Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Even If It Kills Her by Kate White

Title: Even If It Kills Her
Author: Kate White
Series: Bailey Weggins, #7
Published: October 2017, Harper Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 448 pages
Source: Publisher
 
Kate White returns to her New York Times bestselling Bailey Weggins’ Mystery series, with this favorite true-crime journalist turned sleuth’s most chilling case to date.

Bailey Weggins’ great new friend in college, Jillian Lowe, had everything going for her. Pretty, popular, and whip-smart, she lit up any room that she walked into. All of that dramatically changed during her sophomore year, when a neighbor became unhinged and murdered her family. Jillian immediately left school, and ever since, Bailey has felt guilty for not staying in closer contact and being a greater support to her friend.

Now, sixteen years later, Bailey is shocked to see Jillian at her book event, and even more stunned when her still-gorgeous friend approaches her with a case. The man accused of murdering her family is on the brink of being cleared of the crime through new DNA evidence. With the real killer walking free, Jillian is desperate for Bailey’s help to identify him and allow her the closure she yearns for.

As the two women return to Jillian’s childhood town to investigate, it doesn’t take long for their sleuthing to cause shock waves. Someone starts watching their every move. As they uncover deeply-guarded secrets, so shocking that they make Jillian rethink her entire relationship to her family, Bailey and Jillian find themselves in great peril. They must decide just how much they’re willing to risk to finally discover the truth about the Lowe family’s murder.

My thoughts: I am a huge Bailey Weggins fan so I was quite ecstatic when I heard that not only did Kate White have a new one coming out this year, but that she was going to be at BookExpo this past Spring signing copies...this book was high on my list of priorities for the event and I am happy to report that not only did I get a signed copy, but I loved this latest edition as well. It's been quite a while since the last Bailey Weggins book, so I was quite eager to dig into this one!

I am so glad to be sleuthing along with Bailey again...oh how I've missed her!!! I love how fearless she can be and she certainly proves that here time and time again, despite the issues it seems to be causing in her relationship with her boyfriend. This case found her in danger a few times and yet, she was determined to see it to the end! 

I loved that despite the length of this book, I really don't think there was anything that was superfluous. At first, I thought WOW - this is quite a chunkster, but it moves fast and there are enough twists and turns to keep you engaged and guessing as to who is really behind the murders of Jillian's family. While I had my suspicions - more because I just had a bad vibe about the character than anything else - I loved every minute of this book and didn't guess the way it would all come together in the end at all! 

I sure do hope it's not a long wait before the next Bailey Weggins book...I don't think I can wait another five years before catching up with Bailey like we did this time around!



Books in this series:
  1. If Looks Could Kill
  2. A Body to Die For
  3. 'Til Death Do Us Part
  4. Over Her Dead Body
  5. Lethally Blond
  6. So Pretty It Hurts
  7. Even If It Kills Her
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Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain (audio)

Title: The Stolen Marriage
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Published: October 2017, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 14 hours 6 minutes / 384 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC E-copy via Netgalley; Finished copy via Publisher
 
In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?

My thoughts: I've read quite a few books by Diane Chamberlain and find each one to be deeply engrossing, multi-layered stories that capture your attention right from the start and never let up. This latest one was certainly no exception, and having a historical aspect to it only added an extra dimension to an already fascinating tale.

I love how Diane has taken an actual event - an event I fully admit to knowing nothing about - and spun this amazing tale around it. This is historical fiction at it's best! Little did I know when I was reading this book that not only does the town of Hickory, NC actually exist, but that back in the 1940's they actually did build a polio hospital in 54 hours. How amazing is that? It just goes to show that when there is a dire need for something, people really do come together to help out! That's just human nature...always has been, always will be.

This book keeps you engaged from start to finish. There's the sense that all is not right with Tess's husband - the man that she is forced to marry after she makes the most dreadful mistake of her life. Henry Kraft might be doing the right thing for her, but he certainly doesn't love her, and his odd behavior is definitely puzzling to Tess. But just when I thought I had figured out what was going on with him...I was completely thrown off base - a few times! I totally didn't see where Diane was going with this story line and that's a good thing...I love being surprised!

I loved that Tess, though she had an uphill battle, kept pushing and defying what her husband and mother-in-law thought was "appropriate" behavior for her, especially when it came to her nursing license. She was bound and determined to work at that polio hospital and wasn't going to let anyone stop her...and she didn't. She might have given in to their demands early in the marriage, but this was important to her...this was her life and what made her her.

