THE DILEMMA by B.A. Paris

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★


A woman’s birthday party takes a dark turn in a poignant, heart-stopping new novel from the reigning queen of suspense, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, and Bring Me Back.

Knowing the truth will destroy her. Keeping it secret will destroy him.

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But Livia is secretly glad Marnie won’t be there.

Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for Livia: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the party. But before Marnie arrives, Adam hears some terrible news. Now he too is faced with a dilemma: Does he share what he’s learned with his wife? Is hiding the truth the same as telling a lie? And how far are Adam and Livia willing to go to protect the ones they love―and give each other a last few hours of happiness?


Not every book can be your cup of tea, and unfortunately this one wasn’t mine. THE DILEMMA is a domestic suspense novel with both husband and wife hiding dreadful secrets and not communicating. For me the book was terribly sad. Most suspense/thrillers are sad or disturbing in some way, but there’s an element or twist that still makes them satisfying — not the case here.

The blurb states that Adam is throwing his wife a 40th birthday bash, but that’s not really true. Livia has been planning and saving for this party for the past 20 years to make up for her small wedding. (???) She and Adam have different secrets about their daughter Marnie that they want to keep hidden so Livia’s birthday isn’t ruined. (???) I just can’t wrap my mind around these people’s priorities and way of thinking.

Though THE DILEMMA didn’t work for me, I appreciate the publisher giving me the opportunity to review this book.

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

IN HER SHADOW by Kristin Miller

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


A pregnant young woman becomes obsessed with the disappearance of her lover’s wife, only to discover that she may be headed for the same fate, in this novel from New York Times bestselling author Kristin Miller.

When secretary Colleen Roper becomes pregnant by her boss, Michael, he whisks her away to Ravenwood, his opulent estate. Abruptly thrust into a life of luxury she’s never known, Colleen finds the immense house suffused with the memory of Michael’s wife, Joanna, who left months ago and haunts her imagination. With rooms she’s prohibited from entering and a staff that greets her with hostility, there is little room for a new mistress of Ravenwood.

It’s not long before bones are unearthed in the grove across the street and Michael falls under the suspicion of detectives. The soon-to-be mother of his child finds herself hurled deeper into her lover’s dark past, a past filled with unfaithfulness and deception. Making a claim to her new life is harder than it seems—especially since she’s walking in the shadow of the hauntingly beautiful Joanna. As Colleen untangles truth from lies, she discovers that nothing is what it seems, and that some people will kill to keep their secrets as quiet as the dead.


Kristin Miller has penned a clever modern retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA with its own delicious twists in her latest novel IN HER SHADOW. The young protagonist Colleen finds herself pregnant and living at Ravenwood, her boyfriend Michael’s lavish seaside estate. Months earlier, Michael’s wife Joanna left him and abandoned Ravenwood, yet Colleen still feels her oppressive control within its walls. The situation gets much worse when human remains are found across the street, and Michael becomes a suspect.

This book was an exciting combination of mystery and Gothic suspense that kept me guessing. Ravenwood was gorgeous but creepy, and I couldn’t wait to find out what secrets it held. The story is told from a few different characters’ perspective, and I was never quite sure who to trust. The surprising twist at the end was one I did NOT see coming, a definite what?!? moment. Enjoyed! 

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

KILLER CHARDONNAY by Kate Lansing


Series: A Colorado Wine Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


A young winery owner won’t let one sour grape ruin the bunch in the first installment of this exciting cozy mystery series.

Parker Valentine has always dreamed of opening her own winery in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. But she gets more than she bargained for when a food and wine critic unexpectedly shows up at Vino Valentine on opening day. A negative review could be fatal for her business, and not only does he seem to hate her chardonnay, he also collapses and dies shortly after drinking it.

Although Parker hoped that the attendees would put a cork in it, soon her winery is at the center of a social media firestorm. With #killerchardonnay trending online, Parker’s business is in danger of closing, and she has no choice but to investigate the murder herself.

To restore her reputation, catch a killer, and keep her struggling business open, Parker needs only one thing: some good proof.


KILLER CHARDONNAY is a smart and juicy beginning to the Colorado Wine Mystery series set in downtown Boulder. The opening day of Vino Valentine turns into a disaster for owner Parker Valentine when a local wine & food critic dies after sampling her chardonnay. Of course Parker is horrified that this means the end of all her hard work, unless she can prove that her wine had nothing to do with his death.

This is the first cozy mystery I’ve read that centers around a winery, and it was a lovely change of pace. The rich descriptions of gourmet food and wine were delightful. Parker and the supporting cast of characters were well-developed and relatable, and their interpersonal challenges added to the enjoyment of the story.

Parker is a clever and determined amateur sleuth, and I enjoyed the intriguing mystery she was faced with solving. KILLER CHARDONNAY is a fresh and modern cozy mystery that will appeal to foodies and wine lovers. Highly recommended!

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

A SPELL FOR TROUBLE by Esme Addison


Series: An Enchanted Bay Mystery, #1
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★½


Aleksandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.

Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.

Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.


A SPELL FOR TROUBLE kicks off the new Enchanted Bay Mystery series featuring former risk assessor, Alex Daniels. After some trouble at her New York office, Alex accepts an offer to visit her Bellamy Bay relatives whom she hasn’t seen in many years. There is much she didn’t know about her long lost aunt and cousins and their enchanted apothecary shop, and all the family secrets start bubbling to the top when Aunt Lidia is arrested for murder.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The good: I loved the charming setting of Bellamy Bay and the Polish folklore that was woven into Alex’s family history. The world-building set a solid foundation for the series going forward. What I struggled with: Alex did some silly things that put the case and herself in jeopardy, especially since she has a career in risk management. I also thought the mystery itself wasn’t that interesting once the “whys” starting being revealed. However there was a nifty twist regarding the culprit that I enjoyed.

With its magical roots I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes in future books.

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

What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚

Hello! First of all, I hope everyone is doing well in this uncertain time. It’s coming up on two months since my family and I have been sheltering in place. I’m a special education teacher’s aide, and with our schools closed, we’ve mainly been hanging out at home.

I haven’t been very active in the book blogging community lately, but I have been doing a lot of reading anyway. I’m not as inspired to review everything I read these days. Sometimes I just want to appreciate reading the book, admire the lovely cover, log it on Goodreads, and just move on to the next.

I’m trying to get a variety of reading material from a variety of places, like indie bookstores for paper books, the library for digital downloads, and Barnes & Noble for my Nook books. Of course, I still have many review books from NetGalley and Edelweiss, which I am so grateful for! I’ve just started reading Ruth Ware’s upcoming September release, ONE BY ONE, from Edelweiss. (I’ve also pre-ordered the signed hardcover from B&N, because I love Ruth Ware!!!)

For now, I will (probably) only be writing reviews for books I get from NetGalley, Edelweiss, or publishers. The rest I will include in a reading wrap-up post like this one, though I will only highlight books I gave 3 stars or higher.

So…here’s a look at what I’ve been reading lately (and didn’t review)! ♥ Take care.


CONJURE WOMEN
by Afia Atakora
★★★★★
(historical fiction, magical realism, american civil war)

This was the B&N Book Club’s April selection! I absolutely loved it. You can view the book club discussion with Afia Atakora on B&N’s Instagram HERE, though you should read the book first to avoid any spoilers. ♥


THE OTHER MRS.
by Mary Kubica
★★★★
(domestic suspense, psychological thriller, mystery)

This one was very close to being as good as THE GOOD GIRL (my favorite of Mary Kubica’s books). When I figured out the twist toward the end, I was a little nervous as to how it would be handled, but it was all good.


MURDER AT THE TAFFY SHOP
by Maddie Day
★★★★
(cozy mystery)

Belle (the parrot) is my all-time favorite cozy mystery pet. She’s hilarious! ♥


THE WOMAN IN THE MIRROR
by Rebecca James
★★★★
(gothic suspense, historical fiction, dual time periods)


HILL WOMEN
by Cassie Chambers
★★★¾
(nonfiction, southern women, appalachia)