REVIEW – The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

When Bert Monte receives a mysterious letter in the mail (it’s gilded and it’s in Italian) she quickly learns she has inherited a noble title and a castle in the Alps overlooking a small village. Sounds like a grown-up Princess Diaries, right? Not exactly…

This book starts off strong. There’s an ominous vibe right from the beginning – even Bert mentions a sense of impending doom and considers throwing the letter away. But, she doesn’t. And we get to learn the secrets of the Montebianco family.

At first it’s like a dream come true – a whirlwind trip to Italy on a private jet, a stay in an opulent hotel, instant wealth, prestige. But, something’s not right. If you’re a thriller reader (and if you read the synopsis of this book) you probably have some theories in mind, even as you read this review. I mean, we’ve all read books about rich families with deep dark secrets, literal skeletons in their closets, you know the drill. Trust me when I tell you – with The Ancestor, you DO NOT KNOW THE DRILL. You couldn’t POSSIBLY even begin to imagine what you’ll uncover throughout the course of this book.

I’m not going to even begin to explain what happens here, because I think going in as blind as possible will just make the reading experience better. I can tell you this: the castle has major Beauty and the Beast vibes. The story of the Montebianco family is dark. There are some horrific parts, some incredibly gruesome parts, and some deeply sad moments. There’s a paranormal element here. You might be able to piece some things together near the beginning (I did – somewhat). But then you’ll end up down a path you didn’t expect.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It gets weird (especially in the last quarter of the story). The first half was a real slam dunk for me, and the last bit…wasn’t so much. My overall feelings about this book are positive – I read it in the course of a day, partly because the writing flowed so easily and partly because I just had to find out what was going to happen next.

REVIEW – Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

Elevator Pitch is a solid suspenseful story about elevator rides gone wrong in NYC. Barclay does a great job of setting the scene and making you feel safe until, suddenly, you’re not.

The story is fast paced and, honestly, a little fun. The premise is horrifying but the execution is very reminiscent of a good summer blockbuster.

I’ve never been afraid of elevators, but I might opt to take the stairs from now on.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me with a copy of this book!

REVIEW – The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

This book is good. The characters are well-developed, their struggles are realistic and the setting is lovely. It’s a great summer read.

I really enjoyed Lu’s chapters the most, and I thought her friendship with Anthony was sweet and relatable.

The story wasn’t incredibly exciting, but I don’t think it needed to be. When I was about a quarter of the way in I was waiting for something to “kick in” but then I realized it’s simply a book about people and is 100% character driven.

The Islanders is a light, easy read, either for people who gravitate toward these types of books, or for readers like me who need a palate cleanser between thrillers/mysteries.

I received an ARC of this book from William Morrow as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

REVIEW – Not Bad People by Brandy Scott

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!

Not Bad People starts off with an interesting premise – three friends release paper lanterns filled with resolutions on New Year’s Eve. The next day, we learn there was a plane crash nearby and one of our characters is convinced that the lanterns were the cause.

I thought this would be a fast-paced suspense/thriller that focused primarily on the crash and the aftermath (maybe a trial? A more in-depth investigation?) but it’s really about these three friends (Aimee, Melinda and Lou), their lives and how their friendship unravels over the course of a few weeks. It leans heavily into the Women’s Fiction genre (not a negative, just an observation).

The friendship falls apart so fast I found it difficult to believe that they were even good friends to begin with (maybe their friendship is a matter of proximity rather than choice). When dealing with Aimee’s mental issues, Lou and Melinda seemed annoyed rather than worried about their friend.

I also thought the author was setting us up for some sort of confrontation with Peter’s stepson, Cameron. There were also some loose ends regarding Cameron and Aimee’s son, Byron.

The book was a bit longer than it needed to be – at more than 550 pages, I feel there were some storylines or repetitive parts that could be cut out.

The writing is good – this is a debut from Brandy Scott and I think it’s promising. I would be interested in reading another book from her if she continues to write.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me with an ARC of this book.