Sample Chapter Reviews – Week of June 11th, 2023

I am constantly on the hunt for books to read, both to feature in our boxes, and just for my own personal enjoyment. With so many options out there, and having purchased and downloaded so many books only to be completely disappointed within the first few pages, I no longer purchase any book without reading the sample chapters. 

These are the eight book sample chapters I’ve read in the last week, what I thought of them, and if they were good enough to make it on to my TBR list.

This one is sharp and edgy, and if I’m being honest, triggered some mommy guilt, even now after my kiddos are grown. This book starts out with a woman who looks perfect on the outside, but who is buckling to perfectionism and the heavy expectations put on moms. And it also dips into the pressure women with no kids feel to hurry up and procreate.


Is this going on my TBR list? 

Maybe. I’d really have to be in the right mood to keep going with this one.

On Harlow Street, the well-to-do neighborhood couples and their children gather for a catered barbecue as the summer winds down; drinks continue late into the night.


Everything is fabulous until the picture-perfect hostess explodes in fury because her son disobeys her.  Everyone at the party hears her exquisite veneer crack—loud and clear.  Before long, that same young boy falls from his bedside window in the middle of the night.  And then, his mother can only sit by her son’s hospital bed, where she refuses to speak to anyone, and his life hangs in the balance.


What happens next, over the course of a tense three days, as each of these women grapple with what led to that terrible night?

If you love Housewives of Whatever City and all of the good upper crusty gossip, then you might like this book.  It started out with a really compelling prologue, but the first couple of chapters felt like a lot of backstory to me. It’s just not my cup of tea.


Is this going on my TBR list? 

Nope. Again, this is just not a genre I’m drawn to.

None of them would claim to be a particularly good person. But who among them is actually capable of murder?


Jen Weinstein and Lauren Parker rule the town of Salcombe, Fire Island every summer. They hold sway on the beach and the tennis court, and are adept at manipulating people to get what they want. Their husbands, Sam and Jason, have summered together on the island since childhood, despite lifelong grudges and numerous secrets. Their one single friend, Rachel Woolf, is looking to meet her match, whether he’s the tennis pro—or someone else’s husband. But even with plenty to gossip about, this season starts out as quietly as any other.


Until a body is discovered, face down, off the side of the boardwalk.


Stylish, subversive, and darkly comedic, this is a story of what’s lurking under the surface of picture-perfect lives in a place where everyone has something to hide.

From the outside looking in, her life and her party are pretty perfect. But when the book starts out with the protagonist choosing to let a man die in the middle of hosting a party, you can’t help but want to know what happens next.


Is this going on my TBR list? 

Yes! Already purchased and have started reading.

Nadine Walsh’s summer garden party is in full swing. The neighbors all have cocktails, the catered food is exquisite—everything’s going according to plan.


But Nadine—devoted wife, loving mother, and doting daughter—finds herself standing over a dead body in her basement while her guests clink glasses upstairs. What happened? How did it come to this?


Rewind to that morning, when Nadine is in her kitchen, making last-minute preparations before she welcomes more than a hundred guests to her home to celebrate her mother’s birthday. But her husband is of little help to her, her two grown children are consumed with their own concerns, and her mother—only her mother knows that today isn’t just a birthday party. It marks another anniversary as well.


Still, Nadine will focus just on tonight. Everyone deserves a celebration after the year they’ve had. A chance for fun. A chance to forget. But it’s hard to forget when Nadine’s head is swirling with secrets, haunting memories, and concerns about what might happen when her guests unite.

I am a new fan of Megan Miranda. We’re featuring one of her books in our July box, and so I wanted to try some of her others. This doesn’t disappoint. A group of adults meet up every year at a beach house. Turns out they are all survivors of a horrible accident when they were seniors in high school. But something’s off…and their group is getting smaller. 


Is this going on my TBR list? 

Yes! Already purchased and have started reading.

Seven hours in the past. Seven days in the present. Seven survivors remaining. Who would you save?


A decade ago, two vans filled with high school seniors on a school service trip crashed into a Tennessee ravine—a tragedy that claimed the lives of multiple classmates and teachers. The nine students who managed to escape the river that night were irrevocably changed. A year later, after one of the survivors dies by suicide on the anniversary of the crash, the rest of them make a pact: to come together each year to commemorate that terrible night.


To keep one another safe.
To hold one another accountable.
Or both.


Their annual meeting place, a house on the Outer Banks, has long been a refuge. But by the tenth anniversary, Cassidy Bent has worked to distance herself from the tragedy, and from the other survivors. She’s changed her mobile number. She’s blocked the others’ email addresses. This year, she is determined to finally break ties once and for all. But on the day of the reunion, she receives a text with an obituary attached: another survivor is gone. Now they are seven—and Cassidy finds herself hurling back toward the group, wild with grief—and suspicion.


