Review: You Have to Believe Me by Sunday Tomassetti

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 19, 2019

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

She has every reason to hate her ex …

Every day on her way home from work, Dove Damiani drives past her ex-house, where her ex-husband lives with her ex-dog and her ex-yoga instructor, next to her ex-neighbors and the ex-life she once affectionately described as “frighteningly perfect.”

To outsiders, Dove is bitter and resentful. The divorce left her alone, with nothing but a set of car keys and 50% of a paltry savings account. 

…but it doesn’t mean she wants him dead.

When the lifeless body of her former husband is discovered in the birch grove outside Dove’s apartment on what would have been their fifth wedding anniversary, investigators waste no time making Dove a person of interest. She swears she didn’t do it. She’s never so much as killed a spider in her thirty years. 

But as evidence mounts against her, Dove finds herself questioning her memory, her sanity, and even—her innocence. 

Review:

Have you guys heard of Minka Kent? I discovered her books a couple of years ago and really like her style. She writes fast paced and addictive thrillers that are always pretty entertaining. I say all of this because the author of this is actually MK writing under a pseudonym, so if you’re a fan of her books don’t miss this one!

If you’re looking for your next weekend binge read this would be a good choice, it’s super fast and there was always a lot going on to keep my attention. I never knew quite who to trust and the whole thing was one big guessing game right up until the end. It was also pretty twisty and kind of read like a lifetime movie, a little over the top and dramatic but also fun, you can’t really stop reading because it just sucks you in, even if it’s a little out there.

A quick side note, I’ve still been struggling with thrillers and this one held my attention so that’s saying a lot for me at the moment! I can’t tell you how many thrillers I’ve set down in the last couple of months and this one made the cut 🙌🏻

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren Layne

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 17, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

There are no good men left in New York City. At least that’s Claire Hayes’s conviction after finding out her late husband was not the man she thought he was. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her cheating husband, Claire sets out to redesign her boring, beige Upper East Side brownstone and make it something all her own. But what starts out as a simple renovation becomes a lot more complicated when she meets her bad-tempered and rough-around-the-edges contractor Scott Turner.

Scott bluntly makes it known to Claire that he only took on her house for a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and he doesn’t hesitate to add that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess with a penchant for pink. But when long workdays turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction… 

Review:

I am obsessed with this series you guys, it’s so much fun! This is the second in a series, the first one is Passion on Park Avenue and there’s a third book coming out in early 2020. You could read this on it’s own but don’t, both books are such fun, fast and entertaining reads you don’t wanna miss out!

One of the best things about an LL book is her trademark humor and snark and this one does not disappoint in that area whatsoever. Claire and Scott are both smart and witty and their banter is amazing, there were so many funny one liners that made me legit laugh out loud. They also have fantastic chemistry and while there are a few slightly racy parts, there isn’t a ton of steam, the perfect balance for me in terms of flirty fun and sex. I really liked both Claire and Scott as characters, they’re the type of leads you’re rooting for the whole time and when they finally get their acts together I was thrilled. Recommended for fans of any rom coms, super cute and light and highly entertaining.

Love on Lexington Avenue in three words: Sparkling, Adorable and Charming

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

#Fallintomybacklist

Hey guys, I hope everyone is having a good weekend! I wanted to check in and tell you all about something fun I have planned with my friend Sarah at ReallyIntoThis We’re hosting a backlist reading challenge over on Instagram and we wanted to make sure we invited y’all to join in too. Tomorrow we’re having a stack challenge where we want to see a pile of older books that you would like to read before the end of the year. Then, from October through December we will be focusing mainly on backlist books. We would love to have anyone who wants to join us by using #fallintomybacklist anytime you post about an older book! We have some exciting stuff planned and both of us are really looking forward to reading some books we’ve had on our shelves for far too long. You can find us both on Instagram me and Sarah.

Since I’m going to be so focused on the challenge I’m not sure I’ll be posting quite as much on here for the next few months. I’ll be tracking my reading on Goodreads and Instagram still but probably won’t be posting as much here, I will be back though but just wanted to give everyone a heads up if things seem quiet.

Review: The Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill

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Release date: September 17, 2019

Publisher: Pantheon Books

Genre: Horror

Blurb:

Noah Turner see monsters.

His father saw them–and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates.

His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe–too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.

And his eldest sister, the dramatic and vulnerable Sydney, won’t admit to seeing anything but the beckoning glow of the spotlight . . . until it swallows her up.

Noah Turner sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in . . . 

Review:

I’ve maybe read five horror novels my whole life, the genre is just slightly out of my comfort zone but when I saw high praise from two of my most trusted reviewers (Chelsea and Abby) I knew I had to give it a shot. And I’ve once again learned why it’s so important to step out of my comfort zone occasionally because this one was really good!

While this is definitely a horror novel it’s also not your typical gory, over the top classic horror novel, it’s way deeper and more sophisticated than I expected. Literary horror would be an apt description, there was a quiet beauty to the authors writing even in the midst of such a dark and disturbing tale. I’m not gonna lie, this one is weird you guys, there’s a few moments where I went, wait, WHAT?! But I loved the weirdness and so appreciated that I was reading something wholly unique and like nothing else I’ve read before. It’s beyond dark too and deals with some disturbing stuff but again, there’s something beautiful about the way the author handles deep issues. The structure was also fantastic, there are seven different sections and there’s leaps of years sometimes which really propelled the plot forward at a rapid pace. I really don’t want to say too much more because this was so unique and I went in blind and feel like that’s the best way, but I’ll close by saying that if you like dark thriller try this, it’s a standout, for sure and is unlike much of what is on the market today.

The Cosmology of Monsters in three words: Harrowing, Unique and Dark

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Stylist Takes Manhattan by Rosie Nixon

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 3, 2019

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Chick Lit

Blurb:

Novice stylist Amber Green is taking on the glittering celebrity world of Manhattan one fashion disaster and wardrobe malfunction at a time! 

When her TV producer boyfriend Rob announces that he’s been offered a job in New York, filming with the infamous Angel Wear lingerie models, Amber knows its her perfect chance to take the New York fashion world by storm.

But Amber wasn’t counting on unruly toddler photo shoots, clandestine designer handbag scams and a Hollywood star who is determined to wear as little as possible on the red carpet. Until she meets a disgraced former designer who could turn her career around…or leave it all in tatters.

Fun, adventure, glamour and high-fashion make this is the perfect feel good women’s fiction read.

Review:

I’m a HUGE sucker for British chick lit, and as soon as I read the description of this one I immediately was reminded of Becky Bloomwood, who in my opinion is like the funniest heroine of all time. Anyway, this one was similar in a lot of ways and was just a super fun and silly read. This is the second book in a series and I didn’t read the first one but I was totally fine, although I had so much fun with this one I’m wondering how the first book slipped under my radar? 🤔

Amber is the type of character who constantly finds herself in outrageous situations that always end up being highly entertaining. There is never a dull moment with her and there were many moments of slapstick style comedy and over the top hilarity that had me giggling. In between reading a few dark thrillers this was exactly the escape that I needed and besides Amber the supporting cast of characters were also fun and a nice balance to her wild escapades. Things were left open ended enough that I’m hoping there will be another book, I would love to read more about Amber and her adventures for sure!

The Stylist Takes Manhattan in three words: Cheeky, Glitzy and Sassy

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

August Wrap Up

The Arrangement: Addictive, Obsessive and Dramatic

Life and Other Inconveniences: Heartfelt, Emotional and Moving

Because You’re Mine: Twisty, Dark and Riveting

The Perfect Wife: Original, Slick and Advanved

The Right Swipe: Saucy, Fierce and Fun

Love at First Like: Amusing, Modern and Fun

Double review of the sweet and charming Moonlight Bay Series

The Escape Room: Entertaining, Suspenseful and Creative

Torment: Menacing, Twisted and Dark

Things You Save in a Fire:Evocative, Heartfelt and Unforgettable

Keeping Lucy was one I really struggled with

The Last Widow: Harrowing, Bold and Gripping

The Whisper Man: Atmospheric, Creepy and Tense

Stolen Things: Addictive, Pacey and Gritty

On the Corner of Love and Hate was just ok for me

Sidelined was a cute sports romance

The Sixth Wicked Child: Clever, Meticulous and Tense

Well Met: Adorable, Sweet and Charming

Review: Well Met by Jen Deluca

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek. 

Review:

This book was absolute perfection for me y’all. While I wouldn’t exactly say I’m picky about romance novels, for one to be five stars for me it has to have the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, and for me that’s not exactly no steam but I definitely want more romantic moments than just straight up sex scenes. I also want it to be funny and warm and I want both a hero and heroine that I adore, this is not asking too much, is it?! I say no, but it’s pretty rare for me to find all the elements I want and this one had all of them and more!

Emily was adorable and totally relatable, her hesitation about the Faire at the start of the book rivaled my own, so I knew she was my kind of people. Simon may as well be called Swoonworthy Simon, my lord this man knows how to woo a lady. Throw in a supporting cast of characters that are just as lovable, sizzling chemistry between Em and Simon and an absolutely adorable and heartwarming story and I’m done 😍 If you haven’t already guessed, this one comes highly recommended by me, did I mention this is a debut?! I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next, I feel like there could easily be a follow up focusing on some secondary characters, but whatever she writes I’m reading!

Well Met in three words: Adorable, Sweet and Charming

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Sixth Wicked Child by J. D. Barker

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 27, 2019

Publisher: Hampton Creek Press

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

In the riveting conclusion of the 4MK trilogy, Barker takes the thriller to an entirely new level. Don’t miss a single word of the series James Patterson called “ingenious.” 

Hear No Evil 

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten; a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth concealed for decades. 

See No Evil 

Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer—discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina—clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles. 

Speak No Evil 

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos—a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious 4MK serial murders turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation, but one that will change the lives of all involved. 

Do No Evil 

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale. 

Review:

I LOVE a good serial killer thriller and the trilogy that this book is part of is one of the best that I’ve ever read. It is such a complex and compelling series throughout, now looking back in hindsight I realize just how freaking brilliant the author is, I’m seriously blown away with how clever the plotting is and how perfectly this whole series was set up from beginning to end.

I really don’t want to speak to the plot too much here, but don’t read this as a standalone, these books must be read in order and yes, they’re worth it! SO much has happened since the first 4MK book and if you jump in here, you’re just missing out on some truly amazing storytelling. I always say this in my reviews of these books, but these books are not for the faint hearted, they’re fearless and explore the truly dark depths of humanity. There are some really graphic and brutal scenes and a lot of it is terrifying. This IS a serial killer thriller though, it’s not pretty but it’s damn good. Between the bold story and the meticulous attention to detail, and the intensity that’s maintained throughout , I can’t say enough good things about this one. If you like serial killer thrillers this is an absolute must read. Normally I have complaints about the ending of a series but I seriously can’t find a flaw here, everything was wrapped up perfectly and there were so many twists and turns along the way, so absolutely nothing was done I order to take the easy way out. I’ll stop rambling and just say, read 👏 the 👏book 👏 PLEASE and come chat to me when you’re finished because I bet your mind will be just as blown as mine was!

The Sixth Wicked Child in three words: Clever, Meticulous and Tense

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Sidelined by Suzanne Baltsar

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 27, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

When Connor McGuire loses out on his dream job of being the head coach of the local high school football team, he thinks life can’t get any worse. Then he discovers just who got the coveted position—it was a handout to the kid of a well-known, successful college coach. Connor’s sure this is just a publicity stunt, but the kid turns out to be not only a sharp strategist, but a driven and sexy young woman, too. Frustrated in more ways than one, Connor realizes that he might have to step up his game or risk losing altogether.

Coach Charlotte “Charlie” Gibb calls a flag on the play when she finds out that her very male, very attractive, but definitely-rooting-for-her-to-lose assistant coach resents her for taking what he considers to be his rightful position. But never one to back down from a little healthy competition, Charlie is determined to prove her worth—both on and off the field.

Baltsar’s “sweet, funny, witty, addictive writing,” (New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young) is not to be missed! 

Review:

I love an enemies to lovers storyline and even though I’m not a football fan whatsoever, the premise of this just sounded too cute to pass up. Initially, I wasn’t too sure about this one because it seemed pretty in your face with its message of female empowerment. That sounds awful, don’t get me wrong, I love a strong female character more than just about anything, but it was kind of in your face right from the start. Thankfully things settled down a little pretty quickly and I wound up really enjoying this one in the end. It was fast and flirty and there was lots of pretty cute, playful banter between Connor and Charlie, which is basically the most important thing to me in any romance. Overall a breezy summer read, if you like super strong female leads, you’ll enjoy this one!

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Spotlight: The Desire Card by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Amazon

Release date: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Fahrenheit

Genre: Thriller

Blurb:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.  

 

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

 

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

 

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’talways enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.

 Excerpt:

HARRISON STUMBLED INTO CENTRAL PARK CLUTCHING THE SILVER BRIEFCASE, HIS BODY SHAKING FROM BEING HUNTED. Clouds clogged the sky. The trees seemed like creatures towering over him. He turned around to see the man in the Humphrey Bogart mask running toward the entrance, a gun bulging from the guy’s inside pocket. The man’s cold eyes scanned the park, zeroing in. Harrison took off down a dirt path until he was alone with only the wind ringing in his ears. 

He wanted to collapse; he begged himself to just give in. Nature would destroy him soon anyway, and his shins were starting to feel like they’d been repeatedly stabbed. He coughed up an excess of blood and mucus that spilled down a rock. Now he’d gone so far down the trail that he couldn’t see where he entered. The sound of footsteps came from all directions. A distorted laugh caused all the nearby pigeons to shoot toward the sky. The laugh was followed by an eerie whistle that became louder and louder as he spun around expecting to see his pursuer. 

A shadow passed behind a tree, bigger than any animal. He propped himself up against a rock, too exhausted to move any farther, closing his eyes and waiting to die. He could see tomorrow’s headlines declaring his death as a mugging gone wrong. 

“Gracie,” he cried, trembling. “Brent, my boy…oh God.”

He had pissed himself now, the urine hot and sticky as it trickled down his pants leg. He still held the silver briefcase close to his chest, resolving not to let it go without a fight.

The man in the Bogart mask emerged from behind a tree holding a gun.

“Just hand it over, Mr. Stockton,” the man said. The voice box attached to his mouth made him sound robotic, weirdly calm. “You don’t want this to get any more complicated than it already has.”

The man made a grab for the briefcase, but Harrison held on tight.

“You’ll kill me anyway,” Harrison yelled, spooking any pigeons that hadn’t already flown away.

“Only if you force me to do so.” 

The man kicked Harrison in the shin, causing him to nearly buckle over. Harrison was thrown to the ground, the man pinning him down. He still managed to hold onto the briefcase as if it was fused to his hand. 

“The Boss doesn’t know about what you’ve done yet,” the man said, hitting Harrison’s head against the hard dirt. “Do you understand what that means? That means you can still live. And he’ll never find out as long as we get what we’re owed.”

“Why would you do that for me?” he asked, seeing four masked men spinning around.

The man stepped back and pointed the gun between Harrison’s eyes.

“The Boss doesn’t like when things don’t go according to plan. I could be in as much trouble as you for letting this slip-up happen. So let’s make this easy for both of us.”

Harrison got on one elbow and hoisted himself up.

“Do I have your word?”

The man nodded.

“And my family? My wife…my kids? I wouldn’t have to worry about them being hurt?”

“As much as you might think that you are our sole concern, we have an entire organization to run beyond your pithy life. Now I will count to ten and if you don’t hand over the briefcase, I’ll put a bullet between your eyes.”  

Harrison thought about what his life had really amounted to. All the hours he’d slaved at Sanford & Co., making rich people boatloads richer. Getting into the office before dawn and often heading home in the middle of the night. Sacrificing his family, his youth, his sanity. How it had made him into a drinker, a serial gorger of all vices, just so he could forget about what he was losing. After all of that, what did he have left to show? 

“…8…9…10,” the man said, about to pull the trigger. 

“All right, all right.” 

Harrison handed over the briefcase. The man opened it up and appeared to be satisfied, a smirking grin visible through his mask. 

“I’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom,” he said, without putting the gun away. “If what you did manages to compromise us in any way, if there are any rippling after-effects, be prepared to come across the Boss. He’s known to wear a Clark Gable mask.” The man’s smirk had disappeared. “He only appears when he’s ready to bloody his hands. Good day, Mr. Stockton.”

“Who are you people? Under the masks…who are you really?”

The man raised the gun over Harrison’s head.

“I doubt you’ll ever find out,” he said, and struck Harrison on the forehead with the handle. 

A trickle of blood spilled down Harrison’s nose and felt cold on his tongue. He slunk down and rested his cheek against the dirt, watching the man in the mask take off through the trees, the silver briefcase shining like a beam of light snaking through the leaves. And then the man finally disappeared—as if he was nothing more than a nightmare brought to life and extinguished once the fitful dreamer finally woke.

Harrison pressed against his rib cage and felt for his engorged liver. Cursed at it. Wanted to tear it from his stomach. He’d been poisoned from within for too long, his unending punishment for all of his crimes. Blood zigzagged into his eyes as the wound on his forehead opened up even more. With his other hand he reached into his pocket and removed his wallet. A thin metallic card fell from out of a sleeve and sat in a puddle of blood that had collected in the dirt. 

He crumpled it up in his fist since it was responsible for letting these psychopaths into his life. He knew he’d never feel completely settled again, always worried that they might come after him and his family. The Desire Card had caused him to seek out gruesome and despicable wishes. From the instant this devil’s temptation had been placed in his hands, his moral compass never stood a chance. So he chucked it into the air and watched it sail over the rocks for some other fool to find. 

“I’m sorry, Helene,” he mumbled to the wind. He knew he’d have to come clean about everything. His head throbbed, and he recalled a memory from twenty-five years ago. Spying her in the quad at Chilton College drinking a cherry Coke, tan and shapely from field hockey, the entire campus becoming muted except for her. He took a chance by flirting miserably and changing the course of their lives. 

She would’ve been better off if they had never met. In such a short amount of time, he’d fallen so far. Now because of him people had been sliced up, left for dead, and soon he’d follow them to his own grave. As he drifted off into unconsciousness, he remembered that it all began to spiral out of control on his last day at Sanford & Co. over a month ago, this treacherous path he embarked on, his dark and dried-up destiny.