Audiobook Review: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Goodreads

Release date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Everything changed the night she disappeared . . .

On a summer’s night in 1994, sixteen-year-old Flora Powell vanished from her sleepy seaside town without a trace. Their hearts shattered, Flora’s mother, her sister Heather, and Heather’s best friend Jess had to somehow carry on not knowing what happened.

Twenty-five years later, tragedy strikes again when Heather walks into a stranger’s house and allegedly kills two people in cold blood.

Why would this loving wife and doting new mother commit such a heinous crime? Jess, now a reporter, returns to the hometown she left behind to cover the case and dig for answers. But this isn’t like any other story. Jess was like a sister to the Powell girls, until the summer that tore them all apart.

What happened to the girl she used to know? 

The question haunts Jess and propels her to find the key that may unlock the mysteries involving both sisters. But the search may reveal more . . . a darker side to this idyllic place she thought she knew.

Review:

Ok this was a super solid thriller you guys! I love when a book has an old, cold case that somehow merges with something newer and then it opens when a woman walks into a couples home and kills them. I’m hooked!! Throw in Jess who returns to her hometown as a reporter working on the story and you have one hell of a gripping story. You get several viewpoints as this flips between the present with Jess, Margot and Heather and then the past before Flora disappeared and I am always drawn to multiple POV. So the audio version has four narrators and all of them were fantastic. I love a British accent too so that didn’t hurt either and just made this one even more engaging for me. There were also lots of twists and turns and while I did predict a few things, I was also surprised by a few as well. Overall I really enjoyed this one and will definitely be seeking out more books by the author.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Love Next Door by Helena Hunting

Goodreads

Release date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Montlake

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

When Dillion Stitch left her hometown, she had no intention of going back. But when her brother gets into trouble, Dillion reluctantly agrees to return home to take her place at the family business.

Being back in Pearl Lake after all these years feels familiar, but also brings a few surprises. She’s quick to notice that someone new has shown up at the cottage next door. Dillion gets more than an eyeful when she goes to check out the newcomer and meets Donovan “Van” Firestone—her beloved neighbor’s grandson—in all his unclothed glory.

Having gotten off to a rocky start, it’s not long before they begin bickering with each other all over town. All that back and forth inevitably sparks an undeniable attraction. But Dillion’s family has issues, Van’s family resents him, and neither Dillion nor Van feels truly at ease in the small town. For these Pearl Lake exiles, home isn’t just where the heart is—it’s where things get complicated.

Review:

Say hello to my new favorite HH read. I absolutely adored this one from start to finish and cannot even tell you how excited I am that it’s the start of a brand new series. I’m a sucker for a small town romance and combine that with the authors trademark humor and sexiness and this was an awesome summer read.

I felt like this was slight departure from some of the authors other books, this had a more mature feel to it that I really appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed all of her past books that I’ve read but this one seemed more sweet and tender and I am here for it. Dillion and Van had an amazing connection, both physically and emotionally and there’s just something about a romance with feelings that just gets me right in my feels. I loved the quaint little lakeside town and could see so many options for additional books, I see the breadcrumbs HH was laying out and I’m following them for sure. There were a couple of side plots that were interesting as well and they only added to my enjoyment instead of distracting from the main plot. All the stars for this one, romance fans shouldn’t miss this!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Goodreads

Release date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

When up-and-coming investment banker Jess Kim is passed over for a promotion, laid off in a virtual meeting, and then overhears why (“she’s already being overpaid anyway for a woman” and “Asians are worker bees, not someone who can drum up new deals”) she delivers an “eff you guys” speech and storms out of the building. Not sure what’s next, she moves back home to Tennessee with her domineering Korean mom, who tries to set her up with her pastor’s son Daniel Choi, an M&A lawyer by day and a successful video game streamer by night. Turns out he’s swoony and smart, not the awkward preacher’s kid she remembers. With his help, Jess launches a Korean cooking YouTube channel focused on easy meal prep for busy professionals.

All is going well until her mom walks on the show mid-live recording and argues about cooking technique. While she hates being berated by her mother in front of the world, it actually works in their favor—they go viral!

Soon her cooking channel becomes an actual media company and brand. When a client is suddenly interested in buying Jess out, she finds herself sitting across the table from the very investment firm she quit not so long ago. But there’s just one other problem: Daniel, the guy whose been helping her andthat she’s been falling for, is the firm’s new general counsel.

Review:

Ok if you like romances with a side of food and culture this one is a must, it was SO good! I was totally charmed by both love interests Jess and Daniel, but also by Jess’ parents and basically all of the secondary characters as well. While I would definitely still classify this as a romance it had plenty of elements of women’s fiction as well as Jess is on a journey of her own totally independent of her developing relationship with Daniel, but I think that aspect is actually what made this one so enjoyable for me. Her character growth was great and I was rooting for her the whole time as she began to realize what she wanted for her life, it was empowering and really fun to see. I spoke of the food before but you guys, the descriptions were mouth watering and I’ve had a serious craving for Korean food ever since I started this one. I always love learning more about different cultures and I thought the author did a fantastic job at incorporating an authentic Korean experience into this sweet and sexy tale. Clearly I loved this one and definitely recommend it!

I have to give a nod to the narrator, Jackie Chung. You know how sometimes when you’re reading a physical book you can hear a voice in your head of what you think the character should sound like? Jackie’s voice was exactly that for me, she was the perfect Jess and I found her narration to be incredibly heartfelt and believable.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Safe in my Arms by Sara Shepard

Goodreads

Release date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie all see themselves as good, loving moms who are trying their best, but they each arrive at the Silver Swans preschool Welcome Breakfast with something to hide. Andrea is running away from a past on the East Coast, which she cannot afford for the other parents to discover. Lauren is recovering from a postpartum condition her husband has warned her not to disclose. And Ronnie is hiding herself and her daughter from the one man who could at any moment appear in their lives and ruin everything she holds dear. They already feel like impostors among the school’s community of polished parents. But then notes appear in their children’s backpacks after the first day at school. Notes that indicate that someone knows their deepest, darkest secrets and needs them gone. Does someone not want them in the community? Or is it something more menacing—does someone know everything?

When the principal of the school is the victim of an almost-fatal attack, it quickly becomes clear that the Silver Swans community is not as flawless as the brochures and website would have you believe. The three moms must band together to uncover the school’s many secrets before the other suspicious parents and town police close in and use their outsider status to blame them . . . and before they lose what they have worked so hard for.

Review:

I’ve been a big fan of the author since her PLL books and have enjoyed a couple of her adult thrillers as well but her books always seem to be missing a little something for me in the end. It’s kind of weird because while I’m reading I’m usually engrossed and entertained but when I finish I often find myself thinking, that’s it? So I’m not sure but I do know that I always end up finishing her books, I just find them to be a little lacking in some way.

I’m a sucker for any book that explores motherhood, even more so if the book is a thriller so I was hooked from the start here. The setting of a ritzy private preschool also appealed to me and then three women with secrets is basically my catnip. Like I said earlier, I’m always reeled in enough to read SS books quickly, but I think what was missing for me here was a more mature quality to make this feel like an adult thriller. I think where this author shines is her YA books so maybe next time I read her I just need to remember to go into it pretending it’s YA and I’ll like it more? Who knows honestly, I’m sure I’ll read her books in the future she does come up with some interesting premises. I think if you don’t mind a juvenile feeling “thriller” this may work for you, because her style is compelling for sure and while some parts of this were easy for me to predict I definitely didn’t see everything coming either. Clearly I have mixed feelings.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Goodreads

Release date: July 13, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.

Review:

I have a new favorite Tessa Bailey book!! I love having trusted authors like TB that I can count on when I’m not really feeling any other books I try and read and I started this gem at the perfect time. I was immediately hooked by Piper as the odd man out in a tiny fishing town, her naivety was hilarious as she had to navigate the real world for the first time in her whole life. Brendan as the gruff, closed off macho man was the polar opposite of Piper and there were so many adorable and funny scenes between these two. Their chemistry was great as they started off as enemies though their attraction is undeniable and the banter was on point as well. Their relationship seemed to progress in a really natural manner, I think sometimes romance authors can struggle to get that aspect to real genuine and it was perfection here. The author also knows how to right a super sexy and steamy love scene and this was no exception, add in interesting secondary characters and I’m already dying to get my hands on the next book which will follow Piper’s sister, Hannah.

