Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

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Release date: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Celadon

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

Review:

It’s not often that I’m seriously creeped out by a book, I read some dark stuff and it takes a lot to rattle me but this one seriously got under my skin! Full disclosure, I listened to on audio thanks to my friends at Libro.fm and I assume this enhanced my enjoyment because the narrator was amazing and so many parts of this was just downright creepy due to the chilling narration. I’m sure it’s just as good in print form, but if you’re an audio fan this is a must.

I’m not touching the plot at all because it was so wickedly brilliant you just have to experience it for yourself. While the creep factor is high, it’s not totally disturbing or traumatizing, more spooky and eerie than anything else. It’s also pretty fast paced and told from multiple points of view keeping things exciting and engaging throughout. I was immersed in the pages of this one from start to finish, and what an ending, that final line gave me actual chills! Highly recommended for thriller lovers, a super impressive debut for sure!

The Whisper Man in three words: Atmospheric, Creepy and Tense

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy

Review: The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter #slaughtersquad

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Release date: August 20, 2019

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor. 

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves. 

Review:

It’s been almost three years since the last book in this series was released and while the wait felt SO long, it was worth it! Since I’m such a huge, super fan of this series one of the questions I get asked the most is, can these books be read as standalones? Short answer is sure, you would probably be fine. Long answer is, no because it’s such a fantastic series and the characterization is so phenomenal that you probably wouldn’t like it as much as I do. I have such a strong attachment to these characters and there’s just no way to develop that bond with one book. I would definitely recommend starting back at the beginning of the Grant County series and then starting this one. It’s only something like fifteen books total, no sweat 🤪

The second question I always get about KS books is, are all of her books as dark, graphic and disturbing as Pretty Girls? While this particular book may not be quite as brutal as PG you have to understand that the darkness is part of the authors trademark style. Her books are for crime readers that like bold storylines and super descriptive scenes, but I always want to point out that the parts with a lot of violence or trigger worthy stuff aren’t added to the story just for shock value. It’s always handled in the most thoughtful, respectful manner and isn’t gratuitous or unnecessary at all. Do her books always shock and disturb me? Hell yes, but I’ve come to expect and appreciate it and I don’t think any other author I’ve ever read manages to pull this off quite like she does 👑

This is frighteningly timely and so authentic feeling, the case Will and Sara are working could be ripped directly from the headlines and as good as it was, it scared the shit out of me as well because it could truly happen. Besides a totally gripping plot, you have one of my favorite book couples in total peril, Sara was abducted by some serious crazies and seeing things from their separate viewpoints was harrowing and heartbreaking. Throw in a third POV from Faith and the usual shenanigans from Will’s boss, Amanda and you have the ultimate recipe for one hell of a read. I can’t recommend this book (or series) highly enough. It was so good I’m in a slump now because nothing else is even close to being this good 😫

The Last Widow in three words: Harrowing, Bold and Gripping.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

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Release date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Fiction

Blurb:

Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on. 

But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.

For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her. 

Review:

Doesn’t the description of this sound so amazing? When I picked this one up I was expecting a super emotional and heartfelt story of a mother fighting for her child. I definitely expected to experience a wide variety of emotions, I mean the thought of a special needs little girl being institutionalized makes me a little weepy. I’m so disappointed to say that this totally missed the mark for me and I didn’t really like it at all.

Let me be clear, the writing was fine, the story itself was even fine but I wanted more than just fine. Did I connect to Ginny as a mother as I expected myself to? Nope, which was a real shame because this one had so much potential but I was looking for so much more than what I got. This sounds pretty weird, but I really wanted it to be sadder in a way. I wanted to feel Ginny’s pain and I wanted more information about the institution itself. I guess I just found this book lacking on all levels, I don’t really have much more to say except if I had to pinpoint exactly what I wanted the most was more depth in all areas.

Overall rating: 2/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

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Release date: August 13, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage. 

Review:

I became a fan of Center when I fell completely and totally in love with How to Walk Away, it easily made my top reads of the year list and is still a book I find myself recommending to people all of the time. Now that I’ve read my second book from the author I can say that I’m a firm fan and will be adding her to my short list of auto buy authors.

If I had to pick one single thing that truly makes a book a special read for me I would have to say that it’s great characterization. Sure, so many other elements are incredibly important to me, but if I don’t find the characters believable, I’m going to struggle. Cassie was so believable it hurt, right away she had me on her side, she’s a female firefighter for crying out loud, she had me just based on that alone. But there is so much more to her than the fact that she is a badass, she’s multifaceted on many levels and her story was a powerful and evocative one. Then, as an added bonus you get a character like the rookie to swoon over and I’m just done. I’m all in and then some, I’m a big ball of mushy emotions who is wholeheartedly invested.

