Friday, February 26, 2021

What I've Been Reading...(January 2021 Edition Part 2)

I'm here for round two of sharing my thoughts on the books that I read in January.  As February is just about over, I kinda need to get moving on these posts a bit faster or I will be months behind before I know it.  Luckily (or unluckily - depends on the day and how I look at it) I've only finished two books so far in February so I may not be as behind as it feels like if I don't end up finishing at least one more book.  That remains to be determined but here are my thoughts on two more of the books that I read in January.

The Forever Girl by Jill Shalvis

Summary from Goodreads:

"When Maze returns to Wildstone for the wedding of her estranged bff and the sister of her heart, it’s also a reunion of a once ragtag team of teenagers who had only each other until a tragedy tore them apart and scattered them wide.

Now as adults together again in the lake house, there are secrets and resentments mixed up in all the amazing childhood memories. Unexpectedly, they instantly fall back into their roles: Maze their reckless leader, Cat the den mother, Heather the beloved baby sister, and Walker, a man of mystery. 

Life has changed all four of them in immeasurable ways. Maze and Cat must decide if they can rebuild their friendship, and Maze discovers her long-held attraction to Walker hasn’t faded with the years but has only grown stronger."

My Thoughts:

I've become a huge fan of the Wildstone series and this book is the latest addition to it.  I started this series (although I say series far as I can tell the only thing that connects each book is Wildstone itself) in the middle and I'm completely hooked at this point.  Each book has featured characters that I cannot help but care about with storylines that keep me turning the pages.  In this book, we meet Maze, Cat, Walker, and Heather who all spent one wonderful year together as kids but that year ended in a horrible tragedy.  As adults they are still dealing with the fallout of that year and their relationships with one another.  Maze and Walker have always had a certain chemistry to their relationship but for better or worse things have kept them apart.  Oh but how I adored watching them work towards trying to find their happy ending together.  They both had a lot of deep rooted issues that came from their childhood and being a part of the foster care system.  What made this book really great for me though was besides these two great characters we also had both Cat and Heather.  I spent my entire time reading this book rooting for Maze and Walker but also for Cat and Heather to figure out their relationships as well.  I'm trying not to say too much here but there was a lot going on for all of these characters.  I honestly could have read a book that focused just on Heather and a certain someone and their relationship.  I won't say more than that.  And while this book had a serious side due to all of the issues that these characters were dealing with (like things from their past and that shared tragedy), this book also had me laughing out loud at times.  The bachelorette party scene was absolutely priceless!  At this point, I've enjoyed this series so much that I instantly add the next upcoming book to my TBR after finishing the latest book.  I really need to grab the earlier books in this series and catch up on them as well.  I think that fans of contemporary romance and women's fiction especially shouldn't sleep on this series.  It's so good and just the perfect blend of romance and relationships!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  Another great addition to what has become one of my favorite romance series!

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

CW: Loss of a sibling, abuse, loss, foster care, trust issues

Every Waking Hour by Joanna Schaffhausen

Summary from Goodreads:

"After surviving a serial killer’s abduction as a young teenager, Ellery Hathaway is finally attempting a normal life. She has a new job as a rookie Boston detective and a fledgling relationship with Reed Markham, the FBI agent who rescued her years ago. But when a twelve-year-old girl disappears on Ellery’s watch, the troubling case opens deep wounds that never fully healed.

Chloe Lockhart walked away from a busy street fair and vanished into the crowd. Maybe she was fleeing the suffocating surveillance her parents put on her from the time she was born, or maybe the evil from her parents’ past finally caught up to her. For Chloe, as Ellery learns, is not the first child Teresa Lockhart has lost.
Ellery knows what it’s like to have the past stalk you, to hold your breath around every corner. Sending one kidnapped girl to find another could be Chloe’s only hope or an unmitigated disaster that dooms them both. Ellery must untangle the labyrinth of secrets inside the Lockhart household—secrets that have already murdered one child. Each second that ticks by reminds her of her own lost hours, how close she came to death, and how near it still remains."

My Thoughts:

I am so completely hooked on this series at four books in!  I really cannot get enough of it and these characters!  Every book in this series has been a page turner that I could not set down and this book was no different.  Let's start off with the fact that this is book four and a bit hard to share my thoughts on without sharing spoilers (but I shall do my best).  I do think that this is a series best read in order if possible.  The author does a good job of catching you up if you haven't had the chance to read the earlier books but I just feel like you would really be missing out - especially when it comes to understanding Ellery as a character.  Everything that she has gone through in her life has led her to where she is "today" as this book begins.  And she just cannot run from her past and how it still effects her life which makes the case she gets drawn into investigating that much more personal for her.  I flew through the pages of this book.  I just needed to know how it was all going to end.  I like that Ellery's world is opening up a bit even if she doesn't feel like she is ready for it.  We saw more of characters from previous books and I hope that continues because it means Ellery is finally starting to move on more from her past.  The ending made me a bit sad (but I understood) until it didn't because I was like WHAT?!?  And now I'm just sitting here pining away for the next book in this series....because gah!  Yep, it that ending left me with no words and I NEED book five ASAP! Do yourself a favor and pick this series up soon but start with The Vanishing Season because reading them all in order is completely worth it!

Bottom Line: This book was everything that I've come to expect from this series in the best of ways.  A personal favorite mystery series of mine for a reason!

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

CW: Missing child, death of a child, serial killer, cancer

Monday, February 22, 2021

What I've Been Reading...(January 2021 Edition Part 1)

I thought that I would try something different this year and share my thoughts on the books that I read each month all in one go.  Maybe I will have months where I read a ton and split the posts up or I might let things carry over from each month.  I just really, really want to get into the habit of sharing about ALL of the books that I read and not just some of them.  I might share full reviews for certain books depending on if I have more to say...but we will cross that bridge when I come to it. EDITED to add:  I started this post off completely optimistic thinking I would share about ALL of the books that I read in January - and then never finished the post.  We will see how the year goes on but here are my thoughts on the 1st two books that I read in January:

Summary from Goodreads:

"Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone."

My Thoughts:

Wow, wow, wow!  This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2021 and it definitely didn't disappoint!  I absolutely loved this book - it's just that easy to say!  All I can think is that if this is the author's debut, then I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!  If you read the above summary, the premise for me was just irresistible.  The comparison on the back of the book to The Blair Witch Project was spot on when it came to the atmosphere that was present throughout this book.  I just knew that I needed to pick up this book, and see what in the heck was going on.  Let me just say that I was not disappointed in the answers that I got!  But what made this book absolutely brilliant for me was the creeping dread that the author built up in this book from the very beginning pages.  This book was a slow burn in the best of ways.  I am HERE for all of the creepy, slow burns like this so please give me all of your recommendations.  Simply put: I need more books like this in my life!  One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was the premise.  The idea of an entirely abandoned village was just delightfully creepy to think about.  I also really enjoyed the fact that this book was told in two parts.  One was in current day with Alice and her crew and the second part was told in the past from the viewpoint of a woman named Elsa.  I really liked the way that these two storylines tied together.  The feeling of dread that just kept building especially towards the end had me reading as fast as I could.  And the ending was perfection in my opinion.  It's a month later and I'm still thinking about this book.  What a way to start off my year of reading in 2021!

Bottom Line:  A standout way to start off my reading year - I would be very surprised not to see this book on my best reads list at the end of 2021!

CW: Murder, abuse, religious elements (hard to explain without spoilers so message me if you need to know more)

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

Summary from Goodreads:

"Along the ever-changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, a seventeen-year-old girl is found dead at a construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished condominium. 

Homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton’s new partner Colin Taggert, fresh from the Colorado Springs police department, assumes it’s a teenage suicide. Lou isn’t buying the easy explanation. For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self-made millionaire… and the man who may have murdered Lou’s missing sister thirty years ago. 

As Lou investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases. She is convinced that when she solves Monique’s case she will finally bring her lost sister home. But as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. After all this time, can he be brought to justice… before Lou becomes his next victim?"

My Thoughts:

Land of Shadows is the 1st book in the Detective Elouise Norton series.  I've read two of this authors books previously (both standalones) and enjoyed them so much that I knew that I wanted to dive into her backlist.  I'm really glad that I did because I enjoyed this book a lot.  Lou's character is one that I instantly liked.  She didn't take crap from anyone and knew that she was good at her job for a lot of different reasons.  I love a mystery series focused on a strong female lead detective - this is like my reading catnip.  Lou has a darker past though because years ago her sister went missing and she still doesn't have the answers she has been searching for.  Then she gets assigned to this case and it seems like the two cases are tied together even though her sister went missing so long ago.  This book was a definite page turner!  I found myself really hooked by the premise and the way that this book was set up.  Parts of the book were set in the past leading up to Lou's sister's disappearance and then the other parts of the book were focused on Lou's current investigation.  I had no idea where it was all going and I couldn't stop reading as I just had to find out.  My one complaint with this book was there was a bit of inappropriate language (I really don't know how else to explain it).  This is an older book - it was published back in 2014 - so maybe it wasn't considered offensive back then but I did want to mention it.  One of the things that this book did so well though is that it made me sit back and think.  The author makes a point of looking at the reasons why the police didn't really look into her sister's disappearance that closely - it's a poignant look at how differently these types of case are treated when it is a girl of woman of color that goes missing.  I definitely will be continuing on with this series.  Rachel Howzell Hall is an author not to be missed!

Bottom Line: A really solid beginning to this new to me mystery series!

CW: Suicide, murder, cheating, derogatory language, loss of a child, death

Disclosure:  I checked this book out from my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.