THE BLOCK PARTY by Jamie Day #20booksofsummer23

Synopsis from the Publisher:

This summer, meet your neighbors.

The residents of the exclusive cul-de-sac on Alton Road are entangled in a web of secrets and scandal utterly unknown to the outside world, and even to each other.

On the night of the annual Summer block party, there has been a murder.

But, who did it and why takes readers back one year earlier, as rivalries and betrayals unfold — discovering that the real danger lies within their own block and nothing — and no one — is ever as it seems.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: July 18, 2023
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: 3.75 Stars

My Thoughts:

An annual Memorial Day block party ends in murder, while the many hidden dark secrets and scandals of a group of well-to-do neighbors are brought to the surface. But who is dead, and who is the killer?

The events during the year leading up to the fateful party are told from two POVs, a mother and her teenage daughter. So much drama! There was a big cast of characters, and everyone had something to hide, and everyone was in someone else’s business.

Overall I thought this book was an entertaining family drama/mystery with some juicy twists, a few I suspected, and some that took me by surprise. None of the characters were particularly likeable, but I was pulled in by their dilemmas and curious to see how they were woven together. I felt the book was a bit too long, but it wrapped up with a satisfying ending. This would make a fantastic Netflix series!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a digital review copy of this book. Opinions are my own.

20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge #20booksofsummer23

20 Books of Summer is a reading challenge hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books. The challenge runs from June 1st through September 1st, with the goal being to read and review 10, 15, or 20 books during this time period. Thanks for hosting, Cathy!

Below are my 20 summer hopefuls, but I may change things up if another book or two (or more) catch my eye. In alphabetical order:

THE LONG WAY BACK by Nicole Baart
THE CASTAWAYS by Lucy Clarke
THE GUEST by Emma Cline

THE LAST ONE by Will Dean

SHE STARTED IT by Sian Gilbert
THE VANISHING HOUR by Seraphina Nova Glass
THE VILLA by Rachel Hawkins
YOU CAN TRUST ME by Wendy Heard

ONE LAST SECRET by Adele Parks
GONE TONIGHT by Sarah Pekkanen
THE DISAPPEARING ACT by Catherine Steadman

Use hashtag #20booksofsummer23 to share your progress and to follow other participants. Are you joining this year?

Happy summer reading! — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Blog Update: School’s Out and Two Recent Reads

Linking up this week with Kimberly @ Sunday Post and Kathryn @ It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Hi, everyone! Apologies for being absent from the blogging world and posting sporadically. Life has been very busy with work and family, so blogging and reading time has suffered. The last day of school was just a couple of days ago, and I’m already feeling so much more relaxed. I plan on visiting blogs this weekend.

My daughter graduated from high school this month, and we’ve been busy with all the “last of” events that go along with that. She’s planning on pursuing a degree in music education. She’ll still be close by for college which makes the transition easier (especially for me!).

I finished the first project on my summer “to do” list, which was weeding my bookshelves. I ended up with five shopping bags of books to either donate or sell. I usually donate to the library, but I may try selling this time? Half Price Books is hit or miss with their offers.

Recently, I had a string of five books that ended up in the dreaded DNF pile. I know the fault was mine due to being too distracted and tired to focus. Luckily, I found a couple of books to get me out of my reading slump. I LOVE IT WHEN YOU LIE and THE SOULMATE were so good! Here are my quick thoughts:

I Love It When You Lie
I LOVE IT WHEN YOU LIE by Kristen Bird
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an engrossing and unique family drama/mystery/suspense set in the Appalachian woods of Alabama. The story is told from the POVs of three sisters and their sister-in-law. As the family gathers for their grandmother’s funeral, buried secrets, both past and present, threaten to come to the surface. I enjoyed how the author hid the identity of the missing person until later in the book, which definitely added to the suspense.

I loved these sisters, and I was quickly pulled in by their dilemmas. Each one had her flaws, but all were complex and compelling. Overall, this was an entertaining story about the strength of sisterly bonds, with some Southern Gothic atmosphere and revenge mixed in.

The Soulmate
THE SOULMATE by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Are domestic thrillers supposed to be tearjerkers? Because that twist at the end! *cries* This was my first Sally Hepworth novel, and now I want to read all of her books.

In THE SOULMATE, a married couple lives in their dream cottage on a cliff by the sea, except for the fact that the cliff has become a popular location for troubled individuals to jump. Husband Gabe has become skilled at “talking people down” from the edge and saving many lives, until one fateful night a woman jumps anyway. Or did she? What is Gabe hiding from his wife, Pippa?

The short chapters and alternating POVs kept the pace moving quickly. One of the POVs was an especially unique and intriguing voice that added an extra depth to the story. This twisty thriller addresses mental health issues and toxic relationships. How much does someone have to take for the sake of their soulmate?

Highly recommended!

Reading/Reviewing Next: THE BLOCK PARTY by Jamie Day

ZERO DAYS by Ruth Ware

Synopsis from the Publisher:

The New York Times bestselling “new Agatha Christie” (Air Mail) Ruth Ware returns with this adrenaline-fueled thriller that combines Mr. and Mrs. Smith with The Fugitive about a woman in a race against time to clear her name and find her husband’s murderer.

Hired by companies to break into buildings and hack security systems, Jack and her husband, Gabe, are the best penetration specialists in the business. But after a routine assignment goes horribly wrong, Jack arrives home to find her husband dead. To add to her horror, the police are closing in on their suspect—her.

Suddenly on the run and quickly running out of options, Jack must decide who she can trust as she circles closer to the real killer in this unputdownable and heart-pounding mystery from an author whose “propulsive prose keeps readers on the hook and refuses to let anyone off until all has been revealed” (Shelf Awareness).

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 20, 2023
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts:

ZERO DAYS was a nail-biting rollercoaster ride, and I loved every minute! Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book because techno-stuff is not my thing at all. BUT, I trust Ruth Ware and she did not disappoint!

Jack (Jacintha) and her husband Gabe are “pen testers,” people hired by companies to break into their buildings to find security system weak spots. Jack is more of the “muscle” who does the breaking in, while Gabe is the tech-savvy one whose voice is in her earpiece guiding her along.

It’s after one of these security jobs that Jack comes home to find her beloved Gabe brutally murdered. With Jack being the prime suspect, she quickly finds herself on the run from police with very few resources and people she can trust. She has to figure out who murdered Gabe and why before the police close in.

I’m not a fast reader by any means, but I flew through this book in two evenings. Wow!! Jack was an amazing character, very strong, clever, and resilient. There were a few times that I was yelling at her about one thing or another, but I cut her some slack. The amount of stress she was under was incredible. I enjoyed learning about her relationships with the people closest to her, even though one had to end so tragically.

I think ZERO DAYS will end up being one of my favorite Ruth Ware novels. Plenty of tension to keep me turning the pages, and emotion to make Jack’s predicament compelling.

Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for a digital ARC of this book. Opinions are my own.

RE: Book Covers — US cover on the left; UK cover on the right. I wanted to share the UK version because I love the teal.


Synopsis from the Publisher:

When a killer stirs up trouble in the Outer Banks, amateur sleuth and bookseller Callie Padget is on the case, in a new beachside mystery from author Alicia Bessette.

Cattail Island in the Outer Banks is a popular destination for honeymooners and nature lovers alike. So it is a huge blow when the murder of a newlywed grinds the pre-summer season to a screeching halt. Bookseller Callie Padget launches her own investigation, after mysterious customer Geri-Lynn Humfeld, caretaker of the island’s protected wild horses, brings in an irresistible piece of information.

Determined to restore order and safety to her beloved hometown, Callie searches for answers — even as those answers cast suspicion on her soon-to-be boyfriend, Toby Dodge, whose martial arts studio was the scene of the crime. As she digs deeper, Toby becomes the police’s prime suspect. The truth raises troubling questions and sends her scouring the bookshop’s shelves for guidance.

Meanwhile, a well-loved member of the mustang herd — a pregnant mare whose anticipated foal is a symbol of summery hope for locals and visitors alike — may be facing dire circumstances. With help from Geri-Lynn, Callie unearths startling secrets surrounding not only the compromised mare, but the murdered newlywed, too. And when another body shows up, this time on isolated Mustang Beach, she must race against time to stop a killer from claiming any more innocent lives.

Series: An Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 16, 2023
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts:

It was a delight to be back on Cattail Island with Callie and company! In this second installment of the Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series, Callie finds herself working overtime to solve a murder tied to her love interest Toby’s martial arts studio. She also gets wrapped up in helping a horse in need — one from the herd of majestic wild mustangs that live in a protected sanctuary.

Cattail Island sounds like such a gorgeous location (except for the murders!). The author has a talent for creating a vibrant sense of place, from the sandy beaches to the bustling tourist town. The murder mystery was intriguing and complex. It’s not necessary to have read the first book in the series, however already knowing the characters’ backstories and connections added to my enjoyment.

MURDER ON MUSTANG BEACH is the perfect cozy mystery pick to add to your summer reading list! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a digital review copy of this book. Opinions are my own.