As a fellow book nerd, I read many many books per year. Below you will find book reviews of books that I have read this 2023 year. They will be posted in the order I have read them, each with their own star rating. Some wonderful, some not so great. I am 100% honest with these book reviews, and do not accept any form of payment to sway my ratings.
Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks:
Synopsis: Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she’s been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future. Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother’s early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways. Illuminating life’s heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, Every Breath explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties — and asks the question, How long can a dream survive?
Rating: 3/5 Stars. The story line is great; however, the ending was a bit slow. I was unsure how I felt about the ending, but the characters and the plot are what you would expect from Nicholas Sparks. Not my favorite by this author, but still good overall.
The Butterfly Garden (The Collector, 1) by Dot Hutchison:
Synopsis: Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden. In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”―young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens. When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself. As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…
Rating: 5/5 Stars. This book definitely deserves a TRIGGER WARNING. It is very graphic and includes flashbacks of sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. However, the plot is amazing. I couldn’t put this book down, and it definitely had me wanting more. The characters are easy to relate to, and the author is a great story teller.
The Roses of May (The Collector, 2) by Dot Hutchison:
Synopsis: Four months after the explosion at the Garden, a place where young women known as the Butterflies were kept captive, FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez are still entrenched in the aftermath, helping survivors in the process of adjusting to life on the outside. With winter coming to an end, the Butterflies have longer, warmer days of healing ahead. But for the agents, the impending thaw means one gruesome thing: a chilling guarantee that somewhere in the country, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers. Priya Sravasti’s sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mother move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. But when she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found—but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line?
Rating: 5/5 Stars. This book definitely deserves a TRIGGER WARNING. It is very graphic and includes flashbacks of sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. This is the second book in The Collector series, and it was just as amazing as the first! I had to dive right into this book after I finished The Butterfly Garden and I’m so glad I did. I found the strong woman so relatable, and the author did a great job with character development!
The Summer Children (The Collector 3) by Dot Hutchison:
Synopsis: When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe. His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through. One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career. Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might
Rating: 5/5 Stars. This book definitely deserves a TRIGGER WARNING. It is very graphic and includes flashbacks of sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. This is the third book in The Collector Series. The author did a great job of bringing characters from the first two books into the fold seamlessly. Great follow up and follow along to the other two books in the series. The chapter intros were a bit rough/raw but that’s part of a great read.
The Vanishing Season (The Collector, 4) by Dot Hutchison:
Synopsis: A recent abduction becomes an unexpected link to a decades-long spree of unspeakable crimes. Eight-year-old Brooklyn Mercer has gone missing. And as accustomed as FBI agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison are to such harrowing cases, this one has struck a nerve. It marks the anniversary of the disappearance of Eddison’s own little sister. Disturbing, too, is the girl’s resemblance to Eliza—so uncanny they could be mother and daughter. With Eddison’s unsettled past rising again with rage and pain, Eliza is determined to solve this case at any cost. But the closer she looks, the more reluctant she is to divulge to her increasingly shaken partner what she finds. Brooklyn isn’t the only girl of her exact description to go missing. She’s just the latest in a frightening pattern going back decades in cities throughout the entire country. In a race against time, Eliza’s determined to bring Brooklyn home and somehow find the link to the cold case that has haunted Eddison—and the entire Crimes Against Children team—since its inception
Rating: 4/5 Stars. This book definitely deserves a TRIGGER WARNING. It is very graphic and includes flashbacks of sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. This is the final book in The Collector series. Although not as good as the 3 books before it, I found that this was a good wrap-up to the series. The characters, as always with this author, were easily relatable.
What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan:
Synopsis: Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes. Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion. As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most. Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…
Rating: 5/5 Stars. This book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I read this entire book in a matter of hours because I simply couldn’t put it down. The ending is MIND BLOWING and completely caught me off guard. One of the best books I’ve ever read!