Tag Archives: books

Lil Red’s Book Club: Secret Admirer By Patricia MacDonald Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Secret Admirer By Patricia MacDonald Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! It has been a while since our last book club post because Johnny and I have been so busy with the move. It took me way longer than usual to finish Secret Admirer by Patricia MacDonald but I’m ready to discuss it today – without giving any spoilers away, of course! Before we begin, I will be putting a trigger warning on Secret Admirer for general violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Laura and her husband, Jimmy, have it all. A beautiful son named Michael, a successful art gallery, and a loving relationship ready to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, their plans for a prosperous life together are cut short on New Year’s Eve when tragedy strikes – Jimmy has been murdered in his own bed by a supposed burglar. Laura was left with superficial wounds and Michael was unharmed but the trauma of such a great loss has turned their world upside down… Especially because everyone thinks that Laura committed the murder.

Laura claims that a figure dressed in all black attacked her and her husband but no such person has been found. It also is suspicious to law enforcement and everyone in the tight knit community that Laura was essentially left unharmed. Granted, she also makes herself seem even more suspect when she begins a whirlwind romance with Ian Turner and gets married to him almost immediately. Were they the ones plotting Jimmy’s death all along?

As Jimmy’s case grows cold and Laura and Ian seeming more and more likely to have been the perpetrators, new information needs to surface and quickly. Unfortunately, the new lead does nothing to help the new couple. In fact, it’s even more damning because whomever killed Jimmy could have been a contract killer. Will Laura spend the rest of her life behind bars? And, if she didn’t have a part to play in her husband’s death, then who did? Read Secret Admirer to find out!

Overall, I thought that Secret Admirer was pretty good. However, it was a slow boil of a read with things only getting really interesting about a half of the way through. While I did like that I didn’t figure out the main plot twist, it didn’t blow me away by any means and I would have preferred if the book ended differently. Not bad, but definitely not my favorite.

Secret Admirer boasted a long list of characters, but I didn’t particularly care for any of them. I did like Laura and Jimmy’s friend, Gary, a lot but that was about it. Of course, I was rooting for Laura and her family to come out on top but, like the book itself, they weren’t my favorite characters that I have read about.

I am going to rate Secret Admirer with a five out of ten stars. An average rating for an average book. I’m glad that I finally finished it but I think it’s one that you can all skip on.

What are you currently 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: Behind The Red Door By Megan Collins Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind The Red Door By Megan Collins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by Megan Collins called Behind The Red Door – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This is the third book in a row that I have read by Collins and it was pretty good. However, I definitely didn’t like it as much as The Family Plot or The Winter Sister.

Before we begin our discussion, I will be placing a trigger warning on Behind The Red Door for general violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Fern has lived a life in which her anxiety will always define her. Her childhood was a lonely and… unique one, which puts in really nicely! Her mother is an artist who would immerse herself in her studio and would stay there for days on end. Her father studies the psychology behind fear and Fern was his subject during a majority of his “experiments”.

During these experiments, Fern’s dad would leave her in unfamiliar places or alone all night and then interview her afterwards to learn about what scared her. She was more of a test subject than a daughter and her whole childhood was spent longing for attention from her parents. Needless to say, this deeply effected her adult life and at thirty-two, she has profound anxiety, reoccurring nightmares, and is constantly scratching at her wrists.

Fern has spent a majority of her adult life avoiding her parents and hometown but she agrees to return to help her dad pack for his upcoming move. The night before Fern leaves, she is settled in front of the TV with her husband watching the evening news. The main headline is a shocking one about a woman who has gone missing named Astrid.

After seeing her picture, Fern can’t shake the feeling that she knows Astrid from somewhere. Her husband isn’t surprised because Astrid made the news twenty years prior for being kidnapped for a month and then returned close to Fern’s hometown. What he doesn’t know, though, is that Astrid’s face has haunted Fern’s nightmares for as long as she can remember.

Fern takes the opportunity of helping her dad pack to try and find the missing woman herself. Twenty years ago, Astrid disappeared without a trace but her newly released memoir reveals that there was a witness. Is Fern the witness that never came forward? And, if so, why can’t she remember meeting Astrid at all? Read Behind The Red Door to find out!

