Review: No One Can Hear You Scream by A. B. Whelan

Goodreads

Release date: October 20, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

A ruthlessly addicting and terrifyingly twisted story of a family stuck on a secluded mountain at the mercy of an obsessed fan of the woman.

It started as a vacation of a lifetime.

Jennifer Parker is a successful YouTube influencer living in a beautiful home outside Los Angeles with her three children. After divorcing her husband of eighteen years, Jennifer dives right into a new relationship despite her children’s disapproval.

Jennifer’s boyfriend, Tyler, is a middle school English teacher and a mama’s boy. To prove to Jennifer that he can be as outdoorsy as her ex-husband, he suggests going on an off-the-grid vacation in a yurt in Montana. The idea of not having cell phone reception and running water for days doesn’t appeal to Jennifer. Reluctantly, she agrees to the trip because she envisions this unique retreat as an opportunity for her children to connect with her new boyfriend.

Jennifer’s subscribers are excited about following their favorite online vlogger on an adventure in the wilderness. But one follower sees her vacation as the perfect opportunity to get close to her and act out his twisted and sick fantasies.

Alone on the mountain, where no one can hear her scream, Jennifer realizes that it wasn’t the deep, dark woods she had to fear after all.

Review:

It’s not often that I’m truly shocked when I read a thriller but I definitely was here! This was such a tense, exciting read but it is NOT for anyone who doesn’t want to be scared out of their mind. It has a ton of triggers, seriously if you can think of disturbing subject matter it’s probably in this book but if you like dark and disturbing books this was really good. I do want to mention that there’s a particularly upsetting scene at the beginning involving extreme animal cruelty that really needs a warning.

This had such a great premise with a family on a trip in a super remote location, seriously nightmarish to me and that’s even before you add in a sick individual who wants to terrorize Jennifer and her family. It was very atmospheric and unsettling and I was truly gripped the whole time. I don’t wanna discuss the plot anymore but I definitely recommend this to the right reader, AKA anyone who can deal with highly disturbing content.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Release date: November 2, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

In this fast-paced thriller, Wanda M. Morris crafts a twisty mystery about a black lawyer who gets in over her head after the sudden death of her boss. A debut perfect for fans of Attica Locke, Alyssa Cole, Harlan Coben, and Celeste Ng, with shades of How to Get Away with Murder and John Grisham’s The Firm.

Everyone has something to hide…

Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive—her white boss, Michael.

But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael… and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head.

And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight—again.

But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace Michael. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.

When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined…

Review:

Well hello super impressive debut!! I love reading debut authors because you never quite now what to expect and the only thing better than reading a new author is being blown away by their first book. This one was good y’all, I think it will appeal to so many people because while it’s definitely a thriller it also has shades of a legal thriller and a hint of domestic suspense. It also explores race, sexism and being a woman in the workplace, it was so relevant and important and also totally entertaining, this one truly had it all. The less you know about this one the better off you are, just read this if you like fast paced and exciting thrillers that have depth. The narrator, Susan Dalian was also fantastic so I can highly recommend the audio as well but I’m sure it’s fantastic in any format.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: All the Feels by Olivia Dade

Goodreads

Release date: November 16, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, God of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

Review:

Last year I fell in love with Olivia Dade’s writing and Spoiler Alert was one of my favorite romances of the year so I was definitely very excited to read the follow up. Some of the elements that I loved so much in the first book were back again here; amazing representation including a heroine who isn’t described as stunningly beautiful but is instead an average woman, sex positivity and consent, body positivity and mental health issues. This was super sexy and also warm and witty, definitely the full package. The author lends such a vulnerability to her characters that makes them so relatable and I really liked both Alex and Lauren. Kelsey Narravo is a wonderful audiobook narrator, I’ve listened to several of her books and I’m a fan. She does an incredible job with this book as well so I highly recommend the audio version.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Fan Club by Erin Mayer

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

In this raucous psychological thriller, a millennial office worker finds relief from her crippling ennui in the embrace of a cliquey fan club, until she discovers the group of women is bound together by something darker than devotion.

Day after day our narrator, a gloomy millennial, searches for meaning beyond her vacuous job at a women’s lifestyle website—entering text into a computer system while she watches their beauty editor unwrap box after box of perfectly packaged bits of happiness. Then, one night at a dive bar, she hears a message in the newest single by child-actor-turned-international-pop-star Adriana Argento, and she is struck. Soon she loses herself to the online fandom, a community whose members feverishly track Adriana’s every move.

When a colleague notices the extent of her obsession, she’s invited to join an enigmatic group of adult Adriana superfans who call themselves the Ivies and worship her music in witchy, candlelit listening parties. As the narrator becomes more entrenched in the group, she gets closer to uncovering the sinister secrets that bind them together—while simultaneously losing her grip on reality.

With caustic wit and hypnotic writing, this unsparingly critical thrill ride through millennial life examines all that is wrong in our celebrity-obsessed internet age, and how easy it is to lose yourself in it.

Review:

Do you ever finish a book and wonder what in the hell you just read? And not in a good way? That’s what happened with me here. My whole experience with this book was bizarre, on the one hand I listened to it in a day so there was definitely something compulsive about it but on the other hand it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience. I really liked the premise and found the whole idea of being obsessed with a celebrity fascinating but something in the execution was lacking. The whole thing felt disjointed, I was missing a solid connection to the plot and the characters, the narrator is never named so I dont think that helped. I will say that had I read instead of listened to this I don’t think I would’ve finished so audio is the way to go but overall this was a miss for me.

Overall rating: 2/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski

Goodreads

Release date: October 12, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

GOOD MOTHERS…
Never show their feelings.
Never spill their secrets.
Never admit to murder.

The annual Halloween block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul-de-sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plans the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five has been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder…

Review:

This was a juicy and entertaining read about grown women behaving badly that I mostly enjoyed. I think I expected it to be a little darker and creepier based off of the synopsis than it actually was, but it was still a fun seasonal read. There were plenty of secrets and betrayals and although some of them seemed obvious to me, they were still entertaining. If you like reading about unlikable characters and specifically catty women this could appeal to you. It was almost a women’s fiction with a side of light suspense, nothing super dark which is what I was craving, but like I said earlier, it was still a fun read. The audio was great, multiple narrators kept me engaged much more than I would’ve expected and I’m positive I enjoyed this one more based on listening rather than reading. It definitely heightened the experience for me, so if you’re planning on adding this one to your TBR I would recommend the audio.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Missing Daughter by Kiersten Modglin

Goodreads

Release date: November 8, 2021

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis: When I wake up with the sun in my eyes the morning after my daughter’s birthday party, I know something is very wrong. I go straight to her room but feel a surge of panic when I see an empty bed. Downstairs everything is totally quiet, and the front door is locked. Why didn’t I hear her scream? Who took our little girl?

My husband says I’ve been struggling since Skylar was born and that sometimes I forget things. But I remember every moment of my daughter’s party—including him locking the door after our family and friends left. Yes, we both had a drink and I slept heavily but I know I would have heard my child cry. A good mother always does.

My therapist says I need to stand up for myself. She wants me to confront my husband about the woman I heard him talking to the other night when he thought I was asleep. And about the child’s toy that I found that does not belong to Skylar. Is he hiding something?

But as the hours race by I soon realize I was totally wrong about everything that happened that night. I thought I’d put my past behind me long ago but I was wrong. All I know is this: I’ll do whatever it takes to save my child.

Will you believe me?

A heart-pounding, unbelievably twisty psychological thriller that will have you sleeping with the light on! Fans of Gone Girl, Behind Closed Doors and The Stepdaughter will be utterly gripped.

Review:

Yet another page turner from the queen of twisty thrillers, I swear I can always count on KMod when I’m in the mood for an unputdownable thriller and this was no exception. Missing children stories are nothing new but the author puts her own twisted spin on things here and I am into it! When a child disappears the police always look at the parents, much like when a married person vanishes the spouse is always the first suspect and the added tension this added to Ginny and Cameron’s already contentious relationship was so great. I had the who figured out fairly easily but I wasn’t too bothered because the why was so well done, it was emotionally charged and complicated and ultimately satisfying. She’s a go to author for me like I said earlier and this didn’t disappoint!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Sleigh Bells Ring by RaeAnne Thayne

Goodreads

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Ranch manager Annie McCade thought her twin niece and nephew could join her at the Angel View Ranch for Christmas with her absent employer being none the wiser. But when the ranch’s owner, Tate Sheridan, shows up out of the blue, Annie’s plans are upended. Soon she finds herself helping Tate make a Christmas to remember for his grieving and fractured extended family.

Sleigh Bells Ring is the latest heartwarming, festive Christmas story by New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne.

Review:

I just adore the authors books, they’re a shining little light for me always and I know when I start one of her books I’m in for a totally delightful read. When one of her books is a holiday novel it’s just an added treat, she infuses so much holiday warmth and charm into her stories and this was no exception. Read this if you like: adorable kids, cute animals, an idyllic setting, family traditions and bonding and all the cozy holiday vibes. This was my first experience listening to narrator Stacy Gonzalez and she was wonderful, very engaging and personable and I would definitely listen to her again. Add this one to your December TBR or if you’re like me read it in October because it was so fun!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: In Another Light by A. J. Banner

Release date: October 5, 2021

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Three years ago mortuary cosmetologist Phoebe Glassman lost her husband in a tragic accident. No longer the hopeful wife and mother she once was, Phoebe is disappearing into her grief and into the quietude of her job—restoring to the dead the illusion of life. Then the body of a woman named Pauline Steele arrives in the mortuary, and for Phoebe, everything changes.

Pauline is unmistakably Phoebe’s mirror image and bears an alarmingly familiar tattoo. Even more startling is that among Pauline’s effects is a faded photograph of Phoebe. Aided by an eccentric colleague, her curiosity sparked, Phoebe investigates her doppelgänger’s life and death—and uncovers surprising clues to a shared past.

Phoebe’s emotional journey soon leads to shocking revelations about those closest to her…and even herself. When she’s driven to the brink, how much of what she discovers can she trust?

Review:

I really liked the premise of this one, the idea that everyone has a doppelgänger is so interesting and I haven’t read many books about the subject, so I was hooked right away. As usual with the author this was a binge worthy read, I never want to put her books down once I start them and always finish them in just a few sittings and this was no exception. She does such a great job at conveying a sense of dread and paranoia in her books and Phoebe had so many reasons to be suspicious and paranoid which just heightened the intensity. She also always manages to throw these curveballs at the reader in a sly way where I tend to wonder if I had been paying closer attention maybe I would’ve figured it out but she’s just so damn good at NOT saying things that make you assume something and then when other things are revealed you’re like, Oohh you sneaky thing you got me! I know that probably doesn’t make sense but iykyk, just know she has this quiet, subtle style that sneaks up on you. A definite page turner written in such a compelling way!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Nick and Noel’s Christmas Playlist by Codi Hall

Release date: October 5, 2021

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casa

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Curl up this Christmas with a sparkling romance filled with:
• Irresistible friends-to-lovers romance
• The kiss that changed everything
• Warm nights on the family Christmas tree farm
• All your favorite Christmas songs!

Nick Winter is just out of the military, and his Christmas homecoming is not going as planned. What was supposed to be a memorable holiday with his long-time girlfriend goes sour when he learns she cheated on him while he was stationed overseas. At least Nick can rely on his usual shift at the family Christmas tree farm with his best friend, Noel Carter, and her endless supply of Christmas tunes to lift his spirits. A night of fun together is just what he needs to forget about his ex.

But then they kiss. And it feels…so right.

If Noel can turn Nick’s Blue Christmas merry and bright, this might be the last Christmas Nick spends with a broken heart. This year, they’ll be Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree as a couple―as long as Nick’s ex doesn’t go standing under any mistletoe.

Review:

If you’re looking for charming and sexy read to add to your December TBR consider this one! Friends to lovers is usually just ok for me but I really liked it here and so enjoyed seeing Nick and Noel’s relationship go from friends to something more. Although I really liked both of them the secondary characters really stole the show for me. They have a hilarious group of friends and Nick’s family was delightful, I’m thrilled this is a start to a series because I need more of these people. There is also plenty of depth here too as Noel is grieving the loss of her parents so it’s not just all laughs, though it is really funny too! While there is some Christmas charm it wasn’t overly holiday heavy so you could definitely read this anytime. Overall just a really well balanced and entertaining read!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

The George McKenzie Thriller series by Marnie Riches @bookouture

Good morning everyone! Today I’m helping to celebrate the US release of a series by author Marnie Riches. I’ll leave some more info about the books as well as a link to my review for the first book and a post from the author about the series.

Book summaries:

The George McKenzie series follows George, criminologist and the most kickass heroine you’ll find since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Over the course of five books, she faces some of the worst killers around… but doesn’t hesitate to pursue justice and help save the innocent.

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die: after a bomb goes off in a university campus, George McKenzie, criminology student, is recruited to help Detective Paul van den Bergen work the case. But is it terrorism… or something even worse?

