Weekly Wrap Up: April 28th through May 4th, 2019

Clicking on the link under Books I’ve ReadNetGalley Haul,and Email Haul will take you to Goodreads.

Clicking on the link under Books with Pending Reviews and Books with Published Reviews will take you to Amazon.

Clicking on the link under Freebies I Scored (which were free at the time I got them.) will take you to Amazon, BookFunnel, or Prolific Works (I will say which one next to the title).


Books I’ve Read

Mensch*Marks

A Safe Place

The Scent of Murder

Welcome the Little Children

Books with pending reviews:

Then Came You—review coming May 7th, 2019

Books with published reviews:

Pray for the Girl—review here

Sullivan’s Promise—review here

Highland Crown—review here

The Invited—review here

Ignite—review here

Getting Hot with the Scot—review here

Ten: Part 1—review here

A Light in the Desert—review here

NetGalley Haul:

Cold Heart, Warm Cowboy

The Year I Left

Home Field Advantage

Email Haul:

Stolen Gypsy

Freebies I Scored (Free at the time of posting. Please check the price before purchase!!):

Blog Tours/Excerpts/Book Blitz:

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar—Blog Tour invite

Highland Crown—Excerpt

Getting Hot with the Scot—Excerpt

No Feelings Involved—Release Blitz

No Other Duke But You—Excerpt

Giveaways I’ve Entered

I’ll Never Tell—Goodreads Giveaway

Weekly Posts:

Weekly Wrap Up

Freebie Sunday

Music Monday

Top Ten Tuesday

WWW Wednesday

Throwback Thursday

Pray for the Girl by Joseph Souza

Pray for the Girl by [Souza, Joseph]

4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: April 30th, 2019

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find Pray for the Girl: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book synopsis:

Joseph Souza, acclaimed author of The Neighbor, brings readers into the dark heart of a small town in this riveting, relentlessly twisting new novel . . .

Lucy Abbott never pictured herself coming back to Fawn Grove, Maine. Yet after serving time in Afghanistan, then years spent as a sous chef in New York, she’s realized her only hope of moving on from the past involves facing it again. But Fawn Grove, like Lucy herself, has changed.

Lucy’s sister, Wendy, is eager to help her adapt, almost stifling her with concern. At the local diner, Lucy is an exotic curiosity–much like the refugees who’ve arrived in recent years. When a fifteen-year-old Muslim girl is found murdered along the banks of the river, difficult memories of Lucy’s time overseas come flooding back and she feels an automatic connection. At first glance, the tragedy looks like an honor killing. But the more Lucy learns about her old hometown, the less certain that seems.

There is menace and hostility here, clothed in neighborly smiles and a veneer of comfort. And when another teen is found dead in a cornfield, his throat slit, Lucy–who knows something about hiding secrets–must confront a truth more brutal than she could have imagined, in the last place she expected it . . .


My Review:

Mystery and thrillers have always had an enormous appeal for me. I love reading a book that makes my heart race. I also love reading a book where I have to figure out who the bad guy is. Of course, I have read duds, but it comes with the territory when you read as much as I do.

Pray for the Girl takes place in the fictional city of Fawn Grove, Maine. Lucy, a disabled veteran, has gone back to confront and make peace with her past. Soon after her arrival, Lucy gets caught up in the murder of a young Muslim girl. Investigating on her own, Lucy finds out that her hometown is not what she remembered. Secrets are many in Fawn Grove, and Lucy has her own. Who killed that girl? Why? The truth will be stunning.

I got caught up in Pray for the Girl’s main plotline. It was well written. I will say that the book is slow to start. But, it was laying the groundwork for the rest of the book. After the first couple of chapters, the book is on fire and doesn’t stop. I couldn’t put it down.

There was a massive twist in the middle of the book. I was not prepared for it. Not. At. All. After I got over my initial shock, I loved it. So much made sense when I looked back in the first half of the book. I do wish that it had been revealed a tad bit sooner. But then certain scenes wouldn’t have played out the way they did.

Lucy was one of my favorite characters, ever. She had my sympathy because of what happened to her. I liked that the author didn’t hold back when it came to her PTSD. Instead of glossing it over, he chose to go into detail about what Lucy went through daily. Being back in such a toxic town such as Fawn’s Grove didn’t help her either. I was a little surprised when she took it upon herself to look into the death of the Muslim girl. I didn’t understand why she took such an interest in that girl’s death. But, everything was explained around the same time the twist in the plot was revealed. Then it made perfect sense.

The end of the book was fast paced. There was a point where I had to stop and reread paragraphs to digest the information that was given. The very end of the book threw me for a loop. I am wondering if the author is setting up for another book involving Lucy? I hope so. That would be a book that I would love to read.


I would give Pray for the Girl and Adult rating. There is not sex (but there are mentions of sexual situations). There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Pray for the Girl. I would also recommend this book to family and friends

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**


Have you read Pray for the Girl?

What are your thoughts on it?

Let me know!!

Weekly Wrap Up: April 21st through April 27th, 2019

Clicking on the link under Books I’ve ReadNetGalley Haul,and Email Haul will take you to Goodreads.

Clicking on the link under Books with Pending Reviews and Books with Published Reviews will take you to Amazon.

Clicking on the link under Freebies I Scored (which were free at the time I got them.) will take you to Amazon, BookFunnel, or Prolific Works (I will say which one next to the title).


Books I’ve Read

The Roads to Damascus

No Feelings Involved

Pray for the Girl

Sullivan’s Promise

Then Came You

Books with pending reviews:

No Feelings Involved—review coming April 30th, 2019

Kingdom of Exiles—review come June 25th, 2019

Books with published reviews:

Darwin’s Cipher—review here

The Mother-In-Law—review here

The Stone Mothers—review here

NetGalley Haul:

Twenty-one Truths About Love

Mrs. Everything

The Right Sort of Man

Email Haul:

Waltz of the Crows

Freebies I Scored (Free at the time of posting. Please check the price before purchase!!):

Giveaways/Contests I entered:

The Invited—ReadItForward

Blog Tours/Excerpts/Book Blitz:

Own to Obsess—Release Blast

Highland Crown—Excerpt

The Right Sort of Man—Blog Tour Invite

Weekly Posts:

Weekly Wrap Up

Freebie Sunday

Music Monday

Top Ten Tuesday

WWW Wednesday

Throwback Thursday

WWW Wednesday: April 17th, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Wars.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal:

Miss R: She went to a friend’s birthday party last Friday. She had a blast. Her friend lives in the country and next to a farm. Which meant that there were cows next to her yard. Miss R was in heaven.

Miss B: She went on a band field trip the beginning of the week. The field trip was to LRU (Lenoir Rhyne University…..which is in our city) and to a place called Bo’s in Lenoir. She also had an orthodontist appointment today (which is why this blog post is late). Guess who is getting top and bottom braces next Thursday? Yup, Miss B.

Mr. Z: He also had an orthodontist appointment today. At his appointment he ended up getting spacers and they put an order in for some sort of retainer like thing to be installed in 2 weeks. Then he has to have 4-5 teeth pulled. Yes, you read that right. 4-5 teeth. I am wincing for him.

Me: Nothing special going on here. Besides shuttling kids to appointments and activities.

Reading/Reviews/Blog:

I have been reading my fool head off this week. Knock on wood, but I am way ahead of where I thought I was going to be at this point in the week. So, yay me…lol.

While I am ahead on reading, I am behind on writing reviews. Which is fine by me. I just keep plugging along. I am suffering some sort of writers block when it comes to starting my review. Hate it and hope I get over it soon.

I got a few new followers this week (waves and says “Hey all”). I am fighting the urge to change my blog’s theme again. I must not give in. Saying that, sorry in advance if there is a change….lol.


What I am currently reading:

Darwin's Cipher by [Rothman, M.A.]

click on the picture for the Amazon link

Juan Gutierrez, a cancer researcher, has spent years studying the genome of animals that exhibit immunity to some types of cancer. Over the course of his study, Juan discovers a pattern that allows him to predict the course of a species’ evolution across thousands of generations.

Using the algorithm he’s developed from the pattern, Juan uncovers what he believes to be the key to conquering humanity’s susceptibility to cancer.

Others are interested in using what Juan has dubbed “Darwin’s Cipher,” however, instead of cancer research, they see very different applications for the new genetic algorithm.

