Out of the Dark (Orphan X #4) by Gregg Hurwitz

Kaceey’s Review:

I don’t know about Evan – but frankly I’m exhausted! This was an all-out commitment to reclaim his life with the hope of someday living in relative peace! Nothing’s going to stand in his way this time…I hope!🤞

Evan has discovered who the mastermind was behind the attempted extermination of the entire Orphan program. Not in his wildest dreams could he have imagined just how high up the ranks this entity was embedded.

This is going to take everything Evan has. With the massive scope of his mission, he may need to recruit help from some “special” friends along the way! So expect some surprising cameos from earlier books!

And as for his love interest Mia? Well…. I don’t want to add any spoilers so I’ll just say it’s a work in progress. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope Evan will finally find love.

A binging-buddy read with Susanne. As we are now deep into book five Into The Fire.

Susanne’s Review:

Evan Smoak: You are Crazy, Brave and totally Fierce and what you have planned is InFREAKINGsane!

Dude, in “Out of the Dark,” Evan Smoak had me in fear for his life. (I know, I know, he puts his own life in his hands all of the time, but THIS TIME?!).. Frak. Just frak. I can’t even.

Here, the life of Evan Smoak and all other Orphans (including Joey Morales, the one whose life he saved in “Hellbent”) are on the line and it’s up to Evan to save them from the man who is out to kill them. The problem? It’s the one man in the nation who it is impossible to kill and get away with. Like freaking impossible – and yet, Evan has come up with a plan to do exactly that.

Didn’t I just say that this book was INSANE?!

Just writing this review has made my pulse start pounding thinking about the plot of this ridiculous book and yet I LOVED every second of it.

“Out of the Dark” is a brilliantly plotted (terrifying), character driven novel that made my pulse skyrocket and my heart catch in my throat.

Kaceey and I read this together (of course) and I kept texting her like “Omg, doesn’t he know he can’t get away with this? No one ever has before! This is absurd”.. In true Kaceey fashion, she just laughed and laughed at how entwined I became in the storyline and in the characters. Out of all of the series we’ve read together, this just might be my favorite.

Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of the e-book.

Published on Goodreads on 10.1.20.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Kaceey’s Review:

The moment I saw that the leading character was named JANE, I knew I was all in!

Jane is running hard from her past in Arizona. Ultimately landing in Alabama, scraping by taking jobs as a dog-walker in an exclusive neighborhood. Lost in daydreams while walking past her favorite home on the block, she’s nearly run over by the homeowner, Eddie.
Well that’s one way to meet a man. High marks for originality, young lady!

Soon enough, Jane and Eddie are inseparable! But there’s always the looming question – could this be too good to be true? Will Jane’s past eventually catch up to her? And what exactly did happen to Eddie’s previous wife?

Well, since this is a thriller you know nothing is going to be straight forward and you’ll be in for one twisty read! And if you can suspend your believability you’ll thoroughly enjoy this one!

A fast and fun buddy read with Susanne!

Than you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for an ARC to read and review.

Susanne’s Review:

Twisty & Turny and Utterly Compelling!.

Meet Jane: An Arizona transplant who is new to Birmingham, Alabama. Jane is looking to make ends meet by being a dog walker in what appears to be the sleepy little subdivision of Thornfield Estates.

Thornfield Estates however has a “Stepford” vibe – gorgeous, perfect housewives, beautiful expensive homes with everyone following a simple easy routine, and enjoying the quintessential life.

Or so it seems.

Little does Jane know that the residents of Thornfield Estates have their secrets and boy are they doozies!

Penniless and pretty, Jane is hoping to meet “the one.”

Enter Eddie Rochester.
 A recent widow who is trying to get over the death of his wife, Bea and her best friend Blanche, both of whom drowned while away on a “Girls Weekend.”

Eddie is dashing, kind, smart and successful – everything Jane wants in a man.

A whirlwind romance ensues, with Jane being swept off of her feet. Of course, Jane gets what she wants: A marriage proposal. Then again, Jane always gets what she wants.

Or does she?

In this case, perhaps Jane should have looked before she leaped.

Poor Jane. I almost feel for you. Almost.

What happens next is nothing short of brilliant, twisted and completely wild. Talk about turning the freaking tables and stunning this reader to no end!

“That twist” is the reason to pick up this highly anticipated novel!

Well done, Rachel Hawkins!

Captivating characters and a fantastic plot, make this mystery suspense a must read!

