Book Review: Last Girl Ghosted (Lisa Unger) @lisaunger @HarperCollinsCa

Lisa Unger has one of those writing styles that makes you feel like you are spending time with an old friend; no matter what horrible reading slump I find myself in, I can curl up with her novels and find myself in a haze hours later after devouring the pages. And that is exactly what happened to me when I binged Last Girl Ghosted.

Fun fact about myself, I met my husband online. So, when I read the synopsis for this novel and it had a tagline stating “Think twice before you swipe”, I was all in. The novel follows “plain Jane on purpose” Wren Greenwood, who is seemingly running from a tortured past, after she is ghosted from a guy, Adam, she met on a dating app. She blames herself, maybe she shared too much too soon, but soon she learns there were other women. Women who fell in love with this “ghost” and then went missing. Now her search for answers takes a different direction and she can’t tell if she’s the cat or the mouse.

Now, to start, this novel was totally different from what I was expecting. I, for whatever reason, was expecting more of a revenge style story. Guy ghosts girl, girl gets even. This novel was not like that at all. It really was more of a character study.

The novel unfolds in the multi-timeline style narration that I love. We have the present day story where Wren is searching for answers after Adam ghosts her and then we move towards Wren’s past. Wren’s past was some of my favourite parts of the book- her father is a “doomsday prepper” style fanatic which obviously causes some childhood trauma. I would have read an entire book just based on that storyline. The first half of the novel had me GLUED to the pages; I’m talking eyes burning, should absolutely be getting some sleep before the baby wakes up kind of engagement. About 3/4 of the way through, the novel makes a hard left turn and it really felt like a totally different book- not in a bad way- just totally switched the vibe. The ending especially seemed a little out of place for me with a tense shift and the narrative style changing. I could have done without an official resolution.

Characterization is of Unger’s specialities and this novel was no different; I really liked Wren’s character and the exploration between trauma, loss and PTSD was explored throughly in her development. I really did feel for her and I found her incredibly relatable. Another highlight for me was the P.I who gets involved. Bailey was *chefs kiss* perfection. I found little bits of comedic relief, a hint of a potential love interest and his smart banter completely charming. I long for a spin off series.

Overall, call me biased, but I love Unger’s writing style and find myself amused by whatever she writes. This one was a solid read if you want some light intrigue. I didn’t feel it was a traditional mystery/thriller, but for a character centric story, I was absolutely entertained!

Dark Things I Adore (Katie Lattari) @KatieLattari @Sourcebooks

I love a good revenge story.

Egotistical Arts professor, Max Durant, ends up on a weekend getaway with his student (and object of his affection), Audra. What starts as the start of a romantic relationship turns into something very different because Audra’s intentions are not what he suspects. Max has skeletons in his closet and Audra plans on making him pay….

The novel is told through multiple perspective narrations through past (Juniper) and present (Audra and Max). And, initially, this book had me very confused. It opens in the midst of the action and made me feel disoriented and uncomfortable. As I continued reading, I realized how brilliant this introduction was. I was drawn in trying to navigate this puzzle. What appears to be a pretty thick novel, ended up being a page turner and I was easily able to get through with it over the course of a few sittings. Lattari’s writing style is easy to sink into.

The book has various vignettes throughout the writing that highlight’s Audra’s art piece. These I found to be another really smart play by Lattari. While I was reading, I kept trying to understand how these were going to play into the plot and how they would eventually link the past and the present. Once the big reveal happened- which was clear about half way through the novel- I was able to appreciate them so much more. I could have kicked myself for not paying closer attention initially.

One of my small nit picks with this story was the use of nicknames in Juniper’s storyline. I was really confused trying to decipher who was who. I know that the nicknames were there in order to keep the timelines separate, but I found myself consistently cross referencing the names which brought me out of the story.

I also didn’t agree with the comparison to Gone Girl. Gone Girl’s giant second half twist was mind blowing. This novel didn’t have the same twists and turns, which I felt worked, but I don’t think the comparison is fair. Instead, this one reminded me more of a novel like The Whisper Network- a novel that has surface tension and demand for redemption. Unlike Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, I was routing for Audra. Get that revenge, girl.

On another sidenote, a serious shoutout to the cover art. This cover screams fall.

If you are looking for a straightforward burn to cozy up within an afternoon, this is the perfect pick!

Book Review: The Woman Before Wallis (Bryn Turnbull) @brynturnbull @HarperCollinsCa

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A fictionalized story of the American divorcee, Thelma Morgan, who captured The Prince of Wale’s Heart (Prince Edward) before he abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson. When I read the synopsis to this novel, I thought “sign me up”. I love me some royal content.

I am fairly familiar with the British monarchy; I would even go as far to say as I am a bit of a history buff. Royally obsessed, if you will.

Ironically enough, I actually didn’t know much about Thelma Morgan. I obviously knew about Wallis Simpson, but I dove into this one without much background knowledge which made it a real treat. I know that for historical fiction, some people really relish in “realism” and, while the author admits to taking liberties with dates and times, I felt like it was “real” enough to give me the escape I wanted without seeming too dramatic and overblown. A real balance was found by Turnball. I applaud her! Turnbull uses just enough historical accuracy to make a quick Google search easy enough to add more back story (to help figure out the who’s who) and this fictionalized account is juicy and sensationalized enough to make any TMZ, drama lover on the edge of their seat (me…I’m talking about me).

The novel is set in two different time periods; essentially before the affair (where we learn Thelma’s backstory, her first marriages and leading up to meeting Edward) and then in the future (where Thelma travels to North America to help her sister, Gloria Vanderbilt). To be completely honest, I could have spent all my time in the “before” section and could have just as pleased in the story. I was completely hooked into this affair. Not only did I Thelma a likeable character, but I was downright rooting for her.

I truly did not know much about the Vanderbilt family, so I definitely didn’t realize that they had such close connections to the monarchy. That alone was interesting. However, I felt like this section- although needed in order to set up the “betrayal”- was a little slow.

If you are royally obsessed like me (think The Crown), then you will devour this one. If you also like a little bit of scandal, then this would be right up your alley. Truly, I am into escapism nowadays and this book did exactly that. Throw this one in your beach bag!