Book Reviews Fiction

Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager


What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.


“It’s not safe there. Nor for you.”

Riley Sager is becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved Lock Every Door by him, and I love him even more after Home Before Dark. This book offered the right amount of suspense and horror for me. From the beginning I was wondering, along with the principal character, Maggie, what happened at Baneberry that scared her parents so much. At every turn there was additional information being revealed about Baneberry Hall, such as multiple deaths occurring there and where the weird noises were coming from.

The book is told in alternating POVs – Maggie’s and her father’s from his book, House of Horrors. Riley Sager uses this in multiple books of his, but it’s very beneficial in Home Before Dark. Since Maggie’s father has passed away, this is the only way that we can understand him. Through his writing, I could find a connection to Baneberry Hall and understand why Maggie was so upset. The longer Maggie stayed at Baneberry Hall though, the more I wondered whether her father was telling the truth. Many people fake their experiences, but once Maggie started asking questions to the people around town, her father’s account of the house seems more fact than fiction.

I wanted for Maggie to be wrong about her father’s book because I believed that a parent wouldn’t put their child through the unwanted fame without reason. I understand that her father could have not written the book, but I think he didn’t want Maggie to forget about her time there. By the time she is an adult, she’s forgotten so much, except for what was in the book. I believe it helped her solve the mystery of Baneberry Hall.

Overall, I believe you should read this book if you enjoy a great thriller! This one will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end!

Book Reviews

Review: Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert


Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

  • Enjoy a drunken night out.
  • Ride a motorcycle.
  • Go camping.
  • Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
  • Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
  • And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

My thoughts:

“Finally he realized: Starting my day with Chloe Brown feels like starting my day in front of a canvas.”

This book is a beautiful romance. This book is emotional, funny, and loving. I fell in love with Chloe Brown and Redford”Red”Morgan.

I’m rating this book with five stars because it surprised me in the best way possible. The relationship between Chloe and Red developed, their emotions were all over the place, I felt the pain that they did and I felt the joy. My heart leaped at any moment it mentioned them falling for each other, but were too afraid to tell the other. I read this book so quickly and thoroughly enjoyed the slow incline.

Something in this book clicked for me. I know what it feels like to hide your emotions for fear that you may end up hurt. Chloe and Red did just that to each other, but it was super relatable and not over the top. With her witty comebacks and fabulous style choices, Chloe does not let her fibromyalgia define her. Although she is somewhat alone, it is not completely on purpose.

“It’s very awkward, dating while disabled. People can be quite awful. And you know I don’t have much energy to spare for social nonsense.”

On multiple occasions I forgot that Chloe has a disability. In a romance novel, the “healthy” half can come off as a “savior” and it can become very corny and over the top, but that is not true for Chloe and Red. He treated her as if nothing was wrong and when she was too tired or in pain, he took care of her.

Speaking of Red, he is truly one of the most lovable characters. His exterior does not define him at all. His complexity made him even more lovable, minus how quick he was able to jump to conclusions; then again, how many of us aren’t quick to jump to conclusions when we’ve been hurt?

This story is beautiful and inclusive. Talia Hibbert did an excellent job at writing a love story that is relatable, funny, and whole.

Book Reviews

Review: Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie Grazer


When he changes the locks, she changes the rules.

Agnes Murphy Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife – she has the right friends, the right clothes, and even a side career of her own as a writer. Her husband Trevor is a bigshot producer, and from the outside it looks like they’re living a picture-perfect celebrity life, complete with tennis tournaments and lavish parties.

But the job description of a Hollywood wife doesn’t cover divorce, which is the way Agnes’ life is headed after she comes home one day to find her credit cards cancelled and the security passwords to get into her enormous LA home changed. Oh, and there’s a guy there whose job it is to tase her if she tries to enter…which she does. Needless to say, Agnes’ husband is dead set on making sure she loses big time, but Agnes isn’t the type to just lie down and take it. In a world of fremenies and hot nannies, personal psychics and “skinny” jello shots, Agnes may be losing her husband, but could that mean getting her own life back?

Been There, Married That is a drop-dead hilarious battle of wills that will make you laugh out loud, cringe, and keep turning the pages to see what crazy disaster will happen to Agnes next…and how she’ll rise from the ashes.

My Thoughts:

What would you do if you came home to find out your spouse locked you out of the house and hired someone to tase you if you tried to enter? This is exactly what happens to Agnes Nash in Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie Grazer. Agnes’ husband, Trevor Nash, is a hot shot Hollywood producer who decides he wants to leave Agnes after celebrating her birthday. With her wit and family, Agnes slowly realizes she will be okay.

I did enjoy this book for the most part. I appreciated Agnes’ thoughts because as a woman I can admit I myself have had a strange series of thoughts as well when in weird or hurtful predicaments. She is the perfect opposite of Trevor who is narcissistic and extremely rude. I hated him as a character. He did not seem like the type of man to put his family first and also, he is a terrible father. The way that he treated Agnes when he decided he wanted a divorce was absolutely awful. If he wasn’t like this though, I wouldn’t have believed that this was in Hollywood.

I am only giving this novel three stars because there were a lot of characters introduced and there was some action that just didn’t make sense. Once I started focusing on one part there was a switch in action or another character was introduced.

I received this eARC from Netgalley and St. Martin Press in exchange for my honest review. Been There, Married That will be available on February 11, 2020.

Book Reviews Fiction

Review: The Body Double by Emily Beyda


A dark, glittering debut novel, The Body Double is the suspenseful story of a young woman who is recruited by a stranger to give up her old life and identity to impersonate a reclusive Hollywood star.

A strange man discovers our nameless narrator selling popcorn at a decrepit small-town movie theater and offers her an odd and lucrative position: she will forget her job, her acquaintances, even her name, and move to Los Angeles, where she will become the body double of the famous and troubled celebrity Rosanna Feld. A nervous breakdown has forced Rosanna out of the public eye, and she needs a look-alike to take her place in the tabloid media circus of Hollywood. Overseen by Max, who hired her for the job, our narrator spends her days locked up in a small apartment in the hills watching hidden camera footage of Rosanna, wearing Rosanna’s clothes, eating the food Rosanna likes, practicing her mannerisms, learning to become Rosanna in every way. But as she makes her public debut as Rosanna, dining at elegant restaurants, shopping in stylish boutiques, and finally risking a dinner party with Rosanna’s true inner circle, alarming questions begin to arise. What really caused Rosanna’s mental collapse? Will she ever return? And is Max truly her ally, or something more sinister? With echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, The Body Double is a fabulously plotted noir about fame, beauty, and the darkness of Hollywood. 

My Thoughts:

I am giving this book a 4/5. The story was complex and I was steadily questioning the characters and every event. It definitely had me going and I was thinking that at some point all the stuff was going to hit the fan. It definitely did. The main characters were interesting and a tad bit creepy.  Our narrator has no name and it makes sense since she is taking on the identity of someone else.  Not only that, she tells us a few details about the life she left behind like her foster mom and her biological father and in all honesty, no one will miss her.   She has to give up her past life in order to carry out this elaborate plan of pretending to be a Hollywood actress, Rosanna Feld. She has to learn her mannerisms, dress like her, and even live like her to an extent.  The amount of work that has to be done is ridiculous. She has to get plastic surgery and eat like her. Not only that, she is trapped in this apartment for months learning to be like Rosanna by watching these videos that Max shows her.  

Max, the man who is helping our narrator, does not come off as trustworthy to me.  He is weird and creepy. Our narrator has never really been loved and somehow he knows that. How long has he been watching our narrator and what is his relationship with Rosanna?  Whatever their relationship may be, it’s weird. I know he is supposed to guide our narrator, but he seems too close to the situation. Also, how is he seeing everything that they do?  There was a large amount of videos that our narrator watched in order to copy Rosanna’s voice and know what she wanted to order or what she would buy. Where does Max go when he leaves our narrator? There are so many questions that I had while reading and everything just made him seem more creepy. You have to wait until the end to figure out why our narrator must pretend to be Rosanna. All I’m saying is that I knew Max was weird and that nothing in this story seemed quite right.

I’m not sure I would be able to give up my life and become someone else even if money was involved.  I would not want to lose my family or friends. Even though my life may not be as fabulous, I definitely appreciate everything that I have been given.  This book will make you question what would you do and have you looking at everyone around you more closely. I don’t think I would enjoy being told what I can and cannot do or being told when I can and cannot leave.  The only way I would be able to do this is if I really had no one in my life that cared for me or would miss me if I disappeared. I am most uncomfortable with the idea of someone watching me at all times and me having to change everything about myself to fit into this lifestyle.  Everything is super weird. Either way, I will let you determine whether or not you would like to purchase this book yourself when it is released.

Thank you Netgalley and Double Day Books for granting me this e-ARC.  The Body Double will be released in March 3, 2020.  

Want to Read

#BNBookHaul – What I Picked Up

Here are my picks from the Barnes & Noble Book Haul. I love this place and honestly just became hip to the book haul this year; I’ve been a member of Barnes & Noble for YEARS! I cannot wait to rip into these books. I know my TBR shelves are shading me every time I get a new book because at this point it’s ridiculous. Oh well! Comment below with the books that you happened to pick up during the haul.

