Review: A Killer’s Alibi by William Myers @williammyersjr

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Release date: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Genre: Legal Thriller

Blurb:

For attorney Mick McFarland, the evidence is damning. And so are the family secrets in this twisty legal thriller from the Amazon Charts bestselling author of A Criminal Defense.

When crime lord Jimmy Nunzio is caught, knife in hand, over the body of his daughter’s lover and his own archenemy, he turns to Mick McFarland to take up his defense. Usually the courtroom puppeteer, McFarland quickly finds himself at the end of Nunzio’s strings. Struggling to find grounds for a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a well-known killer, Mick is hamstrung by Nunzio’s refusal to tell him what really happened.

On the other side of the law, Mick’s wife, Piper, is working to free Darlene Dowd, a young woman sentenced to life in prison for her abusive father’s violent death. But the jury that convicted Darlene heard only part of the truth, and Piper will do anything to reveal the rest and prove Darlene’s innocence.

As Mick finds himself in the middle of a mob war, Piper delves deeper into Darlene’s past. Both will discover dark secrets that link these fathers and daughters—some that protect, some that destroy, and some that can’t stay hidden forever. No matter the risk.

Review:

This is the third book in a series, I absolutely loved both A Criminal Defense and An Engineered Injustice and I highly recommend them, especially if you like legal thrillers. As much as I loved the first two books, this was my favorite, it’s one of those rare series that just keeps getting better with each book and this one had me riveted the entire time.

The best thing about Myers books for me is how intricately planned they are, there is a meticulous attention to detail that always wows me and the plot was full of so many insanely good twists and turns I was blown away. On top of an amazing storyline full of mobsters, politicians, cops, lawyers and judges, you also have a core group of characters that are complex and interesting. Besides the main focus with Mick’s trial, you have a separate plot thread with his wife Piper and his law partner Susan where they’re working on an innocence project trying to get a wrongly accused woman out of jail. So much going on here, but it all flows perfectly together and if anything, only serves to propel the story forward and keep the reader engaged.

I know some people are hesitant when it comes to diving into a legal thriller worried that maybe the terminology and scenes inside the courtroom may be boring or over their head, but honestly the courtroom scenes in this were some of the strongest parts of the book for me so let me reassure you that these are incredibly well written and exciting to read. Myers creates a palpable tension like no other, I find myself racing through to find out what will happen next and desperate to know if he’ll manage to trick me yet again. Umm the answer to that is YES! He delivered another series of jaw dropping twists that totally blew my mind, did not see them coming from a mile away and honestly, I shouldn’t be surprised because he’s stunned me with every book in the Philadelphia Legal series and I’m quite sure he will continue to do so.

A Killer’s Alibi in three words: Sharp, Shocking and Intricate.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong @Furlong_Sue

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Release date: December 18, 2018

Publisher: Kensington

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Not long after donning the uniform of the McCreary County Sheriff’s department in Bone Gap, Tennessee, ex-Marine Brynn Callahan faces her first official homicide. On a cold February morning, a lone cross-country skier stumbles across the mutilated body of a young woman. Sent to investigate, Brynn is shocked when she recognizes the victim as a fellow Traveller, Maura Keene.

Maura held a solid standing both within the Travellers’ insular community and among the settled townspeople—a fact that makes her murder all the more disturbing to Brynn, who also straddles the two worlds.  After her trained K-9, Wilco, digs up human bones, and then a scrap of paper scrawled with arcane Latin phrases is uncovered, Brynn finds evidence leading her to question those closest to her—and closing the case becomes a deeply personal matter.

While trying to suppress local superstitions and prejudices, Brynn discovers that Maura was keeping a dangerous secret. And as the bones Wilco found are analyzed by forensics, Brynn harbors the troubling suspicion that she knows who they belong to. Still struggling with PTSD, Brynn must put her career on the line and her life at risk to find justice for a woman not unlike herself—haunted by her past, and caught in a vicious cycle she may never
escape . . . 

Review:

This is the second book in a series, and while technically you could probably jump in at this point I think reading both books is the way to go. They’re both excellent and Furlong has done such a great job developing Brynn’s character that you would be missing out if you don’t read both!

One of the best things about this series for me is that it’s exposing me to a totally new culture that I know very little about. Brynn is an Irish Traveller, a small and close knit community that she’s never quite fit into, but never more so than now. IT don’t really trust “settled folk” and they really don’t trust police officers making Brynn a double threat in their eyes and the fact that one of their own was murdered just brings the tension to a whole new level. While Brynn has plenty to deal with at work, her personal life is a hot mess as well, she is totally flawed and incredibly fascinating, there’s a complexity to her that draws me in.

