Review: The Honeymoon by Roma Halsall @bookouture @RonaHalsallAuth

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 7, 2019

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

I’m your husband, Chloe. We’re a partnership now and we do what’s best for us as a couple.’ 

Chloe finally feels like she’s got her life together. After a difficult childhood and losing both parents, she worked hard for the life she loves in lively Brighton, helping people as a physiotherapist. And then she meets the perfect man.

It’s a whirlwind romance, but Dan is handsome, funny, and simply the kindest man she’s ever met. When she sees him standing by the altar, tears glistening in his eyes, she knows this will be for always.

As they sunbathe on their honeymoon island, laughing over drinks, planning their future with their feet in the sand, Dan jokes that he’d like them to stay there forever.

At first, Chloe couldn’t agree more. It’s tempting to imagine truly leaving her troubled past behind. But as the honeymoon goes on, he becomes increasingly adamant. They shouldn’t leave. In fact, he won’t let her…

Is he protecting her, as he claims? Or is it something more sinister? An utterly gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Clare Mackintosh, and The Wife Between Us.

Review:

Can we have a moment of silence in appreciation of that absolutely stunning cover?! Take me there! Actually, maybe not because Chloe’s dream honeymoon may not actually be as picturesque as that cover depicts. People often joke that they wish they could stay on their vacation indefinitely but what if you wanted to go home to your life and your new spouse wouldn’t allow you to leave? That’s exactly what happens to Chloe and is just the tip of the iceberg of what turns out to be a nightmare.

This was one of those books that had my full attention immediately, it was fast paced, things moved along almost as quickly as Chloe and Dan’s whirlwind engagement and marriage. Both Chloe and Dan hiding things from each other and I was desperate to know what their secrets were. There was a great sense of paranoia and doubt running throughout and I found this to be highly unpredictable, which is truly difficult to pull off lately. I was totally wrapped up in the story and read it in two sittings, I would’ve read it in just one but my family needed my attention. (How rude!)

Definitely recommended by me, it was a great read and full of surprises, the twists just kept coming and they were all well executed! Add this one to your summer TBR but maybe don’t read it if you yourself are involved in a whirlwind courtship 🤪

The Honeymoon in three words: Twisty, Quick and Tense

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett @botbspublicity #TheFriendWhoLied

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 9, 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

What she doesn’t know might kill her…

Lisa Ashton receives a last-minute reprieve from death two weeks before her birthday. Regaining consciousness, she is horrified to learn one of her friends has been killed – and saved her life.

As she recovers, she uncovers a trail of carefully guarded reputations, disturbing rumours, and lies. Soon, Lisa begins to wonder if one of her friends is hiding a terrible secret. 

Because five of them entered the escape room that day, and only four got out alive. 

And someone is determined to cover their tracks before she can find out the truth.

Can Lisa find the killer before someone else dies?

Review:

Imagine needing a kidney transplant or you’ll die. Then imagine you find a donor just in the nick of time but that donor is actually a close friend and they pass away in order for you to live. Intense stuff and that’s exactly what happens to Lisa. Throw in a good old fashioned whodunnit and I’m hooked!

I love a locked room mystery and this had a clever twist as it takes place when a group of friends visits an escape room, which gave the whole thing a really modern vibe. Having a small pool of suspects sometimes makes it kinda easy to guess whodunnit but the author was very clever here and there was nothing easy about this one! This group of friends all have secrets and things they’re desperate to keep hidden so finding out the truth was not simple. It was a constant guessing game and one that really kept me on my toes.

This was a super fast paced and highly addicting read, I was desperate to find out not only who killed Simon but also what each person was hiding and read it very quickly in order to get to the truth. Multiple narrators that you don’t know if you can trust couple with an intriguing plot and sharp pacing make this one not to miss.

The Friend Who Lied in three words: Addictive, Fast and Tangled

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten @nholten40 @killerreads @botbspublicity #DeadInside

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: May 31, 2019

Publisher: Killer Reads

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?

Review:

Nothing makes me more excited than reading a debut and when it’s an exciting, dark and incredibly well written debut? Then I’m over the moon! Dead Inside surely fit the bill and although I had been eagerly awaiting this book for what feels like forever, it was well worth the wait in the end.

I love a book with a large ensemble cast and although this is the first in a new series following Maggie, it was truly Lucy’s story at it’s core. I loved the combination of a classic police procedural and domestic suspense, there was a lot going on here and although it took me a few chapters to settle in once I did I was well and truly hooked. Lucy is a probation officer and the authors insight and experience in this profession was heavily apparent and heartbreakingly raw and honest. It goes very dark and disturbing, just how I like my crime novels to be and it felt very authentic and truthful.

Overall this was a very compelling read and was sometimes a bit hard to read due to the subject matter, it’s hard hitting and bold. But again, I like my crime fiction dark and thought it was extremely well done and I can’t wait to see where this series goes next!

Dead Inside in three words: Dark, Disturbing and Bold.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: May 1, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Every writer has a story. Some are deadlier than others.

Aspiring author Graye Templeton will do anything to escape the horrific childhood crime that haunts her. After a life lived in shadows, she’s accepted a new job as protégé to Laura West, influential book blogger and wife of an acclaimed novelist. Laura’s connections could make Graye’s publishing dreams a reality. But there’s more to Laura than meets the eye.

Behind the veneer of a charmed life, Laura’s marriage is collapsing. Her once-lauded husband is descending into alcoholism and ruin and bringing Laura nearer to the edge.

As the two women form a bond that seems meant to be, long-buried secrets claw their way into the present, and the line between friendship and obsession begins to blur, forcing each to decide where her loyalties lie. Running from the past is a dangerous game, and the loser could end up dead.

Review:

Ahh I so love diving into a dark tale of obsession, especially when there are two women involved, there’s something intoxicating about a relationship full of secrets to me and there was plenty of that here. This was a slow burn with a big payoff in the end, one of my personal preferences when reading a slower paced book, and I throughly enjoyed this one.

Both Laura and Graye were complex women who were not altogether very likable but I tend to enjoy reading about unlikable (and unreliable) characters. Laura being a book blogger of course interested me but her private life was more fascinating than her career, her marriage is a nightmare and domestic strife never fails to intrigue me. What begins as a close friendship between Laura and Graye soon took some dark twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, it was the kind of read that well and truly sucks you in, especially during the last half. Definitely recommended to add to your summer TBR, it’s got enough of a dark edge to keep things intriguing and is light enough to read by the pool!

The Shadow Writer in three words: Unnerving, Multifaceted and Unpredictable

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak by Adi Alsaid

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: April 30, 2019

Publisher: Inkyard

Genre: YA

Blurb:

Has heartbreak broken her for good?

Dumped by her boyfriend the summer after senior year, teen love and relationship columnist Lu Charles has hit a wall with her writing. The words just won’t come to her like they used to and if she doesn’t find a topic for her column, she’ll lose her gig at hip online magazine Misnomer, and the college scholarship that goes along with it.

Her best friend, Pete, thinks she should write through her own pain, but when Lu overhears another couple planning a precollege breakup just like hers, she becomes convinced that they’re the answer to cracking her writer’s block. And when she meets them—super-practical Iris and cute, sweet Cal—and discovers they’re postponing their breakup until the end of the summer, she has to know more.

Have Cal and Iris prolonged their own misery by staying together, knowing the end is in sight? Or does the secret to figuring out all this love business—and getting over it—lie with them? One thing is certain—if Lu can’t make a breakthrough before summer is over, she can kiss her future goodbye.

From the acclaimed author of Let’s Get Lost and North of Happy comes a touching exploration of love, relationships and the pain of breaking up.

Review:

I used to read a ton of YA and then I just sort of naturally moved away from it over the past few years. I think as I got older I found myself struggling to relate to the characters but when I saw the title of this one I just had to try it, I mean how catchy is it?! I’m really glad I did because even though I still can’t totally relate to a teenager anymore (maybe because I’m old enough to be a parent to a teenager now? 👵🏻) I found myself able to remember how it felt to be a teenager and that worked out well for me.

Lu is the main character and everything is told solely from her POV and man did she frustrate me! This wasn’t a bad thing though, I actually found myself more invested in her story because I was hoping she would wake up and quit being so damn whiny and although she didn’t have this huge, life changing moment where she suddenly matured, she did undergo enough personal growth that I was happy. Also, that’s way more realistic anyway, who all of the sudden grows out of the teenager angsty melodrama overnight? I sure didn’t, maturity (especially emotional maturity) is a gradual process that can’t be rushed.

Besides Lu there were some other really great secondary characters that I really liked and I’m sure that helped with my frustrations with her. My favorite was her best friend, Pete he was a wise and stable presence in her otherwise chaotic and dramatic life and brought some much needed levity to the story. As I mentioned earlier, this one brought me right back to the time when I was a teenager dealing with my first heartbreak and I have to credit the author for that. It’s not always easy to bring me back to older emotional memories while I’m reading and I had no problem remembering how I felt and what that time period in my life truly felt like.

Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak in three words: Bittersweet, Cute and Relatable.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Because of You by Helene Fermont @helenefermont @BOTBSPublicity #BecauseOfYou

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: October 15, 2018

Genre: Fiction

Blurb:

How desperate are you to get the one you love?

When Hannah and Ben meet at a friend’s party, he knows she’s The One. But Hannah’s in an intense relationship with Mark and planning to return to her native Sweden to embark on a teaching career.

Desperate to make Ben fall in love with her, rich spoilt heiress Vanessa sets in motion a devious string of events that ultimately changes the course of four people’s lives indefinitely.

Hannah is the love of Ben’s life, yet Vanessa will stop at nothing to claim the man she is convinced is her destiny.

Because of You is a dark, morally complex and cross-generational story of enduring love, fate and destiny.  

Review:

I haven’t read a good, epic story of a life in way too long and I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed them until I started reading Because of You. It was so completely different from the books I’ve been drawn to as of late. It was an emotional, yet sometimes dark journey alongside Hannah Stein. The novel follows her during the majority of her adult life,  and the reader experiences all the highs and lows of her life right beside her.

It begins when Hannah is just a teenager getting ready to move from her home to London for a gap year. It seems from the start that she’s led a charmed life, she has doting and kind parents and a good relationship with her brother, Peter. Hannah comes across a bit sheltered and pampered in the beginning, and I found myself wondering just how much I would be able to relate to her. I shouldn’t have worried because as the story progresses and Hannah matures, she becomes a woman that practically anyone could relate to. 

I’m reticent to reveal too much about the plot as I really enjoyed going along with Hannah on her journey. She experiences so much throughout her life, and Fermont is not afraid to discuss difficult subject matter. There is divorce, death, grief, loss, epic love, pain, heartbreak, rape, abuse, illness, honestly anything you can imagine that a person may experience in their lifetime. This book had such a genuine and authentic feeling to it and I think it’s partly because all the situations Hannah has to endure are ones that many people have gone through themselves. 

Besides Hannah, there is a wide variety of characters, some you will fall in love with and adore, and others that you will hate. Again, this is no different than the types of people we all encounter in our lives, making it all the more relatable. Since it spans decades of her life, she meets a varied and colorful cast of characters along her way.

I was very invested in Hannah’s life and eager to see where she would end up. As much as I wanted to see how it would end, I was sad to say goodbye to Hannah and her friends and family when it was all over. This is a story of love, friendship and family. A story of one woman’s fascinating life experiences and how she copes with all the pain and loss that comes with simply living life. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank #ByInvitationOnly

About By Invitation Only

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 23, 2019)

The Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.

Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.

By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard -working Southern peach farmers.

Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate, when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?

By Invitation Only is classic Dorothea Benton Frank—a mesmerizing Lowcountry Tale that roars with spirit, humor, and truth, and forces us to reconsider our notions of what it means to be a Have or a Have Not.

Review:

DBF is one of those authors I’ve been meaning to read for years, I’m not sure what took me so long because this one was really fun! Southern Fiction is fast becoming one of my favorite sub genres and I can see why the author is a fan favorite, this was full of southern charm.

This flips back and forth between Diane and Susan, with a few chapters from Susan’s daughter, Shelby as well. When Shelby and Diane’s son Fred get engaged two very different worlds collide. Diane is a country girl through and through and Susan is the total opposite. She’s extremely wealthy and snobby and when the two families meet for the first time, let’s just say it was funny to watch but a nightmare for them both I’m sure. Fred’s family was lovable from the beginning and Shelby’s was again, exactly the opposite but by the end I sort of liked her. There are enough amazing, likable characters with Fred’s extended family and friends that it was actually pretty fun to dislike her.

One small, unique touch from the author was that every chapter was headed with a little snippet of dialogue between the characters that sets the tone for what’s next and I found it to be a really charming little touch. I’m not sure if this is the authors usual style, but either way it was appreciated. I can totally recommend this one to add to your summer reading list, just beware, you may find yourself craving some sweet peach tea and biscuits a few times!

By Invitation Only in three words: Endearing, Funny and Spirited.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Debbie Zammit

About Dorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Find her on the web at www.dotfrank.com, or like her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

April Wrap Up

Yet another monthly wrap up and another weird month for me. The past two weeks have been SO weird for me, I started and stopped like ten books but I think I’m finally starting to pull myself out of a slump 🙌 Again I find myself gravitating towards lighter reads and not thrillers but I’m going with it again 🤷‍♀️

How was your month? Read anything amazing?!

Gimme Some Sugar: Saucy, Sexy and Spirited

You’d Be Mine: Adorable, Angsty and Enjoyable

Trophy Life: Refreshing, Genuine and Funny

Someone Knows: Tense, Gripping and Dark

The Unhoneymooners: Hilarious, Delightful and Saucy

One Summer in Paris: Heartfelt, Poignant and Captivating

The Library of Lost and Found: Quirky, Lovely and Bewitching

Meet Cute: Hot, Amusing and Candid

I Know You: Compulsive, Twisty and Absorbing

Miracle Creek: Memorable, Vivid and Intoxicating

Call Me Star Girl

I’ll Be Watching You: Creepy, Nuanced and Methodical

The Mother In Law: Fresh, Fascinating and Complicated

The Better Sister: Engrossing, Fluid and Scandalous

The Stillwater Girls was a really entertaining read

The Last Dance: Genuine, Sweet and Adorable

Amazing Grace: Evocative, Hopeful and Beautiful

Swimming for Sunlight was cute but I had issues with the protagonist

I Know Who You Are: Disturbing, Dark and Twisted

The View from Alameda Island: Genuine, Warm and Charming

Park Avenue Summer: Captivating, Vivid and Inspiring

Review: Amazing Grace by Kim Nash @KimTheBookworm @HeraBooks @Rararesources

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: April 10, 2019

Publisher: Hera

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

She’s taking her life back, one step at a time…

Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted. 

Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary – and her perfect life fell apart.

Now she’s a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks… 

Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves. 

So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness? 

A funny, feel good romance about finding your own path and changing your life for the better – readers of Cathy Bramley, Jill Mansell and Josie Silver will love this uplifting read.

Review:

I have been anxiously awaiting this gem of a book for what feels like forever so when it was finally time for me to pick it up I was beyond excited! From that cover alone I knew I was going to be reading a light and uplifting book which is honestly all that I’m the mood for lately, but what I didn’t realize what how emotional this one would be, my god it made me tear up too many times to count! I do mean that in the best possible way though, they weren’t tears of pure sadness but instead ones that came from a place of happiness and inspiration, this had a little bit of everything for everyone.

Grace is a newly single mom who’s son Archie is her whole world and while I’m not single myself, I could easily relate to her feelings about motherhood. She does everything for her son and her one purpose in life is to ensure that he’s a happy, well adjusted kid, but somewhere along the way she’s lost herself, her spark. Slowly but surely over the course of the book she begins to find herself again and starts to put her own needs if not before Archie’s, at least towards the top of this list. I really love stories where characters undergo a transformation, there’s something so beautiful about watching it happen and this one was really special. I want a friend like Grace in my own life and to me, that shows the author has done a fantastic job bringing their characters to life.

I said earlier this had something for everyone and it really does, there’s friendship, love, humor, romance and family and a unique and unexpected aspect that really moved me. Grace’s mother died years ago and she’s still grieving the loss but there was a clever little way the reader hears from her that was just so touching and sweet. Highly recommended for anyone who wants a book full of heart and hope, I wholeheartedly loved this and can’t wait to see what Nash comes up with next!

Amazing Grace in three words: Evocative, Hopeful and Beautiful

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Last Dance by Aimee Brown @AimeeBWrites @aria_fiction

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Aria

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Can you truly forgive and forget?

Ambri and Henry have been best friends forever. They’ve been through the highs and lows of life with each other by their sides. The worst? When Henry’s wife, and Ambri’s sister, died. Together, they can face it all. Until one night destroys everything.

Two years after he stepped out of it Henry walks back into Ambri’s life and she’s more than a little shocked. But as old friends fall into even older habits they need to decide whether they can forget the past and embrace their future.

Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult and Anna Bell. 

Review:

Everyone knows that transitioning from friends to more than friends can be messy but what if that shift in a relationship happens after your sister dies? Oh and she was also married to your best friend now turned more than friend, can you say complicated?! Complex love stories are the best, real life relationships are super complex and reading a book with authentic relationships is always so refreshing and this one was as genuine as they come.

One of the things I liked the most in the authors previous book was the fantastic characters that feel like real people and there is that same feeling here. This flips back and forth between Ambri and Henry and I had her back right away, she was so adorable and endearing but poor Henry didn’t win me over until much later, he had to prove himself to me 😜 Besides those two they have friends, Chloe and Ben who are married and I loved them as well, their marriage was fun and silly and added some lightness when things went deep between Ambri and Henry.

There was such a nice balance here, plenty of wit and humor one minute and then heartbreak and grief the next but it all flowed together so well for me. Overall this was a really sweet second chance romance full of heart and humor, I absolutely loved it! Recommended when you want a cute romance with depth that mirrors real life, it’s totally authentic.

The Last Dance in three words: Genuine, Sweet and Adorable.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.