Mini Reviews Part Two – April 2022

I somehow knew this was how the month was going to end with reviews. April flew by and sometimes you just need a break from getting everything done instantly. Still reading a bunch but needed a mental break from typing up the reviews the second I finished.

Thanks to the publishers for the gifted copies in exchange for my honest reviews

Mini Reviews – April 2022:

NOBODY BUT US – Laure Van Rensburg (Released April 12th, 2022 – Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Novel Suspects for the gifted copy)

In this locked room, high‑concept thriller that’s part The Guest List, part The Girl Before, a couple’s romantic weekend‑getaway is not what it seems.

When Ellie and her boyfriend Steven take their first trip together, what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbors secrets—and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Ellie is an NYU grad student, timid but fiercely intelligent, and eager for the perfect weekend away with her boyfriend. Steven is a wealthy and privileged teacher at an elite Manhattan school. His and Ellie’s relationship has stirred up envy among the teachers in his academic circle.

When they head out for their romantic break, they’re both excited to get to know each other better away from prying eyes. But when a snowstorm strands them in the house, they begin to realize that neither of them is quite who they say they are—and that one of them won’t escape the weekend alive.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

I’ll always love this kind of setting for a thriller – there’s something so isolating about the cold winter weather. You don’t exactly want to go outside in those kinds of conditions and it keeps you trapped inside. NOBODY BUT US is a locked-room mystery with a couple trying to have a romantic weekend getaway. Not only is the setting incredible, Chesapeake Bay, but the house they become stranded in is equally mesmerizing and unsettling. Not going to lie, I did not like either of our main characters, and based on other reviews, I’m not alone here. Overall, a solid read with a few things I didn’t love, but I would pick up more from Van Rensburg in the future.

I’LL BE YOU – Janelle Brown (Released April 26th, 2022 – Thanks to Random House for the gifted copy)

Two identical twin sisters and former child actors have grown apart—until one disappears, and the other is forced to confront the secrets they’ve kept from each other in this twisty suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Things.

“You be me, and I’ll be you,” I whispered.

As children, Sam and Elli were two halves of a perfect whole: gorgeous identical twins whose parents sometimes couldn’t even tell them apart. They fell asleep to the sound of each other’s breath at night, holding hands in the dark. And once Hollywood discovered them, they became B-list child TV stars, often inhabiting the same role.

But as adults, their lives have splintered. After leaving acting, Elli reinvented herself as the perfect homemaker: married to a real estate lawyer, living in a house just blocks from the beach. Meanwhile, Sam has never recovered from her failed Hollywood career, or from her addiction to the pills and booze that have propped her up for the last fifteen years.

Sam hasn’t spoken to her sister since her destructive behavior finally drove a wedge between them. So when her father calls out of the blue, Sam is shocked to learn that Elli’s life has been in turmoil: her husband moved out, and Elli just adopted a two-year-old girl. Now she’s stopped answering her phone and checked in to a mysterious spa in Ojai. Is her sister just decompressing, or is she in trouble? Could she have possibly joined a cult? As Sam works to connect the dots left by Elli’s baffling disappearance, she realizes that the bond between her and her sister is more complicated than she ever knew.

I’ll Be You shows Janelle Brown at the top of her game: a story packed with surprising revelations and sharp insights about the choices that define our families and our lives—and could just as easily destroy them.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

I’ll say right off the bat, I love Janelle Brown and her books, but I think it’s best going into this one knowing it isn’t quite a thriller but more of a suspense novel. Just so pacing expectations are set accordingly – I know that can make or break a book for me at times. I’LL BE YOU is about identical twin girls that were “discovered” at a young age and landed acting roles and became rather successful, but fame isn’t what both girls necessarily wanted or enjoyed. Now, all grown-up and estranged, Sam is shocked to hear that her sister, Elli’s, seemingly perfect life has suddenly fallen apart. Normally I love cult elements, but there were some parts that felt like they dragged on, but that could just be me. Overall, another great book from Brown and I’ll continue to pick up whatever she releases!

THE CHILDREN ON THE HILL – Jennifer McMahon (Released April 26th, 2022 – Thanks to Scout Press for the gifted copy)

A genre-defying new novel, inspired by Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, which brilliantly explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the evils perpetrated by the monsters among us.

1978: at her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she’s home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.

Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.

Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.

2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.

The Children on the Hill takes us on a breathless journey to face the primal fears that lurk within us all.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

This was super creepy and atmospheric and everything I needed from this book. Jennifer McMahon rarely disappoints and I’m happy to report that her newest, THE CHILDREN ON THE HILL, is one of my favorites by her! I saw another reviewer compare this to AHS Asylum and I couldn’t agree more. The atmosphere alone creeps in on you and everything that follows is enticingly haunting and I couldn’t get enough of it. If you love the author already, this is a must-read, if you haven’t read McMahon yet and want to, this is also a must-read!

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