This was a fabulous buddy read with Kaceey!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the arc.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Susanne’s Review:

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!

The Kind of Love You Desperately Want to BELIEVE In.  

Best Friends.  The Love of Each Other’s Lives.

The moment Macy Sorensen runs into her first love Elliot, every moment of their relationship flashes before her eyes and all of those old feelings come rushing back.  It doesn’t matter that she’s now engaged to be married.  No one compares to Elliot.  

Even though it’s been eleven years, for Elliot, Macy has always been the one.  The moment he lays eyes on her, everything changes and he knows that his life will never be the same.  

Told in alternating timelines of the past and the present, we see the friendship between Macy and Elliot blossom into everlasting love.  A love neither could let go of, regardless of what tore them apart or where life took them thereafter. 

Devastating, Heartbreaking, Intense, Inspiring.  

“Love and Other Words” is a storybook romance filled with heartache, loss and love.  While this book may only be fiction, it sure makes you wish dreams actually came true.  

This was a fantastic buddy read with Ms. Kaceey that we both loved!  In addition, “Love and Other Words” by Christina Lauren made it onto my Goodreads Best-of-List for 2020 as my final favorite read of last year. 

Published on Goodreads on 1.2.2021.

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout

Susanne’s Review:

Actions and Reactions.

Secrets and Lies.

Mothers and Daughters.

Husbands and Wives.

Isabelle Goodrow is a prim and proper woman. To her, appearances are everything.  As a mother, she is quite reserved. Her daughter Amy longs for something more.

When Amy finds it, she becomes, shall we say, unfettered.

Amy, entangled with someone older, someone inappropriate, somehow who most certainly should know better.  

An awkward situation, discovered. Isabelle beside herself, angry and desperate.

Actions, of course, have ramifications as both Isabelle and Amy soon devise.  

Amy and Isabelle are not alone.  Many folks in the town of Shirley Falls are keeping secrets of course, and they too suffer the consequences.  

Oh, the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter.  

Oh, how well Elizabeth Strout delves into the different facets of interpersonal relationships as a whole. 

Though “Amy and Isabelle” was not my favorite of Elizabeth Strout’s novels, I enjoyed certain aspects of it and appreciated the complexities of all of the personalities within this book and how each was impacted by the decisions they made.  Having read all but one other of Ms. Strout’s novels, I am anxiously awaiting her next release.   

Published on Goodreads on 1.3.21

City of Windows by Robert Pobi

Susanne’s Review:

Dr. Lucas Page thought his days working for the FBI were over. Then his former partner is murdered in broad daylight, killed by a near impossible sniper shot. Now the FBI needs Dr. Page’s help pinpointing where it came from. Dr. Page, now a University Professor, left the FBI a decade ago after losing several limbs in a horrific accident. Even though Dr. Page, who has an extraordinary ability to figure out a crime scene and break down the angles, agrees to help this one time, all that changes when the murdering spree continues.

Now it’s up to Dr. Page and the rest of the team at the FBI to find the killer before it’s too late.

If only Dr. Page’s new “gig” with the FBI didn’t upset the status quo at the ‘ole homestead where Lucas’s wife and their adopted children are waiting to prepare for the Christmas Holiday! It all comes down to priorities!

“City of Windows” by Robert Pobi is a fast paced, thrilling mystery / suspense that kept me on my toes throughout. Though this novel was a tad too intellectual for my liking and had me reaching for my dictionary a few times, it was still enjoyable. My favorite parts of this novel were Lucas’s interactions with his family, which I feel kept him grounded. I really enjoyed his character and look forward to seeing how it develops upon reading the next book in the series, “Under Pressure.”

A buddy read with Kaceey!

Kaceey’s Review:

Hold on tight, major turbulence ahead! Robert Pobi is about to take you on a full-throttle action ride!

Having book two Under Pressure sitting on my shelf, I chose to go back to the beginning of the series for a more complete picture. Wise choice on my part!

Lucas Page is retired from the FBI after an accident that nearly cost him his life, leaving him without an arm and a leg. (No…really!) Since then he’s been quietly living a far different life, teaching at the University while helping to raise foster children alongside his new wife. 

But after a targeted killing of an FBI agent in midtown Manhattan, the F.B.I. comes knocking on Lucas’ door pleading for his help. 

As advertised, the action was non-stop, as Lucas and the FBI race against time to find the assassin before he strikes again. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Lucas as the lead character. There’s a great deal lot of depth revealed about him personally and professionally.

