Review: My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

My Summer DarlingsMy Summer Darlings by May Cobb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

My Summer Darlings begins in a very intriguing way. You get the perspective of a woman lying in the woods, bleeding profusely, contemplating her death.

You don’t know who she is or who has harmed her, but it is clear she ended up in her predicament by nefarious means.

You are then sent 6-weeks back in time to follow the perspectives of Jen, Kittie and Cynthia.

The trio have been best friends since childhood and even though Jen moved away for a bit, once she returned to their East Texas town after a messy divorce, they picked up right where they left off. They’re thick as thieves through all the ups and downs of their bougie lifestyles.

The women each have their own personal concerns of course, Jen for example, post-divorce is actually really struggling financially. Luckily her friends and parents never mind helping her out. They’re just happy she is finally away from him.

Cynthia and Kittie are both very well off and their husbands are great, but you know life.

When Will Harding moves to town, a drop-dead gorgeous man who ends up in the most luxurious home in the neighborhood, the three women are intrigued.

Will could be exactly the type of man Jen needs to move past her divorce. Will’s presence in town however stirs things up for the trio more than they ever could have expected. We’re talking secrets, lies and shady alibis.

There is no denying that May Cobb has a knack for writing rich people drama. With this novel, as with The Hunting Wives, once I started, I could not put it down.

I loved the set-up; the way it began and then going back to piece together what had lead that mystery woman to that point, it was so engaging.

While I was addicted to the drama, however, there were a few things toward the end that I found to be a touch too convenient for my tastes. Hence the 3.5-stars rounded up.

Regardless, that is still a great rating and it’s undeniable that I really enjoyed this. It was a ton of fun. If you enjoy over-the-top, reality show-levels of ridiculously entertaining drama, you have to check this one out.

I think if you go into this expecting a strict to the genre Thriller, you may be disappointed. Just know this is more of a Domestic Drama centering around the friend group, with a touch of mystery running throughout.

At this point, I am sold on May Cobb. I love the risqué drama she’s serving up. I’m here for it and will continuing coming back.

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

I appreciate it and look forward to seeing what crazy hijinks Cobb comes up with next!

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Review: On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass

On a Quiet StreetOn a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

A twisted neighborhood drama, thick as a bird’s nest with secrets, I had an absolute blast reading On a Quiet Street.

Nova Glass delivered a super-compelling, twisted narrative that dragged me in from the very start and never let go. I was so impressed with this!

The exclusive neighborhood of Brighton Hills may look tranquil, but behind the scenes it is anything but.

Cora thinks her husband Finn is cheating, Paige, after losing her son, is angry and combative, Georgia is afraid to leave her house; and these details just brush the surface of what is happening on this one quiet street.

Our narrative cycles through these three perspectives and fills in all the gaps as they’re lives twist and blend together, ultimately leading to one shockingly intense conclusion!

Y’all that’s all I really want to say about the details of this story. It behooves you to go into this one knowing as little as possible, with no preconceived notions of what is going to play out.

I’ve read from Seraphina Nova Glass before, her 2020-release Someone’s Listening, and I really enjoyed it, but this book is next level.

I thought the pace of the reveals was absolutely perfect. There wasn’t one single chapter where I wasn’t learning some new facts that steadily progressed the plot.

I really enjoyed all of the characters as well. I found them to be relatable and realistic.

Sure, taken all together, it may seem a little over the top, but when I really thought about it, the things they were experiencing are actually somewhat common, such as infidelity, grief and loss of identity.

I started to become attached to this trio of women. They weren’t perfect, but when it really counted they formed a kind of alliance that to me was uplifting. They found strength through one another and I appreciated that journey.

I would definitely recommend this to Readers who enjoy a great, twisted neighborhood drama. This one definitely delivers that vibe 100%.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had so much for with this one and am definitely looking forward to reading more from Seraphina Nova Glass!

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Review: My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

My Wife Is MissingMy Wife Is Missing by D.J. Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

On the first day of their NYC-vacation, Michael and Natalie Hart split up for what is expected to be a brief period of time.

While Michael runs out to pick up take-out pizza for the family, Natalie stays back at the hotel with their two children, Addie and Bryce, to get settled in.

When he returns, Michael spots Bryce’s teddy bear just outside the door to their room. That’s certainly strange as the young boy is beyond attached to the stuffed toy.

Entering the room, Michael is surprised his family isn’t there. Surprise turns to confusion when he notices the only bag in the room is his own. Where is his family?

Michael raises the alarm to hotel staff and then the police. As he is unable to reach Natalie by phone and has no other explanation, Michael fears they’ve been kidnapped.

After viewing hotel camera footage though, it appears Natalie left quite willing, of her own volition; just her and the kids. Michael is so confused, why would she do this?

These opening scenes set the tone for the entire novel. It’s intense and fast paced. Through alternating perspectives, as well as past and present timelines, the full depth of Michael and Natalie’s relationship is revealed.

It’s clear that the couple were having problems prior to their ill-fated trip to NYC. Natalie doesn’t trust her husband at all and Michael, well, he has his issues.

Due to stress and struggles within their relationship, Natalie has been suffering severe insomnia. Michael uses that fact against her, claiming she is not in her right mind. Frankly, it’s not entirely clear if she is or not.

I love an unreliable narrator and I would say that Natalie falls into that category. In spite of her insomnia though, it’s really through Natalie’s perspective that the truth of this story begins to be revealed.

I really enjoyed my time reading My Wife is Missing. Palmer has a signature over-the-top style. His books are always a wild ride, never failing to keep me engaged.

I loved how quickly this one kicked off and it really never let up. Towards the end I was flying through, I had to know what the conclusion was going to be. It turned into this sort of intense cat and mouse scenario, although at times it was hard to determine who was the cat and who was the mouse.

I have read all of Palmer’s novels, in order, as they’ve been released and in my opinion each one has been stronger than the last. We love to see that sort of upward trajectory with an author’s work.

He always keeps me guessing, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to see what sort of insanity he throws at us next!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I appreciate it so much!!

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Review: The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The Younger WifeThe Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Heather is a young interior designer, who upon first meeting her new client, physician, Stephen Aston, is impressed with the man’s patience with his wife struggling with dementia.

He treats his wife with such care, always including her in the meetings regarding the project and seeking her input, in spite of her struggles. Heather can’t help but warm to the gentleman.

Stephen is also quite taken with Heather. She’s young, beautiful and is always kind and open with him.

Stephen’s two adult daughters, Tully and Rachel, are taken aback when their father confirms to them that he is now in a relationship with Heather. What about Mom?!

Heather is younger than the two girls. She must be after Dad’s money, what could they possibly have in common?

Stephen pushes his daughters to get to know Heather and frankly, they’re a little curious about her themselves, so they agree. That’s what I will leave you with. Well, that and the fact that this is a bit of a murder mystery…

I listened to the audiobook for The Younger Wife and definitely recommend that medium. There are different narrators for the various perspectives and it made me feel like I was actually part of the action.

The drama level is a bit reality television, but who doesn’t love that as a bit of a guilty pleasure?

I found the drama to be completely addicting, but more than that, this story turned out to be grander than the petty squabbles I anticipated given the set-up.

From the vague description of the narrative given above, you may think this will go a certain way, but Hepworth actually gave me something unexpected. I was impressed with that.

Also, Hepworth loosely explores some powerful real world issues in this that I think would make it an excellent choice to read with friends, or a book group. There’s definitely plenty of topics to discuss while reading this one.

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

This is the second novel I have read from Sally Hepworth and it’s definitely safe to say that I will happily pick up anything else she writes!!

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Review: Blood Will Tell by Heather Chavez

Blood Will TellBlood Will Tell by Heather Chavez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blood Will Tell is the sophomore effort from author Heather Chavez. Her 2020-debut, No Bad Deed entertained me from the very start. I really enjoyed it!

Because of this, I was definitely looking forward to this new release. Could she keep up her stellar, fast-paced writing and over-the-top level of intrigue?

YES!!!

In Blood Will Tell our focus is on sisters, Frankie and Izzy. Frankie has always been very protective of her little sister, Izzy, and both girls acknowledge that Frankie practically raised her.

Their father has a chronic illness and with their parents often focused on that, the girls sort of circled in their own little orbit. They would keep secrets from their parents, as they didn’t want to trouble them, or worry them. In fact, even as adults, they’re still doing that.

Over the years, Izzy’s choices have been continuously reckless. Her drug and alcohol use certainly hasn’t helped matters.

Their most troubling night involved events that happened five-year ago, when Izzy and some friends partied in the woods just outside of town. Six of them arrived, but only five left. One of the girls there that night, Rachel, has been missing ever since.

Izzy drunk and disoriented ended up getting in a minor accident that night in their mother’s car. As always, she called Frankie for help.

After Frankie managed to arrive for a rescue, Izzy was a mess and couldn’t recall exactly what had happened. Based on some troubling evidence that Frankie found, and a bit of Izzy’s rantings, Frankie had a sinking suspicion she knew what happened.

Now when an Amber alert goes out and Frankie’s vehicle matches a description given by witnesses, she fears the worst.

She knows she didn’t just kidnap the teen girl, Marina, but it is possible that Izzy could be involved. She’s the only other person with access to Frankie’s truck. With fear in her heart, Frankie sets about investigating what happened to Marina.

Alternating between this present case, and the events of the infamous party night, 5-years earlier, the truth behind Rachel’s and Marina’s disappearances is revealed. We also gain a full understanding of the sisterly relationship; how intertwined they are with one another.

There’s something about Chavez’s writing that feels so addictive. She gives you just enough in each chapter to keep you vigorously turning pages. The drama is always high and this sisterly relationship was giving me all the twisted family dynamics I crave.

I really felt for Frankie. Izzy was a lot and Frankie’s dedication to her felt like it was extreme at times, but when I sat and thought about it, it really wasn’t.

The lengths I would go to for one of my siblings knows no bounds; blood runs thick. I found their relationship, overall, to be quite believable. There were other aspects of this that were more far-fetched than the sisters loyalty.

At the end of the day, I don’t mind over-the-top plots. In fact, that’s generally what I’m here for. I read to escape and this was a great one for me!

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow & Company, for providing me a copy to read and review. I had a lot of fun with this and look forward to seeing what Chavez comes up with next!!

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Review: One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose

One of Us is DeadOne of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Jenny is the owner of a posh salon in the upscale area of Buckhead in Atlanta. Her salon, Glow, caters to a set number of wealthy clients who come in for very regular treatments.

Because of this exclusivity and frequency of visits, Jenny has come to know her clients very, very well. Almost too well for her tastes. Along with her assistant, Jenny has become quite versed in navigating the ups-and-downs of her clients toxic relationships.

The most recent drama involves former Queen Bee, Shannon, whose politician husband, Bryce Madison, recently left her for a 20-something waitress he met while on a business trip to Texas.

The waitress, Crystal, has recently moved to town and become the new Mrs. Madison. Young and innocent, like Dorothy walking into Oz, Crystal has no idea what she is in for when it comes to Buckhead society.

For her part, Olivia is all too happy to sit back and watch Shannon’s demise. Truthfully, she’s been waiting for that star to fall for a while. As she sees it, now is her time.

Lastly, there’s Karen. The least aggressive socially of the bunch, Karen’s still hiding some big secrets of her own.

These women are used to a constant state of drama, with under-handed insults being slung back and forth, but how far are they willing to take it? Would someone actually kill to protect their position in the community? How about to keep their secrets secret?

Y’all, somebody is not going to make it out alive…

One of Us is Dead is like Fried Green Tomatoes met The Real Housewives of Atlanta, they fell in love and had a baby that was essentially an Adult version of Mean Girls.

You know based off that description that my evil a$$ is 100% here for it.

I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook for this one, which does feature a full cast. It was really well done and I definitely recommend that format.

It was fun having a different narrator for each perspective. It felt like I was really getting to know these characters and they are twisted. Everyone was hiding something. Everyone knew things they shouldn’t. They were just all up in each others business. It was captivating.

The more I think on it, the more I am realizing just how much fun I had with it. It was really close to a full 4-stars for me. I think initially though, I was disappointed that the ending wrapped everything up so quickly.

I wanted more intrigue as far as the murdery bits were concerned. For most of the narrative I actually forgot that the whole point was that someone was ultimately going to end up dead. There was so little focus on that.

I would have appreciated more time invested in those aspects, but of course, that is completely a personal taste issue. I was just sort of hoping for a wee more mystery.

Overall, this is a super fun, fast-paced, dramatic and slightly ridiculous read.

Be forewarned, however, if you are not into girl-on-girl slander, back-stabbing and crime, this may not be for you. Just know going in these women are brutal. They aren’t holding any punches.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this one!

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Review: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

The Shadow HouseThe Shadow House by Anna Downes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fleeing a toxic relationship, Alex, a single-mother of two, moves with her children, teenage-son, Ollie and infant-daughter, Kara, to the remote eco-village of Pine Ridge.

Alex dreams of a fresh start for them. Things had gotten pretty bad in their old life, with Ollie even having been expelled from school due to of a bit a scandal involving some classmates.

Determined to make it work, Alex signs on to a 3-month commitment at Pine Ridge. They need this. They have to give it a fair shot.

Once arriving, Alex begins meeting current residents of the village, who try to clue her in to the ways of the community. This includes Kit, their charming and charismatic leader.

As much as she wants to fit in, however, there’s something about the place that makes Alex feel unsettled. It’s not just the rumors of the witch who lives in the woods and steals children, but things start to happen to them as well.

Mysterious, ominous packages, strange drawings; it’s all a bit overwhelming. Add to this Ollie’s temperamental and moody behavior, Alex finds herself close to the end of her rope.

Alex has always had a hard time accepting help, but as one of her neighbors reminds her, sometimes it takes a village. Slowly, she begins to lean into the experience, growing closer to some of the others.

It’s unclear who she can trust though. Soon people Alex thought were friends are talking behind her back; it seems trying to push her out. Is this whole scheme some sort of sham?

In addition to Alex’s perspective, the Reader also gets the historical perspective of a woman named, Renee.

Renee once lived in a farmhouse on the grounds of which the eco-village now sits. Years earlier, Renee’s teenage-son, Gabriel, went missing. His disappearance was never solved.

As you learn more about Gabriel from Renee, you see that he has a lot of similarities to Alex’s son, Ollie. Additionally, strange things about Gabriel’s case mirror things currently happening to Alex and Ollie.

Could the two cases be related? Is Ollie in danger, as he fears? Is there a witch in the woods snatching children?

Alex begins investigating.

She needs to find answers before it’s too late, but with no clue who she can trust, the odds seem stacked against her.

The Shadow House is hard to categorize. I wouldn’t stick it in a strict Mystery, Thriller or Suspense category. I think if you go into it expecting that, you may be disappointed.

It feels Dark General Fiction, or Dark Domestic Drama to me, with a slight Mystery. Regardless, I really enjoy Downes storytelling. I was intrigued by her first book and even more with this one.

I loved learning about the eco-village; how it was run, it’s history and the lore surrounding the area. The characters were vibrant and believable.

I also really enjoyed the way Downes used the two perspectives to build the story out. It’s definitely a slow burn, but I was happy with the conclusion and the length of time it took for all of the pieces to fall into place.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was excellent. I felt like their accent attributed a sense of place to the overall story. It was a great listen!

There was a romance subplot that I personally could have done without, but I get it. I understand why Downes included it. I just may have enjoyed it a bit more if Alex had embraced her time finding herself and growing with her children on her own.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this. The atmosphere was fantastic. I loved the build and how it began to feel a bit claustrophobic.

I found certain aspects of it to be unsettling and I did start to feel a real sense of desperation towards the end. The whole is it supernatural, is it not supernatural-vibe; I thought it was very well done.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I appreciate it so much.

This is the second book that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed from Downes. I am certainly looking forward to more!

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Review: This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel

This Might HurtThis Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Hoping for a fresh start, Kit Collins signs up for Wisewood, purportedly a Wellness Retreat, set on a remote island off the coast of Maine. This could be just what she needs to get her floundering life in order.

Initially, her stay was to be 6-months, where she would be completely cut off from the outside world, including from her older sister, Natalie.

Natalie, pretty much her younger sister’s opposite, is a successful business woman with a fairly structured life.

All that gets thrown for a loop, however, on the day Natalie receives a seemingly threatening email stemming from Wisewood: We know what you did. Would you like to come tell your sister – or should we?

That’s enough convincing for her. Natalie packs her bags and off she goes on a mission to save Kit; and let’s be honest, to save her secret too.

Over the course of this story, we follow both Natalie and Kit’s perspectives, but we also get a historical perspective from an unknown third character.

Eventually, the person’s identity is revealed, but basically, this perspective is following a charming little girl being psychologically abused by her domineering Father.

Most interesting to me was following along with Natalie as she arrives at Wisewood and slowly deciphers what it is all about. The whole-vibe is quite cultish and I feel like Wrobel did a nice job with that.

I also really enjoyed the historical perspective of the little girl, growing up the way she did and what she chose to do with her life.

In other areas though, this fell short of my expectations. The pace was quite uneven for me, with my interest level waxing and waning heavily throughout. By the end, I really couldn’t be bothered to care anymore.

I finished this 2-weeks ago and already have completely forgotten what the big secret was. That’s not a great sign.

Wrobel definitely has a knack for exploring complicated familial relationships. They certainly abound in this story.

Truthfully, some of the circumstances are difficult to read, so if you feel like you could be sensitive to any plot involving significant mental abuse, and at times physical danger, you may want to proceed with caution.

Overall, I personally could have used higher stakes with a lot more suspense and intrigue. This is still a solid story, if a bit lackluster. With this being said, I’m sure many Readers will enjoy it. Sadly, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Please don’t take my word for it though. As we all know, reading is highly subjective. If the synopsis sounds interesting to you, pick it up and give it a go!

Thank you to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Even though this one didn’t quite knock it out of the park for me, I still enjoy Wrobel’s writing and ideas. I would definitely pick up future works from her.

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Review: The Heights by Louise Candlish

The HeightsThe Heights by Louise Candlish
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

While working at a client’s condo, Ellen Saint, spots a man she knows across the way on a rooftop deck. She can’t believe her eyes.

Sure, he’s aged and other things about him seem different as well, but it’s definitely him. She would know him anywhere.

Ellen is shocked to see Kieran Watts that day because he is supposed to be dead. She knows this because she had him killed herself.

As you can imagine, this turn of events flips Ellen’s world upside down. She becomes obsessed with Kieran all over again. It takes over her every waking thought.

Through flashbacks we learn how this seemingly harmless suburban housewife could come to hate this young man, a close friend to her son, so much.

It’s clear Ellen believes Kieran is at fault in regards to a tragedy that changed their family forever. She will never forgive him and feels he got away with it when he should have been harshly punished. Vigilante justice comes to mind.

The Heights was a tough one for me. From the beginning, Ellen’s character put a bad taste in my mouth and it really never went away.

Normally I love a tale of obsession, but there was something about this one that just didn’t sit right for me.

I thought the end, like literally the last 10-15%, brought something interesting that I wasn’t expecting, but other than that I found this to be fairly boring and at times annoying.

I have really enjoyed three of Candlish’s previous novels, Our House, Those People and The Other Passenger, so just because this one missed the mark for me, I still consider her to be one of my favorite Domestic Thriller authors.

With all of this being said, I did like the way this story was formatted; the way Kieran’s relationship with Ellen’s family was revealed, the tragedy that changed everything and the revelations at the end.

Also, as I always say, just because this one didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If you are intrigued by the premise, if you want to know what the heck Kieran did to become so vilified, you should definitely pick this one up and give it a try.

Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to picking up Candlish’s next book!

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Review: The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Golden CoupleThe Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Avery Chambers is an unconventional therapist with a promise to cure your woes in just 10-sessions.

Hearing about Chambers from a friend, Marissa Bishop seeks Avery’s help to aide in repairing her damaged relationship with her husband, Matthew.

Marissa had one night of infidelity. She doesn’t dare tell Matthew on her own, therefore, Marissa saves her confession for their first session with Avery.

From all appearances, Marissa and Matthew are a golden couple, perfect in every way. They intrigue Avery and she is anxious to see how Matthew will react to Marissa’s secret.

Although angered, Matthew takes it surprisingly well and agrees to commit to Avery’s therapy to repair their relationship.

Thus, Avery’s treatment begins.

Alternating between Avery and Marissa’s perspectives, this novel pieces together the truth behind Marissa and Matthew’s marriage, while also providing a background for Avery’s character as well.

I enjoyed my time learning about all of these characters. They were all interesting and provided plenty of drama to keep my head spinning.

Overall, I would say this is a pretty straight-forward story, as far as Psychological Thrillers go, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

If you enjoy some rich people Domestic Drama, you should absolutely give this one a go. Personally, I’ve had great success with this author duo and I look forward to picking up anything else they may choose to write together.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity!

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