Thursday, April 30, 2020

Review: The Missing Sister by Elle Marr (audio)


Title: The Missing Sister
Author: Elle Marr
Narrator: Sarah Naughton
Published: April 2020, Brilliance Audio / Thomas Mercer
Length: 9 hours 48 minutes / 300 pages
Source: Audio - Brilliance Audio / Print - ARC Paperback via Thomas & Mercer

Summary:
In Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one. 

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…


My thoughts: I love thrillers, that's no surprise so when I was pitched this one, I of course jumped at it. Then when I had the opportunity to listen to it, I decided to go the audio route and I'm so glad I did - this was amazing on audio!

I'm always a fan of a thriller that grips you right from the start and keeps the suspense going all the way through. I was eager to find out what had happened to Angela, especially when we find out that she isn't really dead and that Shayna can't trust anyone. I was immediately on guard and loved that everyone became suspicious from that point on. 

I love twin stories and this one is no different. The idea of a secret language between twins has always fascinated me and it definitely comes into play here. I also loved the setting and the author absolutely uses it to her advantage. I've heard about the catacombs of Paris, but never seen it used in a story before, but it definitely added a creepy, dark layer to the story.

The ending took me a bit by surprise, which is always a good thing. I didn't see it coming and while it was a little out there, I can see how it works. All in all this was a great thriller and I am definitely going to be keeping an eye out for what comes next from this author.


Audio thoughts: I thought this was a great audio to listen to. I'm always a fan of listening to thrillers as they seem to really keep my attention and this was no exception. Sarah Naughton really did a good job with the voices and her pacing was spot on. There were quite a few places where French was spoken and she did a pretty decent job. I took French in high school quite a while back, and so while I know basic words like "Bonjour" - hello, I don't know whole phrases. It was nice hearing someone else pronounce it as it should without me butchering it.


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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Review: Little Family by Ishmael Beah


Title: Little Family
Author: Ishmael Beah
Published: April 2020, Riverhead Books
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
A powerful novel about young people in a conflict-scarred land, struggling to replace the homes they have lost with the one they have created together.

Hidden away from a harsh outside world, five young people have improvised a home in an abandoned airplane, a relic of their country’s chaos. Elimane, the bookworm, is as street-smart as he is wise. Clever Khoudiemata maneuvers to keep the younger kids—athletic, pragmatic Ndevui; thoughtful Kpindi; and especially their newest member, Namsa—safe and fed. When Elimane makes himself of service to the shadowy William Handkerchief, it seems as if the little family may be able to keep the world at bay and their household intact. But when Khoudi comes under the spell of the “beautiful people”—the fortunate sons and daughters of the powerful—the desire to resume an interrupted coming of age and follow her own destiny proves impossible to resist.

A profound and tender portrayal of the connections we forge to survive the fate we’re dealt, Little Family marks the further blossoming of a unique global voice.



My thoughts: One of the things I'm most grateful for during this time of social distancing is online book clubs. I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the #MysteryBookClub this month over on Instagram - you throw your hat in, not knowing what the book is going to be, and then if selected, not only do you get a copy of the book, but you then participate in the group chat. 

The selection for April's #MysteryBook Club was Little Family by Ishmael Beah and I will admit, had it not been for this book club, I probably would not have read this book. But I'm so glad I did. First, the writing is absolutely beautiful...and I know that I will definitely be checking out this author's other books. 

This book completely captivated me. Yes, it's a little slow to start as you meet the five young people, but I was so eager to learn more about them that this definitely did not deter me. I loved that these five young people, of no relation, ended up coming together and becoming a little family. I loved how they took care of each other and their fierce protectiveness of each other. 

The author clearly articulates the haves and the have-nots. We see the daily struggle that this little family has each day of trying to make sure they have money for food and also making sure their home stays hidden - a home they have made out of an abandoned airplane in a field.  It's easy to see why they would be swayed by those in power or those in a higher social class. But at what cost? 

This book addresses so many issues but in a quiet, gentle way. It's such a great book for discussions because there is so much to unpack. I had a lot of unanswered questions when I finished and it was so nice knowing I would be discussing this shortly after I finished reading it. I know this is a book that will be staying with me for quite some time...it's a book that makes you think about and appreciate all the little things we often take for granted. I can't recommend this book enough and am so grateful to the #MysteryBookClub for introducing me to this talented author.


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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Review: The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan - with link to #Giveaway


Title: The Sweeney Sisters
Author: Lian Dolan
Published: April 2020, William Morrow
Format: ARC E-copy, 304 pages
Source: Netgalley via Wunderkind PR

Summary: 
An accomplished storyteller returns with her biggest, boldest, most entertaining novel yet—a hilarious, heartfelt story about books, love, sisterhood, and the surprises we discover in our DNA that combines the wit of Jonathan Tropper with the heart of Susan Wiggs.

Maggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.

But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.

When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.

Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?

By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family.



My thoughts: It's no surprise that I am drawn to books that deal with family drama, especially ones that involve siblings. I come from a large family and am always keen to see how authors draw these relationships. When I saw the blurb about The Sweeney Sisters, I knew I had to read it, plus it's set in a town I used to live!

I loved this book. It's full of heart and drama and everything in-between. This is not some light-hearted fluff book, but rather a story that will have you reflecting on your own relationships with your siblings and even your parents. It delves into what seems to be all the rage these days - DNA testing - but then goes into a whole lot more. I loved that even though Bill Sweeney is not alive for most of this book, his presence is felt through much of this book. I'm always a fan of characters that are authors and his is no exception. 

I loved the complexity of the relationships between the three sisters and when you add in the fourth, it just made things more interesting. I loved the reactions - it felt real and authentic. Each of the women were so unique and distinct, all going through their own personal struggles and having their own secrets. I loved that while there were the big issues going on - dealing with the unexpected death of their father, learning how to adjust to the new sister, and finding the manuscript - there were also these little issues so that we really got to know each of the characters, individually and collectively. There was growth in the characters and I love seeing it happen, even if you can guess where things will probably end up.

And of course, I have to talk about the setting. I lived in Southport for a few years after college, and I loved getting to revisit it through this book. It was like being home again. Lian Dolan really brought this charming seaside town to life for me, nailing the old, historic homes and moneyed area. And the restaurants she named - how many times I've been to the Athena Diner or Sidetracks....oh the memories!

I cannot recommend this book enough! I loved it and will definitely be telling everyone I know to pick it up. And I for sure will be telling my sisters to read it! This book is perfect to read right now with all that is going on...it is about family and love and is truly a great book to escape in. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down and read it in one day!


***Want a chance to win this book? Head over to my Instagram page and look for this post - 1 copy up for grabs!!! #Giveaway ends Friday, May 1st.



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Monday, April 27, 2020

Review: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey


Title: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael
Author: Beth Morrey
Published: April 2020, G.P. Putnam's Sons
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
For readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove, a life-affirming, deeply moving "coming-of-old" story, a celebration of how ordinary days are made extraordinary through friendship, family, and the power of forgiving yourself--at any age.

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog...

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she's estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past--though it's her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It's never too late to love.



My thoughts: As soon as I heard a few friends rave about this book, I knew I had to read it. And while I haven't read either of the two books that it is being compared to - though they are both on my list - I have to say...this book charmed me like no other.

I adored Missy. She might be my new favorite character. She is quirky and set in her ways but at 79, isn't that to be expected? She's not mean, but she's had some things happen to her in life that have made her become the way she is. Luckily, all it takes is meeting some new people, allowing them into her life, albeit begrudgingly at first, to realize how she has closed herself off and what she has missed in by doing so.

This book warmed my soul. It was the perfect book to read during this time of uncertainty. It's a slow-moving book, but once you get there (and you will know what I mean once you read it) you will want to savor every word and interaction that occurs. Being a dog person, I particularly loved the way Missy slowly grew to love the dog - so much so that she even started talking to it! I talk to my dogs all the time :)

I loved learning about Missy's life as she reminisces about her life and her family. In the beginning of the book, she's not the most likeable of characters, but as time goes on and we learn more about her, she really grew on me and I found I really cared about her and what happened to her. I love books like that, where you become so invested in a character that you only want the best for the characters, especially ones that you didn't particularly love in the beginning.

This is a truly a special book and I am definitely going to be watching to see what comes next from Beth Morrey. She has such a way of creating characters you care about and evoking such strong emotions. Have those tissues ready when you read this...you'll need them! 

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Review: Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (audio)


Title: Afterlife
Author: Julia Alvarez
Narrator: Alma Cuervo
Published: April 2020, Recorded Books
Length: 6 hours 26 minutes
Source: ALC via Libro.fm

Summary:
The first adult novel in almost fifteen years by the internationally bestselling author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the GarcĂ­a Girls Lost Their Accents 

Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack—but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.

Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?


My thoughts:  This is a new-to-me author and I picked this one up on a whim, after hearing my friend, Rhiannon, speak quite highly about it. I love getting recommendations about books from friends, especially when that recommendation is for an author who I have never read. I admit I was a little hesitant about this one, but I adored it. 

This little book sneaks up on you. It's not a story with a crazy twist but rather one that is all heart and I so needed that. While this story is about grief, it's also about family and finding yourself. The emotion that this story evokes is so raw and it is so completely thought-provoking...it's unbelievable. For a short book, this certainly packs a punch.

I loved the bonds between Antonia and her sisters. I have sisters and there is nothing I love reading more than a book that explores this relationship. But to see this explored where the sisters are older is not something I've come across yet, so I really appreciated that. Alvarez writes these sisters with such life, and their relationships are so dynamic that you can't help but fall in love with them. Their bond is so strong and I loved how they were always checking up on each other. When one had a crisis, they were there for each other.

At the heart of this story is grief and loss. Antonia is struggling with loss long after her husband's death, though is there really a time limit to this? She keeps herself busy by getting involved with one thing after another, some she willingly takes on, some that just show up on her doorstep. 

This book makes us wonder just what lengths we go to help one another. Are we doing it for ourselves or for those who think we should? This powerful book is written with such beautiful language that I will not be forgetting it or the characters anytime soon.


Audio thoughts: I loved listening to this audio book. I found myself completely swept up in the story, and thought Alma Cuervo did a great job bringing this book and the characters to life. This is an audio that I could definitely listen to again and again.


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Friday, April 24, 2020

Review: Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey


Title: Feels Like Falling
Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Published: April 2020, Gallery Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Author

Summary: 
From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand) and the bestselling author of the Peachtree Bluff series comes an odd-couple tale of friendship that asks just how much our past choices define our happiness.

It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her extremist husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger, Diana Harrington, fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a worn-out Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn. But when her first love returns, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans—and for a new generation of readers.



My thoughts: Have I mentioned how much I adore Kristy Woodson Harvey yet? Have you had a chance to meet her in person? She is just as sweet and charming as you can imagine and if you've had a chance to read her books yet, you can definitely see her personality dripping off the pages. This is why I adore her books and why I jump at the opportunity to read and support her - she is good people, folks and she is truly a talented author. She will make you laugh and she will make you cry and by the time you finish one of her books, you will feel hope and compassion like no one else has made you feel.

One of my favorite aspects of Kristy's writing is her ability to create characters that you are immediately drawn to. She  allows us to see the perfectly imperfect world of her characters, real women that any of us can relate to and I think that's what makes it so readable. You will fall in love with them right from the start, cheering at their successes, cringing at their missteps, and feeling humbled by their hardships. But what is so remarkable is that while these two women, who are not at all the same, go through their own experiences, they end up realizing just how much they are alike and how much they have come to depend on the other.

I loved the way the friendship developed between Gray and Diana...it wasn't immediate, but rather slow and cautious. But once it was there, you knew it was true and the kind that would last forever. And it was nice seeing a book that celebrated this friendship rather than a book where we have women constantly attacking each other.

This book is about second chances. It's about friendship and about love and loyalty. It's about picking up the pieces when life falls apart and moving forward. Maybe it's not the way you thought it would be, maybe it is, but as long as you stay true to yourself and are happy it's all good as we see our characters figure out.

I adored this book. It was the perfect escape reading for right now. While I would have loved to be sitting on the beach reading this, I nevertheless got the sense I was right there along with the characters by the very vivid descriptions that Kristy gives in her writing. I cannot recommend this book enough. This is absolutely southern fiction and summer reading at its best and I certainly will be recommending this to all my fiction-loving friends!

 
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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Review: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez (audio)


Title: The Friend Zone
Author: Abby Jimenez
Narrator: Teddy Hamilton, Erin Mallon
Published: June 2019, Hachette Audio
Length: 9 hours 32 minutes
Source: Library

Summary:
Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.


