Review: The Family Game

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 10/18/2022

Thank you to PRH Audio for the free audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Harry is a novelist on the brink of stardom; Edward, her husband-to-be, is seemingly perfect. In love and freshly engaged, their bliss is interrupted by the reemergence of the Holbecks, Edward’s eminent family and the embodiment of American old money. For years, they’ve dominated headlines and pulled society’s strings, and Edward left them all behind to forge his own path. But there are eyes and ears everywhere. It was only a matter of time before they were pulled back in . . .

After all, even though he’s long severed ties with his family, Edward is set to inherit it all. Harriet is drawn to the glamour and sophistication of the Holbecks, who seem to welcome her with open arms, but everything changes when she meets Robert, the inescapably magnetic head of the family. At their first meeting, Robert slips Harry a cassette tape, revealing a shocking confession which sets the inevitable game in motion.

What is it about Harry that made him give her that tape? A thing that has the power to destroy everything? As she ramps up her quest for the truth, she must endure the Holbecks’ savage Christmas traditions all the while knowing that losing this game could be deadly.

Review: The Family Game is the first book I read from Catherine Steadman. This domestic thriller is a slow burn and Dolores strained family relationships, unraveling secrets, instinct, and truth. The first half of the book is pretty slow and I guessed the twist early. I felt that the action didn’t start till the second half of the book. I found Harriet to be extremely annoying at first and didn’t understand why she didn’t listen to the tape in one sitting. The premise sounded interesting, but I felt it wasn’t executed well. As for the audio, I think it would have been better if there was a male narrator for the tape recording. The author reads it herself which is fine, but it didn’t have that much of an impact. This isn’t a book I would recommend, but if it is on your TBR, you might like it.

Review: I’ll Be You

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 4/26/2022

Thank you to Random House for the free finished copy and PRH Audio for the free audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Two identical twin sisters and former child actors have grown apart—until one disappears, and the other is forced to confront the secrets they’ve kept from each other in this twisty suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Things.

“You be me, and I’ll be you,” I whispered.

As children, Sam and Elli were two halves of a perfect whole: gorgeous identical twins whose parents sometimes couldn’t even tell them apart. They fell asleep to the sound of each other’s breath at night, holding hands in the dark. And once Hollywood discovered them, they became B-list child TV stars, often inhabiting the same role.

But as adults, their lives have splintered. After leaving acting, Elli reinvented herself as the perfect homemaker: married to a real estate lawyer, living in a house just blocks from the beach. Meanwhile, Sam has never recovered from her failed Hollywood career, or from her addiction to the pills and booze that have propped her up for the last fifteen years.

Sam hasn’t spoken to her sister since her destructive behavior finally drove a wedge between them. So when her father calls out of the blue, Sam is shocked to learn that Elli’s life has been in turmoil: her husband moved out, and Elli just adopted a two-year-old girl. Now she’s stopped answering her phone and checked in to a mysterious spa in Ojai. Is her sister just decompressing, or is she in trouble? Could she have possibly joined a cult? As Sam works to connect the dots left by Elli’s baffling disappearance, she realizes that the bond between her and her sister is more complicated than she ever knew.

I’ll Be You shows Janelle Brown at the top of her game: a story packed with surprising revelations and sharp insights about the choices that define our families and our lives—and could just as easily destroy them

Review: I’ll Be You is the second book I’ve read from Janelle Brown. This psychological thriller dives into former child actor lives, twins, strained relationships, and secrets. Overall, I really enjoyed this one! From the first page, I had no idea where the story was going to go. The twists and turns of each page has me curious what the end game was going to be. This is definitely a character driven story and it is a bit of a slow burn. I really loved that not only we got read perspectives from the twins (Sam and Ellie), but there were also now and then chapters within each perspective. I mostly listened the audiobook which Julia Whelan and Kate Rudd narrate. I loved their narrations which helped me get invested in the story further. The only part I wasn’t sure how I felt was the ending, but I won’t mention any spoilers. The author discusses a lot of heavy subjects in this book so read with care if you decide to pick up (I won’t list them here as some of the subjects may be spoilers). Highly recommend picking up I’ll Be You if you like twisted thrillers!

Review: The Lioness

The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian
Publisher: Double Day Books
Pub Date: 5/10/2022

Thank you to PRH Audio for the free audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Tanzania, 1964. When Katie Barstow, A-list actress, and her new husband, David Hill, decide to bring their Hollywood friends to the Serengeti for their honeymoon, they envision giraffes gently eating leaves from the tall acacia trees, great swarms of wildebeests crossing the Mara River, and herds of zebra storming the sandy plains. Their glamorous guests—including Katie’s best friend, Carmen Tedesco, and Terrance Dutton, the celebrated Black actor who stars alongside Katie in the highly controversial film “Tender Madness”—will spend their days taking photos, and their evenings drinking chilled gin and tonics back at camp, as the local Tanzanian guides warm water for their baths. The wealthy Americans expect civilized adventure: Fresh ice from the kerosene-powered ice maker, dinners of cooked gazelle meat, and plenty of stories to tell over lunch back on Rodeo Drive.

