Silent Depths by Reily Garrett

Book Cover

Publisher: Garrett Publishing

Date of publication: December 31st, 2021

Genre: Romance, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

What is your freedom worth?

Callie’s mind holds the key to weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and biological. Kidnapped as a child by an obscure branch of the military, she escapes the bowels of a Think Tank and risks everything for freedom.

Nate Crofton left his black-ops unit seeking a quieter existence as a private investigator. When an ex-teammate draws him into a web of tangled lies and betrayal, he can’t resist the young prodigy in need of protection.

Little does he know the blue-eyed enigma holds incredible secrets and can take care of herself, along with the team sworn to protect her.

Together, they must rely on each other’s strengths to stay one step ahead of agents, both foreign and domestic, while navigating their growing attraction.

First Line:

Life made sense when reduced to numbers.

silent depths by reily garrett

I enjoy reading romantic suspense. I always have, and it is an automatic yes when I get review requests. I love reading about two people falling in love while there is suspense going on. So, when Reily emailed me and asked if I would like to review her book, I jumped on it. I am glad that I did because I enjoyed Silent Depths.

The plotline of Silent Depths is interesting. Callie has been broken free from the Think Tank, where she has lived since she was a child. When her protector is killed, she is left under the care of Nate, an ex-Black-Ops, and his team. But Callie isn’t what Nate thinks. There is more to her than he thinks. Can Nate keep Callie safe?

Silent Depths had a fast-moving plotline. It started fast and kept the pace up throughout the book. The flow of the book went well with the pacing. I enjoyed it!!

I loved Callie in Silent Depths. Her character growth in Silent Depths was terrific. She went from innocent to almost wordly in an entire book.

I wasn’t sure of Nate during the first few chapters. But as the book went on, and the more he fell in love with Callie, my opinion of him changed. He was the right person to keep Callie safe. He was also the right person to discover her telekinesis and help grow it. By the end of the book, he had morphed into one of my favorite characters.

The romance angle of Silent Depths was so sweet. Nate felt an instant attraction to Callie from the beginning, but he held off on doing anything about it because she was innocent and under his protection. But once everything was resolved (well, somewhat), Nate made his move. I loved everything about it!!! It was refreshing to read about a hero willing to wait for the heroine.

The suspense angle of the book was well written too. I was kept on the edge of well, my bed (I read the book in bed). My heart was racing during parts of the book, and I couldn’t put it down.

The paranormal angle of Silent Depths was terrific. The author didn’t come right out and say what Callie’s power was until Callie met Nate. Then the focus was on strengthening her powers and keeping her safe.

There was a mystery angle in Silent Depths. I couldn’t figure out who the mole was on the team. The author did a great job of keeping that under wraps. She threw out red herrings and misdirection. I was shocked by who the mole was. I wasn’t surprised by why that person wanted to sell Callie. It was sad, to be honest.

The end of Silent Depths was excellent. The author wrapped up the storylines in a way that I enjoyed. I also liked that she led into book two at the end of Silent Depths.

I would recommend Silent Depths to anyone over 21. There is sex (not graphic), language, and mild violence.

The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: December 7th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she’s been away…and some secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Moving between the trio’s adolescent years and the present day, The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won’t see coming, with magnetic characters you won’t soon forget.

First Line:

You start out as potential energy and then you fall.

the ballerinas by rachel kapelke-dale

I am not a big fan of books written about ballerinas. I don’t like reading about it. So, I surprised myself when I decided to accept the review invite from the publisher. Something about the cover and the blurb called to me and said, “Read me.” Well, while it wasn’t my favorite book in the entire world, it also wasn’t my most disliked book either.

The Ballerinas is a story about friendship, ballet, and secrets that people keep. Delphine, Margaux, and Lindsay are students at a ballet school associated with the Paris Opera Ballet. Best friends, they also are rivals. Then an accident happens, and the girls each go in different directions. After 13 years, Delphine is back in Paris. But some secrets are threatening to come out. What secrets are there? What did Delphine and Margaux do 13 years ago, and why are they afraid to tell Lindsay?

