Archive for category Reviews
Scar Tissue is not just an intriguing police procedural but a good look at family dynamics…dysfunctional family dynamics, because there are some totally messed up folks in this read dealing with several timely themes.
The death of a wealthy young coed, Ashley Lambert, is ruled a suicide but the family has trouble accepting it and PIs Griff Cole and Britt Callahan are called in to go deeper than the preceding police investigation.
As they dig into the background of Ashley and her family, skeletons fall out all over the place.
Meanwhile, Griff and Britt have bought a home together and while Britt is trying to wrap her head around it, she finds out all is not well with their new neighbors, a young couple whose toddler went missing and was never found.
While it looks as though there is no connection between their case and their new neighbors, the plot twists arrive and everyone’s a suspect.
In the end, you can’t help but feel sorry for Ashley… and her roommate. I can’t imagine living the life either young woman had, but oh my god, Ashley’s parents—Greg and Gwen—are proof some people should not be allowed to have children. They were both horrid people but deserved each other since they didn’t marry… or stay married for the right reasons. Their avarice and narcissism screwed up their kid, no doubt about it.
Neighbor, Rhea McKenzie, is also a sympathetic character who endured much. The resolution to her story was a bit surprising, but I understood and agreed with Britt… justice doesn’t always work the way it should.
Griff and Britt are a great couple and it was nice reading about a couple with equal footing. Their personalities compliment each other and the mutual respect is as strong as the love between them.
Scar Tissue was my first Cole and Callahan Thriller Series read but it won’t be my last. Solid writing and well-developed plot and characters make me want to read more of this investigative team’s stories. Fans of thriller, suspense and women’s fiction will enjoy Scar Tissue.
Track star, Ashley Lambert, has just been accepted into the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, so when she jumps eighteen stories to her death her parents hire the PI team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan to find out why. The investigation exposes a deeply disturbed family hiding behind a façade of perfection and follows Ashley’s descent into performance enhancing drugs and blackmail. Ashley’s coaches, peers and even her parents come into question. The disturbing truth behind Ashley’s death is testimony to lines crossed and allegiances sworn…. in the name of love.
Meanwhile, things don’t add up next door. Britt’s working overtime researching their new neighbors whose one-year-old son disappeared four years ago. Rhea McKenzie, has a secret and bruises aren’t the only thing she’s trying to hide. When an off-hand comment discloses a connection to Ashley Lambert the two cases become entwined, setting off an unstoppable chain of events. Britt is sucked into an alliance with Rhea and driven to make decisions that challenge her ethics, threaten her relationship and in the end, push her over a line she never thought she’d cross.
Published by: Intrigue Publishing
Publication Date: September 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 194
Series: Cole and Callahan #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Enter To Win:
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Patricia Hale. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on October 1, 2018 and runs through November 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.
I’ve been waiting for this sequel since the day I finished book 1, Magic O’clock.
I pre-ordered, joined the blog tour and re-read book 1… twice.
And like Archie Royle’s daughter, I still wasn’t ready. I was caught off-guard not by the depth of emotions, but the sheer weight.
Archie’s death is no mystery or plot twist. The author laid it right out there in the blurb. You know it will happen.
Just as Archie’s family knew the end was approaching. And as his youngest daughter resigned herself to that fact when she had to place him in a skilled care facility.
But it was with a broken heart she, at last, accepted it as pneumonia joined the Dementia in taking him farther away from her. However, as prepared as she was, losing him takes her to her knees… and I was right there with her.
Death sometimes brings out the worst in those left behind. When anger flares, jealousies, slights, and resentments thought long-forgotten get tossed around like a beach ball. The youngest daughter knew she’d committed no offenses against her two older sisters out of spite or otherwise, but she allowed their bad attitudes… until she didn’t, and when she digs her heels in, she goes from her father’s biggest fan to his staunchest advocate. The gloves come off and she holds nothing back. Great scene!
When family and friends gather to say their goodbyes to Archie, his baby girl is surprised at the new insight she gets into the man she thought she knew so well. It comforts her and helps to close the divide between her and her older sisters.
My first tears fell at only 20% into this short read. Where book 1 inspired memories of my own father’s last days, Magical Memories brings to mind memories shared and that had me smiling by 88%.
