Review: Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

Goodreads

Release date: March 2, 2021

Publisher: Minotaur

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

“They found the bodies on a Tuesday.” So begins this twisty and breathtaking novel that traces the fate of the Pine family, a thriller that will both leave you on the edge of your seat and move you to tears.

After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.

When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.

Told through multiple points-of-view and alternating between past and present, Alex Finlay’s Every Last Fear is not only a page-turning thriller, it’s also a poignant story about a family managing heartbreak and tragedy, and living through a fame they never wanted.

Review:

I finally found a thriller to get excited about!! Such a rare feat for me lately and I was so hopeful this one would be a hit for me and I’m so glad it was. Even more impressive that it was a debut and I have such high hopes for this author now.

I don’t even really wanna discuss the plot at all because this was twisty and fun, if you read the description and it sounded good just add it to your TBR immediately. It’s super fast paced, told from various points of view and interspersed are excerpts from the Netflix documentary that was a huge hit. Solid characterization and and strong ending, really nothing lacking in this one for me, highly recommended.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Woman Outside my Door by Rachel Ryan

Goodreads

Release date: January 5, 2021

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

All children have imaginary friends, Georgina tells herself. It’s perfectly normal, and they all grow out of it in the end. But when her seven-year-old son, Cody, tells her about New Granny, the new friend he’s met in the park, Georgina is instantly suspicious. Something—call it maternal instinct—tells her he isn’t making it up.

But maybe Georgina is losing her mind. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all. And with her own mother’s recent death leaving her bereft and trying to cope with life as a busy working mom, it’s no wonder she’s feeling paranoid that Cody has invented a “New Granny” to replace his beloved grandmother.

Her husband, Bren, becomes the voice of reason, assuring Georgina that it’s just a game, the product of their son’s overactive imagination. But what if Cody’s imaginary friend is not so imaginary after all?

Review:

I really liked the premise of this one, anything with a possible creepy kid appeals to me in a weird way and then throw in a mother who is fragile and it leaves you with a whole lot of questions and head scratching moments. This one was unsettling and slightly sinister and despite some minor issues I can see how it would appeal to many.

What worked for me was the great sense of place the author created, it was atmospheric and there were a few times where I got goosebumps because of the great scene she set. Wondering if Cody really met someone in the park or if he was just using his imagination kept me on my toes but it did feel kinda draggy at times. This was definitely a slow burn and I lost my patience with the pacing a few times. It had so much potential for me at the start and then things didn’t really pick up for me until the very end and that just wasn’t quite enough for me to truly enjoy this one. It didn’t feel like a true thriller, maybe a domestic drama with some suspenseful moments? But definitely not an exciting and fast paced thriller for me. If you enjoy a well written, atmospheric light style suspense novel you’ll like this more than I did.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Goodreads

Release date: April 13, 2021

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

Review:

I love Sally Hepworth and usually find her books to be really captivating page turners that are always super entertaining for me. She’s an excellent author, one of my go to most trusted ones in fact, but there was something missing in her latest for me unfortunately.

Things started off strong for me, I loved the sister dynamic and was pulled in instantly. Where u think things went wrong for me was me guessing where it was all heading very early on. Like before 25 percent of the book early on and of course my suspicions weren’t confirmed until the very end which made for a pretty long and tedious wait for me. I kept hoping I was wrong and things weren’t going in what I thought was an obvious direction but I was right. Sigh. Look, if I guess the twist in a thriller it just ruins it for me, plain and simple. This isn’t bad by any means, just wasn’t great for me but I’ve already talked to a few friends who loved it and never saw anything coming. Take this review with a grain of salt, maybe you’ll be blindsided. Especially true if you’re a fan of the author, she’s really good, here’s hoping she can trick me with her next book.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Season of Joy by Annie Rains

Goodreads

Release date: October 13, 2020

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Tis the season for love 

For single father Granger Fields, Christmas is his busiest and most profitable time of the year. But when a fire devastates the Merry Mountain Tree Farm, he fears the season won’t be holly or jolly unless he can convince free spirit Joy Benson to care for his two rambunctious daughters. Yet while Granger wants to focus on saving his business, Joy seems determined to shake up his family’s Christmas with her festive ideas and merry making. 

