Category Archives: Rated B+

Review: What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong

Title:What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Genre: Contemporary, Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Length: 274 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

A picture-perfect suburban life fractures . . . and a darker reality bubbles beneath the surface.

Mona Ellison’s life is as perfect as the porcelain dolls lined up on her shelves. She has a successful husband, a loving son, a beautiful home, and a supportive group of girlfriends ever ready for their weekly wine night.

But when Mona’s son gets entangled with the wrong crowd and runs away from home, her blissful suburban world begins to unravel. She tells her friends that boys will be boys, that he’ll be back as soon as his money runs dry . . . but deep down she knows there’s something else going on.

Then the police show up at Mona’s door. A young girl has turned up dead in their quiet town, and her missing son is the prime suspect.

Determined to reunite with her son and prove his innocence, Mona follows an increasingly cryptic trail of clues on social media, uncovering a sinister side of suburbia and unveiling lies and betrayal from those she trusted most. And as Mona spirals further from her once cozy reality, a devastating revelation shatters everything she thought she knew. Now the only thing she’s sure of is that she can’t trust anyone . . . not even herself.

With unrelenting psychological suspense and a wicked twist, What They Don’t Know marries small-town thriller and domestic mystery—suburban paranoia at its best.

Review:

What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong is a diabolically clever psychological thriller.

With their son, Gus, absent from the house, Mona Ellison and her husband Ben are selling the home they have lived in for years. After she and her friends, Tara, Alice and Selma’s final book club, Mona becomes a bit untethered with moving day approaching. Ben is out of town for business and she becomes rattled after the police drop by asking questions about Mia Jones, a teenager recently murdered nearby.  Why do the detectives want to talk to Ben? And why does Mona get the feeling that Gus might somehow be involved?

Mona is taking a cocktail of drugs that are not doing her mental state any favors. She becomes increasingly paranoid and suspicious as she tries to locate Gus. Instead of preparing for the move, Mona becomes obsessed with locating Gus and attempting to find the connection between him and Mia. Highly agitated, she is comforted by the dolls in her collection. With her friends becoming more ad more worried about her, Mona is frightened and unnerved but she slowly begins to unearth the truth about her family.

What They Don’t Know is a suspense-laden thriller that quite riveting. Mona is a brilliantly developed character whose narration might not be reliable. The secondary characters are well-drawn with interesting backstories. The storyline is tautly written and easily draws the reader into the unfolding story. With cunning twists and shocking turns, Susan Furlong brings this intriguing psychological thriller to a chilling conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Psychological Thriller, Rated B+, Review, Seventh Street Books, Susan Furlong, Suspense, What They Dont Know

Review: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

Title: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

For fans of the compulsive psychological suspense of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a mother daughter story—one running from a horrible truth, and the other fighting to reveal it—that twists and turns in shocking ways, from the internationally bestselling author of The Scholar and The Ruin.

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

Review:

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan is a captivating mystery.

Law student Hannah Rokeby is willing to go to great lengths to become part of a Virginia college’s Innocence Project. Once she is accepted, she is willing to take extreme measures to be assigned to work on the death row case of Michael Dandridge. Which leads to an intriguing question: exactly why does Hannah so desperately want to work on this particular case?

Hannah has long taken care of her alcoholic mother Laura who is quite fragile without her daughter by her side. Hannah is smart and offers a bit of a different viewpoint than the other students she is working with on the Dandridge case. She is also willing to take risks that put not only herself, but others, in danger. They uncover shocking information but will they learn enough details in time for an upcoming motion trial?

The Murder Rule is an engrossing mystery that moves at a fast pace. Hannah is an interesting character who believes she is doing the right thing, but can anything justify the actions she is taking? The secondary cast of characters is well-drawn and appealing. Diary entries written in the past alternate with the chapters in the present and prove to be quite fascinating. The storyline is completely enthralling and Dervla McTiernan brings this suspenseful mystery to a twist-filled conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dervla McTiernan, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Murder Rule, William Morrow

Review: Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett

Title: Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 341 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In this “tense, twisting mystery” (Megan Miranda), no one bats an eye when a Black reality TV star is found dead—except her estranged half-sister, whose refusal to believe the official story leads her on a dangerous search for the truth.

