Book Review: Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak


BOOK INFO

Title: Necessary People
Author: Anna Pitoniak
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: May 21, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.74


BOOK BLURB

One of them has it all. One of them wants it all. But they can’t both win.

Stella and Violet are best friends, and from the moment they met in college, they knew their roles. Beautiful, privileged, and reckless Stella lives in the spotlight. Hardworking, laser-focused Violet stays behind the scenes, always ready to clean up the mess that Stella inevitably leaves in her wake.
After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. In this fast-paced world, Violet thrives, and her ambitions grow — but everything is jeopardized when Stella, envious of Violet’s new life, uses her connections, beauty, and charisma to get hired at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce — and taking all the credit.

Stella might be the one with the rich family and the right friends, but Violet isn’t giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, each reveals just how far she’ll go to get what she wants — even if it means destroying the other person along the way.



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MY REVIEW

Stella and Violet have been friends since college. They seem like opposites, but they balance one another out. Stella is privileged and irresponsible. Violet is hardworking and serious. After graduating, Stella travels and Violet starts an internship at a cable news station in New York. When Stella returns to New York, Violet’s advancements are overshadowed and threatened when Stella is hired at the same station. Violet has always been there for Stella, but Violet isn’t giving up on her dreams.

Told from Violet’s point of view. She’s driven and hardworking, but not always likable. Both women are manipulative with one another and others in their lives. While they both have traits that are unlikable, they also both have moments to sympathize with. This is one of those novels where unlikable characters really works. Even though I wasn’t loving either woman, I was curious as to how their relationship would play out.

An intriguing thriller about a toxic friendship. Well developed characters that make this a highly enjoyable read. Dark, complex, and compelling.


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Book Review: The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke


BOOK INFO

Title: The Two Lila Bennetts
Author: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: July 23, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.9


BOOK BLURB

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.



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MY REVIEW

Lila Bennett has made some bad choices. She has now reached a decision that splits her life in two. In one life, she is taken hostage by someone who knows everything about her. In the other life, someone is after her, and exposes her secrets as she escapes capture.

Lila is a criminal defense attorney. She’s made plenty of enemies, so narrowing down who is after her proves challenging. She has made choices that impact her personal and professional lives. As those choices are revealed, her life is forever changed. Lila is not exactly likable. She’s lied to the people in her life for many years. She always has an excuse, but she knows that she’s done the wrong thing. When her life splits, she finally faces those choices and has to face the ones she has hurt.

An intriguing thriller about choices affecting our path in life, and having to face the consequences. Fast-paced, complex, and suspenseful.


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Book Review: Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: Here to Stay
Author: Mark Edwards
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: September 1, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.99

BOOK BLURB
via Amazon:
A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about…

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of welcoming strangers into your home.


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MY REVIEW
Elliot has a comfortable life with a rewarding career and a beautiful home he remodeled. The only thing missing is a family. When he meets Gemma, she seems perfect for him, and they have a brief courtship before marrying. Soon after getting married, Gemma’s family (mother, father, and sister) need somewhere to stay. Elliot is happy to welcome them into his home for a couple of weeks, but the time keeps passing and his in-laws aren’t leaving. In fact, they’re taking over his home and starting to destroy other areas of his life too.

Elliot is a decent man who works hard and enjoys his quiet life. He wants love though, and is happy when he meets Gemma. Then his in-laws move in. When his in-laws refuse to leave, Elliot is pushed beyond the breaking point. It’s a difficult time for him and Gemma. In some ways it brings them closer and in other ways pushes them apart.

While I enjoyed the story, I did feel it was a little too slowly drawn out. The in-laws are smart though, and stay within the law as they disrupt Elliot’s life. Elliot tries to remain calm, but there is only so much that a man can handle.

An intriguing story involving the in-laws from Hell. Good for readers who enjoy family drama in domestic thrillers. Crazy, suspenseful, and entertaining.

This was my Amazon First Reads pick for August 2019.


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Book Review: The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: The Woman in the Park
Author: Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist
Publisher: Beaufort Books
Publish Date: August 26, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.20

BOOK BLURB
via Amazon:
When Manhattanite Sarah Rock meets a mysterious and handsome stranger in the park, she is drawn to him. Sarah wants to get away from her daily routine, her cheating husband and his crazy mistress, her frequent sessions with her heartless therapist, and her moody children.

But nothing is as it seems. Her life begins to unravel when a woman from the park goes missing and Sarah becomes the prime suspect in the woman’s disappearance. Her lover is nowhere to be found, her husband is suspicious of her, and her therapist is talking to the police.

With no one to trust, Sarah must face her inner demons and uncover the truth to prove her innocence.

A thriller that questions what is real-with its shocking twists, secrets, and lies — The Woman in the Park will leave readers breathless.


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MY REVIEW
Sarah is attracted to a handsome man she met in the park. This new man provides a way for Sarah to escape her unhappiness at home. When a woman Sarah recognizes from the park goes missing, Sarah comes under suspicion in the her disappearance. Sarah’s home life and secret life collide. Nothing is as it seems, and Sarah’s not sure who she can trust.

A suspenseful psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator. Sarah has discontent in her life, but she’s trying to manage things with therapy. As the story progresses, it’s hard to know if everything is based in reality. An entertaining trip down the rabbit hole of Sarah’s life.

A twisty debut novel. Good for readers who enjoy domestic thrillers with unreliable narrators. Dark, clever, and captivating.

I received a free advance digital copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: The Body Lies by Jo Baker

The Body Lies by Jo Baker


BOOK INFO

Title: The Body Lies
Author: Jo Baker
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: June 18, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.55


BOOK BLURB

A dark, thrilling new novel from the best-selling author of Longbourn: a work of riveting psychological suspense that grapples with how to live as a woman in the world–or in the pages of a book–when the stakes are dangerously high.

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote English countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the bustle of London and the scene of a violent assault she is desperate to forget. But despite the distractions of her new life and the demands of single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle. To make matters worse, a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and mounting rivalries in her creative-writing class. When a troubled student starts turning in chapters that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognizes herself as the main character in his book–and he has written her a horrific fate. Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it’s too late? At once a breathless cat-and-mouse game and a layered interrogation of the fetishization of the female body, The Body Lies gives us an essential story for our time that will have you checking the locks on your doors.


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MY REVIEW

A pregnant woman is assaulted. Three years later, she is struggling with living in London and afraid to go out alone. For a fresh start, she takes a job teaching creative writing at a university in the remote English countryside. During her course, a male student writes disturbing stories that blur the line between fiction and reality.

The unnamed narrator is a woman who struggles with life after an assault. The assault colors her view of the world, and eventually leads her to move away from London. Her husband chooses to stay in London for his work, so they attempt to maintain a long-distance relationship, spending time together on holidays and occasional weekends. She move to the countryside with her son and starts a new job that proves to be more challenging than anticipated. The new job has a higher workload than she agreed to, and no guidance. Add in the loneliness of not having her husband around and the struggles of being the mother of a toddler, the narrator is stressed and exhausted. The character development is well done, and provides an insightful look into challenges of being a woman.

The narrator’s life is stressful enough, and when a male student writes disturbing stories, she starts to feel unsafe. The suspense builds slowly in this atmospheric novel. A good read for fans of literary crime fiction. Slow-burning, dark, and unsettling.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre

The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre


BOOK INFO

Title: The Third Mrs. Durst
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publish Date: August 8, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.70


BOOK BLURB

Some people just need killing.

Marlena Altizer Durst lives in her husband’s shadow. He controls her every move—what she wears, the food she eats, and the friends she’s allowed to make. If she disobeys, there are… consequences. And he has all the power.

To outsiders, it seems that she leads a fairy-tale life. But nobody ever wonders if Cinderella was happy after she married the prince. Marlena has traded freedom and safety for luxurious imprisonment, and most days, that seems like a bad bargain. Death may be the only exit she’s allowed. Just like his first wife. And his second. Unless she flips the script.

Some people just need killing.


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MY REVIEW

Marlena left her home at sixteen to escape her tough life. She landed a modeling contract, and worked steadily until her big break. After a particularly successful job, she was offered more jobs, including an opportunity to move to Germany. That is where she was courted by Michael Durst. Now married, they lead the perfect life in public, but behind closed doors he is demanding and cruel.

Told from Marlena’s viewpoint, she recalls her young days as a model up until her present life. Marlena wants to leave her marriage, but doesn’t have many opportunities. Michael keeps constant watch on her, and he has a personal security guard with her at all times. The only person in Marlena’s life that she really trusts is Jenny, her best friend who she met when they were teens starting their modeling careers. To get away from her husband, Marlena needs help, but she’s not sure who else she can trust.

A psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator. This is a plot driven story with plenty of action. It’s fun and exciting, but I had some questions in the end that took a little away from my enjoyment of the book. I’ve liked Ann Aguirre’s young adult novels, and I look forward to reading more adult thrillers by her. Dark, devious, and entertaining.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz

The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz


BOOK INFO

Title: The Birthday Girl
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.42


BOOK BLURB

In the thrilling, suspenseful new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz, all of Ellie de Florent-Stinson’s secrets come to light in one eventful evening full of twists, turns, and surprises.

Before she became a glamorous fashion designer, Ellie de Florent-Stinson was a trailer-park teen about to turn sixteen. But a night of birthday celebration doesn’t go exactly as planned and descends into a night she’ll never be able to forget.

Now, on the cusp of her fortieth birthday, it appears Ellie has everything she ever wanted: a handsome husband; an accomplished, college-age stepdaughter; a beautiful ten-year-old girl; adorable and rambunctious six-year-old twin boys; lush, well-appointed homes in Los Angeles, Park City, and Palm Springs; a thriving career; and a dazzling circle of friends.

Except everything is not quite as perfect as it looks on the outside—Ellie is keeping many secrets. And hiding those skeletons has a cost, and it all comes to a head the night of her fabulous birthday party in the desert—where everyone who matters in her life shows up, invited or not. Old and new friends and frenemies, stepdaughters and business partners, ex-wives and ex-husbands congregate, and the glittering facade of Ellie’s life begins to crumble.

Beautifully paced and full of surprises, The Birthday Girl is an enthralling tale of a life lived in shadow and its unavoidable consequences.


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MY REVIEW

Ellie is turning forty, and she has a big birthday party planned. She’s invited everyone she knows and has everything planned to the last detail. Things do not go according to plan though. Something is up with her husband, her daughter has returned home unexpectedly from college, her best friend can’t make it, someone from her past has decided to drop by, and Ellie’s waiting on a last minuted business deal.

Told with alternating timelines – past (24 years ago) and present (birthday party). The past timeline is about Leo and Mish, two girls from the wrong side of town, on the night of Leo’s 16th birthday. They are best friends and excited to go out and celebrate, but things do not end happily. The present timeline is about Ellie, her lavish party, and the things happening in her life.

This is listed as a thriller, but nothing is particularly surprising or shocking. Ellie is not the most likable character, but she’s realistic. She wants perfection, and to prove that she belongs. An entertaining book for readers who enjoy drama and mild suspense.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware


BOOK INFO

Title: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.00


BOOK BLURB

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


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MY REVIEW

Rowan answers an ad for a live-in nanny position. The position seems a little too perfect, but Rowan ignores the warning signs. After getting the job, Rowan experiences some unexplained and disturbing events in the home. Her time there is difficult, and Rowan admits she made mistakes. When one of the children dies, Rowan insists she is not the killer.

