Review: River Bodies by Karen Katchur


Release date: November 1, 2018

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


In this dark, gripping mystery, a brutal murder unearths old secrets that should have stayed buried.

A body just turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing.

The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love. As the daughter of the former police chief, Becca’s quickly drawn into the case. Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface – memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.

In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca’s life – or end it. 

Sometimes it’s nice to mix things up within a genre, so many times I’m craving a fast paced and exciting thriller with twists and turns galore and then other times I’m in the mood for a really well written slow burn, and River Bodies fits the bill perfectly. It’s funny because the pacing itself wasn’t even slow at all, but the writing style and the way the story unfolded was more subdued so it was almost a mix between the two. Either way it worked well for me and was an intriguing read.
This was character driven and really focused on the relationship between Becca and her estranged father, but also between Becca and her longtime boyfriend as well. Besides Becca you also hear from Parker giving it a subtle police procedural vibe and then John, a local outlaw who is part of a biker gang. All three were complicated and interesting and I just saw on Goodreads that this is the first book in a new series with the next installment set to be released next summer!
I’m a sucker for old cases and new ones colliding and there was plenty of that here. Throw in some fantastic and evocative writing and a tricky mystery and I was all in. Recommended for those looking for a rich, character driven story with a great setting and a few surprises along the way.
River Bodies in three words: Subtle, Layered and Engrossing.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross


Release date: November 1, 2018

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance


Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series. 

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.

Does anyone else love holiday movies like the ones on the Hallmark Channel? If so, this book totally reminded me of one and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out it will eventually be a made for TV movie. And while it definitely features holiday magic it’s not necessarily a Christmas book, in fact it covers the month of November as well as December making it the perfect read for now.
This is the second in a series but I did not read the first book and had no issues starting here. It’s set in a town called Honeymoon Harbor which is full of charming and interesting characters and is also complete with a quaint little setting making it an ideal sweet read.
Jolene was a typical and extremely likable heroine who comes back home to visit her mom and Aiden is a typical swoon worthy hero who is back home and acting as the temporary chief of police. What was not typical about the both of them (and the supporting characters) was that they felt genuine and their budding romance was incredibly tender and sweet which was just what I was in the mood for when I picked this one up. If you like second chance romances give this a try!
Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane in three words: Adorable, Charming and Effortless.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: November Road by Lou Berney

About November Road

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (October 9, 2018)

Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

Guidry knows that the first rule of running is “don’t stop,” but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.

For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.

It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.

Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.

Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.

And it might get them both killed.


I generally don’t read a ton of historical fiction novels that have a mystery at the forefront, but like so many others I’ve always been fascinated by the Kennedy family so this one captured my attention immediately. I’m also enamored with the sixties and having the assassination of JFK as the catalyst for events in the characters lives was so interesting for me.

This switches back and forth from Frank and Charlotte’s point of view as they both escape demons in their lives and is such a classic game of cat and mouse written by a truly gifted writer. This is multifaceted with so many deep layers, it’s rich with history, both true and fictional and it’s also a crime novel, but you can’t downplay the romance either. The characterization is fantastic as well, love them or hate them they are highly memorable and authentic. Recommended for fans of books that leap across genres, there’s something for everyone here.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

© Brandon Michael Smith

About Lou Berney

Lou Berney is the author of three previous novels, Gutshot Straight, Whiplash River, and multiple prize-winning The Long and Faraway Gone. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Find out more about Lou at his website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Review: Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb


Release date: November 1, 2018

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams…

One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.

As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past.


This is an absolutely perfect book to read during this time of year, it’s dark and gothic and heavily involved with the supernatural, it really read like a classic ghost story without the super disturbing horror type elements. If you’re the type of reader who doesn’t like really scary stuff or graphic details then this is for you. The mystery is on the lighter side and while it’s eerie, it’s not terrifying and will most likely not disturb you.

This flips back and forth between the present day and the early 1900’s and follows Kate and a young woman named Addie. I liked the way their stories intertwined and while I was able to guess the mystery in the end, I still found it to be an enjoyable read. I think this was because I was so immersed in the great atmosphere Webb created, it was super haunting and spooky and incredibly easy to picture. I loved the gothic vibes and the mix between past and present, and I don’t mind supernatural stuff in a thriller occasionally and again, for this time of year I was into it. Throw in some light romance and an engaging mystery and you have a fun fall mystery that entertained me.

Daughters of the Lake in three words: Eerie, Atmospheric and Mesmerizing.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Man She Married by Cathy Lamb


Release date: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Kensington

Genre: Women’s Fiction


When Natalie Shelton thinks back to how things were before the car accident, she remembers a great marriage. She and her husband, Zack, seem as strong and dependable together as the houses he builds. They live in Portland, Oregon, and Natalie is co-owner of a successful accounting firm. They’re happy, she’s almost sure of it. 

Yet as Natalie lies trapped in a coma, unable to communicate though aware of everything around her, she realizes that her husband is hiding something. Zack has always been reticent about his past, which she attributed to an unhappy childhood. Now the strange calls he’s receiving, the apologies when he thinks she can’t hear him, and her fragmented memories from the morning of the accident suggest a deeper secret. 

When she finally awakens, Natalie is determined to find out the truth. Sorting through clues as her brain heals, she realizes she has a rare opportunity—to reexamine the life she’s made and the man she’s made it with. But as answers come to light, she faces surprising, heartrending decisions, as well as a danger that could upend her world once again, as Zack’s past finally catches up with them . . . 


This was my first CL book and I’m sitting here in disbelief that I haven’t read her before now, especially since she has written several books. The best part of that is I don’t have to worry about waiting for her next book because if I need more CL in my life I can work my way through her back list and I feel like everyone needs a bit more of her in their lives.

Don’t you just love being surprised by a book? I’m not talking about being shocked by plot twists, I’m talking about when a book is just slightly different than what you expected, but in a really good way. I guess I thought this would be sorta sad, maybe even a bit depressing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It was so funny and humor was the last thing I expected to encounter but I so appreciated it. If her books generally have the same style of good natured fun please let me know because I adored it.

While the plot here was great, it definitely maintained my interest, the star of the show was most certainly the characters. Natalie herself was a little shining star, but every single other character was amazing as well. Her dad, her husband, her two best friends and her mom were all super fun and quirky and totally the type of people you only wish you knew in real life. They were vibrant and full of life and energy, the type you expect to leap from the pages and a few even left an imprint on my heart. Recommended for anyone who needs some laughs and loves to love characters, a super fun read.

The Man She Married in three words: Funny, Sweet and Quirky.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos


Release date: October 9, 2018

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Historical Fiction


On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.

Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past. 


One of the best parts of reading really well researched HF is learning about otherwise little known pieces of history and I knew next to nothing about what things were like in Romania during World War Two. The author really knew what she was talking about here, her care and attention to the subject matter was heavily apparent and she did a gorgeous job of bringing this story to life while also educating me, such a great bonus!

Stories about parents forced to make heartbreaking decisions always hold my attention and when Natalia’s biological parents leave her behind when they are forced to flee for their lives I could only imagine the pain behind this choice. To know the one chance your child has to live is for you to leave them in such a perilous situation? Ahhh SO devastating. This follows Natalia from that life changing moment over the course of several years and I was wholeheartedly invested in her story. Would she be reunited with her birth parents? Would her and her adoptive parents even survive? It was an emotional tale and one that left an impact on me that I won’t forget.

Besides a truly compelling plot, this was written so beautifully, almost delicately especially considering the subject matter. It explored the bonds of family and how deep a mother’s love can be, it was about sacrifice, struggle but it was also hopeful and inspiring, such a beautiful combination that always slays me. Highly recommended for HF fans, Veletzos is an author to watch.

The Girl They Left Behind in three words: Emotional, Engrossing and Heartbreaking.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @Lilja1972 @OrendaBooks


Release date: August 30, 2018

Publisher: Orenda

Genre: Crime Fiction


Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

So thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Trap today!


This is the second book in a series, I loved the first, Snare and highly recommend reading that before this one as it’s awesome and you’ll be properly caught up because the first book really sets the stage for what takes place in the second. It picks up soon after the first book ends and is just as tense and exciting as it’s predecessor.

You hear from Sojia, Bragi and Agla again and I was thoroughly invested in each of their stories, especially as they’re all connected in complex and interesting ways. While some of Sonja’s issues may have been resolved in the first book there are still many dangers to be found this time around and it had that same great sense of intensity and action. Once again, this was highly atmospheric both in the setting of Iceland but also in the great sense of paranoia and sheer panic that the author creates. She always manages to make me feel the same emotions and feelings as her characters, Sonja’s fear and desperation was a palpable thing that consumed me.

I cannot wait to see how things end in the third book and expect it to be another wild ride. If you’re a fan if Nordic Noir, don’t miss this and if you’ve never read this sub genre before this series is an excellent place to start.

Trap in three words: Exhilarating, Intense and Compelling.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony


Release date: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


A formidable matriarch learns the hard way that no family is perfect in this witty, sparkling debut novel

Dearest loved ones, far and near—evergreen tidings from the Baumgartners!

Violet Baumgartner has opened her annual holiday letter the same way for the past three decades. And this year she’s going to throw her husband, Ed, a truly perfect retirement party, one worthy of memorializing in her upcoming letter. But the event becomes a disaster when, in front of two hundred guests, Violet learns her daughter Cerise has been keeping a shocking secret from her, shattering Violet’s carefully constructed world.

In an epic battle of wills, Violet goes to increasing lengths to wrest back control of her family, infuriating Cerise and snaring their family and friends in a very un-Midwestern, un-Baumgartner gyre of dramatics. And there will be no explaining away the consequences in this year’s Baumgartner holiday letter…

Full of humor, emotion and surprises at every turn, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners brings to life a remarkable cast of quirky, deeply human characters who must learn to adapt to the unconventional, or else risk losing one another. This is the story of a family falling to pieces—and the unexpected way they put it all back together.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners! If you would like to follow along with the tour please check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.


Ahh this is the perfect read to indulge in before the craziness of the holiday season begins, if anything it’ll make you feel better about your own family because The Baumgartners are crazy in a fun way and you will definitely laugh at some of their antics AND there are a few scenes that had me hysterical, which is always a bonus!

Violet is the matriarch of the family and she was insane in the best possible way. She’s a classic Midwesterner but she has her own unique quirks and above all else she adores her family even if she is over the top and extremely overbearing. You also see the perspective of Cerise, her only daughter and then Richard, her best friends husband. Interspersed between chapters are various forms of correspondence that were so fitting to the plot, this was my favorite aspect as it was so telling. The entire cast of characters was just a fun group of normal people caught up in some wacky situations and while I could most sympathize with Cerise, Violet was my absolute favorite simply because she was so wacky.

This was a family drama that was just plain fun, there was a tiny little mystery that I sussed out really fast, but that wasn’t a huge part of the story anyway, it was more about family and how they pieced themselves back together after falling apart. It also had a few tender moments between the hijinks and was written in a really heartfelt manner and had a good overall message about love and loyalty.

Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners in three words: Humorous, Quirky and Sincere.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner


Release date: October 1, 2018

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Psychological Thriller


The past is always watching . . .

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Shari Lapena and Lisa Jewell. 

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Lies Between Us today!


What a dark and deceptive debut this was, I’m so impressed this is Turner’s first novel and I have to admit that she tricked me several times over! I like to think I’m a rather astute reader and can usually begin to guess (at least partially) correctly at the big twists but I can honestly say that I did not see this one coming ahead of time, so well done.

This is the sort of book where you have to pay close attention to while reading, it requires close focus. It’s told from three perspectives, Miller, John and Maisie and also via alternating timelines. I honestly had no idea how their stories would merge especially as they were all in different years, but I was very invested in each of their lives for different reasons. John was extremely likable and my heart broke for him as his daughter was missing and he was taunted by her kidnapper. Maisie was also relatable, but I struggled to see how her life would intersect with the others. Finally Miller was not the kind of character one can relate to (hopefully!) but I was still fascinated by him. While all three were very different they had one thing in common and that was that they were all incredibly well developed.

I don’t want to discuss the plot any further as I would be verging on spoiler territory, but I just want to end by saying again that this is such a strong debut. The writing was assured and fluid and had I not already known it was a debut I would’ve never guessed. I think fans of this genre will be pleased with this one, but remember to pay attention and don’t be surprised if you have to reread things towards the end because I absolutely had to!

Lies Between Us in three words: Deft, Complex and Tricky.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Fatal Promise by Angela Marsons @writeangie @bookouture


Release date: October 19, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Eeeny meeny, miney, moe. Who lives, who dies only I know. 

When the body of a doctor is discovered brutally murdered in local woodland, Detective Kim Stone is shocked to discover the victim is Gordon Cordell – a man linked to a previous case she worked on involving the death of a young school girl. Gordon has a chequered past, but who would want him dead? 

As the investigation gets underway, Gordon’s son is involved in a horrific car crash which leaves him fighting for his life. Kim’s sure this was no accident. 

Then the body of a woman is found dead in suspicious circumstances and Kim makes a disturbing link between the victims and Russells Hall Hospital. The same hospital where Gordon worked. 

With Kim and her team still grieving the loss of one of their own, they’re at their weakest and facing one of the most dangerous serial killers they’ve ever encountered. Everything is on the line. Can Kim keep her squad together and find the killer before he claims his next victim? 

The killer is picking off his victims at a terrifying pace, and he’s not finished yet. 


I want to warn you right away that if you haven’t read book eight in this series there may be some slightly spoilerish stuff in this review, it’s unavoidable but wanted to give you a heads up!

Raise your hand if you’re still not over the loss of one of the team members in book eight? I know I’m sure not, the emotional impact that event had on me is so rare in a crime book but months later and I’m still upset by it. I was also apprehensive about how this devastating loss would effect Kim and her team, but with her usual deft hand Marsons handled their grief with impeccable care and respect and authenticity. You get a front row seat as the characters work through it, and they behave in the manner as you would expect. Ahem Kim Stone may be closed off and stubborn, shocker! 😂 But they all have jobs to do and that is still very much the main focus of the book, what’s a KS book without an intriguing case?! Add in a new replacement that will never fill their lost colleagues shoes, a string of murders, a missing teenager and you have one heck of a lot of exciting stuff going on here.

The characters in this series are so complex and meticulously crafted and once again I learned more about each of them and their lives and personalities. I’m always blown away by the fact that there is more to be revealed about them but I’m endlessly fascinated by what is discovered and am always wanting to learn more. Marsons is at the top of her game, she genuinely gets better and more assured with each installment and book ten can’t land in my hands fast enough!

Fatal Promise in three words: Meticulous, Nuanced and Gripping.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.