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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Review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Little DisastersLittle Disasters by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Liz, a pediatric doctor, is surprised when one of her closest friends, Jess, arrives at emergency services with her 10-month old baby, Betsey.

She is even more surprised when she discovers that Betsey has suffered severe head trauma causing a cranial fracture.

Making matters worse, Jess is very dodgy with her story, claiming she didn’t even know Betsey had hit her head that badly.

She claims that she was bringing Betsey in because she seemed unwell, having vomited in her crib.

Jess insists that Betsey has suffered no real trauma. Perhaps she just fell over as she was trying to pull herself upright, certainly nothing out of the norm for a baby who is increasing her mobility.

The severity of the injury seems to negate this explanation, however, and Liz cannot understand why her friend, who always seems like the most put together mom, could suddenly be so obtuse about her child’s condition.

Consulting with a senior doctor, Liz understands that the hospital must contact Social Services regarding Jess and Betsey. They have a duty to report if there is even a chance that a child is being harmed.

Jess’s weak explanation, paired with the skull fracture, is more than enough to bring in outside intervention.

Following multiple perspectives, over multiple timelines, Little Disasters is a thoughtful examination of modern motherhood.

The main bulk of the story is made up of Liz, Jess and Jess’s husband, Ed’s, perspectives, but there are a few others sprinkled in.

The Reader learns what Jess’s life as a stay-at-home mom to three busy children is really like.

While she may stay buttoned up outside of the home, amongst her friends and at the children’s activities, inside the home, things are far from perfect.

We also get a glimpse into Liz’s life and what her childhood was like; the events that pushed her into a career in pediatrics.

Finally, we get an examination of friendship, that of Liz and Jess, as well as the other women in their circle.

I enjoyed my time reading this novel quite a bit. My one concern is that people will go into this expecting a tense Thriller, and it’s really not.

I would classify this novel as a thought-provoking Domestic Drama with a hint of suspense. I think if you go into it expecting that, you will not be disappointed.

As far as content, I think this novel is poignant and important. I mentioned recently in my review for Megan Goldin’s, The Night Swim, that I love when this type of novel has something to say about hard-hitting real world issues.

This one definitely does. I think this would make an incredible book club read, as it could lead to a ton of great discussions involving motherhood, mental health and the societal expectations placed on women.

The writing is highly compelling and I flew through it. The short chapters and alternating perspectives kept me glued to the pages.

Overall, I think this will be enjoyed and appreciated by a lot of Readers. One of them should be you. Available now!!!

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

I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

Who Did You Tell?Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Astrid is very much in the early days of sobriety.

Forced to move back in with her mother in a quiet, seaside town, she spends each day just trying to make it through without a drink.

Astrid is haunted by a lot of her past behaviors whilst under the influence.

Through her musings, the Reader is made aware of some of these things, including a toxic, though arguably, loving relationship with a man named, Simon.

With Simon gone, Astrid is left with so many regrets. She has begun to attend AA meetings and the process has caused a lot of old memories to come to the surface.

She knows she needs to make amends to a lot of people, but can anyone ever forgive her for the things she has done?

Astrid is trying, she truly is, but each and every day is a battle.

She begins to open up to a couple of women from meetings and even meets a new man and secures a small, temporary job working for his father on an art project.

As we all know, the past rarely stays buried forever though and soon Astrid is receiving mysterious messages and feels that she is being followed.

Her and Simon did have one truly bad night where they did something not just reprehensible, but criminal. Did he tell someone?

Who Did You Tell was such an interesting reading experience for me.

The beginning of the novel is very melancholy. Astrid, as mentioned above, is really struggling and as the Reader, you get a front-row seat to every moment of that.

Initially, I was apprehensive. Was I going to get into it?

Oh baby, did I! It’s such an intricate, beautifully told story of addiction, forgiveness and recovery. I became so attached to Astrid and invested in her.

With this being said, it is a subtle suspense and a slow burn.

I think if you go into this expecting a fast-paced Thriller, you may be disappointed. I would urge every Reader to give it a shot however, the pay off is worth it.

Towards the end, the suspense and action kicks way up. I loved the conclusion. I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

I definitely plan to go back and read Lesley Kara’s debut, The Rumour and will continue to pick up anything she writes moving forward.

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

I appreciate the opportunity!

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Blog Tour: Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass

Someone's ListeningSomeone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

     NOW AVAILABLE!!!

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Self-Help guru, Faith Finley, has suffered a lot of trauma in her life. Luckily enough, she has been able to spin these negative events and use them for good.

Those horrifying personal experiences help her better relate to the individuals she counsels and she feels like it makes her advice more credible.

Just when her career is starting to take off, with a successful book published and regular radio and television spots, a sex scandal hits the news waves and her reputation is instantly shattered.

A past patient has come forward and made some pretty damning allegations against her. Since her main area of interest is abusive or toxic relationships, this patient’s claim seems particularly ironic.

She can’t believe it. She had such a good relationship with him. Why would he do this to her?

Faith doesn’t take the scrutiny well, relying on pills and drink to get her through.

Her loving husband, Liam, claims to believe her, but still, their relationship begins to feel the strain as well.

After a mysterious accident, Liam disappears. Faith is desperate to find him, or at least find out what happened to him.

Is it a case of a man fleeing an unhappy marriage or did something more sinister happen to him? When Faith ends up a suspect in his disappearance, she becomes even more determined to find out the truth.

With her own mental health spiraling, it’s hard to determine how much Faith actually knows.

Y’all know, I love a unreliable narrator and Faith Finley fits that description to a T. In addition to the fantastic use of an unreliable narrator trope, you also have Faith working a bit as an amateur sleuth in order to determine what happened to Liam.

Having two of my favorite tropes, it is no surprise that I really enjoyed Someone’s Listening.

I found it easy to become completely immersed within the story. Faith has a lot of flaws, but I think they are flaws that many readers will be able to relate to.

She’s not claiming to be perfect and I think after everything she has gone through, you can’t help but root for her to finally get some peace.

There are so many twists and turns and exciting leads that Faith follows during her investigation. Red herrings are plentiful and really well executed, in my opinion.

The only thing I was a little disappointed about was that, for some reason, I thought there was going to be a radio show involved in the story and there’s not.

Admittedly, that’s my own fault, but I just wish we could have got a little more of her in action in her career, but that isn’t a part of it at all.

Overall, I think this is a fun, fast Domestic Suspense novel that a lot of Readers will enjoy!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review, and for including me in the Blog Tour for the book release.

I definitely hope to read more from Seraphina Nova Glass in the future!

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Review: Shadow Garden by Alexandra Burt

Shadow GardenShadow Garden by Alexandra Burt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

A compulsively readable novel of Domestic Suspense!

This novel begins with Donna Pryor introducing us to the mysterious Shadow Garden property. A place her estranged husband has chosen for her to live.

A living community that feels more like a fortress where wealthy people go when no one else wants them. Donna feels abandoned by her family and confused at how she ended up at this point.

Her husband Edward, although they are not divorced, is no longer taking her calls and she hasn’t heard from her adult daughter, Penelope, in months.

She does have her dedicated housekeeper, Marleen, but that’s a small conciliation prize when one is missing their family.

Donna begins to feel like something isn’t right at Shadow Garden. What are these pills Marleen keeps giving her? Why won’t Edward or Penelope talk to her?

She feels like maybe they are mad at her, but she can’t recall why. Her life feels like a giant black hole of distant memories, one she is slowly sinking into.

Following three different perspectives: Donna, Edward and Penelope, this novel pieces together the story of their life and their downfall.

I found this story so addicting. While not the most believable plot, there was still something about it that kept me glued to the pages.

It sort of felt like reading a Lifetime movie. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s definitely an entertaining way to spend an afternoon!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me a copy of this read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion!

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Blog Tour: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Sister DearSister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

As her beloved Dad lay in his death bed at a local hospice, Eleanor Hardwicke, overhears a family secret that challenges everything she thought she knew about her life.

It turns out that her Dad, the closest person to her in the world, isn’t actually her biological father.

She can’t believe it. She feels so betrayed, he has lied to her for her entire life.

She would expect something like that from her mother, who is an absolutely vile woman, but her Dad? It’s a complete shock. One she doesn’t take well.

In the days that follow, she’s torn apart by how she behaved; kicking herself for her harsh reaction.

It’s too late for her to make it up to her Dad, so there’s nothing left to do but learn about her biological father, right?

When she discovers who he is, she can’t believe it!

A influential real estate magnate who owns half of the city she lives in, Portland, Maine.

In fact, he lives in Portland as well, with his beautiful wife. The power couple have a grown daughter, Victoria, meaning Eleanor has a half-sister she has never known.

Upon further investigation, she discovers Victoria is everything she is not: stunning, successful and married to an extremely handsome man.

The narrative follows Eleanor as she slowly infiltrates Victoria’s life.

The tension steadily builds, as you know this cannot end well!

Sister Dear is an intense Domestic Drama that kept me glued to the pages. I read this so quickly, I had to discover what would happen to Eleanor.

While definitely a quirky, slight unreliable narrator, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by Eleanor. I found her character to be so interesting.

Far from perfect, there was a lot going on there. Her relationship with her mother, that made me feel for her right from the start.

There were times when I want to reach through the pages, grab her by the shoulders and shake her! Why are you making these choices, Eleanor!?!?

As you race towards the conclusion, everything gets flipped upside down. The plot twist was so fun. I didn’t see it coming!

For me, the end was great. It definitely left me with an evil grin on my face, which is absolutely how I like to wrap-up my dramatic reads!

Thank you so much to the publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review, as well as including me in the Blog Tour for the release.

Hannah Mary McKinnon has a new fan in me. I look forward to reading more from her in the future!

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Review: The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

The First MistakeThe First Mistake by Sandie Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The First Mistake was a delight!

I haven’t read a book in under 24-hours in a while. So fun!

Alice’s life hasn’t always been perfect, although from the outside it may appear so.

She lost her first husband, Tom, a decade ago and as expected, the tragedy hit her extremely hard. Her young daughter was really what pulled her through.

Now remarried to her second husband, Nathan, they own a successful design company and have added another little girl to their family.

Alice feels motivated and content.

Unfortunately, Nathan starts to behave curiously and all Alice’s old anxieties rise to the surface.

Her best friend, Beth, who always has her back, tells her she has every right to be suspicious.

As she begins to look into it, Alice wonders if Beth is even someone she can trust.

There were so many twists, turns and revelations in this book, I could not put it down. My head was spinning. I trusted no one.

I could never have guessed the conclusion to this, not in my wildest dreams!

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

I am looking forward to reading more domestic suspense from Sandie Jones!

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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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