Review: Do No Harm by L. V. Hay @LucyVHayAuthor @Orendabooks #DoNoHarm #TillDeathDoUsPart

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Release date: July 20, 2018

Publisher: Orenda

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with teacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong. Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives.

It is my absolute pleasure to be helping to close down the blog tour for Do No Harm today!

Review:

Remember last year when I was raving about The Other Twin? I was SO excited to get my hands on Do No Harm because I just loved Hay’s style of writing and ability to suck the reader in, almost forcing you to binge read her novels until you find out what exactly is really going on and I can firmly say that she most definitely delivered in a major way with this one.

Hay is a sneaky little devil, while I was reading this I kept thinking, ok I see exactly where this is going, to an avid reader such as myself things seemed obvious, but I was so engrossed I didn’t even care that I “knew” what would happen next. Imagine my surprise when I was wrong! Not once, not even twice, but too many times to count. Shame on me for being so cocky and bravo to the author for shocking me so much. Well played Hay, well played.

I said before I loved her writing style, it’s razor sharp and highly unnerving at the same time and she writes cleverly short chapters that just entice you to go further and further to see what will happen next. I’m not touching the plot with a ten foot pole, but did you read that description?! A jealous ex-husband trying to ruin his ex-wife’s new marriage?! Umm YES PLEASE!! If you love psychological thrillers as much as I do then definitely check this one out, it surprised me in the best possible way and had such a strong ending I’m still thinking about it days later.

Do No Harm in three words: Unsettling, Obsessive and Compulsive.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Ribbons In Her Hair by Colette McCormick

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Release date: August 23, 2018

Publisher: Accent Press

Blurb:

Jean seems the perfect wife and mother but she struggles to love her daughters whose material comforts mask emotional neglect.

When the youngest daughter, Susan, brings ‘shame’ on the family, Jean can think of only one response. She has to make the problem disappear. Finding the strength to stand up to her mother for the first time in her life, Susan does the only thing that she can to save her baby. What Susan doesn’t realise is that her mother’s emotional distance hides a dark secret of her own.

Examining the divide between generations, between mothers and daughters, this emotionally charged novel asks whether we can ever truly understand another, however close our ties.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ribbons In Her Hair! I have a guest post from the author to share today.

Guest Post:

The inspiration to write ‘Ribbons in Her Hair’ came from a conversation.

I saw a little girl with her hair tied up in a red ribbon and commented to the person that I was with that I remembered when I used to have ribbons in my hair. I said something like, ‘Those were the days.’ My companion, and I don’t want to say anything that might identify them, told me sadly that they’d had never had a ribbon in their hair.

That statement stayed with me and I thought about a little girl who had never had a ribbon in her hair. For me, that simple act represented a bond and I can still remember sitting on a chair as my mother brushed and dressed my hair. In my head, the little girl without the ribbons, became someone who didn’t know what it was like to feel a mother’s love.

I called the girl Susan and she had a story to tell.

I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a family where your mother doesn’t seem to care if you exist. How would she feel? How might she behave? Then, I started to think about Susan’s mother. I have children of my own and the idea of not hugging them and showing my love for them is very strange to me and I wondered what would make Jean (Susan’s mother) behave the way that she did.

I decided that we needed to hear her side of the story too.

It has been said that my book is about the shame of being an unmarried mother and I suppose that to a certain extent it is, especially in Jean’s case, but for me it’s more about two women who are trying to do the best for their unborn child. They both need to decide whose needs have to be put first. Is it their own or their child’s? The decision they make will shape their adult life and they will both have to live with it and its consequences.

Because of the way that she treated her children I didn’t want to like Jean but when I discovered more about her story I started to sympathise with her. She is as much a product of her upbringing as Susan. She made the only choice she could and when history repeats itself she can only see one way out for her daughter. Is that her fault or society’s?

I tried to show that behind closed doors things are not always as they appear to those on the outside and that even families have secrets from each other.

Review: The Long Revenge by Andrew Barrett @AndrewBarrettUK @Bloodhoundbook

Amazon

Release date: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

They say you can always trust a policeman. They are lying.

