Review: Forever a Hero by Linda Lael Miller 


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance 

Blurb: 

For the youngest Carson brother, finding—and fixing—trouble seems to be all in a day’s work 


Mace Carson is no hero. Back in college, he came upon a woman in trouble and intervened—but he was just one irate Wyoming cowboy with his boots planted firmly on the side of right. Now a successful vintner, Mace is shocked to be reunited with the woman he saved. But it turns out she’s in Wyoming on business…a corporate executive representing the company that wants to buy his winery. Only, he’s not selling. 


Kelly Wright has never forgotten that horrible night ten years ago when Mace came to her rescue, has never forgotten him. The surprising success of a winery in the middle of ranch country has brought her to Mustang Creek, and she’s secretly thrilled to discover Mace at the helm. Reluctant to mix business with pleasure, Kelly vows to keep things professional, until her attacker is released from prison and comes for vengeance…against both of them.


Review: 

So back when I was in middle/high school I used to read a lot of romance novels, the cheesier the better. I know, so clichéd, right? As I got older my tastes matured and mysteries and thrillers took over and I tend to mostly grab a romantic comedy if I’m looking for something on the lighter side. When the lovely Claire at Little Bird Publicity asked if I wanted to review Forever a Hero I was immediately nostalgic and figured that reading a straightforward romance novel may be fun for a change. 

This is definitely a good old fashioned romance complete with a cowboy. Admittedly I’m a sucker for a good looking man in a cowboy hat (has anyone else been watching the new season of DWTS? Bonner is swoon worthy) and though parts of this were pretty cheesy, Lael Miller is a talented writer even if the plot was pretty typical. 

This is the third book in a series, each one follows one of the Carson brothers who live in the picturesque town of Mustang Creek, Wyoming. Mace Carson runs a winery, which is another point in the authors favor for me because I’m an even bigger sucker for a great bottle of wine. Kelly is a successful business woman and the company she works for sends her to visit Mace’s winery because they want to purchase it. He saved her from an attacker ten years ago and I’m sure you can guess what I’m about to say next, but he’s out of prison and out for revenge. 

The plot itself was pretty predictable but the characters made up for it, plus everyone once and awhile it’s nice to know what to expect. The Carson family is large, rowdy and friendly and the town they live in is the same. Kelly and Mace had an easy banter and this was a quick and fun read for me. I doubt I’ll ever go back to reading straight up romance novels all the time anytime soon, but this was a nice change of pace and an enjoyable read. 

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to Claire at Little Bird Publicity for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a horse property outside Spokane.


Linda traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she sold Fletcher’s Woman in 1983 to Pocket Books. Since then, Linda has successfully published historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, mysteries and thrillers before coming home, in a literal sense, and concentrating on novels with a Western flavor. For her devotion to her craft, the Romance Writers of America awarded her their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.


Hallmark Movie Channel is developing a series based on Linda’s Big Sky Country novels. Her latest book, Forever a Hero, a March 21, 2017 HQN Books release, is the third in her Carsons of Mustang Creek series. Her first mainstream Civil War novel will be published in May 2018.


Dedicated to helping others, “The First Lady of the West” personally financed fifteen years of her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, which she awarded to women 25 years and older who were seeking to improve their lot in life through education. She anticipates that her next charitable endeavors will benefit four-legged critters.


Review: The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart @GalleryBooks


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Release date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb: 

From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the first novel in her all-new series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish. In the process, they find not only themselves, but the father they only thought they knew.


When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.


Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for.

Review: 

The inspiration behind this novel fascinated me, so I thought I would share the preface of the book before my thoughts. 

Everyone is familiar with the adage “write what you know”; it’s a saying that has dictated much of my decades-long career in publishing. But this time, it was what I (or rather, my mother) didn’t know that formed the basis for this first book in my new Hudson Sisters series.

 

When my mother was in her mid-forties, she received a letter from a woman named Alice, the wife of her recently deceased cousin Bill. Alice thanked my mother for the sympathy card she’d sent her, and finished her note by saying, “You do know that Bill was your half brother, right?”

 

Ah, no. She did not.

 

…Of course, I was fascinated. My grandfather died when I was four or five years old, and I have very little memory of him other than his deep, hearty laugh. I’ve been thinking for years that this foundation of a love child and secret siblings would make a great story; but not knowing all the facts, I was free to fill in the blanks—and so I did. Years passed before I felt I had the right story in my head. This is that story. I hope you enjoy my version of what could happen under such circumstances.

 

—Mariah Stewart

Crazy, right?! When Last Chance Matinee begins, we’re introduced to three very different women; sisters Allie and Des and Cara. Allie and Des have no idea Cara exists and Cara wasn’t aware that her father had another family either. When their father, Fritz dies, the women are all present at the reading of his will. Pretty compelling way to start a book, and when they’re told the only way to receive their inheritance is to move to Hidden Falls and renovate an old family theater, to say they’re shocked, angry, and blindsided is a huge understatement. 

Cara is recovering from a divorce, her husband Drew cheated with one of her bridesmaids and is now engaged and expecting his first child. Ouch. Her mother, Susa is also gone having passed a few years ago. Susa and Cara live in New Jersey and his other family lived in California. Cara has no idea if her mother was aware her father was already married to another woman and she’ll probably never know. Allie and Des have a strained relationship and rarely speak to each other. Their mother, Honora is also deceased so the opportunity to move back to their fathers hometown may be the only chance for the women to unlock old family mysteries. 

This is the first in a new series and it sounds like each book will mainly focus on one sister, but the other two will still play a heavy role in the plot. This one is Cara’s story and she was an endearing character. She’s a free spirit and very loving, once the initial shock of her fathers betrayal wears off, she’s excited to get to know the sisters she never knew existed. She bonds with Des fairly easily, and she was another character that I quickly warmed to. Allie is a bit trickier, she’s also divorced and pretty bitter, and she has secrets of her own. Though she was pretty cold and standoffish, I was still completely interested in who she was. Aunt Barney was Fritz’s estranged sister and she was probably my favorite character of the bunch. She’s the town matriarch and seems like a really good person, and she has a pretty sparkling personality to boot. Nikki is Allie’s teenaged daughter and she breathed so much life into the story, she’s a vibrant and excitable kid. 

I’m a sucker for family secrets and though there are still definitely some secrets waiting to be unearthed, Stewart revealed enough about the Hudson family to capture my attention. The town of Hidden Falls is a character unto itself and had so much magic and old school charm. There was a real sense of a simpler way of life, a throwback to the good old days. The Sugarhouse is the family theater the women have to restore and the descriptive writing was so rich and vivid, it sounds amazingly gorgeous. This is the perfect, solid start to a new series, Stewart really lays the groundwork for so many possible storylines, there is a ton to be explore. I can’t wait for the second book, it will be told from Des perspective and I’m eager to see what the Hudson family will get up to next. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.


Review: A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys @MsTamarCohen


Goodreads|Amazon UK
Release date: March 23, 2017

Publisher: Doubleday

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb: 

Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.


But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own. 


By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again. 

Review:

Since the new year I’ve been branching out and reading genres that I normally haven’t paid attention to in the past, and historical fiction is one that I mostly ignored. I’m ashamed of that now as I’m beginning to realize I was truly missing out and it’s safe to say that I’m now a certified fan of the genre! There is something mesmerizing about being transported not only to a different place, but also a different era. A Dangerous Crossing swept me away to 1939 with a young English woman named Lily as she embarks on a long journey to Australia to begin a new chapter in her life.

Rhys was inspired to write this when she discovered an old diary written by a woman who had a similar journey to her main character, Lily. Though this is a fictional account, it’s loosely based on real events which is all the more captivating to me. It opens with one of those intriguing prologues where you know there has been a murder, then you are whisked back a few weeks prior where you learn about the events that lead to such tragedy.

Lily is heading to Australia to work as the government is allowing young women to travel at a discounted rate in order to  obtain jobs once there. She quickly meets a rather broad, lively bunch of people, many of whom she would not ever cross paths with in her everyday life. There is Helena and her brother Edward, Eliza and her husband Max, and George a man traveling alone. Eliza and Max are especially eccentric and glamorous and the allure of hanging around with such sophisticated people intoxicates Lily. But everyone seems to be running from something in their past, and the entire group is shrouded in mystery.

