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RUN ROSE RUN by Dolly Parton and James Patterson 🎧

Find a future. Lose a past.

She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her.

She’s also on the run.

Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny.

It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her. And destroy her….

Run Rose Run: a story glittering with danger and desire.

Also available: an album of 12 original Dolly Parton songs made for the novel!


Title : Run Rose Run
Author : Dolly Parton & James Patterson
Narrator : Full cast including Dolly Parton
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 17 minutes
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Penguin Audio
Release Date : March 7, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Singing for escape
Secrets and lies
Full cast audio

Run, Rose, Run was incredibly easy to listen to with a full cast dramatisation that really floated my boat and brought the different characters alive. You even get some Dolly Parton as Ruthanna, the MC’s mentor. Annie-Lee, the main character was a young woman, clearly on the run, definitely on hard times, living rough but with the voice and talent that made her exceptional.

This Nashville-centric story reminded me completely of the TV series of the same name in terms of vibe, but not necessarily story-wise. While this wasn’t a unique story, it had such a great suspense plot with a bit of thiller towards the end. I completely bought into the ups and downs of Annie-Lee’s determined trip to the stage and writing her own music.

The cast of characters around Annie-Lee were brilliant. I loved Ethan, such a humble and in the background kind of guy, but he was instrumental to Annie-Lee’s story. Equally, Ruthanna was such a colourful ‘Dolly’ kind of character, she was hard not to love.

If you’re looking for an all-absorbing listen, then Run, Rose, Run has all the ingredients for a great contemporary fiction listen, with comforting predictability, a solid plot and fantastic all cast narration.

Thank you to Penguin Audio for the ALC.

THE GOLDEN COUPLE by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen 🎧

If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal–she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault–and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple–until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.


Title : The Golden Couple
Author : Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Narrator : Karissa Vacker & Marin Ireland
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 30 minutes
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : March 8, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines
Couple non-goals
A wild therapist
Secrets & lies

The Golden Couple had me hooked from the first five minutes of listening. A couple with a marriage on the sudden rocks, side characters with dubious and tenuous connections and a therapist with a revoked license was quite frankly, everything I wanted. These characters were incredibly interesting even though each one felt some degree of shady.

I always felt some kind of trustful connection to Marissa despite her duplicity and bad decisions. I trusted Matthew and I didn’t trust Skip. I loved Avery, her weird way of working, her intrusions. Whilst I wouldn’t want to be on the end of this in real life, it made for a fantastic storyline.

How everything unravelled in the end was excellent, I was so off the mark, which is the best reading experience for this kind of suspenseful read. I enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t full of tension listening until the end scenes. It was more written in the style of Big Little Lies.

The audio had dual narration and dual pov, from the perspectives of Marissa and Avery which simply told this story to its strengths. The narration was excellent.

Thank you to LibroFM and Macmillan Audio for the early review copy.

RECKLESS GIRLS by Rachel Hawkins

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.


Title : Reckless Girls
Author : Rachel Hawkins
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : mystery / thriller
Publisher : St. Martin’s Press
Release Date : January 4, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

So, while this isn’t getting a rave review or rating, I will say that I found it hard to pull myself away from this and also really liked how the story was told and also unfolded. Will I remember it in a few weeks or, even, months? I don’t know. It definitely has unique elements that will stand out but the details? Hard to say.

If you like island settings, or boats, or isolated anything and anywhere, you will absolutely be into this one. The setting was definitely a stand out. The characters.. well, they had their moments.

While we do get some backstory, and motivations, for our cast of characters, they didn’t get much more than surface level. Likely because we didn’t need anything more from them as they served their purpose; particularly once said purposes were revealed. This could likely be equated to an action flick where the effects dazzle and distract from anything else. And that’s totally fine, a-okay, I love to consume that kind of content. And I enjoyed consuming this, too.

Probably the only thing I actually disliked (beyond a certain bit of main character hypocrisy that made me grind my teeth) was the final chapter. I was totally fine with how things wrapped with the conflict but that final tease? Eh, left me wanting.

While I’ve enjoyed, though not loved, this author’s recent forays into adult titles and will continue to pick her up. I continue to hesitate about recommending said titles, however, but I’ll say that if this sounds like your thing.. it might be your thing.

REAL EASY by Marie Rutkoski

Three Women meets Tana French in a compulsive, unflinching and unexpectedly hopeful thriller set in a midwestern strip club.

It’s 1999, and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club.

She’s not used to taking anyone under her wing – after all, between her disapproving boyfriend and his daughter, who may as well be her own child, she has enough to worry about. But when Samantha overrides her better judgment to drive a new dancer home, they are run off the road. The police arrive at the scene of the accident – but find only one body.

Georgia, another dancer, is drawn into the investigation as she tries to assist Holly, a detective with a complicated story of her own. As the point of view shifts from police officers and detectives to club patrons, the women circle around a list of suspects, all the while grappling with their own understanding of loss and love.

As they get closer to the truth they must each confront a fundamental question:

How do women live their lives knowing that men can hurt them?


Title : Real Easy
Author : Marie Rutkoski
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Tinder Press
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★


Micky’s 2 star review

Headlines:
Plot potential
Choppy writing
Many, many POVs

This is a hard review for me to write as I love MR’s books in the fantasy worlds she’s written but I didn’t love this despite wanting to. The stripper club world of Real Easy was engaging, interesting and fascinating, all the more for being set in the late 1990s.

This ‘sisterhood’ of dancers behind the scenes was full of connections, jealousy, support and rivalry. I connected as reader with Samantha but ultimately that was a mistake. The other characters in this story were tolerable but there were not any that I could connect with. Once the book hit 30%, the POVs exploded and it made for difficult reading. Adding to that, the choppy moves from one POV to another, sometimes after a page or two were jolting. This was a book written with very descriptive detail.

Plot wise, I was on board for the first quarter but I stayed around for completion. I didn’t enjoy the plot and I ultimately found it a dissatisfying story.

From a social commentary perspective of the time, the seedy world that was portrayed, this book had fascinating aspects but ultimately the execution of the story and the POVs didn’t work for me.

There are lots of content warnings for this book, so please DM me if you want to know more.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an early copy of this book.

ONE STEP TOO FAR by Lisa Gardner

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a thrilling new novel that sends Frankie Elkin into the woods in search of a lost man–and the shocking truth about why he went missing in the first place.

Frankie Elkin, who readers first met in Before She Disappeared, learns of a young man who has gone missing in a national forest. Law enforcement has abandoned the search, but a crew of people led by the young man’s father are still looking. Sensing a father’s desperation, Frankie agrees to help–but soon sees that a missing person isn’t all that’s wrong here. And when more people start to vanish, Frankie realizes she’s up against something very dark–and she’s running out of time.


Title : One Step Too Far
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Frankie Elkin (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : crime/mystery
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

When I started this follow-up instalment in Gardner’s new series, featuring something of a lone-wolf cold case investigator (though not a professional one, just a concerned and capable citizen), I did not expect to cry as much as I did. But maybe that’s just me being a softie as always.

Now, the emergency whistle.”
I have a whistle! I carry it around tough neighbourhoods all the time.”
Your idea of self-defence in an urban environment is a whistle? Are you trying to die?

This particular case that Frankie stumbles her way into is so very different from the first we experience through her. Gone are the mean streets of Boston; say hello to the wilds and dangers of Wyoming. She hears about the fifth year anniversary — and final hail mary search — of a missing man who went camping with his groomsmen for their bachelor party and later disappeared. She manages to negotiate her way into the hiking expedition and from then on it’s exhaustion, sweat, secrets revealed, and everything going wrong.

I hate pity.”
Then stop being so pathetic.”
I hope Bigfoot kicks your sorry ass.
Wouldn’t that be something? Please take video.”

As I feel is often the case with Gardner mysteries, I did not see the reveal for this one coming. I had suspected something very different and was way off base. But this wasn’t one of those twists that come totally out of left field, either. So I loved that.

I thought you mountain-guru types were supposed to be able to sniff the dirt, lick a pine cone, then state unequivocally who came here at what date and time, not to mention their favourite food and astrological sign.
I know you’re a Virgo, does that help?
How do you know that?
Because you’re a pain in my ass.

I also loved all the new characters we were introduced to. Which is probably why I cried so much. Plus there’s a dog! But in addition to the new faces, I still really liked Frankie — or rather, maybe stated to like her more, as I don’t know if I appreciated her in book one the way I did in this one. Her internal monologue is a little repetitive when she gets going and thinking about her past, her life up until now, but it also makes sense considering her pile of regrets and the fact that she’s a recovering alcoholic. But I like the concept of her, this rogue individual, the fact that she’s lived a hard life and is committed to doing for other people, and also that she’s middle aged and not a spring chicken.

If a dog can do this, I tell myself, than I can, too. Of course, the dog has had way more training.

The whole unravelling of this mystery worked so well; the stakes were high, the players all had varying levels of expertise and capabilities, and again, the reveal? So good. I also really enjoyed how contemplative Frankie was near the end and how this story wrapped. That whole section was lovely.

Why do I do what I do? Because at the end of the day, the people left behind matter as much as the ones who are missing. We mourn the ones we’ve lost, but we agonize over the pieces of ourselves they took with them.

I’m always excited for new releases from this mystery/thriller author and I am happy to say I’ll now be as excited for a new Frankie book as I would be for a new DD book. Give me anything from this author. Looking forward to the next!

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

DEAD LUCKY by Andreina Cordani

Lucky to be rich. Lucky to be famous. Lucky to be alive.

Xav, Ed, Leni, Maxine.

They are the influencers, the lucky ones. Gifted, gilded people who have everything – fame, respect, adulation, more freebies than they can ever unbox. Their lives, loves and feuds are shared with millions of fans on the streaming platform PlayMii, and they are living the dream.

But it’s broken Ed’s heart.

It’s crushing Maxine.

It’s destroying Leni’s friendships.

And it’s gone to Xav’s head.

Then, a masked figure walks into Xav’s apartment and murders him on camera.

As the world reels with shock, Maxine discovers Xav was sitting on a file of secrets about his fellow creators – career-destroying secrets that they’d do anything to keep hidden. And if she doesn’t find the file, she could be next . . .


Title : Dead Lucky
Author : Andreina Cordani
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 323
Genre : Thriller YA/NA
Publisher : Atom Books
Release Date : January 13, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines
Egos
Shocks from start to finish
What is filmed lives forever
Behind the scenes of influencers

Dead Lucky started with a big boom that basically sealed my allegiance from the get go. My reading experience was that I couldn’t put this down and I loved the wild ride.

This story is centred around a group of ex-high school friends who started a dare/stunt channel on the popular PlayMii site that went viral. This rocketed these kids to fame and they all went their seperate influencer way. This lifestyle, the individual personalities of the influencers and their insipid and occasional genuine ways were addictive reading. From Xav to Maxine, this was a hold your breath while judging read.

Most of the story was told from Maxine’s pov. She was heralded the dumb influencer but she was more mature and insightful that most of them; I enjoyed her character growth. As to the who-dunnit, that consumed the book…and me. I didn’t figure it out until late on and my initial guesses were off base.

This YA/NA thriller is well written, it doesn’t poke too much at the concept of influencers but it does expose some elements that we all wonder at. What it does do, is it brings the real person behind the influencer to the fore, what’s behind the camera, the campaigns, the videos. There’s much to unpick here about this element of contemporary society if that’s your thing.

I highly recommend this thriller, I enjoyed it front to back.

Thank you to Atom Books for the early review copy.

THE MAID by Nita Prose

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.


Title : The Maid
Author : Nita Prose
Format : ARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : contemporary mystery / thriller
Publisher : Ballantine Books
Release Date : January 4, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think readers are going to be a bit split on The Maid. For die-hard crime/mystery enthusiasts this might be a bit of a letdown because when it comes down to it.. this is very simplistic. And a bit slow. But it’s both of those things because of our perspective and narrator.

Molly Gray is different. It’s never stated outright but I would maybe judge she’s somewhere on the spectrum? She’s needed her grandmother to guide her through many exchanges or situations throughout her life and now, with her grandmother recently dead, she’s a bit at loose ends. Which makes the fact that she gets caught up in murder rather poor timing, what with the fact that no one has her best interests in mind and she’s seemingly friendless.

What was most interesting, besides Molly herself, was how what we thought to be true of some of the people and dynamics around her was decidedly the opposite. As a reader, some moments were painful, others were just sad, but the way it was done through the use of only one POV was really great. I won’t say more because I enjoyed the reveal but maybe everything I’ve said up until now will give you an idea.

I don’t know if I would classify this as a cozy mystery but it might be somewhere in the same realm. Molly herself inspires both some heartbreak and some warm and fuzzies and there does come to be something of an ensemble in the end and that, too, was warm and fuzzy inducing.

Everything unique about this story was a definite highlight, and the writing was easy to churn through, but for all the unique elements I don’t think this will be particularly memorable. I would pick up the author again, though; and despite the lower rating than I expected to dole out, if this kind of vibe seems like your thing, I would encourage you to pick it up.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

AS GOOD AS DEAD by Holly Jackson

The highly-anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again…

Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?

Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars.

Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. . . 


Title : As Good As Dead
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 464
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 28, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

If not for the fact that I feel obligated to review this, as the first two books are on the blog, I would probably take the coward’s way out and just not review; because I have no idea how to process my feelings about this. Or, rather, I am still processing them.

In hindsight all the extremes we visit in this finale do make sense. The argument could definitely be made that it was all building to this. But I wish we could’ve had the same result via a different means. I wish we hadn’t needed to see those extremes. It added a whole other thriller-y layer to this series, that’s for sure, but it’s hard to settle with.

It does prove that age old adage true, though. I won’t tell you which one, though; it would be a spoiler.

I’m going to slap this with a three because I think the craft and calculation behind this series, and this finale, is well done. And I would definitely read this author again. Especially if she writes in this genre. But the way this one fell out is just a little too.. well. Too something.

However, if you’re looking for a YA thriller/mystery series that definitely gets darker as the series goes on, with mixed media elements, with strong will-go-to-hell-and-back friendships aka found family presence, I would actually recommend.

WE WERE NEVER HERE by Andrea Bartz

On holiday in Chile with her best friend Kristen, Emily is having the time of her life.

Until one night, she finds their hotel suite covered in blood.

Kristen claims a backpacker attacked her. She shouted, but no-one heard. She struggled, but he was too strong.

She had no option but to kill him.

With no evidence of the assault, Emily must help her hide the body. . .

Back home, Emily tries to forget what happened, but a surprise visit from Kristen forces her to confront the events of that night.

As the walls close in, Emily asks herself: can her closest friend be trusted?


Title : We Were Never Here
Author : Andrea Bartz
Format : eARC
Page Count : 306
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Penguin
Release Date : August 3, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Sucked in
Spat out
Head spinning

That’s pretty much me on the whole reading experience of this book and on finishing. What did I read? What were those characters?

This story of two besties having holidays off the beaten track togther across the years focused in particular on one holiday to Cambodia and one to Chile. Not far into the book, I just knew there was something fishy about one of these besties but I had no idea how this was going to escalate.

This read felt like a combination of Single White Female (look it up if you’re unfamiliar) and Shallow Grave. On the one hand I was rooting for the more innocent of the pair and on the other hand, I was conflicted at her implicitness in the events that played out.

It all got a lot more sinister as it culminated.

Did I enjoy it? I guess in some ways yes, but it was angsty, uncomfortable reading. That said, I could not look away or put the book down. It was a wild trip and an all consuming read.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.

THE GIRLS I’VE BEEN by Tess Sharpe

A slick, twisty YA page-turner about the daughter of a con artist who is taken hostage in a bank heist.

Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.

For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:

#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.

#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:

#3: Right after they enter bank, two guys start robbing it.

The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage…


Title : The Girls I’ve Been
Author : Tess Sharpe
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA contemporary thriller
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : January 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was.. wow.

I don’t know what I expected when I picked this up (#NoBlurbers) but this was an off the cuff recommendation from a friend of mine (hi Sam!) and I saw my library had it so thought, hey, why not. And wow.

[..] she kissed me like I was prickly, like I was already understood, like I was worth it.

I really don’t even know where to begin. Within these pages you’ll find con artists, queer humans, trauma, clever girls, one of the absolute best representations of found family I’ve ever read, sharp edges, devoted sisters, dangerous situations, and the absolute will to survive.

I hate the whole “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” saying. It’s bullshit. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you is worse. Sometimes what kills you is preferable. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you messes you up so bad it’s always a fight to make it through what you’re left with.

Some books inspire paragraphs upon paragraphs of words and sometimes you’re just just staring at a blinking cursor. This is obviously the latter.

Netflix has apparently snatched this up to be adapted, with Millie Bobby Brown to star, and that is incredibly exciting. If they capture even half the magic of Sharpe’s words, pacing, and general vibe, it’ll be amazing. More amazing? It might get more people wanting to read the source material. Which you absolutely should. And, yes, I will be chewing through the author’s backlist between now and then.

Highly recommend.