A relatable and nerve-wracking, sympathetic and bone-chilling story — a fresh new twist on motherhood and murder in suburbia.
Isolated. Lonely. Tired. It’s hard being The New Mother. Sometimes it’s murder.
Nothing is simple about being a new mom alone in a new house, especially when your baby is collicky. Natalie Fanning loves her son unconditionally, but being a mother was not all she wanted to be.
Enter Paul, the neighbor.
Paul provides the lifeline she needs in what feels like the most desperate of times. When Paul is helping with Oliver, calmed by his reassuring, steady presence, Nat feels like she can finally rest.
But Paul wants something in return. It’s no coincidence that he has befriended Nat—she is the perfect pawn for his own plan. Will Nat wake up in time to see it?
It wasn’t the sort of neighborhood for murder. It was exactly th sort of neighborhood that is comprised the majority of Patuxent County.
The New Mother by Nora Murphy
Natalie is having a hard time adjusting to motherhood. She can’t sleep because Oliver, her son, only wants her and screams if anyone else touches him. Then she meets her next-door neighbor, Paul, and he seems to have the magic touch with Oliver. Soon, they have a close friendship. But things are different from what they seem with Paul. His befriending Natalie wasn’t a coincidence. Paul is setting Natalie up for a crime he committed. What crime did Paul commit? Will Natalie take the fall for it?
Reading this book took me back to my seventeen-year-old daughter’s birth and the months shortly after. I thought I was prepared for her birth and everything after. I wasn’t. I dealt with a horrible birth experience and a newborn/infant who screamed constantly. Unlike Natalie, I thankfully had my family and friends that watched out for PPD. But it was challenging and draining. And, like Natalie, it was a sense of relief when I got answers for why my daughter (Miss B) screamed all the time. She had colic and went nine months with an undiagnosed milk allergy. It took me switching doctors to get that diagnosis. So, yes, I related to this book.
The New Mother is a fast-paced book with dual points of view. The points of view went between the first person (Natalie) and 3rd person (Paul). I wasn’t a massive fan of that, I wouldn’t say I like it when it changes POV, but I did like that I got to see how Paul formulated his plan and how Natalie figured out what he was doing. The pacing for this book fits it perfectly.
The storyline for The New Mother was interesting. It centers around Natalie and her life after having Oliver. Natalie was one of those Facebook-perfect mothers at the beginning of The New Mother. She was going to do everything organic, exclusively breastfeeding and babywearing. I did get a good giggle at how the author initially wrote her. But Oliver wasn’t your typical baby. He had colic and screamed all the time. He hated the sling. And breastfeeding was an awful experience for Natalie. Plus, she started getting depressed and not allowing anyone to hold Oliver but her. In the middle of the book, Natalie is having a rough time. Then Paul swoops in like an angel and helps Natalie. She can sleep and feel like she is her old self around him. But Paul, well, his friendship with Natalie had sinister motives, and the author clarified those motives around the time their friendship deepened. I did call what happened next and everything else after.
As I said above, Natalie was a Facebook-perfect mother. She was one of those mothers who did everything perfectly. I was rolling my eyes whenever she yelled at her husband for bringing nonorganic food into the house. The scene where he bought the swing was a perfect example also. But at the same time, I did feel bad for her. She was struggling. Breastfeeding was hard for her, and she wasn’t expecting it to be painful. Oliver was a difficult baby, and she made it worse by holding him constantly. I called because she had PPD long before it was mentioned in the book. Natalie also wasn’t sleeping, and it was starting to mess with her. I was also a little irritated that no one, mainly her husband, caught on that she was depressed. It was so obvious (well, to me, it was). And it made it easy for Paul to prey on her.
I didn’t like Paul from the beginning. I have nothing against stay-at-home dads (actually, it’s excellent), but how he became one was awful. He had nothing nice to say about his wife, and that was a huge red flag to me when he started bad-mouthing her to Natalie. He just got skeevier and skeevier as the book went on. Poor Natalie didn’t know which end was up with him. The night of the Halloween party and the confrontation after were his doing. He was just a nasty man who did get what was coming to him.
I found the thriller/suspense angle of The New Mother interesting. I liked that the author kept the bad guy (Paul) first and foremost in the book. I loved that I got to see the planning that he did to frame Natalie. Some of it was genius. But, at the same time, I loved it when Natalie figured out what was happening and how she turned everything around on Paul.
The end of The New Mother didn’t quite gel with the rest of the book. The author fast-forwarded a few months and then explained what was happening. I wish that she hadn’t done that. I would have loved to see what she explained written out. I was left feeling meh about it. There was a humorous part of the ending where Natalie’s husband asked if they could have another baby, and she was like, “No, I’ll kill you.” I thought, “You’re having another one, lady.” I said the same thing after Miss B turned one, and then I went on to have two more children.
I would recommend The New Mother to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and nongraphic sexual situations.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Nora Murphy for allowing me to read and review The New Mother. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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Years ago, a reclusive mega-bestselling children’s author quit writing under mysterious circumstances. Suddenly he resurfaces with a brand-new book and a one-of-a-kind competition, offering a prize that will change the winner’s life in this absorbing and whimsical novel.
Make a wish. . . .
Lucy Hart knows better than anyone what it’s like to grow up without parents who loved her. In a childhood marked by neglect and loneliness, Lucy found her solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson. Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, she is able to share her love of reading with bright, young students, especially seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, who was left orphaned after the tragic death of his parents. Lucy would give anything to adopt Christopher, but even the idea of becoming a family seems like an impossible dream without proper funds and stability.
But be careful what you wish for. . . .
Just when Lucy is about to give up, Jack Masterson announces he’s finally written a new book. Even better, he’s holding a contest at his home on the real Clock Island, and Lucy is one of the four lucky contestants chosen to compete to win the one and only copy.
For Lucy, the chance of winning the most sought-after book in the world means everything to her and Christopher. But first she must contend with ruthless book collectors, wily opponents, and the distractingly handsome (and grumpy) Hugo Reese, the illustrator of the Clock Island books. Meanwhile, Jack “the Mastermind” Masterson is plotting the ultimate twist ending that could change all their lives forever.
. . . You might just get it.
Every night Hugo went for a walk on the Five O’Clock Beach, but tonight was the first time in five years his wandering feet spelled out an SOS in the sand.
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
Lucy’s entire childhood was made up of neglect and loneliness. Her parents were more committed to her sick older sister than to paying attention to their youngest daughter. Lucy’s one solace was the ClockIsland series written by Jack Masterson. Years later, Lucy is a teacher’s aide living in California, introducing a new generation to the joy of reading. One of those students is seven-year-old Christopher, whose parents died and who Lucy wants to foster to adopt. But that dream is out of reach since Lucy doesn’t have the money or means to pursue that dream. But things change when Jack Masterson comes out of retirement with the announcement that he has written a new book. Also, in that announcement, there will be a contest that will determine the winner. The contestants: Adults who had run away to the real Clock Island when they were children, and Lucy is one of them. Lucy is determined to win but must first dodge book collectors on the island illegally, opponents who will do whatever it takes to win, and handsome Hugo, the illustrator of Jack’s books. Will Lucy win? Will she be able to adopt Christopher and live happily ever after?
