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.

Release Day Review & Excerpt: The Better Man by Barbie Bohrman

The Better Man
Series: Allen Brothers, #2
Author: Barbie Bohrman
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Meet Max Allen.

He’s ambitious, too smart for his own good, and very single.
Nicknamed “Max-A-Million” by society gossip types, he thinks he’s got it pretty damn good and he’s right…for the most part.

Meet Daphne Rodriguez.
She’s ambitious, too smart for her own good, and very single.
She works extra hard for everything she has and never complains about the crappy hand life has dealt her.

When Max is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, it comes with the condition that he must work with the one person he despises most…and wants the most: his sworn enemy, Daphne.

However, Max has no plans of giving Daphne the satisfaction of ever letting her know how he feels about her. Instead, he vows to make her life miserable at every turn.

Which works out perfectly, since Daphne has no intention of making it easy for Max either.

When all hell breaks loose and they’re on a collision course with disaster, these two stubborn people will have to overcome their mutual hatred of each other long enough to work together and get the job done.

For better or worse, they will have to rely on each other to save themselves…and the people they love most.


I originally met Max Allen back in the first book in the Allen Brothers series, The Best Man. I was intrigued by his character. He was a guy who thought he was the top of the food chain due to his money and his success. I wondered what it would take for Max to give up his attitude of importance and put someone else first. I found out in The Better Man.

I have to admit that I hated Max the pretty much the entire book. His sense entitlement and over the top confidence were off-putting. He was just too full of himself for my taste. I couldn’t stand how mean he was to others, especially Daphne. I was shocked she was actually into him. Max was supposed to be gorgeous, but his attitude would have killed things for me.

Not Daphne. Their spark was too strong. Luckily, so was her personality. Daphne was able to give back to Max what he dished out. She was also able to take the high road when he couldn’t. I loved that about her. I also loved Daphne’s sense of family. Her relationships with her brother, grandmother and even her friend Derek were shining moments in the story.

Toward the end, there were moments of greatness for Max. When he finally surrendered to his feelings for Daphne was one of them. He became sweeter than I imagined. There were also amazing moments with his family, especially his twin nieces. What he was willing to do for them brought out another side of him. I liked Max in those moments.

I can’t review The Better Man without mentioning the shocking surprise Barbie Borhman included. It gutted me and brought me to tears. I won’t say what happened, but I wasn’t expecting to be so shattered. It made me very anxious to get the next book in the series, and it made The Better Man a better, more complex story.

Despite my initial dislike of Max, The Better Man was a great read. It had the push and pull I have come to expect from a great enemies to lovers story. I would recommend it and the rest of the Allen Brothers series to contemporary romance readers.

Excerpt:

For every person who didn’t like me, there were a lot more who adored me. That had to count for something, right?

Right.

“Of course, mate. Of course,” Oliver said. “Then you know what some of the male viewers have been saying, yes?”

I was blessed with the looks of a fucking Adonis, so yeah, men usually hated me anyway. I paid their bullshit complaints little to no attention at all. Let me put it this way, if I had a nickel for every single time some guy was jealous of me, I’d be rich.

Oh, wait! I am a rich. So, fuck them.

Shrugging my shoulders, I replied with ease, “A few haters never killed anyone.”

“Let’s see, shall we?” With another click or two on his keyboard, Oliver then announced, “Here’s one tweet that says, ‘Max Allen needs to get hit by a bus. #pleasebabyjesus.’”

“That’s not so bad,” I said through a chuckle. “I’ve heard a lot worse. Hell, I think my big brothers can come up with better ones.”

Oliver ignored me and kept right on reciting more tweets. “Here’s another one, ‘It looks like his face caught on fire and someone tried to put it out with a fork.’ And another, ‘I wish Max Allen’s mom would have swallowed instead.’”

He was starting to cackle like a hyena. “All right, I get it, boss. Men don’t—”

“Wait, wait,” Oliver managed to say between his laughing fit. “One more, ‘Max Allen has more dick in his personality than he does in his pants. #dickless.’”

“Boss, I—”

“‘Max Allen looks like two pounds of shit in a one pound bag.’” Oliver was laughing so loudly he had to stop for a second to gain his composure. “Oh, and this one! This is my favorite, mate, ‘If Max Allen could suck his own dick, then he would finally suck at everything. #eatadick #buteatyoursbro #suckyourdick #maxsucksdick #dickdickdick.’”

Oliver was having the time of his life reading off these awful tweets about me, super loud, too. So loud that his assistant and the assistant to his assistant, or intern, or whatever the fuck they were to him, were cracking up. One of them yelled out, “Dude, you have to go to the Twitter feed right now!”

And then, like a wave of dominoes falling over, one by one, the rest of the office was reading the same tweets and laughing their butts off. Thank God I had thick skin, or I would take it personally.

“All right,” Oliver wheezed while he wiped the tears from his eyes. “Oh my God, those are priceless.”

