This Might Hurt

An intricate web of a plot involving a cult AND a female magician.

Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me an e-copy of THIS MIGHT HURT by Stephanie Wrobel.

I loved Stephanie’s first book, Darling Rose Gold, so I was excited to be able to review her second book, THIS MIGHT HURT.

The story revolves around hard-worker Nat who is forced to find her estranged younger sister, Kit, at a program meant to help attendees improve their lives – in the fiction world, that’s code for a “cult.”

THIS MIGHT HURT provides a deep delve into the main characters’ pasts – which is needed, but becomes confusing right away. We get two backstories of two different sets of sisters. Once you figure out who means what to the plot, then all is well.

What I loved about the book is one of the sisters grows up wanting to be a … magician. This was such a unique career for a female character. She worked very hard at life, mostly due to her rigid, cold, father who naturally does not want her to be a magician. She loves Houdini, tricks, stunts, immunity to pain so much her hard work eventually does pay off. She becomes somewhat popular in the magician world.

This story deals with grief, familial guilt, loyalty to past relationships and devotion to new ones. There were several scenes which were a bit hard to read. However, I think everything in the story was necessary to make the plot work.

While the story wasn’t a mystery, it’s certainly a psychological thriller. There are head games at every twist and turn.

This is a good story for fans of Stephanie’s first book, cults and characters doing extreme things to make their lives right.

I rate THIS MIGHT HURT four out of five stars.

Good Rich People

Author Eliza Jane Brazier spins a tale of a dangerous game among the rich and poor in GOOD RICH PEOPLE. (I love this cover!)

Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me an e-book copy of GOOD RICH PEOPLE. This book is … WEIRD. In a GOOD way.

This is a story about rich versus poor. Or is it poor versus rich?

Lyla and Graham are very rich. They get bored easily. As does Graham’s mother, aka Lyla’s mother-in-law. They like to play games. The object is to destroy their latest tenant – always somebody who needs help and is specifically chosen by Lyla’s mother-in-law.

We find out about the past tenants and their newest tenant, Demi, who has her own treasure trove of secrets. Demi is the Draw Four card to their UNO game. She is the Go Straight to Jail card in their Monopoly game.

While I don’t think people with loads of money to burn have fun trying to destroy other’s lives, I do think they get bored quite easily. I have no money, you see, so I’m never bored. le sigh.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story, but I ended up enjoying it. It will make you mad, sad and glad you aren’t Lyla.

GOOD RICH PEOPLE, with the perfect cover, publishes on January 25!

I rate GOOD RICH PEOPLE four out of five stars.

The Maid

THE MAID, by author and book editor Nia Prose, is a unique take on a main character who actually loves her job, but finds herself the person of interest in a murder because of her position as a … hotel maid.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for an e-book copy of THE MAID by Nita Prose to review.

I love a sharp, precise, nuts and bolts type of mystery and THE MAID met all of my requirements. THE MAID reminded me of the movie, Clue, with the help of side characters featured in Murder, She Wrote. This was a cozy, but edgy, read about a woman who absolutely loved her job. This is not something we see in most books, particularly in the mystery genre.

Set in present time, we find the maid of a prestigious hotel, Molly, to be socially awkward, Molly is very good at her job. She loves being greeted each morning by her pressed maid uniform and sets about with her cleaning trolley ready to make each hotel room spotless for upcoming guests.

In one of the rooms she discovers the dead body of a regular guest. He is the husband of one of Molly’s few “friends.”

Molly, of course, finds herself to be a person of interest in his death. Molly has to ask for help from others in order to unravel the mystery of who killed the very-rich, very-rude Mr. Black.

The element I loved most about this book was the PRIDE Molly had for her job. Knowing that others view her as a hidden, unseen part of the hotel, Molly took great pride in her career. Most of us have something to complain about our jobs, even when we love them, but Molly was a different character in that she had no qualms with what she did on a daily basis. Albeit, she wished she made more money because she was financially strained due to bad decisions on her part (again, socially awkward).

I think this is a perfect whodunit for the new year. I can’t wait for the movie!

I rate THE MAID five out of five stars.

Never Saw Me Coming

NEVER SAW ME COMING is a thriller involving a murder within a university clinical study of … psychopaths. Let the lies begin!

First off: both the cover and the title wrap your attention in a blanket of fear. And then when you read the plot described as a “clinical study for psychopaths” whodunit – well, I’m here for it. I WAS HERE FOR IT ALL.

In typical Red Herring Wendy form, I’m last on the true crime bandwagon. And I can’t even say I’m on the bandwagon yet. I haven’t made the time to explore true crime podcasts, become a Murderino or even watch Dateline NBC, but, I find any book involving psychopaths fascinating. I always am left wanting more information. I think most of us unknowingly KNOW at least a couple of psychopaths (they are not the same as sociopaths, btw, take a look at google).

CONTENT WARNING: This book contains underage sexual assault, gore, drug usage, suicide attempts and characters with zero remorse.

University student, Chloe Sevre, has found herself attending college on a full scholarship thanks to being a psychopath. She knows this. She embraces it. She has no problem being who she is. It does not bother her in the least.

She is one of six students on campus involved in a clinical study of psychopaths. The point is, naturally, to teach these young people how to function daily in a world that they are mentally against.

Chloe does not care when one of their own is murdered because ol’ girl has her own agenda – she has followed a boy to that particular college to avenge what happened to her years ago.

Her plan is derailed when her own life is threatened and she is forced to team up with other members of the group to solve the murder. Imagine the walls of trust that have to come down in order for psychopaths to trust each other. Ha!

Most likely you will not cheer for author Vera Kurian’s characters, but her storytelling will keep you creeped out and wonder what would you do in the situations the group finds themselves in.

I rate NEVER SAW ME COMING four out of five stars.

My Sweet Girl

Amanda Jayatissa’s debut novel, MY SWEET GIRL, is a twisty, weird, fascinating thriller featuring the unreliable narrator, Paloma Evans.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for providing an e-book copy for me to review. This book! So many feelings. Everything from the beautiful cover to the unreliable main character Paloma just left me in Thriller heaven.

There are not many characters to like in this book. Paloma, in particular, is not the “sweet girl” her adoptive parents dubbed her. She curses like a sailor – the F word is said in nearly every single page of the book (I loved this quality about her) and she just doesn’t like people. She is doing the best she can in a world that was constantly trying to make her be something that she wasn’t.

Paloma Evans was adopted from Sri Lanka by a white couple that had a bit of a savior complex, perhaps out of the goodness of their hearts, but also for the public accolades. Paloma knows this. She knows she was an accessory to them.

The book switches back-and-forth between Paloma’s past in Sri Lanka as a girl living in an orphanage with BFF Lihini and present time. As an adult, Paloma’s roommate knew her secrets from the orphanage and was about to start extorting her, that is until Paloma finds him dead in their apartment. From there the roller coaster begins.

Paloma is in therapy, which is somewhat helpful, but she also drinks a lot, has blackouts, isn’t sure if what she sees is real, and, oh, is convinced a ghost from the orphanage is haunting her.

The ending was a tad predictable, but for Amanda Jayatissa’s debut novel, I thought MY SWEET GIRL was a fascinating fall novel, just in time for Halloween.

I rate MY SWEET GIRL four out of five stars.

The Storytellers

I’m so behind on posts and reviews! My apologies! Along with reading mysteries and thrillers, I’ve also been writing my own mysteries for about eight years now. I’ve actually given myself a plot twist by attempting to write a romance novel. I’m thinking about providing a tab on the blog regarding writing.


This book came at the PERFECT time for me. I’m always looking for inspiration to keep writing and The Storytellers did just that. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing me a copy.

Have you ever read a suspense novel so good you had to stop and think to yourself, “How did the author come up with this idea? Their characters? Is some of this story real?” For over five years, Mark Rubinstein, physician, psychiatrist, and mystery and thriller writer, had the chance to ask the most well-known authors in the field just these kinds of questions in interviews for the Huffington Post.

Collected here are interviews with forty-seven accomplished authors, including Michael Connelly, Ken Follett, C. J. Box, Lee Child, Meg Gardiner, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, and Don Winslow. These are their personal stories in their own words, much of the material never before published. How do these writers’ life experiences color their art? Find out their thoughts, their inspirations, their candid opinions. Learn more about your favorite authors, how they work and who they truly are.

First off, I’ve read several of the featured authors works so I found the book incredibly interesting. Each chapter features an interview between Mark Rubinstein and interviews he’s had, mostly between 2016-2018, with the authors.

He asks the questions you would expect and then delves into the real grit of each author. What’s their writing process like? How many books do they write a year and exactly HOW do they make that happen? Mark also personalized the questions with the author’s past and how certain events shaped their plots and determination to be published.

THE STORYTELLERS, edited by Mark Rubinstein, features interviews from best-selling Mystery and Thriller authors including Sue Grafton, Laura Lippman, Stuart Woods and Lee Child.

I learned a lot about each author such as Laura Lippman’s tumultuous final year at The Baltimore Sun and Stuart Woods generally writes multiple books in ONE year.

Allow me to add that my beloved Sue Grafton is one of the authors featured in THE STORYTELLERS. Sue, author of the Kinsey Millhone series, also known as the alphabet series, died in 2017. Sue is one of my absolute favorite mystery authors and a big inspiration for my own writing.

