The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

If you haven’t read a Lisa Jewell novel, then stop reading this right away and go pick one up. You really can’t go wrong with her writing!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: 2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim. Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits. The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah’s friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place. She never returns. 2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree. ‘DIG HERE’ . . .

An abandoned mansion AND a cold case? Sign me up! This was a whirlwind of a novel – a little slow in the middle of the novel, but packed a punch in the end. She does the two timelines really well which is saying something from a person who isn’t a huge fan of alternating timelines and perspectives. This is the perfect book to pick up on a chilly fall evening this season.

4/5 Stars

My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa

55510715

The best thing about being around others who love books as much as you do, you learn about so many good books that you would’ve never picked up ever before.

Thank you Berkley for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Ever since she was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage, Paloma has had the best of everything—schools, money, and parents so perfect that she fears she’ll never live up to them. Now at thirty years old and recently cut off from her parents’ funds, she decides to sublet the second bedroom of her overpriced San Francisco apartment to Arun, who recently moved from India. Paloma has to admit, it feels good helping someone find their way in America—that is until Arun discovers Paloma’s darkest secret, one that could jeopardize her own fragile place in this country. Before Paloma can pay Arun off, she finds him face down in a pool of blood. She flees the apartment but by the time the police arrive, there’s no body—and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place. Paloma is terrified this is all somehow tangled up in the desperate actions she took to escape Sri Lanka so many years ago. Did Paloma’s secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before?

The best thing I can say is, try to take as little from the synopsis as possible. I think just opening this book and reading it right away with fresh eyes is the best thing ever. The writing is absolutely superb. The story itself is very similar to other thrillers, but I appreciated the cultural twist added to this one! If you read a lot of thrillers or mysteries, I think this is a toss up. You will probably guess the twists early on, but I really don’t want you to miss out on how well this was written. All in all, a great debut. I can’t wait to see more from this author!

4/5 Stars

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

56732449

Sometimes you just need a really good romance novel for a break in-between the thrills and mayhem.

Thank you Berkley for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees. That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs. Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

As a scientist by trade myself, I absolutely loved this book. It was the perfect mix of romance, science, and comedy. This, in my opinion, is the perfect romance book. Not only were you rooting for the main characters, but you were also falling in love with the side characters too! I wanted more of the story and secretly hope there is something in the works down the line. Plus, a story about women in STEM? Heck yes!

5/5 Stars

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

56383038

Next up on my September thriller list is a book that’s been getting a fair amount of attention in the book lovers world.

Thank you Park Row Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a leggings-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her. Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements. When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.

I loved the psychopath premise to this story line. In my opinion, that really gives you a true thriller reading experience. On the other hand, this book had multiple point-of-views that seemed to be all over the place. It was also a tad longer than it needed to be. The plot was unique (especially for someone that reads a lot of thrillers), and the ending made it worth the drudging through the middle, so I really am glad I took the time to read it.

3.5/5 Stars

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

56269064

Yay! We have finally entered the -Ber months, my favorite time of year! Now is especially more fun because it’s the perfect season for mysteries and thrillers!

Thank you Flatiron Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

When the characters are named Mr. and Mrs. Wright, you know it’s going to be a good domestic thriller. This was a great example of a good thriller with unreliable narrators. You couldn’t trust anyone in this book, and it was honestly really well done because of that. Most books tend to fall apart or become too far fetched with unreliable narrators. This was not one of those. The twist and final reveal was jaw-dropping for me. This was Alice’s best one yet!

5/5 Stars

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

Since living in Asheville for about 11 years, I’ve come to fall in love with local author Stephanie Perkins. She’s well known for her excellent young adult romance, but did you know she can write horror too?

Thank you Penguin Teen for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest. Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.

I give all the props to Stephanie – to be able to write such opposite genres (horror and romance) takes true talent! While this wasn’t my favorite book by her, I thought it was an enjoyable read. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but I really liked the young adult aspect to it. I think if this was an adult horror novel, I would’ve thought less of it. I really liked introducing a character with an Indian background and thought she did a really good job with it. On the other hand, I think the book was filled with a bit more drama than needed to be. I want a horror novel to sneak up on you. This had a lot happening all at once. Not a bad read, but not something I would read again.

I did have a wonderful time with Stephanie and Malaprops Bookstore celebrating her book being published this week!

3.5/5 Stars

Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans

I really have to give myself a pat on the back this year because I’m so dang proud of myself for stretching out and reading more nonfiction! I’ve definitely reached more for the science nonfiction, but I have found what intrigues me the most!

Thank you St Martin’s Press for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: During the early twentieth century, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women, whose lives were changed forever by their journeys between the Old World and the New. Some traveled for leisure, some for work; others to reinvent themselves or find new opportunities. They were celebrities, migrants and millionaires, refugees, aristocrats and crew members whose stories have mostly remained untold—until now. Maiden Voyages is a fascinating portrait of these women as they crossed the Atlantic. The ocean liner was a microcosm of contemporary society, divided by class: from the luxury of the upper deck, playground for the rich and famous, to the cramped conditions of steerage or third class travel. In first class you’ll meet A-listers like Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Simpson, and Josephine Baker; the second class carried a new generation of professional and independent women, like pioneering interior designer Sibyl Colefax. Down in steerage, you’ll follow the journey of émigré Maria Riffelmacher as she escapes poverty in Europe. Bustling between decks is a crew of female workers, including Violet “The Unsinkable Stewardess” Jessop, who survived the Titanic disaster. Entertaining and informative, Maiden Voyages captures the golden age of ocean liners through the stories of the women whose transatlantic journeys changed the shape of society on both sides of the globe.

You can really tell that Sian did her research on this one! This book just takes you back in time and paints a great picture of what life was like on ships and what life was like as a woman working on a ship. With that being said, it was way more detailed than I think it needed to be. I wanted a little more about the women in specific, not necessarily the history of the ships and the culture surrounding specific timelines focused throughout the book. I wanted more emotion, not necessarily repetitive factual information. If you enjoyed Radium Girls or Hidden Figures, I think you will really like this one!

3/5 Stars

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

This is one of my most highly anticipated reads this year, so I’m so excited to finally get the chance to read it!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse has a lot to learn when it comes to the real world. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has spent the last several years living on her own, but unable to move beyond her past—especially the disappearance of her twin brother Andy when they were sixteen. With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax. Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual 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. 

This was interesting. It was different than I thought it would be. The first chapters of the book really give away a lot of the meat to this story. I feel like if this was a slow burn, it would’ve added a creepy factor that I think this story was missing. The ending was a bit far-fetched, but it wrapped up a lot of questions I had throughout my time reading. It’s not as unique of a story as I was expecting (but then again, I read a lot of mystery novels), but I really do enjoy Megan’s writing style and can’t wait to read more from her.

3/5 Stars

The Unwelcome Guest by Amanda Robson

56754277

I have to admit – I think they did an awesome job with this cover artwork! I mean, if I saw this on the bookshelf, I would be immediately drawn to it right away! As I am now into reading it…

Thank you Avon books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Saffron vowed to love Miles no matter what life threw at them both. But when her mother-in-law moves into their happy family home, Saffron’s shiny life begins to tarnish. Even as Caprice’s barbed comments turn to something more sinister, Saffron hopes the new nanny’s arrival will shield her from the worst of it. She’s starting to feel paranoid in her own home. Little does she realize that Caprice longs for a new daughter-in-law – and she’ll do anything to make that happen… 

There are a lot of mother-in-law thrillers out there. I mean, a LOT. That being said, this wasn’t any different than any other stories like this. The only difference was the amount of point-of-views this story was told in. There are a lot of characters mixed into this plot and hearing the story from all of their perspectives was a lot for me. They were a bunch of crazy characters, that’s for sure. It’s a fast-paced read if you’re in the mood for something quick and wild. I just couldn’t get on board with this one…

2/5 Stars

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

54860341

Nicola Harrison is one of my most favorite authors. I absolutely fell in love with her previous novel Montauk, and was so excited to get my hands on this one!

Thank you St Martin’s Press for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: It’s 1927 when Olive McCormick moves from Minneapolis to New York City determined to become a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Extremely talented as a singer and dancer, it takes every bit of perseverance to finally make it on stage. And once she does, all the glamour and excitement is everything she imagined and more–even worth all the sacrifices she has had to make along the way. Then she meets Archie Carmichael. Handsome, wealthy–the only man she’s ever met who seems to accept her modern ways–her independent nature and passion for success. But once she accepts his proposal of marriage he starts to change his tune, and Olive must decide if she is willing to reveal a devastating secret and sacrifice the life she loves for the man she loves.

As if Nicola couldn’t get any better! I’m not a historical fiction reader, but this book was phenomenal. I couldn’t help to feel for Olive. I just had such a big heart for her. She went through so much in this book, and I just wanted to be her best friend and steer her in the right path. I really felt like I was in the 1920s reading this novel. Nicola has such an awesome talent for writing such beautiful and captivating stories. This comes highly recommended!

5/5 Stars