Review: Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

Where the Truth LiesWhere the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Anna Bailey’s debut, we get a deep dive into the small town of Whistling Ridge, Colorado, where a 17-year old girl, Abigail, has gone missing.

Abi’s friend, Emma, is wracked with guilt because she left Abi behind at a party on the night she disappeared. Abi was supposed to be meeting up with a boy in the woods and insisted Emma leave her, but she never should have.

Not only does Emma feel bad about leaving Abi there, others in town blame her as well.

The police believe Abi ran away, but Emma knows that’s not true. Abi would never have left without her. Emma decides to take the investigation into her own hands. She needs to find out what happened to her friend.

Abi’s family is a mess, but truth be told, they were a mess before she disappeared. Her two brothers live in constant fear of their father’s unpredictable temperment, while their mother frequently appears checked-out.

Over the course of the story, multiple town secrets are brought to light. There’s all sorts of racism, prejudice, bigotry and religious fervor. There’s a lot of unlikable characters and unsavory circumstances.

Personally, I never felt connected with this story. None of the characters were distinct to me and I had a difficult time tracking it all through the multiple perspectives and then/now timelines.

I decided to give this 3-stars because I know there is a good story hidden in here somewhere. It tackles a lot of important, sensitive issues and I would never want to take away from that. However, for me, this reading experience was more of a 2-star.

I couldn’t wait for it to be over. With this being said, just because this wasn’t my cup of tea, doesn’t mean it is not a good book. If you read the synopsis and it sounds interesting to you, please give it a shot. It could very well be a new favorite for you.

Maybe I was just in a mood or something. Who knows? Crazier things have happened, but yeah, as of today, not a great experience for me. Extremely forgettable and bland. Solid, mehhh.

Thank you to the publisher, Atria, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it. On to the next!

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Review: The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones

The Guilt TripThe Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Rachel, Jack, Noah and Paige are a friendship foursome with a lot of history. Rachel and Noah have been best friends since college and there was a time when they considered being more than friends.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Now twenty-years later, Rachel is happily married to Jack, while Noah is married to Paige.

When Jack’s brother, Will, decides on a destination wedding with his flamboyant fiance, Ali, the foursome, with Ali in tow, travel to the beautiful country of Portugal for the event.

It never takes long for drama to arise when Ali is around. It seems to follow her everywhere, and as predicted by the friends, is created before they’ve even left the airport.

Ali’s exuberant, over-the-top nature gets under everyone’s skin. There’s never a break with her. It’s always something.

Rachel is unnerved to observe that Ali seems to be paying special attention to her husband. While Jack doesn’t appear to be recipricating her advances, Rachel still begins to wonder, what exactly is going on there?

As they settle into their cliffside villa, things continuously get worse. Ali flaunting herself around is making everyone uncomfortable, especially now that Jack has revealed to the friends something he heard about her from a work colleague.

Is this even a woman he wants his brother to marry?

But Ali isn’t the only one with secrets. Everyone has something to hide and as suspicions begin to creep across the group of friends, all is threatened to be revealed.

This was a compelling story. I definitely had fun reading it; particularly the first half. I’m all for excessive domestic drama. I love long-buried secrets, deceptions, betrayals; it’s addicting. The setting was great and I loved the whole destination wedding scenerio.

I was hooked. Nevertheless, there were some finer details that didn’t sit quite right with me. It’s a good story, but not perfectly suited to my tastes.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. I’m not mad I read it. It was interesting, it was shocking, wild and not a bad way to spend a weekend!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

I think if you love quick, domestic suspense stories, you should definitely give this one a shot!

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Review: The Dare by Lesley Kara

The DareThe Dare by Lesley Kara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two things have greatly influenced Lizzie’s life: her epilepsy and the tragic death of her best friend, Alice, when they were just 13-years old.

Twelve years later, Lizzie has finally found contentment. She has successfully moved out of her parent’s house and in with her fiance, Ross. Her parents couldn’t be more happy. Lizzie is engaged to a doctor, the perfect person for her.

Whilst unpacking boxes that have been stored in her parent’s attic, Lizzie comes across one from her teenage years. It contains items that really dig up memories of Alice and her death.

Lizzie was with Alice when she died and was clearly traumatized by the event, but she can’t remember much. Having suffered a seizure, her brain wiped clean all memory of that fateful time.

Dragging on her the most is the fact that Alice’s family, in addition to other kids at school, blamed Lizzie for Alice’s death. They believed she wasn’t telling the whole story.

