ARC Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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

43822820-1

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 352

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

The Family Upstairs is about a woman, Libby, who recently turned 25 and discovers that her birth parents have left her a house in a trust that she is now eligible to receive. Upon seeing the house she decides that she needs to know the history of who she is and what exactly happened at the house 25 years ago that left her an orphan. Libby’s story of trying to figure this mystery out is also interspersed with two other narrators who help to give us the full spectrum of what exactly happened at the house.  One narrator is giving us the full story of what led to the events of Libby’s parent dying starting from the beginning and the other is Lucy, who is a present day narrator, and currently in a bad spot in her life and knows that the baby from the house is now 25.

I loved this book! It was so enthralling and dark that I was hooked from the beginning. I read the majority of this book in one sitting because I couldn’t wait to find out how all the different perspectives connected together. The way Jewell pieced this story together with all three different narratives was perfection. Sometimes the stories would weave together and other times they would build on each other to keep the momentum of the story racing forward. Obviously I loved the pacing of the story and there were enough twists, turns and reveals to keep me captivated the whole way through.

A big aspect of this story (and probably the reason I love it so much) was the cult aspect. I am so fascinated by cults and the story behind them. I have watched countless documentaries and read a fair share of non fiction (and fiction) books about them because I am so intrigued about how people get involved with and stay with cults. This book definitely has a layer of that going throughout it and I couldn’t get enough.

If you are someone who doesn’t find cults as appealing as me then you might not like this book as much as I did. However, this is one of my top books of this year so if you are in the mood for a thriller then I highly suggest this one.

~Cassie

 

ARC Review: The Other Wife by Claire McGowan

Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review. 

46801922._SY475_

Publication Date: October 24, 2019

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Pages: 322

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4/5

This is one of the best thrillers that I have read in awhile. The Other Wife starts off with us being introduced to three narrators: Nora, Elle, and Suzi. Suzi is pregnant and her life with her husband is not healthy or good in any way. Nora is a widow and Elle is married with a seemingly perfect life but there are secrets and lies that will unravel her life.

This story is extremely engaging and fast paced. Very early on I figured out something and I was preparing myself to be disappointed when it got revealed at the end. However, this thing I thought I figured out got revealed pretty early on in the book and the rest of the time I was totally captivated trying to figure out what was going to happen next. McGowan kept building and building the story up to the final reveal and I really liked how it all ended up. None of the characters are that likable but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment an any way.

My only criticism of this book is that there were a few side stories that I didn’t feel were necessary to the main plot. I don’t think it added much of anything to the story and the book would have had more of an impact without these added distractions.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to read a great thriller. This book has a lot of great twists and reveals that built up to an ending I didn’t see coming. Also, this book is currently on Kindle Unlimited which is a great deal! I have previously bought a Claire McGowan book on my kindle and it has definitely moved up on my priority list because I can’t wait to see what else this author can do.

~Cassie

October Wrap Up + Stats

October has come to an end and while I was able to read 14 books (and DNF’d one) I kind of feel let down. I didn’t finish a single book on my VICTOBER TBR which I’m very disappointed by. I will finish Wuthering Heights today but that will of course be in my November wrap up. I also didn’t complete as many books as I wanted on my October TBR as I thought I would be. Part of the reason is that I decided about mid way through October that I really want to knock down all the books I currently have on my Netgalley shelf this year. Most of them haven’t come out yet but there are some that came out during the summer that I still haven’t read or reviewed. I really want to go into the new year with a good system for reading and reviewing ARC’s and I want to be able to start with a blank slate. With all that being said I still read 14 books and most of them were really good.

41734205Rating: 2/5

This was a let down. It was an ok YA romance but I just wanted more. I never felt the connection between Millie and Flora beyond just friends and Millie thinking Flora was pretty.

unnamedRating: 4/5

ARC Review: Dreams of 18 by Saffron Kent

25644437

Rating: 4.5/5

This was so good! A terrific crime fiction with dual narrators and also dual timelines. I didn’t like the detective this series is based around too much but I really connected with the kidnapping victim Flora and her story. She is a survivor of a past kidnapping (yes she gets kidnapped AGAIN) and she is dealing with all the horrific things she went through during the year plus that she was taken. This book doesn’t shy away from the darkness that Flora endures so keep that in mind if this sounds intriguing to you.

40489648

Rating: 4/5

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

46026035.jpg

Rating: 4/5

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

563458._SY475_

Rating: 3/5

This had much more of the fun trashiness that was missing from the second book. I love how the book ended and I really feel like it went full circle. Logan has annoyed me from the first book but, while he was still irritating, I felt like he was finally more of a fleshed out character There are two more books in this series and I am a little apprehensive of continuing on. I read the synopsis of the fourth book and I was shocked. So if you haven’t read the previous three I highly suggest you don’t sneak a peek at that book!

Spookathon 2019 Wrap Up

43982433

Rating: 2/5

This is a typical Shari Lapena with multiple narrators and a twisty turny ride of a book. Unfortunately this is my least favorite of her books. I didn’t like any of the characters and by the end of the book I didn’t care who killed who or why. Which doesn’t bode well for a thriller.

mtby-will-you-read-me

Rating: 3/5

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

43808355

Rating: 2.5/5

Netgalley Review: The Shape of the Night by Tess Gerritsen

32758320

Rating: DNF

I tried for a couple of weeks to read this and I only got to 18%. This book came out in 2006 so it is obviously not written by Agatha Christie and it is a poor imitation of her writing. The publishers should have chosen to modernize Poirot instead of trying to copy the brilliance that is Agatha Christie.

46801922._SY475_

Rating: 4/5

I have a full review coming up this week for this book but just know that this is one of the best thrillers I have read this year. I had no idea how this book was going to end and I couldn’t wait to find out. Also, if you have Kindle Unlimited this book is on there so you should check it out!

Stats

Male Author:  3                              1-299 pages: 4                      Physically own: 4

Female Author: 11                        300-499 pages: 10                Ebook own: 6

500+ pages: 0                       Library ebook: 2

Library physical: 2

1*:  0                      Classic: 1                                                                      ARC: 5

2*:  3                      Thriller/Mystery/ Suspense: 7                               Recently Published: 6

3*:  3                      Romance: 3                                                                  Older Release: 3

4*:  7                      YA Contemporary: 1

5*:  1                      Horror: 1

Paranormal: 1

 

~Cassie

 

 

 

November TBR

It’s the second to last month of the year… How crazy is that?! I have a lot of eARC’s this month so I picked books off my shelf that are on the smaller side or I feel like I can get through quickly. I still have a book that I am currently reading (Wuthering Heights) but I hope to finish that by the end of the weekend and then I can dive into the following books.

Library

41945163._SY475_

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

10964._SY475_

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

49552

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Book of the Month

43092891

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

43521785

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

43263680-1

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Backlist Books

38355410._SX318_

Elevation by Stephen King

33785645-1._SY475_

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

36199084._SY475_

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

36448554

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

~Cassie

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

 

44019067._SY475_

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

43092891

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

36452106._SY475_

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

43822820

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

47575210._SY475_

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

43861516._SY475_

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

43297206

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

43483465

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.

43808355

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

551-01-Winter-B;og-2020-640x247

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.

mtby-will-you-read-me

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

 

063-Susan Mallery Head Shots 2015-Annie Brady-mass market

 

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.

41150380

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

51lWFL1nZsL._SL300_

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

41940236-1

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

40816622._SX318_

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

41150380

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. 

46026035.jpg

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