Genre: Mystery

Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery Trio

Posted August 26, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Short & Sweet Reviews / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery TrioThe Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng
Published by Berkley Books on August 10th 2021
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-stars

Two lives. The one you wanted. The one that wanted you.

Her birthday should be like any other night.

One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She's got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she's married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.

Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly's search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him—including a connection to a mysterious tech startup—tells her she shouldn't. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning.

But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can't figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything...

“This life, I didn’t choose. It was chosen for me. But would it be so bad if I had to stay here?”

Is readbait a thing? Well, comparing this as Russian Doll meets Black Mirror is major readbait for me.

Kelly is attending her best friend’s art show in Chicago when she opens the bathroom door and steps into another life. Her hair is long, her tattoos have disappeared, and she’s married to a guy she barely remembers from high school. Kelly possesses all of the memories from her Chicago life but they’re now overlayed with memories of a life, a good life, but a life she doesn’t remember actually living. Desperate to get back to her old life but having no clue how to make that happen, she’s confronted with the possibility that she might be stuck in this life, but would that be the worst thing?

“[…]I remembered, eventually, everything that had happened to me in both lives. How they’re both still there, uneasily coexisting in my head.”

Jeng handled the various similarities and differences between the timelines well and the scenes where Kelly’s world began to “glitch” (her tattoos would reappear on her arm only to disappear again) really heightened the intensity of the story. I do feel though it would have been even more intense (and engaging) if Kelly had been glitching out of one life and the other, but alas, she did not. What really failed for me was the backstory behind why this was happening and who was responsible. If I was glitched out of one life and put into another that I didn’t choose, I doubt my nutshell response would be “it’s okay, they meant well.”

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I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery TrioThe Quiet Boy by Ben H. Winters
Published by Mulholland Books on May 18th 2021
Pages: 448
Genres: Mystery, Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Countdown City, World of Trouble, Golden State

three-stars

From the bestselling author of Underground Airlines and Golden State,

a sweeping legal thriller about a sixteen-year-old who suffers from a neurological condition that has frozen him in time, and the team of lawyers, doctors, and detectives who are desperate to wake him up.

Wesley Keener lies in bed: not dead, not alive, not in a coma or vegetative state, but simply frozen at an unchanging 16 years old, the forward course of his existence having simply stopped midway through sophomore year. His condition is the result of something called Syndrome J, an extraordinarily rare neurological event, at least according to the brilliant young neurologist Anna Pileggi.

When Wes was first hospitalized, his parents Beth and David Keener hired acclaimed PI Jay Shenk to help find answers about the illness that befell their beloved son. Now, years later, when David is accused of murdering the brilliant young doctor who served as expert witness in the hospital case, Shenk and his son Ruben discover that this standard malpractice suit is part of something more sinister than anyone imagined. An alternate explanation, brought forth by a mysterious older man, suggests an inter-dimensional entity wrecking havoc on the community. The child is not a prisoner, this stranger insists, he is a prison.

Told from alternating perspectives, The Quiet Boy explores the tensions between justice and compassion, in heart-pounding prose. With clever plotting, and a knack for character, Winters expertly weaves a group of misfits together in a race to save themselves, and an innocent life.

In 2008, a boy named Wesley Keener suffered a traumatic head injury at school. Following his brain surgery, he begins pacing the small confines of his hospital room without reprieve. He doesn’t stop to eat or sleep. And as time unfolds, the careful observations of the boy reveal that his hair doesn’t ever seem to get any longer and he never seems to get any older. Personal injury attorney Jay Shenk rushes to the hospital after getting word about this case, intending on trying to pick up a medical malpractice case that seems like a slam dunk but he ends up with something far more on his hands.

This is my fifth book by Winters and I’m pretty sure if it was my first it would’ve been a DNF. The Quiet Boy is a very slow-to-build story and at first glance, it’s a bit deceiving. It comes across as nothing more than a courtroom legal thriller but it’s definitely more than meets the eye and deserves a little patience. It’s a dense yet captivating story that will keep you guessing till the very ambiguous ending where you’ll have to just keep on guessing. I appreciated the subtle hint at answers, the suggestion that nothing is ever just black and white, that nothing has just a single interpretation, that it’s all based on your own perception… but I wanted (or needed) less ambiguity and more transparency.


I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery TrioJust One Look by Lindsay Cameron
Published by Ballantine Books on July 27th 2021
Pages: 304
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-stars

A young woman's escalating obsession with a seemingly perfect man leads her down a dangerous path in this novel of suspense brimming with envy, desire, and deception.

Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking--love, friends, stability--and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.

While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn't read them. But it's just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can't look away.

Every day, twenty floors below Forest's corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.

Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a "chance" meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she's been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn't simply admire Annabelle--she wants to take her place. And she's armed with the tools to make that happen.

“Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul. Emails are.”

Cassie Woodson had a promising legal career until a breakup with her boyfriend led to some workplace violence that went viral. The incident got her fired and blacklisted and the only job she could get was a temp job reviewing documents where she sat in a windowless room with scheduled bathroom breaks. Her sudden and disastrous fall from grace has transformed her into an angry individual with a drinking problem but when she stumbles upon some personal correspondence between a husband and wife in her work documents, she develops a mild obsession with the couple. The mild obsession only grows and Cassie is no longer satisfied with simply reading about their lives: she wants it for herself.

As can be determined based on my review, this wasn’t a home run for me. I give this book enormous credit for pulling me out of the reading rut I found myself in when I decided to pick this up though. The beginning of this is entertaining as shit and Cassie and all her crazy actually reminded me a lot of good ol’ Joe from You. It was basically like watching a train wreck because you know nothing is going to end well so you might as well grab the popcorn.

The ending quite literally fell apart for me, thus my low rating. Oddly enough, still entertaining and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what’s next from this debut author.

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Audiobook Review | ‘Good Neighbors’ is a Suburban Nightmare

Posted August 19, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Audiobooks, Book Reviews / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review | ‘Good Neighbors’ is a Suburban NightmareGood Neighbors by Sarah Langan
Narrator: Nicole Lewis
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on February 2, 2021
Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
Genres: Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
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two-stars

Celeste Ng’s enthralling dissection of suburbia meets Shirley Jackson’s creeping dread in this propulsive literary noir, when a sudden tragedy exposes the depths of deception and damage in a Long Island suburbpitting neighbor against neighbor and putting one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world.

Arlo Wilde, a gruff has-been rock star who’s got nothing to show for his fame but track marks, is always two steps behind the other dads. His wife, beautiful ex-pageant queen Gertie, feels socially ostracized and adrift. Spunky preteen Julie curses like a sailor and her kid brother Larry is called “Robot Boy” by the kids on the block.
Their next-door neighbor and Maple Street’s Queen Bee, Rhea Schroedera lonely community college professor repressing her own dark pastwelcomes Gertie and family into the fold. Then, during one spritzer-fueled summer evening, the new best friends share too much, too soon.

As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes that spins out of control. Suddenly, it is one mom’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of American suburbia, Good Neighbors excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.

“We had a problem on the block and the cops wouldn’t solve it. So we solved our own problem.”

The residents of Maple Street only look perfect on the outside, of course. There’s also the giant sinkhole that opened up in the neighborhood park that kind of mars things. When the Wilde’s moved into the neighborhood, they knew they didn’t belong (Gertie an ex-beauty queen with breast implants, her husband Arlo an ex-rocker with tattoos covering his track marks) but they had hoped to find their own place amongst the impeccable families.  Rhea Schroeder, the undisputed Queen of Maple Street, decides to look past her differences and befriend Gertie. One night, dark secrets are shared and Rhea misinterprets Gertie’s reaction and decides to turn on her instead, telling the neighborhood everything that Gertie didn’t want getting out. When Rhea’s daughter Shelley falls into the sinkhole, she blames Gertie and her family for her death and sets in motion irreparable devastation.

The story is set in a world much like our own in the year 2028 where it’s clear the current climate has deteriorated rapidly. The sinkhole spews oil, somehow causes the residents to have patchy phone connections, and it continues to expand at a seemingly alarming rate. On top of the timely climate narrative, there’s also the inclusion of newspaper and academic articles from 15-years into the future that reference “the Maple Street Murders” which give the story a true-crime feel. Personally, I think the climax would’ve been much more shocking without the articles providing the bleak foreshadowing of what’s to come.

The whole thing is a very unsettling type of dark. It’s a plausible story about the power of a lie and their abilities to destroy regardless of authenticity. It also shows how terrifyingly quick things can escalate and get out of hand. Sarah Langan is known for writing horror and she certainly transitioned well into suburban horror, but everything was severe and over the top to the point where the heavy-handedness became oppressive. Some of her phrasing and the way she chose to describe things was needless too, much like this line:

“The man’s expression was animalistic and ugly. A sweaty sex face on the verge of completion.”

Good Neighbors is a laborious and unnerving study on the perfection of suburban America: just because everything looks perfect doesn’t mean it is.

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver

Posted August 18, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 1 Comment

Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Savage Kind by John CopenhaverThe Savage Kind by John Copenhaver
Published by Pegasus Crime on October 5, 2021
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes—and an even greater desire to commit them—in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver.

Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and tempestuous classmate. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher, who enthralls them with her passion for literature and her love of noirish detective fiction.

When Philippa returns a novel Miss Martins has lent her, she interrupts a man grappling with her in the shadows. Frightened, Philippa flees, unsure who the man is or what she’s seen. Days later, her teacher returns to school altered: a dark shell of herself. On the heels of her teacher’s transformation, a classmate is found dead in the Anacostia River—murdered—the body stripped and defiled with a mysterious inscription.

As the girls follow the clues and wrestle with newfound feelings toward each other, they suspect that the killer is closer to their circle than they imagined—and that the greatest threat they face may not be lurking in the halls at school, or in the city streets, but creeping out from a murderous impulse of their own.

About John Copenhaver

John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning, won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel and garnered Anthony, Strand Critics, Barry, and Lambda Literary Award nominations. Copenhaver writes a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight,” cohosts on the House of Mystery Radio Show, and is the six-time recipient of Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He grew up in the mountains of southwestern Virginia and currently lives in Richmond, VA, with his husband, artist Jeffery Paul (Herrity).

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Book Review | The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Posted August 12, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Adult, Book Reviews / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review | The Turnout by Megan AbbottThe Turnout by Megan Abbott
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on August 3, 2021
Pages: 352
Genres: Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Dare Me, The Fever

two-stars

Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott's revelatory, mesmerizing, and game-changing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio, and an interloper who arrives to bring down the carefully crafted Eden-like facade.

Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, homeschooled and trained by their mother. Decades later the Durant School of Dance is theirs. The two sisters, together with Charlie, Dara's husband and once their mother's prize student, inherited the school after their parents died in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago. Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, back broken after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around each other, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school's annual performance of The Nutcracker, a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration, an interloper arrives and threatens the delicate balance of everything they've worked for.

Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

“It was the three of them. Always the three of them. Until it wasn’t. And that was when everything went wrong.”

Marie, Dara, and her husband Charlie all work together at the Durant School of Dance in addition to living together in the girls’ childhood home until Marie moved out abruptly a few short months ago. She didn’t go far, however, taking up residence on the third floor of the school; an area only accessible via an old spiral staircase. The third floor used to be the domain of their late mother, a woman that even in death holds a strange thrall over the trio. After an ancient space heater caused a fire at the school, they’re forced to shut down one of the studio’s because of the excessive damage. They hire a contractor that woos them with wondrous imaginings of what their school could become, a far cry from the antiquated state that its been in since their mother was a teacher. He ends up becoming a far larger part of their lives when Marie develops an eerie obsession with him.

“What is it, Dara kept asking herself. What is it we’ve let in our studio, our mother’s studio. My sisters’ bed. My sister’s body. Our lives.”

The dynamic between the sisters was incredibly unusual, ripe with the feeling that you were missing something, some story, to clarify the strangeness. But honestly, “strangeness” is putting it lightly. The abundant amount of sexual references and detailed descriptions permeated this story and it was more than just a little disconcerting especially when it involved the children in their classes or recollections of their own sexual experiences as children.

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“You build this family. And it’s perfect. It’s everything you wanted. And then something goes wrong. Slowly or all at once.”

Abbott’s stories always have a creeping wrongness to them, stories that go wrong slowly. You know it would be foolish to expect anything resembling a happy ending but the path to get there is languid and full of holes. There was a time when I enjoyed that type of story, one that simmers endlessly, with no boiling point in sight. I think that time has passed for me because Abbott’s stilted and fragmented way of storytelling has become more grating than anything. As always with Abbott, the twist was quite unpredictable, but I disliked such a large portion of the book that any twist was unlikely to change my mind.

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Audiobook Review | When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

Posted August 5, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Audiobooks, Book Reviews / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review | When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLainWhen the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
Published by Ballantine Books on April 13, 2021
Length: 11 hours and 29 minutes
Genres: Mystery, Crime
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now, she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet, the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives - and our faith in one another.

“Because everyone wants to be looked for, whether they realize it or not.”

After being placed on administrative leave following a personal tragedy, Detective Anna Hart finds herself drawn back to her hometown of Mendocino, California. She quickly becomes enmeshed in a missing girl case, recognizing too the horrifying similarities to the disappearance and subsequent murder of a childhood friend back in 1972. The investigation into the missing girl, Cameron Curtis, speaks to Hart on a personal level when she discovers that they had both been foster care kids and had sustained abuse at a young age. When other girls turn up missing, Hart begins to see a potential connection between the victims and even more connections to her murdered friend.

While When the Stars Go Dark was quite a dark novel, vividly exploring the effects of early childhood trauma, it was still a very refreshing take on the literary crime novel. Detective Anna Hart’s constant empathy and dogged determination to bring the missing girls home was authentic due to her own similar childhood tragedies. The line between fiction and true crime became blurred when McLain decided to incorporate the true story of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl that was abducted in her house during a slumber party but found dead 2 months later. At first, I didn’t feel that including Polly in this story was necessary but the author’s note at the end of the story changed my mind about that.

“The profound suffering of the victims and their families crept into my dreams — and onto the page,” she explains in the author’s note. “It began to feel imperative that I tell their stories as bluntly and factually as possible, as a way to honor their lives and dignify their deaths and disappearances. Saying their names became for me a sacred act. A kind of prayer.”

I particularly enjoyed the setting of the novel, Mendocino, California, seeing as I grew up in Mendocino County. Seeing the reference to Mendocino in the book summary was one of the primary reasons I picked this book up and I’m so very glad I did. I opted for the audiobook version because Marin Ireland is quickly earning a top place in my must-listen narrators, and she knocked this performance out of the park. When the Stars Go Dark is a somber yet sophisticated mystery that manages to end on a hopeful note.

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield

Posted August 4, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 3 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | No One Will Miss Her by Kat RosenfieldNo One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield
Published by William Morrow on October 12, 2021
Pages: 304
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

A smart, witty, crackling novel of psychological suspense in which a girl from a hardscrabble small town meets a gorgeous Instagram influencer from the big city, with a murderous twist that will shock even the most savvy reader.

Dark, deft, murderous, and witty, No One Will Miss Her tackles the thorny issues of identity and belonging at the heart of women’s lives.

On a beautiful October morning in rural Maine, a homicide investigator from the big city pulls into the hard-luck town of Copper Falls. The local junkyard is burning, and the town pariah Lizzie Oullette is dead—with her husband, Dwayne, nowhere to be found. As scandal ripples through the community, Detective Ian Bird’s inquiries unexpectedly lead him away from small-town Maine to a swank city townhouse several hours south. Adrienne Richards, blonde and fabulous social media influencer and wife of a disgraced billionaire, had been renting Lizzie’s tiny lake house as a country getaway…even though Copper Falls is anything but a resort town.

As Adrienne’s connection to the case becomes clear, so too does her connection to Lizzie, who narrates their story from beyond the grave. Each woman is desperately lonely in her own way, and they navigate a relationship that cuts across class boundaries: transactional, complicated, and, finally, deadly. A Gone Girl for the gig economy, this is a story of privilege, identity, and cunning, as two devious women from opposite worlds discover the dangers of coveting someone else’s life.

About Kat Rosenfield

Kat Rosenfield is a freelance pop culture and political writer and the Edgar-nominated author of AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE (2012) and INLAND (2014). A former reporter for MTV News, her work has appeared in outlets including Wired, Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Playboy, Us Weekly, and TV Guide.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone remains one of my all-time favorite Young Adult novels and I can’t believe it’s been seven years since I read it. It’s always interesting to reminisce on books that still remain fresh and vibrant in your mind after so much time has passed.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love Me

Posted July 31, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 2 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Published by Ballantine Books on May 4, 2021
Pages: 476
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The MartianArtemis

Thoughts: I don’t give out five stars too often, but this one was one spectacular book. I was a bit apprehensive at first: the plot centers around an astronaut that wakes up alone on a spaceship with no memory of where he is, or even who he is. Rather than being provided a backstory, we’d suddenly get these bursts of memory, but they were written kind of sloppily I felt. He’d be doing something on the spaceship, have some memory, and realize oh! That’s because I was a science teacher, or whatever. It was really off-putting and happened frequently in the first several hundred pages. The rest of the book was so amazing that I was able to overlook the issues I had with that.

Verdict: The major aspect of this book is actually a huge spoiler and it is 100% better to experience it firsthand, so, I’m going to do my part and not even try to allude to it. Well worth a read.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Gif space loop 5 » GIF Images Download

five-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeThe Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 18, 2021
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night StandJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not DatingLove and Other WordsThe UnhoneymoonersTwice in a Blue Moon

Thoughts: I’m always on board for new CL, and I was completely in love with this plot when I read the blurb. Not only do we have some fun science shit, but we’ve got an enemies-to-lovers thing going on (which I l-o-v-e). Unfortunately, there’s usually a lot more sizzle between a pair when they realize that they don’t actually hate one another as much as they thought. The sizzle fizzled instead, and we were left with a whole lot of talk of soulmates but not much showing.

Verdict: Being able to find your soulmate through a scientific experiment is quite an intriguing concept: too bad the soulmates in this story have practically no chemistry.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Soulmates GIF | Gfycat

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeThe Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink
Published by Quill Tree Books on July 20, 2021
Pages: 288
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Thoughts: The Halloween Queen has frozen time in Esther’s small town and it’s up to her and a few friends to break the curse. The premise of this was really creepy and perfect for Goosebumps fans, young and old alike, but Fink tried to do a little too much within these pages. I appreciated the thought he put into the diversity of the characters and the progress of Esther’s coming-of-age story, however, it definitely detracted from reaching peak horror. ​Being chased through town by a guy throwing razor blade-filled apples was quite creepy but there was so much other stuff going on it was hard to determine whether or not there was actually any threat.

Verdict: I’m not actually sure if this would have just been better suited to the targeted age group, but either way, it was still a thrilling little Halloween in July sort of tale.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Top 30 Poison Apple GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeYou Love Me (You, #3) by Caroline Kepnes
Published by Random House on April 6, 2021
Pages: 385
Genres: Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Hidden Bodies

Thoughts: Joe and his stalker romantic tendencies are still going strong. He’s moved to a new town, has a new job at the library, and has a new woman to become weirdly obsessed over for no particular reason. Honestly, despite the occasional curve balls that kept this installment slightly interesting, You Love Me just felt like a recycled version of what’s been told twice before now. The only difference was the excessive use of “lemonhead” and “Murakami”. 🤢

Verdict: I believe this is one of the rare cases where the show is actually better than the book so I’ll be sticking with that from this point on.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

The Office Ugh GIF by Romy - Find & Share on GIPHY

two-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

Posted July 28, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 2 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. JamesThe Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Published by Berkley on March 15, 2022
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: An Inquiry Into Love and Death, The Broken Girls

A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.

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--a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. 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. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, 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?

About Simone St. James

Simone St. James is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel, The Broken Girls and The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which won two RITA awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school, and spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time. She lives outside Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat.

I’ve read a lot of books by Simone St. James at this point but her most recent string of modern paranormal thrillers (The Broken Girls, The Sun Down Motel) have been some of my favorites. This one sounds spectacular and I can’t wait for it!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

Posted July 14, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 2 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | Reckless Girls by Rachel HawkinsReckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 4, 2022
Pages: 320
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

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. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, 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 like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. 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: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.
When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization 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.

About Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins is the author of Rebel Belle and theNew York Times bestselling series Hex Hall. Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel taught high school English for three years before becoming a full-time writer.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Release Day Feature | The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Posted May 18, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Adult, Book Reviews, Release Day Feature / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature | The Hunting Wives by May CobbThe Hunting Wives by May Cobb
Published by Berkley on May 18, 2021
Pages: 368
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
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The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.

Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.

Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.

When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.

About May Cobb

May Cobb earned her MA in literature from San Francisco State University, and her essays and interviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the Rumpus, Edible Austin, and Austin Monthly. Her previous novel is The Hunting Wives. A Texas native, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

“…the pool was the first place I saw her. A week later, she was dead.”

Tired of the hustle and bustle of Chicago life, Sophie and her husband move their young son to the town of Mapleton, Texas in the hopes of creating a simpler life. Sophie becomes a stay-at-home mom, hoping to be the kind of mom that she never had, to her son and she spends her free time writing blog posts and sharing snippets of her life on Instagram. This quiet life that she thought she wanted begins to take on a dull sheen but then Sophie becomes engrossed in a local socialite named Margot Banks who invites her to become a part of The Hunting Wives.

“It wasn’t envy, though; I didn’t want to be her. It was so much more than that. I wanted to be near her. For her to notice me, too. The idea of it took my breath away. It became powerful and even consuming.”

I was drawn to the very Desperate Housewives meets Real Housewives sound this book had and I got to say, it pretty much fits the bill. The Hunting Wives consists of Callie, Jill, Tina, and of course Margot, their de facto leader. None of these women are exactly likable but they’re certainly interesting. They love drinking, shooting guns, and men… and not necessarily in that order. When Sophie is invited to Margot’s lake house to have some drinks and shoot some skeet, she’s intrigued by these wild women that don’t seem to have a care in the world but doing what they want to do. After the past months where she only had herself for company, being around these women makes Sophie realize just how stifled she really was. Each new night she spends with them, the wilder they get, but when a local teenager turns up murdered, the excitement comes to a dead stop.

The Hunting Wives starts out as a tale of suburban ennui but shifts gears into a murder mystery without missing a beat. It was undeniably one wild ride.

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