The Cage by Bonnie Kistler

Another locked room mystery? Sign me up! I’ve been on a kick with locked room mysteries lately, and it’s the best!

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

Synopsis: On a cold, misty Sunday night, two women are alone in the offices of fashion conglomerate Claudine de Martineau International. One is the company’s human resources director. Impeccably dressed and perfectly coiffed, she sits at her desk and stares somberly out the window. Down the hall, her colleague, one of the company’s lawyers, is buried under a pile of paperwork, frantically rushing to finish. Leaving at the same time, the two women, each preoccupied by her own thoughts, enter the elevator that will take them down from the 30th floor. When they arrive at the lobby, one of the women is dead. Was it murder or suicide? An incredibly original novel that turns the office thriller on its head, The Cage is a wild ride that begins with a bang and picks up speed as it races to its dramatic end.

This was a really fun read. Even though we know a lot of what happens from the get-go, I was still intrigued throughout the whole book. This definitely reads more of a legal drama, but it was really well done. It was almost the perfect mix of a locked room mystery and a legal drama all together. I don’t see that quite often in books, so this kept my attention the entire time. It’s an easy read as the ending is surprising and intriguing in every way.

5/5 Stars

All The Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle

As soon as I see a book that features a chronic illness that I personally have, I’m all OVER it!

Thank you Margaret K McElderry Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Cara Hawn’s life fell apart after her father cheated on her mother and got remarried to a woman Cara can’t stand. When Cara accidentally posts a rant about her father online, it goes viral—and catches the attention of the TV producers behind a new reality dating show for single parent families. The next thing Cara and her mother know, they’ve been cast as leads on the show and are whisked away to sunny Key West where they’re asked to narrow a field of suitors and their kids down to one winning pair. All of this is outside of Cara’s comfort zone, from the meddling producers to the camera-hungry contestants, especially as Cara and her mother begin to clash on which suitors are worth keeping around. And then comes Connor. As the son of a contestant, Connor is decidedly off-limits. Except that he doesn’t fit in with the cutthroat atmosphere in all the same ways as Cara, and she can’t get him out of her head. Now Cara must juggle her growing feelings while dodging the cameras and helping her mom pick a bachelor they both love, or else risk fracturing their family even more for the sake of ratings. Maybe there’s a reason most people don’t date on TV.

This was so adorable, I loved it. I was shocked to see that the story was more about the relationship between mother and daughter, but it struck a lot of chords with me between being a high school teacher and a mother of a daughter myself. I’m blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my mother, and this book really reminded me of that. I normally would say that a lot of young adult books really seem to focus on either mother/daughter or father/daughter relationships too much, but this particular book fit the trope so well, I really can’t complain. More romance next time? Yes! But for now, this will be a top loved book of mine, for sure!

4.5/5 Stars

Stolen by Tess Stimson

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I’m back on my mystery/thriller run, and I’ve got one you may have missed in your January reads!

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

Synopsis: Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worst. The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie? Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands. Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home? 

This may be tough to read as a mother of a young daughter like myself, but I read it much like the movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson. It was adventurous as such towards the middle of the story, but fell flat in the end for me. If you suspend your disbelief, I think you may be okay with how the book ended, but it’s a bit far fetched. Not a bad read, but not one I would read again.

3/5 Stars

The Maid by Nita Prose

This is a book that has gotten a lot of attention lately. It was featured in multiple book clubs this past month! I’m excited to get the chance to share my thoughts with you.

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

Synopsis: Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection. But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

I thought this was a great cozy mystery. Does it live up to the hype? Not so much. It didn’t grab me in as much as I wanted it to. While I think it’s great to have a neurodivergent character in a story, I’m not sure it’s a great idea to push it to be something so cool just to get people to fall in love with the story. At least, that’s the vibe I got from reading it. It was a slow start, and a bit of a predictable finish. I think there are other locked room mysteries that deserve a read over this one.

3.5/5 Stars

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Is it any surprise that I would reach for a thrilling space story? I think not!

Thank you Tor Nightfire for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate. What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right. Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.

What a thrill of a ride! I absolutely devoured this book. This is a locked room mystery novel that gave me Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone vibes. It’s everything I want in a novel such as this. It had me biting my nails until the very last page. If anyone has other books like this to recommend, send them my way because this was such a fun read for me!

5/5 Stars

All I Want by Darcey Bell

I had heard a lot about Darcey’s previous novel “A Simple Favor”, and I’m ashamed to admit I have not read it yet, but was intrigued to read her newest book seen here.

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

Synopsis: When Emma’s husband, Ben, falls in love with a large Victorian mansion for sale in upstate New York, he swears to her the fixer-upper will be worth the risk. With a baby on the way, Emma would like to live in a charming, safe community, after all—and in a space larger than a one-bedroom New York City apartment. On impulse, she agrees to Ben’s plan and they put in an offer on the house. Sure, the mansion has a somewhat creepy backstory and is a bit dilapidated, but Emma and Ben are in this together, aren’t they? When strange things start happening, Emma begins to experience a little buyer’s remorse. What’s the real history of this house? Is its dark history repeating itself? Why does her husband suddenly seem so distant? Is she in danger? Is her baby?

Well, this was a bit of a letdown for me. I really wasn’t impressed with the plot or character development. I liked how the book started off with such eerie vibes, but it completely fell flat. Don’t even get me started about the ending. The twist was definitely not worth the read. Score one point for creating a story that’s unforgettable and another for an absolutely beautiful cover! I will go back and try her previous book as I have heard a lot of hype about that one – in a good way.

2/5 Stars

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Ever been in the mood to read something just completely different than normal? I think I’ve got a great book for you!

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

Synopsis: This murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect. The Fairway Players, a local theater group, is in the midst of rehearsals for an Arthur Miller play, when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Haywood and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow cast-mates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival. But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. New actress Sam, a former NGO worker, raises doubts. But are her suspicions justified? Or does she have a history with the doctor involved? As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head the night of the dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may still be on the loose.

Like I said, this book is different and unique in the fact that it is written in multiple formats (ie. text messages, emails, etc.). It took me awhile to get used to, but I had a lot of fun reading it. There are a lot of characters in play, and mapping out their motives can be a bit tricky when reading messages in multiple formats, but it’s unique, engaging, and entertaining read. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

4/5 Stars

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

One of the greatest things to come with diving into the social world of the love of reading is discovering new authors. I discovered Diane about 3 years ago, and have loved her books ever since. I wish I had known about her for much longer!

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

Synopsis: When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families. 

Diane’s books are just some of the most wonderful stories I’ve read that stick with you for the rest of time. This is one of those stories. While many of my readers know that I’m not a huge fan of alternating timelines, I get so excited when I find authors that do it well. This is one of those authors. The historical context was captivating and impeccable. I found myself wanting to know more outside of the book. I highly recommend this book for you to read.

5/5 Stars

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

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If you’ve been following the book world on social media accounts, you’ve probably noticed the huge hype that Colleen has stumbled upon. Everyone is obsessed with her work, and it’s easy to tell why!

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

Synopsis: After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself. The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them. The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.

I’ve read quite a few “CoHo” books, so I went into this one with some expectations. They definitely lived up to them. As per usual, once I start one of her books, I can’t stop. I can devour them in 2 hours, much like I did this one. Cue the emotional roller coaster! I loved everything about this book, except there was a romance scene in the beginning that I felt was completely rushed and unrealistic. Even though it was necessary for the rest of the story, I still couldn’t seem to shake it. Regardless, it’s a book I can see myself reading again. I will forever read a Colleen Hoover book.

4/5 Stars

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

We’ve got a nice winter storm coming up, so I’m excited to be diving into my kindle this week!

Thank you One More Chapter for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: How well do you know your neighbor? Would you trust them with your life? I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music. I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox. Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her. Because I know her best, and I heard everything.

I was hoping for an easy fast-paced read that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but this was not that. It’s slow, unrealistic, and has too quick of an ending for my liking. It doesn’t help that I have read so many thrillers in my past, because this just didn’t match up to them. It’s not terrible, but not something I would recommend others to read if they want a good thriller.

2/5 Stars