Book Review: Deceived

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Title: Deceived

Author: Heena Rathore P.

Pages: 350 pages

Plot: How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiving betrayal.

Thoughts: Let me start by saying that this is Heena Rathore’s debut novel and I was blown over by the plot, the writing and the suspense build up. ‘Deceived’ is a psychological thriller tracing the unsolved murders from the past and the recent ones. The story starts with a news article from the 1970’s about a missing teenage daughter who is the prime suspect of her parents’ murder. In present, the story revolves around Allison, whose mother and brother were brutally murdered when she was a child. She lives with her roommate Sam and her well trained pet dog Max, until one day when she decides to move in with her boyfriend Danny. Steve, Allison’s cousin who is also a journalist decides to trace the recent murders with a motive to find the killer of his aunt and cousin. The more he finds out the dangerous it gets…

At the beginning of the novel the author has given clear distinction in traits of a psychopath and a sociopath that helps a person with a non psychological background like me to distinguish the trait of the characters in the book.  I simply loved the way the story was narrated from different perspectives. The journal entries from the psychopathic murderer were the most chilling part of the book. The outcome of the darker side of love, obsession, betrayal and revenge makes the book a must read for all the psychological novel lovers. . This book couldn’t have had a more appropriate cover. I simply loved it. I was expecting a little more from the ending since the buildup was phenomenal. Never the less the book was a page turner and I could barely put it down.

I would recommend this book to all the people who love psychological thrillers. I am sure this won’t disappoint you.

Ratings: 4/5

PS: – Thanks to the Citrus Publication and the author for sending a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Perfect Murder and Other Stories

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Title:  A Perfect Murder and Other Stories

Author: S.R. Nair

Pages: 170 pages

Plot: A naïve man and a divorcee, a wronged woman’s fight for justice, a poor woman’s desire for an iPad, a charming young man plots to seduce a beautiful, blonde tourist, a staunchly orthodox immigrant’s struggle to assimilate in the U.S. … These are some of the captivating stories in this book which heralds a distinct voice and is a “seriously good read”.

Thoughts:   I have always been a little hesitant to read short stories, until recently when I have read a few short stories in a row and I am becoming fond of short story books. A Perfect Murder and Other Stories by S. R. Nair contains 14 short stories about murder, matrimony, betrayal, greed, dowry harassment, reach of the internet, etc. The book is quite short but it covers wide range of genres. The plot of the stories are based in India and America. Most of the stories are spread across three to four pages except for two, ‘A Perfect Murder’ and ‘Salma’s Fate’ that are around twenty-five pages long.

I liked the fact that the author managed to do justice to each and every story in only 170 pages. The narration is crisp yet apt enough to understand the characters and the plot. All the stories seemed realistic and authentic and the emotions of the characters were easily conveyed. My top three story picks from the book would be ‘Ipad’, ‘Visa for America; and Zubair.

Ipad: This story is about Hira bai who just got aware of the existence of Ipad by her employee’s son who has visited from US. Her innocence and love for her husband are well portrayed in just three pages. The reason she wants an ipad is heart touching.

Visa for America: An executive form US finds his wife on an Indian matrimony site. But love is not always the reason people marry. There is much more to it. I like the mystery created in this story and I loved the end.

Zubair: A progressive Musilm, Zubair, is forced to move to US due to family pressure. He is really concerned about his orthodox wife and kids adjusting to the US culture. But to his surprise he is the one facing trouble while his wife and kids adjust easily to the west.

With gently detached narration, realistic plot and authentic characterization, makes this book is an enjoyable read.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

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Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty

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Title:  Truly Madly Guilty

Author:  Liane Moriarty

Pages: 415 pages

Plot: 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?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Favorite Quote: “There is no special protection when you cross that invisible line from your ordinary life to that parallel world where tragedies happen. It happens just like this. You don’t become someone else. You’re still exactly the same. Everything around you still smells and looks and feels exactly the same.”

Thoughts:  Truly Madly Guilty, won the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards in the Fiction category. I have read a few books by Liane Moriarty and they were pretty interesting so I decided to give this book a read.

