Karen's Staff Picks

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All of Us Villains Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250789259
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Published: Tor Teen - November 9th, 2021

Stellar reading! Mixing high magick, seven cursed families trying to win the ability to govern the use of the cities powerfully high magick for themselves and for the citizens of the city. A champion is chosen from each of the seven families to fight to the death to win that ultimate prize. Until one champion begins to question why people must die? Why is the tournament even necessary? To find out whose questioning and who wins the ultimate prize, grab your cache of spells and curses and join in this daring tournament to race to the end. Outstanding writing, intricate characters, clever plots and epic adventures. A non-stop thrill ride, and perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

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The Hidden: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643852973
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Published: Crooked Lane Books - November 9th, 2021

December in a seaside town - a woman, believing she is a Selkie, abandons her child. Why?
Meanwhile across town, a man is found near death in his apartment; somehow he is connected to both the strange woman and the child. How?
Slow and steady sets the pace that covers Celtic myths and legends, bizarre thrillers and the unbreakable bonds between mothers and their children and some very tough decisions. Emotions roll in with the tide on this supernatural thriller.

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In My Dreams I Hold a Knife: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781728229881
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Published: Sourcebooks Landmark - August 3rd, 2021

10 year college reunion.


The East House 7- a group of students from the same dorm that were dubbed as both leaders and trouble makers.
Jessica, Caro, Heather, Frankie, Coop, Jack & Mint.


Seven individuals of both extreme wealth and privilege mixed with those on scholarships; unite together, pledge houses and survive four grueling years at a top university.
During their senior year, Heather is found murdered and the close knit group begins to fall apart.
The reunion, happens to fall on the anniversary of Heather’s death.


What happens when the remaining members of that special group reunite? Are there bad memories mixed with good?
What plans will unfold during their weekend at the place that brought them altogether, only to break them apart?
A genius thrill ride that starts on page one and carries the reader all the way to the last page.


Great characters, a unique twisty plot.

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Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593199787
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Published: Berkley - September 28th, 2021


This is a fantastic expansion of the beloved classic, that picks up where the other had left off.

Brom Bones & Katrina Van Tassel are grandparents now & raising their only grandchild, Bente, aka Ben.
Ben and his best friend, Sander are playing close to the forbidden woods when they stumble upon a most grisly sight.  Rumors of the headless horseman spread through the village.  Despite warnings, people continue to go missing and meet similar fates.

Ben believes he is “connected” to something in the woods as he has come in contact with each missing victim.  As he investigates he finds shocking secrets his grandparents kept hidden.
Danger is afoot & rumors spread even more, if it’s not the headless horseman than what is killing the citizens of Sleepy Hollow?
Ben aims to find out, do you?

Impressive storytelling, great characters & descriptive scenery makes this a fast page turner.

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No One Will Miss Her: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063057012
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Published: William Morrow - October 12th, 2021

Small town, New England


2 women, both despicable people by different circumstances.
Both wanting to escape their tediously repetitive lives, for different reasons.


Their paths cross and their lives become blended.
Lizzie , from small town, wants the life & luxury that Adrienne, from Boston, has.


Adrienne, wants the quieter & slower paced life that Lizzie has.
1 of them dies and the other benefits.
What went horribly wrong in their casual new friendship that caused tragedy to strike?


A rare and unique twisty thriller that has well developed characters, descriptive violence and surprises around every corner.
Revenge is cunning & methodical; an all consuming thriller.

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As the Wicked Watch: The First Jordan Manning Novel (Jordan Manning series #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063037038
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Published: William Morrow - October 26th, 2021

This is about crimes against African-American women and children, with a possible serial killer.


As you begin to read you can see the author's background as an investigative reporter in the main character, Jordan Manning, with the thorough, well-researched information.


Multiple characters introduced in the first three chapters makes it hard to distinguish at first who is the one you are supposed to be taking a second look at. A 15 year old is missing, the police assume she is a runaway, until her body is discovered. A whole slew of information comes to light and the story eventually turns from a possible serial killer into a media frenzy focused on crimes against the African-American community. A valiant effort on a debut novel, with a potent look at police procedural and crimes that go into “cold cases”. Brilliant.

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Lies My Memory Told Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9781335018274
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Published: Inkyard Press - October 19th, 2021

This epic journey combines a futuristic outlook on technology, a suspense thriller & an adrenaline infused storyline.
Nova Reynolds is the only child of scientific parents who are on verge of releasing their new technological advancement, Enhanced Memories.


