black literature · book review · crime · diversity · gentrification · gentrification thriller · own voices review · Racism · reading · secrets · Thriller

When No One Is Watching By Alyssa Cole {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear? 

Review:

Gentrification thriller. That is all it took for me to want to read this book. Me, a reader who doesn’t read a lot of thrillers. Not only is this a gentrification thriller, it’s by Alyssa Cole who I am only familiar with thru her romance novels which I haven’t read(don’t judge me) but have heard a lot of good things about. Anyway, back to the book at hand. I am so glad that I read this book. Alyssa takes a subject that is already frightening enough by itself in real life and turns it into a story that shows how bad it already is and worse it will get worse if nothing is done.

Gentrification is something that I, along with other black people are currently witnessing in towns and cities that we live in. Companies coming in and sweet talking or sometimes bullying residents of color out of areas that were once prominent but have deteriorated over the years due to the lack of non color residents not wanting to reside there until that area is seen as a potential money maker. Then this practice is justified in their minds because they are “beautifying” the area. When in reality if the area was afforded the same access to funding, they would never be in the worn down conditions that they end up in.

Cole takes this story and tells it from Sydney’s point of view, which I admit was a bit hard to follow at first because I was thinking she was just going to be an unreliable narrator. But she turns out to have more sense than what I thought. My heart was broken reading this story knowing how realistic it is. How there are so many people are out there experiencing this daily basis.

Now, the story is also told thru poor old Theo’s point of view. Poor, poor naive Theo. Lawd Sweet Baby Betty White. Bless Theo’s heart. I definitely had my reservations about him and rightfully so. That poor man was so damn clueless, as are most people of his background. And I am not talking about social background either. He is as clueless as they come, especially dealing with “Bodega Becky”(read the book and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. Theo really possessed the “I mean well” and ” I am trying to understand” attitude that is continuously shown in racial situations.

The partnership of Sydney and Theo was one that was relatable when it comes to the racial climate that we are currently in. It is good to have counterparts on the other side who want to help, but them knowing how to help and having to recondition their beliefs is the real battle that is faced and Alyssa did a great job showcasing this.

In closing, one thing I that makes me dislike a thriller is the either the plot twist or the climax. I hate when I get to those parts and it’s like “pew” instead of “BAM”. This thriller was all the way “BAM”. Go pick it up.

Availability:

Available September 1, 2020 in paperback, ebook, and audiobook

Rating:

Knocked all four girls down!!!!

Thank you so much to William Morrow Books for this free copy in exchange for my honest review.

book review · books · psychological thriller · secrets

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager {ARC Review}

Blurb:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Review:

Riley Sager does it again. I am not a bit thriller lover, but I have loved everything that Riley Sager has written thus far. What I enjoyed about this story is that it is not the horror story that you think. Riley draws you into the story and plants all these clues to make you believe that you have figured out what is going on and then BAM there is a twist. The plot development was concise and flowing. The storyline was intriguing. This story reminded me of a movie I watched about a haunted floor of a building, but I can’t recall the name of it at this time.

I have to admit that in the beginning, thought that Jules was going to be the typical unreliable narrator. She quickly proved me wrong. She did what she thought she needed to do to solve the mystery. She realized that if something is too good to be true than it usually is.

The history of the Bartholomew kept my attention. I wanted to look up more info as if it was a true story. That never happens when I read a thriller. I didn’t have to suspend my mind too much to believe this story.

This book will be a great last-minute summer vacation read or a nice quick thrilling read while everyone gets ready to get back into the routine for school.

Rating:

4 stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

A special thank you to Dutton Books for my review copy.
book review · books · crime · reading

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell {ARC Review}

Blurb:

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

Review:

I want to start this review off by stating that thrillers are not my favorite genre and I find myself critiqueing them the hardest. I don’t know why that is but it just is.

Anyway, this story started off strong. The potential was there for a fairly decent thrill. I knew that Caroline was going to have some personality issues but not anything I couldn’t overlook. I felt some anger for her when her husband showed up to the party with the Russian bombshell and then kind of fell off the grid. I’ll also admit that I thought Aiden was going to be trouble from the moment he entered the story. Like I said, the bricks were laid out nicely….then….

Unreliable narration kicked in, not only from one character, but two!!! I could see where the author was going but things were not lining up properly for me. There were some gaps and there were also some unnecessary incidents that did not have any real purpose to the plot.

With all that being said, I am sure there are plenty of people who will in fact enjoy this story and I hope that there are. But for me, it missed it’s mark. It’s an easy and fast read. Won’t take much time to fly thru or much concentration. I believe those are both good things for a “beach read.” As far as substance though, if that is what you are seeking, I can’t sit here and say that this story has any.

I was so happy to receive the big marketing box that it came in, but now I realize that it was like seeing a big souped up truck with a hot guy driving it and the hot guy turns out to be only 5 ft tall.

This is my first book by this author and I do have her other two books. I plan on reading them to see if this was just a book that missed the mark for me.

Rating:

2.5 Stars

Availability:

Available July 23, 2019 in hardcover, ebook and audio.

Blog Tour · book review · books · suspense

I Know Who You Are By Alice Feeney {Review}

Blurb:

l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master at brilliantly complicated plots and twists after twists.

Review:

I am always a little hesitant when going into a popular thriller because I am afraid that I will not enjoy it and be the odd man out.  That is not the case for this story. One of the first things I thought was “oh boy, this is going to be an unreliable narrator who can’t handle her liquor.” I admit that I was okay with that aspect for this novel. Thankfully it was not the case. This story is told in dual timelines switching from when Aimee is a child to present time as an adult.

This is such a dark and twisted story. I was warned beforehand, but was still not prepared for how things were going to transpire. Dark and twisted is an understatement for this story. There are things that happen to Aimee as both an adult and child that literally made me cringe while reading.

Even with all that, I became so engrossed in this story I didn’t want to put it down. I was determined to figure out what was going on with her, this situation with her missing husband, the stalker, and also her childhood.

Learning what happens to Aimee as a child makes perfect sense as to how she becomes as an adult. She was a product of the environment that she was forced into. So much abuse and passive aggressive behavior. She has tried to live a normal life as a somewhat successful adult, although I am wondering how she would have known what was normal considering how she lived as a child. Then her past comes back to haunt her in more ways than one.

Nothing is what it seems. The pieces of her life don’t seem to fit together. The details of her marriage, her attitude about her missing husband, the things that are going on with her career.  Then BAM, there’s the plot twist. Talk about a bomb being dropped.

I would highly recommend this story if you are wanting a story that is going to blow your mind, but please see the trigger warnings below.  Also, please be prepared for the ending, lol. I was not fully prepared for and it was a bit overwhelming to be honest.

*Trigger Warnings:

Child abuse, allusions to rape, animal cruelty

 

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook and audiobook.

 

A special thank you to HQ Stories for providing a free copy of this novel,  having me along on this blog tour, and allowing me to share my honest opinion about this story.

 

 

book review · books · crime · Family

The Night Before by Wendy Walker {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Rosie and Laura are as different as two sisters can be. One is stable and has the perfect family. The other struggles to break free from her troubled past. When Laura disappears after going on a blind date, Rosie takes matters into her own hands.

But as Rosie begins to search for her sister, her greatest fears come to the surface. Could Laura be more of a danger than the stranger she meets, or is the night before her last night alive?

Told in dual timelines—the night before and the day after—The Night Before is a riveting thriller about family loyalty, obsession, and what happens when the desire for love spins out of control.

Review:

This story starts with a therapy session of Laura’s and immediately I think this is going to have an unreliable narrator. I am not against those types of thrillers but sometimes it makes the character get on my nerves. However, this was proven very quickly to not be true. It’s told from the perspectives of Laura and her sister Rosie thru two overlapping timelines. Throughout the story you get the idea that Laura is your typical angry woman who got into some trouble as a young girl and is trying to make a change in her life after a really bad breakup. At one point I thought she may have even just been a crazed stalker. Nothing is what it seems in this story and some of the characters aren’t as crazy as you think and some are at a level of crazy that you don’t quite see coming.

Let’s not forget about the men in the story, Joe and Gabe. I won’t go into too much detail about them but man oh man there’s some crazy stuff that you just can’t wrap your mind around when it comes to their parts in this story.

