Sunday, March 31, 2024

No One Needs to Know by Lindsay Cameron


Title: No One Needs to Know
Author: Lindsay Cameron
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: May 9, 2023

When an anonymous neighborhood forum gets hacked, the darkest secrets of New York’s wealthiest residents come to light—including some worth killing for—in this gripping suspense novel from the author of Just One Look.

It was all confidential. Right up to the moment when it wasn’t.

UrbanMyth: It was lauded as an alternative to the performative, show-your-best-self platforms—an anonymous discussion board grouped by zip code. The residents of Manhattan’s exclusive Upper East Side disclosed it all, things they would never share with their friends or their spouses: secret bank accounts, steamy affairs, tidbits of juicy gossip. These are the same parents who would go to astonishing lengths to ensure their children gain admission to the most prestigious boarding schools and universities. So when a “hacktivist” group breaks into the forum and exposes the real identity behind each poster, the repercussions resound down Park Avenue with a force none could have anticipated.

And someone will end up dead.

Will it be Heather, the outsider who would do anything to get her daughter into the elite’s good graces and into even better schools? Norah, the high-powered suit failing to balance work and the emotional responsibilities of motherhood? Or Poppy, perfect on the outside but hiding more than her share of secrets?

Each of them has something to hide. Each of them will do anything to keep their secrets hidden. And each of them just might kill to protect their own.

Entertaining for sure!

There are 3 main female characters.

Heather: she is relentless in trying to get her daughter into an elite boarding school. She will stop at nothing to accomplish it.

Poppy: Rich and full of privilege. Yet, she is bored. Her husband treats her like a decoration he purchased and is showing off.

Norah: a down-to-earth mother who works for Poppy's husband. She works and enjoys it and doesn't feel like she fits with all the other mothers which she is happy about.

Then there is a website called Urban Myth. The website is supposed to be private. Everyone can post their deepest secrets. The information is so juicy that everyone on the Upper East Side has the app.

Then, a man disappears and the site is hacked and all three ladies' secrets are in the open.

I think the blurb is misleading. The hacking happens not at the beginning of the book but way into it. By then, I don't think it made much of a difference. We already knew each woman and what they were dealing with privately.

No One Needs to Know had unlikable characters except for Norah. She was my favorite.

I enjoyed the ending and I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to read something like Desperate Housewives. I certainly do.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Bantam via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury
The Baxters #30


Title: Someone Like You
Series: The Baxters #30
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: May 5, 2020

One frozen embryo.Two families with secrets.
And a guy who never planned to fall in love again.

Maddie West is shaken to the core when she finds out that everything she believed about her life was a lie. Her parents had always planned to tell her the truth about her past: that she was adopted as an embryo. But somehow the right moment never happened. Now, the total stranger who confronts Maddie with the truth tells her something else that rocks her world—Maddie had a sister she never knew about. Feeling betrayed, angry, and confused, Maddie leaves her new job and fiancĂ©, rejects her family’s requests for forgiveness, and moves to Portland, Oregon, to find out who she really is.

Dawson Gage’s life is destroyed when London Quinn, the only girl he had ever loved, is killed. In the hospital waiting room, London’s mother reveals to Dawson that London might have had a sibling—the frozen embryo she and her husband donated decades ago. When Dawson invites Maddie to Portland to connect with her long-lost relatives, the Quinns, her biological parents, welcome her into their lives. Maddie is intrigued by their memories of London, who was so much like her. Is this the family and the life she was really meant to have?

Now it will take the love of Dawson Gage to help Maddie find her way home.

So I was scrolling through my feed and saw that a movie based on this book was coming out.
I downloaded the audio but had no clue this book is the 30th in this series! I know I probably missed a lot since I don't know the rest of the characters well.

The second thing, I didn't know was that it was a Christian book.

Anyway, back to the story.

Maddie West is excited to start her new job at the zoo after graduating college. She also is about to get married. Her fiancee seems to be a really sweet guy.

Then, Dawson Gage finds Maddie at the zoo and tells her that she is adopted and that London, her biological sister, and her parents live in Portland.

At first, Maddie believes he is a liar but after one conversation with her parents, she realizes he was telling her the truth.