They lied thirty years ago and they are still lying today.

When a booby-trapped body is discovered in a long-abandoned chapel, CSI Eddie Collins and his team are called to investigate. But when the scene examination goes horribly wrong, Eddie and DI Benson are injured and one of the team killed.

Heartbroken by the death, Eddie is also guilt-ridden. But more than that he is angry. Very angry.

Eddie will stop at nothing to bring the guilty to justice, and will teach them that even when served cold, revenge is a killer dish.  

I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Long Revenge today!

Review:

This was my first introduction to Barrett’s work though it’s the fourth book in his Eddie Collins series. I wasn’t bothered by this and never felt like I was missing out on any pertinent information, but I have added the first three books to my ever growing TBR.

Eddie Collins is not a detective like the protagonist in most crime novels, he’s a CSI. I loved this, it made for a really unique and fresh point of view to see things from that perspective instead of a cops perspective. That type of stuff has always been interesting to me and couple that with a character like Collins? Well you’ve got quite a set up. He’s a cheeky guy and very sarcastic, which I adore because sarcasm is my first language. I didn’t always agree with him but I always found him highly entertaining and I especially liked any scenes between him and his father Charles.

The case Collins is working is a series of historical murders which is one of my favorite storylines in crime fiction. I always think the killer must be pretty smug after thirty years have passed and they’re still flying under the radar, until something or someone unearths their darkerst secret.

The pacing was pretty mild to start (but never boring) but the tension was slowly mounting and by the last quarter of the book things really ramped up.Eddie being a CSI means that the reader gets a graphic look at how this profession works and there is also abuse and some violence, but as most of you know by now that doesn’t bother me. Barrett uses some great dark humor that balances out the heavy stuff which I always appreciate and wonderfully lightens the mood just when you need it the most.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld

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Release date: August 14, 2018

Publisher: Spark Press

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Twenty-five years ago, a group of ninth graders produced a Saturday Night Live-style videotape to cheer up their ailing friend. The show’s running time was only ninety minutes, but it had a lasting impact: Becca laughed her way through recovery, and the group—Jordana, Seth, Holly, and Lex—became her supporting cast for life.

On the silver anniversary of Becca Night Live, the friends reunite over the Fourth of July to celebrate Becca’s good health—but nothing goes as planned. The happy holiday card facades everyone’s been hiding behind quickly crumble and give way to an unforgettable three days filled with complex moral dilemmas and life-altering choices. Through humor, drama, and the alternating perspectives of five characters, The Cast explores the power of forgiveness, the importance of authenticity, and the immeasurable value of deep, enduring friendships to buoy us when life plays out differently than expected.

Review:

The Cast has one of my favorite structures in a book, it’s told from several various perspectives and gives the reader the opportunity to see the dynamics of a group of lifelong friends through all of their eyes. I love the insight this provided into their thoughts, feelings and emotional processes and felt pretty bonded to these five people by the end of the book.

I think anytime an author writes an ensemble story it must be tricky to maintain different voices for each character and Blumenfeld does an admirable job. This is also the authors debut making it all the more impressive and besides maintaining individual personalities and voices for each character, she also manages to write really smoothly about some heavy topics.

This is definitely a pretty emotional read about the highs and lows of life and the friendships that help people keep it together when things are really tough. The relationships between Becca, Jordana, Holly, Lex and Seth are both complicated and sweet and entirely relatable on so many levels. There was also some humor and lightness so it’s definitely not all heavy, but it’s one that makes you think and be grateful for the people in your own life who are there no matter what may be happening.

The Cast in three words: Meaningful, Honest and Tender.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: The Bridesmaid Blues by Tracey Sinclair @Thriftygal #BridesmaidBlues

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Blurb:

Luce knows she should be thrilled when Jenna asks her to be bridesmaid – after all, they’ve known each other since childhood and Jenna is the best friend any girl could have. But it’s hard to get excited about weddings when you’re terminally single and the best man is the boy who broke your heart: Jamie, the groom’s dashing and irresistible brother. How can she face the man who dumped her when she’s still so hopelessly in love? Then again, maybe this is the perfect opportunity – after all, where better to get back together than at a wedding?

