Summer Reads – 2021

Summer is almost officially here! I hope to read some fun books off my bookshelf and continue with my Reading the Classics Challenge and other challenges that I am trying to do in 2021. I am doing terrible with my reading challenges for the year, so hopefully I will start tackling that What are y’all reading this summer? Any reads you are most looking forward to? Here is my list:


  • A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
  • There There by Tommy Orange
  • A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  • Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong


  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins


  • Two Spies in Caracus by Moisés Naim
  • The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones
  • Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman


  • Sherlock: The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Sherlock: The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Bible Old Testament: Genesis – Deuteronomy 
  • Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck


  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand


  • The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Susan McBride
  • The Home Edit Life by Clea Shearer, Joanna Teplin
  • The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg
  • Badass Habits by Jen Sincero
  • The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
  • The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman
  • The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale
  • D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
  • E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton
  • F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton
  • The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

Feel free to leave a comment about any of the books I’ll be reading or the ones y’all will be reading.



Book Review: The Dilemma

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B. A. Paris
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 352
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or Series: Standalone
Received from: NetGalley
Date Finished Reading: July 28, 2020

Goodreads Review: 
It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

My Review: It took a long time for me to review this book, because I really couldn’t make up my mind about it. It was a unique concept with some twists and turns. However, this book just didn’t grab me. It dragged a lot. I just wanted the birthday party to end and everyone to be honest with each other. I struggled to get through this book just because I did want to see how it ended. I thought there might be another exciting twist at the end, but there really wasn’t. Even the end was very meh. I think giving it 3 out of 5 stars may be a bit generous.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: The Girls Weekend

The Girls Weekend
Author: Jody Gehrman
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Pages: 311
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: June 11, 2020

Goodreads Description: Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.

My Review: I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC of The Girls Weekend from NetGalley. A fun girls weekend with old friends turns into a nightmare when one of the five girls, Sadie, disappears one night leaving a trail of blood in her wake. Unfortunately, the friends’ recollection of what occurred that night is spotty. They all feel like they were drugged, because they only recall bits and pieces of what occurred that night (though for some reason none of them decided to go get a drug test). How do you figure out the truth when you can’t remember anything? How do you know who to trust?

I am usually not a fan of unreliable narrator stories, but this one more inventive than most. The friends had not spent time together in many years, and all of them had a motives to harm Sadie. To be honest, after reading how Sadie treated her friends, I don’t really understand why any of them would have agreed to go to her home for this girls weekend. However, this made for a lot of tension.

Spoiler alert: I actually thought that based on the type of person Sadie was portrayed as that she had faked her own death. I was wrong. Her body was discovered and the twists and turns really became to pick up.

This story is told through June Moody, who had plenty of motives to kill Sadie (Sadie is a more successful writer than June; is very wealthy; and is married to the man that proposed to June many years ago – Sadie basically has June’s life), and quickly becomes the police’s prime suspect. She is determined to piece together what occurred that night based on her bits of memory and what others remember. Once the friends start to work together a bit, they develop a strong theory of what happened that night, which leads to the ultimate climax.

All the twists and turns kept me captivated. It was hard to put down. I did feel like the end was a bit anti-climactic, but it was an overall thrill-ride. The epilogue was nice but meh. I kept wishing that the author would tell us if June Moody took this girls weekend experience to finally become the successful writer she always wanted to be. I would have preferred that epilogue over the “who loves who” ending. I really enjoyed the book overall though, and it made me think twice about planning the girls weekend I want to do with my college roommates next year.

Note: Publication date was moved back and may be moved back even further.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: Ghosts of Harvard

GhostofHarvard-Cover-HC-0120-650wTitle: Ghosts of Harvard
Author: Francesca Serritella
Genre: psychological thriller
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Pages: 480
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: May 30, 2020

Goodreads Description: A Harvard freshman becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother’s suicide. Then she starts hearing voices.

Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers.

As Cady struggles under the enormous pressure at Harvard, she investigates her brother’s final year, armed only with a blue notebook of Eric’s cryptic scribblings. She knew he had been struggling with paranoia, delusions, and illusory enemies—but what tipped him over the edge? With her suspicions mounting, Cady herself begins to hear voices, seemingly belonging to three ghosts who walked the university’s hallowed halls—or huddled in its slave quarters. Among them is a person whose name has been buried for centuries, and another whose name mankind will never forget.

