Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Replacement Wife, 12/28/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane!
Expected Release: December 28, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • 1 I guess I’ve become interested in domestic thrillers a little bit, considering that I’ve actually read a few of them in the past year. They do seem to be kind of shades of the same (usually some secret about the wife… or wives….) but I’m reading them nonetheless.
  • The idea that this one is about a woman trying to figure out if her brother in law has been murdering his multiple girlfriends / wives makes me think of those episodes of Forensic Files where this happens. By which I mean, the plot sounds real which is freaky and compelling.
  • AND YET: the blurb also hints at the idea that maybe there’s something wrong with Elisa herself! She has panic attacks and anxiety, and it seems to suggest that there might be something other than that affecting her. Then again, that could be a red herring of emotional manipulation. Either way, I want to know!

Summary

Elisa Wright is a mom and wife, living a nice, quiet life in a nice, quiet town. She’s also convinced her brother-in-law is a murderer. Josh has one dead wife and one missing fiancée, and though he grieved for them he starts dating someone new. Elisa fears for that woman’s safety, and she desperately wants to know what happened to her friend, Josh’s missing fiancée.

Searching for clues means investigating her own family. And she doesn’t like what she finds. A laptop filled with incriminating information. Other women.

But when Elisa becomes friends with Josh’s new girlfriend and starts to question things she thinks are true, Elisa wonders if the memories of a horrible incident a year ago have finally pushed her over the edge and Josh is really innocent. With so much at stake, Elisa fights off panic attacks and a strange illness. Is it a breakdown or something more? The race is on to get to the truth before another disappearance because there’s a killer in the family…or is there?

Posted in Reviews

Review: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

Recommended: sure
For a multi-narrative story, for an enticing puzzle to try to figure out, for a domestic thriller with some legal court action

Summary

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart. 

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes. 

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect. 

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Brooklyn Country Day school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

Thoughts:

The most striking feature of this book, besides the manner of Amanda’s death, is the multiple timelines and narrators this is told through. We alternate from pre-death Amanda navigating her new life, to current-day Lizzie trying to defend Zach from murder charges against his (dead) wife. There are also some court transcripts sprinkled in, and brief memo updates from a company doing investigation. I loved these latter two elements as multi-genre additions, but the alternating narrators weren’t my favorite.

Continue reading “Review: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (11/9)

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente
Expected release date: November 9, 2021

Recommended: yes, to Ava
For a quick read that ends way creepier than it begins, for a short puzzle that’s brilliant once you know what to look for, for a story I’d describe as “eerie”

Summary

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze…

But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?

Thoughts

Hey Ava!

I think you’ll like this one (and it comes out tomorrow!). It’s one of those stories that starts out normal, then gets kind of strange, then subtly creepy, and then smashes headlong into WTF territory when you’re too far in to stop. Since it’s so short, the effect is doubled! And of course the mystery-ish aspect of trying to get a better sense of what exactly is going on in Acadia Gardens will definitely keep you going.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (11/9)”
Posted in Book Talk

How I Predicted the Twist in “Rock Paper Scissors” From the First Few Chapters (LOTS O’ SPOILERS!)

(I’ll give a clear warning before any spoilers begin!!)

Hey y’all! I finished the recent release Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney this week, a mystery with lots of secrets and various people scheming against each other. The ending was completely unsurprising because from early on I had a thought of what the “twist” would be, which proved correct. There were some clues along the way that backed me up, and I wanted to walk through a few of them as well as partially review the book itself altogether.

On a related note, I recently watched the 2004 movie The Village for the first time at my boyfriend’s excited suggestion. He fully expected it would blow my mind to discover towards the end (okay, spoiler for this 17 year old movie…) that it was not 1800s as the setting implied, but modern day with cars, medicine, wifi, and all that. So when he looked over at the reveal moment and I was just regularly watching, unfazed, he was pretty disappointed. 😅 Sorry love! But I think some of the reasons I saw that twist coming from VERY early on are the same reasons I nailed Rock Paper Scissors.

I’m not much of a detective, but I am an English major and voracious lifelong reader, so let’s put those skills to work!

Continue reading “How I Predicted the Twist in “Rock Paper Scissors” From the First Few Chapters (LOTS O’ SPOILERS!)”
Posted in Release Day!

Just published: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy for yourself!

Recommended: YUP
For a high school drama that turns into a mystery that turns into an actual oh-sh*t situation, for a story of friendship and identity and isolation and trust and race, for a story where you get halfway through and wonder how it could get any more intense

Summary

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

Posted in Reviews

Review: How Lucky by Will Leitch

How Lucky by Will Leitch – Expected Publication: May 11, 2021
Verdict: eh, not for me but I’m confident others will really love this

Recommended: sure, for other people
For folks curious about life with SMA as a wheelchair-user, for a light mystery heavy on character introspection, for small laughs about dark things

Summary

Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia.  He’s got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy—despite the fact that he’s suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair. 

Largely confined to his home, Daniel spends the hours he’s not online communicating with irate air travelers observing his neighborhood from his front porch. One young woman passes by so frequently that spotting her out the window has almost become part of his daily routine. Until the day he’s almost sure he sees her being kidnapped. 

Thoughts:

I can’t really believe I’m rating this as “just ok” but that is indeed what’s happening. I can’t really pinpoint what missed for me with this book. Objectively I can look at it’s components and think it would probably be good, but ultimately I just wasn’t that into it. Reading it wasn’t a chore, but I guess I just never really connected with the characters nor the plot.

Continue reading “Review: How Lucky by Will Leitch”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Lantern Boats by Tessa Morris-Suzuki

The Lantern Boats by Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Recommended: sure
For a slow ready to sink into, for a story as it may have happened, for a book where what you want to happen isn’t necessarily what will happen

Summary

Tokyo, 1951.

Elly Ruskin is still struggling to settle. Half-Japanese by heritage, Elly was repatriated to Japan after the war, but Tokyo is a city she barely knows. And now she’s certain her new husband is having an affair with the enigmatic Japanese poet known as Vida Vidanto. 

Yet Elly is not the only one suspicious of Vida.

The occupying American forces have their eye on her too. Kamiya Jun has been recruited to spy on the poet and find out why Vida spent her war years in China. He is perfect for the part. A war orphan, he has honed the art of becoming invisible in order to survive. But following Vida leads Jun to the Ruskins. And he soon finds himself delving into their private lives as well. 

Then Vida Vidanto is found murdered in her apartment. Is it a case of mere jealousy or has there been a betrayal of a more dangerous kind? 

Because Vida had more than one secret worth killing for.

Thoughts:

This is not really a happy story, so definitely know that going in. Throughout the whole thing, there’s an edge of tension and fear, so even when things seem to be going fine, it all feels a bit perilous. That’s magnificently well captured because of the situations Elly and Jun each find themselves in, which are certainly anything but secure and comfortable.

Continue reading “Review: The Lantern Boats by Tessa Morris-Suzuki”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Vines, 3/23/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Vines by Shelley Nolden.
Expected Release: March 23, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • I tend to stay away from horror, but this one sounds so compelling and yes, ok, the cover does sway me as well. With a name like that and a story about a young girl studied by doctors for years, I’m drooling to find out how they connect and what’s so unique about this girl Cora.
  • Where there’s a unique and interesting person, there’s a foolish obsessed one soon to follow behind. In this case, it’s Finn who stumbled upon the island’s most hidden secret — Cora — and pursues the woman and the mystery to whatever end may come. Even if it’s his own…?
  • While I’m bored by New York City as a setting, I do like the contrast of a wild and natural island in the backdrop of it. The harsh city against the wilderness in its midst can create a subtle and alluring atmosphere for a creepy horror story.

Summary

In the shadows of New York City lies forbidden North Brother Island, where the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. The ruins conceal the scarred and beautiful Cora, imprisoned by contagions and the doctors who torment her. When Finn, a young urban explorer, arrives on the island and glimpses an enigmatic beauty through the foliage, intrigue turns to obsession as he seeks to uncover her past—and his own family’s dark secrets. By unraveling these mysteries, will he be able to save Cora? Will Cora meet the same tragic ending as the thousands who’ve already perished on the island?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Lost Apothecary, 3/2/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner!
Expected Release: March 2, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Revenge! OOooooh, Coriolanus made me really love revenge. Thanks Misty ✌ So I’m all in for a story of love and vengeance. Add in some poison and you’ve got this very medieval feel to it almost.
  • The setting! 1700s London was a pretty wild place, and that allows for a lot of wild things in any story set then. Combined with the modern-day setting in the connected plot, I think they will blend beautifully. I’ve also been reading a lot of those dual-timeline connection kind of stories lately.
  • Powerful women! Look, they can be flawed, that’s fine. They don’t have to be good and kind women. I just want to see them wield power and badassery, even if it ends poorly.
    Just a small note that this post got corrupted after publishing, so this is a re-written version that’s not nearly as good as the first. 😦 BUT, the book should still be fab!

Summary

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Verdict: meh. A mediocre mystery lacking sinister characters and shocking yet satisfying twist that mysteries and thrillers are built on.

Recommended: not really
Look elsewhere for a character you like, or for a story that focuses on the suspense and not the domestic issues, or for people who are made out to be really sinister and suspicious, or for a twist/shock that will blow you away

Summary:
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder. Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant. It was everything. She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

This might be the first time ever that I finished a book and wrote and posted a review the same day I finished it!! 🎉

Thoughts:
Ah, I mean, I don’t know. While I read this pretty quickly, it wasn’t because of how into it I was. More because there wasn’t much to take in, so I flew through it.

I expected a lot more as far as developing the possible characters in suspicious ways. I wanted to see them seem evil, or sinister, or delve more into the supernatural elements. I wanted to have no idea who to trust, with scheming at every turn! There were a few select moments like this, but ultimately none really had the impact I was hoping for.

Continue reading “Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware”