DARLING ROSE GOLD by Stephanie Wrobel


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★


Mothers never forget. Daughters never forgive.

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.


DARLING ROSE GOLD is a dark domestic suspense novel featuring a majorly twisted and unhealthy mother/daughter relationship. Mother Patty has just been released after five years in prison for abusing her daughter Rose Gold. She was accused of intentionally making Rose Gold sick her whole 18 years for…attention? Or to keep her daughter totally dependent on her? Whatever the reason, it was horrible, and of course Rose Gold suffered physically and mentally.

I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll just quote the blurb to (sort of) summarize the plot: “Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…and she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.” It seems Rose Gold still has a score to settle with her mother even after her incarceration. Fair enough. Suddenly we’re learning Patty’s tragic backstory and wondering just what Rose Gold has in store…

DARLING ROSE GOLD was a quick and suspenseful read, as the two main characters try to manipulate each other. I wish, though, that the book had delved deeper into the psychology of Munchausen by proxy. In this case it felt rushed and simplified so the characters could concentrate on their vengeance. I ended up feeling bad for the wrong person, which may have been the biggest twist!

Though I had some issues with this book, I think fans of dysfunctional family dramas and twisty stories of revenge will enjoy this chilling debut novel.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts on Books (#19): THE WIFE AND THE WIDOW / ELEVATOR PITCH


The Wife and the Widow
The Wife and the Widow by Christian White
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Dark secrets are a terrible burden! THE WIFE AND THE WIDOW is a fast-paced family drama/thriller told in the alternating POVs of the two title characters — a wife and a widow. The big question that kept me flipping the pages is how are their stories connected? I love those mind-bending twists that make me stop and say, “Wait, WHAT?!? This book had the perfect one for these troubled characters. Haunting and gripping. {Borrowed from the library.}


Elevator Pitch
Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tense, twisty, and scary! Tall buildings and elevators make me nervous to being with, so this book only made my phobias worse…eek! 😉 In the latest thriller from Linwood Barclay, the whole of New York City is at the mercy of a terrorist sabotaging elevators. Are the buildings being targeted randomly? Who is behind the attacks and why? Two police detectives and a journalist rush to put the pieces together before another elevator disaster kills more innocent people. Elevator Pitch is an intense and entertaining read. Fantastic follow up to A Noise Downstairs. {Borrowed from the library.}

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.


Amazing! THE SUN DOWN MOTEL is an addictive and chilling paranormal mystery set in the small town of Fell, New York. The story is told in dual time periods — Viv in 1982, and her niece, Carly, in 2017. Viv was the lone night clerk of the creepy motel when she went missing without a trace 35 years ago. Now Carly has come to Fell and taken Viv’s old position in hopes of finding out what happened to her aunt decades ago.

Simone St. James knows how to create the perfect dark, eerie atmosphere and compelling mystery. I adored the cast of characters who were mainly strong and intriguing women. Of course, one the most fascinating characters in the book was the motel itself. That place felt so alive and real with the creepiest vibe ever!

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL is a haunting page-turner that kept me reading all night. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THIS TENDER LAND by William Kent Krueger


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★★


A magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.


THIS TENDER LAND is a beautifully written historical novel about the river adventure of four young vagabonds sailing to Saint Louis in the summer of 1932. It richly describes the hardships and desperation of the Great Depression, and the cruelty forced upon Native American families, especially children, at that time. Set adrift on the river, these young people encounter a unique cast of characters along their journey to find home. Though dark at times, the story left me hopeful. Highly recommended!

BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN by Diane Chamberlain


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


From New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel in Big Lies in a Small Town.

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?


BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN is an absorbing story of two young artists from different eras, tied together by an abandoned mural meant for a post office wall in a small Southern city.

In 1940, New Jersey artist Anna Dale wins a national contest to paint a post office mural for a North Carolina town. Almost 80 years later, Morgan Christopher gets early release from prison with the condition that she restore the badly damaged mural so it will be hanging in a new museum on opening day.

Why was the mural abandoned and never installed? Why was troubled Morgan chosen to be the restorer? And what dark secrets are held beneath the grime of the old painting? I enjoyed the back and forth between time periods as intriguing and sometimes disturbing details were revealed. Very well written! This is the first book by Diane Chamberlain I’ve read, and I’m already a fan.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.