The Ballerinas had dual timelines, with each told from the POV of Delphine. Usually, I don’t mind when a story goes from past to present, but in this case, it annoyed me. The storyline would switch after something significant was revealed, or something was about to happen. It could happen several times during a chapter, and honestly, it was exhausting to read.

All that switching also affected the flow of the book. It made it very choppy, and I had difficulty getting into the story. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. The pacing was also affected by this. It was a medium-paced book, but it felt slower than it should have been.

I didn’t care for Delphine. She came across as a shallow, self-centered woman who didn’t care who she hurt to gain fame as a ballet choreographer. She 100% deserved every dressing down that she got in the book.

Margaux wasn’t much better, but I did feel bad for her. She felt so much guilt for what happened that night (the night of Lindsay’s accident) that it affected her on a personal level. She was also dealing with infertility. That was one of the more painful scenes to read. It was raw, authentic, and millions of women can empathize with her.

Out of the three, I liked Lindsay the most. She was more down-to-earth than the other two. But then the events at the end of the book happened. They left me going, “What the heck?”. It was like she had a personality change. I was left shaking my head and wondering, “Why?

There were some memorable secondary characters in The Ballerinas. Stella was my favorite, and that is because she tore Delphine a new one at the hospital. She called her out on everything, and that caused Delphine to reevaluate her life. Jock (or Jacques) was the other memorable one. He was a sleazy, skeezy jerk and deserved everything that he got coming to him. I did have hopes of his character turning out differently, but oh well.

The mystery angle of The Ballerinas was interesting. I did figure out what happened pretty early on in the book. Still, it did make for an exciting read.

There was a slight suspense angle in the book also. That happened towards the end of the book, after the incident with Jock. It wasn’t enough to get my heart pumping, but it did keep my attention. Of course, the aftermath of it was fascinating.

There are trigger warnings in The Ballerinas. They would be statutory rape, revenge porn, cancer, infertility, abortion, domestic violence, adultery, and murder. So, I would strongly suggest not reading this book if any of these triggers you.

The end of The Ballerinas was… exciting, and it was a rollercoaster. I did not see what happened with Daniel and Lindsay coming at all. That did take me by surprise. What also surprised me was how Delphine suffered zero consequences for what happened. I remember thinking to myself, “If this were in America, it wouldn’t have gone that route.” I liked the small epilogue and thought it fitted for Stella.

I would recommend The Ballerinas for anyone over the age of 21. There is mild violence, language, and sex.

From Fame to Ruin: A Romantic Thriller Standalone Novel by Jina S. Bazzar


Publisher: Self Published

Date of Publication: December 21st 2021

Genre: Romance, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

What if surviving a murder attempt, a heartbreak, and the loss of the family business wasn’t the hardest thing you ever faced?

Carol is the sole heir to a broken empire, Ricardo the newest celebrity in the rock world.
When they came together, their fire blazed. When their past caught up, they were left burned, scorched to the ground.

When a psychopath decides its payback time, Carol is faced with an impossible choice – save her son or sell her life.

Ricardo wants nothing to do with the woman who played him for a fool but finds himself moored by circumstances, half-truths, and memories of the past.
They say time can heal anything. So far, time’s brought nothing but complications.

This is a standalone romantic thriller told in alternating timelines and points of view. Warnings include character overdose and mentions of child abuse.

First Line:

Lurking under the shadow of a tree and the mouth of a nearby alleyway, they watched.

from fame to ruin: a romantic thriller standalone novel by jina s bazzar

When I read the blurb for From Fame to Ruin, the book caught my interest. I love reading romance and suspense, so when I get a book that combines them, I usually read them. So, it was a given that I would read From Fame to Ruin, and oh boy, am I glad I did!!

From Fame to Ruin is the story of Ricardo and Carol. They met at Heathrow Airport, and after their flight to Rio is canceled, they spend a passion-filled weekend together. When they land in Rio, Carol’s fiance (well wannabe) meets her and destroys whatever relationship was forming between them. Fast forward four years later. Carol’s almost 3-year-old son is kidnapped when he is out with his nanny. The kidnappers are demanding a ransom that Carol cannot afford. But she knows who can. She approaches Ricardo for the money, and after that, all hell breaks loose. Who kidnapped Gabe, and will he come back alive? Will Carol and Ricardo forgive past hurts and move forward with their lives? And why has the kidnapper targeted Carol?

