The Blame Game by Sandie Jones

What happens when your past begins to haunt your present and you begin to make questionable choices which could change your future forever?

American psychologist Naomi Chandler whose specialty is domestic abuse now lives in London with her husband Leon. She has a soft spot for all her clients, always giving a little more than she should. She herself was a victim of trauma witnessing her father killing her mother.

According to Leon, she has a tendency to give too much of herself to her clients, taking what she feels they need from her a little too far. He has always told her that someday it will get her into trouble. Even as she continues to tell him no such thing could happen; she has kept a few secrets from him which could be a disaster in the making.

When one of her clients, a man named Jacob, who has been continually abused by his wife for years and has cigarette burns on his arms and bruises to prove it, decides he can’t take the mistreatment anymore and wants to leave but is afraid she will find him and kill him, Naomi takes it upon herself to set him up at a cottage her husband owns which is secluded and no one could find him. Of course, she keeps telling herself she must tell Leon, but knows he will disapprove.

Jacob begins to feel free and clear of his wife and Naomi is pleased with her decision. But then as she prepares for their next session, she can’t find his file. She absolutely knows she locked it up, but as she searches her office and house, she can’t find it. She fears somehow his wife broke into her office and took the file and now knows where Jacob is staying.

Her fear comes to fruition as Jacob makes a frantic call to her one evening saying his wife has called and he is scared for his life. Against her better judgement, she meets Jacob at the bar at the hotel she told him to go to. She finds him drunk and scared and tries to settle him down.

At the same time Jacob seems to be hitting a wall, another client, Anna, whose relationship with her husband has turned violent due to his drinking because they lost a child years ago and she blames him for what happened, has decided she needs to take her children and leave because she doesn’t feel safe anymore. Naomi again makes a contentious decision and tells her she can stay at her house until they get her settled into a shelter.

Then Jacob misses his next appointment and Naomi fears the worst. She goes to the cottage where he is staying but he is not there. Then she gets a shocking visit from the police. Jacob’s wife has filed a missing person report and all the evidence seems to point to Naomi and Jacob having an affair. She is now the prime suspect in his disappearance!

Her world begins to implode as all the evidence points to her, and with Leon wanting to take a break and Jacob still missing, she can’t believe she has done this to her life. As she sadly reminisces about her mother, wishing she could talk to her one last time so she could help her, she begins to find inconsistencies in the clues. Is someone trying to frame her? But still, no one is willing to believe anything she has to say. Everyone seems to want to blame Naomi for this situation and no one wants to believe she would never harm anyone. Has she taken her kindness to clients too far? Will she end up in jail? Or will whoever seems to want to destroy her, kill her before she can figure out why this is happening.

The Blame Game is another slam dunk from Sandie Jones! An amazing quick paced psychological thriller with a “wow”! ending which will both shock and satisfy at the same time.

Thank you #NetGalley #MinotaurBooks #TheBlameGame #SandieJones for the advanced copy.

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Megan Goldin’s latest novel will not disappoint! This darkly intense novel has so many twists and turns in it that my head was spinning!

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a cab on her way home. She and her roommate Amy, a doctor, live incredibly crazy lives. When she arrives, she realizes she does not have her key. Although she hates to do it, she begins to bang on the door to wake Amy to let her in. But to her shock and confusion, a stranger answers the door and tells her Amy does not live there.

Her confusion deepens when she tries to find her phone to call her boyfriend Marco and she can’t find it. How could Amy not live there? She just saw her. Then she looks down at her hands and sees writing on them. She has written STAY AWAKE and DON’T CALL THE POLICE. She also sees TRUST NOBODY. Panicking she digs into her coat pocket and discovers to her horror a bloody knife wrapped in a t-shirt. What has happened to her? Did she witness a stabbing?

As we flashback to two years prior, which in her confusion Liv believes is now, we discover Liv was an up-and-coming writer for a popular magazine. She and her roommate Amy were very close, and she had just started dating someone new named Marco. The last thing Amy can remember is falling asleep on the subway on her way to work.

So, with that information she goes back to her office hoping someone there will be able to fill her in on the missing hours. But what she finds is they are all shocked to even see her. She can’t understand why. While there she sees a breaking news story on television. Someone has been murdered and a message was left on the window at the murder scene: STAY AWAKE.

She looks down at her hand and realizes she has done something terrible. But she can’t remember what. And to make matters worse she discovers that IF she falls asleep, she awakes with no memory of what has occurred and seems to revert back to her last train ride. With limited memory, Liv must somehow try and piece together her past and present and what happened to her and why she is unable to remember.

Stay Awake is a fast-paced terrifying thriller with ingenious plot turns and shocking discoveries which will keep the reader in suspense. Once you start this incredibly creative story, you won’t be able to put the book down, so just STAY AWAKE and finish it as fast as you can!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #MeganGoldin #Stay Awake for the advanced copy.

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress of the Post Cereal conglomerate was a brilliantly strong woman way ahead of her time with her ideas which launched so many incredible businesses from frozen food, building Mar a Lago, opening soup kitchens for the homeless and using her yacht to transport medicine during wartime. She was also the first woman to ever sit on a board of directors.

Although she was a trail blazer, who amassed an incredible fortune which was first started by her father, someone she adored, but in the end caused her incredible pain and anguish, there was one thing she was never good at and that was love and marriage. Be it her incredible power or her money, for some reason the men she picked to fall in love with were in the end unable to deal with her mastery. They were never capable of handling her status, so they drank too much or cheated on her. She tried and failed four times, to marry with each failing for different reasons, something which would haunt her forever.

But even with the many marriages, one to a diplomat who was sent to Russia, a cold and barren place, Marjorie was still able to make lemons out of lemonade and make the most of their time there and entertain and make everyone fall in love with them and the United States. A lover of all jewelry, especially trinkets with gems, large gems, she was able to amass a fortune of everything Faberge and would end up with quite the collection.

But some happiness came out of her marriages. She had three girls whom she adored! They were absolutely her proudest achievements! And they adored her as well and learned from her how to be strong and assertive in a man’s world.

Her incredible life was a true rag to riches story but so much more. She never took for granted what she had and real happiness for Marjorie was when she was able to share her wealth or help someone. It will most certainly amaze the reader what comforts we all have today thanks to Marjorie’s incredible imagination and her stubbornness to never take no for an answer! Although she may have been unlucky in love, she was a triumph in business and loved by many for her philanthropy.

Mr. Perfect on Paper by Jean Meltzer

Mr. Perfect on Paper is a wonderful, lighthearted funny story from author Jean Meltzer, author of The Matzah Ball.

CEO of a Jewish dating app, (J-Mate) and third generation family matchmaker, Dana Rabinowitz knows her love skills. She is a confident woman with incredibly amazing business ideas. She can match two Jewish customers with her eyes closed. As for her own love life…meh! She is afraid to swipe right for her own love life! You see Dana suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and is afraid of well, just about everything. All fears lead to dying!

So, when her team convinces her and her Bubbe, (grandmother) to go on a television show called Good News New York to promote their new app, she is not convinced she can do it, but she is comforted knowing her Bubbe will be there with her. She is also a bit uncomfortable because she has a bit of a crush on the anchor who will be interviewing them, Christopher Steadfast, but him being non-Jewish puts him out of the running as far as Dana is concerned.

Christopher Steadfast is a widow with a young daughter who moved to New York after his wife died. Trying to juggle a career and being both a mother and father to his daughter has made his life a bit hard. But he is so grateful to have her as a memory of the love he had for his late wife.

Unfortunately, things do not go as planned during the interview. Somehow Bubbe seems to take over the talking and produces an actual list Dana had written after a few drinks awhile back which is titled Mr. Perfect on Paper with all the “ingredients” for a perfect Jewish husband. Dana is horrified! But the audience loves it!

With the uptick in ratings from the episode, Chris convinces Dana to do a few more shows in which they try and set her up with her Mr. Perfect on Paper. She meets blind dates which the show has vetted, and they film her on the date.

This is when the true hilarity ensues!

