Review: The Wife Before by Shanora Williams

Goodreads

Release date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Kensington

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Samira Wilder has never had it easy, and when her latest lousy job goes south, things only promise to get harder. Until she unexpectedly meets a man who will change her life forever. Renowned pro golfer Roland Graham is wealthy, handsome, and caring, and Samira is dazzled. Best of all, he seems to understand her better than anyone ever has. And though their relationship moves a bit fast, when Roland proposes, Samira accepts. She even agrees to relocate to his secluded Colorado mansion. After all, there’s nothing to keep her in Miami, and the mansion clearly makes him happy. Soon, they are married amid a media firestorm, and Samira can’t wait to make a fresh start—as the second Mrs. Graham . . .

Samira settles into the mansion, blissfully happy—until she discovers long-hidden journals belonging to Roland’s late wife, Melanie, who died in a tragic accident. With each dusty page, Samira comes to realize that perhaps it was no accident at all—that perhaps her perfect husband is not as perfect as she thought. Even as her trust in Roland begins to dwindle and a shadow falls over her marriage and she begins to fear for her own life, Samira is determined to uncover the truth of Melanie’s troubled last days. But even good wives should know that the truth is not always what it seems . . .

Review:

If you’re anything like me when you read the synopsis for this you probably thought it sounded familiar. You would be wrong though and I was too, the author took a basic idea and put her own unique spin on it. I love thinking I have everything figured out in a book only to have the author knock me on my ass with a series of twists and turns and that’s exactly what happened here. This was super fast paced with short chapters that just beg you to keep reading and that’s exactly what I did. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next with these messy lives and I was hooked, there was definitely some juicy material here making this an ideal summer thriller. Definitely recommended as a weekend binge read, this was really addictive!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Meet the Geller sisters: Beck, Claire, and Sophie, a trio of strong-minded women whose pragmatic, widowed mother, Marti, will be dying soon. Marti has ensured that her modest estate is easy for her family once she’s gone––including a provision that the family’s summer cottage on Mount Desert Island, Maine, must be sold, the proceeds split equally between the three girls.

Beck, the eldest, is a freelance journalist whose marriage looks more like a sibling bond than a passionate partnership. In fact, her husband is hiding a troubling truth about his love life. For Beck, the Maine cottage has been essential to her secret wish to write a novel––and to remake the terms of her relationship.

Despite her accomplishments as a pediatric cardiologist, Claire, the middle daughter, has always felt like the Geller misfit. Recently divorced, Claire’s unrequited love for the wrong man is slowly destroying her, and she’s finding that her expertise on matters of the heart unfortunately doesn’t extend to her own.

Youngest daughter Sophie appears to live an Instagram-ready life, filled with glamorous work and travel, celebrities, fashion, art, and sex. In reality, her existence is a cash-strapped house of cards that may tumble at any moment.

But when C.J. Reynolds, an enigmatic southerner with his own hidden past enters the picture, the future of the Maine cottage––and of the sisters themselves––will take on an entirely new dimension.

Review:

I knew having read the authors previous book that she writes character driven novels about family so while my expectations were set accordingly, there was still something off about this one for me. Usually when I’m engrossed in an audiobook I have no problem following along but here my mind was wandering at different points along the way and I had to really try to focus and pay attention. I think part of my issue was that I didn’t really care for any of the Geller sisters so it was difficult to be invested in their story. The whole thing just felt kinda messy and pointless but I will say between the good writing and the wonderful audio narration I did finish it so it definitely wasn’t all bad. I just think I wanted an overall better connection to the story and characters.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Emerging journalist Adina Gellar is done with dating in New York City. If she’s learned anything from made-for-TV romance movies, it’s that she’ll find love in a small town – the kind with harvest festivals, delightful but quirky characters, and scores of delectable single dudes. So when a big-city real estate magnate targets tiny Pleasant Hollow for development, Adi knows she’s found the perfect story – one that will earn her a position at a coveted online magazine, so she can finally start adulting for real…and maybe even find her dream man in the process.

Only Pleasant Hollow isn’t exactly “pleasant.” There’s no charming bakery, no quaint seasonal festivals, and the residents are more ambivalent than welcoming. The only upside is Finn Adams, who’s more mouthwatering than the homemade cherry pie Adi can’t seem to find – even if he does work for the company she’d hoped to bring down. Suddenly Adi has to wonder if maybe TV got it all wrong after all. But will following her heart mean losing her chance to break into the big time?

Review:

I really liked the premise of this one and thought how the author took a typical small town romance story and flipped everything upside down was not only adorable but also clever. I adore both small town romance movies and books so many of the references made me giggle in appreciation. Small town life does not always mean cute little festivals, insta love and quirky neighbors and that’s more than apparent in Pleasant Hollow. It was a really unique take on the genre and I totally appreciated reading something fresh. I found Adi to be very relatable, she was fun and witty and said so many things that made me laugh. Finn as a sort of anti hero was still charming in his own right and I believed their relationship story as well as their chemistry. I think the narrator, Emily Lawrence was great too, she made listening an enjoyable experience. Overall a fun and light read that will be perfect this summer.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Good Husbands by Cate Ray

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Three wives, one letter, an explosive secret that will change everything.

He said, she said. Who do you believe?

Review:

As of now that synopsis is short and sweet and I honestly assumed based off of that this one would be a thriller and I was wrong. Which is fine, this is waaaaayyyy deeper than a thriller and has huge triggers for sexual assault, so if you’re looking for a lighter domestic suspense this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a deeper read that is emotionally charged this may be for you.

There is a lot about this one that is uncomfortable and hard to read but it’s also incredibly powerful at the same time. It’s very much a slow burn and sometimes it was frustratingly so but I believe the payoff was worth it in the end. Each of the three women who narrates is very well developed and grappling with so many varying issues. I could empathize with each one at some point and can see this leading to some great discussions if chosen as a book club read. If you can handle difficult subject matter and know this is fiction with some suspense and disturbing themes this was a solid and thought provoking read.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi

Goodreads

Release date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Angie Appiah is the epitome of the Perfect Immigrant Daughter. She’s got it all: medical school credentials, a handsome lawyer boyfriend, and ride or die friends. But what happens when everything falls apart? Her boyfriend dumps her, she bombs the most important exam of her medical career, and her closest confidante and roommate pulls away, telling Angie she’s more wrapped up in herself than in her friends.

Angie is crushed. She’s always faced her problems by working “twice as hard to get half as far and until now, that’s done well for her. When did life get so complicated? Suddenly, she begins to question everything: her career choice, her friendships, even why she’s attracted to men who don’t love her as much as she loves them. And just when things couldn’t get more confusing, enter Ricky, brilliant, thoughtful, sexy, but who has wasteman practically tattooed across his forehead. For someone who’s always been in control, Angie realizes that there’s one thing she can’t plan on: matters of her heart.

Review:

I love finding a debut author to fangirl over and this was such a solid first book! It’s a mash up of some of my favorite things too, you get romance, great character growth as Angie is really going through it for the majority of the book, strong female friendships, family and cultural traditions and expectations and a side of medical drama a la Grey’s Anatomy. Seriously so much to love here for me! Merging all of that together could be tricky but in the right authors hands it works and the author worked her magic. This was such a layered read and I loved seeing all aspects of Angie’s life, it gave me such a clear picture of who she is and I was rooting hard for her. Instead of just focusing on her romantic entanglement with Ricky she goes through friend drama, work drama and family drama. There are some powerful depictions of her immigrant experience and the pressures her family placed on her to succeed, and what success looks like to them was interesting. The whole thing was relatable, insightful and just a joy to read and narrator Mela Lee is absolutely fantastic!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery

Goodreads

Release date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

When fate brings three strangers to a charming space for lease on the California coast, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born. Part bookstore, part gift shop, part bakery, it’s a dream come true for Bree, Mikki and Ashley. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are…not.

Bree, wounded by brilliant but cold parents and her late husband’s ultimate betrayal, has sworn to protect her heart at all costs. Even from Ashley’s brother, a writer and adventurer who has inspired millions. He’s the first man to see past Bree’s barricades to her true self, which terrifies her. Mikki has this divorce thing all figured out—somehow, she’s stayed friends with her ex and her in-laws…until a new man changes how everyone looks at her, and how she sees herself. Meanwhile, Ashley discovers that the love of her life never intends to marry. Can she live without being a wife if it means she can have everything else she’s ever wanted?

At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heartachingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.

