Oddball in 3G by Marc Berlin

Trigger Warnings: This novel discusses the following topics that may be difficult for some readers: mental health, physical abuse, profanity, violence.

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  • Published: September 19, 2019 by Black Rose Writing
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 207
  • Rating: 3 stars

Robert Krieger’s life is quickly falling apart.

He’s been fired from his job, split with his sexy girlfriend, and has a controlling overbearing mother he feels obligated to call at least once a week. As a result, he’s developed a distressing anxiety disorder.

Robert lends money to an acquaintance across the hall in his building, a small-time drug dealer named Skids. When Skids is later assaulted by enforcers working for an inner-city drug gang, the Dragons, he hands Robert a package to hold for him until he either asks for it back, or dies.

Lonely but determined to find a new girlfriend, while jogging one morning Robert meets the beautiful and willowy Lindsay Marriott, whom he awkwardly begins to romance. Not long afterward, he finds himself in a bloody one-man war with the Dragons, who believe Robert possesses money Skids owes them.

Robert is soon juggling an increasing array of anxiety-heightening issues, which together conspire to wreak havoc on his fragile sanity.

I have read quite a few psychological thrillers where the author establishes some unreliable narrators, but Mr. Berlin’s character of Robert takes the cake! The author begins the story by introducing a quote from Norman Bates, which should have alerted me of the events that would soon unfold.

As the synopsis indicates, the main character struggles with his mental health; I, personally, struggle with anxiety and found Robert to be someone I quickly resonated with. Readers will constantly see him battling with his mental thoughts and trying to overcome them through weekly therapy sessions and daily medications.

As one might expect from someone who is anxious in nature, Robert is socially awkward and finds it hard to establish long-term relationships with other individuals. Readers will notice these complications when introduced to Skids, his next-door neighbor of several months who frequently borrows money from him despite having no other contact, and Lindsay, a woman he runs into by accident and quickly develops feelings for.

Until the halfway mark, this book is a very slow-burn which is not normally something I enjoy; I honestly felt like I would be rating this one as a solid two-stars, but events took a turn and was non-stop action until the end! As I do not give away spoilers in my reviews, it makes it hard to express why this book is worth the read but I urge you to give a chance because you won’t be disappointed.

*I’d like to thank the author for reaching out to me and gifting me a free copy in exchange for a honest review.

Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Trigger Warnings: This novel contains the following content that may be sensitive to certain readers: abortion, slight violence.

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  • Published: January 21, 2020 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 206
  • Rating: 3 stars

Professor Colin Ayres has spent years researching the strange story of Galina, Arizona, a sleepy border town ripped apart by violence and paranoia after the outbreak of a mysterious illness in 1960. Colin is certain the Galina Incident was simply a case of mass hysteria. But when his partner, Alonzo, starts exhibiting strange symptoms, Colin is shocked to realize they are the same as those that emerged in Galina decades ago.

As Alonzo’s condition worsens, Colin scrambles to piece together what really happened during that terrible summer in the past. He uncovers a story of murder, corruption, and fanaticism. The deeper he digs, the more he becomes convinced that what happened in Galina wasn’t mass hysteria after all.

When others start to develop the same eerie symptoms, Colin must confront the possibility that someone—or something—is driving the plague. Guided by rumors of a person who found a way to stop the plague in the sixties, Colin races to find answers before the disease destroys Alonzo and everyone else it touches.

Red Hail is a novel that is broken down into two timelines with two different set of main characters. In 1960, the readers are introduced to Anza, a sixteen year old girl; Dove, a former ward nurse; and Father Santiago, a priest. After a hail storm paints their town red, strange things begin to happen to almost all the citizens in their small town of Galina; with officials chalking it up to mass hysteria, these three set out on a mission to uncover the real reason behind the incidents.

Flash forward to present time in 2020, readers are introduced to Colin, a man who has done an extensive amount of research on Galina’s illnesses and until recently believed in the mass hysteria theory; Alonzo, his significant other who has family ties to Galina; and Sonia, a young mother who is experiencing the same symptoms as Alonzo. Together the three of them pursue leads to finally solve the decades long case and not only save themselves, but others in the future.

This novel is a quick read that will have you hooked until the very end; the author does a wonderful job at writing something scientific, but with enough dark mystery that it will be a hit for any reader that does not normally read from this genre. I will definitely be reading more of Killen’s work!

* I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Glass Half Full by Katia Rose

  • Publication date: January 8, 2020
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Rating: 3 stars

You win some, you lose some.

Back at home with half a college degree after the fiasco of the century sent her packing, it’s safe to say that Renee Nyobé is losing some. She’s a hot mess, and not the cute kind. No, if hot messes had categories, hers would be ‘littering the stairs of the metro station with your sweaty underwear because you were too busy rushing to the job interview you’re already late for to zip up your yoga bag.’

A job—any job—is just what she needs to get her life back on track, and it might as well be at Montreal’s most famous dive bar, Taverne Toulouse.

Dylan Trottard is winning some. As Taverne Toulouse’s new manager, he’s got one rule for himself: don’t screw up. Following that rule gets a lot harder when the woman he’s spent the past three years trying to forget starts working behind the bar.
They were never supposed to want each other, and they sure as hell aren’t supposed to want each other now. She’s the girl that got away before he even had her, and he’s the guy she didn’t think would ever give her a second glance.

Now they can’t keep their eyes off one another, and the stakes are even higher than before. There’s a lot to lose, but as the pull between them gets harder and harder to ignore, Renee and Dylan start asking how much winning is worth.

Those who follow my blog are probably aware of the fact that romance is the least likely genre to find me reading, but I have been making more of an effort to embrace more titles in this particular category. Although this book is the second in a series by the author, each book can be read as a standalone. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I became invested in the budding relationship between the two main characters: Dylan and Renee; both individuals have flaws that readers can relate to and keep them rooting for a happy ending for the duo.

Renee is a twenty-one year old woman who finds herself back at home after her overseas education was cut short due to her suffering a mental breakdown. Even though it has been months since her incident, her family still feels the need to treat her like a fragile human-being. While trying to adjust to living life with anxiety and a different outcome of the life she had pictured for herself, Renee decides to apply for a job at a local dive bar. Unbeknownst to her, the newly promoted manager is someone from her past.

Dylan is a twenty-something year old who readers find has been recently promoted to manager at the dive bar that he has been working at for quite some time. When Renee comes walking through the doors, he cannot help but be taken on a journey through the past when he was crushing on her in their poetry group. Even though this is a second chance at being an item, he feels conflicted to pursue anything as he is hiding a secret that he seems unable to truly forgive himself for.

Over the course of the novel, readers see the characters work through their own personal struggles and find themselves drawn closer to one another. I read this book rather quickly and already wish it was time for the release of book three! Trust me, you will want to go ahead and preorder this one!

I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit GARAI

  • Published: March 17, 2019
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 278
  • Rating: 3 stars

Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.

Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.

This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.

Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

The Bridge of Little Jeremy starts out with the readers being introduced to the narrator: Little Jeremy himself, who is a twelve year old boy suffering from a medical condition that readers will quickly be informed about. He lives with his mother and his beloved pet dog in the city of Paris, but finances are particularly tight at the moment. From medical bills to the newly discovered inheritance tax, his mother’s nursing home salary is not enough to cover all the expenses; this is when Little Jeremy starts using his art skills to secretly sell his paintings to help ease the burden for his mother. This venture sets the stage for the journey the narrator takes through the European city, where he uncovers a valuable artifact, uncovers knowledge about his heritage, and uncovers the importance of love.