The mystery itself is solid, there’s a very us versus them mentality between the IT and the rest of the community that leads to infighting and hostility making for a tense, engaging read. Recommended for anyone looking for something different, I haven’t read anything else like it before and Furlong is a fantastic writer.

Fractured Silence in three words: Unexpected, Engaging and Tense.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

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Release date: December 7, 2018

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

Review:
I know I’ve said it before, but when an author takes a chance and writes outside of their usual genre and takes some risks to do I am always so impressed. It must be scary and nerve wracking especially if you’re already a super successful writer like CoHo, but damn this woman can write one hell of a thriller, it was amazing you guys!
Verity uses one of my favorite techniques, there’s a book within a book and when this is done right, it can be so intriguing and it was executed to perfection here. The main story follows Lowen as she attempts to begin writing the rest of the books in a successful authors series. She’s staying at Verity’s house and using her office and that’s where she finds a manuscript, the book inside the book. These chapters were my favorite part and if you’ve read this, you know that may say something about me 😜 BUT they were just really compelling and I felt like it propelled the book forward in such a killer way.
CoHo went dark here, I mean super dark. I know some of her romances have dealt with some heavy issues but this was some next level shit. If you like disturbing, nasty thrillers this will be right up your alley! I’m so impressed by this, I really hope Hoover continues to walk on the dark side, because that ending!! Holy cow, it was so strong, a head spinning whirlwind and I love that everyone who reads it will interpret it a bit differently. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished it that tells you anything, a must read for thriller fans!
Verity in three words: Disturbing, Slick and Mind-blowing.
Overall rating: 5/5

Review: Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen @WhitneyDineen

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Release date: October 8, 2018

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

Catriona Masterton’s fiancé, Ethan, is Normal. 

He plans trips six months in advance and arrives at the airport a minimum of three hours early. He purchases life insurance, luggage insurance, and always opts for the extended warranty. He’s responsible, reliable, and would make any woman a wonderful life partner. 

In other words, he’s the exact opposite of the Masterton clan. 

Cat’s mother has a kitchen gadget fetish, a father whose best friends are taxidermied field mice, and a super stoner man-child brother who lives–where else?–in the basement. Then there’s Nan, her proud Scottish grandmother with a proclivity for profanity and mischief. 

What on earth will Catriona’s Normal fiancé think when he comes home with her to meet her parents? What will he think when he discovers his soon-to-be in-laws invited Cat’s ex to join them for Thanksgiving dinner? 

Review:

I gravitate to fun and light books this time of year so Relatively Normal seemed like an obvious choice for my December TBR. While it sounded cute and funny I really had no idea just how hilarious this one is, seriously laugh out loud stuff.

The absolute best part of this book was the characters, they were so much fun! Cat’s family is so kooky and bizarre, the blurb gives you a taste of their personalities but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Her grandma stole the show, this little old lady has the mouth of a sailor and a huge over the top personality to match, she was seriously amazing and just such a blast to read about.

The story was sweet, I’m a sucker for books about characters coming back home to their roots and this one was adorable. An ideal read for this time of year but not too in your face about the holidays, so really could be read anytime of the year. If you really wanna have some laughs you have to check this one out.

Relatively Normal in three words: Outrageous, Hilarious and Adorable.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

November Wrap Up

Hey guys, can’t believe I’m already wrapping up November! Time for the final push before a new year and I’m starting to work on my Best Of lists for 2018. I’ll be sharing those over the holidays as I’m not planning to read much around that time, instead I’m gonna be spending time with my kids over their break!

I did manage 19 books in November, not my best but I don’t think it was my worst either. How was your month?

Dancing With the Sun: Inspired, Poignant and Emotional

Just After Midnight: Tender, Uplifting and Moving.

Who I Am: Menacing, Dark and Intricate

Good Samaritans: Edgy, Provocative and Twisted.

Christmas Spirit: Festive, Hopeful and Heartwarming.

The Night Visitor: Creepy, Immersive and Unnerving.

The Favorite Daughter: Addictive, Dramatic and Sinister.

The Lingering: Atmospheric, Gripping and Creepy.

Coco Pinchard: Funny, Cute and Happy.

Her Last Move: Shocking, Intricate and Intense.

My Favorite Half Night Stand: Saucy, Funny and Cute.