Review:

I always know before I start a book by the author that I’ll be getting an entertaining story about three different women and usually they’re all at some sort of crossroads in their lives. Her books are about friendships, romantic relationships, parenthood, marriage, divorce and more. So yes, predictable in some ways, but the path each woman takes is always interesting and I sometimes find comfort in knowing what I’m in for. I found this to be steamier than some of the authors more recent releases which was a pleasant surprise too. There is some definite heat, I can’t complain about that 😉 Add in a bookstore, a California beach setting and plenty of drama and love and this was a fun summer read. Tanya Eby narrates and I’ve gotten so used to listening to her tell the authors stories that it’s a fun experience.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Thank You, Next by Andie J. Christopher

Goodreads

Release date: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Alex Turner is never The One–but always the last one an ex dates before finding love–and now she’s determined to find out why in this hilarious new rom-com.

Single divorce attorney Alex Turner is watching reality TV when she sees her latest ex’s new fiancé picking out her wedding dress. Yet again, the guy she dumped went on to marry (or at least seriously commit to) the next person he dates after her. Fed up with being the precursor to happily ever after, she decides to interview all her exes to find out why.

Up-and-coming chef Will Harkness mixes with Alex like oil and vinegar, but forced proximity growing up means their lives are forever entwined. When Will learns Alex and her friends are going on a wild romp through Los Angeles to reconnect with her ex-boyfriends, he decides to tag along. If he can discover what her exes did wrong, he can make sure he doesn’t make the same mistake with Alex.

On this nonstop journey through the streets of LA, Alex realizes the answer to her question might be the man riding shotgun…

Review:

This one had so much potential for me, I loved the idea of an emotionally unavailable woman trying to figure out where she went wrong in past relationships. I really liked that she would be looking some of her exes up to get answers and thought it was a fun and interesting idea. Unfortunately as much as I wanted to enjoy this one it just didn’t work out that way for me in the end. Things started out ok but as it progressed I started to get bored and lost interest. There was a lot of introspection and inner monologues and not enough dialogue and conversations to keep me invested. I also didn’t love Alex which is always tough and the fact that by halfway I was forcing myself to pick it back up should’ve been a sign for me to just set it aside and move on. I think maybe this author just isn’t for me, something about her style just doesn’t end up working out for me but I know she has lots of fans and am sure many will enjoy this more than I did!

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan

Goodreads

Release date: May 17, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

When Joanna Whitman’s famous ex-husband dies in a car accident, she doesn’t know what to feel. Their dysfunctional marriage held more painful secrets than she cares to remember. But when she discovers that the young woman with him in the crash is pregnant, Joanna feels compelled to act, knowing exactly how brutal the media spotlight will be on celebrity chef Cliff Whitman’s ex-wife and his mysterious female friend.

Ashley Blake can’t believe it when Joanna shows up in her hospital room and suggests they hide away at her beach house on a sleepy stretch of California coast. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley can’t turn down Joanna’s offer. Yet she knows that if Joanna ever found out the real reason Ashley was in that car, their tentative bond would shatter instantly.

Joanna’s only goal for the summer is privacy, but her return causes major waves in the local community, especially for the man she left behind years ago. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby’s future, and to avoid causing any trouble for Joanna. But as secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is about to be put to the test.

Review:

Ok how can I get myself a beach house summer?! Doesn’t that sound amazing? The next best thing besides living beachside for the summer is being able to cozy up with the authors book and escape mentally though!

Since I’ve been a fan of the author for awhile now I know I can expect a great mix when I start one of her books. This was no exception and besides the idyllic setting you also have a mystery surrounding Ashley’s true identity, a few friendships (new and old) blossoming and some romance too. The author is such a gifted storyteller and she always creates characters that are memorable and fun. I’m always a sucker for an unlikely friendship and the relationship between Joanna and Ashley was really lovely. This is the true definition of a beach read, it’s light but not too sappy, it conures up some gorgeous summery imagery and has a plot that’s interesting.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Out of the Clear Blur Sky by Kristan Higgins

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t…heartbroken. She’s furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people…not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding, dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in of all people Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie 20 years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you…out of the clear blue sky.

Review:

Normally I get bored when a book is over 400 pages but for one of my all time favorite authors I make an exception and I still didn’t want this one to end. I did my best to savor it and take my time but it was just so damn amazing it was difficult to slow it down. Most of you know I read a lot, I generally don’t remember specific details after a couple of weeks go by but KH books always stay with me. This is special for me as there are usually only a handful of books every year that leave a lasting impression and without fail, every single year one of her books lands a spot on this list. I don’t think there’s any one particular thing that makes her books such standouts for me, but rather a magical combination of things that culminates into such an incredible reading experience. Maybe the best part is her insightful, honest and humor takes on life in general. Lillie is a woman that’s the same age as me so we already had that at a starting common factor but her raw portrayal is where I really connected with her. Yes, she’s been literally screwed over in the worst way, and yes she’s humiliated, betrayed and so so a angry but dammit was it nice to see a woman deal with a major life upheaval in a truly relatable and believable way. Was she always full of grace? Absolutely not. Did she do things that were slightly crazy? Yes mam. Was I cheering her own and cackling like a loon myself? YES! So many of her observations were spot on and her general sense of humor was charming and oh so witty. I could probably sit her all day and talk about all the things I loved about this one but I’ll spare you and just finish by saying I adored it, I think it’s a must read and KH never, EVER disappoints.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Six Graves by Angela Marsons @writeangie @bookouture

Goodreads

Release date: May 12, 2022

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

It’s a typical teenage bedroom with posters covering the walls and clothes littering the floor. But the girl lying on her bed, wearing a delicate chain around her neck, is lifeless. A circle of red stains her white vest top and Kim feels a sharp stab of sadness. How had the girl’s mother looked down at her sleeping child and pulled the trigger?

When Detective Kim Stone rushes to the scene of a house fire, she’s shocked to discover it’s claimed the lives of two teenage children and their parents. But this tragedy is not quite as it seems. Each body is marked by a gunshot wound and the mother, Helen Daynes, is holding the gun.

The case sparks painful childhood memories for Kim who suffered at the hands of her own abusive mother. As she begins to untangle the dark web of secrets within the Daynes family, Kim and her team discover Helen had a history of clinical depression. But could it have driven her to murder her loved ones?

Then Kim uncovers a tiny, vital clue in Helen’s bedroom that throws the investigation wide open. Could someone else have killed the Daynes family?

With the case only just underway, a deadly threat is made to Kim’s own life. Years ago, she rescued two little girls from the clutches of a dangerous psychopath who has just escaped prison and is coming for her.

A witness protection officer glued to her side, Kim must bite back her fear, as she keeps digging into the Daynes’s background and soon hits upon a shocking secret from Helen’s past that could crack the case. With the remaining family members in danger, Kim is under pressure like never before.

The monster circling Kim raises the stakes when he threatens the life of another innocent victim. He’s leading Kim straight to him. Forced to go against direct instructions from her superiors, will that one fateful decision cost her more than her job?

An absolutely nail-bitingly tense page-turner that will have you gasping out loud. You won’t come up for air until you’ve reached the twisty, breathtaking ending. Fans of Karin Slaughter, Mark Billingham and Robert Dugoni will love Six Graves.

Review:

Well, it only took sixteen books but the author managed to scare the hell out of me with a prologue alone. It was an emotional sort of terrified too, the kind that really messes with your head and the feeling never left me throughout the whole book so be prepared to have your emotions toyed with! Despite the way I felt tortured I can still say that this was an incredible read and I highly recommend it, just wanted to prepare you for some emotional upheaval.

I usually try and slow down my pace when I read a new book in this series, I like to savor it and really spend some time with the characters but this time I read this in record time over just a couple of sittings. Between that prologue and the fact that there are two cases to draw you in I really couldn’t stop until it was over. Somehow, sixteen books in you are still learning more about Kim, her past is at the forefront of her mind as she works to solve a current case and there were additional layers pulled back that gave insight into who she is. Per usual the story is dark and dangerous but this is balanced out by the humor and camaraderie between Kim and the team where one minute you’re horrified by a new piece of evidence they’ve uncovered or the results of an autopsy reveal a new clue and then the next you’re laughing at something Bryant said to Kim. As much as the characters in this series need a break after what the author has put them through I’m already eagerly anticipating the next book and just know that once again I’ll have a new one to add to my favorites shelf alongside this one!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.