Hearing Evil: Cycle of Evil, Book 2

Author: Jason Parent
Book Name: Hearing Evil
Series: Cycle of Evil
Order: 2
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Crime
Rating:  Good

3+stars

Blurb:

Michael Turcotte wants nothing to do with his so-called gift—the ability to see other people’s fates simply by touching them. Michael decides to spend his summer searching for answers about his past. He can’t rest without the sounds of forgotten tragedy echoing through his dreams, but reconstructing his memories will come with a whole new set of problems even he can’t foresee.

Detective Samantha Reilly has always looked out for Michael, but now that she’s taken him into her home, she fears her maternal instincts are lacking. When a brutal gang sets off a chain reaction of crimes, Sam struggles to choose between the two most important things in her life: her job and her new foster son. Fate intervenes when Michael is kidnapped, forcing her two roles to collide.

As Michael’s past meets Sam’s present, their bond will be tested while a city crumbles around them. They’ll need all their skills and a lot of luck in order to survive.

While the first book in this series deals with the concept of the paranormal, its focus leaned more heavily towards the crime aspects and the gruesomeness of those crimes. This book heads deeper into the paranormal and steps away from the gruesome and the crime. Personally, I was a bit relieved by that.

At the same time, I didn’t like this one as much as the first because that shift more towards the paranormal brings with it an even bigger leap into over the top situations and scenarios, losing some of its grip on reality and believability. It is incredibly difficult to marry paranormal with realism, especially if you are going to focus on things like crimes and police work. There has to be a solid foundation in reality to be able to pull that off in a believable way for a reader. I think this one took several of the scenarios too far out of the bounds of being able to suspend disbelief.

Top that off with a story line that seems overly complicated and disparate at times, I struggled to really get to the point behind a lot of what was going on. I understand that this book is built in such a way to create a foundation (and what seems to be a very elaborate one at that) for future books, but it all just got to be a bit too much for me as I’m just not a huge fan of those types of stories.

**This book was provided to me in exchange for a review.**

Seeing Evil: Cycle of Evil, Book 1

Author: Jason Parent
Book Name: Seeing Evil
Series: Cycle of Evil
Order: 1
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Crime
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

Blurb: Fate in plain sight.

Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?

Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.

One of the first things that stood out to me in this book was the author’s ability to write in such a way to make it incredibly easy to visualize a scene. For me, that maybe wasn’t such a good thing because there are some seriously gruesome scenes in this book that are told in minute detail. For lovers of true thriller type novels where the more gruesome the better, that is probably a great thing.

As someone who enjoys crime dramas, I also have a few peeves about them. Mainly that they fall into a believable range with regards to following actual police procedure (or at least a semblance of it). This kind of pushed those boundaries for me just enough to make parts of this feel a bit too much. Yes, you have a paranormal aspect to the novel, but that doesn’t mean everything else can be fantasy and unreal. That said, though, I think for me it was probably a good thing that parts of this were unbelievable, otherwise this would have given me nightmares.

I liked Michael as a character and how he was presented with his ability worked for me, but I struggled to really get a good feel for who Sam is which made it harder to connect with her. I can’t say that I disliked her, but I don’t feel like there was enough of her in the story to find something to like about her either. Part of that for me was that her lack of procedure following made it difficult to understand her as a police officer or what drives her and motivates her decisions.

I don’t typically like straight up thriller/horror. There is a reason I don’t watch scary movies (nightmares are NOT something I enjoy). I love a good crime novel, suspense, mystery and even thrillers that run more towards the psychological rather than the straight up gore and terror, which made this one a little harder to review because, on a personal taste level, I didn’t enjoy those parts of the book. I even stopped a couple of times to mention to Hubby how sick something was. I do know that much of what I wasn’t a fan of would be pure gold to someone that loves that kind of thing.

**This book was provided to me in exchange for a review.**

Pretty Girls Dancing: Kylie Brant

Author: Kylie Brant
Book Name: Pretty Girls Dancing
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb: 

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

*Potential Spoilers*

For probably the first half of this book, I was pretty interested and enjoying the story, but it kind of started falling apart for me after that.

There is a lot of jumping between character POVs throughout the whole book. That didn’t bother me so much, but there were a couple of times that I was wondering why we were even getting that POV as it didn’t really seem to add much to the story.

I have two bigger issues with this though. One is the fact every single male character in this book was portrayed in a less than stellar light. All had aspects of sliminess to them that made them not very likable. All the women came across as extremely emotionally fragile and weak. When you pair those two together in ALL characters, it didn’t leave much to like other than the actual events of the story and figuring out the “who dunnit?” part.

That leads to my biggest problem with this story and the potential spoilers. Yes, I was a bit surprised by the end. No, I seriously didn’t like it, nor did I believe it. There was such a heavy emphasis throughout the whole story on making connections between the victims, trying to find the common ground in an effort to figure out why they were the ones taken. After all those threads get pulled, making some solid links and pointing in some real directions, you are suddenly tossed in a completely unrelated direction for the killer, leaving all those threads dangling and unresolved. When you finally get the bad guy reveal, you are never actually given that why or shown those links as to why those victims. All that had been brought up before? Apparently a bunch of nothing burgers dangled in front of the reader’s nose, not even important enough to close up to round out the story. The bad guy? Made no sense.

There were so many dangling threads that never got explained or resolved and the lack of tie in between the victims and the bad guy made the ending feel as though the reader had been cheated. It felt like the bait and switch of expecting a luxury sedan and you got a flashy, but cheap economy car instead.

The story concept was actually really good, but I didn’t like the character portrayal and I really didn’t like the ending, so… just okay on this one.

Dying Truth: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 8

Dying Truth
Dying Truth

Author: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Dying Truth
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #8
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


 

 

Blurb: How far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead.

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable – whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim.

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price.

Almost always, no matter the genre, by this point in a series an author has lost me for one reason or another. This one? She isn’t even close to losing me yet. I have literally JUST put this one down and I can’t wait to gorge myself on the next one.

I have always loved how this author tackles the different issues she brings up in the books in this series and this one is no different. There is an awesome balance of looking at those issues without falling into preaching or judging from either side. In this case, the focus being on the privilege of the moneyed and elite.

Kim’s character is still riding the edge of being a broken human with mountains of baggage, but still being compassionate and dragging herself forward one step at a time. This book continues to keep every character interaction solid and realistic within the team. Though I will say, without spoiling much, that I really wasn’t ready for how this ended. I was deeply shocked, but again, the author handled the whole situation in an awesomely realistic way.

As awesome as this book was, it is keeping this series solidly on my “buy on release day” list.

Our Little Secret: Roz Nay

Our Little Secret
Our Little Secret

Author: Roz Nay
Book Name: Our Little Secret
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Rating:  Really Good*/Didn’t Like*

4+stars

2+stars


 

Blurb:

Our Little Secret is a twisted tale of love, pain, and revenge that will stay with the reader long after they turn the last page.

They say you never forget your first love. What they don’t say though, is that sometimes your first love won’t forget you…

A police interview room is the last place Angela expected to find herself today. It’s been hours, and they keep asking her the same inane questions over and over. “How do you know the victim?” “What’s your relationship with Mr. Parker?” Her ex’s wife has gone missing, and anyone who was close to the couple is a suspect. Angela is tired of the bottomless questions and tired of the cold room that stays the same while a rotating litany of interrogators changes shifts around her. But when criminologist Novak takes over, she can tell he’s not like the others. He’s ready to listen, and she knows he’ll understand. When she tells him that her story begins a decade before, long before Saskia was in the picture, he gives her the floor.

A twenty-something young professional, Angela claims to have no involvement. How could she? It’s been years since she and H.P., Mr. Parker that is, were together. As her story unfolds, it deepens and darkens. There’s a lot to unpack… betrayal, jealousy, and a group of people who all have motives for retribution. If Angela is telling the truth, then who’s lying? 

Yes, I have two different star ratings on this. It was nearly impossible to rate this because I have two very different opinions on it.

This was truly very well written and well developed. The problem? I didn’t like it. Not because of poor quality or that it tripped any of my pet peeves, but because by the time I finished the book, I felt as though it had left a stain on me.

There is not a single likable character in the book. Again, not because they were poorly written, but because they all touch on some of the ugliest aspects of humanity , the ones that are subtle and insidious. At one point or another in the book, each character just felt as though they were coated in slime. Not necessarily evil, but ugly.

The story is interesting and intriguing, but along the lines of watching a train wreck. There is just not a single, genuinely positive thing that happens in the entire book. The tiny bits that seem to be good/happy/positive as you read them become tainted as the story moves along. Combine that with the truly unlikable, nearly vile characters, and no, I really didn’t like this, though I won’t completely ding the rating because of my personal tastes as this author is talented.

