Review: This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagan

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Release date: February 25, 2020

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

No new people: that’s Annie Mercer’s vow. It’s bad enough that her boss sabotaged her chemistry career and her best friend tried to cure her with crystals. But after her fiancé, Jon, asks for space while he’s gallivanting around Paris, Annie decides she needs space too—from everyone.

Yet when Harper moves in next door, Annie can’t help but train a watchful eye on the glamorous but fragile young woman. And if keeping Harper safe requires teaming up with Mo, a maddeningly optimistic amateur detective, who is she to mind her own business?

Soon Annie has let not one but two new people into her life. Then Jon reappears—and he wants her to join him in France. She’s pretty sure letting anyone get close won’t end well. So she must decide: Is another shot at happiness worth the risk? 

Review:

This one was a breath of fresh air, I’ve had a super weird reading month, I’m a little all over the place and this was one of the handful of books I read in February that I truly enjoyed. It was fun, fresh and heartfelt and full of so many hilarious moments that it was just such an amusing read.

CP never disappoints when it comes to relatable characters and while I’m not quite as done with other people as Annie is, I’m pretty close 🤣 Seriously though, I’m not a fan of change either and when life throws Annie a curveball I could relate to how she handles herself. She’s a quirky woman and I loved her dry wit and humor and then in the authors true fashion there was a delightful cast of supporting characters who all brought something unique to the story. This book was just so much fun and such a fast, breezy read, I loved it!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Starting Over at Blueberry Creek by Annie Rains

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Release date: February 25, 2020

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Firefighter Luke Marini moved to the small town of Sweetwater Springs with the highest of hopes – new town, new job, and new neighbors who know nothing of his past. And that’s just how he wants to keep it. But it’s nearly impossible when the gorgeous brunette next door decides to be the neighborhood welcome wagon. She’s sugar, spice, and everything nice – but getting close to someone again is playing with fire. 

Brenna McConnell put college on hold to raise her little sister. Now that Eve is grown, Brenna is ready to leave Blueberry Creek and finish what she started. Moving on isn’t easy, however, when her gruff new neighbor gives Eve a dangerous firefighting job. And yet, even as Brenna is telling him off for putting her sister in harm’s way, she can’t deny the sizzling chemistry between them. She put her dreams on hold once. Is she willing to make that sacrifice again for a chance at forever?

Review:

This is the fourth book in the Sweetwater Springs series and this lives up to it’s name, it doesn’t get any sweeter than this! You can definitely read this on it’s own but after four books I’ve become really attached to the residents of this adorable town and really believe I’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have because I’ve read all of the books.

As much as I’ve liked every single book in this series this one was my absolute favorite so far. I say so far because I’m hoping Annie Rains keeps on writing these books for a long time. You know those books that truly provide an escape for you when you read them? The ones where you forget about anything troubling in your own life because you get so caught up in the story and you forget you’re not actually living in a picturesque little town with a hot firefighter as your next door neighbor? Ok, that last part is just me, but what I mean is this was the perfect little escape for me and a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Small town romance fans, this series is not to be missed!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

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Release date: February 18, 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Driving home one rainy night, Cassie Larkin sees a man and woman fighting on the side of the road. After calling 911, the veterinarian makes a split-second decision that will throw her sedate suburban life into chaos. Against all reason and advice, she gets out of her minivan and chases after the violent man, trying to help his victim. When Cassie physically tries to stop him, he suddenly turns on her and spits out an ominous threat: “Let her die, and I’ll let you live.”

A veterinarian trained to heal, Cassie can’t let the woman die. But while she’s examining the unconscious victim, the attacker steals her car. Now he has her name. Her address. And he knows about her children. Though they warn her to be careful, the police assure her that the perpetrator—a criminal named Carver Sweet—won’t get near her. Cassie isn’t so sure.

The next day—Halloween—her husband disappears while trick-or-treating with their six-year-old daughter. Are these disturbing events a coincidence or the beginning of a horrifying nightmare? Her husband has been growing distant—is it possible he’s become involved with another woman? Is Cassie’s confrontation with the road-side attacker connected to her husband’s disappearance? With all these questions swirling in her mind Cassie can trust no one, maybe not even herself. The only thing she knows for sure is that she can’t sit back while the people she loves are in danger.

As she desperately searches for answers, Cassie discovers that nothing is as random as it seems, and that she is more than willing to fight—to go the most terrifying extremes—to save her family and her marriage.

Review:

If you’re looking for your next pacey, entertaining and just downright fun thriller then look no further friends because NBD is it! I haven’t seen much about this one in the book world, which is a shame because in a sea of boring, predictable thrillers that all feel and sound the same this one is a standout. Huge thanks to my girl Chelsea @suspensethrill for putting this one on my radar, it was just the book I needed to restore my faith in thrillers once again!

I’m gonna keep this fairly short because A, it’s a thriller and the less you know the better, and B it went in several unexpected directions that surprised me and I want you to be surprised too! You may need to suspend disbelief a few times, but guys when a thriller is as fun and twisty as this one was, who minds letting things go a bit? Not me! It’s worth it, especially if you like a dark and addictive read

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down MotelThe Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Release date: February 18, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden… 

Review:

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As much as I enjoyed the authors previous book, The Broken Girls, I freaking loved this one even more! It had the perfect blend of straight up mystery, dual timelines that flipped back and forth seamlessly and just enough of a supernatural element to scare me, but not so much that I couldn’t read it. For me to truly enjoy a thriller with the hint of the supernatural I really have to believe that the scenario is plausible and what made this one amazing for me was that it was not only believable, it was so well written and thought out that I could easily (almost too easily) picture this happening.

Is there a setting more creeptastic than an old, rundown and possibly haunted hotel in the dead of night? After reading this I’m gonna have to say no because this truly scared me to death. You have Viv working at the hotel in the eighties and then her niece, Carly who is basically living her aunts life in order to find out what happened to her in 2017. This was beyond atmospheric and I felt like I was right next to both women the entire time because the author was so great at setting a scene. it was seriously hair raising stuff. If you’re hesitant because of the supernatural stuff, please don’t be it adds so much to the story and I promise that it makes sense to the storyline. This is a must read for sure!

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: All the Best Lies by Joanna Schaffhausen

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Release date: February 11, 2020

Publisher: Minotaur

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

FBI agent Reed Markham is haunted by one painful unsolved mystery: who murdered his mother? Camilla was brutally stabbed to death more than forty years ago while baby Reed lay in his crib mere steps away. The trail went so cold that the Las Vegas Police Department has given up hope of solving the case. But then a shattering family secret changes everything Reed knows about his origins, his murdered mother, and his powerful adoptive father, state senator Angus Markham. Now Reed has to wonder if his mother’s killer is uncomfortably close to home.

Unable to trust his family with the details of his personal investigation, Reed enlists his friend, suspended cop Ellery Hathaway, to join his quest in Vegas. Ellery has experience with both troubled families and diabolical murderers, having narrowly escaped from each of them. She’s eager to skip town, too, because her own father, who abandoned her years ago, is suddenly desperate to get back in contact. He also has a secret that could change her life forever, if Ellery will let him close enough to hear it.

Far from home and relying only on each other, Reed and Ellery discover young Camilla had snared the attention of dangerous men, any of whom might have wanted to shut her up for good. They start tracing his twisted family history, knowing the path leads back to a vicious killer—one who has been hiding in plain sight for forty years and isn’t about to give up now. 

Review:

This is the third book in a series and while I read the first one, I somehow missed the second one?! Who knows, but this read fine without reading book two anyway. This is a thriller blended with a classic police procedural, still very fast paced and exciting as you follow Reed and Ellery as he decides to look at a cold case from the 70’s. When he was just a baby someone murdered his mom while he was in his crib and he’s haunted by the fact that his mothers killers was never caught. Such a great premise, I love when a character has a deep personal connection to a case.

As much as this felt like a thriller it’s definitely heavily focused on the characters and their dynamics, especially their relationship with each other. Both Reed and Ellery are complex and have tangled pasts and I liked their chemistry and complicated relationship. The only thing I found to be lacking was the mystery itself, I figured it out on my own and it could best be described as a lighter mystery for me. Overall a mostly enjoyable read for me and one that I would recommend to anyone who isn’t as burnt out on thrillers as I am.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild

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Release date: February 11, 2020

