Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen






What They Say.....After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily has offered to give them the one thing that they want most.

Romily expects it will be easy to be a surrogate. She's already a single mother, and she has no desire for any more children. But Romily isn't prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire-and even destroy their marriage.
Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make...
Thought-provoking, heart-rending but ultimately uplifting, Dear Thing is a book you won't be able to put down, until you pass it on to your best friends.

What I Say.....This book is one of the reasons that I love blogging.  This is a book that I would have missed, and that would have been a shame.

Romily is a single mom, definitely not living the dream, but has hung on to her best friend Ben throughout the years.  She's in love with him, although he seems not to realize it.  I don't know how sure I am of this, as much as Ben was a good guy, he also seemed to have the need to be perceived as the perfect guy to everyone, his wife, his best friend, his in-laws.  

When Ben and Claire find that they aren't going to be able to have children, Romily makes a drink inspired offer to be their surrogate.  After a tiny bit of thinking (seriously, the time it took to decide this was minuscule), we find Romily with her legs up a wall and a syringe of sperm in Ben and Claire's spare bedroom inseminating herself (seriously, gross).

That's when the real fun begins.  Romily has a very uncomfortable pregnancy, St. Claire is fighting off her normal feelings of jealousy, and Ben is smiling over everyone, oblivious to the undercurrent.

I think the real story for me was the development of Romily and Claire's understanding of each other, even when Claire discovers that Romily is in love with her husband.  In the middle of this Romily's ex pops back into her life, and finds out that she chose to have the baby they conceived 7 years ago.

So many different people, so many different agendas.  And in the middle, both a new baby and the child that Romily has raised.  


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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....March 27, 2106




The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

I had a great reading week!  I know that we all go through our little slumps in blogging.  Times where it feels more like a chore.  But this week, I read two great books that I really loved and it kind of reignited blogging for me!  This is why I do it - to discover new authors that I otherwise may never have heard of.  Reviews coming soon, I've been too busy reading to write!

Right now, I'm reading The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman.  It's pretty good, but I feel like it would have been better marketed as a beach book, it's definitely a summer read.

An ad popped up on my Facebook feed today from Alfred Knopf publishers for a new book.   The blurb in the top said it's "A More Literary and feminist Gone, Girl".  I don't know why this irritated me so much, except that it seems like insulting a peer to promote oneself.  I personally get sick of everything being touted as "the next Gone, Girl!", it seems like lazy marketing.

I only got one new add this week, which is fine because I finally feel like I'm getting caught up, getting three books read before their publish date!

The House of Dreams by Kate Lord Brown....An international bestseller, Kate Lord Brown's debut novel 
The Perfume Garden has sold especially well in Canada, where it was selected as Walmart's Read of the Month for June 2015 and made it to the Globe & Mail bestseller list. 

The House of Dreams combines Brown's lovely, lyrical writing and signature interwoven past/present narrative style with an even more commercial time period and a fascinating real-life story.

In 2000, Gabriel Lambert is a celebrated painter who hides a dark secret. Sophie Cass, a journalist struggling to begin her career and with a family connection to Lambert, is determined to find the truth about his past and the little known story of the real Casablanca.
In 1940, an international group of rescue workers, refugee intellectuals, and artists gather in the beautiful old Villa Air Bel just outside Marseilles. American journalist Varian Fry and his remarkable team at the American Relief Center are working to help them escape France, but "the greatest man-trap in history" is closing in on them. Despite their peril, true camaraderie and creativity flourishes - while love affairs spring up and secrets are hidden. 

At the House of Dreams, young refugee artist Gabriel Lambert changed the course of his life - and now, sixty years later at his home in the Hamptons, the truth is finally catching up with him.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake







What They Say....Three-year-old Sophia Lassiter disappears at the playground only to return after 40 frantic minutes-- but her mother Jill's relief is short lived. Jill is convinced the tiny dots on her daughter's arm are puncture marks. When doctors find no trace of drugs in her system, Jill accepts she won't ever know what happened during her daughter's absence and is simply grateful to have her home safely.

Except Sophia isn't safe. Three months later, she disappears again. This time from her bed at home, in the night. Working with the police and the community, Jill and her husband David are desperate to bring their little girl home. They remain hopeful---until information turns up suggesting their daughter was murdered, causing the police to turn their suspicions on the parents. 

Facing ugly family secrets and heart-rending evidence, Jill is still convinced her daughter is alive. But when the dragnet begins to close around them, Jill realizes the worst: if the police believe she has killed her daughter, that means they aren't out there looking for the real perpetrator. They aren't hunting for Sophie or the person who still has her.


What I Say....This was a great book - I read it in less than 24 hours.  It was the type of book you keep thinking about during the day, and wanting to get back to so you can see what happens next.

