Kismet

Author: Amina Akhtar

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: August 1, 2022

    Rating: 4 out of 5.

    Kismet is dark, twisted and very different than most of what I have read this year making it a very enjoyable!

    Ronnie Khan has lived in New York her entire life; after her parents died her aunt raised her in a very rough way. When she meets Marley Dewhurst, a wellness guru, her life changes very quickly. Marley’s goal is to help Ronnie find her best self and together they move to the mountains of Arizona where they go on hikes, do yoga and all the healthy things to find their best self. Shortly after they arrive in town, murders occur and Ronnie’s world is turned upside down and not in the way she was hoping for.

    Kismet was a very different read from anything I have read this year. Weird, suspenseful, and filled with twists until the very end. I wasn’t really sure what to think of this book when I picked it up and with each new chapter I found myself even more confused with what I was reading. The premise was intriguing and the plot moved at a great pace. I was able to read this in two days. There were a good number of characters and each one brought a new element to the story that was needed, I especially liked the storyline involving Brit and Star, played out in just the right way. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a suspense read with lots of twists and turns throughout.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    City of Likes

    Author: Jenny Mollen

    Publisher: NacelBooks

    Release Date: June 14, 2022

    Rating: 3 out of 5.

    I must praise Jenny Mollen for writing a book that had characters I couldn’t stand and a story line that was so real that could be hard to read for some but needs to be read by others.

    Megan Chernoff has just moved from LA to New York after her husband’s work relocated them. She has been a stay-at-home mother with her two boys but now wants to get back to work as a copywriter. Shortly after arriving in New York, she meets Daphne Cole, a social media influencer who shows interest in Megan and the two quickly become close. Megan is now immersed in the influencer world and sees her life changing which draws her closer to Daphne and her circle but farther away from her family. The closer she becomes to Daphne, the more she sees the world she has been drawn into is not real and is making her lose track of what is real.

    It has taken me a few days to form my thoughts for how I feel about this book. As I read it, it took me back to a time and friendship that hurt me. Daphne is a clear narcissist and the things she does to Megan and those around her pulled me deep into my memories of this friendship and how it hurt me and can still hurt when I go down memory lane. Jenny Mollen did a fantastic job of writing these characters in a way that made me really not like them. This story can be hard to read for those that find themselves obsessed with social media and spending so much time preoccupied with likes and followers that they lose track of what matters: their family. I have been trying to limit my scrolling time on social media and it makes me happier knowing I’m spending less wasted time and more intentional time with my family. The book was on my list to read right after another that dealt with how social media can make people forget their true worth because of making the likes and followers more important than those actually in their lives. There is a lot of adult language and content within the pages so I would not recommend this to younger readers. Those that enjoy dark humor and satire will enjoy this book, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    The Dangers of an Ordinary Night

    Author: Lynne Reeves

    Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

    Release Date: November 9, 2021

    Rating: 3 out of 5.

    A deep, dark twisted tale that left me on the edge of my seat unsure of what was going to happen.

    One night, after auditions for a school play, Tali Carrington and June Danforth head home, but they never make it there. The last anyone sees of them is surveillance footage of them walking away from the school. Two days later, Tali is found disoriented but alive and June is pronounced dead at the scene. Tali’s mother, Nell takes her daughter home and does all she can to protect her from all the harm the world tries to send her way, especially after Nell’s husband is accused of being involved in the girls’ disappearance. Cynthia Rawlins is a therapist that comes to help Tali deal with the trauma she has faced while Detective Fitz Jameson uncovers more crimes and deception involving many from the high school. As the web of deceit is uncovered, those involved must determine what length they will go to in order to save themselves leaving many lives hang in the balance.

    This book was dark and twisted right up to the very end. The premise pulled me in and kept me engaged with Tali; however, not all the characters kept my interest though. While the story was good there was nothing there that stood out to me with a “wow” factor. The nice thing about this book was if all you read was the dialogue you would get the story just fine and be through it very quickly. The entire thing could have been condensed to a short story by leaving out all the unimportant fluff. Overall, this was an okay read but nothing that stood out as spectacular. If you want a quick and easy read that won’t take long and don’t mind a little harsh language, you will enjoy this one.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    Unthinkable

    Author: Brad Parks

    Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

    Release Date: July 27, 2021

    Rating: 5 out of 5.

    A fantastic thriller that I absolutely couldn’t put down! Fast, fun, thrilling, and so much more to entertain readers with the unthinkable!

    Nate Lovejoy is a stay-at-home dad while his wife, Jenny, works as a partner in the law firm they both used to be at. When she made partner before he did, it was decided he would stay home and raise the kids. His life revolves around the kids and housework making him feel important to very few. When he is kidnapped by a secret society, their futuristic billionaire leader, Vanslow DeGange, tells him that if he doesn’t kill his wife she could be responsible for the death of billions. It is unthinkable to Nate that anyone could ask him to kill someone, let alone his wife. Jenny is working on a lawsuit against a power company in Virginia, which is the reason he is asked to kill her. It doesn’t take long for all he is being asked to not line up, as there is more to DeGange than Nate is told, and it is hard for Nate to know what to believe.

    This was the first novel I have read by Brad Parks and I have to say it did not disappoint. I found myself flying through the pages unable to put it down. The story was original with a very unique plot that kept me intrigued all the way through. Just when I thought I knew how it was going to play out, a nice little twist was added that gave me a smile. It is always satisfying when an author can sneak a good twist in there that I didn’t see coming. This is the kind of book that had those twists, and it was so nice to find a new author that was able to surprise me like that. Both Nate and his wife Jenny had a great storyline, and I enjoyed the back and forth between them to see how each of their storylines played out.

    This is the kind of story that can suck you in and keep you from accomplishing much of anything else, it transports you to a different place and takes you away from the stress of the world. I recommend this book to readers that love a great psychological thriller with all the right twists in all the right places.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    Water Memory

    Author: Daniel Pyne

    Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

    Release Date: February 1, 2021

    Rating: 4 out of 5.

    A deep, dark thriller that is full of tension, action and so much more!

    Aubrey Sentro has been in black ops long enough to receive multiple concussions on her missions that her memory is now affected. During a much-needed vacation on a cargo ship, not the most likely form of transportation, pirates board and take the passengers hostage. Aubrey lets her training take over and escapes her captors, taking out a few in the process; but while she eludes the pirates, her memory of what to do in these types of situations fails her. With her memory lapses happening more frequently and becoming more severe, she fears these symptoms of serial concussion syndrome might mean the end for her.

    Aubrey Sentro is not a character to mess with. Even with her memory issues she is one hard core woman that is bound and determined to make it through the other side and be better, for her children and herself. The family dynamics throughout this is what sold me on this story. There were times throughout that I felt a little disconnected to what was happening but the way Pyne brought it all back around to Aubrey and her children made me stick with it to the end, which was very satisfying. A female black ops specialist is a great protagonist and while this is a tight story, it isn’t as top notch as Jason Pinter’s writing or Robert Dugoni. I love a great thriller and enjoyed this story, but it isn’t one that can be breezed through as readers will have to pay close attention to follow the different threads of the story. The writing not as fast paced as I would have liked but as previously stated, the family dynamic is what sold me and I think readers will enjoy that aspect of the story.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    One Small Sacrifice

    One small sacrificeAuthor: Hilary Davison

    Series: Shadows of New York #1

    Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

    Release Date: June 1, 2019

    Rating: 4. 5 Stars

    Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

    A dark and twisty thriller that is written with skill and easily draws readers into a web of deception.

    For over a year Sheryn Sterling has been trying to find enough evidence to make a conviction stick on Alex Traynor after his friend Cori fell to her death. Even though her death was ruled a suicide, she has never believed that to be true. Alex, a wartime photographer is struggling with PTSD and Sheryn refuses to let him get away with murder. When Alex’s fiancée, Emily, goes missing he is once again the prime suspect. With each new clue Sheryn finds, her theories as to what happened to both Emily and Cori fall apart and a new mystery begins bigger than anything she has investigated before.

    Alex has so many issues to deal with, the biggest is his PTSD, throughout the story it is obvious Davidson has done research to help bring about the most realistic portrayal for readers dealing with such issues. I wasn’t as pulled in by Alex as I was Sheryn and even the chapters with Emily. Those little glimpses kept me turning the page to see what was going to happen next. Seeing Emily in trouble and trying to figure out what happened to her was more entertaining than Alex trying to find her and figure out what was going on. As a detective, Sheryn Sterling had a good start in this novel.  She is smart, witty and persistent to find out the truth no matter the cost. At times Alex was a little annoying as he dealt with his issues but as the chapters progressed the story picked up speed and the action took off causing me to not want to put the book down. As the start to a new series, I can see following the characters and what is to come for several books. It could also be read as a standalone and enjoyed without missing out on anything. I would recommend this book to those that enjoy a good thriller but don’t mind a little language throughout.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    The Sea of Lost Girls

    sea of lost girlsAuthor: Carol Goodman

    Publisher: William Morrow

    Release Date: March 3, 2020

    Rating: 4 Stars

    Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

    An interesting thriller with one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a long time!

    All Tess wanted was to leave her past behind her with her seventeen-year-old son Rudy. Her husband is a professor at the same boarding school she teaches at and Rudy attends. Life is so much better now than she ever thought it could have been a decade ago. Rudy has had a troubled past and finally Tess thinks he is thriving when she gets a call in the middle of the night from Rudy asking for her to come get him at their safe place. Rudy’s girlfriend is then found dead and Rudy becomes the prime suspect. That one phone call sets off a chain reaction that causes Tess’s world to slowly fall apart. With each day that passes and each new clue that turns up, Tess can see what is happening to her family and how it all connects to the past she thought was behind her.

    The Sea of Lost Girls is a psychological thriller full of twists and turns with a satisfying ending rare in books such as this. There book format includes back and forth excerpts between Tess’s past and present giving readers a puzzle piece at just the right time in order to finish the whole puzzle. I really wasn’t sure what to think of Rudy or several of the characters at first, but as the story progressed, each character’s puzzle started to make sense and brought the whole story together by the last few pages. Goodman did a great job shaping these characters, even the characters that were irritating and dislikable. Each of these characters were written with their flaws evident but also in a way that made them relatable and easy to connect with. It can be easy to connect with the good and likable characters, but it isn’t always as easy to connect with the unlikeable characters. I had no trouble connecting with each and every one of them throughout the novel. A few of the minor characters you might think are unnecessary until you get to the end and see how they do play a crucial role in the overall story. While this was good, I wouldn’t say it was great, nothing really stood out as blowing me away, but nothing was particularly rough either. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a good psychological thriller with an ending just as satisfying as the entire story.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    Before She Knew Him

    Before she knew himAuthor: Peter Swanson

    Publisher: William Morrow

    Release Date: March 5, 2019

    Rating: 4.5 Stars

    Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

    One of the first books that kept me guessing and surprised until the very end in a very long time. I didn’t see that twist coming and I loved it! Before She Knew Him is one that will keep readers up at night!

    Henrietta has had a troubled past, especially after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She finally feels like she has her medication in order and her life in control until she and her husband meet their neighbors next door. She starts to suspect the husband, Matthew, might be a killer when she recognizes an object in his office that belonged to a murdered man who lived close two years ago. The murder was never solved, and she has been fascinated by it ever since. Hen (short for Henrietta) wonders if Matthew could be the killer, and if so, has he only killed once? Or is there a string of bodies hiding in his past? As her fascination with him grows, she follows him and tries to figure out if he is planning another murder. Hen tries to tell someone, but with her troubled past no one believes her. Hen knows she can’t let him kill again without doing something. She vows to stop him, hopefully without becoming his next victim.

