Review: Little Secrets

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**5++ Stars**

Jennifer Hillier is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite authors! I absolutely devoured Hillier’s Jar of Hearts, which was one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read (and I believe it is either going to be on the screens soon). Little Secrets was also a fantastically wild ride of a book, one that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page!

As a mother, my absolute worst fear is something happening to my child, especially if it is something that I could have prevented. This is precisely what happens to Marin, who is the mother to four-year-old Sebastian.

Sebastian is kidnapped in Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market. It’s Christmas time and Pike Place is even more bustling than it normally is, as it is a huge tourist trap during the entire year.

It only takes one second for Sebastian to slip out of Marin’s hands (literally) and then he’s gone….maybe for good. The person who abducted him was smartly dressed as Santa Claus – a guise that made it easy for Sebastian to be snatched. The FBI investigates and fails to find any leads.

Needless to say, Marin is absolutely crushed. But if anything is good about Marin’s life, it’s that she has a great deal of money to spend on finding her missing son. She hires a private investigator, who turns up questionable and shocking information about both her husband and her former boyfriend. Her husband is having an affair with a much younger woman, a woman Marin begins to investigate as the possible kidnapper.

But lots of people who are in Marin’s life are hiding secrets – and one of them has her son.

This book was SO exciting and thrilling. It will make for a great read if you are stuck indoors during the pandemic right now, or on the beach this summer. You will not be able to put this book down! I am absolutely 100% sold on Hillier’s books. She is one of the tried and true authors I can read and count on to spin a wonderfully intriguing story that I cannot stop reading!

Thank you to Jennifer Hillier, the author, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review this fantastic book!

Review: The Best of Friends

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**5 Stars**

Three close friends who go way back to primary school in Southern California suffer an unthinkable tragedy. Their three high-school-aged sons who all play on the soccer team are involved in a gun-related incident, one that has claimed one of the boy’s lives, put one in a coma, and left one traumatized to the point they cannot speak about what happened that night. Lucinda Berry’s The Best of Friends is a twisty who-done-it thriller that looks at what caused one, possibly two, and maybe even three best of friends to harm each other.

This was my first Berry thriller and I was very impressed with her ability to build and sustain suspense. The book is told from the perspectives of the three women whose lives have been irrevocably altered. Each mother is in search of answers as to what happened that terrible night. The three women – Dani, Kendra, and Lindsey – are well off and assumed that their boys, were the best of friends. But the bonds between mothers slowly unravel as they discover the truths about themselves, their husbands, their other children, and their sons.

One mother has developed close friendships with the teenage boys that the other two mothers don’t know about. Another mother has been secretly slipping Adderall to her son without telling her husband and friends. And the third mother is in an abusive relationship with her husband that she hides well, one that may have contributed to what happened that dreadful night.

What caused two boys to be shot? Are the parents somehow involved or responsible for this horrific incident? Could it have been prevented?

I found the parts about the mothers’ extraordinary grief really gripping and heartbreaking – it is exactly how I imagine feeling if, God forbid, something happened to one of my children.

This was a solid thriller that kept me turning the pages. It was one of those books I looked forward to reading and had a hard time putting down. Thank you to NetGalley, the author, Lucinda Berry, and Thomas & Mercer for an advance reader copy of The Best of Friends!

Review: The Half-Sister

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**4 Stars**

When Lauren decides to upload a DNA test to a genealogy website, she has no idea how one action will change the lives of her family forever. Sandie Jones’ The Half Sister examines the inner lives and secrets of two sisters, Lauren and Kate, who have skeletons in their closets.

Kate is an independent, successful reporter who has been desperately trying to get pregnant. She has an adoring, equally successful husband who also works as a political reporter. Kate and her husband have kept their infertility struggle secret from the rest of their family, including Kate’s sister, Lauren, and mother, Rose.

Lauren is a mostly stay at home mother to numerous young children who feels chained to the life she’s chosen. Her husband is moody and difficult. The love she once had for him disappeared as soon as he became controlling when they married. She pines for the love she lost in high school, a love who painfully broke up with her and who has conveniently returned to their hometown.

Feeling lost and alone, Lauren seeks out companionship online via a genealogy website. A knock on her mother’s door will unravel Kate, Lauren, and Rose’s lives, forcing them to confront their once beloved and now deceased father’s infidelities. Jess, a woman who claims to be Lauren and Kate’s half-sister due to the connection made online via a genealogy website, is looking for friendship and family after growing up as an adoptee.

But Kate, who had a closer relationship with her father than Lauren, cannot believe her father, a prominent lawyer, would do such a thing. Kate, using her stellar investigative skills, digs deep into Jess’ past, discovering that Jess is not who she claims to be. Will Jess destroy Kate and Lauren’s family forever, or will the truths she brings to light bring them closer?

I enjoyed this book a great deal, but I think it could have been edited a bit more as it felt long by the time I was done. I saw the ending coming about half-way into the novel, but I thought it was still satisfying. I thought the characters of Lauren and Kate were well developed and enjoyed seeing how their motivations were explained. While I have preferred the Jones’ other books just a tad bit more, I did not regret this read and recommend it for a summer beach book (if we can go out to the beach, that is!).

Thank you to the author, Sandie Jones, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced reader copy of The Half Sister! I greatly appreciate the opportunity to review Jones’ books!

Review: Little Disasters

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**4 Stars**

Jess is a picture-perfect stay at home mother; she is pretty, thin, and has three beautiful children, including her beautiful baby Betsey. She is married to Ed, a successful businessman who works long days and nights to sustain his family and help his wife stay home. Jess’ world is flipped upside down when she finds herself being charged with negligent parenting after bringing Betsey into the ER. To make matters worse, the charges have been filed by Jess’ friend and ER doctor, Liz, who she befriended in a mother-baby group with their first children.

The story is told from the competing perspectives of Jess and Liz. Liz is a hard-working mother who feels terrible for reporting Jess. However, Betsey’s injuries appear serious; it seems as though she sustained a head injury, an injury that resulted in Betsey seizing and remaining hospitalized. Jess’ story of how Betsey got injured is inconsistent, making everyone around her wonder if she committed an unforgivable crime.

Did the taxing nature of motherhood cause Jess to hurt her child? Or is someone else responsible for Betsey’s serious injury?

Perhaps the guilty party is Ed, who might be having an affair on the side with Jess’ friend, Charlotte. Or maybe it is one of Jess’ sons, who are somewhat neglected due to the arrival of their newborn sister, Betsey. Or maybe it is Jess herself, who has been suffering from delusions and anxiety since she had Betsey. Liz also seems to have some skeletons in her closet and is working with doctors who are notoriously difficult to please.

This book is a good character study on the challenges and difficulties of being a parent. I appreciated the time the author put into developing the plot and characters. There were also lots of twists and turns that were unexpected that kept me engaged and interested in the book.

Thank you to Atria/Emily Bestler Books, NetGalley, and the author, Sarah Vaughan, for an advanced reader copy of Little Disasters!