REVIEW – When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

“It’s hard to live with certain truths of this world, so we ignore what we can. Choose not to look. We have to do it because otherwise we have to deal with the burden of knowing.”

Combine Kindred with Get Out and you’ll get When the Reckoning Comes – a short but impactful read about the reverberations of the past. The ghosts aren’t what to be afraid of here. There’s a gritty layer of dread and forboding smeared all over this story. Although this was a middle-of-the-road read for me, McQueen has an incredibly promising future.

Thank you Bibliolifestyle and Harper Perennial for the free book!

REVIEW – False Witness by Karin Slaughter

“If Callie could stay in this quiet moment, big sister by her side, for the rest of her life, then she would be happy. But that wasn’t how life worked.”

Karin Slaughter continues to remind me why she’s my favorite author. Time and time again I am blown away by her ability to weave an intriguing, emotional, gut-punch of a plot. The first Karin Slaughter book I read was one of her standalones, so i’m always excited when she releases a new one. I think they’re a great introduction to her writing for anyone looking to give her books a try.

False Witness is about two sisters with a long-buried secret. It provides an honest, heartbreaking look at addiction, abuse and sexual assault. It’s full of the twists and “OMG” moments you expect from a Karin Slaughter book. I won’t give too much away because it’s worth diving in headfirst, without taking too close of a look (avoid detailed reviews!)

This book does make mention of the pandemic, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. It’s merely part of the story, instead of being a major focus. My recommendation? Definitely read the Author’s Note to get a glimpse into her thought process while writing the book.

As far as content warnings? I won’t list them all here, but please know that if you are a sensitive reader, this probably isn’t the book for you.

Thank you Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the free book!

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 – The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Maidens is good. It’s not GREAT, but it’s definitely a decent read that keeps you moving, with short, punchy chapters. There’s an interesting (and sinister) murder mystery, and a few major plot twists that will definitely shock some readers. Although I had the killer figured out pretty early on, another twist caught me off guard (and i’m honestly not sure how I felt about it, even weeks after finishing the books).

I think Michaelides is claiming his place as the author of some reliably twisty and compelling summer thrillers. If you’re a fan of darker, psychological mysteries, you’ll want to give this one a shot!

Thank you Celadon Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown

Thick as Thieves wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I still enjoyed my reading experience! Arden Maxwell is back in her hometown after years away (her father disappeared after his assumed involvement in a notorious heist and murder). What Arden doesn’t know is that two of the men who were involved with that crime two decades ago are watching her every move.

The crime and mystery in this book is complex and interesting – we eventually get chapters from the perspective of each person who was involved on that night, and slowly piece together what actually happened.

This can be classified as “romantic suspense” which isn’t a genre i’m really familiar with – I didn’t know this about the book going in, so the accelerated romantic plotline threw me for a loop. I didn’t dislike that aspect of the story, but it did feel a little forced (and almost inappropriate?) at times. However, since romantic suspense isn’t something I typically read, this could be typical for the genre.

Thank you Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of this book.

REVIEW – Win by Harlan Coben

Win was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I’ve only read a handful of Harlan Coben’s books so far, but he quickly became one of my favorite writers.

If you’ve read any of his Myron Bolitar series, you know (and probably love) Win. I was excited for the opportunity to read a book that had Win at its center, and this didn’t disappoint. For those who don’t know, Windsor Horne Lockwood III, better known as just Win, is rich. No, not like…rich like someone you know in real life. Not rich like a celebrity. But RICH. Seriously, disgustingly, unimaginably so. He’s also handsome, cunning, manipulative and…lethal. Win is a little bit like Bruce Wayne, minus the bat costume.

Win’s suitcase and a priceless family painting (lost some 20 years ago) are found in the home of a recluse who has been murdered. Win has no idea how it got there but he has an inkling that it might be related to the kidnapping (and eventual escape) of his cousin Patricia.

As always, Coben manages to write a twisty, fun thriller that keeps readers on their toes. I’d recommend giving one or two of my Myron Bolitar books a try first, so you’re already acquainted with Win before reading his story.

Thank you Novel Suspects for the ARC!

REVIEW – Fatal Intent by Tammy Euliano

I haven’t read a lot of medical thrillers, but when presented with the opportunity to read Fatal Intent, I couldn’t pass it up. This book gave me SO MUCH anxiety! I had a great time reading this and had a lot of “OMG” and “holy shit!” moments. The pace is a bit slower at first, but when this picks up it doesn’t stop until the very end. This book is incredibly sad and tense and unpredictable.

If you’re super squeamish or bothered by medical events, hospitalization, etc., I’d proceed with caution.

Content warnings: miscarriage, infant death, suicide, death of a spouse

Thank you FSB Associates for the ARC!

REVIEW – Black Widows by Cate Quinn

The unreliable narrator is still a very popular trope in mysteries and thrillers. Well, Black Widows has THREE. Three women who are suspects in the death of their (yes, their) husband. This book takes the standard thriller and adds a sister wives/XX kids and counting element. It’s grittier than I expected (which isn’t a bad thing) but this ended up being a fun read “for the moment” and won’t be something I remember much years from now.

Content warnings: religious fanaticism, cults, sexual assault, child abuse, sexual assault of children, drug use, self-harm, brief mention of suicide, miscarriage.

Thank you BiblioLifestyle and Sourcebooks 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 – Watch Her by Edwin Hill

Okay, i’m convinced. I need to go back and read the first two Hester Thursby novels because I am hooked! Watch Her is a sleepier contemporary mystery that really picks up after 1. A character is murdered and 2. Some family secrets all come to light in a heart-pounding final few chapters.

I really enjoyed Hester as a protagonist – she’s feisty and smart, but she doesn’t feel like a stereotype or charicature.

We get multiple perspectives in this book and that really worked to push the story along. Each character was different enough that I felt like I was getting a relatively comprehensive overview of the events of the book.

Content warnings: sexual harassment, death of a child, brief use of ableist language

Thank you Kensington Books and Books Forward PR for the ARC!