Book Review: The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Book Review: The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Thank you to Atria books for sending me a free copy of The Family Plot in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse remains haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has been unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen.

After several years away and following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house where the family soon makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.

Dahlia is quick to blame Andy’s murder on the serial killer who terrorized the island for decades, while the rest of the Lighthouses react to the revelation in unsettling ways. Her brother, Charlie, pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister, Tate, forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic facade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.

My Review:

This was one of the most fun books I have read in a while and I have a lot to say about it, so get ready! Right from the first page, I was ready to see where this story was going to go. The Lighthouse family is introduced, reciting all of the murder victims each family member is named after. That would hook you, too, right? It continues on this dark and sinister theme as the plot continues, and I must say that the pacing was absolutely perfect. There was not a dull moment. Reading this book felt like walking up a flight of stair, and each chapter was a step in the staircase. It was constantly building, and something was always happening.

I really want to talk about who might enjoy this book, and it’s more people than you might think! Of course any fans of true crime will love this one, because it is full of the mania that has recently exploded in the genre, with the help of several podcasts and streaming documentaries. Seriously, packed full! But I also think that people who enjoy YA thrillers, those mysterious and atmospheric novels that are light on the gore and violence, because this one had the same hallmarks. Only a handful of curse words were used, and while previous murders are discussed, there isn’t any violence in this one. Which I think is smart because it can reach more people that way. Lastly, this would make the perfect spooky fall read! It reminded me of Home Before Dark by Riley Sage and also the TV adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. The plot is very different from those two stories, but the spooky old house elements are all there. The August release of this one is perfectly timed to get into readers hands before spooky season!

If you can’t tell yet that I loved this one, let me assure you: I loved it! Great characters that were dynamic and interacted with each other well. Dark and ominous setting and back story. A mystery that had me stumped. And not one single lull, I was engrossed in every page! If you like spooky at all, you need to read this one! Out August 17, 2021.

Book Review: The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Book Review: The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Thank you to Atria books for sending me a free copy of The Night She Disappeared in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.

One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?

With her signature “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Lisa Jewell has crafted a dazzling work of suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page.

My Review:

It should come as no surprise that Lisa Jewell has done it again! She has written another amazing thriller that is equal parts twisted, tightly wound thriller and insightful, character driven life lesson story. I just don’t know how she does it!

I used to always say that I didn’t like character driven stories, but Lisa Jewell single handedly is the one who changed that for me. She writes such realistic characters that are going through tough spots in life, and she is able to imbibe so much insightful reflection about people, relationships, and life into her stories. Tallulah’s reflections of young motherhood in this book really resonated with me and added so much heart to this novel.

The thriller parts of this one were also expertly executed, I was guessing to the end and of course the outcome was so much more complex than I had originally thought, but every last piece of the puzzle fit! I will say, this might be the first of her books that I did feel lagged just a little in the middle, it was starting to feel slightly redundant, but I still really loved it! I highly recommend any of her thrillers!

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Thank you to Berkley and Kaye Publicity for sending me a free copy of For Your Own Good in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.
 
He says his wife couldn’t be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.
 
Teddy really can’t be bothered with a few mysterious deaths on campus that’re looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is pushing these kids to their full academic potential.  
 
All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way. If not, well, they’ll get what they deserve.
 
It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

My Review:

This is one of the funnest books I have read in a very long time! I was hooked right from the start. For Your Own Good is the perfect balance of plot, setting, love-to-hate-them characters and more twists than a pretzel!

The setting is great: Belmont is the quintessential stuffy prep school run by the pushiest and richest parents around. I don’t know a single person who ever went to a school like that, and I think that is why they make such great novel settings. We get a glimpse into the scandalous and elite lives of the uber rich. And it’s like watching the most polite and polished train wreck ever!

But the twists in this book! Oh my, I didn’t see a single one coming so I was constantly gasping out loud or exclaiming “Omg, that did NOT just happen!?” As soon as one little fire was getting put out, all of a sudden another sprang up. I usually like trying to guess what is going to happen in the story but that was virtually impossible with this book, and I didn’t mind one bit! It’s what made it such a captivating and fun read!

And those characters! Such utterly despicable characters, always poised and polished on the outside for the sake of keeping up appearances but falling apart on the inside. Teddy was such a perfect stereotype of the man who always thinks he knows what’s best, Sonia’s perfectionism made her so unhappy, and Zach is the only one willing to question things, to challenge people, to stand up for what’s right.

The best part: even though this book surrounds multiple murders, it has quite a bit of humor in it as well. It kind of reminded me of the movie Clue! Because of that, it gave the book a slightly lighter feel and I think just about anyone could read and enjoy this. For those of you who want a thriller, but scare easy, this one is for you. A highly entertaining read that I definitely recommend!

Such A Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Such A Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Thank you to Simon and Shuster for sending me a free copy of Such A Quiet Place in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

We had no warning that she’d come back.​

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

Pulsating with suspense and with the shocking twists that are Megan Miranda’s trademark, Such a Quiet Place is Megan Miranda’s best novel yet—a twisty locked-box thriller that will keep you turning pages late into the night.


My Review:

This is a book for anyone who has ever regretted living in a neighborhood with an HOA!  Such A Quiet Place starts out just like it’s title suggests: A safe and quiet neighborhood, where the neighbors are all friends and look out for each other.  When two of their own are murdered in their beds, and another is convicted of killing them, it seems as if justice has been served and they can go back to their safe and quiet life.  However, with secret notes and surveillance camera galore, the integrity of each neighbor is put under a microscope and you guessed it: things are not what they seemed! 

I enjoyed this one over all, but it was a slow burn and at times a little too slow for me. I can definitely picture this one being a nice and lazy summer beach read.  It’s not suspenseful enough so that you can’t put it down, but it’s easy to slip back into it after a little break, or nap in the sun. I was a little confused at the beginning, as the main problem wasn’t really apparent and it did take too long for it to get there, in my opinion.  But I did like the take on the ever present HOA rules, spinning something many people miserably deal every day with into something much more sinister. Overall a fun, easy thriller, but not one that will stick with you.

Book Review: The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

Book Review: The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

A roller coaster of suspense, tension and emotions, The Last Thing To Burn is not one you’ll want to miss!

Synopsis:

On an isolated farm in the United Kingdom, a woman is trapped by the monster who kidnapped her seven years ago. When she discovers she is pregnant, she resolves to protect her child no matter the cost, and starts to meticulously plan her escape. But when another woman is brought into the fold on the farm, her plans go awry. Can she save herself, her child, and this innocent woman at the same time? Or is she doomed to spend the remainder of her life captive on this farm? 

My Review:

To use one word to describe this book, that word would be: tension.  My stomach was in a knot the whole time I was reading The Last Thing To Burn and I simply could not put it down. Literally from page one until the end, I was worried for the main character and admired her strength and selflessness as she thought staying in her horrific situation would help her sister. While this story was similar to Room by Emma Donoghue, there are plenty of differences that make this read equal as entertaining without feeling like you’ve read it before. 

In addition to all the stress and tension, Dean inserted twist after twist that made this novel one of the most compulsive books I have ever read! I really just can’t say enough how much I loved this book: not only did I love the story but my experience reading it was like nothing I have ever felt before!  That’s a powerful book, people! 

I always feel like the books I love most are the hardest to review, and this is no exception. I really enjoyed it, I felt so deeply for the main character and her struggles and of course I was rooting for her the whole time.  I definitely feel the need to address some trigger warnings, however.  This novel includes triggers of abduction and kidnapping, trafficing, capitivity, as well as some sexual abuse, however thankfully Dean did not describe in any kind of detail the sexual acts that may have happened, but rather hinted about what was going on. Because of the intensity and dire situations presented in the book, people with similar traumas in their past may not want to read this. 

Book Review: The Therapist by B.A. Paris

Book Review: The Therapist by B.A. Paris


Thank you St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy of The Therapist in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

Synopsis:

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…


My Review:

Let me start off by saying that B.A.Paris is one of my favorite authors.  It all started with her first book Behind Closed Doors, which is a book that engrossed me from the first to last page and made me realize just how much I like suspenseful and dark novels.  It literally changed my reading habits.  I used to read mostly literary and historical fiction, but with this one book, I started finding different books to read in darker genres such as mystery, thriller and crime fiction. And instead of slowly reading a book here or there, my true love for reading took off and had me flying through the books that all of a sudden I couldn’t get enough of!   So I can honestly say that this author has made a lasting impact on my reading life.

I have read all of her books, and I feel like they are all different from one another yet each has something to offer.  And I love that!  I do not want to read the same book over and over.  When I feel like an author is following a “formula” I feel a little taken advantage of. 

I enjoyed The Therapist just as much as Paris’ other books for many reasons.  Instead of diving right into the drama, this novel starts out by simply introducing the characters and their place in life, allowing the reader to get to know them at almost a personal level.  But that is not to say that the book starts off slowly, it doesn’t, rather it starts at the beginning and gradually unravels the mystery, suspense and unease as it goes, which I thought was perfectly executed!  

The simmering progression of the plot made things occur in a way that felt natural, rather than forced or ridiculous.  I would imagine it being a fine line for the thriller writer between suspenseful and unrealistic, but with the naturally unfolding chain of events in The Therapist, this story felt almost as if it is something that could actually happen. 

With no gore or violent scenes, this is a thriller for the masses!  I really enjoyed it and I think this one will be a summer hit!

Book Review: The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Book Review: The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Thank you to Berkley for providing me a free digital copy of The Hunting Wives in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.

Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.

When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.

My Review:

While I have never seen an episode of any of the “Real Housewives” TV shows, I know what they are and I have to imagine that The Hunting Wives has a lot for the same elements in common: wives behaving badly, keeping secrets, living wildly, and all the drama! If you like that TV series, then this book is perfect for you! I don’t normally get into stories heavy with the drama, and this one did go a little over the top for my personal preferences, but I still had fun reading it. The mystery in the second half of the book is what made this one work for me. If it was just going to be naughty drama all the way through, I don’t think I would have liked it as much.

With that being said, I think The Hunting Wives is very well written. The character development is strong and the plot was also well done, with lots of storylines weaving together. This is one of those novels that is just a lot of a fun to read, a great guilty pleasure! If you are looking for something light and fun to take your mind off of things for a while, this is a great choice!

Buy on Amazon:

https://amzn.to/2XG4tMu

B & N: http://bit.ly/35DV3Wi

Book Review: The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Book Review: The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and Kaye Publicity for sending me a free copy of The Dead Husband in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Twenty years ago an unspeakable tragedy rocked Rose Yates’s small, affluent hometown… and only Rose and her family know the truth about what happened.

Haunted by guilt, Rose escaped into a new life. Now she seems to have it all: a marriage, a son, a career. And then her husband is found dead.

As far as Detective Colin Pearson is concerned, Rose is guilty. Her marriage wasn’t as happy as she’d led everyone to believe, and worse, she’s connected to a twenty-year-old cold case. She can play the part of the victim, but he won’t let her or her family escape justice this time around.

Grieving her husband and struggling to make ends meet, Rose returns home, hoping to finally confront her domineering father and unstable sister. But memories of a horrific crime echo through the house, and Rose soon learns that she can’t trust anyone, especially not the people closest to her.

My Review:

The Dead Husband started out strong. It has a lot of mystery build up, with plenty of history the characters are trying to keep hidden in the past. I was really enjoying the book and was eager to find out everyone’s secrets. There is more than one piece of the past being hidden and I was curious to see how everything would fit together in the end.

However, the ending of this one really let me down. First of all, it felt rushed. After all that build up, and at almost 400 pages, everything came crashing down all at once, and there wasn’t a sense of closure, either positive or negative. Also, the big twist at the end felt a little on the unrealistic side, which is something that really bothers me. I was left feeling really disappointed, because I liked the book up until the last 30 pages, so I guess I will go right down the middle with this one and rate it at 2.5 stars.

Book Review: Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Book Review: Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Synopsis:

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

My Review:

Magpie Lane was such a lush book to get lost in! I wouldn’t necessarily call it atmospheric, but the Oxford setting, the old master’s house and the scholarly college vibes made for a very immersive reading experience. I love when a book gives you the chance to see a behind-closed-doors look at the lives of posh people, and Magpie Lane delivered that. Nick and Mariah are those type of people that seem to have it all together, but only the parts that they let people see. I loved getting to see how much they dropped the ball on while trying to project a much more elevated front.

One thing that was a little hard for me was the timeline and overall format. The novel is almost like a collection of stories about the nanny’s time with the family, all told in response to questions the detectives are asking her, in their efforts to find Felicity. For the most part, the stories go in order but I felt the lines between past and present were a little muddled. Someone like me likes nice headings that tell the when and where, but this is something that might not bother most people.

I really was guessing until the end. I had a lot of theories, and one of them did turn out to be right, but I wasn’t sure until the end. I felt like this was a slow burn of a thriller, but I really did enjoy it overall. There weren’t too many characters, which is good, yet they all had their own shadowy history, so you really don’t know who to root for! A little on the cozy side, this would make a good fall or winter mystery!

Book Review: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Book Review: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Thank you to Libro.fm and the publisher for the free audiobook!

Synopsis:
here’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Review:

What a fun and outside of the box thriller. The Good Sister did not start off as a thriller, in my opinion. It actually didn’t start feeling that tense way a thriller feels until about the 60% mark. But that’s not to say the first part of the book wasn’t enjoyable, because it definitely was!!

As a character driven novel, the book starts off by introducing us to Fern. And what a character she is! She struggles with social situations and her dialog, both internal and external felt comically relatable! She seems to be on the Autism spectrum, but that is never stated. (Note: I am not sure if this was intentional for the character and how accurate the portrayal of an autistic person is.)

The reader also gets to meet Fern’s sister Rose, albeit mostly through Rose’s journal entries. What begins as a story about these two sisters, their unstable childhood and how they are supportive of each other as adults takes a screeching 180 spin towards crazy town! The last 40% of the book was so hard to put down, it was tense, emotional and suspenseful!! I enjoyed every minute of this one and will be looking for this author’s backlist titles!