As Dana and Chris begin to spend more time together due to some unfortunate yet funny events, Dana can’t help herself from thinking she could fall hard for him if only he were Jewish. He’s just not perfect on paper. But when Dana seems to meet “the one” who is perfect, she must decide what to do. Chris, who has feelings for Dana can’t do anything to help the situation. It must be up to Dana. She must ponder the question is true love based on what’s written down, or what’s written in the heart.

Mr. Perfect on Paper is funny, entertaining and believe it or not very educational for those who don’t know much about Jewish traditions and sayings. How much did I enjoy this story? It’s Perfect!

Thank you #NetGalley #Mira #JeanMeltzer #PerfectonPaper for the advanced copy.

The Couple At Number 9 by Claire Douglas

As this intensely twisted heart pounding story begins, we find Sutton (Saffy) Cutler and her boyfriend Tom who have just moved into Saffy’s grandmother Rose’s cottage. It was a place neither she nor her mother Lorna knew Rose even owned until she was put into a home for dementia, and they went through her possessions. Purchased years ago, Rose would apparently rent it out. Why did she never tell anyone of its existence?

When they moved in, Saffy and Tom decided to make a few renovations inside and out as they just had found out Saffy was pregnant. All was going well until the workmen discovered what looked like skeletal remains in the garden. Shocked, Saffy calls the police and her mother who is at the moment living in Spain with her younger boyfriend.

When the results of the bones come back as actual human remains, two to be exact, and they both are considered to be homicides, the police begin an investigation and Lorna returns to England to try and assist Saffy and figure out how this could possibly have happened. It certainly could have nothing to do with Rose who they found out lived in the small town with Lorna only for a short time many years ago when Lorna was about two, a period in Lorna’s life of which she has very little memory.

Rose has very confusing answers as to who lived there years ago. And as Saffy and Lorna try to investigate on their own with the tidbits they are able to make sense of, the police are interested in speaking to Rose as a person of interest when they discover the name of one of the dead seems to have disappeared around the time Rose may have been staying at the cottage, the other body still unidentified. If she had been involved, how on earth could she have kept that a secret for so many years? Could something be buried deep in her subconscious, and she just can’t remember anymore?

As Saffy and Lorna begin to make progress, there is someone out there who does not want them to continue. Lorna is accosted and threatened that if she does not find the information which is hidden in the house and get it to him Saffy will pay. And then the house is broken into and although nothing was taken, it’s very clear the person was looking for something. But What? Who is watching them? Could Rose, this sweet woman who would do anything for her family be a killer? And is so why?

But believe it or not this is only one part of this incredible story, which with the sub-plots as it all comes together makes for a scandalously delicious ending! Buckle up readers! You are in for quite the ride!

Thank you #NetGalley #HarperPaperbacks #ClaireDouglas #TheCoupleAtNumber9 for the advanced copy.

Smells Like Tween Spirit by Laurie Gelman

For all of us who thought the wonderfully funny Class Mom series by Laurie Gelman had ended with book 3, oh boy were we happily wrong! In the latest installment, Smells Like Tween Spirit, Jen Dixon is back and as hysterical as ever!

In book 4 we find Jen has left her Class Mom days behind as her young son Max heads off to Middle School, only to find out he has decided to join the wrestling team! Jen decides to join the Mat Moms, a group of women whose sons are on the team and do fundraisers and their stinky laundry. So, as she becomes acquainted with the Pioneer Middle School wrestling moms, (PMS for short) and yes, they DO have t-shirts! she must begin the old get to know their personalities routine feeling out the other moms to find out who the fun ones are and who are the villains.

As if she needs anymore to do now that she is teaching spin classes with a cult following, babysitting her granddaughter, taking care of her aging parents, with her father sinking deeper into dementia, trying to mediate her two daughters’ drama with each other as they try and open a business together and a low libido which has her making excuses to her kind of understanding husband. She even develops a stalker! Well, sort of.

Jen takes us through her holiday seasons which begins with a Halloween party at their house for the wrestlers. Nothing could go wrong there! And a quiet Christmas as her two daughters go elsewhere. It’s then that Jen realizes her life might begin to get much quieter than she really wants!

But Jen is also faced with a sadness she and her readers hoped would never come. But in the real world, this sub-plot is all too painful and is written with perfection causing the reader perhaps a few tears.

With that said, all I can say is Jen Dixon is alive and well and continues to make the readers who love her laugh through her emails and snarky foot in mouth dialogue! Welcome back Jen and thank you Laurie Gelman!

Thank you #NetGalley #HenryHolt&Co. #LaurieGelman #SmellsLikeTweenSpirit for the advanced copy.

Such a Good Mother by Helen Monks Takhar

When push comes to shove, a mother’s love for her child is endless. Their happiness is your happiness, their pain, your pain. No one should ever take what a mother won’t do for their child for granted.

Rose O’Connell has lived a rather rough life. Her father was a con man who scammed people, even his friends for his entire life. Rose, who had no mother was endlessly bullied as a child as many knew of her father’s schemes. But when her dear friend Jacq introduced her to her brother Pete and they fell in love she was sure her luck would change. And when their son Charlie was born, he became the light of her life.

Money has always been a bit of a struggle, but they have been making ends meet with Rose working for a bank and Pete being a plumber. But when Rose sees a new elite school right across the street from them where her own old school sat which is called Woolf Academy, she gets it in her mind that Charlie should go there no matter what. At the interview she meets Amala Kaur, the wealthy leader of a group of women known as The Circle who seem to be able to exert great power at the institute. Rose knows her chances of Charlie being accepted are slim, but he is accepted! And when one of The Circle women tragically dies, Amala asks her to take her place, although the other Circle women don’t believe Rose meets their standards.

Amala assures Rose that tuition would not be a problem as there are many ways she would be able to work within The Circle to make the money. At first, Rose becomes giddy with power. As the other mother’s look at her differently, as she begins to dress differently when not in her bank uniform, as she and Pete are able to eat at a fancy restaurant and are invited to powerful fundraisers, she is blinded by the materialism.

But when things begin to take a different turn and Amala begins to ask her to perhaps not be as honest as she should, it begins to affect her relationship Amala, with Pete and even Charlie who at first seemed to be having a difficult time adjusting to the school. She feels over her head and is unable to find a way out of the situations she is being put in. As she begins to discover the hidden Circle secrets, she feels the price she has to pay is not worth what she has been given. But it could be too late for her to leave. It seems she has been conned. And now her family is paying the price.

The more Rose goes against Amala, the more terrifying the stakes become for her family. But nothing will stop her from protecting those she loves, no matter what. Especially a mother who has been scorned and their child who is now being manipulated.

Such a Good Mother is an incredible psychological thriller which takes the reader along Rose’s ride of sadness for never being accepted, to Rose’s newfound strength as she fights for those she loves and will not stop until her family is whole again. With a satisfyingly twisty ending you don’t see coming!

Thank you #NetGalley #RandomHouse #SuchaGoodMother #HelenMonksTakhar for the advanced copy.

Booked on a Feeling by Jayci Lee

Lizzy Chang is an LA lawyer. It’s something she (and her mother) have dreamed about forever. Lizzy being a successful something and making lots of money. So, when this overachiever passes out during her first opening statement in her first trial, she bounces right back thanks to her best friend forever, Jack Park.

Jack is Lizzy’s safety net. He’s always been there for her even when she had no idea she needed him. But Jack has a bit of a secret. He has had a massive crush on Lizzy for years. He works as a bookkeeper at his family’s brewery in a small town called Weldon. Although he knows his family needs him, he has always seen himself as a financial something in a high-powered business in a big city like Los Angeles.

So, when Lizzy shows up in Weldon unexpectedly after her first trial is over to decompress, he’s hesitatingly excited to see her. She tells him she’ll be there for 3 weeks. He finds himself in the position of either telling her how he feels or moving on. He has also made the decision to interview for a job in LA, which would let him be able to see Lizzy more.

So as Lizzy settles herself into her little apartment over the local bookstore for her stay, she feels she is in her happy place. Books have always been Lizzy’s go to for everything. She loves everything about books, and even turned Jack onto reading years ago. But this bookstore seems to need a little help. The owner has a young son and seems a bit stretched. There is hardly any people traffic at the store, and it is in need of a facelift. Lizzy, who has a hard time sitting still even when she’s relaxing decides to assist the owner and proceeds to make it her pet project. Of course, she gets Jack’s help as well.