The Girl Who Broke the Rules: women are dying on the streets of Amsterdam. And to get answers, George McKenzie will have to face jailed serial killer Dr. Silas Holm. But is she walking into his trap?

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows: a killer called Jack Frost is stalking the shadows, leaving no trace behind… Only George McKenzie and Detective Paul van den Bergen can crack the case… and its strange link to the tragic disappearance of two children.

The Girl Who Had No Fear: when George McKenzie receives a plea for help from the father she’s not seen since she was a small child, she’ll stop at nothing to find him and get answers after years of silence. No matter the risks…

The Girl Who Got Revenge: someone is killing Amsterdam’s war heroes. As George and Detective Van den Bergen investigate, they realize that the sins of the past cast long shadows…

Buy links:

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die

The Girl Who Broke the Rules

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows

The Girl Who Had No Fear

The Girl Who Got Revenge

About the author:

Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.

Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she has also authored a series about Manchester’s notorious gangland as well as two books in a mini-series featuring quirky northern PI Bev Saunders.

Detective Jackson Cooke is Marnie’s latest heroine to root for, as she hunts down one of the most brutal killers the north west has ever seen at devastating personal cost.

When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting on social media trends and discussing the world of crime fiction. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Salford University’s Doctoral School and a tutor for the Faber Novel Writing Course.

https://marnieriches.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MarnieRichesAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/marnie_riches/

https://twitter.com/Marnie_Riches

A link to my review of the first book can be found here

And finally here is a blog post from the author!

Crime – the ultimate world traveller by Marnie Riches

Always a keen reader of world news, when I began writingmy George McKenzie series, aka The Girl Who books, I realized that the trans-national traffic of drugs, people, weapons and even exotic animals had embedded itself in my subconscious. I was fascinated and horrified in equal measureby the tales of criminals’ subterfuge and victims’ suffering. 

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die deals principally with the illicit trade in drugs and movement of women across borders as unpaid sex-workers. The book should throw up certain moral questions for readers. If a drug user buys heroine on the streets of the UK or the US, does he/she give any thought to the fact that it has probably been grown in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan, lining the pockets of warlords? Growing poppies for heroine manufacture is more profitable for impoverished opium farmers than growing food crops, and only Russia seems to have an interest in destroying those crops. 

As is the case in the US, a surprising number of British citizens are recreational drug takers. If you buy coke on the streets of the UK or US, do you realize that the countries of Central America act as a transit route for drugs traffickers, ensuring that violence and corruption in those poverty-stricken areas is endemic? Where there are drugs, there are arms, too, so the murder rate in affected countries is ludicrously high, with gang-membership supplanting family, and criminality becoming more attractive than pursuing education and employment. Corrupt governments suck dry financial resources that should be used to support the infrastructure of their countries, thereby exacerbating poverty in already poor communities. And if the first world drug-destination countries like the UK and US crack down on Class A drug imports, the traffickers must make their money from something else – women, children, slave labor, organ harvesting… If it turns a profit, it’s fair game.

The Girl Who Broke the Rules begins with a scene where a Somali prostitute is found eviscerated in Amsterdam’s red-light district, but the book is decidedly not a slasher story,with women as victims of violent sexual predators. I chose to write about slave labor and the vulnerability of refugees and economic migrants from countries torn apart by civil war, such as Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Young Somali men, in particular, are very likely to get embroiled in criminal activity, once they have reached Europe. With little education and often, no support from elders, they make easy pickings for gangs. 

Perhaps the most disquieting element of trans-national trafficking is the illicit movement of children across borders. It is this subject that I tackle in The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows – specifically highlighting the vulnerability of South Eastern Europe’s Roma communities, where young people, hoping for a better life and the prospect of work in othercountries, can too easily become entrapped by traffickers asdomestic slave labor or sex workers in Western European. The brothels and nail bars of the UK alone are populated by young women from Eastern Europe, the Far East and Africa, who leave their homes in the hope of securing legitimate paid work. Instead, they find themselves without passports, dependent on their human traffickers and forced to work for free to pay off a never-dwindling debt.

I hope I’ve created stories and characters that hold a mirror up to real life. I chose to write international thrillers, rather than UK-set police procedurals, because crime knows no borders. Its terrible ingenuity is limitless. Where there’s a profit to be made, there are commodities to be trafficked. It’s a heart-breaking state of affairs, and we owe it to the victims of trafficking to educate ourselves – through good fiction, if you’re a fan of crime writing – about their plight and to avoid contributing to this exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable citizens.