This book is constantly moving. There are no dull parts, there are no lulls. I found myself constantly on edge, waiting to see what was around the corner for these characters, because there was always something happening, always one more thing to unravel or reveal. This book is full of secrets and well-developed characters that just tug on your heartstrings. It's the type of story that will linger in your mind long after you finish reading. This is why I love reading Diane Chamberlain...her books are so good and so complex - it's like being transported to that world. I just love them.



Audio thoughts: Even though I had two copies of this book - both an e-copy and a print copy - I decided to listen to the book and what a fantastic idea that turned out to be. Susan Bennett did a phenomenal job with this audio - she brought this story to life! She was able to give each character their own unique voice and her pacing and tone was spot on. I felt like I was living alongside these characters as I listened to this book - it was that good an audio production. 


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Review: Dead Souls by Angela Marsons (audio)

Title: Dead Souls
Author: Angela Marsons
Series: DI Kim Stone, #6
Narrator: Jan Cramer
Published: May 2017, Bookouture
Length: 10 hours 14 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible
 
The truth was dead and buried…until now.
When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.

As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.

Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found.

But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy - and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

My thoughts: This is the 6th book in Angela Marsons' DI Kim Stone series and OMG, this series just keeps getting better and better with each book! As much as I have really enjoyed each book so far, I think this might have been my favorite one so far just because of the intense character development that occurred in this book. So much happens here and it was all good - crazy and twisted and dark - but oh so good!

In what seems like an unbelievable move, Kim is almost forced to work on a case separate from her team. And she is forced to work with her archenemy DCI Tom Travis. So things aren't necessarily off to a good start. Back at the home front, Kim's team is working on what seems like a string of random attacks but soon turns into hate crimes. Oh how they need their boss to reign them in and help them keep their focus. Each one seems to have their own idea on how to run an investigation and they aren't really working as a cohesive team, which will lead to disastrous results.

This book is so intense and deals with some pretty tough, yet highly sensitive and current hot-topic issues - racism and hate crimes being at the fore-front. It's fraught with tension as the book races to a conclusion and you find yourself holding your breath quite a few times. But rest-assured as much as this is a heavy book, it is well-balanced with doses of humor throughout, particularly the scenes with Dr. A, the forensic pathologist, who I've come to love - and particularly love Jan Cramer's portrayal of!!! (More on that below!) 

I also loved that despite everything that happens in this book, there is such a sense of family amongst Kim's team. There is a disruption to this feeling but things seem to have a way of working out and as they do, I feel it is through the characters' growth. We learn quite a bit about some of the major characters in this book this time around. And, as I typically state - this is why reading a series in order is always a good idea - you see that growth happen organically, the way the author intends it to happen. 

These books are suspenseful from beginning to end and never seem to tackle the same type of story twice. It's a good balance of mystery along with excellent character development and as soon as I finish the latest one, I'm already longing for the next one to come out. I hope that this series continues for a long time...I'm not ready to see the end of Kim Stone and her team just yet!

 
Audio thoughts: Jan Cramer is just such a good fit for narrating this series...and I love the way she has taken to these characters. She brings this series to life and has really embodied the characters. I particularly love the way she portrays Dr. A, the forensic pathologist that Kim Stone works with on occasion - it's just the perfect accent and quirkiness to an already quirky character. Jan does a great job of consistently using the same voices for each character in each book - which I definitely appreciate. This is why I love when I see that same narrator being used for a series - you get used to a character's voice and want to hear the same voice used repeatedly throughout the series! And Jan does that!!!


Books in this series:   
 
  1. Silent Scream
  2. Evil Games
  3. Lost Girls
  4. Play Dead
  5. Blood Lines
  6. Deal Souls 
  7. Broken Bones - due out Nov 3, 2017 
 
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Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

Title: The Dark Lake
Author: Sarah Bailey
Series: Gemma Woodstock, #1
Published: October 2017, Grand Central Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher
 
In a suspense thriller to rival Paula Hawkins and Tana French, a detective with secrets of her own hunts the killer of a woman who was the glamorous star of their high school.

Rose was lit by the sun, her beautiful face giving nothing away. Even back then, she was a mystery that I wanted to solve.

The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind's student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.

As much as Rosalind's life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town's richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?

Rosalind's enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets—an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.

My thoughts: I'm always on the lookout for new crime series and this one, from a debut author no less, was exactly what I was looking for. I was fortunate to pick this one up at BookExpo this past Spring and boy am I sure glad for that...now I just have to wait until the next one is available - and hopefully that is going to be sooner rather than later!

As first books in a series go, I think this one was pretty good. I felt that there was ample time given to both the case and setting up the series itself - introducing us to our main players, mainly, Gemma Woodstock. Oh, what a fun character she is going to be to follow in this series, based on what we learn about her in this first book. She is flawed and complicated to say the least and has quite a few skeletons in her past that continue to haunt her from time to time. It doesn't help that the case she is called to investigate hits close to some of those secrets and brings a lot of that history up.

I really liked the way this story was told, the way it mainly stayed in the present day but occasionally took us back into the past to fill in some of the much needed details of Gemma's younger years. It was these threads that really give you that bigger picture and allow you to fully understand just what is going on. 

The case itself was quite the mystery and while I had an inkling of who was behind the murder, there were so many twists and turns that I kept second-guessing myself, thinking there was no way I could be right. But, lo and behold, I was - though this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book. If anything, as the book continued, and other things kept happening, I sort of forgot about who I had originally suspected until the end...I was that caught up with everything else!

I really am looking forward to seeing where this series goes next. I think I am going to enjoy following Gemma as she continues to grow as a character - there is definitely more to explore with her than what we have learned about her so far. I do think, though, since this is more of a character-driven mystery than plot-driven mystery, this is going to be the type of series that really does beg to be read in order for the character development alone, so get on the train now before book 2 is even out - you will not be sorry!


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Review: The Lost Child by Patricia Gibney

Title: The Lost Child
Author: Patricia Gibney
Series: Detective Lottie Parker, #3
Published: October 2017, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 483 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher
 
They placed me in here and threw away the key. I look down at the gown they’ve put on me. I want my own clothes. I don’t know how long I’ve been here.

An elderly woman is found murdered in her own home, and Detective Lottie Parker and her partner Detective Boyd are called in to investigate. When they discover that the victim’s daughter is missing as well, they start to fear for the safety of the whole family…

Two days later as a nearby house is set on fire and with the body count rising, Lottie and her team begin to unpick a web of secrets and lies, as the murders seem to link back to a case investigated by Lottie’s father before he took his own life.

With little knowledge of what really happened to her father, Lottie knows this is a case that could give her some answers. But how much does she want to know? And how far is Lottie prepared to dig to uncover the truth?

The Lost Child is a thrilling page-turner from the bestselling author of The Missing Ones and The Stolen Girls that will have you guessing right to the very last page. Perfect for fans of Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsons and Robert Dugoni.

My thoughts: This is the third book in Patricia Gibney's Detective Lottie Parker series and this series just keeps getting better and better. This series is one dark, crazy crime thriller series that just pulls you in right from the start and doesn't let you until the very end!

I devoured this book and let me tell you, at close to 500 pages, that's quite a feat! This one is intense - between the dark story line and the fact that right away you know things aren't quite right with Lottie when you find out she's been drinking again! And the way the story just goes, goes, goes, never once letting up - you feel yourself holding you breath at times - it's that intense and non-stop.

I found the intro's to the chapters, those written in the "child's" voice to be utterly creepy and eery.  That just sets the tone for the book. You are desperate to know who this child is and how it connects to the case - for if you know anything about Patricia Gibney and her books, you know that it does! And then there are the gruesome murders that Lottie and her team are called to investigate...and as the body count rises, it becomes clear that something quite sinister is going on, but is there more at play here than meets the eye? 

On the side, Lottie is continuing to investigate the death of her father some forty years ago. She is like a dog with a bone and despite her mother begging her to let it go, she is determined to find out what really happened. Is she about to uncover something that is best left untouched? 

The twists and turns that this book takes are enough to keep you glued to the pages, desperate to see how it all comes together in the end. And the character development in this book is excellent! There are quite a few developments and yet, while some are resolved, some are left open, having us wonder just where things will go in the next book.

This series is so good, so intense, and I love how once again the weather plays a role in the book - this time is was the pounding rain! It just adds another dimension to an already tense, dark book. I cannot wait to see what's next for Lottie and the gang - though I do hope she has her drinking under control.



Books in this series:

  1. The Missing Ones
  2. The Stolen Girls
  3. The Lost Child


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Title: Snowblind
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Series: Dark Iceland, #1
Published: June 2015, Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, 252 pages
Source: Personal copy

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose.

My thoughts: So, once again, I am coming to a series late in the game, though I have had the first 4 books sitting on my shelf for quite some time. And I actually had the opportunity to meet Ragnar Jonasson back in the late winter when he came to the US to talk about the series with fellow Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Danish author Sara Blaedel. But it wasn't until I was heading to Iceland myself that I finally decided I needed to start this series...and let me tell you - while it is a dark, twisty book, it's really good!

First off, I love Ari Thor! And just a little side note, it doesn't hurt that my last name happens to be Thorvaldsen and we use "Thor" whenever we make reservations, so of course, I was already in love with the name...but luckily, the character himself is worthy of having this crush! And sticking with names used - at the beginning of the book, we are introduced to Ari Thor's girlfriend's Kristin - well, another coincidence or not, but that is my name. I'm telling you - this book just has my name written all over it - no pun intended!!!

I loved the way this book was set up. First, we get a good sense of the characters and who they are. As the first in a series - and one of the reasons why I love reading series! - I think this is crucial. We need to know who the central characters are going to be, who we are going to be dealing with for most of the series. We learn a fair bit about Ari Thor - who he is and what he is all about. We learn a bit about Reykjavik and Siglufjorour - the two central settings for this book - and let me tell you, there are times when Siglufjorour feels like it is a character itself! 

Once that is all done, then we get into the meat of the story - the crime and what a twisty, good ride that was! This isn't necessarily an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but rather a classic mystery that will keep you captivated until it is solved. Between the mystery and then the weather - how isolating it can be up there is Northern Iceland in the middle of the winter - I found myself really feeling the suspense and tension that Ragnar Jonasson had created. This certainly is an atmospheric read, for sure! You can feel the bone-numbing chill as you are reading, feeling the desperation of the characters with each new snowfall and snowstorm.

I cannot wait to continue with this series and luckily I already have the next few books already sitting on my shelves just waiting for me to find the time!


Books in this series:
  1. Snowblind
  2. Nightblind
  3. Black Out
  4. Rupture
  5. White Out - English translated version due out Nov 2017 
 
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot, #10
Published: January 2011, William Morrow Paperbacks, (1st published 1934)
Format: Paperback, 265 pages
Source: Publisher

The most widely-read mystery of all time, now a major motion picture directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Ridley Scott

“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

 Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

My thoughts: As hard as this is to admit, this is my first Agatha Christie book...crazy, right? And believe it or not, my husband, an avid reader himself, is a huge fan of her books, so there are quite a few of her books in my house - so there really isn't any excuse for my not to have picked one up yet. But that's been rectified and now I that I have read one, I definitely plan on going back and reading more!

This was such a great mystery - one that I never would have solved in a million years. And the setting - having it happen on a train, where everyone is trapped, in the middle of a snowstorm - how clever! I totally felt the sense of claustrophobia - there was no where for the passengers to go, no where for the "guilty one" to run to. It was brilliant using this setting for this book and I see now why this is such a popular and well-loved book! 

I loved all the characters and how each and every one of them has an alibi, or so you are led to believe. Each character is quirkier and more fascinating than the next and the interviews that they each have with Detective Poirot are quite interesting to say the least. I sure wasn't getting a whole heck of a lot out of them, so I'm glad Poirot was, because when they were all done, I was sure stumped! Poirot, the most unassuming character of the book, just sat back, took it all in and then provided the answer to the case quite naturally, I'd say. 

I really enjoyed my first foray into the world of Agatha Christie and will definitely be jumping back in again soon. If you are a fan - what do you suggest I read next? I know this is the 10th book in her Hercule Poirot series - should I go back to the beginning or is there another fan favorite that stands the test of time like this one? And what about her other series, the Miss Marple series? Should I give that one a go, too? Please share your thoughts!!!

 
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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review: Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Title: Good Me, Bad Me
Author: Ali Land
Published: September 2017, Flatiron Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 292 pages
Source: Publisher

Milly's mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.

My thoughts: It's because of books like this that I love reading psychological thrillers...and to think that this one is a debut novel...I'm speechless! This is such a chilling, dark, twisted book that just consumes you once you start reading it. And let's just talk about this cover - it's intriguing and eye-catching - I love it!!!

This book is intense, it's gripping, it's dark - but what I appreciated is that it doesn't focus on the gruesome details of the murders, but rather the psychology of everything. It's such a smart psychological thriller - one that gets under your skin as you delve into the psyche of this young girl and all that she's endured.

This book has such crazy characterization...I'm still thinking about Annie, now Milly, weeks after I finished this book - and yes, I did need some serious time to process my thoughts on this book. Annie/Milly is a complex and unique character - but who wouldn't after being raised by a serial killer.  Most chilling, though, are the mental conversations that she has with her mother. I found myself wavering between sympathy for Annie/Milly for all that she has gone through, but then she does something or thinks something that has you wonder if she is playing you and you start to second guess everything. It's unsettling for sure!

Everything in this book is so well crafted - from the dialogue to the sentence structure to the plotting itself. It's told from Annie/Milly's eye's and so we see her internal dialogue - this is so powerful! Her thought processes and the internal struggle...it's intense. To the outside world, she's presenting her good side, but on the inside, we see how she really feels, what she's really thinking. And every time you think you have her figured out...think again!

This is the type of book that once you start reading, you can't possibly put it down - you just need to find out what is going to happen next. The tension is slowly building as you frantically flip through the pages. This is certainly one book that will stick with you long after you finish it...digesting everything you have just read. 

For a debut author, Ali Land has certainly put herself on the map and I cannot wait to see what comes next from her!!!


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Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney

Title: The Stolen Girls
Author: Patricia Gibney
Series: Detective Lottie Parker, #2
Published: July 2017, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 452 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

The young woman standing on Lottie’s step was a stranger. She was clutching the hand of a young boy. ‘Help me,’ she said to Lottie. ‘Please help me.’

One Monday morning, the body of a young pregnant woman is found. The same day, a mother and her son visit the house of Detective Lottie Parker, begging for help to find a lost friend.

Could this be the same girl?

When a second victim is discovered by the same man, with the murder bearing all the same hallmarks as the first, Lottie needs to work fast to discover how else the two were linked. Then two more girls go missing.

Detective Lottie Parker is a woman on the edge, haunted by her tragic past and struggling to keep her family together through difficult times. Can she fight her own demons and catch the killer before he claims another victim?

My thoughts: As soon as I had read the first book in Patricia Gibney's Detective Lottie Parker series, I knew I was going to be a fan - I was hooked right away and couldn't wait for the next book to come out. Well, here it is, a few days before the 3rd book is due out, and I finally finished reading the 2nd one...not because I didn't like it, quite the contrary, but there are just too many good books out there! But let me tell you - if you like a good crime thriller with a kick-*ss detective, this series is for you!

Once again, I found myself completely engaged in this book and despite the length - this book is quite a chunkster, I found myself frantically flipping through the pages, eager to see what was going to happen next. I will say, this book deals with some pretty tough topics - sex trafficking and organ harvesting and self-harm, but it doesn't dwell on them, if you know what I mean. They are major parts of the story-line, and the self-harm part actually hits a bit close to home for Lottie, but they are well-balanced with everything else that is going on.

I am a huge fan of series, and I say this quite often, but I will say it again here - I really think it's important that you go into this story having read the first book. There are events that happened in that prior book whose threads are still being picked up in this current story. That's not to say that Patricia Gibney doesn't give a little background in this book to help you out or refresh your memory, but you don't get the full effect/impact unless you've read that book.

I really like how as much as this is a police procedural/crime fiction book, it has that human side to it where we see just how vulnerable Lottie is, how she is struggling as a single mom, how her kids are handling things, or not handling things, as the case may be. Lottie is doing her best to try to juggle all this and of course things slide, but at what cost? Who suffers the most - her kids or her job or herself?

This book pulls you in and you are not only swept up in the case and the action, but also into Lottie's family life. There are some big developments with Lottie's kids and I'm curious to see how that all plays out in the next book. These teenagers are sure giving Lottie a run for her money, that's for sure! And there's still Boyd, hanging in the wind. His wife/ex-wife (I wasn't exactly clear on this point!) shows up in this book and the jealousy in Lottie is quite humorous...she won't admit she wants anything with Boyd, yet she doesn't want him to have anyone else? Hmmm! 

This series is so good and I cannot wait to pick up the next book to see not only what case Lottie will find herself and her team mixed up in, but also what happens with her family. This is the type of read that no matter how many pages there are in the book, you just can't help but fly through them...but then you are disappointed when you reach the end, because you have to wait until the next one releases. Hopefully, this is a long series!



