The Three of Us by Ore Abaje-Williams

The Three of Us is an intense unique story which takes place in one day. Its premise is two best friends since childhood whose culture says women are perhaps less than men, and one of them gets married, one still single and she clearly does not understand why her friend got married. Especially to the man she did which starts a tug of war for the attention of the married woman. You would think this is childish, but this game which has been played for years has finally caused the husband to finally tell them what he feels.

The only name used is Temi, the friend of the married couple. Temi, who seems to resent the marriage and the husband who she antagonizes every chance she gets, and hurtfully, the wife always siding with Temi and treats her husband like a joke when he is around. And he says nothing out of respect for their friendship.

So, one day, Temi arrives at the home of the married couple to visit her friend who doesn’t work, and they begin the day as usual, drinking, eating and gossiping and reminiscing. Temi of course continually giving her husband digs. What makes this uncomfortable to the reader is that it seems the wife enjoys the jabs and laughs with Temi.

They talk about their history, how the two women met and how the couple met, which also includes Temi’s immediate dislike of the husband. The relationship between Temi and the husband has never been good, but in the past three years of marriage it seems to have deteriorated even more.

When the husband calls his wife to tell her he’s coming home from work early, he realizes Temi is there. He tries to explain to his wife his feelings about the situation which she seems to laugh off. Upon his arrival the husband and wife argue as Temi has gone out for more alcohol. But when the husband finds out his wife has been telling Temi very private information about their life, he realizes he just cannot do this anymore. Something must give in this dysfunctional relationship.

The Three of Us looks at how close relationships change or should change when there is a shift or new addition of another person. All parties should do their best to compensate for the extra person and respect the feelings and the choices the friend makes, although that perhaps may not include the other friend. But unfortunately, when one friend is too selfish and narcissistic to see the needs of the others and one friend cannot bear to stand up for their husband, it is a no-win situation. Then what do they do?

Thank you #NetGalley #Penguin/RandomHouse #OreAbaje-Williams #TheThreeofUs for the advanced copy.

Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon

Killing Me, killed it! The story, which is fast paced and funny is about a serial killer and the two women who admirably dislike one another trying to solve the mystery as to who the murderer could be since no one at the FBI seems to be able. Both women have different types of seedy pasts and both women are certainly type A personalities. What could go wrong?

College student Amber Jamison wakes up and discovers she is the next victim of a serial killer who has been killing girls in the area. How could she have been so stupid as to get herself into a mess like this? But just as he goes to end her life, a mysterious woman swoops in, kills the killer and tells Amber to forget she ever saw her and leaves. Just leaves.

But a visit from an FBI agent about the serial killer and her fingerprints being at the scene, something mystery girl was supposed to have taken care of (thanks!) leads Amber to have to flee. You see Amber’s past is not very legal so to say. So, she decides she can’t stick around and goes on the run.

She ends up in Las Vegas at a “motel” where she encounters a kind-hearted manager and a beautiful call girl. With no money she tries to survive under the radar, which goes out the window when someone leaves a mysterious envelope for her and it is filled with pictures of murdered women from Las Vegas motels. She has no idea why she would get this other than perhaps her ex-mysterious friend thinks she would be good at solving murders…not!

But then she gets a shocking visit from her nemesis and finds out she has been tracking her because she knows Amber is the next victim of the serial killer. Now the gruesome twosome must attempt to work together before he kills Amber or someone else. It seems her now partner has been playing cat and mouse with the killer for years. And with good reason.

Now, they have to somehow agree to a plan, make sure no one is injured, find him and kill him. Easy!

Kill Me was an absolutely enjoyable read which I did not want to end. The story was suspenseful, there were lovable characters, hilarious dialogue and great twists! I did read to the last sentence in the Acknowledgement and let me just say…I cannot wait!

Thank you #NetGalley #G.P.Putnam’sSons #KillingMe #MichelleGagnon for the advanced copy.

Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby started out as a blogger many years ago and not only has become a funny essayist but also a sought-after television writer. Her essays can be raw, but with very good reason. She seems to always find herself in the most awkward, uncomfortable situations, enough to well, write a book! I adore her! She is never afraid to tell us about the good, the bad, and the smelly!

Her humor comes by way of a strange life, with a mother who was ill and a father who was gone. Later in life as she relays in this book that she discovers a stepbrother and others she never knew existed. The toll from her childhood not only formed who she is today, but estranged her from her sister, but that’s okay.

Embarrassment is Irby’s middle name. And that’s what makes this book so good. Irby’s internal dialogue with herself is hysterical, enlightening but also empathizing. Her book dedication says it all…open the book, just for that!

Her essays touch on very relatable topics as how she and her wife had to adjust to living with each other, such as the day Irby opened the refrigerator and discovered all these new and odd healthy food items, but she also had to get use to a couple of stepchildren and how to deal with them. Her advice is priceless!

One of her essays honestly is a true test of embarrassment when she seems to have taken, eaten, or smelled something which sent her to the hospital with anaphylactic shock and all that came before her visit, and during the visit, only to find out that typical Irby, she has no idea what caused the problem.

She and her wife, like many during the pandemic, decided to adopt a dog, but each time they found one it was always taken. And then her wife found one, which Irby was not too keen on and life as they knew it would never be the same!

For anyone interested in writing for television, she gives a detailed description of how to write a pilot and all that entails…years and when the final production is finished only be told we’ll pass.

But for me, the BEST essay is the one in which she breaks down old Sex and the City episodes. Irby, now a writer for And Just Like That, gives her take on what she believes should have happened in the episodes and why. ( I read this essay twice because it was hysterical)!

The title Quietly Hostile fits Irby’s personality perfectly. She doesn’t have a lot to say outwardly, but her inside dialogue fits all of us to a tee!

Thank you #NetGalley #Vintage #SamanthaIrby #QuietlyHostile for the advanced copy.

No One Need to Know by Lindsay Cameron

No One Needs to Know is a psychological thriller with a creative plot line which has a juicy, gossipy yet cringy story full of jealousy, wealth, revenge, sabotage, affairs and even murder. What more could one book give?

The story targets the rich, I mean the really rich, and those who want to be richer, live more like the really rich because, well, it’s never enough. Who’s jealous of who, which of their children will get into the better school and what they need to do make that happen. But most of all it’s about the entitled and who they look down on, the less rich.

And the only time it really matters is when they bet busted. And unfortunately for them, the social media site Urban Myth which prides itself on anonymity and which they all use to air their grievances from affairs to wanting to kill someone may not be as secure as they all thought.

Heather is a follower. She wants to be the Queen Bee but is not wealthy enough. She slaves for the Queen in hopes of getting approval and moving up on the food chain. She has a daughter, Violet who she expects to go to an exclusive school. Violet is only 13. She has learned to be creative in her ways to help her family succeed. But when she accidently finds out there is a compromising picture of her daughter at a posh dance in which an administrator from an elite school was supposed to attend online, she goes crazy. Perhaps even obsessed with finding out who’s to blame.

Norah comes from wealth. She also works very hard to sustain the lifestyle she, her husband and daughter enjoy. All she wants is for her daughter Caroline to get into the top exclusive school. Nora is not into the politics of schmoozing with other parents. But when she accidentally finds out something about Caroline, she realizes it’s time to take a stand.

Poppy IS The Queen Bee, and she knows it. She rules in a very demeaning way. Poppy enjoys the attention. She lives for attention. From everyone, except her husband who gives her none. They know where their son Henry will end up, even though he is a bit difficult. Poppy has many secrets, most of which would ruin her if they came out.

Suddenly no one is safe and confidential information begins to leak out in which all the women can’t control. Affairs, bribes blackmail, and one missing person oh my! And then the explosion heard around the world when it is discovered that Urban Myth has been hacked. And everybody must run for cover and protect themselves.

Who will come out of this unscathed? Is there enough money to go around to make sure the children are protected. Rich people problems, I guess… but enjoyable anyway!

No One Needs to Know is a jaw-dropping look at the caste system which even exists with the uber wealthy and the only way in which they know how to make it go away. Throw money at the problem. Such a great read!

Thank you #NetGalley #Bantam/RandomHouse #NoOneNeedstoKnow #LindsayCameron for the advanced copy.

Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan

Late Bloomers is a wonderful love story about…divorce and family dysfunction! It’s humorous and touching, filled with rites of passages which can occur at any age. But even though the relationships are tumultuous, the main feeling you get is there is always love.

Suresh and Lata were married over 30 years ag0. It was an arranged marriage. They spent their first day as man and wife at the movies. But, through the years, they have learned to accept each other, even though they both see the flaws in the other. They have raised two children who are now adults, Priya a teacher and Nikesh, a lawyer.

At some point, Lata decides she needs her space form Suresh and wants to live a life she never had. Suresh does not understand Lata’s decision but accepts his wife’s wishes. They divorce and Lata moves into an apartment and Suresh keeps the house.

Lata begins a job at a college library where a professor begins to show her attention. She has never even had a boyfriend, so she is confused and guilty as to what to do. It does not help that the person giving her advice is a young girl she works with. Suresh on the other hand has begun dating at the aga of 60. He is on a dating app and is not very savvy at reading cues the women give him.

Along with these changes, what they have yet to discover, and possibly would freak out about if they do, Priya is in an unorthodox relationship and smokes, both of which they absolutely would not approve, and Nikesh who lives with Denise and their son Alok are not married although his parents think they are. Nikesh can’t seem to make the commitment as he pines for an old girlfriend.

With Alok’s first birthday coming and a party being planned at the house, what should be a happy event inevitably turns into a disaster with secrets coming out of the woodwork. And it is at this time the whole family must choose a new path, both together and separately as they all must make choices which will change futures. They must create a new version of their family, for the sake of all of them. They must find it in their hearts to love each other and those who love them.

Late Bloomers is adorably funny and heartwarming even though it might take this old-fashioned family a bit of time to step into a new wonderful future together.

Thank you #NetGalley #RandomHouse #DeepaVaradarajan #LateBloomers for the advanced copy.

The Perfect Ones by Nicole Hackett

When social media influencers get together for a work trip in Iceland it can be back stabbingly devastating with one of them ending up missing and other’s lives exploding in their faces. These women who seemingly innocently promote wellness and products to those desperately looking for miracle cures unfortunately can eat each other alive! The Perfect Ones is by far perfect and throughout this incredibly thrilling story the discoveries of their imperfections are shocking and juicy. The best type of an exciting plot.

Celeste Reed has a bit of a following, but nothing compared to the rest of the women. She is much more plain and other responsibilities take precedent over posting. She reluctantly decides at the last minute to go on this trip, even though she and her husband have been arguing about whether their young daughter needs some sort of intervention. She has been acting out recently. Celeste’s intuition says yes, her husband is not on board.

Alabama Wood is all about her Instagram number of followers and other influencers. She is Celeste’s best friend and has been for many years. Alabama cannot believe her luck! Not only is she excited about this trip, but she can’t believe icon influencer Hollie Goodwin will be on this trip! In her mind, she knows once she meets Hollie, they will become fast best friends. She knows her life will change after this trip with Hollie in her corner. But what no one knows is Alabama has been having some mental issues and has been on medication. She seemed to settle down, but unbeknownst to her husband and doctor, has stopped taking her medication.

Hollie Goodwin is a very famous fitness influencer. Although this year has been pretty tough on her. She has been through a tremendous amount of turmoil. Hollie’s weight has increased a bit this year. She has been able to hide it so no one can tell, and she is happy at least the weather is cold in Iceland so hopefully she can continue to mask her weight gain. Hollie realizes Alabama is a bit obsessed with her, something at this stage in her life she certainly does not need.

So, when Alabama suddenly goes missing and the police are unable to find any clues as to her disappearance, the women are shocked. Or are they really?

As the story moves from the day of the disappearance to the next day, and three months prior to and three months after the disappearance, we continuously begin to learn the buried secrets of these high profiled women. With one shocking revelation after another, not even the reader can fully decide who was involved. Or why.

The Perfect Ones is a heart pounding story you won’t want to put down until you find out what really happened. It makes you think that the next time you perhaps flip to Instragram and envy someone’s perfect story, know that it perhaps may not be the full truth. No one is truly as flawless as you think. Some perhaps could possibly hold deadly secrets.

Thank you #NetGalley #CrookedLandBooks #NicoleHackett #ThePerfectOnes for the advanced copy.

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

No Two Persons is a wonderfully imaginative story about a group of people who don’t know each other who are going through a rough patch and read the same book. Each sees a different meaning in the story which changes their life forever.

The story begins with the author, Alice and her life. She had love and loss and had been told she could be a great writer. She begins with writer’s block and then gets this incredible idea, and then she can’t stop writing. With the help of her college professor, she completes the story, and it becomes published.

The book, whose title is Theo, is about a boy who loves to swim. He has had a difficult life. His journey seems to be everyone’s life journey in one way or another.

But some of its readers find so much more meaning in the narrative.

The readers are:

Lara who is an assistant at a publishing company who has just had a baby. She is working from home, exhausted and seems to be in the throws of post partum. She is tired of her life and scared for her future. Then she receives a manuscript to read.

Rowan, a movie superstar whose stardom is dimming because of a health issue. He knows he needs to find something, or he will just disappear. Then, his agent gives him a book to read.

Miranda lives a solitary life in the wilderness. She is an artist. She finds a dog and begins to explore. Her mother whom she barely tolerates sends her a care package. In it is a book. Her mother is constantly asking if she has read the story. Finally, Miranda reluctantly picks up the book.

Tyler is a young boy who loves the water even before he knows how to swim which caused his parents embarrassment and anxiety. He understands he is different but doesn’t understand why. When a tragedy occurs, he is given a book to read.

Nola is in high school and wants to go to college. But she has been keeping secrets from the administration because she knows if they find out about her tragic life they will send her on a different path. The book, Theo is on her to be read for class.

Kit is a bookseller in Maine. He loves his life. He loves books, and his lifestyle. He meets an ambitious woman and falls in love, and they marry. They are very different personalities. But one day he picks up a book from an author who has come into the bookstore he works at.

William is an elderly man who has just lost the love of his life, his wife Abigail. He is having a hard time living without her. He decides he needs a change of scenery, so he applies for a job as a caretaker of a town. During a blizzard he notices in a box a book his wife and daughter had been reading together before Abigail’s death.

Juliet spends most of her time on movie sets making sure love scenes are appropriately shot. She travels a great deal and is married. But her marriage is beginning to not fulfill her. On a plane on the way home she opens an e-book a friend had sent her awhile back. She begins to listen to the book.

Madeline is the number one book agent. She has made so many careers she has lost count, including Alice’s. Her work and her books are her life. And she is proud of what she has accomplished.

This inspiring cast of characters will begin new journeys all because of a simple story. In No Two Persons you will fall in love with each individual and feel great pleasure as they begin to see their life change. Amazing read!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #NoTwoPersons #EricaBauermeister for the advanced copy.

Swamp Story by Dave Barry

In this imaginative, funny story, filled with bumbling characters, who all accidentally collide with each other Barry shows he has certainly not lost his touch on the crazy! With good versus evil and not very smart versus wise, his characters morph into different personalities with a feel-good ending.

Jesse Braddock has lost everything to her boyfriend Slater. She’s embarrassed at how he was able to smooth talk her into her money and quitting her job. Now, her parents will not speak to her, she has an infant daughter and is living in a dilapidated cabin in the Everglades no less. All she can think of is how to get away from this situation.

Ken Bortle and his brother Brad of Bortle Brothers Bait & Beer have a once thriving shop. Now they barely get any tourists who are visiting the Everglades. Ken knows if something doesn’t happen quickly they will lose everything.

Phil is a down on his luck guy who left his wife and daughter when he found out his wife had cancer. He can barely make ends meet. He has no job and basically drinks Moscow Mules for a living. So, when a friend of his offers him a job to put a Dora the Explorer costume on for a child’s birthday party for some cash, he says ok. But unfortunately, things go very wrong at the party and Phil is humiliated.

Even more embarrassing, someone took a video of the incident and posted it online which then got reposted to Tik Tok which then made Phil a mortifying celebrity. Not exactly what he wanted!

Enter Ken Bortle who sees the video and gets this terrific idea on how they can drum up business for their store. They can use someone dressed as a monster and post the video and everyone will flock to the business. They can sell t-shirts and other products. And just like that Ken accidentally finds Phil drinking in a bar and strikes up a deal. Now all they have to do is find people to film the video.

In the meantime, Jesse is spending all her time with her daughter and taking care of her alone. Slater is off doing some video. As she takes a walk around the swamp, she sees something gold and shiny in the mud. She pulls it out and lo and behold it is a gold bar. She digs further and finds more, much more! This is her way out. Now all she has to do is make sure she can keep the gold and that her boyfriend never finds out!

But unbeknownst to Jesse, two men did see her. Duck and Billy Campbell. They knew the history of the missing gold bars, folklore, but now they know it was really true. They need this woman to lead them to the motherload! And then get rid of her.

As Jesse turns to a former boyfriend/lawyer for help, the Bortle brothers succeed in making the monster video and everything seems to be going just fine. Until it begins not to. And that’s when all these worlds begin to collide in an incredibly hysterical ending in which a fight between good versus evil begins and then ends.

Swamp Story is the tale of misfits, who find each other and through a lot of accidents find their way to who they really were meant to be and somehow become the luckiest people on earth!

Thank you #NetGalley #Simon&Schuster #DaveBarry #SwampStory for the advanced copy.

Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge

Mastering the Art of French Murder is a deliciously good, Agatha Christie like who-done-it with the added and I must say most enjoyable addition of Julia Child as the sidekick! It mixes a wonderful murder mystery with a few good food mysteries as well as delicacies from Child’s own book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Tabitha Knight has come to Paris via Detroit to take care of her grandfather and adopted “uncle”. There she accidently meets Julia Child who lives across the street and the two become very close friends. Julia in fact is trying to get the skittish cook, Tabitha, to start preparing more difficult foods.

So, when Tabitha is invited to Julia’s to a dinner party with a group of Theater people who work with Julia’s sister Dort whom Paul and Julia live with, she jumps at the chance. As the party begins to wind down, Tabitha decides to leave and takes the elevator to the ground floor with another female guest. They said their goodbyes and Tabitha went home while the woman waited for a cab.

The next day as she’s going to see Julia, she discovers there had been a murder right outside Julia’s building and to her shock, the dead woman is the same one she left the building with! They soon find out the murder weapon was one of Julia’s own kitchen knives. No one can believe this has happened, but Tabitha and Julia seem to be sure it must have been one of the guests who attended the party.

Tabitha soon decides she must try and figure out what happened. As she develops clues, much to the angst of the Inspector in charge of the investigation, she becomes a suspect! There was a piece of paper in the dead woman’s pocket with Tabitha’s name and phone number. And it was in Tabitha’s own handwriting.

Most of her suspects seem to be the workers from the Theater. Dort asks her and she accepts the position of coat checker, the same job the woman held. Unfortunately for Tabitha the agreement could possibly be a deadly mistake. Her own!

Then as Tabitha is biking, she is suddenly almost hit and killed by a car who seemed intent on hitting her. She must be getting close!

At the same time, Julia herself has quite the culinary mystery on her hands. Her mayonnaise has gone bad. To say, she can’t seem to make the recipe anymore without it failing. As you can imagine, Julia is beside herself.

As Tabitha begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together, she truly could be the next dead body. The ending is quite the surprise.

Mastering the Art of French Murder is a brilliant idea! It’s filled with suspense, wit and Julia Child’s famous voice in your head. As you read this enchanting story, you will continuously smile and eat up the mystery! Hopefully Tabitha and Julia will be back for more. Bon appetite!

Thank you #NetGalley #KensingtonBooks #ColleenCambridge #MasteringtheArtofFrench Murder for the advanced copy.

Paper Cuts by Ellery Adams

In the sixth installment of Adams’ Secret, Book, and Scone Society series, we get a glimpse into our main character, Nora Pennington’s life prior to her relocating to Miracle Springs, North Carolina and opening up a bookshop/coffee shop. And it truly is eye opening!

Presently, some of the group has each gone through personal changes in their lives. Nora is now dating the sheriff, Grant McCabe, Estrella’s father, Gus is getting out of prison and looking for a job and Hester is trying to figure out her personal life.

So, when Nora meets a woman, Kelly and her son Tucker who has Aspergers Syndrome at the newly opened shop, Tea Flowers, she feels quite uncomfortable. The slight woman cannot take her eyes of her. What she soon discovers is Kelly is dying and she was the mistress who broke up Nora’s marriage. Even more shocking, it looks as if Tucker is her ex’s son! Kelly wants to make amends with Nora. Nora does not and pushes her away.

Then there is a knock at Nora’s door. She is the prime suspect for the MURDER of Kelly! She is taken in and the sheriff must stay out of the interviewing process due to their relationship. Unfortunately, there is a new officer in town who has made it known to Nora that she does not particularly like her and is making her life miserable. She has no idea why.

It becomes Nora’s job to try and get herself out of this mess with very little help from those she has always trusted. But unfortunately, someone is trying to frame her. She begins to relive her twisted past and her not so healthy relationship with her ex-husband, who seems to still be the jerk he was all those years ago.

But there is more than just one mystery in this riveting story. Nora’s ex-mother-in-law seems to have left a set of books to her grandson, Tucker. Why would she do that? Are the two mysteries tied together in some way?

And with all this going on there is discussion going on to open a casino. One hopefully to be open by the Cherokee and the other privately. There is never a dull moment in this small town!

Paper Cuts is another wonderful Ellery Adams cozy, with characters who we seem to know so well, and the reader is quite vested in. And as usual, Nora is always giving her clients of the bookstore recommendations of what books to read next, which means we get a wonderful list of books to read! Note: Always have a pencil and paper handy for those gems!

Thank you #NetGalley #KensingtonCozies #ElleryAdams #PaperCuts for the advanced copy.