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.

Where Angels Rest: Mann Family, Book 1

Where Angels RestAuthor: Kate Brady
Book Name: Where Angels Rest
Series: Mann Family
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

 

Blurb:  A RACE FOR SALVATION

For the past decade, psychologist Erin Sims has been helping victims of violent crimes move on with life . . . but the one person she can’t save is the one who matters most. In only seven days, her brother will be executed for a murder he didn’t commit. Convinced she knows the identity of the real killer, Erin is determined to find the man and bring him to justice.

A COUNTDOWN TO DESTRUCTION

Sheriff Nick Mann moved to rural Ohio hoping to forget the tragedies of his past. When Erin shows up in town, bringing scandal and unwanted media attention with her, Nick knows she’s trouble. No one believes sleepy Hopewell could harbor a serial killer . . . until residents begin to disappear. Now as Nick untangles the dark secrets plaguing his town, he can’t help falling for the beautiful woman with the warm heart and iron will. And, as the days tick by, the truth becomes clear: Erin is hunting a vicious murderer-one whose only escape is to silence her forever.

Review:  I’ll get it out of the way right up front.  This does have that insta-love kind of thing going on here since the time line of this story lasts only about 7 days (14 if you count the time skip at the end, but I’m not being picky here).  That said, because there is so much that goes on in those seven days, I’m willing to overlook that because it does mostly work here.  Still not my favorite thing in a story, but it doesn’t kill this for me.  Because the timeline for this is so extremely short, it pushes the bounds of believability with all that does happen in this story, but again, it is still written in a way that it works.

I liked this.  The characters were interesting and had decent personalities that made them likable.  That isn’t often something I tend to find in romantic suspense lately.  I liked the fact that Erin had a backbone and Nick wasn’t all alpha-male to the point where he treated Erin like some fragile piece of glass.

This was also pretty twisty as to trying to figure out who the bad guy was, at least for a large portion of the book.  It was nice to not really know from page one exactly who and why.  Sure there were hints if you were really paying attention, but I think the author did a pretty good job of making the reader have doubts about those hints for quite a while.

It was definitely good enough to make me want to pick up another book by this author.

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Evil Games: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 2

Evil GamesAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Evil Games
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #2
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal stabbing, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But as further disturbing events come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone even more sinister at work.

With the investigation gathering momentum, whilst also trying to expose the secrets of a sick paedophile ring, Kim finds herself in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Pitted against a dangerous sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

Review:  Not sure if it is just my perception of this one or if the writing and construction of this story was just different from the first book, but this one didn’t have quite the same feel.

The story line was interesting and intriguing and I did really enjoy that.  It was the huge chunks of time we spent with the bad guy that brought this down for me.  I don’t mind that approach in writing, but in this it just seemed to be way too much and not entirely necessary.  There is only so much devious mind exploration and self ego stroking I need to read before I get the idea of the bad guy’s thinking.  I like Kim’s character so much, that I’d much prefer the majority of the time be spent focused on her.

There were also two separate stories going on here and even though both of those cases were Kim’s to work on, the majority of her time was spent focused on Alex.  So much so that the pedophile part to the story kind of gets shoved to the side and all the other members of her team are the ones to work on it, becoming more of an afterthought rather than a bigger part of the overall story.

So while this was still good, I much preferred the first book to this one.

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Criminal: Will Trent, Book 7

UnseenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Unseen
Series: Will Trent
Order: #7
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Will Trent is a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent whose latest case has him posing as Bill Black, a scary ex-con who rides a motorcycle around Macon, Georgia, and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. The cover has worked and he has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer who thinks he might be a useful ally. But undercover and cut off from the support of the woman he loves, Sara Linton, Will finds his demons catching up with him.

Although she has no idea where Will has gone, or why, Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s shooting is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.

Review:  I think I kind of hit a wall with this one.  While the story itself is good, there is just only so much of the seriously dark, ugly and nearly unforgiving hopelessness that these stories tend to exude that I can stomach.  The cops are almost always bad.  Even the supposed good guys in the stories are really kind of nasty and horrible to each other.  The bad guys are so horrifically bad and on all kinds of levels that it can’t help but poison everyone around them.

I don’t mind reading the darker stuff.  I’ve found a few that I’ve really enjoyed, but that was because they were pretty well balanced by the time I reached the end with a level of positive that made the darker more interesting.  These books, and this addition to the series is no exception, are just so excessively depressing with little to no relief that there just isn’t a whole lot to recommend when you can’t pull yourself out of the dark hole these tend to drop you in.

A book kind of loses something for me when I feel relieved that I finally reached the end.  I don’t enjoy a story that doesn’t let up on all the negativity so I think I might need to be done with this author for a while.

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Have You Seen Her? : Karen Rose

Have You Seen Her?Author: Karen Rose
Book Name: Don’t Tell
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  Steven dropped to his knees next to the paramedic. “Jenna.” Her eyes opened and in them he saw shock and tears and guilt. “I’m so sorry, Steven. I should have listened to you.” Steven noticed the smears of blood on her worn Duke T-shirt. “Any other wounds?” he asked the paramedic.Only her throat. the blood on her shirt appears to be her own.” “We found bloody handprints on the carpet where she crawled from the bedroom,” said Uniform Two.Steven’s gut seethed as he pictured her scared and hurt and crawling through her own house like a wounded animal. For that alone, whoever did this to her would pay…

Review:  I was really surprised that I didn’t like this one better as I’ve really enjoyed the other Karen Rose books I’ve read in the past.  For this one, I just really wasn’t a fan of the characters at all.  Both of the main characters came across as insanely immature rather than rational, intelligent adults with regards the romantic aspects of the story.  Steven especially.  One or two of his little quirks wouldn’t have been an issue, but it was kind of a never ending thing that made it rather ridiculous.  Jenna wasn’t as bad, but she still had her moments that played off of Steven’s.

Outside of the romantic aspect is how Steven had nearly a complete lack of interaction with his own children.  I get the job takes you away, but there was this lack of concern or action or real emotional tie that never made itself known in the story which made him seem very uncaring about his kids.  It was made even more apparent when he had zero qualms about having Jenna come in and pretty much act like a mom with them when he’d only known her for days.  It just didn’t really add up to caring, involved dad to me.  Especially when you consider the traumatic history with the youngest, Nicky.

The suspenseful aspects of the story were pretty good and were the only parts that kept me reading this because the rest was off just enough for me that it kept me from enjoying the good like I could have.  This was definitely not my favorite.

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Criminal: Will Trent, Book 6

CriminalAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Criminal
Series: Will Trent
Order: 6
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before, when his father was imprisoned for murder, this was Will’s home. It appears that the case that launched Amanda’s career forty years ago has suddenly come back to life—and it involves the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. Now these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.

Review:  As another addition to this series, this book is pretty good.  We get quite a bit more about Will’s background, though for the most part, it is stuff that readers mostly already knew.  This just gives a bit more detail and understanding as to how Will is connected to Amanda.

That connection seems exceptionally strange to me, though.  You would think that Amanda would have more of a soft spot for Will rather than act as a tormentor towards him.  It is one of the aspects to this series that I’ve never been much of a fan of, how Will is treated by almost every other character in the series.  I do not understand why Amanda treats him the way she does and why she seems to enjoy causing him emotional pain, which she does several times here.  I never understood it before, but now it seems even more odd and just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I will say that this book left a few loose threads at the end, hinting that there is actually more to this than what we’ve already seen.  It wasn’t a major cliffhanger, but enough to leave me a bit frustrated.

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Fallen: Will Trent, Book 5

FallenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Fallen
Series: Will Trent
Order: 5
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  There’s no police training stronger than a cop’s instinct. Faith Mitchell’s mother isn’t answering her phone. Her front door is open. There’s a bloodstain above the knob. Everything Faith learned in the academy goes out the window when she charges into her mother’s house, gun drawn. She sees a man dead in the laundry room, a hostage situation in the bedroom. What she doesn’t see is her mother. When the hostage situation turns deadly, Faith is left with too many questions. She’ll need the help of her partner, Will Trent, and trauma doctor Sara Linton to get some answers. But Faith isn’t just a cop anymore, she’s a witness–and a suspect. To find her mother, Faith will have to cross the thin blue line and bring the truth to light–or bury it forever.

Review:  This was a much better book than the last couple.  Much!  The issues that were really kind of driving me nuts either weren’t in this one or just weren’t in your face as much.

While this was still very much a crime drama, it was also a very character focused book, with the bigger plot revolving around Faith, her mother and Amanda and the smaller, but just as important aspect of Will and his relationship with Sarah.

This was a huge relief after the last book or so in that it didn’t have that oppressive, hopeless feel permeating the entire thing.  We got to see some real positives happening for a change and that was great.  I don’t exactly have a great feeling that those positive feelings and progress will be allowed to continue through the next books, though, as that just doesn’t seem like the direction this author tends to like to go.  I hope I’m wrong as I really can’t stand books/series that constantly knock the character to their knees and never really let them get up and breathe.