The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen is a compelling psychological thriller and one of the better ones I’ve read in a while.

Synopsis

Avery Chambers has an unorthodox method of therapy that she uses to treat her clients. It’s so unethical that she lost her license several months ago. Despite this, her therapy sessions have proven effective, and many clients still seek her out.

Meet Marissa. Marissa recently cheated on her husband Matthew, something that she deeply regrets. Marissa earnestly hopes that Avery can help repair their relationship.

Avery always tries to find the actual crux of the problem, not the one that is merely on the surface. She believes the situation may be murkier than the pretty picture this golden couple presents.

Review of The Golden Couple

The Golden Couple alternates POVs between Avery and Marissa. Many chapters end with little cliffhangers that make this a very captivating read. The carefully crafted reveals had me flipping the pages as fast as I could. Just when I thought I had it figured out, bam, there was another twist that made me reconsider everything.

The authors did a great job writing multi-dimensional characters. Avery and Marissa are wholly complex and dynamic characters; they aren’t the typical hysterical, unreliable female narrators that are so common these days. I thought Avery would be insufferable, the pretentious and spoof therapist, but she ended up being my favourite character.

My one complaint would be that everything wrapped up very quickly.

I hope this author duo keeps writing together because I will keep reading whatever they cook up.

I highly recommend this well-plotted and suspenseful thriller.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 08 March 2022

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for an arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Summer We Buried

The Summer We Buried by Jody Gehrman is a suspenseful story with many reveals along the way.

Synopsis

Twenty years ago, Tansy and Selene became close friends. Selene’s enigmatic and impulsive side was what initially drew Tansy to her. After one life-altering incident, their friendship shattered, and the two ceased contact with each other.

Now, Tansy is happy working as an academic councillor at a small university. She also comfortably lives on her ex-boyfriend’s property in a cozy cottage. Suddenly, the quiet life Tansy built seems about to fall apart when Selene shows up demanding her help. Soon enough, Selene threatens Tansy with their shared history if Tansy opts not to help her. Eventually, Selene manipulates Tansy into helping her, and their lives clash once again.

Review of The Summer We Buried

This suspenseful tale is slowly paced and told entirely from Tansy’s perspective.

I was not expecting to encounter an insta-love romance nor a steamy love scene. I could have done without both elements. However, readers who don’t mind this will probably enjoy it more than I did.

I would have liked for there to be more character development. Selene and Jupiter seemed like the most fleshed-out characters. In my opinion, the rest were mostly bland and lacked dimension.

In other instances, I thought there was too much detail. I am not big on reading about people doing their business in bushes. Nor am I interested in the steps of brewing tea in the middle of a compelling conversation. However, those are minor complaints.

Although, there were sections that I did enjoy. The parts that kept my attention were the ones that included Jupiter, Selene’s daughter. I was very invested in how Jupiter would come out of it all.

I recommend this to readers who enjoy slower-paced suspenseful stories.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 8 March 2022

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay is a compulsively readable thriller loaded with Y2K nostalgia.

Synopsis

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 when someone attacks four teenage girls at a Blockbuster in Linden, New Jersey. Only one girl escapes alive.

Fast forward fifteen years, someone attacks four teen girls at an ice cream shop, and again only one survives.

The suspect for the first murder disappeared not long after it happened.

Is it the same perpetrator for this second mass murder? Is it a copycat?

These are the questions that FBI Agent Sarah Keller has in mind when she gets called in to see if there is a possible link between the two cases.

Review of The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

The chapters are short and alternate between Agent Keller, a therapist, and a young lawyer.

I would have enjoyed this novel more if there hadn’t been so many misogynistic hot takes sprinkled throughout the text. One of the characters believes that kids steal pain medication from their mothers specifically, and only aunts attend AA meetings. Umm, what? Oh, and apparently, it’s very faux pas to call a woman in her thirties “ma’am.”

Some of Agent Keller’s actions were unbelievable since she is nearly nine months pregnant.

Once I put those comments out of my mind and suspended my disbelief, I enjoyed the rest of the story. While the big reveal was predictable, finding out how everything tied together was super compelling.

While reading this thriller, I could easily envision it as a TV show or crime drama. Some of the dialogue was very reminiscent of those popular crime shows.

This was my first time reading Finlay. I believe a character from a previous book of the author’s features in this one; however, it didn’t impact my reading experience not having read that one.

I recommend this book to those looking for a fast-paced and compulsive thriller.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 01 March 2022

Thank you to Minotaur Books for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Heights by Louise Candlish

The Heights by Louise Candlish is a story about hate and how it can become an all-consuming obsession.

Synopsis

Ellen Saint is working at a client’s home when she sees a man standing atop a roof terrace across from her. A man that she was confident she would never see again. Why was Ellen so sure, you ask? Because she killed him just over two years ago.

That’s all I shall say about the plot.

Review of The Heights by Louise Candlish

As is the trend these days, this suspenseful story has multiple POVs, parts, and timelines.

Ellen’s sections were the most exhausting to read. Supposedly, she’s a nice person, but the reader hardly ever witnesses it. The object of her hate was still legally a minor when her obsession began.

In one of my other recent reviews, I stated that that was the slow burns of all slow burns. I take it back – this might top that one. The first three parts were slower than slow, made even more so by Ellen’s single-minded focus.

With most books, I will generally prefer one timeline over another. And that was the case here. I enjoyed the more recent timeline over the one leading up to it.

The Heights by Louise Candlish

The final quarter was a doozy. This is where everything started to get juicy, and the pace finally picked up. While I guessed some of the twists, I didn’t get them all. Some of the final twists were quite clever. The ending made me bump this up to 3 stars.

This was my first time reading Louise Candlish, and I will be keeping a lookout for future books.

I recommend this book to those wanting a slowly plotted suspense that could also be considered a character study.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 01 March 2022

Thank you to Atria and Simon & Schuster Canada for an arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

These Deadly Games by Diana Urban

These Deadly Games is an addictive and high-stakes thriller perfect for YA readers.

These Deadly Games

Synopsis

Crystal Donovan is obsessed with playing MortalDusk with her friends. They have a big gaming tournament coming up in a few days that offers a huge cash prize.

While sitting in class one morning, Crystal receives a video message of her sister bound and gagged with a caption asking if she’s ready to play a game.

The rules are simple. If she calls the police, her sister dies. If she tells anyone, her sister dies. And if she doesn’t play, her sister dies.

At first, Crystal’s tasks seem a bit risky, but as she continues to play, she realizes they could be deadly. Soon, Crystal decides that she needs to outsmart this anonymous kidnapper in order to save her sister and protect her friends.

Review of These Deadly Games

The majority of this YA thriller is fast-paced. I found some parts dragged, but it is mostly an edge-of-your-seat kind of read.

Crystal is a compelling character. Although, I did find myself becoming annoyed slightly with her actions. She tended to get easily distracted. You’d think that her sole focus would be on finding her sister.

Some of the twists were predictable, but I still felt intrigued enough to find out how everything would turn out. And what an ending that was! Very satisfying.

I recommend this to readers who enjoy YA and YA thrillers. Those who primarily read “adult” fiction may find that this reads a little young.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Now Available

Thank you to Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press for the arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Selfless Act of Breathing by J. J. Bola

The Selfless Act of Breathing is a powerful and emotional read.

Synopsis

Looking at Michael Kabongo, no one would guess the inner turmoil he is experiencing. On the surface, he seems like a friendly and charismatic fellow on the inside; however, he is more than a little depressed and quite philosophical.

He decides to give up his job as a teacher and embark on a trip to America until his savings run out. Once they are gone, he will end his life.

Told in dual timelines, the reader sees Michael’s everyday life before he quits his job, as well as his time in the US. The reader watches as he struggles to make emotional connections with people, has a string of flings, wantonly spends his money, and as he contemplates the meaning of life.

Review of The Selfless Act of Breathing

J. J. Bola’s flowery prose makes it abundantly clear that he is a poet. The writing style is lyrical and beautiful in its simplicity. The author explores a range of topics including, racism, prejudice, intersectional feminism, belonging, grief, feeling invisible, and familial and cultural expectations.

This novel was very close to a five-star read, but my eyes tend to glaze over when topics become overtly philosophical. However, others may get a lot out of the existential musings in this book. And I found that some of the characters were underdeveloped. Although, that may have been purposefully done to show how in his own head Michael was. I’d have enjoyed more background on the people in Michael’s life.

This book is rather depressing, so I’d recommend reading it when you’re in the right mindset. It’s not all bleak; it has its moments of hope. The ending made me bawl.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 15 February 2022

Thank you to Atria / Simon & Schuster Canada for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel

This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel might be the slow burn of all slow burns.

Synopsis

Sisters Natalie and Kit Collins have drifted apart since their mother passed away. While Natalie refocused her energy into her job, Kit decided to join a wellness retreat of sorts for six months. Located on a remote island off the coast of Maine, communication with the outside world is strictly prohibited. No cell phones, nothing.

Fast forward six months, Natalie receives an ominous email that has her rushing to the island desperately wanting to talk with Kit. And the story unfolds from there.

Review of This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel

This story has multiple POVs, timelines, and parts. The identity of one character does not get revealed until a good way through the book, which I found a little confusing.

I was so excited to get approved for this arc, but unfortunately, I had to push myself to finish it. For a thriller novel, I found it lacked tension and urgency. What was supposed to be fraught with unease came across as dull. The ending was a nail-biter, but it came too late.

Although this wasn’t as compelling as Darling Rose Gold, I will definitely read the author’s next release.

I recommend this book if you’re looking for a slowly-paced novel featuring a cult-like group.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 22 February 2022

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow

Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow is a bone-chilling social horror novel that kept me reading into the night. The comparisons to Get Out and My Sister, the Serial Killer, are entirely apt.

Synopsis

When her parents fall into financial trouble, they decide it’s best that Farrah stay with the wealthy and white Whitman family. The Whitmans adopted Cherish when she was a baby. Farrah often calls Cherish White Girl Spoiled because her parents humour her to no end.

Farrah Turner is obsessed with control. She analyzes every word and action directed at her. Farrah calculates her every action to keep everyone under her thumb. She lets her mask down for no one, including her best friend, Cherish Whitman, whom she loves as much as she hates.

Being thrust into this position without consultation, Farrah feels the need to reassert her coveted control over the situation. She decides it would be better to become part of the Whitman household than join her family on their new trajectory. It’s not long before things start getting weird and terrifying, and Farrah has to wonder who is actually in control.

Note: I’d recommend not reading the book’s synopsis because it reveals most of what transpires.

Review of Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow

This book examines the inequalities and intersectionality of race and class.

The first half is pretty slow and is very introspective. I found Farrah’s head to be a dark and joyless place.

While most of the characters were unlikeable, they all had enough depth to make them thoroughly compelling. The way the author was able to up the threatening atmosphere while simultaneously keeping some characters oblivious to it was just excellent.

This book is not for the faint of heart. Around the midpoint, it all gets wild and grisly, and the tension does not let up.

I look forward to reading more from the author. I see there is a nice backlist to explore.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 08 February 2022

Thank you to Dutton for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

A Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox

A Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox is a wonderfully atmospheric and magical novel.

Synopsis

Augusta Podos is tired of her job as a tour guide for a historic jail in Massachusetts. When she sees a job posting for Harlowe House, a once historic house turned into a museum, she leaps at applying.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Harlowe House belonged to a wealthy family in Tynemouth. Margaret Harlowe has always felt like the odd one out in her family. As Margaret grows older, she also grows into her power. However, it is not long before people become suspicious of Margaret’s power, which seems darker than initially supposed.

When Augusta begins work at Harlowe House, she soon becomes fascinated with Margaret. The historical record doesn’t have much information on Margaret, nor does it seem to know if she ever really existed. Augusta makes it her mission to uncover the truth about this mysterious woman. The more research Augusta does, the more she feels a strong connection to the past. Strange occurrences begin to happen, which spurs Augusta even more.

Is Margaret trying to tell Augusta something, or is it something darker?

Review of A Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox

A Lullaby for Witches uses alternating perspectives across two timelines. Both POVs have very distinct voices. Margaret’s POV has a lyrical writing style, while Augusta’s is contemporary and less flowery, but no less engaging.

Initially, I preferred Augusta’s timeline, but I quickly became invested in Margaret’s as well.

I loved the details of working behind the scenes in a museum. It reminded me of my short stint working/volunteering as a university student in an art gallery. I also appreciated the author’s acknowledgment of the need for museums and galleries to begin the process of decolonizing these spaces.

If you like witchy novels, I would highly recommend giving this one a try.

CW: disordered eating.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 01 February 2022

Thank you to Graydon House for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf

The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf is a tense and highly atmospheric thriller and held my attention to the very end.

Synopsis

Wylie, a true-crime writer, is finishing up her latest book about two murders and a missing teenage girl that occurred about twenty years prior in the town of Burden. And she has decided to complete this project in the isolated farmhouse where it all happened.

But a snowstorm is brewing, and as Wylie prepares to tuck in for the night, she notices a child lying on the side of the road. After Wylie brings in the child, she tries to coax answers from him and figure out how he got there on this bone-chilling night.

It’s probably best not knowing more than that when going into this gripping thriller.

Review of The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf

There are three main perspectives across three different timelines, plus a few extra scattered throughout. The distinct voices and even the use of italics for one narrator made it easy to follow along with each POV.

This book hooked me right from the beginning and delivered a few surprising twists. The settings in this book were what made it so atmospheric. One timeline takes place during the heat of summer and another in the dead of winter. Each had me sweating and freezing in turns.

The middle section dragged ever so slightly, but the majority of it had me on the edge of my seat.

This was my first time reading Heather Gudenkauf, and I am now excited to read more books by the author.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 25 January 2022

Thank you to Park Row for the arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.