Full Pour Review: When No One Is Watching

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

I haven’t read many thrillers this year, and that. needs. to. change. 👏🏻 That being said, I’m happy to say that the few thrillers that I have read so far this year have not left me disappointed and When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole was definitely no exception! Compared to Rear Window and Get Out, the fast-paced storyline for this deeply unsettling novel is unlike any other thriller I’ve read before. Not only did it have me hooked, but Alyssa Cole weaved so many important messages into this book that left me with so much for think about.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

There are so many things that I enjoyed about this book. First, the storyline. It’s a gripping psychological thriller with gentrification being the main focus, while police brutality, racism, harassment, financial struggles, loss of loved ones, all play large roles too. There are several characters (i.e. FUCKING KARENS) in this book that had me so fired up. Alyssa Cole did a great job with immersing the reader into the story. I felt like I was witnessing everything right alongside Sydney and Theo and while I enjoyed their characters and friendship, I felt their romantic relationship was a little out of place and unnecessary.

If you’re looking for an exciting and intriguing psychological thriller with a side of conspiracy, I highly recommend reading this book! Thank you again to WilliamMorrow and HarperCollins for gifting me my review copy in exchange for my honest review 🤗


BEER RECOMMENDATION: When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole is best paired with The Fear by Flying Dog Brewery. This delicious pumpkin beer has bold pumpkin and spice flavor complimented by notes of chocolate and graham cracker 🍻

Full Pour Review: Home Before Dark

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Well, it should come as no surprise that Riley Sager did it again! Home Before Dark has been one of my most highly anticipated books so far this year and it lived up to all of my expectations! This story was incredibly spooky with several surprise twists that I wasn’t expecting and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the emotional roller coaster that this story took me on.

25 years ago, Maggie Holt and her parents, Jess and Ewan, moved into Baneberry Hall and only lasted 20 days before fleeing in the dead of night and leaving behind all of their personal belongings. Ewan ended up writing a story called House of Horrors about their horrific experience in that house, consisting of tales about encounters with ghosts and evil spirits that rivaled with The Amityville Horror in both skepticism and popularity. This book has haunted Maggie all of her life, making her an outcast among peers. The worst part? She doesn’t remember any of her time at Baneberry Hall, convinced that nothing in the book actually happened and that her parents have been lying to her all of her life.

Now, at 26 years old, Maggie discovers shortly after her fathers passing that her family never sold Baneberry Hall and that she has now inherited this house. Since Maggie has her own home restoration business with her best friend, she plans on renovating the home and putting it up for sale. In addition, Maggie ultimately decides to use this project as an opportunity for her to finally figure out what really happened in this house and what made them suddenly flee and never return. Despite her disbelief that the house is haunted, it doesn’t take long for Maggie to begin experiencing weird, unexplainable events in the house- events so strange, that she begins to wonder if the tales that her father wrote about in House of Horrors are actually true… and if the real secrets that are hidden within the house are much more terrifying than anything her dad wrote about in his book.

Riley Sager is an incredible storyteller. I absolutely love the way he writes and how he draws the reader in so quickly with his stories, keeping them on the edge of their seat the entire time. I flew through this book because I NEEDED to know what happened next. One of my favorite things about this book was how the chapters rotated between Maggie’s present day experience, and chapters from House of Horrors.

I also really enjoyed the spookiness to this story. I am such a baby when it comes to scary/haunted things and I do NOT like horror movies. I was traumatized with The Amityville Horror in 6th grade and still make an effort to distance myself from things that have to do with haunted houses and evil spirits to this day (including haunted houses/hay rides around Halloween 😂). However, while this book definitely came me there spooks and despite there being several comparable events in this book that resemble events from The Amityville Horror, I was actually able to fully appreciate and enjoy everything taking place in the book and manage to sleep at night just fine 😂

So happy that my favorite bookish girl gang decided to do this as a buddy read this month! 🤗 If you’re looking for a really spooky thriller with a lot of surprises twists and a wonderful surprise ending, I highly recommend picking up Home Before Dark. I was sold on Riley Sager being an auto-buy author for me after reading Lock Every Door last fall, and after finishing Home Before Dark, I REALLY need to finally check out his other two books.


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager is best paired with Roast Coffee Cider by Bold Rock Cider. Partnered with Pisgah Coffee, this delicious cold brewed hard cider is infused with a medium roast coffee, resulting in a rich coffee aroma and wonderfully balanced flavors 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Safe Place

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Whew! – Anna Downes took me on a ride with this one. The Safe Place was not at all what I was expecting, and I thoroughly enjoyed this story and how much it kept me guessing.

Emily Proudman lost her temp job at Proem Partners, her apartment, and her acting agent all in one day. Distracted and sobbing after leaving the meeting with her agent, she almost gets hit by a bus and is rescued none other than Scott Denny, the CEO of Proem Partners. During this encounter, Scott learns of Emily being fired from Proem and offers her another employment opportunity to work as a personal assistant for him and his family at their estate in France. Despite feeling hesitant about this offer that feels way too good to be true, Emily is desperate for an opportunity to start fresh and agrees to Scott’s offer. Life at the estate feels like heaven, and Emily has never been happier- she’s getting along well with his beautiful wife Nina and eccentric daughter Aurelia, and is beginning to feel like a French local. However, some things really are too good to be true and Emily soon begins to realize that things aren’t as they seem and that the Denny family is hiding a huge secret- one that could get Emily killed if she doesn’t go along with it…

I enjoyed the slow, brilliant burn with this book. Until I was about 75% into the story, I truly had no idea where the story line was going and the mystery and character development throughout the book kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story was written primarily from the POV’s of Emily and Scott, but Nina’s POV made random appearances during Emily’s and Scott’s respective chapters. Anna Downes did a great job with the character development of Emily Proudman. I really enjoyed getting to know her character and see her grow and mature by the end of the book. Scott and Nina’s characters were very intriguing and mysterious, and while I enjoyed being able to get inside Scott’s head during his chapters, I feel that we could’ve gotten a little more out of their characters. Personally, I would’ve loved if the book included chapters that were primarily written in Nina’s POV, as I feel like there is so much history to uncover about who Nina is and what she has suffered from. Without giving anything away, both Nina’s and Scott’s characters left me with a lot of questions at the end of the story based on things that occurred throughout the book that I would’ve loved to get answers for. That being said, the ending of the story was still very satisfying and I was so proud of Emily and her strength.

If you’re looking for a good vacation thriller, I definitely recommend checking out The Safe Place, releasing on July 14th 💛 thank you so much NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this gifted eARC in exchange for my honest review!


BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Safe Place by Anna Downes is best paired with White by Downeast Cider House. This delicious take on an *almost* classic unfiltered Belgian style is brewed with orange peel, lemon peel, and cracked coriander 🍻