Tag Archives: star rating

Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind Closed Doors By B.A. Paris Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind Closed Doors By B.A. Paris 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 B.A. Paris called Behind Closed Doors – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we begin, let me start off by saying that this book was JACKED UP and, easily, one of the most disturbing things that I have read in a while. So, it should go without saying that a big fat trigger warning will be placed on it for physical and mental abuse, intended abuse, animal abuse, and a plot that had me fucked up (For lack of a better word!). You’ve been warned, now let’s get to it:

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Could Jack and Grace Angel be any more perfect? Jack has the perfect job of defending battered women and has never lost a case. Grace is a perfect, beautiful stay at home wife and cooks lavish meals to entertain their friends in a perfect mansion. To all concerned, they are the epitome of the perfect couple and surprise those they know by never arguing and constantly looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. Although, they have no idea what is going on Behind Closed Doors.

Within the walls of the Angel home, Grace is under the strict control of her psychopathic husband and is confined to one room with nothing but a bed and a bathroom. Jack has created the persona of perfection for them both and has painted Grace as mentally unstable to divert attention from her attempts to escape and claims of being held prisoner. That is, truly, the pot calling the kettle black because Jack is about as mentally unstable as it gets.

Ever since spotting Grace and her younger sister, Millie, who has Down Syndrome at the park, Jack knew that he had to have them both. He thrives on fear and has since he was a child and considered Grace and Millie the perfect candidates for his sick torture games. For now, Millie is safe because she is away at boarding school. As soon as she turns eighteen and lives with Jack and Grace, however, is a totally different story.

The birthday countdown for Millie is fast approaching and Grace knows that her chances of saving them both become less likely with each passing day. With her determination and the ingenious help from Millie, Grace begins to plot their escape. But can it even be done when Grace can’t leave the cell in her own home and Jack is always ten steps ahead? Read Behind Closed Doors to find out!

Behind Closed Doors left me purely and utterly shook and I am still digesting it days after finishing it. The plot was somewhat of your classic “secret room” thriller but it had so many unique and, honestly, disgusting twists that it was in a category all of its own. Behind Closed Doors allowed you to tap into Grace’s mind in her past and present as a severely abused woman and there were times when it felt like you were suffering right along with her.

After finishing Behind Closed Doors, I was very curious to find out what other people had thought about it and read some reviews. There were many who said that it was one of the best thrillers that they have read in years. However, I was surprised to see so many reviews in which people called it “boring”. I knew that it was not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I have a hard time understanding how it bored the reader.

As someone who was in a mentally abusive relationship, the psychological torture that Grace faced hit close to home. Her paranoia, constant fear, and huge sense of betrayal were all such real feelings that I felt personally and was invoked in this book. I do agree with the reviewers saying that the situation in Behind Closed Doors was not plausible BUT the emotions Grace felt and her own diminishing mental state was all too real.

As far as characters go, Jack was the worst of the worst villains that I have read about in a long while. This, in itself, was enough to keep you rooting for Grace and Millie even after finishing the book. I simply adored Millie who was brilliant, sweet, and hilarious. Grace was a formidable heroine who continued to fight no matter how many times she was foiled if not for her sake than for Millie’s. I loved the bond that Millie and Grace had with each other and it provided a glimmer of sunshine during such a dark read.

Overall, I am going to rate Behind Closed Doors with a ten out of ten stars. I keep trying to find reasons to rate it lower and I can’t. Despite its brutal subject matter, it was a hell of a read that kept me emotionally invested several days after reading the last page. This is not a read for everyone and I recommend not reading it if you fall under that category. However, if you can stomach it, then you will not be disappointed.

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: The Family Across The Street By Nicole Trope Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Family Across The Street By Nicole Trope Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing an intense psychological thriller by Nicole Trope called The Family Across The Street – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This book was absolutely insane and before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on it for graphic violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Katherine West lives in a posh neighborhood in Sydney, Australia with her husband and their set of twins, Sophie and George. They live on a quiet street and the residents can’t even remember the last time they heard a police siren or seen a cop driving by. It is picture perfect and safe as can be for Katherine, Gladys across the street, and all their neighbors. But, we all know that this is never the case in a thriller.

Logan is a former convict and is covered in violent tattoos inspired from his lifetime of struggle. He is finally turning into the man that he wants to be for himself and his wife and has been working as a delivery driver for his brother in law’s company. On the hottest day of the year, his day begins at Katherine’s home to deliver her new laptop.

At Katherine’s door, she tells Logan that she cannot open it and to leave her purchase there. He can’t do that, however, because it needs signed for and throughout his day, he can’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong. The nosy Gladys across the street feels similarly and throughout her day, she stops by Katherine’s door too only to be told it can’t be opened.

The perfect stranger and neighbor were right, of course, but what is happening in Katherine’s home is something that they never could have guessed. A hostage situation is unfolding in the West’s living room and Katherine and her two twins sit huddled on the couch as they are held at gunpoint. Who is the person that could possibly do this to such a beautiful family? That’s something you will never guess too so read The Family Across The Street to find out!

The Family Across The Street was a rollarcoaster ride of a read with the craziest twists and turns happening every chapter. This is why I had to keep the synopsis short and sweet because every shocking twist is so important to the story. The grand reveal is one that I would have never seen coming in a million years and I am still mulling it over several days after finishing it. It left me totally and completely shook.

The past few books that I have read have been slow burn thrillers and although I enjoyed them, it was nice to read something more fast paced. The Family Across The Street started out with a bang and the punches kept rolling until the last page. The chapters alternated between Katherine, Gladys, Logan, and the person holding the Wests hostage and I just had to keep reading to find out what happens next.

Other than the guilty party in this book, all of the characters were so likeable and it made all of the blows that much more painful. I loved brave, determined Katherine and her children. I eventually came around to busybody Gladys and simply adored Logan who was so desperate to keep himself on the straight and narrow. Needless to say, these characters would have never crossed paths had tragedy not struck and their interactions were really cool to read.

Overall, I am going to rate The Family Across The Street with an eight out of ten stars. This book was gruesome and difficult to read at times so if that’s not your bag, then don’t bother. However, if you are looking for a mind blowing thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat, 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

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: Mrs. England By Stacey Halls Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Mrs. England By Stacey Halls Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing another book by Stacey Halls called Mrs. England – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This is the second book in a row that I have read by Halls and I enjoyed this one much better than The Familiars – it was really good! Before we begin our discussion of Mrs. England, I will be placing a trigger warning on it for disturbing content including psychological abuse and violence. Now, let’s get to it:

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Ruby May is a young woman in the early 1900s working as a children’s nurse (nanny) in London. She trained at a special academy just for this profession and works hard to support her family, which includes a younger sister with a spinal injury. Nurse May adores the family that she is currently caring for but, unfortunately, her time with them must come to an end. They need to move to America for the father’s profession and Ruby cannot be so far from her family.

Desperate for a new job, Ruby accepts anyone that she can get and becomes the nurse to four children in Yorkshire. The England family is obscenely wealthy and lives on a sprawling estate complete with a cotton mill, servants, and the best of everything that money can buy. Ruby makes the trip to Yorkshire to begin her new placement and is surprised to find Mr. Charles England waiting for her at the train station.

On the way back to the England estate, Ruby is charmed but a little surprised by Mr. England’s jovial nature. Even more so because picking her up would typically be a job for their chauffeur. It is nighttime when they make it back home and the children are already asleep. Ruby is ready to discuss her position with the mistress, Mrs. England. Strangely enough, the mistress didn’t realize Ruby’s arrival was that night and insists on her coming to Mr. England with any questions. This is all very unusual to Ruby because, typically, the mistress is in charge of all things relating to the care of the children.

The following day, Ruby meets her charges of Saul, Decca, Millie, and baby Charley and is pleased to be caring for such lovely children. She is also shocked to see Mr. England acting in the roles of both the father and mother around the house. It is not what she is used to but makes sense as Mrs. England is distant, withdrawn, and has a sickly disposition. She spends most of her time locked away in her bedroom and hardly seems to take pleasure in seeing her children.

Of course, as odd as the living situation at the England estate is, Ruby is in no position to judge as she is hiding dark secrets of her own. However, there is something strange happening there that she can’t quite put her finger on. It could be the uninviting servants, her disappearing mail, or maybe her own feelings of intimacy with Mr. England whom she must report to.

As her days drag into each other at the estate, Ruby quickly finds herself only caring for the two youngest children. Decca is going to school, which came as a shock because the girls were not to attend. And Saul is regaining his health at his great grandparent’s home after a severe asthma attack. The walls surrounding the England property begin to close in on itself and Ruby expects Mrs. England is to blame. But, is she really? Read Mrs. England to find out!

Much like The Familiars, Mrs. England was a slow burn of a read. I did like it a lot more, though, because something integral to the story happened in almost every chapter. This made for a much more pleasant reading experience and I found myself upset when I had to put it down. Although the reveals weren’t as jaw dropping as previous books that I’ve read, it was different than anything that I’ve read too.

I loved Ruby as a main character and it was a change of pace to know what she was thinking all of the time because I am so used to books with an unstable narrator. I liked her caring, curious nature and her interactions with the children always left me completely charmed. It was also interesting to read about her working through foreign feelings like longing for the man of the house.

I will be the first to say that this wasn’t exactly a nail biter of a read. It did have a haunting atmosphere, which added to the suspense. But, the major grand reveal was easy to figure out and I would have liked a bit more mystery to it. Stacey Halls’ books have such a unique, historical vibe to them. Mrs. England might not be a book that I’m going to simply rave about but I did like it – perhaps if only for the sake of switching things up.

Overall, I am going to rate Mrs. England with a six and a half out of ten stars. I would definitely read more by Stacey Halls. I will say, however, that if you are looking for fast paced reads with a lot of extra oomph, then she is not the author for you.

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: The Familiars By Stacey Halls Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Familiars By Stacey Halls 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 meeting because I have been so busy with the move and housewarming party. But we’re back, baby, and today we will be discussing a very unique book called The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Before we begin, I am putting a big fat trigger warning on The Familiars because it is based on the main character’s series of miscarriages. Now, let’s get to it and, as always, without giving any spoilers away:

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*Before we begin our synopsis, we must note that The Familiars is based in England in 1612 during the infamous Pendle Witch Trials.

Fleetwood Shuttleworth (Coolest name ever) is the young mistress of the great Gawthorpe Hall and is with child. Actually, with her fourth child because she has miscarried thrice at just seventeen years old. Fleetwood has had a difficult pregnancy every single time and this one is no different. She can barely keep food down, can’t sleep, and her hair is falling out in clumps.

Her physical health is declining but her mental health is close to the brink too because Fleetwood has discovered a secret correspondence between her husband and doctor. In this letter, the doctor explains that both baby and mother won’t survive this next birth. Knowing that her earthly life will soon come to an end, it is no wonder that her mental health is deteriorating as well.

While walking in the vast woods surrounding Gawthorpe Hall with her faithful dog, Puck, Fleetwood meets a young woman named Alice. She pays what her husband considers a trespasser no mind until Alice and her cross paths again when she has fallen from her horse. Fleetwood learns that Alice is a midwife and hires her to be the savior of herself and unborn child.

Alice has been trained by her mother, who was also a midwife, and cares for her charges with herbs, roots, and things found in nature. And, her methods seem to work because almost instantly, Fleetwood has regained her appetite, sleeps peacefully, and her hair has stopped falling out. Despite Alice’s success, Fleetwood’s husband is suspicious of her, especially because witch trials have just begun and accusations are flying left and right between counties.

Fleetwood’s husband, Richard, is a powerful young man and has the potential to go far in the government. Because of these close family ties, Fleetwood learns that Alice will soon be arrested and tried for witchcraft. She also finds out that her husband might not be the person she fell in love with after all.

Desperate to be away from Richard and fearful for herself and child if Alice stops caring for her, Fleetwood and her midwife flee to safety. The time in the haven of Fleetwood’s mother’s home is cut short, however, and Alice is taken away to the gaols. Will Alice be hung for witchcraft? Will Fleetwood and her child live without her care? Read The Familiars to find out!

I am quite torn about The Familiars because on one hand, I really enjoyed it. On the other, I was so ready for it to be over. This read was a slow burn and written in old English so some of the chapters seemed to drag on endlessly. At first, I was charmed by reading what felt like The Crucible (My favorite!) but there were times when my patience wore thin because there was so much context to wrap my head around.

The Familiars introduced a lot of characters at once and it was difficult to keep track of them all. This was especially true when the witches and their accusers came into play. Of course, every character held their own significance but I think that I would have liked it better if the focus were only on a handful of people. I like an involved story line as much as the next but when I have to go back and reread sections to remember who someone was, I start to get irritated!

Although the characters were plentiful, I did love both Fleetwood and Alice and they each shone as heroines. Fleetwood was brave, determined, and wasn’t afraid to let her opinion be known to a man. And, that was a rarity in 1612! Alice was a perfect character to compliment Fleetwood’s brashness with and was shy, intelligent, and kind. My heart ached when Alice was sent to the gaols and I was rooting for both of them every step of the way.

The synopsis that I provided, truly, doesn’t begin to cover a quarter of what The Familiars is all about and it’s a big bite to chew off. If you can stick with it, I think you will find things about it that you enjoy. However, I ain’t mad at ya if you don’t! Overall, I am going to rate The Familiars with a six out of ten stars. I loved the main characters and primary plot but I don’t think that speaks well for a book if I was thrilled when it was finally over. Take it or leave it, because my opinion is somewhere right in the middle.

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: 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

 

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! 😀

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

 

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