Mini Reviews – December 2022 Part Two

To say the beginning of the year is always hectic would be an understatement. Work gets incredibly busy with New Year’s resolutions in full swing and I’m not happy about how I’ve been neglecting this space, but I have a lot of stuff scheduled and ready to share! Lots of reviews to catch up on and some blog tours coming in the next week as well.

I’m hoping to get my full reviews back up and running for all my posts this year. The ones for these mini reviews are the quick blurbs I do in my Instagram captions (character limits, etc). The goal is all January reviews this month be longer – even if they’re in a combination post like this one.

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

Originally I had held off on posting these reviews because they are under Harper Collins Publishing, however, they are distributed by Harlequin Books, and despite being owned by HC they are NOT part of the strike. I didn’t want to post reviews for imprints that would ultimately hurt the HC Union strike – but these imprints have been confirmed to not be crossing the picket line.

THE POISON SEASON – Mara Rutherford (Released December 6th, 2022 – Thanks to Inkyard Press for the gifted copy)

Outsiders are always given a choice: the Forest or the lake. Either way, they’re never heard from again.

Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. But as much as Leelo cares for her community, she struggles to accept that her younger brother will be exiled by his next birthday, unless he gains the magic of enchanted song so vital to Endla.

When Leelo sees a young outsider on the verge of drowning in the lake, she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do. But in a moment that will change everything, Leelo betrays her family, her best friend, and Endla by making an unthinkable choice.

Discovery could lead to devastating consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren, but as they grow closer, Leelo realizes that not all danger comes from beyond the lake—and they can only survive if Leelo is willing to question the very fabric of her society, her people, and herself.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars – I should know by now that I have to mix in more of these fantasy books. The world building alone is always so immersive and the story pulls you in from the start. The characters (loved Leelo so much) came to life and I actually didn’t mind the romance aspect – I think there was a good balance. There were some dark moments, mystery, plenty to keep you fully invested.The atmosphere was eerie and I didn’t want to stop reading.

SECLUDED CABIN SLEEPS SIX – Lisa Unger (Released November 8th, 2022 – Thanks to Park Row Books for the gifted copy)

Three couples rent a luxury cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway to die for in this chilling locked-room thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

What could be more restful, more restorative, than a weekend getaway with family and friends? An isolated luxury cabin in the woods, complete with spectacular views, a hot tub and a personal chef. Hannah’s loving and generous tech-mogul brother found the listing online. The reviews are stellar. It’s his birthday gift to Hannah and includes their spouses and another couple. The six friends need this trip with good food, good company and lots of R & R, far from the chatter and pressures of modern life.

But the dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare. A deadly storm is brewing. The rental host seems just a little too present. The personal chef reveals that their beautiful house has a spine-tingling history. And the friends have their own complicated past, with secrets that run blood deep. How well does Hannah know her brother, her own husband? Can she trust her best friend? And who is the new boyfriend, crashing their party? Meanwhile, someone is determined to ruin the weekend, looking to exact a payback for deeds long buried. Who is the stranger among them?

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars – I need more locked room books in my TBR. I can’t believe how much faster they seem to go by! Also, a cabin isolated in the woods is always relatable for this girl. There were a lot of POVs, which got confusing at first, but otherwise I really enjoyed it! I think keeping everyone straight was the only reason that I took off a little on the rating. I understand why there were so many, because everyone is stuck in this same location and you have to get the full story of who is thinking what, etc. Sometimes it gets to be a big cast and some people get lost or blend together. Otherwise I had no issues with it!

A SMALL AFFAIR – Flora Collins (Released December 27th, 2022 – Thanks to MIRA Books for the gifted copy)

A young woman’s life is torn apart when her wealthy ex-lover is found dead—along with his wife.

Vera is ruthlessly ambitious, beautiful, and knows how to get exactly what she wants—no matter who stands in the way. When she meets a wealthy older man on an exclusive dating app, she thinks nothing of the wife he tells her he’s separated from. But days later, when the man and his wife are found dead in their home, Vera is immediately blamed for their deaths and branded as good as a murderer.

A year later, she emerges from a cocoon of self-pity and tries to reenter the world, but the specter of scandal still clings to her. Then she’s invited to a memorial for the wife of her former lover. As she learns more about the family, and about the couple and their friends, she begins to suspect there was more to the story than an affair gone wrong. In a quest for redemption, Vera uncovers layers of lies and close-kept secrets held by an inner circle of filthy rich tech millionaires who will go to any lengths to protect their reputations.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars – I liked this one more than I did her last book, NANNY DEAREST, and I haven’t been the biggest fan of slow burn books lately. This was surprisingly addictive and I loved the tension and rage in our main character. What didn’t work for me in NANNY DEAREST wasn’t at all present in this new book of Collins’s and I felt significantly more invested in this story. Could very well be the mood I was in when I read her previous book, but if you want a solid slower building suspense, then this is the one for you.

THE PERSONAL ASSISTANT – Kimberly Belle (Released November 29th, 2022 – Thanks to Park Row Books for the gifted copy)

USA TODAY bestselling author Kimberly Belle returns with a deeply addictive thriller exploring the dark side of the digital world when a mommy-blogger’s assistant goes missing.

When Alex first began posting unscripted family moments and motivational messages online, she had no intention of becoming an influencer. Overnight it seemed she’d amassed a huge following, and her hobby became a full-time job—one that was impossible to manage without her sharp-as-a-tack personal assistant, AC.

But all the good-will of her followers turns toxic when one controversial post goes viral in the worst possible way. Alex reaches out to AC for damage control, but her assistant has gone silent. This young woman Alex trusted with all her secrets, who had access to her personal information and front row seats to the pressure points in her marriage and family life, is now missing and the police are looking to Alex and her husband for answers. As Alex digs into AC’s identity – and a woman is found murdered – she’ll find the greatest threat isn’t online, but in her own living room.

Written in alternating perspectives between Alex, her husband, and the mysterious AC, this juicy cat and mouse story will keep you guessing till the very end.

My Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars – I always love Belle’s books and they’re guaranteed to be entertaining! There were multiple POVs and despite figuring it out early on, there were still some good twists. There was just something that didn’t 100% work for me, which is why the rating is down from a solid four stars. I think some parts felt predictable, despite there being good twists. I think because this isn’t anything entirely new for the genre it didn’t completely standout, but still worth the read!


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