Monday, November 29, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Freya Sampson, Simone St. James)

 

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

Summary from Goodreads:

"June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way."

My Thoughts:

I picked this book up because I needed a change of pace from my normal selection of mysteries and thrillers.  I was in the mood for a "lighter" sort of read and the idea of reading a book set in the library was just too much for me to resist.  I'm sure that long time readers of this blog are perfectly aware that the library is one of my very favorite places in the entire world.  If not, now you know.  I adore the library, was in the mood for a bit of a romance, and decided that this book was exactly what I was in the mood for.  Happily enough, this book fit the bill although I wouldn't say that it is a romance - just to be clear there.  Instead, this book focuses on June Jones who is a painfully shy librarian living her life in books.  As the reader we really get to know June throughout the pages of this book.  I wasn't sure how I felt about her first because she just didn't seem to have any spine at all.  I understand social anxiety, but I couldn't quite relate to her inability to stand up or have a voice for herself whatsoever no matter the situation.  But regardless, I came to understand her more and really appreciated how much she grew throughout the pages.  There is something to be said about a book where you just feel safe while reading it no matter what happens.  I grew to care about all of the characters and wasn't ready to say goodbye to them at the end.  And I was just so darn proud of June by the end of this book!

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and these characters.  I think it leans more towards women's fiction rather than romance if that matters to you as a reader.  This book is both a love letter to libraries and to books themselves.  Readers who enjoy quieter books, those who enjoy character focused reads, and those who enjoy just a good read should pick this book up.  It's one that has stayed with me and left me eager to read more by this author.  Recommended!

Bottom Line: A book that fit my reading mood perfectly and with characters whom I couldn't help but grow to care about.

Disclosure:  I won a copy of this book thanks to a Goodread's giveaway.  Honest thoughts are my own.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Summary from Goodreads:

"Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . . 

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case."

My Thoughts:

Simone St. James has shot to my favorite authors list after reading and loving two of her books.  I picked up The Broken Girls from my shelves because I felt sort of slumpy.  I was looking for a five star read - it felt like I had been enjoying the books that I had been reading but had been too long since the last time one truly wow-ed me.  Happily, this book was exactly what I was looking for.  I loved how this book was told in two different timelines similar to The Sun Down Motel.  In the past, we got to see the lives of four young girls who lived at the boarding school for unwanted girls.  In the present, we were brought into Fiona Sheridan's life and the struggles she was still facing to get over her sister's death.  Both storylines were compelling and completely sucked me in.  I was so intrigued and just had such a hard time setting this book down.  And I cannot help but appreciate the way that this author looks at violence against women in different ways.  In this book, she made a point of really looking at how little society cares about when certain types of women/girls go missing.  It's a refreshing change from just reading about the constant violence against women that you see in other mysteries and thrillers.  I also really enjoyed the ghostly aspects that were present in this story.  It's funny because they weren't the focus but they gave the book a spooky edge that I really enjoyed.  

Books like this are exactly why I read and love it so much!  At this point, I plan on reading everything/anything that this author writes.  The best part as that I have a decent amount of her backlist to look forward to plus she has a new book releasing in 2022 that I am highly anticipating!  Readers who enjoy suspenseful mysteries with just a slight edge of horror (she reminds me a bit of Jennifer McMahon who is another favorite author of mine), those who enjoy thrilling reads, and those readers who just want a page turning read that they cannot put down should pick this book up and give this author a try.  She really is one of my best finds from last year and I'm so glad that I didn't let this book continue to linger on my shelves.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  My second five star read by this author - that should tell you everything that you need to know.

Disclosure:  I purchased the copy of this book that I read but I did receive a copy of this book originally from NetGalley and the publisher that I never got to.  Honest thoughts are my own.


Monday, November 22, 2021

What I've been Reading (Ragnar Jónasson, Gytha Lodge)

 

The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jónasson

Summary from Goodreads:

"Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World"

My Thoughts:

One of the things that I've learned about myself as a reader this year is how much I enjoy a slow burning, suspenseful read like this one.  I mean I knew that mostly but books like this has really reinforced that fact for me.  I love to lose myself in atmospheric reads and enjoy the ride that the author is taking me on.  I knew that this was a book that I wanted to read as soon as I read that one line from the above synopsis.  What did the author mean by the edge of the world?  I was instantly intrigued and just needed to know more.  The idea of living in such an isolated town felt inherently creepy especially when there was the hint of ghostly presences.  I truly feel like this book was meant for me - it had everything that I enjoy most in books.  I love a good isolated setting, hints of creepiness and the supernatural, and the question of who the main character can actually trust....it all combined just so perfectly.  Even the fact that I wasn't sure exactly how I felt about the main character Una didn't matter because of everything else.  It wasn't that I didn't like her - it's just that I'm a bit over main characters that aren't considered reliable because they drink too much.  It didn't bother me too much as I was too curious on what was actually going on.  I just couldn't stop reading.  And then there is a turning point in the book that I totally didn't see coming.  At that point, I wasn't going to stop reading as I just had to see how this book would end.  

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book.  The ending left me a bit wanting but the isolated, creepy feeling of suspense present throughout the book more than made up for it.  Jónasson is a talented author and this book reminded me that I need to work on catching up with his backlist.  Readers who enjoy suspenseful reads, those who enjoy books with an edge of creepiness and the supernatural, and fans of Nordic noir should definitely pick this book up.  This is an easy book for me to recommend but more to those readers who enjoy slow burns that build up to the climax.  

Bottom Line: The hints of the supernatural and isolated setting combined together into one very strong read!

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

Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge

Summary from Goodreads:

"You wake up.
You can't remember what happened.
The man lying next to you is not your husband. 
And he's not breathing . . ."

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in what has become one of my very favorite mystery series.  One of the things that makes this series standout so much for me is that each book has been different from the others.  This book almost felt like a domestic suspense from the way that it was written.  In it, one of the main characters Louise is writing to her husband and explaining certain things as one storyline.  Sorry to be vague here but I don't want to spoil anything because the setup is pretty brilliant.  In the other storyline, we see the events of Louise waking up next to a stranger and the subsequent investigation by Jonah Sheen's team.  The second thing that really stands out to me and that is present throughout each book in this series is the care that is taken with the characters and especially the victims.  The author always takes the time to allow the reader to really feel like they are getting to know these characters in a way that isn't always present in other mysteries or thrillers.  I loved how the author kept me guessing throughout this book.  I wasn't sure who to trust and/or who was to blame.  The only thing that I really knew is that Jonah and his team would figure it out in the end.  

Overall, I found this book to be another strong addition to one of my favorite mystery series out there.  I NEED other readers to find and love this series as much as I do!  You don't necessarily have to read these books in order but I would recommend it if possible.  There are these small threads that play out from each book that you would miss out on otherwise.  I think that you should pick this book up if you enjoy domestic suspense but want something a bit different, if you enjoy police procedurals, or just want a truly page turning read.  I definitely couldn't turn the pages fast enough while reading this one!  Now begins the long wait for the next book in the series...I will be jumping on that one as soon as it gets released!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful addition to a standout series!

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #5)

 

Broken Places by Tracy Clark

Summary from Goodreads:

"Former cop Cass Raines has found the world of private investigation a less stressful way to eke out a living in the Windy City. But when she stumbles across the dead body of a respected member of the community, it’s up to her to prove a murderer is on the loose . . ."

My Thoughts:

Broken Places was one of the best starts to a new to me mystery series that I've read in a long time.  I say one because I've read a couple of firsts in series this year that were real winners as well.  This book though really stood out for me.  Cass is one of those main characters that you want to meet in real life.  She isn't perfect but she sticks to what she believes in, and you cannot help but respect her for it.  Or at least I couldn't, I should say.  I appreciated the way that this author used this book to also look at both police brutality and police shootings.  The commentary on our justice system in general was perfection.  This wasn't a book that I rushed through but instead took my time with.  That being said, I had a hard time setting it down.  The mystery was very compelling and kept me guessing the entire time.  I'm eager to get back to this series and these characters.  In fact, I already have the second book checked out from the library because this book was that good.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and these characters immensely.  Pick this book up if you enjoy police procedurals, mysteries that keep you guessing, and especially if you just want a really great read in general.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: A standout beginning to this new to me series.