This book is about an incidence that takes place, out of the blue which changes the course of life for three families. Who thought a simple BBQ would turn into a fateful event disrupting the normal lives of three families and will leave their marriage, friendship, survival at stake? Will they be able to cope up? Revive? Get back to being normal? Read the book to find out.

The story maneuvered between two months after the BBQ and the day of the BBQ. The mystery is well built but I felt that the revelation didn’t live upto the mark. I was quite a bit disappointed by it since I was anticipating a breath stopping, sharp gasping suspense. The story did seem a little stretched and could have kept the interest of the reader higher with a tighter edit.

There are three couples Sam and Clementine, Erika and Oliver, Vid and Tiffany whose POVs are clearly dissected. Understanding each character and their thoughts, feelings and behivour was effortless. I especially loved Erika’s character and her complicated friendship with Clementine. I really liked the characterization and also the fact that wherever relevant the odd behavioral habits of the individuals were backed up with a psychosocial explanation.

Over all the narration is the strength of the book, there are a few high moments but the story line could have been better.

Ratings: 3/5

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Book Review: The Other Half Lives

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Title:  The Other Half Lives

Author: Sophie Hannah

Pages: 560 pages

Plot: Ruth Bussey knows what it means to be in the wrong – and to be wronged. She once did something she regrets, and was punished excessively for it. Now Ruth is trying to rebuild her life and has found a love she doesn’t believe she deserves. Aidan Seed is a passionate, intense man who has also been damaged by his past. Desperate to connect with the woman he loves, he confides his secret: he killed a woman called Mary Trelease. Through her shock, Ruth recognizes the name. And when she’s realized why it’s familiar, her fear and revulsion deepen. The Mary Trelease that Ruth knows is very much alive…

Favorite Quote: Make decisions based on hope, not fear.

Let me start by mentioning that Sophie Hannah is a UK based, internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction and now I know why. ‘The other half lives’ is a dark psychological mystery novel filled with jaw dropping suspense.  This book is title ‘The dead lie down’ in the US.

Like the other books from the Spilling CID series, detectives Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse are trying to investigate a murder which may or may not have happened. The story mainly revolves around Ruth Bussey, Adian Seed, Mary Trelease. Ruth is recovering from a setback of the past when she meets Adian Seed a picture-framer and both of them fall in love. Mary Trelease is a painter with her own set of damages. The story is a little confusing at start but its picks up when the police finds out that Mary Trelease is alive. I did feel that the book could be wrapped up in 350 pages.

The narration of the story mainly switches between the third person, Ruth Bussey and Charlie Zailer. The story is very well weaved, narrated and plotted with a strong characterization. I was not able to guess until the end what is going to happen next. The plot clearly highlights the fact that circumstances can move people to state of mental imbalance in an irrevocable way.

I especially liked the choice of the title ‘The other half lives’. I would strongly recommend this book to psychological mystery loves who don’t mind reading big books!

Ratings: 4/5

 

 

Book Review- Never Let Me Go

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Title:  Never Let Me Go

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Pages: 288 pages

Publication: Vintage Books

Plot: As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

Favorite Quote: “Sometimes I get so immersed in my own company, if I unexpectedly run into someone I know, it’s a bit of a shock and takes me a while to adjust.”

The protagonist Kathy, age 31 was a student of boarding school Hailsham, a school for special kids. All the kids in this school have a similar destiny already set for them. (I don’t want to reveal the plot twist; hence this is all I am going to say) Ruth and Tommy are Kathy’s confidants. The book revolves around their friendships, dreams, love, different phases of life, etc. The plot is very unique yet connectable. (I am finding it very difficult to not spill out any beans)

The writing style is very creative and interactive. It seems like the protagonist is talking to the reader throughout the book. At certain point the protagonist goes into an elaborate description of things, which is interesting at first but gets mundane later.

I had a lot of questions and alternate measures that people like Kathy could opt for towards the end. They could have rebelled, made their own destiny and not accepted what had already been planned for them. I wish there was some explanation offered by the author.

