Review: The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

The House in the PinesThe House in the Pines by Ana Reyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

A fun debut novel! I liked this one a lot. The House in the Pines contains solid storytelling and an intriguing premise.

This story follows Maya. When Maya was a Senior in high school, her best friend Aubrey, died suddenly, mysteriously and with no identifiable cause, directly in front of Maya’s eyes. The only other person around, a young man named Frank, fled the scene.

Seven years later, Maya lives with a loving boyfriend, has a job she enjoys, although isn’t challenged by and is working through kicking a prescription drug habit.

Maya has struggled with the circumstances of Aubrey’s death ever since. Due to this, she has understandably had trouble with sleeping and the pills sort of took the edge off, helped her to suppress the overwhelming anxiety.

At this point, the prescriptions have run out. She needs to stop. It’s going about as well as would be expected, which is to say, not well at all. Then Maya makes a disturbing discovery.

Maya comes across a YouTube video showing a young woman, sitting in a diner booth, suddenly keel over and die. Sitting directly across from this woman is none other than Frank, the same man who happened to be sitting right next to Aubrey at the time of her death.

Maya is rattled. It seems like proof to her. She always knew Frank did something to Aubrey and now this other girl, this sort of proves it, doesn’t it?

After a disastrous dinner at her boyfriend’s parent’s house, Maya knows she can’t live with not knowing the truth any longer. She packs her bags and jumps a bus for her hometown of Pittsfield.

Her Mom still lives there in the house that Maya grew up in and welcomes her home with open arms. It’s hard for Maya to be back there after everything that happened, but she knows she needs this resolution in order to move forward.

Additionally, her mother, who has years of experience as an EMT, may be just the person to help Maya through the painful withdrawal process.

Maya finally feels able to face her past. She throws herself into an investigation, not only of what happened to her and Aubrey all those years ago, but also to the young woman at the diner.

I was really intrigued by this story. It pulled me in from the start. I enjoyed how Reyes structured the telling of the story. There are both past-and-present timelines, as you slowly piece together what happened between Maya, Frank and Aubrey that summer and how that has impacted Maya’s life ever since.

When she meets Frank at the local library, inexperienced Maya is taken in by the older boy right away. It’s not necessarily his looks, but more a certain magnetism he has that is hard to resist.

Frank knows just what to say and it seems they have similar interests. Before too long though, Maya begins to notice certain things about their time together that make her greatly uncomfortable. In fact, she becomes so ill at ease around him, she actually begins to fear him.

Additionally, Frank’s presence is putting a strain on her other relationships. Always thick as thieves, Maya and Aubrey are spending less time together than ever.

Once Maya finally admits to Aubrey the truth behind her relationship with Frank, Aubrey surprises her. She’s afraid of him too. Just as the two girls begin to make connections, on that very day, Aubrey ends up dead.

I could really sympathize with Maya. The events of that summer were truly traumatic and it definitely had lasting repercussions on her life. Finding and watching that video brought it all back for her.

It’s like she was forced to relive it. I appreciated that her character was willing to return home and face all her fears and it did get creepy.

I really enjoyed the pace of this as well. I couldn’t put it down once I started. While I found some reveals fairly predictable, if you’ve recently read (view spoiler), you may see it too, I still enjoyed the story a lot.

Overall, I am so glad that I picked this one up. It was quick and fun, yet thoughtful and slightly spooky. I am really impressed with this as a debut.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I can’t wait to pick up more from Ana Reyes in the future!

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Review: What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

What Lies in the WoodsWhat Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When they were 11-years old, best friends, Naomi, Olivia and Cassidy, spent an entire summer playing a game of their own invention, dubbed The Goddess Game, in the woods of their town. It was secret and magical, the rules made up as they went, appeasing a goddess known only to them.

They loved it and truly got immersed in their play. Sadly, their summer came to a shocking close when Naomi was viciously attacked in their playground, the woods.

Somehow, the little girl is able to survive her 17-stab wounds. Naomi is left with many scars though, both on her physical body, as well as in her heart and mind.

