Review: Widow Falls by Kiersten Modglin

Goodreads

Release date: September 21, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

The last girl went missing…
Someone doesn’t want her to be found.

When Sloane takes a job at the infamous whitewater rafting camp, Widow Falls, she quickly learns that the camp has a reputation for more than just summer fun.

People go missing at Widow Falls.

The guide she’s replacing was just one of many. As Sloane settles into her new home—a one-room apartment she’ll be sharing with the five other guides—she can’t help asking questions and digging into the disappearances she’s heard about. Her new roommates tell her stories of dark legends and dangerous folklore surrounding the secluded camp but assure her there’s nothing to worry about. It’s all just superstition.

When Sloane stumbles upon a clue and a secret message hidden beneath the floorboards of their loft, she begins to realize there may be more to the myths than she’s been told.

The message gets her attention: Don’t trust anyone at Widow Falls.

As she follows clues to better understand the missing guide she replaced, Sloane can’t help noticing the similarities between the two of them.

What happened to the other girl?
Why won’t the others help her search?
Are they all in danger?

Whatever’s happening at Widow Falls, it’s clear someone doesn’t want her digging into it. As the seams of her reality are torn apart, making her question everything she sees, feels, and believes, Sloane will have to uncover the truth about the camp—and its occupants—before someone else goes missing.

Because this time…it might be her.

Review:

Ok WOW I could’ve never guessed where this one was going!! That’s one of my favorite things about KMod, not only does she publish like ten books a year each and every single one of them feels fresh and unique. I feel like that’s so rare from a thriller author but she manages to impress me with each new release.

This one had a great atmosphere, a secluded campground where not only is Sloane the new girl at her job, she knows nothing about the people she’s working AND living with and I loved that sense of not knowing who to trust. While I was reading I felt a little twitchy and jumpy myself so there’s definitely a strong sense of dread as you read. Definitely another page turner and like I said earlier, I had no idea how this would end and honestly that’s the best part of a good thriller for me.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

Goodreads

Release date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

Review:

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this book since last summer when I read and absolutely adored You Had Me at Hola. It was one of the best romances that I read last year and I’m so happy to say this one was just as good! It had the same emotional depth that I loved in the first book as well as plenty of humor and heart, SO good.

Mich and Gabe were best friends in high school but haven’t seen each other in years, so this is a second chance romance with some enemies to lovers vibes since they did not part on good terms in the past. I loved seeing these two adults work through their past issues from their teenaged years. Both of them are strong, independent and successful people and watching them navigate balancing their separate lives with a relationship felt authentic. You get some cute little flashbacks to their high school relationship when they wrote fan fiction together and that was seriously adorable as well. This one also brings the heat, this was super sexy, these two had amazing chemistry and they were incredibly open and honest with each other about their sexuality and preferences. They both also had some family drama and issues and Gabe’s in particular was a little heartbreaking, but again raw and honest. Seraphine Valentine is a fantastic narrator, I also listened to Hola and once again she did an awesome job at bringing the story to life. Highly recommended by me to any romance fans!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Nice Girls by Catherine Dang

Goodreads

Release date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

What did you do?

Growing up in Liberty Lake, Minnesota, Mary was chubby, awkward, and smart. Earning a scholarship to an Ivy League school was her ticket out; she was going to do great things and never look back. Three years later, “Ivy League Mary” is back—a thinner, cynical, and restless failure. Kicked out of Cornell at the beginning of senior year, she won’t tell anyone why. Working at the local grocery store, she sees familiar faces from high school and tries to make sense of the past and her life.

When beautiful, magnetic Olivia Willand, a rising social media star, goes missing, Mary—like the rest of Liberty Lake—becomes obsessed. Best friends in childhood, Mary and Olivia haven’t spoken in years. Everyone admired Olivia, but Mary knows better than anyone that behind the Instagram persona hid a willful, manipulative girl with sharp edges. As the world worries for perfect, lovely Olivia, Mary can’t help but hate her. She also believes that her disappearance is tied to another missing person—a nineteen-year-old girl named DeMaria Jackson whose disappearance has gone under the radar.

Who was the true Olivia Willand, and where did she go? What happened to DeMaria? As Mary delves deeper into the lives of the two missing girls, old wounds bleed fresh and painful secrets threaten to destroy everything.

Maybe no one is really a nice girl, after all.

Review:

Ahh this is one of those tricky middle of the road books for me, and most of the time they’re the hardest ones for me to review. There was definitely many things I liked about this one, but I also had issues as well. I do want to mention that the audio saved it for me because I don’t think I would’ve even finished if not for the narrator, Carlotta Brenton, she was excellent.

Initially I was drawn into this one but somewhere along the way the author lost me. Maybe I didn’t forge a strong enough connection to Mary, I do think that was my issue especially since this is told solely through her viewpoint and the failed connection made it hard for me to truly care about what was happening. I did appreciate the way the author discusses the differences in the way the two cases were handled based on race and social status, we all know a young white woman going missing will make national news, especially if she’s pretty while a woman of color going missing can barely garner public attention, seriously so messed up. It was also a slower style burn which just tested my patience but I did like her writing style so I would definitely give the author another chance.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Release date: September 7, 2021

Publisher: Flatiron

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. 
Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

Review:

Is there anything better than being able to count on a thriller author to consistently surprise you?! In a genre that can oftentimes feel stale and repetitive AF seems to be that rare author for me that keeps things fresh and exciting time and time again and her latest is no exception.

Face blindness as a critical plot point was absolutely fascinating for me, the sheer idea of it is terrifying, seriously imagine not being able to recognize your loved ones by sight? So interesting! Besides that you have this married couple that both seem unreliable and untrustworthy from the jump, then there’s a third POV that I struggled to work out how they would fit into the narrative, but when all was revealed I was 🤯 I found it to be incredibly clever and I didn’t see where it was going. It was also fast paced, atmospheric and extremely addictive reading. Once again the author pulled one over on me and I loved everything about it!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng

Goodreads

Release date: August 10, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Sci Fi

Synopsis:

Two lives. The one you wanted. The one that wanted you.

Her birthday should be like any other night.

One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She’s got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she’s married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.

Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly’s search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him—including a connection to a mysterious tech startup—tells her she shouldn’t. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning.

But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can’t figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything…

Review:

I don’t tend to pick up sci-fi books very often but this one just sounded too good to pass up. I loved the idea of a domestic suspense mixed in with the sci-fi aspect and the blend actually worked well for me. This was a really cool and unique read and despite the otherworldly stuff nothing felt too advanced or too far over my head which I always appreciate. I hate feeling like I have to think too hard to try and decipher technical type language or things that are just too complicated for an average person to read and I didn’t feel like that here. As for the mystery aspect it was fairly strong, I had a feeling about who may have been part of Kelly’s life mixup but not the how or the why exactly so I wasn’t bothered when I was partly correct. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read some unique that doesn’t feel like the same old thing over and over again because there was a lot about this one that was different and unusual.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Everything is Perfect by Kate Nason

Goodreads

Release date: August 5, 2021

Publisher: Audible Originals

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis:

Seven years into her second marriage, Kate Nason discovered her husband was cheating on her. Then, the unimaginable happened. Kate woke to the news that one of her husband’s “other women” was involved with an American president. It was January of 1998. The press surrounded her home, clamoring for details and transformed Kate’s private heartbreak into public humiliation.

Nason’s memoir uncovers the little-known side of a well-known story, unveiling a cautionary tale about the ways we deceive ourselves when we allow ourselves to be deceived by those we love. Everything Is Perfect is an intimate reveal of infidelity, gaslighting, and the silent wife at the press conference. Nason explores the roles women inhabit throughout their lives, how they carry trauma, and the lengths they’ll go to protect their children and save themselves. It’s a fierce and often funny self-reckoning, a meditation on learning to trust one’s intuition, and a case study of how one woman undid a bad “I do.”

In the tradition of Lisa Brennan Jobs’s Small Fry or Chanel Miller’s Know My Name, Everything is Perfect is a beautifully written, deeply personal, unsparing self-portrait that goes deeper than the familiar news story within.

Review:

If I’m going to pick up a memoir I always choose the audio version, and it’s always a bonus for me if the author narrates the book themselves. There’s something so intimate about hearing someone’s story in both their own words and their own voice that just never fails to reel me in. The author did a great job with her narration here, I found her voice easy to listen to and her emotions were portrayed in a raw way. Her story is powerful and engaging, she really nailed sharing the experience of being married to someone who is a pro gaslighter and what an emotional toll it took on her and her family. I was very interested in her life, she had quite the story to tell as she was betrayed in the worst way imaginable. This isn’t a pity party woe is me tale but rather a story of strength and resilience that was inspiring. One small thing I didn’t quite understand was why she used pseudonyms, everyone knows who the real players are so that seemed silly but overall a great listen.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

Release date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day–avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.

And she’s happy with how things are–really–until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she’s a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person’s fairy tale is an ordinary woman’s nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison’s no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who’s sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.

But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she’ll need more than Harrison’s strong arms to shield her–she’ll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they’re willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.

Review:

From the minute that I was introduced to main character, Piper I was smitten. She’s an incredibly interesting and multifaceted character that felt so authentic. She was relatable too, she’s a huge romance reader and even has a romance podcast. Then there’s Harrison, who just made me swoon. Their relationship evolved in such a believable way too, it was a slow burn but they wait was way worth it in the end. They start off as enemies, then become friends before they hook up so you get a little dash of a few different tropes which was fun. Add in a small town that isn’t the usually depicted warm and welcoming kind of place and a Duke and Duchess living next door and I was completely enchanted.

Not only were the characters here complex the story itself was as well. There was wonderful mental health representation, which was so refreshing to see and it was the perfect balance of light and dark since some of the topics explored were heavy, but they were portrayed perfectly. Lots of humor, funny banter and steamy sex, overall this was charming and delightful and I can’t believe this was my first book from the author?!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

Release date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Hyperion Avenue

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.

Review:

I’m obsessed with this one, it was SO freaking cute. I usually don’t gravitate towards retellings but this Cinderella remake was amazing. Cindy stole my heart from the first chapter, she’s so very lovable and endearing and I was rooting for her so hard. When she started on the Bachelor style reality show she is a little over her head and I thought the author did a great job at exploring the behind the scenes aspects of reality TV in a modern and fresh way. Having a plus sized main character was awesome and the author didn’t shy away from tackling issues surrounding this head on. There’s a heavy focus on grief here as well and while it was sad, it wasn’t too heavy or depressing in the slightest. Instead it was a hopeful and sparkling story of love and loss with lots of sweet romance, body positivity and insight into fashion and TV. I cannot wait to read more from this author!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Wait for It by Jenn McKinlay

Goodreads

Release date: August 10, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.

When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there’s no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.

Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.

Review:

This was such a cute, feel good read with depth and emotion! I don’t often come across a book set in my home state and that’s what initially drew me to this one and I adored being able to visualize the different settings and places Annabelle visited around Phoenix. Even if you’ve never been to AZ I think you would appreciate it being set here because it’s something new, not the same old California/NYC setting that’s so popular in many books. Besides a fun setting this has a little something for every reader in my opinion. Annabelle and Nick have a believable developing relationship, I also really like a sunshine and grump trope so that was fun too. Both of them have serious issues they need to work through and the author portrayed mental health struggles in a really authentic and compassionate way. There’s also a subplot with Annabelle’s job and I actually liked that angle more than I thought, it was both fun and interesting and really kept the story that much more engaging. Overall a well rounded romance, very flirty and a tiny bit a steam but great characterization and lots of humor.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Sister in Law by Pamela Crane

Goodreads

Release date: August 10, 2021

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

She stole my husband. So I’d steal her life.

The Wife
Lane won Candace’s heart over chocolate martinis and karaoke. But weeks into their whirlwind marriage, Candace realized Lane came with burdensome baggage in the form of his possessive live-in sister and her eerily watchful six-year-old son. Lane had a secret that seemed to hold him hostage, and Candace would do anything to uncover it.

The Sister-in-Law
Harper was the kind of woman who cooked homemade meals and dusted under the furniture. It was the least she could do for her brother after her husband’s mysterious death, and Lane took her and her kids in. Then Candace showed up like a tornado passing through, threatening and destructive. But Harper had other plans for her new “sister,” plans Lane could never find out about.

The Husband
All Lane had ever wanted was a white-picket-fence life. The wife. The two-point-five kids. The happy little family. Everything seemed to be falling into place with Candace … until Harper’s jealous streak got in the way, again. But choosing between his sister and wife would be costly … and knowing Harper, the price would be blood.

Review:

This was my first book by the author and right when I started I was immediately curious, it definitely began really strong and had a great hook. I was drawn into the lives of Harper, Lane and Candace and knew there would be much more to all three of them than meets the eye. Flipping back and forth between all three characters in each chapter was fun, you get to see the inner thoughts and secrets from everyone which just added to the tension and secrecy. As much as I was hooked in the beginning, the middle was drawn out and I felt the pacing could have been a little faster and more exciting. I was compelled enough to keep reading as the author was revealing the secrets everyone was hiding very slowly, but it was a little frustrating to be spoon fed things so very slowly. By the last quarter things did pick up and overall I was satisfied with how it all wrapped up, I just wish the middle matched the strong opening and closing. Overall a decent thriller, I would read more by the author for sure. I think anyone who doesn’t mind a slower burn would like this, especially if you enjoy unlikable characters and devious behavior.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.