2020 Book #36 – A Woman Alone by Nina Laurin

Title: A Woman Alone
Author: Nina Laurin
Date finished: 6/7/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
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:

A house with the darkest of secrets.
A woman who is the only one who knows.

It’s another bright, sunny day in Venture, Illinois, the sort of place where dreams come true and families can get a fresh start. Cecelia Holmes deserves it after the home invasion that shattered her previous life. Now everything seems perfect – her high-security SmartHome, her doting husband, her sweet daughter.

Until she begins to feel spied on. Her husband doesn’t believe her. Her neighbors ignore her. So when she discovers a shocking secret about the prior occupant of their house, she feels that she has no one to turn to. And now Cecelia must face her fears alone…

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 read other books by Nina Laurin in the past and enjoyed them, and I’ve seen a lot of media attention for this book coming out. In this world of ever increasing technology, the overarching presence and control of our technology can create and instill fear in many. And it was this fear that was developed and overtook Cecilia, to the point where she was afraid to stay in her own house. Which is entirely understandable considering her house fed her bleach at one point. The event that instigated her to move into this gated community is really the driving point behind this novel. The plot twist in this book was pretty good, though overall it was just so depressing. And gosh did I just hate Scott (Cecilia’s husband). I can’t blame Cecilia for what she did to be honest because Scott was just so shitty. And Jessica was a psycho. Overall I liked the book and the plot twist at the end upped the score for me a bit, I’d recommend giving it a try!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #34 – Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Title: Fake Like Me
Author: Barbara Bourland
Date finished: 6/7/20
Genre: Fiction, general fiction, suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Pages in book: 355
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from Grand Central Publishing 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 critically acclaimed author Barbara Bourland, comes an “impressively intelligent thriller,” nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, about a young painter who tracks the mysterious life and death of her role model, uncovering strange secrets that lead to the truth of her demise (Refinery29).

After a fire rips through her loft, destroying the seven billboard-size paintings meant for her first major exhibition, a young painter is left with an impossible task: recreate the lost artworks in just three months without getting caught — or ruin her fledgling career. Homeless and desperate, she begs her way into Pine City, an exclusive retreat in upstate New York notorious for three things: outrageous revelries, glamorous artists, and the sparkling black lake where brilliant prodigy Carey Logan drowned herself.

Taking up residence in Carey’s former studio, the painter works with obsessive, delirious focus. But when she begins to uncover strange secrets at Pine City and falls hard for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, a single thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

My rating:  2.75 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 honestly don’t remember requesting this book so I hadn’t been eager to read it yet. However it seemed like a great book to tackle on my Maine trip! And I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it. The mystery piece of the plot was very interesting and the plot twist at the end was pretty surprising. Overall the book really made me consider the intricacies of relationships and how complex they are. The whole artist and art creating process added another interesting facet to the story, but it’s not necessarily something that really captures me personally. There was a lot of detail about the artistry process and I’m glad I learned a little more about it but I still didn’t love it. Some parts of the book were a little slow for me and the ending also felt ill-fitting with the rest of the story for me, but I still enjoyed the book overall!

Link to author’s website

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

2020 Book #30 – Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

Title: Salvation Station
Author: Katrhyn Schleich
Date finished: 5/19/20
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Pages in book: 328
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing
NOTE: I received this book for free from  Library Thing 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:

Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.

In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.

Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.

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 haven’t read anything by this author before but I was intrigued by the cover on this book and by the description. I am really glad I requested it because I really enjoyed it. The plot line of this book was really interesting and I enjoyed the suspense of the story. The characters I thought could’ve been developed a tad more but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I really liked getting Susannah’s point of view at the end of the story and I just thought that the “creepiness factor” could’ve been a little higher if we had gotten her POV more throughout the book. I overall really liked that the book featured a woman serial killer since that is seen less in media and it was a really interesting story. I liked how the author tied in all the different pieces of the story also – I didn’t see at first how Ruth & Emma’s story fit into the grand plan but by the end it was all connected and made sense. Overall I really liked this book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #29 – The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Title: The Accidental Beauty Queen
Author: Teri Wilson
Date finished: 5/17/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Pages in book: 305
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 this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

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 read this book as part of Bout of Books 28.

I hadn’t had a chance to read this when it came out back in 2018 but I had originally requested it because it sounded very interesting and the cover is so cute. I’ve never read anything by this author before but this book was great! This book was a perfect blend of Miss Congeniality, The Parent Trap, and Pride and Prejudice. There were so many great bookish references – lots of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice references. This is a great read for a book lover! Overall it was a really sweet story and the plot line was well constructed and implemented. I thought that the ending all wrapped up a little quickly though. There was a lot of emotional growing that Charlotte went through during the book and I would’ve liked to witness more of the confrontation / result with Charlotte and her parents and also Ginny. This book was just so fun and entertaining, I really enjoyed it and I would recommend reading it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #28 – Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia

Title: Strike Me Down
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 5/15/20
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Pages in book: 348
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley / Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley / 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:

From the critically acclaimed author of Leave No Trace, the “nail-biting page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go” (The Real Book Spy), comes a visceral thriller where a high stakes crime triggers a woman’s complicated and potentially deadly search for the truth.

Nora Trier catches thieves. As a forensic accountant and partner in her downtown Minneapolis firm, she’s unearthed millions in every corner of the world. She prides herself on her independence, the most essential currency of accounting, until her firm is hired by Strike.

An anti-corporate, feminist athletic empire, Strike is owned by Logan Russo, a brash and legendary kickboxer, and her marketing genius husband, Gregg Abbott. They’re about to host a major kickboxing tournament with twenty million dollars in prize money, and the chance for the champion to become the new face of the company. Gregg suspects his wife already has a new face in mind—a young trainer named Aaden, for whom Logan feels an unexpected connection.

Days before the tournament begins, it’s discovered that the prize money is missing. Gregg hires Nora’s firm to find both the thief and the money but Nora has a secret connection to Strike that threatens her independence. Her partner pressures her into taking the case anyway, hinting he has information about Strike that could change the course of the investigation in a shocking and deadly way.

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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 read this as part of Bout of Books 28.

I have read other books by this author in the past and have always enjoyed them. And I have to say – this book was pretty perfect for me since it’s about a CPA! And there are a couple funny anecdotes included that made me giggle (included below).  This was a solid mystery, it had me guessing pretty much right up to the end. I thought there was going to be more of a “reveal” so there was a small disappointment when the plot twist wasn’t quite as twisty as I’d expected. Overall though the whole plot was good and I thought it was well paced, I was interested throughout the book. I didn’t understand the vagueness on why her team was crying about Corbett, and it said they knew something she didn’t, but I can’t remember if we ever found out what that thing is. Also the ending was a little too vague for me. Was there something romantic going on between Nora and Logan? It was a little unclear to me and left it up a little to the reader but I wouldn’t liked it to be a little more definitive. Other than those couple things though it was a really good book and I really enjoyed it. Especially being an accountant myself (and being the dorky kind where I actually like accounting) it was exciting to see an accountant as the main character and topic of the story! And I didn’t even realize that the author is a CPA herself, how fun. I would definitely recommend!!

FUN Quotes from the book

“Among accountants, there was no judgment like spreadsheet judgment.” (This is 100% true)

(This is a long one but so funny) “A business owner was looking to hire a manager and he interviewed each candidate with a simple question: ‘How much is 2+2?’ The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, finally announcing, ‘It lies between 3.98 and 4.02.’ The mathematician said, ‘In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with the following short proof.’ The psychologist said, ‘It’s not for me to answer, but we should spend some time exploring the question.’ The attorney stated, ‘In the case of Swenson v. the State, 2+2 was declared to be 4.’ The accountant looked at the business owner, got out of his chair, and closed the office door. Then he leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, ‘How much would you like it to be?'”

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #24 – The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Title: The Honey-Don’t List
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/8/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Pages in book: 318
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:

Carey Duncan has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

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 love Christina Lauren’s books. Each of them is great in their own way but overall they are all wonderful and heart warming. This book was a lot less emotionally driven than some books in the past by this author, but it was in no way less entertaining. The characters and the plot were interesting and kept me reading and not wanting to put the book down. Carey was such a sweetheart and there was nothing about her character that I didn’t love. The chemistry between her and James seemed so genuine and so perfectly developed. There wasn’t anything that I could pinpoint about this book that I did not like, it was light and fun and a great read. It didn’t tug on my heart strings all that much but I think this one was meant to be a lighter read than some of the other novels by these authors. It was still full of Christina Lauren’s trademark personality and fun of their novels. This was exactly what I needed to read right now, I greatly enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #22 – Woman on the Edge by Samantha Bailey

Title: Woman on the Edge
Author: Samantha Bailey
Date finished: 5/3/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Pages in book: 271
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 total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.”

She places her child in your arms. She says your name.

Then she jumps…

In a split second, Morgan Kincaid’s life changes forever. She’s on her way home from work when a mother begs her to take her baby, then places the infant in her arms. Before Morgan can stop her, the distraught mother jumps in front of an oncoming train.

Morgan has never seen this woman before, and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life. She also can’t understand how this woman knew her name.

The police take Morgan in for questioning. She soon learns that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She also learns that no witness can corroborate her version of events, which means she’s just become a murder suspect.

To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically retraces the last days of Nicole’s life. Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia or was she in danger? When strange things start happening to Morgan, she suddenly realizes she might be in danger, too.

Woman on the Edge is a pulse-pounding, propulsive thriller about the lengths to which a woman will go to protect her baby—even if that means sacrificing her own life.

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 thought the premise behind this book sounded really good and I thought it was originally supposed to come out in March 2020 but it looks like it came out in November 2019! This is a debut thriller and I thought it was really well done for a first novel. I could feel the paranoia overtaking me right along with Nicole and Morgan, I felt like I should be looking over my shoulder for the killer! I mean overall the book was sad but I thought the plot line was great and really interesting. The book was kind of short but I liked that things weren’t drawn out too much. The book was really well paced and I stayed interested throughout the book. I liked the ending a lot too – I felt so bad for Morgan and what she went though so I was happy to see her with Ben at the end (**spoiler alert**). The plot was a little predictable towards the end but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all – I still really liked the book overall. This book was a thrilling adventure and I’d definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #18 – Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

Title: Marriage on Madison Avenue
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 4/26/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages in book: 285
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Central Park Pact series
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:

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

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’ve read other books by this author in the past and really enjoyed them. I hadn’t read any of the books in this series so far but luckily there was some crossover and I got to see Alexis again from To Love and to Cherish. I am tempted to read the other two in this Central Park series also as the characters are so fun and entertaining to read about. I love the three main ladies: Claire, Naomi, and Audrey and the way their friendship came about is so different and unusual. Audrey and Clarke were very endearing characters, they were both so sweet and had such a great friendship from the start that it is difficult for the reader to not be rooting for them. I really enjoyed reading their story, it made me feel many things but the main one was happiness. There were some pieces of it that were a little predictable but nothing too annoying. And it was just such a touching story with entertaining characters and a romantic plot line, it was hard to find anything not to like! Clarke was necessarily my favorite hero but he was sweet and he proved in the end that he really cared for Audrey. This was an entertaining and quick read – I’d definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #17 – Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Title: Love Her or Lose Her
Author: Tessa Bailey
Date finished: 4/24/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Pages in book: 347
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Hot and Hammered series
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:

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippie. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

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 heard a lot of good things about this author’s previous novel Fix Her Up. It was a very popular novel last year so I wanted to try reading the upcoming release (which is now a few months in the past). Bailey’s voice as an author was playful and endearing and if the previous book was anything like this one I can see why it was so popular. I procrastinated on reading this for awhile since I wasn’t sure how I felt about a romance novel featuring an already married couple whose marriage is on the rocks. And when I did start reading the novel, some of it hit a little too close to home for me: husband in the marines, comes home and can’t communicated how his tour in Afghanistan and subsequent return to civilian life is affecting him, and overall just a couple that has trouble communicating. Some of the emotions it brought out in me weren’t necessarily good ones but holy monkeys this book brought out so many emotions. The author did an amazing job of drawing the reader into the story and trapping them in the minds of the characters and their lives. I didn’t want to put it down, I felt so invested in the characters. Some pieces of the story didn’t feel realistic to be and/or they felt a little cliched but overall I really enjoyed the book so much – I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #16 – Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher

Title: Not That Kind of Guy
Author: Andie J. Christopher
Date finished: 4/22/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Pages in book: 334
Stand alone or series: #2 in the series (#1 was Not the Girl You Marry)
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:

An office attraction becomes something more when they’re off the clock in this delightful romantic comedy by the USA Today bestselling author of Not the Girl You Marry.

State attorney Bridget Nolan is successful in all aspects of her life—except romance. After breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, she’s been slow to reenter the dating scene. To be honest, she has more important things to do like putting bad guys behind bars. But with her brother’s wedding right around the corner, she suddenly needs a date and fast. Lucky for Bridget, the legal intern is almost done with his program.

Matt Kido is dumbstruck by Bridget—total love at first sight—but there’s one problem. She’s totally off-limits while she’s his boss. But the moment he no longer reports to her, Matt decides to take a chance. An impulsive decision takes them to Las Vegas where, as the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Unless you put a ring on it.

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 the previous book, Not the Girl You Marry, and while I liked it I didn’t love it – mostly because I don’t love the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days which is what the book was loosely based on. But I really wanted to read this one and I’m so glad I did – it was so good! The chemistry between the two main characters was outstanding – jumping off the page emotional thrill ride. The character does an amazing job of drawing the reader into the emotions of the story, I felt my palms sweating with that feeling of intense can’t contain it infatuation and also my heart broke right along with both Bridget and Matt when they struggled to work things out. The plot line was interesting and the characters were all so entertaining. There were some parts of the story that didn’t quite click for me but it didn’t deter my enjoyment of the story at all. I still really enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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