To sum it up, the book plot is one of a kind with great a narrating style.

Rating- 3/5

Book Review: Give It Back

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Title:  Give it Back

Author: Danielle Esplin

Publisher: Mira Books

Plot: This novel follows three characters: Lorraine, Lexy, and Ella.

Lorraine:

Not long ago, Lorraine lost her husband to another woman. She thought that was the worst thing that could happen to her, but soon she realizes it’s just the beginning of an everlasting nightmare.

Lexy:

Lexy, an au pair from London, moves to Seattle to help Lorraine with her infant son. But she didn’t come for the child…she came for something else.

Ella:

When Ella receives a call from her sister, Lorraine, who begs her to leave San Diego to spend time with her, she decides to take a few days off from work to visit her. Frightened to see how much Lorraine has weakened since her diagnosis eight months ago, she packs a bag and heads to Seattle with a foreboding feeling that this might be the last time she sees Lorraine.

But on her way to the airport, she learns that something shocking has happened since she last spoke with Lorraine and now. To make matters worse, once Ella arrives in Seattle, Lorraine’s story keeps changing, making Ella question how reliable her sister really is.

Soon Ella is entangled in a mysterious investigation, and more so, in the lives of everyone involved. She realizes not only that she won’t go home anytime soon but also that she’ll never look at others the same way she did before.

About the Aurthor: I’m from South Africa, and moved to Seattle, Washington, in January 2015. I’m 22 years old and I’m trying to live my dream by writing! My home language is Afrikaans, but I’m writing in English. This has been an amazing journey, and I would love for you to be a part of it!

The book is a psychological thriller based mainly in Seattle. I am trying hard not to disclose the plot, so I will tell you all a little about the plot and more about my comments on the book, consciously trying not to slip in any spoilers.

The book is written from three different people’s point of view. Lorraine who is a single mother, diagnosed with cancer, Lexy who is the Au pair employed by Lorraine and Ella, Lorraine’s sister who has come down to Seattle to visit her sister. Two people go missing and the investigation revolves around it. As the investigation proceeds shocking revelations come to light.

After a long time I read a book that kept me guessing until the end. Every time I thought I am close to guessing the mystery, I failed. The characters are very well built. Even though I was not able to relate to a few characters, I was able to understand their personalities well. The story is narrated in the past as well as present and this adds an interesting flavor to the narration. The turn of events are very well carved.  I was hooked to the book from the start trying to get to the end as soon as I could.

The book will be published on April 15th 2016 and I strongly recommend this book to all the readers who are in for a book which keeps you on the edge of the seat throughout. I will definitely watch out for more books by this author.

Ratings: 4/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending an ARC of the book for an honest review.

 

Spotlight: Last Vacation

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Title: Last Vacation

Author: Sarah Elle Emm

Plot- Seven days have passed since Naples real estate agent Megan MacKenna has heard
from her twin sister, Madeline, who was vacationing on the beautiful, Caribbean island of St. Croix. Though authorities are not convinced there is a case to solve, Megan knows with all of her heart something happened to Maddy. When Megan receives a direct warning to leave the island or end up like her sister, she turns to the only person who has taken her seriously since she arrived, Gabe, a breakfast cook at a local diner. Undercover DEA agent, Gabriel Walker has been building his cover for months, waiting for the opportunity to work his way into the infamous Torrez crime ring. When Megan shows up asking questions and Gabe realizes her twin’s disappearance might be linked to the Torrez men, he has to convince her to go back to Florida before she becomes their next victim. The closer Megan gets to the truth, the more Gabe begins to suspect he is missing a huge piece of the puzzle. And someone is closing in on Megan…

