Book Review: A Caller’s Game by J.D.Barker

Book Review: A Caller’s Game by J.D.Barker

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a free digital copy of A Caller’s Game in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Controversial satellite radio talk show host, Jordan Briggs, has clawed her way to the top of the broadcast world. She doesn’t hold back, doesn’t spare feelings, and has no trouble sharing what’s on her mind. Her rigorous pursuit of success has come at a price, though. Her marriage is in ruins, she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, and she’s distanced herself from all those close to her. If not for her young daughter, Charlotte, her personal life would be in complete shambles.

When a subdued man calls into the show and asks to play a game, she sees it as nothing more than a way to kick-start the morning, breathe life into the beginnings of drive-time for her listeners. Against her producer’s advice, she agrees, and unwittingly opens a door to the past.

Live on the air with an audience of millions, what starts out as a game quickly turns deadly—events long thought buried resurface and Jordan Briggs is forced to reconcile with one simple fact—All decisions have consequences. 

My Review:

Wow. Just….wow. This was a non-stop roller coaster ride of a suspense novel that read like an action movie. From the very first page, the reader is treated to razor sharp wit in the form of main character Jordan Briggs, a shock-jock on a satellite radio morning show. A strange call into the show from a listener sends Jordan and the entirety of New York City into terrifying chaos, as bombs begin to explode across the city. From there, this novel peels back layer after layer to unfold a very gripping story.

I do feel like parts of the plot were a little bit of a stretch, realistically speaking, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun read, because it was for sure. I also liked the way Barker spiraled Jordan’s character from the strong woman in the beginning into some much deeper and darker components as the story moved on. The big reveals in the novel made sense and gave a lot of depth to the overall plot. I think the book was a little on the long side, but overall, an extremely entertaining read!

*Trigger Warnings* I do feel the need to mention that due to the violent nature of the bombings in NYC the take place in the A Caller’s Game, this books could potentially trigger some troubling emotions in anyone that was connected to the events of 9/11 in any way.

The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter

The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter


Thank you to Atria books for sending me a copy of The Preserve! This action packed sci-fi thriller is out today and you don’t want to miss it!

Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered. 


Synopsis:

Chief of Police Jesse Laughton on the SoCar Preserve is assigned to the case. He fears the factions that were opposed to the preserves will use the crime as evidence that the new system does not work. As he digs for information, robots in the outside world start turning up dead from bad drug-like programs that may have originated on SoCar land. And when Laughton learns his murder victim was a hacker who wrote drug-programs, it appears that the two cases might be linked. Soon, it’s clear that the entire preserve system is in danger of collapsing. Laughton’s former partner, a robot named Kir, arrives to assist on the case, and they soon uncover shocking secrets revealing that life on the preserve is not as peaceful as its human residents claim. But in order to protect humanity’s new way of life, Laughton must solve this murder before it’s too late. 

The Preserve is a fresh and futuristic mystery that is perfect for fans of Westworld and Blade Runner.

One By One By Ruth Ware

One By One By Ruth Ware

❄️ Book Review ❄️
Many of you know that Ruth Ware is one of my auto buy authors and One By One is another guilty pleasure thriller added to her arsenal!
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This was SO atmospheric, which is something Ware does very well. Set in the French Alps, I was so engrossed in the cozy, accessible only by lift chalet! Who wouldn’t want to stay a week in a staffed, luxury mountain resort chalet!?
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The mystery in this one just kept on spiraling out of control. And while I did guess ‘who dunnit’, I still enjoyed the ride. There are quite a few characters and at first I thought I would have trouble keeping track of them, but that didn’t end up being the case. Ware developed them all perfectly, as well as the faux social media app company they worked for.
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This is the type of thriller that I think a wide range of readers will like. It’s got some murders, but it’s not too violent. It has a lot going on but it’s easy to follow. A very fun read indeed!

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

C163A4FB-E662-4E9A-B80E-00D4AB9953FEThank you to Atria books for sending me a free copy of Invisible Girl in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

My Review:

This book really got it’s claws in me, it’s full of dynamic characters that all feel like someone you already know, both the good and the bad!  Lisa Jewell is a master at character driven suspense thrillers and I loved Invisible Girl!

Each character really got under my skin, I was rooting for almost all of them. On the daily, I am constantly thinking about people: the choices they make, their actions, and how they effect others. This books just fueled that brain fire in my head. It’s such a great look at culture, social niceties and expectations, and what happens when someone decides that they will not just sweep the past under the rug or play by the rules.

This novel, while suspenseful for sure, is such a fantastic character study. I loved it, and I think fans of Jewell will love it too.

Cut To The Bone by Ellison Cooper

Cut To The Bone by Ellison Cooper

C8142161-D74F-4A3A-8B6F-F4D1E94331D2Cut To The Bone is the third book in the Agent Sayer Altair series and it is one heart-pounded thrill ride!

Synopsis:

After grieving the death of her fiancé and almost losing her job, Agent Sayer Altair is finally starting to rebuild her life. Her research into the minds of psychopaths is breaking new ground and her strange little family is thriving. But Sayer’s newfound happiness is threatened when she is called in to investigate a girl’s body left inside a circle of animal figurines below a cryptic message written in blood. When they discover that the dead girl is one of twenty-four missing high school students, Sayer quickly realizes that nothing in this case is what it seems.

As the investigation draws her in to a tangled web of fake identities and false leads, the trail soon begins to point directly to her own life. Now, Sayer must confront her painful past to uncover her connection to the deranged killer if she hopes to save the missing teens and protect everything that she loves.

My Review:

I can’t sing enough praise for this series!  It has lightening fast suspense, it has a completely vulnerable yet tough-as-nails lead character, it has intense, intricately built crimes that are mind boggling puzzles.  Agent Sayer’s background in neuroscience adds such a whip-smart edge to these books that they stand out against all the other crime thrillers out there.

Cut To The Bone is a fantastic addition to the series.  This is one of those book reviews that I just want to say “I loved it, I loved it, I loved it” repeatedly because I just can’t seem to fit my thoughts and feelings into anything else coherent. The suspense was insane, the crime and investigation was so sharp, and the ending!!??  It was intense and sets the stage for a fiery sequel!  I can’t wait!  If I recommend one series to you, let it be this one!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

14D8C0DF-0F7F-4D4E-BDEF-7F4A8640C70DWhat a fun, perfectly balanced ghost story! Sager just seems to hit it out of the park with every book!

I enjoyed the format of Home Before Dark, the chapters alternate between ‘the book’ that Maggie’s dad wrote about their experiences living in a haunted house when she was a child, and Maggie 25 years later trying to debunk what she thinks is all lies. This was new for Sager but he wove the different parts together seamlessly, which I think might be pretty difficult, not giving away too much too soon.

I didn’t think anything was over the top and the haunting seemed about as real as haunting can seem. I wasn’t exactly scared by this book but I did love the suspense. A very fun read that would be perfect in the fall!!

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

D209F495-2755-4281-92C8-76EEBFB145B7Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a free copy of The Girl From Widow Hills in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

My Review:

Megan Miranda really knows how to do the slow burn thriller! The Girl From Widow Hills is full of smoldering mystery.  From the main character’s past, to the shady people in her present, I was guessing until the end on this one. So many shadows were cast, and I did have my suspicions, but the ending unfolded well.

Don’t expect a fast paced suspense novel with The Girl from Widow Hills, but be prepared for mystery and intrigue.  This was the prefect entertaining read for a long weekend (I read it over Memorial Day weekend!) I loved the build up of Olivia’s past with news articles and transcripts, and the way it wove into what was happening to her in the present.  Another plus: short chapters!  Irrelevant, I know, but I like that! Overall, a good, entertaining thriller!

The Dilemma by B.A.Paris

The Dilemma by B.A.Paris

E160BFE8-37DD-4A23-8E21-D854D0AA3999A new thriller from B.A. Paris that is different from her previous work, The Dilemma is a fantastic read!

Synopsis:

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad.

But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be there. Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for his wife: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the family celebration. But during the day, he hears some terrible news and he too is faced with a dilemma.

How far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

My Review:

I have so many great things to say about this book!  The writing, the pacing, the relatability: all perfect!  The entire books takes place over the course of one day, alternating between a husband and wife’s point of view. Each set of chapters moving ahead an hour in the long and eventful day. That set up alone made this a very compelling and page turning read!  I read this fast in just two days.

Here’s why The Dilemma is different from Paris’ previous works: it’s an extremely relatable family drama. Nothing shocking, scandalous (well just a little) or vindictive.  This is not Drama with a capital D and a hair flip, this is real life drama that could really happen to someone. This is a story about a family, about the choices people make and how those choices effect the ones we love most.  There is a lot of inner dialogue that explains the choices of the husband and the wife and that made it really impossible to choose a side and as someone who has been married for almost ten years, I could relate to this story so much!  It was emotional, suspenseful, poignant and beautiful.  I loved it.  It might be the best book I’ve read so far in 2020.

The Closer You Get Release Day!

The Closer You Get Release Day!

E64603D5-C06D-46C7-B90A-BC768A4FF048Thanks to Berkley for sending me a free copy of The Closer You Get! I’m so excited to read this suspenseful domestic drama!

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love—but they’re married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start a new life together. Ruby has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, so she tells him she’s leaving and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby has lost everything. Harry won’t answer her calls, and she’s fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she’s hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen—someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night—and she is going to have to fight for her survival.

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

C2464F78-01DA-410E-A137-1DA3DBC1497EThank you to Dutton books for sending me a free copy of The Familiar Dark in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

My Review:

This book set it’s hooks in me from the very first page and the reading experience of The Familiar Dark was so visceral that I know I will be thinking about it for a very long time. I found the main character Eve to be so realistic, it was harrowing to see the way she changed after the death of her daughter.  I could so clearly picture Eve, her mother, and the run down town they lived in.  What surprised me was the level of depth into Eve’s relationships that Engel was able to slip into the pages. Even though I am not in a situation like Eve’s, I found I was able to relate with her quite a bit, and I think many readers who are mothers will also.

This is definitely what you call a slow burn but it really smoldered the whole way through. With just enough back story to build to plot, The Familiar Dark is an engrossing read with a very big surprise ending!  This book is dark, gritty, raw and heavy but oh so worth it! I highly recommend this book to just about anyone.  Easily a five star read for me!