2020 Book #46 – Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Title: Beautiful Bad
Author: Annie Ward
Date finished: 6/9/21
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense
Publisher: Park Row
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Pages in book: 317
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:

In the tradition of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train comes a riveting psychological thriller about a devoted wife, a loving husband, and a chilling crime that will stun even the cleverest readers.


It seemed like such a beautiful marriage…

Maddie and Ian’s love story began at a party overseas, while she was visiting her best friend, Jo. Now, almost two decades later, they are married with a beautiful son and living the perfect American life. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian, her concerns for her safety, and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the electric streets of the Balkans to a quiet suburb in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion, culminate in the Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime. Twisty and utterly original, Beautiful Bad shows that appearances are deceptive and even the most seemingly perfect couples have something to hide.

My rating:  3.25 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 am pretty excited to say that this is the last of my 2019 backlog books! I had originally requested this book because it sounded pretty interesting. And I was interested in the story – I liked the structure of the book and how it switched between the past and the present to tell the story. Maddie as a character was.. interesting. She was a little bat-shit crazy, but then again it seemed like a lot of the characters were kind of crazy. I just felt bad for Charlie with having to grow up with all these kooks. I was pretty on board with the story line I guess until the plot twist towards the end. It was a good plot twist, don’t get me wrong. It definitely wasn’t one that I was fully expecting. But at the same time it was not one that I was really excited about, to be honest I found it pretty depressing. It left me feeling unsettled even after the book’s ending was resolved. This one wasn’t exactly for me but overall it was still a good book and I would recommend it, especially if you like thrillers / suspense books.

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

2021 Book #44 – The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Title: The Turnout
Author: Megan Abbott
Date finished: 6/4/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from 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:

Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott’s revelatory and mesmerizing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio.

With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were homeschooled and trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student.

Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, sidelined from dancing after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around one another, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker—a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration—an interloper arrives and threatens the sisters’ delicate balance.

Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

My rating: 2.0 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 read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed them. The author has an interesting way of telling a story. And that is consistent with this novel as well. As the reader you can see the layers of the story that the author is weaving together. This book was complicated for me because it was complex, twisted and dark and I could see the mastery of the plot line but it just wasn’t one that I enjoyed. It was a little too perverse for me and made me feel icky. And some pieces of the plot frustrated me because if some crap like that was happening to me with the contractor I’d be calling the police or the Better Business Bureau or whoever I needed to call to get that asshole out of there. He was entirely inappropriate and he’d be fired within a day if it were up to me. Dara’s character was fascinating to me but it still felt like she just let a lot of things happen to her and that’s not what I’m about. Overall I think this book was really twist and interesting but it just wasn’t for me personally.

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

2021 Book #38 – Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Title: Never Have I Ever
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Date finished: 5/13/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 359
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from 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:

In this game, even winning can be deadly…

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

My rating: 2.5 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 heard a lot of buzz about this book around when it was published, though I didn’t get a chance to read it when it originally came out a couple years ago. With as much as I heard about the book, I was surprised that I didn’t like it more. I think my issue was more of a personal problem with the story line. I found the book so frustrating – it was so tension filled and the author did a great job of really driving the readers emotions in the book. It just didn’t work for me personally because it so filled with negativity and hate and it really made me feel uncomfortable. Amy was a child when she made mistakes and I thought it was so awful that it was still being held against her. The ending made me even more mad because it was icky. It was definitely an unexpected twist but it made me feel just unclean. Overall this wasn’t my favorite book but there were a lot of unexpected plot twists – I can definitely see why this was a popular novel, it just wasn’t the right one for me.

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

2021 Book #28 – The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Invited
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Date finished: 4/12/21
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Pages in book: 347
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 chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.

My rating:  4.75 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 have heard a lot of buzz about this author in the past and having read another book of hers recently (The Drowning Kind) I wanted to catch up on some of her past releases. I really liked this one so much – more than The Drowning Kind even. There were some aspects of the two books that were similar even: both set in Vermont, both featured water as part of the plot, and both were about ghosts! But I ended up liking this one so much better  – I think it was because of the interwoven stories of Hattie’s family throughout and how each descendant’s untimely demise was revealed to the reader. It was gruesome but enthralling. As far as characters go, I thought Olive was a little annoying at first but she really grew on me. Nate stayed pretty annoying throughout. I liked that he came around at the end but he was self-important throughout the whole book. Helen’s character really interested me with her love of history and her drive to help Hattie. The plot in this one was very good – there were some great plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I loved how all the various plot areas came together in pieces that made complete sense at the end. I would definitely recommend it, was a great and spooky read!

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

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 #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 #4 – In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce

Title: In the Garden of Spite
Author: Camille Bruce
Date finished: 1/4/21
Genre: Historical fiction, thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 473
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:

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

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 is a little outside of my normal wheel house but it sounded too interesting to pass up! Belle was a fascinating character and I loved this author’s interpretation of her as a person. Her back story was heart-breaking and captivating – what happened to her when she was young defined her in ways that she didn’t even understand. Even as terrible as she was, I weirdly found myself empathizing with her after the ordeal she went through. This book was a little darker than ones I usually read though, and she killed a ton of people. Once we got towards the end of the book I was pretty ready for things to wrap up but overall the book was one I really enjoyed. It was great to read about a famous female serial killer from the Midwest and learn more about that piece of history, even if some pieces of the book were fictionalized. It was an interesting read and I’d recommend it!

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

2020 Book #85 – Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Title: Invisible Girl
Author: Lisa Jewell
Date finished: 11/20/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Pages in book: 365
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:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone returns with an intricate thriller about a young woman’s disappearance and a group of strangers whose lives intersect in its wake.

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct—accusations he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel forums, where he meets a charismatic and mysterious figure.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

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 had read one of Jewell’s other recent releases last year, The Family Upstairs, and really loved it so I was excited to read her most recent release. And this author did not disappoint! This book was really great, it kept me guessing right up until the very end. Literally – the very very end had a great plot twist to it. Saffyre’s character was really complex, she had so many layers and she was such an interesting person to learn about. I was suspicious of Josh but I still really liked the mysteriousness of his character. This book also had some interesting narratives around therapists as human beings – they’re just people like the rest of us and have their own quirks and (in some cases) psychoses. How do therapists like that help people when they have issues themselves that they should be addressing? Anyways, this book was very suspenseful, I didn’t want to put it down and it had my heart racing. The plot was great with lots of layers and lots of twists thrown in there throughout the story. I really enjoyed it and I’d definitely recommend it!

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

2020 Book #80 – One by One by Ruth Ware

Title: One by One
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 11/6/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Pages in book: 383
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:

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

My rating:  5.0 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 other books by this author before – she’s a very popular thriller author – and have enjoyed them so I was excited to read her new release. And wow was this one a good one! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading this – I could barely put it down. The author did such an amazing job of disguising the killer right up until the moment of the reveal. And I loved the alternative viewpoints between Erin and Liz’s characters. The people in the book went through a terrible ordeal, my heart was pounding the whole time. And what Erin endured sounded unimaginable. I’m not sure I would have survived it. The build up of the tension and the overall plot line in this story were fantastic – I loved every minute of it! I would definitely recommend this one, go read it now!

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