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 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 Reviews

Pre-Publication Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (8/17)

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
Release Date: August 17, 2021

Recommended: yes!!
For an actually mysterious mystery, for fascinating characters who grow a lot as you learn more about them, for whiplash-inducing twists that still make sense, for Covid as a setting but not a plot point (ie no illnesses)

Summary

No one knew they’d moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder?

56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin the same week Covid-19 reaches Irish shores.

35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests that Ciara move in with him. She sees a unique opportunity for a new relationship to flourish without the pressure of scrutiny of family and friends. He sees it as an opportunity to hide who – and what – he really is.

TODAY
Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Will they be able to determine what really happened, or has lockdown provided someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime?

Thoughts:

WOW y’all, maybe it’s because I admittedly had low expectations for this, but DANG did it blow me away! I was iffy on all the Book of the Month Club options, but chose this because it was by my fav publisher, Blackstone. And I should have known to trust that. ^.^ They held up, as always!

First off: a lot of people side-eye this book because it’s set in 2020 in the real sense that it’s the start of COVID-19 and discusses lockdown and other protocols enacted as it spread across the world. The whole premise is that two almost-strangers shack up because otherwise they won’t have ANY contact for who knows how long. It’s all or nothing, and they change it going all-in. But that’s it — there’s not a lot of play with COVID beyond working from home and the unease going out in public. If anything, it was weird how often the characters say “well no one else was wearing a mask so I took mine off.” Anyway, point being, the scope of COVID in this book is probably fairly light all things considered.

Continue reading “Pre-Publication Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (8/17)”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix, 7/13

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 Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix.
Expected Release: July 13, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Even though I’m not a fan of horror, even I am intrigued by the premise for this one! A group of women who have survived horrific scenes of murder meet regularly to help each other cope with what they’ve lived through. Unfortunately, now someone is targeting their group, seeming determined to bring an end to each of these women who survived the first time.
  • Although I haven’t read anything by Hendrix yet, I had an eye out of The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires when it came out. Whether that one or this one, I’m certainly going to be reading something by Hendrix this year!
  • Judging by some of the author’s personal blog posts and shared items, I think he’ll have a dark sense of humor that, if brought to the story, will be a wicked delight (and potentially make me cackle).

Summary

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Posted in Reviews

Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Verdict: hella good horror, even for folks who don’t usually love horror!

Recommended: yes!
For folks who don’t usually love horror, for an insiders view of a faked (maybe?) possession, for psychological horror where you don’t really know what to believe or who to trust

Summary

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Thoughts

This book is absolutely fascinating. I am not a fan of horror, whether in movies, games, books, or anything else, really. But this book recommended to me was a captivating winner! So I recommend it for folks who don’t usually like horror, but DO like a story that makes you question everything over and over again, and analyze all aspects from a million angles. It’s a bit of a who-dunnit in that you just don’t know what to trust.

Continue reading “Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay”
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”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

October TBR: spookin’ it up!

Hey y’all!

I actually have a planned reading list for this month, and I actually think I’ll stick pretty closely to it. The reason? Well, I’m excited for all the books!! Simple as that. 😀

I’m going for a spooky theme for October. Of course that includes a few thrillers and mysteries (though I’ve finished one or two already being a few days into October). I have a few spillover books that I was in progress with that I’m wrapping up as well, but those are left off this list because I really want to highlight all the themed books that I’m excited about!

psycho/killer

Ah, finally I will read Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon!! I wrote about it for a Fast Forward Friday feature ages ago and then recently found the book on Hoopla. But I saved my excitement because I wanted it to be part of my spooky reads in October! FINALLY!! 😁 And I actually read and finished this one right away! It was quite good, and WELL I DID NOT CALL THE TWIST, let’s just put it that way!!!

Another one I’ve been waiting to read forever is The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. And also another gift copy from Elise because she spoils me with bookmail. ❤ I’m about a hundred pages in so far, and it seems to be a murder mystery / ghost story with nannying. I’m not big on children, but I can get into ghosts. Plus Scotland. The descriptions of the landscape alone would probably make this worth reading. 😍

Continue reading “October TBR: spookin’ it up!”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Verity by Colleen Hoover – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
WHOO. Damn, Colleen. Well done. I’ll be lingering over this the rest of today for sure 🤩

Recommended: yes
For a delightfully creepy “villain” character, for an ending that makes you question everything in the best way, for atmosphere over character reflection

Summary:
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died. Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

Thoughts:
The coauthor premise was abandoned pretty quickly in lieu of the rest of the book’s plot, which is fine because the rest of the book was great. It did weaken the overall structure of the story a tiny bit, because it was clearly just used as the bridge to get her in the house, but it’s a minor thing. This book just rushes you right into the creepy bits, and everything prior to that is minimally important in my opinion. 😂 I just want the eerie-ness!

Continue reading “Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover”

Truly a surprise

A while ago (like so long ago it was before we wore masks, and could still see other people) I found a book that sounded interesting.

Then a coworker mentioned how good it was and offered to lend it to me.

Then Covid derailed some plans. 😐

And now!! I have just finished that book: Verity by Colleen Hoover. And, well, I finished it in under 24 hours. I just couldn’t stop reading!

As I started it, I had no idea what it was about. It’s been so long since I first heard of it that by this point I had no recollection anymore: just that I’d been interested. It was like getting a blind recommendation, but from myself! I loved it. It’s definitely going to be getting a review soon. 👏