Review: The Ex-Wife

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**5 Goodreads Stars**

Natasha is struggling to make it as a barista in the city. Living on a tight budget, she cycles to work daily until one fateful day dramatically changes her life for the better – or so she thought.

While racing down a steep street on her bike, Natasha accidentally swipes the side of a car and tumbles to the street. A handsome, older man steps out of the car to check on Natasha. She’s fine, but the man, Nick, feels guilty and offers to take her out to dinner. Things seem innocent until Natasha finds herself falling hard for Nick. There’s only one little problem: Nick is married to Jen, his high school sweetheart.

Natasha falls pregnant – something Jen never was able to do – and Nick casts aside Jen. He is eager to be a father and ready to welcome his new baby girl Emily into his life. Natasha moves into the house Nick and Jen shared and everything seems shockingly perfect beyond Jen’s occasional lengthy phone calls to Nick.

Things change when Nick gets one too many tickets and is under a court order not to drive. Jen suggests that he hire a private driver, which Natasha thinks is unnecessarily extravagant. Nick goes against Natasha’s wishes and hires a driver, who ends up spending a great deal of time with Natasha. Natasha begins to question her reality as her driver suggests that Nick isn’t being honest with her. Is Nick cheating on her? Is Jen somehow still involved with Nick? Is Nick really spending so much time on international business travel or is something else going on behind Natasha’s back?

This book was an intense, hold-on-to-your seats ride from start to finish. The author drops hints here and there at what might be going on; clever suspense readers may figure out what’s happening mid-way through the book, but that certainly won’t spoil this tantalizing thriller for even the most seasoned mystery readers. This was a super quick read for me and so very difficult to put down! I loved how tension mounted in this book; it was there from the first page and continued to build with every turn of the page.

Thank you to Bookouture, NetGalley, and Jess Ryder for an advanced reader copy of The Ex-Wife! I hope to read more of Ryder’s books in the future!

The Ex Wife - Blog Tour

Description

You’ve got everything she wants …
Newly married Natasha has the perfect house, a loving husband and a beautiful little girl called Emily. She’d have it all if it wasn’t for Jen, her husband’s ex-wife who just won’t leave them alone …

Then Natasha returns home one day to find her husband and Emily gone without trace. Desperate to get her daughter back, Natasha will do anything even if it means accepting an offer of help from Jen. But can she trust her? And do either of them really know the man they married?

If you loved The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl or The Couple Next Door then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.

Author Bio

Jess Ryder Author Photo

Jess Ryder is the author of three psychological thrillers – ‘Lie to Me’ (April 2017) and ‘The Good Sister’ (August 2017), and The Ex-Wife (June 2018) -all published by Bookouture. She also writes books for children, teens and young adults as Jan Page, with many titles published including ‘Selina Penaluna’. With many years’ experience as a scriptwriter, she loves watching television crime drama. Jess is a passionate reader and particularly enjoys thrillers. She blogs about writing, reviews books and interviews writers atwww.jessryder.co.uk and www.janpagewriter.com.

Jess lives with her partner in London, UK and has four grown-up children.

Author Social Media Links

Website: http://jessryder.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessRyderAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jessryderauthor

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Review: The Ever After

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**3.5 Goodreads Stars**

Sarah Pekkanen’s The Ever After merges the genres of suspense and domestic drama to tell a story of a husband’s infidelity. The lead character, Josie, discovers a salacious text from another woman on her husband, Frank’s, phone by accident. The book follows the aftermath of this discovery, peering into the mind of Josie as she struggles to understand why her husband cheated on her. Was her marriage always a sham? Were there signs she missed?

To make matters worse, Josie and Frank have two young daughters. They both do their best to hide the situation from them, but ultimately Josie realizes she needs Frank out of the house to figure out a way forward. The book follows Josie’s inner dialogue as she tries to reconcile the many sides of Frank: the loving and doting father, the once caring and adoring lover, the hard-working employee, the solid friend, son, and brother. How could someone who was all those things rip a marriage to shreds?

I struggled with the ending of this book as it felt flat and abrupt. I felt like I truly understood Josie’s train of thoughts, but Frank’s motivations for the affair still felt unclear to me. In some parts of the book I felt like I was reading a self-help non-fiction book rather than a piece of fiction. The writing is good, but I really struggled to see Frank’s point of view in all of this.

Thank you to the publisher, Atria, the author, Sarah Pekkanen, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of The Ever After.

Review: The Psychopath Next Door

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**5 Goodreads Stars**

I’ve read a lot psychological thrillers and murder mysteries, but I haven’t spent a lot of time reading the psychology behind why people are ruthless killers. Dr. Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door shines light on people who are sociopaths: not the sociopath who kills, but the sociopath who is manipulative, deceptive, cunning, emotionally destructive, and, at times, physically violent. Dr. Stout, a clinical psychologist, wrote this book after a lifetime of working with patients who have been affected by sociopaths.

Sociopaths, by definition, lack a conscience. They have no moral compass and no sense of guilt. They are self-motivated and self-interested, only concerned in using people to fulfill their own desires and wishes.

“When a sociopath identifies someone as a good game piece, she studies that person. She makes it her business to know how that person can be manipulated and used, and, to this end, just how that chosen pawn can be flattered and charmed. In addition, she knows how to promote a sense of familiarity or intimacy by claiming that she and her victim are similar in some way.” (Stout 90)

According to Dr. Stout, 1 in 25 Americans are sociopaths. So how do we protect ourselves from such people? 

Dr. Stout argues that we should avoid sociopaths at all costs. If someone has lied to you three times, then assume they are a sociopath. If they have shared a pitiful story to gain your sympathy, be on alert.

Part of the reason sociopaths are allowed to run rampant in American society is because they cause their victims to question their own sanity and to feel as though they are the ones who are crazy. Sociopaths convince people who know their victim/victims that the victim is the one who is deceptive, manipulative, and dangerous. Consequently, victims often stay quiet out of fear of retaliation:

“Certainly she will hesitate to tell her story again, since trying to expose the sociopath casts doubts on her own credibility and maybe even on her sanity. These doubts, our own and other people’s, are painful, and readily convince us to keep our mouths shut. Over the years, listening to hundreds of patients who have been targeted by sociopaths, I have learned that within an organization or a community, in the event that a sociopath is finally revealed to all and sundry, it is not unusual to find that several people suspected all along, each one independently, each one in silence. Each one felt gaslighted, and so each one kept her crazy-sounding secret to herself.” (Stout 95)

For these reasons, Dr. Stout argues that victims must do everything in their power to separate themselves from those who exhibit sociopathic behavior.

This book was eye-opening for me. I especially enjoyed segments that discuss the history of world leaders who exhibit sociopathic tendencies. One of the questions that haunts me is why humanity – which compromises of mostly good people – tolerates and even complies with the demands of sociopaths.

“But history shows us also that a leader with no seventh sense can hypnotize the group conscience still further, redoubling catastrophe. Using fear-based propaganda to amplify a destructive ideology, such a leader can bring members of a frightened society to see it as the sole impediment to the good life, for themselves and maybe even for humanity as a whole, and the conflict as an epic battle between good and evil.” (Stout 59)

I flew through this book because it was accessible for non-experts. The case studies, in particular, were so compelling and frightening. They were just as terrifying as the suspense books I read!