“Yeah, right. Priceless.”

Review: Some Whisper, Some Shout by K.K. Weil

Some Whisper, Some Shout
Author: K.K. Weil
Publication Date: August 16, 2017
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Devices. Jolie’s got tons of them. Coping mechanisms that ensure she’s not falling victim to the mental illness that’s taken hold of both her brother and father. Helping the homeless gives Jolie much needed consistency. But when a stranger struts into her Jersey Shore creperie, writing cryptic songs on napkins and then disappearing, her world becomes anything but routine.

Reed can play the soul out of his saxophone, but he’s hiding something. Why else would he reveal so little about himself, or plan one secluded, albeit eccentric, date after another? And what’s in that backpack he carries everywhere? Then again, with her distressed brother missing, an estranged mother returning home, and a feisty grandmother acting weirder than usual, Jolie can’t decipher whether her suspicions are valid or dangerous delusions.

When inexplicable slashings of the homeless occur in her otherwise safe town, Jolie’s devices begin to fail.


Some Whisper, Some Shout is the second book I’ve read by K.K. Weil. I enjoy her writing and the mysterious stories she comes up with. I do have to admit that I didn’t like this book as much as the other book I’ve read by Weil. It was good, but there were a couple of things that kept me from falling in love with it.

To be honest, I didn’t connect with Jolie’s character. I didn’t like her. She was immature and self-centered when it came to her friends and family. Jolie couldn’t see past her own needs or the rules she gave herself. That was weird considering how self-less she was when it came to her homeless charity endeavors and her brother, Tristan. It was frustrating reading the story from her point of view. I hated the choices she made.

Reed was a more enjoyable character. I loved when the story switched over to his point of view. I liked that Reed had flaws. He was trying to become a better version of himself, even if he did mislead Jolie at times. His character was easier to relate to.

Another thing that I wasn’t quite on board with was the speed at which Jolie and Reed’s relationship progressed. It happened too fast for me. She knew nothing about him, and knew she knew nothing about him, yet she jumped into a relationship with him quickly. They were in love before they truly even knew each other.

I hate that this sounds so negative. Some Whisper, Some Shout actually had a lot of great things going on. The writing was good and the story moved at a quick pace. I loved all of the social aspects that were included. The spotlight on both homelessness and mental illness was awesome. I think I would have loved it had I loved Jolie.

Overall, Some Whisper, Some Shout was a good read. I have a feeling other readers are really going to enjoy it, especially those who like romantic suspense novels. I wish I would have connected better with Jolie and enjoyed it more myself.

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.

Review: After We Fell by Anna Todd

After We Fell
Series: After
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Tessa and Hardin’s love was complicated before. Now it’s more confusing than ever. AFTER WE FELL…Life will never be the same. #HESSA

Just as Tessa makes the biggest decision of her life, everything changes. Revelations about first her family, and then Hardin’s, throw everything they knew before in doubt and makes their hard-won future together more difficult to claim.

Tessa’s life begins to come unglued. Nothing is what she thought it was. Not her friends. Not her family. The one person she should be able to rely on, Hardin, is furious when he discovers the massive secret she’s been keeping. And rather than being understanding, he turns to sabotage.

Tessa knows Hardin loves her and will do anything to protect her, but there’s a difference between loving someone and being able to have them in your life. This cycle of jealousy, unpredictable anger, and forgiveness is exhausting. She’s never felt so intensely for anyone, so exhilarated by someone’s kiss—but is the irrepressible heat between her and Hardin worth all the drama? Love used to be enough to hold them together. But if Tessa follows her heart now, will it be…the end?


In my review for After We Collided (After, #2), I said I didn’t want to continue this series but would because I had to know what crazy stuff Anna Todd could possibly come up with in the rest of the series. I couldn’t think of any crazier situations than she had already written. I mean, how much drama can one couple go through. Evidently, a lot because After We Fell continued the crazy.

Tessa and Hardin’s relationship continued to go through constant emotional upheaval. Their relationship sprung to abusive heights that disgusted me. I have said it in my previous reviews and I’ll say it again, Hardin needs psychological help. He is one messed up jerk. (And that’s putting it lightly.) Anna Todd gives us all these reasons why Hardin is the way he is, but it’s no excuse for how he treats Tessa. I was proud that he came to a couple of realizations in this book, but it didn’t rehabilitate him at all.

I was proud of Tessa a few times in this book. She’s began to realize things as well, and she did a better job of sticking up for herself. Tessa made some good decisions, but she has given Hardin too many chances. I still wish she would find a true knight in shining armor who wouldn’t treat her the way Hardin does. I was happy that she finally understood that Zed wasn’t her friend and how she ended up handling it.

There were several surprises in this book. Most I saw coming, but a couple shocked me. I was left wondering how Tessa and Hardin could know so many horrible people. I don’t think I’ve met this many horrible people in my lifetime. Maybe I have. I could be wrong. I just want to know where all the normal people are in their lives? Well, I guess they do have Landon, Karen and Kimberly.

I hate to say it, but I think the After series is starting to grow on me. Well, parts of it are at least. I know the series won’t end how I want it to, but I can curious to see how it all wraps up. So, yes, I will be reading the other books in this series.

Review: Beast by Elizabeth Reyes

Beast
Series: Boyle Heights, #2
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: August 4, 2017
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, New Adult

Purchase Now:
Amazon

Goodreads

Synopsis:

She holds the power to tame the Beast . . .

or unleash him if he lets her in.

This close to turning his life around and just months away from the end of his probation, all Leo has to do is keep his inner demons in check.

But the Beast within is about to be reawakened.

One interview was all it was supposed to be. An interview with the daunting felon in the work-release program that leaves Allison breathless with anticipation for their next encounter.

Despite the risks of becoming involved, neither is able to fight the inexplicable draw they’re feeling.

Life keeps throwing them back together until the fateful night they stop fighting the inevitable and give into their desires. Suddenly, Leo has even more to look forward to in his new life.

Until his violent past catches up to him.

With the stakes infinitely higher now that Allison may also be at risk, the dormant Beast deep inside Leo threatens to unleash, ruining all the progress he’s made—worst of all any future with Allison.

My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if Beast was going to be a book I would enjoy. Ali wasn’t one of my favorite characters when I read Lila (Boyle Heights, #1). I wasn’t fond of the disregard Ali had for her own safety in that book. Beast did a very good job of making me like and understand Ali. It overlapped the time frame of Lila and gave me new insight of Ali’s motivations and her falling for Beast.

Ali is one of the softest female character Reyes has written. She was young and sweet. Her insecurities about her body made her very easy to relate to. Ali was timid when it came to men, but also wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. It made her relationship with Beast pretty perfect. Beast was the typical Elizabeth Reyes alpha male. He was hard, older, and reluctant to corrupt Ali. He knew the most important thing was to keep Ali safe. I loved how their relationship built throughout the book, and developed into something really special.

I’m not a big romantic suspense fan, but I enjoyed the suspense created in Beast. It wasn’t over the top. It gradually increased throughout the book. Some of the twists in the story I expected, some caught me off guard. I liked how everything played out in the end. It wasn’t what I was expecting. That was a good thing.

Beast was a great addition to the Boyle Heights series. It had almost everything I want from an Elizabeth Reyes romance. (I did kind of miss a kick ass female character.) Beast was a fun read, and it made me excited for the next book in the series.

If you like diverse characters, alpha males, strong women and lots of fun drama, I highly recommend Beast or any other of Elizabeth Reyes’ novels.

Excerpt:

Reaching the room in question, Leo walked over to the car parked in front of the window and pretended to fumble with invisible keys at the door. He glanced up and saw the two figures move about in the room. That was when he got a glimpse of the other person—a much shorter person—who had long hair. There was a light on in the background possibly to the bathroom or hallway just outside the bathroom. The long-haired person’s body moved just so it was silhouetted by the light.

If Leo hadn’t been so obsessed with that ass and those curves he may not have been so sure it was her. The buzzing in his ears began even as he started toward the door, but only grew louder when both figures moved onto the bed. Fuck knocking. As soon as he was close enough, he kicked the door with the bottom of his foot as hard as he could. “Allison, you in there?”

Review: In Pieces by Danielle Pearl

In Pieces
Series: Something More, #2
Author: Danielle Pearl
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Three years ago she was left in pieces . . . Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It’s for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can’t seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago. As soon as David March learned his best friend’s little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he’d keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he’d grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she’s attracting attention from people she shouldn’t-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn’t just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his.


In Pieces is the first book I’ve read by Danielle Pearl. I really enjoyed her writing style. She told the story in first person dual points of view. That’s my favorite type of narration because it allows me to connect deeply with the characters. She also threw in some chapters set in the past that helped show how the characters had matured over the years.

My favorite thing about In Pieces was Beth and David’s relationship. David was Beth’s older brother’s best friend. He was supposed to be her protector at college due to her weaknesses, but Beth was constantly pushing his boundaries. She didn’t want to be seen as a little girl any longer. They both were harboring secret feelings for each other. I loved the way their relationship progressed from friendship to lovers.

The only problem I had with this book was that there was almost too much going on in it. Both characters had secrets in their pasts. That probably would have been enough to keep the story going on its own, but there was also a ton of other drama. There was the new stranger, David’s frat friends, and a surprise twist toward the end. It was entertaining for sure, but just too much at times. I just wanted to focus on the love birds.

Overall, In Pieces was a fun, quick read. It had everything I would expect from a new adult romance and more. I liked Danielle Pearl’s writing style so much that I would definitely pick up another of her novels. I would like to read the first book in this series.