Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Eight Perfect Murders

 


Author: Peter Swanson

Publisher: William Morrow

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


A book about crime books and classic mysteries? Sign me up! 

With an unreliable narrator? Even better!

With a mystery bookshop that has a store cat named Nero? Yes please! 


Bookseller Malcolm Kershaw sets a Strangers on a Train murder pact in motion. But his unknown partner in crime begins emulating “perfect murders” from classic crime novels that Malcom had once highlighted in a blog post. 


As a book lover, especially a crime book lover, this book was lots of fun. It paid homage to some of the giants in the genre and it had a good, twisty, complex mystery. This definitely is one of my favorite books of 2020! 


Reading it reminded me that I have a special Highsmith book. My husband gave me a signed copy of Mermaids on the Golf Course as a gift years ago. It’s a limited edition collection of short stories & includes a slipcase. My copy is “out of series” meaning it was probably a review copy but still signed by the author. 


Do you have any signed books or limited editions? 


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Humans



Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Recorded Books

Year: 2014


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 


Andrew, a brilliant mathematician but horrible human being, has solved a math equation that will propel mankind’s technology forward by leaps and bounds. Aliens from a far distant galaxy decide that humans will screw up the entire universe if Andrew’s breakthrough becomes public knowledge. So they kill him (not a spoiler- he’s dead before the book starts) and replace him with a look alike alien. Alien Andrew’s mission is to destroy all mathematical evidence and kill anyone who human Andrew told about the discovery. While trying to complete his mission, Alien Andrew falls in love with the real Andrew’s wife. He wants to give up his alien powers and be a human. He learns what it means to be human and all the messy feelings and emotions that come with it- love, joy, happiness, sadness, loneliness, etc. 


There’s a lot of humor in the book which surprised me. When the alien first come to earth, he has to learn how to act like a human and his observations are very funny. My explanation of the plot might sound a little complicated but the story really comes down to this: the alien learned to be a better human than the actual human being he impersonated. 


Narrator Mark Meadows does a wonderful job conveying the alien’s initial bewilderment when he first encounters earthlings and then his terror at trying to keep his human wife and son safe from his fellow aliens. 


I really enjoyed this delightful, quirky and thought provoking book. 





Monday, September 28, 2020

The Night Swim

 


Author: Megan Goldin

Publisher: Macmillion Audio

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Rachel, the host of a popular true crime podcast, decides to cover a rape trial for her new season. On trial is an Olympic hopeful swimmer who accused of raping a high school girl after a party. The trial is dividing a small NC beach town. While in town for the trial, Rachel receives a series of letters from Hannah that slowly recount the death of Hannah’s sister Jenny twenty five years earlier. At the time, Jenny’s death was ruled an accident. But Hannah knows her sister was murdered. She just needs Rachel’s help to prove it. 


This is a twisty and dark page turner. The past and present are intertwined as Rachel cover’s the present day trial for her podcast and digs into the past to uncover the truth about Jenny’s death. 


Similar to the book within a book concept (think Catherine  Ryan Howard’s amazing work The Nothing Man) this is a podcast within a book complete with episodes and introduction music. This works really well in an audiobook format. The story is told through three different points of view: Hannah’s letters to Rachel about Jenny’s death, Rachel digging for answers for Jenny’s death, and Rachel’s podcast.


Goldin’s writing is crisp and her characters are well drawn. She seamlessly weaves together two tragic and heartbreaking stories together into a signal narrative. The blend of past and present is compelling and propels the story. Narrators January LaVoy and Bailey Carr do outstanding work bringing the story to life. This is definitely an engrossing story you won’t want to put down!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Good Girls

 

Author: Claire Eliza Bartlett

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️


“One of Us is Lying meets Sadie in this twisty, feminist thriller for the Me Too era.”


The goody-goody cheerleader, the nerd, the bad girl and the dead girl. All defined by their parents, peers, society. All bound by a terrible secret. 


Gwen and Emma are locked in an academic battle to win a full ride college scholarship that will get one of them out of their dead end town. Avery is the cheerleader and the pressure, especially from her parents, to be perfect is stifling her. Claude is the school’s bad girl- the sexually aggressive party girl who really isn’t as tough as she seems. 


