Holdout by Jeffrey Kluger

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Since most recently reading and loving “Project Hail Mary”, I’ve been going for all the space-themed books!

Thank you Dutton for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Walli Beckwith is a model astronaut. She graduated at the top of her class from the Naval Academy, had a successful career flying fighter jets, and has spent more than three hundred days in space. So when she refuses to leave her post aboard the International Space Station following an accident that forces her fellow astronauts to evacuate, her American and Russian colleagues are mystified. For Walli, the matter at hand feels all too clear and terrifying for her to be worried about ruining her career. She is stuck in a race against time to save a part of the world that seems to have been forgotten, and also the life of the person she loves the most. She will go to any length necessary, using the only tool she has, to accomplish what she knows is right.

This was a mix of mystery, contemporary, and a touch of science fiction. There is a good amount of science in it, but not nearly as much as Project Hail Mary and not nearly enough to steer non-science lovers away from this. The one thing that shocked me the most was how political it was. A little too much for my liking, especially for having it advertised as a science fiction novel. Not a bad read, but not something I would pick up again.

3/5 Stars

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

I’m back into reading more twisty thrillers, and this is said to be one of the best!

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

Synopsis: On a summer’s night in 1994, sixteen-year-old Flora Powell vanished from her sleepy seaside town without a trace. Their hearts shattered, Flora’s mother, her sister Heather, and Heather’s best friend Jess had to somehow carry on not knowing what happened. Twenty-five years later, tragedy strikes again when Heather walks into a stranger’s house and allegedly kills two people in cold blood. Why would this loving wife and doting new mother commit such a heinous crime? Jess, now a reporter, returns to the hometown she left behind to cover the case and dig for answers. But this isn’t like any other story. Jess was like a sister to the Powell girls, until the summer that tore them all apart. What happened to the girl she used to know? The question haunts Jess and propels her to find the key that may unlock the mysteries involving both sisters. But the search may reveal more . . . a darker side to this idyllic place she thought she knew.

This is actually a re-publishing of this novel. The original publishing date was back in 2019, so if this sounds familiar to you, you may have read it before! This is one of those fun novels where little clues are left throughout to have you feeling like a real detective, trying to guess the twist in the end. This is another multiple point-of-view novel which isn’t always my favorite, but this is really well done. The ending especially made it totally worth it. This was a really fun summer thriller that you won’t want to pass up before summer ends!

4/5 Stars

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones

Ah, Sandie Jones. She’s a go-to author of mine that I never want to miss! I’m excited to share her latest novel releasing today!

Thank you Minotaur Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Six friends. Rachel and Noah have been friends since they met at university. While they once thought that they might be something more, now, twenty years later, they are each happily married to other people, Jack and Paige respectively. Jack’s brother Will is getting married, to the dazzling, impulsive Ali, and the group of six travel to Portugal for their destination weekend. Three couples. As they arrive at a gorgeous villa perched on a cliff-edge, overlooking towering waves that crash on the famous surfing beaches below at Nazaré, they try to settle into a weekend of fun. While Rachel is looking forward to getting to know her future sister-in-law Ali better, Ali can’t help but rub many of the group up the wrong way: Rachel’s best friend Paige thinks Ali is attention-seeking and childish, and while Jack is trying to support his brother Will’s choice of wife, he is also finding plenty to disagree with Noah about. One fatal misunderstanding . . . But when Rachel discovers something about Ali that she can hardly believe, everything changes. As the wedding weekend unfolds, the secrets each of them hold begin to spill, and friendships and marriages threaten to unravel. Soon, jumping to conclusions becomes the difference between life and death.

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t my favorite book of hers. That’s alright! I think the problem for this book was that it was really similar to her style of her previous novels. I was hoping for something a little more dramatic and something that would stand out a bit more. The characters were unlikable for me and there was too much conversation going on between them that I really could care less about. It was a middle-of-the-line thriller for me. Not bad, but not one I would read again or jump to recommend to others.

3/5 Stars

Where The Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

All right you guys, this is one of those books that has been talked about in the book world for a few months now. It comes as a highly anticipated debut from this author and is available today! Let’s check it out.

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

Synopsis: The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets. When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences. Among those secrets: Abi’s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders. But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever. 

This is another multiple point-of-view novel taken place in different times. Not my favorite type of style thriller to read, but more and more authors are doing it so I have to bite the bullet and read on. With that in mind, it was fairly well done despite a few hiccups where I had to backtrack to pay attention to what timeline I was reading about. This was a really unique mystery which I appreciate having read a lot on my own. It started off as a typical mystery novel, and really turned into something a whole lot more intriguing. The writing was really well done for a debut author as well. I enjoyed reading this small town vibes during the summer months and highly recommend this one.

4/5 Stars

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie

Sometimes I read too many thrillers, and I just need a good romance to lighten the load.

Thank you Little Brown and Company for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Megan Givens and Tom Prescott are heading into what is supposed to be their magical wedding weekend on beautiful San Juan Island. But with two difficult families, ten years of history, and all too many secrets, things quickly go wrong. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner they vow to call the whole thing off—only to wake up the next morning stuck together in a time loop. Are they really destined to relive the worst day of their lives, over and over? And what happens if their wedding day does arrive?

You had me at time travel with this one. I truly am a sucker for time travel books, no matter what! This was so adorable, I loved every moment of it. I fell in love with the writing, the characters, the groundhog day plot, the humor, the whit, you name it. This would also be a super great movie, just saying! This is your next perfect summer read.

5/5 Stars

The Stranger In The Mirror by Liv Constantine

Pretty much anything by Liv Constantine is an automatic must-read for me. These ladies never disappoint me!

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

Synopsis: Addison’s about to get married, but she’s not looking forward to the big day. It’s not her fiancé; he’s a wonderful man. It’s because Addison doesn’t know who she really is. A few years ago, a kind driver found her bleeding next to a New Jersey highway and rescued her. While her physical wounds healed, Addison’s memory never returned. She doesn’t know her real name. Or how she ended up injured on the side of a road. Or why she can’t shake the notion that she may have done something very, very bad . . .In a posh home in the Boston suburbs, Julian tries to figure out what happened to his loving, caring wife, Cassandra, who disappeared without a trace two years ago. She would never have left him and their seven-year-old daughter Valentina of her own free will—or would she?

And again, another read that surely does not disappoint! This may, in fact, be one of my favorite books by them! This is a fast-pace, nail-biting thriller that you can’t help but read in one sitting. The chapters are short and leave you begging for more. There isn’t much I want to give away on this one because the twists are so good, you don’t want to expect anything!

5/5 Stars

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream by Dean Jobb

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you may be aware that I am a high school science teacher by trade. One of my reading goals this year (and it really has been my reading goals the last few years) is to read more nonfiction. I’ve definitely been leaning more towards science-based nonfiction books, and this one just sounded amazing. Science, mystery, murder, and thrills? Sign me up!

Thank you Algonquin Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help. Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.”

This was a phenomenal read! Murder and obsession in it’s true form. Dean thoroughly did his research for this one. If Jack The Ripper’s story intrigues you, get a load of this one. If you like a good suspenseful mystery, then you will love this one. Thomas was so sneaky with everything he did, it’s the perfect real life suspense. It’s almost unbelievable! Highly recommend this one!

5/5 Stars

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

My first book by Louise was Our House. That was a few years ago, and I STILL think about this book ’til this day. I think about it quite often in fact! Something about her writing just engulfs my brain.

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

Synopsis: You’re feeling pretty smug about your commute to work by riverboat. No more traffic gridlock or getting stuck on the tube in tunnels (you’re claustrophobic); now you’ve got an iconic Thames view, fresh air ?— a whole lifestyle upgrade. You’ve made new friends onboard — led by your hedonistic young neighbor, Kit ?— and just had your first ‘water rats’ Christmas drinks. But the first day back after Christmas, Kit isn’t on the morning boat. The river landmarks are all the same, but something’s off. You disembark to find the police waiting. Kit’s wife, Melia, has reported him missing and another passenger witnessed the two of you arguing on the last boat home after your drinks. Police say you had a reason to lash out at him. To kill him. You protest. You and Kit are friends ?— ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your private lives? No, whatever coincidences might have occurred that night, you are innocent, totally innocent. Aren’t you? 

And now I have another book to be thinking on for years to come. This was a hit for me! I think what’s so great about her books, and especially this one, is that she does such a great job throwing you right into the story. I felt like I was right on the riverboat myself! The twist in the end caught me off guard, and I actually enjoyed learning about what happened months after that! Another awesome story.

5/5 Stars

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

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I’m a sucker for books about teachers, especially thrillers and especially if they’re by Samantha Downing! I’ve been so excited to read this novel!

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

Synopsis: Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed 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 the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on 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. It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

The wait to read this book was so worth it! What a stellar read! As a teacher myself, I thought Teddy was such a well developed character. This novel is told in multiple point of views, but so well done. I’m usually not a fan of that, but I can’t imagine this book written any other way. There are so many surprises throughout this book, I don’t want to give anymore away! Make sure to read this before you watch it on HBO Max (yes, it already has the TV rights it’s that good!)

5/5 Stars

A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan

Sometimes, a good title and even better cover art is all that a girl needs to pick her next read. Especially when the title has the same name as you do.

Thank you Little Brown and Company for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure  service workers, are not particularly happy together. But they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, Remy and Alicia’s entire relationship revolves around fantasies of Jen, whose every Instagram caption, outfit, and new age mantra they know by heart. Imagine their confused excitement when they run into Jen, in the flesh, and she invites them on a surfing trip to the Hamptons with her wealthy boyfriend and their group. Once there, Remy and Alicia try (a little too hard) to fit into Jen’s exalted social circle, but violent desire and class resentment bubble beneath the surface of this beachside paradise, threatening to erupt. As small disturbances escalate into outright horror, we find ourselves tumbling with Remy and Alicia into an uncanny alternate reality, one shaped by their most unspeakable, deviant, and intoxicating fantasies.  Is this what “self-actualization” looks like?

A toxic Instagram crush creates one heck of a monster in this wild ride! Is this a romance? Is this fantasy? How about science fiction? Is it comical? I don’t know how, but it’s all of the above and Beth did a great job at that! This book is so unique and makes it a must-read! There truly is no other story like it. It’s addicting!

4.5/5 Stars