Harper Collins Blog Tour for: The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

I love a good read about friends in the summer, and this heart-warming story about two friends learning to discover all that life has to offer was just the thing I needed! Ellen and Unity have been best friends forever, but Ellen has sacrificed her personal life in order to be a wonderful single mom and Unity is still mourning the loss of her young husband in the military. They both are ready for a new lease on life and challenge each other to do things out of their comfort zone (hence the “friendship list”). This was a fun read, at times laugh-out-loud funny, and both these characters reminded me of myself when I was single at 35. One note – there is sex in this book. Just letting you know!!

Thank you for my review e-copy and for making me part of the tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest…only to discover that possibilities are everywhere–especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband’s shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he’s literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they’ll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish–everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter: @susanmallery

Facebook: @susanmallery

Instagram: @susanmallery

Author website: https://www.susanmallery.com/

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YA Blog Tour for The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale

I’m so happy to take part in the blog tour for this suspenseful YA novel: The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale. This was one I could not put down. You know I love a good YA suspenseful mystery!

Here’s the overview:

Title: The Summer I Drowned

Author: Taylor Hale

Publisher: Wattpad Books

Release Date: May 26, 2020

Genre: Teens & YA

ISBN: 9781989365182

Price: $10.99 (USD)

Description:

Five years after almost drowning, Olivia Cathart returns home to Caldwell Beach determined to face her fears and take some risks—not just by swimming, but by opening her heart. Hoping to rekindle her friendships, she’s excited about a carefree summer with her best friends Keely and Miles. But life in the sleepy town has changed, and no one and nothing is as it seems.

When a series of startling crimes threaten Olivia’s fragile state, she is plunged into a terrifying game of cat and mouse. Her only solace from the chaos is West, Miles’s disowned and ruggedly handsome brother, but even he can’t answer the question on everyone’s minds—is Olivia really in danger or is it simply all in her head?

Author Bio:

Taylor Hale was born in Southwestern Ontario, and started writing on Wattpad in 2015. When she isn’t writing, she can be found bartending at a live music venue, and thinking up her next idea. The Summer I Drowned is her first novel.

Fun, fun, fun! I always like a book with a strong, female, teen protagonist. If I could have changed anything, I would have had less focus on the romance piece and more on the action. I also had a chuckle in that every character seemed to have a unique “smell” that I really haven’t found in real life, something like “He smelled like balsam and cinnamon”. “She smelled like vanilla and lavender”. “He smelled like ocean breeze and hickory”. Things like that. In real life I’m more inclined to say, “Mmmm – what’s that smell??”

Thank you for my copy and for having me as part of the tour! I would recommend this book for older YA readers due to sexual content and “heavy” content or potential triggers (e.g. drowning, relationship abuse, animal abuse, parental neglect, teen drinking, drinking and driving, sexual assault, etc.).

For My Ears: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Before I stopped commuting due to COVID, I had the pleasure of listening to this fun YA murder mystery, written with multiple voices.

Here’s the overview of it via Amazon:

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

I enjoyed Pip’s pluckiness in solving this mystery and I also liked all the twists and turns in the plot. It kept my interest while navigating my rather dull commute and I often listened while working at my desk or over lunch.

You don’t have to be a teen to enjoy this one! I got mine with my Audible credit through Amazon.

Harlequin Blog Tour for: This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Heather Gudenkauf’s This Is How I Lied, a suspenseful mystery featuring police detective Maggie O’Keefe (I hope it is the start of a series!).

This was a fast-moving and suspenseful read, focusing on the murder of Maggie’s best friend twenty years earlier.

Here’s the overview:

Description

Gudenkauf proves herself the master of the smart, suspenseful small-town thriller that gets right under your skin.” —Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Check out these other riveting novels of suspense by bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf:

The Weight of Silence
These Things Hidden
One Breath Away
Little Mercies
Missing Pieces
Not a Sound
Before She Was Found

Me again!! I had not read any of Ms. Gudenkauf’s books before – I need to look them up! I recommend this one to mystery lovers, especially if you like a strong, female protagonist. The pacing was solid and the characters well-developed.

Thank you for making me part of the tour!

Author Bio:

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.

Buy Links: (provided by Harlequin; NOT affiliated with BBNB)

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Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @hgudenkauf

Instagram: @heathergudenkauf

Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor

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Good Girls Lie by JT Ellison

If you know me, you know I love mysteries set in boarding schools. They are generally off the mark of what boarding schools are actually like, but they are the kind of thing I imagined them to be when I was a teen. Everyone is so rich and nasty to each other and then, boom, murder!

This was a fast-paced story that kept me guessing and actually did a good job of actually portraying private school life.

Thank you for my ARC, Net Galley and Harlequin! It’s YA fodder that is good for my soul! I will share this with my 16 year old, too (with her own copy).

Description

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new psychological thriller examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to in order to protect their secrets.

Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond.

But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder.

When a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

Don’t miss this fast-paced suspense story from New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison!

Go to My Grave by Catriona McPherson

If you know me, you know I like a suspenseful read that keeps you guessing! I will say that I figured out this one pretty early on, but I enjoyed reading it and especially liked how it went back and forth in time from the past to the present day. It’s the perfect summer read for a little excitement!

Some readers may find content of sexual abuse (not graphic) disturbing.

Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

Description

From Catriona McPherson, the Agatha-Award winning author of Quiet Neighbors, comes a clever, spine-tingling standalone Gothic thriller.

Go to My Grave is both a classic ‘country house mystery’ and a thriller. Atmospheric, with mind-bending twists, a narrator who may or may not be reliable, and an ending that will take your breath away and leave you astonished.” —Louise Penny

Donna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, an old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.

But Donna’s guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.

Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”

But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave.

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

I loved Susan Meissner’s As Bright as Heaven: https://drbethnolan.com/2018/07/11/as-bright-as-heaven-by-susan-meissner/

so I was excited to get her new novel, The Last Year of the War. This story was so interesting to me, because while I knew about the relocation of Japanese Americans into war camps, I had no idea that our government also rounded up and interred German nationals and German American citizens, too. This touching novel tells the story of two girls, one German and one Japanese, who become friends in the camp during 1944.

Description via NG

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943–aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.

The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy WWII novels! Thank you for my review copy!

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

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Description (via Net Galley)

We all know that I love a suspenseful read! Winter is the best time to pick up a thriller and to try to reason out who the killer is. I was a bit worried that this one might really bother me since the victim is a teen, but I was okay as it was certainly troubling/disturbing/sad but not overly graphic. (see tags for possible triggers)
A great read while cuddled up in bed! Thank you for my review e-copy!

The Path Divided by Jeanne Moran

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A few years back, I enjoyed reading Jeanne Moran’s children’s novel Risking Exposure (see review here). I was thrilled to hear from her about reading and reviewing her next title in this series: The Path Divided. The Path Divided continues where Risking Exposure left off and tells the rest of the story of Rennie, Sophie, Werner, and Erich. Moving from the present years to WWII, we see the rest of the story for these four teens in Germany.

I truly enjoyed this story, and while it is sad, it drives home the point that the choices we make in life, and their consequences, are ours to keep.

Thank you so much for an e-copy to review, Ms. Moran!

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Every choice has a consequence.

When a magical picture frame reveals the danger facing a teenage traitor, her best friend hatches a plan to sneak her out of Nazi Germany. Options are few. Choices are desperate.

Decades later, an aged Nazi hiding under an alias plans to die with his secrets intact. Confronted with his role in the fate of his sister and her best friend, he must decide: maintain his charade or face the consequences of the path he chose so long ago.

In this powerful conclusion to Risking Exposure, interwoven tales of guilt, sacrifice, and hope crack the divide between personal safety and loyalty to those we claim to love.

For my ears: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas; Read by Phoebe Strole

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Description via Amazon/Audible:

Sharp, brilliantly plotted, and totally engrossing.” (Karen M. McManus, New York Times best-selling author of One of Us Is Lying)

“A crafty, dark, and disturbing story.” (Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times best-selling author of Girl In Pieces)

“A little bit Riverdale and a little bit Veronica Mars.” (Riley Sager, best-selling author of Final Girls, a Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year Nominee)

From the author of The Darkest Corners and Little Monsters comes an all-new edge-of-your-seat thriller set in upstate New York about an eerie sequence of seemingly unrelated events that leaves five cheerleaders dead.

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook. First there was the car accident – two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons.

Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost. That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . .

Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all. There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

More praise for Kara Thomas:

“Gripping from start to finish…with twists that left me shocked.” (Victoria Aveyard, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Red Queen)

“You’ll be up all night tearing through the pages.” (BUSTLE)

“This deliciously deceptive thriller…is a must-have.” (SLJ)

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I love these YA thriller novels- they are my guilty pleasure! This was a well-crafted story that kept me guessing (and listening!). The ultimate compliment for an audiobook is when I can drive the 75 minutes to work and then want to stay in the car to keep listening!

I’ve read other Kara Thomas novels and she’s a talented writer, with a penchant for capturing the harsh realities of teenage life. Her characters are believable. They may be likable (or not).

This story was told in present day and in flashback, which can be tricky while listening, but it was clear to me and never confusing. The voices were distinct.

I got mine with an audible credit via Amazon!