Olivia and Cassidy saw the man who did it, identified as Allan Michael Stahl, a suspected serial killer. The testimony of the three girls helped to put him behind bars.

He had killed six women, but it was his attack on Naomi that ultimately lead to his incarceration. The girls are lauded as heroes for their courageous testimony.

22-years later, Naomi receives a phone call that brings that horrible summer back to the forefront of her mind. Stahl has died in prison.

One might think this would provide Naomi with a bit of relief. The man who brutally attacked her, tried to take her life, has come to the end of his. He can never hurt another person. But Naomi feels more guilt and doubt than relief.

It’s clear from her reaction that there’s much more to the story. The girls may not have been 100% truthful about what was going on in the woods that day.

Naomi travels back to her hometown. She needs to see Liv and Cass. Maybe they can work through this together. The reunion brings up a lot of feelings, including tension. Liv wants to reveal the truth, but Naomi’s not even sure she knows the truth.

Naomi’s determined to figure it out. She knows the story they gave the authorities wasn’t the whole story, but what is? Naomi starts digging in and before long it’s clear, someone doesn’t want the truth coming out. Are they willing to kill to keep the secret?

I have really enjoyed some of Kate Alice Marshall’s YA-books, so when I heard that she was coming out with a debut Adult novel, I was super stoked. She has a darker writing style and I was very interested to see what she could do with that in the Adult space.

I was not disappointed! What Lies in the Woods was super intriguing to me from the very start. I loved how the reveals were arranged and the pace was perfection for me.

I had a lot of theories, some turned out to be true, but there were also some fun surprises along the way.

The tone of this story, and even some of the themes, reminded me a lot of two YA-Thrillers that I have really enjoyed, Little Monsters and Broken Things. So, yes, while this is Adult, there is a past perspective that takes place when the girls are younger.

I liked this. I always enjoy an alternating timeline, especially when it helps to piece a story together like this one did. Additionally, I think that makes this one a great transitional book for Readers who may be moving from YA-stories in the Adult-space. This could be a great place to start.

While this wasn’t perfect for me, I did lose track of some of the side characters every now and again, it is still such a strong debut for Marshall in this new space. I hope she continues to write more Adult Mystery/Thriller stories.

She definitely has a knack for the darker side of humanity and that’s what I like to see in this genre. Her main characters are always super compelling as well and I definitely felt that way about Naomi.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flatiron Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I had so much fun with this.

I will pick up anything Kate Alice Marshall writes, no matter the age range. Middle Grade to Adult, I’m here for it!!

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Review: A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza

A Mother Would KnowA Mother Would Know by Amber Garza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Valerie, a mother of two adult children, widow and former lead vocalist in a band, lives alone in her large Victorian home with her chocolate lab, Bowie. Valerie has led a busy life and is finally settling into a more quiet lifestyle.

Unfortunately, she’s also noticed some disturbing changes recently with her memory. Having lost her own mother to the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s, Valerie is very aware of the signs and symptoms. She is fearful she may be experiencing an early-onset of the disease.

Her daughter, Kendra, expresses concerns as well when Valerie seems to be forgetting plans they had made, like babysitting her grandson. Kendra attempts to help her mom with vitamins and diet suggestions.

She’s still concerned about Valerie living on her own though, with the way things seem to be progressing. Luckily, Valerie’s son, Hudson, a bit down on his luck after a recent break-up, is able to come and stay with her.

Hudson has grown distant since a traumatizing incident in high school, but Valerie loves her son very much and is anxious for a chance to reconnect with him. He’s a grown man now, surely they can finally put the past behind them.

Kendra and Hudson definitely still have a contentious relationship though, so when the entire family is together things can get tense. After a time though, they all start to settle into a bit of a routine. It’s nice.

That is until a young woman up the street is murdered in her home. For some reason, Valerie has images in her mind of Hudson being out on the night of the murder, seeing him come in late. Is she imagining this, or are these memories?

She starts to think Hudson is acting suspiciously. Could he have had something to do with this young woman’s death? How well does she even know her son?

