Review: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert


Release date: October 4, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance


With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn’t just a seasonal specialty–it’s a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra’s yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. She’s ready to eat, drink, and be merry, especially with the handsome stranger who saves the best kringle for her at his family bakery.

For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He’s never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he’s been missing outside of the festive red brick alley.

After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa.


This is the second holiday book I’ve read in the last few weeks that had magical realism and I have to say, I’m into it. The holiday season is already magical on it’s own so add in a little real magic that’s grounded in reality and I’m 🫠 One thing the authors books always have is amazing descriptions of food and this was no exception. The treats Jack makes at the Julemarked sounded delicious and I needed many snacks while reading this. There was something so pure about this one, maybe it’s because Jack himself was such a pure and innocent character but this was sugar sweet. If you’re looking for an adorable and whimsical holiday read this was an enchanting delight sure to give you all the Christmassy feels.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Silent Woman by Minka Kent


Release date: September 27, 2022

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Newlywed Jade Westmore has finally found her forever in husband Wells, a charming, successful, and recently divorced architect—only there’s one caveat. Behind the gates of their elysian estate, hidden from street view in the caretaker’s cottage … lives Wells’ first wife, Sylvie.

Three years ago, the original Mrs. Westmore suffered an unfortunate accident—and hasn’t uttered a sound since. Not a physician, psychologist, or world-renown specialist has been able to elicit so much as a word from the silent woman … until now.

On an ordinary Tuesday while Wells was away—despite instructions to never disturb the fragile woman—Jade visited her isolated predecessor bearing a peace offering: a bouquet of white lilies. Only she wasn’t expecting Sylvie to have something for her as well: a slip of torn notebook paper with a single word scrawled in shaky black ink.

That word? Run.


Whenever I’m in the mood for a twisty and bingeable thriller that I can read in one sitting I know I can pick up a Minka Kent book and it will satisfy me. When I started this I felt like I knew exactly where it would all go and I’m so pleased to say that I was pretty off. Sure I saw some minor things coming but overall I was wrong and parts left my head spinning with questions and theories that changed almost every chapter. This is super fast paced and the kind of book you don’t want to put down until you finish. I loved the old Hollywood noir vibes next to a ton of lies, betrayals and suspicions and thought that overall it was a solid suspense read and other winner from the author.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle


Release date: October 4, 2023

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Contemporary Romance


Bettie Hughes once knew the comfort of luxury, flaunting a ridiculous collection of designer shoes and a stealthy addiction to CBD oils. That is, until her parents snipped her purse strings. Long obsessed with her public image, Bettie boasts an extravagant lifestyle on social media. But the reality is: Bettie is broke and squatting in Colorado, and her family has no idea.

Christmas, with its pressure to meet familial expectations, is looming when a drunk Bettie plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” backwards and accidentally conjures Hall, an unexpectedly charming Holiday Spirit in the form of a man. Once the shock wears off, Bettie knows she’s stumbled upon the greatest gift: a chance to make all her holiday wishes come true, plus a ready-made fiancé.

But as the wiles of magic lose their charm, Bettie finds herself set off-kilter by Hall’s sweet gestures. Suddenly, Bettie is finding her heart merry and light. But the happier she gets, the shorter Hall’s time on earth grows. Can Bettie channel the Christmas spirit and learn to live with goodwill toward all men? Or will her selfish ways come back as soon as the holidays are over?

From the author of Twice Shy comes a sprightly Christmas novel, a rollicking romp through the absurdity of family holidays and the hope of new love.


This one will not be for everyone and I have already seen mixed reviews but it did work for me. I think there’s a few things you should know before you decide on adding this to your TBR or not though because it’s very different. It may be one of the most zany stories I’ve ever read and the energy throughout the whole thing can only be described as chaotic and out of control. Besides the fact that the entire premise is wacky it still has an extra level of craziness that I wasn’t expecting. Bettie already has a frenetic air about her and with the addition of Hall things just get taken to a whole new level of insanity. Think Will Ferrell’s character in Elf and add some hyperness and that’s him. It that doesn’t scare you off though this one was actually pretty fun. There is so much Christmas cheer and lots of magic with a side of fake dating which is always a favorite for me. I had no idea how this one would end or if there even would be a HEA and I never would have predicted the route the author took to get there but overall it worked for me. I listened to most of this and thought Tavia Gilbert did a fantastic job at bringing Bettie and Hall to life and she really captured the energy of the story. If you’re looking for a unique and quirky holiday read try this!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Just the Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica


Release date: January 10, 2023

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


A husband’s disappearance inextricably links two couples in this twisty thriller from New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica

Two couples, two close friends, one missing husband…

Jake Hayes is missing. This much is certain. At first, his wife, Nina, thinks he is blowing off steam at a friend’s house after their heated fight the night before. But then a day goes by. Two days. Five. And Jake is still nowhere to be found.

Lily Scott, Nina’s friend and coworker, thinks she may have been the last to see Jake before he went missing. After Lily confesses everything to her husband, Christian, the two decide that nobody can find out what happened leading up to Jake’s disappearance, especially not Nina. But Nina is out there looking for her husband, and she won’t stop until the truth is discovered.

Queen of suspense Mary Kubica delivers a high-octane, edge-of-your-seat thriller filled with delicious lies and shocking betrayals, and shows how even the deepest secrets will always find a way to the surface.


I have read all of the authors books and enjoyed almost all of them (I wasn’t a fan of When the Lights Go Out) but this one missed the mark for me. I think my biggest issue was the writing felt off, if I had read this without having any idea who wrote it I would have never guessed it was a MK book at all. Her style wasn’t the same, it felt staccato and abrupt. It was just very weird and I had a hard time settling into the story because of it. Maybe it’s going to go through another round of edits before it actually comes out and things felt off since I read such an early copy, I don’t even know. Besides that issue things were ok, I was invested enough in the plot and curious to see where things would go but for a book that felt a little slow at times the ending felt rushed and there were some loose ends that needed to be tied up. Overall not my fave from the author but of course I’ll still read her books because some of them have been really good.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory


Release date: September 20, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: An intoxicating and sparkling new romance by New York Times bestselling author Jasmine Guillory.

Margot Noble needs some relief from the stress of running the family winery with her brother. Enter Luke: sexy, charming, and best of all in the too-small world of Napa, a stranger. The chemistry between them is undeniable, and Margot is delighted that she lucked into the perfect one-night stand she’ll never have to see again. That is, until the winery’s newest hire, Luke, walks in the next morning. Margot is determined to keep things purely professional, but when their every interaction reminds her of the attraction still bubbling between them, it proves to be much more challenging than she expects.

Luke Williams had it all, but when he quits his high-salary tech job in Silicon Valley in a blaze of burnout and moves back to Napa to help a friend, he realizes he doesn’t want to tell the world–or his mom–why he’s now working at a winery. His mom loves bragging about her successful son–how can he admit that the job she’s so proud of broke him? Luke has no idea what is next for him, but one thing is certain: he wants more from the incredibly smart and sexy woman he hooked up with–even after he learns she’s his new boss. But even if they can find a way to be together that wouldn’t be an ethical nightmare, would such a successful woman really want a tech-world dropout?

Set against a lush backdrop of Napa Valley wine country, nothing goes to your head as fast as a taste of love–even if it means changing all your plans.


Ohh this may be my new favorite from the author, I really enjoyed this sexy, flirty and fun book! I was initially drawn to the winery side of the plot, I just knew it would be such a fun and beautiful setting and it definitely was. I was instantly connected to Margot as she was incredibly likable and I was into the fact that she was older than Luke. Workplace romances are always interesting and since Margot and Luke decide not to pursue a romantic relationship because she’s his boss that added a engaging dynamic. Their chemistry was undeniable and seeing them struggle to keep things professional added to their sexual tension. Lots of spice in this one, also some tender and genuine moments too, overall a really great light romance read.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Thrilling Audiobooks Guaranteed to Keep You Up at Night

I’m joined by Sarah from Really Into This today and we’ve gathered a list of the most memorable and chilling audiobooks we’ve listened to. For several years, we’ve hosted a #FallIntoMyBacklist Challenge on social media that focuses on older books. Find more information on this years challenge here. Once fall hits, we love to read mostly backlist titles and sometimes that means listening to a creepy and atmospheric read. It’s something we look forward to every year and we hope you’ll join in!

If you’re new to audiobooks or just looking for a new way to listen we both love They are a fantastic company that splits profits with local bookstores and you can even choose with indie bookstore to support! To join or just find out more check here.


Orenda Books has a knack for publishing unique, fresh books under the umbrella of crime fiction and once again, I’m completely blown away by one of their books. Six Stories is a wholly original, modern twist on a classic murder mystery. There are six distinct stories, six very easily distinguishable voices used in this podcast style book. Tom Jeffries was fifteen when he disappeared in 1996 and his body was found a year later. Twenty years later and Scott King, a podcast host decides to feature the story on his podcast.  What happened the night he disappeared? Why did it take a year for his body to be discovered? And most importantly, who killed him? 

The format of this book really made it standout from the crowd for me. I loved the conversational style it provided, it really felt like I was listening to a true crime podcast. Wesolowski did a phenomenal job of giving each character a clear, unique voice and I couldn’t help but think the audiobook version of this must be superb. As my husband isn’t a reader I’m thinking we need to listen to it together, but I digress. As each podcast comes to a close, more truth is revealed, but more questions also arise. Who is actually reliable and trustworthy? Seeing as how the events in question occurred twenty years ago, everyone’s recollections are hazy at best making it all the more complicated to put all the puzzle pieces together. Everyone interviewed by King is directly involved in the case and they all add a new twist to things, leaving you to draw your own conclusions as to what to believe, or not to believe. As the layers are slowly peeled back, secrets are unveiled that finally shed light on what truly happened. 

This was an unsettling read, one that makes you feel like evil is lurking just around the corner, that leaves a pit of uneasiness in your stomach. Scarclaw Fell was hauntingly atmospheric and a ideal setting for such a tragic event. The whole thing was brilliantly, cleverly executed and a highly immersive read. You could feel the chill in the air, hear the sounds of the forest, see glimpses of the unknown skulking about. The ending was utterly perfect, I really can’t find fault with any aspect of this one and I’m praying that Wesolowski is currently working on his next book.


Well hello super impressive debut!! I love reading debut authors because you never quite know what to expect and the only thing better than reading a new author is being blown away by their first book. This one was good y’all, I think it will appeal to so many people because while it’s definitely a thriller it also has shades of a legal thriller and a hint of domestic suspense. It also explores race, sexism and being a woman in the workplace, it was so relevant and important and also totally entertaining, this one truly had it all. The less you know about this one the better off you are, just read this if you like fast paced and exciting thrillers that have depth. The narrator, Susan Dalian was also fantastic so I can highly recommend the audio as well but I’m sure it’s fantastic in any format.


I think anyone who reads thrillers would agree that we’re constantly searching for a unique one that doesn’t feel stale, or like 76 other thrillers we’ve all seen before. I started this one a whim after I read this part of the synopsis 👉🏻 “A smart, witty, crackling novel of psychological suspense in which a girl from a hardscrabble small town meets a gorgeous Instagram influencer from the big city, with a murderous twist that will shock even the most savvy reader. “ Between influencer and shocking twist I was hooked. You guys, I would definitely have to agree because I haven’t been this surprised by a thriller for a long time.

I really don’t want to say much more about the plot that what I already shared, that’s really all you need to know in my opinion as far as details, but this was fantastic on audio. Three POV and three amazing narrators; Lizzie beyond the grave as this opens after she’s already been murdered, Adrienne the influencer who has rented out Lizzie’s lake house in the past and Detective Bird as he investigates the murder. This was highly atmospheric, had strong writing and pacing that was truly on point. It’s also just really clever and sharp. That’s all I’m gonna say, but again audio was 🔥🙌🏻 and this one is well worth a preorder.