After a couple chapters in of Behind The Red Door, I thought that it wasn’t Collins’ best work. In her other two novels, the characters had their faults but they were, for the most part, very likeable. I felt connections to the people that I was reading about and that just wasn’t the case with Behind The Red Door.

Fern’s father was a nightmare and Fern, herself, wasn’t my favorite leading lady. From the start of this book, you can tell that her anxiety is absolutely crippling and understandably so. However, I was hoping for moments of her strength to shine through and this never happened. About halfway through, I admit that I stopped rooting for her because her character development was so minimal.

As far as the story line goes, it was fine. Now, I know that the books that I like to read have far fetched plots but this one was way too impossible for my liking. This also made it difficult to care for any of the characters because everything about Behind The Red Door was just so unlikely. I will say that the grand reveal was good and I didn’t figure it out, which is always a plus.

Overall, I am going to rate Behind The Red Door with a five out of ten stars. A writer’s work can’t all be winners and this book was a prime example of that. I wouldn’t recommend reading this one but do give The Family Plot or The Winter Sister a try because they were excellent.

What are you currently 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

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Family Plot By Megan Collins Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Family Plot By Megan Collins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller called The Family Plot by Megan Collins – without giving any spoilers away, of course! The last book I read was by Collins and I was so impressed by her that I just had to read more of her work. I am so glad I did because The Family Plot is, easily, one of my new favorites. It was EXCELLENT.

Before we begin the review, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Family Plot for disturbing content dealing with murder. Now, let’s get to it:

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Saying that Dahlia Lighthouse didn’t have a normal childhood is a severe understatement. She grew up in seclusion with her parents, twin brother Andy, and older siblings Charlie and Tate in a home that the locals refer to as “Murder Mansion”. The children were all home schooled but their curriculum was far from learning math and science. Rather, it revolved around their mom teaching all of them about murder and serial killings. And, yes, all of their namesakes are after murder victims.

Mother Lighthouse lost her parents in a grisly murder and the island that Murder Mansion is on has their own serial killer, the Blackburn Killer, who has never been caught. To protect her children from the evils of the outside world, she taught all of them about the worst possible things that could happen. It was her skewed idea of keeping them safe, but did it really?

As soon as Tate and Charlie became of age, they left the island without looking back. Dahlia had similar plans with her twin brother but on their sixteenth birthday, Andy disappeared and was never seen again. The loss of Andy is a gaping wound for Dahlia and she hasn’t seen or talked to her family since she moved to the mainland.

Unfortunately, Dahlia’s plans to never return to Murder Mansion were cut short when her father died unexpectedly. It’s bad enough that she has to be thrust back into her childhood home, which is a shrine to all things murder but that will not be the worst of it. In the family plot on their property, a body in the grave that has been dug for her father is discovered and puts her family at the center of an investigation.

Everyone in Dahlia’s family is a suspect for the murder of this unknown person on their property. The police even think that one of the Lighthouses might be the Blackburn Killer and Dahlia does too. As their investigation begins, Dahlia starts one of her own and the secrets that begin to spring forth confirms her feelings that she never knew her own family at all. Who is the Blackburn Killer? Read The Family Plot to find out!

As soon as I started reading The Family Plot, I was one hundred million percent in and I was genuinely upset when it was over. As you all know, Johnny and I are huge true crime buffs ourselves, so a family who lives their lives ensconced in murder was an interesting prospect. From Dahlia’s childhood to a broken family and a serial killer still at large, everything about The Family Plot kept me turning the pages until there were none left.

Every story line in this book blended together effortlessly and the grand reveals left me SHOOK. I was so engrossed in The Family Plot that I didn’t even try to figure things out for myself. Rather, I let it ride. While there were some things I pieced together on my own, I didn’t see most of the twists coming at all and there were so many instances when my jaw dropped to the floor.

The fascinating plot was held together by a formidable team of characters and I enjoyed reading about all of them. I loved brave and determined Dahlia, her true crime junkie friend, and the Lighthouse family groundskeeper named Fritz. However, it was older brother Charlie that stole the show. Charlie hides his trauma through alcohol, sarcasm, and living his life as a performance. He was absolutely hilarious and he had countless one liners that made me laugh out loud.

If you are looking for a fast paced read, a highly unique plot, and a good old fashioned whodoneit, then I can’t recommend The Family Plot enough. I am going to rate it with the coveted ten out of ten stars and I would happily read it again. Megan Collins knocked it out of the park yet again and I am itching to read more by her!

