Review: Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert

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Release date: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

The name of the game is revenge—no matter the cost—in this emotionally charged thriller reminiscent of The Wife Between Us and The Perfect Nanny.

Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can isolate the singular moment in her life when things veered off course—the night she was irrevocably wronged by someone she looked up to. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the very woman who destroyed her life on television, a fire ignites inside her. The stakes are high. The risks are perilous. But she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.

Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, glamour, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.

No one, that is, except Kerrie.

Exploring just how far someone will go for vengeance, Pretty Revenge is a riveting, compulsively readable novel bursting with twists and turns and plenty of suspense. 

Review:

I love a story about about revenge, seeing how far someone will go to get the vengeance they feel is deserved never ceases to intrigue me and with the word revenge in the title I knew this would be a perfect addition to my summer TBR! I was right, I can’t think of a better book to read poolside, this one was juicy and wickedly fun.

Right away to learn that Jordana has somehow wronged Kerrie in the past, you don’t find out until much later what the transgression was, and it really didn’t matter much in the end because the entire ride to to the truth is where the fun lies. You hear from both women in alternating chapters and watching Kerrie plot and scheme against an unknowing Jordana was all sorts of entertaining. Throw in some juicy interesting secrets from them both and you have the perfect recipe for a summer read. This is fun, Fast and dives into the obsessive side of female friendships in a really campy and dramatic manner.

Pretty Revenge in three words: Addictive, Delicious and Wicked

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy

Review: A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

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Release date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Celedon

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

Review:

This is being marketed as an intense legal thriller and I don’t agree with that at all, in fact I don’t think it’s a thriller in any way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, but knowing that instead of a super tense and fast paced thriller it’s actually a slow burning domestic drama will enable you to go into the read with the right expectations and hopefully, help you really enjoy this read because it is a good one!

This whole thing was unique, it’s broken up into three sections, it begins when you hear from the father of the family and stays with him until part two which is the daughter, and then part three is the mother. I enjoyed both the mother and daughters sections the most, the fathers wasn’t bad or anything, but it was the slowest of the three for me.

This was a very emotional sort of drama, which coupled with the crisp Scandi writing style gave it a wholly original feel. You’re witnessing a family unit at their very worst, everything in their life is crumbling and seeing each point of view separately instead of the ever popular alternating chapters was not only clever, but also a strong way to tell the story, and one that’s memorable for sure. Recommended when you’re in the mood for a story that you can sink your teeth into, and also if you are just in the mood for something different.

A Nearly Normal Family in three words: Unusual, Smart and Methodical

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

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Release date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long. 

Review:

I fell in love with Belle’s writing when I totally devoured The Marriage Lie and despite reading it a few years ago I still think about that ending to this day! If you haven’t read that one do yourself a favor and get on it and then when you get done grab this one because it does not disappoint either! In a market saturated with authors trying to be the next Gone Girl on a Train Who Bumped Her Head and Can’t Remember Who She Is, Belle is a standout. Her books are extremely clever and while I would put them in the same category as all of the Girl books, she breathes fresh life into the genre with her unique style and ability to do something original and wholly her own.

This one was so devilishly clever that I don’t even really want to say much about the plot but it’s told via multiple perspectives and reads super fast, one of those honestly unputdownable books. I kept thinking I knew exactly how things would end up fitting together but guess what?! I was dead ass wrong! Well played KBelle 👏 👏 👏

Highly recommended to all thriller fans, this was one hell of a fun, wild and entertaining ride!

Dear Wife in three words: Slick, Surprising and Compulsive

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum

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Release date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

Rouge is a sexy, glamorous journey into the rivalry of the pioneers of powder, mascara and rouge.

This fast-paced novel examines the lives, loves, and sacrifices of the visionaries who invented the modern cosmetics industry: Josiah Herzenstein, born in a Polish Jewish Shtlel, the entrepreneur who transforms herself into a global style icon and the richest woman in the world, Josephine Herz; Constance Gardiner, her rival, the ultimate society woman who invents the door-to-door business and its female workforce but whose deepest secret threatens everything; CeeCee Lopez, the bi-racial beauty and founder of the first African American woman’s hair relaxer business, who overcomes prejudice and heartbreak to become her community’s first female millionaire. The cast of characters is rounded out by Mickey Heron, a dashing, sexy ladies’ man whose cosmetics business is founded in a Hollywood brothel. All are bound in a struggle to be number one, doing anythingto get there…including murder.

