Quantcast

Monday, April 15, 2024

April Read: Funny Story by Emily Henry

 

Emily Henry returns this month with her latest sure-to-be-a-massive-hit novel, Funny Story. It clocks in at 384 pages, so be prepared to put some time into this one!

I have a love/hate relationship with EH's novels. Out of the four I've read, I've only really, really liked one, and that was Book Lovers. It charmed me and I not only liked the characters, but the whole dang book. Funny Story comes in second as my next most likable EH novel. 

The premise is pretty interesting: Daphne's fiancĂ©, weeks before their wedding, leaves her for his childhood best friend, Petra. Devastated, with nowhere to go in the small Michigan lakeside town she's moved to for her marriage, she ends up moving into Petra's old apartment--the one she shared with her boyfriend, Miles. He's also reeling from the breakup of his relationship with Petra, and loves to play sad love songs 24/7. Two broken-hearted people living together, trying to cope with the betrayal of their ex-relationships. At first, they avoid each other as much as possible. But as the weeks go by, they both start to become friendly, and wounds begin to heal. 

Daphne is an introverted children's librarian, and Miles works at a winery. He's utterly charming in every way, and before she knows it, Daphne is feeling all the feels--especially when  they decide to pretend to be involved in order to attend Peter and Petra's upcoming wedding. It's the old "we'll show them we've moved on" move that backfires when Miles and Daphne begin a slow burn "oh crap I really like this person" with some sexual tension that gets pretty steamy. All the while Daphne is counting the days until she can fulfill her end of summer library readathon and leave Michigan for good. 

Of course, both have baggage that's more of the check-in kind than the carry-on kind, and that interferes in what should be a simple falling in love story. Add in new friendships, a visiting sister, and troubled childhoods, and what could have been a 300 page novel ends up much longer than I think it should be. I had to stop reading for a few days because I was getting annoyed at the slow pace. I guess I'm an impatient gal when it comes to love!

I enjoyed the setting and I'm convinced Michigan is a place I must visit. It was also refreshing to read a romance about two people who are just ordinary, everyday people with jobs that are fulfilling but aren't about climbing the corporate ladder or making the most money. If anything, it reminded me that romance lives even under the worst circumstances, and love wins out if you have the courage to step into it. 

So overall, I did enjoy the book, but felt it was too long. Daphne and Miles are likable characters and a good match that is definitely believable. Secondary characters and the charm of small town Michigan during the summer months round out what will certainly be a HUGE summer hit. 

This novel will be out in the US on April 23rd in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Thanks to Berkley and Penguin/Random House for an advanced copy to read and review! 

Rating: 4/6 for a summer romance long on build-up but with a charming setting and two likable people who fall in love when it's least expected. 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

March Read: What Have You Done? by Shari Lapena

 



I've read a few Shari Lapena novels and they always keep me dangling until the last few pages.   This novel, her latest (on sale July 30), kept me completely engaged and unable to put it down. 

The small town of Fairhill, Vermont is a place where you leave your house unlocked and there's never any crime. Until one early morning when a farmer, driving his tractor into one of his fields, discovers a horrible scene: a naked young woman-dead, lying in the field. 

That dead young woman is Diana Brewer, a senior at the local high school. Her single mother works the night shift as a nurse in the next town over, and Diana spends nights alone at their home. Word quickly spreads, and the first suspect is Diana's boyfriend, Cameron. What were they doing together the night before, and why does Cameron lie? Diana's best friends Riley and Evan are devastated Diana's dead--and murdered. The town quickly become filled with a whole lot of people who have secrets to keep; secrets which point at many of them as potential suspects. Will they lie to protect themselves, or fess up and help uncover Diana's killer?

Shari Lapena usually writes thrillers that involve couples, and this was a bit different from her usual in that it centers around a murdered high school student. As police investigate, there's plenty of people who have things to hide that may tie directly to Diana's death, or may have contributed to her murder. It was hard to tell who would be revealed, and the reveal at the end is a bit of a twist that you may or may not see coming. Another twist is that Diana's spirit is "hanging around", and she's confused as to what happened. She has big gaps in her memory, and is slowly understanding she's dead and that someone killed her. Her flashbacks also give a bit of a red herring aspect to the plot because what she remembers may not necessarily be accurate. Plus, she's dead! 

Definitely one theme in this thriller is the endless harassment and sexualization young girls have to endure, even in a small town. Being called a liar, or not being believed at all, are things Diana has to endure. People always going out of their way to protect themselves instead of standing up for truth. 

If you're a Shari Lapena fan, this won't disappoint. If you're new to her novels, and you like thrillers--Heather Gudenkauf fans I'm talking to you--grab this novel for you summer read when it arrives in stores and libraries July 30th. 

A HUGE thank you to Pamela Dorman Books/Viking for a chance to read this thriller a few months before publication. 

Rating: 5/6 for a thriller that keeps you on your toes guessing who the guilty party is--and also, the effect of murder on a small town and how it completely changes the lives of those left behind. 

Available July 30th in the U.S. in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

March Read: Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

 

This is my second Rebecca Serle novel. I thoroughly enjoyed One Italian Summer and saw the premise of this novel and thought it would be an interesting twist on modern dating, so I grabbed a copy at my library and quickly read it. 

Daphne lives in Los Angeles and is an assistant to a producer. She's in her early thirties, and has a weird quirk: since she was a young girl, she gets pieces of paper that tell her the name of her next boyfriend, and how long the relationship will last. One month, a few years, a night--it takes her a few years to figure out what's going on, and she never shares her quirk with anyone until Hugo, her best friend/ex-boyfriend. You'll get tastes of some of her previous relationships as the story bounces between her past and the now. 

Now she's received a note with a name, but no end date. Is Jake the one?And if he is the one, is she ready for it? 

This plot had some steam and kept me interested for the first half, but a few surprise revelations come to light and they change the tone of the novel quite  bit. I certainly didn't see them coming. Daphne is so sure Jake must be the one, she basks in the simplicity of their life together-he's calm, cool, charming, warm--a golden retriever, if you will. But I felt the chemistry was definitely lacking between the two. It's pretty obvious who she should be with, but Daphne is stuck on those names always having an end date, and there's no revisiting past relationships. Jake must be the one who will be her happily ever after. 

I can't say I liked Daphne a whole lot. She's not a terrible person; she's a good person--but her decisions and actions just didn't vibe with me. 

What I do enjoy about Rebecca Serle's novels are the introduction of magic that is not explained; the characters don't try to figure it out or question it much--it just is, and that's refreshing. 

Rating: 3/6 for an interesting concept, but a lack of chemistry between Daphne and her main squeeze just didn't work for me. It's a quick read, and has some interesting twists, so if you're looking for a semi-romantic contemporary novel with a dab of magical realism, go for it! 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Monday, March 18, 2024

March Read: The Phoenix Crown by Kate Quinn and Janie Chang

 

I'm always fascinated by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, so I immediately grabbed this historical novel by Kate Quinn and Janie Chang. It did not disappoint, and was exactly the kind of historical novel I enjoy. 

This is the story of four women: Nellie, Suling, Gemma, and Alice, who all connect in San Francisco days before the great earthquake. Gemma has arrived from New York as part of the chorus of an opera--she's got an amazing voice, but migraines which have kept her from climbing to the top in the opera world. She's hoping to connect with Nellie; they are friends who keep in touch no matter what. Suling is a young Chinese woman living in Chinatown with an astonishing embroidery talent. Unfortunately, she's days away from an arranged marriage she wants to escape. Alice is a scientist who specializes in botany, and she's living in the same boarding house as Nellie. 

Through interesting connections, the women all find themselves uncovering a terrible crime just as the earthquake destroys San Francisco, putting them all in danger not only from the catastrophe unfolding, but a very dangerous and deadly man who's willing to kill to keep his secrets. 

I can't give anything away, because it would spoil a few reveals and connections that are much more fun to uncover as you read. There's nothing downright shocking, but just a good story that grabbed my attention and I couldn't put it down. What was most interesting was how each woman fought against sexism and the barriers they faced even with obvious and immense talents. I especially loved getting a peek inside each career: opera, embroidery, painting, and botany. 

This is a novel about perseverance, talent, revenge, and healing from traumatic events. It's also a glimpse inside the world of 1906, on the cusp of immense change. There are author notes about San Francisco, the characters, and how they wrote the novel together at the end, which round out the novel. 

Rating: 5/6 for an entertaining novel set just before and after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906--but also a few other places around the world, too. Four strong women facing a deadly enemy and their quest for revenge. 

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. 

Sunday, March 10, 2024

March Read: Murder Road by Simone St. James

 

Oh, Simone St. James did it again. Managed to fascinate me while giving me the creeps. She is one of my favorite authors, and I have read every one of her novels, all the way back to discovering her first paperback during my bookseller years a loooong time ago. I'm thrilled she's getting the attention she deserves and becoming more popular with every new novel. 

This one will make you unwilling to drive down a dark, empty road by yourself for quite some time. It takes place in 1995, and starts out with April and Eddie Carter; two newlyweds on their way to a resort for a short honeymoon. It's late at night, and April wakes up in the front seat and discovers Eddie has become lost, and doesn't quite know how he got lost. But lost they are, late at night, on a lonely road with no one in sight. 

Until they see a young woman running down the road, begging for help. There is something very, very wrong with the young woman, and the road. A big black pick up truck comes roaring down the road, chasing after Eddie and April and the injured young woman in the back seat. They get to the town of Coldlake Falls just in time to escape from the black truck, but unfortunately the young woman dies at the hospital. The police are looking at Eddie and April, covered in blood, and in a bit of shock. Strangers in a small town; a dying woman in their back seat. They're forbidden to leave town as the police investigate, and that's where things really take off and get interesting. 

Eddie and April's backgrounds are messy and they both have kept secrets from each other. But murderers they are not, and they become determined to figure out what happened on Atticus Line Road that night. It wasn't natural, what they saw in the back of that black truck...

This is a small town with some eerie back story--hitchhikers found dead, murders unsolved, whispers of strange occurrences on Atticus Line Road. So many unsolved murders on that road, and the police are suspicious of anyone who comes through town. 

Will Eddie and April figure it all out and stay safe and out of jail for a crime they didn't commit? As they unravel the pieces of the puzzle, it becomes clear just why they were drawn to Atticus Line Road that night. It's one heck of a twist!

Anyone who loves eerie thrillers with a definite nod to creepy ghost stories will be all on board with this latest from Simone St. James. I love how her characters are always flawed in some way, and find themselves caught up in bizarre and ghostly events that require them to be stronger and braver than they've ever been. To believe and accept the unbelievable, because it's the only explanation. 

Loved it! Not surprised. I'm never disappointed with this author. 

Rating: 6/6 for a novel that will keep you patiently on the journey with Eddie and April as pieces slowly fall into place. A great ghost story about revenge, redemption, family, and leaving the past behind for a brighter future. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 


Thursday, March 7, 2024

March Read: Why We Read: On Bookworms, Libraries, and Just One More Page Before Lights Out by Shannon Reed

 

I decided I didn't want to wait for the physical book to be available so I listened to the audio book instead. I am not a huge audio book person and when I do listen it's usually a non-fiction book so this fit into my audio book checklist perfectly. 

This book is made up of essays the author has written about her love of books, reading, and her experiences as a teacher of literature and writing.  From an early age Shannon inhaled books; she couldn't get enough. She lived at the library, surrounded herself with books, and found a lot of solace in books as a person who is hard of hearing. She could escape into so many other worlds. 

Now, as an adult, she teaches writing and literature at a college level, and is continuously surprised at the connections novels make in a world where reading is often dismissed as "boring". Her stories are pretty interesting. In one essay, she finds herself teaching a class on vampire literature. She herself avoids any kind of horror novels (terrifying nightmares as a child), but has to not only teach a class and read the books, but support a student who is also deeply afraid to read horror novels. In another essay, she talks about the connections modern high school students made with Bronte's Jane Eyre, much to her surprise. She was expecting most of the students to not read the novel at all, but instead, they had robust conversations and couldn't wait to get to class to talk in-depth about Jane and her life. 

She talks about reading for pleasure instead of her earlier years where she raced through books just to be able to say "Oh yes, I read that". And yes, even taking yourself out of your comfort zone and reading something that may be difficult or not at all what you'd normally read. One of her most interesting essays talks about Lincoln in the Bardo, and how she read it to teach a class and for the life of her couldn't understand it, and confessed that to her students. It began a journey they all went on together, and became one of her most interesting reading experiences. 

If you are a lover of books and are interested in exploring the reading life of other book lovers, pick this up. You can read a chapter and put it down without losing any flow. 

Rating: 4/6 for an interesting read about books, a love of reading, and how it all changes with time, life experiences, and the people you meet along the way. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 


Sunday, March 3, 2024

March Read: The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

 

Ever since I read Ruth Reichl's first novel Delicious! I have been waiting for her to write another novel. I'll begin by saying it does have some childhood sexual abuse in it at the beginning, which helps explain some of the main character's feelings and attitude along the way.

Saying that, the novel is about a young woman, Stella in the early 1980's. She lives in New York and her mother, with whom she had a difficult relationship, has died. Stella's mom left her some money with strict instructions to travel to Paris and not to come back until all the money was spent. 

Stella decides, okay, I'll go. She buys a one way ticket to Paris and spends a few weeks living very simply and wandering around. Not really getting the whole Paris experience. She comes across a vintage clothing shop, and finds a stunning Dior dress that the shop owner insists is made for her. Convinced to buy it (and spending most of her money), Stella takes the owner's advice and goes to a particular restaurant to eat oysters and have champagne. This is the start point for Stella's adventures in Paris. 

While at the restaurant, Stella meets Jules, an elderly art collector, and this sets off Stella's awakening to all that Paris offers. Making friends with Jules, she's soon involved in an intriguing art mystery, traveling around Paris and the countryside eating amazing food, and discovering just what Stella wants in life. Paris feels like it might, just might, be home. 

What I enjoyed about this novel, besides the incredible food descriptions, was the meandering way Stella's adventures keep unfolding. The people she meets along the way, and the evolution of Stella from a meek and quiet young woman to a strong, confident woman are part of the enjoyment of the novel. Each person she meets and befriends has a whole story of their own--many based on heartbreak, too. 

I enjoyed this novel very much, and was happy to see Stella evolve from a trauma filled childhood to a confident and beloved woman who keeps moving forward despite her fear of the unknown. 

Anyone who loves Paris, or is a foodie will enjoy this novel. It is published in the U.S. on April 30, 2024 in hardcover. A big thanks to Random House for an advanced copy to read. 

Rating: 4/6 for an adventure story that begins in a traumatic childhood, and evolves into a young woman knowing herself and her place in the world. 


Monday, February 19, 2024

February Read: The Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai

 

This was a delightful, cozy read and I'm happy to say the first in a series that was first published in Japan. The English version is translated by Jesse Kirkwood. 

Retired detective Nagare Kamogawa and his daughter Koishi run a distinctly different restaurant/detective agency. Tucked away on a small street in Kyoto sits a restaurant without a sign to indicate what it is. People find their way there when they see a one sentence advertisement in a magazine. The guests who arrive come for help that only Nagare and Koishi can give them. 

 Nagare and Koishi aren't your regular, run of the mill detectives. Their specialty is finding that one dish that each guest desperately needs to eat once again. Guests arrive, have a specially prepared meal by Nagare, and once finished, discuss their food mystery with Koishi, who gets as much information as possible from their guest. Two weeks later, the guest comes back to the restaurant, to experience that magical dish one more time, thanks to Nagare and his special talents at cooking and detecting. 

Guests have a variety of reasons for their journey; mostly memories of childhood, mourning what was lost when a loved one died. Bringing back happy memories that only a special dish can do--a slice of the past to help them move forward. 

I'll say I'm not much of a fish person, but wow the food descriptions made me want to try everything. It's a great introduction to Japanese food and will get your curiosity stirred up to expand your knowledge of Japanese cuisine. 

Each chapter is another guest to the restaurant who needs help. This is an easy read that you can read in a night or two. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Rating: 5/6 for an unassuming little novel about memories, love, food, and comfort. 

This book is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Monday, February 5, 2024

The Women by Kristin Hannah

 

I finally cracked and read a Kristin Hannah novel. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy; otherwise I probably would not have read it, for a couple of reasons: I wouldn't have gotten around to it, and I tend to avoid novels about the Vietnam War. 

I didn't lose any family in the Vietnam War, and I don't really remember much of it at all--I was a small child, born just as it was ramping up. By the time it ended, I was about 6-7 years old. I only remember Walter Cronkite on the evening news, seeing some of the footage in color on my parent's console TV. I don't recall my parents ever talking about it, either. That little I do remember is still pretty sharp in my memory. 

This novel, is, you guessed it, about the women who served in Vietnam: the nurses, mostly. Those fierce women who saw some of the most grisly and devastating parts of the war, who toiled through unimaginable scenarios to save men's lives and get them home. 

Francis "Frankie" McGrath lives on Coronado Island, California. Her parents are wealthy, and her brother Finley has just signed up to go to Vietnam. In 1966 no one knew the horrors of the Vietnam War just yet, and it was considered honorable and expected of men to join the armed services and go over and end the hostilities quickly. At a party, Frankie meet Rye, one of her brother's good friends, who tells Frankie "women can be heroes, too." That one phrase changes Frankie's life. 

Frankie, fresh out of nursing school, decides she wants to follow Finley to Vietnam as a nurse. At twenty, she's sheltered and not happy with the limited choices she has, and the expectations of her parents to get married and raise a family. 

Once Frankie steps off the plane in Vietnam, her world is completely shaken. From her first days in camp and meeting her friends Ethel and Barb, to meeting Jamie, a surgeon who is clearly interested in Frankie, she's thrown into a world where there's no time to be afraid. Frankie's experiences in Vietnam shape her into a veteran who cannot shake her experience once she comes home.

The novel is split into two parts: Vietnam, and the return home. It spans 1966-1982, and follows the heartbreak, heartache, and struggles Frankie endures once she returns home and discovers Vietnam Vets are not being welcomed home. Will Frankie overcome her demons? 

This was one heck of a read. I started it this past week and power read over the weekend to finish it. I was afraid if I stopped I wouldn't pick it back up; only because some of it is tough to read. Frankie's PTSD, nightmares, and drug and alcohol use are harsh and your heart breaks for her struggles in a world where even the vets don't believe women served in Vietnam. As Frankie tells them, they would only have seen her if they were gravely wounded. 

Loved it--I'm glad it wasn't just about Frankie's experience in Vietnam, but also the aftermath at home, and the years it took to overcome the results of her experience. 

This novel is released in the U.S. on February 6th in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook. I know it is going to be immensely popular and bring new fans to Kristin Hannah. 

Rating: 6/6 for an absorbing, heartbreaking, tough look at the Vietnam War from a nurse's experience on the ground in the harshest conditions. It also examines the aftermath of the war and the mental toll it takes on veterans and how the system failed so many when they needed help and compassion the most. Powerful stuff. 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Grimoire Girl by Hilarie Burton Morgan

 

I read Hilarie Burton Morgan's The Rural Diaries when it first was published and absolutely loved her memoir about meeting her husband, finding their home in rural New York State, and raising a family together. 

Now she's returned with another kind-of memoir about the magic of every day life and how we can recognize it in all the infinite ways it weaves through our lives. 

This is in parts a how-to with gentle guidance on cultivating  friendships, building memories, and discovering the simple ways we can bring the magic of nature and synchronicity into our lives. It can be as simple as burning a specific colored candle, or recognizing the language of flowers and being intentional in how we cook with love and purpose for those we care about. 

Most of all, it is about seeing how everyone creates their own grimoire--or magic spell book. It can be a physical book you put together yourself, full of memories, notes, incantations, recipes, photographs. It can, in one instance, be an estate with acres of gardens with a hidden message that speaks of a lifetime of grief and love. It's paying attention to the people and places that come into your life at certain moments--it's all the magic of the universe, and it's there for you if you just start paying attention. 

I enjoyed this book and it inspired me to start paying attention to what's going on around me--what patterns are there that I'm just not seeing, because I'm too busy? 

I guess I've already started my own grimoire with the books I keep at home; the books that make my home my special place and tell the story of my life. It's in the things I keep at home that remind me of my loved ones who are gone, and special places I've been. Instead of looking at these items as things I have to dust, I have a new appreciation of them.

So burn the candles, set up your mini altar at home. Play with the cards, write in that journal. Gather things that have meaning to you, and open your eyes. The world is a magical place, and we need to bring that positive energy back into being. 

Rating: 5/6 for an interesting book about myth, magic, creating a home, and taking care of your well-being. A call to remind ourselves we are magic. 

Available in hardcover, ebook and audio. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

The Curse of Penryth Hall by Jess Armstrong

 

I started this in December over Christmas weekend and finished it on January first. Love the cover--it grabbed me right away. I'm all about small English villages, murder, and a possible curse. Sign me up!

This mystery takes place in 1922, after the Great War (World War One in the U.S.). American heiress Ruby Vaughn lives in Exeter, England  with Mr. Owens, an elderly man who runs a rare bookstore. Ruby takes care of delivering the books to clients around England, and after her rather shaky past, it's a place for her to take some time to get a grip on her life and figure things out. 

Mr. Owens gives Ruby a delivery task that brings her directly back to her past in the small village of Lothlel Green, located in the Cornish countryside. There resides her best friend Tamsyn, who is married to Sir Edward Chenowyth and resides at Penryth Hall. It's a good excuse to visit her friend, who had sent Ruby a letter a year previously, stating she had made a terrible mistake and would Ruby please come. Ruby chose not to go, for various reasons you'll find out. Ruby arrives and meets the intriguing Ruan Kivell, the person who is expecting the delivery of books from Mr. Owens. He's something else, is Ruan. He's the local Pellar, which the locals hold in high esteem. He appears to have a bit of magic around him. And strangely seems to be able to hear everything Ruby is thinking in her head. 

Ruby is at Penryth Hall for only one evening when the next morning Sir Edward is found murdered in the orchard. Murdered in a most horrible way--and thus begins the mystery that Ruby and Ruan race to solve, before there are more victims of the curse that claimed Sir Edward. 

But is it a curse, a local legend; or a murder plain and simple? Lots of reasons to see Sir Edward dead--he was an unpleasant man. Did Tamsyn do it? One of the locals? Did Ruby do it and not remember? 

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. I loved the setting, especially the Cornish countryside and the post World War One climate. Ruby is an intriguing character who has a lot of problems and baggage. Ruan--ooh, he's a handsome devil. The two together are dynamite. 

This mystery had a lot of layers to get through, so you never really know who did it until close to the end. I most certainly hope there are more mysteries involving Ruby, Ruan, and Mr. Owens. I would gobble them up. 

Rating: 4/6 for an intriguing mystery with an unforgettable setting, characters that have excellent chemistry, and the possibilities of more collaboration in future novels. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 


Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Coworker by Freida McFadden

 

The best way I can describe Freida McFadden's novels is to say they are like a snack--you start nibbling and the next thing you know you've eaten the whole bag. I started this novel late Saturday night and wrapped it up early Sunday afternoon in between loads of laundry. 

Dawn Schiff works as an accountant at Vixed, a health supplement company. She sits next to Natalie, the top saleswoman in the company. Cubicles for all! Natalie and Dawn are complete opposites: Dawn is definitely on the spectrum--she eats one color food (all white, all yellow), must have everything organized, struggles with social norms and cues, and loves turtles above everything else. Natalie is blonde, gorgeous, and not above using her physical assets to bring in sales. 

The novel starts out with Dawn not showing up to work one morning, and Natalie notices. It's odd, because Dawn is punctual every day. Doesn't deviate from her routine. Yet here it is, over an hour later, and she's not at her desk, and no one has seen her. Natalie begins to worry; where could Dawn be? Add to that a bizarre phone call to Dawn's desk; "help me" are the only words spoken, and it sounds like Dawn. 

Natalie is worried--so worried she remembers where Dawn lives, and decides to check on her. Inside, she finds a pool of blood and what looks like a crime scene with no body.  Police get involved, and it's soon national news: where is Dawn Schiff?

The novel moves back and forth between present day, four months in the past and  two months in the past. It also switches narrators between Dawn and Natalie. What at first seems like simple co-worker concern from Natalie quickly becomes something much darker, and strap in because it's a roller coaster ride from there on out. 

What can I say? A co-worker can be someone you admire or like, but they turn out to be not so nice. We've all been there. But this takes it to eleven. 

You'll gobble this up pretty quickly. I can't say the ending was satisfying, but everything was tied up neatly. It was a heck of a read. 

Rating: 4/6 for a thriller with plenty of ups and downs, a clear message about the damage bullying does for both kids and adults, and being accepted for yourself-quirks and all. Office politics are a hot mess in this one. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.