I thought I was going to figure out what was going on and who the villain was early on in the story but I didn’t figure it out until just about the time it was revealed in the story. Wendy Walker not only throws in some twists as far as the crazed character is concerned but also throws in some secrets that make you take a double look and think what the hell kind of nonsense is this? I love a thriller that can leave me with those types of thoughts.

I am not a big reader of thrillers but I did enjoy this one. It was a quick and easy read. I started it one night and finished it the next day. I would say definitely pack this one along for a good beach read this summer. Just don’t read it before going on a blind date, especially one you’ve met online.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook May 14th, 2019

A special thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

abuse · book review · books · Family · medical thriller · suspense

Saving Meghan by DJ Palmer {Review}

Blurb:

Can you love someone to death? 

Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others claim she’s obsessed and can’t stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter’s expense. 

Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, doctors intervene and immediately suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what’s going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?

Review:

When the story opened, I immediately thought “well, everyone is crazy.” Not just Becky or Meghan. The whole Gerard clan. I liked that it was a medical thriller and not just your everyday “someone got killed and here is your unreliable narrator” type of thriller.

I also appreciated the writing style and the formatting of the plot itself, although the ending felt just a tad bit rushed to me.

Of course there is always the character that you can’t stand in a thriller and in this one for me it was the whole Gerard clan. They just didn’t sit well with me throughout the whole story, lol. I really enjoyed that part because I was left not rooting for anyone. I just wanted to see what was going to happen.

As the story geared up for the plot twist and climax I have to admit there were some parts that I found difficult for me to suspend my logic in order to believe they could really happen. That is because I am not a big reader of thrillers.

All in all, this was quite the ride and I am curious to see what else this author has up his sleeve. This would make a great beach read for thriller fans this summer. Don’t let the amount of pages discourage you because it does read fairly quickly.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audio

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for this review opportunity.

book review · books · crime · Family · psychological thriller · secrets · suspense

Lies by T.M Morgan {ARC Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

What if you have the perfect life, the perfect wife and the perfect child—then, in one shattering moment, you discover nothing is as it seems? Now you are in the sights of a ruthless killer determined to destroy everything you treasure.

It’s the evening drive home from work on a route Joe Lynch has taken a hundred times with his young son. But today, Joe sees his wife meet another man—an encounter that will rip two families apart. Raising the question: Can we ever really trust those closest to us?

Joe will do whatever it takes to protect his family, but as the deception unravels, so does his life. A life played out without any rules. And a cunning opponent who’s always one step ahead.

Review:

I am always happy to receive a debut novel as an advanced reading copy so that I can see what a new author has in store. I like to be “in the know” before everyone else so that I can tell them what they should they be looking forward to.

In this story, we have Joe who is the perfect doting husband who does his more than equal share when it comes to home life and raising a child. Not something you see every day in a thriller. Joe is taken by surprise when he finds his wife in a tense meeting with her best friend’s husband at a hotel. Of course, you can’t blame him for confronting Ben after witnessing what happened. Although, you want to strangle him because he should have gone to his wife first. After a brief altercation with Ben, Joe is drawn into a world that he is not prepared for and must do whatever it takes to remain safe and out of jail.
I didn’t pick up this novel right away because I thought it would just be another run of the mill thriller. I decided to read it because it is told from a non-arrogant male point of view. Despite his size, Joe is seen as a gentle giant. He tries not to the worst of those around him, even those he begins to despise. His foolish trusting behavior is no match for what he must endure to prove his innocence. He is soon thrown into a world he has very little knowledge of.

Joe is taken advantage of by everyone around him, including his wife and his job. He doesn’t have anyone in his corner while he fights for his life, literally.

Joe must learn quickly that he must look out for himself. And his son.

This book was a little over 400 pages and even though I didn’t go into it with high hopes, I was not expecting the twist of the story. I almost didn’t have time to process what was going on since I was trying to figure out what exactly was happening. The twist comes so close to the ending that you almost have a difficult time to process what has just happened. I will admit that there was a good twist to the story even if it wasn’t completely surprising to me.