For those that enjoy that kind of a story, you will probably love this book. It just really wasn’t for me.

Butterfly Kisses: Detective Damien Drake, Book 1

Author: Patrick Logan
Book Name: Butterfly Kisses
Series: Detective Damien Drake
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: His hands are bound behind him, a crude butterfly drawn in blood on his bare back. He isn’t the first.

When a drug addict finds the body of a man in the basement of an abandoned warehouse in New York City, Detective Damien Drake is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim was a philanthropist, father, doting husband, and wealthy junior partner in one of the cities most respected law firms.

He seemed to have the perfect life.

Yet when Damien probes deeper, he realizes that this man isn’t the first. His investigation soon connects this murder with another in Montreal, both of which were emblazoned with the same bloody butterfly.

What dark secrets is the NYC lawyer hiding? And what is the significance of the butterfly?

As Damien inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on him… and those close to him.

Damien’s last case cost him his partner’s life. This case threatens not only his job, but his sanity, as well. And this time, the killer may even be smarter than he is.

One thing for certain is that if he doesn’t catch the killer soon, more people will die. The only question is, will the next victim be someone close to Detective Damien Drake?

Apparently I’m going to start the year off with a good old book bash. And not in a good way.

First off, if this book had an editor, they probably need to be looking for a new job. There were so many mistakes, glaringly obvious ones that should have been caught at even a rough read through, that I was constantly tripping over problems and forced to go back and reread sentences to try and figure out what was actually being said. There was no way I was going to sink into this book with those problems. I hate to harp on edits because mistakes get made, even with good editors, but when it is as bad as this, it kills the story.

Both of the main cop characters were horrifically bad. Drake was the stereotypical bad, drunk cop that truly had nothing at all likeable about him. He broke just about every single rule with regards to investigation and interviewing, to the point there is zero chance a reader is going to buy him as a cop who still has his job. Chase’s character isn’t any better, different issues, but equally bad. The bumbling of both of them killed what was left for me after I waded through the errors.

The basic idea behind the story is decent, but the follow through falls flat.

Close To Home: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 5

Author: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: Close To Home
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 5
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

While investigating the hit-and-run death of a young boy, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite makes a startling discovery: the suspect is an active-duty serviceman at a local naval base. After a key piece of case evidence goes missing, he is cleared of charges in a military court. But Tracy knows she can’t turn her back on this kind of injustice.

When she uncovers the driver’s ties to a rash of recent heroin overdoses in the city, she realizes that this isn’t just a case of the military protecting its own. It runs much deeper than that, and the accused wasn’t acting alone. For Tracy, it’s all hitting very close to home.

As Tracy moves closer to uncovering the truth behind this insidious conspiracy, she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

And there is my wall. Dammit! I was really hoping this author could pull it off and keep me going with a series, but this one fell down for me. I was actually kind of bored until about the 60% mark, which is a bit of a shock after how well I’ve liked the other books.

The biggest issue I had with this book was it felt horribly repetitive. It kept going over and over the exact same information on the case again and again. Once we are presented with something during the reveal of the crime, we don’t need it then talked about again in detail, then presented in court with the same level of detail and then talked about again between different characters, IN DETAIL. If you remove all the times the same stuff was presented here you would have a decent book that was about one third of this.

I’m also seeing a trend with the character or setting descriptions throughout the series. I get that you want to be able to say each book is a stand alone, but for readers that have been reading the series, we don’t need the… wait for it… exact same details (see a pattern there?) and descriptions every time one of those secondary characters or locations come into play again, especially when you see those same characters in nearly every book, sometimes more than once.

This also reached my max believability meter with the main character, yet again, being put in a life or death situation. EVERY BOOK. I’ve been able to swallow it because the author made the scenarios believable enough to work (mostly) up until this point, though I was pushed in the last one a bit. This time, the situation was just over the top ridiculous.

The finial part that dropped my rating way down on this one was the overly PSA/preachy feel to it. It was like reading medical journal article on opioids, addiction and their history. It was made worse by the blatant regurgitation of the popular, but false, belief that pot is a gateway drug. While I actually enjoy learning something new that I’d never run across before, I don’t need to be preached to or have your personal opinion pushed down my throat. It is one way to have a character have certain beliefs or a stance as that makes it part of that character, but to work it in as general facts in the book is preaching.

So, no. I wasn’t much of a fan of this one and that is just disappointing.

Stillhouse Lake: Stillhouse Lake, Book 1

Stillhouse LakeAuthor: Rachel Caine
Book Name: Stillhouse Lake
Series: Stillhouse Lake
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good*
4+stars


 

Blurb: Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Seriously?! Cliffhanger?! GRRRR!!!! I hate those with a passion! This book is a lesson to me to do a little deeper research into a book before I read it. I saw that this was a part of a series, but I didn’t really think about it for some reason (I normally dig when I see that) or I would have realized there was no way for this book to be self contained. I also didn’t realize (again, lack of research) that I’d read this author before with her Weather Warden series and found it beyond frustrating and never finished the series. If I’d known those things, I don’t think I ever would have read this.

That said, I did think this was a really great book. It pushes to just past the line of believability, but it makes up for it in the crazy, twisted, well thought out way the rest of it is written. I loved Gwen. She is kind of a badass. I want to be that kind of mom when I grow up. Really, if you look past the ugly, twisty that is the surface of the story, that is really what this book is about, the love of a mother and what she is willing to do to protect her kids. That is what I loved the most about this book.

See the little * next to my “Really Good”? The only reason I’m giving this book that high of a rating is because it is well written. I saw signs throughout this that ticked some red flags for me, but wasn’t until I went to start doing my links for my review that I realized the author and her connection to that other series. The main reason I quit reading that one series is because it became this never ending, bleak, hopeless mess of crazy. Every single time the MC got knocked down and then stood back up, they got knocked down again before they could even take a single step. Over. And over. And OVER. I seriously hate books/series like that. I saw an awful lot of potential with that in this book, but know that there really aren’t a ton of authors that go that route and overlooked it and let it go. Now, as much as I liked this, I’m seriously worried that this is going to do the exact same thing and I really don’t want to waste my time reading books that frustrate the hell out of me. If that is your thing, cool, but I just don’t enjoy books/series that suck every last drop of hope out of a reader. They are too damn depressing. I honestly don’t know that I will read the second book.

 

 

The Ghostwriter: Alessandra Torre

The GhostwriterAuthor: Alessandra Torre
Book Name: The Ghostwriter
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Suspense, Family
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

 Blurb: Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends, and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. And all of them believed me.

I wasn’t surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.
Now, I have one last story to write. It’ll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.

They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.

Damn! Just… Damn! This was really frickin’ amazing. Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is bursting at the seams with emotion. It is beautiful and messed up and sad and gut wrenching. If a book can drag tears out of you, then the author has done something really right. Let me tell you, there were lots with this one and that is never fun when you are already congested with a cold.

Books like this are hard to read because of the emotional gut punch, but that is kind of one of the things that I like. This is incredibly intense and beautifully written. I had a kind of love hate relationship with the main character all the way through. It is also the kind of book that is best read with as little information about it beforehand as possible.

The Kinfolk: Eliza Maxwell

The KinfolkAuthor: Eliza Maxwell
Book Name: The Kinfolk
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Suspense, Family
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Along the banks of the Neches river, surrounded by the dense piney woods of east Texas, where the humidity makes even the mosquitos go a little soft in the head, there’s a pack of liars, thieves, and fools that Mimosa Mabry reluctantly calls family. After a lifetime spent trying to put the place behind her, the kinfolk have come calling, and they want her home.

Against her better judgement, Mo returns, but finds the answer she’s searching for—the truth about a child named Lucy—slipping further from her grasp than ever. Because in deep east Texas, at the mercy of your kin, truth is relative. As enigmatic as a carnival shell game. And the game is rigged.

Having read The Grave Tender, I had extremely high expectations for this book, which doesn’t usually bode well. While I think this was still extremely well written, it didn’t have that extra layer of “wow” or that sense of being extremely disturbed and enjoying it at the same time that I got from The Grave Tender. Because of that and being unable to not compare the two even though they aren’t related in any way other than being written by the same author, I just didn’t find that I liked this as well as I would have if I’d read this first. That said, this was still a really good book.

Broken Bones: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 7

Broken BonesAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Broken Bones
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #7
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


 

Blurb: The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers in the Black Country are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.
At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what at first looks like a tragic abandonment soon takes an even more sinister turn.

When another young woman goes missing, the two investigations bring the team into a terrifying, hidden world, and a showdown puts Kim’s life at risk as secrets from as secrets from her own past come to light.

As Kim battles her own demons, can she stop the killer, before another life is lost?

Even though I know I haven’t necessarily rated all the books in this series quite so high, the D.I. Kim Stone series is one of my top favorite crime drama series and this one is no exception. For me, that is a bit surprising because most authors this deep into a crime series tend to lose me with too much repetition or similarity between the themes in the books. You absolutely get something new with each and every book in this series.

Like with most books in this series, there are several different plot lines and threads woven throughout. The way Ms. Marsons manages to pull that off every time without being too much is one of the things I think I like the most about these books.

If I have really anything negative to say it is that I wanted to spend more time with Kim’s character, but we got a pretty large balance across the board with the rest of her team in this one. I like the team and their dynamics, but I love Kim and want to see her hog the pages and get only sprinklings of the others.

 

Say You’re Sorry: Morgan Dane, Book 1

Say You're SorryAuthor: Melinda Leigh
Book Name: Say You’re Sorry
Series: Morgan Dane
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime, Romance
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.

I think that this book is a good example of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” There are so many sub-plots and side-plots, you nearly need a flow chart to remember which characters are which and who is doing what and to follow along. A few of those don’t ever even get fleshed out, so serve no real purpose.

I JUST wrote in another review about how it drives me crazy if an author puts their main character in life or death peril over and over again throughout the series, making it completely unrealistic and unbelievable. This book takes it to a whole other level, putting the main character, Morgan, in peril in what seems like nearly every other chapter. I’m talking full on gun in her face, getting shot at, knife at her throat, life threatening peril. If this were some sort of a combat drama, maybe that would work, but this isn’t. And this is only book one of a series featuring this same main character?

While there were parts of this that I really enjoyed, it was a bit too much and why this is only an okay/good book for me. I don’t know if there was enough that I liked about this to make me pick up the second book.

In The Clearing: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 3

In The ClearingAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: In The Clearing
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 3
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Detective Tracy Crosswhite has a skill, and a soft spot, for tackling unsolved crimes. Having lost her own sister to murder at a young age, Tracy has dedicated her career to bringing justice and closure to the families and friends of victims of crime.

So when Jenny, a former police academy classmate and protégé, asks Tracy to help solve a cold case that involves the suspicious suicide of a Native American high school girl forty years earlier, Tracy agrees. Following up on evidence Jenny’s detective father collected when he was the investigating deputy, Tracy probes one small town’s memory and finds dark, well-concealed secrets hidden within the community’s fabric. Can Tracy uphold the promise she’s made to the dead girl’s family and deliver the truth of what happened to their daughter? Or will she become the next victim?

Initially, after reading the blurb, I was worried this was going to fall into that repetitive, beginning to be totally unbelievable zone where the main character is forever in a constant battle for their life. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Yes, we have a point where a very real danger presents itself, but it isn’t like the other books in the series where it is a major part of the story. So, while it brushes up against that line, it doesn’t cross it, staying solidly on the side of being believable.

I love that this book touches on the concept that one situation that is totally unrelated to another can spark a light bulb moment to make the other one more clear. This is something that happens to me all the time, so it was kind of cool to see it here.

All in all, I’m still loving this series.

 

The Roanoke Girls: Amy Engel

The Roanoke GirlsAuthor: Amy Engel
Book Name: The Roanoke Girls
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense, Family Saga
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

This was kind of hard to rate. Not because the book isn’t good or incredibly written, because it really is, but because it is seriously sick and twisted. It is hard to say, “Yeah, I really liked it” when it is that dark and heavy.

This isn’t something that has harsh jumps or revelations. You pretty much know from very early on what the ugliness is in this family. In a way, this story is more about Lane. How she deals with it all, her own personal growth through it and where she lands in the end.

So, yeah, I liked it. I can’t love it, it was just a little too dark and twisty for me to love, but it is incredibly well written. So much so, I liked pretty much all of the characters, even the ones that I probably shouldn’t. Fair warning, though. This is a book that can be way too ugly for some readers.