Almost immediately, something feels off this year. Cassidy is the first to notice when Amaya, annual organizer, slips away, overwhelmed. This wouldn’t raise alarm except for the impending storm. Suddenly, they’re facing the threat of closed roads and surging waters…again. Then Amaya stops responding to her phone. After all they’ve been through, she wouldn’t willfully make them worry. Would she?


And—as they promised long ago—each survivor will do whatever he or she can do to save one another. Won’t they?

This one is so dark and moody. It starts out with a young girl arrested after stealing a loaf of bread. But instead of hanging, as is often the punishment for such crimes, she is branded a sin eater, and the life she knew before is over.  


Is this going on my TBR list?
Yes! Absolutely, yes!

The Sin Eater walks among us, unseen, unheard
Sins of our flesh become sins of Hers
Following Her to the grave, unseen, unheard
The Sin Eater Walks Among Us.


For the crime of stealing bread, fourteen-year-old May receives a life sentence: she must become a Sin Eater—a shunned woman, brutally marked, whose fate is to hear the final confessions of the dying, eat ritual foods symbolizing their sins as a funeral rite, and thereby shoulder their transgressions to grant their souls access to heaven.


Orphaned and friendless, apprenticed to an older Sin Eater who cannot speak to her, May must make her way in a dangerous and cruel world she barely understands. When a deer heart appears on the coffin of a royal governess who did not confess to the dreadful sin it represents, the older Sin Eater refuses to eat it. She is taken to prison, tortured, and killed. To avenge her death, May must find out who placed the deer heart on the coffin and why.

This book starts off with a great prologue. A fire has just gutted the Morris and Wood advertising headquarters. A woman watches and you get a sense she’s responsible, but you have no idea who she is.  Then we go back to two months before and meet two potential suspects, a recently returned to work new mom, and the woman who was hired to “temporarily” replace her who apparently, is there to stay.


Is this going on my TBR list?
Sure. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I likely will. I wasn’t as drawn in as some of the other samples this week, but I still want to know who the woman in the prologue was and if she’s the one that set the fire.

Laura has returned to work at Morris and Wood after her maternity leave, only to discover that the woman she brought in to cover for her isn’t going anywhere. Despite her close relationship with the agency’s powerful CEO, she feels sidelined—and outmaneuvered—as she struggles to balance the demands of work and motherhood.


Mia was only supposed to be a temporary hire at Morris and Wood, but she’s managed to make herself indispensable to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Laura. If people only knew why she was so desperate to keep her job, they might not want her to stay.


Janie gave up everything to support her husband and the successful agency he runs. But she has her own dark secret to protect…and will go to any lengths to keep it safe.

I am a huge post-apocalyptic/dystopian fan and this book promises all the things I love about that genre. It’s been years since Sasha was home. When she left, she tended bees with her scientist father. Now? Her father is in prision and all the bees worldwide are gone. This book gives me The Last of Us vibes without the zombies.

Is this going on my TBR list?

Yes! A million bajillion times yes. Already purchased. I cannot wait to read more of this.

It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind—find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated. There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as their own. While she initially feels threatened, the group soon becomes her newfound family, offering what she hasn’t felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it’s time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future.


But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honey bee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn’t understand, but she can’t shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father’s missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha’s fragile security and threaten the lives of her newfound family—or it could save them all.

If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like for someone with autism or extreme anxiety to end up in a full-blown panic attack and sensory overload, then read the sample chapters of this book. I immediately empathized with Cassandra and could feel her struggle in my body. 


She’s having the worst day ever…or is she?


Is this going on my TBR list?
Sure. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I likely will. This reminds me a little of The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden with an edgier protagonist. I really want to see Cassandra score a win, ya know?

Cassandra Penelope Dankworth is a creature of habit. She likes what she likes (museums, jumpsuits, her boyfriend, Will) and strongly dislikes what she doesn’t (mess, change, her boss drinking out of her mug). Her life runs in a pleasing, predictable order…until now.


  • She’s just been dumped.
  • She’s just been fired.
  • Her local café has run out of banana muffins.


Then, something truly unexpected happens: Cassie discovers she can go back and change the past. One small rewind at a time, Cassie attempts to fix the life she accidentally obliterated, but soon she’ll discover she’s trying to fix all the wrong things.

Links to books on this page go to Amazon for which I am an affiliate. If you purchase a book after clicking a link, Fiction Flock does receive a small commission. However, the opinions expressed here are mine and books reviewed/read are chosen by me.

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