So Luce has six months to figure out how to win back her ex, but she has plenty else on her plate – from an old friend returned to Newcastle with an announcement of her own, to a youthful colleague who may or may not have a crush on her and a mother who is acting very strangely indeed… and that’s all before a mysterious, handsome American walks into her life.

Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t all confetti and champagne…

‘A smarter, funnier Bridget Jones’ Diary for the 2010s – great pithy writing and instantly likeable characters’ Cass Green, Sunday Times/USA Today bestselling author of In a Cottage in a Wood’

I’m so delighted to be the stop on the blog tour for The Bridesmaid Blues today, this sounds like such a fun read, I have an excerpt to share today.

Excerpt:

Novel extract – The Bridesmaid Blues, Tracey Sinclair

Luce was late, as usual, but for once Jenna didn’t mind getting to the bar first. She needed a drink before she did this. She’d ordered their traditional bottle of white straight away and, despite her usual restraint, had already managed to gulp down a full glass and she’d only been here 10 minutes. Calm, she thought, just be calm. How bad could it be? Then again, knowing Luce, it could be very bad. Nuclear meltdown, global bio-warfare, imagine-Simon-Cowell-in-hot-pants bad. Cursing herself for own cowardice, Jenna had chosen a table at the back of the pub, so that if Luce did lose it and make a scene, at least there would be fewer witnesses.

She couldn’t believe how stressed she was. She was nearly 40 and a professional woman, for God’s sake. She managed a team of 11 people and could comfortably converse with MDs, CEOs and any number of other impressive initials. Yet here she was, desperately wishing she smoked so that her hands would have something to do other than shake. Nervously, she twisted the ring on her finger, not yet used to it being there. This is ridiculous, she told herself sternly, as she gulped down another mouthful of wine. How hard can it be to tell your best friend you’re getting married?

Pretty hard, as it turned out, although not for any of the reasons Jenna had expected. Of course, with Jenna’s best friend, things were never exactly easy, so why should this be an exception? Luce’s shrieks were so loud that half the pub’s customers were looking round to see what was happening and the staff were nervously craning their necks from behind the safety of the bar, trying to figure out whether they should be calling the police to prevent someone being murdered. And Jenna hadn’t even managed to tell her the actual information

yet. She’d got as far as “I’ve got some news” and Luce had dissolved into hysterics.

“Oh, my God!” she screeched, and Jenna was surprised that none of the glass around them broke. “Oh, my God, you’re sick, aren’t you? Is it cancer? What do the doctors say? Is there anything I can do? Oh, Jen…”

Jenna looked at her friend in sheer, open-mouthed horror. She would have been speechless had there even been a possibility of getting a word in edgeways. She watched Luce continue in this vein for several minutes, helpless to stop her. Finally, seeing an opportunity as Luce took a tear-filled breath to gear up for another round of wailing, she took her chance and jumped in.

“What are you talking about? I’m not ill!” she snapped, louder than she meant to, so that the last three remaining people in the pub who weren’t already looking at them turned around sharply to see what was going on.

“No? No! Thank God! What is it then?” Luce’s expression darkened in sudden fury. “Is Michael having an affair? That bastard, I never liked him!”

“Luce! Of course Michael isn’t having an affair! Why would you even say that?”

“God, Jen, it’s not you? I don’t believe it! Michael is so lovely! How could you?”

Jenna could feel what little patience was left to her rapidly evaporating.

“Luce, for God’s sake! No one is ill. No one is having an affair. Bloody hell. It’s good news.”

“Good news? Good news?” Luce stared at her, affronted. “Then why didn’t you say that? People say, ‘I’ve got good news.’ No one says, ‘I’ve got news’ if it’s good news. ‘Something to tell you’ is always bad!”

Jenna goggled at her friend, amazed. “Who says?”

Luce scowled at her as if she were stupid.

“It’s a universal conversational rule. News-no adjective is always bad. It’s a basic principle. That’s why people always say ‘I’ve got good news’. It’s politeness! You scared the bloody life out of me!”

Jenna took a long, deep breath and tried to banish all thoughts of violence. She loved Luce like a sister, but sometimes she was like the irritating, pigtail-pulling little sister who coloured in eye makeup on your Girls’ World styling head with indelible felt-tip pens and cut

the hair off all your Sindy dolls.

“Luce, you read way too many women’s weekly magazines. Most people, when told, ‘I’ve got something to tell you’ do not automatically start playing Guess The Tragedy.”

Luce opened her mouth to protest but Jenna put a hand up to silence her: let Luce get a word in now and that would be it for the rest of the night.

“Do I get to tell you now then, or not?”

Luce took a deep breath, flapped her hands in front of her face in an ineffectual effort to stop the tears that had sprung to her eyes at Jenna’s opening remark and nodded, in an exaggerated gesture of calm.

“Of course. Go on, I’m excited now. Really.”

Jenna sighed and sat back, taking a moment to compose herself.

“Michael proposed to me. We’re getting married in February.”

There was a long moment of stunned silence, then Luce let out a squeal so shrill that Jenna feared for the hearing of any local dogs.

“Oh! Jen! Jen! That’s great! I’m so thrilled!”

She lunged across the table and enclosed Jenna in a fierce hug, Jenna just managing to rescue the wine bottle that her friend sent spinning in her enthusiasm. Extricating herself from Luce’s embrace, she smiled, placated by her friend’s obvious delight.

“I want you to be bridesmaid, of course.”

“Of course! Of course! I’d sulk otherwise!” Luce clapped her hands in glee. “It’ll be great! Tell me all the details. I want to know everything – the proposal, the venue… show me the ring! And what are you going to wear? What am I going to wear?”

Jenna’s smile wavered. Before her best friend disappeared too far down this path, she knew she had to tell her.

“Luce… Lucy…”

“Will there be other bridesmaids? I get first choice of frock though, right? Something classy and stylish that won’t make me look fat. I mean, I’ve known you longer than anyone, I should get first say…”

“Luce…”

“Not that I won’t go along with whatever you want, of course, but I was thinking…”

There was nothing else for it.

Lucinda!”

The use of Luce’s full name was so rare that it silenced her. She looked at Jenna suspiciously.

“What?”

Jenna took a deep breath, and when she spoke her voice was carefully kind.

“Honey, Jamie will be there. He’s going to be best man.”

About the Author:

Tracey Sinclair works as a freelance writer and editor.

Her novel and collection of short stories (Doll and No Love Is This, respectively) were published by independent publisher Kennedy & Boyd, and Dark Dates is her second novel and the first in the Cassandra Bick series.

Her work has appeared online and in print in magazines as diverse as Sky, Printer’s Devil, Yours and Woman’s Weekly, and has been performed on the radio. Her first play, Bystanders, was premiered as part of the New Writing Season at Baron’s Court Theatre in 2011 and later staged at both the White Bear and Tristan Bates Theatre.

She is theatre lover and regular contributor to online theatre magazine Exeunt (www.exeuntmagazine.com).

Twitter: @Thriftygal

Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

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Release date: August 21, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genre: Mystery

Blurb:

Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Review:

Missing children storylines are nothing new in a mystery novel but Frey has managed to turn the idea on its head and come up with an angle that’s new and exciting. What if a child is taken from their family in order to keep them safe and not put them in any danger? What if their home life is so fraught with tension and abuse that being taken in by a total stranger is the best option for them? This book raised SO many questions, there was a depth of thought not often found in a mystery that made me think it would be absolutely perfect for a book club.

This switches back and forth between Amy and Sarah both Before, During, After and Now. The pacing is nice and steady, tension builds gradually and I was totally hooked almost instantly. It was so bizarre to be rooting for a kidnapper and not the grieving parents for once, but the difference in personalities between Sarah and Amy was so stark you can’t help but be pulling for little Emma and Sarah to get away and be happy.

This was a highly emotional read that completely sucked me in, I just had to know how things would turn out in the end. This did require me to suspend a little disbelief but I really wasn’t bothered by it, it fit with the story so well and ended exactly as it should have.

Not Her Daughter in three words: Evocative, New and Gripping.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Bucket List by Georgia Clark

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Release date: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Twenty-five-old Lacey Whitman is blindsided when she’s diagnosed with the BCRA1 gene mutation: the “breast cancer” gene. Her high hereditary risk forces a decision: increased surveillance or the more radical step of a preventative double mastectomy. Lacey doesn’t want to lose her breasts. For one, she’s juggling two career paths; her work with the prestigious New York trend forecaster Hoffman House, and her role on the founding team of a sustainable fashion app with friend/mentor, Vivian Chang. Secondly, small-town Lacey’s not so in touch with her sexuality: she doesn’t want to sacrifice her breasts before she’s had the chance to give them their hey-day. To help her make her choice, she (and her friends) creates a “boob bucket list”: everything she wants do with and for her boobs before a possible surgery.

This kicks off a year of sensual exploration and sexual entertainment for the quick-witted Lacey Whitman. Ultimately, this is a story about Lacey’s relationship to her body and her future. Both are things she thought she could control through hard work and sacrifice. Both are things she will change by choosing to have a major surgery that could save her life, and will give her the future she really wants.

Featuring the pitch-perfect “compulsively delicious” (Redbook) prose of The Regulars, The Bucket List is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Sophie Kinsella.

Review:

I honestly don’t think the blurb for this one accurately conveys exactly what type of story this one really is, I feel like it doesn’t totally prepare you for both how emotional it is and also how sexy it is. Bit of a weird combo, right? No doubt about that and while it sounds strange it works in an odd way.

It took me awhile to warm to this one, initially I found it a bit hard to switch between some tender and touching moments where Lacey deals with her feelings about a possible double mastectomy and then onto the next chapter where she’s off on one of her sexcapades as part of her boob bucket list. It was a big leap to say the least and the sex scenes aren’t the type left up to the readers imagination but instead are graphic and racy making the transition pretty bold.

As I kept reading this I did become more accustomed to the style and vibe of the book and I enjoyed it more as I found a groove. It was one of those reads that just kept getting better the further along I read, so for me it was worth it in the end. This was really witty and felt hip and modern, definitely a book a twenty something could relate to as Lacey herself is edgy and cool but there was enough depth and maturity that someone older (ahem cough ME) could still relate on some level. The overall message was fantastic, very female positive and kick ass without being cheesy. It’s definitely not your average chick lit book and I admire the author for making some bold choices and tackling an extremely scary and serious subject matter in a really interesting way.

The Bucket List in three words: Provocative, Empowering and Honest.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Big Woods by May Cobb @maykcobb

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: July 8, 2018

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

It’s 1989 in the sleepy town of Longview, Texas, when ten-year-old Lucy disappears. Her parents, the police, and the community all brace for the worst, assuming her body will soon be found in Big Woods. Just like the other unsolved kidnappings.

But then Lucy’s fourteen-year-old sister, Leah, starts having dreams about Lucy—dreams that reveal startling clues as to what happened. Leah begins her own investigation, and soon she meets a reclusive widow who may hold the key to finding Lucy . . . if only she can find the courage to come forward.

Delving into the paranoia surrounding satanic cults in the 1980s, Big Woods is an emotionally wrought, propulsive thriller about the enormity of grief, the magical bond between sisters, and a small town’s dark secrets.

Review:

If you’re in the mood for a book that sucks you in from the very start then look no further, because Big Woods hooked me after just two pages. A little girl goes missing in the late eighties and being an eighties baby myself I’m always nostalgic for books set then, and throw in a side of satanic cult worshippers and a hint of magical realism and I’m all in!

This alternates between Leah and Sylvia, Lucy is Leah’s sister so her connection was obvious but with Sylvia I wasn’t quite sure how she would fit in, it definitely kept me guessing. I was very invested in these characters, Leah and her family were good, hardworking and sweet people and Sylvia was the same, it made for a nice change of pace to actually like the characters in a thriller compared to many books that are full of hateful and unsympathetic ones.

The pacing here was fantastic, the chapters are short and sweet, you get straight to the point and just keep going for another chapter and then another and before you know it you’re finished! I was so curious about what happened to Lucy, was it the work of a devil worshipping cult? A pedophile? Did she run away? I had many theories and I’m so pleased to say I never quite guessed before the reveal.

I was really impressed that this was Cobb’s debut, she has an assured style that I really liked and she crafted a really interesting story that was part mystery/thriller part family drama that worked so well together. I would definitely read another book from her and will be curious to see what she comes up with next.

Big Woods in three words: Quick, Engrossing and Deft.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Rush by Lisa Patton

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 21, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Set in modern day Oxford, Mississippi, on the Ole Miss campus, bestselling author Lisa Patton’s RUSH is a story about women—from both ends of the social ladder—discovering their voices, courage and empowerment.

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.

Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all.

Review:

I was never in a sorority but Greek life has always fascinated me so when I read the description of Rush I was all in. It had the added bonus of being set in the South and I’m a sucker for southern fiction as well and this one was oozing good old fashioned southern charm with a side of, oh bless her heart sass. It was witty, fun and I felt like I got a secret look behind the scenes of sorority life.

There are three points of view here, Miss Pearl the longtime housekeeper at Alpha Delt, Wilda who’s daughter Ellie is rushing for the first time as a freshman and then Cali another hopeful freshman who becomes fast friends with Ellie. My favorite of the three was easily Miss Pearl though everyone was enjoyable and fun to hear from. Pearl just stole the show for me with her heart that’s bigger than Mississippi and her love and affection for all of the Alpha Delt girls, she was a true gem.

While this was a light and fun read it definitely still explored some important issues pertaining to race relations and old, outdated traditions that are really just a disguise for casual racism. The only people of color involved in the sorority are the staff with the exception of just one member and the antiquated rules are finally questioned and challenged. There was a quiet power to this book with some relevant themes that make you think and contemplate which I always appreciate, definitely some substance beside sweet southern charm.

Rush in three words: Charming, Topical and Fun.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia @Mejiawrites

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Review:

I was a huge fan of Mejia’s debut and have been impatiently waiting for her next book since late 2016, but man was the wait worth it! This was totally different from Everything You Want Me to Be, I love when authors switch things up and avoid getting caught in a formulaic cycle and Mejia surely does that here. It’s every bit as compelling as EYWMTB but in a totally different way that excited me.

This is mainly told from Maya’s point of view and she’s not your average mystery protagonist. She’s a speech pathologist who works at a psychiatric facility and I so enjoyed her unique viewpoint. One can only read so many thrillers with a detective as the lead and Maya was a breathe of fresh air. There are a few very imperative chapters from Josiah, the man who disappeared ten years ago that add an additional layer to an already multilayered story.

The atmosphere played such a huge role in this one and that’s the biggest difference (to me) from Mejia’s last book. The Boundary Waters were a character all of it’s own thanks to her incredibly vivid writing style, she brought this hauntingly beautiful and terrifying place to life effortlessly to the point where I felt like I was there alongside her characters. Besides a fantastic setting the characters themselves were complicated people with fascinating backstories, the type you find yourself rooting for even when you’re not entirely really sure if you should be. They’re flawed, intense and wonderfully interesting making for a captivating read.

Once again, Mejia had quite a few tricks up her sleeve and she definitely sucker punched me at least one time. I raced through this one as there were way more questions than answers and when all my questions were answered in the end, I was satisfied and extremely impressed by her talent and ability to construct a story. Hugely recommended by me, especially for fans of Force of Nature I had very similar feelings while reading this one and predict fans would enjoy this one as well.

Leave No Trace in three words: Atmospheric, Intense and Multifaceted.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.