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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Review: Bloodline by Jess Lourey

Bloodline 
by Jess Lourey

Thanks so much to the author and Thomas & Mercer for this review copy.


Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: January 1, 2021
Paperback
348 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

Perfect town. Perfect homes. Perfect families. It’s enough to drive some women mad…

In a tale inspired by real events, pregnant journalist Joan Harken is cautiously excited to follow her fiancรฉ back to his Minnesota hometown. After spending a childhood on the move and chasing the screams and swirls of news-rich city life, she’s eager to settle down. Lilydale’s motto, “Come Home Forever,” couldn’t be more inviting.

And yet, something is off in the picture-perfect village.

The friendliness borders on intrusive. Joan can’t shake the feeling that every move she makes is being tracked. An archaic organization still seems to hold the town in thrall. So does the sinister secret of a little boy who vanished decades ago. And unless Joan is imagining things, a frighteningly familiar figure from her past is on watch in the shadows.

Her fiancรฉ tells her she’s being paranoid. He might be right. Then again, she might have moved to the deadliest small town on earth.

My Review:


What's the big deal about New Years? I drop the ball all the time! ๐Ÿ˜ You know who didn't drop the ball? Jess Lourey, that's who!  Y'all probably remember me raving over Unspeakable Things.  It was my first read of 2020 and crazy enough, Bloodline is my last.  Lourey, you've sandwiched all my reads this year and I wouldn't have it any other way!

A creepy, suspenseful novel based on true events? Um, ALL THE YES PLEASE.  We are delivered a paranoid atmosphere of a small town that is focused singularly on our protagonist, Joan .  The eerie feeling that came across felt like a mix of The Truman Show meets Get Out meets Rosemary's Baby meets The Stepford Wives.  Where everyone seems to be in on something.  Where they know your every move and veer you in the "right" direction. Act properly and get rewarded.  Don't act properly... well, do you really want to go there?

Uff the men in this book.  I try to remember the time period in which this was written but still.  UFF THE FUCKING MEN IN THIS BOOK.  I wanted to scream on every woman's behalf.  But I also wanted to drop kick or glove slap most of these women too so... ๐Ÿคท  One character I did love? Regina! She is a fun character and I loved her banter with Joan.  I truly loved the atmosphere of this.  You feel more and more claustrophobic as the pages turn.. and whatever it was I was expecting, it wasn't THAT.  Brilliant.  Lourey has solidified a spot in my top authors list.

A word I haven't seen in a while - kerfuffle - I couldn't stop saying it after I read it  Kerfuffle.  KERFUFFLE.  Try it, it's fun. ๐Ÿ˜‰  

I would highly recommend this and Unspeakable Things.  If you haven't read either yet - chop chop - get on it!

★★★★★



Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Review: The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

The Chanel Sisters 
by Judithe Little

Thank you Graydon House for this gorgeous copy.


Publisher: Graydon House
Publish Date: December 29, 2020
Paperback
400 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction

A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever

Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.

The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafรฉs of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other. 

My Review:


We have all heard of Coco Chanel.  Now read about her and her sisters through how Little perceived their lives may have gone.  I thank #Bookstagram for making me a lover of Historical Fiction.  I really wasn't sure what I would think of this one as fashion has never been my forte ... but it doesn't have to be in order to get involved with the Chanel sisters.

Little takes us through their lives over a large span of time and we really get to know these girls.  The opening already had my heart breaking.  Their mother dies young as she drags the children around after their father who is consistently not around.  He splits the brothers from their sisters and without guilt, leaves them all.  The sisters end up with the nuns... and this is where their story really begins.

We get to learn about how Coco came up with the Chanel symbol and how they became involved in fashion.  However, what was most fascinating were their friendships, romances and unwavering loyalty.  There are certainly some sad moments within but these girls are truly an inspiration.  And I think we forget that the people behind the big names are just people, doing their best.

May we all always search for "Something Better".

★★★★


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Review: Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Pretty Little Wife 
by Darby Kane

Thank you William Morrow for this free copy.

Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: December 29, 2020
Kindle Edition
Standalone
Genres: Domestic Suspense, Thriller

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems.A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

My Review:

A debut thriller for this psuedonym of an award winning author, HelenKay Dimon. And it SHOWS. I was pretty much hooked from the get go but it took til about halfway in that the hook grew barbs and there was no letting go. Just when you think it went sideways, it actually went chevron and my head was zinging from all the back and forth. Loving every bit of it!

I was super happy to be right in a few distinct things... but it took a lot for me to get there AND I still didn't foresee this, this and THAT.  OoOoooOOO, this is one twisty goodness of a ride. Put on your seatbelt and helmet.  Safety FIRST my friends! It was an absolute pleasure being in Lila and Ginny's heads. I really grew to care about them both and fascinated to see how everything was going to play out. Lila with her history and missing husband..... Ginny with her role in the police department and a boss who doesn't give her enough credit.  Phewww... she certainly could hold her tongue and I applaud her for that. 

It's SO hard to write a review about a book that has so many little (and big) things going on because I want to shout out about the genius behind a lot of it but I can't because spoilers and I can't do that to y'all.  For me, this was a highly entertaining read and a story that starts out very interestingly and then culminates into a little bit of madness. Domestic suspense done incredibly well.  If you need a binge worthy read, grab your adult beverage, pint of ice cream, fuzzy blanket and slot out a few hours.

★★★★★



Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review: Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent #ATBR2020 #BuddyReadsToDieFor

Our Little Cruelties 
by Liz Nugent

The #BuddyReadsToDieFor December choice and what a choice this was!


Publisher: Penguin
Publish Date: March 26, 2020 (UK Edition)
Kindle Edition
384 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Family Drama

Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother's unequal love. As men, the competition continues - for status, money, fame, women ...

They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.

But which brother killed him?

My Review:


Nugent, I am a FAN! I'm STILL thinking about LYING IN WAIT and now.... OUR LITTLE CRUELTIES.  Thriller fans may be a bit put off as this (will feel) less thriller and more family drama but fear not, it does still hold quite an impact.  

Three brothers.  Though growing up in the same house, had vastly different childhoods.  They dealt with their growing pains in their own ways while either being ignored or not cared for as properly as they could have been by their parents - a mother who was a performer and trying to hold on to all her glory and an older father who was just doing his best to endure it all.  We get the full POVs of each brother in their own sections.  Admittedly, sometimes this can seem quite repetitive and can get a little hazy eyed for the reader.  However, Nugent brilliantly showcases how while we may be in the same place with another, our experiences and memories of that particular point in time can be vastly different.

Deceit, lies, betrayal, back stabbing... we've got it all readers. As I continued to read each point of view something new would click in place. CLICK.  Like a puzzle piece that made other scenarios much more clear.  It made me imagine how others perceived the same scenarios I was in with them.  But I digress.....

I despised all of these characters.  Except maybe Daisy.  It wasn't until one part happened that my mouth dropped and I knew this was a 5 star read for me. HOLY FUCK.  I think this is going to be a very divisive read and for that, I thank you Nugent.  These are my favorite as the fine line drawn really makes for the BEST conversations.  Personally, I appreciate everything that was happening and how it all played out.

#DrummFamilyFreakShow indeed!

★★★★★

Jessica's Review:


I've been a fan of Nugent since picking up LYING IN WAIT - a book that I couldn't put down and that ending! Her newest, LITTLE CRUELTIES, was high on my list for anticipated reads for 2020. So I was excited having this be the #BuddyReadsToDieFor December selection. Let me tell you, this was one hell of a crazy ride and I enjoyed every page of it. I think it's good to keep in mind that I wouldn't consider this a true thriller, more of a domestic suspense/mystery. That doesn't mean that the pacing was slow, in fact, I flew through it.

There's not a single likeable character in the bunch, but that's not a complaint! Sometimes you need characters you can hate. Plenty of lies, betrayal, back-stabbing, and family dysfunction to keep the suspense building. These brothers are just awful. All are successful and appear to be well-adjusted - William is a film producer, Luke is a famous singer, and Brian is Luke's manager. If you think your siblings are bad, just wait until you get to know the Drumm brothers.

Nugent developed these incredibly flawed brothers to perfection and brought them to life. If you enjoy more character study mystery/suspense novels, then this needs to be on your TBR. LITTLE CRUELTIES solidified Liz Nugent as an auto-buy author for me and I'm anxious to see what's coming next! I can see this being a little more divisive between thriller fans but that'll make for a fun book discussion. 

5 stars 



Review: I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone In The Dark:
One Woman's Obsessive Search
for the Golden State Killer
by Michelle McNamara
Introduction by Gillian Flynn
Afterword by Patton Oswalt


Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: February 27, 2018
ebook
352 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime, Memoir

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

"You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark."

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

My Review:

As an avid reader and lover of all kinds of fucked up serial killer type of books, I rarely get that shivery, goose bumpy feel that leaves you checking to make sure your windows and doors are locked and even when they are, looking over your shoulder or jumping at every shadow movement or tiny noise.   Because hey, it's fiction... right? But when it comes to true crime and a case like the Golden State Killer... well, if this doesn't shiver your timbers, then I don't know what will.

"He loses power when we know his face."

I remember being fascinated by this case.  Why wasn't this guy caught yet? What was happening in this world?!  I have meant to pick this up for quite some time now... and then he GOT CAUGHT! WHATTTTTTTTTTTTT! If you're a part of the book community on any social media then you saw this BLOW up in conversation.  And rightly so. FINALLY. And I"m saddened that McNamara wasn't alive to see this finally come to conclusion.  And I applaud Patton's response to the life sentence that this killer received.  

This killer was brazen.  The part where he placed a 2 year old on the floor while he raped the mother... I just can't.  The psychological warfare he imparted on his victims.  The confidence of not getting caught.  The disregard of everything other than his own agenda. Even knowing he's behind bars now, I felt my blood boiling.  Thank you, Michelle, for your fortitude and obsession with finding justice. 

★★★★★



Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd


Wrong Alibi
by Christina Dodd

Thank you to HQN for this review copy!

Publisher: HQN
Publish Date: December 29, 2020
Paperback
384 Pages
Series: Murder in Alaska #1
Genre: Thriller

Harlequin | Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

WRONG JOB

Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME

Evelyn’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on vengeance, intent on recovering her life, she bides her time, patiently searching for the man who took everything from her.

WRONG ALIBI

At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evelyn emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family…

My Review:


Hmmmm... I rarely read a book as soon as I get it.  I've read the synopsis (maybe) and then set it aside while I continually struggle (i.e.fail) to keep up with my TBR.  So when I finally get to a read, I rarely reread the synopsis.  If I have it, I clearly wanted to read it so.... I go in without knowing what I'm gonna find and I LOVE it. SURPRISE!  For SOME reason, after the first few chapters, I decided to flip the script and read the synopsis.  I really wish I hadn't because it basically tells you the entire story and you're pretty sure you know how it's going to end.  LE SIGH.

Now, it's true that sometimes it's about the journey but I wish the synopsis had been a bit more vague. I think it would've made my reading experience that more enjoyable.  HOWEVER, I really was addicted from the get go and was fully invested in Evie.  There's a lot going on in this read.  I appreciate the more plot-driven aspect of this... especially as a first-in-a-series.  And we get a bit of a fast forwarded look of Evie's past up to where the first chapter brings us... ish.  I know I'm not making much sense here but I hope you're picking up what I'm laying down.

Even when things seemed a bit wonky, I didn't care because I appreciated all the action and was rooting for Evie the entire way. She has been through the ringer and I applaud her coming out the other end. Maybe now that I know Evie, I can relax into the storyline at whatever pace it is for book two... because yes, I'm going to need to see what happens. And I'm especially curious because this doesn't leave a cliffhanger (thankfully) so there's curiosity about which direction Dodd will take us with these characters.  I liked meeting Zone but if I'm honest,  my favorite character is Jeen Lee. ❤

★★★☆


AUTHOR BIO


New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called "scary, sexy, and smartly written" by Booklist and, much to her mother's delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

Monday, December 21, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre

Every Last Secret 
by A.R. Torre

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: December 1, 2020
Kindle Edition
291 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous.