Rhys used beautiful and highly detailed narrative descriptions as they made their way across the ocean, I really felt like I was there at times. The scenery depicted was breathtaking and awe inspiring, it was truly brought to life by the author. The times where the passengers were stuck at sea for days on end were equally as expressive and I could feel their boredom, isolation and sense of being trapped. The plot moved along steadily and by the time I came to the end, I was rather sad it was over. The ending was shocking and unexpected leaving me wholly satisfied, what a fantastic reading experience.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Alison Barrow for my review copy.

Review: The Fire Child by S. K. Tremayne


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 

Genre: Psychological Thriller 

Blurb: 

THE PERFECT HUSBAND. THE PERFECT STEPSON. THE PERFECT LIE?


When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.


But then Jamie’s behavior changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the specter of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?


As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:


“You will be dead by Christmas.”

Review: 

I wanted to love this one, I really did. The Ice Twins has been recommended to me by so many people so when I saw the same author had a new book on Netgalley I jumped at the chance. Let me back up a little, this has been a crappy reading week for me, I gave up on two books before I started this one. I started a third but was having technical difficulties, which sucks because I was liking the book. (Those issues have since been resolved!) Anyway, my point is that I picked this up hoping that it would break my streak and leave me excited, but alas I really wish I had just given up on this one when I wasn’t into it by the halfway point, I didn’t really like anything about this one unfortunately. 

It starts out really slow, like painfully slow you guys. The chapters are told in a countdown to Christmas because Rachel’s new stepson, Jamie had a premonition that she’ll be dead by then. You learn that David and Rachel had a whirlwind romance and married quickly and they’re all adjusting to their new family. They live in a creepy old house in Cornwall and the atmosphere was ok, I can see where the author was going with it, but it didn’t quite do it for me.  There was tons of history behind the mines and it was mind numbingly boring. I almost gave up, but I peeked at a few reviews that said it gets better, so I persevered. I should’ve called it quits at this point. 

By seventy five percent I was still not engaged, it was clear all three family members were hiding things, David about the night that his first wife, Nina died, and Rachel about her past. Jamie was either the creepiest little psychic around or a big fat liar, but as I never connected with any of them so I just didn’t care either way.

When the big twist was finally revealed I was actually pissed off. It was so improbable that it goes way beyond suspending disbelief. It made no sense to me whatsoever and by the final few pages I was skimming just to finish. I never do that, if I’m committed to a book, I’m usually all in but I was so beyond annoyed at this point that I just couldn’t take it. Now that I’ve looked at the reviews on Goodreads I see they’re all over the map, some of my friends loved this and others felt more like me, so don’t let my feelings dissuade you if this is on your radar, it could go either way.

Overall rating: 2/5

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for my review copy. 

Review: The Mercury Travel Club by Helen Bridgett @Helen_Bridgett @RedDoorBooks


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: March 16, 2017

Publisher: Red Door Books

Genre: Chick Lit 

Blurb: 

‘Hi, I’m Angela. My husband ran off with the caterer we hired for our daughter’s graduation party – pleased to meet you.’


Meet Angie Shepherd who, after 24 years and 11 months of marriage, finds herself divorced and driven by friends and family to move on. From hangover to makeover, Angie steps firmly away from the sensible knitwear, and launches into every adventure on offer – from baking classes and book groups, to speed dating, and even ‘The Granny-Okes’, a 1980s tribute act and YouTube sensation.


But Angie needs more than a bar of galaxy and a night in with Murder She Wrote… what she dreams of is entrepreneurial success. Channelling her inner Richard Branson, the light bulb moment happens: it’s time to take the plunge and invest her divorce settlement into The Mercury Travel Club, an exciting new business venture. But as the Travel Club gets going, things never go according to plan, and in this digital age a little chaos brings the fame she’s been looking for.