From Fame to Ruin is a fast-paced book that starts off running and doesn’t stop. I am glad that it is fast-paced because any other pacing wouldn’t have done the book justice. There is no lag which I was very thankful for.

From Fame to Ruin goes back and forth in the timeline before merging towards the end of the book. The author was able to seamlessly go from 4 years ago to the present with no hiccup. I was very pleasantly surprised. She also clarified if you were in the present or the past at the start of each chapter. So there was no confusion about if you were in the past or the present.

I liked Carol, but man, she grated on my nerves during parts of the book. I understood why she was so upset with Ricardo. I would have been too. But her hatred was over much during crucial parts of the book. I wanted to reach into the book, shake her and say, “Dudette, just let him help.”

I liked Ricardo too. But, I felt that he jumped to conclusions and assumed things way too fast. I get that his past relationship hurt him but still. And I did want to smack his face for what he said and did to Carol at the music studio. Unfreakingcalled for.

The real MVP in the book is Otto. I hope that he gets his HEA in another book!! The talk he gave to both Carol and Ricardo was fantastic, and I wished he had done it way earlier in the book.

As the author warned in the blurb, there is child abuse in the book’s first half. The author didn’t go into how Gabe was abused, but she described the aftermath. My heart broke for him, and I will admit, I cried.

I did figure out two of the people who were involved in the kidnapping. The third, though, was random. I honestly thought it was going to be another person (who was mentioned in the book).

The end of From Fame to Ruin was action-packed. The author was able to tie everything together and give an insight into why a very powerful man protected Carol. And the epilogue was one of the cutest that I have read to date!!!

I would recommend From Fame to Ruin to anyone over the age of 21. There are sexual situations (actual sex is not described), violence, and language.

Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross


Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: October 5th 2021

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young woman takes a job as a nanny for an impossibly wealthy family, thinking she’s found her entre into a better life–only to discover instead she’s walked into a world of deception and dark secrets.

Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.

When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job–and life.

At the interview, the job seems like a dream come true: a glamorous penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; a salary that adds several zeroes to her current income; the beautiful, worldly mother of her charge, who feels more like a friend than a potential boss. She’s overjoyed when they offer her the position and signs the NDA without a second thought.

In retrospect, the notice in her lobby was less an engraved invitation than a waving red flag. For there is something very strange about the Bird family. Why does the beautiful Mrs. Bird never leave the apartment alone? And what happened to the nanny before her? It soon becomes clear that the Birds’ odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.

But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.

First Line:

The children are chattering.

Nanny needed by georgina cross

I love psychological thrillers. So when I read the blurb for Nanny Needed, I knew that this would be a book that I would enjoy.

Nanny Needed is a story about Sarah. Sarah is living with her boyfriend in New York City and barely making ends meet when she finds a flyer in the lobby of her building. The flyer is for a nanny position in a very affluent area of NYC. Throwing caution to the wind, Sarah decides to apply and gets hired, much to her surprise. But she soon regrets her decision when she finds out her nannying position isn’t what it seems. What is going on in the Bird house? What secrets is Mr. Bird trying to keep from coming out? And how does Sarah figure into everything?

Nanny Needed is a fast-paced book, but it does start slow. There is some lag towards the middle of the book, but it was expected. With what happened and Sarah’s state of mind, I wasn’t surprised by it at all.

I liked Sarah. She started the book as overwhelmed but happy. When she saw the flyer for the nanny position in her lobby, she thought it was a sign, and she was thrilled that she hit it off with Collette. After signing NDA’s and agreeing to a 3-month trial, she realizes what her job would be. Then everything hits the fan. I don’t think that I would have dealt with everything as well as Sarah did. She had some fantastic coping skills (in hindsight, I am not surprised).

The thriller angle was interwoven with the mystery angle, and they were both very well written. There were a few twists in the plotline. One twist I saw coming and called it the minute that Sarah interviewed for the job.

The other major twist, I didn’t see coming, and I was floored. I had to take a break to process what I read. That is how insane the twist was!!

The end of Nanny Needed was almost anti-climatic but perfect. I enjoyed that it not only ended the way it did but there was practically no resolve when the twist was revealed. I will say, without getting into spoilers, that I understand why Stephen did what he did. I would have wanted to know too, but what it cost everyone was almost too much. And poor Sarah!!!

I would recommend Nanny Needed to anyone over the age of 21. There is language and mild violence.

Mystery in the Hill by Aaron Qualio


Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc.

Date of publication: March 13th 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Young Adult

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo |Google Play

Goodreads Synopsis:

A small Wisconsin town is shaken to its core when four high school boys stumble upon an unexpected discovery. As past and present secrets are exposed, more unsolved mysteries are revealed, leading to more danger than anyone could have ever imagined.

First Line:

It was the last period of the school day on a Friday in mid-May at Ashbelle High School, and the seniors in Mr. Winters’s U.S. History class were pretty much checked out just like seniors all over the coutry were this close to graduation-“senioritis” they called it.

mystery in the hill by aaron qualio

When I read the blurb for Mystery in the Hill, I was interested. I knew that I wanted to read this mystery. I am glad that I read it, but I felt that it fell short of my expectations.

Mystery in the Hill is a fast-paced book. It starts fast and keeps the pace up throughout the book. There is a tiny bit of lag in the middle of the book, but it wasn’t enough to distract me from the book.

Mystery in the Hill has dual timelines going on. The book went between 1997 and 1944. There were also dual plotlines going on. While the 1997 plotline dealt with the mystery of why a door was buried in the hill above the high school, the 1944 plotline dealt with three men stealing something that could get them in a lot of trouble. I had no issues going between the different timelines or keeping track of what was going on in each one. The author made that very easy.

I did feel that there were a lot of extras added to the plotline. I understand why the author did that (he wanted to flesh out the plotline and the characters), but I felt that it took away from the book.

I didn’t feel that the characters were as fleshed out as they could be. There were times where they felt flat, and their interactions felt forced. I couldn’t form an attachment to any of them.

I did like the mystery angle of the book. While the author didn’t hide anything (except what happened to the police officer in 1944), I still enjoyed reading that angle. For me, it was more of when is everything going to happen than who did it.

The end of Mystery in the Hill was interesting. The author was able to wrap up the plotlines in a way that satisfied me as a reader.

Intertwined: A Biker’s Tale by Andrew Hartman


Publisher: Self Published

Date of publication: August 1st, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

When a young man’s world is turned upside down, some things become clear and others blurred. Jacob Schitz’s plain life in Florida quickly erupts into a series of drastic events as he navigates young adulthood and a bleak future. When the biker gang, The Panteras, enters his life as a third obstacle, he will begin to truly understand himself and the violent world of underground crime as their paths become intertwined.

First Line:

Jacob walked into the room; it was dark. Pitch black, the staircase was hard to walk down.

intertwined: A biker’s tale by Andrew Hartman

I will let you all in on a secret: I love reading biker books, well, mainly romances, but still. I also like to read young adult. So, when I read the blurb for this book, I thought I had hit the jackpot. I was super excited to read it.

Intertwined starts slow, but after a couple of chapters, it morphs into a fast-paced book. There is a slight lag towards the middle of the book, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of it.

Intertwined had an exciting plotline. Two college kids, out on a bucket list adventure, get mixed up with a biker gang. The biker gang quickly assumes that the kids are out to get them since they keep showing up in the same area. Will the kids be able to outsmart the biker gang? Or will they become their victims?

Like I mentioned above, I enjoy reading books about bikers. Something about that lifestyle intrigues me. The author did a great job of showing the inner workings of a biker gang. Willow came across as a paranoid leader willing to do whatever it takes to protect his gang. That aspect of the book enthralled me.

I wasn’t too sure how to feel about Jacob at first. He came across as too needy. But, as the book went on and I began to understand what he had gone through and what he was going through, I started to like him. He had an inner strength that shone throughout the book. I wish that he was a little more upfront with people about what was going on with him. It would have saved a lot of trouble further on in the book.

There is a lot of violence in Intertwined. I wasn’t surprised at the level of violence, but if you don’t like it, this might not be the book for you.

The end of Intertwined was bittersweet. I was surprised at what happened and what a certain someone did. Talk about a selfless act!! The author also left the book on a cliffhanger, so I will assume that there will be a book 2.

I would recommend Intertwined: A Biker’s Tale for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, drug use, alcohol use, and language.

Lies in Bone by Natalie Symons


Publisher: Boyle & Dalton

Date of publication: September 6th 2021

Genre: Coming of Age, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Told by a tart-tongued young woman with a love of Bruce Springsteen, Lies in Bone is at once a mystery and coming-of-age tale fueled by dark secrets involving love, murder, and the truths worth lying for.

On Halloween 1963, eleven-year-old Chuck Coolidge and his brother Danny are lost in a toxic smog covering the steel town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. When the smog lifts, half the town is sick and twenty people are dead. And Danny is missing.

Now, over twenty years later, Chuck’s teenage daughter Frank plots escape from this “busted and disgusted” town. When a murdered child is found in the river, investigators link the crime to the disappearance of Danny in ’63, and Frank’s life is turned upside down. In the face of her worst fears, she must uncover her family’s dark past if she wants to keep her sister Boots from the hands of The State. Led to discover the unimaginable truth about Danny’s disappearance, Lies in Bone culminates in a shocking eleventh-hour reveal and an emotionally charged finale.

First Line:

The fog snuck in over the wooded road, but Chuck didn’t care.

lies in bones by natalie symons

Lies in Bone is the story of Frank, her father Chuck, and Boots, her younger sister. Frank hasn’t had it easy growing up. Her mother left and never returned. Chuck compensated by becoming a drunk and indulging in get-rich-quick schemes. One day, Chuck decides to move everyone to his hometown to move in with his mother. Once there, Frank discovers that her father has a past, and it isn’t good. He is suspected of being involved in his younger brother’s disappearance 20 years earlier and the murder of another boy that same night. Frank brushes off the rumors as just that until another child is murdered and her father is arrested. Determined to prove her father’s innocence, Frank investigates. What she finds out will shatter her world. What does Frank find out? Is her father innocent?

I loved Frank. She was blunt, not afraid to tell people how she felt, and she was like a bulldog when she got an idea in her head. She also was very hurt over her mother’s abandonment. I connected to her on so many levels and was rooting for her the entire book. She wasn’t an easy character to like, but she acknowledged that.

The mystery angle of Lies in Bone was very well written. The author kept me guessing about what happened to Danny, the other little boy, and Bernie. She threw out red herrings left and right. I usually can figure out what happened pretty early in the book. But in this case, I was left guessing until the very end.

There are several significant twists in Lies in Bone. The first one did take me by surprise. There was no way that I would have even thought THAT happened. The second one, which was revealed relatively close to the end, was also just as shocking. I felt terrible for Frank when she found that out. And the third twist, well, that came out of the left field. It was revealed at the end of the book, and it turned everything on end.

I was not a huge fan of many of the secondary characters in Lies in Bone. The main subject of my dislike was Ruth, Frank’s grandmother. I couldn’t stand her. The way that she talked to Chuck was awful, and I didn’t blame Chuck for what he did.

The end of Lies in Bone was bittersweet. The author did a great job wrapping up the storylines and making a somewhat happy ending for Frank. But then the twist happened and poor Frank. She forever has to carry the burden of her family on her shoulders, and man, what she learned was catastrophic.

I would recommend Lies in Bone for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence and sex but no sex.

The Last Guest by Tess Little


Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible |B&N |World Cat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A glamorous birthday dinner in the Hollywood Hills ends with the famous host dead and every guest under suspicion in this dark, cinematic suspense debut reminiscent of an Agatha Christie page-turner crossed with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

When actress Elspeth Bell attends the fiftieth birthday party of her ex-husband Richard Bryant, the Hollywood director who launched her career, all she wants is to pass unnoticed through the glamorous crowd in his sprawling Los Angeles mansion. Instead, there are just seven other guests–and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank as the intimate party grows more surreal (and rowdy) by the hour. Come morning, Richard is dead–and all of the guests are suspects.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new partner, the manager, the cinematographer, and even Elspeth herself. What starts out as a locked-room mystery soon reveals itself to be much more complicated, as dark stories from Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage that she vowed never to revisit. Elspeth begins to wonder not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would desire to possess a creature as mysterious and unsettling as Persephone.

