Review: Off the Deep End by Lucinda Berry

Goodreads

Release date: January 10, 2023

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Therapist turned stay-at-home mom Jules Hart’s idyllic suburban life shatters when she crashes her car into an icy lake. Her son and another teenage boy plunge into the water with her, but Jules can only manage to save one—the wrong one.

Reeling from the death of her son, Jules spirals into a violent and unstable mental state. Ten months after the accident, she’s still trying to reckon with the fact that she rescued Isaac Greer, another woman’s child, when Isaac suddenly vanishes.

Jules finds herself at the center of a massive police investigation. While she harbors her own dangerous secrets, Jules is adamant that she didn’t take Isaac. But then who did? Is Isaac the victim of a dangerous killer who’s been targeting boys in the Midwest? Or is someone else pulling the strings in this deadly game?

Review:

I always know when I start one of the authors books that I’m gonna want to do nothing but sit and read it until I’m finished and this was no exception. She always tends to mix really emotional situations with darkness and that’s what she did here as well. The loss of a child is just such an awful thing to even think about and Jules son has already passed away when the book begins so this is super heavy. The author’s psychological insights are also very apparent as she really knows what she’s talking about based on her own experiences and I love that side of all of her books. This one mostly worked for me, lots of unlikable characters, some decent twists and a nice pace but in the end things went a little odd. I’m not sure I liked the explanation given for Issac’s disappearance but it wasn’t the worst I’ve read. Overall if you like bingeable thriller that really look at the psychological side of things try this.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: You Must Remember This by Kat Rosenfield

Goodreads

Release date: January 10, 2023

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

A Knives Out-style whodunnit with a twist of Taylor Jenkins Reid, You Must Remember This is an immersive Gothic mystery, with a long-ago love affair, icy death, and a rich family gone bad, from Kat Rosenfield, the acclaimed author of No One Will Miss Her.

On Christmas Eve, eighty-five-year-old Miriam Gardiner walks onto the vast frozen river behind her home. As a younger woman, she used to steal out on winter nights to meet her lover, walking straight across the ice to their secret meeting place. She knows the way—but not the year. Miriam, her mind clouded by dementia, doesn’t hear the snap of thin ice until it’s too late.

Was it an accident? Suicide? Or worse: did someone urge the old woman onto the frozen river on purpose?

There are plenty of suspects; Miriam’s fractured and complicated family has gathered in their Bar Harbor mansion to celebrate what they already thought would likely be the matriarch’s last Christmas. The guests include Delphine, Miriam’s granddaughter, a frightened and insecure young woman who adored her grandmother, and Miriam’s live-in nurse, Adam, a handsome man from a working-class background, whom Delphine has been secretly dating. Then there’s Miriam’s children: Nicole, who hated being thrust into the role of caretaker; Diana, whose deadbeat husband has long been a family joke; and Richard, who always said they’d all be better off if Mother would just hurry up and die. But it’s Delphine who comes in for the greatest scrutiny when they learn the shocking news that Miriam’s will cut off her children, and left the entire estate to Delphine only.

As her relatives obsess over getting the will thrown out, Delphine begins to notice inconsistencies in their stories and is emboldened to start investigating…until the trail seems to lead her onto thin ice as well.

Review:

I really wanted and actually expected to love this one after really enjoying the authors last book, No One Will Miss Her but sadly, I found this one to be lacking. For me it was missing the intensity of a mystery/thriller and read more like women’s fiction with a small side of suspense. I’ll admit I was intrigued in the beginning it had a strong opening that piqued my interest but as things went on I was a little bored. What kept me reading was the atmosphere of a bitter winter and the wide variety of suspects as to whodunnit. I did know who it would be early on but I kept reading and hoping I was wrong but sadly the author went with the predictable route. So in the end this was just ok for me, if you want to read one of the authors books the one I mentioned earlier was better! I would definitely read more by her in the future though just to see if she could capture that spark that NWMH had for me.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Wedding Ranch by Nancy Naigle

Goodreads

Release date: December 6, 2022

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Two people get a second chance at love in this heartwarming story by author Nancy Naigle, The Wedding Ranch

When Lorri Walker’s husband gifted her with a mastiff puppy on Valentine’s Day, she believed he was recommitting himself to their marriage after going astray. Six months later, he left both her and their dog for someone else. Since her recent move to Dalton Mill to unbraid herself from the past, Lorri’s graphic design business is now flourishing, her growing mastiff, Mister, has plenty of space to romp, and her ex in Raleigh can fade to a distant memory.

Ryder Bolt is haunted by the tragic loss of his wife and young son seven years ago. Thankfully, ranching keeps Ryder busy, and spending time with his niece and nephew—whose venue, The Wedding Ranch, has become a popular tourist destination—keeps him from getting lonely.

When Lorri and Ryder met, love was the last thing they were looking for. When they’re together, smiles come easier and burdens feel lighter, and both are embracing the possibility of something deeper.

But when a long-buried revelation surfaces, the fate that brought them together threatens to tear them apart.

Review:

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a super sweet and heartwarming read and when that mood strikes I know I can turn to Nancy Naigle. Her books are sugary sweet and innocent, the type of wholesome book you could let your Grandma borrow and not worry about if you know what I mean 😉 Was this a little cheesy? Yes. Was it predictable beyond the usual romance manner? Absolutely. Did I really care that much? Nope because I knew it would be before I even started it and it was kind of like putting on your favorite cozy sweater and knowing it’ll keep you warm all day. So cheesy but true! So if you want a pure little romance that will still somehow melt your heart try this it was pretty fun.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca

Goodreads

Release date: December 6, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

The Renaissance Faire is on the move, and Lulu and Dex are along for the ride, in the next utterly charming rom-com from Jen DeLuca.

A high-powered attorney from a success-oriented family, Louisa “Lulu” Malone lives to work, and everything seems to be going right, until the day she realizes it’s all wrong. Lulu’s cousin Mitch introduced her to the world of Renaissance Faires, and when she spies one at a time just when she needs an escape, she leaps into the welcoming environment of turkey legs, taverns, and tarot readers. The only drawback? Dex MacLean: a guitarist with a killer smile, the Casanova of the Faire… and her traveling companion for the summer.

Dex has never had to work for much in his life, and why should he? Touring with his brothers as The Dueling Kilts is going great, and he always finds a woman at every Faire. But when Lulu proves indifferent to his many plaid charms and a shake-up threatens the fate of the band, Dex must confront something he never has before: his future.

Forced to spend days and nights together on the road, Lulu’s interest in the kilted bad boy grows as he shows her a side of himself no one else has seen. The stresses of her old lifestyle fade away as she learns to trust her intuition and follow her heart instead of her head. But when her time on the road is over, will Lulu go with her gut, or are she and Dex destined for separate paths?

Review:

I have been a little up and down with this series but I’ve stuck with it because there is something so charming about the Ren Faire setting that keeps pulling me back in. As much as I can still see why this is labeled a romance because it is, it has a very heavy womens fiction feel to it for a large portion of the book. The romance between Lulu and Dex is a super slow burn and the beginning is mostly about Lulu starting over and figuring out what next steps she wants to take in her life. As much as it’s about her personal journey you do get to see a deeper side of Dex too and if you’ve read the previous books and have been curious if there’s more to him than just a one dimensional bad boy the answer is yes. That’s one of my favorite things about this series actually, revisiting previous characters and seeing secondary characters make the transition to lead characters. Overall I really liked this one, I think it’s probably my second fave in the series so far. First for me is Well Met if you’re curious.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel

Goodreads

Release date: February 23, 2023

Publisher: Knopf

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Six womenmothers, daughters, sisters–gone missing. When the first is found floating dead in the river, it reveals the disturbing truth of a small Ohio town. Inspired by the unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six, this harrowing and haunting novel tells the story of two sisters, both of whom could be the next victims, from the internationally-bestselling author of Betty.



Arcade and Daffodil are twin sisters born one minute apart. With their fiery red hair and thirst for an escape, they forge an unbreakable bond nurtured by both their grandmother’s stories and their imaginations. Together, they create a world where a patch of grass reveals an archaeologist’s dig, the smoke emerging from the local paper mill becomes the dust rising from wild horses galloping on the ground, and an abandoned 1950s convertible transforms into a time machine that can take them anywhere.



But the two sisters can’t escape the generational chaos that grips their family. Growing up in the shadow of the town, the sisters cling tight to one another. As an adult, Arcade wrestles with these memories of her life, just as a local woman is discovered drowned in the river. Soon, more bodies are found. While her friends disappear around her, Arcade is forced to reckon with the past while the killer circles ever closer. Arcade’s promise to keep herself and her sister safe becomes increasingly desperate while the powerful riptide of the savage side becomes more difficult to resist.

Drawing from the true story of women killed in her native Ohio, acclaimed novelist and poet Tiffany McDaniel has written a powerful literary testament and fearless elegy for missing women everywhere.

Review:

Wow. That was my initial reaction upon finishing this book, just WOW. I’ve sat with my thoughts for awhile, it’s been several days since I finished this one and I needed some time to process my feelings. I almost didn’t have a choice in the matter, the way that these characters and this story got under my skin and in my heart and head is unmatched and unlike any other experience I’ve had with a book before. It’s the kind of story you cannot escape. I took my time reading it too, and there were many reasons for that as well. The story the author tells is harrowing and uncomfortable to read about so as a reader you will need to take a breather occasionally. But it is important and necessary and I don’t think it is the type of book you’re meant to read in just a few sittings. You’ll need time to sit with the beauty of the writing. You’ll need time to process the horrors you just read about. You’ll need time to think about all of the women who live lives like this. You’ll just need time, but the time invested is so very worthwhile.

I don’t think it’s necessary for me to get very far into the plot itself because there is a special kind of magic in the way this story unfolds. I will talk about the characters and the way the author humanizes the victims of the River Man because it gave a voice to women everywhere. Arc and Daffy are followed throughout several years, through life and death. Through addiction and prostitution. Through loss and more tragic loss. If there is an issue that anyone could find triggering it is in here at some point, but again it is important. I can’t even begin to describe how phenomenal the authors writing is, she’s on a level all of her own and it’s incredible. It’s haunting and devastatingly beautiful and the kind of poetry that speaks to my soul. It was an honor to read this one, I won’t soon forget it and I’m glad I won’t.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese

Goodreads

Release date: November 22, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.

Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash their hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.

To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder, what if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right?

Review:

This was such a sweet and deeply romantic romance. That statement may seem kinda silly, it is a romance novel after all but the way Bea and Jamie handle their relationship is so gentle and tender. They do start out as enemies, but soon enough they decide to scheme against their meddling friends and family to fake date which is one of my fave tropes. These two were just so adorable together and per usual the author shone a light on neurodiverse characters in the most sensitive and authentic way. Besides the cutest romance developing between Bea and Jamie you have a cast of secondary characters that were so incredibly likable and fun. I’m hoping this isn’t the last we see of these characters, it definitely has series potential! Overall a lovely and well rounded romance.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Hidden Scars by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @bookouture

Goodreads

Amazon

Release date: November 9, 2022

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

While Jamie’s cold, lifeless body lay in the morgue, Detective Kim Stone stared at the empty board in the incident room and felt her anger boil. Why were there no photos, details, or lines of enquiry?

When a nineteen-year-old boy, Jamie Mills, is found hanging from a tree in a local park, his death is ruled a suicide. Detective Kim Stone’s instincts tell her something isn’t right – but it’s not her investigation and her temporary replacement is too busy waiting for the next big case to be asking the right questions.

Why would a seemingly healthy boy choose to end his life?
Why does his mother show no sign of emotional distress at the loss of her son?

Still mending her broken mind and body from her last harrowing case, Kim is supposed to be easing back into work gently. But then she finds a crucial, overlooked detail: Jamie had a recent injury that would have made it impossible for him to climb the tree. He must have been murdered.

Quickly taking back charge of her team and the case, Kim visits Jamie’s parents and is shocked to hear that they had sent him to a clinic to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality. According to his mother, Jamie was introverted and prone to mood swings. Yet his friend speaks of a vibrant, outgoing boy.

The clues to smashing open this disturbing case lie behind the old Victorian walls of the clinic, run by the Gardner family. They claim that patients come of their own accord and are free to leave at any time. But why are those that attended the clinic so afraid to speak of what happens there? And where did the faded restraint marks identified on Jamie’s wrists come from?

Then the body of a young woman is found dead by suffocation and Kim makes two chilling discoveries. The victim spent time at the clinic too, and her death was also staged to look like a suicide.

Scarred from an ordeal that nearly took her life, is Kim strong enough to stop a terrifying killer from silencing the clinic’s previous patients one by one?

Review:

If you’re a fan of this series you know the previous book, Six Graves was an emotional rollercoaster leaving Kim in a dark place. I won’t say more just in case you haven’t read it, but IYKYK. So I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as Kim and her team are concerned but things were definitely off and it was unsettling. Just another layer added to the multitudes the author already has laid out for us readers and somehow she’s always able to tug at my emotions while reading a thriller, which is not an easy task. She does it with a deft hand too, I never feel toyed with and I trust her process and know that everything is well thought out and handled meticulously. All of that to say, it’s a rocky beginning for the team when this book begins but soon enough you’re thrust straight into the action per usual.

The author usually explores two different cases in each book and this was no exception. This is such a clever tactic because there is never a dull moment and it always adds even more tension and suspense to the story. This time Kim and company are investigating murders staged as suicides and it takes them inside the world of conversion camps. I knew very little about these horrific camps or clinics beforehand but as always Marsons took great care and an empathetic hand when exploring them. On the lighter side I always enjoy my time with Kim, Bryant, Penn and Stace and I devour any new information revealed about who they are and what makes them tick. The final chapter answered the long awaited question of Bryant’s name and I loved that it ended on a lighter note. Overall another fabulous read in an excellent series, if you’re a thriller fan and you’re not reading this series are you even a thriller fan?! 😉

Overall rating. 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Between the Ocean and the Stars by M. M. Cochran

Goodreads

Release date: October 18, 2022

Publisher: Ingram Elliott

Genre: YA

Synopsis:

If he could be her tragedy, I could be a better one.

As a newcomer on Ophelia Island, Florida, Sam Carter is distraught about moving away from his life in West Virginia. But the moment he lays eyes on the mysterious diner girl, Georgia Gabehart, he can’t help but surrender to her bewitching allure.

Sam is mesmerized by Georgia even as she steals sailboats at night and breaks into lighthouses-the master of playing with knives and not getting cut. Until she’s trapped in the tight grip of her boyfriend with a dark side.

When a dangerous hurricane sweeps Sam into a police investigation and Georgia is nowhere to be found, Sam gives himself only one option: love, even if loving might end in tragedy.

This dazzling coming of age debut novel from award-winning fiction writer M.M. Cochran will take your breath away.

I’ve been in the mood for YA books lately and this certainly fit what I’ve been looking for. I’m not quite done with this one yet but I’m enjoying it! Sam is the sole point of view and getting insight from a teenaged boy is unique and interesting. This skirts the lines of a few different genres, there’s romance and some mystery so a little something for everyone.

Review: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

Goodreads

Release date: November 8, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

As a self-proclaimed book hater and a firm believer that the movie is always better, Drew Young didn’t anticipate inheriting her grandma’s bookstore, the Book Nook. She’s in way over her head even before the shop’s resident book club, comprising seven of the naughtiest old ladies ever, begin to do what they do best–meddle.

Bestselling author Jasper Williams is a hopeless romantic. When he meets Drew at his Book Nook signing event, he becomes determined to show her the beauty of reading. He curates a book bucket list in exchange for her help exploring the local Denver scene for his current manuscript. From river rafting to local restaurants, Drew begins to connect with Jasper in a way she only thought happened in fiction.

When messy family ties jeopardize the future of the Book Nook, Drew is caught between a bookshelf and a hard place. She’s reminded that real life isn’t always big dreams and sweeping romance. But Jasper is the plot twist she never saw coming and he’s writing a happily ever after just for them.

Review:

I’ve read plenty of books where the main character is a book store owner and usually it’s because they love to read but this was my first time reading a book about a bookstore owner who hated reading. So I wasn’t sure what to think about that aspect but it ended up being surprisingly fun actually. I was utterly charmed by this one, between the super swoony Jasper, the gorgeous Colorado setting and the hilarious dirty birds every aspect of this was enjoyable. I also really liked the fact that Jasper was a male romance author and his while he was lovable he wasn’t written in a cheesy way. I think this was an ideal fall romance, so delightful and funny and sexy! I could even see it becoming a series because I would love to see a book about Drew’s sister, Daisy 🤞🏻

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: A Small Affair by Flora Collins

Goodreads

Release date: December 27, 2022

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

A young woman’s life is torn apart when her wealthy ex-lover is found dead—along with his wife.

Vera is ruthlessly ambitious, beautiful, and knows how to get exactly what she wants—no matter who stands in the way. When she meets a wealthy older man on an exclusive dating app, she thinks nothing of the wife he tells her he’s separated from. But days later, when the man and his wife are found dead in their home, Vera is immediately blamed for their deaths and branded as good as a murderer.

A year later, she emerges from a cocoon of self-pity and tries to reenter the world, but the specter of scandal still clings to her. Then she’s invited to a memorial for the wife of her former lover. As she learns more about the family, and about the couple and their friends, she begins to suspect there was more to the story than an affair gone wrong. In a quest for redemption, Vera uncovers layers of lies and close-kept secrets held by an inner circle of filthy rich tech millionaires who will go to any lengths to protect their reputations.

Review:

I’m usually not a huge fan of a slow burn mystery but there was something incredibly intoxicating about this one that held my attention. I think a big part of the reason was that I was captivated by the authors writing style, she managed to write a story full of unlikable characters and somehow I was still invested in them? The way the story slowly unraveled revealing so many layers of deception, obsession and betrayal was hypnotic and really had a hold on me. This one went dark too, super dark in unexpected ways. Definitely many moments were I felt uncomfortable and unsettled but I’m telling you, this one got under my skin! If you like slow burn stories full of women’s rage this was good.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.