Review: The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: July 3, 2018

Publisher: GP Putnam

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Lerner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew’s death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.

Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she’s engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York’s social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including some who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel’s heartbreaking search—if Marina chooses to publish it.

Review:

The Banker’s Wife is a globe trotting thriller that grabbed my attention instantly and held it throughout. It switches back and forth between Marina, a journalist and Annabel a recently widowed young woman and I loved both of these clever, strong women. They were both incredibly well drawn and believable, and falling down the rabbit hole of offshore banking alongside them was quite the wild ride.

There was a slick sophistication to this one, the setting took me from Geneva and the world of high class Swiss banking to New York and the world of high powered politics and then to small town France just to name a few of the exotic locales Alger explored and they were all beautifully depicted. While the plot focused on banking, something I know next to nothing about, Alger did a fantastic job of explaining the finer details in layman’s terms. I was never confused or bored, rather I was riveted and desperate to find out the truth about what really went down.

I hate to even mention this because thrillers really shouldn’t appeal to one gender over the other, but I kept thinking while I was reading this that my husband would love the storyline, so I would definitely recommend to males as well as females, it had an edginess that I think men would be drawn to and I know my husband wouldn’t be interested in half of the thrillers I read but this one would be a surefire hit.

The Banker’s Wife in three words: Slick, Sophisticated and Twisty.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

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Release date: June 5, 2018

Publisher: Harper

Genre: Mystery

Blurb:

She planned her own funeral–but did she arrange her murder?

A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.

A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.

A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.

What do they have in common?

Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller.

Review:

This was such a highly original and clever read, I honestly can’t recall a book that I’ve read that even comes close to it, it blurs the lines between fact and fiction in the coolest way. Horowitz is actually a character himself in the story and solely narrates things, it was a straightforward, good old fashioned murder mystery and it was executed flawlessly while also implementing a fresh, unusual tactic that I enjoyed immensely.

Horowitz teams up with an ex police officer named Hawthorne after he recruits him, you see he works now as a consultant to the police and is investigating the murder of a lady who was killed six hours after she planned her own funeral. Hawthorne thinks he would make a fabulous character in a book, he just wants Horowitz to do the writing, tag along as he investigates and keep his mouth shut. Their partnership is not one of those with amazing chemistry and two people who immediately work well together, they type who can finish each other sentences. These two are the unlikeliest of duos and have the sort of relationship where one tiptoes around the other, you’re never sure if they like each other or merely tolerate each other, one minute they seem to be having fun and the next you’re wondering if they’ll kill each other. This was highly refreshing and just so different, the entire investigation unraveled in a strange way, but one that was satisfying as hell. It was twisty without being over the top, it was subtle but really sharp too.

If you want a different kind of crime novel, a throwback to Agatha Christie, add this to your TBR. It’s smart and well written, I felt like I had a 400 page intimate chat with Horowitz and absolutely zoomed through it. I enjoyed it so much in fact that I’m hoping one of my new favorites duos teams up again in a future installment!

The Word is Murder in three words: Ingenious, Crafty and Creative.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Not So Perfect Mother by Kerry Fisher @KerryFSwayne @bookouture

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Release date: June 6, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

From Amazon chart bestseller Kerry Fisher comes a hilarious and straight-talking read for anyone who has ever despaired at the politics of the school playground…

Maia is a cleaner for ladies who lunch. With mops and buckets in tow, she spends her days dashing from house to house clearing up after them, as they rush from one exhausting pilates class to the next.

But an unusual inheritance changes the lives of Maia and her children, as they join the highly exclusive world of Stirling Hall School – a place where no child can survive without organic apricots and no woman goes a week without a manicure.

As Maia and her children try to settle into their new life, Maia is gradually drawn to the one man who can help her family fit in: Mr. Peters, a teacher at Stirling Hall School. But is his interest in her purely professional? And will it win her any favors at the school gate?