Book Reviews

Review: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead


As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. 

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead definitely evokes emotion from any reader.  This novel is based on an actual reform school located in Florida.  Teenage boys, Black and White, both end up here for a number of small “crimes”, which may have been committed by them or their parents.  There isn’t even a real way out of the institution unless you take your chances running away or you are killed by the administrators.  

Elwood Curtis, a young man who is being raised by his grandmother, is the narrator.  Elwood has a pretty “privileged” lifestyle compared to what he endures in The Nickel Academy.  He loves listening to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and works in the hotel with his grandmother.  He is on his way to his first college class, even though he is still in high school, when he gets in trouble with the law.  A young man whose mind has just been opened to the Civil Rights movement and could have made something of himself despite segregation, is taken away and placed into the academy of horrors.  

Elwood is forced to face all of the ugliness of the world in The Nickel Academy.  The punishment that the boys receive is evil and unjustified. They have to deal with rape, brutal beatings, and racism.  There are two places where the boys are “tortured”. One is referred to as “the white house” and the other is just two trees with metal rings in them.  Anyone who is taken to the trees will most likely not return to the academy because they are most likely dead. Before Elwood entered The Nickel Academy, he believed that all people are inherently good, but he learns quickly that this is not true.  His associate, Turner, helps get rid of that mindset because he shows him the truth as they move through their day-to-day activities.

Overall, this book is heartbreaking.  The fact that this is based on an actual reform school is a huge problem.  This should not have ever existed and it makes me wonder if there are places like this still around.  If you have not purchased or borrowed this book, you should do so soon! 

Please feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Book Reviews

Review: Good Little Liars by Sarah Clutton (ARC from Netgalley and Bookouture)


Your school friends know who you were before the flattering haircut, the great career, the loving family. They know secrets you’ve kept…

It’s been twenty-five years since Emma graduated from the prestigious Denham House Girls’ School. She thinks she’s finally shaken the shadow of the awkward, neurotic girl she was at school. But as a class reunion approaches, Emma finds herself right back there, moving into the headmaster’s old staff cottage with her daughter while her marriage implodes. It’s here though that Emma finds a photograph that had been hidden away: an explicit image of her school-friend Tessa, staring boldly at the camera, dated the day before her death.

Between catching up with old friends Marlee and Clementine, home for the reunion, and the demands of single parenthood, Emma has enough to distract her. But she can’t shake the image of the photograph. And the thought that this is proof of something she has long suspected: Jon Brownley, the current headmaster, was involved with Tessa. Emma had seen them arguing in the school grounds back then, and always regretted not speaking up after the death was ruled an accident. Now she’s certain she let Tessa down.

Marlee and Clementine have their own complex feelings about returning to their hometown. And when Emma starts to question what really happened to Tessa, all women must deal with the consequences of decisions they made all those years ago. Because the more Emma digs into the past, the more she discovers that everyone remembers it differently, and that the innocent schoolgirls she thought she knew, might be hiding some very big secrets.


First, I would like to thank Netgalley and Bookouture for this ARC in return for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed Good Little Liars by Sarah Clutton.  I went in expecting it to mostly be about the suspicious death of Tessa, but I was surprised with the amount of drama that came along with it.  The book is centered around three women’s lives: Emma, Harriet, and Marlee. Although, Harriet is not the same age as Marlee and Emma she and her family are still relevant to the story because her brother is the new headmaster of the Denham House Girls’ School and her daughter is Clementine.  The three women all have so much drama in their lives and are connected in more ways than they know. Marlee and Emma are best friends, but Harriet plays a part in their friendship later on. The more I read, the more interested I became to figure out how Marlee and Emma had were close to Harriet and was I in for a surprise.  

Honestly, I did not expect the amount of drama that was included, but I loved it.  Each woman is going through her own storm and struggling to keep everything together.  Tessa’s death that happened twenty-five years ago adds an extra layer of depth to this story.  There are so many layers to her death and of course what actually happened is not revealed until almost the end.  I was a little disappointed in how the “killer” was revealed and what actually happened because I was expecting something super juicy.  It was still a surprise, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It definitely tied everything together as far as relationships between characters goes, but not the crazy ending I was expecting. 

If you love psychological thrillers or just really good dramas, then I would definitely recommend this book.  Good Little Liars will be available for purchase on October 2, 2019.  


Book Reviews

Review: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna


When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied.

With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.

My Thoughts:

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna was my Book of the Month read from January 2018 that I am just getting around to. This book was kind of slow to start even though the girls go missing in the first ten pages. After they go missing though, it was a slow build to the actual meat of the story. I pushed through it and I am glad that I did. This book turned out to be a great thriller and kept me guessing.

Jamie Brandt, mother of Kylie and Bailey, leaves her two young daughters in the car alone in a Kmart parking lot. I know it’s a small town, but come on. The two girls get kidnapped and that is when we start the slow crawl towards the action.

Enter Alice Vega. She is a bounty hunter that finds missing persons and she is amazing at what she does. Jamie’s family hires her to find Kylie and Bailey and to also figure out why anyone would kidnap their babies. She has found about 18 missing people and only a small number of them have been dead, so the family had pretty high hopes for Alice Vega. Vega knew she would need some help though. I’m glad honestly that the police department would not help her at first because she was able to convince Max to help her instead.

Alice Vega and Max Caplan are a great team and definitely know what they’re doing. I do believe there were times when they should have called for backup, but in the beginning the police department was not even helping them. With Alice’s keen eye and Max’s previous experience as a police officer they definitely had a way of getting the answers that they needed and wanted, which ultimately helped them find the missing Brandt girls. I enjoy their banter and the way they finally start to trust each other.

Luna definitely did a great job at making everyone, even family members, look suspicious. Questions would arise with every person that they visited, but eventually the layers of this mystery started to unfold. The ending was not exactly what I was expecting. I became attached to Vega and Cap being together. Luna did a great job at character development for those two. Overall, I would recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries that mostly focus around the private investigators.

Book Reviews

Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory


Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

My Thoughts:

I absolutely love a good romance novel and The Wedding Date did not disappoint. I finished this book in a day if that tells you anything! I just could not put it down once I started reading. I am so glad that there are two more books already out for this series and another one coming in October.

Alexa and Drew were definitely relatable and I loved their interactions, but I must mention how much I appreciated Jasmine Guillory making them an interracial couple. Drew definitely had a few things to learn when it came to race and his privilege. It was very refreshing to read the difference between Alexa’s experiences and his. I think that making them an interracial couple made it easier to approach the topic of race and not make it too heavy. I also loved how Alexa was just as hard-working as Drew. They both had to learn how to balance work and their relationship, which they made seem super easy with the flights and being so understanding. Drew was very supportive of what Alexa was doing with her community project and she was very supportive of his work as a pediatric surgeon. I liked how the focus was not just on their relationship, but also their lives outside of each other.

I think they got caught up in trying not to confront their feelings and that is what made everything a little more difficult. Drew was afraid of commitment and Alexa was afraid of getting her heart-broken, but they didn’t want to let each other go. Their inner thoughts within the novel frustrated me so much because they were two adults who just would not use their words. They have so much fun together and can’t get enough of each other, but were both too afraid to tell the other exactly how they felt because they feared taking that leap. Love is beautiful when people let it blossom.

Overall, I say that this is a great read and that if you love contemporary romance novels, you should definitely give this series a try. I still need to read The Proposal and The Wedding Party, but I am sure I will enjoy those just as much. Leave comments below!

Want to Read

July Buys

My “Want to Read list is extremely long, but I figured every book lover’s is. I recently picked up a few books that I absolutely cannot wait to read. I always open books and read a tiny excerpt before buying. This is not always a great reason to buy a book, but I’ve found it to be somewhat helpful. Read the excerpts below for my four July buys that I’m looking forward to reading.

  1. The Ash Family by Molly Dektar

    • Excerpt from Chapter One: Bay and I approached the farm at dawn. The first sun churned sideways through the trees, catching in the previous day’s rain, which the wind now shook down from the Carolina silverbells, the beeches, and the poplars. I rolled down the window and heard the forest fizzing.

  2. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

    • Excerpt from Prologue: When my mother was a young woman a man used to follow her to work every morning and masturbate, in step behind her. My mother had only a fifth-grade education and a dowry of medium-grade linen dish towels, but she was beautiful. It’s still the first way I think of to describe her. Her hair was the color of the chocolates you get in the Tirolean Alps and she always wore it the same way—short curls piled high.

  3. A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

    • Excerpt from Part One: The Father: We were a perfectly ordinary family. We had interesting well-paid jobs and an extensive circle of friends. We kept active in our free time thanks to our interest in sports and culture.

  4. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

    • Excerpt from Chapter One: The night I became the youngest person — and the only female ever — to win the Austin Fire Department’s valor award, I got propositioned by my partner.


      At the ceremony. In the ballroom. During dinner.

What helps you determine what you’re going to get while book shopping?