The Last Guest is a stylish exploration of power–the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.

First Line:

We believed he had died from an overdose. There was no reason to suspect otherwise: limbs limp on the couch; pink vomit splattered across his shirt, dribbling from the corners of his mouth; the Gucci belt, the residue-stained needles – our own memories, in flashes and throbs and waves.

the last guest by tess little

When I read the blurb for The Last Guest, I was intrigued. I couldn’t wait to read a book where the mystery was laid out initially, and untangling what happened would take the whole book. Then, I read the book, and I wasn’t that thrilled with it.

The synopsis for The Last Guest was this: Elspeth was invited to her ex-husband’s, Richard, birthday party. She went only because their teenaged daughter, Lillie, was supposed to be there. But, Lillie was a no-show. Elspeth decided to make the best of it and woke up to her ex dead of an apparent heroin overdose the following day. But the police are not too sure that it was an accident and are interviewing everyone there. What happened the night of the party? Was Richard killed? Who would want him dead? Or was his death a tragic accident?

The plotline for The Last Guest was challenging to follow. The plotline went from the death to the past to the present and then back with zero lead-ins. I would be reading a paragraph that took place the night of Richard’s death, and then the next would be Elspeth sitting in her daughter’s house. It was confusing to read and frustrated me.

I couldn’t get a feel as to who killed Richard and why. Everyone at that party had an ax to grind with him. Richard was not a good or nice man. He made it to the top of the Hollywood hierarchy by being ruthless. Hell, even the octopus, Persephone, had reason to kill him. So, when the author finally revealed the details of his death, I wasn’t surprised at all.

I liked Elspeth, but her covering for Richard after he died left a bad taste in my mouth. She lied to everyone about him, including her daughter. But, as details came out about how badly she was abused, I did understand why she lied to Lillie. I didn’t know why she kept lying to everyone else. The end did little to soothe me. It seemed like it was too little too late.

The suspense angle of the book was good, but it was broken up when the book swung between present and past. A promising storyline with the housekeeper fizzled out (I wanted to know why she hated Elspeth so much).

The mystery angle was just as good but again, kept getting broken up with the book swinging between present and past.

The end of The Last Guest was a little “eh.” I understand why Elspeth decided to do what she did, but it was too little too late. I also got a little emotional with what happened to Persephone.

I would recommend The Last Guest to anyone over the age of 21. There is language, violence, and drug use.

The Dare by Lesley Kara


Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: August 3rd 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Link: Amazon | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher

Goodreads Synopsis:

As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.

‘This time it’s different. She’s gone too far now.
She really has.’

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

First Line:

She’d created a little altar on the chest of drawers in her bedroom.

The Dare by Lesley Kara

I am a big fan of mystery/thriller books. They make up 80% of the books that I read and review. So, when I had gotten the review request for The Dare, it was an immediate acceptance.

The plotline for The Dare was interesting. Alice and Lizzie were best friends, and they did everything together. But, when Alice died, Alice’s family blamed Lizzie for her death. Why? She was found having a seizure by the train tracks and had no memory of the events before Alice’s death. Alice’s family blamed her, but Lizzie never forgave herself. Twelve years later, Lizzie still has no memories of Alice’s death, but she has moved on with her life. Her epilepsy is under control, and she is engaged to a wonderful man. But, as she’s unpacking, she comes across a box that stirs up memories. What happened the day Alice died? Was Lizzie at fault? And who is trying to get at the truth? Will it cost Lizzie everything that she has worked so hard for?

I am not overly familiar with epilepsy or how it affects the brain. So, I thought using it as part of the plotline was fascinating. Lizzie could not remember what happened after she left her house with Alice. All she knows is that she was with her, and then she was on the ground, being tended to by EMTs. A massive chunk of time was missing, and Lizzie could not tell people what happened to Alice because she didn’t know. Like I said earlier in this paragraph, it was fascinating.

