What I Read: July 2022

Carley Fortune: Every Summer After

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart. Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without. For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books – Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

There are some books you know you will love even before you start reading them, and this was one of those. It reminded me so much of Love and Other Words which is one of my favourite romance books ever. This book deserves every bit of hype it’s getting. More than just a good summer read this was a beautiful story about second chances and the love between two people that manages to stay intact even after not seeing each other for over a decade. Because it switches back and forth between the past and present, and a large chunk of the book is retelling the events of those six summers as teenagers, you might wonder if it’s YA. It’s not. It’s refreshingly mature, and I adored Percy and Sam, both as teens and as adults. The reason for their falling out was kept a mystery throughout the book and that made it impossible to put down! I don’t think I have enough words to describe how much I loved! Do yourself a favour and read it now!

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JOHN Marrs: The vacation

How far would you run to escape your past? Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth. Tourists flock to the golden coast and the promise of Hollywood. But for eight strangers at a beach front hostel, there is far more on their mind than an extended vacation. All of them are running from something. And they all have secrets they’d kill to keep…

I usually like John Marrs’ books but I’m not sure what to think of this one. I liked the premise of the novel – that characters for a variety of reasons end up in a run down hostel in Venice Beach. However, there were far too many characters. It’s fair to say that several of those were really interesting but some were too boring. Secondly, every chapter on every character you would get another chunk of the present day story and then that would halt so a bit more of their back story could be told over the last year or so. I just found the whole thing way too disjointed and irritating. I will say, though, I was impressed by the way all the puzzle pieces eventually came together. It takes a skilful author to make all the connections work, without becoming cheesy and/or implausible. Bottom line, John Marrs is an amazing author, with incredible talent, and I’ll definitely be reading his future works. I suggest you do the same.

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Tessa Bailey: It happened one summer

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

I had high expectations for this book because everyone seemed to love it judging from raving reviews and the amount of hype it got, but it fell short of my expectations.This wasn’t a total miss. overall, I enjoyed this quick little romance. The plot was fun, the characters were charming, and I liked Piper’s growth throughout the story. You can clearly see how she evolved as a character, but nothing else felt special to me, unfortunately. The beginning started ok between Piper and Brendan… loved the chemistry and banter between the two. Loved the enemies to lovers vibe. But, I feel like there wasn’t enough of the enemies. We see them take off quickly with lovers vibe and we didn’t get to see more of the enemies sassy banter. I feel it was a missed opportunity for more funny moments. Also, the cheesiness…I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes through the book. So overall, fun and easy summer read but nothing amazing!

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Jennifer Lynn barnes: The inheritance games

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

This had a very Knives Out vibes, it was fun, full of riddles and games, all wrapped around a mysterious inheritance. I really liked Avery, she felt relatable and smart, and I loved how she adapted to the situations thrown at her. I loved her sister Libby and their relationship, but I have to say my favourite side character was Nash. I know I am supposed to like either Grayson or Jameson, but it is Nash for me! The mystery in this was really good, I loved the twists and turns throughout the book, most of them I didn’t see coming. I loved guessing the puzzles and games alongside Avery. It’s the first book in a trilogy so I am excited to see where the next book takes us!

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Lucy Score: Things we never got over

Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia. Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with the niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old to take care of.There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his solitary life. At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.

I had high expectations from this book because of all the hype – but I don’t think it lived up to them entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all city-girl-moving-to-the-small-village, enemies to lovers story. It was very cute, funny, and heartwarming. I loved that it had elements of crime in it, and also telenovelas(evil twin!) so it was interesting and not completely predictable like romances are. Now, things I didn’t like…it was too long for what it actually contained! It was 500 pages long! I feel like I would skim on certain parts and miss nothing because there were so many repetitive moments of him being obsessive, protective and controlling over her yet acting like an immature prick. Lets not forget, he’s over 40!! Also the ending was too cheesy for my liking but I don’t want to spoil it. Ultimately a solid 4 star book, didn’t change my life or top my list of small town romances like I anticipated given its popularity, but still really enjoyable and I’d recommend!

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lisa jewell: The family remains

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago. Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer. After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present. As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

I am always a bit wary when an author writes a sequel in response to demand from fans, especially when the first book was a domestic thriller that wrapped well. I was invested in this book from the start because I wanted to know what happened to the characters but to be honest this was not needed. This book is not the same thrilling, sinister and tense thriller as the first one, it is more of a closure. There is some suspense and obviously few murders to be solved so I kept turning pages to get an answer! I love Jewell’s writing, I’m always hooked from the first page! Rachel’s story arc was my favourite, likely because she was a new character with a fresh take. Also, I really missed Libby’s POV, and thought she would’ve had more of an active role in the search for her father. One thing I do think – the blurb of this book calls it a “standalone sequel” which I disagree with. I suggest reading The Family Upstairs first or if you read it read a summary to refresh your memory. Even though this book does contain reminders, there’s a lot of characterisation and backstory that would be missing here if you jumped straight into this book without reading the first.

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What I Read: June 2022

Lucy Clark: One of the Girls

It was supposed to be the perfect weekend away. Six very different women travel to a sun-soaked Greek island for a bachelorette trip, to celebrate Lexi’s upcoming wedding. From the glorious ocean views to the quaint tavernas and whitewashed streets, the vacation seems too good to be true. But dangerous undercurrents run beneath the sunset swims and midnight cocktails – because each of the women is hiding a secret. Someone is determined to make sure that Lexi’s marriage never happens – and that one of them doesn’t leave the island alive.