I found A Mother Would Know highly-entertaining and addicting, much like Garza’s earlier works. I was actually late to work on the day I finished this because I needed to know the truth. I could not put it down.

Garza’s writing style is very fluid and easy to get into. I found this story to be so compelling and I had a million different theories along the way. It was so much fun trying to figure it out.

The narrative is a nice blend of Valerie’s present-perspective mixed with her remembrances of the past. A lot of the events in her current life make her reminisce on the past, both bad and good.

I think this made a lot of sense considering Valerie’s fears regarding her memory. A lot of the time, I felt like being in her head thinking about the past was kind of like an exercise for her, trying to figure out how much she still recalled and whether or not it was true.

We also get an additional, more mysterious, perspective that helps to build the tension of the story, as well as contributing to the final reveal.

I really enjoyed Valerie as a character. I know that she may not be for everyone, but I found her to be realistic and relatable. I genuinely liked her.

Valerie was in a band, a fairly successful one, and when her kids were young, she spent a lot of her time out of the home, particularly at night performing. Therefore, her husband, was the primary caregiver for the kids.

There’s a lot of unresolved issues within their family because of that and I liked learning about those things and watching them all try to navigate those sensitive waters as adults.

Additionally, I enjoyed the drama of their neighborhood. They live in a fairly high-income neighborhood, where everyone knows everyone’s business and there’s frequently someone watching and talking about what they see.

I am always down for neighborhood drama, so I felt like this was a fun backdrop from the story. Valerie and her family have a lot of history in this neighborhood too and definitely some enemies.

The mystery was compelling and I loved being along for the ride with Valerie. She was willing to do anything to figure out whether her son was innocent or not. The tension got pretty high, with a startling conclusion.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this one and will absolutely pick up anything else Garza writes.

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

I have enjoyed all of Garza’s books so far and am super excited to see what she comes up with next!

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Review: All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

All the Dangerous ThingsAll the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Isabelle Drake has barely slept in a year. Not since the night her toddler, Mason, disappeared from their home. Her and her husband were asleep in the next room, but they heard nothing, saw nothing.

The only sign of an intruder was an open window in Mason’s room. With zero other leads, or evidence though, the police had nothing to go on. The case goes cold.

Since that time, Isabelle and her husband, Ben, have split. Isabelle knows the stats, it’s not unusual for people who have lost a child to split up.

For her though, she just couldn’t understand how Ben seemed to move on after Mason. He gave up on him. Isabelle can’t do that. She’s not going to chalk it up as a loss and move on. Her son could still be out there. She refuses to see him as gone forever.

Isabelle talks about the case, literally gives talks about the case any time she can. She figures talking about it, keeps the case alive. It keeps Mason’s missing status in the forefront of people’s minds.

It’s after speaking at an event dedicated to True crime that she meets True Crime Podcaster, Waylon Spencer. Waylon takes an interest in Mason’s case and proposes to Isabelle that they work together. If he can interview her for his series, it will bring even more exposure to her case.

After some thought, Isabelle agrees and Waylon comes to stay in Savannah, to be near her and make the interview process easier on them both. Thus, it begins.

In addition to Isabelle’s present perspective, we also get her past perspective. In her childhood she lived with her Mom, Dad and little sister, Margaret.

After tragedy struck the family, Isabelle was haunted by the event. She’s never truly recovered from the trauma and a lot of recollections are more her trying to parse out the truth of what happened as opposed to a strict retelling of the event.

I really enjoyed the inclusion of this past perspective. I felt it gave a lot of insight into who Isabelle was as a character and helped to give substance to her motivations in her present.

I found this entire story so compelling. From the first moments I met Isabelle, I was sucked into her story. I wanted to know everything there was to know about her life, both past and present.

It was interesting to be inside her head as she grappled with the loss of Mason and tried to make sense of it. The lack of sleep has had an effect on her, so it’s unclear whether or not she’s entirely reliable.

I am a sucker for an unreliable narrator. I know some Readers are over it, but I’m so not one of those Readers.

