Review: One of Us is Next (Bayview High #2) by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Next (Bayview High, #2)One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

It’s been a year since Simon’s death and the events of One of Us is Lying.

The Bayview Four have been cleared and mostly moved on with their lives. Trying to put that traumatic period behind them.

For the kids remaining at Bayview, those times are never far from their minds. A assortment of gossip apps have popped up since then, trying to take Simon’s place, but no one has the goods. Until now…

A school wide text gets sent out inviting everyone to play a game. Truth or Dare. With players seemingly chosen at random, everyone is nervous about being the one picked next.

The truths are so harsh, turning family and friends against one another. Individuals feel pretty much forced to take the dare, rather than become a social pariah in the eyes of their peers.

But when the dares turn deadly, all bets are off.

Some of the kids decide to team up to figure out who the mastermind of the game is, before it’s too late for all of them. This includes Bronwyn’s little sister Maeve, as well as recent outcast Phoebe, and boy next door, Knox.

The intensity of this continues to build up throughout the story and again, I think McManus did an excellent job of keeping the story fun and compelling.

I was so excited to be back at Bayview High for another mystery. The amateur sleuthing was super entertaining, full of twists and red herrings.

I will continue to pick up anything McManus writes. I cannot wait to see what’s next. Her signature style of characters and pacing works so well for me!

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Review: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

No Bad DeedNo Bad Deed by Heather Chavez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My head is spinning. Wow, that was a wild ride!!!

Driving home from work one night, Cassie Larkin sees what she assumes to be a domestic conflict happening on the side of the road.

She stops her car and calls 911. Although the operator tells her to remain in her vehicle, Cassie cannot sit idly by while this woman gets assaulted or worse.

As she breaks up the altercation, the man tells her that if she lets him kill this woman, he will let her live. Basically, this woman’s life for hers, but Cassie isn’t having that.

Eventually, the man flees, but unfortunately he does so in Cassie’s van. Now the psycho has her handbag, complete with identification, family photos, address, and her house keys.

Without putting too fine a point on it, this is basically my worse nightmare come to the page. Reading this opening scene, I was so prepared to throw this book in the freezer.

It’s like Heather Chavez knew exactly what to write to freak me the heck out!

And I cherish that.

When Cassie’s husband disappears the next night, on Halloween, while out trick-or-treating with their 6-year old daughter, her instincts tell her something is terribly wrong.

After she reports it, it seems the cops just believe this is a case of a man leaving his family. Cassie knows better, however, and begins her own investigation.

While it did surprise me that the cops didn’t take his disappearance more seriously, especially considering they knew the crazy, violent guy who stole her vehicle had her keys and information, I did love Cassie getting involved and looking into his disappearance herself.

Amateur sleuthing is one of my favorite tropes in a thriller and I think Chavez did a great job with it here.

This story took so many crazy turns, there was no way to predict what was going to happen next. As secrets begin to come out from Cassie’s own dark past, you know the final reveal will probably blow you away.

The final scenes did not disappoint!

I was so impressed with this. I was creeped out almost the entire time and it was so much fun. I cannot wait to read more from Chavez!

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate it!

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Review: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

The Tenth GirlThe Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

**1.5-stars**

It is done and I am flipping exhausted.

I haven’t had this rough of a reading experience in a while. This one was a major struggle for me.

I did it. I made it. My sanity is basically intact and I am so happy to be moving on!!!

I could possibly provide full thoughts on this at some point, but for now, I would like to just forget the last 20-days of my life ever happened.

Final thought: Also annoyed with the fact that the final plot twist is spoiled by the naked hardback.

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Review: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

A Nearly Normal FamilyA Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Apparently, legal thrillers are something I am into now because I f*ing loved this!!

I listened to the audiobook and I feel it was brilliantly cast and narrated. I definitely think that had an influence on my reading experience.

I thought the format was so clever. The three perspectives were presented in three separate chunks as opposed to alternating back and forth.

The story started with ‘The Father’s’ perspective. Adam, a family man and pastor, tells his side of the story. His relationship with his 18- y.o. daughter, who is now being held in police custody accused of a brutal murder.

He fills in a large part of the narrative and you think you have a fairly good handle on the overall story.

Then we get ‘The Daughter’s’ perspective. Well, she would know, wouldn’t she? She was there. The events happened to her.

But as I love, Stella, is a deliciously unreliable narrator, who openly admits to her outstanding ability to lie and manipulate others.

Her perspective fills in some blanks and of course, creates some new ones.

At this point, I was thinking a lot about how two different people can experience the same things and interpret those events completely differently.

It’s fascinating to think about. I love this type of psychological examination of characters.

Lastly, we get ‘The Mother’s’ perspective. Just when you think you have a super firm handle on the events in question, you discover there’s so much more going on.

Stella’s mom, a high powered attorney, knows how the system works and she’ll do anything in her power to protect her little girl.

While I can see how some readers may find this slow or choppy, I had absolutely no complaints about the writing or the format.

I was hooked into this story, start to finish, and loved how much it made me think outside of the reading experience itself.

Overall, a huge fan of this, recommend to anyone who enjoys a legal or crime drama. Would absolutely recommend the audiobook as well!

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Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

The Dark Beneath the IceThe Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Marianne’s world is falling apart. She has quit dance, which once seemed her life’s purpose, her best friend has moved away and ghosted her, her parents are separated, again, and it seems like this time it’s for good, and her mother has checked herself into a mental health facility after a breakdown.

Now staying with her Aunt, Marianne notices other things going on with herself. She is losing time and objects are moving and breaking around her, seemingly on their own.

She feels afraid, like a dark spirit is constantly around her, messing with her head and her world.

Her fear is so strong, she’s not sleeping well and soon begins to feel like she is coming apart at the seams. She seeks help from a girl at school whose mother is purported to be a psychic of some sort.

Marianne believes the presence after her is some sort of ghost and her hope is that Rhiannon’s mom will be able to get rid of it.

As Marianne and Rhiannon, who goes by Ron, begin to get to know one another, a really precious friendship forms. Both ostracized by their peers, the girls find acceptance within one another.

This friendship was one of my favorite aspects of the story, made stronger once you begin to see that the girls have developed feelings for each other deeper than friendship.

Once it is clear that’s Ron mom won’t be as much help as they would have thought, the girls strike out on their own to try to banish the spirit. Unfortunately, their actions make it worse. A lot worse.

I really enjoyed the majority of this book. At first, the writing style threw me off, but I came to really enjoy it.

It is metaphorical in nature, more so than I tend to enjoy, but very dark and beautiful.

I thought the paranormal elements were well done. The intensity kept being amped up and it truly kept me glued to the pages.

The ending made me a little uncomfortable, but I may be reading too much into it. I just wasn’t sold on the conclusion.

Anyway, overall I did really enjoy this. I had a ton of fun reading it and even had moments where I was legitimately creeped out. I think this would make a great movie.

If you enjoy movies with paranormal activity or possession, you should definitely check this one out. Bonus points if you enjoy dark, metaphorical writing.

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Review: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Continuing to build the world, upping the stakes, introducing new characters, Meyer sure knows how to write a sequel!

Scarlet Benoit’s Grandmother is missing and she’s the only one who seems to care.

As she begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance, she meets a stranger, Wolf, a street fighter, who may have some important information.

They are drawn to one another and a tenuous bond begins to form.

The more she digs, the more Scarlet discovers that there is quite a bit about her Grandma she didn’t know.

It turns out, Grandma was keeping a lot of secrets. Dangerous secrets that could sway the fate of the universe.

Cinder, our dynamic cyborg mechanic, is in prison, trying to escape. With her usual tenacity, she will stop at nothing to regain her freedom, gaining alliances along the way.

Cinder and Scarlet’s worlds come together as Meyer takes this story to the next level. I had so much fun reading this.

I wasn’t sure we would get to see Cinder in this one, so I was quite pleased with how Meyer weaved everything together.

I cannot wait to continue on with this series and hope to do so very soon!

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Review: The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is done.

In this, the final installment of The Folk of the Air trilogy, we find Jude back in the mortal world, trying to recover from the events of The Wicked King.

Her heart is hurt, but as our girl Jude is apt to do, she is still focused on getting back what she has lost.

Unexpectedly, her annoying sister, Taryn arrives, pleading for Jude’s help. She has done something terrible and sees Jude as her only path to salvation.

How convenient for her.

This help comes in the form of Jude sneaking back into the Faerie Court under the guise of being Taryn. What could possibly go wrong?

Once there, Jude finds Elfhame on the brink of war with the political class and society in general running amok.

Can Jude save her sister and her power before everything is ruined?

I’m sad, man. Yes, everything was wrapped up, but this felt so quick. I needed more time with my babies!

Why you play me like this, Holly Black?

I’ll be honest, I feel like I didn’t retain much of this story. Completely not the book’s fault, I was just so anxious to know how it was going to turn out, I flew through it.

I definitely plan to reread this entire series at some point, to really soak it in. With this being said, I do wish this had been a little longer.