What Katie and her glittering entourage do not expect is this: A kidnapping gone wrong, their guides bleeding out in the dirt, and a team of Russian mercenaries herding them into Land Rovers, guns to their heads. As the powerful sun gives way to night, the gunmen shove them into abandoned huts and Katie Barstow, Hollywood royalty, prays for a simple thing: To see the sun rise one more time. A blistering story of fame, race, love, and death set in a world on the cusp of great change, The Safari is a vibrant masterpiece from one of our finest storytellers.

Review: The Lioness is the first book I’ve read from Chris Bohjalian. This historical thriller takes place in 1964 where a luxurious African safari turns deadly for a famous Hollywood star and her entourage. Overall, I enjoyed this one and it was a five star read! The writing sucked me in from the beginning and I didn’t know where the story was headed. I liked the various perspectives and that each perspective had present day and flashbacks before the trip to get a better understand of the relationships among all the characters. After a chapter or two, I ended up switching from the audiobook to the physical book which I’m glad I did. I’d recommend reading the physical book to get a better reading experience as there are multiple characters to keep track of and love that there’s a character list in the beginning which helps the reader. I really loved that the author’s writing style kept me engaged in the story the whole time. I was surprised to learn from the author that Benjamin’s perspective was the hardest to write. The Lioness will become a series and Chris is an executive producer which I am super excited about! Highly recommend if you love action-packed thrillers!

Review: The House Across the Lake

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Pub Date: 6/21/2022

Thank you to PRH Audio for the free audiobook and Dutton for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey becomes consumed with finding out what happened to her. In the process, she uncovers eerie, darker truths that turn a tale of voyeurism and suspicion into a story of guilt, obsession and how looks can be very deceiving.

With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy surprises, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake unveils more than one twist that will shock readers until the very last page.

Review: I’m huge Riley Sager fan so so was excited to hear his latest novel, The House Across the Lake, is releasing this summer! The House Across the Lake is a psychological thriller that explores stalking, former actor life, toxic relationships, and secrets. I had mixed feelings about this book. When I was first reading, I was a bit concerned about not liking the book because it had the overhyped trope of an unreliable female narrator. I like that Riley Sager’s writing style always keeps me engaged even if I feel unsure about the story. This is a definitely a slow build and character-driven story. I found the last third of the story to be the most interesting even though I’m not a fan of paranormal thrillers. I loved the twists and turns he provided and they were ones I wouldn’t have guessed. I ended up rating this 3.5 stars and rounded up to 4 stars. One thing to note is that I would definitely recommend reading the physical or the ebook. I wasn’t a fan of the audiobook narrator that was chosen as I felt the voice felt older than the narrator in the book. If you loved Riley Sager’s previous books or are a fan of psychological thrillers, you may want to check this one out.

Review: Insomnia

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pub Date: 4/12/2022

Thank you to William Morrow Books for the free finished copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: In this twisty, mind-bending thriller from the bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes, Emma Averell worries that her crippling insomnia is a sign that she’s slowly going insane—like the mother she’s worked so hard to leave in her past.

Emma Averell loves her life—her high-powered legal career, her two beautiful children, and her wonderful stay-at-home husband—but it wasn’t always so perfect. When she was just five years old, Emma and her older sister went into foster care because of a horrific incident with their mother. Her sister can remember a time when their mother was loving and “normal,” but Emma can only remember her as one thing—a monster. And that monster emerged right around their mother’s fortieth birthday, the same age Emma is approaching now.

Emma desperately wants to keep her successful life separate from her past, so she has always hidden her childhood trauma. But then she’s unable to sleep, and now losing time during the day, also one of the first symptoms her mother showed. Is the madness in her blood, just as her mother predicted? Could she end up hurting her family in her foggy, frenetic state? Or is she truly beginning to lose her mind?

Review: Insomnia is the third book I’ve read from Sarah Pinborough. This psychological thriller explores strained familial relationships, memories, secrets, and paranoia. Overall, I liked reading this one. This is one of those books where it’s better going in not knowing what it’s really about. There’s only one narrator who is unreliable. I liked the slow build and unfolding throughout the book. Though some of the explanations seemed unrealistic, it was a fun read. If you love psychological thrillers, this may be up your alley!

Review: The Younger Wife

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 4/5/2022

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis:

THE HUSBAND: A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

THE DAUGHTERS: Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

THE FORMER WIFE: With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

THE YOUNGER WIFE: Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?

Review: The Younger Wife is the third book I’ve read from Sally Hepworth. Sally’s books seem to be a mixed bag for me. The Younger Wife explores strained familial relationships, social class, gaslighting, and finding the truth. Overall, this was an entertaining read. I liked the various POVs and the writing style. The middle dragged a bit, but it was interesting to see how the ending came together. Also the author connected a scene in the book to something that happened to her in real life which was pretty cool. I’d recommend reading this if you loved her other books. This was 3.5 stars for me.

Review: This Might Hurt

This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel l
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 2/22/2022

Thank you to Berkley for the free finished copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Welcome to Wisewood. We’ll keep your secrets if you keep ours.

Natalie Collins hasn’t heard from her sister in more than half a year.

