On My Radar: November

These are all the books that I can’t wait to read that come out in the month of November.   I am lucky enough to already have ARC’s of more than half of these and I can’t wait to share my reviews of them with you. I like multiple genres so I hope that you are able to find something that interests you on this list.

*All information for this post was pulled from Goodreads.

Publication Date: November 5

 

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The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

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Talia Hibbert, one of contemporary romance’s brightest new stars, delivers a witty, hilarious romantic comedy about a woman who’s tired of being “boring” and recruits her mysterious, sexy neighbor to help her experience new things—perfect for fans of Sally Thorne, Jasmine Guillory, and Helen Hoang.

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family’s mansion. The next items?

Enjoy a drunken night out.
Ride a motorcycle.
Go camping.
Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

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The Shroud of Prophecy tests fate to discover what happens when the path of good and right, the triumph of light over darkness, the only path to salvation… fails.

Everyone loves Mathias. So naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

Mathias is thrilled for the adventure! There’s nothing better than a road beneath his feet and adventure in the air. Aaslo, on the other hand, has never cared for the world beyond the borders of his sleepy village and would be much happier alone and in the woods. But, someone has to keep the Chosen One’s head on his shoulders and his feet on the ground.

It turns out saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. Mathias is more than willing to place his life on the line, but Aaslo would love nothing more than to forget about all the talk of arcane bloodlines and magical fae creatures. When the going gets rough, folks start to believe their only chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the stories go. At all. To make matters worse Aaslo is beginning to fear that he may have lost his mind…

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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Nine years ago her daughter was taken. And now she’s back.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.

Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.

Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.

Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.

And she will stop at nothing to get her back…

From the million-copy-bestselling author of The Secret Mother and The Perfect Family, this utterly gripping psychological thriller will have you up all night reading.

The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland

Publication Date: November 19

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He’s tantalizing trouble she can’t resist…

Charlotte Parrish has always wanted a certain kind of man: someone responsible, settled, boring. Bad boys need not apply. But when her car leaves her stranded and a mysterious stranger with brooding eyes and a protective streak comes to her rescue, she can’t deny how drawn she is to him. In town searching for family he’s never met, Mitch is everything she never thought she wanted—and suddenly everything she craves.

Finding his half brothers after all these years is more than Mitch Crews has allowed himself to wish for. Finding love never even crossed his mind…until he meets Charlotte. She’s sweet, warmhearted, sexier than she knows—and too damn good for an ex-con like him. But when his past comes back to haunt him, putting Charlotte—and the family he’s come to care for—in danger, Mitch isn’t playing by the rules. He’s already surrendered his heart, but now he’ll risk his life.

All Fired Up by Lori Foster

Publication Date:November 26

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Princes have pomp and glory—not crushes on commoners.

Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.

“London’s observations of gender roles are keen, and her protagonists are eminently likable in their dogged pursuit of their own goals despite societal expectations and political pressures.” -Publishers Weekly on THE PRINCESS PLAN

The Princess Plan by Julia London

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Love may be blind, but obsession’s a real killer.

Nora Holliday is not that kind of woman. Not the kind who has an illicit affair with a married man. But Josh Landon is everything Nora’s alcoholic husband isn’t. And now she and Josh are so infatuated, they can’t stay away from one another.

Abby Landon, Josh’s daughter, is home from college nursing a broken heart. She’s seeking solace, not more scandal, so when she catches her dad kissing Nora, she vows to take the homewrecker down.

And as for Abby’s mother and Josh’s wife, Gwen? To anyone on the outside looking in, the mother of two appears to be living the ideal suburban life.

Until she winds up dead.

The serene seaside town of Shoreham has always been the perfect place to raise a family–not somewhere housewives are brutally murdered. So who killed Gwen Landon, and how many twisted secrets will be exposed as the vindictive plot comes undone?

The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

~Cassie

Netgalley Review: The Shape of the Night by Tess Gerritsen

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

Pages: 288

Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Rating: 2.5/5

The Shape of the Night is a paranormal story following a food writer, Ava, who moves into a New England house for a few months while she works on her latest book. Ava is running from the mistakes of her past and is also trying to figure out what exactly is going on in her house. I really liked Ava’s character for the most part but so much of this story didn’t work for me.

The biggest thing that I didn’t like in this book is the (somewhat) erotica subplot. If you been here for a while you know that I love me a good smut but this was not well done and it also added nothing to the story. There was nothing sexy or interesting about what was happening beyond us learning the way Ava wanted her men to behave in bed. Uh ok but how does any of that move the plot along? It doesn’t and Gerritsen would have been better off building up some of the weaker aspects of the story.

For instance, the mystery element of the book would have been so much stronger if more time had been spent on building up the side characters. There were some interesting people who were either acting shady or had a shady background and yet hardly any time was spent on them. All of that led up to me not being invested in any of them and so when we had the big reveal the payoff wasn’t as great as it could have been.

Also, as much as I liked Ava it became very boring dealing with all her flashbacks to what she did in the past. Especially because it is glaringly obvious from the beginning what she did so why we spent so much time flashing back to that night to just skirt around the issue over and over again was annoying. Present day Ava was a lot better and I really enjoyed the fact that she was a food writer. Everything that she made sounded amazing and I appreciated learning some very interesting food facts.

Overall this story was a mess. Some parts were really enjoyable but the story definitely needed to be streamlined a bit more. If you enjoy paranormal fiction and the food writer aspect sounds intriguing then this might be a book for you to consider.

~Cassie

Blog Tour Review: Meant to Be Yours (Happily Inc #5) by Susan Mallery

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I am so excited to share with you my first blog tour post today!! I feel so honored to be working with Harlequin Trade Publishing and getting to share my reviews of some of their new releases. Harlequin is an iconic name in publishing and I am in awe that they even know of me to ask me to be a part of this tour. I will be reviewing four of the five books pictured above and today I’m will be sharing my review (and an excerpt!) of Meant to Be Yours by Susan Mallery. Also, all images shared in this post were kindly sent to me by Harlequin Trade Publishing.

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Publication Date: October 22, 2019

Pages: 464

Rating: 3.5/5

As you all know small town romances are one of my favorite romance tropes and this book is the fifth in a series that centers around a small town in California. The town of Happily Inc. is known as a wedding destination and our main character Renee is a wedding coordinator at a themed wedding business. The backdrop of all these themed weddings was fun and I liked the element that they added to the story. The love interest, Jasper, is a writer of crime fiction who is dealing with PTSD from his time in the military. Jasper was a fun character especially when it came to him writing his book. I liked the behind the scenes look of him trying to write and blocking out scenes.

I liked Renee and Jasper as a couple but I also wasn’t that invested in them being together so it made the romance aspect of the book kind of lackluster for me. I was also annoyed by how many times Jasper and Renee both thought about why they couldn’t be more serious with each other. It happened several times and it felt like overkill.

Another part of the story that I’m still not sure how much I liked was the drama that Renee has with her mom. It was pretty out there and while I didn’t mind how it affected Renee I was frustrated with how many times it was used in the book to add some drama. I would have liked there to be more between Jasper and Renee so I could get more invested in them and less on other things that happened that didn’t really push their story forward.

Which is not to say that I didn’t like the book because I very much enjoyed getting to know the people of Happily Inc. and I want to go back and read the rest of the series to be a part of this world again. All the side characters had so much history with each other and you can see where the author alluded to things that happened in past books. I really appreciate books with so much of the world built out and I hope that the next book in the series is Wynn’s love story!

Also, if you want more of this world like me, then you will love the bonus story at the end of the book. It is a novella of two of the characters from Happily Inc.’s love story. I’m guessing the series starts with them already together so it was really nice of the author to include this extra story. I also adored Bethany and Cade’s story and I was fully invested in their romance. I obviously knew how things ended up for them but I still got caught up in the drama of their story.

Excerpt

“It might just be okay,” wedding coordinator Renee Grothen murmured softly to herself as she surveyed the wedding reception. She wouldn’t risk admitting everything had turned out as planned until the last guest had left, but four and a half hours in, things were going really well.

Jim and Monica Martinez were a sweet couple with a fun firefighter theme for their big day. There was a long tradition of firefighters on both sides of the family and plenty of cute touches in the wedding and reception.

Monica’s dress laced up the back and instead of white ribbon to cinch her gown, she’d used bright red. The centerpieces were ceramic boot vases painted to look like firefighter boots, filled with red, orange and yellow flowers. There was even a walk-through fountain at one end of the reception area, created with fire hoses, a pump and a lot of engineering.

Renee walked around the perimeter of the indoor reception space, looking for problems. So far, so good, she thought with cautious optimism. The cake had been cut, the bar service was about to end and the tone of the party had faded from raucous to comfortably tired—exactly as it should. With a little luck, things would wrap up on time and without a crisis. This was Monica and Jim’s day—Renee wanted it to be as perfect as possible. While she always took care of her clients, she tended to unleash her mother bear instincts for her special couples and Monica and Jim certainly qualified.

She spotted Pallas Mitchell, her boss, walking toward her. It was nearly ten on a Saturday night and Pallas, a pretty brunette only recently returned from maternity leave, yawned widely. When she spotted Renee she held up her hands, palms up.

“What can I say? I’ve been home with an infant. These wild latenight hours are going to take some getting used to.”

“No one’s judging,” Renee told her. “As I said at seven, at eight and again at nine, go home. I can handle this. You’re barely back and you need to give yourself time to adjust to the schedule.”

“You’ve been running things for nearly six months. You need a break.”

In truth, Renee was a little ragged around the edges, but she’d loved handling Weddings Out of the Box while Pallas had been gone. She’d enjoyed the challenges each unique wedding presented and watching all the details fall into place on the big day.

“I had lots of help,” Renee pointed out. “Hiring college students on summer break was a good idea.” And what they’d lacked in experience, they’d made up for in energy and enthusiasm.

“Now that I’m back, things can return to normal,” Pallas said, covering another yawn.

“Go home,” Renee urged. “Please. I can handle things here. I promise.”

“Okay. I will. Thanks. Don’t you dare come in tomorrow.” Pallas’s voice was firm. “For once, we don’t have a Sunday wedding. Enjoy the break.”

“I will.” Renee would probably pop in to do a little paperwork, but she wouldn’t stay long. “Are you coming to The Boardroom on Monday night?”

In a wedding destination town, the rhythms of the residents were determined by weekend weddings. Happily Inc’s workweek started on Wednesdays as the businesses geared up for the dozens of nuptials that occurred in multiple venues. Which meant the town’s Friday night was actually on Monday.

The Boardroom, a local bar, hosted game nights on Mondays. Board games ruled and tournaments were heated and fun as friends crushed each other at everything from Candy Land to Risk.

Pallas shook her head. “I’ll admit to being a bit of a worrier. When we went a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about Ryan. He’s only five months old. It’s too soon to leave him at night.”

Renee held in a smile. “Sure. I get that.”

“I know you don’t, but thank you for pretending. Have fun for me, too. Oh, Jasper’s back, so tell him hi, if you think of it.”

Jasper was back? Renee hadn’t heard. She liked knowing he’d returned from his big book tour. Not for any reason in particular, she amended hastily. Sure, he was nice, but there were a lot of nice guys in the world. There was just something about Jasper. Maybe it was because in addition to being good-looking and just a little dangerous, he wasn’t a forever kind of guy.

“I saw that!” Pallas grinned. “I totally saw that. You did the predatory smile thing I was never good at. You want to use him for sex! Did I know this?” She stomped her foot. “Did this happen while I was on maternity leave? What else went on while I was off having a baby?”

Renee laughed. “You’re reading way too much into my smile. I’m happy he’s home from his book tour. That’s all.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Jasper and I are not involved. I doubt we’ve had more than a three-sentence conversation.”

Not that it took many sentences to ask Your place or mine? And while the description of predatory was nice, it gave her too much credit. Would she stalk him and pounce? Not even on her best day. Would she say yes if the man asked? She smiled again. Oh, yeah, she would. Definitely. Okay, probably. If she was feeling brave. Because while she worked her butt off to give her couples their perfect happily-ever-after day, she knew it was never going to happen for her. Those who could—did. Those who couldn’t became wedding planners.

Avoiding relationships might be the smart choice, but it was also a lonely one. She knew Jasper was into the long-term, monogamous, not-serious kind of thing and she was pretty sure she could handle that. Assuming she was his type and he was interested. They could have some laughs, lots of sex and walk away completely unscathed in the heart department. Where was the bad?

“There’s something going on and you can’t convince me otherwise,” Pallas said. “You have depths. I’m very impressed. Okay, use Jasper and then tell me the details because hey, he’s got to be great.” She yawned again. “I’m such a lightweight. I’m leaving now.”

“Good night. Hug Ryan for me.”

“You know I will.”

Pallas walked out of the reception hall. Renee continued to circle the space, looking for any forgotten handbags or phones, and noting how long it would take the cleaning service to return the huge room to order. Doing her job and not thinking about the fact that Jasper was back—that was her.

A loud whoop got her attention. She turned and saw three teenaged guys running through the fountain at the far end of the big, open room. Each of them jumped, trying to touch the arc of water dancing overhead.

The younger brother, she thought as she made her way toward them. And his friends. No doubt they were bored after so many hours with not very much to do. Regardless, she was not going to have them disrupt the reception when it was so close to being over.

As she approached the running, jumping teens, she saw both sets of parents, along with the bride and groom, still dancing. They swayed in time with the music, oblivious to the fountain and the idiots messing with it. Then several things happened at once.

The younger brother started an extra long run toward the fountain. Jim let go of Monica and spun her out the length of their arms. Monica bumped her mom, who stumbled a little. Dad grabbed Mom, moving all of them closer to the fountain and the younger brother running, who had to swerve suddenly to avoid them. As he swerved, he lost his balance and slipped, tumbling into the fountain mechanism. One of the hoses broke free, wiggling and spraying water everywhere.

Renee saw it all happening and knew there was no way she was going to allow her beautiful bride to get soaked. She lunged for the hose, caught it and held it tightly against her chest as the bride’s father rushed to turn off the water to the hose. It took only seconds, but by then the entire fountain had spilled over and Renee was drenched, shivering and had water up her nose even as she wondered if she looked half as ridiculous as she felt.

The new Mrs. Martinez hurried over. “Renee, are you all right?” She turned on her brother. “How could you? This is a wedding, not a water park.”

Aware that end-of-wedding exhaustion could easily lead to emotions spiraling out of control, Renee quickly faked a smile.

“Monica, it’s fine. Don’t worry. Keeping you and the rest of the wedding party dry was my only concern.” She glanced at the water draining onto the floor and realized part of the fountain was still pumping out water. That couldn’t be good. If she couldn’t get everything turned off, she was going to have to call in one of those companies that took care of disasters like flooding. “Really. It’s no problem.”

“You’re dripping and the water’s rising. My dad went to find the main shutoff.”

Renee wrung out her hair and hoped her makeup wasn’t too badly smudged. Then she realized the water level in the reception hall was indeed climbing and hoped Monica’s father found the shutoff soon.

She was just about to go help him when he returned.

“All turned off.” He glanced at the mini flood. “Sorry about this.”

“It’s fine,” Renee lied, her tone soothing, because that was part of her job. To pretend all was well even when they needed to be figuring out how to build an ark.

The rest of the guests were heading out. Nothing like the threat of an unexpected flood to get people moving, she thought, trying to find the humor in the situation.

“I’m so sorry,” Monica told her as she held her dress out of the water and slipped out of her shoes.

“Don’t be. You had a wonderful wedding and reception. Why don’t you and Jim start gathering your things? I have a spare set of clothes in my office. I’ll get changed, then help you make sure you have everything.”

As she spoke, she noticed the water seemed to have settled at about the six- or seven-inch level. Yup, she was going to have to call someone. No doubt she would be here all night. Oh, joy.

“I’m really sorry,” Jim said. “We thought we’d planned for every contingency.” He glared at his new brother-in-law. “Except for stupid.” He turned back to her. “Let us know the cost of cleanup. We’ll pay for it.”

“Thank you. I think the deposit should take care of it but I’ll let you know if there’s a problem. Now if you’ll let me go get changed, I’ll be back with you in ten minutes.”

Monica nodded.

Renee slipped out of her shoes and walked through the ankle-deep water. When she reached her office upstairs, she carefully closed the door behind her before undressing, then slipped on jeans and a T-shirt. Not exactly professional, but she wasn’t going to worry about that right now. Before she returned to her bride and groom, she looked up the local disaster cleaning service. The number was in her files, but wasn’t one she had had to use before.

They picked up on the first ring.

“Happily Inc CleanUp. This is Hilde. How can I help you?”

“Hi. I’m Renee Grothen at Weddings Out of the Box. We had a firefighter wedding tonight with a big fountain. There was an accident with one of the hoses and now our main reception hall is flooded.”

There was a pause. “Um, did you say firefighter wedding? Never mind. How much water?”

“About six inches.”

“That’s a lot.”

“It was a big fountain.”

“Give us thirty minutes and we’ll be there.”

“Thank you.”

Renee hung up, gave herself a second to catch her breath, then headed back to deal with the bride, the groom, the flood and anything else that might happen tonight. Because with a wedding, it was always something.

Excerpted from Meant to be Yours by Susan Mallery, Copyright © 2019 by Susan Mallery, Inc.. Published by HQN Books.

Buy Links

Harlequin    Indiebound    Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Target   Walmart    Google    iBooks

 

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Author Bio: SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.

 

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @susanmallery

Facebook: @SusanMallery

Instagram: @susanmallery

Goodreads

~Cassie

 

 

 

Spookathon 2019 Wrap Up

Last week went by so fast and it was so fun on Youtube to see all the people who don’t normally read thrillers or mysteries giving them a go. It did make me realize that some books are either marketed or talked about as thrillers because that’s the in thing right now but they are really mysteries. Which isn’t really anyone’s fault but if you go in expecting some crazy twists and turns and it’s really a mystery where the clues are laid out the book and especially the ending are going to be disappointing. I am guilty of labeling books as thrillers and mysteries at the same time and I am committing to not falling into that trap anymore. It annoys me when I go into something and it turns out to be something else and I don’t want to contribute to disappointing anyone. Now that is out of the way lets get into all the books I read last week. I changed my Spookathon TBR up a tiny bit but overall I’m really pleased with how well I did. I only read four instead of the five I had wanted to but we also went on a road trip this past weekend so that obviously didn’t leave much time for reading.

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Challenge: Read a book with a spooky setting

You can read my full review of this but don’t be misled by the title. This is a trapped elevator setting and NOT an escape room.

Rating: 3/5

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Challenge: Read a book with a spooky word in the title (13)

This was one of my favorite Agatha Christie’s that I have read. I still have a ton more to read but this one will be a favorite. I was trying to solve this one right along with Hercule Poirot and I thought I had it all figured out but at the end he went through various theories and said how they were all wrong. Then gave the correct one of course. I also liked the humor in this one. This is the first time I have read a Hercule Poirot with his friend Hastings narrating the story. They very much had a Sherlock and Holmes kind of relationship and I enjoyed it.

Rating: 5/5

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Challenge: Read a thriller (I thought this was a thriller but it is definitely more of a crime mystery)

It took me about 60 pages to get into this book and then I read the roughly 300 more pages all in one sitting. There are some reveals that come out of nowhere and some twists so I can see why people say it is a thriller. It is definitely slow paced though and I didn’t really get the hype but about  the half way point things start happening and it got good. As a mom of three boys though this book was difficult to read because of the children aspect of the story. I also thought the main character, Tom, was annoying especially when it came to how he handled things concerning his son, Jake. I really liked this weaving tale that Alex North put together and how everything fit. The ending was ok but the last page had me so disturbed. I don’t think I will ever forget the way this book ends.

Rating: 4/5

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Challenges: Read something you wouldn’t normally read & Read something with red on the cover (this is more of a red orange but I’m still counting it!)

This is my second ever manga and the last one I read was also by Junji Ito. That one was Shiver and it was also a collection of short stories. I liked Shiver more but this one was still really good. I remember with Shiver I thought the title story was the best of the bunch. With this collection I feel like Smashed was the worst story of the bunch. The were also three stories that all kind of connected with each other (and also a couple of stories from Shiver) so that was fun to read. My favorite story of this collection was probably the home library story about a guy who has over 150,000 books. Smashed had some heavy topics like suicide, eating disorders, sexual assault and things of that nature so be mindful of that if you would like to give this book a try.

Rating: 4/5

~Cassie

 

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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Publication Date: July 30, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Rating: 3/5

*Thank you to Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

The Escape Room is a dual storyline book following four colleagues who are trapped in an elevator (“escape room”) and also Sara Hall who used to work with them. For me this is an average thriller that really suffers from the escape room idea this book is titled after and so I’m assuming it is also based on. However, if this book cut out all the “escape room” aspects of this story than it would have worked so much better. Also, I keep putting escape room in quotations because this is NOT an escape room in any way. It is basically a book about four people who are trapped in an elevator by a nefarious someone. That should have been the synopsis and then just give the book a different title and most of my issues with this book would be gone.

All that aside I did really enjoy this book. The story starts out high stakes because these people are trapped and they are in a terrible position and we are going along trying to figure out everything that led up to them being in the elevator. I thoroughly enjoyed Sara Hall’s story so much and the journey her character goes on. I connected so much with Sara that she kept me wanting to read to find out what was going to happen next. This is another book that I flew through in a couple of days purely because I wanted to know where the story was going. I definitely would have rated this book at least one star higher if this had just been a trapped elevator story.

Most of the ending was really good and I loved how the author, Goldin, laid it all out. It was pretty well thought out and I feel like she told a well rounded story. There is a part of the ending that I think is lacking but I don’t want to spoil anything so I will just say that I wish there was one little thing that had been added in.

While this is a fast paced thriller that I think a lot of people would enjoy, I do want to recommend a movie if you are looking for something that is an actual escape room. Escape Room (2019) is a movie that I recently watched and highly enjoyed the first half of. The second half lost a lot of the suspense but it definitely is an escape room setting. Also, like I said in my previous review, locked room mysteries are my favorite thing so when I pick a book because I think it’s going to have that trope and it doesn’t I’m pretty disappointed. So, if you don’t have the same hang ups about this specific trope then you will probably enjoy this book more than me.

~Cassie

ARC Review: The Dinner Party by R.J. Parker

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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Publication Date: October 18, 2019

Publisher: Harper Impulse and Killer Reads

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Pages: 400

Rating: 4/5

The Dinner Party is about a group of eight friends (four couples) who meet for dinner one night and take part in what they think is a harmless trust exercise to help strengthen their relationships. Of course this exercise ends up ruffling some feathers and by the next day two people at the dinner party are dead and things have just started to go bad for the rest of the group.

This was an extremely fast paced thriller that I flew through in a day. I went into this with the preconceived notion that the whole book was going to take place at the dinner party from hell but really the dinner party just sets things in motion for the rest of the story. So while that was slightly disappointing (locked room mysteries are my favorite thing ever!) it was still a fun ride with short chapters and a lot of action and reveals.

The book is told from the perspective of Ted who hosted the dinner along with his wife, Juliette, and I really feel like this helped to add to the suspense of the book because we are trying to figure out what is going on at the same time as Ted. This is one of the rare books where the reader is given all the clues so it is possible to put it all together along with Ted. I had most of the story figured out but I forgot about some little details that were added in so I didn’t completely figure it out. The ending was a bit melodramatic and over the top but honestly isn’t that part of the fun?

~Cassie

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

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Publication Date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 384

Genre: Thriller, Gothic, Suspense

Rating: 4/5

This book follows Rowan, who interviews and then becomes the live in nanny for three (potentially four with the oldest daughter at boarding school) young girls who live in a state of the art smart house in basically the middle of nowhere in Scotland. This is by far the best Ruth Ware book that she has written. I have yet to read her debut but I have read her three other books and wow does she just keep getting better and better. This was gothic, creepy, disturbing and spooky. I read a lot of thrillers and I don’t shy away from horror and there were definitely a few times I was creeped out reading this.

The characters all felt realistic to me even though I didn’t particularly like any of them. You go into the story knowing that one of the girls that Rowan is watching died in her care and she is writing to a lawyer from prison to tell her side of the story in the hopes that he will take her case. That plus the creepy smart house that she is living in with the girls really helped to amp up the suspense of this book. Honestly, if I was Rowan I would have run out of that house and never looked back.

After I finished this book I was really blown away by how well rounded this story was. When I first read the ending I wasn’t too sure how I felt about it but the more I think about it the more I realize it really is the perfect ending. I still think it fell a little flat compared to the high suspense that I felt during the rest of the book, especially the closer we got to the ending.

If you are in the mood for a fantastic thriller with a superb setting then I highly recommend this book to you. The Turn of the Key is the perfect October read and I can’t wait to read whatever Ruth Ware comes out with next year. If you liked this book than I suggest you give Lock Every Door by Riley Sager a try because this is another gothic thriller that recently came out.

~Cassie

ARC Review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

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Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Lion Forge

Pages: 256

Genre: Graphic Novel, Magical, Contemporary

Rating: 5/5

This book follows Nova, a witch, and Tam, a werewolf, and their romance as they try to stop a demon. Nova and Tam are the cutest and I really appreciated how accepting of each other they both were. There is a lot of really great representation in this graphic novel which was another plus. Another aspect to this story was the unexpected family drama that both Nova and Tam have. This is just a really well done contemporary story with a lot of witchy, magical elements thrown in. The pacing of this story was also really well done because the author, Walker, did a great job of balancing the magical elements of this story with the more realistic parts.

The majority of the arc that I read was in color and I adored the art style. It is not as whimsical as  The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill but it was equally as cute. I loved the colors and way Nova and Tam looked at each other. Such a sweet romance and I hope we get more from these two in the future. Also, the side characters in this story added so much to the different layers of the story. I really liked Nova’s best friend and her Grandma’s. I also wouldn’t mind a story based on the Grandma’s when they were younger.

Definitely check this out for a fun, sweet, cozy fall read. Mooncakes has all the elements for the perfect (non scary) October read.

~Cassie

Spookathon TBR

One of my favorite readathons of the year is upon us!! I love setting aside a week during the spookiest time of the year and reading all the thrillers, mystery and horror that I can. For all the information on #spookathon you can check out Lala’s (the creator of this readathon) video here and the official Twitter here. This readathon goes from the 14th- 20th and there are five challenges.

Read a thriller

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In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

The Whisper Man by Alex North

Read a book with red on the cover

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The heart-pounding debut from the creator of the hit Scandinavian television show The Killing.

If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

Read a book with a spooky word in the title

*I chose the word thirteen because I was born on Friday the 13th and on my birthday in elementary school all the kids would call me a witch haha

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Here is another thriller by the master of mystery – and the most popular author of all time. Lady Edgware wants to marry a duke, but Lord Edgware won’t divorce her. She jokingly tells Poirot that if he won’t kill Lord Edgware, she may have to. When the lord turns up dead, Lady Jane is suspected. Will her alibi hold up?

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Read a book with a spooky setting

*The book I picked is set at a haunted boarding house!

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A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Read something you wouldn’t normally read

*I chose a horror manga because I have only read one and some of the stories genuinely freaked me out.

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Thirteen Chilling Nightmares Presented by the Master of Horror.

Try not to be noticed when you eat the secret nectar, otherwise you’ll get smashed… What horrific events happened to create the earthbound-people tied to a certain place for the rest of their short lives? A strange haunted house comes to town, but no one expects it to lead to a real hell… Welcome to Junji Ito’s world, a world with no escape from endless nightmares.

Smashed by Junji Ito

~Cassie

 

ARC Review: Dreams of 18 by Saffron Kent

Thank you to the author Saffron Kent and Give Me Books Promotions for sending me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Publication Date: October 10, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Dreams of 18 by Saffron Kent

Dreams of 18 is a forbidden age gap romance with an 18 year old girl and her best friends dad. Violet has had a crush on Graham since he moved in next door on her 16th birthday. On her 18 birthday Graham finds her in his rose garden late at night and she decides that she wants to kiss him (since she has dreamed about it for two years) but they are immediately caught by his son and her sister. This causes a huge scandal with devastating effects on both of them and after almost a year has passed Violet decides that she wants to find him and apologize.

This book is the angsty slow burn romance that I was looking for and Graham is the dark swoon worthy love interest I love to read about. I loved “watching” the romance unfold and how much they were both there for each other. Violet and Graham have such a strong connection and I liked that the author, Kent, really built that aspect of their relationship up. I also really appreciated that when the smutty scenes were happening that Kent put an emphasis on how important the emotional connection between them was as well as the physical. That things are so good between them not only because of the physical things happening but also the things they are saying to each other and the way they are looking at each other.

I do think that some of the scenes in this book went on for a little too long and I wish some of it had been edited down but for the most part this was a very enjoyable read. Also, there was a few instances where Violet would be telling the reader something and then be like “well it happened” and then we would have a flashback. It felt a little disjointed to me and took me out of the story a bit.

Also, if you are a fan of light romance and/or smut then I would caution you that some of the sexy scenes in this are more erotica than smut. If forbidden romances are your favorite trope (like me) then I highly recommend this book to you. It was so good and I devoured this book in about a day because I couldn’t put it down.

 

PURCHASE LINKS

US: https://amzn.to/2omE3RQ
UK: https://amzn.to/2oSnsWf
CA: https://amzn.to/2LRggm1
AU: https://amzn.to/2MbEdDu

Free in Kindle Unlimited

AUTHOR BIO

Saffron A. Kent is a Top 100 Amazon Bestselling author of Contemporary and New Adult romance. More often than not, her love stories are edgy, forbidden and passionate. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After.

She lives in New York City with her nerdy and supportive husband, and a million and one books.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSaffronKent
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesaffronkent
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesaffronkent
Website: http://www.saffronkent.com
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Ybw47r
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/saffron-a-kent
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16192760.Saffron_A_Kent

~Cassie