When I first read the blurb for The Wishing Game, I immediately compared it to Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The only difference is that Jack is an author, not a candy maker, and the contestants are adults, not children. I figured I wouldn’t get it if I requested it from NetGalley, so I left it alone. Imagine my surprise when I got an invite from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine asking if I wanted to read the book. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
The Wishing Game is a medium-paced book in California and Maine. The pacing of this book suited the plotline. I didn’t have to backtrack to the beginning of a chapter to figure out what was going on. I also loved that it took place in Maine. I am familiar with coastal Maine and thought it was a perfect setting for The Wishing Game.
The main storyline of The Wishing Game centers around Lucy and Hugo. Lucy is a teacher’s aide who wants no more than to adopt seven-year-old Christopher. The first couple of chapters of The Wishing Game laid the foundation for that. The other part of the storyline centers around Hugo. Like Lucy, his past shaped him into who he was. Both parts of the storyline were well-written and kept my attention.
Several secondary storylines fleshed out the main storyline. The one that stood out the most to me was Lucy’s early childhood. That storyline explains why Lucy came across as almost needy when it came to Jack’s attention. It also explained why she made some bad mistakes when she was younger. The resolution to that storyline was heartbreaking. Another secondary storyline that stood out to me was Hugo and his relationship with his younger brother. It sheds new light on Hugo, why he was on the island with Jack, and why Hugo felt responsible for Jack. While reading it, my heart shattered several times, but it also made me happy.
Lucy went through significant growth during The Wishing Game. At the beginning of the book, she is bitter about her past, about not being able to adopt or even foster Christopher, about her life—-bitter about everything. She was allowed to be upset. What I liked was that she didn’t wallow in it. Instead, she turned that bitterness into action when she found out she was in the contest. She was determined to win. I liked how she immediately clicked with Jack. For her, it was like she was finally coming home. By the end of the book, she had discarded that bitterness (a huge scene detailed it), and she became the person she was meant to be.
Hugo wasn’t my favorite character when I started the book. He was rude and abrasive. Hugo was rude to Jack. But as the book went on, it was explained why he was so prickly. The author took her time explaining everything but dropped enough hints that I figured out most of what happened. It still didn’t take away from me getting emotional when it was revealed. Hugo didn’t exactly do a 180 by the time the book ended. Instead, it was more like an onion being peeled, with more depth underneath than initially hinted at.
I enjoyed Jack’s character. Again, he was another character who had so much depth to him. When Jack was introduced, he came across as a kindly children’s author who suffered a tragedy that kept him on his island. But, as the story went on, the more in-depth the author got into Jack’s character. I will not drop spoilers and tell you guys what his backstory is. I will only say this: Jack overcame his upbringing to become what he was. He also couldn’t be himself because of what he thought society would think (andthat got me so angry). The author also included the entire 100 books that Jack wrote. I know they are fictional, but I hope the author decides to write them. From the excerpts that the author wrote, I was very interested in them. I also liked the riddles and puzzles that he came up with. He had me guessing the answers along with the contestants.
The end of The Wishing Game surprised me. Remember how I said this book initially reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Up until the end of the contest, I kept seeing the similarities. Then the author did a quick 180, and any resemblance ended. I won’t say what happened, but I was shocked. I will also say that Jack is a very good man who tortured himself over things he had no control over.
I would recommend The Wishing Game to anyone over 16. This is a clean book with no sex or sexual situations. There is mild violence and language.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and MegShaffer for allowing me to read and review The Wishing Game. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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When an anonymous neighborhood forum gets hacked, the darkest secrets of New York’s wealthiest residents come to light—including some worth killing for—in this gripping suspense novel from the author of Just One Look.
It was all confidential. Right up to the moment when it wasn’t.
UrbanMyth: It was lauded as an alternative to the performative, show-your-best-self platforms—an anonymous discussion board grouped by zip code. The residents of Manhattan’s exclusive Upper East Side disclosed it all, things they would never share with their friends or their spouses: secret bank accounts, steamy affairs, tidbits of juicy gossip. These are the same parents who would go to astonishing lengths to ensure their children gain admission to the most prestigious boarding schools and universities. So when a “hacktivist” group breaks into the forum and exposes the real identity behind each poster, the repercussions resound down Park Avenue with a force none could have anticipated.
And someone will end up dead.
Will it be Heather, the outsider who would do anything to get her daughter into the elite’s good graces and into even better schools? Norah, the high-powered suit failing to balance work and the emotional responsibilities of motherhood? Or Poppy, perfect on the outside but hiding more than her share of secrets?
Each of them has something to hide. Each of them will do anything to keep their secrets hidden. And each of them just might kill to protect their own.
Before it happened, I never noticed how many times a day an emergency vehicle drove past my apartment building. Their sirens blended in with the cacophony of New York City, an ambient noise that never roused my attention.
No One Needs to Know by Lindsay Cameron
When a hacktivist group hacks into the anonymous forum, UrbanMyth, it releases a firestorm of secrets for many people. But, in one affluent Upper East Side private school, it affects everyone. Some people will kill to keep those secrets under wraps, but who will it be? Is it Heather, the mother, who wants her daughter to become one of the elite? Or will it be Norah, the breadwinner in her family but failing to balance work and home life? Or will it be Poppy, the one everyone looks up to but who has the most to hide? Out of those three, who will kill to keep their secrets safe?
It is well known on this site that I have three children, two in high school and one in elementary school. I am well aware of the school’s social structure. I also find it silly that people compete for the title of PTA president. It is a huge popularity contest; honestly, I want nothing to do with it. I prefer to help the teachers out one-on-one (like volunteering in class) than to listen to a bunch of people argue over who will get what position. Anyway, when I saw that this book would be centered around three moms and their exposed secrets, I knew I wanted to read it. And I am glad that I did because this book was good.
No One Needs to Know initially captivated me, and I couldn’t put it down. The main storyline centers around Heather, Norah, and Poppy, with appearances by their husbands and children woven into the storyline. This storyline had so many twists and turns that I wondered when UrbanMyth would implode.
There is a secondary storyline that is intertwined with the main storyline. There are two parts to it. The first part is that Heather’s daughter has her picture taken with a vape at a school dance where no cameras are allowed. She is then painted as a drug dealer, and a few parents are on UrbanMyth spreading the lie. The second part is that Norah’s husband is sleeping with Poppy and blackmailing her. Those two parts are closely intertwined and linked to the main storyline.
As I stated in the previous paragraph, this book is twisty. If you aren’t paying attention, it can be easy to miss something. It didn’t bother me because I took notes (that you Kindle Scribe for that built-in feature), but it might be bothersome for some people.
