Mystery in the Hill by Aaron Qualio

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Book Cover

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc.

Date of publication: March 13th 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Young Adult

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo |Google Play

Goodreads Synopsis:

A small Wisconsin town is shaken to its core when four high school boys stumble upon an unexpected discovery. As past and present secrets are exposed, more unsolved mysteries are revealed, leading to more danger than anyone could have ever imagined.


First Line:

It was the last period of the school day on a Friday in mid-May at Ashbelle High School, and the seniors in Mr. Winters’s U.S. History class were pretty much checked out just like seniors all over the coutry were this close to graduation-“senioritis” they called it.

mystery in the hill by aaron qualio

When I read the blurb for Mystery in the Hill, I was interested. I knew that I wanted to read this mystery. I am glad that I read it, but I felt that it fell short of my expectations.

Mystery in the Hill is a fast-paced book. It starts fast and keeps the pace up throughout the book. There is a tiny bit of lag in the middle of the book, but it wasn’t enough to distract me from the book.

Mystery in the Hill has dual timelines going on. The book went between 1997 and 1944. There were also dual plotlines going on. While the 1997 plotline dealt with the mystery of why a door was buried in the hill above the high school, the 1944 plotline dealt with three men stealing something that could get them in a lot of trouble. I had no issues going between the different timelines or keeping track of what was going on in each one. The author made that very easy.

I did feel that there were a lot of extras added to the plotline. I understand why the author did that (he wanted to flesh out the plotline and the characters), but I felt that it took away from the book.

I didn’t feel that the characters were as fleshed out as they could be. There were times where they felt flat, and their interactions felt forced. I couldn’t form an attachment to any of them.

I did like the mystery angle of the book. While the author didn’t hide anything (except what happened to the police officer in 1944), I still enjoyed reading that angle. For me, it was more of when is everything going to happen than who did it.

The end of Mystery in the Hill was interesting. The author was able to wrap up the plotlines in a way that satisfied me as a reader.

Our Trespasses: A Paranormal Thriller by Michael Cordell

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Publisher: TCK Publishing

Date of publication: October 15th, 2021

Genre: Paranormal, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

Deliver us from evil…

Drowning in a meaningless existence flipping burger, Matthew Davis suddenly collapses from a powerful psychic connection he shares with his twin brother, Jake. The pain is violent and immediate, and Matt knows exactly what it means… hundreds of miles away, Jake has been viciously killed. But instead of severing their connection, the murder intensifies it and Matt begins to suffer the agony of Jake’s afterlife.

Hell-bent on solving Jake’s murder in order to break the connection, Matt travels to his troubled hometown of Hatchett, Nebraska, where an old lover and savage new enemies expose the festering wounds that Jake left behind.

Matt tries atoning for Jake’s sins, but when a demon infests the connection between the two brothers, Matt must find a way to sever their bond before his world, and ours, become engulfed in the flames of hell.

Fans of Stephen King’s The Outsider, Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist will find this new paranormal thriller impossible to put down.


First Line

Ruth stood at her ironing board, working her way through a pile of clothes in the bottomless laundry basket at her feet, mindlessly sweeping the iron back and forth across a blue denim work shirt, breaking her rythmn only to fire shots of steam at particularly stubborn wrinkles.

our trespasses: a paranormal thriller by michael cordell

When I read the blurb for Our Trespasses, I knew that I wanted no needed to read this book. Being in a read/blogging slump, I wanted a book that could pull me out of it. I couldn’t put it down!!!

Our Trespasses was that book.

Our Trespasses is the story of Matthew. Matthew had left his small town in Nebraska for college in New York City. In the ten years since he left, Matthew is barely surviving and working dead-end jobs. He doesn’t visit and barely talks to his mother and brother, Jake, with whom he shares a psychic link. One night, Matthew’s psychic connection with his brother flares up, and he knows without a doubt that Jake is dead. Going back home, Matthew realizes two things. Jake was not the person he knew ten years ago and their psychic bond is as strong as it was when Jake was alive. Matthew realizes that he needs to beg forgiveness from everyone that Jake hurt, but that is easier said than done. He also needs to solve Jake’s murder. Because, before his death, Jake had made some powerful enemies, and they will do anything to keep Matthew from finding out the truth.