My thoughts:  Once again, I am coming to the party way late but better late than never, right? I managed to get my hands on an ALC (advanced listening copy) of Abby's new book, The Happy Ever After Playlist, and I happened to read a comment on Goodreads from Abby herself that stated you really  needed to read The Friend Zone before reading her new book...so here we are. And it's not that I wasn't going to read this one...it was on my list but we all know that saying - so many books, so little time!

Guys...this book was amazing! I never laughed so much and then cried so much in one book. And I mean that in the best way...happy tears all around. This book gutted me but it also spoke to me because - and I apologize for once again bringing my own story into this - but I dealt with fertility issues myself. There was no specific reason for it, but it was a devastating blow to me and my husband nevertheless, and so I could so relate to Kristen (and I just happen to be a Kristin myself!) on a number of levels. And then there is Josh...OMG - he is every bit what I see in my husband. Never giving up, never deterred by what is thrown in his path. 

I loved that the characters in this book were so complex as are the relationships. And I'm not just talking about the romantic ones. I'm also talking about the friendships and the mother-daughter relationships and the working relationships. Each and every inter-personal dynamic we see has a depth to it and that is what makes you become so much more invested in it. I couldn't get enough of what was going on, not only with Kristen and Josh but with everyone involved. 

This is not your typical chick lit fluffy love story and I am so glad I finally made time to pick this one up. This story will stay with me for quite some time and if you by some chance have not read it, I highly encourage you to do so...it is story that inspires hope despite the journey these characters take. And it has made me a fan of Abby Jimenez!



Audio thoughts: This was such a fun audio to listen to and I thought both narrators did an amazing job with their characters. Each narrator really brought out the necessary emotion and their pacing and intonation was spot on. 


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Review: Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia


Title: Strike Me Down
Author: Mindy Mejia
Published: April 2020, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Negalley via Publisher

Summary: 
From the critically acclaimed author of Leave No Trace, the “nail-biting page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go” (The Real Book Spy), comes a visceral thriller where a high stakes crime triggers a woman’s complicated and potentially deadly search for the truth.

Nora Trier catches thieves. As a forensic accountant and partner in her downtown Minneapolis firm, she’s unearthed millions in every corner of the world. She prides herself on her independence, the most essential currency of accounting, until her firm is hired by Strike.

An anti-corporate, feminist athletic empire, Strike is owned by Logan Russo, a brash and legendary kickboxer, and her marketing genius husband, Gregg Abbott. They’re about to host a major kickboxing tournament with twenty million dollars in prize money, and the chance for the champion to become the new face of the company. Gregg suspects his wife already has a new face in mind—a young trainer named Aaden, for whom Logan feels an unexpected connection.

Days before the tournament begins, it’s discovered that the prize money is missing. Gregg hires Nora’s firm to find both the thief and the money but Nora has a secret connection to Strike that threatens her independence. Her partner pressures her into taking the case anyway, hinting he has information about Strike that could change the course of the investigation in a shocking and deadly way.

A tense and unpredictable thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page, Strike Me Down reveals the remarkable power of Mindy Mejia’s writing which “crosses back and forth between exquisite literary descriptions and thrilleresque escapes and acts of violence” (New York Journal of Books).



My thoughts: I've been a fan of Mindy Mejia's writing ever since reading Everything You Wanted Me To Be. I even got to meet Mindy this past fall at Bouchercon and she is just delightful. I always love getting to meet authors and tell them how much I love their writing and books!

This book was so unique in a number of ways and pulled me in right from the start. I loved that it dealt with forensic accounting and a kick-boxing circuit. On top of that, our major characters were strong female leads...I love a good thriller that puts not only one but two strong females in each other's path. You know there's going to be some good backstory there and that nothing is what you think when it comes to either one.

I love a good cat and mouse game and when you put a time limit on that, it just ups the stakes. This was such a good financial thriller and usually, I'm not one for that, but again, it was the author and the unique premise that really sold me on this and I loved every minute of it. This is such a good entertaining, thrilling read - perfect to escape into with all that is going on right now in the world. It's high-stakes and high energy and has an ending I was definitely not expecting. I absolutely recommend picking this one up - you won't be sorry!




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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley


Title: The Guest List
Author: Lucy Foley
Published: June 2020, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 313 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the author of The Hunting Party.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?



My thoughts: After reading The Hunting Party last year, I became an instant fan of Lucy Foley's writing and knew I would be reading whatever else she wrote. I was so excited to see that her latest book was one of April's Book of the Month's selections and immediately selected it as my very first choice...how fitting!

