Review: Admission by Julie Buxbaum

Goodreads

Release date: December 1, 2020

Publisher: Delacorte

Genre: YA

Blurb:


It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She’s headed off to the college of her dreams. She’s going to prom with the boy she’s had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer–at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.

As she loses everything she’s long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit?

Review:

Talk about a timely, thought provoking, incredibly relevant book! I think we’re all aware of the recent college admissions scandal and this book was basically ripped straight from the headlines. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a gossipy read because it’s much more than that and takes a deeper look at several issues that I wasn’t expecting it to.

The family portrayed in this book are not likable at all, but they’re incredibly realistic and very well drawn. Chloe herself struggles with so many issues stemming from the scandal, including doubting her self worth, her own culpability and examining her own privileges that she’s always known existed, but to what extent? And at the cost of who exactly? See, she didn’t totally know what her parents were up to in the time leading up to her testing and application process. But she also didn’t totally not know. It flips back and forth between the lead up to her moms arrest and the days and months afterwards and it slowly tells the tale of a mother who will ignore her own morals, rules and any boundary in her way to get what she wants for her daughter. It also really examines Chloe’s behavior and the author doesn’t hold back at all. Chloe’s best friend, Shola is Black and attends their high school on a scholarship and with the backstory unraveling it’s quite clear just how privileged Chloe is and how unaware she is of her huge leg up in life. There are also several instances where she uses racial micro aggressions and I thought the author really handled it in an honest and true to life way. Overall this was a sobering read and one that really made me think, Chloe was an extremely messy character who fascinated me and the whole book definitely had me invested throughout. Highly recommended by me!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Hunting Wives by May Cobb @maykcobb

Goodreads

Release date: May 18, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.

Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.

Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.

When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.

Review:

First off I have to apologize for my super early review but I couldn’t resist starting this one almost as soon as I got it in my hands. And then I figured I would read it earlier than I have any business doing but hold off on posting my review until, oh I don’t know maybe two months early instead of six 🤣 But as soon as I finished this one I knew I had to get it on everyone’s radar because I predict this one will be huge and I highly recommend getting a preorder in!

I feel like this is the thriller I’ve been waiting for, it felt so fresh and exciting and not just the same old overdone story with slightly different changes from ever other thriller out there. If you’re a fan of the Real Housewives this is a must. It had that same gossipy, scandalous feel but it was way sharper and smarter than any episode of RH. Add in a murder to the mix of housewives behaving badly and seriously, what more could you want?! This was also incredibly sexy and naughty to the point that I had no idea what the characters would do next. This was WILD y’all, between the questionable choices the characters continuously made and a twisty and tightly wound plot I was obsessed with this one from the first page to the last. Highly recommended by me if you can’t tell 😉

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Goodreads

Release date: December 29, 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: Debut author Darby Kane thrills with this twisty domestic suspense novel that asks one central question: shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

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

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

Review:

I’ve had an on and off again relationship with thrillers for the last year or so but when I read the description for this one I was immediately sucked in. A missing husband is nothing new but a wife who is panicked not because her spouse is dead, but because his body isn’t where she left it reeled me right in. I’m so happy to say that this reignited my love of the genre because it was a really strong debut and one of those rare thrillers that hooked me from the first page to the last.

This is one with a super tricky plot with plenty of twists and turns so discussing it in any detail is difficult. In fact it’s so incredibly twisty you will need to suspend disbelief a few times in order to truly enjoy the reading experience, but if you’re able to just go with it, you’ll have one hell of a wild ride. It had a really strong ending, a powerful opening chapter and the middle was great too so overall an excellent thriller that was just a lot of fun.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Deadly Cry by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @bookouture

Release date: November 13, 2020

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Amazon

Blurb:

You have to stop me from hurting anyone else. I don’t want to do these horrible things. Help me before I’m forced to do it again. And I will do it again because I have no choice. I’ve never had a choice.

In a busy shopping centre, a little girl clutches a teddy bear, clinging to it in the absence of her mother, Katrina. Hours later, Katrina’s body is discovered in an abandoned building. For Detective Kim Stone, it looks like a quick, functional kill. But Kim’s instincts tell her there’s more to this senseless murder than meets the eye. What was the motive for killing a young mother out shopping with her child?

Days later, a second victim is found in a local park, her neck broken just like Katrina’s and her six-year-old son missing.

With her colleague, Detective Stacey Wood, working on another unsolved crime and a member of the team grieving the loss of a close relative, Kim is struggling to make inroads on what is fast becoming a complex case. And when a handwritten letter from the killer lands on Kim’s desk addressed to her, and pleading for help, she knows time is running out to bring the little boy home alive.

With the support of a handwriting analyst and profiler, Kim and the team begin to get inside the mind of the killer and make a shocking discovery.

Some of the victims have scratch marks on their wrists.

