A SUMMER TO REMEMBER by Erika Montgomery

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ½


A SUMMER TO REMEMBER blends elements of family drama, mystery, and romance into a bittersweet story. Frankie is grieving the loss of her mother while trying to keep their Hollywood memorabilia store afloat. She comes across a couple of sealed letters, and a photograph of her mother with a pair of married movie stars taken a year before Frankie’s birth. Always curious about who her father was, Frankie heads across the country to Cape Cod where the photo was taken in hopes of finding clues to his identity.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the sense of place and the Hollywood nostalgia, and I was very curious about the family secrets surrounding Frankie’s father. The romance was lovely — two lost souls coming together. However, the pacing was slow, and I found the big reveal rather frustrating. It was unnecessary to keep this particular thing a secret for 30 years. If you can get past that hurdle, A SUMMER TO REMEMBER makes a great beach read that will leave you craving margaritas and fried clams, and wanting to dust off those old VHS movies.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Vintage Gothic Suspense: NIGHTMARE IN JULY by Clara Coleman


Publisher: Lancer Books
Release Date: 1967

“The first time she met him, Amanda Swanson recognized the mark of evil deep in the stranger’s cold blue eyes. He terrified her even though she couldn’t name the secret he threatened her with. Yet her husband, knowing it, condemned her to spend the summer alone with him — and the legacy of violence he carried with him.”

Amanda Swanson’s husband Paul owns a publishing company. She was an editor there at one time, but quit working after they got married, feeling it wasn’t right to work at the same company or at a competing publisher. I was never convinced she was happy about the situation, but suddenly her life was dedicated to supporting Paul’s publishing ambitions. If only he were worthy of her loyalty!

Paul is ecstatic when he receives an incomplete manuscript in the mail that he believes will be a huge success. Paul invites this once-in-a-lifetime literary talent to finish his book at their secluded country home where they spend weekends.

When Amanda first meets Jordan Youngfield, she senses that something is off about the young author. Things get worse when Paul insists that she stay with Jordan in the country for the summer while he works in the city. Jordan’s behavior becomes more threatening, and Amanda fears for her safety, but Paul only cares about getting that finished manuscript…

“The last thing I did that night before I fell asleep was remind myself that danger surrounded me — that the Mill was a place of terror that July.”

Overall this was a suspenseful and enjoyable quick read. Jordan’s character needed more fleshing out, but he did come across as creepy. I felt bad for Amanda having to be second to Paul’s publishing company, plus he was a condescending jerk. The ending was good. Not a big surprise, but satisfying. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

THE THERAPIST by B.A. Paris


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 13, 2021

After being in a long-distance relationship for a while, Alice and Leo take the plunge and move in together in an exclusive gated community in London. With only 12 houses in “The Circle,” most of the neighbors are already cozy, and Alice worries she won’t fit in.

Leo bought the house for a steal, and it’s not until after they’re settled in that Alice discovers why — a tragedy befell the previous owners. While working at home alone as a translator, Alice becomes increasingly obsessed with Nina, a therapist who lived in the house before. Alice believes the police got the details of the case all wrong, and she’s determined to find out what really happened at #6 The Circle.

I love a group of neighbors with secrets to hide. The beginning of this book hooked me right away and had some pretty creepy moments. Was someone in their house watching them at night? Or just overactive imaginations? The middle slowed down a bit with Alice visiting with neighbors but never getting much out of them. Plus she was so gullible! The great thing about this book was that anyone could have been the culprit. I didn’t have it figured out until the very end.

Even though Alice could be frustrating and her constant fixation on Nina was unusual, I found THE THERAPIST to be tense and twisty domestic suspense. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

SECOND SLEEP by Diane Stanley


Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: November 2, 2021

★ Middle Grade Magical Realism ★

“The time by the lake is everything perfect about a childhood summer. And maybe, these nights also hold the answers Max is looking for…”

SECOND SLEEP is a very sweet middle grade book with an original magical premise that I enjoyed. When Max’s mother disappears, his grandmother takes him and younger sister Rosie to the family’s cabin by the lake, a special place where their mom spent her childhood summers. There Max and Rosie find themselves in an alternate dream world filled with kids who share a unique connection. Max soon realizes that his new friends may help him solve the mystery of his missing mother.

I think middle grade readers will have fun with the magical realism in this book. The dream world is never explained, it just is. I loved the friendships that were formed there, between kids that wouldn’t even know each other in the real world (you’ll find out why!).

There were two things that bothered me in this book. One was how formal the dialogue seemed, even with the younger characters. This may be in part because I listened to a synthetic voice galley, and the delivery made it seem stiff. Second was the story behind the mystery and a certain character’s decisions that made me so mad, though a young reader would probably see it differently. I’m glad Max was ultimately able to express his feelings about the situation.

SECOND SLEEP is a lovely story of friendship, dealing with unavoidable change, and holding onto childhood magic for as long as possible. It will leave readers with a lot to think about. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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