Lost Child: D.S. Butler

Lost ChildAuthor: D.S. Butler
Book Name: Lost Child
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense, Mystery
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: She only turned her back for a moment but that was all it took.
Two years ago, Beth Farrow turned her back on her three-year-old niece, Jenna, for just a few seconds. She disappeared without a trace.
How does a three-year-old go missing from a crowded summer fete without anyone noticing?
When Beth leaves the country to try and escape her guilt, someone sends her a photograph from an anonymous number. It’s a photograph of Jenna. She’s older, but Beth is sure it’s her niece. She is determined to do what the police cannot: Find Jenna and bring her home.
But someone isn’t pleased when Beth returns, and they will do what ever it takes to get rid of her. This time, for good.

*Potential Spoiler*

One of my peeves with regards to books is a blurb that either gives too much away or is completely inaccurate and doesn’t match the story it is supposed to describe. For this book, it is the second part that applies, because this…

“But someone isn’t pleased when Beth returns, and they will do what ever it takes to get rid of her. This time, for good.”

NEVER actually happens. Based on the blurb, you’d think the book is something where the main character has things happen that would potentially harm her, or scare her away or that someone is actively trying to do her harm. Nope. Doesn’t happen. If you want to get technical, there is one event in the end, but it doesn’t fit with the blurb. It isn’t about Beth coming back and trying to find out what happened and the bad guy trying to stop her from doing so, but rather about her actually finding it out and the bad guy wanting to try and get away with it.

Besides the fact that I kept expecting something different, I could not stand Beth’s character. She came across as completely stupid, making asinine decisions all over the place as well as being horrifically judgemental. I didn’t like any of the characters, really. None of them ever made much sense as they all seemed unnecessarily nasty or suspicious.

So no, this one was not my cup of tea.

 

Her Final Breath: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 2

Her Final BreathAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: Her Final Breath
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 2
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite has returned to the police force after the sensational retrial of her sister’s killer. Still scarred from that ordeal, Tracy is pulled into an investigation that threatens to end her career, if not her life.

A serial killer known as the Cowboy is killing young women in cheap motels in North Seattle. Even after a stalker leaves a menacing message for Crosswhite, suggesting the killer or a copycat could be targeting her personally, she is charged with bringing the murderer to justice. With clues scarce and more victims dying, Tracy realizes the key to solving the murders may lie in a decade-old homicide investigation that others, including her captain, Johnny Nolasco, would prefer to keep buried. With the Cowboy on the hunt, can Tracy find the evidence to stop him, or will she become his next victim?

So far, I’m still loving this series.

The way that Nolasco managed to get away with blatant harassment kind of bugs me, but that is part of his character. I have a feeling it may be groundwork for something later in the series, so it didn’t impact my enjoyment of this one.

I am on edge with this because it is only book two in the series. I have some concerns we will see Tracy in life or death peril in every single book and that kills a series for me because of how unrealistic and repetitive it becomes. For now, though, I did really love this one and am looking forward to the next.

Silent Child: Sarah A. Denzil

Silent ChildAuthor: Sarah A. Denzil
Book Name: Silent Child
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.

His body was never recovered.

Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…

… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

I need to preface this by saying that this book was really well written. The lower rating is only because of my personal tastes.

A good portion of this book was intriguing and kept me interested. Then, somewhere along the way, things started to just get to be too much for me to swallow. There were so many different things going on, so many different motivations for different acts and so many of the characters end up being horrible on so many different levels. It is impossible to express the degree to which this was over the top, the characters that drove me crazy and why, without giving anything away.

When a story becomes so convoluted you can hardly follow, it doesn’t work for me. I was disappointed that this became that kind of a story because I loved the premise. I just do not like crazy, twisted, totally unrealistic solutions to a story.

The Weight of Lies: Emily Carpenter

The Weight of LiesAuthor: Emily Carpenter
Book Name: The Weight of Lies
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

This was… strange. There were so many things going on and the sideline parts of the book “Kitten” at times made this difficult to follow. I think this was well written and I could never predict what was going to happen, but there was just so much that ended up being ridiculously over the top, I think it became too much.

It wasn’t awful and if you like some weird creepy in your stories, this may be worth it. I’m just not usually a fan of overblown, beyond twisted plot lines.

My Sister’s Grave: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 1

My Sister's GraveAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: My Sister’s Grave
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

I thought this was really awesome, probably one of the best crime/mystery dramas I’ve read.