My Review:

"Don't Be A, followed by a photo of a rooster and a lollipop." Readers, I humbly admit that it took me way longer than it should have and a few re-reads of this sentence to finally get it. *facepalm*

I have had this author's Deanna Madden series for AGES and have been meaning to get to them. Color me surprised when I snagged this one and *lightbulb* it's the same author! Once I started this read, I had a very hard time putting it down. Cat, meet mouse. Oh, ha! Unintentional word play since one of the protagonists is named Cat.  So, Cat... meet Neena. 

You'd think with all the thrillers I read, that while this is nothing new to what I've read before, that I would get tired of these kinds of reads.  But here's the thing... Torre writes in such a way that you are just magnetically pulled right into the story. Rich, poor, married, single, happy, unhappy, employed or not - each of these characters, while some detestful (as all thrillers have), are all very relatable.

This willful volley was an absolute delight to absorb.  And when certain things came to light, I couldn't help but get a smarmy smile on my face and inwardly clap.  People be crazy... and that's why I LOVE this genre. I need to get to that series that has been on my forever TBR.  I can already tell I'll be addicted to those as well.

⏶*cocksucker, if you didn't figure that out already ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you need an entertaining read to plow through, absolutely pick this one up.  And women, stop fighting over a man not worthy... though maybe it's not always about the man himself, eh? 

★★★★

Jessica's Review:


Right when I saw that AR Torre had another book releasing I knew I needed it immediately! I devoured her Deanna Madden series and can’t recommend it enough. EVERY LAST SECRET did not disappoint and it was another binge read for this girl! It would have been finished in one sitting but life and work ruined that.

I don’t want to get into too many details and risk spoiling anything, but I absolutely hated Neena and found myself rooting for Cat. But its much more fun to have some characters you hate! What I was the happiest about was how it ended. I was anticipating it to take the typical turn most domestic suspense books take but I was pleasantly surprised and felt satisfied with the outcome.

This has all the ingredients for a great suspense read. Short chapters, multiple POVs, secrets, obsession, juicy rumors and gossip, and just enough reveals to keep you flipping those pages. I highly recommend picking this up and her other books and I’ll be anxiously waiting for the next release.

5 stars



Sunday, December 20, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Alex Six by Vince Taplin

Alex Six
by Vince Taplin

Huge thanks to the author for these copies.


Publish Date: March 21, 2020
Paperback
329 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

Time and time again the procedure doesn’t work. Alexa and Francis were wealthy executives who had everything, except for kids. When he tragically passed away, she gave up hope for being a mother until she met Vick, who is a perfect doppelgรคnger of her husband.

She pays him for his donations to produce a child who resembles her husband. Vick’s marriage begins to strain. Alex wants his genes and is wealthy, attractive, powerful and obsessed.

He has no idea she is watching him. 

My Review:


OMFG. This book! I don't even know where to begin.  It's an obsession story on crack! Or should I say heroin?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Full disclosure: I almost DNF'd this a couple of times. It has some cringe worthy lines: "As abrupt as a fart, she got up and left the room" and "it'd go over like a box of chili-flavored tampons." WHAT?! ๐Ÿคฃ (I can only imagine what Vick would think about these eggs.)  I mostly had a WTF look on my face for about 80% of this read.. so why didn't I DNF - well, it's JUST insane enough that I just needed to freaking know. 

It took me a minute to figure out how to differentiate the POVs of each chapter and finally got clued in with how the chapter heading would incorporate the number or not.  Clever! Because we do get dual POVs, things seem to be a bit repetitive but as you continue the read, you kinda start to appreciate the vast insanity of it all.  The dialogue is cheesy, it's competely unrealistic and you want to throttle the two main characters.... but fuck me if the ending didn't redeem it a bit and I literally laughed out loud at that last line. ๐Ÿ˜†

Prepare to suspend a LOT of belief for this one.  I'm giving this one a generous 3 stars because that ending got me.  And I sure as hell ain't baking anything with vanilla extract - no Saturday cookie making for me! #ifyouknowyouknow

And...OMG Vick - YES IT'S FUCKING CHEATING.  Ok, I just had to get that out there because woah. 

