Throwback Thursday: Under the Knife by Kelly Parsons #TBT


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Release date: February 7, 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Medical Thriller

Blurb:

From the author of Doing Harm, a thriller in which a grieving, vengeful husband stalks the surgeon he blames for his wife’s untimely death.


Morgan Finney, a biotechnology tycoon, is a shy, highly intelligent but socially awkward and emotionally fragile man. It was his wife, Jenny, with whom he connected and who enabled him to connect with others. When Jenny dies of complications during a surgery led by Dr. Rita Wu, Finney’s grief turns to rage. He vows to kill Rita just as he believes she killed his wife. But first he will systematically destroy her life. Aided by a mysterious man named Sebastian, Finney uses advanced medical technology to brainwash Rita. He tricks her into ruining her reputation and brings her to the brink of madness. Alone, fighting for her sanity and life, Rita reaches out to ex-lover Dr. Spencer Cameron. Together they uncover Finney’s horrific intentions and race to stop him.

Review: 

I’m joining in again with Throwback Thursday which was created by my good friend Renee at It’s Book Talk. She started this weekly feature as a way to highlight old favorites and read books that have already been published. I have so many older books on my TBR that get ignored in favor of review copies and I figure participating in Throwback Thursday will help me to read at a least one older title a week!

I haven’t read many medical thrillers and I’m not sure exactly why because the few I’ve read I really enjoyed! There’s something terrifying about the plausibility of these types of books, the idea that it really could actually happen that makes for such a compelling read. 

While the initial premise for this was a bit far fetched, (crazy grieving husband turns psycho and takes extreme measures to get revenge on his wife’s surgeon) the actual medical advances seem like something that could possibly happen. It all revolves around an auto surgeon which is basically a super advanced robot that can perform an actual operation on its own. There’s also brainwashing and this totally creeped me out and made for such a sinister read. 

Parsons is a solid writer and I really liked that he clearly has a medical background, it was evident in the use of procedures and medical terminology, but it was all basic enough that it wasn’t confusing for an average reader like me. The story unfolds through four separate viewpoints; Rita the surgeon, Finney the grieving husband, Sebastian who works for Finney and Spencer another surgeon who is also Rita’s ex. The pacing was fast and very intense, as it reached the end the narratives really started to blend together seamlessly and became exciting and unbelievably tense. This would be great for fans of standard thrillers who are looking for something different!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: If You Knew My Sister by Michelle Adams


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Release date: October 3, 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Psychological Thriller 

Blurb:

In the vein of Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood comes a novel of psychological suspense form debut author Michelle Adams, where a woman returns to her family’s home to learn the truth and escape her sister’s influence


If you knew my sister, you’d run too…


First there was the Robert Kneel incident.

Then what happened to Margot Wolfe.

And now she’s found me again.


Dr. Irini Harringford was given away by her parents just before her fourth birthday. Although she has spent her whole life trying to convince herself she doesn’t need them, deep down Irini longs to understand why she was abandoned, while her parents kept her older sister, Elle.


So when Elle gets in touch with news that their mother has died, Irini reluctantly agrees to return to the family home. But she is ill at ease. She and Elle are not close. Irini knows only too well what Elle is capable of. Inexplicably drawn to her enigmatic sister, yet terrified of the sway she holds, Irini tries to protect herself even as she is sucked back into her family’s toxic web of secrets…and soon realizes that the past is more complicated than she imagined, and that her very future rests upon discovering the truth about why she was really given away.


Review: 

Ahh sister relationships never fail to intrigue me, especially messy ones and Irini and Elle have one of the most complex relationships I’ve read about in awhile. Irini was sent to live with relatives when she was just three and she has no idea why, so when her mother dies and Elle summons her back home the idea of finally finding out some answers is too much for her to resist. Elle is toxic, manipulative and calculating but she is Irini’s sister and her hold on her is very strong. 

I was dying to learn exactly why Irini was sent away and to find out if Elle was really as crazy as Irini remembered, there was definitely that sense of uneasiness about both women throughout. Elle is clearly unbalanced but there were times that something about Irini seemed off as well. There was a heavy ominous undertone, something sinister and creepy lurking around that I really liked, it messed with my head in the best possible way. Put that together with really strong writing and I’m super impressed it was Adams debut, she has a subtle, nuanced style that worked really well for me.

There was something intoxicating about this book, it almost had me in a hypnotic state while I was reading it, I was that captivated by it. Despite it being a true psychological thriller I found it to be heavy on the psychological aspect and pretty light on the thriller part, but that did not in any way stop my enjoyment of this one. I actually think it further enhanced my experience and forced me to savor this read instead of rushing through it like I sometimes do in a twisty, fast paced thriller.  

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak


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Release date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Berkley 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction 

Blurb:

A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays… 


It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter–who is usually off saving the world–will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family. 


For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity–and even decent Wi-Fi–and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems. 


As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down. 


In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

Review: 

This had the exact type of premise that intrigues me, I love reading about families, especially when there’s secrets involved and add in a little dysfunction and I’m all in! I adore my own family but being locked in a house for a whole week together sounds pretty scary and we’re not nearly as screwed up as the Birch family. 

It’s told from every single family members perspective and I loved getting to see how each of them interpreted the same situations differently. Emma is the mom and while they all have secrets hers is a pretty major one. Andrew is the dad and he’s honestly pretty awful, he’s snobby, pretentious and  detached as a father. Olivia is the oldest daughter, she’s a doctor and she comes off reserved and pretty cold and then there’s Phoebe the youngest, she’s basically a huge  spoiled brat. I liked Jesse the most, he seemed to be the most down to earth and I usually gauge my likability of characters by who I would want to hang out with and he wins hands down. Overall a large cast of unlikable people that would’ve saved themselves SO much drama had they simply talked to each other, but where’s the fun in that?! 

This was a really entertaining read if kind of ridiculous at times. The behavior of the Birch family ranged from appalling to mildly amusing and I was hoping for more sharp humor but instead it was more emotional than I think the blurb described it to be and definitely not exactly what I was expecting. The writing was solid though and it was fairly fast paced making it an easy read, this would actually be perfect to read over the holidays to escape your own crazy family! If you like books like The Nest you would enjoy this one, I had really similar thoughts/feelings on both of those books, a mixed bag where I can’t really say I loved or hated it, but I would say I mostly enjoyed it despite a few minor issues. 

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman @dinnerfeed


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Release date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Contemporary Fiction 

Blurb: 

Betting on the city of Detroit’s eventual comeback, cousins Addie and Samantha decide to risk it all on an affordable new house and a culinary career that starts with renovating a vintage diner in a depressed area of town. There’s just one little snag in their vision.


Angus, a weary, beloved local, is strongly opposed to his neighborhood’s gentrification—and his concerns reflect the suspicion of the community. Shocked by their reception, Addie and Samantha begin to have second thoughts.


As the long hours, problematic love interests, and underhanded pressures mount, the two women find themselves increasingly at odds, and soon their problems threaten everything they’ve worked for. If they are going to realize their dreams, Addie and Samantha must focus on rebuilding their relationship. But will the neighborhood open their hearts to welcome them home? 

Review: 

Let’s start with that gorgeous cover, isn’t it stunning?! I’ve not read the authors previous book and based on the blurb I was expecting it to be on the lighthearted side, basic women’s fiction with a cutesy plot. Instead this was SO much more, it definitely has its fun moments and happiness but at its core it’s much deeper and full of substance. It tackles some extremely relevant and timely current issues in a really respectful and realistic manner. It touches on love, loss, community, and quite a bit more. 

This is told from two points of view, cousins Addie and Sam and it switches back and forth between the two every chapter. It follows their lives and those of the staff and their community over the course of a year. When it begins, The Welcome Home diner has already opened its doors and is struggling to find its place in this tight knit and hesitant neighborhood. The residents are suspicious and guarded and for good reason as Detroit has had many struggles as of late. Addie and Sam were both well drawn characters with interesting histories and plenty of emotional depth, I enjoyed getting to know both of them. There is a large cast of colorful supporting characters as well with often painful, unique pasts that added an extra layer of emotion. 

This story revolves around food and Lampman’s descriptions were scrumptious. She includes a handful of recipes from the story at the end and I will definitely be trying a few out! Interspersed between the food are some heavy hitting topics such as human trafficking, race relations and gentrification of a community. It’s all handled with grace and a style all of the authors own and leaves much to be discussed, this is an ideal book club read. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy. 

Throwback Thursday: Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes #TBT


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Release date: April 13, 2013

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

You’re alone. You’re vulnerable. And you have something that someone else wants. At any cost…


Claudia Morgan-Brown finally has it all. Pregnant with a much-wanted first baby of her own, she has a happily established family of two small step-sons and a loving husband with a great career. But she is also committed to her full-time job as a social worker, and her husband travels often. So when Claudia hires Zoe to help her around the house in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But despite Zoe’s glowing recommendations and instant rapport with the children, there’s something about her that Claudia cannot trust.


Moreover, there has been a series of violent attacks on pregnant women in the area, and Claudia becomes acutely aware of her vulnerability. With her husband out of town for work and her family far away, who will be there to protect her? And why does she feel unsettled about Zoe? Realizing appearances can be deceiving even in her seemingly perfect world, Claudia digs deeper into Zoe’s blurry past and begins to wonder – how far would someone go to have a child of her own?


Riveting from its very first pages, Until You’re Mine is a multilayered masterwork of twisted, psychological suspense. Readers of Before I Go to Sleep and Turn of Mind will be enthralled by this multilayered novel, featuring a twisted plot that ends in a breathtaking and shocking finale. 

Review: 

I’m joining in again with Throwback Thursday which was created by my good friend Renee at It’s Book Talk. She started this weekly feature as a way to highlight old favorites and read books that have already been published. I have so many older books on my TBR that get ignored in favor of review copies and I figure participating in Throwback Thursday will help me to read at a least one older title a week!

Until You’re Mine has been recommended to me more times than I can count and I bought it forever ago and am now kicking myself for not having read it the moment I received it! This was a cleverly plotted, unpredictable read that kept me entertained and totally captivated the whole time.

This is told from three perspectives, Claudia, Zoe and Lorraine. This seems like a pretty straightforward story, but nothing is ever that simple, is it? Claudia is heavily pregnant and needs help when her husband has to leave as he’s in the Navy, so they hire Zoe as their live in nanny and it’s clear from the jump that she has many secrets. Lorraine is a police officer working on a case where pregnant woman are being attacked and murdered and her investigation causes her to cross paths with Claudia and Zoe. Pregnancy and babies are at the forefront of everything and I’m really glad I didn’t read this while I was pregnant, yikes!! 

I loved the mutual distrust between Zoe and Claudia, it added so much tension and was a bit like a good old fashioned game of cat and mouse. There is a sinister vibe, something dangerous lurking just around the corner that intrigued me to no end. The writing was slick and fluid and by the last half I was well and truly gripped. I don’t want to say too much more, but the ending of this was explosive, chilling and the last sentence? Creepily perfect! 

Overall rating: 5/5

Review: The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens @aeskens @SeventhStBooks


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Release date: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife’s death, even when he believed that a reckless hit and run driver was the cause. But when he learns that in fact she was murdered, he devotes himself to hunting down her killers. Most of his life he had thought of himself as a decent man. But now he’s so consumed with thoughts of retribution that he questions whether he will take that last step and enact the vengeance he longs for. 


On a frozen lake near the US-Canadian border, he wrestles with a decision that could change his life forever, as his hatred threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent a career bringing to justice. 

Review:

Last year I read my first Eskens book, The Heavens May Fall and was completely blown away. He is an insanely talented writer and his heroes are deeply flawed and vastly interesting and unique. While the characters in each book are the same, it’s not completely necessary to start at the beginning, they each work perfectly fine as a standalone. BUT, they’re so good that I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend reading them all. 

For five years Max has been haunted by his wife’s death and he’s finally tracked down her killer. This opens with Max and an unknown man locked in an intense situation in the middle of nowhere near the Canadian border and Max finally has the chance to get justice for his Jenni. It’s tense and thrilling, the frozen atmosphere lends to the chilly scene becoming a character all of it’s own and adding a layer of danger to an already deadly story. It flips back to three days prior as you follow Max as he tracks down the killer, then flips back and forth throughout all the way up to an explosive conclusion. 

I loved the moral struggle Max was facing throughout as he tried to bring revenge to a man who shattered his entire life. There was something poetic about him having a moral battle with himself while in the frozen wilderness that was both hauntingly beautiful and chilling. Vengeance and retribution is the name of the game here, this one kept me on the edge of my seat and flipping pages at a steady rate. If you haven’t read Eskens work you’re missing out, he’s a superbly talented author not to be missed.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

September Wrap Up

The Accident was a twisty read, a great start to the month!


The Leftover was a really fun read!


The Summer That Made Us was the perfect late summer read.


The Scarred Woman was a really good read, I loved the authors style.


The Lies Within was a great police procedural with dashes of a legal drama and a psychological thriller.


I Hate Everyone But You was a cute YA novel but I did have some issues with it. 


Something Like Happy was an inspiring read, I loved it!

One of my TBT picks was My Husband’s Son and it was a fantastic psychological thriller.


Lie to Me was a really fantastic domestic suspense.


Something Like Family was a beautiful, moving story.


Stillhouse Lake was a creepy read with lots of action. 


House of Spines was a super unique psychological thriller.


When We Were Worthy was a story of resilient women finding hope after a tragedy.


One Day in December was a great ensemble story told over one day.


Thief’s Mark was a romantic suspense with an old school whodunnit vibe.


The Missing Girls was an excellent addition to a great series!


The Names of Dead Girls is the second in a series and I’m a huge fan of the authors writing style.


Lies She Told was a book within a book, super tricky but really well executed.


Paperbacks from Hell is a really cool, creepy read about the history of horror fiction.


Best Day Ever was a chilling look at a messed up marriage. 


She Did It was a great psychological thriller about a relationship between two women.


Despite the awful cover I liked Sweet Reality.


Cold Blood was another great installment in a fantastic series.


I love the Jake Boulder series, The Kindred Killers was great!


Maria in the Moon is a true gem of a novel. 

Coben is a master and Don’t Let Go proves that once again. 


The Beachside Christmas was another lovely addition to a great series. 

Reach for the Stars was a beautifully positive, uplifting read. 

Sugar Pine Trail was an adorable read.


In Twenty Years was my TBT pick, an enjoyable read.


A Very Vintage Christmas was a gorgeous story.


Drawing Lessons was a beautiful and bittersweet read.

I’m so excited it’s finally fall, I love everything about this time of year it’s the best! September was another great month for me, I managed 32 books. You would think that would help me to catch up on my backlog but it honestly hasn’t even made a dent. Oh well. 

While I read some fantastic books my favorite from the month was Lie to Me!

How was your month? Favorites? 

Review: Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands @patricia_sands


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Release date: October 1, 2017

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb: 

The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself…


Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.


Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light. 

Review: 

A few months back I read Sands Love in Provence series and absolutely loved it, she creates realistic characters in the most beautiful settings dealing with the same type of issues and problems that many of us can relate to on some level. She takes the reader on a poignant and emotional journey that is just a gorgeous experience. 

I adored her protagonist Katherine from LIP and was hoping I would have another strong connection to Arianna and I totally did! I love that Sands has heroines that are not in their twenties, they’re more mature and worldly bringing a sophistication to the story. Arianna’s situation was heart wrenching, dementia is a devastating disease and I had so much sympathy for her. When she takes a chance and heads to the artists retreat she begins a journey of personal growth and self introspection that was amazing. The rest of the people at the retreat are eclectic and interesting, they added an additional layer of depth to the story. 

Sands truly brings a setting to life, from the mouthwatering, scrumptious food descriptions to the stunning landscapes she paints the prettiest picture with her prose. There was a strong, rich sense of history of Arles that was fascinating, I’m not a history buff or remotely artistic by any means but it was compelling and I definitely learned a few new things. This was a bittersweet read with plenty of life lessons and inspiration, a really positive and lovely tale. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Throwback Thursday: In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch #TBT


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Release date: July 1, 2016

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Contemporary Fiction 

Blurb: 

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.


But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.


Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

Review: 

I’m joining in again with Throwback Thursday which was created by my good friend Renee at It’s Book Talk. She started this weekly feature as a way to highlight old favorites and read books that have already been published. I have so many older books on my TBR that get ignored in favor of review copies and I figure participating in Throwback Thursday will help me to read at a least one older title a week!

This is told from multiple perspectives that of Catherine, Owen, Annie, Colin and Lindy. This group couldn’t be more different, but maybe that’s what made them all connect in the first place twenty years ago. Catherine and Owen are married with children and go the non traditional route as he stays home with the kids and she works. They seem like the perfect all American family on the surface, but resentment bubbles under the surface. Annie is also married with one kid and she tries really hard to present the perfect life to the world, especially online. We all know no one is perfect though… Colin is a successful surgeon with a big secret about their late friend, Bea and Lindy is a famous musician with way too many issues to list here. For such a large ensemble cast of characters I found them all to be really well drawn and relatable. Some more than others, I didn’t have much in common with Lindy’s rock star life but could relate to both Annie and Owen as stay at parents. (I wonder why? 😜)

This isn’t a traditional mystery but rather a story of secrets and long held grudges with mysterious elements. When they reunite at the bequest of Bea most of them haven’t kept in touch at all and all have different issues with each other and things they really don’t want the others to know. I admittedly got slightly annoyed with most of them because so many of their problems could’ve been solved by simply talking to each other, but without conflict this would’ve just been a boring story about a group of middle aged friends, so I get that it was basically the driving force of the book. Overall this was an enjoyable read, the author is a good writer my only complaint was the ending, I felt like there were just too many loose ends that weren’t tied up at all BUT I’m super picky about endings so take that with a grain of salt. 

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben 


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Release date: September 26, 2017

Publisher: Dutton Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Blurb: 

With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.


Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for. 


When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine. 

Review: 

Coben is an auto buy author for me, I’ve read every single one of his books and have never been disappointed by any of them. I LOVE his Myron Bolitar series but his standalones work well for me too and this one was no exception. There’s a brief cameo from Myron at one point when he crosses paths with Nap which was such an unexpected treat! The main character, Nap reminded me of a combination of Myron and Win so my craving for them was partially satiated. This was twisty and full of deceit and long buried betrayals, classic Coben doing what he does extremely well. 

Nap was the kind of standard character fans know and love in Coben’s books, he has that trademark dry humor and wit, he’s smart, sharp and the type of cop that’s not afraid to skirt the boundaries of the law and he’s loyal to a fault. I immediately connected with him, his story is heartbreaking, he lost his twin brother and his girlfriend within a short period of time and has never quite been the same since. All he wants are answers and he may finally be getting them, but it’s all much more than he ever expected, the lies are stacking up and nothing makes sense, how much of the past was fact and what was fiction? 

I can’t say much more about the plot, but this was excellent, Coben is a master and this was a strong reminder for me as to why he’s one of my all time favorite authors. He’s simply one of the best and if you haven’t read one of his books before they all come highly recommended by me. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.