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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Review: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Summer Sons
by Lee Mandelo

Thanks so much to Tor Dot Com and Night Worms for this gifted book.

Publisher: Tor Dot Com
Publish Date: September 28, 2021
Hardcover
384 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Horror, LGBT, Fantasy

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six month later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

My Review:

I absolutely LOVE genre bending reads - and this is a mix of a few (?) of my favorites - horror, fantasy, coming of age, gothic, literary... and I'm loving seeing more queer reads! Also, Southern Gothic? I mean, Lee, did you write this for me?! 😉

Like with most gothic reads, this is a bit of a slow burn and is very atmospheric.  So prepare yourself to really dig into it.  As a fast reader, I did slow down to like a Mach 10 for this one. 😏 This is also a bit of a somber read as the characters throw themsleves into scenarios they aren't particularly prepared for.  The slow burn works in a way that you feel it as you read along.. that "WTF is happening" without the POP of your typical horror read.  After all, aren't we all afraid of what we don't know than what we do?  And how is this a coming of age since we typically associate that with the younger generation? Well, although these characters are older, they are still finding their own in oh so many ways.  

Now, you're probably wondering how I can keep stating it's a slow burn but now am going to say it's also full of action.  Well, you'll have to read it to completely understand why.  To be honest, the action scenes weren't my favorite and I could've done without so much car commentary.  But the main storyline, the queer representation, the atmosphere.... it more than makes up for it in my opinion.  But that's just my sole perspective.

This book definitely won't be for everyone.  At times it ran too slow for me.  At times the subject matter of grief/loss could be a bit stifling so prepare yourself.. and remember, you may think you know everything about your best friend but when it's all said and done, we all have our secrets - some are just darker than others. 

★★★★

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Review: Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Her Perfect Life
by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Thanks so much to Forge and GetRedPR for this gifted cook.

Publisher: Forge
Publish Date: September 14, 2021
Hardcover
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

My Review:


One thing I love about this author's books are that they are full of twists and turns that while you'll guess a few of them, you can't guess them all!! But this is also what keeps me in the middle of the road with the two books I have read by her.  

These characters made some very eye rolling decisions at times.  Considering their field, the lack of common sense at times was downright infuriating.  But... what kind of thriller would it be if we didn't follow along with these characters - it's kind of what makes it fun... even if you want to drop kick them every once in a while. This is moderately paced with a little bit of lulls here and there but overall and very quick read.  It's hard to go too much into this without spoiling anything but if you don't mind suspending some belief, definitely pick up this book.  The star of this particular story for me was Rowen.

I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for the next release from this author.

★★★


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Review: My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa

My Sweet Girl
by Amanda Jayatissa

Thank you so much to Berkley for this gifted book.


Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: September 14, 2021
Hardcover
384 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

Paloma thought her perfect life would begin once she was adopted and made it to America, but she’s about to find out that no matter how far you run, your past always catches up to you…

Ever since she was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage, Paloma has had the best of everything—schools, money, and parents so perfect that she fears she'll never live up to them.

Now at thirty years old and recently cut off from her parents’ funds, she decides to sublet the second bedroom of her overpriced San Francisco apartment to Arun, who recently moved from India. Paloma has to admit, it feels good helping someone find their way in America—that is until Arun discovers Paloma's darkest secret, one that could jeopardize her own fragile place in this country.

Before Paloma can pay Arun off, she finds him face down in a pool of blood. She flees the apartment but by the time the police arrive, there's no body—and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place.

Paloma is terrified this is all somehow tangled up in the desperate actions she took to escape Sri Lanka so many years ago. Did Paloma’s secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before?

My Review:


Ok ok okkkkkkkkkkkkk, DEBUT! I love reading debut novels because most of the time, they are such a pleasant surprise and it's so nice to see authors really kick it out of the ball park. Welcome to a dual time-line shown in two different countries that starts with Paloma's roommate's death, the body disappearing and Paloma waking up on the floor by her neighbor.... again.  Jayatissa, you have got my interest!

Paloma is quite the unreliable narrator!  Sometimes it was so frustrating and eye rolling to be inside her head and yet at the SAME TIME, I was having so much fun looking through her lenses.  Admittedly, I did feel like after the first opening scene, it got a little stagnant but then it picks right back up and welcome to Twist City! Population, WHAT?!   I do think maybe ALL the twists weren't exactly necessary but honestly, who cares because the ride was just so much fun.  Throw your hands up and throw caution to the wind.  There's also more to the story than just the usual twisty thriller drama... so pay attention and you'll see what I mean 😉.  I appreciate the author incorporating some seriousness into the levity that is Paloma (at least she was for me!).  

Listen, absolutely an impressive debut.  I do think it'll be a bit of a hit or miss for readers as being inside Paloma's head can either be grating and draining or a bliss of pessimistic realism that I personally enjoyed ... most of the time.  😏 Will 100% be looking for her next release.

★★★★


Review: The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

The Night She Disappeared
by Lisa Jewell

Huge thank you to Atria Books for this gifted book.

Publisher: Atria
Publish Date: September 7, 2021
Hardcover
416 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Suspense, Thriller

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.

Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.

The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah's friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place.

She never returns.

2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.

'DIG HERE' . . .

My Review:


Jewell is one of my absolute favorite thriller/suspense writers and this is my seventh read of hers.  One of my favorite things about Jewell is how intricate she is in her details and trails to figure out the mystery at hand.  Let's go find out what happened to Tallulah, shall we?

This is definitely a slow burner as we see through a few POVs and very close time lines - crazy isn't it how much can happen in such a short time?  And yet that short time can feel like FOREVER to some.  I admit it took me a little bit to get used to who was talking and when.  And while I stilll was entertained by this read and will continue to read EVERYTHING that is Jewell, I'm sad to say I'll be putting this one towards the bottom of my list of hers.  Understand, it's still QUITE entertaining and enjoyable but I think this one didn't quite keep my attention as I would have liked.  I also started this while traveling so couldn't one or two-sit read it like I do with most books.  Personally, I find myself enjoying books if I get to read them in a shorter amount of time than a longer one.  Thank goodness for being a fast reader, eh?  Just the way I work, and since this was pieced out a bit, I think maybe that may have had something to do with my overall enjoyment.

I did find the ending to be a bit far fetched but I don't mind suspending reality most of the time.  After all, this is a work of fiction.  Although this may not have been a favorite, it is still certainly a testament to Jewell and her ability to write the missing girl story in such a beautiful way.  I will most definitely be keeping an eye out for her next book.  In the mean time, if you like slow burn suspense novels, I will always recommend this author.  Always.

★★★


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Review: Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi

Boys in the Valley
by Philip Fracassi

Thank you Earthling  for this amazing gifted book.

Publisher: Earthling Publications
Publish Date: October 31, 2021
Hardcover
316 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror

St. Vincent’s Orphanage for Boys.

Turn of the century, in a remote valley in Pennsylvania.

Here, under the watchful eyes of several priests, thirty boys work and learn and worship. They live their lives in a methodical way and get along despite different personalities and pasts. Peter Barlow, orphaned by a nighttime murder at his childhood home, has made a new life here. As he approaches adulthood, he has friends, a future…family.

Then, late one stormy night, a group of men arrive at their door, one of whom is badly wounded, his body covered with occult symbols carved into his flesh. Upon his death, an ancient evil is released that infests St. Vincent’s and the children within. Soon, boys begin acting differently, forming groups. Taking sides.

Others turn up dead.

Now Peter and those dear to him must choose sides of their own, each of them knowing their lives- and perhaps their eternal souls- are at risk.

My Review:


Locked-in orphanage horror? Take my money.  Priests, an ancient evil and creepy kids? Take ALL my money!  I couldn't help but want to read this one after I read the synopsis... though I was a little hesitant because sometimes these types of stories don't quite work for me.  Happy to find that this was more unique and, for me, felt like a cross of Lord of the Flies meet Children of the Corn meet the Exorcist.. you get the gist, no?

This is my first Fracassi and most definitely will not be my last.  His writing from first to last page is SO atmospheric... it felt ominous from the very first creepy smile. Fracassi gives us different POVs to where we see the struggle of the *priest potentials* not realizing they have a choice and then having to make one.  Faith, loyalty to God.... these are all tested here.  I will say that stories of faith aren't typically my thing and just because I'm me, I find myself feeling a bit meh during the parts where there's internal struggling of faith.  However, I do realize it's an essential part of the story and while I was riveted to the pages, I didn't realize how invested I was until I could breathe again after I turned that final page.

Also, can I just mention that I gave myself a paper cut turning a page and for just a teeny second thought the blood would resurrect some demon from the pages. Happy reading, folks!

★★★★



Review: You Can Run by Karen Cleveland

You Can Run
by Karen Cleveland

Thank you Ballantine Books and NetGalley for this gifted book.

Publisher: Ballantine
Publish Date: August 31, 2021
Kindle Edition
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

A CIA analyst makes a split-second decision that endangers her country but saves her son--and now she must team up with an answer-hungry journalist she's not sure she can trust in this electrifying thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know.

Nothing gets by Jill Bailey. As a CIA analyst, she's in charge of investigating and vetting new sources. Sources like FALCON, who's been on the fast-track to recruitment. He says he's a Syrian defense official attached to a covert biowarfare program--and with a global pandemic fresh in their minds, CIA officials are desperate to use him.

It's Jill's job to make sure he is who he claims to be, and that his case officers in the field haven't been duped--or coerced. But before she can get to work, she gets a call. One that's every parent's nightmare. We have your son. And to get him back, Jill does something she thought she'd never do.

As it turns out, she isn't the only one with questions about FALCON. Alex Charles, a journalist eager to break the next big story, begins to investigate an anonymous tip: an explosive claim about the CIA's hottest new source. This is the story that Alex has been waiting for. The tip--and a fierce determination to find the truth--leads Alex to Jill, who would rather remain hidden.

As the two begin to work together, they uncover a vast conspiracy that will force them to confront their loyalties to family and country. You Can Run is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will have you asking: What would you do to save the ones you love?

My Review:


Ok Cleveland… you have wowed me again. What a ride. Another read where it’s fast paced and you definitely need to know what’s gonna happen.

I thought it was *this person* or *that person* and I didn’t get any of them right. 😆 The last chapter before the epilogue made me happy but I felt like something was missing… and then the epilogue came in and OMG. Yep. Legitimately gave me the biggest smile. Def all the stars.

Outside of the obvious theme within the story, I really appreciate the touches on what you should appreciate in life, the things you would do to protect the ones you love, success, family, etc.

“You can run, but you can’t hide."

★★★★★


Friday, September 3, 2021

Blog Tour & Review: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

 


Never Saw Me Coming
by Vera Kurian


Publisher: Park Row
Publish Date: September 7, 2021
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a leggings-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.

Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.

When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.

My Review:


Imagine going to school being one of seven people who are diagnosed as psychopaths. Is there a "cure" for psychopathy or a way for them to learn to dampen their impulse control.. or.. or.... I LOVE the premise of this book. LOVE it.  However, something got a little lost for me as I was reading.

We get different POVs and of course, I liked being in Chloe's head the most.  She is vengeful, intelligent and manipulative... you know, all the best qualities of a psychopath. 😉 And I love that she put so much energy into getting revenge for her past, 12 year old, self.  But then that storyline kinda got lost along the way.  I had actually completely forgotten about that part a few times.  But then you're going to give me murder and psychopaths working together to try and figure out who the killer is?  Ok ok... you pulled me right back in.  I just think maybe it didn't flow as cohesively as I would've liked and I felt my attention fading once again. 

This is a tough one for me to review.  I LOVE the concept and enjoyed the easy read of it.  I just wish I could have maintained my full interest for the entirety.  As such, I'm going down the middle for this one.  

★★★


Vera Kurian is a psychologist and writer and a longtime resident of Washington DC. She has a doctorate in social psychology, specializing in intergroup relations, political ideology, and quantitative methods. She has studied fiction at Breadloaf, Sewanee, VONA, and attended juried workshops at LitCamp, Colgate, Juniper, and the Marlboro Summer Writing Intensive. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a semifinalist for the Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest.

Author Website | Twitter: @vera_kurian | Instagram: @verakurianauthor | Goodreads



Thursday, September 2, 2021

Review: Hungry Business by Maria DeBlassie

Hungry Business
by Maria DeBlassie

Thanks to Henry Roi PR for this gifted book.


Publisher: Kitchen Witch Press
Publish Date: October 12, 2020
Kindle Edition
17 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Short Story, Horror

Looking for love can be deadly… 

You know how it goes.  You go out, hoping to meet someone.  You wade through your fair share of brainless automatons, lifeless bodies, and ravenous undead good at passing as human.   

The more you go out, the less hope you feel and the colder your body gets.  But you keep at it.  All you need is one beating heart to match your own before yours stops pumping altogether.  How hard can it be to find one living, breathing human in a city full of bodies?  

Dating.  

It’s hungry business.

My Review:


I have a love/hate relationship with short stories and am so happy that this one falls in the 'love' category.  A unique take on the zombie apocalypse.  I'm going to keep this very short and succinct because at only 17 pages it is weirdly hard but not hard to spoil.  You know what's happening without the author making it blatantly obvious and this is my favorite thing about this. 

There are definite lessons in loneliness, accepting the fate of the world and within yourself and how hard we try to hold on to humanity.  While it's open to the possibility of making this a longer story based on how it ended, in a rare turn of events, I don't feel like anything more is necessary.  

★★★★


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Review: A Caller's Game by J.D. Barker

A Caller's Game
by J.D. Barker

Thank you Hampton Creek Press for this amazing story. 
The #BuddyReadsToDieFor August pick - and it's a winner!


Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Publish Date: February 21, 2021
Paperback
424 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

DIE HARD meets TALK RADIO in this heart-pounding, relentlessly fast-paced thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fourth Monkey—master of suspense, J.D. Barker.

"I'm going to offer you a choice."

Controversial satellite radio talk show host, Jordan Briggs, has clawed her way to the top of the broadcast world. She doesn’t hold back, doesn’t spare feelings, and has no trouble sharing what's on her mind. Her rigorous pursuit of success has come at a price, though. Her marriage is in ruins, she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, and she's distanced herself from all those close to her. If not for her young daughter, Charlotte, her personal life would be in complete shambles.

When a subdued man calls into the show and asks to play a game, she sees it as nothing more than a way to kick-start the morning, breathe life into the beginnings of drive-time for her listeners. Against her producer's advice, she agrees, and unwittingly opens a door to the past.

Live on the air with an audience of millions, what starts out as a game quickly turns deadly—events long thought buried resurface and Jordan Briggs is forced to reconcile with one simple fact—All decisions have consequences. 

My Review:

Yesssssssssssssssssssss.  J.D. Barker has done it again.  I LOVE the 4MK trilogy (well, final book in that trilogy, I promise I'm coming for you!) and thoroughly enjoyed She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be.  If you've read Barker before then you know his books are girthy.. but they are worth every single word.

A CALLER'S GAME jumps from the very beginning.  It is legitimately hard to put this book down.  The short chapters and continuous action keeps you nose deep within the pages.  I don't know how many times my eyes widened and I would say, out loud, "WHAT?!" Jordan is a very interesting character - a radio talk show host who holds nothing back, doesn't treat people the way that she probably should but will do anything for the one person she does truly care about... her daughter, Charlotte.  And Charlotte most definitely is my favorite character.  A precocious pre-teen with a lot of attitude that you can't help but smile at.  Cole is the character you root for and Bernie... well, he's maniacal... and yet I really enjoyed his character and my heart still went out to him regardless of the actions he took here. I will say that I wish the ending had gone in a very slightly different direction but.. no spoilers here! 😉 

Honestly y'all, go get this book, grab your favorite adult beverage and a snack because once you start, you're going to be sitting with this for hours.  And I love the variety he's givins us - from a slightly slower paced but addicting trilogy to a horror/suspense/fantasy novel and now this action packed from start to end brilliance.  He's the king of suspense in my opinion. Fight me. 😏

Also, don't forget to read the Author's Note at the end.  Here's to stopping the What If's and really considering what is most important to you.  It shouldn't take a horrible event for you to realize where your energy should be spent.

★★★★★


Review: The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

The Perfect Family
by Robyn Harding

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: August 10, 2021
Paperback
352 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….

My Review:


I thought I had problems! PHEW! Welcome to the lives of the Adlers.  Where appearances are more than deceiving and things are most definitely closer than they appear.  My 5th Harding book and once again she gives a very suspenseful, easy to devour read.

We get the POVs of each member of the family.  Viv, the mother, who likes to steal things ... and personally I think I liked her the best.  "But I don't see how fifty thousand dollars is going to help him sleep at night.  Or.. make his pimples go away."  Yep, she's definitely my fave. 🤣  Thomas, the father... well, outside of being a typical asshole who doesn't know how to properly solve a problem, he's relatively normal.  Eli, their son, just quit college due to a particular incident that happened there and now is set on the path that his parents will surely hate.. which makes him happy as he's tired of all their pressure.  And last, but certainly not least, Tarryn... rebel til the end.  Listen, you're not going to like these characters but they surely will have you feeling better about your own family.

You know when you pick up a Harding book you are going to be entertained and you definitely will be with this one.  For a majority of the book, the suspense is throbbing and you can't help but turn page after page with the need to know what is happening to the Adlers.  You'll definitely need to suspend some reality, which I am always happy to do as y'all know.  But if I'm being completely honest, the ending kinda killed it for me.  Allllllll of that led to... THAT? 😐 I'm definitely in the minority with this thought so if you read reviews before you tackle a read, go read the others too.  

Harding is forever an autobuy author for me and while this wasn't my favorite of hers, I will read anything she writes. ANYTHING.

★★★


Review: No Exit by Taylor Adams

No Exit
by Taylor Adams


Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: January 15, 2019
Hardcover
336 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

A thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust? 

My Review:

Woooooooooooooow.  What an explosive thriller!!  Shame on everyone who didn't keep on my ass to pick this one up ASAP.  And to those who said I'd read it with a quickness, y'all weren't kidding! From the first chapter to the very last, it doesn't let up one instant.  So fast paced that I didn't even have time to try and figure anything out so every twist that came was like..... a nail gun to the head. 😏

I kinda really loved every character in this book - with a slight preference for Jaybird of course... and Darby. ❤ Honestly, they all played their parts so deliciously that I couldn't stop eating it all up. A game of cat and mouse... you legitimately have no idea which way it was going to go until the very very end. 

Go fish, anyone? 😉

★★★★★


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

56 Days
by Catherine Ryan Howard

A huge thank you to Blackstone Publishing for this amazing copy.


Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publish Date: August 17, 2021
Hardcover
305 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

No one knew they'd moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder?

56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin the same week Covid-19 reaches Irish shores.

35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests that Ciara move in with him. She sees a unique opportunity for a new relationship to flourish without the pressure of scrutiny of family and friends. He sees it as an opportunity to hide who - and what - he really is.

TODAY
Detectives arrive at Oliver's apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Will they be able to determine what really happened, or has lockdown provided someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime?

My Review:


Pandemic books!! Are people ready for these? I'm not so sure about anyone else, but I AM.. except for those weird pandemic smut novels but let's not talk about that. 😉  I was one of those people who watched all the pandemics when things got locked down the very first time in March 2020, anyone else?  I also was SO excited that one of my favorite authors wrote one... and here I give you, 56 Days.

If you started dating someone but still barely knew them, would you move in with them during a two week lockdown so you can try to continue your relationship and also test it at the same time... What better way to get to know someone than basically spending 24/7 with them for two weeks right?  I went in thinking one particular way and then the author kept me guessing at what the heck was happening throughout - I certainly didn't expect some of those turns towards the end. 😮 I will say that for some reason this ran a bit slow for me so I could feel my attention waning in an out at times... I was also really busy this week so I was reading in smaller chunks and that could also be a reason. 🤷 I'm not sure how I felt in how lackadaisical people were considering they were in the beginning of a pandemic.  HOWEVER, I do think at the beginning no one really thought it was real. And at the end of the day, this is more about what was happening between Ciara and Oliver and not about the pandemic happening to them.  That was just a circumstance. 

In any manner, this is my fifth Catherine Ryan Howard novel and I LOVE the references to The Nothing Man in it!  While this may not be my favorite of hers, it is absolutely worth the read.  I would highly recommend The Nothing Man, Distress Signals and The Liar's Girl but honestly, you can't go wrong with any of her books.  So thriller lovers, get to reading. 

★★★


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Review: Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
by Eric LaRocca


Publisher: Weirdpunk Books
Publish Date: June 1, 2021
Kindle Edition
102 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror

Sadomasochism. Obsession. Death.

A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s—a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires.

What have you done today to deserve your eyes?

My Review:


What in the holy mind fuck did I just read?!  😲

I'm just... what in the.... WOW.  This is definitely not a read for everyone and it will be a love/hate read with no room for in between.  Personally, I don't get triggered and I love depravity so this was the perfect little novella/short story for my kind of taste.  I've said it before and I'm saying it again, I don't know what this says about me as a person. 😏

At first I was like why am I reading about a damn apple peeler and then BAM the escalation that happens in just 102 pages is amazing.  The visuals I got were SO VIVID (and oh so gross).  Just simply brilliant. 

★★★★★


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Review: The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

The Dating Dare
by Jayci Lee
Narrated by: Natalie Naudus

Thanks to Libro.fm for this gifted audiobook.

Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publish Date: August 3, 2021
Audiobook
9 hrs
Series: A Sweet Mess #2
Genres: Contemporary, Romance

Tara Park doesn’t do serious relationships. Neither does she hop into bed with virtual strangers. Especially when that particular stranger is her best friend’s new brother-in-law. It isn’t an easy decision, though. Seth Kim is temptation personified. His unreasonably handsome looks and charming personality makes him easy on the eyes and good for her ego.

When a friendly game of Truth or Dare leads to an uncomplicated four-date arrangement with Seth, Tara can’t say she minds. But their dates, while sweet and sexy, have a tendency to hit roadblocks. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings get frequent and heated.

Seth is leaving for a new job in Paris in a month, and a no-strings attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both...but soon, Seth realizes that Tara Park doesn’t come in a "nice & little" package - she’s funny and bold, sweet and sexy, and everything he ever wanted and never expected to find. Neither of them are ready for something serious, and both have past relationship baggage they’ve been ignoring, but with a shot at forever on the line will they follow their hearts and take a chance on happily ever-after?

My Review:

This book is super cute.  As usual with this genre, you know where it's going - it's the journey that makes it fun. Tara and Seth have great chemistry and I enjoyed their banter. I did find it to be a bit cheesy in the beginning, but then it became so cute I looked past the cheese (but I mean, who doesn't love cheese!)... and then it ended way too cheesy for my taste. 🤣

What I did like a lot is how relatable the characters are - in all their glorious flaws.  Also, Lee just gave us the best #bookboyfriend.  Sigh.  Hi Seth, got a single brother anywhere? 😉 #askingforafriend

I don't have a lot to say because this book delivers exactly what you expect it to.  While it wasn't quite my glass of whiskey, it'll surely be your cup of tea.  

★★★


Saturday, August 21, 2021

#ATBR2021: Review: How to Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott

How to Kill Your Best Friend
by Lexie Elliott

Thanks so much to Berkley for this free book!


Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: August 17, 2021
Hardcover
320 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Mystery, Thriller

If you suspected your best friend, the person you were closest to in the whole world, was a murderer, what would you do? Would you confront her? Would you help keep her secret? Or would you begin to feel afraid? Most importantly, why don't you feel safe now that she's dead? From the author of The French Girl comes a novel full of secrets, suspense, and deadly twists.

Georgie, Lissa, and Bronwyn have been inseparable since dominating their college swim team; swimming has always been an escape from their own problems, but now their shared passion has turned deadly. How can it be true that Lissa, the strongest swimmer they know, drowned? Granted, there is something strange about Kanu Cove, where Lissa was last seen, swimming off the coast of the fabulous island resort she owned with her husband.

Lissa's closest friends gather at the resort to honor her life, but Georgie and Bron can't seem to stop looking over their shoulders. Danger lurks beneath the surface of the crystal-clear water, and even their luxurious private villas can't help them feel safe. As the weather turns ominous, trapping the funeral guests together on the island, nobody knows who they can trust. Lissa's death was only the beginning....

My Review:


Ummmm.......

With this title, how could you NOT be intrigued?! Y'all know your partners that see you reading all those thrillers and horror are a little bit afraid of you. 😉 Unfortunately, for me, the story didn't quite work.

Resort, GOOD.  Reunion of friends, GOOD. Celebration of life. NICE. And then about a quarter through.... a... monster/serpent in the water? WHAT. I legitimately had no idea what was going on and at that point, couldn't figure out why or what this would mean.  But color me intrigued and so I continue to turn the pages.  To be quite honest, I didn't like where the serpent part of the story went.  I don't think we would've lost anything if it wasn't included.  And admittedly, I don't mind suspending reality and you certainly need to with this storyline but I found myself side eyeing a few things along the way.  I also figured out the "who" within the early chapters (GO ME!✌) but really wished I had been wrong. Ah well, win some, lose some!

The author does keep you on your toes.  Everyone is a suspect and, as always, secrets start to surface and strange things start happening around the resort.  The story is fairly slow paced and I found myself wanting more of the snarky narrator who popped in occasionally talking about various ways to kill people.  

I think reviews are going to be all over the place with this one, and personally these kinds of books, whether they end up working for me or not, are my favorite... I love seeing which side I'm gonna land on.  So, if this book sounds intriguing, don't let this review deter you.  Elliott can definitely write and I enjoy her writing style alot.

★★

Jessica's Review:


I'm pretty sure this title will make anyone stop and take a second look. HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND is my third book by Lexie Elliott and I will say that I love her writing and the way she weaves together a good suspense read. Despite this one not being my favorite of Elliott's so far, I think this was still a solid read that I'd recommend!

My favorite parts of this book were the little sections from a mysterious narrator that gave us different methods of how to murder someone and how effective they are. I would have loved a lot more of that throughout the book. They were fun and the tone of the narrator was great. The rest of the book was good but much slower moving and fairly predictable for those who frequent the thriller genre. 

It wasn't bad but it wasn't my favorite in terms of suspense/thrillers. There were parts that I feel could have been removed entirely and the plot would have continued without issue, but that's just me. I think that this will be one of those books you either love or it just doesn't work for you. So if the synopsis catches your eye, then I still recommend giving this one a chance! 

3 stars



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Review: If You, Then Me by Yvonne Woon

If You, Then Me
by Yvonne Woon

Huge thanks to the author for this gifted book!

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publish Date: July 6, 2021
Hardcover
416 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

What would you ask your future self? First question: What does it feel like to kiss someone?

Xia is stuck in a lonely, boring loop. Her only escapes are Wiser, an artificial intelligence app she designed to answer questions like her future self, and a mysterious online crush she knows only as ObjectPermanence.

And then one day Xia enrolls at the Foundry, an app incubator for tech prodigies in Silicon Valley.

Suddenly, anything is possible. Flirting with Mast, a classmate also working on AI, leads to a date. Speaking up generates a vindictive nemesis intent on publicly humiliating her. And running into Mitzy Erst, Foundry alumna and Xia’s idol, could give Xia all the answers.

And then Xia receives a shocking message from ObjectPermanence: He is at the Foundry, too. Xia is torn between Mast and ObjectPermanence—just as Mitzy pushes her towards a shiny new future. Xia doesn’t have to ask Wiser to know: The right choice could transform her into the future self of her dreams, but the wrong one could destroy her.

My Review:


I absolutely LOVED this story!  Cue up an Asian girl named Xia who makes it into a very elite school called the Foundry.  She has an on-line boyfriend she can tell anything to, an app she made called Wiser whom she speaks to on the reg and always feels a bit out of place.... So yes, in her naivety, she starts to make some questionable decisions.

I was happy to see that while the synopsis suggests some weird love triangle between Xia, an IRL boy and her online love... that it also was a whole lot more!  It's Xia coming to terms with herself.  This comes not only in gaining some confidence but also in succeeding within herself.  There were so many times I wanted to shake some sense into her but I feel the experiences she went through were very realistic and very, very human.  Now... the only thing I side eyed a bit was the excessive use of alcohol and slight drug usage ... especially in instances of adults providing or taking advantage because of it.  Don't get me wrong, I remember what it's like to be 16 and certainly wasn't an angel but some parts of this didn't fell 100% authentic.  BUT, I wouldn't be surprised in this day and age either.  Ok, now I'm rambling.

I truly came to love and admire Xia throughout this read.  A few things I definitely saw coming but one particular little thing I was surprised by and I love it.  Was a little too neatly wrapped up? Possibly... but it absolutely worked for me.

Wiser, how do I get people to read this book? 😉  Seriously, readers and friends, this is an adorable story and would highly recommend.

★★★★