Excerpt:
Megan peered out at the vast expanse of ocean gleaming in the bright morning sunshine
before her. The turquoise waters seemed to go on forever. From the Caribbean Airways
in flight map, she had noted the islands of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. John were in
the far off distance. She had been told a faint view of the densely populated St. Thomas
could sometimes be seen on a perfectly clear day, but no matter how she strained her
eyes, she couldn’t quite see it today. Had Maddy hopped on a sailboat and continued her travels to another island as the police officer had suggested? It wasn’t like Maddy not to check in. Her cell phone had been going straight to voice mail since the last photo Maddy had sent, and according to the cell company, the cell phone was out of service range. Something had happened to her sibling. The last communication with Maddy had been an unexplained picture of an iguana. No message, no text, nothing. Just an enormous, slimy, dragon-resembling lizard. Megan sunk her head to her chest. Where in the world was her sister? “Everything okay, Miss?”Startled from her hopeless thoughts, Megan sat upright at the sound of the low voice. Her eyes scanned the length of the man standing before her, and she pursed her lips together. She guessed he was probably about six-foot-two.As she sat silently, observing him, the man repeated his question, “Are you okay?” His tone bordered on cautious, but concerned.“Everything’s fine,” she finally managed with a tight voice.With a smile, his concern faded away, and he reached behind his back to untie a grease-spotted apron. He folded the apron up, pulled out a chair at the table right next to
Megan’s, about a foot and a half from her, and sat down.An internal alarm went off, making Megan feel extremely uncomfortable with his proximity, and she fidgeted with her hands as he stared at her, finally forcing them into her lap. How could a voice so soothing go with a gruff-looking character like him? And what in the world was he doing sitting down so close to her?

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Book Review: The Newsmakers

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Title: The Newsmakers

Author: Lis Wiehl

Publication: Thomas Nelson

Length:  352 pages

Plot: What if it turns out that the newsmakers are actually making the news happen?

Television reporter Erica Sparks has just landed her dream job at Global News Network. Beautiful, talented, and ambitious, Erica grew up dirt poor, worked her way through Yale, and is carrying a terrible secret. She moves to Manhattan to join GNN, leaving Jenny, her adored 7-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband. Erica’s producer at the network, Greg Underwood, is handsome and compelling. Scarred by her divorce, Erica is wary of romance, but there’s no denying the mutual attraction.

On one of her first assignments, Erica witnesses a horrific Staten Island ferry crash. Then she lands a coveted interview with presumptive presidential nominee Kay Barrish. During the interview Barrish collapses. Erica valiantly tries to save her with CPR. The footage rivets the world—GNN’s ratings soar and Erica is now a household name.

But she’s troubled. What a strange coincidence that both events should happen on her watch. It’s almost as if they were engineered. Is that possible?

Erica’s relentless pursuit of the truth puts her life and that of her daughter in danger. Her investigation leads her into the heart of darkness—where the future of our democracy is at stake.

The Newsmaker is a well narrated book mainly revolving around the Global News Network (GNN channel). The key characters are Erica Sparks, Greg Underwood and Nylan Hasting. The book highlights the elements of plotting and politics that take place in the company. But that’s not it. The book is much more than that. As the name suggests it is about creating news. Is that possible? Read the book to find out.

Our protagonist, Erica Sparks is a beautiful, ambitious and an intuitive journalist who is  brought up in the country side and makes her way to Manhattan. Her journey from country side to Manhattan is not easy. She has a flawed past. She has the most indifferent parents in the world. Her mother has always put Erica down. In spite of the incompetent parenting, Erica was a bright student and with the right mentoring she made her way to the Ivy League schools. Erica over came the condescending looks that she received from the other Ivy League students and successfully graduated from Yale. She ends up marrying a school teacher and has a small career at a local news channel. They have a daughter together before they file a divorce. Erica doesn’t take the divorce so well and losses Jenny’s custody. All these things leave a deep scar on Erica. She becomes an alcoholic. And here she hits the rock bottom. The best quality about Erica is that she is swamped to the ground and yet she not only manages to pull herself up but she achieves heights.

She is discovered by Greg Underwood at the GNN and she is chosen to be a field reporter. Nylan Hasting, the man behind GNN has bigger plans for her. Erica happens to be covering news at the right place at the right time. And bam… She has two hit stories. Erica soon becomes a household name. What makes Erica a great journalist is that she empathizes with her interviewee. It is not purely business for her. She is trailing one of the cases and comes across a lot of shocking revelations. Here on, the story is full of suspense and mystery. The person behind the mystery is quite predictable but still the book holds interest.

Newsmaker is full of mystery, politics, and thrill. I would recommend this book to whoever is up for a little corporate politics and a lot of mystery. Let me also mention that the end of the book leaves you wanting for more….

Ratings- 4/5

BookLook Bloggers had provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exhchange of an honest review.

Book Review: The Last of the Firedrakes (Avalonia Chronicles #1)

 

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Title: The Last of the Firedrakes (Avalonia Chronicles #1)

Author: Farah Oomerbhoy

Publication: Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Length: 488 pages

Plot- 16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

Favorite Quote: “I had to stop running. I had to turn and face my life head on.” Aurora Firedrake

The Last of the Firedrakes is a fantasy novella. This book is the first in the Avalonia Chronicles Trilogy. The book revolves around Aurora who lives with her uncle’s family since her loving adoptive parents died in a tragic car crash. Her evil aunt and cruel cousin leave no opportunity to put her down. Like this isn’t enough, Aurora is bullied at school. Practically she is all alone in this world and has no one to confide in. Aurora eagerly wants to turn eighteen so she can go off living on her own. One day her uncle plans a sudden ‘family trip’ to Red Manor which is quite surprising since Aurora has never been taken on any of the family vacations. With dramatic turn of events at Red Manor, Aurora gets whisked into the magical land of Avalonia.

Avalonia is astoundingly beautiful and magical land spread over seven kingdoms with magical creatures like pegasus, faes, mages (these are cool short forms for fairies and magicians), shape-shifters, etc existing there. I am in love with the way the author has depicted an entire new fantasy world. I would love to explore this world. I must mention the map at the beginning of the book. It makes it easier for the readers to navigate through the kingdoms. As the story unfolds, newer lands come to light. By end of the book I was quite through with the geography of Avalonia.

As the story progresses, Aurora comes across many dreadful situations which she was totally unprepared for. It is very interesting to see the development in Aurora’s confidence and strength from the time she discovers that she belongs to Avalonia and has a major responsibility to bear. Instead of shying away from it she takes it upon herself and that truly is commendable at the age of sixteen.

The characters in the book are very well portrayed and I simply loved the way the novel is written. The book has magic, mystery, fantasy, action, friendship and of course romance (one word ‘RAFE’). The book did remind me of Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia a little, but the book has its own uniqueness. It was very difficult for me to put down the book. I am eagerly awaiting the second book in the serise!

Ratings- 4/5 (One point entirely for the portrayal of Avalonia)

Book Tour Details:

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A complimentary copy of the book was sent to me but the reviews are my own.

Big Little Lies- Book Review

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About the Book:

Title: Big Little Lies

Author Liane Moriarty

Publisher:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Length: 460 pages

Plot: Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Favorite Quote-All conflict can be traced back to someone’s feelings getting hurt, don’t you think?”

The book is based in Australia, having the preschool as the common link. The book at the beginning clearly states that somebody was murdered at a school Trivia night. The book is presented from three women’s point of view, Madeline, Celeste & Jane. Each of them have a very peculiar character, vastly different from each other and they still manage to bind themselves in a common bond. I love the way each character comes across strongly. My favorite character is Madelline, and this book proves that wealth is not of importance when you have a warm loving family who stands by you in the time of need. It is well narrated, the mystery holds up until the end.  What appealed to me is not the mystery but the style of writing. It’s quite like catching up with your gang of girls to have a quick chat, discuss your life, your troubles, your insecurties, gossiping about every thing that happened.

Each chapter at the end has statements of various parents present at the party. The confessions show how shallow and self involved people can be. There is a lot of school politics, ditching, bitching, etc, etc that makes the book vivacious & dynamic. This is my first Liane Moriarty book and I am sure that this is not going to be the last one! 😉

Rating- 3.5/5