Our Trespasses did start on the slow side, but I didn’t mind it. The author chose to lay the groundwork for the entire book in those chapters. Once the author took care of that, then the book took off. The chapters flew by, and I couldn’t put it down.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about Matthew when the book started. He was living a blah life and seemed so depressed. He didn’t have any strong emotions when Jake died, which struck me as weird as the time (explained further in the book). But once he went home to Nebraska, Matthew came into his own. He was willing to do whatever it took to find Jake’s murderer and right the wrongs that Jake did. He wanted to make things right with his mother and Casey (the girl he left behind). By the end of the book, he ended up being one of my favorite characters.

The paranormal angle of the book was very well written, and I liked that the author took the twin bond and stepped it up a notch. What I enjoyed about that angle is that the author eased into it. First, it was the psychic twin bond, and then it ramped up from there. The scenes toward the end of the book (with the sheriff, Bone, Matthew, and Casey) were some of the creepiest that I have ever read. I still get chills thinking about it.

I liked that the author didn’t make excuses for Jake. He wasn’t a good man, and he did some pretty horrible things when he was alive. I wouldn’t say I liked that Jake’s descent into the criminal lifestyle was blamed on Matthew’s leaving. I got so angry when Ruth said that (of course, it was before I figured out what was going on). Jake was a big boy and made his choices.

There were several memorable characters in Our Trespasses. Andrew, the Catholic priest, stood out the most to me. Mainly because of what he confessed to Matthew after the funeral. I sat there and thought to myself, “WTF,” and then laughed about it. Talking about living the dream…lol.

There are a couple of twists in the plot. One I saw coming from the scene when Matthew met those two people. I had alarm bells going off in my head, which in turn ended up being true. The other twist did take me by surprise. I didn’t see it coming (but I should have, looking back on it).

The end of Our Trespasses was a bit of a surprise (see above), but I enjoyed it. The author was able to wrap all the plotlines up in a way that satisfied me.

The Last Guest by Tess Little

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Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible |B&N |World Cat


Goodreads Synopsis:

A glamorous birthday dinner in the Hollywood Hills ends with the famous host dead and every guest under suspicion in this dark, cinematic suspense debut reminiscent of an Agatha Christie page-turner crossed with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

When actress Elspeth Bell attends the fiftieth birthday party of her ex-husband Richard Bryant, the Hollywood director who launched her career, all she wants is to pass unnoticed through the glamorous crowd in his sprawling Los Angeles mansion. Instead, there are just seven other guests–and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank as the intimate party grows more surreal (and rowdy) by the hour. Come morning, Richard is dead–and all of the guests are suspects.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new partner, the manager, the cinematographer, and even Elspeth herself. What starts out as a locked-room mystery soon reveals itself to be much more complicated, as dark stories from Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage that she vowed never to revisit. Elspeth begins to wonder not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would desire to possess a creature as mysterious and unsettling as Persephone.

The Last Guest is a stylish exploration of power–the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.


First Line:

We believed he had died from an overdose. There was no reason to suspect otherwise: limbs limp on the couch; pink vomit splattered across his shirt, dribbling from the corners of his mouth; the Gucci belt, the residue-stained needles – our own memories, in flashes and throbs and waves.

the last guest by tess little

When I read the blurb for The Last Guest, I was intrigued. I couldn’t wait to read a book where the mystery was laid out initially, and untangling what happened would take the whole book. Then, I read the book, and I wasn’t that thrilled with it.