ANY reader would enjoy Magical Memories, regardless of preferred genre. I highly recommend downloading books 1 and 2 and reading them together. Readers shouldn’t be leery of tags like death and grief because, at its core, Magical Memories isn’t about how Archie Royle died but about how much he was loved.
As Archie Royle takes his final breath, three sisters race to say their goodbyes.
Two don’t make it in time.
And now, it’s all my fault they’re too late.
Despite him having dementia.
Despite them not visiting in over a month.
But I won’t let anger win.
After all, we’re all grieving, aren’t we?
Surely, as a family, we can let bygones be bygones.
It’s what Dad would want. Expect.
It’s what he deserves.
We have so much to be grateful for.
So many fond and magical memories to share.
Magical Memories is a fictional tale of loss, grief and moving on.
Purchase Link – http://getbook.at/MagicMem
Small town life will kill you… literally!
For a boring little town, Maple Valley, Hampshire is vying for murder capital of the country.
An apparent suicide begins to take on the trappings of murder, but before ducks can be lined in a row, more deaths occur. Officer Dean Matheson dreams of earning a detective’s shield, and solving the mystery behind the woman found hanging in the woods could be his winning ticket but he needs to 1) avoid the lazy, glory-seeking detective assigned to the case, and 2) learn to keep it in his pants!
Dean, Dean, Dean! Geeze. He believes Detective Miller’s dislike for him is holding him back, but nope. Dean is holding Dean back.
Estranged from his wife because he had an affair with the medical examiner for a few months because he was needy and grieving after his brother’s suicide, (what-everrrrr, Dean) he was sizing the new prison psychiatrist up only seconds after she sat next to him at the diner’s counter. *Hard eye-roll, but holds back from flinging Kindle* So Dean, Sheila, and Beth are on my adults-behaving-badly list early into the read. Wife Linda was hiding her own sins, but Dean didn’t know that until later. However, he did react like an hypocritical ass when he found out.
Had Dean not been so single-minded… and easily manipulated, he might have solved the mystery from the woods… like I did, and this read would have been less than fifty pages! 😀 HA!
The murderer was good though, and not just in method but also persona, playing a role for all of the town, though different with each person encountered. Attention to detail was meticulous. Choosing a small, rural town was genius. The killer stays under the radar because everyone knows everyone and is in their business. Perfect. Makes me wonder exactly how long the planning took, and just how crazy is the criminally insane… crazy like a fox? And why is this killer… a killer? WOW! NICE plot twist!
Choice of most victims, unfortunately, was spot on. Their character wasn’t just questionable on some pious level, but their behavior and offenses were facts most of Maple Valley knew about so their deaths aren’t questioned at first. One is even seen as a win for the victim’s abused fourteen-year-old daughter, so who cares if they die? NICE!
As information about the serial killer—and the dead—comes to light, Dean sees the full picture, but it’s good old-fashioned police work by retired Maple Valley Detective Jones which breaks the case. Dean’s mentor and idol does the leg-work and figures it out. But will he do it before more lives are lost, including Dean’s? Loved Jones!
The spins and twists of Who Cares If They Die will keep mystery and suspense lovers turning pages right up to the end and I highly recommend it.
Did she jump or was she pushed?
It starts with the hanging woman in the Maple Valley woods; the woman with no shoes, no car and no name. On paper it’s an obvious case of suicide – but to Officer Dean Matheson, something doesn’t add up.
Then there are the other deaths, deaths that also look like suicides – but are they? The victims are all women living on the fringes of society, addicts and criminals. Who will miss them? Does anyone really care if they die?
Dean Matheson is making it his business to care, even if it means he becomes the target …
A heartwarming story about family and the miracles found in the Christmas spirit.
Stress levels are high as Suzanne and Stewart McBride look forward to having their three adoptive daughters all together for a Scotland Christmas.
Hannah, Beth, and Posey are all at difficult crossroads in their lives and they’re each determined to handle things… their way. What’s the worst that could happen?
Posey hates to disappoint anyone… ever. Still, she’s the closest thing to a free spirit the family has. And I’d never let her drive me to the airport—HA!
