Review: Sundial by Catriona Ward

SundialSundial by Catriona Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Rob does not have a good relationship with her husband. In fact, their relationship is so toxic that I had to take a break from this book only 10% in just to get away from it.

The couple have two young daughters. Callie, the oldest, favors her father, while Annie, the youngest, is definitely her mother’s favorite.

Rob struggles to understand Callie and her increasingly disturbing behaviors. Unfortunately, the older Callie gets, the more frightening her behaviors become. It even seems that Callie may pose a serious threat to Annie, something Rob cannot stand for.

Rob’s husband, Irving, doesn’t see the way Callie is. He doesn’t understand Rob’s concerns, not that she could have expected him to be on her side regardless.

Knowing she has to do something before tragedy strikes, Rob steals Callie away and heads back to Sundial, the mysterious property where Rob grew up, deep in the Mojave desert. What her parenting plans are for after that point seem ominous, at best.

After the pair arrives at Sundial, the focus shifts to exposing the history behind the property, about Rob’s childhood and the truth of who she really is. Through this, the Reader also learns how Rob’s own history could be influencing her current circumstances, as well as her daughter’s lives.

I was very intrigued by the past perspective. It was an interesting set-up and like nothing I have read before. I enjoyed the SF-feel of some the activities occurring during Rob’s childhood.

I do think it is important to note that Rob’s parents kept dogs on the property and I don’t mean as pets. I was hesitant once I discovered that because I am quite sensitive to any harm coming to animals in books.

I can get past it, as long as it is not too drawn out, or as long as it has a point within the larger narrative more than just shock value. In this story, there’s a point. There were a few places I had to skim read, but for the most part, it didn’t have too much of an impact on my overall enjoyment level.

There were times that I even wished the entire book was just the past perspective, but on arriving at the end, it became clear why there’s two perspectives. I was impressed with how Ward tied it all together, as well as the themes explored by doing so.

The ending was wild and crazy, but I liked it. For the most part, while I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this story, as there is literally no joy to be found within these pages, it’s definitely intriguing. Ward succeeded in keeping me uncomfortably interested the whole way through.

It’s the kind of story where you are desperate to know what the heck is going on. I won’t claim to understand the points Ward is trying to make here 100%, but I think I have enough of it to be impressed.

Unique from start-to-finish, this is definitely worth a pick-up for Readers with the stomach and mental fortitude to tackle such a story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Nightfire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I think it is fair to say that I will pick-up whatever Ward throws at us next!

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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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Review: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Sometimes I LieSometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Waking in a hospital bed, Amber Reynolds quickly realizes that she cannot move, she cannot speak, she cannot even open her eyes.

She can hear everything going on around her, but has no way to make her consciousness known.

She can let the Reader know three things, however: 1. Her name is Amber Reynolds, 2. Her husband doesn’t love her anymore, and 3. Sometimes she lies.

Somtimes I Lie is a taut Psychological Thriller that kept me entranced from beginning to end. This was Alice Feeney’s debut novel. Stunning.

First, I can’t believe it took me this long to pick it up. Second, I can definitely see why there has been buzz about Feeney from the very start. This was such a well-executed debut.

The narrative is broken into three perspectives: Amber’s thoughts whilst in her coma, her remembrances of the events leading up to the accident that put her in the hospital, and diary entries from 1992.

Along the way, you meet the various players in Amber’s life: her husband, sister, an ex-boyfriend, work colleagues, etc. No matter how many people I met, or how much information I seemed to be getting, it took a long time for the fog to begin to clear.

The portions where Amber is in her coma are genuinely terrifying. Just the thought of being in her shoes in those moments, it made me feel claustrophobic.

Additionally, her memories seem so muddled. I felt like I was squinting trying to see past the hazy details. It reminded me of watching a movie where the scenes are mostly dark and your just trying to see what’s there.

The pace continued to increase, as well as the intensity, as more and more about Amber’s past is revealed. There were some truly shocking moments.

I listened to this audiobook while traveling over Christmas holiday and honestly, I don’t think I could have chosen a better way to pass the time. It was fantastic.

I was so pleasantly surprised when I discovered that this story is actually set during Christmas time. That small detail just gave it a little something extra that I needed during my long and slightly stressful journey!

A little boost if you will.

I’m so glad I took the time to pick this one up. If you haven’t picked this up yet and have been enjoying Feeney’s newer releases, like I have, you should definitely give this one a shot.

Highly recommend, particularly the audiobook!

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Review: Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross

Nanny NeededNanny Needed by Georgina Cross
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Sarah Larsen finds a job posting in the lobby of her building from a wealthy family looking for a nanny, she thinks it may be just the break she needs to get out of debt.

Sure, it says, special conditions apply, which is a little suspicious, but she’s never going to make headway in her bills with just her waitressing gig.

Applying for the job, she can hardly believe it when she makes it through to the interview stage.

Even more unbelievable is the family home, a penthouse on the Upper West Side. This is exactly what she needs and she gets it!

The Bird family is extremely wealthy and cherish their privacy, therefore, Sarah is required to sign an NDA, which she doesn’t think too much about.

The pay, the work hours, the minimal job requirements, it all seems a little too good to be true. And y’all know, if it seems that way, it’s because it is!

It doesn’t take long on the new job before Sarah realizes something is very off with the Birds. Very, very off.

Although the other members of staff aren’t completely willing to talk with her about the family, the little she is able to pick up indicates there have been a few nannies before her, the last one departing suddenly.

What happened to them? What would make them leave such a seemingly prestigious placement?

Nanny Needed is one wild ride. Getting to meet the Bird family was quite the jaw dropping experience. Oh wow, the secrets we keep.

Sarah got into it deep. I can’t believe how long she stayed into it, but there we go. Throughout it all, I was hooked, I’ll admit it, like a moth to a flame.

Rich people drama is a trope I love. While this was a bit far-fetched, it still kept me entertained. Particularly the second-half, which I read it one sitting.

I think if you are looking for a fun, fast-paced, Lifetime movie-type read, this would be a good one to pick up. Even though it most likely won’t be super memorable for me, it kept me engaged the entire time I was reading and that’s a great thing!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Bantam, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I definitely look forward to picking up more from this author!

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Review: Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the NightSurvive the Night by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

After Charlie’s best friend, Maddy, is murdered, Charlie feels an overwhelming need to flee campus. Even though it’s alleged that Maddy was killed by an active serial killer dubbed, The Campus Killer, Charlie isn’t leaving because she fears for her life.

She’s leaving because she’s haunted by guilt. No one knows of the fight she and Maddy had on the night Maddy was killed. The last words that Charlie said to her; how hurtful they were. Charlie is drowning with regrets.

Charlie’s boyfriend offers to give her a ride home to Ohio, but Charlie doesn’t see the point. She hasn’t shared with him that she really doesn’t plan on returning to campus.

Plus, due to his schedule, she’d have to wait a few days and Charlie is desperate to leave now, so she does what any carless college coed would have done in the 90s and scans the ride share board.

As luck would have it, a driver seeking a rider, also going to Ohio, approaches the board while Charlie is searching and starts to chat.

He’s a handsome guy and appears harmless, so the two make a plan to leave the following night. He says his name is Josh and he seems legit; Charlie’s feeling confident in her choice.

But as their journey begins, in the dark of night, Charlie begins to second guess her choice and grows suspicious of Josh’s unsettling behavior.

What follows is a 6-hour drive over otherwise empty roads, in a claustrophic stress zone as Charlie tries to detremine if her ride share driver is actually The Campus Killer coming to finish her off.

It’s clear from the reception of this novel that Sager took a risk with this one. It does read differently to his previous stories, but for me, it totally worked.

I absolutely loved the film noir quality of the narrative. I have mentioned in a previous review of Sager’s work that he must be a Hitchcock fan; this definitely sealed my belief in that.

It legitimately felt like a Hitchcock movie and obviously the origin of Charlie’s name was a nod to the influential filmmaker.

I loved the tone and suspense of this one; the action, scene, cut-feel. It drew me in and kept me engaged the entire way through. It read like a movie; vivid and tense.

It gets wacky, I’m not going to lie, but that didn’t hamper my enjoyment one bit. Overall, I am happy to sit in the minority opinion on this one.

I found the construction of the story to be incredibly clever; the insular nature of the narrative, the build in intensity, the epilogue, I loved it and am not ashamed to admit it.

As always, I’m really excited to see what Sager comes up with next!!

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Review: How to Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott

How to Kill Your Best FriendHow to Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Georgie, Lissa and Bronwyn have been best friends since their days together on their college swim team.

In the years following school, their friendship group, which includes a few male swimmers, have remained close, frequently taking swimming holidays together.

Lissa and her new husband recently purchased a beautiful island resort, somewhere in the South Pacific, and the group takes full advantage of the lovely waters there.

On their most recent holiday at the resort, Georgie chose not to attend. She’s now living in New York and it would have been an extremely long trip. That’s the excuse she gave at least. She did have some other reasons for not wanting to go.

It’s on this occasion that Lissa, taking an unimaginable solo night swim in the dangerous waters of Kanu Cove, drowns. Her body assumed swept out to sea, is never recovered. Fisherman in the area did spot the body at one point, but before they could recover her, she slid back under the dark surface.