Disclosure:  I read a copy of this book courtesy of my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder

Summary from Goodreads:

"In A Tale of Two Cookies, a cozy mystery from Eve Calder, it’s nothing but sugar and spice at The Cookie House, but elsewhere on Coral Cay everything isn’t so nice."

My Thoughts:

This cozy mystery series has fast become a favorite of mine and we are only three books in.  In fact, this book is actually my favorite of the series so far.  I really appreciated the fact that the set up in this book was a bit different with the fact that we weren't sure what had happened to the groom.  Was he missing of his own accord?  Was he dead?  Or had something else happened to him?  It added a level of suspense to this book that you don't always get with other cozy mysteries.  I found myself unable to put this book down because of it.  It's hard to talk about books in series without sharing spoilers so I don't want to say too much.  I will say that this series stands out for me because of the characters.  This series truly embodies all of the cozy vibes.  The delicious desserts, the wide cast of characters, and the cozy town of Coral Cay all combine to give me all of the cozy vibes in this series.  It's just perfection!  

Overall, the setup of this book really helped it to standout for me!  Give this series a try (I do think it would be helpful to read in order if possible) if you enjoy cozy mysteries, are looking for a cozier read with a mystery tied in, or just want slightly suspenseful reads without all of the darkness and violence.  This series is one of my favorites for a reason!

Bottom Line: My favorite book of the series so far!

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #4)

Beneath Devil's Bridge by Loretta Anne White 

Summary from Goodreads:

"A true crime podcast yields new revelations about a shocking murder."

My Thoughts:

Loreth Anne White is fast becoming one of my favorite authors!  Last year I read and loved In the Dark by her (if you haven't picked this one up yet you simply must!). I jumped at the chance to read this book and wasn't disappointed in the slightest.  It just goes to show me how much I NEED to work on catching up on her backlist because wow!  She is an author that definitely deserves more hype than I see her getting.  This book had podcast elements to it which I really enjoyed.  I liked the fact that the book was focused on a crime that was supposedly solved from years ago.  I really enjoyed that the story was told from two different timelines - back when Detective Rachel Walczak was investigating the case and then in the present as podcaster Trinity Scott investigates what really happened all those years ago.  I found this book to be a really compelling read.  I wanted to know what really happened to Leena Rai and the why's behind it all.  I had my guesses on who might have been behind it, but even then I definitely didn't see that ending coming.  There's this one twist that just hits so perfectly.  I felt like I should have seen it coming but yet it smacked me straight in the gut in the best way.  Wow, she is such a talented author.  

Overall, this is a book that definitely deserves more hype in my opinion.  Readers who enjoy mysteries, true crime podcasts, and suspenseful reads need to pick this book up.  And then talk about it with others so more mystery readers can find this author because I need her to write ALL of the books!  Kidding....but kind of not because she's just so good!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A tense and suspenseful read that I just couldn't stop reading!

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

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Summary from Goodreads:

"Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Box is a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman.

Something is out there . . . "

My Thoughts:

Bird Box was a really solid read but I think I slightly overhyped it in my head.  First, I did something I rarely do and watched the movie first.  I actually really enjoyed the movie and found it to be a fun reading experience comparing the differences between the two.  But I expected this one to terrify me just from hearing from so many other horror readers that it is one of their favorites.  Honestly, I did find the idea of not being able to see whatever was out there creepy but just not as terrifying as I hoped.  Maybe it is because I watch the movie first or maybe I just had it overhyped in my head.  That isn't to discount that I really enjoyed my reading experience.  I was just left wanting it to be a bit more.  More terrifying.  I wanted to be truly creeped out in the best of ways and wasn't.  I'm chalking it up to expectations.  I definitely plan on reading more by this author and the premise of this book is so unique.  I want to see what other twisted things he comes up with next.  And I think I will read the sequel to this book at some point as well.  But maybe I would just say to other readers to start here before you watch the movie.  That's all.