I really liked the main characters, but it just felt like it took a long time for their story to unfold. Two of the girls are victims of a sexual predator. The other two girls are victims of the fallout of the predator. The girls feel powerless and believe no one will believe them if they go public with their stories. So they hatch a plan to stop him themselves. As far as this being a thriller, it’s pretty slow and not very thrilling. There was a lot of potential with the story. It just needed to pick up the pace. 


I would definitely recommend it to fans of who love One of Us Is Lying, but it lacks the intensity and punch in the gut of Sadie. 


The Good Girls publishes on 12/1/20. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Children’s for the review copy. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Shed No Tears

 

Author: Caz Frear

Publisher: Harper Collins

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


When the remains of young woman who has been missing for six years are found in a field hours from London, Detective Constable Cat Kinsella and her partner Luigi Parnell begin an investigation that will hit a little to close to home. 


Holly Kemp was believed to be the last victim of serial killer Christoper Masters. But Holly was shot in the head and her body left hours from where his other victims were buried. The case is reopened and all the old witnesses are questioned again. Cat has her doubts about the main witness who ties Holly to the serial killer. The more Cat digs, the more inconsistencies she and her partner find. The evidence starts to point to a powerful gangster and the spotlight turns on an officer who is a rising star of the Metropolitan Police. 


Even though this is is the third book in the series, it could be read as a stand alone. There are references to the first two books but not knowing the full backstory doesn’t take away from this solid police procedural. The pacing is quick and the investigation flows along at a good clip. Cat is a witty and determined detective,  but she’s not perfect and has family secrets. 


This one publishes December 1. Thanks to netgalley and Harper Collins for the review copy. 


Monday, September 21, 2020

Anna K

 

Author: Jenny Lee

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


I’m a bad librarian! I never read Loe Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I am vaguely familiar with the bare bones story of this tragic love affair. Anna K is based on Tolstoy’s classic. In this version, super rich teens party hard and fall in and out of love just as hard. 


I was really impressed with the character development in this book- especially with Anna, Steven, Lolly, and Kimmie. The characters could have just been one dimensional cliches, but author Jenny Lee crafts her characters with depth, humor, and compassion. 


I loved the relationship between Anna and her brother Steven. At first I thought Steven was going to be a total cliche of a rich, snotty, and careless boy. And he was a little bit, but he had a close relationship with his sister and was very supportive of her. He learned from his mistake of cheating on his girlfriend Lolly and he was generous to his friends. Lolly’s character also surprised me. She could have been written as an air head party girl just into material things. Instead she is very forgiving of Steven but also shows she’s not a pushover. She shows great compassion and friendship during Anna’s scandal. Kimmie, a sheltered Olympic hopeful, thinks she’s in love with the Count, a love ‘em and leave ‘em teenage playboy. Kimmie goes through the most changes after an injury ends her Olympic dream. She arrives back in NYC and must learn to navigate school, a new social circle and dating. She eventually realizes she’s depressed over the end of her ice dancing career and seeks help. Anna herself starts off as too good to be true- perfect daughter, perfect girlfriend. She seems more like an adult then a teenager. But she is driven and wants to live up to expectations. She does realize that she wants to do normal teenage stuff and not just be a reflection of her of so perfect (but boring) Greenwich boyfriend. 


Jenna Ushkowitz does wonderful job narrating the audiobook. Her voice easily conveys a range of emotions from teenage snark to the sadness of Anna’s heartbreak. I really enjoyed this updated version of Tolstoy’s classic love story. 


Do you like to read the classics or do you stick with contemporary stories?

Sunday, September 20, 2020

American Royals

 

Author: Kathrine McGee

Publisher: Random House

Year: 2019

Instead of becoming President of the United States when America won the Revolutionary War, George Washington became the king. And his family still rules America. 


This is a clever and sweet young adult alternative history romance. It centers around Princess Beatrice, first in line for the throne, and her younger siblings, twins Samantha and Jefferson. 


Beatrice’s parents urge her to start looking for a suitable husband. This is a delicate matter because Beatrice I’ll be the first woman to wear the crown and she’s in love with Connor, her body guard. Complicating matters even more, Samantha has feelings for the guy Beatrice chose to marry and Jefferson is falling for his twins BFF. 


This is fun romance read and I really enjoyed the American monarchy twist! If you’re looking for a break from heavy reality and want a dose of light romance and royalty, this is for you! The sequel recently published and I’m looking forward to picking that up sometime. 


What your favorite escapist read? 


#bookstagram #librarybook #bookworm #booknerd #youngadultbooks #alternativehistory #romancebooks #americanroyals #katherinemcgee #randomhouse 



Friday, September 18, 2020

The Wife Stalker

 

Author: Liv Constantine 

Publisher: HarperCollins

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️


Synopsis: Breezing into the upscale seaside paradise of Westport, Connecticut, gorgeous thirtysomething Piper sets down roots, opening a rehab and wellness space & joining a local yacht club. When she meets Leo, a handsome, successful lawyer, the wedding ring on his finger is the only thing she doesn’t like about him. Yet as Piper well knows, no marriage is permanent.

Meanwhile, Joanna has been waiting patiently for Leo, the charismatic man she fell in love with all those years ago, to re-emerge from the severe depression that has engulfed him. Though she’s thankful when Leo returns to his charming, energetic self, paying attention again to Evie and Stelli, the children they both love beyond measure, Joanna is shocked to discover that it’s not her loving support that’s sparked his renewed happiness—it’s something else.

Leo’s fallen head over heels for the Piper, and unrepentant and resolute, he’s more than willing to leave Joanna behind, along with everything they’ve built. Of course, he assures her, she can still see the children. Joanna is devastated—and determined to find anything, to use against this woman who has stolen her life and her true love. As she digs deeper into Piper’s past, Joanna begins to unearth disturbing secrets . . . Can she find the proof she needs in time to save them?


The characters are well developed but often not very likable. I liked the alternating POVs and watching how the plot unfolded from both Joanna’s and Piper’s perspectives. 


I liked the beginning and kept waiting for something more to happen. The middle just dragged for me. The ending was a big twist and satisfying, but it just took too long to get there. 


This one was just meh for me, but fans of domestic thrillers will enjoy it. 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Lady Upstairs

 

Author: Halley Sutton 

Publisher: Putnum’s

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


“Never love anyone more than yourself.”


Author Halley Sutton’s debut is slow burning modern day noir. 


Protagonist Jo works for the Lady Upstairs, a mysterious woman who makes it her business to bring down powerful, abusive, cheating men in LA. 


Jo has never met the Lady. Doesn’t know her name or what she looks like. The Lady’s instructions are passed on to Lou. Then it’s Jo’s job is to set up the scheme to take down the mark. And the scheme is always the same- photograph and record each man in a compromising position and demand lots of money to keep the pics under wraps. Jo and Lou think of their work as striking a blow to the patriarchy and teaching bad men a lesson. But they are really just grifters conning rich men. 


Jo has recruited Ellen to help bring a sleazy movie producer down. The pressure is on Jo to finish the job and collect the money because she has to pay off a debt to the Lady. The job goes horribly wrong and the producer ends up dead. Jo’s debt to the Lady grows and as time runs short, she becomes more desperate, setting off a chain of events that exposes secrets and lies. 


The flawed characters, setting and quick pacing make a compelling thriller. You’ll definitely want this on your TBR list. The Lady Upstairs publishes November 17th and it’s getting a lot of buzz already. 


Thank you to NetGalley and GP Putnum’s for the review copy. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Guest List

 


Author: Lucy Foley

Publisher: William Morrow

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️


A posh wedding on a desolate island off the coast of Ireland turns deadly. 


It seems as though everyone connected to this wedding had a secret- the bride, the groom, the sad and sulky bridesmaid, the best man, the wedding coordinator. 


What I liked: 

 the setting off the coast of Ireland 

 the setting makes it kind of a locked room mystery 

 multiple points of view 

 numerous red herrings


There’s a lot to like about this book and I did enjoy it. I found it entertaining but felt it dragged on a little bit at times. It was entertaining but not a must read. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Boys’ Club

 

Author: Erica Katz

Publisher: Harper

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️


First year lawyer Alex Vogel joins a high powered Manhattan law firm. She throws herself into her work to win a spot on the prestigious mergers & acquisitions team. Her climb up the Big Law ladder comes at the expense of her relationship with her boyfriend, her friends and her safety. 


I started out liking Alex. She’s young, smart, idealistic and hard working. She wants to do well and make a good impression at the big law firm where she’s just been hired as a junior associate. But as she makes a name for herself and starts working with the hotshot M&A guys, she becomes a real jerk. She ignores her boyfriend. She’s mean and judgmental to her parents. She starts drinking like a fish and doing drugs. She has an affair with a married senior partner at the firm. 


Some things didn’t ring true for me. The way Alex describes her parents’ house almost makes them sound poor. But her dad is an oncologist. And Alex didn’t have any law school loans to pay off. So I’m assuming she didn’t live a hard scrabble life. She looks down on her mom for being a stay at home suburban mom while Alex was growing up instead of a hard charging career woman. Alex only changes her mind about her mother after she learns her mom gave up a career as an architect to raise her. 


So many things seemed like a cliche that we’ve seen a million times before- the long hours of work, the partying, entertaining clients at a strip club, the affair with one of her bosses. The ending wasn’t exactly a let down but I didn’t find it completely satisfying. 


The author does try to keep the story moving along. She keeps the lawyer and M&A jargon to a minimum. I prefer thrillers with more action, but other readers might find this compelling. 



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Becoming

 


Author: Michelle Obama

Publisher: Crown

Year: 2018

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


“I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.”


Michelle Obama’s autobiography doesn’t reveal any political bombshells. Instead she discusses growing up in a working class family in Chicago’s South Side and surrounded by family. She was a feisty kid and a driven student. After college and law school, she went to work in a big law firm in Chicago and that’s where she met her future husband. 


She discusses juggling her career and motherhood along with her husband’s burgeoning political career. She says she never liked or had much of an interest in politics and she had to grow into campaigning. I liked her behind the scenes look at life in the White House. 


The former First Lady keeps politics to a minimum and instead focuses on family, finding her voice and using it to help others especially children and disadvantaged youth. Her writing style is casual and yet intimate. Reading her book feels like she’s chatting with you over a friendly lunch. 


Politics aside, Michelle Obama’s story is one of family, community, hard word, gratitude and love. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

We Are All the Same in the Dark

 


Author: Julia Heaberlin 

Publisher: Random House Audio

Year: 2020


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Synopsis: It’s been a decade since Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Her pretty face still hangs like a watchful queen on the posters on the walls of the town’s Baptist church, the police station, and in the high school. They all promise the same thing: We will find you. Meanwhile, her brother, Wyatt, lives as a pariah in the desolation of the old family house, cleared of wrongdoing by the police but tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion and in a new documentary about the crime.


When Wyatt finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, making silent wishes, he believes she is a sign. The town’s youngest cop, Odette Tucker, believes she is a catalyst that will ignite a seething town still waiting for its own missing girl to come home. But Odette can’t look away. She shares a wound that won’t close with the mute, one-eyed mystery girl. And she is haunted by her own history with the missing Tru.


Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and to dig up the shocking truth about a fateful night in the past—the night her friend disappeared, the night that inspired her to become a cop, the night that wrote them all a role in the town’s dark, violent mythology.


This is just such an amazing book! Everything works-

  the setting - a dusty Texas town still haunted by the disappearance of the homecoming queen years earlier

 the characters- a broken man who the town blames for the disappearance of his sister and father, a badass female police officer intent on discovering what happens all those years ago, an a mysterious one-eyed girl with demons of her own

 the pacing keeps the past and the present flowing together and never gets bogged down

 POV - the multiple points of view really  develop each character 

 the writing is fantastic 


The audio narration by Jenna Lamia, Catherine Taber, MacLeod Andrews and Kirby Hayborne is masterful and pitch perfect. Lamia and Taber provide nuanced performances for their characters. 


Julia Heaberlin delivers an exceptional character driven mystery that will stick with you for a long time. 



Friday, September 4, 2020

Don’t Turn Around

 

Author: Jessica Barry

Publisher: HarperCollins

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Synopsis: Midnight. Cait Monaghan and Rebecca McRae are on a desolate road that slices through the New Mexican desert. They've never met before tonight.  Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger.  

When a truck pulls up fast behind them, they assume it's punk teenagers or run-of-the-mill road rage, but it soon becomes clear that whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport—and they are out to draw blood.  

As the miles unspool and the dangers mount, the pasts they've worked so hard to keep buried have come back to haunt them.  Someone wants one of them dead. But which one?  And given the lives the two women have been leading, that someone could be almost anyone.

If Cait and Rebecca are going to survive, they'll have to learn to trust one another—and themselves. But trust is a costly business, and they’ve both paid the price before. 


Creepy suspense! Cait and Rebecca are on a middle of the night road trip from Lubbock to Albuquerque. It’s desolate, dark and there’s no cell service. A truck with an unknown driver is following them and then tries to run them off the road. Is it a random stranger or is one of them a specific target? 


The women’s stories unfold throughout the course of the book. I’ll just say they both have secrets. I don’t want to give anything away.

Jessica Barry keeps the tension ratcheted up as the road trip goes on and the women find themselves in more and more danger. The pacing is quick and the characters are interesting. 


I really liked Freefall, the author’s debut novel. She doesn’t disappoint with this book. This is a creepy thriller that will make you think twice next time you see headlights in your getting a little too close. 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Grown

 

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson


Narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt


Publisher: Harper Audio


Release date: 9/15/20


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Author Tiffany D. Jackson doesn’t shy away from the hard issues. Her two previous books, Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, punch you in the heart. Jackson doesn’t let up on the intensity in her soon to be released book Grown. Jackson explores a predator manipulating his victim, child kidnapping, sexual abuse. 


All seventeen year old Enchanted Jones wants to do is sing. When she meets superstar Korey Jones, she believes all her dreams will come true. Instead, her dreams turn into a nightmare. 


Korey is eleven years older than Enchanted and offers to be her mentor. Enchanted doesn’t know Korey has a thing for young girls. He promises her love and a record album but only delivers lies, isolation, and mental, physical and sexual abuse. 


When Korey is murdered, Enchanted is the main suspect but she knows she didn’t do it. She must find out the truth and learn to heal. 


This is a chilling story of a predator who manipulates his victim and how those around him enable him. It also explores how society treats the victims and blames the victims. 


Jackson’s writing is crisp and she keeps the story moving. The audiobook narration by Joniece Abbott-Pratt is excellent. She makes it easy to distinguish each character. She strikes the right tone for Enchanted, a girl on the verge of being a grown up and yet still a kid. 


It’s a chilling and heartbreaking book. This is a book that I want to give to every teenage girl or young woman I know. I want them to read it and learn.


Grown publishes on 9/15. Definitely put this on the top of your TBR pile. 


Thank you to NetGalley, HarperCollins and HarperAudio for the review copy. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Nothing Man

 



Author: Catherine Ryan Howard

Publisher: Blackstone 

Year: 2020

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


“I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man. Now I am the woman who is going to catch him.”


When Eve Black was 12 years old she was the only member of her family to survive a home invasion by the Nothing Man. As an adult, all Eve wants to do is identify the Nothing Man. She writes a book about the Nothing Man’s attacks on her family and his other victims. 


Jim Doyle, a supermarket security guard, sees Eve’s true crime memoir on sale and realizes the danger he is in. Jim is the Nothing Man and he knows Eve will stop at nothing to find him. So he must come out of retirement stop her first. 


Catherine Ryan Howard’s thriller is a book within a book. And she makes the format work. It feels like you’re reading a memoir of Eve’s hunt to find the man who slaughtered her family. The tension ratchets up as Jim reads the book and his rage builds. The engrossing story is intricately plotted and intense. 


At first the book within a book format was just a smidge confusing since I was listening to the audiobook. But then I realized Eve’s chapters where her book and Jim’s chapters were his thoughts. Narrators Alana Kerr Collins and John Keating doing a fabulous job bringing the characters to life. And I loved listening to their Irish accents! 


This is one of my favorite thrillers that I’ve read this year! 


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Happy Book Birthday!

 Happy Pub Day to When No One Is Watching! 



Author: Alyssa Cole

Publisher: William Murrow Books

Year: 2020

By Alyssa Cole


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Billed as Get Out meets Rear Window, author Alyssa Cole offers up commentary on gentrification and racism wrapped in a creepy thriller. 


Sydney watches in dismay as her idyllic Brooklyn neighborhood quickly starts changing. More and more of the neighborhood’s long time Black residents and shop owners are leaving or disappearing as more white people are moving in. 


Sydney receives subtle and not so subtle threats as she digs into the mystery of the neighborhood’s sudden changes. Who can she trust to help save her home and also her life? 


Cole crafts a compelling thriller infused interesting characters, some humor and chilling danger.


Thank you to Goodreads, Alyssa Cole and William Murrow Books for the gift of this terrific suspense novel! 

Under Your Spell

  Author: Laura Wood Narrator: Ellie Heydon Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Year: 2024 🎧𝗔𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗼𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗥𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄🎧 Many thanks...