I came away feeling a lot of the story felt very surface level and I wish it would have gone deeper. This could be me just being hurt that it has come to an end however.

Either way, a great series overall. So glad that I read it and looking forward to reading more by Holly Black!

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Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The WivesThe Wives by Tarryn Fisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Confession: I didn’t realize the protagonist’s real name was Thursday until the very end of the book.

How did I miss that?

I just thought that was the day her husband slept with her…

Moving along, this story was something else. I have to give it points for being unique.

Thursday is married to Seth. Seth has two other spouses. None of them know one another, but as far as Thursday is concerned they are all living in this arrangement by mutual agreement.

As Thursday grows less and less enamored with her situation, she becomes curious about who she is sharing her husband with.

Upon doing some online research, as you do, she manages to track down his third wife, the youngest and the one currently carrying his baby.

Befriending this young woman, Hannah, she begins to suspect that Seth may be physically abusive to her. This leads Thursday to take off her rose colored glasses.

There’s some fighting, a lot of drama, a stay at a mental institution, it’s a lot. Ultimately, even though I love an unreliable narrator, the ending of this didn’t sit right with me.

There were a lot of twists and turns along the way, but still something about that ending…

Certainly twisted, so if that is what you love in a thriller, this one could be right up your alley. Check it out, you never know until you try.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and this one was definitely a ride!

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Review: The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

The DilemmaThe Dilemma by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

B.A. Paris, my Queen.

Although very different from her prior works, I still really enjoyed this. Smaller in scope, yet quite intricate as a character study.

Following husband and wife, Livia and Adam, this story takes place during the course of one day. The day of Livia’s much anticipated 40th birthday party.

Adam and Livia were married very young and never had the chance to have the wedding of her dreams.

She has always looked on this party as an opportunity to celebrate not just her birthday, but also their relationship.

As the day arrives Livia is dragged down by a monumental secret she is keeping from her husband.

Unfortunately, she’s not the only one with a secret. Adam has a life-changing secret as well that he is choosing to keep from her.

The narrative alternates between the two as they struggle with their decisions to keep such important facts secret from one another. It is very introspective in a lot of ways, but there is still quite a bit of suspense.

Over the course of the story, the reader learns the true nature of their respective secrets and what those secrets could mean for the family as a whole.

As I mentioned above, this novel seemed smaller in scope compared to her previous novels. By that I mean, all of the action takes place at their home during the course of one day.

Her previous novels certainly covered larger geographical areas, as well as longer spans of time, making the stories seem more complex.

However, I think after you complete this one, and you sit back and think about what you have read, the real intricacies begin to come to light.

I cried reading this. The characters go through so much, it really moved me.

Although I would classify this as more domestic drama than psychological thriller, which is what I would classify her earlier novels, I appreciated it very much.

Her writing style is just so compelling and never fails to keep me glued to the pages.

B.A. Paris has a fan in me for life. I will always pick up every single thing she has published.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. This was absolutely one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it did not disappoint.

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Review: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

Dead to HerDead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At this point in her life, Marcie Maddox, has firmly established herself as the hot, younger second wife to her successful husband, Jason.

In their posh Savannah community, replete with sumptuous mansions and a country club lifestyle, image is everything. Marcie appears to have it all and she feels that way, most days.

The older, blue blooded women they socialize with have come to accept her and include her in their luncheons and tennis dates, but Marcie will always feel a bit like a second class citizen around them. She can’t help it.

When Jason’s boss, the wealthy, recently widowed, William Radford IV, returns from a trip to London with a much younger, sexy as hell, second wife on his arm, the whole of Savannah society gets thrown for a loop. Marcie especially.

She’s no longer the youngest, or the most supple for that matter. The way Jason devours the new Mrs. Radford, Keisha, with his eyes, makes Marcie’s skin crawl.

Keisha is brazen in a way that would be refreshing if it wasn’t so shocking to their social norms. The way she plays housewife to the old coot, while also being sure to flirt with Marcie’s husband, what exactly is she after?

After Jason asks her to befriend Keisha, Marcie learns a lot more about the girl than she bargained for!

The ladies quickly become two peas in a pod, but their friendship soon threatens everything Marcie has worked so hard for.

Full of secrets, deceptions and a touch of Southern voodoo and superstitions, this book had me flipping the pages at a rate to set my fingers on fire!

I felt this was completely unique, full of unlikable characters and drama fit for daytime programming.

While I had a ton of fun reading this, I can see how it might not work for everyone. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending, but things can’t always work out how we would choose.

I will definitely remember this one, that’s for sure.

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much!

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