At first I thought it was going to be a little bit of a yawn, with the usual too busy lawyer husband, the artistic photographer wife, and their beautiful toddler.  

But nothing was as it seemed, everyone had secrets.  The child wasn't really all that appealing - I think we were meant to feel she was strong willed, but the reality was she was kind of a little brat.  The kind of kid that makes the best mom wonder what in the hell she was thinking when she decided to start a family.  

I'm happy to announce that I could tell who the secret creeps were and what their connections to each other were long before the end of the book, but it didn't take anything away from my enjoyment, and I loved that the author didn't try to make the bad guys into heroes at the end.  They were flawed people who made stupid choices, injuring many others along the way.

But that is part of what made this book so compulsively readable, you wanted to see if things were really as they seemed.  Most of the time, sadly, they were.




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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton




What They Say.....Wanted: A bold adventurer who wants to travel the world from a comfortable and safe spot behind a desk that has seen the likes of kings and queens, paupers and princes. A humble book and rare manuscript shop seeks a keenly intelligent investigator to assist us in our search for things thought lost, and in our quest to return lost items to their rightful owners. 

Never an adventurer, no one was more surprised than Delaney Nichols when she packed her bags and moved halfway across the world to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine, a bookshop located in the heart of the city. Her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime, albeit a cryptic one, and Delaney can’t wait to take her spot behind the desk. 
The Cracked Spine is filled with everything a book lover could want, each item as eclectic as the people who work there; the spirited and lovable Rosie, who always has tiny dog Hector in tow; Hamlet, a nineteen-year-old thespian with a colored past and bright future; and Edwin, who is just as enigmatic and mysterious as Delaney expected. An extra bonus is Tom the bartender from across the street, with his cobalt eyes, and a gentle brogue―and it doesn’t hurt that he looks awfully good in a kilt. 
But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact goes missing, and Edwin’s sister is brutally murdered. Never did Delaney think that searching for things lost could mean a killer, but if she’s to keep her job, and protect her new friends, she’ll need to learn the truth behind this Scottish tragedy.


What I Say.....I really enjoyed the storyline in this book.  Initially, it seemed like it would be a light, breezy read but the story had a little depth to it.  The characters weren't all cookie cutters, and the reality of addiction and family estrangement was woven realistically throughout the mystery.

The budding romance between Delaney and Tom was intriguing, although I am not sure how attractive a man's knees can actually be - I guess it's a Scottish thing.  But I liked that it wasn't instant true love, but rather instant true interest.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the mystery was solved, although not predictably.  Some of the characters were bad, some were good, but most were not what they seemed.

The one thing that I didn't like was the Scottish dialect.  It kept drawing my attention to the fact that I was reading, rather than letting me immerse myself into the story.  I swear I will never read a book written in a foreign dialect again - it is just not for me.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....March 20, 2016





The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

Another spring week in the books in sunny Arizona.  Allergy season has been horrible here, so it's beautiful out with tons of wildflowers.  Gorgeous to look at, but hell on your sinuses.  And I hate to waste a day outside while it's still less than a 100 degrees.




I've been reading The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton and it's a great story, but I can't stand the Scottish dialect.  It just makes it hard for me to read. I have promised myself after this, I will never read another book with a different dialect.  This is my second one this year, and it's a pet peeve for me.

I did add a few to the TBR pile, I'm trying to be very choosy because this pile is out of control!

The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner.....Meryl Becker is living a mother's
 dream. The oldest of her three beautiful daughters, Meg, is engaged to a wonderful man from one of the country's most prominent families. Of course, Meryl wants to give Meg the perfect wedding. Who wouldn't? But when her two younger daughters, Amy and Jo, also become engaged to celebrated bachelors, Meryl has to admit that three weddings is more than she and her husband, Hugh, can realistically afford. 

The solution? A triple wedding! At first, it's a tough sell to the girls, and juggling three sets of future in-laws is a logistical nightmare. But when Hugh loses his teaching job, and Meryl's aging mother suddenly moves in with them, a triple wedding is the only way to get all three sisters down the aisle. When the grand plan becomes public, the onslaught of media attention adds to Meryl's mounting pressure. Suddenly, appearances are everything - and she will do whatever it takes to keep the wedding on track as money gets tight, her mother starts acting nutty, and her own thirty year marriage starts to unravel. 
In the weeks leading up to the nuptials, secrets are revealed, passions ignite, and surprising revelations show Meryl and her daughters the true meaning of love, marriage and family. Jamie Brenner's The Wedding Sisters invites readers to the most unpredictable wedding of the year.


Sleep Sister by Laura Elliot.....Two childhoods destroyed. 


One story they will never tell. 

Until now

Beth ran away from her family when she was a teenager. She left behind a terrible evil that took her innocence. She also left behind her sister, Sara

When Beth returns home, she is shocked to discover her terrible secret is not just hers alone…she shares it with Sara. Under the shadow of a remote headland, the sisters make an oath they promise never to break. 

Eva’s birth is a mystery that remains unsolved. Years later with her marriage in ruins, and her future uncertain, she realizes that to move forward with her life, she must first understand her past. 

But while Eva is drawing closer to the truth about her roots, Beth and Sara’s lives are falling apart, crushed under the weight of the secret they carry. They must confront the past and face the darkness once more. But this time, their story will be heard. 


From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne....Sex and the City meets The
Wedding Planner in this prequel to USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne’s The Wedding Belles series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own.

Up-and-coming wedding photographer Leah McHale’s career is on the rise–thanks in no small part to the Wedding Belles, the elite New York wedding planning agency that always throws top-tier business Leah’s way. So when one of the Belles asks Leah to fill in at the former First Daughter's wedding, Leah is overjoyed to say yes–until she finds out who she’ll be working with.

Jason Rhodes is the one man who was able to capture Leah’s heart and, once he had it, promptly stepped all over it and left her broken. Now he’s working side-by-side with her at the biggest wedding of the season and Leah is determined to give him the cold shoulder. Despite his persistence, she is not going to fall for his charming, impish ways again. Not even if he still has that killer, irresistible smile...


Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman.....For fans of HBO's Girls, Abigail Ulman's
striking, darkly funny fiction explores the chronic uncertainty, exquisite dangers, and surprising tragedies of young women on the cusp of adulthood. In loosely connected short stories set across three continents, the characters in this debut collection express the collective longing of girls for the power that maturity can bring—and their confusion and disappointment when they finally attain it. Evocative and acutely observed, 
Hot Little Hands is at once dignified and self-deprecating, mischievous and disturbingly realistic.



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Thursday, March 17, 2016

You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes




What They Say.....From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2014, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone GirlAmerican Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.




What They Say.....In the compulsively readable follow-up to her widely acclaimed debut novel, You, Caroline Kepnes weaves a tale that Booklist calls “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.”

Hidden Bodies marks the return of a voice that Stephen King described as original and hypnotic, and through the divisive and charmingly sociopathic character of Joe Goldberg, Kepnes satirizes and dissects our culture, blending suspense with scathing wit.

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: truelove. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice...

What I Say.....I did this all wrong.  I read Hidden Bodies before You.  Don't make my mistake, but if you do, it won't ruin your life.  But the second book refers to the first a lot, so just take my advice and go in order.

I will say in the second book, I had a lot more sympathy for Joe.  Amy was a really crappy person, and watching him track her was fascinating.  Not that anyone deserves to have someone stalking them with intent to kill, but I was having a hard time summoning any real sympathy for her.  So that's the mark of a great writer, right?  That I'm siding with the serial killer and saying maybe the victim might have asked for it. Geez, that sentence was even difficult to type out loud.

In You, Joe falls in love with eternal student, Beck.  Initially, it just seems like a mutual attraction, but Joe's interest grows as Beck's wanes.  It's kind of amazing because from a outsider's viewpoint, Beck is immature, kind of dirty, selfish, and a bit pretentious.  And Joe sees all of that, but he seems to overlook it because once she's with him, this will all change.

But love looks a lot different to Joe than it does to the average guy.  It's less about love and more about stalking and watching and collecting.  I had to keep reminding myself that a woman wrote this book, because the guy's voice was so perfect.  Although, if a guy had actually written it, I might be telling people to check his basement for a cage.

I don't want to give any spoilers away, but Hidden Bodies continues to follow Joe's odd path, this time true love takes him to Los Angeles.  A twist in his path leads to new love, but the past keeps popping back up to haunt him.  In the form of dried urine in an old coffee cup.  In the form of a cop who remembers him a little too well and in the form of a starlet who won't take no for an answer.

Once again, Joe's path to true love is riddled with obstacles.  The real story is watching how Joe sees the obstacles and what he feels is necessary to remove them.  

This was very similar to Dexter in a way for me - you end up rooting for the bad guy, caring for him, wanting him to get away with murder, even as you remind yourself that he kills innocent people.  And yet, you still want him to be okay.

So, so good.   My sister listened the audiobooks and then immediately started them over, she thought they were that good.  I agree.



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Monday, March 14, 2016

Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker




What They Say....."The day Savannah was killed she was fifteen minutes late to meet me." 
So begins bookseller favorite Susan Strecker's second novel of twin sisters and the murder that left one twin behind.
Savannah was the popular bad girl skipping school and moving quickly from one boyfriend to the next, so when she didn't meet Cady as promised, Cady wasn't surprised and the truth was Cady was already a bit mad at her. When Cady suddenly becomes short of breath she realizes Savannah is in trouble, but within minutes Savannah is gone.
Years later Cady, now a bestselling author of suspense, spends her time interviewing killers, hoping each interview will help her understand what happened to her sister. Despite Savannah's death, the bond Savannah and Cady share has never been broken. Savannah still comes to Cady, but the clues her sister sends don't add up until a chance encounter while researching her latest novel provides a missing piece of the puzzle.

What I Say....Cady has grown up in the shadow of the tragedy of her twin sister's death.  So has her brother, and her parents.  Each are dealing with it in different ways, but it is impacting all of their relationships and lives.  Everyone hurts but no one talks about it.

Candy begins writing her latest criminal suspense novel, running into a high school crush who is now a prison guard - excuse me, corrections officer.

As she begins talking with the people around her about her sister, it becomes apparent that not everyone saw Savannah's promiscuity with the same rose colored glasses as Cady.  Her conversations include a Hannibal Lecter type interview with a local serial killer, which didn't make a lot of sense to me.

As the story progresses, Cady starts to doubt everyone around her, even wondering if her best friend might have been her sisters killer.

I need to be careful as telling too much of anything in this story would be a spoiler, but the first obvious clue was in Savannah's very first runaway attempt.

When the end came, it was both thought provoking and a let down at the same time.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about it - I'm glad Cady found her peace but she still didn't seem to realize how much she didn't see in her own twin.

Definitely worth reading - if you've already read it, let me know what you thought!

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....March 13, 2016




The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

I went hiking with a friend yesterday in Cave Creek National Park, and a wrong turn meant that we hiked for 5 miles instead of the planned 3, and my Fitbit showed us climbing 48 floors, although my butt and thighs would have sworn it was 50.



But the view from the top was beautiful.  And coming down off a mountain is a lot easier than going up one - in that way, it's like childbirth - you don't remember how horrible it was at the end.

I have had a great week - I finished You by Caroline Kepnes and it was as good as people are saying. I'm going to post my review tomorrow, so I won't go into too much detail except to say it was a definite must read for me.

I didn't add any new books to my TBR pile - it's already overflowing and stressing me out!  I really need to start using audiobooks, but I feel like they are so expensive.  And while I'm listening, I tend to get distracted and miss parts.  But I haven't been sitting still long enough to read as much as I would like.

Soooooo........my goal for this week is to plug my phone in at 7pm and ignore it until I go to bed.  I'm tired of giving hours to my work email, Facebook, google searches of useless information, such as "Is Brandon Flowers a practicing Mormon? How many ounces in a pound? What is the temperature in Fiji right now?".  I need to cut the cord on my phone.

So any tips on making audiobooks my friend or how you quit being psychologically dependent on your phone are welcome!!!


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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....March 6, 2016





The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

This week flew by - I didn't post any reviews because I was completely sucked into Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, and every spare minute was spent with my Kindle in my hand.  I'm a dummy because I read this before You, and while it didn't stop me from being completely involved in Joe's story.  So today, I had to force myself to put my Kindle down to write my blog.  I guess that's the sign of a great story, right?

I went hiking yesterday - the weather is perfect right now.  High 70's, low 80's.  This is the weather  memory that I try to hold onto in the middle of an Arizona summer.  We made it to the top of the mountain, and the view....I won't say it was worth it (by it, I mean the burning in my butt and thighs! LOL)  but it definitely makes you feel like you accomplished something.  The little shiny things in the distance are cars. 




So today is a day of REST and reading.  And catching up on my blog.

Here's what I got this week.

NetGalley


The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard.....Sun, croissants and fine
wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?

When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife. 

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gĂ®tes will help keep her mind off her misery. 

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory. 

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it? 


The Children by Ann Leary......From New York Times bestselling author Ann
Leary comes the captivating story of a wealthy, but unconventional New England family, told from the perspective of a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret (and famous) life on the Internet.

Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother’s home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, and the generations of Whitmans before him. While Charlotte and her sister, Sally, grew up at “Lakeside,” their stepbrothers, Spin and Perry, were welcomed as weekend guests. Now the grown boys own the estate, which Joan occupies by their grace—and a provision in the family trust. When Spin, the youngest and favorite of all the children, brings his fiancĂ© home for the summer, the entire family is intrigued. The beautiful and accomplished Laurel Atwood breathes new life into this often comically rarefied world. But as the wedding draws near, and flaws surface in the family’s polite veneer, an array of simmering resentments and unfortunate truths is exposed.
With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family, as they are forced to grapple with the assets and liabilities – both material and psychological – left behind by their wonderfully flawed patriarch.

Looking forward to both reads, but I have enjoyed Ann Leary's other books, so I was pretty excited to get her newest!

I Bought

You by Caroline Kepnes.....When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the
East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.



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