My only draw-back was the author got overly technical involving Lucas’ expertise as my eyes stared glazing over as I became lost in all those facts and figures.🤪

I’m now ready to dive into book two!

A buddy read with Susanne!

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Kaceey’s Review:

Twin sisters are supposed to be as close as, well…two peas in a pod! Right!?

At least that’s the way it worked out for twins Fern and Rose. With Rose taking on the responsibility of looking after Fern. She has sensory issues that have consumed her life. And a past that Rose isn’t about to let her forget.

Sisters! Oy! Could I write an encyclopedia-size book on that subject!
But I digress…

For these two, the question is when does a functional loving ‘sisterly’ relationship stop being healthy? Well you might want to ask these two ladies!

Though somewhat predictable, (I had most of the book figured out nearly immediately) I still enjoyed every bit of the ride.

Sally Hepworth writes a highly engaging read you won’t easily be able to put down. Certainly true for me!

For a light, engaging thriller that delves into family dysfunction…look no further!

A buddy read with Susanne that we both really enjoyed!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC to read and review.

Susanne’s Review:

Wickedly Devine.

Sisters. They REALLY Can’t be Trusted, Can They?

Speaking from experience, I’d say that answer is no. (And I really am “The Good Sister.”) (JK!)

Baaawaaahh!!!

What can I tell you about this Wildly Captivating, Entertaining, and Enthralling Domestic Thriller?

It’s DEVILISH.

It’s Fun.

It’s Crazy.

And it’s Hella Good!

Is it a tad predictable? Yes. Admittedly, I guessed what would happen early on but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment in the least. In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages of this one fast enough.

It’s twisty-turny and there are still surprises to be had!

A Brilliant Buddy Read with Kaceey!

*To my sister, Karin: As for who is the “Good Sister” – we can agree to disagree. Love you!

A huge thank you goes out to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the arc. This was a delightfully wild, wicked read. I can’t wait to see what Sally Hepworth comes out with next.

Published on Goodreads on 12.27.20.

Susanne’s Goodreads Best-of-List for 2020

In this most difficult year, for me, there has been one constant. Books, which, leads to book reviews and of course, all of you whom I’ve met on Goodreads over the last few years. For your friendship, support, and general encouragement, I thank you.   

What I know is this: Having each other is immeasurable, for when we need a friend, we have each other and of course, we always have books.  

This year, I surpassed my reading goal by reading more books than ever before. (I would have read more but I have indulged in a little more TV than usual, lol, (who can blame me though right?!). That said, I am proud of where I ended up.

When it comes to my Best-of List, below are my favorites (in no particular order):

Fiction:

  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (Mr. Backman – your ability to understand Human Connection astounds. Your characters get under my skin like no other.)
  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Terrifying, heart-wrenching, stunning. An incredible story of survival).
  • The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Cussy Mary – Oh what an inspiration you are and oh how I miss you. This was my first best-of novel of 2020 and what a novel it was!)
  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Complicated and messy. In my book, that is known as sheer perfection (at least when it comes to books that is!) Well done Sally Rooney!).
  • In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (How surprising. Way to make me sob like a baby!)
  • The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab (Addie Larue, I assure you, I will remember you, always. Simply brilliant, devastating and perfect.)
  • Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Disturbing, dirty and dysfunctional. Probably the best literary fiction novel I have read in years.)
  • My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy (This is my kind of book. Brilliant characterizations and a story that envelops you and makes you feel safe.)
  • Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (Dark, Ominous, Legendary, and Simply Ingenious. Don’t worry, I take heed Ms. Hoffman!)
  • Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout (Oh Olive, you do beat all! Somehow you ingrained yourself into my soul, and now well, you’ve won me over in pure Olive fashion!)
  • This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel (To know this family is to love them. Poppy, your bravery inspires me!)

Grit Lit:

  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Absolutely devastating and oh so good.)
  • Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panovich (Hauntingly perfect. Brian Panovich, you slay me.)

Memoirs:

  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Thank you for bringing me peace and reminding me what it feels like to be safe!).

Rom-Coms:

  • The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez (If only real life was like this, I might be a believer.)
  • Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams (Noah, you rock!)

Mystery / Suspense:

  • The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (KS, How COULD you? All I have to say is, I’m still not over it and I’m not sure I ever will be.)
  • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (Spooky spooky!)

