Thriller Thursday Reviews: Darling Girls & Daughter of Mine

 

Happy Thriller Thursday with Sharon!  I hope everyone is doing well. I am so glad the nice weather is finally here. I look forward to sitting in my backyard and reading this summer. This week I am excited to share my thoughts on Sally Hepworth’s, Darling Girls and Megan Miranda’s, Daughter of Mine.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Darling Girls & Daughter of MineDarling Girls Goodreads

Author: Sally Hepworth

Publication Date: April 23, 2024

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Sally Hepworth’s latest book, Darling Girls, follows three sisters who are forced to relive their childhood horrors when bones are found on the farming estate where they lived with their foster mother, Miss Fairchild, twenty years ago.

Jessica, Norah, and Alicia may not be sisters by blood, but they are sisters in every other sense of the word. They were all foster children at Wild Meadows, run by Miss Fairchild. From the outside life at Wild Meadows looked like a fairy tale for the girls, in reality though it was anything but. Miss Fairchild had rules and she was never to be crossed. Make Miss Fairchild mad and you would pay the consequences. Aside from going to school and keeping their grades up, they girls had to make sure that the house was cleaned top to bottom every day. One day Miss Fairchild came home and told the girls that she adopted a baby, Amy. No one but Miss Fairchild was allowed to hold or take care of Amy. But Amy didn’t love Miss Fairchild the way she wanted her to. Amy loved the girls and when the girls started to fear for Amy’s life they reported Miss Fairchild to the authorities, but when the police showed up there was no sign of Amy or that she was ever there. What happened to Amy? Are those her bones that were found buried on the estate?

The book is told from the POV of Jessica, Norah, and Alicia both in the present as well as in the past when they lived at Wild Meadows. I loved all three of them. I loved how they became sisters when they were younger and stayed sisters throughout their lives. They are there for each other no matter what. When the bones are found and they are forced back in time, it takes a toll on each of them. I had such sympathy for them the more I learned about what they went through living at Wild Meadows. They are each broken and complex characters.

We also get chapters from therapy sessions of an unknown character. Reading these chapters and not knowing right away who it was, really intrigued me. When it was revealed who it was, I started putting pieces together, though I didn’t figure things out completely. When I thought everything was revealed, Sally Hepworth gave me one more twist that blew my mind.

I don’t want to say much more and spoil things. Darling Girls was a great mystery that was full of twists and turns, as well as amazingly developed characters.  4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Darling Girls & Daughter of MineDaughter of Mine Goodreads

Author: Megan Miranda

Publication Date: April 9, 2024

Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books

I am a fan of Megan Miranda and was excited to read her latest book, Daughter of Mine. While some of her books I have liked more than others, I am happy to report that Daughter of Mine is a top favorite of mine.

Hazel Sharp moved to the small town of Mirror Lake with her mother when she was seven years old. Her mother married local sheriff Perry Holt, who had two sons, nine-year-old Gage, and seven-year-old Caden. When Hazel was fourteen, her mother left and never returned. Hazel’s mother had a habit of just uprooting their lives when things got too complicated, so everyone assumed she had done the same thing, only this time leaving Hazel behind. Hazel left town after graduating college and only returns for holidays. When Perry Holt died, Hazel returned to town for the service and found out that Perry left his house to her. Mirror Lake has been experiencing a severe drought, and when the water levels drop in the lake behind their house, a car is found. The car is Hazel’s mothers. Hazel is now determined to find out what really happened to her mother. If her car is in the lake, did she do it on purpose or did something more sinister happen all those years ago?

I want to first mention how much I loved how Megan Miranda had each chapter labeled with how many days the drought was going on. I just found that very unique and I think it added to the mystery of the story. I just kept thinking, “What else is going to be found in the lake as the water recedes more with this drought?”

I also loved how the sibling tension just kept increasing. Hazel was close with Gage and at first things were good with them when she came back, but as the story progressed, Gage was pushing Hazel to just leave things alone. Hazel and Caden were never that close. Caden resented the attention that Hazel got from their father and then when her mother left, he was sure that Hazel was in on it.  I really did not trust Gage or Caden. In fact, I did not trust anyone in the town. No one seemed to want Hazel digging into why her mother’s car was found in the lake and what happened to her.

As Hazel was trying to find information on what happened to her mother, she came across information about an accident that claimed the life of Gage and Caden’s mother, Perry’s first wife, years before Hazel and her mother came to town. As more clues are revealed, it becomes clear that someone in the Holt family is hiding the truth about what happened to both of Perry’s wives. And when all was revealed I was on the edge of my seat and was totally in the dark.

Daughter of Mine is another winner by Megan Miranda. If you have read any of her other books then I definitely recommend this one as well.  4 stars

Review – EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Natalie Jenner

Review – EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Natalie JennerEvery Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner
four-stars
Series: Jane Austen Society #3
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 14, 2024
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via the Publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

Every Time We Say Goodbye is the third book in Natalie Jenner’s popular Jane Austen Society series.  I was a little nervous going in that I would be confused since I have admittedly not read the first two books in the series. Thankfully, while all three books are set in the same world, this one works quite well as a standalone and I didn’t find myself lost at all.

This compelling story follows Vivien Lowry, a playwright whose most recent play, which opened in London’s West End in 1955, was panned by critics and quickly shut down.  At a loss for what to do next, Vivien takes a friend’s advice and takes a job in Italy working as a script doctor in the film industry.  She, like many others, is still healing from the devastating losses of WWII, including the loss of her fiance David, who went missing in Italy during the war and is presumed dead.  Vivien looks at her trip to Italy as a way to both find a new path forward for herself and to find out what really happened to David.  Vivien is a complex, well drawn character and I found myself very invested in everything to do with her time in Italy, especially since it becomes such a personal journey for her.

One of my favorite parts about reading historical fiction is that I always learn something new when I read it.  In the case of this book, I learned a tremendous amount about post-WWII Italy, and especially about the Italian film industry.  Not only were there numerous iconic Italian actresses like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida present, but there were also many well known Expatriate actors and directors from the U.S. and from England on the scene.  All the glitz and glam of the film scene provided quite the contrast to the struggles of the orphans and refugees that were of course also present in Italy after the war.  She also explores just how much the Catholic church was policing and censoring the content of Italian films, as well as the political landscape of Italy as it tries to come to terms with its own role in the war.

Jenner also effectively uses a dual timeline in this multi-layered story.  During her time in Italy, Vivien works with a director who is determined to make a movie about a young woman he doesn’t want the world to forget. This woman was not only his girlfriend, but she was also a member of the Italian Resistance and an assassin, who was tortured and murdered during the war. We learn more about the circumstances that led to her death in a timeline that is set during WWII.

Even though I read a lot of WWII historical fiction, I’ve not come across many novels that cover what happens in the years immediately following the war. If like me, you’re interested in books that help expand your knowledge of that time period, I definitely recommend Every Time We Say Goodbye. It is both a well researched work of historical fiction and an engaging story of love, loss and truth.

If you’re an audiobook fan, I also highly recommend the audiobook for this novel.  It’s narrated by Juliet Aubrey who does a wonderful job bringing Vivien to life and capturing all of the complexities of emotions that run through the story.  I alternated between the physical copy and the audio and was able to comfortably listen at my usual 1.75x speed.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, MacMillan Audio, Natalie Jenner, and Laurel at Austenprose PR for the gifted copy and for the opportunity to take part in the tour for this book!

 

four-stars

About Natalie Jenner

NATALIE JENNER is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, The Jane Austen Society was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Holly & Almost Surely Dead

 

Welcome to another edition of Thriller Thursday with Sharon.  This week’s reviews are, Holly by Stephen King and  Almost Surely Dead by Amina Akhtar. These books were both so different from each other and terrific reads in their own ways. I loved them both and hope you enjoy the reviews.  🙂

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Holly & Almost Surely DeadHolly Goodreads

Author: Stephen King

Publication Date: September 5, 2023

Publisher: Scribner

Why I waited so long to read Stephen King’s Holly, is beyond me. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, yet it took me until now to read Holly, even though it came out last September.

We first met Holly Gibbs in King’s Mr. Mercedes series. I fell in love with Holly then and am so glad she was able to branch out into her own books after that series ended. Holly is now running the private investigating office of Finders Keepers, after the death of Bill Hodges. The office is temporarily closed due to the death of Holly’s mother and Holly’s current partner, Pete, having Covid. Penny Dahl leaves a message for Finders Keepers; her daughter, Bonnie, is missing, and she desperately needs their help to find her. After listening to Penny’s message, Holly reluctantly takes the case. As she is following leads in Bonnie’s disappearance, Holly starts to uncover that more people have gone missing in the same area and under similar circumstances. Holly must use all the talents Bill taught her to uncover this mystery and to keep herself alive.

I loved watching as Holly pieced together Bonnie’s last movements and at the same time uncover information of another missing person. As each new missing person was introduced, the next chapter would be from their abduction. We know early on who is responsible, but I am not going to give that away here. You need to read for yourself and find out. Lol!  Okay, I will give you a hint: Watch out for the seemly sweet elderly couple.

It takes Holly a while to really connect each disappearance. Even though they all seem to have the same M.O., each disappearance happened three years apart. But the closer Holly got to connecting everything, the more on the edge of my seat I was.

I also loved how Jerome and his sister Barbara from the Mr. Mercedes series was in this book as well. They are part of Holly’s found family, and I loved seeing them together and helping Holly as much as they could.

Wow! Stephen King certainly ramped up the creepy and horror meter in this book. When we find out why these people were taken and what happened to them after, all I will say is that even I got a bit queasy, and it usually takes a lot for that to happen to me.

If you are a Stephen King fan I think you will love this book. Even though Holly is a spin off from a different series, I don’t think it matters if you read this first. Though I do recommend reading the Mr. Mercedes series as well at some point.   4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Holly & Almost Surely DeadAlmost Surely Dead Goodreads

Author: Amina Akhtar

Publication Date: February 1, 2024

Publisher: Mindy’s Book Studio

I have never read anything by Amina Akhtar before, but when Almost Surely Dead showed up as free on Amazon first reads, I thought I would give it a try.

Dunia Ahmed is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in New York working as a pharmacist. Dunia did not have an easy childhood. Her father died when she was six years old, and her mother and older sister blamed her for his death. She had cut off most communication with her mother and sister and tried to make a life for herself in New York. Recently though her world was turned upside down. Her mother died six months ago, and she recently broke up with her boyfriend. And then one day while waiting for the train, some one tried to kill her by throwing her on the tracks. Her assailant ended up throwing himself on the tracks, and as the police try to figure out why this man tried to kill Dunia, there were two more attempts on her life. Dunia is now missing, has been for a year, and is the subject of a true crime podcast called “Find Dunia”.

I loved how this book was presented. There are chapters told by Dunia, starting from when the first attempt was made on her life. There are also chapters from the podcast and chapters from when Dunia was six years old. I loved getting all the different perspectives and timelines and then trying to piece together on who wanted Dunia dead and where she was now.

