Pretty Things

By Janelle Brown

Pretty Things: A Novel by [Janelle Brown]

5 out of 5 stars

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when at first we start to deceive”

Vanessa welcomes Ashley and Michael to Stonehaven to stay in the guest cottage. She is in need of validation. They are in need of the supposed money in the safe. Ashley and Michael are not who they seem. (Newsflash, either is Vanessa) Ashley is really Nina. She has been to Stonehaven before. She was there as a teen when she started dating Benny, Vanessa’s younger brother. But as in any plan, things tend to go awry. Nina wants one last score to help pay her mother’s medical bills and the police seem to be after her. Michael is one smooth criminal.  There will be a twist and then you will turn and then you will be twisted again.

I really enjoyed the realizations that Nina and Vanessa undergo. There is just something about women finding their footing that makes me want to cheer. There was a twist that I felt in my gut and was hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t and that broke my heart. Every twist was perfect for the story. It fueled the eventual outcome perfectly.  It is definitely a book you can’t put down because you will want to know just where it is going.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for my advance copy.

Little Secrets

By Jennifer Hillier

Little Secrets: A Novel by [Jennifer Hillier]

4 out of 5 stars

She has a secret.

He has a secret.

They all have a secret!

The secrets abound in this mystery/thriller. It begins on the sad note of a child being taken and we see the family one year later. Marin is holding on by a fingernail. Her husband is having an affair. When she finds out, she begins a new quest, getting rid of her. That is the beginning of so many twists that your head will spin. I have to say that I caught on early to one of the main secrets but that didn’t stop me from reading on. I knew I was right but I had no idea to what extent everything played out. It was crazy! It was one of those books where you find yourself saying Oooohhhh a lot. The characters are all multi-layered. Marin is heartbreaking but resilient.

If you love a good twisty book, this is definitely the one for you.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur for a copy of this book.

Writers & Lovers

By Lily King

Writers & Lovers: A Novel by [Lily King]

5 out of 5 stars

I have really been in a slow reading funk lately. It is not for lack of books, we all know that, it must be the times. I picked this one up and felt a peace in my soul. It is so beautifully written. There were lines that I had to read a few times and my heart just went “ah”.  Lily King is obviously a lover of the written word and the process of getting there. I felt all of Casey’s feelings from the beginning to end. She touched upon the loss of a mother so perfectly. It made me miss mine even more. As Casey struggles through life’s changes, we read of her past and root for her present. It was a pleasure to watch her work through everything to reach the place she needed to be. It has a wonderful cast of characters, some you love and some you will love to hate, but you will feel and that is what a great book is all about.

Thanks to Netgalley and Grove Press for a copy of this wonderful book. It is all my opinion but I think you might agree.

The Familiar Dark

By Amy Engel

The Familiar Dark by [Engel, Amy]

4 out of 5 stars

Dark is the perfect word for this novel. It is extremely dark and hard to read at times, which in my opinion, makes it even more readable. It takes you to places that you don’t really want to go to but you get a deep understanding of why characters behave the way they do. A story of two 12 year old girls being murder is hard enough. Reading about the grieving of the mothers is extremely hard. It is getting into the psyche of our main character Eve that proves to be the toughest road. She was not raised in the best situation. She wanted to be so much more for her daughter Junie and now, the familiar dark comes out. The unveiling of the killer is heartbreaking.

This book is wonderfully written. It is not a cheery book so it may not be for everyone but I could not put it down. I still feel a heaviness on my soul. I feel like this is maybe what the author intended.

Thanks to Netgalley and Dutton Books for a copy of this book.

Darling Rose Gold

By Stephanie Wrobel

5 out of 5 stars

I have been in a reading slump lately. I should be diving into all the books I have but maybe it is the times we are in, I don’t know. I do know that I picked up this book and finished it in two days. Fantastic!

I think we are all pretty aware of the case of Gypsy,  whose mother made her sick for most of her life until she turned the tides. This story is along those lines. Rose Gold’s mother Patty is in prison for poisoning Rose and keeping her ill for all of her young life. When she is paroled from prison, Rose Gold brings her back home to live with her and her baby boy but things are not what they seem. They are DEFINITELY not what they seem. You want twists and turns? You got them. You want a deep look into the minds of people that really are not okay? You got it. You want to feel so totally satisfied at the end of the book and maybe a little dirty? You got it.

I cannot recommend this one enough. I really look forward to whatever this wonderful author writes next.

The Two Lives of Lydia Byrd

By Josie Silver

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird: A Novel by [Silver, Josie]

4 out of 5 stars

I cannot think of a better time to read such a wonderful love story than now in this crazy world. Reading can take us away from all of it for a few precious moments and this one definitely did.

Lydia loses her fiance Freddie in a tragic accident and as she tries to deal with her grief, the little pink pill she takes at night to sleep seems to take her into another life, one where Freddie is not dead. She begins to live for those sleeping hours. It starts to take a toll on the real world. You do wonder just what is real and what isn’t at times. I started to get a little confused, I admit. They are lovely little moments for her but she has such a wonderful support system in the daylight. You will fall in love with all the cast of characters, their quirks and all, especially Jonah, Freddie and Lydia’s friend since childhood. You will definitely know the way you want this story to play out.

Grief is such a crazy thing. It is so different for each who grieves and Lydia’s was written so beautifully. Your heart breaks for her and you cheer her on as she becomes the Lydia she is inside.

Yet another wonderful read by Ms. Silver. She has the handle on a love story, that’s for sure! Yes, I was crying. My heart was full.

Thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for a copy of this lovely novel. The review is my own opinion but I know I am not alone.

Follow Me

By Kathleen Barber

Follow Me by [Barber, Kathleen]

4 out of 5 stars

I’m not creeped out, you’re  creeped out. Let me tell you, this book is creepy with a capital C. I think the creepiness comes from not only the writing but because it could happen to anyone with our crazy addiction to social media. Audrey Miller is what is called an “influencer” (a term I loathe) and she has an admirer. We know because we read the story in his voice as well. The story is actually a three point story with Audrey, her friend Cat (serious issues there too)  and Him. All three are completely flawed and all three make this book unputdownable. I was reading thinking “oh this guy has to be Him”. Wrong. “Oh this guy for sure.”  Wrong. I felt such a sense of dread leading up to the end. The end was really a surprise.  It was all very well-written.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this fantastic read.