Told from Rowan’s point of view in letters from prison to her attorney. Rowan attempts to explain everything that happened during her time with the family, and what led to her arrest. Strange events in the home, the creepy smart features of the house, and the behavior of the not-so-perfect children. Rowan is not a likable character, but she is realistic and evokes a little sympathy.

I enjoy the atmosphere that Ruth Ware creates in her novels. She is a master at writing creepy and atmospheric psychological thrillers. The setting for The Turn of the Key is a remote smart home in the Scottish Highlands. The property is large and has a dark history.

Slow-burning and eerie mystery. While there are some predictable things in the story, there are enough twists to keep it interesting. Fans of Ruth Ware are sure to enjoy this book. Creepy, unsettling, and atmospheric.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: Because You’re Mine by Rea Frey

Because You're Mine by Rea Frey


BOOK INFO

Title: Because You’re Mine
Author: Rea Frey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publish Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 5.0 / Community 4.30


BOOK BLURB

But it’s the lies that keep you safe.

Single mother Lee has the daily routine down to a science: shower in six minutes. Cut food into perfect squares. Never leave her on-the-spectrum son Mason in someone else’s care. She’ll do anything—anything—to keep his carefully constructed world from falling apart. Do anything to keep him safe.

But when her best friend Grace convinces her she needs a small break from motherhood to recharge her batteries, Lee gives in to a weekend trip. Surely a long weekend away from home won’t hurt?

Noah, Mason’s handsome, bright, charismatic tutor—the first man in ages Lee’s even noticed—is more than happy to stay with him.

Forty-eight hours later, someone is dead.

But not all is as it seems. Noah may be more than who he claims to be. Grace has a secret—one that will destroy Lee. Lee has secrets of her own that she will do anything to keep hidden. And what will happen to Mason, as the dominoes begin to fall and the past comes to light?

Perhaps it’s no mystery someone is gone after all…

Because You’re Mine is a breathtaking novel of domestic drama and suspense.

Prepare to stay up all night.


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MY REVIEW

A group of friends go on a girls’ weekend getaway. Two of the women are Lee and Grace – best friends who are keeping secrets from one another. At the end of the weekend, someone is dead.

Told with alternating points of view and timelines. The three points of view are Lee, Grace, and Noah. Lee is a single mother. She is protective of her autistic son Mason, and all her actions revolve around providing for him. Grace is Lee’s best friend, and also a single mother. Grace is keeping something from Lee that threatens their relationship. Noah is Mason’s tutor, who Lee has a crush on. Most of the novel takes place in the present time, but there are chapters from the past that fill in the blanks to explain current actions of the characters.

Domestic suspense that is slow-building and captivating. Lee and Grace are both single mothers raising sons. They formed a friendship and have confided in one another over the years, but they have been keeping their darkest secrets hidden. Flawed and unreliable characters with intriguing backstories. A story with dark and unpredictable turns. Fantastic ending.

Because You’re Mine is Rea Frey’s second book, and I found it slightly better than Not Her Daughter. Both are good books though, and I recommend them to readers who enjoy a combination of women’s fiction and domestic suspense.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena


BOOK INFO

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publish Date: July 30, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.01


BOOK BLURB

The new domestic suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, and An Unwanted Guest, Shari Lapena

Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did…

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses–and into the owners’ computers as well–learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide…

You never really know what people are capable of.


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MY REVIEW

A nice, quiet neighborhood. Well, except that a man’s wife goes missing and a teenager is breaking into houses and hacking into computers. Everyone in the neighborhood is hiding something, and one of them is a killer.

This novel has a lot of characters, and is told with alternating points of view. Some of the characters are better developed than others. All of the characters are keeping secrets, and most are suspects in a neighbor’s murder.

I enjoyed the mysterious plot, but had a hard time connecting with the characters. The setting is one of my favorites – idyllic neighborhood where everyone has something to hide. The ending isn’t a big shock, and a lot of readers will likely figure it out, but there are enough suspects and twists in the story to keep most readers guessing a bit.

An entertaining and twisty thriller. Suspenseful, fun, and clever.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.