Marketed as a form of entertainment to experience other people’s memories; travel to wishlist places and adventures all within your home.  Just plug in a disc & enjoy the ride.
But what starts out as new and exciting starts to show setbacks: no one wants to go to work, businesses begin to fail, supply & demand rise.


Whose memories? How are they extracted?
And how is Nova involved?


This story is engaging, filled with awe of possibilities, anger & some heart warming moments.

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The Collector's Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063079861
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Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - September 7th, 2021

A beautifully told story based on true facts surrounding the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb, in 1922.

At a time when women were to be seen and not heard, this story embarks on the journey of one woman and her adventurous nature to explore and push the boundaries.

Chapters flip back and forth between Lady Evelyn Herbert’s past explorations through the wonders of ancient Egypt up to the 1970’s, where Evelyn is 71.

Delightful to visualize the depth of Evelyn’s character from start to finish. Vibrant enthusiastic about life, history and not afraid to get her hands dirty.

Reading the historical afterword was a fabulous bonus about the actual discoveries in ancient Egypt, that people can still enjoy today.


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Lightning Strike: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series #18) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982128685
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Published: Atria Books - August 24th, 2021

Phenomenal storytelling! Lightning Strike is the bare bones of character, Cork O’Connor. It is the beginning of his interest in police work, following in the footsteps of his father, Liam and all those before him. A great coming of age story, mixed with police procedural and a history of a once great nation of The Native American people and life growing up in small town America, 1963.

The author has outdone himself with believable characters, both good & bad. Cork, at 12 going on 13, is out hiking with his best friend, Jorge to an infamous/sacred landmark when he pulls up short, to find his mentor, hanging from a tree. The story takes off at a quick pace as Sheriff O’Connor investigates the mysterious death that has shocked both the town and the reservation. Pages filled with the importance of knowing your heritage & social injustices that need to be corrected. A building turmoil between what is right vs what will be swept under the rug, sets the tone.

Can Sheriff O’Connor solve the mystery of Big John’s death? And at what cost to his town, the reservation, and even the security of his own family? Join Sheriff O’Connor, son Cork and a great cast of supporting characters to find out. You will NOT be disappointed.

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Chasing the Boogeyman: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982175160
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Published: Gallery Books - August 17th, 2021

Spectacular writing! A culmination of two genres: horror and true crime; wholly original. Per the excerpt on the book this story is of the author’s personal experiences growing up with a hint of something that darkened the doorway of his hometown.

Extremely engaging, the author takes us on a journey of what is either the “boogeyman” or a serial killer. Is it paranormal or a factual person? Will the oddities ever stop? And where does the true crime stop and the fiction begin? A superbly written story with a shocking conclusion! A must read for fans of horror and true crime.

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We Are the Brennans: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250796226
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Published: Celadon Books - August 3rd, 2021

A fabulous engaging story about families.

Bonding, reconnecting & banding together when times are tough.  Pushing aside personal issues to present a United front.

The story starts with Denny Brennan, oldest of the Brennan brood; he shoulders all the weight of the family pub, keeping the family connected, but also bears the mountainous financial strain that no one knows about as he prepares to open a second pub location.  Rather then swallow his pride and admit he needs help, he looks outside the family for a loan.

Sunday Brennan, the only gal in a brood of boys, was the proverbial glue for the family, until she wasn't.  She abruptly departed for Los Angeles, and stays away for 5 years, leaving behind a broken family and a dumped fiancé.

Tragedy befalls the family & Sunday returns to assume her position as the fixer. However, stepping in means facing her fears & confronting past demons.

Can Sunday & older brother Denny do what is right for their family and themselves?

I loved this different paced storyline that centers on family, standing together & tackling all of life’s little surprises.  It is fast paced, engaging and gives the reader warm fuzzy feelings!

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The House We Grew Up In: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476776866
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Published: Atria Books - April 28th, 2015

A page turning melodrama about a highly dysfunctional family and all the tip-toeing the members do around the family matriarch.

Lorelei & Colin Bird are the truest definition of opposites attract.

Lorelei is whimsical, flakey and immature at best in both her actions and personality.

Together they start a family of 4 children.  Chapters flip back and forth between past and present and most are centered around Lorelei’s favorite holiday, Easter.
Celebrations change after many years and everyone grows apart, but strange things start happening over time. Tragedy strikes and more things change.

This is a mix of coming of age, family dysfunctions and severe mental illness/behavior.  A very different pace from this author’s normal suspense but well worth the read.

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The Stranger in the Mirror: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062967329
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Published: Harper - July 6th, 2021

A jaw dropping twisty thriller that starts out as a slow burn tale of a woman struggling to remember who she is.  Meanwhile several hundred miles away, a well respected physician struggles to raise his 7 year old daughter on his own, after his wife disappeared two years prior.

Through a bizarre opportunity the amnesiac woman’s life crosses paths with the prominent doctor and life quickly spins out of control.


Shocking twists and gasping moments help propel this outstanding summer thriller as a MUST read.
Great character building, well researched material for basis of the plot, easy to connect with characters and empathize with them.

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The Book of Accidents: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399182136
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Published: Del Rey - July 20th, 2021

Epic storytelling! What does a child abuse survivor, a convicted serial killer and an empathetic teen have in common? Ghostly apparitions, odd occurrences, sleepless nights and the feeling that something is very wrong.

Nate Graves is a survivor of his own horrific childhood and as a married man and father he wants to put away his past fears and start over; second chances have to count for something. Moving back into his childhood house of horrors, Nate must face the demons of his past and become challenged with new terror as he is son, Oliver takes on a new friend and things become a whole lot creepier.

A Chuck Wendig story that will stay with you, long after you have finished. Relatable characters placed in precarious situations that will have you rooting for the underdog every time! Throw in a creepy 1900’s coal mine and sinister behavior and you’ll find yourself steeped in this horror/ mystery story all the way to the last page. Try it, I dare you!

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Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525562641
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Published: Anchor - March 2nd, 2021

A unique and fascinating exploration into schizophrenia.  Is it genetic? Chemical? Or environmental?

The Galvun family depicted in this non fiction piece is a classic display of a severely dysfunctional family. Parents turning against one another, a military father whose washed his hands of helping raise the 12 children he helped create while the mother grew angrier and more frustrated that she had to give up her dreams.

Six of the 10 boys were all diagnosed with schizophrenia; all in varying stages/degrees. The remaining children were left vulnerable and afraid, abused and verbally attacked by their siblings.

A well written/documented piece for anyone searching for information on mental illness.

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Golden Boy: A Murder Among the Manhattan Elite Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250271020
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Published: St. Martin's Press - July 20th, 2021

Thomas Gilbert Jr. was raised in an affluent lifestyle by wealthy parents who held him accountable for nothing. A family history of mental illness hides in the background and is shunned by his parents, even when it becomes blatantly obvious his paranoid delusions/behavior have ramped up. It was far more important to let him get by on his good looks and charm and the family name then be ostracized by the community and his peers. Tragically sad ending which could have been avoided if the necessary steps had been taken by the parents.

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Dark Horses: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982133849
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Published: Gallery/Scout Press - February 16th, 2021

An intensely dark read that is not for the faint of heart.

Monty Montgomery is a character you will love to hate.  Monty is a three time Olympian champion for horsemanship, he now spends his time coaching and raising his only daughter Roan.  He is a perfectionist, domineering, demanding and an all out questionable parent.

Everything he does, he claims is for his daughter’s future.

As you read on, his parenting skills are extremely warped; threatening Roan with severe consequences for any signs of retaliation or disobedience.  Cutting remarks and a disgusting physical prowess that will raise more than an eyebrow.  There are numerous accounts of why didn’t Roan tell someone what was going on.  As you continue to read, you will see that Monty was conditioning his daughter in the same way he trained his horses.

Roan, at the beginning is an impressionable 15 year old, willing to please her daddy but as time marches on, it is pleasant to see her mature and awaken to possibilities that she may take.
This was an emotional journey to read, hard to take on some pages but the author delivers a gut punching story that is impressive for its taboo subject.

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Never Saw Me Coming Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778311553
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Published: Park Row - September 7th, 2021

A fascinating foray into the study of psychopaths through a fictional portal.

7 students specifically chosen to be studied and possibly “fixed” by a professor whose had decades of practice and research in the field of psychology.

But what happens when 7 students arrive in the same college campus?

One student, Chloe, has been building what she believes is a foolproof plan to wipe out another students life and get the revenge she’s been yearning for, since she was 12.  Along the way, two of the psychopaths meet their untimely end and the pressure cooker is on to discover who is wiping out these dangerous individuals.  Time is running out for Chloe, whose attracted the wrong kind of attention from a stalker. Is it another psychopath from the program? Why is someone killing the program students? And finally, will Chloe be able to exact her revenge?

