Thoughts on Books (#22)

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.” ― Henry Rollins


Happy September! My blogging break is over, though I’ve decided to go back to quick & simple “Thoughts on Books” posts for my reviews. My new job is going well, but balancing full-time work and home commitments is a challenge right now. If you want more info on the books below, just click the title. Have you read any of these?

Thanks for stopping by… I’ll be back to blog hopping soon!



THE GUILT TRIP (Audiobook) *
Sandie Jones
Minotaur Books
August 3, 2021

One-Sentence Summary: A lush destination wedding in Portugal threatens to turn disastrous for three couples who fail to keep their secrets buried.

My Thoughts: What a soap opera! This domestic suspense novel was an entertaining (though sometimes frustrating) beach read, narrated by Clare Corbett. She did a great job keeping me engaged with a varied cast of voices.

Billed as a thriller, THE GUILT TRIP is more a slow-burn drama with a bit of excitement at the end. A group of three couples head to Portugal for one of the couple’s wedding, but years of secrets and lies between them turn paradise into a nightmare.

A lot of misunderstanding could have been easily cleared up if they actually talked to each other! The story was told from Rachel’s POV (sister-in-law of the groom), and good grief she was naïve at times. Rachel and the bride, Ali, were the most developed characters, but the others could have been fleshed out more. I would have preferred a stronger mystery element, but the drama did make me curious to see how it all played out. [3.5/5]

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



COME WITH ME
Ronald Malfi
Titan Books
July 20, 2021

One-Sentence Summary: After his wife Allison is killed, Aaron Decker gradually uncovers her dark, hidden life with some otherworldly assistance.

My Thoughts: COME WITH ME was so well-written, with haunting (literally & figuratively) subject matter. Lots of creepy moments that gave me chills! Aaron’s wife is killed in a random act of violence, and as he’s mourning her loss, he finds clues to a dark past she was hiding. Was he married to a stranger?

The story is written in second person, with Aaron talking directly to deceased Allison (as the “you”) which made it so much more personal and tragic. I was just the tiniest bit disappointed with the twist at the end. I really thought the author was going in a different direction with whodunit. Overall — eerie & disturbing, a story that will stick with you for a long time. [4/5]



NOT A HAPPY FAMILY
Shari Lapena
Pamela Dorman Books
July 27, 2021

One-Sentence Summary: When a wealthy couple is murdered, fingers point to their adult children who stand to inherit millions.

My Thoughts: Knives Out! That was my first thought when I read the blurb. A wealthy couple is murdered, and their awful offspring (and others) fixate on their inheritance and point fingers at each other. I enjoyed most of the book, and I felt like anyone could have been the culprit, but the ending was too rushed and anticlimactic. The story had some loose ends that bugged me, but overall this was a fun domestic thriller. [3.5/5]



WHERE THE TRUTH LIES *
Anna Bailey
Atria Books
August 3, 2021

One-Sentence Summary: The worst of a small Colorado town’s dark secrets come to light when a teenage girl goes missing, and her best friend sets out to discover what happened.

My Thoughts: This book was grim. Tough to read. So at 50% I marked it as DNF, even though I did skip ahead to the end to find out what happened. The writing is pretty good, but most of the characters are horrid. Racists, homophobes, abusers & more — this book packs them all in, and in turn, the mystery of the missing teen gets lost. In addition, too many POVs and time jumps made it difficult to get absorbed in the story. [DNF]

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

What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚 #DarkCorners #HushCollection

“By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.” — Helen Hunt Jackson

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📙 THE SLEEP TIGHT MOTEL by Lisa Unger (★★★★★) | A Dark Corners short story from Amazon. Lots of creepy goodness packed into less than 50 pages! A woman running from an abusive ex and the police takes refuge in a roadside motel on a isolated stretch of highway. Even though Eve is the only guest, she keeps hearing weird and disturbing noises at night coming from the room next door. Is she brave enough to find out what’s happening on the other side of the wall? Highly recommended to fans of spooky motel stories.

📘 SLOW BURNER by Laura Lippman (★★★★★) | A Hush Collection short story from Amazon. An intriguing dose of domestic suspense! I loved this one. Phil was caught cheating once, and has promised not to do it again. Liz believed him, until she finds his secret burner phone that suggests otherwise. Instead of confronting him, she quietly reads his back and forth flirty texts with another woman. Realizing that he will never change, what will she do? Great twisty ending.

📙 HANNAH-BEAST by Jennifer McMahon (★★★★) | A Dark Corners short story from Amazon. Yikes. This was a horrifying and gruesome Halloween tidbit. Find out what a group of mean girls from 1982 and 30+ years of guilt will do! Enjoyable, yet disturbing, psychological suspense.

📘 I KILLED ZOE SPANOS by Kit Frick (★★★★) | Very good! This novel is a young adult psychological suspense with a Rebecca-like atmosphere and a modern twist — a teen-hosted true crime podcast. Recommend if you enjoy Gothic mystery/suspense. Read for the B&N YA Book Club.

📙 THE SEARCH PARTY by Simon Lelic (★★) | Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review THE SEARCH PARTY. Unfortunately this book wasn’t my cup of tea. I was intrigued by the premise, and the intro sure grabbed me — until the teenagers started their monologues. Their chapters were just ramblings, and honestly I could barely differentiate between the speakers. I did enjoy Detective Fleet’s character, and it was a relief to return to his POV. The twisty ending was exciting, but overall I didn’t enjoy THE SEARCH PARTY like I did his previous thrillers.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” — Jeanette Walls

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📗 HOME BEFORE DARK by Riley Sager (★★★★½) | Very creepy!! I had to leave a light on to sleep for a few nights. This would be a perfect October horror thriller.

📘 SNOWFLAKES by Ruth Ware (★★★★) | The title caught my attention. I wondered if this quick 26-page short story was somehow connected to her upcoming book ONE BY ONE, but it definitely is not. It’s really not like anything I’ve read of hers before, but heck, I really liked it. Honestly while reading it, the tone gave me a Shirley Jackson vibe. Ruth Ware packed a lot into just a few pages. The subject matter is sad and distressing, yet a couple of lines put a smirky smile on my face.

🎧 TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH (★★★★★) | Many of my why and how questions were answered from an insider’s and psychologist’s perspective. Listened on audiobook & enjoyed the author’s narration of her memoir.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” — Audrey Hepburn

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THE VANISHING HALF
by Britt Bennett
★★★★★
(sisters fiction, family drama, historical fiction, coming of age)

This was the B&N Book Club’s June selection. THE VANISHING HALF is a truly spellbinding novel. I was completely immersed in the characters’ lives, relationships, secrets, and struggles. I did not want the book to end! ♥ {Purchased}


THE WIFE STALKER
by Liv Constantine
★★★★
(domestic suspense, psychological thriller)

Alright, Liv Constantine, you got me with that twist. This was a fun, fast-paced psychological thriller with two dueling unreliable narrators. {Library}


STAMPED: RACISM, ANTIRACISM, AND YOU
by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi
★★★★★
(non-fiction, young adult, civil and human rights, politics and government)

STAMPED is an eye-opening and informative book about the origins of racism and how it has been ingrained in our society for hundreds of years, and the people who have fought against it. This should be required reading for middle/high school students. I listened to this on audiobook — fantastic narration by the author Jason Reynolds. {Purchased}


THE NANNY
by Gilly Macmillan
★★★★
(gothic suspense, mystery, family drama)

What really happened to the nanny at Lake Hall all those many years ago? Enjoyable slow-burn mystery with Gothic undertones! Listened to on audiobook via Chirp. {Purchased}


THE SWEENEY SISTERS
by Lian Dolan
★★★
(sisters fiction, family drama, contemporary fiction)

This book may have my favorite cover art this year. :-) I enjoyed the premise and beginning of this book, where the three Sweeney sisters discover they have a 4th sister via a DNA testing database just after their father’s death. Overall though, the plot wasn’t very strong and lacked the emotional punch you’d expect. It was an ok read, just didn’t grab me completely. {Library}