Books in this series:
  1. The Missing Ones
  2. The Stolen Girls
  3. The Lost Child - due out 10.27.17 

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: The Blind by A.F. Brady

Title: The Blind
Author: A.F. Brady
Published: September 2017, Park Row Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

Sam James has spent years carefully crafting her reputation as the best psychologist at Typhlos, Manhattan's most challenging psychiatric institution. She boasts the highest success rates with the most disturbed patients, believing if she can't save herself, she'll save someone else. It's this savior complex that serves her well in helping patients battle their inner demons, though it leads Sam down some dark paths and opens her eyes to her own mental turmoil.

When Richard, a mysterious patient no other therapist wants to treat, is admitted to Typhlos, Sam is determined to unlock his secrets and his psyche. What she can't figure out is why does Richard appear to be so completely normal in a hospital filled with madness? And what, really, is he doing at the institution? As Sam gets pulled into Richard's twisted past, she can't help but analyze her own life, and what she discovers terrifies her. And so the mind games begin. But who is the savior and who is the saved?

My thoughts: This was another one of those hidden gems that had it not been for BookExpo this past Spring, I'm not sure I would have heard about. As a debut novel, it's certainly one that lingers in your mind - more for it's intensity and intriguing premise than anything else. 

This is a character-driven psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. And the main character, Dr. Sam James is full of secrets. She's a psychologist at a mental institution where she's worked hard to create a reputation of being the best, however, her personal life is nothing less than a train wreck! She's barely a functioning alcoholic and is in what can only be considered an abusive relationship. Half the time she shows up to work hungover, if not still just a wee-bit drunk. 

All's status quo until a patient arrives with a mysterious past and is basically unwilling to give up any information about himself. Sam is determined to work with him and uncover his secrets. As she begins to learn about his past, she realizes that, while examining her own past, she needs to make changes.

This book becomes quite addictive once the mind games begin. Who is this mystery patient and why is he so secretive and unwilling to share his history? As Sam starts digging into his part and the clues start coming together, I admit that I did put a few of them together - but definitely not the ending! Wow - that was quite a shocker!!! 

What started as a slow read quickly became a roller-coaster of a ride that had me frantically flipping pages to figure out where things were headed. This book really gets under your skin and doesn't let up until the very end. It's dark and at times a bit uncomfortable, but quite redeeming in the end. This was a great debut and I look forward to seeing what comes next from this author!

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover



Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Published: October 2017, Atria Books
Format: ARC E-book, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My thoughts: I am still relatively new to Colleen Hoover's books - this is only the second book of hers I've read, It Ends With Us being the other one. From what I understand, she has taken a slightly different direction with these two from her previous books - they are more serious in nature and less reliant on the romance angle. Either way - I thoroughly enjoyed both, this latest one really taking me by surprise!

I think what really stands out about this book is that it's unlike anything I've read before. It's both painful and raw and yet also redeeming and hopeful. It tackles some really tough, uncomfortable topics - mental health, depression and suicide -  as well as dysfunctional families and secrets. But as much as it deals with all this heavy stuff, it's equally balanced with lighthearted humor and just a little hint of romance.

The cast of characters that make up this story are all flawed and most of them are what I would call quirky. They all have some pretty deep and complex issues, most of which they refuse to acknowledge. And, for the kicker - they have pretty much stopped communicating with each other, other than for basic necessity.

What I found pretty interesting is that this story isn't about one big event, but rather it's all these little events that slowly build up...almost like the butterfly effect. As all these little events are building up, layer upon layer, one on top of the other, it's as if a storm is brewing and then BAM! Eventually is has to no where to go but to explode - and then watch out! But what's truly amazing is that the end result of this outburst is not what you expect - it's all about perspective. Because sometimes the secrets we are holding aren't what they seem.

This novel will have you thinking and coming back to perspective time and time again. As I said before, it's a painful, honest read, but also a very powerful read. It's heartfelt and heartwarming and one that you will be thinking about long after you finish the last page.



About the author:  Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, Confess, November 9, and It Ends with Us. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance twice – for Confess in 2015 and It Ends with Us in 2016. Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Colleen and her family founded The Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service offering signed novels donated by authors. All profits are given to various charities each month to help those in need. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.


Authors Links: 
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Without Merit  by Colleen Hoover
Atria Books
October 3, 2017 
Paperback ISBN: 9781501170621 
E-book ISBN: 9781501170638
 
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