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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Night Swim By Megan Goldin Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Night Swim By Megan Goldin Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today we will be discussing a true crime thriller called The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – without giving any spoilers away, of course. It took me a while to get started on reading this book because these past few weeks have been super busy for yours truly. However, once I finally cracked it open I devoured it in less than one week and it was excellent. In fact, it has easily been one of the best books that I’ve read in a good long while.

Before proceeding with the review of The Night Swim, I will be placing a trigger warning on this book as the true crime aspects include rape and murder. Here we go:

Rachel Krall is the creator of the hugely popular true crime podcast called Guilty or Not Guilty. Love her or hate her, she is a household name who reached overnight celebrity status when she uncovered new information that lead to a man falsely convicted of murder to get out of jail in one of her seasons. Between investigating, writing, and recording for her podcast, Rachel is an extremely busy woman and is in crunch mode because the highly anticipated third season of Guilty or Not Guilty is about to begin.

While previous seasons of her podcast reviewed crimes and trials that had already happened, season three will be completely different as Rachel will be reporting in real time at the trial of Scott Blair – a teenage swimming champion accused of rape. Rachel travels to the sleepy, small town called Neapolis in coastal North Carolina, which is already incredibly divided about the case before the trial has even began.

Before reaching town, Rachel stops at a roadside diner for some caffeine and returns to her car to find a letter tucked under her windshield. Despite Rachel’s celebrity status, she has maintained anonymity and her fans don’t know what she looks like, making this delivery alarming. Even more shocking, however, are the contents of the letter from a fan named Hannah who grew up in Neapolis.

Hannah explains that she believes her older sister, Jenny, was murdered twenty-five years ago and wants Rachel’s help to uncover the truth. As previously mentioned, Rachel is a busy woman and her time in Neapolis is spent between investigating a current rape trial and a cold case from a quarter of a century ago. Will her skill and instinct lead her to new information to give closure to Hannah? What will be the outcome of season three of Guilty or Not Guilty? Read The Night Swim to find out!

Despite downright disturbing subject matter, The Night Swim was a captivating read and it really felt like I was investigating the cases right along with Rachel. The book went back and forth each chapter between Rachel’s detective work, letters from Hannah, transcripts from her podcast, and a play by play of the rape trial. It made The Night Swim completely unputdownable because it felt like I was Rachel’s partner and I was urgent for more information to try and solve the cases. While I didn’t get the grand reveal right, I was damn close and was pleased with how much I was able to piece together.

What I enjoyed the most about The Night Swim was how seamlessly it weaved together the past and present cases that Rachel was investigating. In Neapolis, everyone knows everyone and having information from twenty-five years past about current characters provided insight that you rarely get in psychological thrillers. And, of course, Rachel was an amazing heroine who you will find yourself rooting for the entire book.

If the subject matter of The Night Swim isn’t triggering for you, then I cannot recommend this book enough. To further confirm this, I will be awarding it with the prestigious ten out of ten star rating. I have never read a book like this before and I honestly wouldn’t mind reading it again. Megan Goldin is definitely an author to look out for!

What are you reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: Every Vow You Break By Peter Swanson Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Every Vow You Break By Peter Swanson Edition

Hi everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by Peter Swanson called Every Vow You Break – without giving any spoilers away, of course. It took me a while to finish this book as I have been pretty busy lately but I really enjoyed it and I did not see the grand reveal coming at all. Every Vow You Break was suspenseful and downright scary at times and I am looking forward to reading more from Peter Swanson. Now, let’s get to it:

After several failed relationships, Abigail has seemingly hit the jackpot with Bruce. He is kind, handsome, and filthy rich. However, despite all of the good times that they have shared, Abigail often feels the overwhelming sensation that she is marrying a complete stranger. During her bachelorette party at a vineyard, Abigail’s reservations skyrocket while she chats with a handsome man on the patio and ends up having a one night stand days before her wedding.

What could possibly be worse than that? Literally everything that follows. Despite the infidelity, Abigail gets married to Bruce anyways and plans on taking her secret to the grave. Unfortunately for her, that is going to be a lot easier said than done when the man she cheated on Bruce with ends up at the exclusive resort that they are honeymooning at called Camp Passamaquoddy or the “Quoddy” for short.