Publisher: Knopf

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

For more than seven hundred years, the vast, rambling Trelawney Castle in Cornwall–turrets, follies, a room for every day of the year, four miles of corridors and 500,000 acres–was the magnificent and grand “three dimensional calling card” of the earls of Trelawney. By 2008, it is in a complete state of ruin due to the dulled ambition and the financial ineptitude of the twenty-four earls, two world wars, the Wall Street crash, and inheritance taxes. Still: the heir to all of it, Kitto, his wife, Jane, their three children, their dog, Kitto’s ancient parents, and his aunt Tuffy Scott, an entomologist who studies fleas, all manage to live there and keep it going. Four women dominate the story: Jane; Kitto’s sister, Blaze, who left Trelawney and made a killing in finance in London, the wildly beautiful, seductive, and long-ago banished Anastasia and her daughter, Ayesha. When Anastasia sends a letter announcing that her nineteen-year-old daughter, Ayesha, will be coming to stay, the long-estranged Blaze and Jane must band together to take charge of their new visitor–and save the house of Trelawney. But both Blaze and Jane are about to discover that the house itself is really only a very small part of what keeps the family together.

Review:

This isn’t my typical kind of read but there was something so intriguing to me about an aristocratic, dysfunctional family that I decided to take a chance on it. I’m really glad that I did because I found this one to be witty, quirky and entertaining. Sometimes it’s nice to step outside my comfort zone a little and that’s one of my personal reading goals for the year.

This one was really character driven, it focused on the family dynamics and the eccentricities of each family member and they were an odd bunch. It was a little over the top, very satirical and even a little theatrical at times, but I liked that aspect especially since the plot itself almost seemed secondary to the cast of characters as well as the House of Trewlaney. The house was a character all on its own, there was SO much history, and if I’m honest maybe a tiny bit too much for me, but overall I did enjoy this one and the author is a very talented writer.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

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Release date: February 11, 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Being the second wife can be murder . . .

“Once a cheat, always a cheat,” they say. Marcie Maddox has worked hard to get where she is after the illicit affair that started her new life a few years ago. But her world of country clubs, yachts and sumptuous houses in Savannah, Georgia, isn’t easy to maintain, no matter how hard she tries. Nor is keeping her husband, Jason, truly interested.

So, when Jason’s boss brings home a hot new wife from his trip to London, the young Mrs William Radford IV isn’t quite the souvenir everyone expected. Sexy, drop-dead gorgeous and black—Keisha quickly usurps Marcie’s place as the beautiful second wife. But when Marcie sees the extra spark in the room when Keisha and Jason are together and their obvious, magnetic attraction, the gloves come off.

Revenge is best served cold, but in the steamy Savannah heat, blood runs so hot that this summer it might just boil over into murder. 

Review:

Do you ever read a book and really like the first half and then the second half everything just kind of falls apart? That’s what happened for me here unfortunately, I was definitely interested in the first half and then after that things just got weird and while I like weird stuff sometimes, this time it just didn’t work for me at all. I found it to be predictable and just slightly annoying with a bunch a stuff that felt like it was added in just for the sake of it.

Ok so even though this one wasn’t great for me I do think that a certain type of reader would like this. If you like unlikable characters with secrets and domestic drama, this one has all of that. If you like a strong atmosphere, this one had a great one. (That was actually one of the things that kept me reading) If you are interested in voodoo and black magic, this one had that too. It’s also pretty sexy and a bit tawdry so if that’s your thing, check it out. For me, all of that together was messy and blah and left me disappointed in the end, I wanted more.

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Dark Corners of the Night by Meg Gardiner

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Release date: February 18, 2020

Publisher: Blackstone

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

I am the legion of the night …

He appears in the darkness like a ghost, made of shadows and fear—the Midnight Man. He comes for the parents but leaves the children alive, tiny witnesses to unspeakable horror. The bedroom communities of Los Angeles are gripped with dread, and the attacks are escalating.

Still reeling from her best friend’s close call in a bombing six months ago, FBI behavioral analyst Caitlin Hendrix has come to Los Angeles to assist in the Midnight Man investigation and do what she does best—hunt a serial killer. Her work is what keeps her going, but something about this UNSUB—unknown subject—doesn’t sit right. She soon realizes that this case will test not only her skills but also her dedication, for within the heart of a killer lives a secret that mirrors Caitlin’s own past. Hesitancy is not an option, but will she be able to do what must be done if the time comes? 

Review:

If you a thriller fan and you haven’t read this series it’s a MUST! Bonus if you’re a fan of shows like Criminal Minds because this book (and the whole series) is like an insane episode of the show but better. Also, you could probably read this as a standalone and be fine but don’t, because all three books are phenomenal and you’ll be missing out.

What makes a perfect thriller for me? A few things, first the case has to be somewhat original so and MG managed to explore something I’ve really never read about before. I won’t say exactly what, but it’s dark, horrifying and fascinating all at the same time and I was mesmerized. I also like solid characterization, this is even more important to me in a series since there’s time to dive deep, and not only do I feel like I really have a strong sense of who Caitlin is as person, I care about her. She’s not some perfect, save the day heroine, don’t get me wrong she’s badass but she’s deeply flawed as well and who can’t relate to that? Finally, I need good writing and MG is one of the best. Her style is both bold and crisp and her pacing is spot on. This had it all for me friends, gimme book four ASAP because that ending has me shook and dying to see what happens next!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

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Release date: February 18, 2020

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs.

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light. 

Review:

I was a longtime fan of Kubica, her first few books were so good but her last book was not my favorite, so to say I was a little hesitant about this one is an understatement. I am thrilled to say that she’s BACK!! This one was a huge improvement for me over her last and I’m back on the Kubica train.

Since I don’t really wanna discuss the plot at all let me tell you about the fantastic atmosphere that made an already unsettling story even better. The Foust family relocates to Maine where they live in an isolated island where the last ferry leaves every night at eight o’clock. They’re stuck there unless there’s some sort of huge emergency and this added such a strong sense of unease because you just know that’s going to be an issue (and there’s already a a whole host of other issues). Throw in some twists, a few viewpoints that you’re not quite sure make sense at the start and I was hooked! Definitely a solid thriller that held my attention, a few slightly implausible parts but I just rolled with it and let myself be entertained.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

7 Books to Read This Winter

I don’t know about you guys but when it’s cold outside all I want to do is stay inside and curl up with a good book! Honestly, I feel the same way no matter the season, but here are 7 books I loved that make for a perfect winter read. As an added bonus my friends at ReallyIntoThis have a list of cold weather cocktails that would pair perfectly with any of these books!

White Out by Ragnar Jonasson is a classic whodunnit set in a stark and isolated town during a snowstorm. Not only is the mystery itself solid, the authors writing style is sparse yet beautiful, truly unique.

A Season to Lie would be perfect to curl up with during the colder months, it’s the dead of winter in Cedar Valley and the setting is so well crafted that it’s practically a character of its own. A murder set against a series of blizzards makes a chilling combination and while it wasn’t twisty in the truest sense of the word, it still kept me on my toes and engaged throughout.

The Deep Dark Descending follows Max who for five years has been haunted by his wife’s death and he’s finally tracked down her killer. This opens with Max and an unknown man locked in an intense situation in the middle of nowhere near the Canadian border and Max finally has the chance to get justice for his Jenni. It’s tense and thrilling, the frozen atmosphere lends to the chilly scene becoming a character all of it’s own and adding a layer of danger to an already deadly story. It flips back to three days prior as you follow Max as he tracks down the killer, then flips back and forth throughout all the way up to an explosive conclusion.

The River at Night is a story about survival, and friendship as a group of female friends realize that their only hope of coming out of this relatively safely is by banding together. It would be a fantastic movie, Ferencik’s writing style made the wilderness come to life so brilliantly that it was playing out like a movie for me. If you’re looking for a heart pounding read with depth, look no further. There were as many twists and turns as the river itself and I loved how the river was a character of its own. Between the river and the woods, this setting was crafted so well by Ferencik that I could easily picture its breathtaking beauty. 

Rapid Falls This follows two sisters, Anna and Cara and flips between the late nineties and 2016. The girls were in high school in 1997 and were both in a tragic accident that killed Cara’s boyfriend. Anna’s life went down the drain afterwards, she spent time in prison and developed an alcohol addiction while Cara moved on and has a picture perfect life with her husband and daughter. Two very different outcomes and both women were interesting and complex.

Beartown is a heavily hyped book that’s still talked about years later and for good reason. I wasn’t sure a book based on a small towns obsession with hockey would work for me but boy was I wrong. It’s SO much more than that, it’s deep, profound and extremely moving, it’s subtle and gorgeous and the language is amazingly simple but haunting in spectacular way. I will never forget this book or its characters and I highly recommend this to any reader, I truly think everyone can learn something from this one or at the very least be touched by it in some way.

No Exit was super fast paced, had relentless action and a really great atmosphere. I loved the whole locked room vibe with a crazy snowstorm and so many unknown factors. Yes, there were definitely some implausible parts but I can definitely recommend this based on binge read factor alone!