Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck (thoughts)


Summary from Goodreads:

"A bestselling author’s wife has been found dead in a gorgeous black evening gown, sitting at the head of a formally set dinner table. Her most chilling feature—her face is frozen in a ghastly smile.

At first it seems as though a deranged psychopath is reenacting the gruesome murders from The Witch Hunter, the bestseller written by the victim’s husband. But investigator Jessica Niemi soon realizes she’s not looking for a single killer but rather for dozens of believers in a sinister form of witchcraft.

They know her every move and are always one step ahead. As the bodies start piling up, Jessica knows they won’t stop until they get what they want. And when her dark past comes to light, Jessica finds herself battling her own demons while desperately trying to catch a coven of killers before they claim their next victim."

My Thoughts:

The Witch Hunter was an atmospheric read perfect for this time of year.  This is a book meant to be read on a cold fall day where there is enough bite in the air to show that winter will be here all too soon.  Or this would also be a perfect book to read curled up by the fire on a cold, snowy day.  It just has ALL of the atmosphere which was something I really enjoyed about it.  This book also has a few genuinely creepy parts to it that I didn't see coming.  There is this foreboding atmosphere and then combined with those creepy scenes added up to quite a suspenseful read.  In fact, I really enjoyed my time with this book until the very end.  I won't spoil anything but I honestly don't know how I feel about the ending.  I think that I will know more after I read the next book in this series whenever that releases.  And I definitely really do want to read that next book because there were so many things that I enjoyed about this book.  But I also was left with questions...and enough of them that the ending left me feeling a bit taken aback.  That's the most I will say about it.  I will say that I really liked Jessica as a character and was intrigued by her.  She isn't what she seems and I'm hoping that we will have the opportunity to learn more about her as the series goes on.  Because there are so many questions I have also about her and her past.  It's going to be a long wait for that next book I tell you!  

Overall, I enjoyed this book for the most part although the end left me a bit wanting.  I hope that I was able to convey that there are so many good things about this book regardless of how I felt about the ending.  I'm really glad that this is just the beginning of a series so I can get answers and read more about these characters.  I will definitely be continuing on with this series whenever the next book releases.  I think that readers who enjoy Nordic noir, who enjoy an atmospheric police procedural, and those who enjoy their mysteries with a hint of something more should give this book a shot.  Recommended.

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful and atmospheric read that didn't quite meet my expectations at the end.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Honest thoughts are my own.

CW: Witchcraft, rape, domestic violence, teeth (I can't say more than that because of spoilers but...), murder

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (thoughts)


Summary from Goodreads:

"Isabel Lincoln is gone.

But is she missing?

It's up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray's search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman's secrets and the truth she's hidden from her friends and family.

Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat and mouse game, And Now She's Gone explores the nature of secrets -- and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive."

My Thoughts:

Wow!  This book was SO, SO good!  In fact, it started my streak of two five star reads back to back which doesn't happen often.  Last year I read and really enjoyed They All Fall Down by this author.  Sidenote: That book is an amazing read as well and is a retelling (not sure if that is the correct term) of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  I just knew that I needed to read more by this author so I eagerly picked this one up and it didn't disappoint.  One of the things that I enjoy most about this author's books is that there is a kind of rhythm to them.  She doesn't tell you everything all at once which adds to the suspense.  There were numerous times that I was going along reading this book thinking one thing only to realize that it was actually something completely different.  That sounds confusing but it really wasn't.  It's actually perfection in my opinion.  I loved how she managed to play with my assumptions in a way that would lead me down the wrong path.  I never knew what was going to happen or what to expect until the author actually wanted me to.  It was all done just so perfectly!  This isn't an easy read only because it deals with some very serious and dark subject matter (I will have content warnings below).  I still couldn't set this book down though even though there were times where it had my anxiety levels humming.  I loved Gray's character and everything about her.  She wasn't perfect but she was a fighter which kept me rooting for her the entire time.  I would actually love to see this become a series because this book was just that good and so was she as the main character!  This is honestly one of the best mysteries I've read all year!  Read this book and let this author take you for a ride you won't forget about anytime soon!  

Overall, I obviously really enjoyed this one as evidenced by all of my gushing.  I will be searching out Hall's backlist and reading everything else she has written after enjoying these two books so much.  The exciting part as it looks like her other books are part of a series (and you know how much I love a series).  I think that readers who enjoy mysteries where everything is not what it seems, those who enjoy suspenseful reads with strong characters, and those who just love a good thrilling read should pick this book up!  Highly recommended!  Please note that I am not an own voices reviewer so I would also suggest checking out some reviews from own voice reviewers.