The Girl He Used to Know: Unique, Emotional and Compassionate.

For Once In My Life: Delightful, Inspiring and Positive.

Tony’s Wife: Engaging, Nostalgic and Endearing.

A Thousand Doors: Innovative, Unique and Clever.

The Night Olivia Fell: Emotionally-charged, Gripping and Authentic

Sins as Scarlet: Intoxicating, Smooth and Sophisticated.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars: Insightful, Extraordinary and Enchanting.

Dear Santa: Whimsical, Cheery and Bright.

Review: Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

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Release date: October 16, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Angela Carson wants nothing more than to be the third-generation to run her family’s holiday store, Heart of Christmas, successfully. They’ve weathered over sixty tourist seasons, major hurricanes, and urban sprawl, in their old decommissioned lighthouse. But the national chain that set up shop in their small North Carolina town of Pleasant Sands may be more than Heart of Christmas can survive.

Encouraged by her niece to ask Santa for help, Angela gives in and lets the words fly in a way that, if Santa were real, would no doubt land her on the naughty list. What’s the harm when it’s just a computer-generated response?

Geoff Paisley has been at his mother’s side running the mega-chain Christmas Galore for the last ten years. When his mother falls ill, Geoff promises to answer the town’s Dear Santa letters in her stead. Soon he realizes the woman he’s been corresponding with on Dear Santa is Angela. How could the woman that grates his every last nerve in person have intrigued him so deeply through those letters?

When Geoff reveals that he’s her Dear Santa, will Angela be able to set aside their very public feud to embrace the magic of the holiday and possibly find true love? 

Review:

I know I’m not the only one who loves the slightly cheesy movies the Hallmark Channel plays in the run up to Christmas, right?! There’s something so sweet and innocent about them, yes they’re predictable but there is comfort in predictability and they provide such a great escape from real life. If you’re a fan of those kind of movies then you have got to read this book, I just know it’ll show up on that channel eventually and it’s perfect for fans of holiday romances.

The first thing I heard about this one was that it was a holiday retelling of the movie You’ve Got Mail and all I could think was yeessssss! It definitely draws on inspiration from the movie but is it’s own unique version and was adorable in it’s own way. Angela and Geoff have the whole enemies to romance thing going on and their bickering was honestly probably one of my favorite aspects of this. Another thing I enjoyed was that each chapter began with either a Dear Santa letter or a fact about the town of Pleasant Sands and in an era where most chapters are just numbered I found this to be a sweet touch.

Recommended as an ideal holiday read and one that will sweep you away for a few hours, it’s uncomplicated and cute but the characters still show depth. It was my first book by Naigle but won’t be my last, and I just checked and two of her other books are already Hallmark movies so I’m off to set my DVR haha!

Dear Santa in three words: Whimsical, Cheery and Bright.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

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Release date: March 1, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:
In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.

After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars. 

Review:
When my publicist buddy Ashley sent me this and said, you were this first person I thought of when I finished this one, it’s right up your alley and is very similar to Catherine Ryan Hyde I had a feeling I was in for a treat! Man was she ever right, I was totally charmed by this one it’s such an unusual and gorgeous read.
I adore books about unlikely friendships and the sudden bond that develops between Jo and Ursa was the type that I like most of all. Jo is a broken woman, she battled breast cancer at a very young age and has isolated herself from the outside world. She’s an ornithologist making it very easy to live a secluded life and the last thing she wants to deal with is a young girl. Ursa is the type of character that grabs your attention and your heart instantly, she’s such a strange child, but she’s precocious as well and she wiggled her way into my heart just as fast as she got into Jo’s. These two were both incredibly well developed, very deep and complex and extremely fascinating, especially Ursa. I was dying to hear her full story because the story she shares with Jo was so out there and I read this one fast because I was so intrigued.
This had such a magical feel to it, both because of Ursa’s individuality but also because Vanderah has bewitching writing style. I absolutely loved the meaning behind this, it was about the bonds of love, second chances and most importantly the power of keeping hope alive.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars in three words: Enchanting, Insightful and Extraordinary.
Overall rating: 4.5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Sins as Scarlet by Nicolas Obregon

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Release date: December 18, 2018

Publisher: Minotaur

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Meredith Nichol was found dead on the lonely train tracks behind Skid Row in Los Angeles. A transgender woman, the police suspect a hate crime. No clues have been left and they have little to go on beyond prejudice and speculation. She’s quickly figured for just another lost soul and a cold case with little hope of ever thawing.

After leaving behind his life in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and the terrible events which nearly killed him, Inspector Kosuke Iwata has started a new life working as a private investigator in LA. He spends his days spying on unfaithful spouses and searching for missing persons, and his nights with an unavailable woman.

But this uneasy peace is shattered when a voice from his past demands he find Meredith’s killer.

Reluctantly throwing himself back in to the dangerous existence he only just escaped, Iwata discovers a world of corruption, exploitation and murder – and a river of sin flowing through LA’s underbelly, Mexico’s borderlands, and deep within his own past.

Review:

It’s not very often that I find myself moved when I’m reading Crime Fiction, it’s usually a rare occurrence but a totally appreciated one when it does happen and Obregon managed to touch a part of my soul with his painfully beautiful writing and stunning imagery. It was a little like reading high brow literary fiction without the pretentiousness and with way more grit.

The real appeal of this one for me was two fold, the main character, Iwata was just the kind of damaged and broken leading man that always gets under my skin and then there was the setting. When an author can make me truly feel the location they’re describing and make it a living, breathing entity I am blown away and Obregon did a phenomenal job creating a strong sense of place. It takes place mainly in LA, and this isn’t the glittering mecca we’ve all seen on TV, this is the dark underbelly, the very depths of humanity.

One last thing that made this a standout was that you can clearly see this is written by an author who is not only extremely talented, but he has a social conscience. This examines the marginalized community of transgender individuals and it was explored in a sensitive yet honest and raw manner. It was also diverse with Iwata being Japanese and I learned some interesting things about the culture and their traditions that was really cool. This whole book was just really cool, it mixed a modern vibe with current social issues with an old school noir style that is entirely the authors own.

Sins as Scarlet in three words: Intoxicating, Smooth and Sophisticated.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the author and the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

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Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Blurb:

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you? 

Review:

Are you guys ready for another must read recommendation from me?! Don’t worry about your gigantic TBR, this isn’t out until February so you still have some time and it was so damn good that I think you’ll thank me for urging you to read it.

This is told in two timelines and from both Abi’s POV as well as Olivia’s. Abi’s chapters are after Olivia fell and Olivia’s are six months before the accident. Right from the start this one tugged on my heart strings, immediately seeing Abi get the nightmarish news that her daughter is as good as dead and then going back to when she was a happy, carefree teenager damn near broke my heart in two. Seeing the events that led up to Olivia’s tragedy juxtaposed with knowing the inevitable outcome was really clever and awful all at once.

This was definitely an emotional read and McDonald did an incredible job of making me feel the characters emotions, especially Abi, as a mom I couldn’t even fathom her pain and heartache. Besides such an evocative journey, this had some really tricky moments and was not easy for for me to put down or figure out what would happen next. Super impressive debut by an author to watch, the comparison to Reconstructing Amelia was spot on so if you’re a fan of that one do not miss this!

The Night Olivia Fell in three words: Emotionally-charged, Gripping and Authentic.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: A Thousand Doors

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Release date: November 10, 2018

Publisher: Two Tales

Blurb:

The day Mia Jensen died, she finally got to live.

WHAT IF… 

We’ve all played the “what if” game. For Mia Jensen, “what if” is a fact of life. Dissatisfied with her choices, she often dreams about what could have been. Now she has the chance to know. But that knowledge is going to cost her dearly. Only through death can she fully realize the value of her life. 

* 

Forty-year-old Mia Jensen is home after a terrible day, trying to figure out how she’s come to this point in her life, when she hears a strange noise from the kitchen. She investigates, only to be brutally attacked and left for dead. As she dies, she experiences some of the lives that could have been hers had she only made a different choice. 

Can one woman can find peace with the path she’s chosen before it slips through her fingers forever? 

Review:

In general I’m not a huge fan of anthologies but when I saw that J. T. Ellison had managed to snag some of my favorite female thriller authors to make this book I had to give it a shot. Besides an amazing group of writers, the premise is also fantastic, I loved the idea of seeing the various paths one woman’s live could’ve taken and it wound up being pretty damn cool.

Each author has a chapter with one of Mia’s lives and while I enjoyed all of them, The Homeless Woman by Kerry Lonsdale left the biggest impression on me. I really liked the way this centered on one character, most anthologies usually don’t follow this pattern and I believe that’s why this one worked so well for me. The way things all came together in the end was really cool and unexpected too. If you’re looking for something different or if you want to try out a few new to you authors this would be a great choice!

A Thousand Doors in three words: Innovative, Unique and Clever.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.