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

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

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I’m excited to share with you the famous Lisa Gardner’s latest novel releasing this month!

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

Synopsis: Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will–searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking. A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own–and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.¬†

I adore Lisa’s writing, but didn’t love the plot. I think it was more of a slow-read for me compared to some of her previous books. There are two different mysteries going on at once and they slowly unraveled. There are multiple flash-backs that left the plot jumbled in my opinion. This is one I would skip, but would encourage you to read her previous novels, especially if you love following detective series.

3/5 Stars

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

Who wants to read a new spellbinding tale?! ūüôā

Thank you Dutton for my gifted e-copy in exchange for my honest review.

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.¬†

This may be a dark book, but it is a super well written thriller! Wow! I could not put it down! You are fighting the entire time for the girls to get what they deserve. By golly, get ready to go along for the wild ride! There were so many twists that I couldn’t predict that the next book I read is going to have a lot to live up to! Read this at night with the lights on if you dare ūüôā

5/5 Stars

In The Waves by Rachel Lance

My husband and I have been all about anything dealing with 2,000 leagues under the sea lately. For his birthday this year, I even did an at-home submarine-themed escape room for him! This book was destiny for us to read.

Thank you Dutton for my gifted e-copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: On the night of February 17, 1864, the tiny Confederate submarine¬†HL Hunley¬†made its way toward the USS¬†Housatonic¬†just outside Charleston harbor. Within a matter of hours, the Union ship’s stern was blown open in a spray of wood planks. The explosion sank the ship, killing many of its crew. And the submarine, the first ever to be successful in combat, disappeared without a trace. For 131 years the eight-man crew of the¬†HL Hunley¬†lay in their watery graves, undiscovered. When finally raised, the narrow metal vessel revealed a puzzling sight. There was no indication the blast had breached the hull, and all eight men were still seated at their stations–frozen in time after more than a century. Why did it sink? Why did the men die? Archaeologists and conservationists have been studying the boat and the remains for years, and now one woman has the answers. In the Waves¬†is much more than just a military perspective or a technical account. It’s also the story of Rachel Lance’s single-minded obsession spanning three years, the story of the extreme highs and lows in her quest to find all the puzzle pieces of the¬†Hunley. Balancing a gripping historical tale and original research with a personal story of professional and private obstacles,¬†In the Waves¬†is an enthralling look at a unique part of the Civil War and the lengths one scientist will go to uncover its secrets.

Talk about a real submarine escape room mystery – this is definitely it! I was completely captivated by this story as a scientist and recent submarine aficionado myself. Because Rachel is writing from a scientist’s standpoint, it may be a bit tough for some to enjoy reading the technical side of things, but I truly loved it. I was engulfed from the beginning and wanted to help solve this mystery so badly. You just HAVE to read it to find out for yourself what truly happened!

5/5 Stars

Before We Were Wicked by Eric Jerome Dickey

I just love when the second book in a series comes out as a prequel! I don’t feel so bad jumping into this series with that in mind!

Thank you Dutton Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: They say the love of money is the root of all evil, but for Ken Swift, it’s the love of a woman. Ken is twenty-one, hurting people for cash to try to pay his way through college, when he lays eyes on Jimi Lee, the woman who will change the course of his entire life. What’s meant to be a one-night stand with the Harvard-bound beauty turns into an explosion of sexual chemistry that neither can quit. And when Jimi Lee becomes pregnant, their two very different worlds collide in ways they never could have anticipated. Passion, infidelity, and raw emotion combine in Eric Jerome Dickey’s poignant, erotic portrait of a relationship: the rise, the fall, and the scars–and desire–that never fade.

Like I said previously, I did not read Eric’s first book “Bad Men and Wicked Women”, but that totally didn’t mean a thing as this was the prequel to that book. What a drama-filled book this is! I think it does a great job at portraying the political and emotional standpoints of these two characters and what they’ve gone through in their life. It’s raw and genuine. A lot of people need this culture shock in their lives. At the same time, I think Jimi was portrayed a little more dramatic than she needed to be. She went through a lot in her life, but her behavior was a little uncalled for in my opinion. Again, hard to judge a person through all of that, but she was just a tad unlikable. Otherwise, a solid read.

3.5/5 Stars

Love You Hard by Abby Maslin

I will never forget when I first heard the story of Thomas Maslin. On August 12, 2012, Thomas was essentially robbed of his belongings while walking home from a night out with friends. Not only did they take his wallet and phone, they hit him hard in the head with an aluminum baseball bat. All of this a sheer random act of violence. Thomas, or TC, miraculously survived the accident and functions as best as he can. When I saw that his wife Abby was coming out with a book to elaborate on their life together on the other side of the accident, I just had to read it right away.

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

As I’m writing this review, I’m reflecting on the date my husband and I spent together most recently exploring America‚Äôs largest house, Biltmore. This year marks 5 years married, 7 years together. There are a lot of things that we take for granted as a family because we have just been so immensely blessed. Our love is not one of them. Love You Hard is one of those stories that will rock your world and put your life into perspective. The sacrifices and dedication this couple has for each other is beyond words and so incredible beautiful after a terrible freak accident changed their life forever. Thank you Abby for opening up your heart and sharing your story with the world. This is a story I will never forget and keep in my heart forever. You‚Äôre going to want to do the same. 

5/5 Stars

Read This Article to catch a glimpse of their story.

The Disappearing by Lori Roy

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Surprisingly, I have not read a book by Lori Troy before! Shocking, I know, considering the genre I normally gravitate towards. I found this while looking at upcoming books and was completely honored for letting Dutton books let me read it in exchange for my honest review.

Lane never thought she would return back to home state, but soon enough finds herself there working behind a bar. She’s cautious about town as she is known for her father’s supposed abuse of the boys at the school he was a director at. She stays even more cautious for her two daughters that she lives with. Sure enough, Lane’s oldest daughter goes missing. Is Lane willing to put family differences behind her in order to be successful in finding her missing daughter? Including even her younger daughter?

You may already know by following my reviews that I’m not a fan of multiple points of view. Honestly? They’re growing on me! This one, on the other hand, has a LOT. I’m not one to read more than one book at a time, and having so many different points of view makes me feel like I am. I really focus in on the characters when I’m reading and I had a hard time doing this with so many characters. In all honesty, this was much needed for this book because of the conclusion the storylines all come to in the end. I had a hard time getting into the story at first because I was spending a lot of time trying to keep the characters in line and the timeline that matched it. I really had to pull myself to stay dedicated. The switch from first person to third person point of view was also way too distracting for me and a bit of a turn-off. The twist at the end of the book grabbed my attention back for sure (the twist is worth the read if anything!) I thought it was super cool that the story was based off true life events, something that makes it all the more relatable. In the end, I do need to go read more of Lori’s books!

2.5/5 Stars

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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Looking for a summer-themed read? Look no further than this book! This one will throw you right back to your childhood summer camps days. Only, this book is way more intense than any camp you’ve ever went to.

Thanks Dutton Books for allowing me to read this in exchange for my honest review.

This book has two stories taking place at once. One story follows Emma as a little girl attending a prestigious summer camp. She becomes close with her bunkmates until one night, all the girls except her leave wihtout a trace. Emma thinks it has something to do with a boy she saw hooking up with one of the girls (Vivian), but does she really have enough proof? The other story follows Emma as an adult. She has been invited back to the camp (the camp is being re-opened for the first time since the dissapearance of the girls during her time spent there). Emma because the artistic camp counselor and bunks with the girls she’s watching over. Of course, the unthinkable happens…..(read to find out!) Now Emma has some more clues to try to figure out what’s really been happening at Camp Nightingale.

The first part of the book had me hooked. Once Emma got to camp, I felt like it slowed down a little for me. I felt like it dragged out the story line, although I was probably just more anxious to find out what she was going to find out by returning to camp. The point of the long backstory was to really paint a picture for the surprise twist in the end, which was surprising! I’ve seen other reviews where people have complained about multiple characters, but that added so much depth to the story which made you feel like you were right at camp with them.

What a twisted ending, in more ways than one! I will say that I’m not a huge fan of two stories going on at once. I probably would’ve appreciated reading each story separately. Nevertheless, it was a perfect summer read and it left me with goosebumps! A chilling tale for sure!

4/5 Stars

 

The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

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Happy Publishing Week to this gem of a book! I was super happy to be selected to read this on it’s birthday week.

I want to thank Dutton Books for sending me this read in exchange for my honest review.

Julia is outside with her children hanging out with the neighborhood moms when she calls her husband to check-in on him as he travels home from a work interview. He’s headed home on the New York Amtrak when a bomb explodes. He had been on the phone with his wife during the explosion when his phone went dead. Julia has to keep calm for her children, yet is desperate to go find her husband. She lives her kids with the neighbors and goes downtown to find him. Soon enough, she learns the news that the police think her husband is the one behind the bomb. She just can’t believe it. As we try to find out if he is the bomber, we also see flash backs of how they met and their life together in love.

This is a DEEP read. The entire time I was thinking, “Man, this is a perfect story for a thrilling read.” I slowly realized, the sad truth is that it could totally be a true story. Our world is in such a chaotic state, anything could happen. Familes are torn apart in a split second…it’s unreal. This book captures it all. The emotions these families go through after a public bomb explosion are so authentic. I felt like I was just watching a CNN special while reading this. It was utterly chilling. The book follows two story-lines, one of Michael and the other as a narrator. I, personally, am not a fan of multiple point of views, but this book needs that. It’s crucial to see both sides of the story here. I also really appreciated learning all about their relationship together. What a marriage! This book is the most relevant thing I’ve read in a long time. If anything, you need to read this book for the epilogue because you’ve going to have to pick your jaw off the floor.

4.5/5 Stars