B O O K R E V I E W : Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Nobody But Us
Laure Van Rensburg
Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 12, 2022

Ellie Masterson, a smart but naïve graduate student at NYU, and her boyfriend, the much older and handsome professor Steven Harding leave New York City on a cold winter morning for a short vacation to celebrate their six-month anniversary. They arrive at a beautiful, though isolated, modern cabin with large windows overlooking the woods around the structure.

Their romantic getaway begins with a cozy candlelight dinner and walk on the nearby shore, but soon the fractures in the relationship widen as secrets rise to the surface. After a ferocious storm, the couple are snowed in without cell service or a landline, and what started out as a celebration becomes a battle of wills—one that they may not survive.

This psychological thriller shifts between Ellie and Stephen’s perspectives, along with a journal whose provenance is unknown for most of the book. Learning new information and being surprised along with the characters enhances the suspense. Most of the story advances through their internal processing as well as conversation between the two characters, though there is a flurry of dramatic action towards the end of the book.

Behind the conflict between the characters lies a heartbreaking truth. The book has some significant trigger warnings but sharing them would reveal spoilers. If you’d like them, please send me a DM!

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for sending me an advanced reading copy of Nobody But Us!

Check out the book’s Spotify playlist!

B O O K R E V I E W : The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The Younger Wife 
Sally Hepworth
St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Tully and Rachel Aston can’t believe their fifty-something father, Stephen, is dating Heather, a woman younger than them who he met when she redecorated the house he shared with their mother before her dementia became so bad she had to go to a nursing home.

When the couple announce they are engaged, Tully and Rachel are sure Heather only wants to marry Stephen for his money. And their father is so swept up in the romance, he’s determined to divorce their mother to expedite his wedding.

The sisters begin asking questions, trying to uncover Heather’s past. In doing so, however, they also excavate mysteries of their own family, laying bare long-held secrets and seeing family members differently, unearthing truths some want kept buried.

The Good Sister was one of my favorite reads of 2021, so I was so excited to read this year’s The Younger Wife. Like Hepworth’s other books, The Younger Wife has excellent writing, interesting characters, and lots of family drama. I particularly liked the social contagion—how the hint of an idea spread and the characters started seeing evidence for it everywhere. Rachel, a baker, has a suitor who is very into puns which I loved!

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an advanced readers copy!

B O O K R E V I E W : A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

At thirty-two, Dr. Chloe Davis has a successful private psychology practice and is planning her wedding to handsome and unflappable Daniel Briggs. Outwardly, she lives a charmed life, but she suffers from extreme anxiety, haunted by events of her childhood. When she was twelve, Chloe Davis’s father confessed to a series of violent crimes connected to missing teenage girls, and since then has been moldering in a Louisiana prison.

Just as Chloe should be focused on wedding flake and floral arrangements, a fifteen-year-old girl is reported missing from Baton Rouge. Chloe isn’t sure if she’s being paranoid in seeing parallels to her father’s misdeeds or if she’s being pulled into the orbit of yet another killer.

Suspicious of everyone close to her, even her fiancé, Chloe finds an unlikely ally in a New York Times reporter in town to write a retrospective about her father. Resolved she is the only one who can uncover the truth, she embarks on a dangerous mission to find a killer.

Not entirely reliable, Chloe’s narration shifts between the present and the summer of her father’s arrest. As she gets more embroiled in her search, she becomes increasingly distrustful which makes her isolated and reckless and makes for harrowing situations. But I particularly liked the flashbacks in which Chloe remembered the first missing girl, Lena, a few years older whom she idolized. Lena not only introduced her to womanhood but also challenged her instinct for obedience.

I also loved the writing style, one in which I delighted in the harmony, which I’d compare to Long Bright River, We Are all the Same in the Dark, Please See Us, or The Plot.

Thank you so much to Minotaur Books for sending me an advanced reading copy!


B O O K R E V I E W : Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

Amma and Brittany can think of no better way to end their trip around the world than with a visit to an isolated, uninhabited, yet very Instagrammable island in the Pacific. In Hawaii, they find Nico, who is willing to captain a boat for the journey—especially for the fee they are willing to pay—as long as his girlfriend, Lux, agrees to come along.

After a multi-day sail, Nico’s boat arrives at Meroe Island—a rumored site of shipwrecks and cannibalism—only to find another party already anchored. Disappointment quickly turns to camaraderie, though, as Eliza and Jake welcome the newcomers with a bounty of food and alcohol.

As the sunny days pass, the six twenty-somethings enjoy leisurely days lounging on the beach or exploring the interior of the island, dense with vegetation, home to an abandoned WWII refueling station with epic parties in the evening. However, the idyllic paradise hides simmering tensions, tragic pasts, and deeply held secrets, and the vacationers realize they don’t know each other as well as they think.

The arrival of a third boat, with Robbie, a crew of one, disrupts the fragile equilibrium as his subtly threatening demeanor puts everyone on edge. When one is found dead and one missing, it’s unclear if any will leave the island alive.

The story is told in dual timelines, Now and Before, from multiple points of view which works well with this book as it contributes to the uncertainty about which characters are trustworthy. It took some time to establish the setting and story; I would have preferred this to have been condensed. However, once Robbie arrived on the island, the action picked up, and there were many unexpected bombshells, although I also noticed a few confusing plot points.

If you liked the movie A Perfect Getaway or the true crime book And the Sea Will Tell, this is a book for you! Look for it at your favorite bookstore on Tuesday, January 4, 2022!

Thanks to @stmartinspress and @netgalley for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review!


The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng, Publication Date: August 10, 2021

An aspiring artist an alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Kelly never looked back when she left her Michigan hometown. But on her birthday, while attending her best friend’s art opening, she opens the door to the bathroom and walks into her own twenty-ninth birthday party in Michigan with her family and a husband, Eric, who had been a high school acquaintance. She has twelve years of new memories—but has echoes of her Chicago life.

What’s more, she experiences glitches: her tattoos fade in and out, and when she asks Eric about conversations they’ve had, he denies them. She doesn’t doubt he loves her, but he also has a controlling impulse and a covert relationship with a secretive and security-conscious start-up.

Kelly tries to find her real life, but there’s no one she can really trust, not even her own memories.

For me, The Other Me started slowly, and I thought there was too much time and repetition regarding the authenticity of Kelly’s relationship with Eric while I would have been happier for Kelly and Linnea to interact more. Once the situation clarified, Kelly determined a course of action, and more characters entered the narrative, I thought the action was more exciting and that interesting ethical issues were introduced. Trying to keep it vague – best to go into it without too many preconceived ideas!

Thanks to @NetGalley and @Berkleypub for providing a digital reading copy in exchange for an honest review and to @berittalksbooks for organizing the #berkleywritesstrongwomen #berkleybuddyreads!