Review:

This follows three pioneers in the beauty industry from the 1920’s all the way to the 1990’s and we get not one, but three strong, determined, and resourceful main characters to root for. Actually, I didn’t love all three, however I could admire and respect them all for their innovation and ability to break down barriers for women in the workplace, it was pretty inspiring especially as all three overcame some serious obstacles before reaching their ultimate goals and this was mainly set in the twenties and thirties when women being successful businesswoman was just not the norm.

Often I find historical fiction to move at a pretty slow pace but this one flew by, the pacing was incredibly fast, there was always something new and exciting happening in the characters lives, truly never a dull moment. The behind the scenes look at the beauty industry was fascinating, these woman were sharp and hungry and the cattiness between them was unreal. Highly entertaining as well, the lengths they would go to in order to maintain their success was crazy, think manipulation and crafty plotting and scheming. Throw in some glitz and high glamour and you have one hell of a dazzling read.

Recommended as a great addition to your summer reading list, it’s juicy and delicious with plenty of depth and intrigue to keep you turning the pages fast as you can!

Rouge in three words: Sophisticated, Dramatic and Devious.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and FSB Associates for my review copy.

Review: Still Out There by Laurie Holbrook

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Release date: March 5, 2019

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Sixteen years ago, Mabel Peters was left to die by the monster who’d killed her mother and brother. He was never brought to justice.Mabel left everything behind, including her name, to find a new life in safety. Now she’s back and determined to find the man who ruined her life, even if it means risking everything. She can’t rest until it’s done. But when a series of suspicious events happen around her, it becomes clear that she is being hunted once more. And one of her students may just be the key to unlocking the mystery that has consumed her life.Determined to bring her family’s murderer to justice and protect those close to her, Mabel races against time to find her attacker . . . before he finds her. 

Review:

I know many of us have gotten sick and tired of weak, whiny and overall annoying female leads lately, especially in thrillers and I am so happy to tell you that Mabel was a strong woman who you can root for! 🙌 She’s seriously a badass who has trained in all types of different self defense and hand to hand combat, honestly it was just refreshing to actually admire a heroine instead of loathing her!

This is told in multiple points of view and the chapters are fairly short which is a technique that makes for a real page turner and I was sucked right in. One of the things that I liked most here was that the reader is aware of who the killer is, but the characters aren’t. It was fun and made for an interesting game of cat and mouse that kept me gripped the whole time.

This one went dark, which I love and the insight directly into the killers psyche was simultaneously fascinating and creepy! Recommended as a solid thriller that you can easily binge read in one sitting, the pacing was fast enough it’s not easy to put down and the writing style was easy and fast as well.

Still Out There in three words: Quick, Engrossing and Original

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Hello Lovelies! by Hayley DeRoche

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Release date: May 23, 2019

Publisher: Audible Studios

Narrator: Emily Bauer

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

For fans of Sophie Kinsella and Kevin Kwan comes a laugh-out-loud debut that takes listeners inside the cutthroat world of mommy blogging. 

Ruthie St. James – formerly a political communications strategist, currently a stay-at-home mom, and all of a sudden friendless after her daughter’s peanut butter cookie sends another toddler to the hospital – needs a break. And when she wins an all-expenses paid cruise vacation with her idol, the superstar mommy blogger Jesca Pine, she can’t wait to connect with other moms IRL. But the cruise is not the Instagram-worthy getaway Ruthie had in mind: firstly, the other bloggers aren’t here to make friends – they’re here to impress a major talent agent who’s been spotted on the ship, and they’ll do just about anything to get her attention. On top of that, someone aboard keeps leaking scandalous (and off-brand) stories to an unforgiving gossip site, and Jesca’s losing her followers as quickly as her sanity. All this leaves Ruthie walking on eggshells, and after a scandal of her own, she only has one more chance to salvage her vacation: using her political savvy to negotiate with the team of ruthless saboteurs behind Jesca Pine’s demise…Jesca’s own teenage daughters.

Hello Lovelies! is a joyous, irreverent debut about friendship, motherhood, and what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s digital world. 

Review:

I know that we have all heard of a beach read but what about a beach listen? I’ve never really thought about any particular audiobooks being perfect for vacation but while I was listening to this one I kept thinking that this would be ideal! It was the perfect blend of humor and lighthearted fun to make this is an incredibly easy listen and one that I enjoyed immensely.

I’m no stranger to online mommy drama, I’m not sure there is any way to avoid it if you’re raising young children today so that’s what initially caught my eye with this one. Throw in a cruise with influential mommy bloggers and my drama radar is beeping loud and clear! This poked fun at the mommy wars in a snarky way that seriously made me cackle. It’s over the top dramatic in the best and most fun way, I can’t even tell you how many times I was dying laughing.

The narration was fantastic, there were lots of excerpts from blog posts, podcasts and various social media sites and there were many fitting sound effects included to help keep things straight. It was a fun added touch that I appreciated and definitely helped to keep things from being confusing.

Overall I really, really liked this one and would most definitely read another book from the author, it was super fun and a really great listen!

Hello Lovelies! in three words: Snarky, Witty and Hilarious

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: The Road She Left Behind by Christine Nolfi

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Release date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Three women. Two families torn apart by secrets.

Crushed by guilt over the car accident that killed her father and sister, and torn apart by her mother’s resentment, Darcy Goodridge fled her family estate eight years ago and hasn’t looked back. Now an unexpected phone call threatens to upend what little serenity she’s found. Her nephew, Emerson, who was just a baby when his mother died, has gone missing. Darcy must return home and face her past in order to save him.

Once back in Ohio, Darcy realizes there’s more to Emerson’s disappearance—and to the sudden retirement of her mother, Rosalind—than meets the eye. As she works to make inroads with Rosalind, Darcy begins to unravel a decades-old secret that devastated her family and forced a wedge between her and Michael Varano, the man she left heartbroken when she vanished after the funeral. After carrying the scars of that fateful night for almost a decade, Darcy is determined to find closure, healing, and maybe even love where she lost them all in the first place—right back home where she belongs. 

Review:

Ahh family secrets always suck me right in and at its core this is about secrets and a family that is broken after an unspeakable tragedy. I also love when a character returns home after leaving in haste to deal with their past and Darcy heads home, unwillingly, but with her nephew missing she knows it’s finally time to face her past, as heartbreaking and emotional as that will be for her and the family she has left.

While I enjoyed Darcy as a character it was truly the supporting cast of characters that I adored. From Samson, the teenaged boy who is Darcy’s closet friend, to Emerson her precocious nephew all the way to Tippi her old boyfriends grandmother, they made up an eclectic and highly lovable group of individuals who added a whole lot of heart to an already heartfelt story.

There was a light mystery at play here that added some intrigue and the themes of family, loss, grief and forgiveness were powerful and totally captivating. This is my second book by the author and I’m now a firm fan, she has a beautiful way with words that touch the heart.

The Road She Left Behind in three words: Emotional, Compelling, and Memorable

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: This is Home by Lisa Duffy

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Release date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.

Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house. Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.

For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.

With gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong. 

Review:

If you are looking for a beautifully written story with a ensemble cast of characters that are not only incredibly well drawn, but also wholly relatable, then look no further because This is Home was absolutely gorgeous! I’ve had The Salt House on my TBR forever and after reading this gem it won’t be lingering on my unread shelf much longer.

This is told via alternate perspectives, it flips between Libby and Quinn as Quinn moves into a new apartment where Libby lives with her family. Each woman had a strong, distinct and woefully raw voice, the type of realness that tugs on your heartstrings and also almost hurts to read about because it’s so heartbreakingly honest. Both are struggling with similar issues and find they have more in common than they first thought, they’re dealing with everything from abandonment issues to alcoholism, PTSD and just being a part of a military family in general and all of the issues that come with that. Add in an additional supporting cast of characters that are also genuine and basically leap from the page and you have magic.

Duffy shines light onto dark topics with a graceful and sensitive touch, she talks about highly important issues that should be discussed more in such a poetic and truthful way and I was captivated by the whole thing. I think anyone who has struggled in their life (and really, who hasn’t?!) can relate to this one in some way, it really is an amazing read and one that comes highly recommended by me. Would also be ideal for a book club pick, lots to unpack here and I think it would lead to some thoughtful discussions.

This is Home in three words: Raw, Beautiful and Heartfelt

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Rumor by Lesley Kara

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Release date: June 18, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Joanna is desperate to ingratiate herself with a popular clique of mothers at her son’s new school. But when she tries to impress them by repeating a rumor she overheard at the school gates, there’s no going back. . . .

Rumor has it that a notorious killer, a woman who has been released from prison years after her brutal crime, is living under a new identity in Joanna’s seaside town. So who is the supposedly reformed murderer now living in their neighborhood? Suspicion falls on everyone.

Joanna becomes obsessed with the case, pawing through decades-old records in an attempt to name the killer. But her curiosity not only ostracizes her from the community, but exposes her son and his father to a heartless psychopath who has killed–and may kill again. 

How dangerous can one rumor become? And how far will Joanna go to protect those she loves from harm, when she realizes what she’s unleashed?

Joanna is going to regret the day she ever said a word…. 

Review:

I loved the premise for this one, how seemingly innocent gossiping can turn out to be very harmful because I’m pretty sure every one of us is guilty of whispering with a friend on at least one occasion. The rumor itself is also both juicy and scary, imagine hearing there’s a killer living in your small town. Sure, the killer was only a child there self at the time of the murder, but still talk about creepy!

I kept thinking this is a really perfect summer thriller while I was reading and the main reason for my thoughts was because it was such a fast and compulsive read. I swear I flew through this one, it wasn’t even that it was super twisty or anything, I just think that the authors writing style kept me captivated and flipping the pages really quickly. There was also a great, strong sense of paranoia running throughout that added some additional tension.

Was this a fun and entertaining read for me? Sure, absolutely, but was it mind blowing and one I’ll remember in a few weeks? No, but it did hold my attention the entire time so I can’t be upset about that. I did figure out the main twist which is always a disappointment but it didn’t stop me from finishing it so clearly this had a compelling factor for me. I think those who are avid thriller readers will probably feel like I do but if you’re newer to the genre you may find it more mind blowing!

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Summer of 69 by Elin Hilderbrand

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Release date: June 18, 2019

Publisher: Little Brown

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Blurb:

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It’s 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha’s Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

In her first “historical novel,” rich with the details of an era that shaped both a country and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again proves her title as queen of the summer novel.

Review:

It’s officially summer now that I’ve read the new EH book! Seriously, it truly doesn’t feel like summertime for me until I get my hands on her latest book and I did consider waiting to read this until my actual summer vacation, but who am I kidding, I have no willpower when it comes to her books. I’m so glad I didn’t make myself wait either because this was exactly the right book to get me into a summer vacation state of mind.

I was just a tiny bit apprehensive when I read the blurb of this and saw it was set back in 1969, I don’t mind historical fiction but I did wonder if this would have the same magic as her usual summer books. I trust the queen of the beach read though and figured she knew what she was doing and she does. Obviously she does, this was book twenty something after all, and I was just as into this one as all of her previous books. It was really cool to see a simpler kind of life actually, no cell phones, Instagram, etc that so dominates our daily lives now, but there was no shortage of drama back then either. So many of the rampant issues back then are still sadly relevant today too, racism, women’s rights issues, etc. that despite being set fifty years ago it still felt surprisingly relevant.

No one features an ensemble cast better than EH, she manages to create casts of characters that you feel invested in and also relate to on some level. There’s a little something for everyone here, mom Kate trying to cope with her only son Tiger, being shipped off to Vietnam, daughters Kirby, Blair and Jessie who range from early twenties to just turned teenager and so many supporting characters that give the whole thing vibrancy and life. A must read for summer, make sure you read the authors note for the inspiration behind the story, it was super cool!

Summer of 69 in three words: Breezy, Spirited and Delightful

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.