Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur @ambellefleur @avonbooks @NetGalley @lgbtqia+romance #loveislove #contemporaryfiction #fiction #bookreviewer #bookblogger

Susanne’s Review:

Oh, Drat!  How I wanted to love this and count my lucky stars, but alas, Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandra Bellefleur was not quite for me.  Stop the presses, however, as it wasn’t the plot or the characters I didn’t love, it was something else altogether..

The fact of it is, that “steamy details” don’t do it for me. In fact, “steamy details” make me cover my eyes and run screaming and the details in this one were a doozy.  

While I love this author and the main characters of Margot and Olivia (and Elle, Darcy, Brandon, and Annie) and this series so very much, this book made me duck and cover.  

What I did like, however, were the friendships and relationships between all of the characters and how everyone communicated. The issues brought up by Margot and Olivia when trying to figure out the ins and outs of their relationship are what romance is all about!  If only this book had been less risque.  Truth be told, if this author’s books were less racy, then I personally would enjoy them more as the storylines and her writing style is fabulous. 

A romance for everyone, who loves love.  If racy, steamy details are your thing, this book just might be right up your alley. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Avon, and Harper Voyager for the arc.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

Love for Beginners (Wildstone #7) by Jill Shalvis #JillShalvis @WmMorrowBooks @goodreads #GoodreadsGiveaway #Contemporary #WomensFiction #bookreview #bookblogger

Susanne’s Review:

My first Jill Shalvis and what a welcome success it was!   A huge thank you to Goodreads Giveaway for the win!

How Sweet it is!

After surviving a tragic accident that left her in a coma, Emma Harris awakes in need of rehabilitation.  Enter, Simon, her harda$$ PT.  What’s not to love?!

Emma is strong, hardworking, and full of life.  No matter what was thrown at her, she will persevere and persevere, she does!  With Simon’s help, she takes baby steps, and then she’s making even bigger strides.  The chemistry between these two is off the charts. It’s no wonder they can’t fight those feelings!

Then there’s Allie, Simon’s cousin, who is stubborn, difficult, and closed off.  Though she pushed her now ex-boyfriend Ryan away she regrets it. If only they could find a way to accept each other for who they are.  

The seventh book in the Wildstone series, Love for Beginners was my introduction to the series and Jill Shalvis.  Boy am I glad I entered this giveaway!  What a great win!  Though this was my first book in this series, it won’t be my last.  

Thanks to #GoodreadsGiveaway and William Morrow Paperbacks for this fun, sweet read.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

The Family Plot by Megan Collins @ImMeganCollins @AtriaBooks @NetGalley #blogtour #thriller #mystery #suspense #bookreviewers #bookblogger

Kaceey’s Review:

I’ve read about some bizarre families over the years, but HELLO…the Lighthouse family takes first prize! 

Delilah and her three siblings were raised on an island, far from the general population. Homeschooled, with the primary focus of their studies on what else…all things regarding serial killers and their victims! Including ceremonies to honor the dead. Yikes! How many credits is that course worth?🤔🤣

Returning to the island for her fathers’ funeral, Delilah is excited to be reunited with only one family member, her twin Andy. But this wouldn’t be the joyous homecoming she had in mind. 

The premise of this book sounded amazing and just a bit quirky (which I love). But it somehow missed the mark for me. I was left wanting more from the characters as well as the storyline.  

This was my second read by Megan Collins and though this book may have fallen just a bit short, I’m still looking forward to reading more from this author. 

A buddy read with Susanne. 🤓📚

Thank you to Megan Rudloff at Atria Books for the arc via NetGalley.

Susanne’s Review:

A Family’s Obsession with True Crime Hits Home for the Lighthouse family when the body of their missing brother is found in the most obscure place.

Their father’s burial plot.

Even stranger is that each child has been named after a famous serial killer or relatives thereto.  All kids were homeschooled and raised in isolation.. which may be why, when one went missing, no one thought anything of it.  Tsk, tsk, girls and boys.  

Makes you think this family took up the wrong hobby all this time doesn’t it?  I mean, their pastimes were just a tad off-color, and given everything this family went through, I think knitting might have been a better choice, but that’s just me.

A truly creepy, weird, and wild read, The Family Plot delves into the truly abstruse which I simply just went with. While I figured out the mysteries fairly early on, I still enjoyed the novel and look forward to seeing what Megan Collins comes out with next.  

A buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to Megan Rudloff at Atria Books for the arc via NetGalley.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult @jodipicoult @randomhouse #fiction #contemporaryfiction #romance #womensfiction #bookreviewers #bookbloggers #bookbesties

Susanne’s Review:

Cue the tears.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult: A novel I thought I was prepared for.. and it kicked me in the gut anyways. 

In ways I never imagined possible.

Covid. This novel centers around Covid and it’s as real as it gets. If this book is on your to-be-read shelf, prepare yourself…it’s gonna be a tough one. In addition, prepare yourself for the fact that it’s also NOTHING like you think it’s going to be.

Emotional Heartbreak. Devastation. Shock and Awe. Self-Discovery. Introspection. Love.

When Covid strikes, Diana and her boyfriend Finn are preparing for a trip to the Galápagos. Finn is a physician at a hospital and given the situation, needs to stay. Not having any idea how bad it’s going to get, Finn urges Diana to go on her own, and so she does. It’s a world away. Lockdown and quarantine occur. Upon her arrival in the Galápagos, Diana is isolated, without internet and the ability to go anywhere, while Finn is facing Covid every day and trying to keep patients alive. He emails her often, and though she receives them, she is unable to reply due to spotty internet. His haunting portrayal of life, treating patients is heartbreaking and so very realistic. Tears filled my eyes and streamed down my face, knowing everything he was writing happened in real life all across the world and continues to do so. Diana, on the other hand, lives a very different life, on an island knowing hardly any Spanish, having access to very little, and meeting only a handful of people, some of whom have a major impact on her. 

Diana and Finn’s lives couldn’t be more different and yet each one is compelling, moving, and stirring in their own right. 

It is here that my heart was torn asunder in more ways than one. I have no words for it and cannot say more without giving away spoilers.  

Shock, Bewilderment, Heartbreak.  

This novel is raw, honest, heart-wrenching and so brilliantly done. Through many tears, I read this and at times felt wholly shattered and can only applaud Jodi Picoult for what she accomplished here.  

This was a buddy read with Ms. Kaceey and it impacted both of us greatly. Kaceey – thank you for reading this with me. Let me just say that I know how hard this was for you to read. I can’t thank you enough for everything you do each day. You are my hero. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House – Ballantine Publishing Group, and Jodi Picoult for this incredible read.  

Published on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Kaceey’s Review:

Inhale exhale. 

To be completely honest, I was nervous as hell, beginning this book. I love Jodi Picoult, but a book revolving around covid…I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. 

Diana and Finn have planned the ultimate dream vacation. A once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galápagos Islands. But when New York is ravaged by Covid, it looks like their dream holiday will have to be shelved. Finn is a resident at a large New York Hospital and things are about to hit the fan. It’s all hands on deck!  

Jodi Picoult brought the stark reality of the pandemics’ first wave to life. Capturing the consuming fear and exhausting moment of every healthcare worker called into the fight to deal with the nightmare crisis. No sensationalism here…just the brutal reality of it all.  

The structure of the chapters midway had me subconsciously holding my breath! (You’ll understand once you read it). I was captivated, nearly frozen in place.  

My emotions were raw as tears endlessly flowed down my cheeks for the final 20%. Even when simply trying to describe the book to a friend they start flowing again. 

I’d love to go into more detail, but the less you know going in the better. A must-read for 2021!  

A buddy read with Susanne 

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine. 

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker @cbakerbooks @MacmillanAudio @NetGalley #contemporary # Mystery #fiction #blookblogger #bookreview.

Kaceey’s Review:

Is there truth behind the whispers? 

When the CEO suddenly dies, the candidate next in line for the position is someone nobody wants in that chair. The rumors…the whispers, of his sexual indiscretions with some of the women at the firm run rampant.  

Perhaps I wasn’t the best reader for this book. I don’t work in a high powered, male dominated environment. The CEO at the company I work for is an extremely strong and confident woman who demonstrates professionalism at all times. And though I know the behaviors demonstrated in this book are prevalent in the business world I had some difficulty relating to the women in this book.   

Also, my expectations were that I would be reading a thriller. Though there may have been brief, rare moments that held some excitement. Overall, I would classify this more as women’s fiction.   