Joy is counting down the days until she can open her own art gallery. Babysitting Abby and Willow will help her reach her goal, and when inspiration strikes, Joy convinces Granger that her craft classes can bring even more holiday cheer to the farm. As crowds return and Joy’s creative side flourishes, life with Granger and his girls begins to feel like home. But with Christmas coming nearer, can Joy convince Granger to open his heart again? Or will their newfound happiness be as fleeting as the newly fallen snow?

Review:

I just adore the Sweetwater Springs series and always look forward to a new book, and when it’s a Christmas book it’s even better! As always you can read any book in the series on its own but I recommend all six if you’re looking to fall in love with this sweet little town and it’s residents.

I’ve longed for a book about Granger for awhile now so I was delighted we finally got to get to know more about the single father in town. I’m beginning to realize that I love that trope, I think it’s the cute kids alongside a swoon worthy hero and Granger basically had it all for me. He’s a great dad and his family owns a Christmas tree farm, SWOON. I really liked Joy as well, she was relatable and sweet. I love how the author brings depth to her characters without going too dark, she manages to discuss some difficult issues without losing the lightness this series is based on and this was no exception. This also had plenty of Christmas fun and festivity, basically everything I want in a holiday romance!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Christmas at Holiday House by RaeAnne Thayne

Goodreads

Release date: October 6, 2020

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

This New Year will bring widowed nurse Abigail Powell a fresh start in a different city. Excited about the chance to create an unforgettable Christmas for her young son in picturesque Silver Bells, Colorado, Abby has been hired to take care of her dear friend’s recuperating grandmother. But sprightly senior Winnie insists she doesn’t need looking after. What she does need is help decorating her historic mansion, Holiday House, for a seasonal town fundraiser. Abby warms to the festive task, but she’ll have to contend with her own personal Grinch: Winnie’s prickly grandson, Ethan Lancaster.

Ethan Lancaster is good at a lot of things. Relationships surely aren’t one of them. His ex-fiancée convinced Ethan he was incapable of love, and he believes her…up until the moment he impulsively kisses Abby. What is it about this vibrant woman and her sweet son that knocks his world off-kilter? He knows they’re leaving town after Christmas. He just didn’t expect they’d be taking a little of his heart with them. But as he and Abby work together on the magical Holiday House through the record cold weather, visions of a different future dance in his head…one filled with warmth, love and a new beginning for them both.

Review:

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for an uncomplicated, easy read and when that mood strikes, I know I can always count on RT to deliver. If it’s a holiday book from her then it’s even better because besides her trademark sweet and tender vibes you get all the holiday cheer as well! This was no exception and totally fit the Bill as far as being exactly the right book at exactly the right time for me.

A quaint little setting is so important for me in a romance and Silver Bells was beyond idyllic. It brought all the Christmas charm and had me wishing I lived there alongside the characters. I really liked both Abby and Ethan and found them to be a believable match, and then the bonus addition of Abby’s son and Ethan’s grandmother added so much warmth to an already warm story. There’s a secondary romance between two side characters as well, which was fun, overall there was lots going on here in the romance department on a very PG level. Think Hallmark movie type romance and this book is it, in fact it would make a wonderful movie, all of the authors books would actually buy definitely add this to your December TBR.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Pretending by Holly Bourne

Goodreads

Release date: November 17, 2020

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

April is kind, pretty and relatively normal—yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. Until she realizes that what men are really looking for is Gretel.

Gretel is perfect—beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not a slut. She’s your regular, everyday Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-Next-Door with no problems.

When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun—especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?

Excerpt:

I hate men.

There, I’ve said it. I know you’re not supposed to say it. We all pretend we don’t hate them; we all tell ourselves we don’t hate them. But I’m calling it. I’m standing here on this soapbox, and I’m saying it.

I. Hate. Men.

I mean, think about it. They’re just awful. I hate how selfish they are. How they take up so much space, assuming it’s always theirs to take. How they spread out their legs on public transport, like their balls need regular airing to stop them developing damp. I hate how they basically scent mark anywhere they enter to make it work for them. Putting on the music they want to listen to the moment they arrive at any house party, and always taking the nicest chair. How they touch your stuff instead of just looking; even tweak the furniture arrangement to make it most comfortable for them. All without asking first—never asking first.

I hate how they think their interests are more importantthan yours—even though twice a week all most of them do is watch a bunch of strangers kick a circle around a piece of lawn and sulk if the circle doesn’t go in the right place. And how bored they look if you ever try to introduce them to a film, a band, or even a freaking YouTube clip, before you’ve even pressed Play.

I hate their endless arrogance. I hate how they interrupt you and then apologize for it but carry on talking anyway. How they ask you a question but then check your answer afterward. I hate how they can never do one piece of housework without telling you about it. I hate how they literally cannot handle being driven in a car by a woman, even if they’re terrible drivers themselves. I hate how they all think they’re fucking incredible at grilling meat on barbecues. The sun comes out and man must light fire and not let woman anywhere near the meat. Dumping blackened bits of chicken onto our plates along with the whiff of a burp from their beer breath, acting all caveman, like we’re supposed to find it cute that we may now get salmonella and that we’re going to have to do all the washing up.

I hate how I’m quite scared of them. I hate the collective noise of them when they’re in a big group. The tribal wahey-ing, like they all swap their IQs for extra testosterone when they swarm together. How, if you’re sitting alone on an empty train, they always come and deliberately sit next to you en masse, and talk extra loudly about macho nonsense, apparently to impress you. I hate the way they look at you when you walk past—automatically judging your screwability the moment they see you. Telling you to smile if you dare look anything other than delighted about living with stuff like this constantly fucking happening to you.

I hate how hard they are to love. How many of them actually, truly, think the way to your heart is sending you a selfie of them tugging themselves, hairy ball sack very much still in shot. I hate how they have sex. How they shove their fingers into you, thinking it’s going to achieve anything. Jabbing their unwashed hands into your dry vagina, prodding about like they’re checking for prostate cancer, then wondering why you now have BV and you still haven’t come. Have none of them read a sex manual? Seriously? None of them? And I hate how they hate you a little just after they’ve finished. How even the nice ones lie there with cold eyes, pretending to cuddle, but clearly desperate to get as far away from you as possible.

I hate how it’s never equal. How they expect you to do all the emotional labor and then get upset when you’re the more stressed-out one. I hate how they never understand you, no matter how hard they try, although, let’s be honest here, they never actually try that hard. And I hate how you’re always exhausting yourself trying to explain even the most basic of your rational emotional responses to their bored face.

I hate how every single last one of them has issues with their father.

And do you know what I hate most of all?

That despite this, despite all this disdain, I still fancy men. And I still want them to fancy me, to want me, to love me. I hate myself for how much I want them. Why do I still fancy men so much? What’s wrong with me? Why are they all so broken? Am I broken for still wanting to be with one, even after everything? I should be alone. That’s the only healthy way to be. BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE. I hate men, that’s the problem. GOD I HATE THEM SO MUCH—they’re so entitled and broken and lazy and wrong and…and…

Hang on…

My phone.

HE MESSAGED BACK!!!

WITH A KISS ON THE END!

Never mind.

Forget I said anything. It’s all good.

Excerpted from Pretending by Holly Bourne, Copyright © 2020 by Holly Bourne. Published by MIRA Books.

Review: Admission by Julie Buxbaum

Goodreads

Release date: December 1, 2020

Publisher: Delacorte

Genre: YA

Blurb:


It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She’s headed off to the college of her dreams. She’s going to prom with the boy she’s had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer–at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.

As she loses everything she’s long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit?

Review:

Talk about a timely, thought provoking, incredibly relevant book! I think we’re all aware of the recent college admissions scandal and this book was basically ripped straight from the headlines. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a gossipy read because it’s much more than that and takes a deeper look at several issues that I wasn’t expecting it to.

The family portrayed in this book are not likable at all, but they’re incredibly realistic and very well drawn. Chloe herself struggles with so many issues stemming from the scandal, including doubting her self worth, her own culpability and examining her own privileges that she’s always known existed, but to what extent? And at the cost of who exactly? See, she didn’t totally know what her parents were up to in the time leading up to her testing and application process. But she also didn’t totally not know. It flips back and forth between the lead up to her moms arrest and the days and months afterwards and it slowly tells the tale of a mother who will ignore her own morals, rules and any boundary in her way to get what she wants for her daughter. It also really examines Chloe’s behavior and the author doesn’t hold back at all. Chloe’s best friend, Shola is Black and attends their high school on a scholarship and with the backstory unraveling it’s quite clear just how privileged Chloe is and how unaware she is of her huge leg up in life. There are also several instances where she uses racial micro aggressions and I thought the author really handled it in an honest and true to life way. Overall this was a sobering read and one that really made me think, Chloe was an extremely messy character who fascinated me and the whole book definitely had me invested throughout. Highly recommended by me!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Hunting Wives by May Cobb @maykcobb

Goodreads

Release date: May 18, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.

Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.

Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.

When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.

Review:

First off I have to apologize for my super early review but I couldn’t resist starting this one almost as soon as I got it in my hands. And then I figured I would read it earlier than I have any business doing but hold off on posting my review until, oh I don’t know maybe two months early instead of six 🤣 But as soon as I finished this one I knew I had to get it on everyone’s radar because I predict this one will be huge and I highly recommend getting a preorder in!

I feel like this is the thriller I’ve been waiting for, it felt so fresh and exciting and not just the same old overdone story with slightly different changes from ever other thriller out there. If you’re a fan of the Real Housewives this is a must. It had that same gossipy, scandalous feel but it was way sharper and smarter than any episode of RH. Add in a murder to the mix of housewives behaving badly and seriously, what more could you want?! This was also incredibly sexy and naughty to the point that I had no idea what the characters would do next. This was WILD y’all, between the questionable choices the characters continuously made and a twisty and tightly wound plot I was obsessed with this one from the first page to the last. Highly recommended by me if you can’t tell 😉

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Goodreads

Release date: December 29, 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: Debut author Darby Kane thrills with this twisty domestic suspense novel that asks one central question: shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

Review:

I’ve had an on and off again relationship with thrillers for the last year or so but when I read the description for this one I was immediately sucked in. A missing husband is nothing new but a wife who is panicked not because her spouse is dead, but because his body isn’t where she left it reeled me right in. I’m so happy to say that this reignited my love of the genre because it was a really strong debut and one of those rare thrillers that hooked me from the first page to the last.

This is one with a super tricky plot with plenty of twists and turns so discussing it in any detail is difficult. In fact it’s so incredibly twisty you will need to suspend disbelief a few times in order to truly enjoy the reading experience, but if you’re able to just go with it, you’ll have one hell of a wild ride. It had a really strong ending, a powerful opening chapter and the middle was great too so overall an excellent thriller that was just a lot of fun.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Lizzie Shane

Release date: September 29, 2020

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb: Pine Hollow has everything Ally Gilmore could wish for in a holiday break: gently falling snow in a charming small town and time with her family. Then she learns some Grinch has pulled the funding for her family’s rescue shelter, and now she has only four weeks to find new homes for a dozen dogs! But when she confronts her Scroogey councilman nemesis, Ally finds he’s far more reasonable — and handsome — than she ever expected.

As the guardian of his dog-obsessed ten-year-old niece, Ben West doesn’t have time to build a cuddly reputation. But he does feel guilty about the shelter closing. So he proposes a truce with Ally, agreeing to help her adopt out the pups. As the two spend more time together, the town’s gossip is spreading faster than Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. And soon Ben is hoping he can convince Ally that Pine Hollow is her home for the holidays… and the whole year through.

Review:

I read this back in September but waited to post my thoughts until now, mostly because I think it may be the most perfect holiday romance EVER and I wanted to wait until a little closer to Christmas so it didn’t fly under your radar. It has everything I want in a holiday read and more, it’s warm and cozy and set in the cutest little town, it has a menagerie of sweet and zany dogs, there’s a single dad type trope, and a wonderful supporting cast of characters too! See, everything you could want!!

This was such a magical read, it really brought the Christmas spirit alive for me. Hell, it had me wanting to decorate for Christmas in mid September so it definitely will put you in a holiday state of mind. The romance aspect was adorable and tender and gave me all the warm fuzzies. If you read one holiday romance this year make it this one, I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.