An absolutely brilliant and wholly unique subject matter that is tantalizing to fans of dark twisty thrillers.

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The Therapist: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250274120
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Published: St. Martin's Press - July 13th, 2021

A new relationship, new city, and new friends starts this fantastic thriller, set in London.

Alice Dawson & Leo Curtis move into a posh neighborhood community known as The Circle.

Struggling to fit in and make friends, Alice hosts her own welcome-to-the-area party and finds that not everyone who shows up wants her there, and not everyone who shows, was actually invited.
Through neighboring gossip and the uninvited guest she learns that 18 months before her house was the scene of a grisly murder.

With nothing but time on her hands, Alice decides to investigate on her own; some neighbors share information, others do not. Warnings come from others that she needs to be careful and to not trust anyone. Who can she trust? The closer she gets to solving the mystery, the creepier life at home becomes.  Someone is sneaking into her house. Who murdered the previous tenant? Who can she trust?

To find out, Book your appointment with The Therapist and start reading! B.A. Paris’s BEST novel yet.

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The Perfect Father: The True Story of Chris Watts, His All-American Family, and a Shocking Murder Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250782687
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Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - March 30th, 2021

A most recent crime as of late 2018; father, Chris Watts & the disappearance of his pregnant wife & 2 toddler aged daughters.
Shown as a power couple by wife, Shanann’s constant media postings; but behind closed doors is a whole other side of what toxic love is.
Did Chris snap? Or were his actions premeditated? John Glatt is an excellent journalist/author for capturing the true sides of evil & presenting his findings in books that read like fictional mysteries.

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Whisper Down the Lane: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781683692157
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Published: Quirk Books - April 6th, 2021

Spectacular storytelling!
What appears to be is a small town in Virginia that starts out quaint & quiet turns quickly into chaos. midway through, the pieces start falling into place. A fabulous introduction that leads into both past/present of a “make believe” town. Crazy plot twists that kick this story into the WOW factor.
A terrific blend of horror & a psychological thriller.

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Such a Quiet Place: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982147280
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Published: Simon & Schuster - July 13th, 2021

Intriguing, engaging and overall, spectacular!

A fast paced whodunit, covering about 10 days timeframe; summer break for the members of this idyllic neighborhood whose occupants all maintain employment through the local college.
Ruby Fletcher was tried & convicted of killing one couple on her street and sent away; however, the conviction was overturned and Ruby returns to the scenic neighborhood which throws everyone for a loop, including her former housemate.
Secrets are bountiful in this neighborhood & everyone has something to hide & fear.  As the days kick off with Ruby’s return, tensions build and secrets flush to the surface. This was a fabulous mystery within a mystery and Ruby is a character you will grow to despise.

Did Ruby kill The Truett’s? Or was she framed? Everyone is a suspect in this story, can you figure it out?!

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The Sanatorium: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593296677
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Published: Pamela Dorman Books - February 2nd, 2021

Mystery, intrigue & high suspense set the tone for this debut novel.  A dark & ominous dust jacket gives off a haunted feeling that appeals to fans of gothic horror & those interested in solving secrets.
Conflicts between familial characters, heightens the tension in this spine tingling page turner which begs absolution.
Is Le’ Sommet really a grand 5 star hotel, with its clinical interior approach? Or is it hiding sinister secrets of its previously dark past as the “hospital of horrors”?  Solving the mysteries, are guests who were invited to celebrate an employees recent engagement, only to be trapped inside during an avalanche!
A fabulously frightening suspense novel that was intensely satisfying with surprising twists near the end. Brilliant debut.

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Thick as Thieves Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538751947
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Published: Grand Central Publishing - August 25th, 2020

An intense fast paced romantic suspense story that shocks you with twists and turns and some fabulously written characters.

The growth of the characters is a wonderful experience within the schemes running throughout this thriller.

Rusty is one of the best written villains I have come across in a long time; he is menacing, vindictive, sneaky & underhanded and he keeps this story hopping.

I was floored by the ultimate twist at the end! I did not see that one coming.

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The Grace Year: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250145444
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Published: Wednesday Books - October 8th, 2019



This book is superbly written with ideas and themes that seem familiar but are written in a unique way that leaves the reader in awe when the book ends.  Combining both adventure and dystopian themes, this story covers a society that pushes the boundaries of leaders and followers, the strong against the weak, those who will survive, and those who may or may not.  Characters whom are very realistic in their mannerisms, some we love, and others we grow to despise as the pages fly.


