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: 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: 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: 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: Darling Rose Gold

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Publication: Berkley
Publication Date: 3/17/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home. 

Review: This is the first book I’ve read from Stephanie Wrobel and definitely won’t be the last! This thriller is fast paced from the get go filled with unlikable characters. I liked the unreliable narrators and the alternating perspectives from Rose Gold and her mother, Patty. They have such a messed up relationship that it was interesting to see the past versus the presence and how they got to where they were. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, I highly recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5 

Review: The Eighth Girl

The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung
Publication: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 3/17/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: One woman, multiple personas. 

But which one is telling the truth? 

Beautiful. Damaged. Destructive. Meet Alexa Wú, a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her shrink Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella. The perfect trio of trust.

When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she catches the attention of its shark-like owner and is gradually drawn into his inner circle. As Alexa’s world becomes intimately entangled with Ella’s, she soon finds herself the unwitting keeper of a nightmarish secret. With no one to turn to and lives at stake, she follows Ella into London’s cruel underbelly on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, Alexa will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her most dangerous obstacle.

Electrifying and breathlessly compulsive, The Eighth Girl is an omnivorous examination of life with mental illness and the acute trauma of life in a misogynist world. With bingeable prose and a clinician’s expertise, Chung’s psychological debut deftly navigates the swirling confluence of identity, innocence, and the impossible fracturing weights that young women are forced to carry, causing us to question: Does the truth lead to self-discovery, or self-destruction?

Review: The Eighth Girl is Maxine Mei-Fung’s debut novel. This psychological thriller explores mental health (more specifically dissociative identity disorder or also known as multiple personality disorder), trauma, abuse, sexuality, and control. Overall, I found the storyline to be quite intriguing. I loved the alternative perspectives of Alexa and Daniel. For Alexa, it was interesting to learn about her multiple ‘selves’, how they interacted with one another, and how we are introduced to them throughout the book. For Daniel’s perspective, I found his psychiatrist and patient sessions to be most fascinating and learned a great deal. It was great to see how complex these characters were by diving into their pasts and seeing how it affected their present selves. I did find that I took my time with novel due to the nature of the content instead of speeding through books like I usually do. If you decide to read this book, I recommend to definitely read the synopsis before you dive in so you can be emotionally prepared and know the trigger warnings in advance if needed.

After I finished the book, I found out from the author that The Eighth Girl has been optioned by Netflix. Click here to learn more. I’m super excited to see that this book will be potentially a movie and can’t wait to see who they will cast!

Review: 5/5

Review: You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Publication: St Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 3/3/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. I also received a free advanced listening copy of this book from LibroFM, MacMillan Audio, and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: You probably know someone like Shay Miller. She wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated. You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters. They have an unbreakable circle of friends. They live the most glamorous life. They always get what they desire. Shay thinks she wants their life. But what they really want is hers.

Review: This is the third book I’ve read from Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanan.  You Are Not Alone reads similar time their previous works, The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl. However, it’s not a domestic thriller. Overall, I found the writing to be intriguing and fast-paced for the most part. Towards the end, it felt like it was dragging a bit. The characters weren’t as fully in-depth that I liked, but it was still enjoyable read.  In terms of the audiobook, I felt that there wasn’t much of a voice difference between the two women who were narrating it even though the book is told from multiple perspectives. Personally, An Anonymous Girl, is my all-time favorite from them.If you love thrillers and/or loved the author duo’s previous books, I’d recommend checking them out. 

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Other People

The Other People by C.J. Tudor
Publication: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 1/28/20

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

GoodReads Synopsis: She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper tickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter, and wife, are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible.

Three years later and Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter.

Katie spends a lot of her life in service stations, working as a waitress. She often sees Gabriel, or ‘the thin man’ as she has nicknamed him. She knows his story. She feels for him, because Katie understands what it’s like to lose a loved one. Nine years ago, her father was murdered. It broke her family apart. She hasn’t seen her oldest sister since the day of the funeral; the day she did something terrible.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people that want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows that if they ever find them, they’re dead.

Review: The Other People is C.J. Tudor’s third book. Overall, I found this to be a decent read. I really loved the premise of this novel. The character development and element of mystery were pretty strong. However, I found the writing style in this particular book to be somewhat odd. I noticed that the transitions alternating from past and present didn’t flow well. I also did not like the supernatural elements at the end which seemed to completely off. Despite these discrepancies, I would still recommend checking this thriller out if you loved The Chalk Man and Hiding Place.

Rating: 3/5

Review: 29 Seconds

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

Publication: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: 3/8/18

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

GoodReads Synposis: When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

Review: 29 Seconds is the second book I’ve read from T.M. Logan. Overall, this was a solid three star thriller for me. The storyline was intriguing and action packed from page one. However, the plot seemed to be a bit too far fetched for my taste. I didn’t see one of the twists coming which was a pleasant surprise. I found Sarah to be such a weak and naive main character which irked me a lot, but I enjoyed learning a bit more about the other characters. Personally, I liked Lies better than 29 Seconds. If this is on your TBR, then it may be up your alley.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Publication: Atria Books

Publication Date: 11/5/19

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Review: The Family Upstairs is Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller. Lisa Jewell has quickly become an auto-read author for me! I love the multiple POVs and the past vs. present narratives in this storyline. The book starts off a bit slow at the beginning, but quickly picks up towards the middle. I definitely didn’t see any of the twists coming which was quite refreshing. The characters are well-written and the writing style keeps you on your toes. If thrillers are your jam or if you’re craving an intriguing mystery, I highly recommend picking up The Family Upstairs!

Rating: 4/5