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: 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 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: 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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Review: The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler

The Look-AlikeThe Look-Alike by Erica Spindler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Ten years ago, Sienna Scott, stumbled across a murdered girl in the snow. Sienna was leaving the library and she recognized the girl as one of her classmates.

Understandably traumatized by this event, Sienna has a hard time forgetting the incident.

In fact, she has thought about it so much, she thinks she was the actual target that night, not the poor dead girl.

This coupled with some family issues, leads to Sienna getting shipped off to live with her Grandmother in London, where she becomes a professional chef.

Now upon returning to Tranquility Bluffs, a decade later, Sienna immediately begins to fixate again on the murder. They never caught the real killer after all. He could still be out there and still be after her.

Sienna’s mentally unstable mother is a huge part of this narrative. Her delusional disorder makes it close to impossible for her to be around Sienna, as Sienna’s safety is one of her biggest triggers.

I have to be honest and say, this whole dynamic made me super uncomfortable. Something about it just did not work for me.

I would actually say, overall, the author’s writing didn’t work for me. There were entire aspects to the plot that drove me crazy. Number one being the relationship with the neighbor.

There were a lot of red herrings and plot twists. At times, I felt myself sort of getting into it. Then something wonky would come up and it would kick me right out of the story again.

I would put this in a middling to average category for Adult Thrillers. Although with this being said, there is a reader for every book and just because this didn’t work for me personally, doesn’t mean you won’t love it!

If the premise sounds interesting to you, give it a try. Don’t let me sway you!

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

Even though this one wasn’t necessarily for me, I still appreciate the opportunity so much!

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Review: The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

The Missing YearsThe Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A delightful tale of suspense with surprising twists!

After Ailsa Calder’s mother dies, she inherits the Manse in the Scottish Highlands in which she grew up. Well, half of it anyway.

Upon going to settle the estate, she is told that the other half is owned by her father, a man missing for the last 27-years.

The real kicker, although Ailsa wants nothing more than to sell the property, having no desire to leave her posh London-life behind, she can’t.

In order to do so, she will have to have him legally declared dead. A bureaucratic nightmare perfect for the bereaved.

While she handles that whole mess, she relocates to the Manse, along with her half-sister, Carrie, who she really has no relationship with.

It doesn’t take long after arriving at the remote location before it becomes clear to Ailsa that someone doesn’t want her there.

When intruders show up in the night and the house begins to rebel against her, Ailsa feels like she is coming unhinged. She tries to keep it together and bond with her sister but so much is going wrong, she is literally at wits end.

Tie in an interesting group of side characters and a looming sense of dread and you have yourself a taut little suspense novel!

There is a constant back and forth of, is it supernatural, is it not, that I absolutely loved. I went into this without the highest of expectations and I have to say, I was most pleasantly surprised.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a wonderful job making me feel like I was included in the action.

The pacing was fantastic and it kept me wanting more the entire way through.

This was my first Lexie Elliott but definitely will not be my last!

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Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

The Perfect WifeThe Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

CAUTION: This review may contain minor spoilers.

When Abbie Cullen mysteriously disappears, her husband, Tim Scott, creator and owner of Scott Robotics, does what any Titan of Tech would do. He creates a sentient robot to replace her. Well, maybe replace her isn’t the correct term, find her?

It is clear from the start that you are in for a unique experience when you open this book. The writing is strong but quirky and it took me a while to get used to it due to the different perspectives.

In particular, you get Abbie’s present timeline perspective told in 2nd person. This seemed a bizarre choice at first but I did get used to it as the narrative progressed. You also get Abbie’s past perspective in the days leading up to her disappearance, as well as an unknown narrator who is an employee at Scott Robotics.

Abbie, as we meet her, is a very likable character. There is a lot of mystery surrounding her. How she came to be and who knows what about her disappearance and apparent regeneration?

A lot of the emotional turmoil of this book comes with Abbie adjusting to her every day life. Reintroducing herself to the world. They have an autistic child, Danny, and his schooling and daily care were discussed in some detail.

As a Sci-Fi fan, I felt this was a very pertinent and cutting edge Techno-Thiller. If you are someone who is interested in the advancement of technology, in particular, the future of AI, you should definitely pick this up.

Part psychological thriller, part cautionary tale, I thought Delaney kept this believable enough to really cause the reader to think about the use of robotics in the home and whether we think that is a good thing of a bad thing.

It also explored topics like data ownership and consent that I think are equally important. Basically, the cobot (companion robot) who knows herself as Abbie, was made by uploading a compilation of the real Abbie’s data, such as social media posts and text messages.

Thus, through these ‘memories’, the cobot is able to develop the characteristics and personality of the original creator. It is a bit more complicated than that but you get the gist. It’s very Stepford Wives.

If it wasn’t for the last three or four chapters, this would have been a solid 4-star read for me. Sadly, I was a little disheartened with the run-up to the conclusion. There were some sharp turns that I would have preferred to go a different way.

Of course this is entirely subjective but I do have to be honest about the fact that it ultimately did affect my overall enjoyment of the story. With this being said, I still do recommend this one!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and did have a lot of fun with my first, but certainly not my last, J.P. Delaney book!

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Review: The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Perfect SonThe Perfect Son by Lauren North
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Upon waking in the hospital, Tess Clarke, has one thought on her mind: she must find her son! Something happened on the day of his birthday party. She can’t recall exactly what but it ended with her being stabbed and Jamie being gone.

The format was interesting. We have excerpts of interviews between Tess and her doctor, interviews with two individuals tied to the incident, and the bulk of the story told through flashbacks of the days leading up to the big event.

We discover that Tess had been struggling the past few months with extreme grief. Her husband had recently passed in a terrible accident and she was having a very difficult time with every day life. You come to understand fairly quickly that Tess is an unreliable narrator at best.

A grief counselor, hired by her family, arrives at her cottage one day and begins to aid Tess with her healing. The two quickly form a close bond and before you know it, Shelly, seems more of a friend that a professional service provider.

Tess also has her brother-in-law, Ian, sniffing about, seemingly obsessed with his brother’s estate. He claims that her husband owed him a bunch of money but Tess can find no evidence of that in their finances.

She begins to suspect him of some suspicious activities going on at the house that are really scaring her. What is he after really?

While I did enjoy the format and the pacing was nice and steady, I was completely bummed that I knew the twist to this 35% in. It definitely had an affect on my opinion of this story. The writing was good, just really predictable for me.

It hurts my heart as I was looking forward to this so much!

^^^Literally me upon completion: drinking my whiskey, sadly let down by the whole experience.

This being said, while the overall plot and reveal didn’t work for me, I did see a lot of promise in North’s writing and I would absolutely pick up future works by her. I look forward to it actually!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

The Perfect GirlfriendThe Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER:

The following thoughts are based solely upon my personal reading experience of this book. If you like, really like, or even love this, I am truly happy for you. This review is in no way a reflection of my opinion of you or your experience.

Okay. With that out of the way, let’s proceed, shall we?

I will try to keep this short. I did not enjoy this at all. By the end I was legit pushing myself to complete it. I did not care to sit in the front row to this woman’s mental delirium any longer.

OVER IT.

The writing didn’t work for me. The format didn’t work for me. I found it to be repetitive and banal. The protagonist is obviously mentally disturbed, I get it.

Is there anything else going on here or are we just beating the dead horse of the fact that Lilly, Elizabeth, Juliet, whatever the f* her name is, is insane?

There was no point. She was obsessed (view spoiler). I am not sure if that was the reveal people are talking about? It seemed so obvious, I cannot imagine that was the reveal but I am unclear as to what else would be?

The most interesting part of this was her work as part of a flight crew for an airline and even that was fairly boring.

I am all for devious plotting, scheming, long-game revenge planning but this…I didn’t get the ultimate goal. It wasn’t even revenge, she wanted to be a part of these people’s lives; she wanted their lives. It was bizarre and yeah, just ultimately, not to my taste at all.

As I always say, there is a reader for every book and this book already has a ton of praise and fans. Sadly, it just was not my cuppa tea!

Thank you, Graydon House Books, for the ARC. I appreciate the opportunity and wish this would have worked for me. It hurts my heart to write negative reviews but I must always call it as I feel it.

On to the next!

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Review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

The Escape RoomThe Escape Room by Megan Goldin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being summoned last minute to participate in a ‘team building exercise’ is not how Vincent, Jules, Sylvie or Sam saw their Friday night going. Unfortunately, participation is mandatory so they all dutifully arrive on time at a remote office building in a shady part of town. Greeting in the lobby, they enter the elevator together for the ride up to one of the top floors.

The express elevator ascends quickly and then abruptly stops. The lights go out and the heat cranks up. Suddenly, the team comes to the realization that this is their exercise. An Escape Room challenge where the competitive coworkers will have to put petty rivalries aside and work together in order to solve the clues needed for them to be released.

As dark secrets of the team are revealed, viciously pitting them against one another, they find themselves removed from their normal boardroom backstabbing and thrust into a definitive game of survival.

Megan Goldin’s thrilling debut, set in the world of high stakes Wall Street finance is incredibly ruthless, and that’s sort of my brand. I absolutely flew through this story. I could not put it down!

Following dual perspectives between our cast of characters in the elevator and flashbacks to a mysterious former team member, Sara Hall, the plotting of this is absolutely brilliant. It kept me engaged and guessing the entire way.

At its heart, a complex revenge thriller, this stoked my Slytherin heart, as I stan a character with the dedication to strategize a long game. If you don’t know what I mean by this, pick up this book. This is the epitome of a painstakingly planned ‘long game’.

I had so much fun reading this and it is now definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I recommend it to anyone who likes a solid, unique thriller. If this is what Goldin puts out for her debut, I cannot wait to what she comes up with next. You know I will be buying it and devouring it as soon as its released!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and of course, love discovering ambitious new authors to obsess over.

This one is out now, my friends, be sure to pick up your copy and see if you can solve The Escape Room!!!

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