That’s when the Lizzy and Jack story really heats up. Especially when Lizzy sees Jack’s toolbelt! But can two best friends with the best friendship each has ever had withstand this next step? And then when Jack throws a surprise curveball into the new relationship will Lizzy, who always needs to be in control be able to handle it? Can best friends ever be anything more without hurting the friendship?

Find out in this too cute, funny, love story which will absolutely put a smile on your face!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sGriffin #JayciLee #BookedonaFeeling for the advanced copy.

For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa

For Butter or Worse is a tender, sweet, yummy love story about two people who must work together although they hate each other.

You would think Nina Lyon, a premier chef who owns a restaurant and appears on a cooking reality show called The Next Cooking Champ would believe she has it all, but unfortunately due to her snarky, degrading co-host Leo O’Donnell a businessman whose family owns a chain of Italian restaurants her life is miserable. Yes, their chemistry on the show is one of the reasons for its popularity, but their rivalry towards each other has no boundaries. And when Nina decides Leo has gone too far embarrassing her on live television, she decides to quit the show, to the horror of Leo, the producers and the live audience.

But when Nina and Leo find out that not only do fans think they are secretly dating, but love the idea, Nina’s publicist Tom has the brilliant idea for the two of them to fake a romance in order to get the most out of the publicity this has caused and will help both their brands which could use a bit of a push. Nina wants to barf. Leo sees dollar signs.

So, with the help of Tom who plans their dates and comments on the social traffic which occurs as the two of them try to love each other while despising each other, both begin to see benefits of the romance. They even begin to slightly soften about each other.

What they did not ever think would happen is that they might actually like each other a great deal which confuses both of them. And when you add a hunky ex who suddenly reappears, you have a disastrously funny recipe for a wonderfully crafted love story in For Butter or Worse.

Thank you #NetGalley #HQNBooks #ForButterorWorse #ErinLaRosa for the advanced copy.

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda

The Passage Inn is an upscale hiker’s paradise in North Carolina near Appalachian trails. The views and hiking paths are extraordinary. People come from all over to hike, take in the small town and listen to the folklore of the town’s people of Cutter’s Pass. You see, the town and the inn have quite a history. For the people who live there, it is more of a curse as they always get tourists who think they can solve its secrets.

And mysteries they are. Over the years, a few hikers have just disappeared, starting with a group of hikers named the Fraternity Four who together all went missing over ten years ago and not one body has ever been discovered. Then another hiker disappeared and another. The town had been quiet for a while until three months ago when Landon West, a journalist researching the missing hikers disappeared. He has not been found and the tourists are once again coming to the town in full force.

Abilgail Lovett has been the manager of the Passage Inn for years after showing up one day looking for a job. Although she has lived there a good amount of time, she still does not feel like she belongs. Quite frankly she feels like an outsider who is not allowed to learn the secrets of the town. Curiosity is not her friend in a place where everyone holds what secrets they have to themselves. And as the manager of the inn where the missing hikers stayed, she feels like no one will give her the answers she is looking for. Because of this, Abby has always felt as if nothing really added up when it came to the disappearances.

But when Trey West, Landon West’s brother comes to look for his missing sibling she can’t help but take him up on his offer to help him find clues as to his vanishing. As Trey and Abby begin to find clues, which make no sense, they find no one wants to listen to their theories, including the sheriff. Abby is warned to stop digging. But she can’t and when she discovers shocking revelations as to what happened years ago, she could possibly she could become the next missing person. All she ever wanted was to feel as if she was part of this small town. But perhaps the town will eat her up and spit her out because she now knows the truth.

In true Megan Miranda style, with a thrilling mystery to solve and a shocking conclusion to digest, you are immediately sucked into the story starting on the first page. With twists and turns galore, The Last to Vanish is an epic thriller and wonderful read.

Thank you #NetGalley #Scribner #TheLasttoVanish #MeganMiranda for the advanced copy.