But these are no random scratches. The killer is using them to communicate with someone. The question is… with whom?

And if Kim doesn’t find them soon, another innocent soul will die.

Review:

This is book thirteen in the beloved Kim Stone series and there is absolutely no sign of slowing down, each book packs a powerful punch and I can honestly say that each of the thirteen books is strong in its own right. Sometimes a series can have a few books that are just ok but I can assure you there are no duds here. Per usual this installment had me firmly in its clutches from the first chapter and I had a difficult time setting it down when real life beckoned. I feel like this series should be pictured under the definition of the word gripping in the dictionary, you seriously cannot put a Kim Stone book down easily!

As soon as I finished this I spent some time contemplating what made Deadly Cry such an incredible read for me. Is it the amazingly well drawn characters that I talk about like they’re my real friends? Yes, but it’s more than that too. Is it the fresh and exciting cases that the team are trying to solve? Definitely, I always learn something new and am captivated too. Maybe it’s the humorous writing style mixed with brutal depictions of crimes that creates a perfect balance for me. But what I really think sets it apart for me personally is that I really feel like I’m working alongside Kim and team to solve a case, that’s how vividly I can picture what’s going on. There is just something really unique and special about the authors writing style that draws the reader in and makes you feel like you’re inside the story with the characters. It’s quite the experience and as odd as it may be for me to say about a crime novel, it’s a special experience as well and one that I cherish each time I get to read a news book. As always, highly recommended by me!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Lizzie Shane

Release date: September 29, 2020

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb: Pine Hollow has everything Ally Gilmore could wish for in a holiday break: gently falling snow in a charming small town and time with her family. Then she learns some Grinch has pulled the funding for her family’s rescue shelter, and now she has only four weeks to find new homes for a dozen dogs! But when she confronts her Scroogey councilman nemesis, Ally finds he’s far more reasonable — and handsome — than she ever expected.

As the guardian of his dog-obsessed ten-year-old niece, Ben West doesn’t have time to build a cuddly reputation. But he does feel guilty about the shelter closing. So he proposes a truce with Ally, agreeing to help her adopt out the pups. As the two spend more time together, the town’s gossip is spreading faster than Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. And soon Ben is hoping he can convince Ally that Pine Hollow is her home for the holidays… and the whole year through.

Review:

I read this back in September but waited to post my thoughts until now, mostly because I think it may be the most perfect holiday romance EVER and I wanted to wait until a little closer to Christmas so it didn’t fly under your radar. It has everything I want in a holiday read and more, it’s warm and cozy and set in the cutest little town, it has a menagerie of sweet and zany dogs, there’s a single dad type trope, and a wonderful supporting cast of characters too! See, everything you could want!!

This was such a magical read, it really brought the Christmas spirit alive for me. Hell, it had me wanting to decorate for Christmas in mid September so it definitely will put you in a holiday state of mind. The romance aspect was adorable and tender and gave me all the warm fuzzies. If you read one holiday romance this year make it this one, I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

Goodreads

Release date: October 20, 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of Summer’s seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam.

Called to Thailand to help her sister sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes. When she makes it to land, Iris allows herself to be swept up by Adam, who assumes that she is Summer.

Iris recklessly goes along with his mistake. Not only does she finally have the golden life she’s always envied, with her sister gone, she’s one step closer to the hundred-million-dollar inheritance left by her manipulative father. All Iris has to do is be the first of his seven children to produce an heir.

Iris’s “new” life lurches between glamorous dream and paranoid nightmare. On the edge of being exposed, how far will she go to ensure no one discovers the truth?

And just what did happen to Summer on the yacht?

Only Iris knows . . .

Review:

This one reminded me of a juicy soap opera with dramatic twists and over the top behavior of the characters. I don’t say that as a dig, I was a fan of The Young and the Restless for years, that’s just the vibe I got the entire time I was reading this. It had that same addictive quality and I kinda love nothing more than people behaving badly. It had a darkness to it that I also really liked, and is there anything more juicy than family members fighting over money?

This has a great and unique setting, a good portion of this is set on a yacht and I’ll just say I have no plans to sail anytime soon after finishing this. So besides it being atmospheric, it also kept me on my toes as you never know what exactly to believe. The ending was very strong if a tad bit over the top, but overall this was one of those fun thrillers! Recommended as one go binge in a weekend.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Goodreads

Release date: October 6, 2020

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

For sisters Samantha and Ella Mitchell, Christmas is their most precious time of the year—a time for togetherness, love and celebration. Most of all, it’s about making up for everything their childhood Christmases lacked. But this year, they’ll be buying presents for the most unexpected guest of all—their estranged mother. It’s been five years since they last saw each other. But when their mom calls out of the blue and promises that this Christmas will be different, Samantha and Ella cautiously agree to spend it all together…

Gayle Mitchell is at the top of her career, but her success has come at a price—her relationship with her daughters. She never seemed to say or do the right things. Her tough-love approach was designed to make them stronger, but instead managed to push them away…until a brush with her own mortality forces Gayle to make amends. As the snowflakes fall on their first family celebration in years, the Mitchell women must learn that sometimes facing up to the past is all you need to heal your heart…

Review:

Time for another holiday reading recommendation from me! I’m a huge Sarah Morgan fan and always seem to enjoy her books, but when it’s time to read a Christmas book from her, I get a little giddy. The Christmas Sisters is one of my absolute favorite holiday books so I had high expectations for this one. I’m so pleased to say that I can, once again recommend this one wholeheartedly.

This follows the three women in the Mitchell family, mom Gayle and her daughters Samantha and Ella. The daughters are estranged from their mother but are very close to each other so the dynamics in this small family are very interesting and are the crux of what the story is about. Christmas is the perfect time for a reconciliation, right? That’s what Gayle is hoping for though her girls are hesitant. The bulk of the story is told as they spend the holidays together in Scotland and wow does SM know how to bring a place to life. This one was so magical and I was really swept away by the storyline as well as the setting. There’s romance, an adorable kiddo, a gorgeous Scottish estate, a heartfelt plot and plenty of Christmas joy. I adored it and kind of wish I would’ve waited to read it in December because I think it would’ve been even more magical so add this to your December TBR!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Crazy, Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Goodreads

Release date: October 27, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

A hacktivist and a cat café owner decode the friend zone in this romantic comedy from the author of Undercover Bromance.

Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.

Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush.

Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.

Review:

While I’ve been a fan of this series from the start, this is definitely my favorite so far, no question! I don’t know if it’s because I’ve grown more attached to the gang or what, but I was fully invested in this one almost immediately and had the best time reading this. I mean, you have a group of macho men who read romance novels together in order to woo and understand their women better and they’re actively working on their own toxic masculinity, BIG SWOON! On top of that this one is hilarious, sweet, sexy and fun. Read it if you like fun.

Noah and Alexis are friends turned lovers and I adore that trope, probably because that’s exactly what happened between me and my husband, but I digress. It’s clear immediately that these two need to get together already, but seeing them fumble through before they found their footing was half of the fun. There’s a great mix of tenderness and heat between them and I loved every second of their journey to romance. Meanwhile, Mack is planning his wedding and Liv is hands off letting him go full on Bridezilla and between him freaking out over the wedding and making the book club help with everything from seating charts to flowers and the Russian in general I was cackling so hard I had actual tears. This series is everything I could want in a romance and more, now I’m just sad I have to wait for another book! If you’ve been sleeping on this series, get it together cause you’re missing out!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Home for the Holidays by Sara Richardson

Goodreads

Release date: September 22, 2020

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

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.

Review:

If you’re starting to plan your holiday TBR get ready with the first of many Christmas book recommendations from me because I’ve been reading holiday books for the last few weeks and I’ve found some super cute ones! This one is great for anyone looking for a story about family, sisters specifically, with some romance for several characters all set in the quaintest, most adorable place.

This follows three sisters as they head back to their aunts inn for Christmas and each is at a crossroads in their life. Dahlia is newly divorced and her kids are spending the holidays with her ex, Magnolia and her husband have been struggling with infertility and Rose is supposed to be planning her wedding but she’s not sure she can fit in with her fiancé’s high society family. So a lot going on for this family and you hear from each one in alternating chapters. I love this tactic because you really get to know each woman individually and you also get to see how their family dynamics work as well. Besides some awesome, engaging and relatable characters you have this adorable little town full of quirky residents and idyllic Christmas decor and festivities. This one is heartwarming, cozy, warm and uplifting, a really wonderful Christmas story AND it’s the beginning of a new series as well!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

Goodreads

Release date: September 22, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

Review:

Last year the first book in this series, Well Met was one of my favorite reads of the year, so to say that I was anxious to get my hands on this book is a huge understatement. I had very high hopes for this one and maybe that’s why I’m sitting here disappointed, but this one wasn’t nearly as good as the first and I’m super bummed about it.

I want to be clear that this wasn’t bad by any means, it just wasn’t as magical and charming as the first book and I can’t help but compare the two. The author is a great writer and I loved being back at the Faire with the characters from the first book but it was missing that something special from the first book for me. I think a big part of my problem was that I feel like the blurb and cover are a spoiler. It seems like the author wanted this air of mystery about who Stacey was chatting with online but the cover/blurb makes it painfully obvious so I spent the first half of the book already knowing what would happen which made me annoyed and impatient to get it over with. The romance was cute, the plot was fine but I just wanted so much more after loving WM so very much. I’ll be reading the next book in the series in the hopes that it’ll be more like book one, but if you’re like me and have been waiting for this one maybe just lower your expectations a bit and maybe you’ll like it more than I did?

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.