★★★

Jessica's Review:


Ok, talk about a crazy ride of a book! From start to finish you’re flipping those pages to see what will happen next. ALEX SIX is about a successful woman who will go to any length to have a baby that resembles her late husband.

Alex and her husband are wealthy and will do anything to have the child they desperately want. However, their plans come to a halt when he tragically dies. As luck would have it, she finds Vick, who is a dead ringer for her late husband. Alex will find a way to make him her donor to have a child that resembles Francis.

What follows is an insane stalker thriller. If you don’t mind a book with some unlikable characters and multiple POVs, then you should definitely add this to your TBR. Get ready for one hell of a ride!

4 stars



#ATBR2020 Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Long Bright River 
by Liz Moore

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publish Date: January 7, 2020
Hardcover
482 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller

Two sisters travel the same streets, though their lives couldn't be more different. Then, one of them goes missing.

In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit--and her sister--before it's too late.

Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters' childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate. 

My Review:


Well, this is quite the hefty read! If you're looking for levity and a fun time, this is not the way to go.  But if you're looking for something that will encapsulate your heart and hook into your emotional feels bank, then you absolutely should pick this one up. While I would put this more into a contemporary over a thriller category, it doesn't really matter at the end of the day because however you categorize it, it's BRILLIANT.

Two sisters leading vastly different lives.  Mickey, the police officer, is looking for her addict sister, Kacey. Not an unusual story line .. but what we get from this read is beyond this. With that, Moore weaves in addiction and the effects it has across the person itself, their family and friends and the law. It's a harrowing inside look on a very sensitive subject.

While some people might think this could get long winded at just under 500 pages, I think each page was necessary.  It gives us an all too real feeling of the opiod crisis and how it manifests across the board.  I didn't even mind that there were no quotations for the dialogue (which usually is a big no from me).  The atmosphere Moore presents us is very sobering. 

Those last 5 lines gave me the chills.Uffff my hearttttt.

If you like character study books, definitely pick this one up.

"People with promise, people dependent and depended upon, people loving and belowed, one after another, in a line, in a river, no fount and no outlet, a long bright river of departed souls."

★★★★★

Jessica's Review:


I had been seeing a lot of great things about LONG BRIGHT RIVER all year, and after I knew one of my amazing co-hosts of #BuddyReadsToDieFor was going to do an Instagram Live with the author, I knew it was time to finally pick it up. I completely understand the hype behind this book. The writing, the story, the characters - all of this made for a really engrossing read.

If you're looking for a lighter type mystery/thriller then this won't be it. This is definitely on the heavier side and I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as a thriller. Dealing in addiction, and after hearing the author talk about her research that went into writing this book, made me appreciate it even more.

Despite the big page count there never seemed to be a lull. You'll get more of a detailed character study here and I loved getting into Mickey's mind as she tries to find her sister. This is intense and one that you won't soon forget.

5 stars

#ATBR2020 Review: The Houseplant by Jeremy Ray

THE HOUSEPLANT
By Jeremy Ray


Publisher: Infinite Ray Publishing
Publish Date: December 14, 2020
Kindle Edition
Standalone
Genre: Short story, Contemporary

George, a fern, doesn’t appreciate being bought by Brenda at Home Depot.

And he certainly doesn’t appreciate being trapped in her house of humans. He yearns to be with the plants outside in the garden. With time, George learns to trust Brenda and think of her as his human. Then one day, tragedy strikes and George’s life will never be the same. What happens when a houseplant loses the thing he never knew he wanted?

You'll never look at houseplants the same way again.