It’s about magic & illusions, coercion, controlled environments & so much more.


Tierney is the main character & this is her story. She is a beautifully written character, watching her grow throughout the story was like the opening of a chrysalis.  Kiersten, another character, is someone to despise, maybe even hate.  If you are a fan of Lord of The Flies, Harvest Home, and The Village this is the perfect, modern day version and you simply must read this!

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The Invited: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101971864
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Published: Anchor - January 28th, 2020

Hands down, The Invited is Jennifer McMahon's best book to date.  She deftly weaves a blend of history, mystery, and some good old-fashioned ghostly effects into this tale of builing your dream home on a questionable property.  Every spare minute you have will be spent glued to the pages as you peel back the layers, only to realize there are multiple mysteries hidden within.  Great for fans who enjoy a little haunting!

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Theme Music: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781524744700
Published: Dutton - July 23rd, 2019

This debut novel is a recipe of: horror, suspense, heady characters, and sheer terror that could possibly hint at possession.


The main character, Dixie, is clear thinking in the beginning but as the story continues, it seems we the reader are witness to her psychosis; intriguing for sure.  Is it possible for victims of a gruesome and untimely death to remain behind as spirits? To be confused as to their altered state and act out against those still amongst the living? Or is it all hopefulness & projection? 


Was Dixie’s choice to move back into her house to solve her family’s tragic past the right one?

If you want to know the secrets that lie within these pages you must grab yourself a copy, but keep a few lights on!

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The Sun Down Motel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780440000174
Published: Berkley - February 18th, 2020

This was one of the most engaging and entertaining reads that smoothly blends terror, suspense, horror, and the supernatural all centered around a strange motel.  Undertones are dark and ominous, similar to the creepy feeling of the Bates Motel & "The Twilight Zone" but with a whole new category of weirdness.


The story is told to us by two striking viewpoints of Viv (past) & Carly (present), and the back-and-forth meshed together so evenly, that it was actually refreshing.  While not giving away anything, this story has a little bit of everything: disappearances, murders, unsolved cold case crimes, small towns with really big secrets. Unusual sounds and scents increase the intensity as you fly through the pages in hopes that we, the reader, can guess the ending without being too scared.


My favorite line in the book is: “What could go wrong?”  And in order for you to find out, you’ve got to grab yourself a copy of this book and dive in!!

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The Woman Inside: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781524744533
Published: Dutton - January 14th, 2020

This explosive and intense psychological thriller keeps you guessing all the way to the end.


Characterizations are phenomenal as the authors pull the reader in with little tidbits of information chapter by chapter until you get the full picture towards the end, and this is what builds the tension and suspense throughout the story.


Subjects covered throughout this story are: miscommunication within marriages, lying/cheating, severe mental health issues, bribery, drugs and alcohol and a ton of assumptions that really mess with the characters minds.
Those listed above are just a few of the issues contained within but there is so much more; but I do not believe in spoiling anything!  Fabulous multiple plot twists.


I am really grateful for the opportunity to read such a treasure!

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Necessary People Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316451727
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Published: Back Bay Books - May 19th, 2020

5 out of 5 stars for this psychological thriller!


A story of 2 friends who are very different in personalities that "click" in college and move on in life, until they aren't friends.

Greed for the limelight, each driven with ambition; who's more important? The girl from the big bucks, old-school, moneyed family who takes nothing serious except her booze, drugs & parties; or the gal from a poor broken home who works severely hard to do the righteous things?


Who really wins when the relationship is disgustingly toxic from the beginning?


Stella is a heady, egotistical character that you will love to hate & Violet is the proverbial girl next door that gains confidences throughout but this story provided some excellent twists and turns and at least 2 shocking "oh my" plot twists... Necessary People was an excellent title for the escapades in this book.


I am definitely interested in reading more by this author!

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The Family Next Door: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250217639
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Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - October 29th, 2019



5 out of 5 stars for this phenomenal novel that was fast paced and filled with twists and turns and an explosive plot twist towards the end that through my theory right out the window!

"Nothing is as easy as it seems" would be the closest phrase I can coin for this storyline.

A cast of heady " too perfect to be true" characters all trying to outdo one another on the "whose the best mom" on the cul- de-sac.  A unique twist of a story that was surprisingly awesome.

If you're a fan of twisty stories that involve issues of: trust, family, mental health issues & a big ole surprise, then you need to read this one for sure.