2021 Book #25 – The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Drowning Kind
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Date finished: 4/7/21
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have been wanting to read something by this author for awhile and honestly have some books by her in my backlog that I just haven’t gotten to yet but I finally got to read one. This author has gotten a lot of buzz in the last couple years and now I can see why. This book was haunting. It was really a very interesting book that had many layers – not only a thriller but a look into a dysfunctional family and mental health issues. I loved too that the present day narrator starts to lose it a little and the reader is left to wonder how reliable her version of events really is. And I really liked that the story alternated between present day and 1929 – giving the history behind the springs really added to the foreboding of the overall story. I had chills while reading this book and I was definitely on the edge of my seat to find out what would happen. There were some great plot twists along the way, including a big one that I still can’t believe. Overall I really enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #15 – The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Title: The Last House Guest
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 3/23/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Pages in book: 353
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley & Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley & Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The summer after a wealthy young summer guest dies under suspicious circumstances, her best friend lives under a cloud of grief and suspicion in this “clever, stylish mystery that will seize readers like a riptide” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) featuring “dizzying plot twists and multiple surprise endings” (The New York Times Book Review).

Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.

Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her.

Another thrilling novel from the bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger, Megan Miranda’s The Last House Guest is a smart, twisty read with a strong female protagonist determined to make her own way in the world.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have liked other books by this author in the past and while there were parts of this one that I did like, overall it wasn’t my favorite of hers. It was pretty slow and I had trouble staying interested in the story. The ending was definitely the best part of the book – I didn’t see it coming who the killer ended up being, and usually I’m pretty good at predicting it. So the surprise killers are always really exciting for me. But the rest of the book wasn’t especially exciting for me. I am not sure if it was just timing on a personal level – since I have been very busy with work so this spread out over almost a month – but it just wasn’t my favorite. I think it’s still worth a read, especially if you’re looking for an out of the blue killer.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #23 – Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford

Title: Nothing Like a Duke
Author: Jane Ashford
Date finished: 3/27/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: The Duke’s Sons series #4
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A Pink of the ton and a bluestocking can have nothing in common. Except an incendiary attraction, a sinister enemy, and a determination to discover why they can’t resist each other.

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful and independent Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about the beauty haunting his thoughts.

Too bad the lady in question has no intention of being forgotten.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have been wanting to read this book for quite a while and finally got a chance while trying to catch up on my backlog! This was a sweet story and I did enjoy the read. I was a little lost at first – the beginning starts off with Robert and Flora already at odds with each other and I just didn’t understand what had caused their discord. It’s resolved fairly quickly though and there are enough references that I understood the context so it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. I especially enjoyed Flora’s character in this novel. So often the hero in these novels is the one being stubborn and who needs to come around so it was refreshing to see Flora’s journey to learn how to compromise and meet Robert halfway. I thought the whole situation was handled really well too. Plus I loved how intellectual Flora was. Overall the book had an interesting cast of characters and was a sweet and entertaining read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #21 – The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Title: The Night Olivia Fell
Author: Christina McDonald
Date finished: 3/18/21
Genre: Supsense, mystery
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 313
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Do No Harm and Behind Every Lie comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heart-wrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested this book awhile ago (over two years ago at this point) because it sounded interested but I didn’t get the chance to read it until now. I thought this was a pretty good book, it kept me guessing throughout which is kind of the point! I just felt so bad through the whole book for Olivia and Abi – it was heartbreaking reading their story and knowing that Olivia would never wake up. It was a solid mystery though, and had a good cast of suspects. I kept flip flopping on who I thought the killer was. I really liked that the story was told through alternating points of view between Olivia leading up to the event and Abi after the event. This version of storytelling for this specific plot was perfect and created more tension while also giving important pieces of the plot to the reader. I thought this book was also a great portrayal of a mother’s love in different forms. Abi’s love from her mother and older sister, her love for Olivia, and Olivia’s brief experience also (**spoiler I think?**) – all of these came together to give an overwhelming depiction of a mother’s love for her child. Overall I enjoyed the book and I’d recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #19 – The Girls at 17 Swann Street

Title: The Girls at 17 Swann Street
Author: Yara Zgheib
Date finished: 3/7/21
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life.


The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested this book awhile ago (over two years ago at this point) because it sounded interested but I didn’t get the chance to read it until now. This book brought up so many emotions for me. I’ve never experienced the struggle of having anorexia but it seemed like an accurate representation of what those with anorexia must actually deal with. It becomes almost like an addition that they must overcome – and they have to recondition themselves to love their bodies, but they also have to struggle with this for years. The sense of hopelessness that Anna experienced was so heart-breaking – watching what her and the other girls in the house went through. I tend to struggle with eating too much and the guilt that comes from that so I could understand some of the emotions and struggles that Anna went through dealing with her internal demons. A lot of the book was just such an emotional upheaval for the reader – it was a very moving story that ended with feelings of hope. Overall it was a good book and I really enjoyed it. Definitely emotional but I’d still recommend!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #16 – 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

Title: 29 Seconds
Author: T.M. Logan
Date finished: 2/26/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Pages in book: 355
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From T.M. Logan, the bestselling author of Lies, comes 29 Seconds, a sensational new thriller that explores what happens when a split second thought of revenge takes on a life of its own.


“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne. A renowned scholar and television host, Hawthorne rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, Sarah is left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve heard a lot about this author in recent years and have been meaning to read his books for awhile. And with this being the first book I’ve read by him, I have to say I had mixed feelings about it. It was definitely thrilling – it had my heart pounding the whole time and I did not want to put it down, I had to find out what was going to happen. At the same time, it made me so overwhelmingly angry. The fact that Sarah put up with that kind of harrassment for so long, no matter what the situation was, was ridiculous to me. I’m not sure if that’s just my “privilege” showing that I’ve never even remotely been in a situation like that, but I can’t imagine myself being put into a situation like that and letting it continue. First off, the second I told my husband about it he’d be doing something about it – and I know Sarah didn’t have that kind of support but that still doesn’t help me quite understand. Alan was a despicable, detestable creature and I wanted so badly for NUMEROUS bad things to happen to him. I felt like he kind of got off light to be honest. There were some good plot twists – really good ones that I didn’t see coming if I’m being honest. So I’d still recommend it but it made me feel too icky for me to like it more than I did.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #14 – Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Title: Love at First
Author: Kate Clayborn
Date finished: 2/20/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore.
 
Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .
 
No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve come to really enjoy this author’s books lately. They are always so full of the emotional and over the top romance that really is one of the reasons I’m drawn to romance novels in the first place. Readers will be swept up by the emotions in this story too – as both Will and Nora have their own emotional baggage to deal with outside of the struggle that is falling in love. Some parts of the overall premise in this book didn’t work for me on a personal level just because of where I am in life. Nora is having trouble letting go of the way things were and making any changes at all to her apartment complex or getting rid of anything from her grandmother’s apartment that was left to her. And I’m at a point where I’m trying so hard to shed things and downsize what we need to hold onto that the idea of Nora’s struggle didn’t make logical sense to me. This was a personal thing though and honestly shouldn’t take away from anyone else’s enjoyment of the book. It was very well written and was so very romantic. Lots of tension leading up to Will and Nora finally admitting they have feelings for each other. And lots of quirky / funny side characters that really made the book so charming and enjoyable! I did really like this book and I’d definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #12 – Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch

Title: Hit Me With Your Best Scot
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 2/11/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Wild Wicked Highlanders series #3
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Coll MacTaggert, Viscount Glendarril, is a big, brawny Highlander who doesn’t like being told what to do—not even by his exasperated English mother who is determined to see her eldest son wedded and bedded. However, when he comes to the rescue of an irresistibly beautiful woman, Coll discovers that he may have found his perfect match…

The challenge isn’t that Persephone Jones is famous, wealthy, independent, and smarter than anyone he knows. The problem is that she isn’t interested in marrying any man—especially not a hot-headed Scot—even if he is the only man who seems to understand who she really is even when she’s not sure herself. When Coll learns that Persephone is actually a lady-in-hiding and someone is willing to kill her for what she stands to inherit…Well, Coll has never been one to turn down a fight. When hearts are involved, nothing comes between a Highlander and his lady.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read the other books in this series so far and I was really interested to see how the series would conclude. Coll’s character through the beginning of the series was the most stubborn and I couldn’t imagine what kind of lady he would find that would really suit him. An actress was the perfect fit though and I loved the Persephone matched him so well. That being said (**spoiler alert**) I did wish that she was only an actress and not also a lady in disguise. I know that may have been less than historically accurate but I think it would’ve been a better fit for Coll’s character and his obstinance. And honestly after seeing the struggle that Anthony and his actress went through on the Bridgerton show, it would’ve been nice to see an actress win one. But still the story was still nice and I enjoyed the romance of it. The family aspect of it was still a little bit of a struggle for me (as it was in the previous books) since I don’t love what the mother did, leaving her sons and taking the daughter with her and then also forcing them all to play her games later in life. I know we learn in this book that she had written letters but still you don’t wait 17 years for your kid to respond to a letter – you go and see your kids. I struggled with that piece a bit. Overall the book was still really good though – I enjoyed Coll very much as a character and his devotion to Persephone. I didn’t love that he immediately started calling her Temperance as soon as he found out her secret. I felt like it would’ve been nicer to have him keep calling her Persie. It was still a really good story and a cute romance.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #10 – The Survivors by Jane Harper

Title: The Survivors
Author: Jane Harper
Date finished: 1/28/21
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Pages in book: 379
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read another of Jane Harpers books in the past and found it intriguing so I was interested in participating in BookBrowse’s book discussion for this book. I’m glad I did too, because the discussion around the book has been really very engaging and though-provoking. There was a lot of stuff happening all at once with the plot – at certain points it was almost hard to keep track – but the co-mingling pieces all seemed to make sense in the end. Even with all the different things going on, there were a few points that still felt a little slow to me. I think my favorite parts of the book were with Kiernan and his interactions with his mother and dealing with the emotional traumas from their past. That and his relationship with Mia and his daughter and how that changed his view of events from now and the past. I enjoyed the book, though I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites just because of the slow pieces but I’ve been really enjoying the discussion. I think this is a great book club pick and overall a good book!

Link to author website

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2021 Book #7 – Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands

Title: Highland Treasure
Author: Lynsay Sands
Date finished: 1/15/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Pages in book: 366
Stand alone or series: #9 in the Highland Brides series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A Buchanan brother finds a love to treasure in this scintillating historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

After escaping from the English soldiers who attacked her home and imprisoned her in a dungeon, Lady Elysande de Valance is grateful for the rugged Scots who are escorting her to safety in the Highlands. Even with danger dogging their every step, she hadn’t expected to welcome the strong comforting embrace of their leader, Rory Buchanan. They say he’s a healer, but she finds the heat of his touch does so much more…

Let his brothers get married—Rory is too busy tending to the sick to be bothered with wooing a bride. But when he is tasked with accompanying a family friend’s “treasure” to the Highlands, he is surprised to learn the treasure is a beautiful woman on the run—and even more surprised to discover bruises hidden by her veil. Rory makes it his mission to tend to her injuries and protect her, but the thought of losing her makes him realize that perhaps it is his heart that is most in need of healing…

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book really kicked off with an intense start. Intensely tragic obviously but it also really captivates the reader right from the beginning and really makes the reader want to see how Elysande is able to survive this. There was a lot of set up involved in her story though and it almost took some away from the romance because we don’t even get to the romantic side of things until like half way the book. Which is interesting because the development of the story started out really strong for me in the first half but then it got a little slow for me and somewhat repetitive. I think it was just that there was so much detail included that it started to feel slow at some points just with the amount of details. Overall though it was a good book. I didn’t want to put it down as I was really intrigued by the plot – just not the romance plot.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page