Science Fiction / Fantasy:

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Virtual Reality on Steroids narrated by the masterful Wil Wheaton – in case it’s not obvious, Wil: I’ll Stand By You.)

Women’s Fiction:

  • Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center (Women’s Fiction doesn’t get better than this: Jake and Helen are sheer perfection.)
  • Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren (My final favorite best of for 2020. The perfect book to steal your heart.)
  • November 9 by Colleen Hoover (COHO: Cue All the Feels!)

Honorable Mentions go to:

  • The Orphan X Series by Gregg Hurwitz (Heartstopping, thrilling and so darn good Mr. Hurwitz!  Evan Smoak: You are Oh So Crushworthy!)
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Oh Olive, somehow I grew to love you.. (even though you reminded me of someone extremely difficult!) What an incredible feat Ms. Strout pulled off!)
  • The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (Bob Burgess: there is something about your character that has stayed with me – perhaps because I understand you or perhaps because I’ve been you. Well done, Ms. Strout!)  
  • The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly (Stellar writing, brilliant legal arguments, and the inclusion of my favorite Connelly characters (including one of my favorite literary characters of all time: Harry Bosch). What’s not to love?) 

Favorite New to Me Authors: 

  • Colleen Hoover
  • Gregg Hurwitz
  • Sally Rooney
  • Elizabeth Strout

Published on Goodreads

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Susanne’s Review:

A Seriously Cute, albeit predictable romance that helped get me in the Holiday Spirit!

As a single woman in her mid-30’s Kate has been unlucky in love.  After being pushed by Laura, one of her best friends, Kate decides to embark on “The Twelve Dates of Christmas.”  After signing up, Kate is then matched on twelve different dates with twelve different men throughout the month of December.

Love and snowflakes are in the air!

All of the dates are festive, fun, and extremely creative.  The men Kate are matched with are another thing altogether!  Believe it or not, Kate had absolutely no idea what she was getting herself into.  

Charming, sweet, and just what the doctor ordered to get me in the spirit this holiday season, “The Twelve Dates of Christmas” filled me with light and love and a few laughs as well.  Although I immediately knew where this holiday read was going as soon as I began listening to it, I still really enjoyed this audiobook and would recommend it to those looking for a light novel to lift their spirits.

Published on Goodreads on 12.27.20.

The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor @cjtudor @randomhouse #mystery #bookreview

Susanne’s Review:

Bewitching, Spooky, and Suspenseful!

Jack Brooks is the new Vicar in Chapel Croft.  She and her daughter Flo are new in town. Unfortunately for them, Chapel Croft has a history, and the community itself isn’t exactly welcoming. 

What is the town known for, you ask?  Exorcisms; Burning Girls; Martyrs; Missing Girls; and Murder.  

Not exactly homey, if I do say so myself.  

Upon moving into the cottage next to the Chapel, both Jack and Flo find themselves in danger, and neither is willing to admit it to the other.  

Tsk tsk. Big Mistake!  Huge, in Fact.

Ghosts of burning girls appear. Is it a trick of the eye? Most of the townsfolk act nice. Can they be trusted? Long kept secrets are discovered. What pray tell does it all mean?

The devil, my friends, is in the details.  

Atmospheric, Dark, and Wholly Entertaining. 

A brilliantly plotted, taut, character-driven suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.  “The Burning Girls” is yet another winner by C.J. Tudor, who continues to impress me and give a nod to one of her (and my) favorite authors, Stephen King.  

A huge thank you goes out to Kathleen Quinlan at Random House Publishing and NetGalley, for the arc. 

Published on Goodreads on 12.27.20.

Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen

Kaceey’s Review:

Carl Hiaasen delivers a clever, humorous novel that’s going to leave you shaking your head saying “Oh no, tell me he didn’t just go there!?” Oh yes friends, he did! And lucky you were along for the ride!

When Kiki Fitzsimmons disappears from a charity ball at the country club in S. Florida, the search is on! After all, she couldn’t and wouldn’t have simply walked away.

Well, leave it to the twisted mind of Carl Hiaasen to take her disappearance to the next level! While your deductive skills may be highly-honed, I’m betting more than a few will stumble guessing what happened to our little socialite. So sit back and enjoy the bumpy ride the author is about to take you.

As with any Hiaasen novel, you’re assured to have your requisite laugh-out-loud moments.

This was the perfect send off to such a tough year! What better way to say goodbye to 2020 than through smiles and laughter! I think we could all use more of that!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Random House Publishing for an ARC to read and review.