The Not So Perfect Mother is a laugh-out-loud-funny and romantic Cinderella story with a twist. Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner and Sophie Kinsella.

Review:

Oh how I adored this book, it was laugh out loud funny but also had some poignant, emotional moments as well, it really had a little something for everyone and Maia was the perfect heroine for this delightful little read.

We’ve all been down on our luck at some point I imagine, but Maia is having a really difficult time and there’s no end in sight. When one of the women she cleans for passes away and offers her children a scholarship to a posh school that is miles away (social class wise at least) she takes it despite her reservations. Maia doesn’t fit it with the mother’s at Stirling Hall, and she doesn’t actually want to, these women are mostly awful, but she grits her teeth and smiles because she wants what’s best for her kids. That’s one of the qualities I admired about her, she is a fantastic mother who does her best by her children despite getting kicked in the teeth repeatedly. I really liked her character and even though I was shaking my head at some of her decisions, Fisher did create a believable person who makes mistakes and bad choices just like the rest of us.

I said before this was funny but I have to reiterate it again, there were some seriously hilarious scenes that had me rolling. This was a feel good read with heart and soul and had a wonderful ending with some surprises I didn’t predict.

The Not So Perfect Mother in three words: Funny, Relatable and Entertaining.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Born in Peterborough, UK, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian at Bath University, followed by several years working as an English teacher in Corsica and Spain before topping the dizzying heights of holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually succumbed to ‘getting a proper job’ and returned to England to study Periodical Journalism at City University. After two years working at Essentials magazine in London, love carried her off to the wilds of the West Pennine moors near Bolton. She now lives in Surrey with her husband (of whisking off to Bolton fame) and two teenagers. She has a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy, which leads to many mortifying moments of whistling and waving pieces of chicken while the dog practises her ‘talk to the tail’.

Kerry spent half her life talking about writing a novel, then several years at Candis magazine reviewing other people’s but it wasn’t until she took some online courses with the UCLA that the dream started to morph into reality when her debut, The School Gate Survival Guide, was picked up by HarperCollins.

https://www.facebook.com/kerryfisherauthor/

https://twitter.com/KerryFSwayne

Review: The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

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Release date: June 5, 2018

Publisher: Harper

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s

In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.

Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.

Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.

Review:

The Lost Family is a heartbreakingly beautiful tale of a family that spans generations and is structured in an intriguing way. It begins with Peter in 1965 beginning when he meets his wife, June then it switches to her point of view in 1975 when she gets pregnant and then finally to their daughter Elsbeth’s perspective in 1985. I really enjoyed getting to know each character individually as well as through the eyes of each other, it provided a depth of character and made me feel like I got an intimate look at the family.

While I enjoyed each characters section I found myself most invested in Peter, his story was both terribly sad and wonderfully inspiring. He’s a chef and owner of Masha’s and the food descriptions were to die for, there’s always something about books that discuss food that makes me happy (and hungry!) His struggles as an emigrant were so vividly rendered and the brief glimpses of his life before he settle in NYC were haunting.

If you like smart historical fiction with emotional depth and intimate portrayal of one family’s struggles over the years then check this one out. My first read by Blum but most certainly not my last.

The Lost Family in three words: Evocative, Sweeping and Vulnerable.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and the Great Thoughts Great Readers ninja review team.

Review: Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger #ninjatwins

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 19, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

What happened on that long-ago summer? In this riveting novel from the author of The Dressmaker’s Dowry, an aspiring Hollywood actress makes a shocking choice in 1940, and seventy years later, a young mother sets out to discover what happened …

Summer, 1940: When Violet Harcourt is crowned Miss Bathing Beauty in her hometown of Santa Cruz, she’s determined to see herself on the silver screen. But Violet’s pageant victory comes with a price—cracks appear in her seemingly perfect marriage…and she quickly discovers Hollywood is not the glittering escape she dreamed of. So she makes a shocking choice, leaving her name in headlines and creating a mystery surrounding her fate.

Summer, 2007: Single mother Marisol Cruz lives in a charming seaside cottage that belonged to her grandfather, Ricardo, once a famed performer on the Beach Boardwalk. Drawn to the local history of her town, Mari discovers her grandfather’s connection to a beauty queen who died too young. She embarks on a journey that uncovers his lifelong secret—Ricardo’s connection to Violet…a story of tragedy and courage that will forever transform her.

Review:

Before I get into my thoughts on the book I’m so excited to share that my friend Jamie and I are starting a new collaboration and it starts today! Jamie is an avid reviewer on Goodreads and Instagram and we both read super fast and have very similar taste in books, though we don’t always agree 😜Boardwalk Summer is the first of our many planned buddy reads where I’ll be sharing my thoughts as usual but you’ll get the added bonus of hearing what Jamie thought as well. Hope you guys enjoy this and say hi to Jamie on Instagram if you don’t already know her!

Do you ever start a book and know pretty quickly that it’ll be one that you’ll love? Maybe it’s the authors writing style or maybe it’s the subject matter or you connect immediately with a character, or maybe it’s a little bit of everything. When this does happen it’s kind of magical and I had the good fortune to have that experience when I read just two chapters of this beauty!

This flips between Violet in 1940 and Mari in 2007 and goes back and forth every chapter. I was quickly invested in Violet’s story, not only because her personal plot line was fascinating but also because nothing draws me in faster from a historical perspective than old school Hollywood glamour, I swear I swoon. Mari was the type of character that I easily liked, she’s a strong single mother who’s proud of her family heritage with a side of spicy spitfire and a loving but tough mama bear as well. I did guess a few things very early on but then Jaeger totally caught me off guard with a surprising plot turn that I totally never saw coming but loved all the same.

This was very well written and well researched, Jaeger brought the city of Santa Cruz to life both in the past and the recent present, it sounds like such a charming town and one I’m longing to visit now. She also has a social conscience that is evident and I appreciated the issues she explored. The history, culture and idyllic sounding boardwalk itself all blended together to create the type of setting that truly transports the reader. There was way more of a mysterious aspect to the story than I had anticipated and there was also some sweet romance too. Both lead characters were strong, fearless women and were well developed, I really cared about both of them in the end and was sad to turn the final page.

Boardwalk Summer in three words: Mesmerizing, Fascinating and Gorgeous.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher and the Great Thoughts Ninja review team for my copy.

Jamie’s review:

4.5 Magical Flying Unicorn Stars!

I am so glad this is what my friend Amy and I chose for our first buddy read together as #ninjatwins! I’m also glad that Amy was a bit ahead of me the whole time so I could share my theories with her without spoiling anything – and I had a lot of theories on this one – some correct, some not so much!

I have always been a fan of dual narratives and dual timelines and love to see how the timelines come together. In Boardwalk Summer, the two timelines focus first on Violet Harcourt, a beautiful women stuck in an abusive marriage in 1940 and Mari Cruz, a single mother trying to fight for the right to preserve historical aspects of her Santa Cruz community in 2007. The way these stories coincide and connect will both surprise you and make you want to know more.

I very much enjoyed getting to know these women, learn more about this history and get acquainted with Jaeger’s writing!

Audiobook Review: Red Alert by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

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Release date: March 26, 2018

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Edoaurdo Ballerini

Blurb:

The richest of New York’s rich gather at The Pierre’s Cotillion Room to raise money for those less fortunate. A fatal blast rocks the room, stirring up horrifying memories of 9/11. Is the explosion an act or terrorism–or a homicide?

A big-name female filmmaker is the next to die, in a desolate corner of New York City. Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald investigate. But the crimes keep escalating as a shadowy killer masterfully plays out his vendetta–and threatens to take down NYPD Red in the bargain.

Review:

Though I’ve been a very long time fan of Patterson’s books, both his standalones and his many series (Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Lindsey Boxer, I’ve read them all) I made the switch from reading his physical books to listening solely on audio a couple of years ago. It kind of happened by accident, I was browsing Overdrive for a new listen and grabbed the latest Women’s Murder Club installment and realized what an amazing narrator January LaVoy is. All of that to say, having now listened to several of Patterson’s books I have to tell you guys that he has THE best narrators I’ve come across, and Ballerini is no exception. I say that because I know many people don’t enjoy audiobooks for various reasons but if you ever wanna give one a try just grab any Patterson one and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Red series follows partners Zack and Kylie who work as part of the NYPD and their unique task force is assigned cases pertaining to the rich and famous. These two have a history that always seems to come in play at some point even though their past was several years ago, you never quite know what’s going on between them at any given moment. They have an undeniable chemistry and their banter is on point, it’s snappy and funny and lightens the mood in an endearing way.

Per his usual style the author(s) have included several subplots that keep things moving at a rapid pace. There’s a bombing at a high profile event, the murder of a controversial filmmaker and a robbery at a high stakes poker game among other things, plenty to keep you on your toes, I can’t say I was ever bored for one minute.

Again, Ballerini is an incredibly talented narrator, I don’t know if I would be enjoying this series as much as I have been if I was reading myself, he has an engaging voice that also demands to be heard, it’s fantastic!

Red Alert in three words: Explosive, Interesting and Exciting.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: California Summer by Anita Hughes

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Release date: June 19, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Anita Hughes’s California Summer is a charming and beautiful love story about a former Hollywood producer who trades her cast list in for cookbooks in the hopes of following her dreams and finding new love.

Ben and Rosie are Hollywood’s newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He’s willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben’s affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend’s invitation to spend the summer at her parents’ estate in Montecito. It’s far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate store, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She starts a business in the village, and her luck seems to be turning around. But Rosie knows all too well that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love…again.

California Summer is a touching and romantic story about following your dreams but not letting them get in the way of love.

Review:

I found another beach read to add to your summer TBR! This was a very lighthearted, easy read that I breezed through in a few hours. It’s uncomplicated and one that you can get lost in, really simple but charming and fun.

I always think that when an author makes me want to visit the location they’re writing about then they’ve done a fantastic job at bringing a setting to life and I’m absolutely dying to go to Montecito after reading this. It sounds absolutely gorgeous and if you’re not craving fish tacos after reading about Rosie’s adventures then there may be something wrong with you! Hughes even included the recipe for fish tacos at the end, I love when authors do this, so fun.

This had a cute message about following what makes you happy and discovering your true passion and Rosie was a character I could easily get behind. There’s plenty of playful and sexy romance and a little Hollywood glitz and glam thrown in for good measure, it was just a really undemanding read that I would recommend for pure entertainment alone.

California Summer in three words: Romantic, Enchanting and Sweet.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Dreams of Falling by Karen White

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Release date: June 5, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

It’s been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads–and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home. Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered in the burned-out wreckage of her family’s ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.

Review:

There is something utterly enchanting about the manner in which White weaves a tale, there’s always a little something for every type of reader and Dreams of Falling is no exception. There is family drama, secrets between friends, good old fashioned southern charm, romance and even a historical feel as some chapters flip back to the fifties.

This follows a family of women and the Darlington’s and Margaret Darlington’s two best friends, Ceecee and Bitty. Those two were my favorite, they share a long history and not much of it is happy, but theirs is a friendship based on true loyalty and love which is something you don’t see much of nowadays. They snipe and snark at each other as only old, true friends can and as more of their story was revealed I found myself liking them that much more.

I was never exactly sure what old secrets were trying to come to light, I had some ideas but never had things totally figured out. There was so much pain between these women, loss heartbreak and betrayal, but I loved how they stood by each other and any mistakes they made were done with only the purest of intentions. I think this will be a popular book club choice because it will satisfy so many different readers, if you’re a fan of White I think you’ll enjoy this immensely.

Dreams of Falling in three words: Captivating, Moving and Charming.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and the GTGR Ninja review team for my review copy.

