Claimed by: J.R. Ward

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Description from the Publisher on Goodreads

A heart-pounding new series set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world, with a scientist fighting to save the timber wolves—and getting caught in a deadly trap herself…

Lydia Susi is passionate about protecting wolves in their natural habitat. When a hotel chain develops a tract of land next to the preserve, Lydia is one of the most vocal opponents of the project—and becomes a target.

One night, a shadowy figure threatens Lydia’s life in the forest, and a new hire at the Wolf Study Project comes from out of nowhere to save her. Daniel Joseph is both mysterious, and someone she intrinsically wants to trust. But is he hiding something?

As the stakes get higher, and one of Lydia’s colleagues is murdered, she must decide how far she will go to protect the wolves. Then a shocking revelation about Daniel challenges Lydia’s reality in ways she could never have predicted. Some fates demand courage, others require even more, with no guarantees. Is she destined to have true love… or will a soul-shattering loss ruin her forever?

My Review

I will not given anything away about J.R. Ward’s new book in this review. Yes, it does take place in the same world as the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and you may, like me, get a bit spoiled about some of the characters in that series if you, like me, are not up to date BUT…..it really isn’t that big of a deal if you read this before catching up with the previous series.

This was really a slow burn but I enjoyed the storyline. There was a bit of mystery and suspense with J.R. Ward’s intense romance. It left off on a cliff hanger and now I have to wait until Summer 2022 to see what happens. I guess this is the perfect opportunity to catch up a bit in the BDB series!

I gave this book 4 crowns.

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

The bestselling author of the The Swap explores what happens when a seemingly perfect family is pushed to the edge… and beyond in this “propulsive, constantly surprising” (Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of The Girls Are All So Nice Here) thriller.

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….

This twisty, addictively page-turning suspense novel about a perfect family’s perfect façade will keep you turning pages until its explosive ending.

My Review

It has been a bit of time since I read a book so quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have read almost all of Robyn Harding’s recent backlist and they have all been 4 star reads for me. This particular book exceeded my expectations.

What is seemingly a “normal” family from an outsider looking in, there are secrets at every turn that can put the lives of each family member in jeopardy. The pacing of the storyline is fantastic and the story is relatable.

If you are looking for a family drama with suspense and thrills, pick this book up!

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sugar Birds by Cheryl Grey Bostrom

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Description from the Publisher on Goodreads

Northwest Washington State, 1985

For years, Harris Hayes has taught his daughter, Aggie, the ways of the northern woods. So when her mother’s depression worsens, Harris shows the girl how to find and sketch the nests of wild birds as an antidote to sadness. Aggie is in a tree far overhead when her unpredictable mother spots her and forbids her to climb. Angry, the ten-year-old accidentally lights a tragic fire, then flees downriver. She lands her boat near untamed forest, where she hides among the trees and creatures she considers her only friends—determined to remain undiscovered.

A search party gathers by Aggie’s empty boat hours after Celia, fresh off the plane from Houston, arrives at her grandmother’s nearby farm. Hurting from her parents’ breakup, she also plans to run. But when she joins the hunt for Aggie, she meets two irresistible young men who compel her to stay. One is autistic; the other, dangerous.

Perfect for fans The Scent KeeperThe Snow Child, and The Great Alone, Sugar Birds immerses readers in a layered, evocative coming-of-age story set in the breathtaking natural world where characters encounter the mending power of forgiveness—for themselves and for those who have failed them.

About the Author

For most of her life, Pacific Northwest naturalist, photographer, and award-winning author Cheryl Grey Bostrom, MA, has lived in the rural and wild lands that infuse her writing. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the American Scientific Affiliation’s God and Nature Magazine, for which she’s a regular photo essayist. A member of the Redbud Writers Guild, she has also authored two non-fiction books. This is her first novel. She currently resides near Lynden, WA.

My Review

This was an interesting read. As a debut novel, Sugar Birds is very detailed and well thought out. As a coming-of-age story, it was also well written. Each young character had to struggle to find their way and their place in the world. You can clearly see the peer pressure and uncertainty that Celia faces and deals with. Burnaby struggles with social cues and interactions in general as he is on the spectrum but he to finds his way when others arounds him adapt and do what is best for him. Aggie is a strong, determined, and brave young girl that lives with a falsehood that could kill her.

As this is classified as a fiction read for adults and I struggled with that as all of the main characters are young. I would have loved more of a backstory about Aggie and Burnaby’s parents as well as Grandma Burke. I felt that this was a bit young for my taste. This may do well for young adults and those that are in their 20’s but as a 40 year old reader, I struggled with the content.

Overall, I gave this book 3.5 crowns.

I received an ARC from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron

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Publication Date: July 27, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

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.

“I inhaled Just One Look. I was going to read one chapter, then one chapter became the whole thing. YUM.”—Caroline Kepnes, New York Times bestselling author of the You series

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.

My Review

Cassie is the female version of the infamous Joe from You. Cassie obsesses over most things in her life and Forest is just the latest person to cross her path. This book increased my anxiety a bit but I guess you can say that makes it a good read. If the reader is immersed into the story to the point where their anxiety increases, then the suspenseful classification fits.

I did get into the storyline although I did find my thoughts wandering a bit. The end threw me completely but was reminiscent of Caroline Kepnes’ works.

I gave this book 3.5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Liabilities of Love by Susan Shoenberger

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Publication Date: July 20, 2021

For those who enjoyedThe Interestings by Meg Wolitzer andThe Patron Saint of Liars by Ann PatchettThe Liabilities of Love is an ambitious and masterful portrayal of the complex journey of how trauma can reverberate throughout a woman’s life, the differing perspectives people have on intimacy and the unintended consequences and risks of falling in love. As Kirkus Reviews notes in their starred review, it’s a “novel that explores how societal expectations can make people hide their true selves.” Following the death of her beloved mother, Margaret Carlyle heads to a local college in 1979 hoping to find love and acceptance in this new setting. Assaulted on her first date by a charismatic peer Anders, she wants nothing more than to forget it ever happened. But as the years pass, each life decision she makes seems driven by what happened that night until she realizes she must face her past head-on. This deeply moving novel is a window into class and privilege, the mysteries of marriage, and the destructive power of secrets―and an examination of what happens when we try to bury the past, as well as the consequences of confronting it. 

  • “In matter-of-fact prose studded with pithy observational gems. . . the various players can only get what they deserve by speaking their own truths. A keenly observed, compassionate, and absorbing work.”Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review
  • “A poignant tale of love, loss, and secrets, The Liability of Love is a heart-wrenching, compassionate portrayal of survival–of what happens when old wounds are left untended, when quiet pain refuses to stay silent any longer, and when we allow ourselves a second chance. Gorgeously written; Susan Schoenberger has crafted a story that will remain with you long after you turned the last page.” Amber Smith, New York Times best-selling author of The Way I Used to Be

 About the Author: Susan Schoenberger is the award-winning author of A Watershed Year and The Virtues of Oxygen. With a linotypist as a grandfather, she has ink in her blood and worked as a journalist and copyeditor for many years, including The Baltimore Sun and 12 years with The Hartford Courant. She currently serves as Director of Communications at Hartford Seminary, a graduate school with a focus on interfaith dialogue. She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband Kevin. They have three grown children and a small dog named Leo. Learn more at www.susanschoenberger.com.

The Therapist by B.A. Paris (Audiobook)

Publication Date: July 13, 2021 (note: by local bookseller had copies out already)

Description from the publishers through Netgalley

The multimillion-copy New York Times bestselling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapista powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

A Macmillan Audio Production from St. Martin’s Press

Olivia Dowd (Narrator), Thomas Judd (Narrator)

My Review

This is my second novel from B.A. Paris and I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to listen to it on Audio. This was a fun read. Alice was a great character and easy to picture. I felt that her tendencies where a bit like my own at times.

I didn’t guess the conclusion and for me that makes the read a great one. It was easy to read and kept my interested.

The narrators were perfect for this book!

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this Audio ARC from the publishers through Netgalley for an honest review.

Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell

Publication Date: July 6, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

A Most Anticipated Summer Read by SheReads * Frolic * and more!
 
“Grabs you by the throat and never lets go…with a twist you’ll never see coming.” 
–Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish
 
“Sounds like Wonder Boys times Patricia Highsmith. Yes please!”–Crime Reads

When a student disappears and is presumed dead, her professor passes off her manuscript as his own—only to find out it implicates him in an unsolved murder in this new thriller from the USA Today bestselling author of The Request.   

After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.    

There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.    

Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma—admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.  

This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia—and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.

My Review

Are you looking for a semi-dark academia thriller? This is the one for you. While reading this, I wondered to myself what I would do if I was a student at this University?! The Professors, although seemingly dedicated to their students, seemed to be chock full of ulterior motives.

It was difficult to determine which Professors were trustworthy and which were not. This, to me, is the making of a great read. I really enjoyed this story and sympathized with Conner even though I wasn’t sure if I could trust him completely.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

“The horror master…puts his unique spin on slasher movie tropes.”-USA Today

In horror movies, the final girls are the ones left standing when the credits roll. They made it through the worst night of their lives…but what happens after?

Like his bestselling novel The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix’s latest is a fast-paced, frightening, and wickedly humorous thriller. From chain saws to summer camp slayers, The Final Girl Support Group pays tribute to and slyly subverts our most popular horror films—movies like The Texas Chainsaw MassacreA Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream.

Lynette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre. For more than a decade, she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, working to put their lives back together. Then one woman misses a meeting, and their worst fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to rip their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about final girls is that no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

My Review

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book because I didn’t read the synopsis before starting it. I knew that final girls are those that are the sole survivors of horrific crimes and that they usually kill their tormentors. I was very intrigued by the title of this novel alone.

I devoured this book. It reads quickly and it kept me captivated by the story of this group of final girls who are mostly older now and still struggle to adapt to everyday life. This is a true thriller with aspects of psychology which made for a wonderful mix. It is not a psychological thriller but it is a great read. I highly recommend it.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.