Maddie decides to leave it all and go to Portland to find out more about her sister and her biological parents.

I ended up liking the book but did have some issues with Maddie's decisions.

First, leaving her job, her parents, and her fiancee abruptly without a good conversation felt wrong to me. Second, I'm not sure what new job will let you leave it for an unknown period of time just after your first day and they will hold it for you. Third, the way she refused to talk to her adoptive family despite all that they had done for her felt very childish. Lastly, the big decision she made in Portland that will affect her for the rest of her life felt very rushed. I'm not saying it was not the right one, but she didn't discuss it with the people who cared about her. She just informed them about her decision.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

Title: Just for the Summer 
Author: Abby Jimenez
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 2, 2024

Justin has a curse, and thanks to a Reddit thread, it's now all over the internet. Every woman he dates goes on to find their soul mate the second they break up. When a woman slides into his DMs with the same problem, they come up with a plan: They'll date each other and break up. Their curses will cancel each other’s out, and they’ll both go on to find the love of their lives. It’s a bonkers idea… and it just might work.

Emma hadn't planned that her next assignment as a traveling nurse would be in Minnesota, but she and her best friend agree that dating Justin is too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially when they get to rent an adorable cottage on a private island on Lake Minnetonka.

It's supposed to be a quick fling, just for the summer. But when Emma's toxic mother shows up and Justin has to assume guardianship of his three siblings, they're suddenly navigating a lot more than they expected–including catching real feelings for each other. What if this time Fate has actually brought the perfect pair together?

Another powerful book written by Abby Jimenez.

After finding a post on Reddit, Emma decides to DM a message to Justin.

Justin post's on Reddit is quite funny. The gist of the post is that after leaving him, every woman he dates, then they go on to find their true love.

Emma is surprised because the exact same thing has happened to her, so she tells him that in her message.

After a few interactions through texts and then video, Justin tries to convince her to come to Minnesota so they can date and then break up. Hoping that both can find their true love after.

Emma is a traveling nurse and when her current job ends, she convinces her best friend and roommate to go to Minnesota with her.

Emma and Justin have tons of chemistry and their relationship progresses wonderfully. There were just a couple of issues: Emma's mother is back in the picture and dating her boss. Emma's mother was not a good mother. She abandoned Emma as a child and Emma was raised in foster care. The second issue was that due to unfortunate circumstances, Justin was soon becoming the guardian of his three siblings.

I did love this story. So much heart! There is a lot of pain and at times, it was hard to like Emma. Justin on the the other hand, was perfect. He was very understanding and supportive.

I can't wait for her next book.

Cliffhanger: No

4,5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Listen for the Lie by Amy Tintera


Title: Listen for the Lie
Author: Amy Tintera
Publisher: Celadon Books
Release Date: March 5, 2024 

What if you thought you murdered your best friend? And if everyone else thought so too? And what if the truth doesn't matter?

After Lucy is found wandering the streets, covered in her best friend Savvy’s blood, everyone thinks she is a murderer. Lucy and Savvy were the golden girls of their small Texas town: pretty, smart, and enviable. Lucy married a dream guy with a big ring and an even bigger new home. Savvy was the social butterfly loved by all, and if you believe the rumors, especially popular with the men in town. It’s been years since that horrible night, a night Lucy can’t remember anything about, and she has since moved to LA and started a new life.

But now the phenomenally huge hit true crime podcast "Listen for the Lie," and its too-good looking host Ben Owens, have decided to investigate Savvy’s murder for the show’s second season. Lucy is forced to return to the place she vowed never to set foot in again to solve her friend’s murder, even if she is the one that did it.

A favorite of 2024!

Lucy is living in LA when she is fired from her job. She also knows her current relationship must come to an end. She sees no future with him. She knows the main reason is that finally, her past has come back to haunt her.

In her small hometown of Texas, everyone believes she killed her best friend Savvy. She was found with Savvy's blood but Lucy has absolutely no memory of the event. The local police were unable to prove she killed Savvy. After, Savvy's death Lucy divorces her husband and she moves away to begin a new life.

Now, a podcast called Listen to the Lie by Ben Owens is bringing it all back.