“I found out my sister was back in New York from Instagram. I found out she’d died from the New York Daily News.”

When the body of disgraced reality TV star Desiree Pierce is found on a playground in the Bronx the morning after her 25th birthday party, the police and the media are quick to declare her death an overdose. It’s a tragedy, certainly, but not a crime.

But Desiree’s half-sister Lena Scott knows that can’t be the case. A graduate student at Columbia, Lena has spent the past decade forging her own path far from the spotlight, but some facts about Desiree just couldn’t have changed since their childhood. And Desiree would never travel above 125th Street. So why is no one listening to her?

Despite the bitter truth that the two haven’t spoken in two years, torn apart by Desiree’s partying and by their father, Mel, a wealthy and influential hip-hop mogul, Lena becomes determined to find justice for her sister, even if it means untangling her family’s darkest secrets—or ending up dead herself.

Review:

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett is a compelling murder mystery.

Lena Scott has been estranged from her half-sister Desiree Pierce for the last two years. When Desiree turns up dead close to her home, Lena has plenty of regrets but she is also certain her sister was murdered. With the police putting out minimal effort, she begins searching for answer on her own. Lena jumps right into Desiree’s messy life in hopes of finding her sister’s killer.

Lena is smart, independent and tenacious as refuses to back off during the police investigation. She is sometimes a little too stubborn but she will do anything, including talking to their absentee father, Mel Pierce, to find out the truth. Lena is frustrated by her lack of progress so she reluctantly allows her sister’s friend, Erin Ambrose, to assist her.

Like a Sister is a suspenseful mystery with a cast of diverse characters. Lena is realistically drawn character who is flawed yet immensely appealing. The secondary cast of characters is interesting and rather memorable. The storyline is engrossing and moves at a brisk pace. With shocking twists and jaw-dropping turns, Kellye Garrett brings this captivating mystery to a stunning conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kellye Garrett, Like a Sister, Mystery, Rated B+, Review

Review: What Remains True by Nancy Naigle

Title: What Remains True by Nancy Naigle
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 332 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

An uplifting novel about three months that may change three lives—and lead to love—from USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle

Working at a little shop on Main Street in a small town is exactly the break that executive Merry Anna Foster needs following her divorce. She’s made a bet with her ex-husband that she can live on the amount of money she’s giving him in alimony. If she can do it, then Kevin will have to stop complaining and leave her alone. But after three months of this new life, will she even want to leave Antler Creek?

Adam Locklear, bull rider and owner of the local feedstore, is having the best year of his rodeo career. He’s also a bit distracted by the pretty new neighbor living in his old bunkhouse. But Adam has no time for matters of the heart. He’s got his future all mapped out, and that future doesn’t involve a woman just yet. It doesn’t involve parenting a little girl either. However, Carly Fowler still suddenly leaves five-year-old Zan—the daughter Adam didn’t know he had—in his care.

Is it possible that the future holds a life even better than what Merry Anna and Adam had each dreamed of? One that includes both tenderness and even love—not just for each other but for Zan too.

Review:

What Remains True by Nancy Naigle is a sweet, wholesome romance with a lovely undercurrent of faith.

Merry Anna Foster is post-divorce and unexpectedly finding herself loving the small town she impulsively settled in after a brief stop. She is making wonderful friendships and finding personal satisfaction with her retail sales position in a local business. Merry Anna is not looking for romance but she is discovering love has a way of finding her despite her initial lack of interest.

Adam Locklear is a bull rider who is having the best season of his career. He is single-mindedly focused on winning the gold buckle at the looming championship finals. Not wanting any distractions, Adam is avoiding personal entanglements. He is very surprised by his inability to stop thinking about Merry Anna. Misunderstandings plague the couple when their friendship gradually turns to romance.

What Remains True is a sparkling romance with an idyllic setting. Merry Anna and Adam are vibrant characters whose personal baggage threatens to derail their burgeoning relationship. Both characters undergo realistic growth as their feelings for one another deepen. The secondary cast of characters is absolutely delightful. The storyline is engaging and moves at an even pace. Despite late in the story conflict,  Nancy Naigle brings this captivating novel to a heartfelt conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Nancy Naigle, Rated B+, Review, WaterBrook, What Remains True, Women's Fiction

Review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day

Title: Magpie by Elizabeth Day
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Contemporary, Doestic Thriller
Length: 332 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, a taut, psychological suspense novel about a perfect couple and their seemingly perfect roommate—that is until she threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create.

Marisa and Jake are a perfect couple. And Kate, their new lodger, is the perfect roommate—and not just because her rent payments will give them the income they need to start trying for the baby of their dreams.

Except—no one is truly perfect. Sure, Kate doesn’t seem to care much about personal boundaries and can occasionally seem overly-familiar with Jake. But Marisa doesn’t let it concern her, knowing that soon Kate will be gone, and it will just be her, Jake, and their future baby.

Conceiving a baby is easier said than done, though, and Jake and Marisa’s perfect relationship is put to the test through months of fertility treatments and false starts. To make matters worse, Kate’s boundary-pushing turns into an all-out obsession—with Jake, with Marisa, and with their future child. Who is this woman? Why does she seem to know everything about Marisa and Jake?

In her quest to find out who Kate really is, Marisa might destroy everything she’s worked so hard to create—her perfect romance, her perfect family, and her perfect self.

Jake doesn’t know the half of what Marisa has created—and what she stands to lose.

For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, Magpie is a tense and twisting novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Review:

Magpie by Elizabeth Day is a wickedly clever domestic thriller.

Twenty-eight-year-old Marisa Grover has finally hit the jackpot with her in relationship with thirty-nine-year-old Jake Sturridge.  She quickly moves in with him following a whirlwind romance and soon falls pregnant. But when Jake announces their new lodger, Kate Stewart, is moving in, Marisa begins harbor suspicions about his fidelity. But are her instincts correct?

The storyline for this domestic thriller is incredibly well-written and full of unexpected twists. The first half of the story is narrated from Marisa’s viewpoint but then switches to Kate’s perspective.  It is absolutely fascinating and enlightening to see the differences in the women’s narration. Jake’s mother Annabelle is an interesting, albeit frustrating addition to the cast of characters.

Magpie is an extremely captivating domestic thriller that is fast-paced. Readers will appreciate Elizabeth Day’s breath-taking twists and turns. Highly recommend.

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Filed under Domestic Thriller, Elizabeth Day, Magpie, Rated B+, Review, Simon & Schuster Inc

Review: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

An indie musician reeling from tragedy reconnects with her estranged father on a week-long cruise in this tale of grief, fame, and love from bestselling author Jennifer E. Smith.

Greta James’s meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start–but not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, saw only a precarious life ahead for his daughter.

Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong, but three months after Helen’s sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

This could be the James family’s last chance to heal old wounds and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta’s mother adored, and he captures Greta’s attention after her stre pak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her.

Review:

The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith is a humorous yet poignant novel.

Greta James reluctantly agrees to join her father, Conrad, on an Alaskan cruise. She is an Indie musician who was closer to her mother who unexpectedly passed away. Greta and her father’s relationship is fraught due to his lack of support for her career. Their time together on the cruise is uneasy as they navigate their grief and tense moments between them. Luckily Greta has become friends with Ben Wilder who is also dealing with life-altering change. With a mutual attraction flaring between them, is there any chance for a future together once the cruise ends?

Without her mother to buffer their relationship, Greta and Conrad will have to come to terms with their painful past if they want to be part of each other’s lives.  Letting go of their hurt and resentment will take time but neither finds it easy to discuss what is wrong between them. Greta and Ben’s unanticipated friendship provides her the opportunity to escape the tension with her father.

The Unsinkable Greta James is a thought-provoking journey of healing. The characters are well-drawn with relatable issues to overcome. The storyline is engaging with beautiful scenery that springs vibrantly to life. Jennifer E. Smith brings this heartwarming novel to an uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Ballantine Books, Contemporary, Jennifer E Smith, Rated B+, Review, The Unsinkable Greta James, Women's Fiction