Review: Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Publication: Dutton Books
Publication Date: 6/30/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Dutton Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Review: Riley Sager is one of my favorite thriller writers and I was excited to receive an advanced copy of his latest thriller releasing this summer! Overall, I thought this was a good read! It’s not my favorite of his four, but it was a solid story. I liked the alternating perspectives of Maggie and her father’s, Ewan, book. It definitely gave a wholistic view. I’m not into supernatural elements in stories, however, I felt that Riley Sager executed this well and I loved the unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first part. The beginning is a slow burn trying to set up the story. If you loved The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James or if you’re already a Riley Sager fan, this is a must read!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Take A Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: 6/23/2020

Disclaimer: I won an advanced reader copy of this book from GoodReads courtesy by Avon Books. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Review: This is the second book in The Brown Sisters series and could be read as a stand alone book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely loved this one more than Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Not only is there a diverse set of characters, but I really liked that each of the characters in this book stand their own ground. Talia Hibbert incorporates the importance of mental health and work life balance in such a relatable yet funny way way in her book. I highly recommend picking this one up if you love contemporary romance! I can’t wait for Eve’s story next!

Rating: 4/5

Review: The Last Flight

The Last Flight by Julie Clark 
Publication: SourceBooks Landmark
Publication Date: 6/23/2020

GoodReads Synopsis: Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it’s no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva’s identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

The Last Flight is the story of two women ― both alone, both scared ― and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives. 

Review: I loved that this story portrayed strong female protagonists and the importance of female friendship. Julie’s writing style captured my interest from page one. The character development in this one is really well written. I loved that the author was able to capture the strength and yet the vulnerability of each main character and what she was going through. Also there were a few twists I didn’t see coming and I liked how the story ended. Overall, I enjoyed this thriller and highly recommend you read it!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Recipe For Persuasion (The Rajes #2)

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev 
Publication: William Morrow
Publication Date: 5/26/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from William Morrow in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen? 

Rico Silva, that’s what.  

Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster. 
FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her. 

But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico.  Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…? 

Review: Recipe For Persuasion is the second book in The Rajes series. This can be read as a stand alone so you don’t need to read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (the first book) beforehand. Overall, I liked this book better than the first one. I thought that the plot was intriguing and the characters were deeply complex. However, I did feel that the story did drag out a bit. Ashna and Rico’s chemistry seemed more like tell than show where the story keeps saying they are deeply in love, but it never really shows why they’re still in love with each other after all this time. I wasn’t a big fan of Ashna’s mother Shobi even though I understand that she’s an integral character in book. Though the book was very well written and I was rooting for the characters, I felt like I was waiting for the characters to get their stuff together despite their troubled pasts. This contemporary romance is not lighthearted by any means. If you do decide to read this book, be forewarned that there are quite a few triggers which I’m surprised that this wasn’t put in the beginning of the book. Trigger warnings include suicide, alcoholism, rape, anxiety, and death of a parent.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Wife Stalker

The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 5/19/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Breezing into the tony seaside paradise of Westport, Connecticut, gorgeous thirtysomething Piper Reynard sets down roots, opening a rehab and wellness space and joining a local yacht club. When she meets Leo Drakos, a handsome, successful lawyer, the wedding ring on his finger is the only thing she doesn’t like about him. Yet as Piper well knows, no marriage is permanent.

Meanwhile, Joanna has been waiting patiently for Leo, the charismatic man she fell in love with all those years ago, to re-emerge from the severe depression that has engulfed him. Though she’s thankful when Leo returns to his charming, energetic self, paying attention again to Evie and Stelli, the children they both love beyond measure, Joanna is shocked to discover that it’s not her loving support that’s sparked his renewed happiness—it’s something else.

Piper. Leo has fallen head over heels for the flaky, New Age-y newcomer, and unrepentant and resolute, he’s more than willing to leave Joanna behind, along with everything they’ve built. Of course, he assures her, she can still see the children.

Joanna is devastated—and determined to find something, anything, to use against this woman who has stolen her life and her true love. As she digs deeper into Piper’s past, Joanna begins to unearth disturbing secrets . . . but when she confides to her therapist that she fears for the lives of her ex-husband and children, her concerns are dismissed as paranoia. Can she find the proof she needs in time to save them?

Review: Overall, I had mixed feelings on this domestic thriller. It was better than The Last Time I Saw You, but wasn’t as good as The Last Mrs. Parrish which is my all-time favorite domestic thriller. The beginning initially had me hooked with alternating POVs, but towards the middle, I found to skimming waiting for something to happen. Even though things eventually progressed, it felt very disjointed. Without spoiling anything, I felt that the last 20 pages or so crammed in way too twists and then I ultimately felt disappointed in the ending. I ended up giving this a low three stars. I liked the plot, however, it wasn’t executed as well as I thought it could have been.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Trouble With Hating You

The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel 
Publication: Read Forever
Publication Date: 5/12/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Forever in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?

Review: What a phenomenal debut! I’m so glad I took my time devouring this book. I’m extremely picky with my romance books, but this one was amazing and deserves all the stars. When I first started this book, I was unsure of how I felt about Liya and her behavior. At first, I was really put off with it and couldn’t stand why she was so rude to the point where she crossed the line on more than one occasion, but as I read on, I further understood why and everything fell into place. My favorite characters were Jay’s mom and Liya’s supportive and strong female friends. I loved how strong, and different each of Liya’s friends were. They were also fiercely loyal and extremely sweet. I loved that Jay’s mom always leveled with Jay and was very respectful as well. My favorite part of the book was the strong ending. I loved that it was realistic but also very sweet. Lastly, I admired that the author was able to delve into heavy topics (sexual assault and death of a loved one) in the storyline in such an eloquent way. I also appreciated that she put a trigger warning in the beginning of her book. I highly recommend picking this one up. Now I can’t wait for Preeti’s story next!

Rating: 5/5

Review: A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
Publication: Harper
Publication Date: 5/5/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Harper in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: 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 Grace Hall private 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.

Review: A Good Marriage is the first book I’ve read from Kimberly McCreight. I was initially hooked to the storyline for the first quarter of the book. Towards the middle, I felt that the book was dragging on and not much was happening. However, I did like the three different perspectives – Lizzie was my favorite. Without giving to much away, I felt that the side characters weren’t fully developed. Towards the last quarter of the book, that’s when the unexpected twists came into play. I definitely didn’t expect the ending which made the book worth reading. If you like legal thrillers and domestic suspense, then this may be up your alley.

Rating: 3/5

Review: One Month Only

One Month Only by Kate J. Blake
Publication Date: 2/19/2020

Disclaimer: I received a finished ebook copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: I’m a billionaire, I’m a chaser, I’m a wolf. I worked too hard to get where I am now, so I don’t need any distractions, especially the one called LOVE.

Don’t get me wrong, I love and enjoy sex, but all I need to do to have a fuck is to show a woman my Amex Black Card and let her hear my Italian accent and here we go: a one-night stand guaranteed.

Everything worked just fine for me until a chance meeting with her —Angelica Sorreno — when she came back into my life. She is like a strong, terrifying tsunami that blows everything in its way.
She asked me for help and I agreed, but only because we were friends, and not because I used to have feelings for her.

It’s just that…

I’ve made a mistake, a huge one: I’ve tasted her and she happened to have the most delicious pussy I’ve ever tried.

Now I don’t think I can let her go that easily.

Review: One Monthly Only is the first book in The Tuscany Night series and is debut by Kate J. Blake. It’s a quick light read that I finished in a day. It’s a nice palette cleanser to read if you’ve been reading heavy or intense books lately. It is a slow burn read so it felt most of the action happened at the end. Personally this book wasn’t for me. The story was cute, but I found the characters to be a bit too naive for my taste. I‘m not a fan of the cliffhangers at the end, but second book should be coming out soon so that’s great. I’d recommend this book if you love second chance romance and want something quick and light to read.

Rating: 3/5

Review: 11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Publication: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 7/24/12

GoodReads Synopsis: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

Review: If you had the power to go back and change a monumental event in American History, would you do it?

This is one of those rare instances where I watched the show, 11/22/63, on Hulu before I read the book. After binging the show, I knew I had to get my hands on the book. 11/22/63 is the second book I’ve read from Stephen King. When I first bought the book, I’m not going to lie that I was intimidated by it’s 800+ pages. What I found the most fascinating is that the premise focuses more on time travel, JFK’s assassination, and wasn’t as horror heavy as I anticipated. The strength that lies within the story that Stephen King executes well is ethical questions and the butterfly effect.

After reading the book and the TV show, I have to say that I liked the TV show much more which is super rare. As much as I loved the premise of the novel, I found the characters to be much more likable and to have more of a human element in the TV show. In the book, the characters, especially Jake, came off crass. However, I did find that I liked the explanation of time travel in the book which I felt the show rushed it a bit. I thought that the book could have been reduced by 300-400 pages as there were some scenes that seemed to ramble on and were unnecessary. I liked that the TV show cut to the point. I highly recommend reading the book and watching the show if you’re into time travel elements.

Rating: 4/5

Review: Girl Gone Viral

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Publication: Avon Books  
Publication Date: 4/21/20

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Avon Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

NetGalley Synopsis: In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a reclusive investor goes viral, shoving her into the world’s spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’s been pining for…

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a random guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire encounter with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn’t easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. Besides, everyone has it all wrong…that #CafeBae bro? He isn’t the man she’s hungry for.

He’s got a to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, offers his family’s farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush feels like a recipe for hopeless longing, but Katrina craves the escape. She’s resigned to being just friends with Jas–until they share a single electrifying kiss. Now she can’t help but wonder if her crush may not be so unrequited after all…

Review: Girl Gone Viral is the second installment of Modern Love series and the fifth book I’ve read from Alisha Rai. I have to say this may be my all-time favorite Alisha Rai novel to date! I adored the main characters. I love that Alisha continues to use a diverse set of characters in her contemporary romance novels. Beyond that, she brings deeply complex characters with different backgrounds and brings them together seamlessly. It’s also a delight to see characters from her previous books appear as well. I devoured this book in about two days! I really liked that Alisha shed light on the importance of mental health, PTSD, and when to ask for help. I can’t wait for her third book in the series to come out and I’m hoping it will be about Jia’s story! If you liked The Right Swipe or contemporary romance in general, I highly recommend picking up this novel!

Rating: 4/5