My favorite parts of the book were from when Dunia was six. I had such sympathy for her. Dunia’s mother was convinced she was being haunted by a Jinni, a spirit that can take many forms. Evil did seem to follow Dunia, her father died of a sudden heart attack when she was the only one home with him, and close family members who were not nice to Dunia ended up having accidents. So, it is no wonder her mother thought she was haunted, as well as the rest of their community. So poor Dunia was basically shunned and spent most of her time alone or with a neighbor.  Learning all these things gave the story a supernatural vibe and added to the mystery of what was going on now with Dunia.

I don’t want to say much and spoil things. I think experiencing all that happened to Dunia as you are reading, adds to the mystery and enjoyment of the book. I did love how Amina Akhtar created the mystery surrounding why someone wanted to kill Dunia and where has she been the past year, with the Islamic culture and folklore. I thoroughly enjoyed Almost Surely Dead and would definitely recommend it.          4 stars

Romance Review – HAPPY MEDIUM by Sarah Adler

Romance Review – HAPPY MEDIUM by Sarah AdlerHappy Medium by Sarah Adler
five-stars
Published by Berkley Books, Berkley Romance on April 30, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

I fell in love with Sarah Adler’s style of storytelling last year when I read her debut, Mrs. Nash’s Ashes.  It was just such a fun, unique and heartwarming story and I still think about it to this day.  When a book resonates with me that much, I immediately want to read everything that author writes so of course, I had to get my hands on a review copy of Adler’s new novel, Happy Medium!  It did not disappoint either.  Happy Medium is equally unique and charming, if not more so than Mrs. Nash’s Ashes, and I enjoyed every page of it!

Gretchen Acorn is a con woman.  She pretends to be a psychic medium and is apparently pretty convincing at it because one of her wealthy clients offers to pay her $10,000 to go check out her bridge partner’s goat farm, which is believed to be haunted.  He has been trying to sell it but unexplained phenomena keep happening while potential buyers are there, scaring them off.  Gretchen knows she’s a fraud, but hey, she’s got to pay her bills, right?  And if she can help an old man sell the place and retire, even better.

Gretchen is shocked by two things when she arrives at the farm:  1) Charlie Waybill, the old goat farmer she’s expecting to meet, is actually a gorgeous grump who is actually her age, and 2) there is actually a chatty, goofy ghost named Everett there and she can both see and talk to him.  She has never been able to do that before so her mind is blown to say the least!  Everett fills her in on why he’s there and why he’s trying so hard to keep Charlie from selling the place.  When Everett tried to abandon the family farm and follow his dreams nearly a century ago, a relative cursed him. He died in a tragic accident that same day and has been haunting the farm ever since.  If the farm is sold to someone who isn’t a Waybill, the last Waybill there will suffer the same fate as Everett.  Everett scares off every potential buyer because he wants to save Charlie from his fate. Gretchen finds herself drawn to both Charlie and Everett, and when Charlie proposes that she stick around and help him save the farm if he can’t sell it, she agrees, having no idea what a life changing decision this will be for her.

I don’t know if I can fully express how wonderful this story is! I was a little nervous I wouldn’t like Gretchen since she is so morally gray, but she won me over as soon as it became clear that she really doesn’t like taking advantage of people and makes it her mission to leave them no worse off than when they first came to her.  She also endeared herself to me once she gets to the farm and starts interacting with both Charlie and Everett. She and Everett become besties and some of their banter is truly hilarious, especially some of their battles that revolve around Everett’s television addiction.  I also loved the chemistry that quickly blossoms between Gretchen and Charlie after their initial rocky start.  They’re actually a great team as they work together to save the farm, and I loved how the more Gretchen gets to know Charlie, the more she wants to save him from the curse.  Adler does a fabulous job here using the situation surrounding the curse to create a wonderful redemption arc for Gretchen.  Not only did I like Gretchen, but I ended up actually adoring her by the end of the story.

Happy Medium has a little something for everyone.  The humor is top notch, the paranormal antics of Everett are entertaining, and the personal and romantic journeys of both Gretchen and Charlie are so poignant and heartwarming.  Happy Medium is perfect for fans of enemies to lovers, grumpy sunshine, forced proximity, and of course silly ghosts and adorable goats!

 

Thanks so much to Tina Joell at Berkley for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour!

five-stars

About Sarah Adler

Sarah Adler grew up in rural South Central Pennsylvania, the land of Civil War reenactors and snack food factories. She received both her BA in History and American Studies and MA in History from American University in Washington, DC, where she focused on 19th and early 20th century U.S. culture. She currently lives in Frederick, MD with her husband and daughter. When she isn’t writing or yelling at Noodle, her very mischievous cat, to stop opening the kitchen cabinets, Sarah enjoys crocheting, going for walks, exploring used bookstores, reading, and eating baked goods.

Sarah’s debut novel, Mrs. Nash’s Ashes, was published by Berkley/Penguin Random House on May 23, 2023.

Reviews – FUNNY STORY & CHRISTA COMES OUT OF HER SHELL

 

Hey everyone! My blogging slump unfortunately continues, but I did have to pop on to share two of my favorite reads from April.  Emily Henry and Abbi Waxman are both auto-buy authors for me, and their latest releases prove why

 

Reviews – FUNNY STORY & CHRISTA COMES OUT OF HER SHELLFunny Story Goodreads

Author: Emily Henry

Publication Date: April 23, 2024

Publisher: Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Berkley Romance via Netgalley and a gifted ALC from PRHAudio.  All opinions are my own.

 

Emily Henry has knocked it out of the park yet again with her latest novel, Funny Story. It’s the perfect blend of heartache, humor, and healing, and I devoured it in a couple of sittings.

When we meet Daphne, she has just been dumped by her fiance Peter, who has decided, at his bachelor party of all places, that he would rather be with his childhood best friend, Petra. Since the house they were living in is in Peter’s name, this leaves Daphne homeless until Petra’s ex, Miles, invites her to move in with him now that he finds himself dumped and living alone.

I fell so hard for both Daphne and Miles. On the surface, they seem to have nothing in common – Daphne is a children’s librarian who has basically let Peter dictate most of her life’s choices, while Miles comes across as a stoner who spends most of his time either high or tending bar. As the two of them start to bond, however, Daphne quickly realizes there’s more to Miles than meets the eye and he realizes the same about her. Even though they initially started hanging out as a way to mourn their breakups and then shift to fake dating to make their exes jealous, they eventually start to do things together simply because they enjoy each other’s company.

I loved the chemistry and the easy banter between Daphne and Miles. Their evolution from roommates to lovers is fun, flirty, and just an all around good time. The star of the show for me though is actually the more emotional journey that each character takes on their path to healing. I thought Henry just did such a beautiful job seamlessly weaving in those more emotional moments with all of the fun ones.

Julia Whelan narrates the audiobook and as always, her narration is flawless!

Funny Story is Emily Henry at her best, so be sure to pick up a copy. 5 STARS

 

 

Reviews – FUNNY STORY & CHRISTA COMES OUT OF HER SHELLChrista Comes Out of Her Shell Goodreads

Author: Abbi Waxman

Publication Date: April 16, 2024

Publisher: Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Berkley Romance via Netgalley and a gifted ALC from PRHAudio.  All opinions are my own.

 

I’m a huge fan of Abbi Waxman’s writing because she has a gift for creating the most wonderful characters. They’re charming, quirky, and just so lovable that you can’t help but root for them to overcome whatever struggles they are facing. And she has done exactly that in her latest book, Christa Comes Out of Her Shell.

When we meet Christa, she is happily studying snails on a remote island in the Indian Ocean. That is, until she receives a phone call that rocks her world. Her father, a beloved TV star who was presumed killed in a plane crash 25 years ago, has suddenly turned up, alive and well. As much as Christa would love to stay on her little island, she knows she has to go home, both to meet her dad and to confront the demons of her own past.

I adored Christa right from the start and absolutely loved the journey of personal growth that she goes through in this story. Christa was so young when her dad went missing that she barely knew him but both his immense fame and the media circus surrounding his disappearance impacted her young life tremendously. There were people in her life who hurt and betrayed her, making her close herself off from people. I loved watching her gradually come into her own and confront those who had hurt her, which in turn allows her to more freely open her heart to those who would never hurt her. While it definitely takes a backseat to Christa’s personal journey, there is also a delightful second chance romance with a childhood friend in this story.

While some of what Christa and her family faces veers into some heavy topics, Waxman keeps things from getting too heavy by infusing the story with her signature humor and warmth. I especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook because the narrators, Jesse Vilinksy & Jonathan Todd Ross, do such a wonderful job capturing both the heartwarming and humorous aspects of the story. 4.5 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Invocations & The New Couple in 5B

 

Welcome to another edition of Thriller Thursday with Sharon.  This week I am excited to share my thoughts on Krystal Sutherland’s newest YA thriller, The Invocations and Lisa Unger’s newest thriller, The New Couple in 5B. Both of these books were amazing and I loved them both.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Invocations & The New Couple in 5BThe Invocations Goodreads

Author: Krystal Sutherland

Publication Date: January 30, 2024

Publisher: Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books

Krystal Sutherland’s newest YA thriller, The Invocations, is everything I was hoping it would be and more. The story follows three seventeen-year-olds who team up to stop a serial killer who is killing witches and stealing their powers. The Invocations has it all, badass teenagers, witches, magic, murder, and more.

A year ago, Zara Jones’ sister, Savannah, was murdered and Zara wants nothing more than to bring her back to life so she can apologize for the hurtful last words she said to her. Zara is smart and she has been reading up on everything she can find that deals with magic and bringing the dead back to life. But so far nothing has worked.

Jude Wolf is the daughter of a billionaire. Two years ago, she cursed herself and her soul is now tied to demons. Jude is slowly rotting away and is trying anything to find someone who can undo the curse before the demons eat her alive.

Emer Bryne is a witch. Ten years ago, her entire family was killed by witch hunters. Emer has vowed to find those responsible and destroy them. Emer sells spells to women who are in desperate situations, the payment for these spells is that a demon gets part of their soul. Emer was seven years old when her family was killed, and she would have died if not for the demons living in the forest. These demons knew that they needed to keep Emer alive so she could find them souls.

I loved everything about this book.  I loved the magic and the demons and the gore when a demon ripped someone apart (Lol). But most of all I loved the characters. Zara, Jude and Emer will always have a special place in my heart. I loved getting to know each of their backstories. And the more I learned about them, the more I loved them.  They are so different from each other, but when they finally got together they clicked. They were the piece each other was missing. I loved their banter back and forth. Especially Jude, she had me laughing so many times.

Sutherland did a great job of bringing the magic and demons to life. Especially Bael, who is one of the demons that helped Emer when she was younger. Bael is waiting for Emer to give him her soul, so right now he is just like her own personal bodyguard, and I loved it when she would sick him on someone.

I don’t really want to say much more about what happens and spoil things. But if you like YA stories, badass teenage protagonists, magic, and demons, then you definitely need to check out, The Invocations.     4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Invocations & The New Couple in 5BThe New Couple in 5B Goodreads

Author: Lisa Unger

Publication Date: March 5, 2024

Publisher: Park Row

Lisa Unger’s latest book, The New Couple in 5B, was inspired by Rosemary’s Baby. But this is not a retelling of the horror classic, and Lisa Unger does a great job of giving the Rosemary’s Baby vibes, while creating her own story.

Chad and Rosie Lowan have inherited apartment 5B at 55 Park Ave, called the Windemere, from Chad’s uncle Ivan. Chad and Rosie took care of Ivan while he was dying, but they never thought he would leave them his apartment. Chad is an actor and Rosie is a true crime author. Rosie plans to write a book about the Windemere. There have been many deaths in this building, murders, suicides, accidents, and natural causes. There was a murder/suicide that took place in their actual apartment many years ago when it was owned by Paul and Willa. When they first moved in everyone was so welcoming, but Rosie soon starts to feel that things are not right with this building. The same doorman is always on duty, and Rosie is positive that she has seen the ghost of a small boy in the basement and hallways. The more Rosie digs into the building’s past, the more her life becomes in danger.

Wow! Lisa Unger sure had the hairs on my arm sticking up with this book. I loved the whole supernatural feel this book had, as well as the gothic vibe from the building itself.  I will admit that when I was first reading, I thought it was going to be like a retelling of Rosemary’s Baby and I was actually comparing them when I was reading. But I am happy to report that the book took a turn, and I was like “Okay so not the same as Rosemary’s Baby.”  LOL!

Lisa Unger did a great job in creating these characters and making them so untrustworthy. I loved that I didn’t know who to trust. Rosie was the only one I trusted, and I liked how she too started not trusting people. I am glad she was not a naïve character that just went along with everything.

I also liked getting chapters from the couple that lived in the apartment years ago, Paul and Willa. These were told from Willa’s POV and getting these chapters added more mystery to what was going on at the Windemere.

The more the story progressed, the more the tension built up, as well as the body count. I had no idea where things were going and when the secrets of the Windemere were finally revealed I was totally surprised. So, thank you for that Lisa Unger.

I definitely recommend The New Couple in 5B. If you are a fan of Lisa Unger and like supernatural stories with gothic buildings, then I really think you will enjoy The New Couple in 5B4 ½ stars

Romance Reviews: JUST FOR THE SUMMER & THE RULE BOOK

 

Hey everyone! Sorry for dipping out again. I think it’s safe to say that I’m in the midst of a blogging slump at the moment.  I don’t know why but I think until I’m on the other side of it, that I’m just going to post when the mood hits me to do so.  Today the mood did hit me though because I just finished two of my most anticipated 2024 reads and wanted to share my thoughts with you.  Abby Jimenez was already an auto-read author for me, but with The Rule Book, Sarah Adams has also landed on my auto-read list. Both of these books come out next week, so if you like what you read, you can snag copies of these on Tuesday!

 

Romance Reviews: JUST FOR THE SUMMER & THE RULE BOOKJust for the Summer Goodreads

Author: Abby Jimenez

Publication Date: April 2, 2024

Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

Abby Jimenez is truly one of the most gifted storytellers I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  Each one of her books has left me with a full heart and a smile on my face, and her latest romance, Just for the Summer, has done that and more!  It’s my new favorite from Jimenez and I can’t wait for you all to read it because I think you’re going to love it too!

I fell in love with this book from the moment Emma and Justin, the two main characters, meet online through a thread on Reddit that has gone viral.  In the thread, Justin is explaining that he is cursed.  Every woman he dates goes on to find her soulmate as soon as they break up.  Emma is captivated by the Reddit thread and reaches out to Justin because she is similarly cursed. They hit it off right away and eventually come up with a plan to date each other in hopes that their curses will cancel each other out and they’ll finally be able to find their own soulmates.

I thought this was such a fun and unique way to have a meet cute and I was immediately rooting for this curse to bring Emma and Justin together since they clearly had such great chemistry.  They do have to overcome one obstacle though – distance. Justin lives in Minnesota, while Emma and her best friend Maddy are traveling nurses who are next slated to go to Hawaii for several months.  When Maddy sees how into Justin Emma is, she reluctantly agrees to change their plans and they head to Minnesota instead.

While plenty of fun romcom goodness ensues as Emma and Justin start dating, what really grabbed my heart in this story is Emma’s history — why she has chosen to be a traveling nurse rather than put down roots anywhere and start a family.  It becomes clear why when Emma’s toxic mother shows up in Minnesota and threatens the fragile life that Emma has started to build for herself.  My heart broke for Emma, but I was so grateful that Maddy and Justin were there for her.  Maddy is the ultimate mama bear when it comes to Emma and as soon as she realizes that Justin truly cares about Emma, she educates him on how best to help Emma when her mom makes her feel small.  Justin was already serious book boyfriend material, but these moments are what really put him over the top for me.

I also loved how Just for the Summer also brings back several characters from Jimenez’s other books, in particular, Part of Your World.  I think this book is a fantastic read even if you haven’t read Part of Your World, but I would personally recommend reading it first because it really does make reading Just for the Summer even more special.

I really don’t have the words to do justice to how wonderful this book is, so all I’ll say is go pick up a copy. You won’t regret it!  5 STARS

 

 

Romance Reviews: JUST FOR THE SUMMER & THE RULE BOOKThe Rule Book Goodreads

Author: Sarah Adams

Publication Date: April 2, 2024

Publisher: Dell

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

Sarah Adams is quickly becoming one of my favorite rom-com authors because I can always count on her to deliver cute swoony romances that are full of laughs. Adams does exactly that with The Rule Book, her latest sports romance, which also happens to be a companion novel to another of her books I love, The Cheat Sheet.  You don’t need to read The Cheat Sheet to enjoy The Rule Book, but both are fabulous so I say go for it!

Nora Mackenzie has just been promoted to a full-time sports agent. She’s flying high until she learns her first big client is none other than famous NFL tight end, Derek Pender, who also happens to be her college ex-boyfriend.  Their break-up was messy, and Derek is still clearly holding a grudge and vows to make Nora’s life hell by being as difficult and high maintenance as possible. He has clearly forgotten how stubborn and tenacious Nora can be though and she gradually starts to win him over.

I absolutely loved everything about this book! I’m a sucker for a good enemies-to-lovers story but add in a marriage of convenience and a second chance romance, and I’m in heaven.  Adams does a wonderful job getting me hooked on the idea of Nora and Derek rekindling their romance from their very first scene.  Even though the tension between them is palpable, the chemistry between Nora and Derek is undeniable. Adams also writes some of the wittiest banter and had me laughing out loud throughout the book.  It’s not all laughs though as Nora and Derek also share some moving and heartfelt moments on their journey to forgiveness.  I also loved the layer of vulnerability Adams gives Derek by having him struggle with dyslexia. The rep is well done and really made Derek a more sympathetic character.

The Rule Book is the fourth book I’ve read from Sarah Adams and I think it’s my favorite yet.  If you’re in the mood for a fun and heartwarming story about forgiveness and second chances, be sure to check this one out!  4.5 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Murder Road & The Teacher

 

Happy Thriller Thursday!  Sharon here with two awesome books that I have recently read.  Murder Road by Simone St. James and The Teacher by Freida McFadden. Both of these books were so good and I know that my reviews do not do them justice. I highly recommend both of these books as well as these authors.  😀

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Murder Road & The TeacherMurder Road Goodreads

Author: Simone St. James

Publication Date: March 5, 2024

Publisher: Berkley

Simone St. James’ newest book, Murder Road, follows April and Eddie, a young newlywed couple who end up in the middle of a murder investigation. Throw in a creepy small town, great characters and supernatural forces and we have another winner by Simone St. James.

April and Eddie are on their way to a small resort town for their honeymoon, but they take a wrong turn off the interstate and end up on a deserted road, called Atticus Line.  While traveling down this dark road they spot what they think is a hitchhiker who appears to be drunk. When they pull over to see if they need help, they realize that this person is not a hitchhiker, but a wounded young woman, Rhonda Jean. As they rush to the hospital in ColdLake Falls with Rhonda Jean bleeding in their back seat, a pickup truck comes speeding behind them, as they take the turn to the center of town, Eddie sees what appears to be a ghostly figure in the back of the truck. Rhonda Jean dies at the hospital and the detectives that show up, rather quickly I may add, immediately suspect Eddie and April as her killer.  As Eddie and April work to clear their names, they find that Atticus Line has had many unsolved murders in the past nineteen years. There is a legend that the road is haunted by the Lost Girl. It is said that if you see her, you will be the next one dead on the side of the road.  I got goose bumps just writing that. LOL!

I loved everything about this book. From the great characters to the eeriness of Atticus Line and the mystery of the Lost Girl. Simone St. James did an exceptional job of capturing everything in the book and making the story just jump off the pages.  Every time the Lost Girl showed up I got goosebumps.

I really liked April and Eddie. When the police tell them they can leave ColdLake Falls, they find they are unable. As they are driving down Atticus Line they encounter a freak rainstorm as well as the Lost Girl and end up right back in town. April and Eddie then realize that they need to figure out who the Lost Girl is and put her to rest.  I loved watching them follow clues starting with Rhonda Jean and work their way back to the Lost Girl. They were better than the police and detectives.

In addition to April and Eddie, I loved the secondary characters as well. Rose is the owner of the B & B that April and Eddie are staying at while they are stuck in town. I loved Rose, she had a rough exterior but underneath she was a nice lady and she cared for April and Eddie.  Beatrice and Gracie Snell are two teenagers that are all about the ‘conspiracy theory’ and have been trying to solve the mystery about Atticus Line and the Lost Girl. They end up teaming with April and Eddie and brought some humor to the story.

Murder Road was an engrossing, spine tingling, supernatural thriller. Simone St. James knocked this one out of the park and I definitely recommend it.   4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Murder Road & The TeacherThe Teacher Goodreads

Author: Freida McFadden

Publication Date: February 6, 2024

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

I love when a book starts with someone digging a grave, I just know it is going to be a good one and the whole time I am reading I am trying to figure out who is digging the grave and who is going to be buried. That is exactly how Freida McFadden’s newest book, The Teacher, starts out and I loved it.

Eve Bennett and her husband, Nate, are both high school teachers. Eve teaches Math and is a very strict and hard teacher. Nate teaches English and is more easy going and all the girls love and have a crush on him.  Their marriage on the outside looks perfect, but on the inside it is a different story. While they both love each other, they are not very loving. As Eve states, they kiss three times a day, a quick kiss when they leave in the morning, a quick kiss when they get home at night and a quick kiss when they go to bed. As for their sex life, well that only happens the first Saturday of every month. Such a loving couple. LOL!

