Review: Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland’s Park Avenue Player

parkavenueplayer

“It’s okay to smile in the midst of darkness.”

Synopsis
To say Elodie and Hollis got off on the wrong foot is an understatement. After the two get into a fender bender, they realize Elodie was on her way to interview for a caretaker position for Hollis’ young niece. Although initially rejected, Elodie ends up with the job and her relationship with young, Hailey quickly builds. Of course, the sexual tension between Hollis and Elodie quickly builds as well. But, the two soon realize that life has a way of complicating things and their pasts are a lot more complicated than they think.


Park Avenue Player is for fans of:

  • slow burn romance and the nanny/caretaker trope
  • romances with emotional plotlines
  • dual-POVs

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
I truly didn’t know what to expect going into this book, but I loved it. I connected instantly with Elodie and rooted for her from beginning to end. I love how strong willed, dedicated, and loyal she was. She served as a patient, empathetic role model for Hailey, and it made me love her even more.

Hollis was also a great lead to read about. He was dynamic, and I loved how he grew into a great father figure for Hailey.

Of course, I also loved the couple themselves. They didn’t have the typical miscommunication-driven plot issues, which was so refreshing. Instead the couple felt real and their struggles and their conflicts were understandable. Their relationship was also slow-build which y’all know is my favorite. There was also some seriously sexy buildup between Elodie and Hollis that had me yelling at them in my head to just get together already.

Fair warning, though, this book was emotional and heart wrenching. For me, it wasn’t as emotional as Hate Notes (another book by this author-duo), but it definitely still pulled at all my heart strings. Ultimately, this book was about hope. It’s a beautiful story and it’s definitely recommended by me.

What I didn’t like:
The only thing I didn’t love about this book was the alternating time lines. There are some sections that take place in the past to explain a character’s backstory. While it was 100% necessary to understand the story and connect with the character, I just have a personal preference for linear stories. I’m always rushing back to the present sections to see what happens next. Again, this is a personal preference and not really an issue with the story.

Overall, I really loved this one and it gets a 4.5/5 from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 5/5
Steam: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Friendship: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.54/5


Get More Information:
Park Avenue Player is new adult contemporary, and it was published on September 23, 2019. It’s available to purchase here. As of 9/23/19 it is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Links: connect with Penelope Ward on Instagram; connect with Vi Keeland on Instagram; visit Penelope Ward’s website; visit Vi Keeland’s website


About Penelope Ward: Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

About Vi Keeland: Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author.  With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over one hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-six languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Riley Sager’s The Last Time I Lied

TheLastTimeILied

“Everything is a game, Em. Whether you know it or not.
Which means that sometimes a lie is more than just a lie.
Sometimes it’s the only way to win.”

Synopsis
Camp Nightingale is a summer sleepaway camp for the prestigious elite. At least, it is until three girls go missing, leaving their thirteen-year-old bunkmate, Emma, behind. Fifteen years later, Emma is still haunted and decides to return to Camp Nightingale to uncover the truth about that summer. Yet, she quickly realizes the truth may be harder to unearth than she thinks, especially when its buried underneath some lies of her own.


The Last Time I Lied is for fans of:

  • slow burn suspense novels
  • books that alternate between past and present timelines
  • sleepaway camp settings

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
Honestly, I kind of loved everything about The Last Time I Lied. The plot of missing girls at a sleepaway camp drew me in from the very beginning. There’s just something about camp settings that screams suspense to me. Add in Emma, an unreliable narrator, and a group of untrustworthy characters and everyone became a suspect.

I enjoyed the alternating time lines and found both the past and present interesting and eerie. Both timelines were compelling and provided clues to truth about the girls’ disappearance.

There are so many twists and turns in this one that I was kept on the edge of my seat from the beginning until the very, very end. I had many theories, yet I was still so far off from the reveal(s) at the end.

 I loved The Last Time I Lied. 5/5 stars from me. I continue to be impressed by Riley Sager.

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Ratings:
My overall: 5/5
Suspense: 5/5
Character Development: 3.5/5
Ending: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.06/5


Get More Information:
The Last Time I Lied is a thriller, and it was published on July 3, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.

Links: connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; read my review of another Riley Sager book, Final Girls


About the Author: Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer. Now a full-time writer, Riley is the author of FINAL GIRLS, an international bestseller that has been published in 25 languages, and the New York Times bestseller THE LAST TIME I LIED. His latest book, LOCK EVERY DOOR, will be published in July. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient

TheSilentPatient

“Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.”

Synopsis
Alicia, a famously talented painter, lives an idyllic life with her husband, Gabriel — at least she does until she decides to brutally murder him. Yet, the circumstances surrounding the murder remain a mystery as Alicia refuses to speak since his death. Theo, a criminal psychotherapist, is determined to work with Alicia and unravel the truth about that night…word by word.


The Silent Patient is for fans of:

  • thrillers with an intense psychological component
  • slow-burn thrillers
  • books with epistolary elements

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
To say this book starts off with a bang would be an understatement. It captured my attention from the very first sentence (quoted above) and kept it throughout the novel. Personally, I enjoy when thriller novels hook me in and then slowly simmer (slow-burn style). I understand that for a big twist to pay off, a solid foundation needs to be built. I’m ok with waiting like here in The Silent Patient.

I also enjoyed the setting of “The Grove” which is a kind of mental care facility. I don’t read too many thrillers with this setting so it felt unique and gave the story a certain edge.

Additionally, I have to talk about the writing style here. I thought the author was very talented and clever. The writing is gripping and certainly page-turning. I finished this entire book in about a 48 hour period. The Silent Patient demands to be read.

I also really liked the epistolary elements. I wasn’t quite sure how we would really get to know Alicia (as she refuses to speak). The diary entries were interesting and provided a unique perspective on the contrast from Alicia back then vs. Alicia in the now.

What I didn’t like:
While I thought the ending was clever (and clearly a majority of people loved it/enjoyed it due to the mostly positive reviews and ratings) I figured it out just before the reveal. This is always a bit dissatisfying to me as a reader and especially as a lover of the genre. For it to fully make me go wow I need to still be guessing until the author reveals the twist to me.

It’s always a bit of a risk when a book depends on the reader not guessing the one twist for it to pay off. However, I will say there were certainly some elements I didn’t guess and I found them satisfying. For readers who dabble in thrillers, you’d likely really enjoy this one. I think this fell a bit short for me because I have so many other reads to compare it to (and let’s face it, I’m an unusually suspicious reader).

Overall, I would still recommend this one. It’s a quick read and still felt satisfying in the end. I just wouldn’t call this one my favorite. 3.5/5 stars from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3.5/5
Suspense: 3/5
Character Development: 4/5
Ending: 3.5/5

Goodreads: 4.05/5


Get More Information:
The Silent Patient is a thriller, and it was published on February 5, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.

Links: connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter


About the Author: [written in author’s pov] Born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother, I studied English literature at Cambridge University and got my MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. I wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Con is On (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is my first novel.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Alex’s North’s The Whisper Man

TheWhisperMan

I’ve told you many times that there’s

no such thing as monsters. I’m sorry that I lied.”

Synopsis
After his wife’s death, Tom and his young son, Jake, move to Featherbank for a new beginning. Yet their new beginning morphs into something darker, more sinister, and frankly something unnerving. Jake begins to hear voices — whispers — and it appears The Whisper Man, a notorious serial killer, has returned to Featherbank once more.


The Whisper Man is for fans of:

  • complex family dynamics, specifically father/son relationships
  • thrillers intertwined with (fictional) local folklore
  • books with multiple point-of-views

Spoiler Free Review
What I Liked:
I loved the father/son dynamics in the novel. Each relationship was so complex and interesting. I loved how the author drew parallels and distinctions between each pair. At its heart, I think this novel is about complicated, intense, and emotional relationships.

Jake and Tom’s relationship was my favorite because of its realistic portrayal. It might not have been easy between them, but they tried because they loved one another. I enjoyed that the author portrayed Tom as a strong parental figure, but a flawed one. He often wondered if he was making the right choices or doing what was best for his son. These are fears parents have, and I loved the realistic portrayal.

I also loved the folklore aspect of the book. It felt haunting, and it felt unique to their small town. It truly felt like a disturbing tale that could be passed down in a small town. The imagery in the book was certainly enough to keep me up at night and double checking that my doors were indeed locked.

Additionally, I enjoyed the police/procedural aspect of the novel. I love feeling like I’m in on the investigation and picking up clues alongside law enforcement. In general, it makes the hunt for the killer(s) more realistic for me. I thought the author did a great job of showing this side of the story.

What I Didn’t Like:
The ending. I’m sorry! I truly think this is a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. I only bought this book because I saw it was super hyped up on bookstagram and it had high reviews online. I am always on the hunt for my next thriller and this one seemed perfect. I think I went in expecting it to be traditionally twisty with a larger focus on the “horror.” This was not the case.

I found the ending predictable, but I don’t think it was meant to be particularly twisty. I kept waiting for the next twist and turn and had a running list of theories in my head. None turned out to be correct even though I thought it would have been cool if they were (they were particularly dark/twisty theories). I think I just thought this book was going to be something it wasn’t, instead of just enjoying it for what it was – a haunting take on local folklore with an emphasis on complex family dynamics.

Overall, I really did enjoy The Whisper Man and certainly recommend it if you’re in the market for a unnerving read this fall season. It gets a 3.5/5 from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3/5
Suspense: 4/5
Character Development: 5/5
Ending: 2/5

Goodreads: 4.21/5


Get More Information:
The Whisper Man is a thriller, and it was published on August 20, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.


About the Author: Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: R.S. Grey’s Coldhearted Boss

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Ok y’all. I gotta be honest – I have sat with my feelings about this book for a while. I was somewhat conflicted, because I love R.S. Grey so much. But I owe it to myself (and all of y’all) to give you my honest thoughts. So here we go!

Synopsis
Taylor’s life has not gone according to plan. That’s how she finds herself considering stealing the wallet of the rich, totally hot guy that she meets at the bar. She’s buckling under the pressure of supporting her family and providing her sister the life that she never had.

So when Lockwood Construction breaks ground in their tiny town, the construction jobs they’re offering are literately too good to be true. Dressed up, pretending to be a burly construction worker – she isn’t fooling anyone. She especially isn’t fooling her boss, who turns out to be that rich, totally hot guy at the bar from before.

Tension builds. Hatred intensifies. And if it’s one thing her boss, Ethan Stone, knows, it’s that revenge is best served cold.

Review
As always, I want to start with what I loved. Taylor’s characterization was my favorite. I grew up in a very similar situation to Taylor, and my heart just went out to her. I loved how determined and driven she was. If you want a strong willed, fierce heroine – look no further than Taylor. Her character was the strongest part of this book for me. Taylor definitely makes the exclusive list of my top heroines from R.S. Grey.

I also gotta give Coldhearted Boss it’s props because this one really delivers on enemies-to-lovers and slow-burn romance. I mean this is ~SLOW~ burn (think Mariana Zapata slow-burn.) The banter was great for enemies-to-lovers, and the tension between Taylor and Ethan was amazing.

I love the forced-to-live-together trope. Forcing characters into a small space turns the tension and the heat up. These two weren’t backing down from the tension – they were leaning into it. When they finally got together…it was magic! The epilogue literately filled up my heart. From the moment they finally got together until the end, my heart was swooning.

The only downfall for me is that they were enemies for far too long. I felt like I was at the 80% mark, and they were still enemies! I wanted to see more of them emotionally connecting/learning more about each other. I loved the last 10% of the book and wish there was more to read after they got together. After I hit the 60-70% mark, I was getting impatient. Our leads still hadn’t gotten vulnerable with each other. There was still no crack in the hate/enemies facade. I live for the thawing portion of the enemies-to-lovers trope. I love seeing their hatred break down and slowly turn into love. I loved the enemies portion, but part of the fun of enemies-to-lovers is the lovers part. I needed a better balance.

Also, I wish we could have seen Taylor having some of the conversations with Ethan about her family. (I think I remember Taylor saying she told Ethan about her mom/Lonnie but it was a recap of their conversation.) We never got to see Ethan first meet her family or actually see where she came from. Some of this did happen, but it was off-screen. I just truly live for the emotional/vulnerable moments in romance, and didn’t find that as much here in Coldhearted Boss.

Overall, I enjoyed Coldhearted Boss. I went back and forth between a 3/4 star rating, and finally decided on 3 stars. If there was more time spent on the romance, this would easily be a 4/5 star read.

Regardless, RS Grey continues to deliver amazing romcoms, and she will forever be a one-click author for me. The classic RS Grey wit and heart is here. This very well may be a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. This isn’t my favorite from RS Grey, but I’m definitely happy I read it and still recommend it. If you want to read about my top favorite RS Grey books, click here. I also have a review on RS Grey’s Make Me Bad, which was a 5 star read from me this year.

Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 4.27
My Overall Rating: 3/5
Steam: 5/5
Romance: 3/5
Friendship: 3/5

Get More Info: visit R.S. Grey’s website; sign up for the author’s newsletter; connect with the author’s Facebook group; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Coldhearted Boss on Amazon

Coldhearted Boss is RS Grey’s newest romantic comedy. It published on June 6, 2019, and is available for free on Kindle Unlimited as of 6/9/2019.

About the Author: Daytime pajama-wearer, USA TODAY bestselling author, & comedy lover in Texas.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Chloe Liese’s They’re a Match

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Happy publication day to Chloe Liese’s They’re a Match, the third and final installment of the Tough Love series. They’re a Match brings the story of Zed and Nairne to a close (at least in this capacity – there will be spinoffs focusing on the other characters, so I’m sure we’ll see them again!).

Happily Ever After is more easily said than done, but no one is more deserving than Zed and Nairne who have overcome both obstacles and odds to be together. They’re a Match shows us just what “happily ever after” can look like for our favorite couple…assuming they both live long enough to see it.

You might like this book if:

  • you enjoy steamy romance novels
  • you need a little thrill/suspense in your romance
  • you love well rounded, inclusive, strong female characters
  • you enjoy dual-POV

You might not like this book if:

  • you dislike suspense/danger in your romance
  • you prefer to read standalones as opposed to series
  • you prefer single POV

Alright so to get us all up to speed – you can read my review on the first book in the series here and you can read my review on the second book here.

Now that we’re all on the same page… They’re a Match carried over all of my favorite aspects from He’s a Brute and She’s a Spitfire. Nairne, as always, packs a punch on the page. She’s the type of heroine you fall in love with. She’s a role model for all, but especially women as we navigate a modern world. Nairne lets you know it’s ok to live life on your terms, to be ambitious, to be unconventional, and to laugh in the face of stereotypes.

Zed is also a powerful character to read. He’s the embodiment of what it means to love fiercely, to be nonjudgmental, and to be selfless. Zed is truly a character who puts his love and his family above all else. He is a great alpha hero, and while he isn’t perfect, he really is the perfect match for Nairne.

They’re a Match had Liese’s signature suspense running through, but in an entirely new way. I loved the fresh story line and my stomach dropped at multiple points throughout this book. It’s a great mix of romance and suspense that kept me turning pages until the very end.

The ending was *chefs kiss.* I thought They’re a Match did an amazing job of deepening the connection between Zed and Nairne. Exploring the changes in their relationship as they prepare for parenthood. Unveiling a vulnerability in Nairne as she grappled with what motherhood looks like as a parent who has a disability. The care and fragility that Chloe Liese used when writing these scenes is beautiful. I dare you to not cry a little.

Also, Chloe Liese publishes playlists for her books. They add such dimension to a story, whether you listen while reading or queue up the playlist afterward. Am even more convinced than ever after listening to the playlist that these would make great movie adaptations. You can listen to the playlists here.

Overall, I loved the Tough Love series. If y’all check it out, please let me know what you think! They’re a Match gets a 5/5 from me.

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Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 4.6
My Overall Rating: 5/5
Steam: 5/5
Romance: 5/5
Friendship: 5/5
Suspense: 4/5

Get More Info: visit Chloe Liese’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; find He’s a Brute on Amazon; find She’s a Spitfire on Amazon; find They’re a Match, now

They’re a Match is new adult romance, and it was published on August 12, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.

About the Author: Chloe writes stories that, like people, resist categories. Her contemporary romances are hot, witty, full of heart and keep you on the edge of your seat. She’s an avid reader, Harry Potter lover, and eats more peanut butter cups than she probably should.

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This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Laura Pavlov’s Beautifully Damaged

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Beautifully Damaged
tells the story of Peyton Kroft and Jackson Vance. Peyton and Jackson were soulmates. In love, the two vowed to stay together through it all. They were unbreakable, until an unthinkable tragedy occurs. Jackson walks out of Peyton’s life, seemingly for good. Nine years later, Jackson reappears and he’s ready to mend fences (and also Peyton’s broken heart). They both are forced to decide whether they will let the past continue to haunt them, or love each other through all their damage. 

You might like this book if:

  • you love second chance romance
  • you enjoy the friends to lovers trope or the childhood friends to lovers trope
  • you like reading dynamic characters with complex, emotional backstories

You might not like this book if:

  • you dislike reading flashback scenes
  • you don’t enjoy second chance romance
  • you don’t enjoy reading third person POV

There was a lot I enjoyed about Beautifully Damaged. I received it as an ARC from the author, who is so sweet and lovely. I was very excited to read this one as it was highly anticipated in my reader friend group. I don’t read many second chance romances, so I was excited to dive into this book all around.

My favorite thing about Beautifully Damaged was reading about our two main characters, Peyton and Jackson. Reading their friendship was amazing and you could truly feel as a reader the strong, emotional bond they had. You could feel the desperation, the angst, the longing, and the heartbreak. I thought the author did a beautiful job of not just telling us what the characters were feeling, but actually showing us. This, for me, is the marking of a talented author.

I also enjoyed the bit of danger/suspense element thrown in surrounding a situation that Peyton had to deal with. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m a sucker for a danger element in a romance.

I also loved the complex backstories for both our main leads. I love reading about strained, complicated family dynamics, because it mimics reality. I thought the author did a great job of introducing these dynamics without making them cookie cutter. These relationships aren’t magically solved or perfect by the end of the book. (Which is good, because in real life, relationships are hard and take work. There is no easy fix). I enjoyed how these strained relationships turned into a source of strength and familiarity between our two leads.

In terms of romance, it was really very sweet. You can tell that Peyton and Jackson are destined to be together from the very beginning. I myself am still with my childhood sweetheart (10 years later!!) so I could really relate to their childhood love morphing into a true, deep and emotional one.

As you all may know, I typically am not a fan of 1) flashback scenes and 2) third person POVs. This book has both. However, I honestly felt like it worked here. I almost think that flashback scenes are necessary for a second chance romance to help set the scene and explain the past. For me, I just like a linear storyline and this is a personal choice. However, I did not mind the flashback scenes here. Additionally, I just prefer to read first person POV, because it helps me connect better with the characters and what they are thinking. However, I found that I still was able to connect and bond with these characters even in a POV that isn’t my favorite, which I think is a testament to the strength of the author’s storytelling. These aren’t criticisms as much as they are my personal preferences.

All in all, I gave this one a 4.5/5. I enjoyed this sweet, second chance romance, and I’m excited to see what else this author has in store for the rest of the series.

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Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 4.23/5
My Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Steam: 2/5
Romance: 5/5
Friendship: 5/5
Suspense: 3/5

Get More Info: visit Laura Pavlov’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Facebook; find Beautifully Damaged on Amazon

Beautifully Damaged is new adult contemporary, and it published on July 24, 2017. It is the first book in the Shine Design series. It is available to purchase here.

About the Author: Laura Pavlov writes sweet and sexy contemporary romance that will make you both laugh and cry. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, mom to two awesome almost-grown kids, and dog-whisperer to a couple crazy yorkies. Laura resides in Las Vegas where she is living her own happily ever after. Be sure to sign up for updates on new releases. Laura loves to hear from readers!

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.