Best Beach Reads of 2018

This summer’s list is a bit longer than normal as it’s been an amazing year of incredible reads.  Here are my most recommended for your 2018 summer!

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

Taking place on the Jersey shore,  Brenner seamlessly tackles many tough subjects ranging from grief to CTE to deployment to guilt.  You will easily lose yourself in this story.

 

Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

A story of the 1940s entwined with one of today, Jaeger knows how to grip her audience from the very first page.  I loved the scenes from Hollywood and the sweet underlying love story.

 

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Just when you think you know how this one will play out, Hunt pulls the seat out from under you.  Read my full review here.

 

 

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock

I laughed out loud at the situations these friends found themselves in.  Between chaos at their bakery and their attempts at love, this relatable debut is one not to be missed.  Read my full review here.

 

Slider by Pete Hautman

Yes, this is a middle grade novel but adults will find the undertones of the importance of family endearing while the kids will think the antics of competitive eating are hilarious.  A great story for the whole family.

 

Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

A multigenerational book that alternates between past and present, this engrossing debut will have you hoping the author is at work on a new novel.  Read my full review here.

 

Say Nothing by Brad Parks

I am all for a breakneck thriller that has me turning the pages and this one delivers.  Full of surprises, Parks masters the tension to make this storyline plausible and fun.

 

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Now that school has ended for the summer, you will appreciate the snark in Gelman’s debut even more.  Read my full review here.

 

 

What have you packed in your beach bag this summer?  Please share your favorites.  This post contains affiliate links.

The Other Mother Review

The Other Mother: A Novel (Paperback)


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Talk about an unreliable narrator.  Or two.  If you’re a fan of suspense written in this style, you’ll want to get your hands on this book.  For me, I felt there were too many coincidences to make it believable.

I have always been a fan of Carol Goodman’s reads.  She does eerie, mental institutions, and psychosis so well.  She is the perfect author to grab her book and a blanket and sit in front of a cozy fire to read.

For this one we meet Daphne, a new mother who is struggling with postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, Chloe.  She heads to a support group and meets Laurel, another new mom with her daughter, Chloë.  How eerie that they both share a name, except you’ll notice her Chloë has the umlaut.  And that’s where the similarities begin.  These women form a fast and tight friendship and they both begin to question their lives and their support network.  I don’t want to say too much so as to spoil the story.

I will say I’m surprised the author didn’t confuse herself when writing.  Aside from the similarities between Daphne and Laurel, we follow another storyline of a past patient at a mental institution where Daphne travels for her new job.  You really have to be focused when reading this one so you don’t miss anything.

This book is definitely dark and has several twists.  I don’t know if I’m burnt out on the unreliable narrator but there were a couple I just didn’t buy.  I enjoy them more when they don’t seem forced or thrown in for the sake of a twist.  But I may be in the minority here and recommend checking out if you are generally a suspense fan.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy.  Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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. Find out more about Carol on her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

The Family Next Door Review & Giveaway

The Family Next Door: A Novel (Hardcover)


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I am a people watcher.  I will be at a park, mall, doctor’s office, anywhere really, and want to know all about the people I see.  What is their story?  If you are anything like me, you must read Sally Hepworth’s newest story, a suspense-filled book about the neighborhood of Pleasant Court.

Our three main characters are:

Essie, mom of two young girls, who is questioning her sanity on a regular basis since she is barely sleeping with a newborn.  At least her mom, Barbara, is always available to lend a helping hand.

Fran, former lawyer, harnessing a big secret neither her husband nor her closest friends know.

Ange, the neighborhood queen bee with two boys and perfect husband.

Everything between these friends  is perfectly fine until a new neighbor, Isabelle, moves into the neighborhood.  Her presence becomes unsettling to the women as lives are forever changed.

How relatable was this?  First-time mothers struggling with their newborns, just trying to function on lack of sleep.  Husbands gone at work so their wives couldn’t get a break.  New mysterious neighbors that seem to have an agenda.  I guarantee you’ll find something to relate to in this book.

The short chapters made this story compulsively readable.  I needed to keep flipping to gain more insight.  And just when I thought I knew where it was going, I was thrown for a loop.  The dialogue and settings reminded me of a Liane Moriarty novel so fans of hers should definitely pick this up.  I’m glad Hepworth tried her hand at suspense and I hope she writes more in the genre.

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

About the author: SALLY HEPWORTH is a human resource professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and she now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and three young children. She is the author of The Secrets of Midwives, The Things We Keep, and The Mother’s Promise.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a signed copy to give away to one 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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Best Books of 2017

It has been such an amazing year for books that I decided to do a little something different this year.  Instead of my short list, I am separating my favorites into categories.  This way, if you’re looking for a specific type of book or want to give a gift, it’s easier to sort through the choices.  I wish I had time to read everything, but these are my favorites from what I did read.

You can click directly on the book images to get to their Amazon page.

LITERATURE & FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MYSTERY & THRILLER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISTORICAL FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NONFICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these if you read them and your favorites of 2017.  Leave me a comment.  Here’s to a healthy 2018 filled with loads of good reading!

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.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy to give away to a lucky winner.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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A Stranger in the House Review & Giveaway

A Stranger in the House (Hardcover)


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For all the parts of The Couple Next Door that I loved, there were some similarities:

1. The action begins right as the book takes off.  No slow buildup getting to know characters or backgrounds.  You open this book and the story begins.  With a bang.  Literally.

2. Short chapters.  It’s so nice when life gets busy and I have minimal time to read for pleasure that I can get more reading in because chapters don’t drag.  They are quick and succinct.

3. Always a surprise.  Even when you reach the conclusion and discover the truth, there’s still another surprise lurking.

So fans of her debut will enjoy this book as well.  It’s the story of Karen Krupp, a bookkeeper, who races out of her home one night without her purse and her phone and while dinner is still cooking.  When her husband, Tom, arrives home, he has no idea what happened to her or where she went.

I give credit to the author for this unique storyline, which seems to be getting harder and harder to provide in the mystery/thriller genre.  I have not read a book like this before.  She continuously drops surprises throughout but does so with subtlety.

About the author:

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. She has written two award-winning literary novels, and her suspense debut, The Couple Next Door, was a New York Times and an international bestseller. A Stranger in the House is her second thriller.

I have a treat for you all!  The kind folks at Penguin have sent me an advanced 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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Best Beach Reads of 2017

A lot of best of summer lists have books that release throughout the summer.  I want you to have access to these great reads NOW, so without further ado, here is my list for the best beach reads of 2017.

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

This one has it all: heartbreak, romance, mystery, and even several beach scenes.  When you turn the last page and are disappointed it’s over: the sequel releases July 4!  You can preorder it here.  Both books are currently available on Kindle for less than $5!

 

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane Rosen

I blew through this book in less than 48 hours.  It’s a cute and quick read that features a unique cast of characters all with a relation to that little black dress.  You can read my full review here.

 

The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner

I feel like weddings in books make the perfect summer read.  Everyone can remember having or attending a quintessential summer wedding.  This book has that times 3!  3 weddings of 3 sisters  or 3 sisters sharing 1 wedding?  Either way, this one keeps dropping secrets until the end.

 

The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

We can’t get through summer without a psychological thriller to keep you turning the pages eager to find out what happens.  This one reminded me of a horrible car crash where you just can’t turn away.  Not everything in this idyllic neighborhood is as it seems.  Some disturbing characters lead to deadly consequences.

 

The Assistants by Camille Perri

Super excited to find out a movie is in the works for this one!  Imagine Thelma & Louise as office assistants in today’s world and you have this romp of a novel.  Anyone who has ever dealt with office politics will appreciate the humor of this debut.

 

Forks, Knives, and Spoons by Leah DeCesare

Aside from a throwback to the ’80s, this book made me reminisce about my college days.  The lovable characters navigating relationships both in school and the real world made this a hard to put down debut.  You can read my full review here.

 

The Regulars by Georgia Clark

If you enjoy a little magical realism thrown into a story, I hope you will give this book a try.  It is a smart and modern age fairy tale for Generation X and Generation Y.  You can read my full review here.

 

I would love to hear what you thought of these books and what others are on your summer reading list!  This post contains affiliate links.

I Found You Review & Giveaway

I Found You: A Novel (Hardcover)


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The last Lisa Jewell novel I read, The House We Grew Up In, I loved.  It captured family dynamics perfectly and made a dysfunctional family seem fun.  I was surprised to start her newest and find it to be suspense.  I didn’t realize she wrote those types of books, but, folks, she did it incredibly.

I Found You features three different stories, two of which happen concurrently.  We first meet Alice, a single mom of 3 who discovers a man on the beach.  Her charitable instincts take over and she invites him in for warmth and shelter. Next we meet Lily, a young newlywed new to this country whose husband doesn’t return home from work one evening.  Then we head back to 1993 and follow a family of 4 on summer holiday.  Are all these stories connected?  What ties them together?

As I was reading each chapter, I was so focused on the current story that when it ended in a cliffhanger, I was reluctant to move to the next character to continue their journey.  But then I’d start reading and find the same problem all over again!  This twisted read was very hard to put down.  Jewell is a master at building suspense, pulling you deeper into the mystery eager to find out what’s happening.

After reading I Found You and loving it, I hope Jewell continues to write more of this genre.  She has the knack of an original plot with sympathetic characters and a mystery that will keep the reader guessing.

A lot of this book reminded me of I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  If that was a favorite for you, I truly think you will enjoy this one.

Be warned: there are some dark elements to this story which may be a trigger warning for some.

You can follow the tour for more reviews,

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, 3 copies will be given away tour-wide.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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