Only Ever Her Review


Only Ever Her (Paperback)


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With such a long winter here in the Midwest, it was the cover of this novel that first intrigued me. It drew out feelings of warmer weather and sunshine and having previously enjoyed The Things We Wish Were True, I was eager to dive in.

This one took a little longer to draw me in. Maybe it was my confusion over how all the characters related or some of the secondary storylines. The premise is perfection — a bride disappears days before her wedding. Is it cold feet or foul play?

Whalen writes the story as we get closer and closer to the big day. We follow different characters’ viewpoints as to what happened to Annie Taft. I love the idea of small secrets bubbling to the surface with Annie missing and how they play off each other. When finished, I felt like some seams were still left undone and some plot points didn’t get enough “air time” while others had too much.

I will say this was a quick read and the second half moves at a much faster pace. Once you get a feel for the characters, you’ll yearn for the conclusion. The small town feel works well within this novel and if you’re looking for a good mystery to grab for a plane ride or a day away, you’ve found it.

My thanks to the publisher and Little Bird Publicity for the review copy.

Sunset Beach Review


Sunset Beach: A Novel (Hardcover)


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If you are looking for the ultimate beach read this summer, look no further. Mary Kay Andrews brings her sandy beaches and charm to her newest release, out now.

Listen, I read my fair share of heavy thrillers. I can also go to the other extreme of what some might refer to as “chick lit” or romance. This is the perfect blend of both. In fact, for those who enjoy cozy mysteries, this is one you’ll definitely want to pick up.

Drue Campbell is down on her luck with the loss of her mom and a string of bad jobs that are not helping with her income. When she receives an offer from her estranged father to come work for him, she heads to Florida’s west coast.

I loved the characters in this and what a kickass heroine Drue was. Her interactions with her family (blood and step) had me grinning and it was a read I looked forward to getting back to each night.

This one is on the longer side but the story moves quickly and hopefully you are as eager as I was to follow Drue as she tried to solve two mysteries, all while balancing her new job and relationships.

My thanks to Tandem Literary and the publisher for a review copy.

Thanks to their generosity, I have one copy to share with a lucky reader. U.S. only, please. Enter on the Rafflecopter.

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For Better and Worse Review

For Better and Worse (Paperback)


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Given the overload of psychological thrillers, especially domestic suspense, in the recent years makes coming up with an original story that much harder.  When I read Best Friends Forever last year, I was very impressed with what a page-turner it was.  That made me eager to read Hunt’s second venture into this genre.

Natalie and Will Clarke met in law school, fell in love, and got married.  Fast-forward to their only child, Charlie, in 5th grade, when a scandal shakes their small town.  How far will this couple go to protect their child and their marriage?  Given that Natalie is a criminal defense attorney, she knows the system inside and out and knows she has to take matters into her own hands.

Will didn’t seem as fully formed as a character to me as Natalie.  He did get his own section he narrated in the book, which helped, but I was so used to Natalie it always took me a minute to realize it was his turn.  It made sense she ran the household and was more in control, but he did play an essential part to this story.

I loved chit-chat and gossip amongst the neighbors as the scandal broke loose.  The expression “gossip is nature’s telephone” really rings true here.  (See what I did there?)  I had a couple issues with execution and thought the story would slowly fizzle out at the end but was pleasantly surprised at its finish.

Trigger warning for child abuse.  A tough subject to cover but Hunt does so in a way that it’s not the story’s sole focus.  For book clubs looking for more of a suspense story, there’s lots that can be discussed with character motivations in this read.

My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy.

About the author: Margot Hunt is a USA TODAY bestselling author. Her latest book, FOR BETTER AND WORSE, was praised by Book of the Month as being the best thriller of the year. “A twisty tale for fans of domestic thrillers.” (Kirkus Reviews).

Connect with Margot

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers Review & Giveaway

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers (Paperback)


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Not since Moloka’i have I been transported to Hawaii through a book.  The setting and descriptions were vivid and breathtaking.  Never having been there myself, I imagined I was on the beach as I was reading.  I loved the authentic language and settings and was definitely surprised by the amount of rain!

Sara Ackerman’s debut has something in it for everyone: a mystery, WWII history, romance, and unforgettable characters.  Violet is a schoolteacher who is reeling at the disappearance of her husband, the school principal.  Her daughter, Ella, hasn’t been the same since he’s been gone.  When Violet’s roommate, Jean, finds out her brother Zach is training for a secret mission along with other Marines, the women learn that friendship will get them through this trying time together.

Even though this tale takes place during the 1940s, many of its themes still ring true today.  Given the current events we’ve been faced with, I still need to hear “love is love,” and I was thrilled to come across it in the book.  Bits of this story, especially Violet’s infatuation, reminded me of Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris.  If you want an endearing story with a sprinkle of sugar, be sure to pick this book up.

I have to say one of my favorite characters was Roscoe.  I’d really love to learn the true story behind his appearance that the author mentions in her note at the end.  I promise you he is one surprise you’ve never come across before in fiction.

My thanks to the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born and raised in Hawaii, Sara studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. When she’s not writing or practicing acupuncture, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean.

 

Thanks to the author, I have one SIGNED copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Girl Unknown Review & Giveaway

Girl Unknown: A Novel (Hardcover)


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We’ve all read a book or seen a movie about someone appearing in someone’s life intent on destroying it.  What I loved about the premise of this book is that this person is a long-lost child, one our protagonist, David, never knew about before she shows up.

David is a college professor trying to move up the ranks all while dealing with his aging mother, wife Caroline’s return to work, and two kids.  Things are finally falling back in place with him until Zoe shows up.  Being the father that he is, he welcomes Zoe into their lives and home, hoping she fits right in.  But what are her motivations?  Who is hiding what?

The beginning of this book had a great pace, and the fact that the story alternated characters telling it between David and Caroline made it move quickly.  The ending sizzled.  I just felt the middle got a little bogged down.  And even when it finished, I was left with several unanswered questions.

I was surprised to discover that even when I thought I knew how things ended, the authors threw me another twist.  This is a dark tale, perfect for those who want to know more about the characters of a thriller.  With each chapter, we unravel more and more about what makes them tick and how easy it is to make them crumble.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Together they wrote Girl Unkown.

Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College, Dublin.

Karen Gillece is the author of several critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland).

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Last Mrs. Parrish Review & Giveaway

The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel (Hardcover)


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At 400 pages, this was a longer read for a thriller, but I raced through it.  When I started this book, I didn’t read any synopsis because I wanted to see where the story took me.  And to be honest, even halfway through I wasn’t sure where the story was going, but it was an addicting page-turner and still took me by surprise.

The tag line for this book and written across the cover is “Some women get everything.  Some women get everything they deserve.”  And with two reliable narrators of this story, you don’t know who specifically this is referring to.  Is it Amber, a young woman with a hidden past whose main goal in life is stealing the husband of her new friend, Daphne?  Or is it Daphne, so used to wealth and privilege as a Connecticut socialite?

The second half of the book had elements reminiscent of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, filled with tension.  There were also parts which reminded me of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.  So if you enjoyed either of those books, I recommend picking this one up.

I think the story will be more enjoyable if you go in without reading much about it first, which is why I didn’t regurgitate much of the plot here.  The night I finished, I still had a third of the book left but refused to sleep until I finished, eager to find out how it ended.  I can’t wait to see what this writing duo comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via FaceTime and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is their debut thriller.

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Mothers and Other Strangers Review & Giveaway

Mothers and Other Strangers (Paperback)


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This book grips you with its first sentence and never lets go: “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

As the book continues, we are on Elspeth’s journey with her, as she comes to terms with her mother’s death and all the family secrets that are ready to bubble to the surface.  She most eagerly is trying to figure out her mother’s connection to the Seekers, a cult-like religion that is reminiscent of Scientology.

This novel does not let you off easy.  We are dealing with rape, murder, betrayal, and family dysfunction in such a way you will be extremely thankful for your own mother.  In fact, it’s easy to think this could be a memoir in the way the timeline is handled and how real these characters act.

Sorell writes beautifully, but it’s not a case where you will get bogged down in the language.  It’s a fast read, and you’ll want to race through to reach its conclusion.

Sign me up for any future books from Sorell.  I know the prose will be fluid and the story convincing, if it is anything like her debut.  My thanks to Goldberg McDuffie and Prospect Park Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Gina Sorell now resides in Toronto, and lives in a world of words. Some of those words are: writer, namer, creative director, artist, daughter, sister, wife and mother.
After two decades as a working actor of stage and screen in NYC, LA, and Toronto, Gina decided to return to her first love–writing, and graduated with distinction from UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Gina likes to balance out the long solitary hours of novel writing, with her work as a Creative Director of Eat My Words, a SF based branding firm, where she collaborates all day long with innovators and entrepreneurs whose identity she establishes with only one word, their name.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Fourth Monkey Review & Giveaway

The Fourth Monkey (A 4MK Thriller) (Hardcover)


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It has been a long time since I read a gritty serial killer novel.  The last series I recommended was the Smoky Barrett series starting with Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen.  I had heard The Fourth Monkey was good, so I was excited to read it.  And I was pleased to find that it was fantastic!

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We are first presented with the 4MK killer by finding his signature white box tied with black string.  Inside is either his victim’s ear, eyeballs, or tongue.  He follows the “Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil” mantra.  You’ll have to read the book to find out why it’s called The Fourth Monkey.  And the Chicago detectives searching for him assume he’s a vigilante killer.

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What I loved so much about this book and made it so readable was that interspersed throughout the search is the killer’s diary.  It starts with him as a young boy and takes us through a creepy period in his life to give us a glimpse as to why he does what he does.  I found the diary to be as page turning as the rest of the book!  I couldn’t wait to get back to the back story to read more.

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If you are a fan of Dexter (the books or television series), You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes or James Patterson, this book is a must read.  With an open ending, I sure hope J.D. Barker adds another to this series.  I’d love to find out what trouble these characters find themselves in next.  My thanks to Maxine Groves and HMH for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Today for one lucky winner I have a #4MK Killer Swag Bag which features a hardcover book and more fun prizes!  U.S. and UK residents only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Widow’s House Review & Giveaway

The Widow’s House: A Novel (Paperback)


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I have read one book of Carol Goodman’s over the years and that was her debut, The Lake of Dead Languages.  It was a suspenseful mystery dealing with girls at a private school.  This new release from her really shows she’s grown as a writer as she enters the genre of gothic mystery and ghost story.

Looking for a fresh start and a way to stay out of debt, writer Jess Martin and his wife, Clare, leave the bustling city and head to the country of the Hudson Valley.  When they can’t find a dream home in their price range, they are given the opportunity to become caretakers at Riven House.  As they move in, Clare begins to hear noises, see figures, and question how much the house and the ghosts of its past are haunting her.

As I was reading, I kept picturing the movie What Lies Beneath starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.  A working husband, wife left at home, when mysterious things begin to happen and she sees things and questions what’s going on.  If this was a movie you enjoyed, the book is sure to intrigue you.

What’s impressive is Goodman is writing this book about three writers, all with distinctive voices.  She pulled it off brilliantly and managed to keep mystery enthusiasts turning the pages.

Riven House almost acts as its own character in the novel.  Is it haunted?  That’s what everyone in town likes to think.  Will digging up some town history make life worse or better for Clare?  One thing is for sure: Don’t turn your back on it.  I was eager to get to the bottom of the mystery and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in the ending.

If you like a good ghost story or visiting haunted houses, add this book to your to-be read pile.

You can purchase directly through the HarperCollins website here.

About the author:

Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz.

Connect with Carol on Facebook.

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader!  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.

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The Clairvoyants Review & Giveaway

The Clairvoyants: A Novel (Hardcover)


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In Karen Brown’s new novel, our protagonist, Martha is born with a unique gift.  She can see spirits of those who have died.  When the time has come for her to go away for college, in an attempt to begin a new and independent life, she moves to an apartment alone.  Until she comes across the spirit of a college girl who had gone missing years before: Mary Rae.

This story is billed as a ghost story, but I found it to be more of a coming of age experience for Martha, who is on her own for the first time, learning to unravel the mystery behind Mary Rae’s disappearance.  While doing so, she has to navigate her first love, her desire to study photography, and deal with the return of her sister.  In many ways, dysfunctional family shapes who Martha has become and how she deals with these situations.

Brown does an excellent job of having the reader question all the characters for their motives and choices.  We are left wondering how well we think we know someone.  They’re all mysterious but are one’s intentions more sinister than others?

If you’re looking for page-turning suspense, you won’t find it in this story.  Questions are answered but at a much slower moving pace.  If you’re looking for an engaging read with complex characters, be sure to pick this one up or enter to win a copy below!

About the author: Karen Brown is the author of a novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls, and two short story collections–Little Sinners and Other Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, the John Gardner Book Award, and was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Pins and Needles: Stories, which was the recipient of AWP’s Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has been featured in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, and Good Housekeeping.

 

Thanks to Henry Holt, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.

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