I loved the characters in No One Needs to Know. I connected with the main ones (and the secondary ones) in a way that surprised even me. Those connections made the book so much better to read.
Heather reminded me of some moms I have encountered during my kids’ years at school. She wanted so badly to be accepted and would do anything to get into the inner circles. In the book, I wanted to shake her and say, “Lady, your kid is miserable.” By the end of the book, though, I was starting not to like her. She had lied to everyone, including her husband, about something significant. I understood why her husband freaked out. But Heather did surprise me. She threatened someone actively trying to get her daughter expelled (oh boy, that was a great scene) and secured her daughter’s future with another person.
Norah was an enigma to me. She wasn’t a huge presence in the book until about halfway through. I felt terrible for her and her poor daughter once I realized what was happening. She was a wreck when she told Norah what she captured on camera and how it tied into Poppy’s storyline. No child should have been put into that situation. I was glad that Norah took immediate action and got a little laugh (which then turned into a no way) when Norah’s mother offered to “help.” When Norah called to report her husband missing, she wasn’t expecting everything to blow up the way it did.
I didn’t like Poppy. She lived in her high tower, doing whatever she wanted without caring about who she hurt. She curried favors with people and treated them like they were dispensable. It didn’t surprise me with what she did to Norah. What did surprise me was that she almost felt guilty about it. I loved seeing her character decline mentally because of what she did. It was a perfect punishment!!
I loved that the author chose brief excerpts from UrbanMyth (before and after) and interactions with the police/faculty members (emails mainly) at the beginning of each chapter. It was like an adult burn book (remember those from high school!!) I almost want something like UrbanMyth to exist, but at the same time, I don’t.
The end of No One Needs to Know shook me up. I did not see anything coming, and it took me by surprise. Because of spoilers, I will not say anything else except that everyone got what they deserved.
I recommend No One Needs to Know to anyone over 21. There is violence, language, and nongraphic sexual situations.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam, NetGalley, and Lindsay Cameron for allowing me to read and review No One Needs to Know. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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From author of The Passage comes a standalone novel about a group of survivors on a hidden island utopia–where the truth isn’t what it seems.
Founded by the mysterious genius known as the Designer, the archipelago of Prospera lies hidden from the horrors of a deteriorating outside world. In this island paradise, Prospera’s lucky citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until the monitors embedded in their forearms, meant to measure their physical health and psychological well-being, fall below 10 percent. Then they retire themselves, embarking on a ferry ride to the island known as the Nursery, where their failing bodies are renewed, their memories are wiped clean, and they are readied to restart life afresh.
Proctor Bennett, of the Department of Social Contracts, has a satisfying career as a ferryman, gently shepherding people through the retirement process–and, when necessary, enforcing it. But all is not well with Proctor. For one thing, he’s been dreaming–which is supposed to be impossible in Prospera. For another, his monitor percentage has begun to drop alarmingly fast. And then comes the day he is summoned to retire his own father, who gives him a disturbing and cryptic message before being wrestled onto the ferry.
Meanwhile, something is stirring. The Support Staff, ordinary men and women who provide the labor to keep Prospera running, have begun to question their place in the social order. Unrest is building, and there are rumors spreading of a resistance group–known as “Arrivalists”–who may be fomenting revolution.
Soon Proctor finds himself questioning everything he once believed, entangled with a much bigger cause than he realized–and on a desperate mission to uncover the truth.
Dawn is breaking when she creeps from the house. The air is cool and fresh; birds are singing in the trees.
The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
Prospera is an island utopia that the mysterious Designer founded to shield people from climate change and the general chaos of the outside world. Death is not known in Prospera. All residents wear a monitor embedded in their arms, and those monitors measure their physical and mental health. Once the meter falls below 10percent, the citizens must retire to the Nursery. There, their memories are wiped, their bodies rejuvenated, and they are readied to start life again as a teenager. But things are beginning to change in Prospera. The support staff, who mainly live in the Annex, are beginning to question their place in the social order of the island, and a resistance group is formed. While that is happening, Proctor Bennett, the Director of Social Contracts, is having a crisis. He has been dreaming, something no one on the island should be able to do. Proctor also received a cryptic message from his father shortly before his father forcibly retired. Running into roadblocks, Proctor starts to realize that there is more going on in Prospera than he realized and that Prospera isn’t what he thinks it is. What will happen when Proctor uncovers the truth? Will he be able to handle it?
I first heard about The Ferryman when I read several reviews on blogs I follow. What I read got me very interested in reading it. But I figured I would have to wait for it to be published to read it. It so happens that I saw it was on Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine’s NetGalley page as a wish. So I figured I would wish for it and see if I got it. And as you can see, I did. I was very excited; this became the book I read this spring. I hyped it up in my mind, and I became a little wary about it. Usually, when I get so excited to read a book, I get let down. Not in this case. Nope, this book definitely delivered for me!!
The Ferryman centers its storyline around Proctor. Proctor is an Elite. From the age of 15/16, he grew up lacking nothing on Prospera. He eventually married an artist and became head the Director of Social Contracts (who oversaw the ferryman). Life was good until it wasn’t. The author briefly explains Proctor’s early life, including the death of his beloved mother. More focus was on Proctor’s dreams, his rapidly falling stats on his monitor, and his shaky mental health. Everything started to happen after Proctor was forced to retire his father, and his father kept repeating a word over and over. That starts Proctor’s digging into the truth, and what he uncovers is amazing and, frankly, a little scary (and I am applying what was revealed in the last part of the book to this statement)
The other main storyline in The Ferryman centers around Thea, The Annex, Mother, and the resistance. The author did a wonderful job of keeping me guessing how Thea was involved and why she sought out Proctor. And when he melded the storylines, it was gold. I loved it!!!
There was a major secondary storyline involving the heads of the society. I can’t get much into it, but everything they were doing made sense once it was explained. I can’t give any more detail than that. But I was a little surprised by what Proctor did at the end. I was left scratching my head at first, but then I thought of the old saying: Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Then it made perfect sense.
The characters in The Ferryman were well-written and fleshed out. I wish I could go more into them because there is more to their characters than what is revealed at first. I loved the comparisons once the author dropped his bombshell. It made sense.
I liked Proctor. He was a natural leader, but he was so confused by what was happening to him. I liked that even his dreams kept telling him to do things. I also liked that his dreams hinted at something that could destroy him. When that was revealed, it did. But then he got back up and resolved to keep fighting.
I thought Thea was awesome. I had her pegged as someone totally different than what she was portrayed as. Her actions throughout the book showed that. She loved Proctor to the point where she was willing to let him go.
The end of The Ferryman was amazing. The author explained everything that was going on in the book. And when I say everything, I mean everything. All of my questions were answered, and then some. Did I agree with what Proctor did at the end of the book? Not really, but I got why he did it. There was also a big twist involving Thea that I maybe should have seen coming, but I didn’t.
I recommend The Ferryman to anyone over 21. There is language, mild sexual situations, and violence.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and Justin Cronin for allowing me to read and review The Ferryman. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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Pat is hired by attorney Jason Forman to “get some dirt” on his daughter’s fiancé. Before she gets very far in her investigation, the young man is murdered. Did his past catch up with him or is what Pat fears, that there’s a serial shooter going after Christmas Eve grooms, the reason he was killed? Pat and her fiancé, Detective Sergeant Tim Lindsey, are planning a Christmas Eve wedding which means, if she’s right, he’s on the shooter’s hit list.
Except for her black pencil skirt and the leopard briefcase she shouldered, Pat was dressed entirely in green clothing that matched the center emerald in her new engagement ring.
Dearly Beloved Departed by Nancy Lynn Jarvis
When Pat is hired by her former work colleague to get some dirt on his daughter’s new fiance, she doesn’t expect him to rush out of his office after she presents him with what he wants or what happens. She was shocked to find out that he and the fiance had been involved in a shooting, which left the fiance dead and the attorney injured. Busy preparing for her Christmas Eve wedding, Pat starts worrying when grooms on a popular wedding planner app start getting shot at. The tie-in; they were all getting married on Christmas Eve. Pat can’t help but wonder if everything is related to the first shooting where her client was injured, and his daughter’s fiance was killed. Who is shooting the Christmas Eve grooms? What is their motive? Will Pat and her fiance make it through their wedding unharmed?
Dearly Beloved Departed is the fourth book in the PIP Inc series. Readers can read this book as a standalone, but I suggest reading books 1-3 before picking this one up. I wish I had done that because I was lost on how some relationships were started and how Pat met her fiance.
The main storyline of Dearly Beloved Departed was very twisty. The book focused on Pat and her investigation into Emigido (Devon) Sanders, Jason Foreman, Julie Foreman, and the other shootings. The author did an excellent job keeping me on edge about everything. I had zero clue who killed Emigido and who was doing the other shootings until almost the end of the book. I was with most of the characters in suspecting someone they had already had in custody. But, as I said above, it was twisty, and I did lose track of the plotline a few times. I was able to get back on track after rereading the last chapter I was on, but still. It stunk, and I wasn’t a fan of it.
I liked the characters in Dearly Beloved Departed. Pat was the one who stood out to me the most. She did an excellent investigation into Emigido while he was alive and used that skill to dig around his case. I liked that she immediately shared what she found with the police. That was a huge point I disagreed with in a couple of other mysteries; the main character didn’t turn over evidence immediately.
The mystery angle of Dearly Beloved Departed was well written (and twisty, see above). The author kept me guessing who killed Emigido and who was shooting the grooms. I thought they were two separate people until she brought them together in the last half of the book. She threw out red herrings left and right, making me suspect people I may not have.
The end of Dearly Beloved Departed was enjoyable. I liked that the author brought together the two storylines, merged them, and then solved the mystery. I was shocked at who it ended up being. In hindsight, looking back, I should have known, and I did kick myself after I was done reading.
I recommend Dearly Beloved Departed to anyone over 16. It is a clean book with no sex or sexual situations. There is mild violence and mild language.
Many thanks to Nancy Lyn Jarvis for allowing me to read and review Dearly Beloved Departed. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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Trigger Warnings: Alcohol consumption by minors, Anxiety disorders (mentioned), Blood, Gore, Body Horror, Cannibalism, Captivity, Confinement, Dead bodies, body parts, Deadnaming, Death of a grandparent, Death of a sibling, drugging, drug use, fire, grief, loss, gun violence, intrusive thoughts, murder, needles, syringes, nightmares, parental neglect, pandemic, scars, sexism, suicidal ideation, transphobia
Four best friends, one music festival, and a cooler filled with human organs: this summer is about to get gory.
Jennifer’s Body fans will clamor for this new sapphic horror standalone from New York Times bestselling author Kayla Cottingham.
Three years ago, the melting of arctic permafrost released a pathogen of unknown origin into the atmosphere, causing a small percentage of people to undergo a transformation that became known as the Hollowing. Those impacted slowly became intolerant to normal food and were only able to gain sustenance by consuming the flesh of other human beings. Those who went without flesh quickly became feral, turning on their friends and family. However, scientists were able to create a synthetic version of human meat that would satisfy the hunger of those impacted by the Hollowing. As a result, humanity slowly began to return to normal, albeit with lasting fear and distrust for the people they’d pejoratively dubbed ghouls.
Zoey, Celeste, Valeria, and Jasmine are all ghouls living in Southern California. As a last hurrah before their graduation they decided to attend a musical festival in the desert. They have a cooler filled with hard seltzers and SynFlesh and are ready to party.
But on the first night of the festival Val goes feral, and ends up killing and eating a boy. As other festival guests start disappearing around them the girls soon discover someone is drugging ghouls and making them feral. And if they can’t figure out how to stop it, and soon, no one at the festival is safe.
When my parents asked if I wanted a Mini Cooper for graduation, I didn’t think ahead to whether or not it would have enough trunk space to accommodate my cooler full of organs.
This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham
Zoey, Celeste, Valeria, and Jasmine are preparing to attend a desert music festival. This event is a big deal for them because they were infected with a pathogen three years earlier, which turned them into ghouls. They all rely on synthetic meat to satisfy their hunger, which keeps them from going feral (and turning back into ghouls). But ghouls are feared, and the girls are monitored constantly. So, taking this trip is a big deal to them. But, on the first night, Valeria goes feral, killing and eating a boy. After investigating why Valeria went feral, the girls make a surprising discovery: someone is drugging ghouls and causing them to go feral. With other guests going missing and the National Guard on their way to round up the ghouls, the girls must find out who is behind it and why. But, what they discover is just the tip of something much bigger than what they realized. Can they stop the people behind it? Can they retain their humanity?
I had initially seen This Delicious Death floating around the blogosphere. I liked the blurb for the book and made it a point to put it on my short list of books I want to read. Then I got an email from NetGalley saying they had the book on a limited Read Now for the first 500 people. I made sure that I immediately downloaded it. I can’t even begin to express how excited I was about this. The funny thing about this is that I am terrified of any zombie movie/tv show/book—I legit freak out. So I was curious how I would react when reading This Delicious Death. I didn’t have the reaction I thought, and I loved it!!
This Delicious Death has numerous trigger/content warnings. The author kindly lists everything at the beginning of the book. They are:
Alcohol Consumption by Minors:Zoey, Celeste, Valeria, and Jasmine drink constantly throughout the book. They are served at bars set up at the festival also.
Anxiety Disorders: It is mentioned throughout the book that Celeste and Zoey have anxiety. Also, Jessica and Valeria have anxiety because of what they went through during the Hollowing.
Blood: There is a lot of blood in this book. Seeing that it is a zombie book, I would have been surprised if there wasn’t blood.
Gore: There is a lot of gore throughout This Delicious Death. The explicit scenes happen during each girl’s flashback to the Hollowing, Cole’s flashback, Valeria’s feral scenes, and the scenes in Facility B.
Body Horror: There are quite a few scenes where the author graphically describes the girls eating synthetic organs and meat. There are also scenes where the author details the girls (in their flashbacks) killing and eating people. There are scenes towards the end of the book where the girls watch a ghoul (called the anthropophagi) kill and eat a boy in front of them.
Cannibalism: The girls need to eat human flesh so they don’t become ghouls. It is graphically detailed throughout the book.
Captivity:Celeste and Zoey are captured and held at two different facilities while they are ghouls. The anthropophagi are held captive in Facility B. While at the festival, Celeste, Jasmine, and Zoey are in their cabin.
Confinement:Zoey was confined to a facility for months longer than Celeste. Valeria was confined to her house and then her room during the onset of the pandemic. The four girls are confined to their cabin before going to Facility B and after the events at Facility B.
Dead Bodies: There are dead bodies throughout the book. Some, the girls caused (in their flashbacks and present day), and others, they stumbled upon.
Body Parts: The girls must eat organs and body parts to satisfy their ghouls. Different body parts appear once ghouls start getting drugged and the anthropophagi are removed from Facility B.
Deadnaming: Celeste (who is trans) is almost deadnamed at a party after the Hollowing. The author stopped short of having that person say what her male name was.
Death of a grandparent: Jasmine’s grandmother was killed after she turned. Jasmine and her younger brother left when her grandmother started tearing up her bedroom.
Death of a sibling:Cole killed and ate his older sister while she was on Facebook Live with her boyfriend (who was also Cole’s bandmate). Cole never recovered from doing that.
Drugging:Celeste and Zoey were drugged during their capture. Zoey was drugged constantly during her captivity. Valeria was drugged at a bar, turned feral, and killed the boy she was with. His bandmates drugged Cole towards the end of the book, and he went feral.
Drug Use: I think that drugs were used recreationally by other festival-goers. I don’t believe that the girls (or Cole) used drugs.
Fire: A fire was deliberately set in Facility B at the end of the book.
Grief: Both Celeste and Zoey grieve the deaths of the hunter and camp counselor they killed and ate. Jasmine grieves that she has scarred her brother for life. Valeria grieves what she did to survive. Cole grieves what he did to his sister.
Loss: Each of the main characters experienced loss. There is too much to go into, but the author covers each person individually in their flashbacks and thepresent day.
Gun Violence: In flashbacks, a hunter holds Celeste and Zoey at rifle point, and Zoey is shot. Present day, Celeste is shot by a National Guardsman while distracting them from seeing Zoey and Jasmine going after Valeria.
Intrusive Thoughts:Zoey is tortured by what she did while a ghoul and thinks about suicide. Cole is also tormented by what he did.
Murder:Zoey and Celeste murder their camp counselor and the hunter. Jasmine murders the white supremacist couple that was threatening her brother. Valeria murders the star football player in a scuffle over a corpse. Valeria murders the boy she was with at the bar. Cole murders his sister.
Needles:Zoey is given medication through her neck with a needle while confined. Celeste takes her hormones with needles. Jasmine gives Valeria the antidote with a needle to the neck.
Syringes: See above.
Nightmares: All four girls suffer from nightmares from what they did while they were ghouls. The same goes for Cole.
Parental Neglect:Zoey’s parents refuse to have anything to do with her after she returns home. Her parents are terrified of her. She is painfully aware of that.
Pandemic:The Hollowing is caused by a pathogen released by melting polar ice caps. That sets off a worldwide pandemic of ghouls.
Scars: The girls and Cole have mental scars from their Hollowing.
Sexism: The lead singer of the band that Cole is in is sexist. He makes several remarks during the book that set me on edge.
Suicidal Ideation:Zoey and Cole have thoughts about suicide during the book. This is directly related to what they went through during the Hollowing.
Transphobia:Celeste is trans (male to female). She is afraid to tell her followers (she is an influencer) because of the transphobic backlash. There is a small moment of transphobia at a party she is at with Valeria and Zoey, but Jasmine stops it.
This is a lengthy list. If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book.
The main storyline of This Delicious Death centers around the four girls (Zoey, Celeste, Jasmine, and Valeria), their trip to the festival, the mystery of who is behind drugging the ghouls and why, and the girls’ backstories. Let’s start with the backstories first. The author gave each girl a smallish chapter explaining how they became ghouls. It was heartbreaking in all cases because of how young they were. They were all around 15 years old, and they were all in different parts of California. The author details what they did to survive and sometimes did it explicitly. But those chapters were sprinkled throughout the book. The main focus was on Valeria going feral and why. I loved how the girls went about their investigations. They were resourceful with their limitations. Because they were ghouls, they were not allowed to go beyond certain boundaries. Once they discovered the drug, it was a search for who and why. It was a very twisty investigation, and I was surprised at what the girls turned up. I wasn’t surprised at who was behind it (because I had an idea it was those people).
The main characters (Celeste, Zoey, Jasmine, and Valeria) were well-written and multifaceted. I liked that they were diverse, but at the same time, they weren’t (if that makes sense). I liked that each girl brought their personality to the story. Even when they were fighting, which they did quite a bit of in the middle of the book, they were still respectful of each other and watched out for each other. It was watching out for each other that eventually paved the way to the ending events of the book.
The romance angle of the book was well played out. You knew what Zoey’s feelings were for Celeste since page one. She was in love with her. But she wasn’t sure how Celeste felt about Zoey, and the author kept it that way until the end of the book. I wasn’t sure if I liked the almost romance between Zoey and Cole, mainly because it didn’t feel right.
The mystery angle of This Delicious Death was wonderfully written. The author had me guessing who drugged Valeria and the other ghouls. I liked how the girls did their investigations and ended up at Facility B. But how they tied everything together (with Cole’s help) and decided to get the antidote to the drug and rescue Valeria made the book!!
I was almost unreasonably angry with Zoey’s parents. Finding out your kid had been changed into a flesh-eating monster was soul-shattering. But to let her languish in that detention center and treat her like dirt when she got out was awful. For three years, she raised herself while her parents made themselves scarce. At least she had a parent in Celeste’s mom. Speaking of Celeste’s mom, she was the MVP of the entire book. She was one of the most accepting, down-to-earth, loving people ever!! I was jealous of Celeste.
An interesting secondary storyline involved Cole’s stepfather, the drug he tested out, and ghouls that went crazy. There was a point in the book where I wondered if the author would explain the background of the anthropophagi. I wasn’t expecting the horrible backstory to that, though. I also didn’t expect Cole’s stepfather to develop a conscience about his actions and create an antidote.
The end of This Delicious Death was gripping and heartbreaking. I expected everything to go down differently than it did. I’m not going to go much more into it other than that.
I would recommend This Delicious Death to anyone over 21. There is violence, language, and nongraphic sexual situations. Also, see the very long list of triggers above.
Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire, NetGalley, and Kayla Cottingham for allowing me to read and review ThisDelicious Death. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of This Delicious Death, then you will enjoy reading these books:
he next gut-punching, compulsively readable Kate McLaughlin novel, about a girl finding strength in not being alone.
When eighteen-year-old Dylan wakes up, she’s in an apartment she doesn’t recognize. The other people there seem to know her, but she doesn’t know them – not even the pretty, chiseled boy who tells her his name is Connor. A voice inside her head keeps saying that everything is okay, but Dylan can’t help but freak out. Especially when she borrows Connor’s phone to call home and realizes she’s been missing for three days.
Dylan has lost time before, but never like this.
Soon after, Dylan is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and must grapple not only with the many people currently crammed inside her head, but that a secret from her past so terrible she’s blocked it out has put them there. Her only distraction is a budding new relationship with Connor. But as she gets closer to finding out the truth, Dylan wonders: will it heal her or fracture her further?
Wake up. I snuggle deeper into the blankets, trying to puysh away the voice in my head.
Pieces of Me by Kate McLaughlin
When Dylan wakes up in an unknown apartment, she is freaked out. She has no idea where she is or how she got there. She is doubly freaked out when she calls home and realizes she has been missing for three days. Things go from bad to worse when Dylan attempts suicide and is hospitalized. She is soon diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. As she begins to accept her diagnosis, she realizes there is a reason why her alters were created. With the help of Connor, the man whose apartment she woke up in, Dylan begins to unravel the secrets to why her alters were created. Will she uncover the truth, and if she does, will she be able to start to heal? Or will the truth destroy her?
Usually, I would have left the trigger warnings where they are at the beginning of the review. But, in this case, I am going to list them. Listing the triggers with how raw this book is will help you decide on reading it. The triggers are:
Attempted Suicide: One of Dylan’s alters, Scratch, a protector alter, decided that the only way to help Dylan was to kill herself. Dylan woke up (for lack of a better word) right after Scratch’s attempt.
Childhood Sexual Abuse:Dylan created her alters to protect herself from years of sexual abuse from someone she knew.
Sexual Assualt: See above
Alcohol Abuse:Dylan abused alcohol regularly in high school.
Mental Illness:Dylan suffers from many mental illnesses, including anxiety and borderline personality disorder. She is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder after her suicide attempt.
If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading this book.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, this is a raw book. I was unprepared for how raw it was and how it affected me. The emotions of Dylan, her family, and her friends came off the page and affected me to the point where I needed to put the book down. I couldn’t breathe because I was so upset with everything in the book.
Pieces of Me main storyline follows Dylan, her eventual diagnosis, her numerous alters, the treatment, her remembering of what happened, and what happens when she breaks her silence. I found the entire storyline heartbreaking. I was glad that the author chose to show Dylan’s memories of her childhood sexual abuse selectively. I don’t know if I could have dealt with reading what a grown man did to a 5-year-old. Some parts of the storyline felt unreal, like Dylan initially coming to her DiD diagnosis through a questionnaire her best friend found. But that aside, this storyline did keep me glued to the book.
I wasn’t too sure about how I felt about Dylan or her alters. I felt terrible because she was dealing with severe mental health issues. She came across as very immature during the book’s first half. But, I did see her character grow with her when she officially got her DiD diagnosis. The rules she set down for her alters were funny and sad at the same time. But I liked that her internal house (where her alters lived) also changed. The author spent time introducing the main alters and explaining their roles.
There were several secondary characters in Pieces of Me. I thought Dylan’s best friend was an alter until her brother started hooking up with her best friend. Speaking of her brother, I couldn’t stand him, but I got that he was so skeptical of Dylan’s diagnosis. Still, it didn’t excuse his behavior.
I wasn’t a fan of Dylan’s romance angle with Connor. I thought it was too fast, too soon. But he was good for her and did his homework when it came to being with someone with DiD.
Pieces of Me had a happyish ending. I say happyish because Dylan’s abuser was finally being brought to justice. But it caused a massive schism in her family. But the author did leave room for healing, and Dylan understood why a specific person in her life wanted to stand by her abuser. I liked how the alters was becoming accepting of integrating with Dylan. I almost wished there was an epilogue showing Dylan 5 years down the road and where she was in her journey.
I want to add that the author did post an author’s note at the end of the book. It explained the amount of research the author did on DiD.
I recommend Pieces of Me to anyone over 18. There is language, sexual situations (nongraphic), and violence. Also, see my trigger warning list above.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, NetGalley, and Kate McLaughlin for allowing me to read and review Pieces of Me. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of Pieces of Me, then you will enjoy reading these books:
Journalist Lisa Jamison wants to blow off some steam after an argument with her boyfriend, so she heads to her friend Ricky’s kickboxing studio for an early morning workout. She expects to find Ricky alone, setting up for his first class of the day, but someone was there before Lisa, uninvited. Ricky is dead, shot only moments before she arrived, and now Lisa is a suspect in his murder. Lisa wants two things: to clear her name and seek justice for Ricky. But the deeper she digs, the more the danger mounts. Can she find Ricky’s killer before the killer eliminates the last obstacle, silencing Lisa for good?
Three days ago, the sidewalks of Seneca Springs were covered in a thick blanket of fresh, wet snow.
No Time to Breathe by Lori Duffy Foster
No Time to Breathe takes place a year or so after the events of Never Broken. Lisa is still working at the paper, but layoffs and cutbacks threaten her job. She also lives with her boyfriend, whom she met during her investigation in Never Broken. An argument with her boyfriend sends Lisa on a jog, leading her to her friend Ricky’s kickboxing studio, where Lisa plans to blow off some steam. But Lisa wasn’t expecting to find Ricky dying of a gunshot wound as soon as she walked in. Lisa also wasn’t expecting the police to make her their main suspect. Lisa decides that she needs to do two things: clear her name and find Ricky’s killer. But Lisa is running against the clock because whoever killed Ricky has her next on their list, and they won’t stop until Lisa dies. Can Lisa find the killer before they kill her? What is the motive behind Ricky’s murder?
No Time to Breathe is book 3 in the Lisa Jamison series. While readers can read this book as a stand-alone, I recommend reading the first two books to understand the backstories and relationships shown in the book.
No Time to Breathe is a fast-paced book in Seneca Springs, New York. The book lagged slightly in the middle (when Lisa was juggling everything), but the author got the book back on track.
The main storyline in No Time to Breathe is Ricky’s murder, Lisa’s investigation, and her being a suspect. I was a little irritated at how the police handled his murder. Until the FBI got involved, they were content to pin the murder on Lisa, even though she didn’t have her gun on her (she locked it at home), and some people backed her up on where she was right before the murder. The investigating officer was a jerk to her and didn’t take her seriously. He was a smug idiot when he dropped the fact that she was having an affair with Ricky (she wasn’t), and he wasn’t willing to listen to her. It took two attempts on her life, one which almost killed her, and the FBI getting involved for Officer Jerk to take his laser focus off Lisa and look at the evidence she gathered (and there was quite a bit). Once that happened, the storyline smoothed out, and things went as I thought they would. But still, that officer (well, Detective) was an idiot.