Set in present-day Manchester, this classic mid-life journey features the 1980s soundtrack from Angie’s youth, and sees her travel the world whilst coping with life after the Ex. Angie’s journey is the catalyst her friends need to examine their own lives; as they start to find their true callings, will Angie find hers? Witty, entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny, this feel-good debut novel shows it’s never too late for a second chance. 

Review: 

I have been on a real kick with feel good, chick lit books and this one was another gem of a book to add to my list! Maybe March is just a really good month for new romantic comedy releases?! I’m not sure, but I really enjoyed this hilarious story of Angie Shepherd and the adventures she takes over the course of a year. 

When the story begins Angie has been dumped by her husband, Alan right before their twenty fifth wedding anniversary. He left her for their younger caterer, Amanda. Sounds pretty cliche and typical of the genre, right? Well this is anything but typical and boring, there were plenty of unique qualities to make this one a standout. The biggest refreshing change for me was the fact that Angie is more mature than the average chick lit heroine as she’s fifty three.  Something else that appealed to me was it had short chapters, which I don’t often find in this genre, I typically only see that in fast paced mystery/thrillers. On top of that, the chapters were actually titled, and cleverly I might add. That’s a rarity as of late and it added some charm. 

This follows Angie during the course of a year as she starts a new chapter in her life and she has plenty of adventures along the way. She does karaoke, speed dating, a cruise and starts the Mercury Travel Club through the travel agency where she works.  There are also some great secondary characters, my favorite was her best friend Patty. They have a love for eighties music and it really doesn’t get anymore feel good than that, does it? This was an outrageously funny debut all about getting a second chance at a new life. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Red Door Books and the author for my review copy. 

Review: Say Nothing by Brad Parks 


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: March 7, 2017

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

A powerful and moving breakout thriller about a couple who are plunged into unimaginable terror when their children are kidnapped, and the stop at nothing compulsion to get them back.


Judge Scott Sampson doesn’t brag about having a perfect life, but the evidence is clear: A prestigious job. A beloved family. On an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, he is about to pick up his six-year-old twins to go swimming when his wife, Alison, texts him that she’ll get the kids from school instead.


It’s not until she gets home later that Scott realizes she doesn’t have the children. And she never sent the text. Then the phone rings, and every parent’s most chilling nightmare begins. A man has stolen Sam and Emma. A man who warns the judge to do exactly as he is told in a drug case he is about to rule on. If the judge fails to follow his instructions, the consequences for the children will be dire.


For Scott and Alison, the kidnapper’s call is only the beginning of a twisting, gut-churning ordeal of blackmail, deceit, and terror; a high-profile trial like none the judge or his wife has ever experienced. Their marriage falters. Suspicions and long-buried jealousies rise to the surface. Fractures appear. Lies are told.


Through it all, Scott and Alison will stop at nothing to get their children back, no matter the cost to themselves…or to each other. 

Review: 

This is another book, that as a parent shattered my heart. Scott Sampson has a pretty awesome life, he’s a federal judge and has been married to his wife Alison for years and they have adorable six year old twins, Sam and Emma. Then one day Scott gets a text from Ali saying she’s picking up the kids from school even though it’s his day. When they meet up at home it’s immediately clear that something has gone horribly wrong. Sam and Emma have been taken, and the Sampsons have no idea why. Soon enough, he realizes that’s he just the pawn in someone’s sick game and they only need him because of the power he holds as a judge. 

I’ve read several books where the plot centers around a parent having to go to extreme measures to keep their child safe , but I haven’t come across one quite like this. For Scott and Alison, they’re asked to do basically nothing. Yes, he has to pass down verdicts in his cases based on what the kidnappers tell him, but they’re not to speak about it to anyone. I can’t fathom how hard this would be, the feeling of helplessness would be overwhelming and Parks coveys their desperation perfectly, I could feel their pain leaping off of the pages. 

This has a complex plot with tons of twists packed in, both big and small. The characterization is credible, especially as Scott and Alison’s marriage falters under the extreme stress. Cracks begin to appear as they try to live their lives so no one suspects anything untoward is going on and they begin to doubt one another. This is a seamless blending of genres, it’s part mystery, part domestic suspense and part legal thriller. It all culminates in a powerful, explosive ending that left me broken-hearted and showed the true depth of a parental bond and love. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Dutton Books for my review copy. 