    Before She Knew Him starts strong and ends even stronger. Even though Hen has a troubled past, she doesn’t let that keep her down. Her strength is what makes her a strong protagonist and kept me rooting for her throughout the entire story. I am happy to say that I didn’t see the twist coming until seconds before it was revealed. The story was written so well I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out if I had been looking for it. One of the first times this has happened in a very long time. When it was revealed, I just got a big smile on my face for how well Swanson pulled it off. Readers will find this somewhat similar to Hitchcock; you think you know what the mystery is early on but really there is so much more to it. There is a little bit of harsh language throughout, something readers that don’t prefer in their writing need to be aware of but it could have been so much worse. If you are someone who enjoys a great psychological thriller you will definitely want to add this to your list!

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    Dead to Her

    dead to herAuthor: Sarah Pinborough

    Publisher: William Morrow

    Release Date: February 11, 2020

    Rating: 3 Stars

    Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

    A web of lies and dark secrets makes for a very interesting read with an ending that will leave readers satisfied.

    Marcie Maddox is thrust into the high life when she has an affair with Jason Maddox and marries into his luxurious life. She has secrets from her past she would like to keep hidden from her new husband and everyone else. Even though she married into the world of money, she feels she will never be able to fit into it. When Jason’s boss comes back from a trip to London with a young new wife, Keisha, Marcie’s world is turned upside down. Keisha is wild and quickly brings Marcie into her crazy antics. Marcie loves her husband but is intrigued by Keisha and the more time the two spend together the closer they become. As lies come to the surface and emotions are heated, Marcie sees her lavish life start to fall apart. Now she must decide what she is willing to do to keep it.

    ,This book is not for the faint of heart. A large portion of it spent on sexual acts between many of the characters and the language can get very harsh at times. The story itself was good and very involved with the way the mystery intertwined between the timelines and different characters. Descriptions flowing throughout helps readers to put themselves in the shoes of these characters. I had trouble getting past the many sex scenes and language, which for some readers that is no big deal. Unfortunately, for me that tends to take me out of the story. At times I did feel sympathy for Keisha and Marcie and what they were going through; however, some of the other characters I really had no connection with and could have enjoyed the book more if they were not in it. The fact that Pinborough saved some of the best twists for the last few chapters helped to redeem the book a little for me. I would recommend this to readers that love psychological thrillers and don’t mind the sex scenes or harsh language.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

    The Lying Room

    The lying roomAuthor: Nicci French

    Publisher: William Morrow

    Release Date: October 1, 2019

    Rating: 3.5 Stars

    Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

    Secrets and lies weave a dangerous web that can catch multiple people.

    Neve Connolly has played her part throughout her marriage. She’s been more of the bread winner allowing her husband to chase his dreams early on, but as of late they have both become tired and depressed. Neve built a publishing company with three friends from college and they have always struggled to keep it going, so when the company gets bought out, they are secretly relieved that they are becoming just employees instead of business owners. Neve’s life had become mundane with work and raising three kids and her oldest Mabel having a tough time falling into the wrong crowd and using drugs. So, when her new boss Saul takes a sudden interest in her, it doesn’t take much for her to fall under his spell and become tightly wrapped up in an affair. One morning she receives a text from Saul to come to his flat one morning before he leaves for a conference. After she enters the flat, she discovers Saul’s body and finds the murder weapon nearby. Neve realizes that if the affair were to come out, it would devastate her family, so she works to erase all traces of herself from the flat. As the police begin to investigate, the lead detective seems to think that Neve is somehow involved and continues showing up at random times and seemingly unraveling any alibi she can concoct. As the investigation continues, Neve realizes that she may be the next target for the killer and she must unravel the mystery before the police can connect her to Saul’s murder.

    One thing I have found about Nicci French books is that they always start out with a bang and The Lying Room was no exception. Within the first few pages, readers discover that Neve is being unfaithful to her husband with an affair and she then discovers the dead body of her lover. Even though the book is told in third person, it centers on Neve and her thoughts about what is going on and how to try to salvage her image to her husband and children. As the evidence seems to close in on her, she begins to discover more secrets that involve her husband and close friends. This was a very interesting psychological thriller that also read quickly. After the initial start of the book, it took about another one hundred pages to really set the pace, but once it did, it really took off. There is quite a bit of foul language and some implied sex that renders this book more acceptable for a mature audience.

    I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions express within are my own.