The last time they spoke, Kit was slogging from mundane workdays to obligatory happy hours to crying in the shower about their dead mother. She told Natalie she was sure there was something more out there.

And then she found Wisewood.

On a private island off the coast of Maine, Wisewood’s guests commit to six-month stays. During this time, they’re prohibited from contact with the rest of the world–no Internet, no phones, no exceptions. But the rules are for a good reason: to keep guests focused on achieving true fearlessness so they can become their Maximized Selves. Natalie thinks it’s a bad idea, but Kit has had enough of her sister’s cynicism and voluntarily disappears off the grid.

Six months later Natalie receives a menacing e-mail from a Wisewood account threatening to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Panicked, Natalie hurries north to come clean to her sister and bring her home. But she’s about to learn that Wisewood won’t let either of them go without a fight.

Review: This Might Hurt is Stephanie Wrobel’s second novel. I loved Stephanie’s debut, Darling Rose Gold, so I was excited to hear about this one! This Might Hurt is a thriller that explores strained family dynamics, claustrophobic vibes, island life, and instinct. The author addresses some heavy subjects throughout the story: child abuse, domestic abuse, emotional abuse. The premise of the story was intriguing. I found this to give Nine Perfect Strangers and cult like vibes which was interesting. It was interesting to see the secrets unravel for each character and to learn more about their pasts. Though I figured out most of the twists early on, there was a small one that I didn’t catch that was pleasantly surprising. I liked the way the book ended as well. I could definitely see this book have a sequel or turn into a show. This Might Hurt was a fun read, but I personally like Darling Rose Gold even though I rated both books the same. I’d recommend picking this one up if you liked Darling Rose Gold!

Review: The Book of Cold Cases

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley Pub
Pub Date: 3/15/2022

Thank you to Berkley Pub for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases–a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

Review: The Book of Cold Cases has been one of my most anticipated thrillers this year. I’m not really a fan of paranormal thrillers, but I absolutely loved Simone’s previous two books so I was curious about this one. The Book of Cold Cases involves crime blogging, unsolved serial killer mystery, small town living, and paranormal vibes. Overall, this was a decent read. The building up to the mystery was a bit too slow burn for me. I really enjoyed Beth’s POV more than Shea, but I understood why Shea’s POV was there. It took me a while to get invested in the story as I felt that there was a lack of twists and it’s easy to figure out who was culprit from the beginning. Even though I figured it out early, I enjoyed the journey of getting to that point through the author’s writing style. This was a solid 3 stars for me. If you enjoyed the author’s previous work or love paranormal thrillers, you may enjoy this one.

Review: The Replacement Wife

The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane
Publisher: William Morrow
Pub Date: 12/28/2021

Thank you to William Morrow for the free finished copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Elisa Wright is a mom and wife, living a nice, quiet life in a nice, quiet town. She’s also convinced her brother-in-law is a murderer. Josh has one dead wife and one missing fiancée, and though he grieved for them he starts dating someone new. Elisa fears for that woman’s safety, and she desperately wants to know what happened to her friend, Josh’s missing fiancée.

Searching for clues means investigating her own family. And she doesn’t like what she finds. A laptop filled with incriminating information. Other women.

But when Elisa becomes friends with Josh’s new girlfriend and starts to question things she thinks are true, Elisa wonders if the memories of a horrible incident a year ago have finally pushed her over the edge and Josh is really innocent. With so much at stake, Elisa fights off panic attacks and a strange illness. Is it a breakdown or something more? The race is on to get to the truth before another disappearance because there’s a killer in the family… or is there?

Review: The Replacement Wife is a domestic suspense novel that explores manipulation, gaslighting, family dynamics, and lies. Overall, I enjoyed The Replacement Wife way more than Pretty Little Wife (I ended up DNF’ing Pretty Little Wife). The men in this book are so manipulative and toxic. I felt for Elisa, but at times, I wanted to shake her and tell her to trust her instinct. I understood why the author made Elisa’s character the way she was though. Though this suspense novel is a bit predictable, there were a couple of twists I didn’t see coming which made the journey of the story enjoyable. Overall, I give it 3.5 stars but rounded to 4 stars on GoodReads.

Review: The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Publisher: William Morrow
Pub Date: 2/22/2022

Thank you to William Morrow for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

Review: The Paris Apartment is the third book I’ve read from Lucy Foley and this was one of my most anticipated reads this year! This locked room mystery sets place in Paris and explores troubled pasts, secrets, and disappearances. I came into this book not really knowing much of the plot and ended up enjoying it! The Paris Apartment is more of a character driven story. There are a quite a few characters and I enjoyed reading the different perspectives. I really liked the short digestible chapters. Though I was only able to read the book, I have a feeling this would be great on audio. Even though all the characters were unlikable, I was intrigued by the storyline. The story starts off a bit slow at first, but the pacing makes sense. There were twists in here that I wasn’t anticipating which made this locked room mystery fun to solve. The only part I didn’t like was how neatly wrapped up it was at the end, but overall, I liked the writing style. If you enjoyed Lucy Foley’s other books, then you’re definitely in for a treat to read The Paris Apartment.