Alice’s older sister, Catherine, harrassed Lizzie ceaselessly after that. Apparently believing she could scare the truth out of her. Lizzie’s story has always remained the same: she doesn’t remember.

It was so bad, Lizzie’s family had to move house after the accident. They needed a fresh start.

Now that Lizzie has finally got the true fresh start she has been dreaming of, a life with Ross, her past suddenly seems to be coming back to haunt her.

Told through past and present perspectives, The Dare is an absolutely addictive roller coaster ride of deceptions and suspense.

I really enjoyed Kara’s 2019-release, Who Did You Tell?, so was very much looking forward to getting to this one. I love how she weaves past and present perspectives together. She has such a knack for showing how much events in our pasts can influence our present, and this story was no exception.

Lizzie is a great character. She was someone I could really get behind. While initially I thought she may be naive, I think in made sense in light of all she had been through. Her innocence didn’t diminish her intelligence however, and I thought she was able to handle all that was happening to her with incredible control and thoughtfulness.

The level of deceipt in this novel is off the charts. Once the reveals began to unfold, my jaw spent half the time on the floor. My pulse was racing just anticipating what Lizzie would need to do to escape her prediciment.

If you like nail-biting, twisty-turny, who do I trust, Domestic Thrillers, you absolutely need to check this one out!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. At this point, I can confidently say, I will pick up anything Kara ever writes!

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Review: The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

The Other PassengerThe Other Passenger by Louise Candlish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Jamie and Kit are part of a group of London commuters known as the Water Rats.

They have the luxury of making their daily commute via riverboat on the Thames, as opposed to more traditional, oftentimes more frustrating modes of transportation.

They drink coffee together in the morning and more spirited drinks after work. It’s not a bad way to start, or end the day.

On the first Monday back to work after the Christmas holiday, however, Jamie is approached by two police officers as he disembarks from the boat. Apparently, Kit hasn’t been seen since the Water Rats Christmas drinks celebration a few days prior.

They had all been a bit sauced when they finally boarded a late boat to get home. The boat was practically empty, but it seems another passenger reported that Jamie was the last person seen with Kit.

Jamie is under suspicion. He can hardly believe it. He and Kit did have a bit of a row, but then he went straight home. Back to his longtime partner, Claire, who can certainly attest to his whereabouts.

As the hours, then days, tick by with no sign of Kit, things begin to get progressively worse for Jamie. It’s all a bit of a downward spiral.

Through a past perspective, the evolution of Jamie and Kit’s friendship is brought to light, including their signficant others, Claire and Melia. Kit and Melia have a contentious relationship, with Jamie and Claire witnessing evident unhappiness on more than one occasion.

Could Kit have run off on his own, or has something much more sinister happened to him?

Jamie needs to find out. His very freedom may depend on it.

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Louise Candlish’s brand of Domestic Thriller. There’s something about the way she weaves a tale that I am absolutely addicted to reading.

It’s always over the top, full of unlikable characters, as well as plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting.

The Other Passenger did start out a little slow for me, but around the midpoint, it really heats up. After that the gas pedal is all the way to the floor until the conclusion.

This is one of those stories where the last little bit left a devilish smile on my face. I always enjoy that type of wickedly satisfying ending.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I am so on board for anything Candlish writes, so I am definitely looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next!!

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Review: Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Such a Quiet PlaceSuch a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The private neighborhood of Hollow’s Edge has always been a desirable place to live. It’s close to the local private college and a lot of the residents actually work there together.

Because of that, and many other reasons, Hollow’s Edge offers that bougie upper-class feel that many people seek. It’s a solace from the outside world of sorts for the people who live there.

That is until the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A murder for which one of their own, Ruby Fletcher, was sent to prison. But Ruby wasn’t really one of them, was she?

She didn’t own a house in Hollow’s Edge. She was just staying there with Harper Nash after Harper’s fiance moved out. Ruby was younger than everyone else, not as settled. She was known to raise a few eyebrows from time to time.

Now a year and half has passed since the Truett’s tragic deaths. Ruby has been released from prison on a technicality and guess where she ends up?

Right back in Harper’s house. Harper is horrified. There is a possible murderer living under her roof. A murderer who is most likely quite peeved that her friend’s testimony may have helped put her away in the first place.

It doesn’t take long for rumors and suspicions to begin circling around Hollow’s Edge, sowing seeds of contention amongst the remaining residents.

It’s clear to Harper that Ruby is up to something, although she’s not sure what. She knows Ruby is hiding things from her; the scariest of which may be her intentions. Is Ruby seeking revenge, or something else?

Such a Quiet Place is pure entertainment. It kicks off very quickly and the suspense really never lets up.

I though Miranda did a great job building the tension over the course of the story. I was completely enthralled by it the entire time; wanting to know the truth about the Truetts and Ruby Fletcher.

For me, this is a super solid Domestic Thriller. It had red herrings, twists, reveals, unlikable, judgemental characters and a steady, nail-biting pace.

I love stories set in insulated neighborhoods. Stories that portray the often dramatic interactions between neighbors and friends. It’s amazing the sort of secrets that can be found in such places.

I was really looking forward to this title and I had a ton of fun reading it. Completely engaging, beginning to end.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I can’t wait to see what twisted things Megan Miranda comes up with next!!

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Review: The Therapist by B.A. Paris

The TherapistThe Therapist by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

B.A. Paris, my Queen of Manipulation, is back with an all new Domestic Thriller, The Therapist, releasing this Tuesday, July 13th.

When they began their relationship, Alice and Leo, were making a go at it long-distance. However, as time passes, it no longer feels enough to just see each other on the weekends.

Deciding to make the jump of living together, Leo buys a house in an exclusive, gated-community called, The Circle, in London. As lovely as it is, it’s a far cry from Alice’s little cottage in the country.

Making the transition easier is the fact that Alice actually got to keep her cottage, renting it out to tenants temporarily, because Leo was able to get such a bargain on the house.

When Alice finds out how he was able to get the house at such a steal, however, she’s furious!

A woman, Nina, had been murdered in the house, in their bedroom. She cannot believe Leo withheld this information from her. He’s a liar and Alice is so angry about the whole thing that she can’t even stand to be around him while she processes it all.

Leo, sheepish at being caught out, agrees to give Alice some space to work through all she’s learned. Alice, for her part, doesn’t just work through it though, she becomes obsessed with it.

Alice doesn’t believe the official story that Nina’s husband was the killer. She can’t explain why, she just knows that isn’t right.

As strange occurances begin happening at the house and suspicious neighbors seem to be lurking around every turn, Alice isn’t sure just who she can trust.

Gaining some assistance from a Private Detective also interested in Nina’s case, Alice begins a deep dive into the life of the woman who used to live in her house.

With numerous red herrings, a protagonist that I wasn’t sure I could trust, more twists and turns than an amusement park roller coaster, I could tell I was reading a B.A. Paris!

I listened to this entire audiobook today while performing my regular Saturday chores around the house. I ended up cleaning things that didn’t even need cleaning. I had to know how this was going to turn out.

I came nowhere near predicting the end, although I don’t generally try to do that. I like to just go along for the ride and let the author take me where they choose.

I will admit, toward the beginning, feeling frustrated with Alice. She’s a bit bullheaded and I just couldn’t understand why she was so fixated on Nina. However, I was satisfied with how that was ultimately explained and as I grew to know Alice, it made a lot more sense.

The intensity definitely continued to build at a nice steady pace as the story went on. There’s a lot of suspects!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio and St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with an early copy to read and review.

B.A. Paris is definitely one of my go-to Domestic Thriller authors and I had a blast with this one!

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Review: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good SisterThe Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Fern and Rose are fraternal twins. As often happens with twins, they are opposites in many ways. From the outside, the division is clear; Rose is the responsible one, Fern is the quirky one.

In The Good Sister you follow both of their perspectives, gaining an inside view to their fascinating relationship.

Rose has placed herself in a quasi-caregiver role over Fern and Fern, for her part, is codependent in her interactions with Rose. So much so, that when she discovers Rose cannot become pregnant, she decides to have a baby for her.

This may seem like an odd statement, but once you meet Fern’s character and learn a bit about the way her mind works, it actually makes sense.

Through flashbacks to their early life, it is clear that Rose has always felt the need to protect Fern. Firstly, from their mother, and later, seemingly, from herself.

Fern has done a bad thing. Throughout the course of the narrative, what that is, comes to light. Poor Fern has let this one event, although admittedly horrifying, define her.

As Fern starts to follow her new plan to become pregnant, she learns things about herself she never knew. She also begins to see things about Rose she never noticed either.

I was oddly captivated by this story. I wouldn’t really consider it to be a Thriller, but I’m not sure what else to call it? An eerie character study?

Regardless, I found it to be interesting as heck. I couldn’t take my eyes off the sh*tstorm evolving on the page!

It was really fun to watch play out. I was impressed with the pace at which Hepworth reveals the truth behind Rose and Fern; so well done, it kept me engrossed the entire time.

I would absolutely recommend this for Readers who enjoy complex familial relationships. This was my first novel by this author, but I am looking forward to picking up more.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martins’ Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review! I appreciate the opportunity to provide my thoughts and opinions.

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Review: The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

The Echo WifeThe Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Oh wow, you really brought this full circle, didn’t you, Sarah Gailey?! You clever, clever, clever human.

I read the majority of The Echo Wife in one sitting today and I had so much fun with it. There are a lot of great themes and ideas to think about with this one.

This is the first novel I have read by Sarah Gailey, but absolutely will not be the last. I have already added three of their other books to my TBR.

This novel follows Evelyn Caldwell, who is an award-winning research scientist in the field of genetics; more specifically, her work deals with genetic cloning.

We hear this entire story through Evelyn’s perspective, which personally, I found quite refreshing actually. It seems like most novels I read are multiple perspective, so it was nice to just sit with one narrator the whole way through.

Evelyn’s husband, Nathan, has betrayed her with another woman who just so happens to be a clone of Evelyn.

Essentially, he has replaced her with a version that will be more compliant with his wants and needs. More docile in their relationship, something Evelyn never was.

When Nathan ends up dead, Evelyn’s clone, Martine, suddenly becomes a very real problem for her. One that could end her career as she knows it.

Evelyn needs to get control of the situation, and Martine, before everything she has worked for is taken from her.

As Evelyn and Martine begin to work together, Evelyn is shocked when she begins having actual feelings for the clone; like she is a real person.

This novel explores so many fascinating, and frankly, frightening topics. Set in the not too distant future, it examines the ethical issues that arise when you are involved in cloning and cloning research.

What makes something human? What are the parameters that should be followed in this type of research? What if something goes wrong, or a clone goes rouge? Who has the authority to decide the clone’s fate?

In addition to the fabulous scientific elements, I really enjoyed getting to know Evelyn Caldwell. I felt she was such a well-developed character.

We learn how Evelyn’s parent’s relationship shaped the woman she would become. Her parents had quite a contentious relationship and Evelyn was the silent observer to it all.

Her Father was brilliant, he taught Evelyn so much and set her on the career path she ends up on, but he also was a raging tyrant.

Her Mother taught her another set of skills entirely. While she viewed her Mother as mild and cowardly, her experiences with Nathan and Martine caused her to re-evaluate those beliefs.

While this is just a subplot to the greater story, it contributed quite a bit to my enjoyment. I felt it added a lot of depth to Evelyn’s character and allowed me to better understand her choices and motivations.

I really connected with Evelyn. I’m sure many will find her cold, but I think she is more determined and driven than uncaring. Choices she made, if made by a man, would probably be viewed differently by a lot of people.

Overall, this is an extremely intelligent and well-constructed story. My one very small negative, was that I was pitched Thriller and was expecting that. To me, this really isn’t much of a Thriller even though it is quite compelling.

I do highly recommend this. I think it would make an incredible Book Club selection, or Buddy Read, as there are a ton of deep issues to discuss.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I cannot wait to pick up more titles from this author!

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Review: Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

Good NeighborsGood Neighbors by Sarah Langan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Welcome to Maple Street. Located in a Long Island suburb, it’s a setting we all know.

That picturesque cookie-cutter neighborhood where all the kids play together and everyone knows each other’s business; bad and good.

The Wilde family is new to Maple Street and it’s clear from the start that they don’t necessarily fit in.

Arlo, the man of the house, is a has-been rocker who, gasp, has tattoos.

His wife, Gertie, is an ex-beauty queen who dresses trashy and speaks with an accent. As sweet as she is, anyone can see she’s a hot mess.

Then there’s the kids. Julie, the preteen daughter, stole a pack a cigarettes when they first got to the neighborhood and showed the other children how to smoke. The little boy, Larry, carries around a doll!

When the Queen Bee of Maple Street, Rhea Schroeder, seems to take Gertie under her wing, the rest of the neighbors chill a bit. If the Wildes are good enough for Rhea, they must be good enough for them.

Seemingly out of nowhere, however, Rhea begins to snub Gertie and her family.