Nate Carrington, an FBI forensic analyst has been struggling with several cold cases when he’s alerted to an incident at a nearby ranch. It’s a case of a newborn calf who is found in the middle of a herd of dead cattle. It provides a single link to Nate’s other cold cases: the DNA analysis of the calf doesn’t match anything in the FBI’s database.

Somewhere in a rural hospital in West Virginia, four hospital workers are dead and a newborn child has been transported to the NIH’s level-4 bio-containment unit.

It’s only when the NIH sends out an alert to all hospitals and law enforcement agencies that the world realizes the danger that faces them.

I technically haven’t started reading Darwin’s Cipher. I did download it last night and I meant to start reading it. Then I fell asleep. So, I will start reading it at some point today. Darwin’s Cipher is currently available for purchase.


I recently finished reading:

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer Book 1) by [Martineau, Maxym M.]

click on the picture for the Amazon link

Fantastic Beasts meets Assassin’s Creed in this epic, gripping fantasy romance from debut author Maxym M. Martineau.

Exiled beast charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep trouble. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts on the black market—an offense punishable by death—and now there’s a price on her head. With the realm’s most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes him an offer he can’t refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.

If only it were that simple. Unbeknownst to Leena, the undying ones are bound by magic to complete their contracts, and Noc cannot risk his brotherhood of assassins…not even to save the woman he can no longer live without.

I loved this book. I couldn’t put Kingdom of Exiles down. It was that good. Kingdom of Exiles is currently on pre-order. It’s expected publication date is June 25th, 2019.


What books I think I’ll read next? (click on the pictures for Amazon links)

No Feelings Involved

Can this skeptical player let down his guard long enough to let love into his life, or is this forbidden romance a train wreck in the making?

Ryan James doesn’t believe in love. 

It’s a truth he learned early in life. A truth he carried with him into adulthood. He broke his golden rule one time, but Myndi trampled all over his heart, cementing his belief that love is a lie and not worth the effort.

Now he’s returned to his cynical views and promiscuous lifestyle, racking up more notches on his bedpost than he can count.

Until Summer Petersen comes crashing into his world, threatening to knock down his walls with her tempting body and sunny, sweet personality.

Summer is determined to lose her V-card before she starts freshman year of college, and the hot, older guy with the cute dimples, dazzling smile, and rippling biceps is just the man for the job. Ryan doesn’t take much persuading, and he rocks her world, giving her a night to remember.

When they walk away, there’s an unspoken agreement it was a one-time thing. Ryan doesn’t do feelings, and Summer doesn’t want to be tied down at eighteen.

But when she moves into her brother Austin’s apartment, she’s shocked to discover her new roomie is the guy who recently popped her cherry.

Ryan can’t believe he slept with Austin’s baby sister, and if he finds out, he’ll literally kill him. Keeping their hook up a secret is nonnegotiable. Keeping his thoughts, and his hands, off Summer, less so. Because the longer he’s around her, the more he finds himself catching feelings for the gorgeous brunette. 

Summer doesn’t want to care for her older brother’s best friend, but Ryan makes her feel things she’s never felt before, and she’s slowly falling under his spell.

Embarking on an illicit affair behind Austin’s back has train wreck written all over it, but provided they keep their feelings in check, they can end this before he ever finds out. 

It’s not like either of them is in love.

Right?

A Light in the Desert by [Montgomery, Anne]

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a lonely pregnant teenager, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

TEN: Part 1 by [Ribbon, Sin]

Is fate a shield against the agony of choice or a force that suffocates free will?

From diverse walks of life and different corners of the globe, ten strangers are being brought together. Prejudice, fallen dreams, loss, and trauma have plagued each of their lives . . . until they find each other, and for once it seems serendipity may heal their collective pain.

But what lurks behind these fated meetings is something far more sinister.

Terrible and elusive forces have endowed the ten with supernatural abilities. Far from a gift however, some are drowning in these overwhelming new powers to the point of possession.

What does fate permit us to do? Are we a product of choice or design? In this urban fantasy adventure, the ten must resist the will of destiny if they wish to carve their own paths. Armed only with camaraderie, they will discover if the strength of their choice is enough to prevent the looming, catastrophic future thrust upon them.

The battle for free will begins here.

Sullivan's Promise: A Bitter Creek Novel by [Johnston, Joan]

Two unforgiving lovers reunite for the sake of their child in this fiery contemporary romance from Joan Johnston, the New York Times bestselling author of Surrender.

Facing the unexpected consequences of a life-altering night of passion with a cowboy she met in a Jackson Hole bar, and with her life committed to protecting endangered species, Victoria Grayhawk does what she believes is the right thing. She hunts down the cowboy, seeking his agreement that their baby should be adopted by a loving family.

Montana rancher Ryan Sullivan has no intention of giving away his own flesh and blood, and takes their son to raise himself. When Vick realizes what a horrible mistake she’s made, and wants back into their child’s life, Rye remains inflexible—because once trust is lost there are no second chances—until an attack by one of the grizzlies Vick has spent her life protecting changes everything and Rye learns that sometimes love can heal all wounds.

The passionate Westerns in Joan Johnston’s Bitter Creek series can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order:
TEXAS BRIDE • WYOMING BRIDE • MONTANA BRIDE • SINFUL • SHAMELESS • BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE • SULLIVAN’S PROMISE

Then Came You: A Laws of Attraction Novel by [Meader, Kate]

In the courtroom, they’re rivals. In the bedroom, they’re . . . divorced. But could the road trip from hell lead to a second chance at love?

Aubrey Gates is the hottest divorce lawyer in Chicago, a barb-tongued stiletto with legs that go on for miles. When her cool gray eyes meet mine across the battlefield, I want her like I’ve never wanted anyone or anything. Then I remember who she is: the woman who brought me to my knees. The woman who destroyed my faith in relationships.

The woman I used to call . . . wife.

And she needs a favor from me, Grant Lincoln.

It seems my ex forgot to mention the demise of our marriage to her dear old grammie, and now we’re both expected to attend her ninetieth birthday party. In Boston. And because it isn’t already awkward enough, Aubrey and I are driving there together from Chicago. That’s more than a thousand miles of tension, heartbreak, and barely concealed lust.

A little piece of paper might say we’re over, but this road trip is the true test. I intend to get my wife back . . . and I won’t stop until “I do.”

Pray for the Girl by [Souza, Joseph]

Joseph Souza, acclaimed author of The Neighbor, brings readers into the dark heart of a small town in this riveting, relentlessly twisting new novel . . .

Lucy Abbott never pictured herself coming back to Fawn Grove, Maine. Yet after serving time in Afghanistan, then years spent as a sous chef in New York, she’s realized her only hope of moving on from the past involves facing it again. But Fawn Grove, like Lucy herself, has changed.

Lucy’s sister, Wendy, is eager to help her adapt, almost stifling her with concern. At the local diner, Lucy is an exotic curiosity–much like the refugees who’ve arrived in recent years. When a fifteen-year-old Muslim girl is found murdered along the banks of the river, difficult memories of Lucy’s time overseas come flooding back and she feels an automatic connection. At first glance, the tragedy looks like an honor killing. But the more Lucy learns about her old hometown, the less certain that seems.

There is menace and hostility here, clothed in neighborly smiles and a veneer of comfort. And when another teen is found dead in a cornfield, his throat slit, Lucy–who knows something about hiding secrets–must confront a truth more brutal than she could have imagined, in the last place she expected it . . .

The Roads to Damascus: A Mystery Novel (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 2) by [McDaniel, Lynda]

Abit is back! Four years after that fateful summer in “A Life for a Life,” Abit Bradshaw faces the biggest challenge of his life in “The Roads to Damascus,” the much-anticipated second book in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries trilogy. When a family of con artists fleeces his school and casts suspicion on him, Abit, with the support of his friends Della Kincaid and Alex Covington, sets out to find them and get payback. He takes a life-changing journey from Washington, D.C., through the mountains of Virginia, and finally home again to Laurel Falls, N.C. Along the way, he draws on every bit of courage and faith he can muster as he encounters a slew of characters—from sinners to saints—who help him come to terms with his rightful place in the world.

The Scent of Murder: A Mystery (A Jazz Ramsey Mystery Book 1) by [Logan, Kylie]

First in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Scent of Murder is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains cadaver dogs.

The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.


Weekly Wrap Up: March 24th through March 30th

Weekly wrap-up banner

Clicking on the link under Books I’ve ReadNetGalley Haul,and Email Haul will take you to Goodreads.

Clicking on the link under Books with Pending Reviews and Books with Published Reviews will take you to Amazon.

Clicking on the link under Freebies I Scored (which were free at the time I got them.) will take you to Amazon, BookFunnel, or Prolific Works (I will say which one under the picture).

Also, all links are Amazon Affiliate links. I get a small commission out of every purchase you make. I would love it if you clicked my link when buying!!


Books I’ve Read

Love, Again by L.P. Dover

Trusting the Billionaire by Cynthia Savage

The Ash Family by Molly Dektar

Books with pending reviews

The Ash Family—expected publication date: April 9th, 2019

The Invited—expected publication date: April 30th, 2019

The Night Window—expected publication date: May 14th, 2019

Books with published reviews:

Trusting the Billionaire by Cynthia Savage: review here

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter—-review here and excerpt here

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton—review here

The Secrets of Scorton Hall by Kate Carteret—review here

NetGalley Haul:

Pray for the Girl by Joseph Souza

Email Haul

Freebies I Scored (Free at the time of posting. Please check the price before purchase!!)

Giveaways/Contests I entered:

Weekly Posts:

Weekly Wrap Up

Freebie Sunday

Music Monday

Top Ten Tuesday

WWW Wednesday

Throwback Thursday

Foodie Friday

The Neighbor by Joseph Souza

The Neighbor

3 Stars 

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: April 24th, 2017

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, racism, and domestic violence

Where you can find The Neighbor: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

In a taut psychological thriller filled with breathtaking twists, Joseph Souza explores the tangle of betrayal and deception between two neighboring couples and asks how well we can really know others–or ourselves. 

It all seems so promising at the start . . .

When Leah and her husband, Clay, move from Seattle to Maine, she envisions a vibrant new neighborhood packed with families–playmates for her twins, new friends she can confide in and bond with. But while Clay works long hours to establish his brewery, Leah is left alone each day in a nearly deserted housing development where the only other occupants are aloof and standoffish.

Bored and adrift, Leah finds herself watching Clarissa and Russell Gaines next door, envying their stylishly decorated home and their university careers. But Leah’s obsession with the intriguing, elegant Clarissa grows until she’s not just spying from afar but sneaking into their house, taking small objects . . . reading Clarissa’s diary. It contains clues to a hidden turmoil Leah never guessed at–and a connection to a local college girl who’s disappeared.

The more Leah learns about Clarissa, the more questions emerge. Because behind every neighbor’s door there are secrets that could shatter lives forever . . .

My review:

The Neighbor left me with mixed emotions. It also left me with mixed feelings. I like reading mysteries/thrillers. I also like reading books that take current events and put a fresh spin on them. The Neighbor did that. That is not what gave me mixed feelings. I felt that part of the book was very well written. My mixed feelings were about the characters and their storylines.

The storyline of The Neighbor was promising. A bored housewife starts spying on her next door neighbor. She soon becomes obsessed with her. The secondary storyline was about a missing college girl and her disappearance. I would have been fine with those two storylines. With the secondary storyline of Leah’s secret, Clarissa’s secrets, Clay’s secret, I couldn’t keep focused on the book. I felt overwhelmed.

I like damaged characters. They make the books they are in more interesting to read. But Leah was just out there. She came across as creepy. Put it this way, if I had a feeling that my neighbor was spying on me, I would be uncomfortable. I would have distanced myself like Clarissa did. I do wish that her secret came out in full earlier in the book, instead of being dragged out. Speaking of that, I didn’t like the 180 her secret took. By the end of the book, my head was spinning. I couldn’t keep up with everything.

Clay drove me nuts. His trying to rationalize his relationship with Mycah was pathetic. As was his trying to drink his issues away. I also couldn’t believe that he didn’t put two and two together about part of Leah’s secret. I mean, her attitude towards sex was a huge clue for me. While I thought that he was a tool, he did stand by Leah when push came to shove. So, I didn’t completely dislike him.