Does she share Eric’s illness, or is she tapping into something else? Cady doesn’t know how or why these ghosts are contacting her, but as she is drawn deeper into their worlds, she believes they’re moving her closer to the truth about Eric, even as keeping them secret isolates her further. Will listening to these voices lead her to the one voice she craves—her brother’s—or will she follow them down a path to her own destruction?

My Review: I am grateful to have received an ARC of Ghosts of Harvard from NetGalley. This was an interesting read for sure. It was a mix of fiction and nonfiction. It was a psychological thriller and mystery with a supernatural side note.

As I formally lived in Boston, I was thrilled to experience the author’s vivid descriptions of the Harvard campus. However, I struggled with the pacing of this book. I felt that it was about 100 pages too long. The middle was too slow, but I was very invested in the main character, Cady, as she tried to find out the truth behind her brother’s suicide. I was also invested in finding out the truth of what Cady was going through from the Prologue at the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the final quarter of the book. There were twists and turns, and I could not put it down.

I am not sure I understand the point of the main character being visited by ghosts. All I can come up with is that the author really wanted to create an unreliable main character, so the reader could not be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I never truly believed that Cady was suffering from schizophrenia like her brother had. However, I appreciate this interesting twist the author provided and acknowledge that much of the interaction with the ghost were based on history facts.

This story is one that I continue to go over in my head as I attempt to understand some of the deeper meaning the author was trying to express. It is the kind of book that stays with you.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: My Greek Island Summer

My Greek Island Summer
Author: Mandy Baggot
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: April 2, 2020
Pages: 380
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: April 4, 2020

Goodreads Description: Becky Rowe has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than six weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.

Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…

Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…

My Review: This is a fun, light book for sure. I really appreciate getting a copy of this book from NetGalley.

I did enjoy the second half of the book, but the first half was a struggle for me. I didn’t like the way the characters were introduced. During the beginning of the book, I kept thinking like I was missing something, like I was suppose to understand more about the characters than what was written about them.

Books that use current celebrity names or fads in language bother me, because that immediately means this book will be dated and will not stand the test of time. For example, they mention The Masked Singer, which is a brand new show that I do not believe is going to last long. Also, I think a comparison was made to a famous magician that I had never heard of, so of course I didn’t get the comparison that was trying to be made. However, I should admit to the fact that I did get all the Hallmark movie references. I might be a fan of Ryan Paevy as well.

There was an airport scene with a missed connection that just dragged on. The characters really annoyed me in that scene. People miss connections. It should not have taken up as many pages of the book as it did. Also, for all my missed connections in my life, no airline has ever put me up in a 5-star hotel for free.

After the characters leave Athens, I really thought the book got much better. More of the characters’ backgrounds came to light, which helped them become more likable. I found Petra an annoying character at first, but by the end of the book, she would turn out to be my very favorite character. It made me wish I could be young and carefree again. The scene where Petra and Becky arrive at their accommodations in Corfu and find a menagerie of unwelcome animals, including a flamingo, was very amusing.

Overall, I enjoyed the new found love, the sisterly bonding, and especially the Greek scenery. A nice way to feel like your traveling from the comfort of your own home.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Spring Reading – 2020

Spring is here! I think we can all agree that this will be an interesting spring. I will be continuing to read for my Reading the Classics Challenge. I am also picking away at the books on my bookshelf. Titles are mostly based on giveaways and book club picks. What are y’all reading this winter? Any reads you are most looking forward to? Here is my list:

Book Club Reads

  • Black December by Scott Hunter
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  • The Story of Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

NetGalley Reads

  • The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman
  • Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
  • Miss Iceland by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
  • Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella
  • The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor
  • My Greek Island Summer by Mandy Baggot

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon

  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • Stuart Little by E.B. White
  • Copenhagen by Michael Frayn
  • Different Seasons by Stephen King
  • Sandition by Jane Austen
  • Tess of D’Urbervilles


  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Book Jar Picks

  • Visit Sunny Chernobyl by Andrew Blackwell
  • Bonfire by Krysten Ritter


  • The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha – audiobook
  • The Joy of Missing Out by Tonya Dalton – audiobook
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – audiobook
  • Murder with Mirrors by Agatha Christie – book
  • The Hidden by Heather Graham – book
  • Dopesick by Beth Macy – audiobook
  • Quiet by Susan Cain – audiobook
  • 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson – audiobook
  • Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow – audiobook
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – book
  • The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston – book
  • The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – book


Book Review: How to Catch an Errant Earl

49216605Title: How to Catch an Errant Earl
Author: Amy Rose Bennett
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Pages: 336
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Book 2 of The Disreputable Debutantes series
Where I got the book: Netgalley
Date finished reading: March 19, 2020

Goodreads Description: After being expelled from a young ladies’ academy, it seems Miss Arabella Jardine will never find a well-connected husband. Not that she minds. A bluestocking at heart, she’d rather bury her nose in a medical text than wed. When Arabella is forced to accompany her family on a Grand Tour in Switzerland, she unexpectedly encounters the irresistible rakehell-in-exile, Gabriel, the Earl of Langdale. Arabella soon realizes the only thing worse than getting married to a charismatic but unrepentant rake would be to fall in love with him.

Dubbed the Errant Earl by the ton, Gabriel Holmes-Fitzgerald is no stranger to scandal. However, when Gabriel is caught in flagrante with the utterly delectable Arabella Jardine, he’s obliged to offer for her hand. He’ll endeavor to do the right thing even though he’s not a prize catch. He’ll certainly never let Arabella get close enough to discover the demons of his dark past. Indeed, there is one particular demon out to destroy Gabriel by exposing a long-buried family secret.

Soon Gabriel and Arabella find they are not just battling overwhelming desire, but in a fight to save their future together.

My Review: I am really grateful for nice period romance to help keep my mind off of reality. This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley.

How to Catch an Errant Earl is book two of a series. I had not read the first book in the series. While there were parts of the storyline I was curious about and was sure to have been explained in the first book, I felt that a reader could still engage with the romance between Gabriel and Arabella as a standalone.

While I did enjoy the characters of Gabriel and Arabella and their spicy romance, I felt that the pacing of the plot was a bit off. The first third of the story seemed to be telling a backstory of the characters without really revealing much, so I was a bit bored. However, the scene where Gabriel and Arabella meet for the second time, and Arabella fixes Gabriel’s dislocated shoulder is a great scene. It truly shows Arabella’s strength, which is what I believe is part of the reason that Gabriel is drawn to her. Then there is a crazy amount of action in the last quarter of the book: Gabriel’s mom shows up, Gabriel was spotted with an old flame, and Arabella is kidnapped. The kidnapping scene was exciting, but I found it hard to believe that any woman who had just been kidnapped and banged up because of her husband would just ignore the fact that her husband had been spotted with another woman just because he saved her and told her that he loved her, but maybe that is just me. I would have asked more questions.

I thought it strange that certain characters just disappeared. Gabriel spends half the storyline searching for his mother. When his mother appears, that character gets just a few pages and then we barely hear about her going forward. I would have also enjoyed bringing back Arabella’s horrible aunt just to see if someone would put her in her place.

I would have also been happier if Arabella’s “charitable” endeavors had been more defined. On more than one occasion she goes to spend time with an influential doctor to learn how she can move forward with her charitable endeavors, but we never really get to experience that interaction or what she intended to do in any real way that lives up to the character’s intelligence and ambition. She couldn’t be in charge of a clinic at that time, because she was a woman, but maybe she could have ran an orphanage. In the end it sounds like she more or less just threw some money around.

Though I found some weaknesses in this particular storyline, I believe the characters are strong enough to have a series based on them. I hope Olivia gets her man next…

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: The Look-Alike

look-alikeTitle: The Look-Alike
Author: Erica Spindler
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages: 320
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: January 29, 2020

Goodreads Description: Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?

My Review: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. I really enjoyed the last thriller I read through NetGalley, so I was looking forward to keeping the momentum going.

This was a very quick read for me. The story flowed by and was a fun read. However, I had a few issues with The Look-Alike that made me far from love it.

First of all, we “maybe” have an unreliable narrator, which makes the main character a bit annoying at time. While Sienna Scott’s mother does suffer from paranoid personality disorder, this does not mean that Sienna herself has it, but every time something her mother says actually happens, Sienna thinks that she is suffering from the same disorder, which gets annoying. This thinking leads Sienna to hesitate in telling others about things that are happening, but then she doesn’t seem to hesitate to tell the stranger across the street that she just met. I guess the thinking is that a stranger may buy her possible delusions as facts more than a friend or relative would?

Second, since I just mentioned “friend”, Sienna does seem to have friends, who call and leave messages, but we really don’t meet any of these friends. Why are these “friends” not more a part of the story? Why does the main character not confide in her “friends” more?

Third, the potential buyers of The Wagon Wheel just happened to not be able to secure funding? Was this just to make the story have a completely happy ending?

Finally, I found that the plot and the mysteries were very predictable. I knew who the new neighbor, Jonathan, was right away. I also figured right from the start who the bad guy was, as he pretty much inserted himself in the Madison Robie murder right from the beginning. There weren’t any of the twists or turns that I normally enjoy in a good thriller.

I still enjoyed the movement of the story, and while the characters were not strong characters, they were still interesting, especially Sienna’s mother. I loved that character. Plus, I found it a bonus that this story takes place in my home state of Wisconsin. Overall, I liked The Look-Alike, but I did not love it.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: Trace of Evil

evilTitle: Trace of Evil
Author: Alice Blanchard
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Pages: 384
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Book #1 of Natalie Lockhark series
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: January 25, 2020

Goodreads Description: A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case…

Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions.

But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her?

As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything.

Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder.

As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself.

Spellbinding and gripping, Trace of Evil is a novel of twisting suspense that will leave you breathless.

My Review: I received a copy of Trace of Evil from NetGalley, and I could not be happier that I picked it up when I did. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump since the beginning of 2020. I’m hoping that Trace of Evil has brought me out of that slump, because I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book.

It has been a while, since I have read a mystery/thriller that did not frustrate me (excluding any Agatha Christie book I’ve read recently). I think the concept of the unreliable narrator that drove the popularity of books like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Woman in Cabin 10 has been overdone now. It is a fun concept, but it was nice to read a mystery/thriller with a strong and reliable female main character.

Right from the beginning, you know that there will be a few different mysteries included in this story. Trace of Evil begins with Detective Natalie Lockhart visiting her murdered sister’s grave. This visit actually leads to a potential clue in the cold cases of nine missing individuals that she has been investigating. However, her investigation quickly gets shelved by a new investigation, when a fellow detective’s wife is found murdered. While investigating this murder, she uncovers lots of secrets in the town including her own niece’s involvement in occult activity.

What I loved about this book is that it contained so many mysteries, but that the plot still flowed smoothly and kept me riveted. Who killed Detective Buckner’s wife, Daisy? What happened to the “Missing Nine”? Is the right person serving time for Natalie’s sister’s murder? Is Natalie’s niece in danger? I never had a clue how the mysteries would be solved or who the bad guys were. There were so many interesting characters and many secrets being held by all.

I literally ignored my husband to sit and finish this book, because I just had to know how it ended. The last portion of the book was so gripping and ultimately surprising and fulfilling. I thought this was a fantastic read! I highly recommend it!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Winter Reading – 2019

Winter is almost here! I will be continuing to read for my Reading the Classics Challenge, and I have created a Book Jar project to help me read more books off my bookshelf. Other titles on this list are mostly based on giveaways and book club picks. What are y’all reading this winter? Any reads you are most looking forward to? Here is my list:

Book Club Reads

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

NetGalley Reads

  • The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler
  • The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg
  • The Empty Bed by Nina Sadowsky

Goodreads Giveaway

  • The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

Reading the Classics

  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy


  • Dune by Frank Herbert

Book Jar Picks

  • Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer


  • Dear Girls by Ali Wong – audiobook
  • The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott – audiobook
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman – audiobook
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – audiobook
  • The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – audiobook
  • His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet – audiobook
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – audiobook
  • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell – audiobook
  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo – audiobook
  • Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris – book
  • Furious Hours by Casey Cep – book
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – book