Review: For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: December 1, 2018

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Till death do us part

When they fell in love back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke joked that they were so brilliant, together they could plan the perfect murder. After fifteen rocky years of marriage, they had better hope they’re right.

Their young son Jacob’s principal is accused of molesting a troubled student. It’s a horrifying situation—and the poison spreads rapidly. One night before bed, Jacob tells Natalie he is a victim, too. In that moment, her concept of justice changes forever. Natalie decides the predator must die.

To shelter Jacob from the trauma of a trial, Natalie concocts an elaborate murder plot and Will becomes her unwilling partner. The Clarkes are about to find out what happens when your life partner becomes your accomplice—and your alibi. 

Review:

I love the moral questions the premise alone brings up, could you kill someone if they hurt your child? I know my husband and I have had several conversations about this very subject and we both agree it could be tempting. That makes us sound no better than Nat and Will haha, but honestly the thought alone of someone molesting one of my kids makes my blood boil and I’m just saying that I can see why one would contemplate it.

Much like her previous book this is a lighter thriller, almost like Chick Lit with a dark edge. There is nothing super graphic or gory here, it really examines behavior instead and follows this couple as they grapple with really tough questions and choices. I’m not sure I can really say that I liked either Nat or Will but I did empathize with them and could even mostly understand why they made the choices that they did. They seemed realistic and genuine, just an average couple put in extraordinary situations doing the best they can for their son. While they seemed fairly realistic I do want to say that parts of this were pretty implausible, so fair warning.

I completely binge read this one and would once again recommend for a weekend or a vacation read. The pacing was incredibly fast and I finished in just a few hours as I just had to know what would happen to this family. Awesome domestic suspense that I can recommend for anyone looking for a lighter style read that still delves into the dark side of humanity.

For Better and Worse in three words: Binge-worthy, Addictive and Quick.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Amendment by Anne Leigh Parrish

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 26, 2018

Publisher: Unsolicited

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

When Lavinia Starkhurst’s husband is killed in a freak accident, she takes to the open road and meets a number of strangers, all with struggles of their own. Through these unexpected and occasionally hilarious encounters, Lavinia reflects on her past deeds, both good and bad, explores her two marriages, her roles as caregiver and wife, hoping all the while for self-acceptance and something to give her new life meaning.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Amendment. If you would like to follow along with the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

Based on the short blurb I assumed that this would be sad and while it definitely had some reflective moments, it was ultimately a story of hope and resilience. I love being surprised by the contents of a book and this one definitely did that and more.

I love a quirky and unique heroine and Lavinia delivered a highly usual point of view, she’s not some delicate widow she’s a strong woman who is grieving in her own way and on her own terms, which I love! Even when her family and friends think she’s crazy for embarking on a road trip all alone with no solid plan she doesn’t care and just lives her best life. Her brand of humor was dry and a bit dark which I also love so being privy to her inner monologue was so entertaining to me. The entire style of this was drool and sardonic and written in a really matter of fact, straightforward and simple way. Easily a book you can fly through in one sitting and that was enjoyable from the first page to the last.

The Amendment in three words: Unusual, Amusing and Effortless.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

About the Author:

Parrish is the author of five previously published books of fiction: Women Within, a novel (Black Rose Writing, 2017); By The Wayside, stories (Unsolicited Press, 2017); What Is Found, What Is Lost, a novel (She Writes Press, 2014); Our Love Could Light The World, stories (She Writes Press, 2013); and All The Roads That Lead From Home, stories, (Press 53, 2011). She is the author of over forty-five published short stories, and numerous essays on the art and craft of writing. Learn more by visiting her website at http://www.anneleighparrish.com.

Connect with Anne

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: In Harms Way by Owen Mullen @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook

Goodreads

Release date: October 16, 2018

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Bloodhound

Blurb:

What if you were being stalked and no one believed you?

What if you were abducted in broad daylight?

What if you were chained to a bed and held captive in a cellar? What would you do?

Mackenzie Crawford screamed.

What if your wife went out at night and wouldn’t say where she was going?