When her grandmother calls and tells her to return to Texas for her birthday, Lucy can't say no. Her grandmother has been the one person who has always believed in her. When she arrives, her grandmother convinces her to talk to Ben. At first, Lucy doesn't want anything to do with the podcast but she is done running. She wants the truth to come out even if the truth is that she is the one responsible for Savvy's death.

Listen for the Lie had a great female character. Lucy was extremely likable because she felt real. She didn't show as a damaged drunk or addicted to some type of drug like many of the other female characters in so many plots lately. I liked that we didn't know if she was guilty because she didn't remember it either. We were constantly guessing about the culprit. I did guess who it was but not from the start.

I want to read whatever is next for Amy Tintera.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Celadon Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Secret Ingredient by Sue Heath


Title: The Secret Ingredient 
Author: Sue Heath
Publisher: One More Chapter
Release Date: January 18, 2024 

A delicious story that wraps itself around your heart’ Evie Woods, bestselling author of The Lost Bookshop.
It’s been three years, two weeks and one day since Kate Shaw’s life changed forever. Three years, two weeks and one day that Kate has been angry – with herself and life.

But today is different. Different because Kate has finally taken the step she’s been avoiding…back into the kitchen. Now, what begins as a (disastrous) attempt to make pancakes becomes a culinary journey that is not only a love letter to someone so important to her, but also an unexpected means of connection to a community she never knew she had…

A sweet story with sweet characters!

Kate Shaw is done being angry. She has quit her job as a teacher and has decided to finally use her kitchen to make pancakes. Her husband passed away three years earlier and she knows she needs to move forward. He was a great cook and she misses him dearly and all the special dishes he used to make for them.

While she's attempting to cook, someone knocks at her door. The old man's name is Charles and he tells her, her house used to be a tea place. His wife Mary and he used to enjoy many afternoons there. He wonders if she would cook something for his Mary. After talking with Charles for a while, Kate finds herself saying yes. She will cook scones for them.

Next, Kate bumps into her neighbor, Della. Della is divorced and her faithful companion is her dog. They start a conversation and soon Kate invites Della to the meal she is preparing for Mary and Charles.

During all these events, Kate keeps on running into another one of her neighbors, Jack. He has recently moved close by and their first few interactions weren't great. However, Kate soon learns what happened to Jack to make him react the way he did.

The Secret Ingredient gives us a little bit of everything. There is loss, there is sadness but there is also hope, friendship, and memories. Food is a great memory inducer. A certain food smell can trigger a wonderful memory of someone you loved who has cooked for you. A food memory can also be comforting. I know it happens to me when I get sick and I just want to smell my mother's chicken soup recipe.

I haven't tried any of the recipes in this book but I want to.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by One More Chapter via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Secret Book Club by Shauna Robinson


Title: The Secret Book Club
Author: Shauna Robinson
Publisher: One More Chapter
Release Date: January 18, 2024

Maggie Banks loves books. And running a bookstore sounds like the best job in the world. Except in Bell River, a place that refuses to let her sell anything written this century. But in Maggie's world, book rules are made to be broken. And what better way to break tradition than by starting an underground book club. But keeping her new club quiet, selling forbidden books and dodging the strict literary society is proving harder than it seems. Especially when Maggie unearths a secret that could upend everything… ‘A wise and honest story of how it feels to be a young woman in search of yourself’ Taylor Jenkins Reid ‘It was really nice to be able to identify with the character’ ‘A good storyline and entertaining ’ ‘An enjoyable read’ ‘An easy and relatable read’ ‘A book for book lovers . . . it’s impossible not to root for Nora! Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties ‘It’s refreshing to read a book about publishing with a half-Black heroine who’s wryly aware of the way she stands out in a very White field’ Kirkus Reviews ‘With emotional honesty and a surprising wit that I found addictive, Robinson’s debut is everything a book-about-books fan wants’

An enjoyable story that takes place in a bookstore.

Maggie Banks is drifting. She is unsure about her future and the right path to follow so when her good friend offers her a job at her bookstore while she goes on maternity leave, she jumps at the chance.

When Maggie starts working, she realizes she has a few issues. She has never been a reader. Also, the bookstore wasn't allowed to sell books from this century or the last! Third, the local historical society is trying to control everything the bookstore is doing.

Maggie becomes desperate. She needs a plan. She can't afford to lose this job. She can't let her friend down either. What to do?

Maggie realizes the only way she can stay afloat is to develop a secret book club where she can sell the books people want to read without getting discovered by her friend, the historical society, or the guy she had developed feelings for.

I had some anxiety with this one. I wasn't sure how she could save the bookstore or her romance when the truth came out. The ending did feel a little too perfect but I'm not complaining.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by One More Chapter via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Only If You're Lucky by Stacy Willingham


Title: Only If You're Lucky
Author: Stacy Willingham
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 16, 2024

Lucy Sharpe is larger than life. Magnetic, addictive. Bold and dangerous. Especially for Margot, who meets Lucy at the end of their freshman year at a liberal arts college in South Carolina. Margot is the shy one, the careful one, always the sidekick and never the center of attention. But when Lucy singles her out at the end of the year, a year Margot spent studying and playing it safe, and asks her to room together, something in Margot can't say no—something daring, or starved, or maybe even envious

And so Margot finds herself living in an off-campus house with three other girls, Lucy, the ringleader; Sloane, the sarcastic one; and Nicole, the nice one, the three of them opposites but also deeply intertwined. It's a year that finds Margot finally coming out of the shell she's been in since the end of high school, when her best friend Eliza died three weeks after graduation. Margot and Lucy have become the closest of friends, but by the middle of their sophomore year, one of the fraternity boys from the house next door has been brutally murdered... and Lucy Sharpe is missing without a trace.

A tantalizing thriller about the nature of friendship and belonging, about loyalty, envy, and betrayal—another gripping novel from an author quickly becoming the gold standard in psychological suspense.

Margot lost her best friend Eliza due to an accident three weeks after graduating high school. Their plan had been to go together to college in South Carolina. Margo decides to do just that but her first year doesn't bring her any happiness, she is barely living. Then, Lucy Sharpe appears out of nowhere and offers Margot to move in with her and her two besties, Sloane and Nicole to an off-campus house and she doesn't hesitate to accept the offer.

Lucy is magnetic. Everyone is interested in her and what she has to say. People gravitate towards her just like they did with Eliza. Margo is no exception. Like moths to light, Margo will follow Lucy's lead into everything but will this include murder? By the middle of sophomore year, a freshman fraternity boy has been brutally murdered and Lucy has gone missing....

The novel is narrated in past and present chapters.

I loved A Flicker in the Dark and All the Dangerous Things but Only If You're Lucky felt short for this reader. I don't know if it was the unbelievable conclusion or me guessing the conclusion very early on. I was disappointed, to say the least. I wish this wasn't the case.

Will I read Stacy Willingham's next novel? You better believe it!

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Minotaur Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Nightwatching by Tracy Sierra

Title: Nightwatching
Author:  Tracy Sierra
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: February 1, 2024

A mother is forced to the breaking point when her life and the lives of her children are threatened by an intruder.

Home alone with her young children during a blizzard, a mother tucks her son back into bed in the middle of the night. She hears a noise—old houses are always making some kind of noise. But this sound is disturbingly familiar: it’s the tread of footsteps, unusually heavy and slow, coming up the stairs.

She sees the figure of a man appear down the hallway, shrouded in the shadows. Terrified, she quietly wakes her children and hustles them into the oldest part of the house, a tiny, secret room concealed behind a wall. There they hide as the man searches for them, trying to tempt the children out with promises and scare the mother into surrender.

In the suffocating darkness, the mother struggles to remain calm, to plan. Should she search for a weapon or attempt escape? But then she catches another glimpse of him. That face. That voice. And at once she knows her situation is even more dire than she’d feared, because she knows exactly who he is—and what he wants.

A mother is home alone with her two children during a blizzard when she hears someone coming up the steps. She knows every sound her house makes after many sleepless nights and she knows someone who is not a child is coming up. She can tell this person wants to bring them harm and she knows she needs to try to get to her kids before he makes it to them. She makes a run for it and wakes up her son and daughter and takes them to a secret space where she hopes he can't find them. 

Who is the man? Do they know him? Why are they the targets? Or is the mother imagining it all or is she the one who is trying to hurt her children?

The story started with an intense bang and held my attention for a bit. Yet, by the middle, it lost some of its luster but the end brought the sense of urgency back which helped. The downside I would say had to do with the story being told from a third point of view and the ridiculous name given to the bad guy. 

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Pamela Dorman Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ghosted by Sarah Ready
Ghosted #1

Title: Ghosted 
Series: Ghosted #1
Author: Sarah Ready
Publisher: Swift & Lewis Publishing LLC
Release Date: September 26, 2023

Jillian Nejat is the only dating and relationship expert on the planet who is incapable of speaking to men. If they’re living, if they’re breathing, it’s game over. With her bank account at zero, her career a dumpster fire, and her dating life in a ten-year slump, she moves into a tiny, dirt-cheap NYC apartment. Unfortunately, the apartment is already occupied. Daniel (no-last-name) is a sexy, shirtless, six-pack wielding heartthrob who is also…dead. He isn’t living. He isn’t breathing. He’s a ghost. He’s also the only man on the planet who Jillian can talk to. Soon, Daniel’s convinced that it’s his afterlife mission to resurrect Jillian’s love life. He knows, if he helps her fall in love then he can move on. Jillian agrees. The last thing she needs is a Lothario ghost haunting her living room. But then, one practice date leads to another, one confession leads to more, and suddenly Jillian fears she’s falling for the one man she can never have.

Enjoyed this paranormal romance!

Jillian Negat is unable to speak to men which makes it really hard to date them. Her life in NYC is not easy. She loves her job but she might not be able to keep it for too long since her column is about dating and she has no clue how to do that. Yes, she has gone on hundreds of dates but without being able to articulate you can guess how things haven't worked for her.

Jillian believes in not changing and that people should love you the way you are and she will stick to this no matter what.

Due to her poor finances, she moves into a tiny apartment full of mirrors and a ghost. Daniel is the ghost. He is sexy, shirtless, six-pack-wielding man. Too bad he is not alive!

It takes little time for Daniel to guess that the reason Jillian can see him is that he needs to help her find a good relationship. Yet, the more time they spend together the harder is for Daniel to see her with other men and for Jillian not to compare every new man she meets to her ghost. They both understand the limitations of their relationship are obvious so how can it work?

Warm and sweet is the best way to describe this story. 

I'm excited this is a series and I already know that I'll read the second book since I already like the protagonist. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Bad Blood by John Sandford
Virgil Flowers #4

Title: Bad Blood 
Series: Virgil Flowers #4
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Another brilliant Virgil Flowers thriller from the #1 "New York Times" bestselling author.

One late fall Sunday in southern Minnesota, a farmer brings a load of soybeans to a local grain elevator- and a young man hits him on the head with, was it a steel bar?, and then drops him into the grain bin as he first waits until he's sure he's dead, and then calls the sheriff to report the "accident." Suspicious, the sheriff calls in Virgil Flowers, who quickly breaks the kid down.

The next day the boy is found hanging in his cell. Remorse? Virgil isn't so sure. As he investigates, he begins to uncover a multigeneration, multifamily conspiracy - a series of crimes of such monstrosity that, though he's seen an awful lot in his life, even he has difficulty in comprehending.

More importantly, he has to figure out what to do.

Virgil Flowers is called to investigate a crime. A young man has been found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide after hitting a farmer with a baseball bat and then, the cop who worked that night is found dead at home with his pants unzipped.

Virgil's companion in this investigation is Warren County Sheriff Lee Coakley. She won the recent election and has to prove she can solve this series of crimes after the bodies start piling up. 

A "church" is in the middle of the investigation. Is sex the reason for the murders or is it child abuse?

I think that John Sandford has made Virgil better and better with each book. The sarcasm, the perfect one-liners, the plot, and the secondary characters crossing over from the Lucas Davenport series all make a perfect winning formula for this novel to be engrossing and successful. 

Despite Virgil and Lucas being very different physically and in their personal life, they both share some qualities that humanize them.  Their gray areas are so very entertaining 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs