Book Reviews · BOTMs, · CrimeThriller · Thriller

Book Review: ‘The Night Swim’ by Megan Goldin (pub 8/4)

Thank you @stmartinspress for my gifted copy of ‘The Night Swim‘ by Megan Goldin! (pub 8/4). (Click HERE to see this post on Instagram & give it a LIKE, Comment or Save!)

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation & set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―& the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a hs student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing & investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places.

Someone is following her, & she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister 25 yrs ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―& when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past & present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial & the lives of everyone involved.

I flew through this mystery/courtroom drama in mere hrs! It kinda gave me ‘Are You Sleeping‘ (fic) meets ‘Know My Name‘ (non-fic) vibes as it deals w/ the relevant issue of rape culture & a true-crime podcast. Goldin did handle the subject matter w/ care & respect & not exploitatively. I will warn you, there is some disturbing & graphic content that may be triggering or hard to read.

The Night Swim‘ is emotional, thought-provoking, heartbreaking & often cringey & uncomfortable to read, but it’s a great book if you can handle the subject matter. This book is also an August Book of the Month, so if you want to get it at a discount & you’re not a member, click on my referral link HERE & read my last Instagram post HERE for all the great benefits of being a BOTM member. This book publishes on 8/4.

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Praise for The Night Swim:

“Goldin’s prose is inviting, at times electrifying, and always sensitive in dealing with hot-button issues…well done.” ―Booklist (starred)

“Outstanding…[Goldin’s thriller] casts a searing light on small-town politics.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Remarkably strong.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Escape Room:

“The pages turn themselves…a sleek, well-crafted ride to a surprisingly twisty conclusion.” ―New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

“THE ESCAPE ROOM works as the ultimate locked-room mystery…Goldin excels at illustrating the pressures of a Wall Street career.” ―Associated Press

“Addicting.” ―Time Magazine

“High wire tension from the first moment to the last. Four ruthless people locked in a deadly game where victory means survival. Gripping and unforgettable!” ―Harlan Coben

“Fantastic. One of my favorite books of the year.” ―Lee Child

“Amazing…a thriller set in an elevator [that explores] the vast territory of people’s worst natures. A nightmarish look inside ourselves. Simply riveting.” ―Louise Penny

“A shrewd, brilliantly structured thriller doubling as a takedown of corporate culture.” ―Shelf Awareness

“There is clearly no happy ending likely for the four colleagues trapped inside [the escape room]; but fans of JP Delany and Ruth Ware will want to be right in there with them…a nail-biting tale of a corporate team-building exercise gone horribly wrong.” ―Booklist

“Riveting…[a] tale of greed and revenge set on Wall Street…Thriller fans will eagerly turn the pages to see what happens next.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Cancel all your plans and call in sick; once you start reading, you’ll be caught in your own escape room―the only key to freedom is turning the last page!” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Smart and compelling… I devoured this novel!” ―Karen Cleveland, bestselling author of Need to Know

“A sharp, slick, utterly engrossing thriller. This knockout debut hooked me from the first page and didn’t let go.” ―Cristina Alger, USA Today bestselling author of The Banker’s Wife

Megan Goldin is the bestselling author of “The Escape Room”, praised by Lee Child as “one of my favorite books of the year”, as well as “The Girl In Kellers Way”, a critically-acclaimed domestic noir thriller nominated for Australia’s leading crime fiction awards.
Megan worked as a journalist for Reuters, the Australian ABC and Yahoo! News before writing her debut psychological thriller The Girl In Kellers Way.

Book Reviews · CrimeThriller · Fiction · Thriller

Book Review: ‘The First to Lie’ by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Thank you @forgereads for my gifted copy of ‘The First to Lie‘ by Hank Phillippi Ryan!

Are you looking for your next all-consuming, page-turner of a psychological suspense/thriller with some secret investigation/super twisty/revenge plot flare? Then look no further. There’s a reason this gifted writer has won 36 Emmy awards, has won many high honor writing awards, including the coveted Mary Higgins Clark award, & is the author of 12 thrillers w/ original, fresh plots & storylines…she is simply AMAZING! (Oh, & she’s an on-air investigative news reporter in Boston when she isn’t writing spellbinding thrillers…when does this Super Woman sleep??)

USA Today Bestselling & award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling cat & mouse novel of suspense that will have you guessing, & second-guessing, & then gasping with surprise.

We all have our reasons for being who we are―but what if being someone else could get you what you want?

After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know―she isn’t the only one plotting her revenge.

An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who must choose her new reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?

Hank has knocked another one out of the park as I expected she would! Lies, twists, betrayal, family secrets, & some well-planned revenge, ‘The First to Lie’ is not your average, over-used thriller plot. Expertly paced, sharp as a tack writing, & flawlessly executed, I loved this book so much! It’s my 3rd HPR book & I am planning to get all of her earlier ones as well, giving her books some well-deserved shelf space in my home library.

The First to Lie‘ is fresh, masterful, brilliant, & keeps your guessing right up until the very end! Get this book on your TBR list, preorder it from your local indie bookstores & look for it this Tues, 8/4.

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Praise for The First to Lie:

The First to Lie is a twisty, winding road of deception and secrets that starts with a bang and ends with an explosion. Put this one on your list because Hank Phillippi Ryan is at the top of her game.” ―Samantha DowningUSA Today bestselling author of My Lovely Wife and He Started It

The First to Lie is a masterfully twisty tale full of all my favorite things: interesting women, family secrets, & well-plotted revenge. Start reading early, because you will tear through the pages of this breathless, keep-you-up-all-night thriller.” ―Jennifer Hillier, award-winning author of Jar of Hearts

“With flawless pacing and impeccable character development, Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers yet another powerful, relevant story of deceit, betrayal, and the extent to which someone will go to right the wrongs they have suffered. The First to Lie is a magnificent, intricately plotted thriller that will have you questioning everyone’s motives until the stunning ending.” ―Samantha M. Bailey, bestselling author of Woman on the Edge

“A taut, propulsive plot with twists that will take your breath away…book clubs will gobble up The First to Lie.” ―Sarah Pekkanen

“From one of our top thriller writers―a chilling tale of deception and revenge. Filled with sharp insights, The First to Lie is a house of mirrors, taking us on a thrilling ride of dizzying twists and shocking revelations.” ―Angie Kim, national bestselling author of Miracle Creek

“A must-read for thriller lovers–the compelling and twist-filled plot fearlessly delves into the intersections of revenge and family secrets.” ―Vanessa Lillie, bestselling author of Little Voices and For the Best

“Ryan delivers a mystery plotting masterclass …expert pacing, richly drawn characters, and seamless storytelling are just some of the ingredients that make this novel impossible to put down. Fabulous!” ―Hannah Mary McKinnon, internationally bestselling author of Sister Dear

“Ryan masterfully escalates the suspense in this smart, twisty thriller. With jaw-dropping discoveries, The First to Lie will shock even the savviest of suspense readers. Ryan’s best yet.” ―Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence

USA Today bestselling author HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN has won five Agatha Awards, in addition to the Anthony, Macavity, Daphne du Maurier, & Mary Higgins Clark Award for her bestselling suspense novels. As an investigative reporter, her work has resulted in new laws, criminals sent to prison, homes saved from foreclosure, & millions of dollars in restitution for victims & consumers. Along with her 36 Emmys & 14 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank has received dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. A former president of national  Sisters in Crime & a founder of MWA University, she lives in Boston with her husband, a nationally renowned civil rights & criminal defense attorney. She is the author of  The Murder List, Trust Me, & the Jane Ryland series (The Other Woman, The Wrong Girl, Truth be Told, What You See and Say No More). (**Author Photo Credit: Steve Bucci)

Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review/Pub Day ‘Everything Here is Under Control’

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Happy Pub Day & Thank you @blackstonepublishing for my gifted copy of ‘Everything Here is Under Control‘ by Emily Adrian!

Amanda is a new mother, & she is breaking. After a fight with her partner, she puts the baby in the car & drives from Queens to her hometown in rural Ohio, where she shows up unannounced on the doorstep of her estranged childhood best friend.

Amanda thought that she had left Carrie firmly in the past. After their friendship ended, their lives diverged radically: Carrie had a baby the summer after high school, became a successful tattoo artist, & never escaped Ohio’s conservative grid of close-cut grass. But the trauma of childbirth & shock of motherhood compel Amanda to go back to the beginning & to trace the tangled roots of friendship & family in her own life.

Compelling & engaging, ‘Everything Here Is Under Control’ is a raw, honest, occasionally hilarious portrait of the complexity, conflicting emotions, & physical trauma of both modern motherhood & the intense, intimate friendships that women forge in their youth.

A fantastic book about the complexity of female friendships, motherhood, trauma, breaking the bonds of friendship & ultimately, forgiveness. Also touching on postpartum depression, the story reminded me of what I felt as a young mother when I had my first child…the sometimes overpowering loneliness, the sleepless nights, the anxiety once the baby does go to sleep, & the all too consuming, 24/7 feeling that you aren’t doing enough or aren’t a good enough mother, even though you are doing everything as right & as well as you know how.

I’m also an Ohioan, so I love it when a book (or part of a book) takes place in a real or fictional town in my state. I would love to see a second book as a sort of ‘where are they now’ about Gabe, Carrie & Amanda. Overall, ‘Everything Here is Under Control’ is a really beautiful, complex, engaging & diverse book & I look forward to reading more from Emily Adrian in the future. Look for this book today at your local indie bookstore.

And don’t forget to enter my current giveaway a couple posts back for your chance to win (3) hardback books from Book of the Month, & if you join BOTM through my referral link in my bio, you get (20) bonus entries to up your chance of winning even more! The August BOTM’s will be up SOON so what are you waiting for…join today! (US residents only unfortunately)
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What others are saying about ‘Everything Here is Under Control’:

”A sharp, thoughtful, poignant look at early motherhood, a small town, and the complex, challenging, and beautiful relationships that make up our families both biological and chosen.” —Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

”How Emily Adrian could write a book so honest and raw about the first weeks of motherhood and yet so appealing and unputdownable and — dare I say, heartwarming — is a mystery of novelistic alchemy. Nonetheless, there it levitates: light as a feather and heavy as a stone, a romantic comedy that redefines the terms of traditional romance and takes happily ever after far beyond the loss of maidenhood. Magic, addictive, brilliant fun.” —Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen

”I tore through Everything Here Is under Control in just a couple of days, compelled by its refreshingly honest portrayals of not only early motherhood but the kind of childhood friendship that shapes the rest of your life. Emily Adrian writes with such a keen and sensitive eye, and she’s funny, and she is an astute observer of human behavior. I cheered when I got to the plot twist midway through, and, even now, I can’t get this novel’s characters out of my mind.” —Edan Lepucki, New York Times bestselling author of California

”Emily Adrian is such a uniquely perceptive writer, possessing a kind of X-ray vision that finds the hidden truths inside of us, no matter how painful they might be. Everything Here Is Under Control skillfully lays out a story that converges on motherhood, friendship, and our responsibilities to the world around us, the lives that touch us. A beautiful, bracing novel by an amazing, open-hearted writer.” —Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here

”I could not put down this brilliant, beautiful book. It’s about the elastic, resilient love of our earliest friendships. It’s about the challenges of motherhood at any age. It’s about how the lands of our childhood define and complicate us — and how we can never leave them completely. Everything Here Is Under Control is everything I want a novel to be: suspenseful, emotional, intellectual, and populated with characters so true and dimensional that their shocks and pains and happiness merge into my own. Emily Adrian is a force. Now, go read her book.” —Jeannie Vanasco, author of Things We Didn’t Talk about When I Was a Girl

”Brutally tender, ferociously intimate, astonishingly surefooted, and deeply satisfying. Emily Adrian has crafted a multilayered story whose people — I hesitate to call them mere ‘characters’ — became so real and vivid to me that I’ve thought about them long since finishing the book. An immersive, irresistible pleasure.” —Chelsey Johnson, author of Stray City

”Emily Adrian writes with deft assurance and penetrating insight about the intensities of motherhood, marriage, and female friendship.” —Heather Harpham, author of Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After

”There is so much to examine here, from the harrowing experience of new motherhood to the role of a father in an infant’s first days. Amanda’s complex relationship with Deerling, which includes her own mother, is worth noting, too, and a twist midway through the book adds great intensity to the story. But the heart of the novel is Carrie and Amanda’s friendship, with all its sorrow and joy. A perfect selection for book groups.” —Booklist (starred review)

Emily Adrian is the author of two critically acclaimed young adult novels, Like It Never Happened and The Foreseeable Future. She currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, her son, and their dog, Hank.

BeachReads · Book Reviews · Romance · RomCom

Book Review: ‘RomeAntically Challenged’ by Marina Adair (pub 7/28

Thank you @kensingtonbooks for my gifted copy of ‘RomeAntically Challenged‘ by Marina Adair! (pub 7/28). Click HERE to go to my Instagram post & give it LIKE.

Growing up the lone Asian in a community of WASPs, Annie has always felt out of place. Her solution? Start a family of her own. Not easy when every man she’s dated, including her ex-fiancé, finds “his person” right after breaking up with Annie. Even worse than canceling the wedding eight weeks beforehand? Learning the “other woman” plans to walk down the aisle wearing her wedding gown.

New plan—find a fresh, man-free start. Too bad her exit strategy unexpectedly lands her working at a hospital in Rome, Rhode Island, rather than Rome, Italy, & sharing a cabin with a big, brooding, & annoyingly hot male roommate.

Home on medical leave after covering a literally explosive story in China, investigative photojournalist Emmitt embarks on his most important assignment—cementing his place in his daughter’s life. Three men & a baby might work in the movies, but with a stepdad & devoted uncle competing for Paisley’s attention, Emmitt has lost his place at the family table. Then there’s the adorably sexy squatter in his cabin, who poses another problem, one he’d very much like to solve up close & personal. But he can’t win—Annie has sworn off men, Paisley’s gone boy crazy, & Emmitt’s estranged father reappears with a secret that changes everything.

Annie & Emmitt are about to discover love comes in many forms, & sometimes the best families are the ones we make.

I really loved this book! It’s the perfect staycation, escape from CoVid chaos, sit by the pool with a iced bevie read! (That’s how I enjoyed reading it anyhow…) ‘RomeAntically Challenged‘ is a nicely layered story with humor, emotion, drama & romance, & even better, book 2 in this ‘When in Rome’ series, ‘Hopeless Romantic‘, comes out in Jan 2021! 6 short months! (unless CoVid has other plans for that release date like so many others…Let’s hope not! I’m anxious to read the next installment!)

RomeAntically Challenged‘ by Marina Adair is charming, uplifting, endearing & swoon-worthy with loveable characters you will enjoy getting to know. Look for this book this Tues, 7/28 at your local indie bookstore.

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‘Hopeless Romantic’ (When In Rome #2) (pub 1/26/21)
Set against the breezy backdrop of coastal Rhode Island, the latest novel from bestselling author Marina Adair asks whether two of a small town’s biggest hearts can learn to put themselves first–in the name of love…
As caregiver for her autistic brother, Beckett Hayes knows how meaningful a little extra help can be when life happens. Which is why she runs Consider It Done, a personal concierge service in her small town. Her job also gives her the flexibility to follow her passion, being Rome, Rhode Island’s unofficial special needs advocate, training emotional support companions in her spare time. There’s not much of that, though, and certainly not enough for serious dating. It’s always been family first for Beck. But one unquestionably gorgeous, good-natured man is suddenly a temptation that’s getting tougher to resist…

Sixteen years ago, Levi Rhodes was ready to sail off into the sunset–literally. But then his father’s death and his sister’s unexpected pregnancy postponed his sailing scholarship and the adventures he had planned. Running the family marina and bar was the least he could do for his grieving mother. Plus, his niece needed a father-figure. But now that she’s in high school and has her bio-dad in her life, Levi’s wondering if it’s time to get his sea legs under him again…until curvy, caring Beck showed up in his bar, and then in his dreams…

Marina Adair is a #1 nationally bestselling author whose fun, flirty contemporary romances have sold over a million copies. In addition to the When in Rome series, she is the author of the Destiny Bay series, the Heroes of St. Helena series, the Sugar, Georgia series, & the St. Helena Vineyard series, which was the inspiration behind the original Hallmark Channel Vineyard movies: Autumn in the Vineyard, Summer in the Vineyard, & Valentines in the Vineyard. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she holds a MFA from San Jose University & currently lives in Northern California with her husband, daughter, & two neurotic cats. Please visit her online at MarinaAdair.com & sign up for her newsletter at http://www.MarinaAdair.com/newsletter.

BeachReads · Book Reviews · Fiction · RomCom · YAbooks

Book Review: ‘The Mall’ by Megan McCafferty (7/28)

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Thank you @wednesdaybooks (partner) for my gifted copy of “The Mall” by Megan McCafferty! (pub 7/28)

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes & ‘90210’ are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she & her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education & happily ever after.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, & ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places.

Megan McCafferty, beloved author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.

Ok, by show of hands, who here still has a mall in their city or one nearby that you may or may not frequent? I kinda remember when my local mall was built in 1977. Every store slot was filled & the anchor stores were JCPenney, Elder Beermans, May Co & Montgomery Ward (later that became a Sears. (The only one of those still there [barely hanging on] is JCP.)

My first job was at The Gap at our mall & I also worked at The Limited, Deb & Sam Goody (which is a major part in this book in a couple ways.) Even though this is geared towards the YA gen, I feel those of us that were teens (or maybe young 20’s) in the early 90’s will appreciate & relate to the name drops, fashion style & pop culture references even more.

From Bath & Body Works (hello, cucumber melon) to Spencer’s Gifts (STILL at my mall), to Cabbage Patch dolls (who have a co-starring role in this story), McCafferty’s ‘The Mall‘ was a true blast from my past & I really liked it. It’s a pretty quick read, laugh out-loud at times, atmospheric, & also touches on a couple heavier subjects.

The Mall‘ is a coming of age, nostalgia-filled, journey back in time, with a fun, mall based treasure hunt (like ‘The Goonies’ minus the gangsters & murder).

(Oh, & remember when Mark Wahlberg was dancing around with his Calvin Klein underwear showing & singing about ‘Good Vibrations’ w/ his Funky Bunch before becoming a huge actor??) Yes, that’s right, fellow Gen X’ers…Marky Mark is almost 50 now!

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What others are saying about Megan McCafferty’s ‘The Mall‘:

“With wit and more than a little hairspray, McCafferty dives into the 1990s with this snappily written self-empowerment novel set beneath the fluorescent lights of a suburban New Jersey mall.” – Publishers Weekly

“Megan McCafferty departs from her best-selling Jessica Darling series to conjure this charming throwback.” – Columbia Magazine

“Complete with Orange Julius, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Sam Goody, this book is a blast to the past!” – Manhattan Book Review

“The Mall was to 1991 teenagers what the iPhone is to today’s generation: EVERYTHING. This delightful novel about that particular time and place is loaded with fun, warmth, intelligence, big hair and an even bigger heart. I loved it.” — New York Times bestselling author Rachel Cohn

“Both a laugh-out-loud pean to those bygone cathedrals of the 1990s, and a zippy coming-of-age tale, THE MALL is a delightful read for any generation. So tease your hair, grab your hotdog on a stick and prepare to have a freaking blast!” — Gayle Forman, New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay and I Have Lost My Way

“What a pleasure it is to spend time in a McCafferty universe. Her writing is sharp, smart, sexy and oh-so-real. I’ll read her forever.” — Rebecca Serle, New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years

“Totally rad! This former 1990s mall teen loved The Mall, an ode to tall bangs, boys with good taste in music, and female friendship, set in the only place that mattered. What a joy to have a new book from Megan McCafferty, who knows exactly how to make us laugh, cry, and fall in love with her characters.” — Amy Spalding, author of The Summer of Jordi Perez and The New Guy

“A delightful, funny, sweet and affecting real life adventure with such a big heart, it’ll make you cry the happiest tears. The Mall is something special.” — Courtney Summers, New York Times bestselling author of Sadie

Megan McCafferty writes fiction for tweens, teens and teens-at-heart of all ages. The author of several novels, she’s best known for Sloppy Firsts and four more books in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series.

Described in her first review as “Judy Blume meets Dorothy Parker” (Wall Street Journal), she’s been trying to live up to that high standard ever since.