The main confrontation occurs at a block party and during this very party, a sinkhole opens up in the neighborhood park, sending residents scurrying to the safety of their respective homes.

It’s utter chaos.

The tension continues to mount on the street in the days that follow. Rhea’s daughter, Shelly, who has been told not to talk to Julie Wilde any longer, defies her Mom and confesses a dark secret to Julie.

This dramatic conversation ends with Shelly falling into the sinkhole. Lost to its dark depths.

Some crazy accusations are thrown around after this event and the target is, unsurprisingly, Arlo Wilde. Thus creating a boogie man to focus their anger and fear at. The infamous other.

Reading Good Neighbors was like peeling back the layers of a very quirky onion. I was so impressed with this!

The Wilde family, by moving to Maple Street, were hoping to provide potential upward mobility for their children. They had the best of intentions and although not perfect, were good people doing their best.

The reaction of the neighbors to them was absolutely fascinating and in a depressing way, 100% realistic.

Langan incorporated a lot of mixed media aspects into the telling of this story, which I loved! I always think that is a fun way to add energy into a storyline.

It is set in the not too distant future and the sinkhole, as well as a few other details, were clearly caused by climate issues. I liked how that was a backdrop, but none of the characters acknowledged it. So, like I said, real.

I also really enjoyed the group of kids in the neighborhood, coined the rat pack.

Sure, they weren’t perfect. There were some real assholes in the bunch, but when things were at rock bottom, they were the ones that banded together, showed some courage and solved a problem. All while their parents hid behind their closed doors and gossip channels.

Additionally, I really enjoyed the unconventional narrative style.

It felt like a season of Desperate Housewives if it were directed by Wes Anderson; and yes, at least one of the Wilson brothers would have been in it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I really enjoyed my time with it.

It’s actually one of those books, that the longer I sit with it, the more I appreciate it.

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Review: Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Invisible GirlInvisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lisa Jewell’s latest Thriller, Invisible Girl, kept me up all night! Literally. Last night. I’m exhausted.

Following multiple perspectives in one UK neighborhood, this story had a nice build-up of tension the entire way through.

We get present perspectives, most notably that of Cate Fours and Owen Pick, as well as a past perspective from a teenage girl named, Saffrye Maddox.

Cate Fours is a stay-at-home mom to two teenage children, Georgia and Josh. Her husband Roan Fours, is a child psychologist, who keeps late hours and isn’t particularly present in the day-to-day functioning of the home.

Saffrye Maddox, a teenaged girl with a troubled past, was a patient of Roan for over three years due to self-harming behaviors. When he abruptly decides her care has come to an end, Saffrye feels abandoned by him.

Owen Pick is a single-man in his 30s, who recently lost his job as a teacher due to allegations of sexual misconduct, which he vehemently denies.

Owen becomes of interest to the Fours family when Georgia claims he was following her home from the tube station late one afternoon.

She’s freaked out by the encountered and in turn, Cate becomes equally on edge about Owen’s seemingly disturbing existence.

Adding fuel to the fires of the Fours family’s suspicions are a string of sexual attacks occurring within their neighborhood.

In fact, one of Georgia’s friends claims to have been a victim of such an attack after departing their flat one night.

When Saffrye Maddox goes missing on Valentine’s Day night, many believe the sexual predator has escalated from groping in alleys to potentially kidnapping, or worse.

Owen Pick ends up arrested for the crime. Through the multiple perspectives, the reader is brought on a journey through domestic life that will chill you to the bone.

I loved the way Jewell formatted this story. We start following Cate and Owen on the same timeline and Saffrye’s perspective begins farther back.

Her perspective, which I personally found to be the most interesting, progresses along at a nice steady pace, ultimately revealing what happened on the night she disappeared.

The lives of all of these characters are deeply intertwined. There’s deceptions and mistrust, scandal and heartbreak, twists and turns.

Owen’s perspective is also extremely interesting. His entire personality, treatment by the media, family and neighbors, offers up a lot to consider. I thought his point of view added depth to the story.

There were many times that I thought I knew who was behind Saffrye’s disappearance. I am happy to report, I was wrong every time.

One of the people I suspected, I’m honestly so glad it wasn’t them. That would have hurt my heart.

Overall, I had a great time reading this one. I felt like it had plenty of tension and drama throughout, while also offering up some great examinations of domestic interactions. Two thumbs up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I certainly appreciate it!

TW: sexual assault, sexual molestation, self harm

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