Cover Reveal ~ Best Friends Forever by Shannon Hollinger

I’m thrilled to share the cover for my first release with publisher Bookouture, the psychological thriller Best Friends Forever! And don’t let the title fool you – my name for this book was Unspeakable. So be warned…. this is #NotYourAverageBFF!

Best Friends Forever will be released on January 12th, 2023. The Kindle version is available now for preorder!

Click the link below to:

Preorder Now!

The story is set in the fictional town of Wakefield, Florida, parts of which coincidentally mirror the dunes we weren’t supposed to visit back when I was in high school. Hmm… must have used my imagination to create the setting then!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the cover, and if you’re compelled to read it, the book! You can tag me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram @thiswritersays and/or use the hashtag #NotYourAverageBFF!

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

I emerge from the trees, drenched in sweat, my voice lost as I take in the scene in front of me. The blood. The body. Emma’s eyes meet mine for a second. “It was an accident,” she whispers.

Emma and I were childhood best friends. We did everything together. Until that terrible night in the woods.

I couldn’t tell anyone what I’d seen. We never discussed it, but our bond was too strong; I could never betray my best friend. Even if she had killed someone.

But I also couldn’t stay in town and watch her live a normal life, knowing what she’d done. So I left.

Now, ten years later, I’m back. The guilt and the fear have stayed with me. And I have realized I need to reveal the truth if I’m ever going to move on.

But I never get the chance. Because the day I turn up, Emma is found dead, and the way she died means I start to doubt everything I thought I knew about that night all those years ago.

As my grief turns to anger at all those lost years of friendship, I realize with horror that Emma might not have been the only killer. Someone else is out there. Someone who was close to us both, someone who knew the smallest details of what had happened back then. Who from our small town could have murdered not once, but twice? And who’s next…?

An utterly gripping and compelling psychological thriller with twists and turns to die for. If you love Karin Slaughter, Paula Hawkins and Freida McFadden, you’ll love Best Friends Forever.

Book Review : The Cabin At The End Of The World By Paul Tremblay

From Goodreads:

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

My Review:

I have to say that while my past experience with this author had me expecting a heavy dose of visceral horror, that’s not quite what I got with this one. I’m not quite sure how to describe this book. There’s definitely some horror in it, and parts are horrific, but the frightening bits seemed almost to take a backseat to what seemed to be the focus of the plot, which was, perhaps, a study in existentialism in terms of horror? I don’t know. This was a weird one. I enjoyed it, but it was strange and perhaps a tad unruly in that it’s not at all what I thought I’d be getting.

Book Review : Furiously Happy By Jenny Lawson

From Goodreads:

In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”

Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that? 

My Review:

Whether you suffer from depression, love someone who does, or are just looking for some entertainment, Lawson’s your girl. Her unexpected wisdom, wit, and weirdness are inspiring, endearing, and just plain fun! I can trust that her books will make me laugh out loud while also making me think about common things in an entirely new light!

Book Review: The Locked Door By Freida McFadden

From Goodreads:

Some doors are locked for a reason…

While eleven-year-old Nora Davis was up in her bedroom doing homework, she had no idea her father was killing women in the basement.

Until the day the police arrived at their front door.

Decades later, Nora’s father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon with a quiet, solitary existence. Nobody knows her father was a notorious serial killer. And she intends to keep it that way.

Then Nora discovers one of her young female patients has been murdered. In the same unique and horrific manner that her father used to kill his victims.

Somebody knows who Nora is. Somebody wants her to take the fall for this unthinkable crime. But she’s not a killer like her father. The police can’t pin anything on her.

As long as they don’t look in her basement.

My Review:

McFadden has quickly become one of my go-to authors when I need a book that will keep my attention and deliver an intriguing plot with impressive twists. She’s a master at suspense, and I love that no matter what the ‘theme’ of the book, from influencers to camping trips to serial killers, there’s going to be something that feels fresh, inventive, and unexpected in the pages!

Book Review: The Silent Patient By Alex Michaelides

From Goodreads:

Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

My Review:

This is one of those books where there’s been so much hype that you know it’s going to fall short of expectations, but because of all the hype, you have to give it a shot to find out what all the fuss is about. However, even though I expected to be let down, I wasn’t! There were several nice twists, and while they weren’t all completely unexpected, some were definitely crafty! Considering that this was a debut book, color me impressed!

Book Review: She Lies In Wait By Gytha Lodge

From Goodreads:

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

“A dark, deep, terrific thriller and a scorching portrait of friendship and its betrayal” Nicci French

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.

But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

My Review:

I always find British (or any country other than the US, really) procedural books interesting because there’s a definite difference in the way cases (even fictional ones) are approached. This one had an interesting premise, with plenty of suspects. It was well written and held my attention, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped, probably for the very reason that it was a procedural book set in another country, and while I always find them interesting, there’s also always a little bit of a disconnect because of the very differences I find so interesting. Also, while there were clues left for the reader, I would have enjoyed a stronger “aha!” moment. Overall, though, a good mystery and an enjoyable read.

Book Review: In Every Generation By Kendare Blake

From Goodreads:

A new Slayer for a new generation…

Frankie Rosenberg is passionate about the environment, a sophomore at New Sunnydale High School, and the daughter of the most powerful witch in Sunnydale history. Her mom, Willow, is slowly teaching her magic on the condition that she use it to better the world. But Frankie’s happily quiet life is upended when new girl Hailey shows up with news that the annual Slayer convention has been the target of an attack, and all the Slayers—including Buffy, Faith, and Hailey’s older sister Vi—might be dead. That means it’s time for this generation’s Slayer to be born.

But being the first ever Slayer-Witch means learning how to wield a stake while trying to control her budding powers. With the help of Hailey, a werewolf named Jake, and a hot but nerdy sage demon, Frankie must become the Slayer, prevent the Hellmouth from opening again, and find out what happened to her Aunt Buffy, before she’s next.

Get ready for a whole new story within the world of Buffy!

The first in an all-new series by New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake continues the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featuring the next generation of Scoobies and Slayers who must defeat a powerful new evil.

My Review:

I’ve been a HUGE Buffy fan since the show premiered when I was in high school, but I’ve always been a purist – I’ve never read any of the fan fiction, graphic mags, etc. – the show was always enough for me. However, when I saw that this was written by Kendare Blake, I knew I had to give it a try!

It’s obvious that Blake knows her Buffy – the details, the backstory, even the personalities of the characters – are all perfection. It did take me a while to get into because, for the most part, the book deals with a new, younger generation of characters, but the plot was just like something that would have been featured on the episode of a show. I think the author did a great job bringing a new cast of characters to life, and while the old cast and TV show will always be my favorite, there was very little to complain about here.

ARC Book Review: The Night Shift By Alex Finlay

From Goodreads:

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive.

Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words… “Goodnight, pretty girl.”

In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive.

Twisty, poignant, and redemptive, The Night Shift is a story about the legacy of trauma and how the broken can come out on the other side, and it solidifies Alex Finlay as one of the new leading voices in the world of thrillers

Review:

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I could NOT put this book down! The initial mystery grabbed me by the throat and kept me in a stranglehold until the very end! Then, as layer upon layer was added, deepening the intrigue, my finger started blistering from turning the pages so fast! This one will keep you guessing (and on the edge of your seat) until the very end! I liked ‘Every Last Fear’, but I LOVED ‘The Night Shift’. This is definitely an author to watch!!!

Book Review – Want To Know A Secret? By Frieda McFadden

Freida McFadden is one of the new authors that I’ve recently discovered whose work just keeps me glued to the pages. Take this book, for instance – it’s about a wife/mother/YouTuber with secrets. Given the blurb alone, this isn’t something I would have normally picked up. It would have been an easy pass because it’s not the kind of plot I’m normally interested in. And even while reading it, I asked myself what I was doing because, again, this isn’t the type of plot I’m normally interested in, plus, I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and yet – I couldn’t put it down! My eyes literally devoured it at breakneck speed! Bonus points for the nasty little twist she put at the end to sink the dagger of surprise deep between the reader’s shoulder blades. She’s quickly becoming an automatic yes author for me!

Book Review – You’ll Be The Death Of Me By Karen McManus

The newest release by YA mystery author Karen McManus is described at Ferriss Bueller’s Day Off – with murder, which, I have to tell you, sounds like an adventure in awesomeness that I very much wanted to be a part of.

There’s no denying that parts of this were suspenseful, but I couldn’t help comparing this to her other books…..and it kind of underwhelmed. I was more interested in the dynamics of the friendship than in the mystery, and even that didn’t make me feel vested enough to stay glued to the pages like she usually keeps me, which is a shame because I wanted to love this one so badly! Entertaining, but definitely not her strongest.

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