The Quoddy is located on Heart Pond Island and is designed for people who work with technology to take a break from the screens and enjoy nature. There is no cell phone reception or internet, rather, lots of alcohol, lush furnishings, and gourmet meals. And, oh yeah, Bruce just happens to be a partial owner. Abigail can deal with the lack of communication to the outside world but what really creeps her out is the fact that she is the only other woman staying at the resort. Needless to say, Bruce’s choice for the honeymoon wasn’t exactly what she expected but she tries to make the best of it.

The Quoddy is, essentially, a boy’s club so of course Abigail seeks out the company of the woman from the other couple honeymooning on the island named Jill. Over drinks, Jill tells Abigail that her ex-fiance is on the island as well and shakes it off as a strange coincidence. But is it really? Because the man who Abigail had an affair with is on the island too.

Abigail decides to tell her new friend her story the following day for a lunch date but Jill never shows up. She does see Jill later that night, however, running frenzied through the woods and bleeding. What is going on at the Quoddy? And is Abigail next? Read Every Vow You Break to find out!

Despite it taking me longer than usual to finish this book, I was kind of glad to stretch it out because it was that good. I, truly, had no idea what was going to happen with the turn of each page and felt disappointed every time I had to wrap up my reading sesh. Every Vow You Break is basically everyone’s nightmare and the eerie Quoddy resort provided the perfect backdrop for that awful moment when you realize the person you thought you loved is not who they said they were at all.

I cannot give any hints about the grand reveal because it would completely ruin it. Just know, that my stomach dropped when I read it and that doesn’t happen very often. The situation also felt even more desperate because I really liked Abigail. I thought she was such a strong, resourceful heroine and, like me, you will find yourself rooting for her the entire time.

I highly recommend Every Vow You Break and, although it is not quite a ten star rank book to me, it comes damn close. I am going to reward it with eight out of ten stars for its gripping plot, jaw dropping grand reveal, and characters that draw you in. Honestly, my only regret is that it wasn’t longer and I would have really liked to have read more about the aftermath of the honeymoon from hell.

What are you currently reading? Which book should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Midnight Library By Matt Haig Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Midnight Library By Matt Haig Edition

Hi everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, without giving any spoilers away, we are going to be talking about the super popular The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A month or so ago, I felt like I was constantly getting recommendations to read this book and, obviously, I caved since we are discussing it now! Multiple people told me it was “one of the best books” they have ever read and I was definitely interested in seeing if it lived up to the hype.

While I can certainly understand why people really enjoyed this book, I didn’t think it was the best thing I have read by any means. I was into it for the first two hundred pages or so but it dragged out quite a bit and I was ready for it to be over. Let’s discuss further but before doing so I will put a trigger warning in place as The Midnight Library deals with suicide.

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Nora has had a bad day and, according to her, an all around bad life filled with regrets and what ifs. She had the potential to be an Olympic athlete or a rock star but now she lives alone in a shabby apartment and just got fired from her job at a music shop. Broken family relationships and friendships leave her feeling even more alone and her cat died. Her life feels unaccomplished and meaningless and she wants it to end. So she takes an overdose.

But, just when Nora thinks her life is over, she wakes up in a library that is filled with an infinite number of books and is overseen by the librarian at Nora’s high school twenty years ago, Mrs. Elm. This place is called The Midnight Library and it is where people who are hovering between life and death might find themselves. It looks different to everyone but the idea is the same: You can try out any kind of life you would like and if you find one that makes you especially happy, you can stay there.

Before Nora gets to take a different life for a test spin, she must face her own personal Book Of Regrets. As you can guess, its pages are filled with all of the things Nora wanted to do but didn’t. By confronting these regrets, she is able to narrow down the lives she might like to try, like if she really did become an Olympian or a glaciologist. However, despite all of these different lives, Nora always ends up back in the library because something about it didn’t make her completely happy.

Nora can’t stay in The Midnight Library forever and she is quickly running out of time but none of the lives have fully restored her will to live. She is in a place where people are either born or die so what will she end up choosing? Read The Midnight Library to find out!

Now, let me start off by saying that I absolutely LOVED the idea of The Midnight Library and the possibility to live a multitude of different choices, careers, and lifestyles all around the world. I also deeply appreciated the resounding theme of the book that true happiness can be found within yourself and your perspective. Happiness doesn’t come from what you did or failed to do but how you are best living in this one moment because each one opens up a new universe. Like Nora, I struggle with mental health issues and and this was a powerful and inspiring message to me.

Overall, I liked The Midnight Library a lot but it lost a lot of its initial momentum at the halfway mark. The first few times Nora was transported to a new life it was exciting but then there was another, and another, and another… And it just felt like it was never going to end. There was so much build up for an ending that was very easy to be predicted and all of the extra life hopping and parallel universe theories seemed unnecessary and, frankly, it got to be a little boring.

Despite being too drawn out for my taste, this book kind of had a Mitch Albom The Five People You Meet In Heaven vibe and it was a good read. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve read recently but it wasn’t the worst, either. I am going to rate it with a seven out of ten stars. I enjoyed the story line and the hopeful message. It is also a great reminder to always be kind because you never know what someone is going through. I recommend giving it a read!

What are you currently reading? What did you think about The Midnight Library? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Authenticity Project By Clare Pooley Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Authenticity Project By Clare Pooley Edition

Hello and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing a charming feel good book by Clare Pooley called The Authenticity Project. Typically, I tend to shy away from “feel good” books because I like the sense of adventure that comes with a thriller and I enjoy being shocked as well as trying to guess the grand reveal. However, after reading my last book club choice of The Wrong Family, I definitely needed a palette cleanser!

I really did love the last feel good book that I read called Miss Benson’s Beetle and wanted another story about ordinary people. From the pile of books that my mom got me from the library (Angel!), The Authenticity Project caught my eye. Just the title alone intrigued me and I wanted to know more. In its brief synopsis on the jacket, I learned that The Authenticity Project is a notebook that encourages people to share their truth honestly in its pages if they happen to find it.

This nice, light story line based around a simple but exciting concept sounded like just what I needed and I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did! The Authenticity Project was a delightful read so let’s get to it:

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Julian is a former famed artist who was very prominent in the social scene. Now, as a seventy-nine year old widower, he lives the life of a recluse and is incredibly lonely. Starved for connection, he decides to start The Authenticity Project in which he shares his story and shortcomings and encourages everyone who comes across it to do the same, pass it on, and live a more honest life. Julian thinks that the stories that each page holds has the potential to help someone but, little does he know, his project is about to turn his own world upside down.

The Authenticity Project ends up being found by Monica, an uptight cafe owner who yearns for the picture perfect life of marriage and a baby. After reading Julian’s story, she feels inclined to help him break free from his lonely life and begins advertising for someone to teach a weekly art class at her cafe with Julian in mind. To her own surprise, Monica wrote frankly about herself in the book too and passed it on to be found by the next person.

The next person? Hazard. The person after? Riley. Then Alice. And so on and so forth until The Authenticity Project’s “magic” creates a group of complete strangers who come together thanks to the stories on the pages with Julian right in the middle. The book worked in favor for Julian but how are the lives of the other characters in this interweaving tale benefiting from it? Read The Authenticity Project and find out!

As you all know, I love a book with multiple narrators and The Authenticity Project has six so, obviously, I was in heaven. I was excited to see how each character developed once they found the notebook and how they would show up among the existing characters. Despite having six narrators, The Authenticity Project balanced all of them beautifully and I felt a connection in some way to each of them. I also never felt like I was lacking in information about any of them because their highly personal notebook entry is shared when the character is introduced.

The idea of six lives melding together because of something as simple as writing in a notebook is such a lovely one and it was hard to read The Authenticity Project without smiling. I am also sure that many of you will be just as obsessed with the sassy high fashion senior citizen, Julian, as I was. He was fabulous and I aspire to be just as fierce as him when I’m almost eighty. 🙂

ANYWHO, my only qualm with this book is that it was a bit too obvious for my taste. It, honestly, felt like a more modern and grown up Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants. Sorry lol, I’ve been waiting this entire post to say that!! But there is some truth to that. Not only could you see each new development happen from a mile away but some of the character choices were a bit tired. See: Influencer whose life isn’t as perfect as she posts online as your starring example!

This seems like harsh criticism for a book that I just said was a delight but it really was and I enjoyed reading it a lot. It just had some of the classic feel good flaws and I wish that there was a little more depth to it. Overall, I am going to rate The Authenticity Project with a 6.25 out of ten stars. It was the perfect palette cleanser after just finishing a really intense book and if you are in that situation too, then I highly recommend it. However, if you’re looking for a more groundbreaking feel good read, then you could definitely take or leave this one.

What was the last book you read? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wrong Family By Tarryn Fisher Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wrong Family By Tarryn Fisher Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing the latest psychological thriller by Tarryn Fisher called The Wrong Family. Without giving any spoilers away, of course! I absolutely devoured this book in a matter of days and my only qualm with The Wrong Family is that it wasn’t longer because three hundred pages just wasn’t enough!

Now, this book is rather difficult to describe without giving a major part of one of the reveals away. I also want to give The Wrong Family a trigger warning as it deals with a lot of disturbing subject matter. Let’s get to it:

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Winnie and Nigel Crouch are the doting parents to thirteen year old Samuel. They live in Winnie’s dream house in a posh neighborhood in Seattle, Washington and, from the outside, their lives are picture perfect. But, we all know that in a psychological thriller, that is rarely the case as Winnie and Nigel have been harboring an extremely dark secret for the past decade and change.

Juno is an aged and sickly former therapist who has definitely seen better days. Now, out of work Juno spends her time just surviving and playing therapist in her head to complete strangers. She loves secrets and finding out what makes people tick and once she has her sights set on someone, it takes a lot to make her let go.

Winnie has absolutely no clue who Juno is other than seeing her briefly at the local park but Juno sure knows a lot about Winnie. In fact, it’s almost as if Juno is a fly on the wall of the Crouch residence as her knowledge of the family is very intimate. And, with all of the intel that she has gathered on her new “patients”, the Crouch’s lives will never be the same again.

How are these seemingly perfect strangers connected? What have the Crouches been covering up for over ten years of their lives? Read The Wrong Family and find out!

The Wrong Family was a whirlwind of a read and it was so unique in the fact that one of the most major grand reveals I have ever read was disclosed about eighty pages into the book and not at the end. Once you know this HUGE plot twist, The Wrong Family becomes even creepier and it will continue to shock you until the very last page.

This book was so different than any other psychological thriller I’ve read because, at the end of the day, Winnie and Juno (who take turns narrating) never formally meet. This is such an interesting take because most thrillers out there revolve around close friend groups or family problems. Both of these women are not particularly likeable. Actually, none of the people in the book are other than teenage Samuel, yet I couldn’t stop reading The Wrong Family if you paid me.

Tarryn Fisher flipped the psychological thriller game on its head and I am so eager to read more from her. I also feel like I am going to be holding what I read to a much higher standard now because The Wrong Family was excellent and I will be rating it with the prestigious ten out of ten stars. I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it too!

What are you currently reading? What is your favorite psychological thriller? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: Miss Benson’s Beetle By Rachel Joyce Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Miss Benson’s Beetle By Rachel Joyce Edition

Hi everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing the newest book by Rachel Joyce called Miss Benson’s Beetle. I am a huge fan of Rachel Joyce, as she authored one of my favorite books, The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, so I was very excited to read Miss Benson’s Beetle. Like Harold Fry, it was nothing short of delightful and told the tale of an unlikely duo going on a big adventure. So, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:

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Marjory Benson is a homely woman living in 1950s Britain with a large stature, no remaining family, or any meaningful relationships. She is a teacher of domestic sciences and, more often than not, is the subject of cruel jokes from her students. One day, after a particularly nasty cartoon rendition of her was passed throughout her class, she had enough and marched (Rather, limped) right out of the school. It was a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment and she was ready for an adventure.

As a child and young adult, Marjory had a fascination with collecting beetles, which sprang from looking through a book of undiscovered creatures with her father. This book included the Golden Beetle that is supposedly found in New Caledonia and it has never left the back of her mind since. Now unemployed, Marjory decides that this is her time to travel across the world, find the beetle, and name it after her father.

Of course, this will be no easy feat and Marjory decided that she needed an assistant to accompany her on her search. Her interviews with potential candidates left a lot to be desired and, in the end, Marjory was stuck with the last option she wanted to go with – a young, flashy woman by the name of Enid Pretty. Enid is everything that Marjory isn’t. She’s talkative, outgoing, fashion forward, and an instant annoyance to Marjory. Despite their differences, Marjory needs an assistant and Enid joins her on the extensive traveling from Britain all the way to the Pacific island of New Caledonia.

Little does Marjory know, her assistant is bringing a lot of baggage along with her and I’m not talking about the traveling kind. Well, that too, actually, considering Enid brought countless suitcases with her! Enid is a woman on the run and a trip across the world is her perfect getaway. Later, in their journey, Enid is named one of Britain’s Most Wanted Criminals with Marjory wanted for association. Can the women continue to evade the law, find the beetle, and salvage some form of friendship? Read Miss Benson’s Beetle and find out!

It has been a long while since I read a book that I would consider “light” as I am drawn to mysteries and psychological thrillers and Miss Benson’s Beetle was like a breath of fresh air. It was such fun to join the odd couple of Marjory and Enid on their adventure and I felt eager to read it every day. From their travels on boats, trains, and a stolen Jeep to them trekking through the New Caledonia rain forests for an undiscovered beetle, I felt like I was with them every step of the way. I laughed when Enid said something silly, cried for their hardships, and felt my heart pounding every time they came in contact with the police.

I loved this book because, at the end of the day, it was a testament to the power of friendship no matter how unlikely. It also gave Marjory Benson, a woman who spent her life wishing she was invisible, a chance in the spotlight. All she needed was the help of Enid to coax her shine out of her. Watching Marjory transform into a confident woman while Enid matured through Marjory’s guidance was a joy. I was rooting for their success the whole time and I just know that you will too.

Miss Benson’s Beetle was one of the best feel good books I’ve read in years and I can’t recommend it enough. I am going to rate it with the prestigious ten out of ten stars for brilliant characters, a unique story line, and the wonderfully descriptive writing of Rachel Joyce. I enjoyed it so much that I wouldn’t mind reading it again and I literally just finished it!

What are you currently reading? Which book should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Best Of Friends By Lucinda Berry Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Best Of Friends By Lucinda Berry Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! After finishing the extremely wordy and fairly lengthy The Sleeping Nymph, I was ready for something short and sweet and I definitely got that with the two hundred and seventy page The Best Of Friends. While Johnny played his video games, I devoured this book in a handful of days and, although it wasn’t my absolute favorite thing I’ve read, I still enjoyed it and would happily read more by the author, Lucinda Berry. So, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:

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Kendra, Lindsey, and Dani spent their childhood imagining the fairy tale adult life. Great husbands, children who could play together, and their best friendships flourishing into old age. Lucky for them, they all got exactly what they wanted. However, picture perfect families and friendships tend to be anything but that in a psychological thriller and The Best Of Friends is a true testament to that. And, when an alcohol and drug fueled incident between Kendra, Lindsey, and Dani’s teenage sons leaves one of them dead, the other comatose, and the last one too traumatized to speak, their picture perfect world begins to disintegrate around them.

The Best Of Friends is written in alternating chapters between the three mothers who are each handling their grief in their own ways on top of the stress of a police investigation of what happened to their boys. Not to mention that some of their relationships with their husbands are hanging on by a thread. Dark secrets from their past and present comes to life as each mother tries to do what they can to make sense of what they thought was a horrible accident. Or was it murder? Read The Best Of Friends to find out!

I can guarantee you that if you read this book, you will fly through it just as quickly as I did. I love books with alternating narrators and, with each chapter being roughly four pages or less, I would knock out forty to fifty pages in one sitting and not even notice it. In fact, I wish it was longer! The Best Of Friends was a riveting whodoneit and, despite being able to work out some of the plot twists on my own, I still did not see the grand reveal coming.

This story line felt like something out of Law & Order and I was so there for it. I will be the first to admit that The Best Of Friends was not the most well written book – or maybe it just felt that way after the highly detailed Sleeping Nymph that I finished previously. Regardless, it was the palette cleanser I needed and I am going to rate it with: seven out of ten stars for the exciting story line, shocking grand reveal, and the fact that I couldn’t put it down if you paid me. I would definitely recommend The Best Of Friends.

What was the last book that you finished? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Sleeping Nymph By Ilaria Tuti Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Sleeping Nymph By Ilaria Tuti Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, we are going to be discussing the sequel to Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti called The Sleeping Nymph. Ever since finishing Flowers Over The Inferno in August, I was eagerly awaiting to get my hands on the sequel to see what happens next to Italian police superintendent, Teresa Battaglia, and her team. Despite The Sleeping Nymph not being as good as its predecessor, I still enjoyed it well enough so let’s get to the review:

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In Flowers Over The Inferno, we learned that aging Teresa Battaglia has began suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s and the disease has done nothing but progress. Teresa wears a bracelet reminding her of her name, religiously writes notes in her diary so she doesn’t forget, and has a hard time recognizing people as well as coming up with the names of common objects. Somehow, she still manages to get up every day to help crack cases that are twisted, dark, and to some “unsolvable”. And, in the case of The Sleeping Nymph, Teresa is going to need all of her wits about her more so than ever before.

Our story begins with the discovery of a “missing” portrait in an art gallery painted by Alessio Andrian seventy years ago. The painting it called The Sleeping Nymph and it showcases the great beauty of a young woman – enchanting all who merely glimpse at it. Despite the portrait being so beautiful, it holds a dark secret because, upon testing the red paint that was used, we learn that it is actually blood. What’s more, the tests showed traces of cardiac tissue, meaning it came straight from the heart.

Since painting The Sleeping Nymph, Alessio Andrian never spoke a single word again. He is still alive but, clearly, will be of no help to the case so it is up to Teresa and her partner, Massimo Marini, to find out about the origins of the painting on their own. Through their diligent work, they wind up in the Resian Valley where The Sleeping Nymph originated. However, they get a lot more than they bargained for in the Valley when a human heart is found nailed to a tree, thus fast forwarding their case into the present.

Could the killer of the Nymph still be alive and has come back to tie up loose ends? Or is there foul play going on in the Valley? There is even an inkling that these murders might be tied to occult practices. Who murdered The Sleeping Nymph and who is killing now? Read the book to find out!

Now, I didn’t love The Sleeping Nymph but I also didn’t hate it, either. Despite the portrait painted in blood being an “oh my gosh” discovery, it also happened seventy years ago making the immediate sense of urgency you feel about the present day crimes in Flowers Over The Inferno nonexistent. The Sleeping Nymph kind of dragged on while the focus was in the past but promptly picked up about halfway through when they discovered the heart on the tree in modern time.

My other qualm with this book is just how wordy it is. Flowers Over The Inferno was like that too but I suppose I didn’t notice because it was one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. Because The Sleeping Nymph didn’t immediately captivate me, the vivid and highly detailed descriptions came off as boring and I felt ready for the book to be done about fifty pages in. I have never not finished a book that I started, though, and the four hundred and forty page read felt more like a chore than something I really wanted to do.

The Teresa Battaglia novels are meant to be a trilogy and my only hope is that the third book will be better than the second. I genuinely have no idea how Teresa will be able to solve another case with the progression of her Alzheimer’s but I am very ready to find out!

Overall, I am going to rate The Sleeping Nymph with six out of ten stars. I think it paled in comparison to Flowers Over The Inferno but I still enjoyed portions of the story line as well as the grand reveal. I would still recommend reading the Teresa Battaglia novels and I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends.

What is the last book that you read? What do you recommend for me to read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes By Suzanne Collins Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes By Suzanne Collins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! This post has been a long time coming because The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes by Suzanne Collins was five hundred and fifteen pages. It took me a while to finish this prequel to The Hunger Games series but it was worth every single page and then some. As always, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:

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For those of you who don’t know, I am a HUGE fan of The Hunger Games. From the books to the movies, I love it all and Katniss is one of my heroes. I am also #teampeta till the day I die, in case you were wondering! ANYWHO, The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes was pre-Katniss times and focuses solely on the future president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, and his ultimate rise to power.

Young eighteen year old Coriolanus (Coryo to his loved ones) is a Capitol sweetheart despite secretly barely having a penny to his name. He covers his lack of cash with the gift of gab and excels at school. In fact, he excels so much that for the first time in Hunger Games history, students at the Academy are going to be mentors to the tributes and he is chosen to coach none other than Lucy Grey of District 12.

Originally, Coryo was disgusted by his fate because surely a scrawny girl from 12 couldn’t be the victor amid her extremely tough competition. What’s more, sadistic Dr. Gaul who is one of the head scientists of the games is watching his every move and she has plenty of surprises up her sleeves with her genetically mutated animals and love of war.

Despite Coryo’s obvious setbacks for the games, he lives by the motto “Snow lands on top” and he will do anything to win. And, as Lucy Grey proves herself to be a formidable opponent and a huge prize for the winning coach is announced – a full ride to the University, Coryo becomes even more intent on reigning victorious.

The Hunger Games are just the beginning of this wild ride and, sadly, I really can’t give any more away without spoiling a MAJOR plot twist that left me with my chin touching the floor. So, I will say this, The Hunger Games fans will absolutely love this book because it was easily one of my favorite ones of the series.

It was so interesting to read The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes because it tied in beautifully to the other three books. From beloved songs like “The Hanging Tree” and characters like the introduction of Lucky Flickerman, this prequel answers a lot of unanswered questions and it paints a very clear picture of how The Hunger Games began and why they are still happening decades later once Katniss volunteers as tribute.

Jam packed with action, twists, and turns on every page, it was impossible to put this book down. It also leaves you feeling conflicted about Coriolanus Snow who can almost be viewed as a tragic hero in his younger years. Don’t let this fool you, though, because if you have read the series or watched the movies, you will know that he ends up as a president who runs things more like a dictatorship.

Yes, Snow lands on top. But at what cost? Read The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes and find out!

Who else is a fan of The Hunger Games? Are you #teampeta or #teamgale? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Hunting Party By Lucy Foley Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Hunting Party By Lucy Foley Edition

Howdy and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be talking about a book called The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, without giving any spoilers away, of course. Now, this author might sound familiar to you because I actually just finished up another book of hers a few weeks ago. While I enjoyed the last book I read of Lucy Foley’s well enough, The Hunting Party missed the mark severely.

Read on to find out more and find out what star rating this book ends up with:

It’s a New Year’s bash and anyone who is anyone in the posh “inner circle” will be there. A group of the closest friends who, for the most part, all met during their university years at Oxford. Every New Year, couples Giles and Samira, Julian and Miranda, Mark and Emma, Nick and Bo, and odd one out Katie embarks on a mini vacation to celebrate.

They end up somewhere different each time, as it’s always up to a different person to plan it, and this year they find themselves in the Scottish Highlands. Scenic and beautiful, yes, but extremely remote and with a startling lack of WiFi. Each respective couple has their own tiny cabin on the resort but their primary hang out is the rustic chic Lodge with plush rugs and couches, mounted deer heads, and oh yeah… It’s made entirely of glass.

For the most part, this all sounds relatively nice. However, as the booze is poured, celebratory pills are popped, and a downfall of snow threatens to keep them barricaded all of their dark secrets and rivalries begin to bubble to the surface. The Hunting Party covers their entire New Year’s excursion from the moment they board the train to the ghastly murder that concludes their trip. Anyone and everyone is a suspect and it’s up to you to find out who if you read The Hunting Party.

Similarly to Foley’s last book, The Hunting Party is told in an interweaving tale between beautiful Miranda, homely Emma, quiet Katie, as well as the gamekeeper of the property named Doug, and the property manager called Heather. Similarly to Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood, this book revolves around a celebratory weekend gone awry in a remote location in a house made of glass.

Because of both of these identical nods to books that I have already read, it felt really impossible to enjoy this book. It almost felt like I was reading a combination of Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley instead of individual books from each author. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. None of them were incredibly relatable in terms of their personalities, professions, and backstory and I never felt like I was getting “in” to the book. Rather, just speed reading to finish it up.

Perhaps, all of these other issues would be less damning had the grand reveal been amazing. Unfortunately, that fell flat too. I figured it out extremely early and every Red Herring introduced was debunked so quickly that there were no real “twists and turns” throughout the book.

I honestly can’t say that I would recommend The Hunting Party to any of you and have to rate it with a zero out of ten stars. The plot was tired and used before, the characters felt like caricatures instead of real people, and the grand reveal was so simple I think that a fifth grader could figure it out. It is not worth your time and definitely wasn’t worth mine. WHOMP WHOMP.

Have you read any lackluster books lately? Do you have a recommendation for what I should read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah