Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Short & Sweet Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

 


Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hoover
Published: December 2018, Independently Published
Format: Paperback, 314 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.




***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 a book that has been on my tbr for quite a while and I was so glad my IRL book club picked it for our next discussion. It is everything I heard it to be and more...dark, crazy, intense and totally binge-worthy. I read this book in a matter of hours because I could not put it down. 

I loved the way this book is structured, alternating between the present day and the chapters of Verity's book. I was completely captivated by what was going on, trying to put the pieces together and did not see that ending coming at all! This one gets under your skin and plays with your mind, and you quickly realize that things are definitely not as they appear to be. It's downright addicting and will have you flipping those pages, taking you on quite the emotional journey at the same time. Be prepared to not only be unsettled but also blush a few times.

I've come late to the Colleen Hoover game, having only read her more recent books, but man can she write! Eventually I'll get to the rest of her backlist, but I'm so glad I finally read this one...it was excellent!!!

 

SHARE:

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Review: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

 



Title: Jar of Hearts
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Published: August 2019, Minotaur Books
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong--one of the most popular girls in school--disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser--now a detective with Seattle PD--finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it? Find out in Jennifer Hillier's Jar of Hearts.



My thoughts: I read this book back when it first came out a few years back, but as it was selected for an online book club I participate in, I decided I wanted to reread it and I am so glad I did. I loved it the first time I read and I loved it even more this second time around.

This is absolutely a totally binge-worthy read, one that I found to be true the first time around, and that certainly held true again this time. Since I have read tons of books between then and now, there were little things I had forgotten, but the gist of the book all came back as soon as I started reading it. 

This book is perfectly paced - I remember thinking that the first time around and I definitely felt that again during this second time. The tension rises at just the right moments and I felt the obsession and terror come through. This book plays on every emotion and goes for full shock value but it all works. Nothing is done without purpose. It pulled me in from the very beginning and never once let up.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It definitely goes down as one of my favorite books of all time and one that I will probably read again at some point - it is just brilliantly crafted.


My original review can be found here.

SHARE:

Monday, September 28, 2020

Review: The Nesting by C.J. Cooke


 
Title: The Nesting
Author: C.J. Cooke
Published: September 2020, Gallery Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 368 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
The woods are creeping in on a nanny and two young girls in this chilling modern Gothic thriller.

Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he's building in Norway--in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it.

Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia's diary appears in Lexi's room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady. . . .

Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn't kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by C.J. Cooke and I absolutely loved it. It was just the kind of read I needed to start of my fall reading - a Nordic Gothic thriller that completely captivated me from start to finish!

I totally binge-read this book, reading it in one day because once I started it, I literally could not put it down! I was totally hooked and while there are some really creepy parts to this book, there are some other parts that are just totally lyrical that really lulled me into this story. It is so completely atmospheric that I felt like I was right there in Norway with the characters - I place, I might add, that I am so desperate to visit one day! 

I loved the characters and how it was told in alternating perspectives of Lexie in present day and Aurelia in the past. I also loved that there were so many times when I was sure whether I could trust either of them. While each have their issues and secrets, nothing disputes the fact that these two women care deeply about the little girls in this story. That becomes their number one priority and despite everything else, that drives them in all they do.

I loved how the author wove the Norwegian folktales into the story. At times it was a little eerie and creepy but it works so well here. It adds to the overall sense of place and tone of the story. This book could not have been coming out at a more perfect time - just as we begin our fall season and are craving those dark, spooky reads. I loved this one and know that I will certainly be recommending it to all my thriller-loving friends that love those dark, chilling reads. 


SHARE:

Review: The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz

 


Title: The Gone Dead
Author: Chanelle Benz
Published: March 2020, Ecco Books
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Summary: 
An electrifying first novel from "a riveting new voice in American fiction" (George Saunders): A young woman returns to her childhood home in the American South and uncovers secrets about her father's life and death

Billie James' inheritance isn't much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn't been back to the South since.

Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father's home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.

Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country.



My thoughts: Somehow I missed this book when it first came out but I am so glad I was able to get my hands on it now. It may be a short book, but it is one that definitely packs a punch.

I loved this slow-burn read that is part crime-fiction part homecoming story that is told from multiple narrators. This really helps set up the scene, allowing us to get not only a feel for who all the players are, but also get into everyone's headspace. But, as secrets are slowly revealed, we begin to question who we can really trust, which is always something I love.

Delving into family secrets, race and class, loss and love, it is easy to become totally immersed in this story and I loved that I really did not want to rush through this book - this is one that I wanted to take my time with and really experience each and every minute I had with these characters and what was happening. And even though the story takes a look at an event that happened thirty years in the past, it could not be a more timely novel.

I highly recommend picking this one up and think it would certainly make a great book club pick. There is so much to unpack in this little book. I know I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what this talented author writes next as this one is I won't be forgetting any time soon!

 

SHARE:

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Review: The Royal Governess by Wendy Holden



Title: The Royal Governess
Author: Wendy Holden
Published: August 2020, Berkley
Format: ARC E-copy, 368 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
Sunday Times bestselling author Wendy Holden brings to life the unknown childhood years of one of the world’s most iconic figures, Queen Elizabeth II, and reveals the little-known governess who made Britain’s queen into the monarch we know today.

In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring their Royal Highnesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Her one stipulation to their parents the Duke and Duchess of York is that she bring some doses of normalcy into the sheltered and privileged lives of the two young princesses.

At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Balmoral, Marion defies oppressive court protocol to take the girls on tube trains, swimming at public baths, and on joyful Christmas shopping trips at Woolworth’s. From her ringside seat at the heart of the British monarchy she witnesses the upheaval of the Abdication and the glamour and drama of the 1937 Coronation.

During the war, as Hitler’s Heinkels fly over Windsor, she shelters her charges in the castle dungeons (not far from where the Crown Jewels are hidden in a biscuit tin). Afterwards, she is there when Elizabeth first sets eyes on Philip. But being beloved governess and confidante to the Windsor family has come at a cost. She puts her private life on hold until released from royal service following Princess Elizabeth’s marriage in 1947.

In a majestic story of love, sacrifice, and allegiance, bestselling novelist Holden shines a captivating light into the years before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne, as immortalized on the popular television series The Crown.



My thoughts:  As I might have mentioned on here a time or two, I am completely fascinated by the royal monarchy, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. I am obsessed with the Netflix show, The Crown and have been reading as much as I can about anything to do with the royals. 

I loved this book. It was full of insightful information and I found it quite easy to get lost in the story. Focusing on the childhood of the current queen, from the perspective of Elizabeth and Margaret's governess, I feel I learned quite a bit that hasn't been covered on the show. For instance, I had no idea that Elizabeth had an obsessive compulsion when she was young. I loved that Crawfie, as she is come to be known, was determined to give these girls a sense a normalcy in their world when their life was anything but. 

The one thing this book highlights that I'm not sure I really knew is that being close to the royals comes with great sacrifice to one's own life. This was made quite clear by all the Marion Crawford gave up in her own life, not just in regards to who she could date but also her own private life in general. It was a great honor for sure to work for the royals, but there were drawbacks, too.

This is a highly readable, enjoyable and enlightening read and while there were things I knew, I also picked up some new tidbits about the royals that I hadn't known before, which I why I love reading historical fiction. Wendy Holden is a new author to me and I do hope she continues to write more historical fiction as I really enjoyed this one.

 

SHARE:

Friday, September 25, 2020

Review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan


 
Title: Little Disasters
Author: Sarah Vaughan
Published: August 2020, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 432 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
A new thought-provoking novel exploring the complexity of motherhood and all that connects and disconnects us.

You think you know her…but look a little closer.

She is a stay-at-home mother-of-three with boundless reserves of patience, energy, and love. After being friends for a decade, this is how Liz sees Jess.

Then one moment changes everything.

Dark thoughts and carefully guarded secrets surface—and Liz is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her friend, and about herself. The truth can’t come soon enough.



My thoughts: This is the second book I've read by Sarah Vaughan and I really like the way she writes. She manages to write such thought-provoking, emotionally charged psychological mysteries that really manage to get under your skin.

I loved that this one was more character-driven than plot-driven. It's one that you will find yourself quickly consumed by and thinking that you know exactly where it is heading, but believe me when I say, you do not. 

I loved that the book was told from multiple points of view, giving us a better look at all those involved. It also moves back and forth in time, from when the group first met to the present. It explores motherhood and all it's complexities, specifically the sacrifices one takes and the lengths one will go to protect those we love. 

The suspense builds all the way through and I found myself unable to put this book down once I started it. While it is at times not an easy read, it is completely engrossing and the small twists keep you engaged. I highly recommend picking this one up and cannot wait to see what comes next from this talented author.


SHARE:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Review: When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole (audio)

 

Title: When No One Is Watching
Author: Alyssa Cole
Narrator: Susan Dalian, Jay Aaseng
Published: September 2020, Harper Audio / William Morrow Paperbacks
Length: 8 hours 30 minutes / 368 pages
Source: Audio -  ALC via Libro.fm / Print - Paperback via Publisher via TLC Booktours

Summary:
Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?


 

My thoughts: I have never read anything by Alyssa Cole before, but if she continues to write in the thriller genre, I will be the first to line up for her books. This book was nothing short of amazing!

I loved everything about this book. I loved the pacing, I loved the way it was structured, I loved how unsettling it was, I loved how scarily relevant it was. This book is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. You will find characters that you want to cheer for as well as those you instantly take an immediate dislike to - don't we all love those kind of characters? 

Told from alternating view points, I loved that there was always that hint of suspicion in the back of my mind as to whether I could fully trust either character, even though I really liked both. And both Sydney and Theo were extremely complex characters, too, which makes them so much more interesting. Is Sydney suffering from paranoia due to all that is going on in her life and her not getting enough sleep? Should we be trusting Theo based on what has just happened to him? These were just some of the questions running through my mind as I was reading this book.  

I loved that I had no idea where this book was heading. While it starts off slow, there are things happening in the beginning part of the book that are really crucial to the latter part, so don't discount what is going on, if that makes any sense. This really is a twisty psychological thriller that gets under your skin in more ways that you realize.

This book is one that I know I won't be forgetting anytime soon and will most definitely be rereading. While it is a work of fiction, at times it did feel as if I was reading something that could be happening in real life. This book would definitely make a great book for book clubs and I am so glad I am participating in a buddy read for it - I cannot wait for the discussion that is happening at the end of the month! 



Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to either narrator and I found myself completely captivated by the way they narrated this book. Both did such a great job with the voices and their pacing and intonation were spot on. I was completely immersed in this story and found I could not put it down. Great audio book!

 

SHARE:

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Cover Reveal: Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey

I am so excited to be taking part in the cover reveal of Kristy Woodson Harvey's  newest book!!! I adore her books and this latest one sounds amazing. It will be released April 20, 2021.


 

Title: Under the Southern Sky
Author: Kristy Woodson Harvery
Published: April 2021, Gallery Books
Format: Paperback, 400 pages

Summary: 
Two childhood friends discover that love—and family—can be found in unconventional ways in this timely, moving novel from the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “beautifully Southern, evocative Peachtree Bluff series” (Kristin Harmel, internationally bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife).

Recently separated Amelia Buxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker—and dredging up old wounds in the process.

Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.

Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Buxton Beach. The journey of self-discovery leads them to an unforgettable and life-changing lesson: Family—the one you’re born into and the one you choose—is always closer than you think.

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Under the Southern Sky is a fresh and unforgettable exploration of love, friendship, and the unbreakable ties that bind.


*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Lisa Wingate Blurb:

“Sometimes the key to new love lies hidden in old friendships. In Under the Southern Sky, Kristy Woodson Harvey stirs up a warm-hearted mix of hometown charm and the sort of thoroughly modern problems that bring us back to the people who know us best and the places that remind us of who we really are.” – Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Before We Were Yours and The Book of Lost Friends.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************



 

Preorder  Under the Southern Sky now:

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Giveaway:

Want to win 1 of 3 advanced copies of Under The Southern Sky? Share the cover on Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #underthesouthernsky and you are entered to win! Open  to US only.

 

SHARE:

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Review: Blood Victory by Christopher Rice (audio)


 

Title: Blood Victory
Author: Christopher Rice
Series: Burning Girl, #3
Narrator: Lauren Ezzo
Published: August 2020, Brilliance Audio
Length: 10 hours 29 minutes
Source: Publisher

Summary:
On a cross-country journey to hell, fear is the engine and vengeance is the destination as Christopher Rice’s Amazon Charts bestselling series continues.

As the test subject of an experimental drug, Charlotte Rowe was infused with extraordinary powers. As the secret weapon of a mysterious consortium, she baits evil predators and stops them in their tracks. But it takes more than fear to trigger what’s coursing through Charlotte’s blood. She needs to be terrorized. Serial killer Cyrus Mattingly is up to the task.

Cyrus is a long-haul truck driver, and his cargo bay is a gallery of horrors on wheels. To stop his bloodshed, Charlotte will become his next victim, reining in her powers so she can face each of his evils in turn.

As much as they know about Cyrus—his method of selecting victims, his prolonged rituals—there is something they don’t. What happens on the dark and lonely highways is only the journey. It’s the destination that’s truly depraved. Before she can unleash vengeance on a scale this killer has never seen, Charlotte and her team will have to go the distance into hell.


 

My thoughts: This is the third book in Christopher Rice's Burning Girl series and one that I really enjoy, despite the fact that it delves a little bit into science fiction. That's a genre I don't tend to read, but this series is just so good and I find myself completely engaged in each book.

I will say, I really believe you need to read this series in order so that you completely understand Charlotte's character and what is going on with her. There is just too much character development and even plot development that not only happens in book one, Bone Music, but then is further carried on in book two, Blood Echo. Yes, Christopher Rice gives a little overview, but trust me when I say, you are going to want ALL the details.

For someone who doesn't really read science-fiction, I find myself completely captivated by these books. There is such a good balance between action and character development, not only for the main characters, but also for the bad guys. And let me just say, these bad guys here are truly awful scum of the earth types. This time Charlotte is after serial killers targeting women who speak up and the things they do to their captives are truly horrifying - and gave me the creeps just listening to it. The one that Charlotte, Luke and the team have their eyes set on, Cyrus Mattingly, proves to be more than the bargained for. 

This book is so fast-paced and so full of tension and suspense that I found myself unable to stop listening, and finished the book in one day...it was that good! The way this book is written, with such a good mix of thriller, crime and science fiction elements all mixed in, it really keeps me hooked. I think the way technology and science are moving forward it is possible that one day...we just might get there, however scary that thought is and that is why I can wrap my head around what happens in this book and series. Do I want any of this to come to fruition - no way! But, being practical-minded, I guess anything is possible. I am definitely looking forward to seeing where this series heads next, provided there is another book!


Audio thoughts: Once again, Lauren Ezzo did a fantastic job with the audio. I listened to the previous two books and found that the consistency of the voices was amazing. It was like coming back to visit old friends. The pacing and intonation was great and Lauren was able to build suspense and tension in her voice as needed. I'm not sure if this is the final book of the series or if it will be continuing, but I hope that Lauren will be the narrator for as long as the series goes on.

 

Books in this series:

  1. Bone Music
  2. Blood Echo
  3. Blood Victory

 

SHARE:

Monday, September 21, 2020

Review: Home for the Holidays by Sara Richardson


 
Title: Home for the Holidays
Author: Sara Richardson
Published: September 2020, Forever
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
Sara Richardson writes unputdownable, unforgettable stories from the heart" in this emotional holiday novel, where three sisters have one last Christmas to confront their pasts before their lives change forever (Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author).

The Buchanan sisters all share special childhood memories of their Aunt Sassy's beloved Juniper Inn. There, they frolicked in the snow, baked sugar cookies, and celebrated the town's annual Christmas extravaganza. They haven't been back to Colorado in nearly fifteen years, but when their aunt invites them for one last Christmas, they can't say no...

With her ex-husband whisking her children away for the holiday, Dahlia decides it's time to do something for herself. Juniper Springs is just as beautiful as she remembers, but it's also full of surprises -- including the town's handsome doctor, who makes her feel like herself again for the first time in years.

To the outside world, baker Magnolia has the ideal marriage. Only the pain and sorrow of infertility have strained her relationship with her husband, perhaps beyond repair. But a holiday miracle is about to change her life.

After a whirlwind romance, youngest sister Rose is about to be married, but as the wedding draws near, she's unsettled by her fiancé's expectations that she become a society wife. Spending Christmas with her family could be a necessary reality check -- or the beginning of a brand-new happily ever after.

Thanks to the strength of their sisterhood, some mistletoe, and the love of their Aunt Sassy, the Buchanan sisters will discover what it is they truly want this Christmas.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Sara Richardson and if all her books are as good as this one, it certainly won't be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday book and while I typically don't break out the holiday reads until a bit later in the year, this year has been so out of whack that I am just going with the flow and reading what calls to me and this one was just what I needed. 

I love books that explore sister relationships. Having two sisters myself, I always feel such a pull to these books and I think Sara Richardson does such a good job exploring these bonds. These sisters are all at a crossroads in their lives and when they come together at Juniper Springs for Christmas, they finally reveal the secrets they have been keeping from each other. I could relate to each of these sisters in some way, but more so to Magnolia as I have been where she is and could feel her pain and frustration completely. 

This book tugged at my heartstrings so many times, but it is also such a heartwarming book, too. I loved the Christmas theme and it definitely has me looking forward to the holidays, whatever they may look like this year. It may not look like years past, but we will make do with what we can and that is all that matters. 

I highly recommend adding this to your reading list...whether it be now when it comes out or later in the holiday season. It's definitely a great read and one that will certainly get you in the holiday mood!

 

SHARE:

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Review: All Adults Here by Emma Straub (audio)


 

Title: All Adults Here
Author: Emma Straub
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Published: May 2020, Penguin Audio
Length: 11 hours 5 minutes
Source: ALC via Libro.fm

Summary:

A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family--as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she'd been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid's youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid's thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

In All Adults Here, Emma Straub's unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.


 

My thoughts: This is the first time I've read anything by Emma Straub. I've seen her books around and this one just called to me - being from a big family, I love reading about books that tackle families and their issues and boy does this one do that.

This is definitely a character-driven novel and I had no problem with that. I tend to enjoy those every now and again, and loved that this one included such interesting, quirky characters. Family dynamics are always so intriguing to me and when you start to get into how relationships are forged between parents and their children, I am always gung-ho. I just felt that at times, this one was a little all-over the place. Rather than focusing on a few issues, this tried to cover too many at once therefore never really digging too deep into any one issue.

Overall, it was a good story, but not necessarily my favorite. It is very much a slowburn and takes a while to meander to the point.


Audio thoughts: Emily Rankin does the narration for this book and I thought she did a fantastic job. Her pacing and intonation were spot on and I thought she infused just the right amount of emotion into her voice as needed. Had I been reading the print version of this book, I might not have finished, but the audio kept me engaged, so kudos to Emily Rankin!

 

SHARE:

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Review: Her Last Mistake by Carla Kovach (audio)

 


 Title: Her Last Mistake
Author: Carla Kovach
Series: Detective Gina Harte, #6
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Published: May 2020, Hachette - UK, Bookouture
Length: 10 hours 38 minutes
Source: Personal copy

Summary:

Dressed in a sage green bridesmaid dress, and smiling for pictures, Holly is the happiest she’s ever been. Hours later, Holly is dead.

People love to hate Holly Long. Smart, beautiful and a woman who men find it hard to say no to, she’s the town’s most gossiped about resident.

Now Holly’s body lies in her hotel room, strangled at her best friend’s wedding party. And the gossip has stopped, because nobody wants to look like they did it.

When police search Holly’s immaculate apartment, amongst her stylish furnishings and expensive jewellery, they discover a different side to Holly. Orderly and precise, she wasn’t the chaotic party girl everyone thought her to be. In fact, Holly was a planner, and her next plan was to come out and tell her biggest secret – something she had been hiding for months, something that had the potential to ruin the lives of more than one wedding guest.

There are plenty of people who might have wanted to kill Holly, but only one who has finally made good on their promise.


An unputdownable crime thriller with an ending you will never see coming,
this is the latest gripping novel from bestselling author Carla Kovach. If you like Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, you’ll love Her Last Mistake.

 

My thoughts: This is the sixth book in the Detective Gina Harte series and I absolutely believe this series keeps getting better and better with each new installment! It's so addicting and compelling...I just love when I find these crime fiction/police procedural series with a strong female lead.

While this book can definitely be read as a stand-alone - something that I am finding most books in series can be done these days - I will say that I highly recommend reading the previous books first. There is quite a lot of backstory on the characters that I think is helpful in really understanding the characters more fully and some threads that deal with the character development are carried over from book to book.

This latest installment really tests Detective Gina Harte and her team, and we see it take a toll on Gina personally as she is determined to solve this case as fast as possible, even if that means no sleep. Of course, it doesn't help that she shouldn't even be working on this case as she was supposed to be on leave right now - this totally isn't helping matters with her daughter. 

I love how author Carla Kovach makes such a point to show how Detective Gina Harte has such an internal struggle balancing her work with her family. This is not the first time that her daughter has given her grief for putting work first, nor I'm sure will it be the last. And while Harte loves her job and her family equally, she has a hard time deciding at times which should be the priority, something I think everyone can relate to. I also love that there is still a strong bond between Harte and Briggs - with all that they shared in the previous book, I like that this is still being explored. There is definitely more here that needs to be resolved and I can't wait to see how it happens.

I really like this series. It's action-packed while still providing great character development that keeps you coming back for more. I somehow missed this one when it was released so the next one is already out and I cannot wait to start reading it soon! 


Audio thoughts: Because I  missed this one when it first came out, I decided to grab the audio version and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator, Alison Campbell, did a great job with the voices and her intonation and pacing were spot on. She infused just the right amount of emotion and tension into her voice as needed.

 

Books in this series:

  1. The Next Girl
  2. Her Final Hour
  3. Her Pretty Bones 
  4. The Liar's House
  5. Her Dark Heart 
  6. Her Last Mistake
  7. Their Silent Graves

 

SHARE:

Review: A Mother's Secret by Tess Stimson


 
Title: A Mother's Secret
Author: Tess Stimson
Published: May 2020, Avon
Format: Papberback, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 

Of course you trust your family…
But should you?

When every mother’s worst nightmare becomes Maddie’s reality, her first instinct is to turn to those closest to her for support: her loving husband, her brilliant children, her caring mother.

But as the truth about what happened to her baby starts to emerge, Maddie realises she can’t trust anyone. Not even her family. Not even herself.

A Mother's Secret is a taut, twisting and unsettling story of loss and lies, perfect for readers of B.A. Paris and A.J. Finn.


My thoughts: Domestic thrillers have become one of my favorite sub-genres within the thriller genre and I feel that each one has it's own unique quality to it that sets it apart - at least the ones I've read so far. And this one from Tess Stimson, a new-to-me author definitely fits that bill.

This is a dark and quite disturbing domestic thriller, yet it was one that once I started reading it, I could not put down. I needed to know what was going on and how it would all play out. While I had my guesses, I totally did not see that end coming - and I loved that. When you read as many thrillers as I do, you tend to predict how things will play out and I'm so glad I didn't this time. 

I loved how the book was told. We are introduced to Maddie right away, and most of the story is told from her perspective but we are also introduced to Lydia, a young child that has the most horrific upbringing. I was so curious as to what the connection between the two characters was and could not read fast enough to find out.

This book has characters that you will love to hate (my favorite kind) and characters that you will be immediately suspicious of. Each character has their secrets and while some are eventually revealed, it doesn't make them look any less guilty. I immediately found myself rooting for Maddie as I felt she had no one in her corner.

This is such an addicting read, though at times, the subject matter can be a little tough to digest. I still recommend it as it was quite a thrilling read with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing all the way through.

 

SHARE:

Friday, September 18, 2020

Blog Tour, Review & Excerpt: Village of the Lost Girls by Agustin Martinez

Today, I'm so happy to be a tour stop on the blog tour for Village of the Lost Girls by Agustin Martinez - I have review & an excerpt for you to read thanks to Mobius.
 



Title: Village of the Lost Girls
Author: Agustin Martinez
Published: September 2020, Mobius
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 

A breath-taking missing persons thriller set under the menacing peaks of the Pyrenees

Five years after their disappearance, the village of Monteperdido still mourns the loss of Ana and Lucia, two eleven-year-old friends who left school one afternoon and were never seen again. Now, Ana reappears unexpectedly inside a crashed car, wounded but alive.

The case reopens and a race against time begins to discover who was behind the girls' kidnapping. Most importantly, where is Lucia and is she still alive?

Inspector Sara Campos and her boss Santiago Bain, from Madrid's head office, are forced to work with the local police. Five years ago fatal mistakes were made in the investigation conducted after the girls first vanished, and this mustn't happen again. But Monteperdido has rules of its own.



My thoughts:  As soon as I was approached about being part of this blog tour, I knew I wanted to be...crime fiction is one of my favorite genres and I especially love when books are set in locales I am not familiar with. I haven't read too many books set in Spain, so I couldn't wait to dig in!

This is such an atmospheric thriller that totally kept me engaged right from the start. There is such a strong sense of place and the small-town feel is both strong and quite claustrophobic at times. It is a chilling and haunting tale that is full of secrets and complex characters, characters that you can't quite put your finger on because you aren't quite sure you can trust. I loved that the main inspector on the case, Inspector Sara Campos has her own personal issues - I love when we see this internal battle happening as it makes them so much more real and relatable to some extent. 

 I will say, this is not a very fast-paced thriller, but rather a deep-dive character study into the townsfolk of Monteperdido. It still centers around what happened to the two girls, but you really get a sense of who all the players in the town are and how they relate to the families of the girls, including the family members themselves. I really liked this approach, because you find out everything there is to know about who could possibly have been involved with the girls disappearance and it really gets you thinking.  

I found myself completely immersed in this book and even though it is more of a slower burn, I still couldn't turn the pages fast enough. There are just enough twists and turns to keep you engaged and I found I needed to know how things would turn out. I definitely recommend giving this book a chance...it's a good read.

 

********************************************************************************************************

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Agustin Martinez was born in 1975 and studied audiovisual communications in Madrid. Today he is one of Spain’s most renowned screenwriters who has worked on some of the country’s most popular crime series. On a holiday trip with his family to the Pyrenees he overhead the locals talking about a case of a missing child—the idea for Village of the Lost Girls was born and has since been translated into many languages. This is his first novel.

 

Village of the Lost Girls
by Augstin Martinez
Mobius
 September 15th, 2020
  Hardcover ISBN: 9781786488428
Price: $26.99 US/$32.49 CAN
 

********************************************************************************************************

 Excerpt:

 

MONTEPERDIDO SHOCKED 

BY DISAPPEARANCE OF TWO

ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRLS

 

Eleven-year-olds Ana M. G. and Lucia C. S.  left Valle del Esera School at 5 pm last Monday, 19 October 2009, and set off to walk along their usual route to the neighbourhood of Los Corzos, on the outskirts of the village of Monteperdido, in the province of Huesca. Neither of the girls made it home.

"We are keenly aware that the first 48 hours of an investigation are crucial. We have not been able to do as much as we would have liked, but we will not rest until Ana and Lucia are safely home," said a police spokesperson, who denied that there had been any evidence of violence at the site where the girls were last seen, which could lead to fears for their safety.

The parents of the girls have not made a public statement, though a spokesperson for the families has said that they are shocked and deeply concerned. Since their daughters were very familiar with the route home, the parents have rejected suggestions that the girls might have become lost, but have no idea who might have taken them. They firmly hope that their daughters will soon be able to give them answers.

A VILLAGE IN SHOCK

Monteperdido is a well-known tourist spot, famed for its spectacular natural setting, ringed as it is by two national parks in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Pyrenees. Ana and Lucia are well known to local villagers. Both are excellent students and, being next-door neighbours, they are inseparable friends.

Although neighbours are doing everything possible to help with the search, there has been a growing impatience at the lack of any concrete results. No witnesses have come forward; it is as though the two girls vanished into thin air. The Guardia Civil has dispatched a number of officers that speicalize in abductions of minors to lead the investigation.

"We know that it is difficult, but we would ask that people be patient and respect the privacy of the families during this difficult time," said one of the recently assigned officers. "This is a distressing case, but one that we hope to resolve quickly. In order to do so, however, we need the support of the people in the Monteperdido area, and of the media."

"Of course we want to believe that the girls are safe and well. We're clinging to that hope; it's what is keeping us going," confessed someone close to the two girls. It is a hope shared by everyone in Monteperdido.

 

Excerpted from Village of the Lost Girls by Agustin Martinez, Copyright © 2020 by Agustin Martinez
Published by Mobius
 
 

******************************************************************************************************


 
 

SHARE:
Blogger Template Created by pipdig