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron @LindsayJCameron @randomhouse @NetGalley #thriller #fiction #bookblogger #bookreview

Kaceey’s Review:

I’m watching you…. 

Cassie has reluctantly taken on of the lowest positions possible for an attorney. A temp job sorting through mundane emails, working in what she describes as a bunker. But e-mails from a particular lawyer upstairs grabs her full attention. Highly personal emails for one Forest Watts. One of the firms top lawyers. Suddenly she becomes obsessed with meeting him and enmeshing herself into every sordid detail of his life.   

The storyline seemed to plug along nicely until about 80% when it jetted off in a totally different and unexpected direction. It seemed completely out of place to fit where (I thought) the storyline seemed to be heading.  

This book had a bit of an identity crisis. It had every intention of becoming a thriller, with Cassie playing the role of an obsessed, dangerous stalker. But for me, at times Cassie came off as misunderstood and vulnerable and my heart went out to her. Lol! Yes! I felt for the off kilter stalker! Please don’t judge me! She has some understandable reasons for her behavior! 

Overall, a fun read and look forward to more from this author. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine for granting my wish.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy @CharMcConaghy @MacmillanAudio @NetGalley #suspense #thriller #fiction #wolfpacks #bookreviewer

Susanne’s Review:

A story of love, if there ever was one.  Love of nature, vivid and true.  The love between sisters, family, and friends and a love and respect for animals. 

Inti has a deep and abiding connection to many things, her sister Aggie, the wolves, and nature.  This is partially due to Mirror-Touch Synesthesia, a condition that Inti suffers from, where she often feels sensations (such as pain) on her own body when viewing pain to others including animals. As a biologist, Inti re-introduces wolves to the Highlands in Scotland to help them and the surrounding area.  She also hopes to help her sister, who has been unwell for quite some time. 

Upon integrating the wolves, and becoming acclimated, tragedy strikes, and Inti works to figure out who is to blame.  

Environmental fiction, wrapped into a suspense, rolled into a romance, “Once There Were Wolves” is a book about human nature, wolf packs, life lessons, and survival.  While I liked this book and enjoyed the writing, I admittedly liked this author’s prior book Migrations, a bit more.. perhaps because I felt as though this book had a bit too much going on?  I’m not quite sure. That said, the narration of this novel, done by Saskia Maarleveld, was brilliant and made the book that much better for me.  There are other reviewers out there that liked this one a tad more than me thus I urge you to check out their reviews.

Thank you to NetGalley, MacMillan Audio, and Saskia Maarleveld for the alc. 

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

Ordinary Hazards by Anna Bruno @annabruno @AtriaBooks @NetGalley #fiction #literaryfiction #bookreviewer

Susanne’s Review:

In the span of an evening, lives and losses unfold, quietly, memories spilling forth, some beautiful, heartfelt, warm, just like a soft chenille blanket, while others are gut-wrenching, painful and destructive, like a bar glass filled with bourbon, shattering to the floor spilling liquor and bits of glass everywhere as far as the eye can see.

Reflecting on what is and what was, Emma sits on a stool at her favorite neighbor bar, The Final Final, night after night and it is there, that you know that all is not well.  It is here that Emma met the love of her life:  Lucas. The two met, fell in love and married. Lucas however, is not with her tonight and hasn’t been for quite some time.  All she has left of their time together is their dog, Addie, who stole my heart.  Instead, Emma is sitting at the bar, alone. Other regulars are there as well, and they too, have stories to tell. In the course of an evening, Emma reminisces over her past, and her trials and tribulations, her relationship with her father, her marriage to Lucas and the crux of the reason why she is at The Final Final alone.  

This is of course, the last stop, but then one would expect nothing less of The Final Final.  

A slow burning character driven novel detailing friendship, grief, love, loss, and most of all, forgiveness, Ordinary Hazards delves into all subjects gracefully. For anyone who has ever suffered loss, it hits home hard. 

While the story meandered a tad when Emma was reminiscing, I truly enjoyed this novel and look forward to seeing what Anna Bruno comes out with next.  

A huge thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Anna Bruno for the arc.

Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter @SlaughterKarin @BlackstoneAudio #suspense #thriller #fiction #legalthriller #bookreviewers

Kaceey’s Review:

Brutal…raw… 

Be prepared for a deeply disturbing read! A dark story that delves deep into the topics of pedophilia, rape, and drug abuse. And Karin Slaughter is not one to hold anything back. She pulls back the curtains… exposing the gritty, harsh brutality of life. 

Leigh and Callie are two sisters who’ve grown up together. But that’s where the similarity ends. Their futures would hold far different paths. 

While Leigh goes on to become a successful lawyer, Callie is consumed fighting her demons, lost in the world of drugs.   

After taking the case of defending a potential rapist, Leigh realizes she may no longer be able to outrun her past and protect Callie at the same time. 

Karin Slaughter pens a chilling thriller, certain to draw you in right from the start. Both sisters demonstrating amazing strength. But of course, my heart broke for poor Callie and her desperate struggles throughout her life. 

I‘ve been reading Karin Slaughter’s books for years, enjoying her series just as much as her stand-alone. And this is no exception. Yet another fabulous addition!  

A buddy read with Susanne  

Thank you to Samantha Benson at Blackstone Publishing for the audiobook via Netgalley. 

Susanne’s Review:

Incredibly Gruesome and Wholly Intense.

Let’s get right to it, shall we folks?  First off, I really like Karin Slaughter’s books. If you look at my bookshelves, that should be obvious as I’ve read the entire Grant County and Will Trent series (save maybe one Will Trent book) and have read several standalones.

That said, I’ve held off reading a few of her standalones for a reason.  They are simply too gruesome.  I’d say that most of her serial novels are not as gruesome as her standalones, but when it comes to her standalones, she doesn’t hold back.  There were times when listening to False Witness when I had to walk away and put the audiobook down simply because I just couldn’t take it.  That said, the storyline itself was quite good – if only.

Leigh Collier is a defense attorney, hired to represent Andrew Tenant, who as it turns out, she and her sister Callie used to babysit.  Andrew Tenant is now a powerful, wealthy man, who just happens to have dirt on both sisters and unfortunately for them, he plans to use it to his advantage.  

A desperate, haunting, gruesome tale of cat and mouse.  As a disclaimer, this book includes themes of sexual abuse, addiction, assault, and murder.

While I enjoyed this novel and adored the narration by Kathleen Earle (who is stellar), I would have enjoyed this much more had the storyline itself not been so violent.  What I did appreciate however, was the fact that this book took place during Covid and the fact that the storyline centered around it.  I thought it was fairly realistic and quite well done. Kudos to Karin Slaughter for the realistic storyline.

This was another buddy read/listen with Kaceey.

Thank you to NetGalley, Blackstone Publishing, Karin Slaughter, and Kathleen Earle. for the audiobook.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

The Wicked Hour (Natalie Lockard #2) by Alice Blanchard #aliceblanchard @MinotaurBooks @NetGalley #mystery #suspense

Susanne’s Review:

It’s The Wicked Hour, in Burning Lake, with Halloween in full force.  For Detective Natalie Lockhart, that means patrolling throughout the night. As heavy-duty clean-up from the Halloween festivities is required, Detective Lockhart volunteers and happens upon the dead body of a local woman.  An investigation ensues, putting her in the spotlight, which is the last thing she wants.

You see, Detective Lockhart is still reeling from the events of her past, from which she is traumatized.  

Though the case puts her through the wringer, Natalie is tenacious and wants justice.

A complex, well-written twisty turny mystery that kept me glued to the storyline.  I was, however, vexed greatly by the ending.  One can always hold out hope, however.  

A buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the arc. 

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.  

Kaceey’s Review:

This is book two of the Natalie Lockhart series. 

When the body of a young woman is found in a dumpster it is up to Natalie to put the pieces of the mystery together to identify the girl and find her killer. She may end up finding more than she bargained for.

I have to admit I enjoyed book one A Trace of Evil a whole lot more. In this latest release, I lacked the connection with Natalie that I previously felt. The mystery behind the killing didn’t hold my attention and I felt my mind wandering throughout. Seems the magic from book one just wasn’t there this time.☹️

I attempted the audio version along the way hoping that would give me a better experience. And though the narrator did a fantastic job I still struggled to stay focused.  

Perhaps this was just one of those…it’s the reader and not the book.🤷🏻‍♀️

Will I continue with the series? Hmmm🤔… to be determined.

A buddy read with Susanne.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press.