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 – 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!

REVIEW – That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

I’ve only read two Jennifer Weiner books so far (That Summer and Mrs. Everything), so I don’t know much about her backlist. However, I do know she’s able to turn 400-page books into incredibly fast reads.

That being said, the title and cover of this book are misleading. This is NOT a light, summer read. The main theme of the book is rape, and there’s a lot of “old boys club” nonsense going on. (I’ll be clear: Weiner does not condone the “old boys club” stuff and DOES in fact present it as dangerous.)

I’m not sure if anything here was meant to be a twist or a reveal, but I wasn’t really surprised by anything that happened throughout the course of the book. However, i’m not really sure what Diana was hoping to accomplish (i’m not sure she even knew, herself).

I would definitely recommend this book, as it was interesting and very timely (a lot of #MeToo chatter in this one) but I would urge readers to proceed with caution.

Content: rape, sexual assault, suicide

Thank you Atria for sending me a copy of That Summer!

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!

REVIEW – The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

“Atrum post bellum, ex libris lux. – After the darkness of war, the light of books.”

The Paris Library is historical fiction for book lovers. Using dual timelines (WWII-era Paris and 1980s Montana), Janet Skeslien Charles weaves a beautiful, emotional story that focuses on friendship, love, family and forgiveness.

I had no choice but to give this five stars – the writing is absolutely beautiful. The characters! THE LIBRARY. Just stunning – you’ll fall in love with (almost) everyone and find yourself wanting to spend forever amongst the shelves.

Odile and Lily are truly the stars of this book, and their journey is lovely and sad and hopeful. Get ready to feel all of the feelings.

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis

The Princess Spy is a great nonfiction choice for fans of historical fiction (especially of the WWII variety). The book is incredibly well-researched and outlined, and begins with a thoughtful, intriguing preface from the author.

When Pearl Harbor is bombed during her final semester of college, Aline can’t help but want to get involved with the war effort. She spends some time modeling but ends up meeting a man who offers her a job. He can’t tell her what it is but he gives her instructions of when and where to be at her interview. She dives in headfirst without knowing any details and quickly finds herself in training to become a spy for the United States.

From there, this book is pretty exciting – Aline’s life almost seems fictional because it’s so exciting and many of the elements and events feel pulled right out of a spy movie. Intrigue! Espionage! A little bit of bullfighting! (Yep. Bullfighting.) Glamourous dinners and Bond-villain-esque “characters.” Sure, The Princess Spy romanticizes the idea of being a spy during WWII just a bit, but you can’t help but be amazed by Aline’s intelligence (and, in some cases, incredible luck).

Her time as an actual field agent is short-lived, but that doesn’t make her service any less impressive. She does fall in love along the way, and the final part of the book covers her budding relationship with her eventual husband.

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

This book is DARK. Full stop. It has a very strange and surreal vibe the entire time, like everything is smudged and dirty and unsettling. At the very least, Langan does a great job of putting you right into this suburban neighborhood (smack in the middle of summer, and there’s a heat wave…it’s just SO uncomfortable).

Good Neighbors is set in the near future in a seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood. I won’t give too much away, but there’s a sinkhole (complete with weird smells!) and a child dies and it turns into a modern-day (or future…) version of The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. There’s an uncanny valley element to this book – there’s nothing supernatural in the story but it doesn’t feel entirely realistic. All of the characters are exaggerated and irrational (however, maybe that’s not so far-fetched after all…) and the commentary about the “mob mentality” is jarring and scary.

One character, in particular, is absolutely psychotic and terrifying (and not even in a fun way). The entire book reminded me of The Regulators by Stephen King (although minus the gratuitious horror and violence).

This would be a great choice for a book club because there’s so much to discuss (although it’s a tough book to rate!)

Content warnings: child abuse, brief mention of rape, brief mention of drug use, brief mention of suicide, murder-suicide

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – Deep State by Chris Hauty

I don’t typically read political thrillers, but I couldn’t ignore the reviews for this one. Deep State follows Hayley Chill, an Army veteran who has moved to DC and landed an internship in the White House. Hayley quickly uncovers a plot to assassinate the newly elected POTUS, and this discovery leads her down a dangerous path.

I’m echoing a lot of reviewers, but I will say that this book would probably be better as a movie – but that does not make it an unenjoyable read. A screen adaptation of this would undoubtedly be a blockbuster action movie perfect for summer (picture it: a cool theater, a heart-pounding movie, a giant tub of popcorn and some overpriced candy. Damn you, COVID!)

The twist is really the draw here, and it’s worth it. I’m excited to read the next book in the series now that Hauty has laid a great foundation for what’s sure to be a fun sequel.

Thank you Atria Books for the NetGalley ARC of Deep State!

REVIEW – Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I was so excited to get a chance to read the new Lisa Jewell book early! I LOVED The Family Upstairs and had high hopes for this one. Did I love Invisible Girl quite as much? No. But it was still an enjoyable read, and I think a lot of Lisa Jewell fans are going to love it.

We follow Saffyre, a teenage girl with a complicated family history and a dark past; Cate, a mother of two and her husband Roan; and Owen, who is arguably the most interesting character in the book (and i’m sure parts of his story are going to be polarizing for readers!)

Saffyre goes missing and Owen is the last person who saw her. As you can imagine, all of these characters are interconnected in some way, and the answer to Saffyre’s disappearance isn’t as cut and dry as you may think. I’d recommend going into this book as blind as possible! I was really intrigued to find out what happened next, and the turns this book takes really caught me off guard.

That being said, I think it fell just a little flat. Maybe we didn’t get enough time with the characters. Or maybe some themes and ideas just weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. But if you’re a Lisa Jewell fan (or a thriller fan in general) you’ll probably want to pick this up!

Content warning: self harm, sexual assault, incel culture

Thank you Atria for the NetGalley ARC!