Georgie is out of sorts from the very start. She arrives late, she didn’t get the memo on the dress code, and most importantly, she cannot believe that Lissa would have made that swim at night, alone, voluntarily.

Bronwyn is out of sorts as well, but for different reasons. She’s receiving threatening messages, she’s distracted, constantly looking over her shoulder, but why?

The group is set to stay at the floundering resort for a long weekend and a heck of a lot happens during that time. There’s creatures surfacing from the depths, mysterious occurrences, flaired tempers, entirely too much booze and a storm of epic proportions. Will any of them get off the island alive?

How to Kill Your Best Friend is the second novel I have read from Lexie Elliott. I absolutely love her writing style.

While I did feel this was a bit of a slow burn, I didn’t enjoy it any less because of that. I love the way Elliott builds her characters and the way she allows us to see inside their heads; learn about their pasts and motivations.

I generally enjoy competition tropes, or tropes where characters are members of a team or club. This definitely had that dynamic, even though the women are well past school age. There’s still something about the interactions of people that compete, or train together, that I just find so relatable.

It’s like when you are in that kind of relationship with a group of people, it can feel like you are closer to them than anyone else in the world. There’s an assumption that you know everything about each other, but everyone’s keeping secrets, aren’t they?

Additionally, I loved the setting. The close to abandoned resort. The fact that the characters were stuck there. No matter how uncomfortable they got, or how much they wanted to leave, that wasn’t an option.

Secluded locations allow for the tension to really build and Elliott captured that claustrophobic feeling so well here. Especially towards the end, as the weather picked up, so did the stakes.

Overall, I thought this was a really well executed story. It was dramatic and tense, I had a lot of fun with it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am a huge Lexie Elliott fan and will continue to pick up anything else she writes.

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Review: We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

We Were Never HereWe Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

When Emily met Kristen in college, she was immediately drawn in by the other girl’s confidence and bold personality. The two hit it off and became best friends.

Years later, even though they live on different continents, the women are still best friends; two peas in a pod. One way they maintain their close relationship, is by traveling together to remote locations around the world. Last year was Cambodia. This year, it’s Chile.

On the final night in Chile, something truly terrible happens. Kristen had headed back to their suite a little early with a cute backpacker they met in a bar. Emily, as a good friend, stayed away for a while to give the two time to be alone.

When Emily does arrive back at the suite, she walks into a horrible mess. Blood, broken glass and a very dead backpacker. Kristen is extremely distraught, saying he attacked her and she hit him in self-defense.

Emily takes control and they do what they have to do in order to get out of the country unscathed. It feels surreal, Emily cannot believe what has happened, mainly because it isn’t the first time.

Their magical trip to Cambodia ended much the same way. Kristen claiming self-defense and both of them cleaning up a giant mess.

Back in Wisconsin, Emily is drowning in guilt. Repetitive thoughts and hazy recollections of the two infamous trips are constantly running through her mind.

She’s having a difficult time putting it in the past and is surprised at how easily Kristen is coping with it all. While Emily is distracted, both at work and in her new relationship with Aaron, Kristen seems to be her normal, carefree self.

When Kristen shows up in Wisconsin for a surprise visit from Australia, Emily is shocked. She’s starting to see her BFF in a whole new light and it’s not flattering.

The tighter Kristen tries to hold onto their friendship, the more Emily begins to feel like she’s trapped. How well does she really know Kristen? What is she truly capable of?

As secrets of Kristen’s past come to light, due to stealthy digging on Emily’s part, it becomes clear that her best friend may not be who she thinks she is.

We Were Never Here is a tense and twisty tale of Suspense. I had fun reading this one, although in my opinion, the pace was a little uneven.

The beginning was great. It kicks of quickly and the stakes are incredibly high. As a person who travels every year with my best friend, I couldn’t even imagine having something happening to us, like what happened to Emily and Kristen in Cambodia. It’s frightening to even think about.

After Chile, it’s clear, something is off with the besties. As the synopsis says, could lightening really strike twice?

Once Emily returns to Wisconsin, I felt like the tense tone was ripped right out from under me. I was bored with being in Emily’s head; her repetitive musings seemed to go on forever.

However, once Kristen arrives, things slowly began to pick back up. I enjoyed the mystery of Kristen’s background and Emily’s sleuthing was definitely an element I appreciated.

The ending was absolutely wild, like WHAT!? The intensity returning with a vigor. We’re talking Lifetime movie levels of drama unfolding. It was definitely fun!

In short, while the pace wasn’t perfect for me, overall, I thought this was a compelling, over-the-top tale of codependent friendship. I am still thinking about and I consider that a great sign; it’s memorable. Kristen, in particular, was a great character!

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

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Review: The Apartment by S.L. Grey

The ApartmentThe Apartment by S.L. Grey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

After masked men break into their Cape Town home in the middle of the night, and subsequently terrorize them as they ransack the place, married couple, Mark and Steph are understandably traumatized.

Although they, as well as their 2-year old daughter, weren’t physically harmed, the emotional scars run deep. They are having an extremely difficult time returning to life as normal in the aftermath.

Troubles sleeping, paranoia about leaving the house unlocked, feeling like someone has been inside; all classic PTSD-home invasion symptoms.

Confiding in a friend one evening over dinner and drinks, she suggests to them that they may need some time away to heal and regroup; a house swap site is mentioned and Steph’s interest is piqued.

While they really aren’t in a financial position to take a trip, if they participated in a house swap, they just might be able to pull it off.

Mark doesn’t seem as into the idea, so Steph, naturally, creates a profile behind his back and begins the search.

Finding a match, Steph ends up convincing Mark to take the leap. Paris here they come!!

Arriving in Paris, Steph and Mark quickly discover the apartment is not quite as advertised. Not by a long shot. They fear there has been some sort of mistake, but gradually come to accept that they have been had.

It’s dirty, creepy, terribly furnished and under-provisioned. There’s even mold. Plus, don’t even ask what’s in the closet.

Unfortunately, for the couple, circumstances are actually much worse than they appear. Not long after settling in, strange things begin to happen in the apartment building and their minds.

I picked this audiobook up after a friend of mine had listened to it and really enjoyed it.

She seemed so excited about it and I wanted to be able to discuss it with her. I hadn’t really heard any hype for it, so was pretty jazzed once I read the synopsis and realized it was just my kind of story. Creepy and weird.

The audiobook was fantastic. The narrators did a wonderful job of believably protraying Mark and Steph’s sides of the story; which you alternate between.

There was a constant feeling of dread, even when nothing overtly scary was happening. I always enjoy that type of narrative. When I am just waiting for the dark truth to unfold.

I felt Grey did a solid job steadily building tension throughout. With this being said, the story actually disturbed me from the very start; it had a great tone.

It was like when you are watching a slightly scary movie and the cinematography is very dark, or sepia-toned, and you’re just kind of squinting the whole time, anticipating what is going to be coming next. What’s just outside the lense that you can’t see. I love that.

In addition to the many real-world issues Mark and Steph were struggling with, I enjoyed the darker supernatural elements to this story as well. The ending was satisfying to me and I can definitely picture this being adapted into a movie.

The Apartment certainly may not be for every Reader, but I really liked it. It was especially fun to read with a friend and discuss the different disturbing and crazy occurences plaguing Mark and Steph.

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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 Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

The Perfect DaughterThe Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After Grace discovers an abandoned 4-year old girl in a park, she knows the little one is destined to be her daughter. Grace fights hard to foster the girl and ultimately adopts her into the family.

Grace and her husband, Arthur, have two boys, Ryan and Jack, but Grace has always wanted to mother a daughter. That relationship is just so special.

As it turns out, mothering this particular little girl, named Penny by her older brother, Jack, is more challenging than Grace initially anticipated.

Penny, due to trauma in her early life, has suffered a schism within her psyche, outwardly displayed as a case of Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID.

Once known as Multiple Personality Disorder, Grace and the rest of the family are slowly introduced to Penny’s alters, Ruby, Chloe and Eve.

When Penny is accused of killing her birth mother, caught red handed at the woman’s apartment, Grace knows there has to be another explanation. Her sweet Penny would never be capable of such violence.

But would one of her alters? Would Eve, the most aggressive and openly hostile?

Penny gets arrested, and subsequently committed, to Edgewater Psychiatric Hospital for care and treatment prior to her trial. It is there that she comes under the care of the perceptive, Dr. Mitch McHugh.

The Perfect Daughter is a fast-paced and intriguing Psychological Suspense novel. Palmer did a great job of keeping the tension high throughout the story.

I was constantly questioning who, or what, to believe. I know that mental health and disorders can be a complicated topic to write about, but I never felt icky about this. It felt like Palmer handled the topic with care, never demonizing Penny simply because she suffered from DID.

In signature Palmer style, this did get pretty wild towards the end, but it was a heck of a lot of fun to read.

He definitely has a brand and style he keeps returning to, and you know what, it works for me. It may be a little far-fetched, but it keeps me coming back every time!!!

The audiobook is fantastic, highly recommend that medium, as the narrators truly sweep you up into the story!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies of this to read and review. In my opinion, this is Palmer’s best work yet, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

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