July 2023 Reads and Reviews

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

july 2023 reads graphic

BOOKS

July was definitely better than June as far as quantity and quality, but still not my best month.

It’s hard to read when these children won’t leave me alone. True blessings.

You Shouldn’t Have Come Here – Jeneva Rose

Amazon rating: 4 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.4 stars

How I read it: Physical copy (signed by the queen herself!)

Read if you like:

  • Dual first person POV
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Locked room thrillers
  • Short chapters
  • Psychological thrillers

What I loved: THE ENDING SHAWTY! Plus short chapters and first person POV are always winners in my book

What I didn’t love: SLIGHTLY predictable, but not really

Book Blurb

You’ve opened up your house and your heart to a total stranger … What could possibly go wrong?

Grace Evans, an overworked New Yorker looking for a total escape from her busy life, books an Airbnb on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming. When she arrives at the idyllic getaway, she’s pleased to find that the owner is a handsome man by the name of Calvin Wells—and he’s eager to introduce her to his easygoing way of life. But there are things Grace discovers that she’s not too pleased about: A lack of cell phone service. A missing woman.

And a feeling that something isn’t right with the ranch.


Despite her uneasiness, the two bond and start to fall for one another. However, as her departure date nears, things change for the worse. What began as a playful romance soon turns into a complicated web of lies. Grace grows wary of Calvin as his infatuation for her seems to have morphed to obsession. Calvin fears that Grace is hiding something from him—including her reason for staying at his ranch to begin with. Vacation flings typically end in heartbreak, but for Grace and Calvin, it’ll be far more destructive.”

My thoughts

I’ve heard and seen some not so great reviews of this book and quite honestly, I’m not sure why.

I’ll admit that I didn’t love it as much as I loved The Perfect Marriage, BUT I still REALLY liked it. A lot.

Short chapters? YES. I felt like I flew through this because of that. Dual POV that was in first person and not too many extra characters taking up space? YES PLEASE.

This book really had everything I look for in a thriller and the tension that was built to that crescendo of an ending was all the things of my thriller dreams.

I think that I was able to predict a bigger picture, but I still didn’t feel like I could have ever guessed how that ending would go.

I really enjoyed this, and even more enjoyed getting to meet her in person and have her sign my copy!

My rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Don’t Look for Me – Wendy Walker

Amazon rating: 4.3 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.98 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Family drama
  • Locked room thrillers
  • Battle of wits
  • Dual POV (first person)
  • Alternating timelines

What I loved: The action and storyline were great here

What I didn’t love: A little predictable (at least the who)

Book Blurb

“They called it a “walk away.” The car abandoned miles from home. The note found at a nearby hotel. The shattered family. It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to start over. But what really happened to Molly Clarke?

The night Molly disappeared began with a storm, running out of gas, and a man offering her a ride to safety. But when the doors lock shut, Molly begins to suspect she has made a terrible mistake.

A new lead brings Molly’s daughter, Nicole, back to the small, desolate town where her mother was last seen to renew the desperate search. The locals are sympathetic and eager to help. The innkeeper. The bartender. Even the police. Until secrets begin to reveal themselves and Nicole comes closer to the truth about that night—and the danger surrounding her.”

My thoughts

I really liked the pace of this one and the storyline kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

I loved the dual POV of the mom and oldest daughter because you were able to see the same story from different angles.

This reminded me of The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean that I read last month, but WAY less intense (yet still intense!)

My rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Not So Perfect Strangers – L.S. Stratton

woman's hand holding not so perfect strangers book by L.S. Stratton

Amazon rating: 3.9 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.66 stars

How I read it: Physical copy (that I borrowed from my local library)

Read if you like:

  • Short chapters
  • Fast paced
  • Dual POV (first person)

Content warning: Domestic abuse

What I loved: Those short chapters had me flying through this

What I didn’t love: Madison *eye roll*

Book Blurb

“Tasha Jenkins has finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband. Taking her teenage son with her, Tasha checks into a hotel the night before their flight out of D.C. and out of Kordell Jenkins’s life forever. But escaping isn’t so easy, and Tasha soon finds herself driving back to her own personal hell. As she is leaving, a white woman pounds on her car window, begging to be let in. Behind the woman, an angry man is in pursuit. Tasha makes a split-second decision that will alter the course of her life: she lets her in and takes off. 
 
Tasha and Madison Gingell may have very different everyday realities, but what they have in common is marriages they need out of. The two women want to help each other, but they have very different ideas of what that means . . .
 
They are on a collision course that will end in the case files of the D.C. MPD homicide unit. Unraveling the truth of what really happened may be impossible‒and futile. Because what has the truth ever done for women like Tasha and Madison?”

My thoughts

This month started off with 3 super strong 4 star reads and this was one of them.

I loved the alternating POVs of this and loved seeing into the minds of these women, even though Madison made me want to reach through this book and bitch slap her.

It just felt a little bit of white entitled women taking advantage of black women in actual unfortunate situations which grinds my gears.

However, this was the first book I read from this author and she apparently has several pen names but I would love to read more from her because she has a real easy to read writing style and I really enjoed this book!

My rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Baby Teeth – Zoje Stage

*Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon rating: 4 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.6 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Creepy kids
  • Dual POV (first person)
  • Slow to medium paced
  • Psychological thrillers/suspense

What I loved: Ummmm……

What I didn’t love: It never felt like it went anywhere

Book Blurb

MEET HANNA: Seven-year-old Hanna is a sweet-but-silent angel in the eyes of her adoring father Alex. He’s the only person who understands her. But her mother Suzette stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

MEET SUZETTE: Suzette loves her daughter, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. She’s also becoming increasingly frightened by Hanna’s little games, while her husband Alex remains blind to the failing family dynamics. Soon, Suzette starts to fear that maybe their supposedly innocent baby girl may have a truly sinister agenda.
A battle of wills between mother and daughter reveals the frailty and falsehood of familial bonds in award-winning playwright and filmmaker Zoje Stage’s tense novel of psychological suspense, Baby Teeth.”

My thoughts

This is one of those books that (again) did not live up to the hype.

I’ve seen it all over TT and IG and was expecting it to be super creepy and it just wasn’t.

Yes the girl who won’t speak and does mean things to her mom is creepy, but not nearly what I was anticipating.

I also felt that this book never went anywhere. I kept waiting for something to happen, something to be a huge crescendo and it just never came. Whomp whomp.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Saving Noah – Anne Mette Hancock

*Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon rating: 4.3 stars

Goodreads rating: 4.1 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Intense family drama
  • Protective mother
  • Psychological thrillers
  • Dual POV

Content warning: Pedophilia, suicide

What I loved: The almost single POV

What I didn’t love: Predictable; romanticizing of sex offenders

Book Blurb

“Meet Noah—an A-honor roll student, award-winning swimmer, and small-town star destined for greatness. There weren’t any signs that something was wrong until the day he confesses to molesting little girls during swim team practice. He’s sentenced to eighteen months in a juvenile sexual rehabilitation center. His mother, Adrianne, refuses to turn her back on him despite his horrific crimes, but her husband won’t allow Noah back into their home. In a series of shocking and shattering revelations, Adrianne is forced to make the hardest decision of her life. Just how far will she go to protect her son?”

My thoughts

Eh. I have mixed emotions on this one.

First of all, it was only okay overall so take everything else with a grain of salt.

While it was written mostly from the mom’s POV, there was a second POV in a previous/alternating timeline but you don’t put it all together until the end (except I did lolz).

This wasn’t a whodunnit, but a what now after the fact. It wasn’t super hard to hear (there weren’t graphic scenes of what happened), but it also was just a little sad.

In the same vein, I have seen some reviews of this book saying that the pedophile was romanticized, and while I don’t necessarily believe that, I do believe you see into the mother of the pedophile’s point of view and her unwavering love for her kid, even in the end.

IDK. Wasn’t anything I’d probably pick up again or recommend to most people, but it was a fairly easy book to read/listen to.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Our Missing Hearts – Celeste Ng

woman's hand holding Our Missing Hearts book by Celeste Ng

Amazon rating: 4.2 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.8 stars

How I read it: Physical copy (that I borrowed from my local library)

Read if you like:

  • Slow/medium burn
  • General fiction
  • Dystopian settings

Content warning: Racism

What I loved: Meh, not much tbh

What I didn’t love: The writing style (more in my review)

Book Blurb

Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. His mother Margaret, a Chinese American poet, left without a trace when he was nine years old. He doesn’t know what happened to her—only that her books have been banned—and he resents that she cared more about her work than about him. 

Then one day, Bird receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, and soon he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of heroic librarians, and finally to New York City, where he will finally learn the truth about what happened to his mother, and what the future holds for them both.

My thoughts

I know you’re going to wonder why I rated this 3.5 stars. Especially when I disliked so much. But I’ll tell ya.

1, this book read EERILY similar to where Republicans want this country. Everyone forced to be patriotic or children are taken from families, books banned and libraries are completely empty, every single book scrutinized and everyone causing uproar or being told on as being “unpatriotic” is arrested or mysteriously disappears.

So because of that, this book will stick with me.

2, the libraries being a refuge and solitude just made my lil’ stone cold back heart swell because I love the library.

And 3, the woman (Bird’s mama) trying to fight the power (literally) provided a lot of feel good moments.

HOWEVER, I hated this writing style. Hated it. There were no true chapters and zero quotation marks, even when someone was speaking.

It felt disorienting and felt like I was reading one giant run on sentence.

Plus, as soon as I saw the Reese Witherspoon Book Club sticker on it, I was already turned off because her book club picks are TRASH. I’ve read several and usually am underwhelmed 90% of the time (looking at you House in the Pines. EW)

My rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

You Are Not Alone – Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks

Amazon rating: 4.2 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.7 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Multiple POV
  • Alternating timelines
  • Cult-ish plots
  • Psychological thriller/suspense

What I loved: Good drama in this

What I didn’t love: Just not one of my favorites from this dynamic duo

Book Blurb

“Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.

Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better.

Shay would die for them to like her.
She may have to.”

My thoughts

This is the third or fourth book I’ve read from this team of ladies and I always appreciate their writing style.

Usually drama and suspense filled, and this one was too.

I’ll say I wasn’t as invested in the story as I was with the others of theirs that I’ve read, but it was still a good easy listen and I totally enjoyed the story while listening!

My rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Stone Cold Fox – Rachel Coller Kroft

woman's hand holding Stone Cold Fox book by Rachel Koller Croft

Amazon rating: 4 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.7 stars

How I read it: Physical copy (that I borrowed from my local library) then moved to Kindle

Read if you like:

  • Strong female leads
  • Single first person POV
  • Witty writing
  • Revenge thrillers
  • Cliffhanger endings

What I loved: Writing style felt very much like my own would be

What I didn’t love: I HATE cliffhangers lolz; the MC’s mother

Book Blurb

“Like any enterprising woman, Bea knows what she’s worth and is determined to get all she deserves—it just so happens that what she deserves is to marry rich. Filthy rich. After years of forced instruction by her mother in the art of swindling men, a now-solo Bea wants nothing more than to close and lock the door on their sordid partnership so she can disappear safely into old-money domesticity, sealing the final phase of her escape.

When Bea chooses her ultimate target in the fully loaded, thoroughly dull and blue-blooded Collin Case, she’s ready to deploy all of her tricks one last time. The challenge isn’t getting the ring, but rather the approval of Collin’s family and everyone else in their 1 percent tax bracket, particularly his childhood best friend, Gale Wallace-Leicester.

Going toe-to-toe with Gale isn’t a threat to an expert like Bea, but what begins as an amusing cat-and-mouse game quickly develops into a dangerous pursuit of the grisly truth. Finding herself at a literal life-and-death crossroads with everything on the line, Bea must finally decide who she really wants to be.

Like mother, like daughter?”

My thoughts

I wanted so much to like this better.

This was a debut thriller from this author and while I can totally see why people love it, I thought it was only okay.

This girl’s mother, first of all, made me want to throw smaller rocks at bigger rocks she’s so horrid.

I definitely laughed out loud a few times at the witty lines in here because it truly felt like something I could have written so I have mad props for that.

And if you like endings that are essentially begging for a sequel, this might be a good one. I’ve just read a good bit of revenge thrillers and for the most part, I usually come away feeling like I have all the power in the world and this didn’t give me the same feels.

Not the worst, just seemingly easy to forget after the fact. But it did make for an interesting read while reading.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Butcher and the Wren – Alaina Urquhart

Amazon rating: 4.5 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.7 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Serial killer trope
  • Cat and mouse
  • Dual first person POV
  • Cliffhanger endings
  • Short books (under 300 pages)

What I loved: Loved the serial killer angle and seeing the story from his (sadistic) POV

What I didn’t love: Cliffhangerrrrrrs UGH

Book Blurb

“Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve. Until now. Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day.”

My thoughts

Admittedly, this book has been on my TBR a while because I read another true crime podcaster’s book and DID NOT like it at all.

However, this was incredible. Her writing style is super engaging and because she actually works in a morgue in real life as an autopsy tech when she’s not doing the true crime podcast thing, this felt very accurate.

I also really loved her writing of the serial killer’s character. It was gruesome in parts, but getting to be inside his brain and listen to his inner dialogue was done really well.

The only reason I didn’t bump this was because I HATE cliffhangers. I thought this was about to wrap up super nice in a little bow and then at the last second, we realize it did not.

Because I listened to this on audiobook, there’s actually an interview with her at the end about the book which I really liked too and I do know there is a second book coming, but still UGH.

However, this was one I really enjoyed reading.

My rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wicked Beauty – Katee Robert

woman's hand holding Wicked Beauty book by Katee Robert

Amazon rating: 4 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.99 stars

How I read it: Physical copy (that I borrowed from my local library), then moved to Kindle

Read if you like:

  • Greek mythology with a modern twist
  • SUPER mega ultra spicy romance
  • Throuples
  • Multiple first person POV

What I loved: This book so easily can immerse me in the scenes

What I didn’t love: I liked it all!

Book Blurb

“In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?”

My thoughts

I truly can’t explain it, but there is something SO captivating about this updated Greek mythological world Katee sets up.

It’s almost like reality TV because of course there’s things like social media and the internet and gossip magazines so it’s got all the new age things with old greek mythological characters and I. LOVE. IT.

This is the third book in the series and the third one I’ve read and this one was unique because it featured Achilles and Patroclus as a couple and they end up bringing in Helen as a third which sounds kinky (and it is lolz) but somehow it just feels right.

I’m not going to give much of the story away because I just feel like it’s something that needs to be experienced if spicy romance is your thing, but if it is, this series is THE JAM.

My rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

*Available on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon rating: 4.2 stars

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Multiple (first person) POV
  • Cat and mouse
  • High stakes
  • Psychological thriller/suspense
  • Revenge kills

What I loved: I liked Lily’s POV; easy listen on audiobook with different narrators for each person

What I didn’t love: Some voices of the audiobook narrators got on my nerves lolz

Book Blurb

“On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.”

My thoughts

I actually picked up The Kind Worth Saving at the library, but while researching it, I found out there was this book that came before it so I got this one first instead.

This was a wild ride about a man and woman who meet in an airport bar and within minutes decide to be co-conspirators in the plot to murder the man’s cheating wife.

Maybe I’m just anti-social but I rarely talk to strangers in an airport, much less tell them “Nice to meet you, I wanna kill someone, wanna help?” lolz.

However, the journey of this book was quite the ride of ups and downs.

There were some bloody scenes in here, but y’all know by now that stuff doesn’t bother me.

I will say I felt bad for Kimball in the end, but as I’m listening to the second book now without giving too much away, I can say all is well.

My rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What Remains – Wendy Walker

Amazon rating: 4.1 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.7 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Police/investigator main character
  • Stalker tropes
  • Medium paced
  • Multiple POV

What I loved: Good listen on audiobook

What I didn’t love: I feel like the story stalled a few times throughout

Book Blurb

“Detective Elise Sutton is a forensics expert with a knack for solving cold cases and a deep knowledge of the criminal mind. She prides herself on being rational and in control, until a crisis at a department store leaves her steeped in guilt and self-doubt about whether she did the right thing to save a man’s life.

Elise is hailed as a hero, but she doesn’t feel like one. She soon grows numb, even to her husband and daughters, as she sets out to find the one man who might know the truth. When she finds him—or did he find her?—their connection sets off a terrifying game of cat and mouse, threatening Elise and the people she loves most.”

My thoughts

This was my first NetGalley book I was able to receive so I was super excited about that!

If you’re unfamiliar with netGalley, it’s a way to get advanced books or audiobooks before they’re released to the public!

I read my first Wendy Walker novel this month and really enjoyed her writing style and the storyline, so I was pumped to get this.

But unfortunately this fell a little flat for me. I don’t normally dig a cop being a huge part of a storyline (I’m not even sure why that is), and I was glad that it didn’t play too much into the story here, but it still just didn’t captivate me like the book I read last month did.

I felt like there just were more characters being introduced that didn’t really have too much to do with the storyline and it was all just okay.

I also thought it was a bit weird that the phrase “high as a f*cking kite” was used twice in 2 totally different scenarios, none of which were describing someone who was actually high on drugs?

I just never really got super emotionally invested in any of the characters enough for it to be super memorable.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Top 3 Reads of July

I read a lot of solid 4 star books this month, but if you’re looking to only add a few, here were my top 3 for this month that I would definitely recommend:

3 – The Butcher and the wickeWren by Alaina Urquhart

2 – Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert

1 – You Shouldn’t Have Come Here by Jeneva Rose

SHOP ALL BOOKS

CLICK BELOW TO SHOP OR ADD TO YOUR TBR!

Similar Posts