2021 Book #75 – Walking the Bones by Randall Salvis

Title: Walking the Bones
Author: Randall Salvis
Date finished: 8/28/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Pages in book: 466
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery 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:

Next in the literary, emotionally propulsive Ryan DeMarco Mystery novels from Randall Silvis, critically acclaimed master of crime fiction.

When long-buried secrets come back to the surface…

The bones of seven young girls, picked clean and carefully preserved, discovered years ago… that’s all Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows about the unsolved crime he has unwittingly been roped into investigating during what is supposed to be a healing road trip with his new love, Jayme.

DeMarco is still reeling from the case that led to death of his best friend months ago and wants nothing more than to lay low. Unfortunately, the small southern town of Jayme’s idyllic youth is not exactly a place that lets strangers go unnoticed—especially strangers who have a history of solving violent crimes. And if there’s anything DeMarco knows, it’s that a killer always leaves clues behind, just waiting for the right person to come along and put all the pieces together…

Walking the Bones is a story about things buried—memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies. Acclaimed author Randall Silvis delivers an investigation as macabre and impenetrable as bone in this new addition to his riveting book series. DeMarco finds himself once again drawn into a case that will demand more of himself than he may be willing to give.

My rating:  1.25 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.

This is outside my normal realm of what I read but I wanted to give it a try. It wasn’t my cup of tea though, there was a lot about the book that I struggled with. The mystery plot itself was pretty good and was interesting to follow along with. Other than that there were some antiquated pieces of the book – the way that the book portrays genders was odd to me. There were some odd descriptions, like when someone was eating it was described as feminine. I didn’t know there was a feminine or masculine way of eating. And Jayme’s character was presented weirdly to me and there were a lot of odd points in her background – specifically the description of her sexual background felt kind of unnecessary to the story line to me. There was also so much description – each new location and person had like two pages of description and it just got to be too much. This wasn’t a great book for me but if you like copy mysteries featuring a mature male then this would be a good read.

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

2021 Book #66 – You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart

Title: You Were Always Mine
Author: Nicole Baart
Date finished: 8/9/21
Genre: Mystery, women’s fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages in book: 385
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:

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.

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 couldn’t put this one down! The plot of this book was so good – the twist ending was not at all what I expected. I loved the little pieces of information disclosed at the start of each chapter from Evan’s patient notes too. I was so intrigued to figure out what the short hand notes meant and how it connected to the story. The whole story was really interesting and thought provoking in terms of adoption, having babies while incarcerated, process of child protective services, etc. Jessica’s emotions leapt off the page and I really felt myself inserted into her heartache. I thought it was so sad that Evan died (**spoiler kind of – you find out pretty early**) before he could reconcile with Jessica though because they did honestly love each other. Overall though this was a great book and I really enjoyed it, I would definitely recommend it!

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

2021 Book #62 – The English Wife by Lauren Willig

Title: The English Wife
Author: Lauren Willig
Date finished: 8/2/21
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Pages in book: 379
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 New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous novel set in the Gilded Age, full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

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 absolutely loved the cover on this novel, and the description sounded interesting. It was a little outside my normal go-to so I was excited to read something different. The book was a little slower than I expected, it was a little wordy and I found that the start of the book took a while to get moving plot wise for me. I struggled a little through the start, but once it got towards the middle of the book things started to pick up and I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. The plot was interesting, there were some good plot twists in the story line. The characters were nuanced. I just found the plot to be a little sad, especially Georgie’s gradual disillusionment of her marriage. I did love the ending though, especially how things ended for Jane. Overall it was a good book and I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t say that I was super thrilling.

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

2021 Book #57 – Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Title: Best Friends Forever
Author: Margot Hunt
Date finished: 7/23/21
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Pages in book: 296
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:

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

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 signed up to review this book awhile ago and finally had the chance to read it. And I ended up really enjoying it! The plot of this book was great – there were some great plot twists that I never saw coming, which is somewhat rare for me. I was pretty shocked at the ending! The characters were well developed and the pacing of the book was well done. I liked that the book was told through alternating passages between present day and the past. I can’t say too much without giving away the ending but overall this was a really good book. I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened. And like I said the plot twists in the end were shocking, if a little dark and twisted. I’d definitely recommend it though!

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 #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 #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

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

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

2020 Book #94 – Truth, Lies and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson

Title: Truth, Lies and Second Dates
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 12/20/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Danger, Sweetheart series 
Where I got the book from: NetGalley / Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley / 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:

Captain Ava Capp has been flying from her past for a decade. She’d much rather leave it, and her home state, behind forever. But when she finds herself back in Minnesota, against her better judgment, everything goes sideways in a way she never expected it to.

M.E. Dr. Tom Baker has never forgotten Ava and the cold case she ran away from. When she shows up unexpectedly in town, in spite of himself, sparks fly. Which is terrible because he can’t stop his growing attraction to her. Can these two Type-A’s let their guards down and work together to put Ava’s tragic past behind her for good? And keep their hands off each other at the same time?

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 historically always really enjoyed Davidson’s books (with a few exceptions) – they’re snarky and sassy and hilarious. I really enjoyed this book, the characters were all so funny. I especially loved Hannah, and having her be a genius level IQ made her precociousness make a lot more sense for a six year old. Ava and Tom were adorable together and I loved their banter. Their chemistry was good but I wouldn’t say it lit the page on fire or anything. Tom’s character was so endearing and interesting – I always love a romance hero who’s on the spectrum and takes everything literally. Honestly all of the characters in this book were very entertaining. There was a lot going on in the book but, as noted in the author’s note, this was kind of done on purpose to make this a trope filled, romance reader’s fun read. I definitely enjoyed it and I’d recommend it!

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