What if she admitted she had a lover?

What if you came home one day and discovered she’d left?

What would you do?

Derek Crawford went to pieces.

What if a woman with an alcohol problem disappeared?

What if there was no evidence of a crime?

What if her brother asked you to help?

What would you do?

In Glasgow, DI Andrew Geddes put the case to the top of his list.

What if someone you loved was in harm’s way?

Review:

Over the last few years I’ve become quite the fan of Mullen’s work, he has two other series that follow private investigators and this standalone was quite the departure from his previous novels. It’s more of a domestic thriller, it follows several members of the same family and asks some unique questions, such as what if you went missing and no one was even worried? What if it was almost expected, what if no one is even looking for you because they don’t realize that you’re actually in danger? The thought alone terrifies me and made for an interesting premise.

Although the plot of this one was different from the authors previous books his easy, casual writing style still shines brightly and just always works so well for me. Each chapter is about one day from the lead up to when Mackenzie goes missing all the way until the end. Super vague, I know but saying more would be a spoiler and trust me, you don’t want me to spoil this one. None of the main cast of characters was particularly likable, but they were authentic, we all know people just like them in real life, bad behavior and all. I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Andrew Geddes who first popped up in the Charlie Cameron series, I just always love when authors cleverly bring old characters into new books and he was an excellent addition to the story.

This does have less action than in his other work, it examines the dynamics between a dysfunctional family and then in each of their three separate marriages and that never fails to fascinate me. Mullen is one of those writers that just gets better with each book and he was already good, I’m a firm fan and will continue to follow his career closely.

In Harms Way in three words: Smooth, Intriguing and Unexpected.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: October 1, 2018

Publisher: Hanover Square

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Rebecca’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ezra, has gone missing, but when she notifies the police, they seem surprisingly unconcerned. They suspect he has been playing the “stranger game,” a viral hit in which players start following others in real life, as they might otherwise do on social media. As the game spreads, however, the rules begin to change, play grows more intense and disappearances are reported across the country.

Curious about this popular new obsession, and hoping that she might be able to track down Ezra, Rebecca tries the game for herself. She also meets Carey, who is willing to take the game further than she imagined possible. As her relationship with Carey and involvement in the game deepen, she begins to uncover an unsettling subculture that has infiltrated the world around her. In playing the stranger game, what may lead her closer to finding Ezra may take her further and further from the life she once lived.

A thought-provoking, haunting novel, The Stranger Game unearths the connections, both imagined and real, that we build with the people around us in the physical and digital world, and where the boundaries blur between them.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Stranger Game, if you would like to follow along with the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

I really liked the idea behind this one, getting followers on social media is an obsession for many people and seeing the follower phenomenon take place in real life fascinated me. There is something so creepy about playing a game where you follow random people while they go about their day, but we all do this on social media with no hesitation, yet there is such a big difference.

The style of this was a bit different, the writing is sparse but the prose is still hauntingly beautiful in an odd way. This has a strong literary vibe and was light on the thrills but it’s still very mysterious in its own unique way. At times it read like a social commentary about this social media obsessed society we’ve created but it was subtle, yet thought provoking. A bit different than what I expected but nonetheless an entertaining read that I would recommend for anyone looking for something unique.

The Stranger Game in three words: Unusual, Smart and Deep.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Peter Gadol’s seven novels include THE STRANGER GAME, SILVER LAKE, LIGHT AT DUSK, and THE LONG RAIN. His work his been translated for foreign editions and appeared in literary journals, including StoryQuarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, and Tin House. Gadol lives in Los Angeles, where he is Chair and Professor of the MFA Writing program at Otis College of Art and Design. Visit petergadol.com for more info on his work.

Review: Our Little Lies by Sue Watson @suewatsonwriter @bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: October 11, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Marianne has a life others dream of. A beautiful townhouse on the best street in the neighbourhood. Three bright children who are her pride and joy.

Sometimes her past still hurts: losing her mother, growing up in foster care. But her husband Simon is always there. A successful surgeon, he’s the envy of every woman they’ve ever met. Flowers, gifts, trips to France – nothing is too good for his family.

Then Simon says another woman’s name. The way he lingers on it, Caroline, gives Marianne a shudder of suspicion, but she knows she can’t entertain this flash of paranoia.

In the old days, she’d have distracted herself at work, but Marianne left her glamorous career behind when she got married. She’d speak to a friend, but she’s too busy with her children and besides, Simon doesn’t approve of the few she has left.

It’s almost by accident that Marianne begins to learn more about Caroline. But once she starts, she can’t stop. Because what she finds makes her wonder whether the question she should be asking is not ‘should she be jealous’, but… ‘should she be scared’?

Fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go looking for a dark, gripping psychological thriller, with a final twist that will put their jaw on the floor, will love Our Little Lies.

I’m so excited to be one of the stops on the blog blitz for Our Little Lies today!

Review:

Did you catch the authors name at the top of this post? Yes, it’s Sue Watson, the same lovely lady who writes romantic comedies that make me laugh hysterically one minute and then swoon the next. Little did I know that she has a dark side, she’s not all cakes and champagne, she went very dark for her latest book and it was amazing!! I’m even more in awe of her than I already was, she is fabulous at both genres and has an even bigger fan in me than I was before.

This had a slow burning style of suspense, the kind that creeps up on you and then in the end leaves you reeling. It all begins with Simon and Marianne, they have a picture perfect life and seem blissfully happy. We all know that not is always as it seems to outsiders and their relationship is fraught with tension and hostility underneath the surface. While I truly enjoyed Marianne, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of her up until the very end. She seems unhinged somehow, but she’s also sweet and a loving mother as well, she made me scratch my head. She also had the funniest hashtags, some of Watson’s trademark humor snuck through and I loved the black humor that broke up an otherwise tense story.

This was yet another case where I was absolutely sure that I knew exactly what would happen only to be totally wrong in the end. While the tension builds at a steady pace for most of the book at about three quarters of the way through the real surprises begin and I was well and truly stunned. This had a whopper of an ending and if this is only Watson’s first foray into psychological thrillers I cannot wait to see what she does next!

Our Little Lies in three words: Dark, Devious and Impressive.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

About the author: 
Sue Watson was a journalist then TV Producer at the BBC until she wrote her first book and was hooked. 

She’s now written thirteen novels – many involving cake – and her books have been translated into Italian, German and Portuguese. Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire where much of her day is spent procrastinating while eating cake (for research purposes), and watching ‘My 600lb Life,’ on the sofa.

Sue explored the darker side of life for her latest book ‘Our Little Lies,’ a dark, psychological thriller completely devoid of cake. She’s hoping this change in direction will be reflected on the weighing scales.

For more info visit Sue’s website; http://www.suewatsonbooks.com/

Sue would love to meet you on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/suewatsonbooks

Follow Sue on Twitter @suewatsonwriter

Review: Under My Skin by Lisa Unger

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: October 1, 2018

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

What if the nightmares are actually memories?

It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack, was brutally murdered during his morning run through Manhattan’s Riverside Park. In the immediate aftermath, Poppy spiraled into an oblivion of grief, disappearing for several days only to turn up ragged and confused wearing a tight red dress she didn’t recognize. What happened to Poppy during those lost days? And more importantly, what happened to Jack?

The case was never solved, and Poppy has finally begun to move on. But those lost days have never stopped haunting her. Poppy starts having nightmares and blackouts—there are periods of time she can’t remember, and she’s unable to tell the difference between what is real and what she’s imagining. When she begins to sense that someone is following her, Poppy is plunged into a game of cat and mouse, determined to unravel the mystery around her husband’s death. But can she handle the truth about what really happened?

I’m so thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Under My Skin today! If you would like to follow along with the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

Talk about a book that will make your head spin!! I will admit for the first bit I was slightly confused but I think that’s mostly due to the fact the Unger is such a fantastic writer that she just drew me into the tangled web that is Poppy’s life so wholly. Once I caught on I was utterly hooked, and found myself totally caught up and invested in this one.

I haven’t so strongly felt a characters paranoia and unease since The Woman in the Window, I had similar feelings while reading this especially as I could not for the life of me figure out if Poppy was insane or not. She teeters back and forth between seeming mostly sane and then she goes off the rails, she has crazy dreams and has problems separating her dreams from what’s actually happening and I couldn’t begin to figure out what was actually going on and what was part of her delusion. Add in a penchant for popping pills and she was one hot mess but she was sympathetic. She’s deep in the throes of grief and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her even if her decision making skills were severely lacking.

This was just really well executed overall, the writing is top notch and the plot itself was gripping as well. Poppy was extremely well developed and highly complex, love her or hate her she was endlessly fascinating and I couldn’t wait to see how things would play out for her. Fans of Unger will be pleased and new readers will be happy to discover a talented new author.

Under My Skin in three words: Wild, Unnerving and Unreliable.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling, award-winning author of sixteen novels, including the new psychological thriller UNDER MY SKIN (coming Oct 2!)

Her books are published in twenty-six languages worldwide, have sold millions of copies and have been named “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, Indie Booksellers, Goodreads, and Sun-Sentinel to name a few.

Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and Travel+Leisure Magazine. Lisa Unger lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with her husband, daughter and labradoodle.

Connect with Lisa

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke @Karenclarke123 @bookouture

Amazon

Release date: October 5, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the café at Seashell Cove, where there’s hot chocolate to keep you warm – and the man of your dreams could be waiting…

Interior designer Tilly Campbell loves being carefree and single. But her latest job is redecorating the cosy local café for a Christmas party, and when her friends confess their plans for the big night – including a proposal, a declaration of love and a pregnancy announcement – Tilly starts to wonder if she might be missing out…

Transforming the café into a winter wonderland is more of a challenge than she thought, so when she bumps into gorgeous newcomer Seth, Tilly welcomes the distraction. Seth is a single father, struggling to settle his son Jack into their new cottage, and Tilly is determined to help them make their house into a home in time for Christmas.

But with the café still in chaos just days before the party it looks like it’s going to be a Christmas to remember for all the wrong reasons… With friends old and new relying on her, can Tilly save the Christmas party?

And could she finally find love waiting for her under the mistletoe?

A heart-warming, hilarious read about friendship, family and the meaning of Christmas. Perfect for fans of Sue Moorcroft, Holly Martin and Debbie Johnson! 

I’m delighted to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove today!

Review:

This is the third book in a series but since life got in the way this summer I wasn’t able to read the second book. It was no problem reading this as a standalone as each book focuses on a specific couple but they are set in the same charming town so there are lots of cameos from old friends. This time it’s about Tilly, she was such a warm, likable character and one I took a liking to instantly. As usual all of the characters were very easy to like (with the exception of one or two) and it makes me want to pack up and move to Seashell Cove myself.

The romance here was one of those slow builds, a friends to lovers trope and it’s so nice to see as it always comes across as highly realistic and like the way a relationship would unfold in real life. The humor in Clarke’s books is always what keeps me coming back for more and her trademark wit is in full effect here, I always finish her books with a grin on my face and this time I was even feeling a festive vibe, I couldn’t ask for anything more!

Christmas at Seashell Cove in three words: Enchanting, Festive and Adorable.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Karen is the author of the popular BEACHSIDE and SEASHELL COVE series of romantic comedies, published by Bookouture.

She’s also written three romcoms with a paranormal twist, all available to download

When she’s not working on her novels, Karen writes short stories for women’s magazines and has had over three hundred published globally. Some of them can be read in her short story collection ‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS…and other Tales with a Twist’

Karen lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children, and when she’s not writing loves reading, walking, baking and eating cake.

Review: The Night In Question by Nic Joseph

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: October 2, 2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Your ride is here…

When Paula picks up her last passenger of the night, all she sees is a few more dollars to put toward her husband’s medical bills. That’s before she recognizes the quiet stranger in her back seat as a world-famous musician and realizes the woman waiting at his destination is not his equally famous wife. So, Paula does what any down-on-her-luck woman would do.

She asks for money in exchange for silence.

But when a woman is murdered in the same building days later, Paula discovers she is the only witness to the secret affair—an affair that incriminates the musician. Now, Paula’s silence comes at a much more dangerous price.

Review:

I really liked the basis for this one, the whole idea of can a person be inherently good if they make a series of bad decisions? What if those choices are made for the greater good, does that give them a pass or maybe just some leeway? It’s interesting to say the least and besides these moral questions it’s also super tense and told using a structure that I love.

Both Paula and the detective investigating the murder narrate this with Paula supplying the bulk of the narrative. It jumps from after the night in question itself to before and then the actual night of but it was laid out very clearly and wasn’t confusing for me at all. I found it to be a true page turner, it was written very fluently and I was engaged and eager to find out how it would all end. It reads like a slow burn to begin with but then the tension steadily increases the further you get and then by the ending things get really good and the intensity is through the roof. I had my suspicions and while I was partly right the author did have some tricks up her sleeve. At times I was reminded of a good old fashioned whodunnit with a modern twist so if you like that style check this one out.

The Night In Question in three words: Taut, Pacey and Engrossing.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Booksparks for my review copy.

Review: You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult. 

Review:

Baart is quickly becoming one of those authors that are an automatic read for me without even reading the blurb of her books. She somehow manages to infuse her books with a quiet and steady type of suspense that makes me take a deep breath and slow down and she also takes the reader on a highly emotional journey all the while exploring new topics and teaching me a thing or two. It’s a powerful experience, truly special and unique.

Baart delves into the darker side of adoption and her knowledge is apparent as she is an adoptive mother herself. She is such a gifted writer and she captures all the emotions and feelings surrounding motherhood so perfectly it almost breaks your heart. I found myself thinking, yaasss girl! SO many times while reading, she just gets it, she makes you feel both seen and heard. She also crafts incredibly well drawn and relatable characters and Jessica had me behind her one hundred percent the whole way through.

Her books do remind me a little of Liane Moriarty so if you’re a fan give Baart a try. There’s a raw vulnerability to her books that just speaks to me and while this is definitely a slow burning suspense there’s enough intrigue to satisfy mystery fans.

You Were Always Mine in three words: Compelling, Vulnerable and Multifaceted.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK

Release date: October 4, 2018

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

We went to school that Tuesday like normal.

Not all of us came home . . .

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing.

Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can.

Review:

Some of you may remember me raving about this book earlier this year and in honor of paperback publication day I’m resharing my review! It still remains one of the best books I’ve read all year.

The whole story is told through the eyes of Zach, a seven year old little guy and it begins on the day a gunman opens fire at his elementary school. I have three small kids, 9, 6 and 3 and my two oldest have participated in multiple lockdown drills. I remember when my oldest daughter came home from kindergarten talking about what to do if “a bad guy comes to my school mommy, we have to hide in the bathroom and stay super quiet.” That chilled me to my core but unfortunately that’s the world we live in. The world I’m raising my gorgeous kids in. It’s terrifying. I was a senior in high school back in 1999 when Columbine happened and I remember how scared and confused I was, how I couldn’t comprehend such a tragic event. All of that to say, I knew this would be a difficult book to read, I knew I would be emotional but I also knew it would be important and I’m extremely glad that I did read this because the author handled everything with grace and compassion.

Zach, what a special little boy he is, he has a piece of my heart. Seeing the entire story through a child’s eyes really brought a simplicity to things, kids are so pure and innocent. Children can often be pushed to the side when adults are dealing with grown up problems and that is what broke my heart the most. I wanted to scoop this little man up and take all of his worries away, that’s how realistic he seemed and his voice? Unbelievably accurate, I felt like I was listening to my daughter talk to me.

I could honestly discuss this book for hours, but I’ll finish up and say that I really feel like this is a vital read for everyone. It’s ripped from the current headlines, and it’s every single parents worst fear. Navin did an amazing job at handling the issues in a sensitive and realistic way, this is truly a special book.

Only Child in three words: Compelling, Moving and Timely.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.