Overall, I enjoyed this book even if it didn't quite terrify me like I had hoped that it would.  Readers who want a horror based take on the end of the world should pick this book up for sure.  I also want to say that if you aren't sure on if horror reads are for you, that this book wasn't too scary and is one that I think many readers could handle.  Recommended!

Bottom Line: A book that I'm glad I finally pulled off of my own shelves after it sat on there for way too long!

Disclosure:  I purchased this book myself.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Monday, September 27, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #3)

 

A Fatal Lie by Charles Todd

Summary from Goodreads:

"In one of his most puzzling cases, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge must delve deep into a dead man’s life and his past to find a killer determined to keep dark secrets buried."

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I've read in this long running series but not my first book by this author.  I've read and enjoyed a couple books in the Bess Crawford series so I jumped at the chance to read this one even though it's book #23.  It honestly didn't affect my enjoyment in the slightest as I really enjoyed my time with this book.  This book was a slow burn in the best of ways.  I love a good historical mystery that just pulls me into both the story and the time period that it is set in.  I found myself following along with Inspector Ian Rutledge as he struggled to figure out the identity of the dead man and then to also find the killer.  I loved the quiet suspense that was present throughout this book.  This isn't a mystery or book that is meant to be rushed through.  Instead, it is one to immerse yourself in and get lost within the pages.  I found it interesting reading and learning about Ian Rutledge.  There are some obvious things in his past that I was missing out on that I'm guessing that we would have learned more about in previous books.  I definitely plan on going back to the beginning of this series at some point in the very near future.  

Overall, this is a book that I think that historical mystery fans and mystery readers in general will enjoy.  Just make sure that you go in with the correct expectations that this is a mystery and not a thriller that you will fly through.  Readers that enjoy slow burns and detective (inspector) focused stories should definitely give this book or series a try!  Recommended.

Bottom Line: A slow burning mystery that pulled me into its pages.

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

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... 

When body parts are found on the banks of the River Thames in Deptford, DI Angelica Henley is tasked with finding the killer. Eerie echoes of previous crimes lead Henley to question Peter Olivier, aka The Jigsaw Killer, who is currently serving a life sentence for a series of horrific murders. 

When a severed head is delivered to Henley's home, she realises that the copycat is taking a personal interest in her and that the victims have not been chosen at random. 

To catch the killer, Henley must confront her own demons - - and when Olivier escapes from prison, she finds herself up against not one serial killer, but two."

My Thoughts:

The Jigsaw Man is one of the best beginnings to a new police procedural that I've read so far this year!  This book is dark and won't be for every reader - I think the above summary should give you an idea of how dark this book really is.  The mystery is compelling though and despite it being a chunkier book I flew through the pages.  I just didn't want to set it down.  I really enjoyed the fact that the author showed the struggles that Henley had with balancing motherhood and her job.  The guilt that she felt at times when her job took her away from her daughter more than she wanted it to.  It was something that I definitely could relate to as a mother myself.  I found myself racing through this book eager to see how it would all end.  And that ending....all I can say without giving anything away is that I NEED the next book in this series ASAP.  So good!  I cannot emphasize enough how strong I found this beginning to a new detective series to be - it's one that I have been recommending over and over!

Overall, this is an author to watch and a must read for mysteries and thriller lovers like myself.  I wouldn't recommend this one though if you cannot handle gore or don't care for darker reads.  If you read and enjoyed The Chestnut Man though (I feel like that's a pretty good comparison with how dark this book gets), then definitely get your hands on this one.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: This book is very likely going to be on my top reads for 2021 - it was that good!

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

CW: Attempted rape

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey (thoughts)

 

Summary from Goodreads:

"He tells you you’re special…

As a barrister, Ingrid Lewis is used to dealing with tricky clients, but no one has ever come close to John Webster. After Ingrid defended Webster against a stalking charge, he then turned on her – following her, ruining her relationship, even destroying her home.
 
He tells you he wants to protect you… 
Now, Ingrid believes she has finally escaped his clutches. But when one of her colleagues is run down on a busy London road, Ingrid is sure she was the intended victim. And then Webster shows up at her door…
 
But can you believe him?
Webster claims Ingrid is in danger – and that only he can protect her. Stalker or saviour? Murderer or protector? The clock is ticking for Ingrid to decide. Because the killer is ready to strike again."

My Thoughts:

The Killing Kind was a suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.  It's actually a pretty thick book - my copy was 470 pages but I flew through it.  It's one of those reads that you don't want to set down because you just want to see what is going to happen next.  One of the things that I enjoyed the most about this book was that you didn't know who to trust.  Ingrid previously had a stalker - John Webster - who it seems like may be coming back into her life.  And as the summary above states - he is stating that he can help her because it does look like someone is trying to hurt or kill her.  Could it be John that is trying to insert himself into her life again or who is trying to cause her harm?  Or could it be someone else trying to hurt her possibly related to her job as she works in criminal defense.  Who can she trust?  Is there anyone?  These questions swirled around constantly in my head while I was reading this book.  It really helped to up the level of tension and suspense that was present throughout this book.  I was so caught up in this book that I just didn't want to set this book down.  I especially was intrigued by John Webster's character and what his motivations were.  This book won't be for everyone though - it deals with some difficult subject matter that won't be for every reader.  I will include content warnings below for the major ones but if you have specific questions just let me know.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am eager to read more by this author!

Read this book if you enjoy suspenseful, page turning reads that you don't want to set down.  I've read one of this author's book so far (book one in a long running series of hers) and this was a great reminder that I need to get back to that series.  This book would be a great place to start if you don't want to begin a long running series and want to give her a try with a standalone instead.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: A book that I just couldn't stop reading!

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

Content Warnings:  Rape (this is on page somewhat so be warned that this could be triggering for some readers), suicide, stalking

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #2)

 

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner 

Summary from Goodreads:

"From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten"

My Thoughts:

Gardner is one of my favorite mystery authors because I love her D.D. Warren series so much!  I started smack dab in the middle of that one and haven't looked back since.  So I jumped at the opportunity to read this one as soon as I heard about it.  Let me just say that this is an author who writes books that are not to be missed if you are a mystery reader!  From the very beginning, I found myself pulled into this new story with new characters.  Frankie Elkin is one of those characters that I couldn't help but root for despite all of her perceived flaws.  She is a recovering alcoholic who searches for women who have been gone missing for so long that no one is really looking for them any longer.  As the reader, you know that she has more of a darker history that hasn't yet been shared with us.  It just made her feel so darn real to me!  The book was one that I just flew through the pages of.  I couldn't put it down because I was so sucked into the story.  And honestly I just really loved this book.  I was so excited to hear after finishing this one that it is now going to be the first book in a new series.  I cannot wait to read more about Frankie and see what types of trouble she finds herself in next.

Overall, this is a book and author that you definitely to check out if you are a mystery reader!  I cannot recommend her D.D. Warren series enough - start with Find Her like I did and you will be in for a treat especially if you like darker mysteries.  Now, I can also highly recommend this book for those readers who want to start at the beginning of a series because this one is really just as good.  This book will easily be on my top reads list of the year and Gardner has become a must read author for me.  Highly recommended!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  I ended up reading a print copy from my local library.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Summary from Goodreads:

"Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral..."

My Thoughts:

I was in the mood for a good romance when I picked this book up and had high expectations after loving the first book in this trilogy titled Get a Life, Chloe Brown.  Happily enough, this book far exceeded those high expectations.  I truly adored this book and both Zaf and Dani.  There was just something about the two of them that had me instantly both invested in their relationship and rooting for them as a couple.  Plus, this book was just funny - I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times at it.  It was just one of those delightful reads that I picked up at the perfect time and fit my reading mood perfectly.  There's nothing better than when this happens in my opinion!  There is a reason this trilogy is so popular and I won't be waiting too much longer before I pick up the final book in this series.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book immensely.  It was just a fun read with a couple that I adored.  I turned the pages as fast as I could because I needed to see them get their happy ever after.  Talia Hibbert has become a go to romance author for me - I'll be working my way through her backlist and reading everything/anything that she writes.  Pick this book up (and you don't have to read the books in order) if you enjoy a steamy romance, are looking for relatable characters that will make you laugh, or just want a book that you can't put down.  Another book that I can highly recommend!

