always work for me, but reading from the different characters’ perspectives was a really good insight into various characters and their feelings and behaviours.

The ending was a bit disappointing because something came about at the very end, leaving no room for resolution. I’m not a fan of open endings, even if the main plot has been resolved.

I wouldn’t describe Anatomy of a Scandal as a thriller, as it’s more of a quiet drama, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.