REVIEW – The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is a pretty reliable thriller author – i’ve read and enjoyed a handful of her books. That being said, The Night She Disappeared is good, but not great. It’s a little longer than necessary (it feels repetitive at times). But the story is interesting and complex. If you’ve enjoyed Lisa Jewell before, it’s worth a read. If you’re new to her books, i’d recommend choosing another one as your first read.

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – Petrified Women by Jeremy Ray

Talk about heart-pounding! Jeremy Ray packs so much tension into a short little novella. I had to read this in one sitting, he gave me no choice! I felt like I was right alongside Harley throughout the course of the book.

As the events unfolded, I had a pretty good idea of where it was going, but that didn’t make the payoff any less satisfying. (I mean, I was grinning like a fool at some parts towards the end – what does that say about me?)

In all honesty though, Petrified Women is dark. Even though there are some really fun, satisfying moments for horror fans, the true horror is the reality of Harley’s trauma, both past and present. Maybe we’ve all failed to notice (or conveniently ignored) red flags in a relationship, but Aiden’s are just flapping in the wind, for anyone and everyone to see.

Another great thing about Petrified Women? The author is very forthcoming about the content warnings. He mentioned them when he reached out to me, asking to give the novella a read. And they’re mentioned again at the very beginning of the book. Horror can be fun (and terrifying, of course) but it’s always a good idea to let a reader know what to expect so they can enjoy the story without being blindsided by a plot point they can’t or don’t want to read about.

A big thank you to the author for sending me a digital ARC of this novella!

REVIEW – The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

What an adorable love story! Now, i’m not a fan of The Bachelor/ette or any sort of reality dating series, but I still enjoyed the “behind the scenes” look at a popular TV show (and getting to follow along with Charlie and Dev’s story, of course!)

Charlie is just about the sweetest character i’ve encountered so far in a romance. He’s shy and awkward and uncomfortable, but you can’t help but love him (and you learn why he’s so closed off). Dev is a cookie-eating, boisterous firecracker of a human, but he has issues of his own (on a silly note: cargo shorts? Come on, Dev!)

The Charm Offensive is packed with lovable, memorable characters (and the female friendships, of course, are the best part).

Thank you Atria for sending me an ARC of The Charm Offensive.

REVIEW – The Family Plot by Megan Collins

You think your family is weird? Meet the Lighthouses. Charlie, Tate, Andy and Dahlia are all named after famous murder victims. Their mother is obsessed with true crime and their homeschooling curriculum has some…unconventional components. After the death of their father, three of the siblings return home for his funeral. However, no one has heard from Andy in more than a decade after he ran away from home and left a disturbing note.

Collins is becoming a go-to thriller writer for me. Behind the Red Door was one of my favorite reads of 2020 (seriously, go read it!), The Family Plot was a unique and eerie thriller, and i’m excited to see what she writes next!

Thank you Atria for the ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – It Takes Two to Mango by Carrie Doyle

Let’s get this out of the way: you’re probably going to hate Plum. She’s pretentious and mean and makes a lot of really nasty assumptions about people. However, Plum does grow as a person (no, really) and by the end of the book you might almost…like her? Or at least tolerate her.

The mystery is interesting (and a bit tough to solve) in this book, and the setting is just fantastic. Overall, a solid start to a new series.

Thank you Poisoned Pen Press for the ARC!

REVIEW – Test Gods by Nicholas Schmidle

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth.”

I don’t know many people who aren’t at least somewhat fascinated by space and space flight/exploration. Now, with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin mere days away from sending their respective billionaire owners into suborbital flight, this is the perfect time to pick up Test Gods.

Test Gods focuses on Virgin Galactic – the triumphs (and tragedies) of the company as they have worked towards making commercial spaceflight a reality. The main “character” here is Mark Stucky, one of Virgin Galactic’s test pilots. Stucky is a complicated man, and his passion for flight has often interfered with his personal relationships. But he’s whip-smart and quite possibly one of the bravest humans on the planet (and, sometimes, off of it).

Test Gods also has an underlying theme of the relationships between fathers and sons – and the author ties in stories about his own father (there’s a fascinating connection revealed later on in the book!)

Thank you Henry Holt for the ARC!

REVIEW – An Ambush of Widows by Jeff Abbott

I’ve had some not-so-great luck with new thrillers lately. As a longtime fan of the genre, I was struggling to pinpoint if either newer thrillers just weren’t good (to me, at least) or if I finally became burned out on the genre.

Well, kudos to Jeff Abbott for reminding me why I loved thrillers in the first place! An Ambush of Widows was a pleasant surprise. Sure, the synopsis sounded intriguing. But this exceeded my expectations by a mile.

So many chapters are left on a cliffhanger, and you have to make it through a few chapters from differing perspectives before you get your answers. Abbott drops clever clues throughout, and even though I had it (somewhat) figured out with a decent amount of the book left, there were still things I missed.

If you’re feeling a little disenchanted by the thriller genre as a whole, pick up An Ambush of Widows. It just might reignite your love of twisty, mysterious novels.

Thank you Novel Suspects for the ARC!

REVIEW – Haven Point by Virginia Hume

Haven Point is a (mostly) historical fiction novel that follows three generations of the same family – Maren, Annie and Skye Demarest have a lot in common but are also very unique characters on their own.

While I did go into this thinking we’d get chapters from each woman’s perspective, that’s not quite the case. Annie is a focus of the book but takes somewhat of a backseat to the narratives surrounding Maren and Skye. Given what we know about Annie’s character and what we learn throughout the book, I think this was a good choice. After a family tragedy, Annie really closes herself off and ends up in a dark spiral that culminates in her eventual death a few decades later (“present day” in the book’s timeline).

This book is mostly sad and melancholy – all three women feel like outcasts at some point or another during their time in Haven Point. There’s a lot of heartache and tragedy and dark family secrets, and most of these things are Maren’s burden to carry.

Content warning: alcoholism (a prominent theme in this book), suicide

Thank you Jennifer Musico and St. Martin’s Press for sending me an ARC of Haven Point!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – A Game of Cones by Abby Collette

After A Deadly Inside Scoop was one of my favorite cozy mysteries of 2020 (trust me, I read a lot of cozies!) I was so excited to be back in Chagrin Falls with Win and her family. A Game of Cones did NOT disappoint. When a developer comes to town with news of a potential mall being built, someone in the community takes quick action and the developer ends up dead that night.

One of Win’s friends (visiting from NYC) stumbles across the body and becomes suspect number one. Even though she tries to keep her distance, Win can’t help but get tangled up in the murder investigation and comes face to face with a cold-blooded killer. And we still get the family dynamic and charming ice cream shop setting that we grew to love in book one.

Any cozy mystery set in Ohio is automatically of interest to me, and I can’t wait to see what book three has in store!

Thank you Berkley for the NetGalley ARC!

REVIEW – The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan

Attention true crime fans: you’re going to want to pick this one up. I hadn’t heard of Tony Costa (the Cape Cod Vampire) before, but WOW was he a piece of work.

Costa was active in the mid to late 1960s and, honestly, got away with a lot of his crimes due to the time period but also some really inadequate law enforcement procedures and protocols. There were moments in this book where I wanted to scream about the missed connections and lack of shared information between departments. Lives might have been saved, but isn’t that the case with a lot of serial killers?

The Babysitter is part true crime book and part memoir – Liza Rodman grew up in Provincetown and Tony Costa was her “babysitter” at times (our idea of a babysitter now is not really what Tony was back then. He would take Liza and her sister on errands with him to get them out of their mom’s hair while she worked or went out on the town with her friends). Liza’s sections alone could have been their own book – she was a child who didn’t really stand a chance with her own mother. Liza’s mother was neglectful and mean and hurtful and irresponsible. Definitely proceed with caution if child abuse (mostly neglect and verbal abuse) is a touchy topic for you.

The book moves at a relatively slow pace but it stands up against the heavy hitters in true crime literature like In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter, The Stranger Beside Me, etc. Tony Costa might not be as well known as Ted Bundy, but he was just as horrible (and probably would have been much worse if they hadn’t caught him in time).

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!