I really wanted this book to be a 5 star because I love a good thriller/mystery on a Greek island, summer vibes and all that. But the book started really slow and I found the beginning really boring! But it picks up later, somewhere in the middle. Told in multiple points of view from each of the women was a great way to develop the plot. The six friends have all secrets to hide and as we learn about each of the characters and their circumstances are revealed, we find that they are linked in some way and that causes the death over the cliffs are into the sea – which is revealed at the beginning. Because we don’t know who it is, I kept turning pages just to find out. I loved the end, it was unexpected and tense until the last chapter.

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tim weaver: The blackbird

Just before the crash, Cate and Aiden Gascoigne are recorded on CCTV, laughing and happy. Then their car plunges into a ninety-foot ravine. Within seconds, the vehicle is an inferno – and the Gascoignes are trapped inside. But when fire crews arrive, they find something impossible: The vehicle is empty. Cate and Aiden have vanished. And only missing persons investigator David Raker can solve the mystery . . .

The Blackbird is the 11th Book in the David Raker series by Tim Weaver, and he never seems to disappoint. You don’t have to read previous books because there is enough of information about Raker’s story so the reader can understand what is going on. From the first chapter, I was intrigued, couldn’t figure out how this can be possible. How could two people caught in a devastating road traffic accident just disappear? And why? And was it even an accident? All of these questions! There are lots of threads to the story, that seem to be unconnected until they all come together in a completely brilliant way. And theres a cliff hanger at the end that will definitely entice you into reading the next book in the series.If you are the kind of reader who tries to solve the mystery alongside the detective, you will love this. I didn’t have a clue whodunnit until the big reveal. The Blackbird is fabulous – twisty and extremely clever – one of my favourite reads this year!

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Clare Pooley: The people on platform 5

Every day Iona, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu. Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Constant-Reader and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do. Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver. This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more.

Another heartwarming book by Clare Pooley! The writing is brilliant and so witty that I got engrossed in the plot straight away. Each main character is so well written and so likeable but Iona deserves a special mention! I wish I can bring her to life so she can be my best friend and life coach. This book covered so many themes, amongst them ageism, homophobia, cancer, bullying, depression but each one was worked into the story so well and weaved into each of the characters that I just had to keep turning pages! This is a great book to pick up if you’re in a slump and after something with characters you’ll want to be friends with!

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Emily Henry: You and me on Vacation

12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again. 11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together. 10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way. 7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans. 2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong. THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.

There was so much hype about this book but in my opinion, it didn’t live up to it! Don’t get me wrong, it was ok but just ok. The story was cute, the writing was well done, the dialogue was super witty, and the characters were original! It’s a good book if you don’t mind, disorienting time jumps, a frustrating lack of communication, and a best friends-to-lovers story that takes ages to materialise. I didn’t like the flashbacks of their travels through the years, they were so long and I glazed over them (which is… a lot of the book). Each trip felt like another summer in where they don’t go for it and the lack of progress started to stall my reading experience. I feel it would be much more interesting if the book started 12 years ago and just moved forward, there would be more tension. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light summer read.

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mark edwards: no place to run

Two years ago, on a trip to Seattle to visit her brother Aidan, fifteen-year-old Scarlett vanished into thin air. After years of false leads and dead ends, Aidan has almost given up hope. But then a woman sees a girl running for her life across a forest clearing in Northern California. She is convinced the girl is the missing Scarlett. But could it really be her?Heading south, Aidan finds a fire-ravaged town covered in missing-teenager posters. The locals seem afraid, the sheriff won’t answer any questions and it looks like another dead end – until a chance meeting with returned local Lana gives Aidan his first clue. But as they piece together what happened, Lana and Aidan make deadly enemies. Enemies willing to do anything to silence them – and to protect the terrible truth about what is really going on in the forest…

No Place to Run started off strong, it was tense, creepy and interesting, usual Mark Edwards.There was lots going on in this book – what starts off as a brother looking for his missing sister, quickly adds kidnapping, human trafficking, missing persons, corruption, cults and crime. The story had two-time frames, the present day and the past, two years ago. It’s also told from several perspectives. The first part had me glued to the pages but then midway it slowed way down. In fact, I really struggled to finish it to the end. I love this author and I really wanted to like this book but I didn’t like the direction it went. Maybe some people interested in subject of ecoterrorism will like it but this wasn’t for me.

⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: May 2022

Katherine Faulkner: Greenwich Park

Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and a baby on the way —begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears.But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath of Greenwich Park.

Want a book that messes with your head? Look no further! I can’t believe this is a debut! It was a slow start, but once it picked up, it never stopped surprising me. All the twists and turns were great, the characters were well developed and the author left no unanswered questions. Most of the story is told through Helen’s eyes with interludes from Kate or Serena. There is also an unnamed point of view narrating scenes where the reader is unsure as to what is happening but is left with a vague feeling of threat. The storytelling left me uneasy, curious to figure out the truth, impatient to understand what exactly was going on. It is a true page-turner. I couldn’t put it down.

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Christina lauren: Love and other words

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away. But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos – the first and only love of her life – the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world – growing from her gangly teen friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother . . . only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Wow, what a book! One of my favourite romance books ever! It was so beautifully written, with the most lovely characters that you can’t help but root for! I loved when the stories flip between the timeline and this one really added to the character development. I liked how the author connected the dots together at the end. I thought there would be just another predictable romance ending but there was a twist that completely took me by surprise. I could go on and on, because there wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like. This book actually deserves a thousand-word review but I’m just going to stop here! Highly recommend!

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gillian mcallister: wrong place wrong time

It’s every parent’s nightmare.Your happy, funny, innocent son commits a terrible crime: murdering a complete stranger. You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your teenage boy is in custody and his future lost. That night you fall asleep in despair. Until you wake . . . and it is yesterday. Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. Another chance to stop it. Somewhere in the past lie the answers, and you don’t have a choice but to find them . . .

This is a part crime novel, part domestic drama and part…supernatural! I Well this was certainly different! What a cleverly structured plot. I don’t even know how McAllister kept track and created this exceptionally difficult jigsaw puzzle, that all fit perfectly in the end. Right from the start the author pulls you into the storytelling with shock, horror, disbelief and tension being the tone set and maintained throughout. The concept of the novel is fantastic and very different from her previous novels, yet it’s also full of many clever twists and turns you don’t see coming which is one of her trademarks. By far, her best book!

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ali hazelwood: The love hypothesis

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

This book was so hyped all over social media that initially, I didn’t want to read it! And the cover was really putting me off. Did I enjoy it? Sure. I mean, it was fun and I guess it was kind of flirty at times? Did it live up to the hype? No! They were cute, and the setting was unique but they were not memorable romantic characters.  I loved the use of all the classic romance tropes – the fake dating, the whole acting like a couple thing, the falling for your fake boyfriend thing, the pretend relationship turning a little bit too real… I just didn’t feel all that strong of a connection to the characters. I think it might’ve been the POV that it was written in.  also thought the lack of communication was super frustrating, especially because those people were supposed to be super smart!  I’m glad I’ve finally read it but for me it was just ok.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

simone st. James: The book of Cold cases

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

I picked up this book after reading The Sun Down Motel which I loved! Now this one was also good but not as good as the first one. Just like St. James’ last novel, this is full of paranormal activity. The setting of the old Victorian house nestled on the edge of a cliff overlooking the coastal waters below gives an ominous and threatening feel to the story. Extremely interesting and well developed characters, two distinct timelines, long-held secrets, and family drama are skillfully blended together to create additional atmosphere and suspense within this story. First half of the book was a bit slower for my liking but I loved the ending so that made it up for me. Now, I’m not typically a ghost book type of reader but no one does the genre better than her!

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What I Read: April 2022

SALLY HEPWORTH: THE GOOD SISTER

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be dangerous. When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden. 

I almost skipped this book because I didn’t like the cover or the title but I’m glad I didn’t because…this was so good! Chapters alternated between Fern in the present and Rose’s diary entries, which also include flashbacks to the twins troubled childhood. It started a bit slow and I was thinking where this will go but later it picked up. Even though I wouldn’t call it a thriller, it’s more like suspense and a family drama with the elements of crime. I won’t reveal anything else because I think you need to go into this book blindly so you can get surprised like I did. Even though I had my suspicions I didn’t expect such an amazing, twisty ending!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SIMONE ST. JAMES: SUN DOWN MOTEL

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls. Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden

I’m not really a fan of horror books but this one was so good that even before I finished it I ordered a new book by the same author. What makes this book stand out it’s the eerie atmosphere. I felt every spine-tingling scare that Carly felt. When I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. The story is brilliantly narrated in two timelines/perspectives – through Carly in 2017 and her aunt Vivian in 1982. Loved the pace and flow – it kept me curious and hungry to read “just one more chapter.” I will warn you that this novel is quite ghost-y. I am not one who is generally attracted to ghost type novels, however, this story simply felt so real and kept me fully immersed and invested that I never doubted the supernatural element. Highly recommend!

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BETH O’LEARY: NO SHOW

Siobhan is a quick-tempered life coach with way too much on her plate. Miranda is a tree surgeon who used to be treated as just one of the guys on the job. Jane is a soft-spoken volunteer for the local charity shop with zero sense of self-worth. These three women are strangers who have only one thing in common: They’ve all been stood up on the same day, the very worst day to be stood up–Valentine’s Day. And, unbeknownst to them, they’ve all been stood up by the same man.Once they’ve each forgiven him for standing them up, they let him back into their lives and are in serious danger of falling in love with a man who seems to have not just one or two but three women on the go….

This book was just wonderful! You may think that this is another predictable romance but it’s not. The story alternates between the three women, and I really liked all their characters and had fun trying to work out how everything linked together. The plot is really clever and I felt I need to take notes to keep up with the story. O’Leary really did a great job of binding everything together. I was confused halfway through the book, couldn’t see how is this even a romance, couldn’t picture the happy ending at all – and then comes the twist that I didn’t see it coming. Overall, this was a heartbreaking, sweet, and tragic story about three women finding themselves and the man who is part of their journey. It was a fun, enjoyable, and sometimes sad read. Highly recommend it!

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ELLE COSIMANO: FINLAY DONOVAN KNOCKS ‘EM DEAD

Finlay Donovan is―once again―struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. On the bright side, she has her live-in nanny and confidant Vero to rely on, and the only dead body she’s dealt with lately is that of her daughter’s pet goldfish. On the not-so-bright side, someone out there wants her ex-husband, Steven, out of the picture. Permanently. Whatever else Steven maybe, he’s a good father, but saving him will send her down a rabbit hole of hit-women disguised as soccer moms, and a little bit more involvement with the Russian mob than she’d like.

This is part 2 and you definitely need to read part 1 before starting this one. I struggled to remember what happened in the first book, I had to go and read the summary beforehand. If you read the first one and you loved it, you will love this one too? It’s very much more of the same. There is some mystery, humour, romance and over the top shenanigans. I have to say, I loved the first one a little bit more but just because the pace was much slower and there was less laugh at loud moments. But overall, a good sequel. Finlay and Vero are still a pair I’m invested in and look forward to seeing what direction they take next!

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T.M. LOGAN: THE CURFEW

Andy and Laura are good parents. They tell their son Connor that he can go out with friends to celebrate completing his exams, but he must be home by midnight. When Connor misses his curfew, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of five families forever. Because five teenagers went into the woods that night, but only four came out. And telling the truth might mean losing everything…

 I always find T.M Logan’s books enjoyable and great page turners and this was no different. Even though it took me a few chapters to get into it, this was a fast paced read with interesting characters and an intriguing plot. I’ve read a few of his books before and I think this one is the best. This story is mostly narrated from the father’s POV (Andy) but we also get glimpses from other characters’ POVs, so I had to change my mind more than once about the outcome of this story. I liked how the author continue to build the tension, so towards the end I couldn’t read fast enough to see what will happen next. The twists were incredible, little parts of information given to set the story going in a whole new direction!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

What I Read: March 2022

Lucy Foley: The Paris Apartment

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

I loved all of the Lucy’s previous books so it saddens me to say that this one wasn’t as good. It was a surprisingly quick read considering that nothing much happens through the majority of the book. Narrated by Jess, Nick, Sophie, Mimi, and the concierge, all of the characters fell flat except for Jess. My biggest problem with the narrating was too much telling and not enough showing. I loved the setting, the creepy building, the mystery and the tension, but I feel there wasn’t enough of Paris. This building could’ve been in any city.However, there were some decent twists and turns. I figured out two of the three main twists, but one caught me off guard, and I loved it! 

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

ALEX FINLAY: THE NIGHT SHIFT

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. At the Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again. Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive. Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words… “Goodnight, pretty girl.”In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive.

I really want to start Alex Finlay fan club! Even though I’ve read only two books, I feel I’ve seen enough and he will be my auto-buy author from now on. Night Shift has everything for mystery/ serial killer story fans like me. Just like the previous novel this one kept me hooked from beginning to end. I love the way it’s written as most chapters end with an enticing cliff hanger some of which are so unexpected. It’s fast paced, I loved all of the characters. and the best part – I didn’t guess the culprit. I don’t think there are enough of superlatives to describe this. I truly deeply highly recommend this mind blowing page- turner! 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

PETER SWANSON: NINE LIVES

Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke – until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list. First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor. FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. 

If you read the blurb you probably think that this sounds familiar. It’s a nod to Agatha Christy’s And there were none but Swanson put his own spin to it. He introduces all the characters in the first 30 pages, and I even took a picture of the whole name list thinking it will be hard for me to keep up but I didn’t have to refer to it again. That’s because the chapters were very quick and simple and they move to another character so I didn’t have a chance to forget the previous one. Also they are all very different and they start to die very quickly so there is less people to remember. Swanson done a great job balancing multiple POVs and keeping the reader hooked from one short chapter to the next. Be aware this is not a shocking thriller with a massive twist. It’s an intelligent, solid mystery, that is well-plotted with great characters. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

COLLEEN HOOVER: CONFESS

Auburn Reed is determined to rebuild her shattered life and she has no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to become deeply attracted to the studio’s enigmatic artist, Owen Gentry.For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is hiding a huge secret. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything Auburn loves most, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it—but can she do it?

Another great book by CoHo! I could not stop reading this, it had me pulled into the story so quickly, and kept my attention the whole time. The only objection and the reason it’s not a 5 stars is that the female character is not as strong. She just felt flat to me. I feel I didn’t connect to her as well as I would’ve liked. But I loved everything else! I loved Owen and his art and the way it’s created. CoHo actually showcased the real art from a real artist, Danny O’Connor within this book! And the ending…I think it’s one of the best endings in Colleen Hover’s books! It’s an amazing reading experience and a trip to an art gallery all at the same time.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

G.HENDRICKS & S.PEKKANEN: THE GOLDEN COUPLE

Wealthy Washington suburbanites Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all—until Marissa is unfaithful. Beneath their veneer of perfection is a relationship riven by work and a lack of intimacy. She wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband. Enter Avery Chambers. Avery is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counseling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.When they glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

This story is not your typical mystery. There’s no dead body or traditional crime to solve. But that doesn’t make it any less suspenseful. The book has dual storylines. The first is Avery’s and includes her backstory, detailing previous and existing clients. The second is Marissa’s and we quickly learn she is still keeping secrets. I often find books with dual storylines are unequal and I’ll care for one more than the other, but not here – I was equally engaged with both. There were many characters acting strangely and I think I pointed my finger at all of them at some point. It’s a complex and multilayered story with lots of twists and turns and red herrings. and even though it started a bit slow, it got better with every chapter.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What I Read: February 2022

Taylor Jenkins Reid: Daisy Jones and The Six

A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous break up. Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

I don’t know why I waited for so long to read this book but…wow! I refuse to believe these people are not real. The book was written like an interview and I was unsure about it at first but actually I really loved it like that because I connected more to the characters . You can see all the character’s perspectives and how they all recall different situations. I especially love all the female characters, they were so different but so complex, powerful and strong. TJR captures the 70s era beautifully and it will make you want to listen to songs from artists like Fleetwood Mac in the background. This is definitely a must read! Also, Reese Witherspoon is making a TV show and I cannot wait!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

colleen hoover: reminders of him

After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself.The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them.

I gave every Colleen Hoover book a five star but after reading this one I wanted to go back and give every other one a 4 because this one is something else! This was very hard to put down and I finished it in less than 24 hours! I felt different reading this, it wasn’t a classic love story, with butterflies, it was more raw and heavy and it’s more a life story than a love story. It’s about second chances, forgiveness and people being put in impossible circumstances. I felt sad for every single character in this book and I understood all of their decisions equally. If you were thinking of reading this book, stop thinking and go read it!! Absolutely amazing!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

rachel hawkins: Reckless girls

When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island.When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilisation than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

I was really confused with this book, I thought it was a mystery/thriller but it wasn’t really. I thought I was promised a story about six people on an island, cut off from all civilisation and help. But slowly, strange things start to happen and there is no escape. So you mean a locked-room mystery on an island? Say no more! But unfortunately I couldn’t find any mystery. For most of the book nothing happens, it’s just a bunch of 20-somethings trying to get into each others pants and stir up unnecessary drama. And then in the last 50 pages something happens and it’s all finished. It’s only 3 stars for me just because I definitely didn’t see that ending coming! You really need to suspend your belief with this one! This was ok but not even close to her previous book ‘The Wife Upstairs’!

⭐⭐⭐

steve cavanagh: The devil’s advocate

They call him the King of Death Row. Randal Korn has sent more men to their deaths than any district attorney in the history of the United States. When a young woman, Skylar Edwards, is found murdered in Buckstown, Alabama, a corrupt sheriff arrests the last person to see her alive, Andy Dubois. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that Andy is innocent. Everyone in Buckstown believes Andy is guilty. He has no hope of a fair trial. And the local defense attorney assigned to represent him has disappeared. Hot shot New York lawyer Eddie Flynn travels south to fight fire with fire. He plans to destroy the prosecutors case, find the real killer and save Andy from the electric chair. But the murders are just beginning.

This is Steve Cavanagh at its best! This book dealt with heavy topics like racism, corruption, graphic killing scenes and all of this made the book even more believable. I was shocked to see how everyone broke the very principle of justice simply to send a black person to jail and when I read the authors note that there are actually a group of people called The White Camelia, I was shocked. The amount of research Steve did for this book is something else! I loved the multiple POV’s, they worked very well in this book and had me guessing until the end. I can’t recommend this book and the series enough!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

colleen hoover: heart bones

Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other. With an almost immediate connection too intense for them to continue denying, Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realise is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.

This book was really sweet, but also really sad and heartbreaking. This book is everything you’d expect from a Colleen Hoover book, it’s sad as hell, it will make you cry, it has dark characters with mysterious pasts, etc. I liked Beyah’s sister Sara, Samson was frustrating at the beginning but I started liking him later. Even though this wasn’t my favourite CoHo book, it still sucked me in! Keep in mind, this book is actually classed as YA romance!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stacy willingham: A flicker in the dark

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth.Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren’t really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

This was a gripping read and an amazing debut! The prologue sucked me in instantly. Chloe is an unreliable narrator and she had me guessing what is real and what she thinks it’s real. She also makes some dumb choices and I wanted to shake her a few times. There are few downsides in the story, a few ridiculous things but nothing major. Also I guessed part of the ending reveal early on but there was still plenty of twists and red herrings along the way.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

khaled hosseini: A thousand splendid suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years – from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding – that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives – the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness – are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

I don’t think there will be a book I will read after this that will make more impact on me than this one. This book is extremely thought-provoking and not easy to digest. It will resonate with some people who have lived through war-torn countries or under the terrifying Taliban rule, or, as in my case, it will be a learning experience. For example, learning Afghan history and the shifts in the treatment of women culturally. It also made me consider my own privilege compared to the stories of both Laila and Mariam. I think the most stunning thing about this novel is that whilst Mariam and Laila are fictional characters, it applies to so many women out there. This book is about devastation and loss, but also about hope and love. Hosseini approaches the plot in a very realistic way and it is written beautifully. This was an unforgettable read and it will stay with me for a while.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: January 2022

Mary Kubica: Local Woman Missing

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.Now, 11 years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find….

You know that creepy feeling that you get when you walk alone through a parking garage late at night? That feeling where you have chills going up your spine? You just feel like something is going to happen? I felt like that this entire book! The book goes back and forth in between 3 different timelines and 4 POVs. I never had any problem following along or distinguishing between the characters. Mary Kubica has a way of giving the reader the perfect amounts of information to keep you on the edge of your seat and flipping through the pages as fast as possible. Or at least that’s what I experienced. There are many red herrings; however, you will NOT be able to figure this one out. It will shock you. In the end,all I can say is that the hype is real and totally justified for this book. If you read only one thriller this year, Local Woman Missing has to be the one!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

v.e. schwab: the invisible life of addie le rue

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man Henry Strauss in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives or to find strength in a very long one.”

Oh wow, where to start with this one. I’m not usually one to read historical fiction or fantasy but this book was magical. The writing was absolute perfection, so gorgeous I could cry just thinking about it. I love the idea of reading about a character who is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets, it was fascinating and I just can’t imagine how lonely she is. I was pleasently surprised by how much more there was within the book beside Addie’s story. Especially the story about Henry Strauss – I think his character will stay with me for a long time. I felt for him even more than I felt for Addie. I think it’s because I could relate to him and everything about his fear of running out of time, his fear of missing out, how life seems to go without him… Overall, I couldn’t recommend this book enough! It definitely deserves all the hype. The story is so original and full of life lessons. This is definitely an all time favorite, I’m not going to be forgetting this story anytime soon.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ashley winstead: in my dreams i hold a knife

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love. But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

What a jaw dropping, page flipping, edge of your seat debut this was! I was invested in the story throughout even though I really didn’t like any of the characters. Most of the characters in this story are morally grey (even sociopathic). They all had some twisted motivations and dark things they are hiding. At one point or another I suspected pretty much everyone, so the ultimate revelation definitely came as a surprise to me. The character development and multi-layered plot were brilliant. Which made me more invested in the story. I thought the story was very clever and stylishly written and I enjoyed discovering all the dirty little secrets. I hope to read more books by Ashley Winstead in the future and I recommend this story to any reader who enjoys sinister college drama. I also think that this could be a great TV show!

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

yaa gyasi: transcendent kingdom

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love.

A very intense and honest book that tackles a lot of heavy topics like science vs. faith, mental illness, addiction and the different ways to handle your grief without having any kind of a support system to lean on. This was honest and authentic. It captured people and emotions incredibly well, and left me feeling like I knew exactly who our main character was and how she ended up where she did. What I didn’t like is that there is no time order within the chapters, it kind of jumps around. And even though I understand it’s written like this so we can see how her past affects her experiences and relationships as an adult, I would have preferred some order. Also it ends very abruptly, it left me wanting more.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

colleen hoover: november 9

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

This is a romance that actually shocked me! I loved the concept of them only meeting once a year for 5 years. I loved the confidence that Ben gave Fallon. Everything about it was absolutely adorable…until it wasn’t. I feel like I’ve already said too much because I don’t want to take away the experience from any future reader. The emotions in this novel were so raw, so real. I felt the love. I felt the heartbreak. I felt the regret. I felt everything. This is the CoHo that nearly every single person is hyping up. This was so original from start to finish. It was intriguing, unique and of course every chapter left me wanting more. November 9 is the kind of book you need to experience for yourself, so I’m not going to give anything else away, but make sure to read it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

riley sager: survive the night

Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking. Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

I read all the reviews before starting this book and I was thinking: nah, it can’t be that bad, it’s Riley Sager and I love his books…but I was wrong! Usually I can deal with a few naive and gullable characters because if they are very clever, books would finish very quickly but this was just too much. From the start I was just rolling my eyes. Imagine the most stupid female character ever! That’s Charlie! Who takes an overnight drive with complete stranger just after your friend has been murdered by a serial killer. Really?!Who would do that?! The twist saved the story for a bit even though the reasoning was beyond ridiculous! Despite that and the slow start, I raced through this book. Was this one of my favourite reads? Definitely not. Will I keep reading every Riley Sager book in the future? Definitely yes!

⭐⭐⭐

Nita prose: The Maid

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Since Gran died a few months ago, Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

This was fun, quirky, heartwarming, and mysterious – if you are a fan of cosy mysteries this is the one for you. Although it is never specified, Molly is somewhere on the autism spectrum. She struggles with reading emotions and not saying exactly what comes into her mind. She is the kind of character you root for, stress about and feel protective over. Everything unique about this story was a definite highlight, and the writing was very easy. Now, I have to warn every die-hard mystery/crime reader that this is not some complex whodunit story with lots of twists and tension, it’s actually very simplistic and a bit slow. But it’s like that because of our perspective and the narrator which is Molly. I’m saying this because I expected something else due to all of the hype. But when I looked back at it, I decided to review it for what it is and not for what I expected it to be. I would recommend this to everyone who loves cosy mysteries. This is a great debut novel by Nita Prose and I would definitely read more from her.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: December 2021

Miranda Cowley Heller: The Paper Palace

It is a perfect July morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace” — the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside. Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

I read so many rave reviews for this book and I had high expectations, but whilst well written I was left very confused about what the point of the story was. Hate is a strong word but…I came pretty close to hating this book. I ended up reading it pretty quickly because I was expecting something to happen but nothing did. I can’t even call this book a slow burn, it’s just a waste of time. All the jumping around between past and present with so many new characters introduced each time and none of them likable, made it very hard to follow the story. There is a cyclical pattern of sexual/emotional abuse in all the generations which could be a trigger warning as this is non-consensual and features children. Also it’s worth keeping in mind that this book features a lot of death and suicide and is not very uplifting. The story ends back in the present day and doesn’t really come to anything, there is no fallout for Elle’s actions and no feeling that anything happened in the book except that the reader is taken on a journey through the life of this character. The synopsis of the book was much more promising than the actual content. A real disapointment and the rating is mainly for the writing.

⭐⭐

catherine steadman: The disappearing act

Mia Eliot has traveled from London to LA for pilot season. This is her big chance to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and she is ready to do whatever it takes. At an audition, she meets Emily, and what starts as a simple favour takes a dark turn when Emily goes missing and Mia is the last person to see her. Then a woman turns up, claiming to be Emily, but she is nothing like Mia remembers. Why would someone pretend to be Emily? Starting to question her own sanity, she goes on a desperate and dangerous search for answers, knowing something is very, very wrong.In an industry where everything is about creating illusions, how do you know what is real? And how much would you risk to find out?

The thing I liked the most about this book is the showbiz setting! We’re given an interesting look behind the glamour of Hollywood and the dark characters that lurk there. I really enjoyed the atmospheric scenes situated at the Hollywood sign. This landmark and cultural icon has a dark history that I was not aware of until I read this story. This one is a real page turner with lots of strange and weird happenings, It was a fast and enjoyable read. Even though some suspension of disbelief was required to buy the whole premise, some of Mia’s actions and especially the final reveal, though despite this I found the story entertaining and intriguing until the end. I enjoyed the glamorous backdrops and the surreal depiction of the LA lifestyle, and the plot had enough twists and turns to keep me glued to the story.

⭐⭐⭐💫

colleen hoover: ugly love

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her. Never ask about the past. Don’t expect a future. They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

I’m starting to understand what the fuss is about CoHo books! I loved this book even though I also understand the mixed reviews. I’m not going to go deep into it because I don’t want to spoil it but Miles is a red flag, it’s clear from the beginning. But… I feel this type of relationship is very realistically portrayed. It gets ugly – just like the title of this implies. True, there is a lot of backstory and reasoning behind why everything plays out the way it does, but it is what it is… I do appreciate what CoHo does here though, by showing the downright ugly and painful parts of love. Overall, this story is page-turner and Colleen Hoover’s writing was brilliant as always! I can’t wait to read another of her books!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

christina lauren: in a holidaze

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions. But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy. The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

This was just ok and exactly what you would expect from the blurb. I really needed something light over the Christmas period and this was just perfect. Overall, the plot was cute and kind of fun. But, I found the initial part of time travel where Mae kept reliving the same day kind of boring. I was so glad when the story moved on. My other issue with the book was that it had a lot of telling and not enough showing for my personal taste. Then there was the romance. We are told that Mae has been in love with her childhood friend, Andrew for the past decade. But I didn’t really see why. Their families only ever get together for Christmas and Fourth of July weekend, so when exactly did they fall in love? Where is the undeniable chemistry between the two? Especially from Andrew’s part, where are the signs that he’s ever had any feelings for Mae? I wanted more! More romance and tension and cuteness! But still, I liked it just enough. It was a fun and easy read, full of likable characters.

⭐⭐⭐

taylor adams: no exit

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers. Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate. Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her? There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one? Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

While I was reading this book I was thinking throughout: This should be a movie! So I did a little research and guess what?! A movie has been filmed and is coming out this year! I hope they don’t mess it up because…That tension and creepiness …I felt like I was holding my breath throughout this entire book. I really enjoyed the speed and pacing with which this was written. You start off with a bang and it doesn’t stop until the last sentence. What makes this story work is its lack of predictability, even when it felt like it was going down that path. I had no idea how it would all end, whether it would be satisfying or frustrating. It was brutal and cruel at times but consistent with the circumstances. Highly recommend!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: November 2021

Robinne Lee: The Idea of You

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things. What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

Ok, I’m a bit late reviewing this book but better late than never, right? Because once in a while a book comes along that tells a story so compelling, so thought-provoking, so emotional and so exquisitely written that it leaves you speechless (or in my case, I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks). To say I was blown away by EVERYTHING about this story would be an understatement. It literally checked off every single box and brought on the feels. So many feels! This is one of those stories that offers so much food for thought that one can’t simply review it and move on. Or maybe it’s just me. Thinking how even now in this day and age we still have double standards, how people will always have an opinion and how everyone is always so quick to judge you…And that ending…I don’t think I can express my opinion about it without giving it away so I’m going to stop here. Just pick up this book and enjoy the ride.

By the way, when I started reading it I didn’t know the main character was inspired by Harry Styles but it becomes obvious pretty quickly. If you don’t mind that, you will love this book!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Claire McGowan: I know you

When Rachel stumbles upon a body in the woods, she knows what she has to do: run. Get away. Do not be found at the scene. Last time, she didn’t know, and she ended up accused of murder. But when this victim is identified as her boyfriend’s estranged wife, Rachel realises she’s already the prime suspect. With mounting evidence against her, Rachel’s only hope is to keep the truth about herself well hidden. Because twenty years ago she was someone else—Casey, a young nanny trying to make it as an actress in Los Angeles. When the family she worked for were brutally murdered, all the evidence pointed to her and she went to prison. Back then, she narrowly escaped the death penalty and managed to free herself on appeal. Now she’s fighting to save the life she’s spent years piecing back together.

I admit that I KNOW YOU was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved the premise of a woman whose past secrets have come back to bite her, and Rachel’s backstory sounded awful. But even though I could relate to Casey, having been a nanny myself, both Rachel and Casey never got under my skin as much as I had hoped. Perhaps I have just been reading too many mysteries lately because a few days after finishing the book it had already become blurry in my memory. That being said, the mystery surrounding Casey’s conviction for murder at a young age kept me turning the pages to get all the answers. I just didn’t feel the same way about Rachel’s timeline and found her story a bit dull. Even though I didn’t love it as much I had expected, the premise was intriguing and the final reveal added a slight twist that I had not seen coming.

⭐⭐⭐💫

samantha downing: For your own good

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest. He says his wife couldn’t be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while. Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential. All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way. It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

I read so many thrillers and mysteries but this was something different. This is not your classic thriller, it’s more like a large-scale game of cat and mouse. Because of the multiple third-person perspectives, the reader knows most of the things, there aren’t any real twists or a whole lot to discover. Still, though, I found following all the characters, watching them getting closer to the answers, almost but not quite figure it out, walk straight into a deathtrap… quite exciting. Also, the blurb is a bit misleading because you would think this is a book about Teddy. But it’s not! There is a complex web of characters and relationships here, motives and ambitions all overlapping and warring with each other. I have to say it was a bit slow at the beginning and I was wondering where is this story going but somewhere halfway through it got sooo much better! If you are looking for depth, you aren’t going to get it from this book. What you will get is an entertaining and sinister read filled with dark minds and lots of twists and turns. Also, rumour has it that Robert Downey Jr has been cast as Teddy in the HBO adaptation! How exciting!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

sophie cousens: just Haven’t met you yet

Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura’s dream man–she’s sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

I really enjoyed This Time Next Year so I was very excited to read this new book by the same author. This story is sweet, funny, touching, charming, full of wonderful, likable characters, and has a surprising amount of emotional depth and the insight about love, loss and the tendency of people to put their hopes in things that may or may not always be as real. We get to learn about the geography and history of Jersey as Lauren gets a tour of the Island and finds the places where her mother and father fell in love. This really made me wish to visit it one day! This book is mostly about Laura, and her search for her own identity, and her own misconceptions about love and family so even though, yes, it’s a rom-com, I feel it could also be women’s fiction. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good slow-burn romance set in a gorgeous location.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

jane harper: the survivors

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

Another atmospheric thriller from Jane Harper, my 4th one. This time the story is set in the coastal town of Evelyn Bay in Tasmania. I’m not sure what to think about it so it’s very hard to write this review. I just felt it wasn’t as good as the previous ones. It started really slow, and it was hard to get into. Also, I did find the ending to be a bit abrupt in a ‘as if I blinked and it was over’ type feeling. It sufficiently explained everything, but after following the characters and their storyline for so many pages, I just wanted a little more to fully wrap everything up and satisfy my curiosity. That being said, I love how once again Harper managed to create this gripping and dark atmosphere. So many secrets and hidden agendas. When I finally got into it kept me guessing and questioning everything. It’s a slow burn of a story rather than a suspense-driven thriller with quite a few red herrings present as the tale unfolds. My theory on what happened was completely wrong as I discovered in the dramatic ending.

⭐⭐⭐💫

Colleen hoover: Regretting you

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike. Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body. With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

This book felt like I was reading 3 separate stories at once, yet they came together seamlessly. It was the story of a mother and teenage daughter and their changing relationship. The story of young love. And the story of a grieving woman navigating an adult relationship while looking for answers. I know this sounds weird but I promise you it’s not. Actually, it’s better not to read the blurb at all. This book is about grief, love, friendship, and family it took me on an emotional rollercoaster.  What really surprised me was how much I enjoyed the family aspect of this. I really love how CoHo romance, so I was worried the focus on the mother/daughter relationship would detract from that, but it doesn’t! Loved every page!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: October 2021

Claire Douglas: Couple at No. 9

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body – two bodies, in fact. Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Nothing Saffy need worry herself over. Until the police launch a murder investigation and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – her grandmother, Rose. Rose is in a care home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police but it is clear she remembers something. As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched. What happened thirty years ago?Why did no one miss the victims? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger?

I loved this storyline – and all the characters within it. The author was able to keep the tension high, pulling some amazing and unexpected twists that I did not see coming. The story was told from multiple points of view, in different timelines and you might think that this would make it hard to follow but actually it wasn’t at all. It’s very well plotted, with the author managing to make all the characters stories fit so well. I loved the claustrophobic small village atmosphere and creepy woods behind the cottage. And even though the book starts off slowly as you read on the tension gradually builds towards the really unexpected but satisfying ending. I won’t say much more so that I don’t spoil it but it was a great read. You really can’t go wrong with Claire Douglas!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Richard osman: The Man who died twice

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Even though this book could work as a standalone, I highly recommend reading The Thursday Murder Club before reading this, just to get acquainted with the characters. It’s a good cosy thriller with fun characters and a good plot. I must say, this book is way better than the first one, Osman has done a brilliant job filling in the gaps that he missed out in the first book as a murder mystery. Having been introduced to the club members in the first book it was easier to get into this one. Clever plot, fast paced with a touch of humour. I feel that I am really getting invested into these characters now so the third book promises to be even better. One thing I didn’t like is that it becomes a bit too repetitive in the middle and ending was a bit over the top. But overall this was a good cosy thriller!

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

sarah alderson: The stalker

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched… When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island. And this stranger wants them dead.

This book hooked me from the start and I couldn’t put it down. It was so creepy and twisty that I stopped reading it at night because it freaked me out.  Laura and Liam clearly haven’t read many books because they decide to go to a remote Scottish island for their honeymoon. They will be the only people there for a whole week with no way to contact the mainland. Did I mention that it is said the island is cursed? Such a great holiday destination, right? You could think that having only two characters at play during most part of the novel could turn a bit boring, but not at all! The island is incredibly atmospheric and it contributes to create a climate of unease that keeps building throughout the story until the big reveal. And the twist…So unexpected, so clever, a must read!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alex north: Shadow friend

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat. Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home. It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago. It wasn’t just the murder. It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

I was actually very reluctant to write this review mainly because I loved Alex North’s previous book The Whisper Man and I expected the same level of thrills but this book just fell short. The first problem for me was that there were two timelines, the present and 25 years previous. Now this isn’t usually a problem but in this book there were just too many characters. I had to write all of them down so I could follow what was going on. Also the term “lucid dreams” was mentioned a lot, describing dreams and it became hard to tell whether I was reading fact, or a lucid dream that Paul was having now or in the past. It was very, very confusing and the story didn’t flow well for me. I’ve given it 3 stars for the idea because I think it’s very interesting but North’s writing just didn’t work for me.

⭐⭐⭐

sarah goodwin: stranded

Eight strangers.
One island.
A secret you’d kill to keep.When eight people arrive on the beautiful but remote Buidseach Island, they are ready for the challenge of a lifetime: to live alone for one year. Eighteen months later, a woman is found in an isolated fishing village. She’s desperate to explain what happened to her: how the group fractured and friends became enemies; how they did what they must to survive until the boat came to collect them; how things turned deadly when the boat didn’t come… But first Maddy must come to terms with the devastating secret that left them stranded, and her own role in the events that saw eight arrive and only three leave.

I think if you are a fan of reality TV shows like Survivor you’ll like this book. I was quite disappointed because I expected something else, maybe more mystery and crime, especially after seeing so many five star reviews, but I didn’t get that. Nothing happens in the first 50% of the book and I really wished there was more than one POV. While I never quite lost interest, Stranded seemed unnecessary long. It felt like we lived through every day of those eighteen months, repetitive task after repetitive task. The long descriptions of all of the survival activities were a bit much for me, as were the extremely unlikable other characters on the island. I was also hoping for a more exciting ending but it was just unbelievable. Overall, just ok.

⭐⭐⭐

jodie Chapman: another life

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick. She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits. So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become. But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her. Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life

This book is just a rollercoaster of emotion, about life, loss and love. From the first few pages, I knew that this book was special. I am in fact struggling to find the right words to explain how this book made me feel. From the character development, relationships, twists, the plot, this story just completely captivated me and I could not stop thinking about it. The characters are so well written, believable and likeable. I found it refreshing that this love story did not spark between two perfect teens who lead unrealistic lives and never seem to slip up. Instead, Nick and Anna’s story is something a lot of us can relate to.

The book is written primarily through Nick’s perspective, which I found a refreshing change. Personally I’ve found similar books are usually written through a female’s point of view, so I enjoyed the male perspective. The life events that span the twenty plus years of the book make it feel like you’re really going through life with Nick; his memories, his ups and his downs and his life. I loved the inclusion of the never-sent emails from Anna and her poetry, it broke up the chapters nicely and allowed us to also see her perspective, even if only for a short time. This isn’t your typical love story. It is gut wrenching, sad, painful and honest. I cannot recommend this book enough!

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