Review: The Breakdown by BA Paris 


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: February 9, 2017

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Psychological Thriller 

Blurb: 

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?


Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.


But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.


The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.


Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her… 

Review: 

Last year, Behind Closed Doors was one of my favorite reads and is still one of my most recommended books, hands down. (By the way, everyone I’ve recommended it to has been just as pleased as I was, it’s really that good) It knocked me off of my feet and to say I’ve been eagerly awaiting Paris’ second book is an understatement. I was actually so impatient that I ordered a U.K. copy because I didn’t want to wait until this summer for the U. S. version to be released. If you missed my review, you can find it here and if for some reason you haven’t it read it yet I urge you to ignore your growing TBR and get on it in a hurry. 

The Breakdown had many of the same elements that BCD had that made me such a fan. It was another addictive page turner with the same breathless pacing that makes for such a compelling read. I read it in one frantic, do not disturb, me sitting making it totally absorbing. There was something missing for me though, maybe a huge shocking twist? Though there were still surprises nothing that kicked me in the teeth like BCD, and the ending wasn’t nearly as chilling either, but I was consumed by this one and feel that Paris is a force to be reckoned with as a psychological thriller writer. 

The less you know the better here, but when Cass makes the decision to keep on driving after passing a woman on the side of the road she has no idea how much that minor choice will effect her entire life. The guilt consumes her and turns her into a paranoid, insecure person who’s entire life starts to crumble in the aftermath. Paris sure knows how to set an uneasy stage full of suspense, spine tingling dread and later, full blown hysteria. She is extremely talented at getting under the reader’s skin as you race through the pages trying to figure out who is trustworthy and who isn’t. 

All in all, this was a really entertaining read and a solid follow up to a massive success. Maybe it’s unfair of me to compare this book so much to her debut, but it’s inevitable I think, and it was still a really gripping read and a powerful psychological thriller in the truest sense of the word. 

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Review: Skeletons of Scarborough House by Kitty French @KFrenchBooks @Bookouture


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: July 14, 2016

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Chick Lit 

Blurb: 

Life’s tough for Melody Bittersweet. 


She’s single, addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers, and she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder? 

Waking up lonely on her twenty seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change. 


Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat. 


Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there’s the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job… 


Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night.

Review: 

I was recently chatting with the lovely Kim from Bookouture and she mentioned that the second book in the Chapelwick Mystery series was coming out this month and was shocked when I told her I hadn’t even read the first one! After hearing her endorsement (she named it as her top read of last year) I knew I HAD to hurry and catch up before the second book came out, and man am I glad I listened! This book was fabulous, it had a little bit of everything for everyone. There’s a mystery, humor, heart, warmth, love, and humor. Did I say humor twice? It was that funny, I even tweeted this right after I started. 


Melody is one of those characters that’s immediately likable, I don’t think I’ve taken to a heroine so quickly since Becky Bloomwood and Bridget Jones. She’s a 27 year old woman with a penchant for sugar and converse. Totally a woman after my own heart, and if that isn’t enough she can see dead people. Yes, just like The Sixth Sense, except less creepy and more spooktacular fun. Her family consists of her mom and grandma, Silvana and Dicey and they have the family gift, or curse as it sometimes is. These two meddlesome woman were a laugh and a half, the first scene they both appear in is memorable to say the least. I’m chuckling just thinking about it. Besides her family there’s her lifelong best friend Marina, a snarky, sexy Italian badass who starts the Girls Ghostbusting Agency with Melody. They hire Artie and bless him, he’s a doll. He’s an awkward guy, a loner who has never really belonged but he fits in great with the gal pals and begins to come out of his shell. Lastly, there’s Leo, Melody’s ex boyfriend who also has a gift and local reporter Fletch who thinks her and her family are a sham and scoffs at anything even hinting at the supernatural. I can’t forget to mention Lestat the fat, lazy pug Melody winds up with, he’s a riot and Babs the van they drive for work purposes. Yes, the van is a character on it’s own, think the Mystery Machine. This whole cast of characters are wildly entertaining and totally unforgettable.

This is has a historical cozy mystery vibe as the agencies first job is to clear the ghosts from Scarborough House. Melody finds three brothers who died in the early 1900’s until the 70’s and to say their relationships are complicated is an understatement. It sounds goofy, and it totally is but that’s part of the charm. I’m not usually a big fan of paranormal stuff in books but I swear French pulls it off perfectly and puts a refreshing twist on typical chick lit. 

If I had to describe this book in one word it would be hilarious, it was so funny and had so much sass. Melody is so quirky and adorable and is the perfect character to lead such a whimsical new series. It’s a total escape from reality and immersing myself in Melody’s wacky world was the most fun I’ve had in awhile. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

Review: The Cutaway by @christina_kovac @AtriaMysteryBus


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Atria Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.


When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.


Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Review: 

I love reading a mystery from a new perspective, it’s so refreshing! This is all about the world of broadcast journalism and though veteran producer Virginia has covered tons of missing persons cases before, something about the disappearance of Evelyn Carney pulls her in. As she dives deeper into the story, she encounters many roadblocks and becomes entangled in the high power world of D. C. politics and police corruption. 

I really like Virginia as a protagonist, she’s a strong, intelligent and empowered woman and though you don’t find out very much about who she is and what drives her until about the halfway point of the book, what is shared was enough to make me a fan. I had no idea what really goes into making a major news program but I found the behind the scenes look totally fascinating. This is a seriously cutthroat business and the atmosphere of the news room was intense. Kovac’s knowledge of journalism is heavily apparent, there was such an authenticity to the plot. 

This was a slow burning mystery, not as many thrills as I was expecting, though it did have it’s moments towards the end. I think this is partly because you’re slogging along with Virginia as she does investigative work, but I found it to be pretty interesting. There’s only a handful of suspects so some may be able to figure out who the culprit is, but I didn’t have things totally nailed down myself. 

I really enjoyed this unique viewpoint and approach and found myself easily caught up in this hard hitting, competitive environment. There was just a hint of romance that added to the story instead of detracting from it, along with political intrigue and corrupt cops, totally juicy. If you’ve ever wanted a peek at what really happens before the cameras roll in a newsroom, check this out. Hint; it’s not as glamorous as you think. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Atria Mystery Bus for my review copy. 

Review: The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker @J_D_Barker


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: June 27, 2017

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs in this dark and twisting novel from the author Jeffery Deaver called, “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”

 

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive. 

 

As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unraveling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.

 

With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller. 

Review: 

I’ve mentioned before that I have a sick fascination with serial killers and I’m especially interested in the way they think and what made them this way. Were they born to literally kill? Were they taught that killing is a way of life? Were they abused and mistreated then something inside them just snapped one day? The Fourth Monkey is an insanely creepy look inside the mind of a serial killer with a twist. The FMK actually dies at the very beginning of the book, but he left one last victim for the police to find. She’s hidden away somewhere in Chicago and she doesn’t have long before she dies. Porter has been chasing FMK for years now and he won’t let another young woman die on his watch. He’s forced to follow the breadcrumbs left behind by a sadistic killer, but can he figure out the puzzle before it’s too late? 

This is told from Sam Porter’s point of view in the present as he tries desperately to outwit a cunningly smart killer and also has chapters from 4MK’s diary. These entries made my skin crawl as much as they transfixed me, it outlines his childhood and shows how he became the monster he is today. Getting a deep look inside the darkest of minds was so scary, 4MK is so emotionless as he describes his horrifying childhood it gave me chills. 

This was a daring, fearless, in your face read. Barker holds nothing back in terms of his graphic and oftentimes gory descriptions, this is definitely not for the squeamish. I, however loved this approach and even though sometimes the detailed manner in which crime scenes were described was a bit hard to stomach, it really added something dark and sinister to the story. 

Barker’s writing is fluid and sharp at the same time, it held me tight in it’s menacing grip throughout and weaved some stunning twists and turns along the way. This was a down and dirty, nitty gritty read that was an easy five stars for me, no hesitation. Preorder this one, it’s not available until this summer, but I think it’s one that everyone will be talking about, don’t miss out! 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my review copy.