I devoured this book. I read it with two other girls as a buddy read and the three of us could not read it fast enough. Even though there are many characters - and I will admit that I did have to create a little cheat sheet to keep everyone straight at first - eventually I did not have to refer to notes because once I really got into the book, I felt I knew who they all were. 
 
I love when I don't necessarily love all the characters and this is definitely the case with this book. The cast of people assembled here for the wedding are certainly an interesting group and we see that not is all as it appears to be with them. The layers are slowly pealed back as we dig deeper into them all and what we learn is startling to say the least!

Once again, the setting of Lucy Foley's book really comes into play. A remote, isolated location, and a crazy storm happens and then someone is found dead. But again, it's not until the end that you find out who and why. I love this because you are left wondering the entire time who it is and what happened to cause their death. And believe me, guess as you might, it will probably be quite the shocker - it definitely was for me!

I loved this book...I actually loved it more than The Hunting Party, which I thought was great. I am such a fan of Lucy Foley and cannot wait to see what she writes next. Have you read her books yet?


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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Short & Sweet Review: A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio)


Title: A Conspiracy of Bones
Author: Kathy Reichs
Series: Temperance Brennan, #19
Narrator: Linda Emond
Published: March 2020, Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 11 hours 57 minutes
Source: Library

Summary:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with a new riveting novel featuring her vastly popular character forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who must use all her tradecraft to discover the identity of a faceless corpse, its connection to a decade-old missing child case, and why the dead man had her cell phone number.

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue, working mostly outside the system. That’s because Tempe’s new boss holds a fierce grudge against her and is determined to keep her out of the case. Tempe bulls forward anyway, even as she begins questioning her instincts. But the clues she discovers are disturbing and confusing. Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government? And why was he carrying the name of a child missing for almost a decade?

With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes...


 
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.


My thoughts:  This is the 19th book in Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series and I was so glad to see it had finally been released. There had been quite a lull between this book and the previous one, though that is addressed and all I will say on that is the hiatus was not planned, and I'm glad everything is ok.

I love Tempe Brennan - she's one of my favorite characters and I was so glad to catch back up with her. In this latest installment we find her dealing with quite a lot, both personally and professionally. She has had some serious medical issues and now has a new boss that she does not really see eye to eye with and that ends up putting her on the outside of most cases that she would have previously been asked to work on. But if you know anything about Tempe, you know that this won't stop her. 

I was happy to see that some familiar characters were present in this book, particularly Slidell. I love when Tempe and Slidell work together because they are such a good pairing but the banter between is really my favorite part! And Tempe's mom, Daisy makes a few appearances, and is quite insightful - I love that she knows more about technology and the dark web than her daughter does.

I'm a big fan of this series and I was happy to be back in Tempe's world. This installment was definitely worth the wait and while it can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the series from the beginning...it's totally worth it!


Audio thoughts: I really enjoy Linda Emonds narration of this series and I was happy to see that she was narrating this installment. She does a great job with the voices and really seems to bring Tempe to life. Even though it's been a while since I've listened to the last book, I felt like no time had passed as Linda Emonds is so consistent with her voices. It's so funny how that is, that you just remember that unique characterization that a narrator brings to certain characters.



Books in this series:

  1. Deja Dead                                14.  Flash & Bones
  2. Death du Jour                       15.  Bones are Forever
  3. Deadly Decisions                 15.5  Bones in Her Pocket
  4. Fatal Voyage                          16.  Bones of the Lost
  5. Grave Secrets                        16.5.  Swamp Bones
  6. Bare Bones                              17.  Bones  Never Lie
  7. Monday Mourning              17.5.  Bones on Ice
  8. Cross Bones                            18.  Speaking in Bones                 
  9. Break No Bones                     19.  A Conspiracy of Bones         
  10. Bones to Ashes                    
  11. Devil Bones 
  12. 206 Bones
  13. Spider Bones
 
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Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier


Title: Little Secrets
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Published: April 2020, Minotaur Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him.
Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado's four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he's rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn't her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he'll be the last. She's falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek's lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek.



My thoughts: Ever since reading Jar of Hearts two years ago, I knew Jennifer Hillier was going to be an author I would keep reading. I was ecstatic to actually meet her last fall at Bouchercon! She is the sweetest person and how she writes such thrilling, devious books is beyond me, but I love it just the same.

I could not wait to read her latest book and devoured it! There are so many layers to this story that it keeps you completely engaged and captivated the entire time. This is not your typical missing child story - oh no! Jennifer Hillier takes that story line and turns it on its head. It's twisty and dark and goes where you least expect it, but isn't that what a good thriller should do?

While not all the characters are completely likeable, I still found myself totally immersed in the book and invested with the characters. And having the book alternate between Marin and McKenzie's point of view guarantees that you will keep reading...it gives you that need to see how things play out. I also loved that there weren't a ton of characters so that you didn't need to keep too many players straight. But every single character we do meet has secrets...every single one!

This book will keep you guessing and some of the twists completely shocked me. But I also did have some suspicions about certain things that ultimately proved to be correct, though I wasn't sure how they fit in, or how they would play out. It is one of those books that keeps you on the edge of your seat as you keep waiting for something else to happen, wondering if there is another secret that will be revealed that will lead to devastating results. 

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is addicting and binge-worthy for sure. It completely exceeded all my expectations and then some. I will absolutely be pushing this book on all my thriller-loving friends.



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Monday, April 20, 2020

Review: Hold Your Breath by B.P. Walter


Title: Hold Your Breath
Author: B.P. Walter
Published: April 2020, Avon Books UK
Format: ARC E-copy, 400 pages
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Summary: 


My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by B.P. Walters, though it definitely will not be the last. There is nothing I love more than a creepy, atmospheric thriller and this book has that in spades!

I loved that this book is told all from one point of view, but jumps around to different time lines. It begs you to pay attention, but as you get further into the story, you will be hard-pressed to put the book down. I devoured most of this book in one sitting and was completely drawn in to what was going on. I loved that we are given clues, but not told outright what really happens until the very end - and boy oh boy did I have it completely wrong as to what I thought had happened.

This is a chilling, dark tale of mental illness and we see how it impacts a family. It's fast-paced and will keep you guessing as to what is really going on. In 1987, 10-year Kitty tells us what happened during those few weeks at the cottage in the woods and how she felt about what was going on. As an adult, when forced to confront what happened back then, we see that those weeks had a lasting impact on Kitty and we realize that Kitty might not have been as reliable a narrator as we thought.

This book is laid out like a jigsaw puzzle and ever so slowly the pieces fit together just right but it's not without some jarring moments. The characters, whether you like them or not, will keep you glued to the pages until you put that last piece together and even still you are left a little speechless. And the setting could not have been more perfect - a remote cottage in the woods? Nothing is more atmospheric and creepy for what happens there. It adds to that feeling of unease and heightens the tension that is already building.

I could not read this book fast enough and despite it's rather dark nature, I found it to be quite enjoyable and will definitely be checking out B.P. Walter's other books. 


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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Review: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon


Title: Sister Dear
Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Published: May 2020, MIRA
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Author

Summary: 
Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.


When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.



My thoughts: This is the second book I've read by Hannah Mary McKinnon and I am just blown away by her writing. I loved the last book I read by her, Her Secret Son, but this latest one is even better...she definitely stepped up her game with this one!

I love a good twisty thriller, and this one is just so well-crafted it completely sucks you in. It's dark and wickedly entertaining, filled with obsession, manipulation and just the right amount of devious behavior from our flawed characters. 

I loved the choice of narrators - having Eleanor be the sole narrator was perfect. She is complex, yet not the strongest character you will meet. She is reeling from the death of her father, who she has just found out is not her real dad. Not having a strong relationship with her mother, she is desperate to find a family that may welcome her with open arms. If only that were the case. What follows is a case of jealousy that turns dark and takes on a life of it's own.

This book is completely addicting. Once I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down...I just had to see what was going to happen next and I could not bear to stop reading it. It's one of those books where you think you know where things are headed but you could not be more wrong - and I love that. I love being proven wrong time and again. And that ending...OMG! That totally floored me, in the best way...and I would love nothing more than to see a sequel come from this book, but then again...maybe not. Maybe we just need to have the ending be that and let our imaginations wonder what happens next.

This is one book I know I won't stop thinking about and will definitely be recommending to all my thriller-loving friends! Hannah Mary McKinnon is absolutely a must-read author for me and I cannot wait to see what comes next from her. Have you read her books yet? If not, what are you waiting for?


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