I ran through a lot of emotions with Clarissa. At first, I felt bad for her. But when her character did a 180, I was surprised. Then I started to dislike her. She was manipulative and knew how to work things in her favor. So, I wasn’t surprised by what happened to her at the end of the book.

Russell was the only one that I truly felt bad for. He was manipulated by all the women in the book. I felt that he didn’t have a chance because no matter what he did, he was screwed.

I actually enjoyed Mycah’s character. She was a strong woman who didn’t stand down for anyone. She was passionate about her beliefs. I do think that she got in over her head with Russell and Clay. Even though I enjoyed her character, I won’t excuse her actions.

The thriller part of the book was well written. I do feel that it got lost with everything that was going on.

The end of the book confused me. While I understood what happened, I felt the book ended too suddenly. I was left wondering what will happen.

What I liked about The Neighbor:

A) Promising storyline

B) Strong characters

C) Engaging storyline

What I disliked about The Neighbor:

A) Felt overwhelmed with the storylines.

B) The characters drove me nuts

C) The ending confused me

I would give The Neighbor an Adult rating. There is sex. The sex scenes between Clay and Mycah were graphic and degrading. There is language. There is violence. I would not recommend anyone under the age of 21 reading this book.

There are triggers in this book. They are sexual abuse, racism, and domestic violence. If you are triggered by any of these, then do not read the book.

I am on the fence if I would recommend The Neighbor to friends and family. While I wouldn’t reread this book, I would be open to reading more books by the author.

I would like to thank Kensington, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Neighbor.

All opinions stated in this review of The Neighbor are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badgers: Book 1) by Shelly Laurenston

Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badger Chronicles Book 1) by [Laurenston, Shelly]

4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: March 27, 2018

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Number of pages: 400

POV: 3rd person

Series: The Honey Badgers

Hot and Badgered – Book 1

Where you can find Hot and Badgered: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely, they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.
 
Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is if he can keep up . . .

Trigger Warning: None

Continue reading

Don’t Tell a Soul by M. William Phelps

Don't Tell a Soul

Title: Don’t Tell a Soul

Author: M. William Phelps

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of Publication: February 28th, 2017

Genre: True Crime, Adult Nonfiction

Number of pages: 496

POV: 2nd person

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis (via Goodreads):

Cherry Walker was a devoted, trusting, an uncommonly innocent young woman who loved caring for a neighbor’s little boy. But when she was asked to testify in court against his abusive mother, Cherry never got the chance. She couldn’t lie if her life depended on it–and it did. Cherry’s body was found on the side of a Texas road, after being doused with lighter fluid and set aflame.
Attractive, manipulative, and violent, mother of four Kim Cargill had a wealth of dirty secrets she’d do anything to keep hidden. This in-depth account by bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps takes you inside Cargill’s shocking trial–and into the mind of one of the most conniving female psychopaths in recent history–and on death row.

My review:

I used to read a lot of true crime when I was in my teens/early 20’s. I had books on Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, the Son of Sam and other lesser known killers. It was somewhat of an obsession of mine to read these types of books. I was obsessed with the psychological aspect. I wanted to know what made these killers do what they did and what was that breaking point where they resorted to killing. I stopped reading true crime when an ex-boyfriend of mine made a flip comment about my collection one day….which resulted in my donating all of my books (awful, I know :() But, my fascination continued. I watch ID and Snapped all the time. BK has made the comment that I probably know more than the police when it comes to this stuff.

So, when Kensington approached me to review Don’t Tell a Soul, I jumped at the chance….even though it was not the usual genre that I review.

This book gave me chills because KC was such an evil person. I mean, you would have to be to kill someone and then light them on fire, trying to hide their identity. Even before that, she was just a bad person. She abused and terrorized her children, abused and terrorized her husband and basically anyone that came within her radar and didn’t give her what she wanted. She manipulated people into doing things (like her friend who tampered with evidence). She had no sense of remorse for anything she did….including Cherry’s murder.

Like I said above, the psychological aspect of this book was fascinating for me to read. Could KC have turned out to be a better person if she got the psychological help that she needed? I don’t know. There are arguments about people like her. Some people say they are born that way (genetic) and others say that environment creates these monsters. My opinion is that it is a combination of both.

I am going to end this post saying that Cherry’s murder was a senseless one and that I hope her parents get some sort of closure when KC is put to death. While these types of reviews are supposed to be impartial, I connected with Cherry through what the author wrote about her. She was one of those rare innocent people whose light got extinguished well before her time.

How many stars will I give Don’t Tell a Soul: 4

Why: I couldn’t put this book down, even though KC scared me. This isn’t a book for those who have weak stomachs though. There are some pretty graphic descriptions of Cherry’s body and child/spousal abuse.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Late teen

Why: Violence and some pretty graphic scenes/pictures of dead bodies and child/spousal abuse (no pictures of that!!)

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Unpunished (Gardiner and Renner: Book 2) by Lisa Black

Title: Unpunished

Author: Lisa Black

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of publication: January 31st, 2017

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, General Fiction

Number of pages: 321

POV: 3rd person

Series: Gardiner and Renner

That Darkness – Book 1

Unpunished – Book 2

Can be read out-of-order from series: No

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living, form an uneasy partnership to solve a series of murders in this powerful new thriller by the bestselling author of That Darkness.


It begins with the kind of bizarre death that makes headlines–literally. A copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line, a wide strap wrapped around his throat. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner has her suspicions about this apparent suicide inside the tsunami of tensions that is the news industry today–and when the evidence suggests murder, Maggie has no choice but to place her trust in the one person she doesn’t trust at all . . .

 
Jack Renner is a killer with a conscience, a vigilante with his own code of honor. In the past, Jack has used his skills and connections as a homicide detective to take the law into his own hands, all in the name of justice. He has only one problem: Maggie knows his secret. She insists he enforces the law, not subvert it. But when more newspaper employees are slain, Jack may be the only person who can help Maggie unmask the killer– even if Jack is still checking names off his own private murder list.

My review:

I really wish I had read That Darkness before I read Unpunished because I had so many questions about Maggie and Jack that couldn’t be answered in this book. I got frustrated because there were references to what happened to the first book and I had no clue what the characters were talking about.

But, besides my frustrations, I really enjoyed this story. I enjoyed it because it was a true vigilante/police novel. The last vigilante story that I read quickly turned into softcore book porn and the vigilante part was lost between the main characters bumping uglies. So, I was very pleased when this book didn’t even go near there.

I did like Maggie. She was so relatable on so many levels and she had a great relationship with her coworkers. She was a bit apprehensive when she found out that she was working with Jack on a case, but who wouldn’t be. I mean, she knows about his secret. She wasn’t unaffected by what happened to her (read the book to find out what) and she is required to see the police psychologist.

Now, Jack, on the other hand…..I wasn’t sure what to think of him. I wish I knew why he started vigilante killing (I am sure it was explained in the first book) because it would have explained a lot. I do know that I did start to see him soften towards Maggie, towards the end.

The newspaper storyline was pretty solid and moved rather quickly after the first victim was killed. I did have the killer pegged towards the middle book but doubted myself, took him off my list and added another person. All because of a red herring. Blah. I do want to say that I learned more about print newspapers and their equipment then I ever wanted to know.

The other storyline of Jack being a vigilante killer was barely touched upon. I do wish that it was included more in the book but I have a feeling it will be featured more in the next book. The reason I feel that way is because of certain events that happened towards the back of the book.

The end of the book was pretty gruesome and, to be honest, drug out a bit. I was a little surprised at who the killer was (see above). I will say that Maggie got the short end of the stick, again and that Jack seemed like he was softening up towards her.

How many stars will I give Unpunished: 4

Why: While I really liked the book, I do wish I had read book 1 before reading this one. Other than that, the book was great. The characters were engaging, the mystery was pretty good (had me going for a little while) and the thriller parts of the book were very well written. I do wish that more attention was paid towards Jack and him being a vigilante but at the same time, I do think that it would have taken away from the main storyline (the killings of newspaper employees).

Will I reread: Yes but only after reading book 1.

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Violence and language

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

House of Silence by [Barthel, Sarah]

4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: December 27th, 2016

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin’s future—like that of every young woman—hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle’s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiancé commit a horrific crime—and no one believes her.
 
Gregory denies all, and Isabelle’s mother insists she marries as planned rather than drag them into a scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband’s assassination.
 
In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.
 
Weaving together a thread of finely tuned suspense with a fascinating setting and real-life figures, Sarah Barthel’s debut is historical fiction at its most evocative and compelling.


My review:

Isabelle is the envy of all the girls in Oak Park. She has caught the eye of handsome Gregory Gallagher, and he proposed to her. In an age where marriages are usually treated as business contracts, she considers herself lucky that she loves Gregory, and he loves her.

The night of her engagement party, Isabelle is ecstatic but, at the same time, worried about her friend Lucy. Lucy was too supposed to elope with her true love, Patrick, against the wishes of her mother. Isabelle was surprised when she sees Lucy at her engagement party. As soon as she can, Isabelle speaks to Lucy and finds out that Patrick was called out-of-town to tend to his sick mother. Lucy is understandably upset and resigned to the fact that her mother will marry her off to the highest bidder.

Isabelle is half listening to Lucy when she sees Gregory heading out to the garden. She decides to follow him and finds him talking to a servant girl in the garden. When she asks who that was, he explains that she was a servant girl, and she wanted to speak to him in the garden about a misunderstanding. Isabelle (who is a smart cookie) doesn’t quite believe him and follows him back to the party.

The next day, Isabelle is on her way lunch with her mother after a morning full of appointments. Her maid tells her that someone wants to have a word with her and asks Isabelle to pretend to miss a glove. The person who wants to meet her, the girl from the night before.

What Isabelle hears from the girl throws doubt on her relationship with Gregory. The girl, Katerina, tells Isabelle that she knew Gregory when he was growing up in Joliet, and she wants Isabelle to give him a message. Isabelle tells her she must have the wrong Gregory, but she will be happy to deliver the message for her. The girl is upset but doesn’t say any more.

She does tell Gregory and he reconfirmed that he doesn’t know her, which puts Isabelle at ease. A few days later, Isabelle decides to visit her maid, Abigail, at her house to give her a basket full of fruit, muffins, and tea to thank her for helping her pick out the dress. When Abigail is bringing the basket into the house, Isabelle is left outside, kicking stones. One of the stones goes several houses down, and she follows it. Isabelle hears Gregory and Katerina yelling. She goes to look in the front window, and what she sees terrifies her. She watches as Gregory strangles Katerina to death.

Traumatized by what she has seen, Isabelle stays where she was until dusk. She goes to look at the body and almost gets caught by Gregory when he comes back to move Katerina. Isabelle leaves the house and heads towards Abigail’s house, where she promptly passes out after twisting her ankle. When she comes too, she tries to tell her mother and Dr what she has seen. But they don’t believe her. Her mother tells her that Isabelle must have made it up, that Gregory is a good boy, and that Isabelle is lucky to be marrying him.

After having several run-ins with her mother and Gregory, Isabelle decides that going to a sanitarium would be the best thing for her. So she goes voluntarily mute and starts throwing horrible fits. The next day she was on her way there.

The sanitarium that she goes to is called the Bellevue Sanitarium. While residing there, Isabelle meets some colorful people but none more unusual than Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of Abraham Lincoln. She is admitted shortly after Isabelle, and soon the two of them are friends.

I liked Isabelle. She was so stubborn, and she stood by her story, even if it meant pretending to be insane to avoid marrying Gregory. I felt terrible for her because her mother should have believed her. During those scenes, I wanted to reach through the book and hug her.

Isabelle’s mother was one of the worse characters I have read in a book in a long time. I couldn’t stand her. She was very self-centered. I seriously wanted to smack her. She didn’t even pretend to care about Isabelle.

Historically, the book was on point. The author did a great job of adapting the time Mary Todd Lincoln spent in the Bellevue Sanitarium (and she did) into an excellent thriller.

There wasn’t a mystery to this book, though. You know everything upfront. But it was a mystery as to what Gregory would do when he finally got a hold of Isabelle.

The end of the book was great but somewhat predictable. I thought the girl power element was significant. I did feel bad for Gregory when everything was revealed, though.


I would give House of Silence an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread House of Silence. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**