There were a couple of secondary storylines that supported the main storyline perfectly. The one that caught my attention was the storyline with her boyfriend, his ex-partner, her and her boyfriend’s relationship, and the relationship he had with his ex-partner. I enjoyed that Lisa and Patrick didn’t have a lovey-dovey relationship. They had issues (mainly due to a lack of time spent with each other), but they were working through them. And when Gloria appeared back in their lives, Lisa wasn’t thrilled about it. Neither was Patrick, but he didn’t share that with Lisa. I thought it would be the making of a messy love triangle, but then the author spun that around and ended that idea pretty fast.
I loved Lisa in this book. Not only was she going to solve Ricky’s murder (and shove it in Officer Jerk’s face), but she was going to keep herself out of jail. I will admit, I was scared for her towards the end of the book (how manytimes can one be hurt?) Her toughness shone throughout the book. Besides being tough, she was a great friend, and the author showcased it in the book’s last chapter.
The mystery/thriller/suspense angles of No Time to Breathe were terrific. The author did a great job weaving a suspenseful plot that kept me glued to the book. And the mystery angle was excellent, also. I honestly couldn’t figure out who killed Ricky and why. I did figure out a tiny part, but the whole picture was so much more than that. I didn’t see the twist in the plotline, and it left me shaking my head. Mainly because I thought the person behind the killings was already in jail (a tiny spoiler from Book 2). But the biggest twist came with what Lisa decided to do at the end of the book. Again, I wasn’t expecting the storyline to go in that direction, but now that I read it, I can see why the author wanted her to do that.
The end of No Time to Breathe was action-packed and kept me glued to the book (and yes, I know I repeated myself). Again repeating myself, but I was not expecting who the killer was or the reasons behind it. The author did wrap those storylines up, and I cannot wait to read book 4!!
I would recommend No Time to Breathe to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and mild sexual situations.
Many thanks to Level Best Books, IBPA, Member’s Titles, NetGalley, and Lori Duffy Foster for allowing me to read and review No Time to Breathe. Any opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of No Time to Breathe, then you will enjoy reading these books:
A twisty, domestic suspense debut about a clique of mothers that shatters when one of their own is murdered, bringing chaos to their curated lives.
She was the perfect wife, with the perfect life. You would kill to have it…
Ciara Dunphy has it all–a loving husband, well-behaved children, and a beautiful home. Her circle of friends in their small Irish village go to her for tips about mothering, style, and influencer success–a picture-perfect life is easy money on Instagram. But behind the filters, reality is less polished.
Enter Mishti Guha: Ciara’s best friend. Ciara welcomed Mishti into her inner circle for being… unlike the other mothers in the group. But, discontent in a marriage arranged for her through her parents back in Calcutta, Mishti now raises her young daughter in a country that is too cold, among the children of her new friends who look nothing like her. She just wants what Ciara has–the ease with which she moves through the world–and in that sense, Mishti might be exactly like the other mothers.
And there’s earth mother Lauren Doyle, born, bred, and the butt of jokes in their village. With her disheveled partner and children who run naked in the yard, they’re mostly a happy lot, though unsurprisingly ostracized for being the singular dysfunction in Ciara’s immaculate world. When Lauren finds an unlikely ally in Mishti, she decides that her days of ridicule are over.
Then Ciara is found murdered in her own pristine home, and the house of cards she’d worked so hard to build comes crumbling down. Everyone seems to have something to gain from Ciara’s death, so if they don’t want the blame, it may be the perfect time to air their enemies’ dirty laundry.
In this dazzling debut novel, Disha Bose revolutionizes age-old ideas of love and deceit. What ensues is the delicious unspooling of a group of women desperate to preserve themselves.
The house smelled of porridge, detergent, and soiled nappies. A few years ago, it smelled of patchouli, filered coffee, and Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.
Diry Laundry by Disha Bose
Online, Ciara has a perfect life with perfect children and a perfect husband. In real life, though, Ciara is nothing like the image she has carefully cultivated. Her life would be perfect if her neighbor, Lauren, would take her disorganized, messy life and leave the village. Lauren will not go, so Ciara begins to make Lauren an outcast in their small village. Not that Lauren isn’t used to it. She grew up in this village and was bullied mercilessly by the same women she desperately wanted to connect with. She finds a friend and ally in Mishti. Mishti, originally from Calcutta, finds Ireland cold and wants to return to her family. Friends with Ciara, Mishti begins to see what type of person she is and starts to distance herself from Ciara. Then, one morning, Ciara is found dead in her house. Who wanted Ciara dead, and why? The answer to that question might shock you because nothing is what it seems about Ciara’s death.
Dirty Laundry was different from what I thought it would be, and you know what? I enjoyed it. As I read it, I did compare it to soap operas (mostly Days of Our Lives). The author did a great job of portraying the downfall of the Queen Bee of the local mom group in that village. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Before I get into the review, I want to inform you about this book’s trigger warnings. They would be:
Cheating (Ciara, Parth (Mishti’s husband), and Sean (Lauren’s partner) cheated on their SOs constantly. For the most part, it wasn’t graphic.)
Adult Bullying (Ciara led a group of women in bullying Lauren, and this did extend to Lauren’s children. Ciara was vicious with her attacks against Lauren, online and in person)
Childhood Bullying (Lauren was bullied by the other children in her village her whole life. The author showcased a few examples in the book. Also, Lauren’s children were bullied by the children of Lauren’s bullies. It was never shown, but Freya, her oldest daughter, did mention it a couple of times in the book)
Stalking (Before Sean and Lauren had children, Lauren stalked an ex-girlfriend of his and attacked her)
Arranged Marriage (Mishti and Parth had an arranged marriage, which Mishti didn’t want)
Marital Rape (There was one scene where Parth forced Mishti into having sex with him)
Neglect (Ciara neglected her children, Bella and Finn. The baby was only picked up or comforted if it was for online pictures. Mishti did pick up Finn at one point in the book to comfort him, and Ciara blew up at her)
Drug Use (Ciara was addicted to pills and used Parth to write her a prescription. Sean and Lauren used pot recreationally)
Depression (Mishti was depressed since she got married and had her daughter. She had let herself go and could barely make herself do things)
Mental Illness (Ciara was a narcissist. I do believe that Lauren had a mental illness. She revealed that she would have missing periods, and there was one point where she blacked out after Sean started hooking up with his ex-girlfriend).
Domestic Violence (Parth pushed Mishti around at least once during the book. Sean and Lauren had a very volatile relationship, which consisted of verbal and mental abuse of each other)
If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading the book.
I rarely flat-out disliked a character right from the beginning of a book. Ciara falls into that category. I don’t know how to describe her other than evil and narcissistic. She doesn’t care who she hurts and how they get hurt as long as she gets her way. And if you were in her crosshairs, forget about it. She would hurt you any way she could. But, I was surprised that she was willing to do what she did to Mishti. I figured that Mishti was exempt from Ciara’s shenanigans. But I was wrong. And I was doubly surprised at who she was sleeping with. Never, in a million years, would I have picked that person. My sympathy lay with her husband. And guess what? I didn’t blame him at all for his actions at the end of the book.
I couldn’t quite get a good handle on Mishti until her scenes in Calcutta. I felt terrible for her because she was trapped in a lonely marriage. But, as her storyline went on, I started to like her. Yes, she made mistakes, and yes, she was punishing herself for them. But, she resolved some of her regret and guilt when talking to her ex-boyfriend. I also liked how she wasn’t surprised when discovering Parth’s secret. I loved how her mind said, “How can I use this to take a trip back to Calcutta?” I was also not surprised at what she did at the end of the book.
Out of the three main characters, I liked Lauren the best. She got off on the wrong foot with Ciara, but she was a new mother with zero support from her partner and was operating on zero sleep. I didn’t blame her for being snippy. I also understood why she wanted to fit in with the other moms in her village. She tried to patch things up with Ciara until certain things were revealed. And you know what, I would have done the same thing, confronting Ciara. Unlike Ciara, her children’s happiness came first, and it showed. Freya, Harry, and Willow were happy, well-adjusted children. I was surprised by what she did at the beginning and her actions at the end of the book. I couldn’t help but feel that everything would be pinned on her.
The main storyline centers on Ciara, her murder, and the events leading up to it. The plotline does jump around quite a bit, but I didn’t care. As I said above, it was like I was reading a script for a soap opera. The author clearly states who the chapter is about and how far before Ciara’s murder, the events in the chapter took place. There was so much to unpack in each chapter, and the author did it wonderfully.
There were several sub-storylines with Parth, Sean, and Gerry (Ciara’s husband). Each storyline adds additional insight into how and why Ciara died. I loved reading them because of the extra understanding I got.
The end of Dirty Laundry was a free for all. The author told Ciara’s death from four perspectives (Sean, Gerry,Parth, and Mishti). Each view had an element that threw Ciara’s death into a new light. I am not going to go much more into the end. But, as I said above, Lauren will get the raw end of the deal because of her history with Ciara (and notice how she wasn’t on my list of people at the beginning of the paragraph).
I would recommend Dirty Laundry for anyone over 21. There are violence, language, and non-graphic sexual scenes. Also, see my list of trigger warnings.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and Disha Bose for allowing me to read and review Dirty Laundry. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of Dirty Laundry, then you will enjoy these books:
Perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Ellery Adams, Rain Wilmot must find a novel solution in order to catch another killer—before her book club members are picked off one by one.
Summer is in full swing as tourists flock back to the Northwoods and travel to Lofty Pines, Wisconsin. For Rain Wilmot, owner of the Lakeside Library, this is the perfect opportunity to bring back her mother’s summer book club. But the summer sun starts to really heat up when one of the club’s members, Lily Redlin, is found dead in her own home not long after the first meeting.
Alongside her sidekick and neighbor Julia Reynolds and the charming Jace Lowe, Rain discovers that the murder is seemingly inspired by the book club’s recent selection of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel, Sparkling Cyanide. But who would kill Lily, and more importantly, why? The deeper Rain goes into the story, the more confusing and complicated the plot becomes. Was Lily murdered to cover up a tragic accident involving an old classmate years earlier? Or were the rumors true—did Lily really possess priceless original Laura Ingles Wilder manuscripts, and someone killed her for them? And who stands to gain the recently inherited piece of waterfront property that Lily received from a long-lost relative?
With a long list of suspects and motives, Rain realizes that all leads come back to people involved in the book club. Rain and her friends take a page from Agatha Christie’s book by hosting a reenactment of the club’s first meeting to flush out the killer. Will Rain’s plan succeed—or will this librarian’s book be checked out for good?
Rain Wilmot stepped from the log cabin and was immediately met with golden sunshine.
Read to Death at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers
Rain decided that summer was the perfect time to return her mother’s book club to the library. The first book was Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie. After things got a little heated with a new member, Lily, during the meeting. Concerned, Rain and her best friend track Julia to her house and find Lily dead. With few leads, Rain and Julia start their investigation. Everything points back to who was at the book club that night. Who killed Lily? And what was the motive?
I decided to read more cozy mysteries a few months back. I love reading mysteries but tend to read psychological mysteries (usually paired with psychological thrillers) or police procedurals. So I downloaded a few from a publisher I occasionally review for. Read to Death at the Lakeside Library is the first book out of the five that I downloaded.
Read to Death at the Lakeside Library is the third book in the Lakeside Library Mysteries. When I started reading this book, I was expecting this book to confuse me. Beginning a series on book three isn’t ideal for me. Why? The storylines are usually harder to follow, and the characters from previous books appear. I am happy to say that it wasn’t true in this case. The author briefly references the previous two books but focuses on this book’s storyline. Readers can read this book as a standalone, but I recommend reading the earlier books for more of Rain’s back story.
I liked Rain. She had a rough couple of years, from what was revealed. I also liked that she was a good friend. My only quibble with her is that when she found clues (like the book or the notes), she didn’t go to the police immediately (and I will go further into that). I also loved that she owned a library and put her heart and soul into it!!
I found Julia annoying throughout the book. She wasn’t afraid to lean on her brother, a detective on the local police force, for information. She also didn’t hesitate to hide or tell Rain to hide evidence. It drove me nuts. But I did think she was a good friend. Rain was Julia’s best friend, and she wouldn’t let her investigate Lily’s death alone.
The main storyline is Rain investigating Julia’s death. I loved that the author modeled her death after AgathaChristie’s book and a recent real-life murder involving eyedrops. But I was slightly irritated by how Rain and Julia conducted their investigation (and the second investigation into Patrick’s death). They broke into houses (Lily’s), they stole evidence (the manuscript and the cassette tape), Julia leaned on Jace (her brother) for information about the case, and they withheld evidence from the police. I kept thinking that the evidence they collected would never be allowed in court because of that. I was surprised at who the killer was, though. It was not even remotely who I thought it was.
There was a secondary storyline that Rain and Julia were investigating. It involved a woman from their book club, the death of her classmate decades earlier, and the murder victim. How they were tied together made for a neat twist.
There was a romance angle to Read to Death at the Lakeside Library. I gathered that this romance started in book one, but they didn’t get together until this book. Rain was too busy investigating Lily’s murder and getting into shenanigans with Julia for it to go beyond that. This is a clean romance with a few kissing scenes.
The end of Read to Death at the Lakeside Library was action-packed. I was not expecting who the killer was. And I wasn’t expecting this person’s motives (yes, there are two). As much as Rain and Julia annoyed me, I look forward to reading book 3.
I recommend Read to Death at the Lakeside Library to anyone over 16. There is mild language and mild sexual scenes. There is also violence.
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and Holly Danvers for allowing me to read and review Read toDeath at the Lakeside Library. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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