Bottom Line:  A romance that makes me smile just thinking about it!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  I also ended up reading a print copy courtesy of my local library.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #1)

 

Summary from Goodreads:

"In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm."

I'm trying something new here - and giving less of a summary.  One, because sometimes the summary gives too much away.  Two, because I like the idea of one sentence or very short summaries that just pull readers in with buzzy words like the above one did for me.  Let me know what your thoughts (if you even read this part of my posts has me curious honestly).

My Thoughts:

Shiver was everything that I had hoped it would be from the above summary.  I love nothing more than a "locked room" type of mystery setup where the characters are being picked off one by one as a play off of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  What made this book stand out for me as the reader is that it was set in the alps during a snowstorm.  I LOVE a mystery/thriller set in the middle of a snowstorm which is effectively trapping the characters from leaving.  It's almost like this book was written for me personally because it had everything that I love all in one book.  And the best part was that I truly loved this book!  I found it to be one of those books that just pulls you in and doesn't let you go.  I'm writing my thoughts on this one months after reading it and I can still clearly remember the tense atmosphere that the author created within the pages.  I was left guessing the entire time I was reading it trying to figure out who was behind it all.  There were certain things that I guessed but others that I didn't whatsoever.  I also really enjoyed the snowboarding aspects that the author included within this book.  I've always enjoyed watching snowboarding so learning more about the competitive side of it was really intriguing.  There were just so many great things about this book and I cannot say enough good things about it!

Overall, this is a book that I highly recommend to both mystery and thriller readers.  This is an author to watch in my opinion because it was just that good.  I will be picking up whatever she comes out with next - that's for sure!  

Bottom Line: A book that is very likely to make my top reads list of this year!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  I ended up reading a physical copy courtesy of my local library.

Summary from Goodreads:

"Lana Lee runs her family's Chinese restaurant in Cleveland's Asia Village like nobody's business. When it comes to actual cooking, however, she's known to be about a step up from boiling rice. So Lana decides to go to culinary school on the sly--and prove that she has what it takes in the kitchen after all. But when course instructor Margo Chan turns up dead after class, Lana suddenly finds herself on the case, frying pan in hand.

Since she was the one who discovered the body, Lana must do double duty in finding the killer and clearing her name. Now, with or without the help of her boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana launches her own investigation into Margo's life and mysterious death. Doing so leads her on a wild goose chase to and from the culinary school--and all the way back to the Ho-Lee noodle shop, where the guilty party may be closer than Lana thinks."

My Thoughts:

This is the 7th book in one of my favorite cozy mystery series!  This book was another fun addition to this series.  One of the reasons that I love this series so much is the characters.  Lana always finds herself in the middle of things (like yet another murder investigation) and her friends and family always end up helping her out.  I particularly am a fan of her best friend/roommate who always encourages Lana to investigate even when she doesn't want to.  This book was particularly fun because the majority of the book was set at the local community college where Lana was taking cooking classes.  I just thought that it made the mystery and book feel fresh.  These books always make me hungry while reading them and this book was no exception.  I really can't say too much more - at seven books in I don't want to spoil anything that has happened in previous books.  This is just a series that you should definitely pick up - you don't have to read them in order.  It will just enhance your overall reading experience if you do start at the beginning.  Readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, those who enjoy books that feature food, and those readers who enjoy just fun reads definitely need to give this series a try.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  Another fun addition to one of my favorite cozy mystery series!

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


Friday, July 16, 2021

Fierce Little Thing by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (thoughts)

 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Saskia was a damaged, lonely teenager when she arrived at the lakeside commune called Home. She was entranced by the tang of sourdough starter; the midnight call of the loons; the triumph of foraging wild mushrooms from the forest floor. But most of all she was taken with Abraham, Home's charismatic leader, the North Star to Saskia and the four other teens who lived there, her best and only friends.


Two decades later, Saskia is shuttered in her Connecticut estate, estranged from the others. Her carefully walled life is torn open by threatening letters. Unless she and her former friends return to the land in rural Maine, the terrible thing they did as teenagers—their last-ditch attempt to save Home—will be revealed.