What are you currently 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

PS: Be sure to tune in tomorrow for blooper shots from my Spring Skirt Savvy OOTD! šŸ˜€

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Winter Sister By Megan Collins Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Winter Sister By Megan Collins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing a thriller called The Winter Sister by Megan Collins – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This is the first book that I have read by Collins and I was so impressed by it that the next book I read will be by her too! Before we begin, I will be putting a trigger warning on The Winter Sister for violence, alcohol addiction, and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Thirty year old Sylvie is simply drifting through her life. She works as a tattoo artist but doesn’t love it, has no close relationships other than her aunt, cousin, and best friend, and is estranged from her mother. After her sister, Persephone, was murdered when they were in their teens and the case was never solved, Sylvie’s life as she knew it was indefinitely changed and nothing ever got better.

The pain of the loss of her sister is a wound that is just as fresh to Sylvie as if it happened yesterday. The guilt and grief has never left and the fact that the murderer is still at large remains at the forefront of her thoughts. So, her days drag on into the next and all Sylvie can do is try to stay afloat.

While Sylvie was in college, she moved away from her childhood town and hasn’t been back since. However, when she gets a call from her aunt that she has to take over caring for her mother suffering from cancer, she finds herself back at the place where her pain began. After Persephone’s death, Sylvie’s mom began to drink herself into a stupor every day and could no longer care for her. Now, it is Sylvie that is going to be taking care of her mom.

Saying that the relationship between Sylvie and her mom is rocky is putting it nicely and having to sleep in the bedroom that her and Persephone once shared makes the situation even more difficult. However, learning that her sister’s ex boyfriend and former suspect in her murder, Ben, works at the cancer center her mom goes to makes matters even worse. After all of these years, everyone is still one hundred percent convinced that Ben is the one to blame. But is he really?

As new information on Persephone’s death begins to come to light, everything that Sylvie once was certain of starts to shift. And, although she’s not thrilled about it, her and Ben join forces to put the pieces of this decade old puzzle together. Dark secrets are revealed as everyone seems to have played a part in Persephone’s demise and there are Red Herrings lurking around every corner. Will Persephone’s murder finally be solved? Read The Winter Sister to find out!

I enjoyed The Winter Sister SO much, especially because the book that I had read before starting it was extremely lackluster. It felt good to have a thriller that I could sink my teeth into and I devoured this read in about three sittings. Once I opened it up, I couldn’t stop reading! Of course, I love when a book surprises me and, although I solved every twist and turn prior to the reveals, I still hold a high opinion of The Winter Sister.

Johnny and I are huge true crime fans so a book revolving around an unsolved murder is right up my alley. The Winter Sister was interesting because the answers weren’t so cut and dry. Despite only one person being responsible for Persephone’s death, every character had something to do with the moments leading up to it. Sylvie seems to hold herself personally responsible for her sister’s murder and her grief is so palpable it’s painful.

I can’t say that Sylvie was one of my favorite main characters to read about but I still liked her a lot. Her strength is, obviously, apparent but she is so clouded with her shortcomings that I never felt like her true self was ever revealed and that would have been nice to see. The supporting characters sometimes overpowered Sylvie’s story and I loved her best friend and aunt. And, although there were times when I despised Sylvie’s mother, I was still excited to read the parts with her in it.

A part of me wonders if I think that The Winter Sister was an excellent read because the book I had read before sucked so bad lol. But, I don’t think that that’s the case and I definitely recommend giving it a try if you can stomach it. I am going to rate The Winter Sister with an eight out of ten stars and I am looking forward to reading another book by Megan Collins.

What are you currently 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

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Ditch By Herman Koch Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Ditch By Herman Koch Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing Herman Koch’s newest novel called The Ditch – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we begin, I will be putting a trigger warning on The Ditch as part of the story line deals with suicide. Now, let’s get to it:

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Robert Walter is the mayor of Amsterdam and he is incredibly popular. He is considered the “people’s mayor” and wears his emotions in plain view. Robert lives a charmed life with his wife and daughter, Sylvia and Diana, and enjoys spending time with his elderly parents who are both in their nineties. The majority of Robert’s day is spent tending to his duties as mayor until his thoughts begin to spiral after a New Year’s bash.

At the party, Robert notices his wife tossing her head back and laughing at something one of his aldermen has said. His eyes also can’t help but laser focus on the fact that this man is touching Sylvia’s arm too. In an instant, the thought that Sylvia is cheating on him begins to wriggle its way into every moment of the day and Robert finds himself viewing everything that his wife says and does differently.

As a politician and family man, there are so many things that Robert should be concerned about – his aging parents, his daughter and her first boyfriend, and the fact that a major scandal from his past could soon be making headlines. Sylvia’s infidelity could be real or it could very well all be in his head. Either way, this notion has marked the beginning of the end of Robert’s career. So, what happens next? Read The Ditch to find out!

I am a HUGE fan of Herman Koch and his book, The Dinner, is nothing short of an iconic read. I was very excited to read his latest novel and, unfortunately, it fell incredibly short. In fact, I rarely do this but I had to look up other people’s reviews of it to see if I was missing something. I had read this book rapidly (partially in the hopes that it would get better) so this was a possibility. However, it seems that many readers had my same sentiments.

The first one hundred and fifty or so pages of The Ditch were pretty good and it focused solely on Sylvia’s possible infidelity. Then, it began branching off into a bunch of different story lines – some of which that had nothing to do with anything. The main example of this would have to be Robert’s best friend, Bernhard. There was a point in the back story where he was relevant. But, in present day, he was simply there and would burst into these monologues about his Stephen Hawking-esque theories and it was painful to read.

Another qualm that I had with The Ditch was that the names of Sylvia, Diana, and Bernhard were all aliases. We never learned Sylvia’s nationality, which would have been nice to know because her and Robert met in her native country. I was hopeful that more would be revealed as the book went on but nothing came to light, which was so annoying to me.

Normally, I love Herman Koch’s writing style but The Ditch missed the mark. It, honestly, read like a VCR manual and I couldn’t wait to be done with it. The writing was bland, none of the characters were particularly likeable, and the vagueness of the plot did no favors, either. With only one hundred pages left, I almost considered not finishing it and that’s really saying something.

I am going to rate The Ditch with a one out of ten stars. If you are a fan of Koch’s past works, don’t bother with this one because it will only leave you disappointed. You can most definitely skip on The Ditch!

What are you currently 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: Breach By Kelly Sokol Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Breach By Kelly Sokol Edition

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a novel called Breach by Kelly Sokol – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Breach was a far cry from the usual thrillers that I am so partial to and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Before we begin, I am going to be placing a trigger warning on Breach. One of the main characters is suffering from PTSD from his time in the Navy and there are also references to miscarriages and abortion.

Now, let’s get to it and peep that amazing cover art:

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Marleigh is a hard working twenty-two year old who is desperate to create a good life for herself. She came from a difficult home life and is now working three jobs while taking night classes to give herself a bright future. Her most important job is taking care of her grandpa’s boxing gym and trying to keep it afloat. Marleigh’s “Pops” is suffering from dementia and was the only person in her life who ever looked out for her.

While manning the front desk at the gym and studying for school, a handsome stranger named Jace walks in. And, in that instant, Marleigh’s life will change forever. Jace is an EOD specialist with a similarly sad past and a whirlwind romance begins before he is deployed again. Marleigh didn’t know it was possible to love someone so much until their relationship and, for once, her life is good.

In the short amount of time that Marleigh and Jace have been together, they got married and pregnant. Jace would be deployed, he would return home, Marleigh would get pregnant again, rinse and repeat. For a while, things are good and Jace would come home as his normal self. However, with each passing deployment, his mood worsens and not even Marleigh or their three boys brings him happiness.

Not only does Jace struggle with civilian life but he is also hitting the bottle more and more regularly. Between sleepless nights, tracking her husband down at the bar, and being a boy mom of three, Marleigh is simply exhausted. It has gotten to the point where she hardly recognizes the man that she fell in love with and her boys seem afraid of their father.

Marleigh thinks back on her and Jace’s promise to each other to always be there no matter what. She is desperate to save her family but one tragic accident starts a rapid downward spiral. How will Marleigh survive this latest blow? Will she still end up with the life that she dreamed of? Read Breach to find out!

Like I said at the start of this post, I was taken by surprise by how much I liked Breach. I read it in three sittings and was, honestly, sad when it was over. I got so wrapped up in the story line, the romance (The love scenes are steamy!), and rooting for Marleigh to come out on top every step of the way.

I was so impressed by Marleigh as a main character and her work ethic reminded me of me. I definitely remember working three jobs before I graduated college and it was exhausting. I loved her dedication to her Pops, husband, and children. She was tough but caring, talented, and a survivor. My heart ached when her fairy tale romance began disintegrating because she deserved the best of the best.

Breach isn’t a true story but the plot of an enlisted special operator and his wife is all too real for so many people. In fact, I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love my thrillers and an unstable narrator – you all know that. However, the plots of those books are so far fetched that it wouldn’t happen in real life. Breach felt one hundred percent real and it had me hooked from start to finish.

I am going to award Breach with a seven and a half out of ten stars. As you all know, I am a stickler for typos but I only reduced the score by half a star this time around. With a book as good as Breach, I was feeling generous! I highly recommend this read.

What are you currently 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: Dry Heat By Len Joy Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Dry Heat By Len Joy Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by Len Joy called Dry Heat and I really enjoyed it. And, as always, no spoilers will be given away! Before we get started, I am going to be placing a trigger warning on Dry Heat for general violence and abortion. Now, let’s get to it:

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Joey Blade is an all American football star at his high school and things seem to be falling into place for him when he graduates. He was awarded a football scholarship, has a new girlfriend, and a loving family. Of course, things don’t stay perfect for long in a thriller and things take a sharp downward turn at a bonfire to celebrate ringing in the year 2000.

When the bonfire burns out of control and the authorities arrive, Joey books it with his girlfriend, her ex, and a local drug dealer named TJ. Joey and TJ hop into the back of the truck and are speeding down the highway when they get into a race with another car. After a can of something not very nice gets thrown on Joey and TJ, TJ takes action and shoots at the windshield of the car. And, oh yeah, the people he shot at just so happen to be undercover cops.

When the police pull Joey’s get away car over, TJ runs away and leaves Joey to take the blame for the attempted murder of a police officer. Just like that, Joey’s dreams of greatness in college fly out the window and he is left dealing with the aftermath. He also learns during his time in holding that his father has connections to one of the most notorious gangs in the area, Vatos Locos, which is a whole other can of worms.

Desperate to restore his reputation, Joey seeks TJ out to come clean but is evaded by him once again. With all of his other options falling apart, Joey gets help from his new found connections with Vatos Locos to track TJ down but time is running out as his trial is looming right over the horizon. With his future on the line, will Joey be able to clear his good name? Read Dry Heat to find out!

When I first started reading Dry Heat, I admit that I wasn’t overly impressed. Then, the story started getting really intense really quickly and I couldn’t put it down to save my own life. The downfall of Joey Blade was swift and it was devastating to read about a young man with everything going for him having nothing at all.

As you all know, I love me a book that focuses on a trial and the court scenes were excellent. They were tense, well written, and left me shook. Especially because attempted murder isn’t the only thing that Joey was being charged with. This made his situation even more worrisome and I was rooting for him every step of the way because he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As far as main characters go, Joey was a great one and I loved his smarts and perseverance. I also really liked his parents, best friend, and the leader of the Vatos Locos gang. His high school sweetheart named Mallory was alright but didn’t make as much of an effect on me as the other characters.

My only qualm with this book was that there were a fair amount of typos and you all know that I am a huge stickler for that! But, overall, Dry Heat was a good one and I am going to be awarding it with seven out of ten stars. If it weren’t for the typos it would have gotten an eight! Dry Heat is a book that I would definitely recommend and I think that you will enjoy this fast paced read.

What are you currently 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: Twenty Years Later By Charlie Donlea Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Twenty Years Later By Charlie Donlea Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by Charlie Donlea called Twenty Years Later – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on this book for general violence and crime scene related content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Avery Mason is the host of the wildly popular American Events, which discusses everything from true crime and safety tips to inspirational tales of bravery and every day heroes. She rose to fame quickly – mainly because no one knows her true identity of Claire Montgomery. She is the daughter to the infamous man who schemed a lot of people out of a lot of money by making investments in his company and he is still at large.

While on summer break from her show, Avery makes the cross country trek from California to New York to chase a story. She also has unfinished family business to tend to and knows her new lead will be the perfect cover up. And the story she’s investigating is a big one. Twenty years after 9/11, a positive ID has been found of one of the victims through new DNA testing and her name is Victoria Ford.

Originally, Avery thinks she hit the jackpot with this lead but it got even better when she dug deeper and found that Victoria was a suspect in a murder case. In fact, she was getting advice from her lawyer when the planes crashed as she would shortly be on trial for the murder of her lover, a married man named Cameron Young.

Avery wants to know everything about this case and seeks out the help of Walt Jenkins, who was the detective on this twenty year old case. Walt has been a recluse since he was asked to retire after a tragic incident on the job. When his old boss asks Walt to help Avery to see if he can learn more information about her father, Walt accepts. He is desperate to feel useful again and hops a plane to New York City.

As Avery and Walt delve back into the twenty year old murder case, new leads develop as well as feelings between the two of them. Walt, of course, is feeling very conflicted by now because he has to choose between doing his job or the new woman in his life. What will Walt’s decision be? And will they crack the case of Victoria Ford as a guilty or innocent woman? Read Twenty Years Later to find out!

Twenty Years Later was a pretty good read but it wasn’t my favorite. The writing of Charlie Donlea didn’t blow me away and at times it felt a bit amateur-ish but the story line did keep me hooked. My husband and I are both avid true crime fans so the idea of trying to solve a twenty year old case was an exciting one. I finished this book in about five sittings and, although I figured out a majority of the big twists, I still liked it well enough.

I enjoyed Avery as a main character because she was really smart and made a great life for herself despite who she has as a father. She was strong and brave and her back and forth with Walt worked really well too. Avery took the lead in all aspects of her life and she was a “take no shit” kind of gal, which I love!

My main qualm with Twenty Years Later was how repetitive it was. I swear, I must have read the same sentences or something similar in this book countless times and this got old super quickly. It was also fairly predictable, which is okay with me if the writing is excellent but that wasn’t the case.

I am going to rate Twenty Years Later with a six out of ten stars. The plot was interesting and I enjoyed reading about most of the characters. If it were written just a bit better, it probably would have gotten a higher rating but that was hard to look past. This is a book that you can take or leave. If you read it, you won’t hate it but if you don’t, you’re not missing out on much.

What are you currently 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

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Overnight Guest By Heather Gudenkauf Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Overnight Guest By Heather Gudenkauf Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we get started, I am going to be placing a trigger warning on this book for disturbing content, violence, and miscarriages. Now, let’s get to it:

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Wylie is a true crime writer who is estranged from her family and has traveled to Iowa to complete the book that she is currently working on. Her new book also just so happens to take place in the very house that she has rented to write in. The parents of a young girl named Josie were killed there, her brother’s body was found on the property, and her best friend named Becky is presumed to be dead.

Despite the tragic history of the rental home, Wylie is making good progress until a massive snow storm takes place resulting in a power outage. As the snow quickly blankets the property, Wylie lets her dog out for the evening but he doesn’t return right away even in the frigid temperatures. Rather, he leads her right to the body of a little boy.

Miraculously, the child is still alive and Wylie knows that he couldn’t have made it to her house without some form of transportation because they are in the middle of nowhere. She braves the worsening storm in search of other survivors when she finds a woman in bad shape and an overturned truck. Knowing that she has to be the boy’s mother, she does all she can to get her into the home and, although grievously injured, she protects her child fiercely.

The arrival of her new guests has to be for a really good reason because no one with half a mind would think to travel in the dangerous conditions of the storm. Unfortunately, the boy refuses to speak to Wylie and his mom offers no help, either, not even their names. Eventually, Wylie learns that they are on the run from someone terrible and mother and son know that he will show up to reclaim them. Will they survive this unwelcome guest? And just what happened to bring the mom and son to Wylie’s place to begin with? Read The Overnight Guest to find out!

Unfortunately, delving deeper than the above summary will give away major plot twists in The Overnight Guest but I will say that it was an excellent read. It was completely unputdownable and even though I figured out a majority of the twists and turns, it still left me in utter shock. I finished this book in about four reading sessions and it was a great change of pace from the lackluster Maidens, which is the last book I read.

Wylie is a formidable main character to tell the story and she is strong and brave. The Overnight Guest went back and forth between her point of view, the mother and son’s, and the past when the original crime Wylie is writing about takes place. These multiple different story lines intertwined perfectly and I constantly found myself reading “just one more chapter” even when I thought that I was done for the day.

The content of The Overnight Guest is, admittedly, extremely disturbing and it is not a read for the faint of heart. A majority of this book is absolutely devastating and I don’t recommend it for those who could find themselves upset by it. Be that as it may, I am still awarding it with the coveted ten out of ten stars. This is, easily, one of the best books that I have read this year and if you think that you can manage it, then I can’t recommend it enough.

What are you currently 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

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Maidens By Alex Michaelides Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Maidens By Alex Michaelides Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing the second book written by Alex Michaelides called The Maidens – without giving any spoilers away, of course. If this author sounds familiar, he should! Michaelides wrote the wildly popular Silent Patient, which received the coveted ten out of ten star rating by yours truly.

While I considered The Silent Patient to be an excellent read, The Maidens was… Not so much. Before we delve deeper, I will be placing a trigger warning on this book for violence, murder, and all forms of abuse. Now, let’s get to it:

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Mariana is a psychotherapist specializing in group therapy who has her own struggles to deal with. She considers herself to be “surrounded by death” and is still mourning the loss of her late husband who died tragically over a year ago. The only person she has left in her life who she cares about is her niece, Zoe, who is like her own daughter as she became an orphan at a young age.

Barely making it through day to day life, things take a sharp turn when Zoe calls Mariana in distress because her best friend, Tara, at Cambridge has been brutally murdered. Springing into action, Mariana hops on the train the next morning to her alma mater to comfort her niece and learn more about the tragedy that befell on the campus.

Once Mariana arrives, she begins to learn Zoe’s disturbing view of her friend’s death and feels confident that the culprit is Professor Edward Fosca. Fosca teaches Greek tragedy at Cambridge and has a special group of students called “The Maidens”. These incredibly beautiful girls from privileged backgrounds follow Fosca around as if he is a cult leader and Tara was a member of this elite group. She was also, supposedly, having an affair with Fosca who threatened her the night she was killed.

Mariana decides to investigate Fosca herself because her and Zoe are convinced that the police are overlooking him as a suspect. Through her own search of Tara’s room, Mariana discovers a postcard featuring some ancient Greek art and handwritten text from lines of the Greek tragedies she was learning from Fosca.

During Mariana’s time at Cambridge, another student from The Maidens has been killed and another postcard has been found among her belongings. What’s more, Zoe and Mariana have both received a calling card too. Is Fosca the cold blooded killer that Zoe and Mariana believe him to be? And will they live to tell the tale? Read The Maidens to find out!

I am SO incredibly disappointed about The Maidens because the story line had the potential to be great. In fact, I was totally loving it until the grand finale which felt haphazard and completely inappropriate. Let’s start with that I liked about this book first:

As a theater junkie, I appreciated all of the nods to the classic Greek tragedies as well as delving into the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. I also enjoyed how this book was connected to The Silent Patient through some of the characters that made cameos in The Maidens. There were lots of wonderful things happening in the plot but it just didn’t work together as a whole.

I devoured The Maidens in three sittings but I was left feeling very unimpressed once it was over. There were so many different characters and story lines that were simply tossed aside in this read, which made their inclusion worthless to the rest of the book. The ending was also AWFUL and it felt like Michaelides wrote it for shock’s sake and to just get the book over with.

Had Michaelides spent more time developing overlooked plot points and characters, The Maidens probably would have felt much more comprehensive. Overall, it read like a bunch of scattered ideas that never fully came together. It also could have ended on a more believable note rather than what felt like something thrown together. As soon as the grand reveal happened, I almost didn’t even bother finishing it and that’s really saying something.

Not only do I consider The Maidens to be poorly written but Mariana wasn’t the best main character, either. While her sorrow is totally understandable, she literally showed no emotion throughout the entire book. It was really hard to connect with her despite her sad past and she seemed to be just placed in the situation rather than immersed in it. I felt similarly to all of the characters in The Maidens, giving me no one to root for and adding to the overall disappointment I had when I finished reading.

I am going to rate The Maidens with a two out of ten stars. If you are expecting a book just as good as The Silent Patient, don’t bother. Actually, don’t bother period because it wasn’t worth my time and is certainly not worth yours. WHOMP WHOMP.

What are you currently 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

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