I enjoyed how each mystery/thriller writer waxed on about how they believe we are all capable of doing bad things, but that we’ve got a moral compass to guide us. And as Dennis Lehane said, “The vast majority of what we call morality is simply fear of being caught.” He is sadly correct!

I received this copy as an e-book. I found the question and answer format a bit on the slow-reading side. However, I think if I had the novel in an actual book, I’d have read it faster.

I rate THE STORYTELLERS four out of five stars.

Kill All Your Darlings

In KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS, English professor Connor Nye is an imposter pretending he wrote a novel that was actually written by a student of his who has been missing for two years.

I’ve been in the mood for slow burn thrillers lately. While I love action-packed, fast-paced tales, sometimes you just need a story to sink in, marinate and let questions like, “but how would …” or “why did …” pop into your head. In KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS, author David Bell gives a read-and-relax plot that leaves us waiting in anticipation for the whodunit.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the Advanced Reader Copy to review. KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS will be published on Tuesday, July 6!

After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.

There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.

Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.

KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS is the first in my blog series “Posers and Imposters.” Our good-guy antagonist Connor is trying to navigate his grief while not losing his beloved job as a college professor/author, yet is carrying the lie that he is the author of a successful novel.

It was William Faulkner who said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” What he meant was writers must get rid of any characters that the author may love, but do nothing to move the story along. And that is certainly what David accomplished in this novel. Each character is a thread to another character that lead to questions and answers of this book-within-a-book mystery.

While trying to move past his grief over the death of his family, an English professor finds himself the suspect in a student’s disappearance.

Readers get a glimpse into the pressures of gaining and keeping university tenure and the cold, hard truth that a lot of English professors are … not valued because they are unpublished.

Open KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS on a night when you are ready to reminisce about college days and dream of being published. Oh, wait, that was for me to do. You just enjoy this tale of what a burden being an imposter can bring.

I rate KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS four out of five stars.

The Other Black Girl

THE OTHER BLACK GIRL, written by Zakiya Dalila Harris, takes readers on the roller coaster competitiveness career ride that is publishing. Editorial assistant, Nella, welcomes Hazel with open arms, but quickly finds out there is more to her new co-worker than what meets the eye.

Touted as “The Devil Wears Prada” meets “Get Out,” THE OTHER BLACK GIRL is a psychological thriller that will have you staying up all night – on a weeknight – to get to the end. I’m still thinking about Zakiya Dalila Harris’ plot days after finishing the book.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

While “The Devil Wears Prada” comparisons are accurate, the last half of the book leans more towards “Get Out.” 

I loved all the details Zakiya gave readers about working in the publishing industry. It seems extremely competitive, but the setting is relatable to readers because a lot of jobs can be cut-throat.

More importantly is Nella’s viewpoint as being the only person of color in her office. Nella tries to balance out her views of all the people she worked with. She gives people the benefit of the doubt, maybe too much. Nella is a genuinely nice person. She is a hard-worker. She doesn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. She wants to see the good in people, even when there are a LOT of inconsistencies.

We’ve all had that one overly competitive one-upper co-worker. Nella trusts newcomer, Hazel, quickly and comes to regret her own welcoming nature.

Nella is trying to balance out her work life as being the only black girl in the office, as well as her personal life with her white boyfriend. This makes things murky for her. That is until Hazel shows up. Then Nella’s life becomes a confusing, sabotaged, gaslit mess that makes her concerned she is losing her mind. But, is Hazel the true culprit?

Hazel is that one work frenemy we all have experienced. She’s the company one-upper while trying to be your “friend” on the side. 

Hazel entrenches herself into making things happen diversity-wise for the company – something that Nella has been trying to do herself for years. Hazel immediately impresses the bosses, including the publishing company’s founder and president.

My only issue with the book was the ending. No spoilers!!! I can’t say anything else without giving too much away. So, I’ll say this instead – turn off Netflix, put your phone in the other room, boil a cup of hot, peppermint tea and read this book!

I rate THE OTHER BLACK GIRL four out of five stars.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here

THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE is the debut Adult novel by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn. She has written several award-winning Young Adult novels.

A lot of people think of their high school years as the best time in their life. For me, a couple of my college years were the best of my life. I am quite old now, late 40s, but that time during college… it was so fun, so exhausting and I had a fantastic nest of friends.

They weren’t all classmates, but I had a hilarious group of “work” friends who were various ages. We all worked at a local retail warehouse, hence the exhausting part, and sometimes I wish I could transport myself right back to that group of people during the age of Seinfeld, Mariah Carey – before her ego became too big – and dinner get-togethers in my duplex.

However, today I am a complete SUCKER for stories involving how dark, tragic events during college years affect the life path the characters take – both good and bad.

In THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE, the debut Adult novel by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, we have a character who has done a pretty good job of leaving behind her college days where a tragic event happened that she may or may not have been involved in. Ten years later, she’s in a loveless marriage (from her point-of-view) and is being summoned to a college reunion with all of her frenemies who know the secrets she’s hidden from her husband.

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past—and the people she thought she’d left there—aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused—the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death.

CONTENT WARNING: The topics this book discusses are bullying, the shaming of women’s sexual activities, rape, drug use, abortion and suicide.

The literary critical magazine Kirkus best described the book as, “A sharp, pitch-black thriller that takes the mean-girls trope to another level.”

Sharp is definitely how I would describe THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE. Sharp: as in prickly and be super careful while being around certain people.

Running from her college years is no longer an option for Ambrosia Wellington. She is forced to attend her 10-year reunion where she must solve a mystery that occurred during her first semester.

Amb is not the quintessential likeable character. She’s not quite as unlikeable as Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, but she’s someone who doesn’t want to make much of an effort to solve the things that she is running from until forced to. She wasn’t a classmate people especially wanted to be friends with and actually became a campus pariah as the years went on.

I thought the mystery itself was interesting in that Amb was forced to solve the damn mystery herself in order to move on with her life. There needed to be a bit more character development of Amb such as information about her career and instances of things she actually cared about. Something other than just the focus on aspects of her marriage.

THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE is perfect for readers who want a mystery that will have them stepping back in time in remembrance of their own college years with the knowledge they no longer have to deal with past frenemies.

I rate THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE three out of five stars.

People Like Her

PEOPLE LIKE HER takes a fictional look at the dark side of being an Instafamous mommy influencer.

What a great tagline this book has: “Followed by Millions, Watched by One” – it perfectly sums up the plot, yet encapsulates our obsession with social media.

In this debut from wife/husband duo, Ellery Lloyd (also a great author pen name), PEOPLE LIKE HER explores the pros and cons of being Instagram famous. The plot deals with the murky, dangerous side of being well-known in the influencer world.

To her adoring fans, Emmy Jackson, aka @the_mamabare, is the honest “Instamum” who always tells it like it is. 

To her skeptical husband, a washed-up novelist who knows just how creative Emmy can be with the truth, she is a breadwinning powerhouse chillingly brilliant at monetizing the intimate details of their family life.

To one of Emmy’s dangerously obsessive followers, she’s the woman that has everything—but deserves none of it.  

As Emmy’s marriage begins to crack under the strain of her growing success and her moral compass veers wildly off course, the more vulnerable she becomes to a very real danger circling ever closer to her family.

In this deeply addictive tale of psychological suspense, Ellery Lloyd raises important questions about technology, social media celebrity, and the way we live today. Probing the dark side of influencer culture and the perils of parenting online, People Like Her explores our desperate need to be seen and the lengths we’ll go to be liked by strangers. It asks what—and who—we sacrifice when make our private lives public, and ultimately lose control of who we let in. . . .

I have a love/hate relationship with Social Media. There are a lot of good things about it: meeting new people (Hello, Bookstagram community!), learning more about your hobbies, being introduced to things you never knew existed. The bad things include FOMO, comparing yourself to others, finding you may not be the special snowflake you thought you were, the sadz feelings of not keeping up with the Joneses, etc…

And then there are the psychos, trolls and stalkers. The book discusses what happens when Emmy’s followers take her seriously. So seriously in that she’s blamed for the horrible events that happened to followers listening to her advice.

PEOPLE LIKE HER also takes a deep look into the fake façade influencers show. Emmy herself admits to being the opposite of the mom she portrays on Instagram. She’s not perfect, she’s very flawed and she knows this. Yet, she becomes addicted to the power, and money, that being a successful mom influencer can bring.

Wife/Husband author duo, Ellery Lloyd, aka, Collette Lyons, who worked as a journalist and editorial content director, and novelist Paul Vlitos, wrote PEOPLE LIKE HER – the novel unravels the frightening aspects of being Instagram famous.

The book takes a path that, at times, becomes unbelievable. However, this is a popcorn thriller in that you’ll want to read to the end because you must find out what happens to this family, YET it’s not a story you would nominate for Book of the Year.

After you spend a couple of hours reading your favorite Mommy Blogger and question whether you will ruin your kids’ lives because you haven’t been feeding them organic bananas, relax on the sofa, read PEOPLE LIKE HER and realize you are actually the best mommy in the world.

I rate PEOPLE LIKE HER four out of five stars.

Just a housekeeping note: For books I read on e-readers, I’ll try to liven up the cover photos. This is something I’ll hopefully get better at as time goes on. Also, reviews of books I have access to the jacket flaps, I’ll post the description directly from the flap. For e-reader books, I’ll post the Goodreads description. Also, I’m still working on the blog menu tabs, as some are still not working correctly. (insert emoji grrrr face here)