Update and Another Book Review

We’ve been busy around here. Besides a few house projects, I bought a bunch of used furniture and painted it for…P’s new apartment! We got her moved in about 3 weeks ago.

(Seems very apropos right now, right?)

Because we’ve been so busy around here, I haven’t been reading much. BUT! I just finished The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett, and !!!

I was quite intrigued by this one when I read the description…

On a chilly November morning at the University of Georgia, a fraternity brother steps off a busy crosswalk and is struck dead by an oncoming car. More than a dozen witnesses all agree on two things: the driver looked identical to the victim, and he was smiling.

Detective Marlitt Kaplan is first on the scene. An Athens native and the daughter of a UGA professor, she knows all its shameful histories, from the skull discovered under the foundations of Baldwin Hall to the hushed-up murder-suicide in Waddel. But in the course of investigating this hit-and-run, she will uncover more chilling secrets as she explores the sprawling, interconnected Greek system that entertains and delights the university’s most elite and connected students.

The lines between Marlitt’s police work and her own past increasingly blur as Marlitt seeks to bring to justice an institution that took something precious from her many years ago. When threats against her escalate, and some long-buried secrets threaten to come to the surface, she can’t help questioning whether the corruption in Athens has run off campus and into the force and how far these brotherhoods will go to protect their own.

The Resemblance did not disappoint. I was captivated from the first page. It’s fast paced (but not too fast), and the mystery of who killed the fraternity brother in a hit and run continued to evolve throughout the story. Just when I thought I’d figured it out, there was a twist, and then another and another.

The main character, Marlitt, is likable and sympathetic…although there’s another mystery concerning her lurking beneath the surface. The fraternity brothers, university president, and police chief are complicated characters; both intriguing and, at times, villainous.

I found the setting, Athens and the University of Georgia, fascinating as well. Lauren Nossett has written a riveting and compelling mystery and I highly recommend it. 5 stars!

Thank you NetGalley & FlatIron Books for the ARC. Look for The Resemblance November 8, 2022.

One of the Girls (book review)

Synopsis:

It was supposed to be the perfect weekend away. Six very different women travel to a sun-soaked Greek island for a bachelorette trip, to celebrate Lexi’s upcoming wedding. From the glorious ocean views to the quaint tavernas and whitewashed streets, the vacation seems too good to be true. But dangerous undercurrents run beneath the sunset swims and midnight cocktails – because each of the women is hiding a secret. Someone is determined to make sure that Lexi’s marriage never happens – and that one of them doesn’t leave the island alive.

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke. The first chapter reveals that someone dies on the hen weekend to Greece, and you’re left wondering who it is throughout the rest of the book – and trying to figure it out. Each chapter is from a different character’s point of view, which I’m not usually a fan of, but in this case it works (at least for me.) Every character has a secret, and they’re slowly exposed throughout the book…which makes the mystery of who dies even more mystifying.

I was intrigued and enthralled throughout the book. It’s an easy read, with a satisfying conclusion.

Five stars.

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for the ARC. Look for One of the Girls June 28, 2022.

Spells for Forgetting (book review)

Description

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings. But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

I received an advance reader copy of Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young and wow! I LOVED this book! Definitely 5 stars.

The writing is evocative and eloquent, the characters are interesting, and the setting, Saiorse Island, is mysterious and intriguing. I found myself completely engrossed in August and Emery’s stories, both current and past. They overlapped gracefully and seamlessly, smoothly describing the tragedy of Saiorse.

I loved, loved, loved this and am so grateful for NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read this before the publication date of September 27, 2022. Special thanks to Adrienne Young for writing such a fabulous book.

The Homewreckers (book review)

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

I love Mary Kay Andrews and I thoroughly enjoyed her latest, The Homewreckers.

Hattie Kavanaugh is a young widow who restores (and flips) historical homes in Savannah, GA along with her best friend and her father-in-law. Hattie is offered an opportunity to participate in a house renovation show called “The Homewreckers” with famous designer Trae. As the house renovations proceed, a mystery is exposed.

This was a really fun book that had it all – mystery, romance, intrigue, and humor. If you’re looking for a summer read, The Homewreckers could be the book you’re looking for.

The Homewreckers will be released May 3!

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC.

TWO! (Book Reviews)

I received an advance reader copy of The Last Princess by Shelley Wilson. (Thanks to NetGalley and BHC Press for the copy)

Description

Northumbria, 866 AD

Edith still has much to learn about the art of ruling a kingdom, but when her family is murdered, she’s faced with the challenge of staying alive. 

As a young woman in Anglo-Saxon England, Edith finds it hard to be heard above the Eldermen who are ripping the kingdom to pieces, but nothing can prepare her for the arrival of the pirates and the Vikings. Torn from her homeland and sold into slavery, she’s determined to survive at any cost. 

Finding allies in the unexpected and enemies closer to home, Edith clings to her dream of returning home one day to reclaim her throne and to exact revenge on those who harmed her family.

I love historical fiction! I constantly search for people, places, words I’m unfamiliar with…and really appreciate learning something new. In this instance, I learned about Northumbria, the Viking invasions of England, Bamburgh and Bamburgh Castle, and that era.

I really enjoyed this story. Edith is a likable character; courageous , adventurous, and spirited. The other characters were all fascinating as well – from Jarl Aaric, to the shield maiden and Edith’s duplicitous uncle , Aelle. The book was easy to read, and the story was compelling.

Five stars!

Look for The Last Princess May 24, 2022.

I also received an ARC of It Could Be Anyone by Jaime Lynn Hendricks. While completely different from The Last Princess, I enjoyed it just as much.

Description

To anyone on their flight out of New York, they appear to be five best friends excited for a destination wedding in Miami. No one would guess that each of them has a reason to want the groom dead. 

Trevor Vaughn, the groom in question, wooed his bride-to-be by first becoming close with her friends—which is to say that he learned all of the five’s darkest, most dangerous secrets and blackmailed them into convincing Fiona to say “I do.” The friends were forced to convince a doubting Fiona to go through with the wedding, no matter what, and now the charade is set to continue all the way to the altar.

Trevor has his own reasons for wanting to marry into Fiona’s family, and he’ll stop at nothing to make his plan a reality. But when he dies of an apparent allergic reaction at the wedding, surrounded by such close enemies, the possibility of murder isn’t far behind. And for the authorities investigating the case, anyone present could be a suspect…

It Could Be Anyone was an enjoyable, satisfying read. The characters all had many layers, which Ms. Hendricks peeled away little by little, revealing a bit more with each page…and intriguing me a bit more, little by little, with every page.

I started and finished this in one day – very easy and compelling story!

I’m giving this 4.5 stars, only because of the random grammatical errors. While there were only a few scattered throughout the book, I found them distracting from the excellent story I was consumed with.

Thank you NetGalley and Pendleton Publishers for the ARC. It Could Be Anyone will be released May 10, 2022.

Something in the Water (book review)

I recently read Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. This was one of Reece Witherspoon’s book club picks, and I found a copy at our local library. It sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a read.

The synopsis:

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

The book started strong and hooked me from the first page. It was interesting, suspenseful, and had some surprises. Good storyline and an easy read (this would be a good beach read).

I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars though, mostly because I found the characters to be difficult to relate to – or, if I’m honest, to like.

Still, I recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a fun, thrilling, suspenseful read. You don’t have to like the characters to enjoy a book, but it helps.

Book Review: Dark Circles

I received an advance reader copy of Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach, and spent this stormy day happily immersed in this book.

The Description: An embattled actress becomes entangled in a dark conspiracy at a spiritual retreat—and starts a true crime podcast to try to break the case—in this chilling novel about fame, violence, and our morbid fascination with murder, from the acclaimed author of Dead Letters.

Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in upstate New York—the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a Spiritual Center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and no shortage of crystals to cleanse her energy.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes the Center is involved. To find out what’s really happened and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything—even her own life—is how it appears.

Oh my…this was so good…5 stars from me!

I was hooked from the first page, completely drawn into the story. There are twists and turns, and surprises and shocks. It is very well written…and (importantly) it is easy to read. The mystery is so compelling that I found it difficult to put the book down, even for a few minutes.

A huge thank you to Caite Dolan-Leach, Random House Publishing, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley. Dark Circles will be out 4/19/22 – soon!

Book Review: Steeped to Death

I was given an advance reader copy of Steeped to Death by Gretchen Rue. It was a fun, easy read. When Phoebe Winchester’s aunt Eudora passes away and leaves everything to her niece—her Victorian mansion, her bookshop/tea store, The Earl’s Study, and one very chubby orange cat named Bob—Phoebe gets more than she bargained for. When a dead man is found on the shop’s back step, apparently killed while trying to break in, Phoebe investigates. 

I really enjoyed the story (mystery, romance, and even a bit of magic!) and found it quite engrossing. Phoebe is a very likable character and I found myself rooting for her. The book made me crave a good cup of tea (perhaps sitting by a cozy fire with an orange cat sitting in my lap) and the recipes at the end were a fun surprise.

My only complaint, and the reason I only give the book 4 stars rather than 5, is the editorial errors peppered throughout; typos, and a few grammatical errors. Not many, but enough to distract from the story.

Overall, I recommend Steeped to Death (publication date 9/6/22). Ms. Rue has created an engaging character in Phoebe and a delightful ambiance in the tea shop and bookstore.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the ARC.