The main character, Tracy, was incredibly well done. I’m often annoyed by how female police officers are portrayed. They are usually utterly cold and hard and completely flawless, weak and weepy and stupid, or horribly trampy. That is not the case here. She is solid and firmly grounded in humanity, not perfect but not a mess.

The main reasons I often struggle with giving a full 5 star rating to most crime or mystery dramas is because they tend to be over the top unrealistic or too simplistic and obvious because I know what was going to happen at every turn. This kept me interested from beginning to end and I was kept not knowing anything until it happened. This managed to do all of that and still gave a solid, unexpected end that maintained the believability and realism of the rest of the book.

I’ve been burned in the past on starting a new series only to find out by the time I got to book three that all the goods were in the first book or two and the rest are only slightly adjusted carbon copies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed with this one that the rest of the books can continue the pattern that this one set.

The Forgotten: Linda S. Prather

The ForgottenAuthor: Linda S. Prather
Book Name: The Forgotten
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Loki Redmond is positive her grandfather’s 100 acre farm in Mississippi will be the perfect place for Jake Savior to heal after the murder of his wife and his banishment from law enforcement before they begin their partnership in Redmond Private Investigations.

But fate has other plans.

The discovery of a month old baby and young girl with no memory of her name, running from a man she calls The Devil, plunges them into danger. Loki’s Native American connection to the spirits makes her a target for the delusions of a madman who is determined to kill her.

Tension continues to rise when a special unit of the FBI enters the case, and Jake is forced to decide what he believes in. Can he change the future seen by Special Agent Brian Wilkes, or is Loki destined to die?

By chapter 3, I had to put this down and go back and research through whatever I could find to see if I had somehow missed the fact that this was actually a book that landed square in the middle of an existing series, but I never found anything that alluded to that being the case. So, that said, I was confused and frustrated because it was written in a way that EVERY character had huge amounts of back story that the reader is never privy to, and there are a ton of characters in this book. So many, that it was at times confusing. In a book that IS in the middle of a series, that fact wouldn’t be an issue, but because this was a standalone, it made it incredibly difficult to understand or connect with the characters.

Outside of my issues with the lack of backstory and info on the characters was the fact that the story just seemed so incredibly unbelievable. I generally love books that bring a paranormal element into the story, but a story that is set in what is apparently a normal world rather than a paranormal one, it was so not believable that so many of the characters had special abilities. I would have even been willing to buy a special division in the FBI having a group, but to then throw in several other characters that just so happened to also have abilities stretched my ability to believe too far, especially when there is no rationale provided for the clustering.

The other big issue I had was with the multitude of weird, random other potential plot lines that didn’t really have anything at all to do with this book. Some of which are really the back story issues and others were just tossed out there with no real impact on the plot of THIS story. There was one with Rosie, one with Jules, one with Jake and Loki, one with Teresa… I think I lost track after a while as it became difficult to determine what was important and what wasn’t. My guess is these are groundwork for more books, but again, I’ve seen no mention of any other books, past or future.

While I just really wasn’t a fan, I think the writing was well done. If this had truly been in a series or connected to other books to where I had the chance to get to the know the characters without them popping up, fully formed in the middle of nothingness, I think I would have been better able to connect with the characters. Same thing with some of the scenarios. If there had been some believable rationale attached that made the situations more believable, I think I would have liked this a whole lot more and is probably the only reason I didn’t give this a straight up didn’t like rating.

On a non-book related note, if you are an author and have a website, you really should have at least one location where you list, oh, I don’t know? The books you have written? Apparently, lack of rationale extends in all directions.

The Grave Tender: Eliza Maxwell

The Grave TenderAuthor: Eliza Maxwell
Book Name: The Grave Tender
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Suspense, Family
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before.

When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.

But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need, or putting their lives in danger?

The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.

This was truly beautifully done. It explores the darker side of humanity, but still threads it through with touches of warmth. It isn’t light. It isn’t happy, but it is just good.

You do not get a few answers to some secondary, lesser parts to this story, but for this, I was really good with that. Normally, that would irritate or frustrate me, but we rarely ever get all the answers or have things tied up neatly in a bow in real life, so it fits for this.

Every one of the characters feels real. They all have that perfect blend of imperfection and humanity without dropping off into something that feels contrived or forced.

I think one of the reasons why I’m struggling so hard to articulate what I liked about this is that it wasn’t any one single thing or group of things. It was just incredibly well written, on all levels.