DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Tessa Wegert


Series: Shana Merchant, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


A storm-struck island. A blood-soaked bed. A missing man. In this captivating mystery that’s perfect for fans of Knives Out, Senior Investigator Shana Merchant discovers that murder is a family affair.

Thirteen months ago, former NYPD detective Shana Merchant barely survived being abducted by a serial killer. Now hoping to leave grisly murder cases behind, she’s taken a job in her fiancé’s sleepy hometown in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York.

But as a nor’easter bears down on her new territory, Shana and fellow investigator Tim Wellington receive a call about a man missing on a private island. Shana and Tim travel to the isolated island owned by the wealthy Sinclair family to question the witnesses. They arrive to find blood on the scene and a house full of Sinclair family and friends on edge.

While Tim guesses they’re dealing with a runaway case, Shana is convinced that they have a murder on their hands. As the gale intensifies outside, she starts conducting interviews and discovers the Sinclairs and their guests are crawling with dark and dangerous secrets.

Trapped on the island by the raging storm with only Tim whose reliability is thrown into question, the increasingly restless suspects, and her own trauma-fueled flashbacks for company, Shana will have to trust the one person her abduction destroyed her faith in—herself. But time is ticking down, because if Shana’s right, a killer is in their midst and as the pressure mounts, so do the odds that they’ll strike again.


DEATH IN THE FAMILY is a Christie-inspired mystery set on a remote private island in Upstate New York. Two local detectives are called to investigate a missing persons case at the home of a wealthy family. They arrive to find a bed covered in bloody sheets and eight potential suspects — some more cooperative than others. As a terrible storm begins to rage, the detectives find themselves trapped on this small island, possibly with a killer on the loose.

The mystery was intriguing and solid, and I was kept wondering who among the eight may have played a part in the disappearance and why. I loved the stormy setting and the unsettling feeling that the characters were cut-off from the rest of the world. I liked that the lead investigator was a strong yet flawed female character, however the numerous references and flashbacks to her troubled past interrupted the story’s flow (though it seems to be setting up a series arc). Overall, this was an enjoyable, slow-burn, classic mystery.

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

THE ESCAPE ROOM by Megan Goldin {Review}


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


In Megan Goldin’s unforgettable debut, The Escape Room, four young Wall Street rising stars discover the price of ambition when an escape room challenge turns into a lethal game of revenge.

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style ― but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.

Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.

Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?


THE ESCAPE ROOM is a crazy & claustrophobic thrill ride. Four of the most unlikable investment bankers you’ll ever come across are summoned to a team-building exercise in the elevator of a vacant high rise office building. They’re not inside long before realizing there’s something sinister about this particular escape room challenge…

I went into this book not knowing much about the plot, and I think that’s the best way to read it. The chapters alternate between time in the elevator, and time before, where we get a good look at the four “contestants,” Vincent, Sylvie, Sam, and Jules. Really, their life & work style made me cringe. It’s hard to believe people would live, work, and behave this way for the sake of money, money, money.

It was fun trying to figure out the puzzle as the elevator occupants sweated away & got to learn more about each other than they bargained for. This book is a darkly satisfying thriller that might make you think twice about willingly entering an escape room!

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

DEATH IN A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY by Julia Buckley {Review}


Series: A Hungarian Tea House Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Source: Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★★


Hana Keller serves up European-style cakes and teas in her family-owned tea house, but when a customer keels over from a poisoned cuppa, Hana and her tea-leaf reading grandmother will have to help catch a killer in the first Hungarian Tea House Mystery from Julia Buckley.

Hana Keller and her family run Maggie’s Tea House, an establishment heavily influenced by the family’s Hungarian heritage and specializing in a European-style traditional tea service. But one of the shop’s largest draws is Hana’s eccentric grandmother, Juliana, renowned for her ability to read the future in the leaves at the bottom of customers’ cups. Lately, however, her readings have become alarmingly ominous and seemingly related to old Hungarian legends…

When a guest is poisoned at a tea event, Juliana’s dire predictions appear to have come true. Things are brought to a boil when Hana’s beloved Anna Weatherley butterfly teacup becomes the center of the murder investigation as it carried the poisoned tea. The cup is claimed as evidence by a handsome police detective, and the pretty Tea House is suddenly endangered. Hana and her family must catch the killer to save their business and bring the beautiful Budapest Butterfly back home where it belongs.


Vasorrú Bába!

Hungarian folklore, European high tea, and just a touch of the paranormal come together to make DEATH IN A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY a delightful start to a new cozy mystery series!

Three generations of the Horvath/Keller family run Maggie’s Tea House in suburban Chicago. Hana, her mother Maggie, and grandmother Juliana are shaken when a guest is poisoned to death at one of their events. With a murderer on the loose and their business in danger, Hana is willing to help Detective Erik Wolf with his investigation and do a bit of sleuthing on her own.

The Hungarian history, culture, and myths blended throughout this book made for an enjoyable and unique cozy mystery. I also loved the budding romance between Hana and Erik. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

P.S. How amazing is that book cover!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

Quick Thoughts: YOU, ME, AND THE SEA by Meg Donohue


Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed from the Library
Rating: ★★★★


From the USA Today bestselling author of All the Summer Girls and Dog Crazy comes a spellbinding and suspenseful tale inspired by Wuthering Heights that illuminates the ways in which hope—and even magic—can blossom in the darkest of places.

To find her way, she must abandon everything she loves…

As a child, Merrow Shawe believes she is born of the sea: strong, joyous, and wild. Her beloved home is Horseshoe Cliff, a small farm on the coast of Northern California where she spends her days exploring fog-cloaked bluffs, swimming in the cove, and basking in the light of golden sunsets as her father entertains her with fantastical stories. It is an enchanting childhood, but it is not without hardship—the mystery of Merrow’s mother’s death haunts her, as does the increasingly senseless cruelty of her older brother, Bear.

Then, like sea glass carried from a distant land, Amir arrives in Merrow’s life. He’s been tossed about from India to New York City and now to Horseshoe Cliff, to stay with her family. Merrow is immediately drawn to his spirit, his passion, and his resilience in the face of Bear’s viciousness. Together they embrace their love of the sea, and their growing love for each other.

But the ocean holds secrets in its darkest depths. When tragedy strikes, Merrow is forced to question whether Amir is really the person she believed him to be. In order to escape the danger she finds herself in and find her own path forward, she must let go of the only home she’s ever known, and the only boy she’s ever loved…


What a lush and beautifully written story inspired by Wuthering Heights! Merrow was raised on an isolated farm on the windswept coast of Northern California. The setting was absolutely vivid & amazing! Merrow lives at Horseshoe Cliff with her eccentric father and very cruel older brother. One day her father brings home an orphaned boy named Amir to live with them, and her lonely life changes. She and Amir become the closest friends. They grow up together in this wild & wonderful place by the sea, until tragedy strikes and their worlds are turned upside down.

YOU, ME, AND THE SEA was an atmospheric & emotional tale of love, friendship, secrets, and survival. I enjoyed the parallels to Wuthering Heights, and also the ways they differed. Lovely! Borrowed from the library.

THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish {Review}


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


From the author of the international bestseller Our House, a new novel of twisty domestic suspense asks, “Could you hate your neighbor enough to plot to kill him?”

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying—and everyone has something to hide.


Lowland Way is the perfect neighborhood in every way. Family-oriented, quiet, upscale, beautiful homes and gardens. Perfect, that is, until those people move in and ruin everything.

Darren and Jodie simply aren’t Lowland Way material. Their used car lot in the front yard, loud music at all hours, and endless remodeling have enraged the residents on the street. They make sure Darren and Jodie know they’re not welcome, but what will it take to reclaim their perfect neighborhood?

THOSE PEOPLE was an entertaining, slow-burn mystery that really had me hooked from the beginning. Dealing with bad neighbors is something most people can relate to. Darren and Jodie were a nightmare, but even the seemingly perfect Lowland Way residents weren’t so flawless when you got beneath the surface. Lots of drama and tension there, which only gets exacerbated by the distressing situation.

I enjoyed this twisty, character-driven novel, and though none of the characters were particularly likable, I couldn’t look away. Satisfying follow-up to last year’s OUR HOUSE.

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


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