The protagonist of this story is quite adventurous and is often left to roam freely around the city, which may be unimaginable to some of those who decide to pick up this book. On one of these explorations, he finds himself in the presence of a valuable Vittorio painting; he decides to take it upon himself to restore the painting and collect a profit that will eliminate any financial stress that his family is currently battling. In his process of restoring the painting, Little Jeremy becomes engrossed in his work and begins seeking out any tidbit of information that can be given pertaining to the piece of art.

When the narrator is not at work on the painting, readers will find him wandering about Paris following leads that may gain him some knowledge about his valuable find. One of these trips finds Little Jeremy making the acquaintance of someone who purchased property from his great-grandfather; on the site of the property, the boy spots a portrait of a woman holding a child that sparks his curiosity. He is sure that he recognizes that face, but cannot seem to recall who or were he may have saw the woman. He begins chatting with the landowner and learns that he has ancestral ties to the painting he has been working on, but that his mother must not know of its existence!

The restoration mission comes to an end and not a moment too soon! Little Jeremy’s mother has received notice that they must leave their flat and she is facing a few years behind bars due to the impending debts she has accumulated. The protagonist comes clean to his mother about the painting; she is shocked to learn of her son’s unknown trips and hobbies, but appreciates him trying to help. She agrees to sign the authorization allowing him to sell the painting, so the family can be released from their economical stress. As it is starting to seem like the family is receiving their happy ending, things take a turn for the worse fast; I cannot say much without giving the resolution away, but I will say that I did not expect it and it has stayed with me even after finishing the book.

I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those that enjoy books with character-driven plots, in particular.

* I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Trigger Warnings: This title contains the following topics that might be difficult for some readers such as: cheating, profanity, sexual assault.

  • Published: August 16, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 8 hours
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is-a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend-an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably-but only because it’s over.

This year, I have taken it upon myself to read more memoirs, specifically celebrity memoirs. I had originally made the decision to skip this one; I love Amy Schumer, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t think that she would write about any topics I would consider important. I can now admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong! Schumer’s writing style reminds me of Gabrielle Union in her memoir: We’re Going to Need More Wine. The author openly discusses her struggles with her readers, openly throws out profanity, and openly gives readers a glimpse into her personality aside from the humor we have grown to adore.

To the outside world, it is easy to picture Amy Schumer as having the perfect life, but that wasn’t always the case for the comedienne. Schumer does not shy away from providing her readers with background information about her rough upbringing; she writes about how her mother’s cheating had consequences beyond her family, about how her family wasn’t wealthy and she had to work several jobs throughout her adolescence in order to cover expenses, about how her father was diagnosed with an illness that made it difficult for them to spend time with one another more often, and more that you won’t want to miss out on.

I don’t know if I’m the only one that feels this way, but I often feel as if celebrities avoid opening themselves up to their readers and connecting on a deeper level; unfortunately, this results in a book filled with content that is already public knowledge and a disappointing read. However, I’m happy to announce that Amy’s book was the opposite; I know that profanity may not be every reader’s cup of tea, but it happens to be mine. I felt like the author’s use of vulgar language made her more relatable and provided me with many opportunities to laugh.

Readers are probably well aware of Schumer’s comedic acts and generally associate her with being funny, but in this book she shines a light on some other important traits she exhibits: authenticity, honesty, empathy, kindness…the list goes on and on, but I’ll let you read the book to discover the rest! The author makes you feel as if you are sharing a table with her and engaging in meaningful conversations; she doesn’t once try to sugarcoat things to make herself appear in a better light. There’s a particular chapter in which she discusses how she gave her bonus from one performance to those that work for her and by donating it to a charity that supported veterans; this made me admire her a little bit more because I feel like more celebrities should make an effort in supporting the less fortunate.

This is a book that I feel will stay with me for many more months to come and I highly recommend this book for those that love listening to audiobooks, for those that love learning more about certain celebrities, or for those that love having a quick, light read.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Trigger Warning: This book contains the following topics that might be difficult for certain readers: bullying, death, physical abuse, suicide, violence.

  • Publication date: October 8, 2019 by Wednesday Books
  • Genres: Dystopian, Suspense, Young Adult
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Page length: 407
  • Rating: 4 stars

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

This novel just recently began circulating around on social media sites, but I originally discovered this one from seeing an Instagram review from @itsahardbacklife4me. I was hesitant to give it a read because it was being marketed as a young adult dystopian novel, which is a genre that I have not given much attention to. However, I’m so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone because this one has become one of my top favorites for the year!

In Garner County, the time for another grace year has arrived; a punishment for girls aged sixteen due to the town’s belief that they possess magic that creates temptations for the male inhabitants. This year, Tierney James is the next girl in her household to receive this suffering. She will be one of thirty-three girls sent into the woods to begin working on expelling her magic, battling the harsh elements, and avoiding death at the hands of poachers.

Once the girls arrive to their destination, one girl in particular seems to demand control over the others: Kiersten Jenkins. She begins making claims that her magic has already came in and sets out to release the magical abilities for others in the encampment. Tierney, however, does not feel like she possesses any type of magic and quickly becomes an enemy of Kiersten’s when she expresses that she is not interested in her offer.

It’s the beginning of autumn when the girls arrive at their encampment. They start assessing their surroundings and conclude that the confinement lacks clean drinking water, adequate food supply, and the resources to stay warm during the upcoming winter. Tierney’s father, the county’s healer, taught his daughter basic survival skills that prove to be beneficial; she builds rain barrels that will collect rainwater that is safer for the group to drink, she uses seeds her sister provided to grow produce, and chops down some trees to use as firewood. However, all her efforts go unappreciated by the other girls as they begin separating themselves from her and continue to obey the instructions of Kiersten.

As if the elements of nature wasn’t enough to worry about, the bigger threat remains in poachers. The poachers hide outside of the encampment waiting for a grace girl to venture outside the boundaries; the poachers hunt down grace year girls and offer up their corpses in exchange for payment.

At the end of their trial, only fifteen girls managed to survive. The events of the year have caused the remaining girls to be forever changed and they decide to join forces and leave the encampment in better conditions than previous years. If you haven’t read this one yet, be sure to preorder now from Target, Amazon, or any other place you shop for books. If you love dystopian novels, the Handmaid’s Tale series, or want an empowering read on your TBR, then be sure to give this one a read!

* I was given an advanced reader’s copy of this book via NetGalley and MacMillan in exchange for an honest review.

Josh & Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren

  • Published: September 4, 2018 by Gallery Books
  • Genre: Comedy, Romance
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 320
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

I must confess that I am one of the few readers that is not a fan of romantic comedies; I find the genre too cheesy and predictable. After reading The Unhoneymooners by this writing duo earlier this year and surprisingly enjoying it, I knew I wanted to read another of their works. I couldn’t pass this one up, as it was everywhere on my social media feed; I’m glad I didn’t pass this one up because it has a little bit of something for everyone: endearing friendships, humor, and the right amount of steamy scenes.

There were two prominent friendships that I fell in love with while reading this book. The first would be the bond between Hazel and her best friend, Emily. From the very beginning, the readers understand that Hazel is a person that has her quirks and that she can be on the wild side. This information doesn’t affect Emily’s views on her; she always looks out for Hazel and keeps her in check without preventing her from staying authentic. The second relationship would be that between Hazel and her mother. Hazel’s mother is eccentric in her own right and she is the reason that Hazel has managed to stay true to herself despite it hindering her in the dating world; they share an open line of communication and she always seems to know what Hazel needs, even if she is trying to convince herself it isn’t.

I absolutely adored Hazel’s character; she reminds me of myself: funny with no filter involved. This trait of Hazel’s provides for some lighthearted reading with ample amounts of laughter. For example, there’s a scene where she sends an email to her TA while being heavily sedated on pain killers after an oral surgery; another scene involves playing bingo for a prize that will have you laughing too. Basically, each chapter will have you laughing and it’s always nice to have a read like that to pull you out of a slump or serve as a refreshment after a heavy read.

A title that includes the word dating, it is a no-brainer to expect some level of sexual content to be involved. I think this duo knows how to provide sexy content, without overdoing it. It keeps the storyline in check and prevents any cringing from occurring. I would definitely recommend this book for those that love rom-coms, those that have read works by this pair, or those that enjoy quick, lighthearted reads.

Unanswered Verses by Tajammul Kothari

Photo taken from Goodreads
  • Published August 1, 2018 by Amazon
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Edition: E-Pub
  • Pages: 51
  • Rating: 3 stars

Unanswered Verses is a collection of poems that strives to capture the varied emotions of life in its rawest form. It aims to indulge the reader in asking questions pertaining to the three entities that govern our lives. Namely the mind, the heart and the soul. Written in a simple and lucid manner, the book is divided into three chapters related to the attainment of peaceful bliss, love and worldly freedom.

I have not read many poetry-based books, but I found myself pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed this one. This book contains several poems that cover a wide variety of topics: bullying, cheating, addiction, anger, etc. My top favorite poems were titled: Prelude, Harassed, Addiction, Unrequited, and The Affair.

Every individual has questioned the meaning of life at some point in their lifetime; in the poem titled Prelude, which serves as the book’s introduction, the person feels like no matter where he/she turns, whether religiously or to others, the answer to life’s meaning is still nowhere in sight.

Every night I cry silently

Hoping that tomorrow they won’t bother me

In the poem, Harassed, the author talks about a child being afraid to attend school due to being bullied. This one tugged at my heartstrings; the author makes you feel like you’re the child and as if the pranks and torture this child feels from his/her bullies is your own.

How I wish I could turn back the clock

Then I would have ignored and looked away

And my life would have been different than what it has become today

Addiction was a poem that spoke to me from the title alone; I’ve never personally suffered from addiction, but have several family members battling the disease. In this particular piece, the author details the how easy it is to pick up a new drug due to peer pressure, not thinking about the long-term consequences. The reader learns that the individual gets hooked from the very first use and is fast forwarded to ten years later with the person still struggling to end the cycle of addiction, but with no avail.

The poem titled “Unrequited” tells the story of a love story with a heartbreaking ending. A guy ends up falling in love with a woman, whom he has established a long-term friendship with. One day, the contact between the two comes to a screeching halt and he drops everything to fly out to see what is the matter; however, once he arrives he is informed that she has recently gotten married.

I closed my eyes for a few moments

Hoping this was just a dream

I felt her warm body embracing me

Opened my eyes and saw no one was there

I rejoiced thinking I had hallucinated

Yet I could smell the dirty stink of betrayal

Last, but not least, The Affair is pretty self-explanatory. A man and his wife have not had much time together in awhile and he decides to try doing something romantic for her, but comes home to see that she has had a romantic evening with someone else. Later, he wakes up next to her and believes he has dreamed of her betrayal; however, the smell of the encounter still lingers in the air.

I want to take a moment and thank Kajammul Kothari for reaching out to me and providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for a honest review.

Sweet Poisons by Natalie Bennett

  • June 18, 2019
  • Genres: New Adult, Romance
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 236
  • Rating: 3 stars

Rhett Sullivan.

Mysterious boy painted in shades of red.

Nova Markov
Eccentric girl dripping in sunshine.

He was the type mother’s warned their little girls about—a cocky, rich asshole with a pretty smile, unapologetically insane and wild.

I was the type guys like him usually ignored—a free spirit who hid my crazy beneath an odd good girl facade, and the art hanging on my studio walls.

We were opposites in every way but one, and we collided like two runaway trains that never had a chance of stopping.

What blossomed between us, our ‘relationship’, was maniacal.

We got stuck in a cycle of madness.

Rhett Sullivan became a bittersweet poison I couldn’t get enough of.

In the end, that’s what destroyed me.

Because in the end?
Our love was nothing but a lie.

Author note: I said I was done slapping warning labels on my book babies this year, but since I have never written full on NA yet, I’m going to give a tiny one now. This will be the only label this duet will have. If you are not a fan of twisted stories that deal with dark themes, rich assholes, and lots of filthy sex, this will not appeal to you. This couple is not unicorns and rainbows and neither is their story

I must confess that the main reason I decided to checkout this book was because of its cover; the cover oozes darkness, but with an adequate amount of sensuality. After reading the book’s synopsis, however, I knew this was one I had to read; boy, must I say, it didn’t disappoint! From the beginning of this book, I was hooked and ended up finishing it in one sitting.

Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of romantic novels; I find those reads to be redundant and predictable. If you think this book is going to be another one of those reads, then you are mistaken and are best to leave this one behind. Yes, this book follows a budding romance between Nova and Rhett, but it is far from a “match made in heaven” or having a “fairy-tale ending.”

Nova is a twenty-two year old who has recently experienced the loss of her parents while Rhett is the mysterious new guy around town. As best as Nova tries to keep her distance from Rhett, their paths continue to cross and she finds herself no longer trying to push him away. However, the newfound relationship is in jeopardy of being destroyed before it even has a chance to evolve into something long-lasting; Rhett has a secret he’s hiding and when Nova begins to uncover the truth, the outcome will be unexpected for both of them.

I would recommend this book to those that enjoy romance novels that have a darker storyline. This book contains expletive language, sex, and violence; if mentions of these topics are triggering for you, then I highly suggest you steering clear of this book altogether.

Last, but not least, I want to thank Giselle for having me be a part of this Xpresso Book Tours event.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

  • Published: July 2, 2019 by Penguin Random House Audio
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 10 hours
  • Rating: 2 stars

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings.

Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind. As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story…until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s sordid past and into the secrets kept within its walls. What she discovers pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

At the start of this book, the readers are introduced to Jules Larson. Her life has not been an easy one; her sister, Jane, went missing at the age of seventeen has yet to be found and her parents died when she was nineteen. She has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is currently crashing at her best friend’s house until she can find a job that will allow her to have her own living space. This makes it easier to understand why Jules acts quickly when she sees an ad seeking an “apartment sitter” for the luxury building named the Bartholomew. The protagonist meets the employer for an interview and is offered the position; she will stay in the apartment for three months and receive twelve thousand dollars after the entirety of her stay. However, the position comes with certain rules that must not be broken; at the beginning, the rules do not seem to be an issue until her next door neighbor, Ingrid, goes missing.

Ingrid and Jules had made plans to meet up at a nearby park when Ingrid turns out to be a no-show. After several texts go unanswered, Jules confronts the employer on her whereabouts. The employer of the building provides little explanation to her sudden disappearance, but does tell Jules that Ingrid left in the middle of the night and the apartment was left the way she found it. Jules, unable to accept this news, decides to start an investigation and questions the other residents hoping to uncover clues that will aid in finding her neighbor. Sadly, the other inhabitants provide little to no information that is helpful; this leaves Jules on her own to uncover the truth and it lands her in the fight for her life.

It is at this point in the book that the plot falls flat for me. I do not want to give too much away, so I will just state that the “twist” the author introduces as an explanation to the disappearance(s) comes out of nowhere. Sager does not lay down any sort of foundation that serves as a build-up to this development, which made it hard to follow and leaves quite a bit of loose-ends that I feel needed tied-up. I also found it frustrating that the author provided no resolution for Jane’s disappearance as it seems she was prominent in the protagonist’s character development. This is the first book that I have read by this author and even though it was not the book for me, I will look into reading other works by him.

*I listened this book on Scribd. If you would like to have ONE FREE MONTH of this book subscription service then click this link: https://www.scribd.com/g/7ovkvo