I swear no other author combines incredibly emotional and heartfelt stories with razor sharp wit quite like Center does. There is something magical about this combination that is just perfection for me, I’ll be teary eyed one minute and before I can compose myself I’m laughing through my tears because of something funny one of her characters says or does. Once again, I loved every single page of this one, and just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, there was a beautiful epilogue that just put the cherry on top of the cake.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough, especially if you like emotional, yet hilarious reads that will pull at your heart strings one minute and have you crying like a baby the next. If you haven’t read How to Walk Away yet either go ahead and get that one as well, they’re both excellent!

Things You Save in a Fire in three words: Evocative, Heartfelt and Unforgettable

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Double Review: The Moonlight Bay series by Hope Ramsay

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Publisher: Forever Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb: (Book 1, The Cottage on Rose Lane)

Jenna Fossey’s life is about to change. An unexpected inheritance and the chance to meet relatives she never knew existed has her heading to the charming little town of Magnolia Harbor. But as soon as she arrives, long-buried family secrets lead to even more questions, and the only person who can help her find the answers is her sexy-as-sin sailing instructor. 

Nothing makes Jude St. Pierre feel more alive than racing on the open sea – at least, not until Jenna comes strolling down his dock asking for sailing lessons. But it feels wrong to be attracted to her – especially when he learns why she came to town. Jude knows she deserves the truth but can he help her discover it without losing her and the family he’s come to think of as his own?

Includes the bonus story “A Wedding on Lavender Hill” by Annie Rains!
When an event planner is asked to create the perfect wedding in just three days, she must turn to the last person she wants to ask for help – the infuriating owner of the house on the hilltop. 

Blurb: (Book 2, Summer on Moonlight Bay)

Only one thing can make veterinarian Noah Cuthbert return to Magnolia Harbor-his mother’s failing health. He’ll do anything to help his family, including taking a short-term gig at the local animal clinic. What he doesn’t count on is getting up-close-and-personal with the clinic’s new manager, a woman whose love and compassion for every stray that crosses her path has him rethinking his plans to head back to his big-city life…

After her time in the Navy, Lia wants nothing more than to settle down. The quaint seaside town is just what she’d been hoping for, and not just because her new boss is movie-star handsome. As they grow closer, Lia starts wondering if Noah could be the one. But when a town crisis forces Noah to take a stand that jeopardizes their new-found happiness, can Lia convince him that home doesn’t have to be a four-letter word?

Includes the bonus novel Then There Was You by Miranda Liasson! 

Review:

Since I read these books back to back I thought I would just do one review to combine my thoughts on both of them, plus they’re also available now and I know I personally love being able to start a new series with at least a couple of books already out, waiting is the worst.

Lately I’ve been loving small town, sweet and simple romance novels and this series delivers on that! They totally remind me of feel good Hallmark movies and they’re ideal for a light and easy summertime read. Their set in a small, picturesque town and while the two main characters change from book to book, they become secondary characters the next time around. The first book focused on Jenna and Jude and then the second was about Lia and Noah but both Jenna and Jude made several appearances and I just loved getting a peek at what they were up too.

While the romance is definitely at the forefront of both books, there’s also so much more on offer as well. The residents of the town are a basically fun bunch with a few exceptions and they add some extra charm and humor to an already fun story. I found both books to be equally heartfelt and sweet and am so looking forward to the next installment in the series!

Overall rating: 4/5 (for both books)

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

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Release date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on thatfinger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.

Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper. And in real life he shows promise, too. He would be perfect, if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is “engaged”; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. She can either stay engaged online or fall in love in real life. 

Review:

I think most of us with an active Instagram account have done some crazy things for the perfect shot, I know my fellow bookstagrammers have pulled out a book in some wild places just for the gram (as I have too!) but Eliza takes things to a whole new level when she fakes an engagement for her followers. If this sounds slightly insane and borderline ridiculous it totally is, but meet Eliza, she’s the type of friend that we’ve all had who makes rash decisions and finds herself in awkward, albeit hilarious situations over and over again.

I adored the premise of this, faking any sort of relationship is always a fun trope for me and there were definitely some pretty funny scenes here, for sure. While I honestly didn’t love Eliza as a character she was entertaining as hell and although I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her a few times, her unpredictability made this such a fun read and I really never knew what she would do next. There was also a great cast of secondary characters to balance out her craziness, I actually loved some of them so much that I have my fingers crossed that they may appear in a future book?!

Having now read two books from the author it’s safe for me to say that she truly knows how to write a highly entertaining story about modern dating. She captures the highs and lows and the struggles with social media all with humor and heart, I’m now a firm fan!

Love at First Like in three words: Amusing, Modern and Fun

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules: 

– Nude pics are by invitation only 

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice 

– Protect your heart 

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears. 

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk… 

Review:

I have yet another romance recommendation for you guys! Can y’all tell I’m a little bit obsessed with them lately?! I’m not sure if it’s this time of year, but I’m loving all things light and fun right now and while this has plenty of lightness it also had some serious depth as well.

I want to start by saying that if you’ve been looking for a diverse romance read, look no further. The representation here is wonderful, it’s chock full of bad ass, boss bitch women of color who are of all shapes and sizes and I’m am so here for that! There was an underlying feeling of feminism and straight up girl power here that I absolutely loved, Rhi herself had her shit together, despite her struggles in the romance department, and I love nothing more than a strong, female protagonist. Samson was a fabulous hero, he was an actual gentleman and his baggage was minor and adorably endearing, nothing problematic with either of them. Their chemistry was also smoking hot and this one definitely had some spicy sex scenes 🔥 🔥 🔥

Romance fans won’t wanna miss this one and I’m so excited it’s the first in a new series because I need a book about Katrina ASAP!!

The Right Swipe in three words: Saucy, Fierce and Fun

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy

Review: The Perfect Wife by J. P. Delaney

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Release date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . . 

Review:

Generally, I’m not the biggest fan of thrillers with a sci fi element to them, I’ve only read a select few that actually worked for me but this one sounded too bizarre and fascinating to pass up and I’m so glad I gave it a chance because it turned out to be pretty awesome.

I don’t have a lot to say in terms of the plot itself with this one because it unfolded in such a delicious way that I would hate to ruin it for anyone else. It was pretty twisty though and had lots of surprising moments, and the turns were really well executed and not added just for the sake of a shocking plot twist, they actually added something to the story. It also brought up some really interesting moral type questions that would be fun to discuss with a group of friends, so keep this in mind for a buddy read or a book club.

Anyone who has been bored to death of thrillers in general lately should give this one a try, it was highly unusual as far as the storylines goes but it still had the same elements that a great thriller has as well. Definitely recommended by me based on originality alone!

The Perfect Wife in three words: Original, Slick and Advanced

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Because You’re Mine by Rea Frey

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Single mother Lee has the daily routine down to a science: shower in six minutes. Cut food into perfect squares. Never leave her on-the-spectrum son Mason in someone else’s care. She’ll do anything—anything—to keep his carefully constructed world from falling apart. Do anything to keep him safe.

But when her best friend Grace convinces her she needs a small break from motherhood to recharge her batteries, Lee gives in to a weekend trip. Surely a long weekend away from home won’t hurt?
Noah, Mason’s handsome, bright, charismatic tutor—the first man in ages Lee’s even noticed—is more than happy to stay with him.

Forty-eight hours later, someone is dead.

But not all is as it seems. Noah may be more than who he claims to be. Grace has a secret—one that will destroy Lee. Lee has secrets of her own that she will do anything to keep hidden.
As the dominoes begin to fall and the past comes to light, perhaps it’s no mystery someone is gone after all…

Because You’re Mine is a breathtaking novel of domestic drama and suspense. 

Review:

I absolutely loved the authors last book, Not Her Daughter and was so impressed by how well she executed a highly emotional thriller, I don’t think that’s an easy thing to do at all. She has a really uncanny knack for infusing her stories with a ton of emotional upheaval but she doesn’t lose that tense, addictive quality that a really solid thriller always has either. It’s definitely a tricky balancing act but she nailed it again!

This is told from multiple perspectives, you hear from Lee, Grace and Noah and it’s clear right from the start that all three of them have complicated pasts and are hiding some things. I spent most of the book wondering who was reliable and who wasn’t, always so fun and a sure fire way to keep me on the edge of my seat. The pacing is also really on point, there’s never a dull moment, there was literally always something happening to keep me engaged.

I kept patting myself on the back because while this was super twisty I did guess all of the little surprises ahead of time, but honestly? I didn’t even care because it was still really good. Then the ending crept up on me and delivered one hell of a sucker punch that I did not see coming, so Frey got me in the end 😝 Definitely recommended by me, though I do want to mention that this gets dark and explores some sensitive subject matter. It’s not gory or anything, just very heavy at times.

Because You’re Mine in three words: Twisty, Dark and Riveting

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

July Wrap Up

The Ingredients of Us: Delectable, Fresh and Emotional

The Surfside Sisters: Breezy, Carefree and Charming

Unfortunately False Step just didn’t work for me at all.

Breath In, Cash Out: Smart, Sharp and Witty.

Girls Like Us was a great summer thriller!

Nina Hill: Quirky, Adorable and Wry

Child’s Play: Thrilling, Complex and Pacey

Last Summer: Compulsive, Sexy and Tense

Tell Me Everything was a solid mystery

Crashing the A List: Hilarious, Entertaining and Sparkling

The Floating Feldman’s: Sardonic, Enjoyable and Dysfunctional

Two Lila Bennett’s: Compulsive, Dynamic and Unexpected

The Helpline: Quirky, Endearing and Hopeful

A Stranger on the Beach was a fun beachy thriller that I had some minor issues with

Good Girl, Bad Girl: Multilayered, Unexpected and Absorbing

Please Send Help was super fun and told in a unique format.

How to Hack a Heartbreak: Fresh, Hip and Fun

That’s What Frenemies Are For: Snarky, Fun and Sharp

The Closer I Get: Unsettling, Obsessive and Engrossing

Someone We Know read like a classic whodunnit with a modern twist