Charlotte North was an amazing narrator and she had me engaged the whole time. While I was already totally invested in the story, her narration added an additional layer of depth and emotion that made this one impossible for me to put down! I think this may be the first book I’ve listened to that she narrated but it will not be my last she’s awesome!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

Release date: July 20, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.

Review:

I freaking love this series and was SO excited to finally get to read The Russian’s story! His backstory has been a bit of a mystery since the start and I’ve been dying to know more about this gentle giant and his wife, Elena. All I’ve known about him before this installment was that he’s a hockey player with a sensitive stomach and a heart bigger than Russia and now that I’ve finished I’m so happy to have learned more about him, he’s the sweetest.

I’m always eager to read a romance where there’s a marriage in crisis and I liked the unique spin here as Vlad and Elena were also in a marriage of convenience. Add in some forced proximity and Vlad writing his own romance novel and this was the sweetest and most tender book of the series. I adore Vlad and am a little in love with him myself, he’s this badass aggressive player on the ice and off he’s an amazing friend and the most sensitive of all the Bros, SWOON! As always I love checking in on the other boys and can’t wait to see who gets to shine in book five. If you haven’t read this series and you love romance novels as much as I do it’s a must, they’re all fantastic!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The House Guests by Emilie Richards

Release date: June 29, 2021

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Mystery/Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Two women. Two families. Two lifetimes’ worth of secrets.

In the wake of her husband’s sudden death, Cassie Costas finds her relationship with her teenage stepdaughter unraveling. After their move to historic Tarpon Springs, Florida, Savannah hates her new town, her school and most of all her stepmom, whom she blames for her father’s death. Cassie has enough to contend with as she searches for answers about the man she shared a life with, including why all their savings have disappeared.

When Savannah’s rebellion culminates in an act that leaves single mother Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son homeless, Cassie empathizes with the woman’s predicament and invites the strangers to move in. As their lives intertwine, Cassie realizes that Amber is hiding something. She’s evasive about her past, but the fear in her eyes tells a darker story. Cassie wonders what the woman living under her roof is running from…and what will happen if it finally catches up to her.

Review:

Do you ever go into a book with the wrong expectations and that basically ruins the whole thing for you? I really thought this would be a domestic suspense/thriller and instead it was more women’s fiction with a side of lighter suspense and unfortunately that just didn’t work for me so well here. There were definitely still elements that I liked but overall I was hoping for more.

I do want to say that the narrator, Vanessa Johansson was fantastic and I credit her with me even finishing this one. I’m quicker to set a book aside in print versus audio and that’s especially true for me if the narrator is engaging and this one was. Between that and the fact that I was invested in the mystery aspect I felt compelled to finish and I’m mostly glad I did. This was character driven with two women who were interesting enough but anything related to the mystery of both Cassie’s husbands death and Amber’s past were both easy for me to figure out. I was hoping for more surprises than I got and I guess just overall I wanted more tension and suspense.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

Goodreads

Release date: July 6, 2021

Publisher: Flatiron

Genre: Thriller

Synopsis:

A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.

Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.

Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change – and maybe even redemption.

Review:

Last summer you may remember me raving about this authors book, Blacktop Wasteland because I couldn’t shut up about it. It was such an incredible story and definitely still a favorite to this day. While this was another highly original story it had many of the same elements that I loved in BW which really solidified this authors place on my auto buy list, he’s outstanding.

I think where this author shines the most is that he is able to combine an action packed series of events with an emotionally charged motivation and that combo will always reel me right in. Ike and Buddy Lee’s sons have already been murdered when the book begins so the whole thing is about the two men teaming up to get revenge. The cops have no leads so it’s up to them and since both men failed their sons while they were alive, the only option left is to get them vengeance in death. This was powerful as you have not only two grieving fathers but two grieving fathers who don’t really have many nice memories to look back on with their sons. Both men were homophobic and totally unaccepting of Derek and Isiah’s marriage and seeing their raw struggle was such a powerful thing. It’s hard to say what’s better here, the depth of the characters or the high octane, action packed plot because both were just amazing. This one is a must read and definitely a favorite of the year for me so it’s highly recommended!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: No More Words by Kerry Lonsdale

Release date: July 6, 2021

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Forced to choose between abortion or adoption, Olivia Carson’s younger sister, Lily, runs away from home. Sixteen and pregnant, she never returns. But she writes. Once a year, Lily mails a picture of her son, Josh, to Olivia until his thirteenth year. Then it’s Josh himself who arrives at Olivia’s house, alone, terrified, and in possession of a notarized declaration from Lily. It begins, “In the event I go missing…”

Josh has difficulty talking. He can’t read or write, but he’s a prolific artist, exhibiting skill beyond his age. His drawings are as detailed as they are horrific. Olivia soon realizes Josh’s artwork tells a story. There’s more to his arrival and to Lily’s untimely disappearance than it seems. Using the drawings as a road map, Olivia traces Josh’s path back to his mom. Each drawing sheds light on Lily’s past and reveals a darkness that forces Olivia to question everything she thought she knew about her family

Review:

The start of a new trilogy from Kerry Lonsdale is cause for celebration for me, I loved her previous series and I’ve loved her standalones as well. This was such a strong start to a series, I cannot wait for the next two books!

One of the best things about this authors books is that they’re a blend of so many genres so there’s literally something for everyone. There’s a mystery surrounding both her nephews appearance and her sister’s disappearance, a romance between Liv and Blaze, and an emotional plot as family secrets are revealed. I loved seeing Liv connect with her nephew and build a familial bond over their concern over Lily and found Josh to be such a sweet kid. I found this to be such a page turner and I was invested almost immediately, definitely recommended as an engrossing summer read.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Summer Reading Guide

My first summer reading guide is finally here and I could not be more thrilled! For years now I’ve wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite book recommendations and I finally managed to do it. Just in time too, today is the first official day of summer and I have you covered so you can fill up your online shopping carts or put those holds in at the library or maybe get your Kindle loaded before your vacation. From recent releases, to upcoming ones I’m excited about all the way to favorites from summers past there is something for everyone here. Let me know what’s on your summer TBR!

New Release Recommendations

This one is the ultimate summer read, you get to follow the main characters on several notable vacations and it’s a funny and sexy rom com as well.
The cover for this one just screams summer, right?! So does what’s inside, you can find my review here.
If you’re a fan of Dirty Dancing and family dramas this is a must, check out my review here
If you’re looking for a quirky read with great characters and a fun setting this is for you! Find my review here.
I loved the nostalgia this one brought me, and if you’re a wine drinker there’s plenty of that here too. Fans of women’s fiction with strong female leads and a side of “trashy” novels will like this.
If you like books about weddings, a large ensemble cast and are a fan of the movie Love Actually this one is a must! Find my review here.
A cross between Finlay Donovan and Crazy Rich Asians this one is hilarious! Read this when you want a silly story that will crack you up. My review is here.
This one is heartfelt, bittersweet and poignant and follows a group of lifelong friends when they reunite after some time apart.
It’s TJR, do I even have to say more? Her books are ultimate summer reads and this one is more than most, it’s a multilayered family drama with the best descriptive settings.
This is YA rom com gold and the audio version is perfection! If you like rom com movies of the past you’ll love the nods found here, find my review here .
A little dark and heavy for a summer read but I couldn’t resist adding it because I still loved it so much. The balance between heavy and light was perfect and I didn’t find it too much personally. My review is here.

Upcoming Releases

These next ones are basically my summer TBR, they’re not out yet but will be between the end of June through August.

Past Faves

I tried to really comb through my old reviews and find books that I really enjoyed in past summers in the hopes that they may be easier for everyone to get their hands on. I’ve also linked to my review when I could if you want more details.

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I’m not gonna link to my review because it has some spoilers because it was like one of the first reviews I ever wrote and I didn’t know any better but I remember absolutely loving this one!
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Review and an FYI this whole series is amazing!
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