I personally wouldn’t classify this as a thriller because for myself, it wasn’t exactly a “thrilling” read. I would classify it as more suspenseful or mysterious than anything else. I do appreciate the change of pace in the characteristic of the main male character. Not everyday do we get to see the average man have to fight for his life and his child, and maybe his marriage.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

3 Stars

Availability:

Available on September 11, 2018 in hardcover, eBook and audiobook.

book review · crime · psychological thriller · suspense

The Last Time I Lied By Riley Sager {ARC Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

My Review:

I was excited to read this book since I recently read Sager’s previous book Final Girls which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This story takes place in the past and the present which I find enjoyable in thrillers where you know something has happened but you don’t know exactly what it is. It helps build the tension. Emma is the main character in the novel and you get a feeling that she has more to do with what happened to her friends fifteen years ago, you just don’t know how much. The story is filled with so many lies, that it is hard to keep up with who may or may not be innocent. One thing for sure is that everything is not what it seems and just when you think you have the story figured out, it takes a turn on you.

This story had me so intrigued that I stayed up all night to finish it especially after I realized that I did not have the story figured out. I liked the overall story and plot development. This is a thriller that shows the vindictiveness that people, most importantly woman, have underneath their veneer. They are just sometimes too able to camouflage. This factor definitely played a good part in this novel.

I enjoyed how the novel ended although it wasn’t just a closed door type of ending. It has the type of ending that literally leaves you wanting more but are still satisfied with the outcome.

I received this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

This book is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio

book review · Family · psychological thriller

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones {ARC Review}

Goodreads blurb:

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet.

But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman is an addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller about the destructive relationship between Emily, her boyfriend Adam, and his manipulative mother Pammie.

My Review:

This story is told from Emily’s point of view. She is a successful recruiter who meets Adam and they begin a whirlwind romance. He is the picture of perfection for her and she is completely smitten. A few weeks into their new relationship, Adam sets up a tea so that he can introduce her to Pammie *insert smirk*.

At first, when I received this book, I immediately formed my own speculation about who Pammie was. I was thinking crazy ex who cant let go. Boy was I wrong. Pammie is Adam’s mother and let’s just say she is definitely not the mom I would want to meet.

Pammie’s behavior toward Emily was so absurd that I was almost convinced that she and Adam had something of a Norman Bates relationship. She is so manipulative and conniving. Man, could this woman put on a show though. She was so good that she had Emily and myself second guessing things.

Of course, Emily has to fight this battle of Pammie on her own besides confiding in her close friends and her family. Adam is of no help because dear sweet, sweet mom can do no wrong. Emily just can’t see what a wonderful person she is and that she is just a lonely woman who loves her son. Basically a bunch of mommy’s boy bull!

The closer I got to the end of the story the more I thought I had it all figured out. I just KNEW what was going to happen. I had all my clues lined up in my mind and then, BAM! Sandie threw in a twist. She not only threw in a twist but she twisted the ending completely out and that is something that is very important when reading a suspense novel.

My only  complaint is that I felt the ending of the story was a bit too rushed but not enough to take away from the novel as a whole. I am looking forward to seeing what else Sandie Jones has to offer.

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good domestic, psychological suspense thriller and needs a quick read.

I received this book from Minotaur Books (a St. Martin’s press imprint) in exchange for an honest review.

I also reviewed this book on the 3 Book Girls podcast and I promise I didn’t give away any spoilers.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available August 21, 2018 in hardcover, ebook and audiobook.

 

book review · books · crime · serial killer

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara {Review}

Amazon Blurb:

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

My Review:

This was my first introduction to a true crime book. I am glad that I chose this as my first taste into this genre. Michelle was thorough with her knowledge but she always remained humane to the victims and survivors. This killer made his mark from the 70’s to the 80’s. It was as if he had a reign of terror over California. The opening of the story with Gillian Flynn and Patton Oswald’s closing was a nice touch since Michelle unfortunately passed away before the book was published. This book sparked an interest in true crime that I didn’t know that I had and I am very excited about that. if you are already a fan of true crime or need an introduction this is the perfect book and story. I never realized how difficult an investigation was prior to DNA and forensic testing. Hopefully with the advancement of those items, this horrible killer will be caught one day.  Michelle not only presents her facts but she also provides her own opinion without seeming overbearing. You respect her point of view that she has about this case. I admire her dedication and would have loved to see what else she may have brought to the world of true crime with her talent.

My Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook wherever books are sold.