Addie Severson is a sixteen-year-old junior at the school that Eve and Nate teach at. Last year a teacher at the school was involved in a student-teacher affair and the teacher was fired. Addie was the student in question and even though she denied she and this teacher had any kind of relationship no one believed her. So now Addie is more of a loner at school. When Nate takes her under his wing, Addie is more than thrilled. As their relationship grows, Eve starts to suspect there is more going on with them than teacher/student, and she will do whatever she has to to keep her husband and herself from living the scandal from last year. And Eve and Nate are willing to do whatever they have to to keep their relationship a secret. But Eve also has another secret, one that could destroy her. How far will she go to keep her secrets safe?

Wow! This was a fast-paced book, that had a bunch of unlikable characters that I still cared about. LOL! I started off really liking Addie. The more I learned of what happened last year as well as what her home life was like, I had a lot of sympathy for her. She was also being bullied at school, which made her all the more sympathetic to me. But as her actions progressed I flipped to not liking her very much and then flipped to having sympathy for her again.

Eve was always stand-offish for me. She came across with an “I am better than you” attitude. And she was not so innocent herself when it came to their marriage vows. I never liked Nate and kept that attitude through the whole book. I kept hoping that he was going to get what was coming to him.

If you are a fan of Freida McFadden then I think you will really enjoy The Teacher4 stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Other Mothers & The School Reunion

 

Welcome to another edition of Sharon’s Thriller Thursday!  I hope everyone is getting in some great reading. I know I have, pretty much every book I have read so far this year has been a hit for me. 🙂  This week I am reviewing, The Other Mothers by Katherine Faulkner and  The School Reunion by Shalini Boland.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Other Mothers & The School ReunionThe Other Mothers Goodreads

Author: Katherine Faulkner

Publication Date: December 5, 2023

Publisher: Gallery Books

I read Katherine Faulkner’s first book, Greenwich Park, a couple of years ago and while I liked it, it didn’t knock my socks off. So, I didn’t go into her new book, The Other Mothers, with high expectations. Well, I am happy to report that I loved The Other Mothers.

In July 2017 a young nanny named Sophie Blake was found drowned in a reservoir in London. After the coroner’s inquest, her death was deemed a likely accident. Sophie’s mother does not believe her daughter’s death was an accident and a year and a half later she approaches Tash James, a freelance journalist to look into Sophie’s death. Tash is eager to jump start her freelance career, so she takes on the job. Tash’s two-year-old son Finn is having a tough time adjusting to his new playgroup, but then she befriends three other mothers, Laura, Clare, and Nicole, and as their kids’ become friends, Tash has finally found a happy balance to work/motherhood. As Tash starts her investigation into what happened to Sophie, she realizes that her new friends have a connection to her, and they are keeping secrets.

The story is told in a dual timeline. We get Tash’s POV in the present as she works her investigation into Sophie’s death. We also get Sophie’s POV that starts fifteen months before her death and works its way up to the night she died. I loved having the story unfold this way. I loved getting information as Tash would uncover it and then get Sophie’s POV on that information. Sometimes what Tash thought was the truth, we learned from Sophie to not really be the case. And at times what we learned from Sophie turned out not to be truthful. I loved reading and not knowing what really to believe.

I really liked Tash. I was so engrossed in following her as a journalist and watching her investigate Sophie’s death, and also, as she navigated her relationship with her new friends. Tash and her husband, Tom, did not have a lot of money and Tash got herself into some financial trouble trying to keep up with the other mothers. I liked that Tash had the support of her husband though. A lot of times when I read these types of books, the husband is so quick to blame his wife for everything that happens and not support her. So, it was very refreshing to see them as a supportive couple.

I liked Sophie as well. She was young and naïve to start, but as the book progressed she became a stronger woman. Though she was not without her faults, and I soon realized that she was not so innocent after all.

There is not a lot I can say about what happens in this book because I don’t want to spoil anything. But as I was reading I found myself jumping all around on who I could trust.

The Other Mothers was full of twists and turns. The end of the book had so many twists, that I was getting whiplash.  LOL!  4 stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Other Mothers & The School ReunionThe School Reunion Goodreads

Author: Shalini Boland

Publication Date: January 16, 2024

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Shalini Boland is a go to author for me. Her books are always fast paced reads, that keep me glued to the pages. So, it is no surprise that her latest book, The School Reunion, was another winner for me.

When Chloe Flynn graduated from high school fifteen years ago she never thought she would go back.  Even when she got the invitation to her reunion she didn’t plan on going. But Chloe is recently divorced, has a job she hates, no real friends, and is bored with her life. Maybe turning back the clock could be just the thing Chloe needs to start her life over, and the chance to reconnect with her high school crush, Nathan Blake, is what makes Chloe decide to attend the reunion. Once she accepts the invitation though, Chloe starts getting anonymous e-mails warning her about attending. Though these emails have rattled Chloe, she is not going to back down. Chloe figures her ex high school boyfriend; Chris Tamber sent them, and she plans to confront him and put the past to rest once and for all.  But going back could become a fatal mistake for Chloe. As past secrets emerge, things take a deadly turn.

OMG guys! There is not much I can say as this book is best to go into blind. I did love the Mean Girls / Romey and Michele’s high School Reunion vibe I got while reading. Though this book in no way is anything like either of those movies, that was just the feel I kept getting while reading.

The story is told from the POV of Chloe as well as Dean Bradley, a contractor who has a beef with Chris Tamber. Dean did some work for Chris, and Chris stiffed Dean the money that was owed, so now Dean is about to lose his contracting company as well as his reputation. I really liked Dean, not only is he trying to salvage his company, but he is also a single dad to 5-year-old Ellis (who is just such a cutie pie), and he just lost his mother a few months ago. Dean is also carrying around the grief of losing his sister when she was sixteen years old. Seeing everything he had on his plate I just wanted to punch Chris in the face for him.  LOL!

Chloe is also dealing with issues of her own. Her mother never seems to have a positive word to say to her, and not only is she trying to avoid Chris at the reunion, but she is also dealing with trying to avoid her old high school enemy Abigail, who has her sites set on Nathan and has told Chloe in no uncertain terms to back off. Chloe also has secrets she wants to keep hidden.

The School Reunion had so many twists and turns. Just when I thought I may know what is going on, Shalini Boland would throw in a twist that made me stop and process what I just read. At the end of the book there was a twist that literally had my jaw drop.   4 stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: No One Can Know & There Should Have Been Eight

 

It’s Sharon’s Thriller Thursday!  I hope you are all doing well. I cannot believe tomorrow is March already. This week I am excited to share my thoughts on Kate Alice Marshall’s, No One Can Know and Nalini Singh’s, There Should Have Been Eight. I loved both of these books so much and I know nothing I said in my reviews will do them justice. If you have these on your to-read list or even if they are not, I definitely recommend them.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: No One Can Know & There Should Have Been EightNo One Can Know Goodreads

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Publication Date: January 23, 2024

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Kate Alice Marshall is a relatively new author to me, but after reading No One Can Know, she is now on my auto buy list.

When Emma Palmer was sixteen years old, her parents were murdered. Emma had been out the night her parents were murdered, but when she returned home, her two sisters, eighteen-year-old Juliette and twelve-year-old Daphne were in the hallway where their mother lay dead. Emma did not know who killed her parents, but she took it upon herself to protect her sisters, even if that meant letting people think it was her who killed them. Emma is now thirty years old and has not been back to her hometown since she was eighteen. She has also been estranged from her sisters and has not seen or spoken to them in years, but Emma and her husband Nathan now need to return as they have lost their apartment and their bank account has dwindled to almost nothing. Coming home means that Emma must now face her past and finally get answers to who killed her parents.

The story is told from the POV of Emma, Juliette (who now goes by JJ), and Daphne, both in the present as well as the past. I really loved Emma. She got the short end of the stick when it came to her parents’ affection. Neither of her parents were great to any of the girls, but Juliette was the obedient one and her mother’s favorite, and Daphne kept in the shadows and was more their father’s favorite. Emma was the defiant one. I loved learning more about the girls and what happened that night from the past chapters. I really hated how Juliette and Daphne let Emma take the fall for their parents’ murder though. But I did like that as adults they were there for her now and had her back.

Emma is pregnant and being back home and seeing how everyone in town still thinks she is guilty of her parents’ murder has made Emma determined to find out what really happened. Emma does not want her child to grow up with a mother who everyone thinks is guilty of murder. The more Emma learns about what happened that night, the more her life was in danger. I loved her determination though. Her child is her top priority, even if it means she needs to turn one or both of her sisters in.

I was all over the place on who I thought was the murderer. With each new piece of information that Emma uncovered my mind would change on who I thought was guilty. No One Can Know was full of so many twists and turns right up until the very last page. I did not figure anything out and was shocked when all was revealed.  4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: No One Can Know & There Should Have Been EightThere Should Have Been Eight Goodreads

Author: Nalini Singh

Publication Date: November 21, 2023

Publisher: Berkley

I have only read one other book by Nalini Singh and when I read the synopsis for There Should Have Been Eight, I knew I was going to enjoy it. And I was right.

Luna, Vansi, Kaea, Ash, Aaron, Phoenix, Bea, and her sister Darcie met when they were teenagers and have all been best friends since. That is until nine years ago when Bea killed herself. Though they have stayed in touch, they are not as close as they once were. Darcie organizes a reunion at her family’s isolated estate. This reunion is a chance to reconnect and reminisce about Bea, as well as celebrate Aaron’s engagement to Grace. What starts out as a fun reunion soon takes a deadly turn. A storm has moved in, and the group is stranded at the estate and must fight to survive the night.

I loved everything about the book, though there is not a lot I can say without spoiling things. I loved the gothic setting. The estate has been in Darcie and Bea’s family for generations and is run down and has a lot of secret passageways to move about.  Nalini Singh did a great job of creating this eerie setting.

The story is narrated by Luna, and I just loved her. Luna is a photographer, and she was in her glory taking photos of the estate. I love to take photos, though I am in no way a photographer, so I was getting excited with Luna as she pulled out her camera to take photos of the estate and grounds. I also had a lot of sympathy for Luna. She has a condition that is making her lose her eyesight, which is just devastating for her. Luna is also having a hard time coming to terms with Bea killing herself. That was not like Bea at all, and Luna does not believe it for a minute. Luna is having a hard time forgiving Darcie, since Darcie had Bea cremated right away and scattered her ashes alone without any of the others there.

As things start to happen to the group – someone put a beloved doll of Bea’s on Darcie’s bed, cut Kaea’s hiking boots, so he fell while hiking and hurt his leg bad, pushed one of them down the stairs – the group realizes that someone is out for revenge. I thought I had things figured out, not only with who was behind everything that was happening at the estate, but also what really happened to Bea. I was kind of right, though not completely.

There Should Have Been Eight was a slow burn mystery, with lots of twists and turns. Singh did a great job of creating this story. Between the great characters, the eerie gothic setting, and the mystery of what was going on and who was responsible, I was engrossed from beginning to end.  4 ½ stars