THE VACATION by T.M. Logan


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


In The Vacation, a captivating thriller from T. M. Logan, the bestselling author of Lies and 29 Seconds, four best friends on a dream vacation come face-to-face with an explosive secret.

It was supposed to be the perfect getaway: Kate and her three best friends, spending a week with their families in a luxurious villa in the south of France. Through the decades they’ve stayed closer than ever, and seven days of drinking crisp French wine and laying out under the dazzling Mediterranean sun is the perfect celebration of their friendship. But soon after arriving, Kate discovers an incriminating text on her husband’s cell phone.

A text revealing that he’s having an affair.

And that the other woman is one of her best friends.

But which one?

Trapped in paradise with no one to trust, Kate is determined to find out who has put her marriage—and a lifelong friendship—in jeopardy. But as she closes in on the truth, she realizes that the stakes are higher than she ever imagined. Everyone on the trip has secrets…and someone may be prepared to kill to keep theirs hidden.


Yikes, what a nightmare vacation! Kate has been friends with Rowan, Izzy, and Jennifer since university. To celebrate the year they turn 40, the four women head to an upscale villa in the South of France with husbands and children in tow. Yeah, not the best idea. Along with the families comes a tangled web of dark secrets ready to ruin their holiday paradise.

Not long after arriving, Kate finds some incriminating text messages on her husband’s phone, indicating that he’s having an affair with one of her three best friends. But which one? Poor Kate spends much of their week in France investigating and agonizing over who has betrayed her. But how far is the culprit willing to go to keep the secret hidden?

Wow, this group of characters! They’re all — a challenge. The adults were unlikable and the children were bratty.** This mystery/thriller is heavy on the family drama with no one communicating, unfortunately! While I was intrigued with the mystery surrounding the affair, the excitement didn’t get started until the last quarter of the book. It wrapped up with a surprising twist that I wasn’t expecting, though it was totally believable. The ending was quite satisfying.

** I listened to much of this book on audio (from the library), and I have to give a big shout out to the narrator Laura Kirman. Her performance voicing the big cast of characters with different ages, genders, and accents was amazing!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

THE COMPANION by Katie Alender


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


The other orphans say Margot is lucky.

Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family.

Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night.

And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.

But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha–and getting to know her handsome older brother–seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself.

Margot’s bad dreams may have stopped when she came to live with Agatha – but the real nightmare has just begun.


“So I lay in the dark without making a sound, waiting and wanting to die. Three months later, I was still waiting.”

THE COMPANION is a creepy and addictive YA thriller that put me on edge. Sixteen-year old Margot is orphaned when her family dies in an accident, and she ends up in a group home for several months. The other girls consider her “lucky” when a prestigious family takes her into their home, a remote Gothic mansion in the country. But there’s a catch — Margot was chosen because the Sutton family wants her to be a companion to their silent and curious daughter, Agatha.

Copeland Hall may be beautiful and grand, but Margot can sense that something is off. She slowly uncovers its disturbing history, while always looking over her shoulder. What secrets are lurking in the shadows of the ominous manor, and what’s behind the locked garden gate?

Margot was a compelling character, and I loved the bravery and humor she kept throughout the book. Agatha was a mystery! I enjoyed the unique bond that formed between the two girls. You knew there was something just below the surface that Agatha so badly wanted to say…..

THE COMPANION was an intriguing mystery, and though I guessed right at some of the twists, it was an enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a tense and eerie page-turner perfect for the spooky season, this is it!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

2021 NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION PLANNER


Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


The official planner of the National Park Foundation!

From the National Park Foundation, the official non-profit partner of America’s National Parks, comes this remarkable 2021 planner filled with breathtaking photographs from America’s beautiful national parks. Each week showcases photos and detailed information about National Park Foundation-supported sites, plus significant anniversaries and events in National Park Foundation history.

Planner features include:

• 12-month planner;
• 6″ x 9″ with wire-o binding;
• FSC certified responsible, smudge-free paper;
• Two pages of practical and fun stickers;
• Internal storage pocket;
• Sturdy jacket for durability;
• Removable cover band


This beautiful spiral-bound 2021 planner would be perfect for national park explorers and armchair travelers alike. The National Park Foundation’s vision is “to inspire all people to connect with and protect America’s national parks,” and the photographs in this planner are truly inspiring.

The first few pages list national parks by state, and also those that cover multiple states, with checkboxes if you want to mark where you’ve been. There’s a 2021 “at a glance” calendar showing the whole year, followed by a monthly calendar, and then weekly calendars with plenty of room for writing.

The weekly calendars feature a gorgeous photo of a different national park on the opposite page, as well as a brief description and things to do and see. In addition there are fun stickers (including goals, to do, meeting, birthday, etc.) to add to your calendar pages. This planner would make a great gift for outdoor enthusiasts who want to get organized!

See more pictures of the 2021 National Park Foundation Planner on my Instagram post HERE!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this planner through Sourcebooks’ Early Reads program in exchange for an honest review.

THE HEATWAVE by Kate Riordan


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


Under the scorching French sun, a tense homecoming unearths a long-buried family secret in this deliciously propulsive beach read of a mother’s greatest fear brought to life.

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was manipulative. Elodie is dead.

When Sylvie Durand receives a letter calling her back to her crumbling family home in the South of France, she knows she has to go. In the middle of a sweltering 1990’s summer marked by unusual fires across the countryside, she returns to La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma in tow, ignoring the deep sense of dread she feels for this place she’s long tried to forget.

As memories of the events that shattered their family a decade earlier threaten to come to the surface, Sylvie struggles to shield Emma from the truth of what really happened all those years ago. In every corner of the house, Sylvie can’t escape the specter of Elodie, her first child. Elodie, born amid the ’68 Paris riots with one blue eye and one brown, and mysteriously dead by fourteen. Elodie, who reminded the small village of one those Manson girls. Elodie who knew exactly how to get what she wanted. As the fires creep towards the villa, it’s clear to Sylvie that something isn’t quite right at La Reverie… And there is a much greater threat closer to home.

Rich in unforgettable characters, The Heatwave alternates between the past and present, grappling with what it means to love and fear a child in equal measure. With the lush landscape and nostalgia of a heady vacation read, Kate Riordan has woven a gripping page-turner with gorgeous prose that turns the idea of a summer novel on its head.


THE HEATWAVE is a completely absorbing family drama and simmering psychological thriller!

In the summer of 1993, Sylvie and her teenage daughter, Emma, return to their home in the South of France after a ten year absence. After she learns of some vandalism on the property, Sylvie decides it’s time to fix up La Reverie and sell it. This is a difficult place to face again, as it’s filled with painful memories of the tragedy involving her troubled first child, Elodie. Emma remembers very little about her older sister, and Sylvie’s not sure how much longer she can shield her from their disturbing family secrets.

“I would die for her, without hesitation. I am her mother. It’s just that, sometimes, I wish I wasn’t. I am her mother but I wish I wasn’t.”

The story is told from Sylvie’s point of view in alternating time periods — during the summer of 1993, and then 1968 forward — as we learn about the disturbing mother/daughter relationship between Sylvie and Elodie during her childhood. What does a mother do if her child is evil? How far would she go to protect one daughter from the other? Elodie’s character was truly creepy! The tension surrounding what she might do next was unsettling.

THE HEATWAVE is an atmospheric Gothic suspense with an amazing and unique setting. The characters and their conflicts are memorable, the writing and descriptions are gorgeous (I enjoyed the French mixed in), and the reveal at the end was perfect. Highly recommended.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

THE TWO MRS. CARLYLES by Suzanne Rindell


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★


A suspenseful and page-turning descent into obsession, love, and murder in the wake of San Francisco’s most deadly earthquake–and Suzanne Rindell’s most haunting novel since her acclaimed debut, The Other Typist

Which wife holds the darker secret?

San Francisco, 1906. Violet is one of three people grateful for the destruction of the big earthquake. It leaves her and her two best friends unexpectedly wealthy–if the secret that binds them together stays buried beneath the rubble. Fearing discovery, the women strike out on their own, and orphaned, wallflower Violet reinvents herself.

When a whirlwind romance with the city’s most eligible widower, Harry Carlyle, lands her in a luxurious mansion as the second Mrs. Carlyle, it seems like her dreams of happiness and love have come true. But all is not right in the Carlyle home, and Violet soon finds herself trapped by the lingering specter of the first Mrs. Carlyle, and by the inescapable secrets of her own violent history.


The cover of this book is so stunning that I had to read it! Suzanne Rindell has written a Rebecca-esque historical mystery set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

Violet and her two best friends ran away from an orphanage the day it burned down. A few years later, after a dreadful stint working in the red-light district, the great earthquake strikes, and the girls come into an unexpected fortune. Their new-found wealth comes with the burden of a dark secret, and Violet, Flossie, and Cora decide to go their separate ways.

Violet reinvents herself as a proper, upstanding shop girl, and she catches the eye of the dashing and wealthy widower Harry Carlyle. The one sore subject with Harry is any discussion of his wife, the first Mrs. Carlyle. Harry and Violet marry, but life inside his mansion is anything but bliss.

The oppressive presence of the first Mrs. Carlyle is everywhere. What really happened to her? Violet hears shocking rumors about her fate, but should she ignore them and believe Harry? And who’s behind the strange occurrences happening at night?

THE TWO MRS. CARLYLES is classic Gothic suspense, and I enjoyed it. There were a few times that I wanted to scream at Violet for being so naive or not standing up for herself! Overall, though, it was an intriguing historical mystery with some surprising twists. Borrowed from the library.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