I wouldn’t describe this as being fast-paced, it was more of a steady pace with great tension throughout. Each chapter fills in more and more of the puzzle and it was really hard to put it down.

There were some super fun twists and reveals. I just had an absolute blast with this one. I really enjoyed Willingham’s earlier release, A Flicker in the Dark, and personally, I think this one is even better. Highly recommend the audio format as the narration is fantastic!

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

After loving her first two novels, it’s safe to say that I will continue to pick up anything else Stacy Willingham writes. Looking forward to more!!

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Review: The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

The Family GameThe Family Game by Catherine Steadman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The publisher claims the rules are as follows:

1. Listen carefully
2. Do your research
3. Trust no one
4. Run for your life

With the The Family Game, Steadman has created her most intriguing plot yet. I was truly captivated!!

We follow UK-born novelist, Harry, who currently lives in NYC with her beau, Edward. Things are going so well for Harry. Her first novel was well-received and she is currently writing her second. And there’s Edward. She can hardly believe their relationship. It’s almost too good to be true.

He’s as handsome as a movie star and as wealthy as an Astor; old money, family money. He’s also kind, supportive and seems so into her it hurts.

The thing is, their relationship is progressing rapidly and Harry has yet to be introduced to his family. Edward has warned her they can be a bit much.

Now that they are engaged, the Holbeck family suddenly emerges as a huge force in their lives. Edward was right, they are a bit overwhelming. That American old-money vibe is just poring from every orifice.

Harry grins and tries her best to take it in stride, but her future-father-in-law, Robert Holbeck really gets under her skin. She’s drawn to him in a way that frankly makes her uncomfortable. Then, of course, there is the Dictaphone cassette he slips her upon their initial meeting.

Harry is confused. What is this? Some sort of test?

Firstly, she will need to find a device to play the ancient form of technology, but once she does, it takes even longer for her to actually listen to it. Frankly, I would have had that baby listened to in full by the end of brunch the next day, but that’s just me.

Harry is shocked by the contents of the tape. It seems to be a confession of a very dark family secret. Something that, if true, could be the downfall of them all. Is it real? Why would Robert have given it to her?

With this potentially shocking information in mind, Harry must endure more family events, each one more dangerous than the last. It’s the holiday season, after all.

In between festive activities, Harry puts her natural research skills to the test as she tries to figure out whether or not Robert’s tape is based in fact or fiction. She’s not sure who she can trust, but the wrong decision could cost her everything.

The Family Game is fun, crazy, dangerous and dramatic, just how I like ’em. The twist was a bit obvious in my opinion, but the writing made it wildly-entertaining anyway.

Harry was in a tough spot. Having no family of her own, I could see why she would be attracted to the Holbecks.

Even though they were a bit scary in their forwardness, there was also something attractive about their closeness and traditions. I can certainly see why she would get caught up a bit in their opulent lifestyle.

I really enjoyed Harry’s investigations into the tape. Because of her work as an author, she was used to researching things and brought all of her experience to the table when looking into Robert’s confession.

I also loved the use of the contents of the tape as a narrative device for learning more about the Holbeck family and Edward’s backstory. We don’t get Edward’s perspective at all, so I found that useful for actually getting a read on him and his life.

I had a lot of fun reading this. It was paced so well and I loved the different family events that Harry got to attend with the Holbecks, each one more startling than the last.

By the end, this was well and truly wild, as over-the-top as they come, but still super fun with a satisfying conclusion. It’s the sort of story where you’ll need to suspend belief for a bit, but for me, that didn’t impact my enjoyment level at all.

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Steadman!

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Review: Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Never Coming HomeNever Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The number one thing on Lucas Forester’s checklist for a future mate was that she have money, and we’re talking serious money. The kind of money most people can only dream of; top 1%-levels.

When he meets Michelle while she’s vacationing in London, he sees those big, beautiful dollar signs all over her. She’s perfectly wealthy.

He can hardly believe his luck. His long-time plans of acquiring wealth through a loveless marriage are about to come to fruition. Thus, he puts his well-thought out plan into motion.

The culmination of this plan requires he take a hit out on Michelle and he does, without hesitancy or complication. Now he must play his most important role yet, that of the grieving widower.

Everything is falling into place. He’s feeling good. He’s going to get away with this and then the photos and cryptic messages begin popping up.

Someone knows what he did…

Lucas is scrambling. He needs to figure out who is doing this and put an end to it before they’re able to expose him, but no matter what he does, they seem to remain a step ahead.

Lucas has a lot to hide and this mystery individual is a risk to everything he has built for himself. He’ll stop at nothing to take out this threat.

I really enjoyed Hannah Mary McKinnon’s last two novels, so was very excited to get to this one. Never Coming Home brought her signature wild drama, all while providing a unique perspective.

Getting the story from Lucas’s POV was different and admittedly, very fun. He’s a conniving-dirtbag, there’s no doubt about that, but I found myself quietly rooting for him. It felt a little strange initially, but I got swept up fairly quickly and then was all in.

The final twist was exciting and sort of a fist pump, jaw drop moment, but my main critique actually involves it. The big twist comes very close to the end and I actually could have done with a bit more after the big reveal.

I wanted more of that goodness and I felt it wrapped up a little too quickly for my tastes. Although, with this being said, the final few lines were super-satisfying.

Thank you so much to the publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It took me a long time to get around to it, but I’m so glad I have finally read this one.

I am absolutely looking forward to more from McKinnon!

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Review: The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

The PrisonerThe Prisoner by B.A. Paris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Amelie was a teenager, her father passed away after struggling with an illness. She had already lost her mother, so suddenly found herself alone.

With no money and no desire to go into the state system, Amelie disappeared to London, where she set about making a life for herself.

She works hard at it too. It’s a struggle. Sometimes with no other options, she was forced to sleep on the streets. She works in restaurants mostly, but that industry doesn’t necessarily equal security for a young woman still in her teens. Nevertheless, she pushes on.

Her luck seems to turn around on the day that she meets Carolyn. Carolyn is a successful business woman, recently separated from her husband, who sees something in Amelie and offers her a job as a live-in housekeeper.

That’s how Amelie’s world changes. She now has friends she can count on, a safe and comfortable place to live, as well as a good salary. She begins to live the life that other, more privileged girls, her age are living.

Soon she is moving up in the world and it’s through a new job that she meets Ned Hawthorpe, a business man, technically her new boss and the heir to a vast fortune.

Whilst on a business trip to Vegas, Ned offers Amelie a deal. If she marries him, he’ll give her something she really desires. Who would think that something could go wrong from this?

Thus begins the spiral for poor Amelie.

There’s a kidnapping. There’s a hostage situation. There’s much back-and-forth filling it all in. Why has Amelie been kidnapped and will she be able to make it out of this horrible situation alive?

As with all her other novels, this book begins with a bang right out of the gate. That’s one thing I always appreciate about Paris’s writing. There’s no beating around the bush, or wasted eons of build-up, her stories start very, very quickly.

Usually within the first few pages, you’re in it. This book is no exception.

Then the narrative alternates between the present, which includes Amelie being held hostage reflecting on her situation, what could have lead her here and how she can get out of it, and the past, which fills the Reader in on Amelie’s life from the time her father died, up to the present.

I generally enjoy when stories are formatted this way and I did enjoy it in this case as well. I also enjoyed the short chapters, which made the pace feel very quick. I literally read this in a day.

Unfortunately, not all elements worked as well.

This sort of felt like an early 90s-Lifetime movie. Now, let me be clear, I love a good Lifetime movie now and again. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Lifetime movies. Please don’t come at me.

However, this was forced drama and way over-the-top. I usually love over-the-top, that’s sort of my brand. Even things that are fairly unbelievable, but for some reason the tone of this, the feel of some of the circumstances, just did not work for me.

All the male characters were practically indistinguishable from one another. I was almost at the end and one of them was mentioned and I thought, who the hell is that? It took me completely out of the story. I’m still confused about who he was and he played a pivotal role in the plot.

With all of this being said, it was suspenseful and it did keep me fairly engaged, but I have read all of B.A. Paris’s works and when I see her name on a cover, I get excited.

Admittedly, I expect a lot and maybe that’s on me, but honestly, this one disappointed me a bit. It is a good book, there is a fun story within these pages that will keep a lot of Readers on the edges of their seats. Sadly, for me, it just wasn’t as great as I was expecting.

Don’t take my word for it though, pick it up for yourself. If it sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a go!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I’m glad I read it and am already looking forward to seeing what B.A. Paris will come up with next!

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Review: One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke

One of the GirlsOne of the Girls by Lucy Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Bella wants only the best for her best friend Lexi’s Hen Do. It has to be one for the record books, as special as Lexi herself. That’s why she picks her girlfriend, Fen’s, Aunt’s villa on a remote Greek island as the destination.

The guest list is small, just Bella, Lexi, Fen, Robin, Bella and Lexi’s other closest friend from childhood, Eleanor, Lexi’s soon to be sister-in-law, and Ana, a new friend Lexi has made in her adult life.

Even though the setting is stunning, the property exceeding all expectations, the rest doesn’t turn out quite as Bella had anticipated.

Everyone seems a bit on edge, Bella’s not crazy about Lexi’s new friend, Ana. Who even is she anyway!?

Then there is the future sis-in-law, she’s awkward. Of course there’s tension with Robin. Bella and Robin have been estranged since that incident in high school. And why is Fen acting so remote?

Most unsettling for Bella though is Lexi herself. Who is this woman? Where is the party girl she used to know? The professional dancer who would hop from club to club imbibing in anything she could get her hands on well into the night?

But this story isn’t told just from Bella’s perspective. She just happens to be the person that I connected with the most; take from that what you will.

This story is told from all the ladies perspectives and my goodness, is there a lot racing through the minds of these women. The history, the self-doubt, the insecurities, the grudges, they run deep!!

Someone is not making it back from this weekend. You know that as you’re reading. This is not going to end well. But who and how and more importantly, why!?

One of the Girls took me by surprise. I loved this. It’s not perfect, no, but it resonated with me in so many different ways. I was absolutely captivated by these women.

I’m actually sorry I put off reading this for so long. It was a great fit for me as I enjoy a lot of drama, suspense and low-key girl squad vibes.

When I tell you the dramatic narrative left me unable to put this down, I am not exaggerating. I loved how this was formatted to slowly reveal the truth of all the relationships at play here. It’s complicated, but so is life.

I definitely would recommend this to any Reader who enjoys a lot of deep drama in their stories. We’re talking interpersonal relationships so mired, you wonder why the characters are even friends. Personally, I love that.

I also really enjoyed the conclusion to this. I loved the just desserts, if you will, and the way some of the storylines really came full circle. It gave me some real satisfaction at the end.

We love closure.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Penguin Group Putnam, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This was my first Lucy Clarke, but definitely will not be my last!

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Review: The Bachelorette Party by Carissa Ann Lynch

The Bachelorette PartyThe Bachelorette Party by Carissa Ann Lynch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Rosalee is excited about her future marriage to Asher, but she’s not necessarily looking forward to her bachelorette party, a destination event including her frigid future mother-in-law and bitchy sister-in-law.

Oh, and let’s not forget the inclusion of the groom’s super hot, yoga instructor childhood best friend, Georgia.

Alas, it’s tradition and Rosalee’s best friend, Mara, as well as her slightly estranged cousin, Tinsley, have put a lot of time and effort into planning this weekend long event.

They’ve rented a beautiful, Greek revival mansion in the Garden District of New Orleans for the occasion and it seems no expense was spared.

Unfortunately, what starts out as a mostly well-intended weekend in celebration of the future bride ends in murder and mayhem. Who did it and why?

Y’all, I really enjoyed this. I especially appreciated the way Lynch formatted the mystery. It was unique and a lot of fun!

Basically, it starts with a crime scene. You know someone is dead, but you don’t know who. You really aren’t given that much information at that point.

Then you get alternating chapters following each of the attendees of the bachelorette party: Rosalee, the bride, Elizabeth, the mother-in-law, Bri, the sister-in-law, Mara, the bride’s best friend, Georgia, the groom’s best friend and Tinsley, the cousin.

This may seem like a lot, but it is done in such a way that flows seamlessly. Each of the characters is very distinct, with their own opinions, motivations and grudges.

This portion of the story will take you through traveling to NOLA, all the way through to the night of the murder. Curtain closes.

The narrative picks up again as police interrogations of those involved begin. The header of each chapter doesn’t even tell you who the interview is with, so you figure that out as you go along.

I loved that, because you only figure out through the process of elimination, who the victim is. It was really fun. Then you get a few crime scene chapters with the police investigating the crime, filling in missing pieces along the way.

I think I may have actually been more enamored with the way the story was told than with the actual story itself. I’m sort of joking, but yeah, I was impressed with Lynch’s choices for how she laid this one out.

I had a lot of fun with this. I loved all the drama going on behind the scenes of what should have been a really good weekend. It was interesting to watch the dynamics among the characters change as the weekend progressed as well.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a light, fun, drama-filled whodunit. This would make a great weekend read, or a book to bring with you while you travel.

Thank you so much to the publisher, One More Chapter, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am looking forward to reading more from Carissa Ann Lynch!

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Review: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Daisy DarkerDaisy Darker by Alice Feeney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Nana is turning 80-years old on Halloween and invites you to visit her at her tired, gothic-feeling home on a tiny, tidal island, you go. Even if you can’t stand the rest of your family, you go.

And that’s indeed what happens for Daisy Darker’s family, assembled via Nana’s wishes for the first time in years.

Nana’s been a little fixated on her 80th ever since that palm reader told her it would be her last birthday.

In fact, it may be because of this that she has chosen this birthday to gather her entire family, including her son, Frank, ex-daughter in law, Nancy, three granddaughters, Rose, Lily and Daisy, one great-granddaughter, Trixie and a man named Connor, who has been a sort of unofficial member of the Darker family for years, to air some things.

This also may be the reason why she decides to read her Will to them all that night.

All are not necessarily pleased by Nana’s proclamations, but what can they do. What’s done is done, isn’t it?

As the clock strikes midnight, Nana’s crumpled body is then discovered on the floor of the kitchen. She’s dead, but was it an accidental fall, or did something more sinister happen?

After Nana’s death, everyone is panicked. It’s creepy being trapped on a remote island with a dead body, but there’s literally no way off and a storm has halted communication with the mainland.

The fun doesn’t stop there though, think And Then There Were None. No one is safe…

Daisy, the youngest of the granddaughters, has always been Nana’s favorite, even though she’s been mistreated by the rest of her family for years.

Well, that’s not necessarily true, Trixie, Lily’s often-neglected daughter, is always kind to her Aunt Daisy, so at least Daisy has two allies within the family; not a total loss.

This story is actually narrated entirely by Daisy, so getting insights into the family from her perspective is quite interesting indeed. She doesn’t hold back any punches when describing her relatives, that’s for sure.

In addition to the present drama, we also get a past perspective, taking us through Daisy’s childhood and most memorable times at the Darker seaside manor.

Connor, the man mentioned above, is a large part of these childhood memories, as that’s when he first came on the scene and essentially became a member of the family.

I had a fantastic time with this book. The audiobook absolutely enraptured me.

There was so much about this that I loved, from the classic-feeling mystery vibe, to the over-the-top family drama, bad-acting characters and claustrophobic setting.

This is my favorite book of 2022 so far and something superbly jaw-dropping would have to come along to change that, I think. This is next level.

I loved how this story was told. The set-up at the house with Nana was terrific, the use of the creepy poems to enhance the mystery, as well as the alternating timelines helped to build-out this story beautifully.

If I were to wish upon a star, I would wish that I had written this book. Alas, I am pretty sure that doesn’t work and Alice Feeney beat me to it. Perfection.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This blew me away. What a delight!

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