The synopsis for The Last Guest was this: Elspeth was invited to her ex-husband’s, Richard, birthday party. She went only because their teenaged daughter, Lillie, was supposed to be there. But, Lillie was a no-show. Elspeth decided to make the best of it and woke up to her ex dead of an apparent heroin overdose the following day. But the police are not too sure that it was an accident and are interviewing everyone there. What happened the night of the party? Was Richard killed? Who would want him dead? Or was his death a tragic accident?

The plotline for The Last Guest was challenging to follow. The plotline went from the death to the past to the present and then back with zero lead-ins. I would be reading a paragraph that took place the night of Richard’s death, and then the next would be Elspeth sitting in her daughter’s house. It was confusing to read and frustrated me.

I couldn’t get a feel as to who killed Richard and why. Everyone at that party had an ax to grind with him. Richard was not a good or nice man. He made it to the top of the Hollywood hierarchy by being ruthless. Hell, even the octopus, Persephone, had reason to kill him. So, when the author finally revealed the details of his death, I wasn’t surprised at all.

I liked Elspeth, but her covering for Richard after he died left a bad taste in my mouth. She lied to everyone about him, including her daughter. But, as details came out about how badly she was abused, I did understand why she lied to Lillie. I didn’t know why she kept lying to everyone else. The end did little to soothe me. It seemed like it was too little too late.

The suspense angle of the book was good, but it was broken up when the book swung between present and past. A promising storyline with the housekeeper fizzled out (I wanted to know why she hated Elspeth so much).

The mystery angle was just as good but again, kept getting broken up with the book swinging between present and past.

The end of The Last Guest was a little “eh.” I understand why Elspeth decided to do what she did, but it was too little too late. I also got a little emotional with what happened to Persephone.


I would recommend The Last Guest to anyone over the age of 21. There is language, violence, and drug use.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

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Publisher: Macmillan/Tor, Tor Nightfire

Date of Publication: September 28th, 2021

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible |WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…


First Line:

Today is the anniversary of Little Girl With Popsicle. It happened by the lake, eleven years ago—she was there, and then she wasn’t.

the last house on needless street by catriona ward

I have had Catriona Ward on my reading radar for a long time but have never gotten around to reading her books. That all changed when I got an email from NetGalley for The Last House on Needless Street promoting the book was “Read Now” for the first 100 members. I jumped on that. I am glad that I did, even if this book was one of the more disturbing books I have read to date.

I wish I could get into more of the plotline, but I will stick with a fundamental outline. Ted is a loner who lives in a rundown house. He was also a former suspect in the kidnapping of Lulu 11 years earlier but had an alibi. Dee is Lulu’s sister, and she is convinced that Ted is behind Lulu’s disappearance. So she rents the house next door to him and spies on him. But not everything is what it seems. What happened to Lulu? Who is being kept in the freezer? Why can’t Olivia go outside?

I had a bit of a problem trying to figure out how I would review The Last House on Needless Street. Why do you ask? Because anything I write or want to reveal could potentially be a spoiler.

I am going to warn everyone; this is a very dark book. This book is one of the darkest books that I have read in a long time. It took me a while to process it after I was done reading because of everything that happened. I suggest that if you do decide to read the book, that you do with an open mind because nothing is what it seems!!

This book does start weirdly, and it stays that way while the author introduces the main characters (Ted, Dee, and Olivia). Once the introductions are made, the book does even out some and stays that way until about the middle of the book. That is when the first of several shocking twists are introduced.

The pacing of The Last House on Needless Street was fast. There was a slight lag in the middle of the book (when Ted was meeting with his Dr), but it wasn’t enough to throw the reader off track. The author kept up the fast pace until the end.

The end of The Last House on Needless Street played mind games with me. Everything that I thought about the book was turned on end. I was not expecting what was revealed, and it shocked me. I had to sit and think about what happened before I wrote this review. Also, do NOT skip the author’s note. It sheds so much light on everything.


I would recommend The Last House on Needless Street to anyone over the age of 21. There is no sex, but there is violence and language.

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

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The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: August 17th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Google Play | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received: From Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse has a lot to learn when it comes to the real world. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has spent the last several years living on her own, but unable to move beyond her past—especially the disappearance of her twin brother Andy when they were sixteen.

With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.

Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual ways. Her brother Charlie pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister Tate forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic façade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.


First Line:

My parents named me Dahlia, after the Black Dahlia – that actress whose body was cleaved in half, left in grass as sharp as scalpels, a permanent smiled sliced into her face – and when I first learned her story at for years old, I assumed a knife would one day carve me up.

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Review:

The Family Plot centers around an eccentric family, the Lighthouses. The parents named the children after famous victims of killings (Charles Lindbergh (Charlie), Sharon Tate (Tate), Andrew Borden (Andy), and The Black Dahlia (Dahlia)). They were kept isolated from the island community and were homeschooled on a….different….curriculum. It all consisted of true crimes, their victims, and their murderers. It was an unconventional upbringing.

The book starts with the death of Dahlia’s father, which brings her, Charlie, and Tate home. Andy has been missing for ten years. Dahlia, Andy’s twin, is hoping that he will show up. But that hope is dashed when the groundskeeper finds a body buried in what will be her father’s grave. That body ends up being Andy, and finding his body opens up Pandora’s box for the entire family.

Dahlia is determined to find out what happened to Andy. But her investigating uncovers a more profound and more disturbing mystery. That mystery is connected to a serial killer operating on the island. The more Dahlia digs, the more evidence she uncovers that Andy’s death is somehow connected to that serial killer. But how and why? What is revealed at the end of the book will shock even the most hardened person.


As I mentioned above, the main characters in The Family Plot are the Lighthouses. Charlie, Tate, Dahlia, and Andy with their mother, father (in spirit), ex-police chief, current police chief, Dahlia’s best friend, Andy’s girlfriend, and the groundskeeper being major secondary characters. Each one of these characters was written beautifully and had their voice that was heard.

Now, saying that I do want to touch on how messed up the Lighthouse family was. Each person had their issues. I will say that I thought Dahlia was the most “normal” person in the family. Tate had social problems. Charlie was an alcoholic (among other things), Andy had anger and cruelty issues (told through mini-flashbacks), and the mother, well, I am not going to say what they were because her problems are critical to the plotline. As the book goes on, the dysfunction in this family doesn’t lessen. Instead, it gets worse. I have never read a book where this happened, and I loved it.

As much as I loved the characters, I didn’t exactly like the lack of depth. The book is told in 1st person, through Dahlia’s eyes, but I felt that I didn’t get to know her. Same with Charlie, Andy, and Tate. This is the one time that I think that multiple POVs would have helped.


The plotline for The Family Plot was fast-moving and well written. But it did lag in the middle. While the lag wasn’t enough to derail the plotline, it was enough to bog it down. Plus, I felt that there was too much extra at that point in the book. Honestly, I didn’t care about the stalkerish ex-police chief or his son, the current police chief. I also didn’t care for Ruby’s smothering grandfather. I get why the author did but still. It was a distraction. I wanted to know more about Dahlia’s upbringing. I would have loved to read a snippet of a murder report.

The mystery angle of the book was on point. The author threw out so many red herrings that I second-guessed myself over who the serial killer was. I also couldn’t figure out who killed Andy and why.

I do want to touch on the true-crime angle. I thought it was well written and inventive for the author to have it used as part of a homeschooling curriculum. I am a true crime fanatic, and I recognized several of the names used in the book (aside from who the kids were named after). But, there were also names that I didn’t recognize, and I had to google.

I was shocked at the events that led to Andy being killed than who killed him. I can safely say that I didn’t see it coming. I had to put my Kindle down to process the revelation and then keep on reading. My only complaint is that the confession and the aftermath seemed a little rushed.

The end of the book didn’t sit right with me. Like I mentioned above, there was a huge reveal, and then it just tapered off. I was expecting another twist or something like that to happen. That drove me nuts!!! I would have loved to see something bigger happen than what did.


I loved reading The Family Plot. It was an engaging mystery/thriller that kept me guessing who did it until the end.

I would recommend The Family Plot to anyone over the age of 21. There are numerous mentions of true crime stories. There are reenactments of how people died, often gruesome. There are descriptions of a serial killer and how the victims were killed. There are scenes of extreme grief.

The Dare by Lesley Kara

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Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: August 3rd 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Link: Amazon | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.

‘This time it’s different. She’s gone too far now.
She really has.’

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .


First Line:

She’d created a little altar on the chest of drawers in her bedroom.

The Dare by Lesley Kara

I am a big fan of mystery/thriller books. They make up 80% of the books that I read and review. So, when I had gotten the review request for The Dare, it was an immediate acceptance.

The plotline for The Dare was interesting. Alice and Lizzie were best friends, and they did everything together. But, when Alice died, Alice’s family blamed Lizzie for her death. Why? She was found having a seizure by the train tracks and had no memory of the events before Alice’s death. Alice’s family blamed her, but Lizzie never forgave herself. Twelve years later, Lizzie still has no memories of Alice’s death, but she has moved on with her life. Her epilepsy is under control, and she is engaged to a wonderful man. But, as she’s unpacking, she comes across a box that stirs up memories. What happened the day Alice died? Was Lizzie at fault? And who is trying to get at the truth? Will it cost Lizzie everything that she has worked so hard for?

I am not overly familiar with epilepsy or how it affects the brain. So, I thought using it as part of the plotline was fascinating. Lizzie could not remember what happened after she left her house with Alice. All she knows is that she was with her, and then she was on the ground, being tended to by EMTs. A massive chunk of time was missing, and Lizzie could not tell people what happened to Alice because she didn’t know. Like I said earlier in this paragraph, it was fascinating.

Lizzie made for an interesting main character. She had lost her closest friend to a horrible accident, and Alice’s family blamed her for it. Lizzie had to live with a debilitating illness and hope that the medications she’s taking will curb the seizures. But she had done well with her life. She had a fiancee who cherished her and parents who loved her. Her outlook on life was good. But then, life starts to go sideways for her. It was how she dealt with everything that struck me (in a good way).

Parts of the book were written from the angle of an unknown person. It starts when this person was a child and goes to when they are an adult. I was surprised at who that person was (the author does reveal it halfway through the book). I was even more surprised at what that person was going to do.

The mystery angle of the book was well written. There were a couple of mystery angles. One is the obvious one (did Lizzie kill Alice). The other is what is Catherine’s plan (I did figure that out). And the third angle (which was introduced halfway through the book) deals with Lizzie, her mother, and secrets that her mother had been keeping. They were all wrapped up at the end of the book, and the author did it in such a way that you couldn’t help but pity everyone involved.

The suspense angle of the book was also well written. It was closely tied in with the mystery angle and complimented it. I was kept on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what would happen next.

The end of The Dare was good. There was a twist in the storyline that made me go, “Whoa.” I didn’t see it coming, and it surprised me (in a good way). It was also bittersweet because of what was revealed.


I would recommend The Dare to anyone over the age of 21. There is mild language, violence, and sexual situations.

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron

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Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: July 27th 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

A young woman’s escalating obsession with a seemingly perfect man leads her down a dangerous path in this novel of suspense brimming with envy, desire, and deception.

Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul. Emails are.

Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking–love, friends, stability–and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.

While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn’t read them. But it’s just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can’t look away.

Every day, twenty floors below Forest’s corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.

Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a “chance” meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she’s been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn’t simply admire Annabelle–she wants to take her place. And she’s armed with the tools to make that happen.


First Line:

As I stepped off the elevator on the second floor, I found myself silently begging for a calamity.

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron

I was super excited to start reading Just One Look. The blurb did its job and hooked me. I needed to know what happened to Cassie and where her fixation was going with Forest/Annabelle.

Just One Look had an exciting plotline. Cassie is a disgraced lawyer who is now working as a temp in another law firm. Her job at the temp agency is to read through emails and see if they are relevant to the fraud suit. By accident, Cassie reads an email from a hotshot lawyer named Forest to his wife Annabelle and becomes obsessed. Her obsession takes her down a dangerous path, where she finds that not all is what it seems. That what is read in an email isn’t exactly the whole truth.

The plotline for Just One Look was medium-paced. There was a lot of time explaining the fraud case and the inner workings of firms (which I had zero interest in). That did slow down the plot at the beginning of the book. Cassie’s vague references to what happened to her months earlier also dragged down the pace for me. “The Incident” was not fully explained until halfway through the book. Until then, it was up to me to imagine what happened (and no, it was nothing like I imagined). There was also some lag in the middle of the book (right around when Dalton died). But that lag didn’t last long. The author was able to get the book back on track.

Cassie was a hot mess and she knew it. She drank too much and she obsessed over her ex-boyfriend. She also looked down on her coworkers (mainly because she was once a hotshot lawyer). I found her annoying and immature for most of the book. But, when her obsession with Forest/Annabelle started, I knew I was in for a ride. And man, what a ride it was.

The mystery angle of the book was well written. What happened and who killed Dalton took me by surprise. There were also two twists in the plotline that made my mouth drop. I called one of them but the other I didn’t.

The stalker angle of the book was very creepy to read. I understood why Cassie latched onto Forest/Annabelle. But as that storyline progressed, I was mentally telling her to stop. It didn’t surprise me when that storyline ended the way it did. It made for some great, tense reading, but no surprise on my end.

The end of the book was anti-climatic after the explosive ending to the stalker and mystery angles. I didn’t quite understand why the author chose to go the route she did, but in the end, I was happy she did it. I like seeing what happens after a character goes through what Cassie did. But it also showed that no matter how much someone tries to change, they are the same person deep down.


I would recommend Just One Look to anyone over the age of 21. There are sexual situations, mild violence, mild language, and alcohol use/abuse.

Evil Eye: A Slasher Story by April A. Taylor

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Publisher: Midnight Grasshopper Books

Date of publication: August 3rd 2021

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

During the eye of a hurricane, evil strikes.

Six strangers get stuck on an island during a roaring hurricane. They have nothing in common, but five of them will have to join forces to survive the night. Meanwhile, the sixth wants nothing more than to kill every single one of them.

Join Annette, Chad, Heather, Spencer, and Kate on the worst night of their lives. Can they survive or will the killer maniacally laugh while eviscerating them? Filled with gore, terror, and the little moments between humans that can make or break their budding friendships.


First Line:

Annette tried to coax her vehicle into starting, but it was having none of it.

Evil Eye: A Slasher Story by April A. Taylor

I will be very blunt; I am not a big fan of slasher books (or films, if I am brutally honest). I surprised myself when I agreed to review the book after I had read the blurb. I was in the mood to read something different. And this book was different. A good difference, and I am glad that I read it.

The plotline for Evil Eye was simple. An island in Florida was evacuating due to an incoming hurricane. Once everything was cleared, six people were left on the island and a killer who has plans for them. After herding them together, the killer slowly picks them off, one by one. Who will survive? And why are they being targeted?

Evil Eye had a very fast-moving plotline with no lag. That surprised me. I thought that there would be at least some lag when everyone got together, but the author kept the plotline zipping along. I loved it!!

I will admit that I wished there was more time to introduce the characters and maybe get more background. But, I realized that that wasn’t going to happen pretty early in the book, and I was OK with it.

Because this is a horror book (based on slasher films), there is much gore. It starts pretty early in the book, and the killer is very creative with how he kills his victims.

The author did a great job of keeping who the killer was and why those people were singled out under wraps. There were a couple of twists to that plotline that made me scream when they were revealed!!!

The end of Evil Eye was part of those twists that made me scream. Not only was it a cliffhanger, but there was a big reveal that made me scream (see above). I was taken aback by what was revealed and by the phone call!!


I would recommend Evil Eye to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, gore, and mild language.

A Dead Man’s Eyes (Lisa Jamison: Book 1) by Lori Duffy Foster

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Publisher: Level Best Books

Date of publication: April 13th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Series: Lisa Jamison

A Dead Man’s Eyes—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books

Format Read: ARC

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

Lisa Jamison has done well for a single mom who got pregnant at fifteen.
She’s a reporter at a well-respected newspaper and her teenage daughter is both an athlete and honors student. Though their relationship is rocky these days, Lisa has accomplished what she set out to do. She has given her daughter the kind of life she never had.
But all that changes when Lisa sees her daughter in the eyes of a dead man.
The cops call it a drug killing, but Lisa doesn’t believe it. She knows her ex-boyfriend was no drug dealer even though she hadn’t seen him in sixteen years. Lisa ignores warnings from her medical-examiner friend. She fails to heed barely veiled threats from the sheriff of a neighboring county. Instead, she risks her life and the lives of her daughter and their closest friend on a dangerous quest for answers.
The investigation leaves Lisa fighting for her family in a morbid, black market world she never knew existed. She learns that trust is complicated and that she, despite her cynical nature, has been blind. She trusted the wrong people and now she might have to pay with her life.


First Line:

It pays to be friends with the medical examiner.

A Dead Man’s Eyes by Lori Duffy Foster

I was intrigued when I read the plot for A Dead Man’s Eyes. A reporter shows up at the city morgue to view the body of a man she hadn’t seen in 16 years. That man is her ex-boyfriend and the father of her 15-year-old daughter. When told that his death was drug-related, she refuses to believe it. That starts her down a path where she soon finds that trusting the wrong people will kill her and the people she loves. Can she find out why he was killed?

A Dead Man’s Eyes is the first book in the Lisa Jamison series. Since it is the first book in a series, readers can read it as a standalone.

A Dead Man’s Eyes does get off to a somewhat slow start and stays medium pace until a little past halfway through the book. Don’t let the slow start and the pacing fool you; the author packs a lot into those chapters. Once Lisa watches the DVD, and the incident happens at the animal clinic, the book picks up pace. That pace doesn’t let up until the end, and then it explodes into something huge. Something I didn’t see coming and took me 100% by surprise.

I admired Lisa. She had overcome so much in her life to get to where she was now. She was the child of addicts and a teenage mother. She had made a good life for herself as a reporter. But, I wasn’t surprised when she decided to investigate Marty’s death. I mean, he was the father of her child. I would have done the same thing. I also like that while she was tough, she was also vulnerable. While it didn’t show at the beginning of the book, her vulnerability showed in the middle and end.

The mystery angle of the book was well written and gripping. The author did a fantastic job of keeping who killed Marty under wraps until the explosive climax. I couldn’t put the book down; it was that good.

I will warn that there is some gore in the book. There are a couple of scenes that made me shudder while reading them. The author also has in-depth explanations about the black market for human body parts. It was eye-opening and saddening.

The book didn’t end when the killers were caught. Nope. Instead, it amped up for a second, slightly less explosive climax. I figured something would happen with that person; I wasn’t expecting what happened to happen (if you know what I mean).

I am looking forward to reading book 2, even though the author didn’t leave any clue about what it was going to be about.


I would recommend A Dead Man’s Eyes to anyone over the age of 21. There is language. There is violence.

The Sinful Live of Trophy Wives by Kristin Miller

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The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives by Kristin Miller

Publisher: Random House Publishing Books – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: July 20th, 2021

Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | World Cat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Got Book From: Publisher

Trigger Warnings: Domestic Violence, Cheating


Goodreads Synopsis:

Mystery writer Brooke Davies is the new wife on the block. Her tech-billionaire husband, Jack, twenty-two years her senior, whisked her to the Bay Area via private jet and purchased a modest mansion on the same day. He demands perfection, and before now, Brooke has had no problem playing the role of a doting housewife. But as she befriends other wives on the street and spends considerable time away from Jack, he worries if he doesn’t control Brooke’s every move, she will reveal the truth behind their “perfect” marriage.

Erin King, famed news anchor and chair of the community board, is no stranger to maintaining an image–though being married to a plastic surgeon helps. But the skyrocketing success of her career has worn her love life thin, and her professional ambitions have pushed Mason away. Quitting her job is a Hail Mary attempt at keeping him interested, to steer him away from finding a young trophy wife. But is it enough, and is Mason truly the man she thought he was?

Georgia St. Claire allegedly cashed in on the deaths of her first two husbands, earning her the nickname “Black Widow”–and the stares and whispers of her curious neighbors. Rumored to have murdered both men for their fortunes, she claims to have found true love in her third marriage, yet her mysterious, captivating allure keeps everyone guessing. Then a tragic accident forces the residents of Presidio Terrace to ask: Has Georgia struck again? And what is she really capable of doing to protect her secrets?


First Line:

Pain is the first thing I remember.

The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives by Kristin Miller

Review:

I will be the first one to admit this: I judged The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives by the title of the book. Since Kristin Miller is a new author to me, I assumed that this book would be something like Joan Collins writes. So I wasn’t surprised when I started reading TSLOTW and realized that this book was nothing like Joan Collin’s books. Instead, this was a psychological thriller.

The Sinful Lives of Trophy Lives follows three women: Brooke, Erin, and Georgia. Brooke moves into the gated community with her husband, Jack. Erin is married to Mason and has just quit her job to focus on her marriage. Georgia, also known as “Black Widow” because of the deaths of her previous husbands, is engaged to be married. There are dark secrets that the three women keep. These secrets could destroy lives if revealed. What are they, and will they be revealed?

The plot for The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives is fast-paced. This book starts with a literal bang and doesn’t stop until the last page. The author was able to keep the pacing of the book up, even with the three separate POVs. I loved it!! I also loved that there was a slight lag too.

I loved Brooke, Erin, and Georgia, and I loved how the author kept me on edge with their characters. Just when I thought I knew those ladies, the author threw a tidbit or had them do something that made me go, “Really!!” It made for a good read because I didn’t know how these characters would end up.

The mystery/thriller angle of the book was well written. There were red herrings all over the place, and nothing was what it seemed. As soon as I thought I figured out what was going on, the author did a 180 and changed things. I loved it!!!

The secondary characters made the book too. Mason, Jack, and so many others. There were ones I loved and ones that I loathed.

There was a secondary storyline that involved Brooke and her past. I did predict what happened, but I didn’t expect what grew out of it. That took me by surprise!!

I wasn’t surprised at what was revealed about the deaths of Georgia’s husbands. I guessed that pretty early in the book. But I was surprised at who was involved and why that person got involved. So that made me look at that character differently.

I am going to warn that domestic violence is discussed at various points. For example, there are scenes where a woman gets beat by her husband in front of a child and another scene of a husband smacking his wife where the bruises couldn’t be seen and covered up with makeup.

The end of The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives was insane. I almost couldn’t keep up with everything that the book revealed. There was a huge twist that shocked me. I did not see it coming, and it blindsided me. But, once it was announced, it made perfect sense.


I enjoyed reading The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives. This book hooked me from page one, and I couldn’t put it down.

I would recommend The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives to anyone over the age of 21. There are trigger warnings, which I discussed above. They are domestic violence and cheating. There are also scenes of pill-popping, sexual harassment (Erin’s male boss told her to get on her knees and beg for her job), and lots of drinking.