From vastly different lives, the five return to confront their blackmailer and reckon with the horror that split them apart. How far will they go to bury their secret forever?"

My Thoughts:

I'm having trouble writing up my thoughts on this one which makes it sound like I didn't like it which wasn't the case.  I just don't know how to put into words how I felt about this book so be patient with me.  This book is dark.  Like dark, I didn't expect it to go there even when I had inklings, dark.  It won't be for everyone.  But it was also really good and such a compelling read.  In this book it is basically told from two different storylines: the present day where Saskia is being faced with having to return Home being the first storyline, a place that she once loved but where things ended very badly for her and her friends, and then also the storyline where we see Saskia as a young teenage girl and how she ended up at Home and her experiences living there.  I'm trying to be as deliberately vague as possible so I don't spoil anything.  The book goes back and forth between those two storylines seamlessly.  And the entire time I was reading there was this feeling of dread almost that was present in both of the storylines.  That feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak.  It really ratcheted up the tension and feelings of suspense that were present throughout the book.  Throughout the book I could never get a full read or understanding of Saskia.  I knew that there must be more to her story but wasn't exactly sure what it could be.  And the author drops these hints....enough that you know as the reader that something really terrible happened in her past even if you don't have the full story yet.  Just wait.  Because this is a compelling read that kept me engrossed within its' pages even if I wasn't sure that I wanted to be there.  And the ending...whew.  Even when I had parts figured out, I cannot begin to explain how I felt about that ending.  It left me clearly at a loss for words even now.  I'm actually eager to see what other readers think of this one and to discuss it.  This is an author that I will definitely be watching from more of because wow - she crafted a story that I won't be forgetting about any time soon!

Overall, it feels wrong to say that I enjoyed this one due to the content but I do still think it was a really good read.  I don't think it will be for everyone and message me if you need some specific content warnings before going into it.  But if you enjoy books about cults, character focused books, and a suspenseful read that you won't forget about anytime soon then pick this one up.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A dark but very compelling read!

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Perched high atop a seaside cliff in Ireland, a lonely Victorian mansion is home to Temple House School. And at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.


Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.

Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle—igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.

There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary, a journalist—a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa—delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?

Because remember—at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems."

My Thoughts:

The summary of this book made this one feel like a must read for me.  Any time that a book has an isolated school setting and/or a mystery that goes back years ago means that I'm instantly intrigued.  But it was that last line that really hooked me and filled me with questions.  What do they mean that nothing is ever as it seems? I just had to know!  This book instantly pulled me in from the very beginning pages.  Louisa was a very interesting character.  As the reader, I didn't fully understand her in the beginning but she had me intrigued.  Then there was the weird relationship between Victoria and Mr. Lavelle to try and sort through.  And the relationship between all three of them.  There were just all of these questions that I had about what was happening or wasn't happening while I reading this book based off of these characters and their connections to one another.  The book was also set up in such a suspenseful way.  We flashed back to the time when Louisa and Victoria were both in school together before the disappearance for portions of the book.  We also got to see in present day the reporter's investigation into the disappearance from years ago.  These two storylines combined into a suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages.  I really appreciated this because let me tell you that my reading mojo has been off a bit recently.  Instead of struggling like I have been, this book kept me reading and left me unable to set my kindle down.  That was a really nice and needed change of pace for me.  If I had one complaint with this book it was that I was left feeling slightly dissatisfied with the ending but I cannot put my finger on why.  It was a good ending really but there was just something that held me back from fully enjoying it.  That being said, this was a really strong debut that left me excited to read more by this author!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so glad that it helped me get out of the dreaded reading slump that I had been in.  The atmosphere and setting of this book was something that I just could not get enough of!  Give me ALL of the boarding school books set in isolated settings with gothic vibes and I would be one happy reader - that's for sure!  I think that readers who enjoy dark academic type of books, those who enjoy gothic vibes and books filled with atmosphere, as well as those readers who love a character driven suspense filled novel should pick this book up.  I'm so excited to see what other readers think of this one so I can discuss it with them!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: A suspenseful read that I just couldn't set down!

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