Review: The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

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Release date: June 12, 2018

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

In a new novel from New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon, a suburban family is rocked in the wake of a terrorist attack on American soil.

On a typical late summer day, Julia Swann is on the phone with her husband, Michael, when the call abruptly goes dead. Then the news rolls in: A bomb has gone off at Penn Station, where Michael was waiting for a train home. New York City is in a state of chaos.

A frantic Julia races to the city to look for Michael, her panic interwoven with memories of meeting and falling in love with the husband she’s now desperate to find. When someone finds a flier she’s posted and tells her they may have seen her husband, her dreams seem to be answered. Yet as she tries to find him, her calls go unanswered.

Weaving between the aftermath of the explosion and Julia’s memories of her life with Michael, new developments raise troubling questions. Did Michael survive the explosion? Why hasn’t he contacted her? What was he doing when their last call was cut off? Was he—or is he still—the man she fell in love with?

Part family drama, part tragic love story, and part disaster narrative that hits terrifyingly close to home, The Real Michael Swann is a deftly plotted suspense novel with an unflinching portrait of a marriage at its heart, challenging us to confront the unthinkable–both in our country and in our own homes.

Review:

The premise for this one strikes a cord because it reads like something that could actually happen, similar things have happened, and nothing is more frightening than fiction becoming reality, especially in terms of terrorist attacks. This is part thriller part domestic suspense with moments of poignancy as Julia and Michael’s marriage is examined under a sharp lens and part heart pounding action thriller as the race to find Michael intensifies.

This did take me a little while to get into it’s not one of those books that grabbed my attention instantly but it did reel me in about a quarter of the way through and then I finished it in few sittings. The explosive ending more than made up for it though, I really liked how things worked out and absolutely loved the epilogue. I really connected with Julia, her pain and confusion was palpable and her feelings as a wife and mom were very relatable for me. Many of the chapters were short which is always a technique I enjoy and Reardon is a solid writer with a penchant for weaving a compelling tale.

The Real Michael Swann in three words: Timely, Suspenseful and Gripping.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

May Wrap Up

I don’t know about you guys but I was not sad to say goodbye to May and start fresh with June. May was super rough for me, I took a hiatus from blogging when my dear Grandma went into hospice care and she passed away a couple of weeks ago. It’s been very hard but I so appreciate all of the support in this amazing bookish community! All of that said, I only read 21 books which may be my worst month since I started blogging. My two year blogiversary is this month so make sure you’re following me not only here but on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well because I’ll have some fun giveaways!

How was your month? Any favorites? I read quite a few amazing summer books that I highly recommend, links to my reviews below.

A Woman Scorned: Thrilling, Twisty and Intense.

Limelight: Savvy, Modern and Sparkling.

Good Neighbors: Intelligent, Steady and Interesting.

The Craftsman: Chilling, Intricate and Dark.

How to Walk Away: Beautiful, Sincere and Powerful.

Don’t Believe It : Multilayered, Skillful and Gripping.

The Girl I Used to Be: Clever, Chilling and Creepy.

Bring Me Back: I struggled with parts of this one.

The Sugarhouse Blues: Charming, Authentic and Captivating

Dying Truth: Exciting, Brilliant and Riveting.

The Good Twin: Dramatic, Fun and Mischievous

The Death of Mrs. Westaway: Ominous, Unsettling and Creepy.

The Old You: Unnerving, Innovative and Ingenious.

The Ever After was solid, I did have minor issues.

The Perfect Couple: Juicy, Secretive and Fun.

When Life Gives You Luluemons: Delicious, Scandalous and Witty.

After Nightfall: Compulsive, Astonishing and Suspenseful.

Ain’t She a Peach: Humorous, Sassy and Cheeky.

Lady Be Good: Glamorous, Glitzy and Sweet.

The Captives: Intelligent, Enthralling and Keen.

A Blood Thing: Calculated, Tense and Vengeful.