Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

See What I Have Done
Author: Sarah Schmidt
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, True Crime

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty-two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable début makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.


Lizzie Borden was a name I had heard before, but her story wasn’t one I was familiar with. When my friend picked See What I Have Done as our next book club pick, I wasn’t sure what to think. Was this book going to be gory? Was it going to be thriller suspenseful? I didn’t know how to prepare myself for it. Luckily, for my sake, See What I Have Done wasn’t a gory or stressful read.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lizzie Borden like I was, I’ll give you a little history. Lizzie was an adult woman who lived at home with her father, step-mother, older sister and maid, Bridget. While her sister, Emma, was spending time out-of-town at a friend’s, their parents were murdered. The weapon was an ax. Lizzie and the maid were both home at the time of the murders. Lizzie was tried and acquitted of the crime, but many still suspect that she was the murderer. (I had to look all of this up after reading the book to find out what was fact and what was fiction.)

See What I Have Done tells the story of the murder of Andrew and Abby Borden through the eyes of four narrators: Lizzie, Emma, Bridget and Benjamin. The story mostly takes place over the day before the murder and the day of. The events of those days are set up by each character. Together, their point of views craft a look at what might have happened and who might have been the killer.

If this was a true account of the crime, I could understand why Lizzie was charged with murder. Lizzie was a little off and I wasn’t quite sure what to think of her. Listening to her thoughts made her seem like the most likely murderer. I completely understood why Emma felt the way she did about Lizzie. Lizzie was pretty horrid to her. That made me question some of Emma’s later devotion to Lizzie, though. I understood their relationship, but it was really weird.

Another thing that was really weird were the parents. Andrew Borden was made out to be a horrible man. Abby wasn’t made out to be much better. The dynamic in the household between the parents and the daughters was odd. The fact that Lizzie and Emma were grown women made it even weirder. I kept wondering if this is really how people saw the Bordens in real life?

The character I felt most sorry for was Bridget. I’m surprised she wasn’t the killer. (Maybe she was???) The Bordens were horrible to her. She waited on them hand and foot, and they took complete advantage of her. I liked her thoughts on the murder and the suspects. I have to admit that I was happy the murder let her escape the horrible household.

As for Benjamin, I wasn’t sure what to think of the addition of his character. He’s not in any of the official accounts of the murder. I guess he was a “What if?” situation to show what might have happened if someone other than Lizzie was possibly involved.

As you can probably guess, this book had me a little confused! In real life, the case was never solved. In See What I Have Done, there is only speculation. I wish I could find out the truth! Too bad the people who could answer the tough questions are long gone.

Overall, See What I Have Done was a fun read. It took an unsolved crime and gave it new life. I liked the author’s writing and the way she brought the characters to life. I was impressed that this is her début novel. It’s a book a would recommend to those who like true crime or historical fiction. It had me looking up the history behind the story the moment I finished reading it.

Review: Eye Candy by Tijan, Tara Sivex, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting & Bella Jewel

Eye Candy
Authors: Tijan, Tara Sivec, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, Bella Jewel
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Halloween
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼

Synopsis:

A frightfully good time! Dive into these Halloween novellas from bestselling authors Tijan, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, Bella Jewel and Tara Sivec. Featuring stories set in the worlds of their popular series.

Tijan’s Fallen Crest crew are back for a weekend of mischief that takes a sinister turn; all four couples from J. Daniels’ Alabama Summer series gear up for Halloween in their own sexy ways, with a special surprise at the end; Helena Hunting’s characters from Shacking Up plan a Halloween gala that features a few ghouls and witches; Bella Jewel brings the chills and thrills in her suspenseful take on Halloween night; and Tara Sivec gathers the Holiday family together one last time as they try to make this ghostly holiday one to remember—or one they’d rather forget…

Cozy up with a mug of hot cider on a dark night and fall under the spell of this Halloween anthology!


Eye Candy is a compilation of stories from some of my favorite authors and their series. I specifically wanted to read it to find out what was next for the Fallen Crest, Alabama Summers, and Shacking Up peeps. I have written a quick mini review for each book below and rated them separately.

Fallen Crest Nightmare – 4 stars

This started out like any other Fallen Crest High book. I loved getting to know what all of my favorite characters were up to, and having Sam as the narrator. Then, this book took a crazy Halloween filled trip. I liked it, but it was crazy! It left me wanting more of these characters! I didn’t realize how much I missed them!

So Much More – 5 stars

This was a super cute Halloween catch up with all of my favorite characters from Alabama Summers. Each chapter was dedicated to a different couple in the male’s point of view. I loved knowing where they were in life now. My favorite was little Noah’s, though. So stinking adorable!!! Now, I’m ready for the next full length book!

Getting Down – 5 stars

I had forgotten what a kick I got out of Ruby and Bancroft. Those two are so funny together! What I really loved about this short story was getting Ruby’s best friend Amie’s perspective on her relationship with Armstrong. That guy is such a dork. I’m really hoping there’s a book coming about Amie and possibly a new suitor. Anyway. I loved this Halloween filled story based on Shacking Up characters.

Unsafe Haven – 3 stars

This was a sweet but suspenseful Halloween tale. I loved shy Jade and Oliver. The were so perfect for each other. I loved them both of them worked at a business that was set up to help those in need. Their Halloween was a little terrifying, though! I wish I would have read books about these characters before because I didn’t feel as connected to them.

The Pumpkin Was Stuffed – 4 Stars

This short story was over the top hilarious! I couldn’t believe the crazy characters in this it. I loved all the Halloween goodies throughout the story. If this was based on characters from a previous book, I need to read it!!! I loved Noel and Sam. I want to know how they began.

Overall, Eye Candy was an incredibly fun Halloween read, and a great way to catch up with some old book friends.

Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake
Series: Gwen Proctor, #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.


When I heard Rachel Caine was releasing a thriller, I was excited. I read her YA Morganville Vampire series years ago, and I really enjoyed her writing style. I was interested to see how that writing style would transfer to an adult thriller.

Stillhouse Lake was an addicting read. Everything about the story held my attention. It was fast paced and constantly changing directions. I loved the depth of the characters and the fact that everyone was hiding something. It made it fun guessing who the bad person was. (I guessed correctly!) It also had a great cliffhanger. I wish the next book was available!!!

I’m not going to go into the plot or characters in this review because I would hate to give anything away. If you like a great thriller, I highly recommend Stillhouse Lake. It was such a fun ride.

Release Blitz Review: The Iron Tiara by Beth Flynn

 

BLURB

Anthony Bear and Christy Chapman are from two completely different worlds.Anthony’s the leader of a motorcycle gang that terrorizes Florida’s West Coast. As a child, he ran away from his family and the Cherokee Indian Reservation to enter a life of crime. As an adult, he leads a multifaceted life managing his two businesses—his legitimate landscaping venture, and his loan shark and underworld dealings. Driven by anger and betrayal, Anthony begins the hunt for Christy’s father, Van Chapman, after he runs out on a loan.

Christy’s privileged life is not as it seems. She has kept painful family secrets and hidden some of her own. She’s determined to find out the truth and expose Van, but her search delivers her right into Anthony Bear’s hands, adding kidnapping to his list of crimes.

Their worlds are as contrasting as the color of their skin. The only thing they seem to have in common is their mutual disdain for Van Chapman…and each other.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The Iron Tiara is a spin-off novel from The Minutes Trilogy. It can be read as a standalone, and does not contain a cliffhanger.
 

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MY REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: I received an ARC from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Iron Tiara is one of my most highly anticipated book releases of the summer. I’m a HUGE fan of the Nine Minutes trilogy, and I was so happy that Beth Flynn decided to grace her readers with a spin-off. I could read a book about any of the supporting characters from the original series. They had so much life and personality!

Fans of Nine Minutes will want to know how The Iron Tiara compares to it. The Iron Tiara is a more straight forward story than any of the books in the original series. That doesn’t mean that it’s without its own twists and surprises. There are definitely some of those in store. It reminded me of both Nine Minutes and Out of Time. It started out and ended by jumping around in time and perspective like Out of Time did, but the middle was all continuous story like Nine Minutes.

The majority of The Iron Tiara is told from Anthony and Christy’s points of view. There are a few other points of view strategically placed throughout the book that help explain the plot to the reader. The entire book is written in third person narration that can change from chapter to chapter or sometimes back and forth within a chapter. The latter was a little weird at first, but it gave me the feel of knowing what each character was thinking during a conversation or event. I ended up appreciating it.

Anthony and Christy’s story was engrossing. Their lives somewhat paralleled Grizz and Kit’s, and the two couples’ stories intersected at times. I remembered Anthony and Christy from the original series, but this book helped make sense of their roles in Nine Minutes. It also made me fall in love with them. Their story was just as interesting and eye-opening. I never thought I would fall for another character like Grizz, but Beth Flynn had me shamefully falling for Anthony Bear.

Overall, I loved The Iron Tiara. I loved the characters. I loved the twisted story line. I loved being back in the world of Nine Minutes. Like I said before, I would read a book about any of the characters from that series and now this book. I’m invested, so I’m crossing my fingers for more spin-offs and more pieces of the puzzle.

I know this review doesn’t really tell you anything about Anthony and Christy’s relationship, but it’s a book you’re going to have to experience for yourself. I don’t want to ruin the surprises for anyone. 😉

 

ABOUT BETH FLYNN

Beth Flynn is a fiction writer who lives and works in Sapphire, North Carolina, deep within the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Beth and her husband, Jim, have spent the last 19 years in Sapphire, where they own a construction company. They have been married 33 years and have two daughters and a temperamental pit bull named Lady , Beth enjoys writing, reading, gardening, church and motorcycles, especially taking rides on the back of her husband’s Harley. She is a seven-year breast cancer survivor.
 

 

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Review: Ruckus by L.J. Shen

Ruckus
Series: Sinners of Saint, #2
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Rosie

They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They’re right.
No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking.
He is my forbidden, shiny apple.
The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth.
He is also my sister’s ex-boyfriend.
One thing you should know before you judge me;
I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first.
Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance.
Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.

Dean

They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right.
She sets my mind on fire.
All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart.
In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius.
Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart.
This time, I dare it to try.
Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus.
Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight.
And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.


When Ruckus released last month, I saw a ton of good reviews for it. I had never read L.J. Shen’s books before, so I decided to give Ruckus a try. I downloaded it, but couldn’t get to it right away. This week, I was feeling a bit of a book hangover and decided to start Ruckus. I’m really happy I did. I have found a new author I’m excited to read more from.

Rosie LeBlanc has felt a connection to Dean “Ruckus” Cole ever since she first met his glare in high school. She knew Dean was the one for her at that moment. Sadly, a relationship with him wasn’t in the cards. Dean was her sister’s boyfriend, and that made him off-limits even after they broke up.

Now, year’s later, Dean’s back in Rosie’s life. They live in the same building, and no matter how hard Rosie tries to avoid Dean, she always runs into him and his harem. His blunt cockiness and womanizing ways should make Dean the least desirable guy, but when Rosie’s sister’s wedding requires them to spend time together, she can’t help but be drawn further into his web.

I loved L.J. Shen’s writing style. It’s a little bit dark and a whole lot gritty. I love that she gives a voice to both the male and female main characters. The first person dual points of view are raw and emotion filled. Her characters are alpha males and strong females who won’t step down from a fight. They have something traumatic that pulls them together, while at the same time breaking them apart.

Rosie was an inspiring character. Her life was harder than most due to physical challenges, but she didn’t let that stop her from trying to achieve her dreams. She was so good deep down inside, and saw good in Dean when others wouldn’t have.

Honestly, Dean was a cocky jerk. He may have had a lot going for him career and looks wise, but he wasn’t a nice guy. Dean had moments where his compassion and sweetness showed through, but they were rare. He was pretty messed up, and it took a lot to get him started on the right path. It took me a while to really like Dean. I would have liked to have seen more of the redeemed Dean. I could have used about 5 epilogues to believe he could be who he needed to be — I’m not just saying that because I fell in love with him even more in the epilogue provided.

Rosie and Dean’s relationship was a rough one. There were a lot of barriers trying to keep them apart. Whether it was her health, his addictions or their friends and family, nothing was strong enough to break them apart. Their chemistry and love for each other was too strong. I loved how they fought for their love and for each other.

Since this is the first book I’ve read in the Sinner of Saint series, I feel the need to point out two things. First, the side characters are just as intriguing as the main characters. Hearing about everyone’s combined past makes me want to hurry up and read the other books in the series. I need to know more about the rest of the HotHoles and their women. Second, this book can be read as a standalone. You don’t have to have read the first book to read this one. It might have made it more fun (I don’t know since I didn’t read the other books first.), but it was a great reading experience without having read the other books.

Oh! And I can’t leave out the fact that Ruckus surprised me! I thought I knew what Dean’s secrets were going to be, but I didn’t! I was completely surprised a couple of different times while reading. I loved that!

Overall, I loved reading Ruckus. This enthralling romance was combined with just the right amount of mystery and darkness. It was everything I expect from a great new adult book. I will be immediately reading the rest of the series.

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


This is Karen M. McManus’ debut novel? I’m having a hard time believing that because One of Us Is Lying was so well written. It’s rare to find a YA thriller/mystery that’s as intricately woven as this books was. That fact that a début author wrote it blows my mind! 

One of Us Is Lying kept me guessing from beginning to end. I thought I might have known the killer, but every twist and turn made me reexamine what I thought I knew. The four different points of view spurred that on. Every time the character narrating changed, something new and important was revealed. Those revelations were key in keeping the story moving and changing.

I loved every minute of reading this book. It’s one of best YA debuts I’ve read in a while. The fact that author’s inspiration was The Breakfast Club with criminal twist makes it even more of a gem! I can’t wait for Karen M. McManus to publish her next novel. I will definitely be reading it!

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.


Why did I wait so long to read this book? It’s been on my TBR ever since it came out. I got it from the library once, but ran out of time to read it. I’m so disappointed in myself because Big Little Lies is a masterpiece. I really need to thank my friend who chose it for our book club read. She forced me to pick it up, and I will be forever thankful.

Big Little Lies was flawlessly written. It kept me guessing the entire time I was reading.  I could never quite figure out how everything was going to all play out. It drove me a little nuts because so many of the revelations aren’t made until the end. All my guesses were wrong. Each twist and turn had me gasping and reading faster.

What wasn’t flawless in this story were the characters. Each had his or her imperfections. Some were instantly likable, and they had my instant sympathy. Others were annoying. A couple were down right detestable. When it all came down to it, how I felt about the characters didn’t matter. All that mattered was how they were wrapped up in what happened. Each character was perfect for Big Little Lies.

Big Little Lies was a constantly shifting story that explored several different issues. I loved how each issue was woven into the story and the mystery of it. It was an amazing read, and I highly recommend reading it. I really want to watch the new television adaptation of Big Little Lies now!