Bottom Line:  One of the best mysteries I've read this year - that should tell you everything you need to know!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley but I ended up reading a copy from my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.

CW:  Domestic abuse, miscarriage, domestic violence - these are the big ones but there might be a few others.

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea (thoughts)


Summary from Goodreads:

"Inside the walls of Indiana’s elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont’s students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don’t let your candle go out—unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house—to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn’t ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win—or to survive. . . ."

My Thoughts:

I feel like I picked this book up at the perfect time of year for it.  Fall days call for slightly creepy thrillers just like this one!  Last year I read (and loved ) Some Choose Darkness by this author.  This book would actually be considered to be the sequel as it focuses on the same characters but the author stated at the end of this book that he intentionally wrote it so you could read this one as a standalone.  Do I think you should read them both (and in order)?  Definitely!  Only because they are both SO good so it's definitely worth your time!  I'm going off on a tangent here but I love how the author tied the other books he has written together at the end in that same author's note.  It makes me want to go back and catch up on everything else that he has written.  This book though was such a great read!  I picked it up and just couldn't set it down.  The combination of a boarding school, a secret society, the legend of the Man in the mirror, and then all of the mysterious death surrounding that abandoned house had me completely hooked!  The bonus to all of that (which totally would have been enough for me to pick this book up based on all of that alone) was getting to read more about Rory and Lane.  Rory's character is so unique and I was happy to get to read another book focused on her.  We also got to get to know Lane a bit more which was an added bonus.  There is also a true crime podcast aspect to this book that I think that readers will enjoy.  This book was such a page turner!  It's told from multiple viewpoints with short chapters which meant I just kept reading to see what happened next.  There hits one point though where - wham - the author completely pulled the rug out on me and I was here for it!  I loved that I didn't see that piece of the storyline coming at all!  I did feel like I had an idea of who was behind it all halfway through the book but I didn't mind.  There was just enough that I wasn't certain and let me tell you that I was completely compelled to see how it would all turn out regardless.  I really loved this one and cannot wait to read more by this author!

Overall, I definitely recommend checking this one out!  It was just SO good!  I'm really looking forward to going back and reading this author's backlist after enjoying both of the books I've read by him so much.  If you enjoy thrillers that keep you turning the page, this book is one to check out!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A five star read for me!  That should tell you everything you need to know!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher.  I read a copy courtesy of my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.

CW:  Suicide, domestic abuse, violence, murder

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Sunday Post #64 (Is This Thing On? Edition)


The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme"

It has been a bit since my last post!  I unintentionally took a blogging break for the entirety of September.  This year has just been so unexpected in so many ways.  School started back up for my kids - all three were signed up to do the hybrid process which is a mixture of in class and remote learning.  My youngest two kiddos made it three days in person (so like a week and a half total) before the school moved to online only.  My oldest is a senior this year and has been doing doing his school's version of the hybrid school year the entire time.  I'm SO thankful that I already worked from home, that my kids are old enough that they don't need my constant help and attention because wow.....I feel for the parents where this isn't the case.  And still my time has been taken up with helping with schoolwork and assisting with technical issues when needed.  Something had to give and both blogging and reading took the hit.  I managed to read three books in total in September.  Definitely not my best month numbers wise.  There were some positives in there of course too but I think that mostly explains why I've been so absent here.  Honestly, it remains to be seen how much free time I will have but I'm really focusing on getting in more reading time this month because I NEED it!  Reading is a stress reliever for me - in October I'm hoping to prioritize reading a lot more (and scrolling on my phone a lot less).

That was a long winded explanation to why I haven't been blogging but I was reading some really great things in August before I hit my slump.  I have some really great books I want to share my thoughts on with all of you.  And prior to all of this, I was doing decent at just keeping up with reviews so that is something that I would like to work on catching back up on.  I'm currently in the midst of reading two books:

And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howell Hall is my current print read.  Last year I read and loved her book They All Fall Down which if you haven't read yet - I definitely recommend!  This is her newest release and so far I'm intrigued.  Nothing seems to be what it seems and I'm HERE for it.  On my e-reader, I've just begun reading Love is a Rogue by Lenora Bell.  I haven't read a historical romance in forever it feels like, I saw an amazing review for this one on Instagram, and it releases later this month so I just knew that I needed to give this one a go.  It will be the perfect break from all of the scary, dark, thrilling reads that I'm hoping to get to in October.  My library stack is absolutely overflowing with books perfect for fall reading!  

I may still be a sporadic blogger these next few weeks but I am really looking forward to getting back into the swing of blogging on a regular basis again.  I'm hoping to get a few reviews scheduled and then I can work on additional content once I've played catch-up a bit.  Tell me in the comments what book or books that you've been loving lately!  Not that I need to add to my TBR list any more than I already have but....that's just what I do.  Read and add more books than I can possibly read to my never-ending TBR list!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart. 

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes. 

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect. 

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place."

My Thoughts:

A Good Marriage is one of those books that I almost let myself put off reading because of all of the hype that it was receiving pre-release.  I know that shouldn't be a thing but sometimes books that are SO popular almost scare me off more than those books which receive little to no buzz (I STILL haven't read The Hunger Games if that tells you anything).  Kimberly McCreight is also an author who I've always intended to read but hadn't yet tried until now.  All of that being said, I'm so glad that I decided to mood read my way through August because it led to me picking this one off of my shelves where it was sitting with all of the other books that I haven't gotten to yet.  I have to say that I really, really enjoyed this one!  I wasn't sure what to expect because as with so many popular books, I had seen a mix of reviews where some readers loved it and others not as much.  The thing about this book though is that for me, it gripped me from the very first page.  It's told from a couple of different viewpoints - one is from Lizzie's point of view as she is drawn into the investigation of what happened to Zach's wife and the second viewpoint is from Amanda's viewpoint and the events leading up to her death.  The combination of the two viewpoints made for a very compelling read.  So compelling that I ended up finishing the last fourth of this book by candlelight at my kitchen table because we had lost power earlier that afternoon from a huge storm.  I just HAD to see how everything was all going to end!!  And while I really, really enjoyed this book - there were a few minor issues that I had with it that kept it from being a five star read.  I cannot share specifics because spoilers but if you've already read this one and want to discuss, just send me a message.  I will say that this book really takes a look at marriages and some of the hard truths that can be behind some of them.  I felt so badly for Amanda for a variety of reasons throughout the book.  And it was hard for me to relate the facts of her death with the parts of the book that were told from her viewpoint because I liked her.  I didn't want that ending for her even though technically it had already happened.  Does that even make sense?  I just came to care for her character so it was hard to see everything that she was forced to go through with really no happy ending to come.  I've seen reviews that compare this to a legal thriller but I don't think that I agree.  There are some legal parts to it but it's not a courtroom setting or anything like that so just a FYI so that you go into this book with the right expectations.  I do think that this is a very suspenseful read - and totally worth all of the hype that it received!  Lesson learned that I should probably shy away from hyped books less...

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am eager to read more by this author.  I believe I already have at least one of her other books waiting on my shelves to be read.  Readers that enjoy mysteries, suspenseful reads that keep you guessing, and those that enjoy books where everyone seems to have a secret or two should definitely check this book out.  Also, I saw a comparison to Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - I can see the comparison (not in specifics necessarily) so if you enjoyed that one you may want to pick this one up as well.  All in all, this is a book that I would definitely recommend!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful and compelling read!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Fifteen years ago Piper Boone’s only child died in a boating accident, and Piper’s almost perfect life came to an end too. After living through a divorce and losing her job, she retreats to Curlew Island and her childhood home—a secluded mansion for the politically powerful Boone family, who are practically American royalty.

But Piper’s desire to become a recluse is shattered when a mass shooter opens fire and kills three women at a cafĂ© where Piper is having lunch. The crisis puts her family in the spotlight by dredging up rumors of the so-called Curlew Island Curse, which whispers say has taken the lives of several members of the Boone family, including Piper’s father and sister.

Forensic artist Tucker Landry also survives the shooting and is tasked with the job of sketching a portrait of the shooter with Piper. They forge a bond over their shared love of movies and tragic pasts. But when police discover a connection between the shooting and two more murders on Curlew Island, they face a more terrible lineup of suspects than they could have imagined: Piper’s family.

Unraveling the family’s true history will be the key to Piper’s survival—or her certain death."