Lizzie made for an interesting main character. She had lost her closest friend to a horrible accident, and Alice’s family blamed her for it. Lizzie had to live with a debilitating illness and hope that the medications she’s taking will curb the seizures. But she had done well with her life. She had a fiancee who cherished her and parents who loved her. Her outlook on life was good. But then, life starts to go sideways for her. It was how she dealt with everything that struck me (in a good way).

Parts of the book were written from the angle of an unknown person. It starts when this person was a child and goes to when they are an adult. I was surprised at who that person was (the author does reveal it halfway through the book). I was even more surprised at what that person was going to do.

The mystery angle of the book was well written. There were a couple of mystery angles. One is the obvious one (did Lizzie kill Alice). The other is what is Catherine’s plan (I did figure that out). And the third angle (which was introduced halfway through the book) deals with Lizzie, her mother, and secrets that her mother had been keeping. They were all wrapped up at the end of the book, and the author did it in such a way that you couldn’t help but pity everyone involved.

The suspense angle of the book was also well written. It was closely tied in with the mystery angle and complimented it. I was kept on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what would happen next.

The end of The Dare was good. There was a twist in the storyline that made me go, “Whoa.” I didn’t see it coming, and it surprised me (in a good way). It was also bittersweet because of what was revealed.

I would recommend The Dare to anyone over the age of 21. There is mild language, violence, and sexual situations.

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron


Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: July 27th 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young woman’s escalating obsession with a seemingly perfect man leads her down a dangerous path in this novel of suspense brimming with envy, desire, and deception.

Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul. Emails are.

Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking–love, friends, stability–and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.

While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn’t read them. But it’s just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can’t look away.

Every day, twenty floors below Forest’s corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.

Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a “chance” meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she’s been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn’t simply admire Annabelle–she wants to take her place. And she’s armed with the tools to make that happen.

First Line:

As I stepped off the elevator on the second floor, I found myself silently begging for a calamity.

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron

I was super excited to start reading Just One Look. The blurb did its job and hooked me. I needed to know what happened to Cassie and where her fixation was going with Forest/Annabelle.

Just One Look had an exciting plotline. Cassie is a disgraced lawyer who is now working as a temp in another law firm. Her job at the temp agency is to read through emails and see if they are relevant to the fraud suit. By accident, Cassie reads an email from a hotshot lawyer named Forest to his wife Annabelle and becomes obsessed. Her obsession takes her down a dangerous path, where she finds that not all is what it seems. That what is read in an email isn’t exactly the whole truth.

The plotline for Just One Look was medium-paced. There was a lot of time explaining the fraud case and the inner workings of firms (which I had zero interest in). That did slow down the plot at the beginning of the book. Cassie’s vague references to what happened to her months earlier also dragged down the pace for me. “The Incident” was not fully explained until halfway through the book. Until then, it was up to me to imagine what happened (and no, it was nothing like I imagined). There was also some lag in the middle of the book (right around when Dalton died). But that lag didn’t last long. The author was able to get the book back on track.

Cassie was a hot mess and she knew it. She drank too much and she obsessed over her ex-boyfriend. She also looked down on her coworkers (mainly because she was once a hotshot lawyer). I found her annoying and immature for most of the book. But, when her obsession with Forest/Annabelle started, I knew I was in for a ride. And man, what a ride it was.

The mystery angle of the book was well written. What happened and who killed Dalton took me by surprise. There were also two twists in the plotline that made my mouth drop. I called one of them but the other I didn’t.

The stalker angle of the book was very creepy to read. I understood why Cassie latched onto Forest/Annabelle. But as that storyline progressed, I was mentally telling her to stop. It didn’t surprise me when that storyline ended the way it did. It made for some great, tense reading, but no surprise on my end.

The end of the book was anti-climatic after the explosive ending to the stalker and mystery angles. I didn’t quite understand why the author chose to go the route she did, but in the end, I was happy she did it. I like seeing what happens after a character goes through what Cassie did. But it also showed that no matter how much someone tries to change, they are the same person deep down.

I would recommend Just One Look to anyone over the age of 21. There are sexual situations, mild violence, mild language, and alcohol use/abuse.