Jessica's Review:


Who knew a short story about a plant could be so fun? I know short stories are hit or miss for a lot of people because sometimes you need more, but this one I think was just perfect. I've never been one to have plants or gardens, mainly because I suck at keeping them alive, to be fair, my husband isn't the best either. He water a basil plant daily and it got moldy ๐Ÿ˜‚

I've read books from the perspective of pets but never of a plant. This just shows us that everything needs love and attention and now I feel like I need to try again, but am afraid I'll kill the little plant. I highly recommend this short story and I hope for more from Ray! 

5 stars


My Review:


OK ok ok... I admit I've always said short stories were never quite my thing.  That sometime they worked and other times they didn't and blah blah blah.  Well, I sit here corrected because this one WORKED FOR ME!  Even at the end, I said out loud to my kindle, " THAT'S IT?!" Sigh... I need more George in my life.

I am absolutely terrible with plants.  Horrible.  I even killed a bamboo once. ๐Ÿ˜ง So when I first moved into my latest and greatest apartment, I decided to try my hands at a couple of succulents.  I heard they were hard to kill... well, so supposedly were bamboo... but let's not go back there.  During this pandemic, I started paying more attention to them.  Talking to them every morning and noticed they started thriving.  And it's weird how a human can get bonded to a plant, eh?  So meet Sue and Lenny - my two succulents,  I also have a coaster cactus but yeah yeah, not a real plant. Anyhow..... back to George,

How did this super short story pierce my heart? What a unique story Jeremy gave us from the POV of a fern. All living things in this world need company, love and kindness.  Now I feel I need to get a bigger pot so they can intertwin roots and be happy.  And possibly get a fern as well.  I mean, if fern sales don't go up after this story is released ...... ๐Ÿ˜‰

An absolutely adorable read.

★★★★★


#ATBR2020 Review: The Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid

The Truth Hurts 
by Rebecca Reid

Thanks to Thriller Book Lover for this copy.

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publish Date: July 28, 2020 (first published August 27, 2019)
Paperback
368 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

In this twisty, compelling thriller, a young woman quickly embarks on what she thinks is the relationship and love of a lifetime, and she’s thrilled when her new husband insists they follow one rule: they don’t talk about the past, but it’s a rule that has dangerous consequences—perfect for fans of A Simple Favor and The Kiss Quotient.  

Is her new husband hiding something? 

Caught up in a whirlwind romance that starts in sunny Ibiza and leads to the cool corridors of a luxurious English country estate, Poppy barely has time to catch her breath, let alone seriously question if all this is too good to be true. Drew is enamored, devoted, and, okay, a little mysterious—but that's part of the thrill. What's the harm in letting his past remain private? 

Maybe he's not the only one… 

Fortunately, Drew never seems to wonder why his young wife has so readily agreed to their unusual pact to live only in the here and now and not probe their personal histories. Perhaps he assumes, as others do, that she is simply swept up in the intoxication of infatuation and sudden wealth. What's the harm in letting them believe that? 

How far will they go to keep the past buried? 

Isolated in Drew's sprawling mansion, Poppy starts to have time to doubt the man she's married, to wonder what in his past might be so terrible that it can't be spoken of, to imagine what harm he might be capable of. She doesn't want this dream to shatter. But Poppy may soon be forced to confront the dark truth that there are sins far more dangerous than the sin of omission…

My Review:


I'm a bit torn with this one.  It starts off interestingly enough - nanny gets fired and meets the man of her dreams in a random spot that turns into a whirlwind marriage with the caveat that they never speak of their pasts.  What's the worry, right? ๐Ÿคท Two timelines and I'm intrigued with both of them.  The pacing is quite nice and it definitely held my interest.  But then.... then...

I wasn't really surprised with any of the revelations here.  And that was ok - sometimes I'm perfectly fine with seeing what's coming if it keeps me entertained and interested like The Truth Hurts did.  But for some reason, that very last part before the epilogue... while it may have been fitting, I huffed a bit because it also seemed like a bit of a 180.  So yes, maybe a *little* surprised by that finality but (again) while fitting, seemed like a forced puzzle piece.  Am I making any sense here?

What I really liked about this is that I totally get why a couple might try a *forget the past, we are only in the present* type of situation because OMG, fights that bring up the past are THE WORST.  So I loved the intrigue of a couple doing this. Now, obviously this means there are some secrets we need to learn about and if both parties are agreeable then clearly .... well, I need to know what they are SO YES TO THIS.

And as I sit here and simmer, I gain a little more appreciation for that ending ... BUT, I still feel like something was off there.  I can't quite put it into words on exactly why but it made me use more muscles to frown and one of my eyes rolled... and yet I'm also still like okkkkkkkkkk. Coolio.  So yeah. I'm TORN.  I'm sure this review was mighty helpful!

★★★ 

This premise had my interest from the beginning - two people agreeing TO NEVER speak of their pasts with each other. I don't just mean past relationships, but EVERYTHING from their pasts. That alone has me asking so many questions. Who thought of this? Why would someone agree? What is so bad in their pasts that they are determined to never speak of it? 

While I couldn't put this down and it kept me entertained, I had some things that didn't particularly work for me. I'm really divided on my feelings on how it ended. On one hand, like I previously mentioned, I loved the concept. On the other, it was fairly predictable and I'm on the fence about the ending. BUT I know there are a lot of other thriller/domestic suspense fans that loved this one. 

I say give it a try if the synopsis catches your attention. The author has a great writing style that just reels you in right away and you'll find yourself binging it until the end. I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for more from Reid!

3 stars 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Review: The Project by Courtney Summers

The Project 
by Courtney Summers

Thank you Wednesday Books and NetGalley for this copy.

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publish Date: February 2, 2021
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Standalone
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Cults

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo's sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there's more to the group than meets the eye. She's spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what's real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn't know if she can afford not to.

My Review:


This is my first Summers book and I've been hearing about this author for quite some time now - especially re her novel, Sadie (which I have, but haven't read yet like so many other books that will one day kill me ).  I'm going to be absolutely candid here - I struggled through the first quarter of this book... but y'all... give me cults and I'M GONNA READ IT. 

The first chapter with Bea finding about how she's going to be a big sister to not wanting to have ANYTHING to do with that and then to naming her little sister, Lo.... they have a little bit of a struggle bus of a relationship but like with (most) siblings, are bonded... so when Bea joins The Unity Project and cuts off all communication... well, what's Lo to do when given an opportunity?!

There's some alternate POVs and we go back and forth in time, but I never found any of this confusing and quite liked the way the story unfolded.  I was intrigued but this doesn't play like what your typical thriller read would.  However, the thriller aspect most definitely is there.  It just slowly creeps up on you as you find out more and more and all your little hairs start to stand on end.  This contemporary, new adult thriller gives us a bit of a less shocking cult but with so much impact.  Is Lev really that intuitive? Hell, for a moment I was even questioning everything.

Look, I was probably still unsure how I felt about this read even at the 75% mark.. yet I coudln't stop reading and then I found my visceral reactions to certain moments towards the end telling me that, "Yep Chandra, you are fully invested." I truly appreciated the little nuances that still kept you going "hmmmm"... stick with this one my fellow readers.  Just have some faith. ๐Ÿ˜‰❤

★★★★


Monday, December 14, 2020

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown 
by Talia Hibbert

Thank you Avon and NetGalley for this highly anticipated read!


Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: March 9, 2021
Kindle Edition
320 Pages
Series: The Brown Sisters #3
Genres: Contemporary, Romance

In Act Your Age, Eve Brown the flightiest Brown sister crashes into the life of an uptight B&B owner and has him falling hard—literally.

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It's time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she's not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior. 

My Review:


"Well, shit sticks and fudgesicles." (Quote taken from ARC and subject to change in final copy.)

Hi Eve.  I'd like to be your friend.  I met your sister Chloe not too long ago and she was delightful too!  

Oh readers - if you're looking for laugh out loud fun with heart then this book is definitely the read for you.  As someone who reads dark reads after dark reads, it's so nice to cleanse that creepy palate with something light hearted and FUN.  Hibbert has secured her spot in my heart as one of my favorite romance writers.  She brings heart touching on sensitive subjects in such a way that you can't help but feel like you love bucket has been filled. 

You really WANT to get to know the Brown sisters.  Eve is quite the character and I absolutely adore her and Jacob.  Two puzzle pieces that just absolutely fit together in all the best ways.  And PHEW those steamy sex scenes.  I don't think I've read such long ones (and with so much dialogue!) in a hot minute.  I believe in communication in ALL areas but I almost felt like that roommate that could hear everything through the thin walls and was trying to cover my head with my pillow. Hahahaha.... and dildos always make for a snort worthy scene.... and so much more. *wink*

Is this it for the Brown family? I still need to go meet Dani but I'm already saddened that we don't get anymore.  Hibbert - introduce us to the rest of the family please!

★★★★



#ATBR2020 Review: The Last To See Her by Courtney Evan Tate

  

The Last To See Her 
by Courtney Evan Tate

Thank you MIRA for this copy and stop on the blog tour

Publisher: MIRA
Publish Date: December 15, 2020
Kindle Edition
Standalone
Genre: Domestic Thriller


A woman disappears into the dark city night…

Gen is on the verge of a divorce from her cheating husband. When her sister, Meg, has a convention to attend in the Big Apple, she invites Gen along to celebrate her newly found freedom. But the perfect sisters’ getaway quickly goes awry when a tipsy Gen defiantly throws her wedding ring off the hotel room’s balcony. Then, wanting some fresh air, she decides to take a late-evening walk alone and vanishes without a trace.

The investigation that follows uncovers secrets—and betrayals—between sisters and spouses that will twist the truth in on itself until nothing is clear.

What really happened to Gen and who, besides Meg, was the last to see her? 

My Review:


SO MANY MIXED FEELINGS. In a way, I'm in awe at how many balls were juggled here without dropping one.  And yet, I'm also bamboozled with a love/hate feeling about this one.  I have a feeling this is going to be quite a divisive read amongst readers and I'm ALWAYS here for that! So when it comes down to it, I have to split the difference with this one because I honestly don't know which way to turn.  Does this make me a method reviewer? ๐Ÿ˜‰ (It only makes sense if you know, but even if you do, it probably still doesn't....)

I literally had to press my hands to my forehead at the 65% mark because really? REALLY? C'mon..... I understand marriages falling apart.  I understand infidelity.  I understand insecurity.  I even understand hiding a past that's really not necessary but why not for the sake of drama and hey, we're all human so we all have our *things* other people may not understand that.  But couple allllll of that with ***** being able to do ******.  Um... This one just got too convoluted at the end.  I was so into this for it to take that many left turns at Albuquerque.  I will say that I didn't *quite* expect one part... mainly because it doesn't seem feasible but I am a sucker for suspending reality.  This is fiction after all. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Despite having these issues, my eyes didn't get stuck in the back of my head from rolling them.... instead, I found that this was written in a compelling way that even while I was shouting "C'MON", I still couldn't keep my eyes off the pages.  The pacing and succinct way the author brings this story to us is very addictive.  And helloooooo, DRAMA - I love it.  This is definitely heavy on the domestic and less so on any thrillery/suspense you may anticipate. So grab your popcorn and adult beverage of choice and sit yourself done for some family "fun". ๐Ÿ˜

★★★

Jessica's Review:


I’m so torn on this one because I loved how crazy it was but things started to get a little convoluted towards the end. There’s something about Tate’s writing that just sucks you in from the beginning. No matter the story, I’ve always found myself completely captivated by any of her books I’ve picked up (either under Tate or Cole).

I don’t want to get into too much detail and risk spoiling some of the surprises in store, but I was loving it up until the 75% mark and then it started losing me a bit. There was so much going on and a lot to try and tie together at the end for us. I can’t say that Gen was a favorite character of mine and it was a little difficult to try and connect with her.

If this synopsis sounds interesting to you, then I definitely recommend picking it up because Tate’s writing is amazing. I will continue to check out what she releases to see what crazy thrillers she comes up with next

3 stars