My Thoughts:

Relative Silence was a fascinating mystery that kept me turning the pages!  I love a book where the author really keeps me guessing and unsure of who to trust.  At the beginning of this book, Piper goes through a life changing event that is still haunting her to this day.  Then in present day, she is forced to contend with much more as she realizes that someone may be trying to kill her although she has no idea why.  The book really goes from there and let's just say that I was turning the pages as fast as I could to figure it all out.  I'm trying not to give anything away so sorry if that all feels very vague.  I will say that I liked that we as the reader didn't know who to trust or what was really going on.  The only thing that I knew for sure was that it must tie in to what had happened so long ago (even if I didn't know how or why).  It made for a very suspenseful read in my opinion!  This book is Christian fiction but honestly I hardly noticed.  It wasn't heavy handed or preachy which I really appreciated.  There were some great side characters that I also really appreciated as well.  One was a detective named Mandy who is trying to help Piper out throughout the book.  Piper also grows as an individual throughout this book which I couldn't help but appreciate.  I wasn't too sure of her at first but by the end I was really rooting for.  She had so much strength despite everything and I couldn't help but admire that.  I also really liked the fact that the weather and setting played such an important part of this book.  Being caught on an island with a hurricane bearing down caused the tension to level up quite a few notches for me.  Those last 100 pages just flew by as I had to see how everything would end!

Overall, I enjoyed my time which this book and would definitely be open to reading more by this author.  I finished this book in just a matter of days because I couldn't (and didn't want to) set it down.  It was a really solid mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.  I will say that there were a few things relating to the mystery that I figured out while reading but I definitely didn't guess who was behind it all.  I really appreciated that the author was able to take me by surprise with the way that this book ended.  I think that readers who enjoy suspenseful reads, mystery lovers, and Christian fiction readers would all enjoy this book.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a PICT book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 14th 2020
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0785226184 (ISBN13: 9780785226185)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Carrie Stuart Parks

Author Bio:

Carrie Stuart Parks is Christy, Carol, and Inspy award-winning author, an award-winning fine artist, and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity.

Catch Up With Carrie Stuart Parks:
CarrieStuartParks.comGoodreadsBookBubInstagram, & Facebook

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'Neal (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It’s been years since Zoe Fairchild has been to the small Devon village of her birth, but the wounds she suffered there still ache. When she learns that her old friend and grandmother’s caretaker has gone missing, Zoe and her fifteen-year-old daughter return to England to help.

Zoe dreads seeing her estranged mother, who left when Zoe was seven to travel the world. As the four generations of women reunite, the emotional pain of the past is awakened. And to complicate matters further, Zoe must also confront the ex-boyfriend she betrayed many years before.

Anxieties spike when tragedy befalls another woman in the village. As the mystery turns more sinister, new grief melds with old betrayal. Now the four Fairchild women will be tested in ways they couldn’t imagine as they contend with dangers within and without, desperate to heal themselves and their relationships with each other."

My Thoughts:

The Lost Girls of Devon was one of those books that just felt like the perfect book at the perfect time.  I absolutely love when that happens!  I feel like there is a certain kind of magic when a book fits into your reading mood so perfectly without you even realizing that it was what you were in the mood for necessarily.  There was just something about it that really drew me into the book from the very beginning.  There's a lot going on in this book but it never felt like too much.  I was worried about what happened to Zoe's missing friend throughout the book.  I was also equally concerned about Zoe and her mother's relationship, the romance that seemed to be developing between Zoe and Sage, the secrets Zoe's daughter Isabel was hiding, and the health struggles that Zoe's grandmother was facing.  I was just completely absorbed in their lives - there is really no other way to put it.  Another thing that I appreciated about this book was despite the harder topics it covered, I found this book hopeful.  I can't really explain what I mean about that without spoiling anything but I still really wanted to mention it.  The characters are up against many different things but it still left me hopeful by the end without just wrapping those darker threads into a bow.  This book is also told from each of the four women's viewpoints which was the perfect setup in my opinion.  We got to read from Zoe's point of view the most but she was really at the center of everything.  I felt like I understood each of these women more because of the way that the book was written.  Having the opportunity to really see things from their point of view allowed for the author to bring all of these characters to life for me.  I liked the way things ended with this book but I almost wasn't ready to say goodbye to these characters.  I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more by this author in the future!

Overall, this book really swept me away in its' pages and was a wonderful reading experience.  These are characters that I came to really care about.  I won't be forgetting their story anytime soon.  I'm so glad that I took the opportunity to read this book because it just fit with my reading mood perfectly.  I love when that happens!  Also, can we please talk about how gorgeous that cover is!  It brings to mind (for me anyways) a summer read but I have to say that this book felt just a bit heavier than that.  It may not have given me the summer vibes that the cover did but it really was a compelling read with characters that came to life for me.  I would recommend this book to fans of women's fiction, those readers who enjoy a lighter mystery, and just fiction in general.  I really think that this book would appeal to a variety of readers - I hope that many other readers find it and love it just as much as I did!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  This is one of those books that I found myself just entranced by from beginning to end!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book as part of a TLC book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

**Please note that Blogger seems to have cut out portions of my thoughts - I didn't realize until afterwards so I went back and edited it with my original thoughts as best as I could.  My apologies!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Library Loot (July 14th)

I thought it would be fun (and a nice change of pace) to share some of the recent books that I've checked out from the library.  I've been mostly posting book reviews lately and wanted to change it up a bit - maybe breathe a little bit of fresh life into the blog, you know?  I've been putting holds on at the library nonstop since curbside opened up.  I may or may not have WAY TOO many books currently checked out right now but it feels so good!  Here are just a few of the books that I've got waiting to be read:

  • The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung - This book features a protagonist with multiple personalities and is labeled as a thriller.  That's really all I needed to know....how could I possibly resist that premise?!?  I couldn't so this one instantly went on to the holds list.
  • The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor - The cover is one of the things that first caught my eye with this book I'm not going to lie.  I also can't resist a new detective series so this one instantly was on my radar.  But what sealed the deal is when this author was compared to Tana French - SIGN ME UP!  That's all they really needed to say.
  • No Going Back by Sheena Kamal - This is the 3rd book in the Nora Watts series.  I've been impatiently waiting for this book every since finishing the 2nd one (especially with the way it ended).  This has fast become a favorite series of mine so I won't be waiting long to pick this one up.  I NEED to know what is going to happen next!
  • I'll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie - This book has been on my radar since last year when it released.  The setting features a summer camp which fits with the summer vibes we have going.  I am loving the idea of reading a thriller set in the heat of summer so let's hope this book fits the bill.
I've got SO many other books checked out including the following:
  • You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce
  • The Good House by Tananarive Due
  • Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar
  • The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao
  • My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood
and some more but I'm sure you get the point by now.  I obviously have no shelf control.  How many of you are shaking your head at me?  Or is that just me?  I have SUCH great reading ahead of me!  There is every chance that I won't get through the majority of these but the fun is in trying.  June was just a so-so month for me reading/numbers wise.  Let's hope that July turns out to be absolutely amazing!

What book or books have you checked out from the library lately?

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Closer Than She Knows by Kelly Irvin (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Teagan O’Rourke has always loved murder mysteries. In her job as a court reporter, she has written official records for dozens of real-life murders. She’s slapped evidence stickers on crime scene photos. She’s listened to hours of chilling testimony. But she’s never known the smell of death. And she never thought she might be a victim. 

Until now. 

A young police officer is murdered just inches away from her, and then a man calling himself a serial killer starts leaving Teagan notes, signing each with the name of a different murderer from her favorite mystery novels. 

Panicked, Teagan turns to her friend Max Kennedy. Max longs for more than friendship with Teagan, but he fears she’ll never trust someone with a past like his. He wonders how much of God’s “tough love” he can take before he gives up on love completely. And he wonders if he’ll be able to keep Teagan alive long enough to find out. 

As Teagan, Max, and Teagan’s police officer father race to track down the elusive killer, they each know they could be the next victim. Desperate to save those she loves, Teagan battles fears that once haunted her in childhood. Nothing seems to stop this obsessed murderer. No matter what she does, he seems to be getting closer . . ."

My Thoughts:

Closer Than She Knows is a suspenseful read that kept me guessing.  This book would be considered Christian fiction which is something that some readers would definitely want to know beforehand in case that isn't their thing.  The characters beliefs do play a major part of this book at times which is why I felt like it was important to mention.  I found myself instantly intrigued by the setup of this book.  Teagan finds herself in the sights of a serial killer at the very beginning of this book which really started this book off with a bang.  I found myself trying to figure out who the killer could be right along with all of the other characters.  I liked that the author also hit on some other heavier issues within this book.  For example, Max is a former alcoholic.  This isn't something that is just glossed over but is something that he deals with throughout the book.  The need for foster parents is another issue that was also brought up within the pages of this book.  I thought that the way that the author brought these things into this book added to the mystery without distracting from it.  It made the book feel more like real life as these are issues that are faced by so many all of the time.  I spent the entirety of this book trying to figure out who the killer was and the why's behind it all.  While I did end up suspecting the correct person at one point, I wasn't for sure until the very end when everything is revealed.  I thought that this book was a page turner - especially with that ending!

Overall, I liked this one and would be open to reading more by this author in the future.  I thought that the author did a good job of writing a suspenseful read that kept me guessing.  I really liked Teagan's family and would love to read more of them in future books.  I also enjoyed the fact that the author's love of mysteries was interspersed throughout this book.  The killer would leave Teagan notes signed as the killer from different mystery novels that Teagan had read and loved.  I just thought it was a fun way to pay homage to the mystery genre and the author's love of books.  I think that readers who enjoy suspenseful reads, Christian fiction, or just mysteries in general would enjoy this book.

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages.

Disclosure:   I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher as part of a PICT book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: June 9th 2020
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785231862 (ISBN13: 9780785231868)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Kelly Irvin

Author Bio:

Kelly Irvin is a bestselling author and two-time Carol Award finalist. She is a former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two cats. 

Visit her Online:

 Here is an excerpt from the book:

“We’re almost there, Ms. O’Rourke.” Officer Moreno came to a full stop at the corner of Park and Academic Court, where the glass-covered police department recruitment center and property room facilities glinted in the late-afternoon sun.

A smile brought out dimples on Moreno’s cherub-cheeked face. Her assignment to escort a court reporter and the evidence to the property room was almost to the halfway point. Teagan had told Moreno to call her by her first name, but the patrolwoman couldn’t seem to manage it. “I’ll get us through security, we’ll stow the evidence, and I’ll have you back to your car in a jiffy.”

Did people still say “in a jiffy”? Teagan’s grandma might, but this woman was no more than twenty-four. A couple of years younger than Teagan. She studied the officer’s face as she turned onto Academic Court and accelerated. The woman was for real. A straight shooter determined to be successful in a man’s world.

Teagan smiled, but Moreno had already returned her gaze to the road, hands at the proper ten and two positions on the wheel. “I know there’s plenty of other things you’d rather do than babysit evidence—”

The driver’s side window exploded.

The force knocked Teagan’s head against her window. Sudden pain pricked her face. Fragments of glass pierced her cheeks and forehead.

The car swerved, jumped the curb, and crashed into the wrought-iron fence that protected the academy.

Was this what Mom felt the day she died? The inevitability of it?

Air bags ballooned.

Teagan slammed back against her seat.

I’m sorry, Max.

I’m sorry I never said it.

A second later the bag deflated. The smell of nitrogen gases gagged her. Powder coated her face. The skin on the back of her hands burned.

Time sped up in an odd, off-kilter tick-tock.

Teagan struggled to open her eyes. Pain pulsed in her temple. Her stomach heaved. Waves of adrenaline shook her body as if she’d grasped a live electrical wire.

I’m alive. Today’s not my day to die.
The evidence. Protect the evidence."

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"There is a book for everything . . . 

Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, there was a book that embodied exactly the things she was worrying about.

In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.

But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.

After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works.

To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart."

My Thoughts:

The Lost and Found Bookshop is one of those books that is just meant for book lovers!  I mean, I can't be the only one who would love to inherit a bookshop (although I would definitely take a hard pass on how she inherits the bookshop - let's be honest).  This book deals very openly with grief and loss - and the struggles that come from it which I feel like needs to be said because it might hit too close to home for some readers.  The bookshop itself though just was such a bright spot for me and all I wanted was for Natalie to understand that as well.  I loved all of the characters in this book but especially her grandfather!  He was just so sweet and I just wanted everything to work out for the both of them.  I also really, really enjoyed the chemistry between Natalie and Peach.  The two of them just worked so well together which meant that I couldn't help but want them to find their happy ever after.  My one complaint with this book is that it took them so long to figure out their feelings/what they wanted.....I just wanted the opportunity to see their relationship develop a little more is the best way to put it.  That being said, I was totally behind their relationship because they were just perfect together!  And anyone could see that even if they didn't see it themselves until later on.  This book felt like just the perfect summer read!  It had its heavier moments as Natalie tried to navigate her grief over the unexpected loss of her mother.  But it also had just enough lightness to it that meant I was able to breeze through it!

Overall, I enjoyed this book and getting to know these characters!  This is my 2nd book by this author and she is definitely going to be one of my go to's authors for this type of book.  It felt like the perfect blend of romance and women's fiction all combined into one really good book.  I think that readers that enjoy books featuring bookshops, those who enjoy a slow building romance, and those who enjoy women's fiction will really enjoy this book!  I'm looking forward to diving more into this author's backlist after enjoying this one so much.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A really great summer read for book lovers!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Honest thoughts are my own.