Love In The Time Of Serial Killers

US Publication – August 16,2022

Berkley Publishing Group



Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.

My Thoughts

Phoebe has come back to Florida to put her deceased father’s house in order. Her younger brother Conner, who she was very close to when they were children also lives nearby. It is a chance for these adult siblings to reconnect. Phoebe though is also on a deadline to finish her dissertation on true crime, something that was an unusual obsession when she was younger is now her career path. Oh, and by the way, Phoebe sees serial killer traits in well just about everyone. Even her father’s seemingly nice and helpful neighbor Sam is not above suspicion.

Phoebe manages to insert some very important facts about killers into every single conversation. When she finds herself attracted to Sam, I’ll be honest I didn’t quite see why he liked her back. She has spent most of her life pushing people away and the glimpses of her sarcasm really made her unlikable at times. As the story progressed, I found out what made her this way, and she grew on me. Even as Sam and Phoebe get to know each other it was hard sometimes to see the attraction. I don’t know. Maybe I haven’t read enough instalove books, but things just seem to happen too fast.

Anyhow, I did appreciate how this couple just seemed like normal people. They weren’t drop-dead gorgeous or insanely lucky or wealthy just two people each with their own issues (though mostly Phoebe’s) who maybe find a way to connect and grow.

I received a DRC from Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley.

Stay Awake

St. Martin’s Press

US Publication – August 9,2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2


In the vein of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that plays with memory and murder.

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers—a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget—permanently.

A complex thriller that unfolds at a breakneck speed, Stay Awake will keep you up all night.

My Thoughts

I wrote a review for Stay Awake yesterday and left it until this morning to review. Do you know what? I realized it was so boring it would have put Liv to sleep no matter how much caffeine she ingested. The new review plan is being revised and rethought, but for 2022 and I am going to try to leave the book description to the people who already wrote it quite well and stick to how the book made me feel. Good luck to me!

Imagine waking up in a taxi with no idea how you got there? Especially when you don’t recall going out and having too much to drink. The last thing you remember is being in your office and answering the phone. What could have possibly happened between then and now? She doesn’t have her purse or phone, but she does have a lot of cash, a bunch of writing on her hands telling her to stay awake, and other assorted messages that make very little sense. Oh, and a bloody knife, just, what did Liv do after work?

If this seems like a disorienting scenario, buckle up because this is only the beginning. Every time Liv falls asleep, she wakes up having no idea where she is and only remembers the last thing she did, answering the phone in her office. We learn through chapters set in the present, and two years ago, that she suffered a severe injury and something horrific happened to her roommate and boyfriend. She doesn’t know who to call or what to do and every time she gains a little more knowledge, she falls asleep, losing all of her recently gained information.

Enter Detectives Halliday and LaValle who are searching for a woman who is the number one suspect in a murder investigation. The woman turns out to be Liv and when she sees her picture on TV, the only thing she is sure of is that she wouldn’t kill anyone. But can she be trusted when she doesn’t remember the victim or what she did last night? When it appears that someone other than the police are desperate to find Liv, I was holding my breath hoping that she wouldn’t fall asleep again!

This was such a tension-filled story and honestly, just a nightmare scenario. I loved how the author dropped small tidbits of information along the way. Enough so I started to make predictions about the bad guy, but not enough for me to not have more than one suspect, including Liv. Megan Goldin is three for three with me. Every book has been so different and once again, I stayed up too late finishing this one. For once, that was an incredibly good thing, and when I woke up in the morning, I checked to be sure I had finished this twisty book.

I received a DRC from St.Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

You’re Invited

Berkley Publishing Group

US Publication – August 9,2022



What could be worse than your ex-boyfriend marrying your childhood best friend? Getting accused of her murder… From the author of My Sweet Girl comes a dangerously addictive new thriller about a lavish Sri Lankan wedding celebration that not everyone will survive.


When Amaya is invited to Kaavi’s over-the-top wedding in Sri Lanka, she is surprised and a little hurt to hear from her former best friend after so many years of radio silence. But when Amaya learns that the groom is her very own ex-boyfriend, she is consumed by a single thought: She must stop the wedding from happening, no matter the cost. But as the week of wedding celebrations begin and rumors about Amaya’s past begin to swirl, she can’t help but feel like she also has a target on her back. When Kaavi goes missing and is presumed dead, all evidence points to Amaya. However, nothing is as it seems as Jayatissa expertly unravels that each wedding guest has their own dark secret and agenda, and Amaya may not be the only one with a plan to keep the bride from getting her happily ever after…

My Thoughts

Amaya lives an extremely structured and rather lonely life in Los Angeles. She hasn’t gone back to her home in Sri Lanka for years, and while she misses it, she truly misses her former best friend, Kaavi. She follows all of her social media accounts and watches every move she makes obsessively. Kaavi has changed a lot since their university days, but one post, in particular, throws Amaya’s world upside down.

Kaavi is engaged to Spencer, Amaya’s college boyfriend. How this happened is almost beside the point to Amaya. All she knows is that she must stop this wedding. Does she still love Spencer or is it that she just can’t stand Kaavi’s betrayal. In time, all will be revealed. When Amaya decides to accept Kaavi’s invitation to attend her wedding, her thoughts turn dark. Some might even say murderous.

When Kaavi goes missing and her hotel room shows signs of a fight, Amaya seems to be the most likely suspect. But not so fast, every character is hiding something, and Kaavi’s Instagram perfect life is anything but perfect. Secrets, lies, and some truly horrible behavior and people made this a page-turner. It didn’t end the way I had hoped, but I am not the author, am I.

I love, loved My Sweet Girl and You’re Invited, just a bit less. It was still a treadmill read that had me go way past my usual time. I am pretty sure I will be seeing people reading this on the beach come August. It just screams perfect beach read to me. 

I received a DRC from Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley.

Long Gone

St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books

US Publication – August 9,2022



Long Gone, the next installment of Joanna Schaffhausen’s critically acclaimed Detective Annalisa Vega series.

Chicago detective Annalisa Vega shattered her life, personally and professionally, when she turned in her ex-cop father for his role in a murder. Her family can’t forgive her. Her fellow officers no longer trust her. So when detective Leo Hammond turns up dead in a bizarre murder, Annalisa thinks she has nothing to lose by investigating whatever secrets he hid behind the thin blue line.

Annalisa quickly zeroes in on someone who had good reason to want Hammond dead: a wealthy, fast-talking car salesman who’d gotten away with murder once and wasn’t about to let Hammond take a second shot. Moe Bocks remains the number one suspect in his girlfriend’s brutal unsolved death, and now he’s got a new woman in his sights—Annalisa’s best friend.

Annalisa is desperate to protect her friend and force Bocks to pay, either for Hammond’s death or his earlier crime. But when no one else believes the connection, she takes increasingly risky chances to reveal the truth. Because both Hammond and Bocks had secrets to die for, and if she doesn’t untangle them soon, Annalisa will be next.

My Thoughts

Stop right now if you haven’t read the first book in the Annalisa Vega series, Gone For Good. Long Gone cannot help but spoil what happens in the first book. If you haven’t already, don’t even read the description for this book until you finish the first one! Having said that I think that this book was even better mostly because I already knew a lot about the main character and her police partner a/k/a her ex-husband Nick.

Annalisa and Nick are called to the scene of a murder. One of their own, longtime detective Leo Hammond is dead in his bed. Oddly enough his younger wife is unharmed, and it seems like this will be an easy case to solve. But looks can be deceiving and there is much more going on here.

Annalisa is pretty much ostracized by her fellow cops because of a decision she made in the last book. But she is gutsy, determined, and kind of a lone wolf which gets her into trouble often, and she starts delving into the background of this distinguished and very dead cop. It seems that the Fantastic Four, a nickname Leo earned along with his three very close police partners and friends may not be the upstanding cops everyone believes they are. Twists and turns that reach into the past and Annalisa’s strained relationship with her family made this an engaging page-turner. I really feel for her plight, and I hope that I see her again.

I received a DRC from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books through NetGalley.

Are You Sara?

William Morrow

US Publication – August 9,2022



“Dynamic women with complicated lives take center stage in this twisty mystery about a rideshare mix-up which results in murder. Lalli is a fresh voice in the thriller genre and a writer to watch!” —Wendy Walker, internationally bestselling author of Don’t Look For Me

Two women named Sara each get into a rideshare. . . but only one makes it home alive. Which Sara was the real target?

Law student Saraswati “Sara” Bhaduri holds down two jobs in order to make her way through school, but it’s still a struggle. She’s had to do things to pay the bills that most people wouldn’t expect from “a nice Indian girl.” It seems like an ordinary busy Tuesday night at the local dive bar until her boss demands Sara deal with a drunk girl in the bathroom.

The two become fast friends. Why? Because they both have the same name. And despite their different circumstances, the two connect. When they both order rideshares home, they tumble in the back of the cars and head out into the night.

But when Sara awakes in her rideshare, she finds she’s on the wrong side of town—the rich side—and she realizes: she and Sarah took the wrong cars home.

With no money, Sara walks back to her apartment on the shady side of town only to discover police lights flashing and a body crumpled on her doorstep: Sarah.

Was Sarah Ellis or Sara Bhaduri the target? And why would anyone want either of them dead?

In this smart, twisty novel about ambition, wealth, and dangerous longing, the layers are peeled back on two young women desperate to break out of the expectations placed on them, with devastating results.  

My Thoughts

Sara is closing up the bar for the night when her boss tells her to go to the bathroom and get the girl who has passed out there. Sarah is her name and they bond for a brief moment before inadvertently getting into each other’s rideshare. They have no idea how tragic this small mistake will be. Sara wakes up on the other side of town, realizing what must have happened. She walks home to her apartment and is stunned to see police activity. Sarah has been murdered right in front of Sara’s place. A case of mistaken identity? Sara is pretty sure that it should have been her, but why? What could she have done to make someone want to kill her?

Told mostly from Sara’s perspective, we learn what a nice law school student with no money has done to survive. As more and more information was revealed, the story turned dark, though Sara’s secret was not nearly as bad as I had imagined. Chapters from the now deceased Sarah give us a glimpse into her life, but this story belongs to Sara.

I liked the premise of this book. Two people with the same name, and something awful happens. I did think it veered heavily into Sara’s investigative mode, more than I anticipated. It did make me change my mind often about who was the intended victim. The killer did and didn’t surprise me(I can’t say why because of spoilers). The ending was not at all what I expected, but after thinking about it, I should have seen it coming. 3.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Wiliam Morrow through NetGalley.

The New Neighbor

Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine Books

US Publication – July 26,2022



Secrets, jealousy, and paranoia collide when a seemingly perfect new family moves into a neighborhood with ties to the CIA in this gripping thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know.

Idyllic neighborhood, perfect family, meaningful career. CIA analyst Beth Bradford has it all— 
Until she doesn’t.
Now, facing an empty nest and a broken marriage, Beth is moving from the cul-de-sac she’s long called home, and the CIA is removing her from the case that’s long been hers: tracking an elusive Iranian intelligence agent known as The Neighbor.
Madeline Sterling moves into Beth’s old house. She has what Beth once had: an adoring husband, three beautiful young children, and the close-knit group of neighbors on the cul-de-sac. Now she has it all. And Beth—who can’t stop watching the woman stepping in to her old life—thinks the new neighbor has something else too: ties to Iranian intelligence.
Is Beth just jealous? Paranoid? Or is something more at play?
After all, most of the families on the cul-de-sac have some tie to the CIA. They’re all keeping secrets. And they all know more about their neighbors than they should. It would be the perfect place to insert a spy—unless one was there all along. 

My Thoughts

Beth is not having a good day. Her youngest son started college and she and her husband Mike have sold their now too big family home. A lifetime’s worth of memories was packed into boxes but those were expected. The ones at Beth’s office however definitely are not. She has lost her analyst job at the CIA because she hasn’t identified her target in the 15 years she has been looking. Not fired just moved to a much less classified area but to Beth, losing her focus on the target known as The Neighbor is just too much.

When Mike tells her their marriage is over, a crappy day just went farther off the rails. Sigh. I’m going to say now that I don’t know what it was about Beth, but I just never warmed up to her. She’s kind of glad Mike is gone because now she can focus exclusively on finding The Neighbor. Yep, even though she’s off the team, has lost her security clearance, and made some rash assumptions, nothing will get her to give up. I don’t know but if I got kicked to the curb and demoted, I think I’d probably give up. But maybe a real CIA agent would not? I’ve read some truly convenient and bizarre plots because after all, I’m reading fiction, right. But the identity of The Neighbor, how Beth tracks them down, and the ending just had me rolling my eyes.

I don’t want this to sound negative because there were things I enjoyed. Wanting to figure out who was a good guy and who was bad meant I was never bored. But I just also never wound up caring about Beth, her career, or The Neighbor. Sorry Beth, lots of other reviewers seemed to like your story. So maybe it is just me.

I received a DRC from Random House Publishing Group,Ballantine Books through NetGalley.

Some Of It Was Real

Berkley Publishing Group

US Publications – July 26,2022



A psychic on the verge of stardom who isn’t sure she believes in herself and a cynical journalist with one last chance at redemption are brought together by secrets from the past that also threaten to tear them apart.

Psychic-medium Sylvie Young starts every show with her origin story, telling the audience how she discovered her abilities. But she leaves out a lot—the plane crash that killed her parents, an estranged adoptive family who tend orchards in rainy Oregon, panic attacks, and the fact that her agent insists she research some clients to ensure success.

After a catastrophic reporting error, Thomas Holmes’s next story at the L.A. Times may be his last, but he’s got a great personal pitch. “Grief vampires” like Sylvie who prey upon the loved ones of the deceased have bankrupted his mother. He’s dead set on using his last-chance article to expose Sylvie as a conniving fraud and resurrect his career.

When Sylvie and Thomas collide, a game of cat and mouse ensues, but the secrets they’re keeping from each other are nothing compared to the mysteries and lies they unearth about Sylvie’s past. Searching for the truth might destroy them both—but it’s the only way to find out what’s real.

My Thoughts

Sylvie is a psychic medium whose world is about to be turned upside down. Thomas is a reporter with a reputation to save. He confronts her with his plans to write a story about her so-called gift, which he believes is her way of scamming grieving people. Is there ever a good time for an article to be written that exposes you as a fraud? Nope. But this is a particularly bad time as Sylvie’s career is about to truly take off.

Thomas offers her a deal. Follow up on some information he has about her past and prove to him that she is indeed the real thing. If he believes her, he will drop her from his story. She has few options, so she agrees and a game of cat and mouse begins.

Throughout the story, from Sylvie’s estrangement from her adoptive parents to the mystery of her biological parents, I was never quite sure if she was a skilled liar or someone who has a remarkable gift. Thomas comes with his own set of heavy baggage and soon these two damaged people seem destined to make a real connection. That is if doubting Thomas can believe in Sylvie and if she can handle the truth about her origins. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Thomas had an elderly cat he loved and I was moved by how his experience mirrored my own.

This book alternated chapters between these two characters and the story kept me reading just one more chapter until I was done.4.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley.

After We Were Stolen

Sourcebooks Landmark

US Publication – July 19,2022



“After We Were Stolen is an intelligent and heartrending story of vulnerability, power, resistance, and redemption. An excellent read that is sure to be a favorite book club pick.” —Rebecca Taylor, author of The Secret Next Door

An emotionally wrought debut novel perfect for book clubs about a girl who escapes from a cult after a deadly fire destroys her family’s compound, only to be haunted by That Night as she tries to build a new life for herself.

A fire. Her escape. And the realization her entire life has been a lie.

When nineteen-year-old Avery awakens to flames consuming her family’s remote compound, she knows it’s her only chance to escape her father’s grueling survival training, bizarre rules, and gruesome punishments. She and her brother Cole flee the grounds for the first time in their lives, suddenly homeless in a world they know nothing about. After months of hiding out, they are arrested for shoplifting and a shocking discovery is made—Avery and Cole were kidnapped fifteen years earlier, stolen by cult leaders they knew as Mom and Dad.

Cole is immediately returned to his birth family, leaving Avery alone and desperate. She is uncertain if her “parents” survived the fire and is terrified to find out. The loss of Cole and the trauma of her former life threaten to undo her, but when the police investigation reveals there may be more survivors, Avery must uncover the truth about the fire to truly be free.

Suspenseful, emotionally charged, and deeply thought-provoking, After We Were Stolen delves into the idea of family—those we’re born into and those we make—resilience, and the lengths a cult survivor will go to finally be free of her painful past. Brooke Beyfuss’s powerful debut novel sparkles with heart, grit, and extraordinary characters who will stay with you long after the last page.

Praise for After We Were Stolen:

“Brooke Beyfuss’s After We Were Stolen kept me feverishly turning pages, anxious and eager to find out what happened to Avery and Cole as they emerge from a life they never asked for and into one they’re totally unprepared to navigate.” —Melanie Abrams, author of Meadowlark

My Thoughts

Fate must have finally been smiling on Avery and Cole. A fire tears through the doomsday cult compound they live on. Mother, Father, and their eight siblings perish, but Avery and Cole somehow escape. Once Avery spots people on site, she convinces Cole to run with her before anyone can ask them questions or tell them what to do. They are about to discover what is outside their small world.

They have been brainwashed to believe the world is ending and their family were the chosen few. Their life had been full of pain and suffering, though it is all that either of them knows. Avery had recently been “chosen” for a new role and I won’t say what it is, but it was brutal and heartless and showed her parents’ true colors( if they already weren’t apparent). Soon, they will learn that everything they believed had been one lie after another, and the real world does not embrace them both with open arms.

Though most of the story takes place after the fire, be prepared to experience the brutal life that Cole and Avery endured through flashbacks. Especially Avery, as she was treated much worse than any of her other siblings. Father pitted them against each other with tragic results.

Not an easy read but I was so invested, hoping that these two could overcome everything that had been done to them. Told from Avery’s POV, this book tore my heart out. Truly a book that brought out all the feels.

I received a DRC from Sourcebooks Landmark through NetGalley.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, Del Rey

US Publication – July 19,2022



From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.


Carlota Moreau: A young woman growing up on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is either a genius or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and, in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.


My Thoughts

This story has its roots in The Island of Doctor Moreau, but it also has the author’s fingerprints all over it!

Carlotta Moreau only knows what her father tells her. Her world, though isolated is supplemented by books, the occasional visitor, assisting her father, and her hybrid companions. Set on the Yucatan peninsula, there is always the fear of the Mayans, fighting against the Mexican tyranny. They are left in peace mostly, and this suits Doctor Moreau as he works diligently to create better hybrids that will take the place of temperamental workers for his patron, Mr. Lizalde. From a historical perspective, the conflicts in Mexico reflect not only an awful time but one that lasted for many years. From a science fiction perspective, I never thought that these experiments could end well.

Chapters alternate between Carlotta and her father’s new overseer, Montgomery Laughton. He is a man with demons, and this isolated locale suits him. Carlotta’s aging father wants to find a suitable husband for her and his decisions lead to the potential loss of her beloved hybrids. Proof that they are not far enough removed from the world for those that want what they have.

This was a slow burn but once again, a story where the author’s words made me feel like I was right there in this isolated and dangerous place.

I received a DRC from Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, Del Rey through NetGalley.

The Swell

Penguin Group Putnam

US Publication – July 19,2022



Point Break meets And Then There Were None in a pulse-pounding beach read that explores the dangerous ties between a group of elite surfers who are determined to find the perfect waves at any cost…even murder.

The waves are to die for.

Three years ago, passionate surfer Kenna Ward lost her two great loves—after her boyfriend drowned, she hung up her surfboard and swore off the water for good. But she is drawn back to the beach when her best friend, Mikki, announces her sudden engagement to a man Kenna has never met—a member of a tight-knit group of surfers. Kenna travels to a remote Australian beach, entering a dangerous world far from civilization where the waves, weather, and tides are all that matter. Kenna is tempted back into the surf, and drawn into the dazzling group and the beach they call their own.
But this coastal paradise has a dark side, and members of the group begin to go missing. Kenna realizes that in order to protect Mikki and learn more about the surfers, she must become one of them…without becoming one of their victims. What follows is an adrenaline-fueled thriller packed with twists and turns, exploring the dangerous edge between passion and obsession.

My Thoughts

Would you take an extended break from your job and fly from England to Australia? You might if your oldest friend shared some news that you found rather disturbing. That’s how Kenna winds up at Sorrow Bay which is a long way from London. Her friend Mikki is about to get married and Kenna just has a bad feeling about the pending nuptials.

She arrives without warning and since the happy couple is headed to the very remote Sorrow Bay, she tags along. But their surfer friends are very protective about this beach and Kenna didn’t realize she would be cut off from the world (no cell reception). Mikki, Jack, Sky, Victor, Clemente, and Ryan all live to surf and there is no place better than this deserted beach that they feel like they own. Soon Kenna has concerns about more than Jack and Mikki’s wedding. People who have been here seemed to go missing and if Kenna can’t figure a way out, she and Mikki might be on the next missing poster back in town.

These six people will seemingly do anything for each other and refer to themselves as the tribe. But death doesn’t take a holiday and at least one of them knows more than what they are willing to admit about several missing backpackers. There was what I considered a rather early clue into the identity of the killer, but I thought perhaps it was just a red herring. Nope, it wasn’t and I almost wish that it hadn’t been revealed until later. Still a pulse-pounding thrill ride and once again (like snowboarding in Shiver), I learned an awful lot about surfing. So, I knew the who but still couldn’t figure out the why. Not a spoiler, but holy surfer this was a good read. A desolate location, everyone with something to hide, and a final “what” reveal made this a page flipper.

I received a DRC from Penguin Group Putnam through NetGalley.