Amy: It’s not often that I’m seriously creeped out by a book, I read some dark stuff and it takes a lot to rattle me but this one seriously got under my skin! Full disclosure, I listened to on audio thanks to my friends at and I assume this enhanced my enjoyment because the narrator was amazing and so many parts of this was just downright creepy due to the chilling narration. I’m sure it’s just as good in print form, but if you’re an audio fan this is a must.

I’m not touching the plot at all because it was so wickedly brilliant you just have to experience it for yourself. While the creep factor is high, it’s not totally disturbing or traumatizing, more spooky and eerie than anything else. It’s also pretty fast paced and told from multiple points of view keeping things exciting and engaging throughout. I was immersed in the pages of this one from start to finish, and what an ending, that final line gave me actual chills! Highly recommended for thriller lovers, a super impressive debut for sure!

Sarah: First, I will include a trigger warning about imaginary friends. Next, The Whisper Man by Alex North centers around the death of children. Thankfully, the narrative is not gory and it’s certainly not glamorizing serial killers.

As soon as the story starts, I am instantly invested in what’s going on. Funny enough I read this over the weekend when I was camping in the dark woods. That environment made it all the more atmospheric for me.

The Whisper Man is creepy but not too scary. The novel is very well-written. It’s been a while since I’ve read suspense & I am so grateful for a reliable narrator. Seriously, I could jump up and scream! I love how there the past & the present come together. North builds the storylines expertly & both timelines intersect in a way that is so meaningful. The dual timelines add to the suspense. Also, I’m happy to say I have no trouble shifting gears between the timelines.

I don’t often say this about suspense books but I would re-read this one in a heartbeat. It’s easy to get lost in it and I loved all the dialogue from the POV of the child.


Amy: Well guys, it’s time for me to officially topple your summer reading list. Sorry, but I’m not sorry! (Not even a little bit, haha) Are You Sleeping is a perfect addition to your TBR, it’s compulsive, engrossing and highly addictive, I loved it!

Two things that always catch my eye in a thriller is sister or twin relationships and a cold case and this gem had both. Josie and Lanie have an extremely complex relationship and haven’t seen or talked to each other in ten years. Both were the kind of character that can frustrate the hell out of you on one page and then the next they’re tugging on your heartstrings. That sense of unease and uncertainty really added to this tale of lies and betrayals. The girls moved in with their Aunt A and cousin Ellen after their father was killed and I really liked Ellen. She’s kind of bossy and overbearing, but she has a huge heart and was super endearing. 

My favorite thing about this book was how engaging it was, there is something about Barber’s writing style that just hooked me. There is a great social media addition in the form of podcast excerpts, Reddit threads and updates from Twitter and Facebook feeds that added something really unique and current. If you’ve read Six Stories there is a similarity but not completely the same, this one easily stands on its own feet.

This was one of those reads where I kept thinking I had things all figured out and then Barber would throw in a new twist to shake things up. Ultimately, I did have some aspects worked out but it absolutely did not take away from my enjoyment of this highly entertaining read. This would be perfect for readers who don’t like graphic violence, it’s on the lighter side and has very few truly dark moments, but it’s still very compelling. Pack this one in your bag next time you’re going on vacation, I think it would be ideal! 

Sarah: The main character, Josie, hears that a podcast is looking into her father’s murder. It’s re-examining what Really happened the night of his death & it throws her for a loop. Josie has spent the last several years running from her family’s complicated history. She’s changed her last name, traveled around the world & tried to keep a low profile. Even her live-in boyfriend doesn’t know the truth about her family.

Of course, this is no ordinary murder case. What fun would that be? Her twin sister, Lanie, supposedly witnessed the murder & placed their young neighbor as the culprit.  He was sent to prison & he continues to maintain his innocence.  Soon after their father’s death, their mother ran away and joined a cult.  This unexplained act left the twins without parents.  Instead of the sisters turning towards one another for support, Lanie goes off the deep end & betrays Josie’s trust. All these years later, there is still a wedge between them. Josie gets word her mother died & she’s forced to travel back to her hometown. Here she will face everything she’s been avoiding. She does this while trying to evade the notoriety from the podcast, which is no easy feat.

Kathleen does a heck of a job depicting the anxiety & stress that is placed on Josie by forcing her to face what she has spent years running from – her family and its sordid history.  Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber is ripe with suspense, family secrets, misplaced trust & a longing for closure & understanding.  At the heart of the story are the questions of what Really happened that night? What did Lanie actually see?  Can Lanie or Josie be trusted?  Why did their mother leave them?

Something about this family & these characters is so relatable. I am a 48 Hours lover & reading this book from the view of the family changed my perception of how some of these murder stories can be exploited and/or open deep family wounds. Overall, this was an intriguing & satisfying read & I can’t wait to see what Kathleen does next.


I started this one on a whim after listening to an episode of BookTalkEtc where Renee Itsbooktalk recommended it. It’s been years since I’ve read a DK book and after finishing this I remember why I used to enjoy his books so much!

This follows Chyna as she heads to visit her best friends family and on her first night there she can’t sleep. Her insomnia ends up saving her life because a madman enters the house and his only focus is on killing everyone inside 😮 That’s basically all you need to know because the whole book is one tense and deadly game as Chyna fights for her life. The title for this is so fitting, the intensity starts almost immediately and it never lets up. I know Renee flew through this one and so did I, it was shocking, addictive and truly gripping, definitely a wild ride and such a perfect fall read.


I appreciate a thriller that doesn’t waste time and jumps straight into the action and this one did exactly that. The creep factor starts high and stays that way as some seriously disturbing shit happens to Eli while she is being held prisoner by her number one fan. SO creepy. There is a lot of on page descriptions of torture and most of it was hard to read, seriously parts scared me and I’m not easily spooked. But if you like the angle of a creepy stalker who is truly unhinged and getting a glimpse inside their head this was pretty good. I was unsettled the whole time and think if you’re in the mood for a dark and disturbing read this could be it.

The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle


Release date: December 6, 2022

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


When Alex first began posting unscripted family moments and motivational messages online, she had no intention of becoming an influencer. Overnight it seemed she’d amassed a huge following, and her hobby became a full-time job—one that was impossible to manage without her sharp-as-a-tack personal assistant, AC.

But all the good-will of her followers turns toxic when one controversial post goes viral in the worst possible way. Alex reaches out to AC for damage control, but her assistant has gone silent. This young woman Alex trusted with all her secrets, who had access to her personal information and front row seats to the pressure points in her marriage and family life, is now missing and the police are looking to Alex and her husband for answers. As Alex digs into AC’s identity – and a woman is found murdered – she’ll find the greatest threat isn’t online, but in her own living room.

Written in alternating perspectives between Alex, her husband, and the mysterious AC, this juicy cat and mouse story will keep you guessing till the very end.


I know I’m posting this review super early but this was one of the best thrillers I’ve read in awhile so I wanted to make sure to get it on your radar ASAP! I’m a sucker for any storyline involving an influencer and this takes a look at the dark side of social media. More followers means more creeps, trolls and weirdos and when Alex hits a million followers on Instagram she’s thrilled. But not for long when a post of hers goes viral for all the wrong reasons and her fans turn on her in a vile way. Besides Alex you get the POV of her husband, Patrick who seems perfect on paper but….Then there’s AC who has been Alex’s assistant and godsend for months but she’s missing right when the shit hits the fan. I could not put this one down, it was so gripping and as the layers of lies and betrayals were peeled back, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I thought things were going to take an obvious (albeit entertaining route) but I was wrong and thrilled to be wrong! No one does domestic suspense better than KBelle, if you like tense thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat this was SO good!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.