The accident that took their parents has left Beth overprotective and overly cautious. She stresses over the safety and well-being of her two young daughters while at the same time she laments over being just a mother and longs for the challenge of returning to the workforce. But is she willing to sacrifice herself to do it?
Hannah is the worst of the three and by worst I mean emotionally damaged. She has to control every aspect of her life and feels like a failure when she can’t. A new relationship brings a surprise of its own… and also one of the few times I was angry while reading this wonderful story.
Hannah was a complex character but well developed. She bore the most emotional pain from losing her parents and most of it, like her sisters, was of her own creation in her mind. Yet, even as admissions are made and long overdue conversations begin, I felt as though Hannah was determined to hang onto her pain. It takes several conversations with her sisters and parents (Stewart is so awesome!), and Adam (YAAY, Adam! Another great character!) taking a step back to bring this silly woman to her senses.
Suzanne McBride went above and beyond to make a perfect life for her girls. But perfection doesn’t exist, and she felt like a failure anytime her children weren’t happy. Like Beth, she went overboard in being the protective, nurturing mom, and by trying to make things happen a certain way, like Hannah, tried to control outcomes. But where Hannah did it to keep people at arm’s length, Suzanne did it to make sure everyone was happy. However, in the end, she realizes she’s lost her sense of wonder and adventure… two of Posey’s best qualities.
The Christmas Sisters is a great holiday read that shows how a lifetime of held misconceptions, trauma and fear can fade away when the lines of communication… and hearts are opened.
In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…
Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…
As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?
G I V E A W A Y!
One randomly drawn winner will receive a copy of The Christmas Sisters!
Audiobook Blast on October 2, 2018
Desperation leads Clara McNair to return to the small town where her reputation is less than stellar and she’s believed to be a murderer.
Clara left Hickory Hills, North Carolina under suspicion ten years ago after the disappearance of her parents.
Now a college-educated single-mom, Clara is desperate to raise the money for her terminally ill son’s treatment and agrees to a documentary back in her hometown about her parents’ disappearance as the tenth anniversary approaches.
However, their “disappearance” becomes murder when Richard and Glenda McNair’s remains are found on the property of their estate—and show signs of having been buried so someone dug them up to place the remains on the property.
And daughter, Clara McNair is the number one suspect. Still.
Barring evidence at a crime scene that points in a different direction, law enforcement always looks at those closest to the victims first… family, so I have no issue with a then-eighteen-year-old Clara being investigated but I am concerned that she’s still a prime suspect.
Children can and do kill their parents, however, I had a hard time suspending belief that an eighteen-year-old, rebellious, wild child out-smarted an entire police investigation. The McNairs went missing in 2007 and forensics were used in every area of police investigations. Is Hickory Hills anywhere near Mayberry? Is Detective Tony Elkins actually Barney Fife? If Clara McNair was the killer, would she dig up her parents’ remain and plant them in her former home to incriminate herself and pick at old wounds that have never healed?
Clara has no one except James, her two-year-old son, and a bizarre clause in her grandfather’s estate will not allow her to sell home or property. The documentary is her last chance to make the money for the experimental treatment which could save her baby from the fatal brain tumors.
An old friend from the past reaches out to help Clara and give her some respite. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch or unconditional friendship. Clara’s already tumultuous life spirals out of control and she could lose her freedom, her son, and her life.
Excellent plot twists! I figured out the first one but didn’t see that second one coming! Forensics did flash through my mind again though because even the most out-of-date law enforcement agencies have access to crime scene support.
Some interesting characters pass through A Mother’s Lie, but it’s the town itself which is the most interesting. Their hatred of Clara runs as hot and deep as it did ten years ago. They don’t just believe her a murderer, but the disappearance of Richard McNair brought the downfall and closure the McNair Furniture Factory—the area’s largest employer—so Clara McNair is also blamed for the economic hardships visited on Hickory Hills.
Though she takes the town’s rejection and verbal abuse in stride, Clara is at wit’s end when events begin to escalate and it’s obvious she… and James are in danger. She spends too much time in her own head and makes the world’s worst decisions. Even though the Mayberry, er, I mean Hickory Hills police department couldn’t even consider a suspect other than Clara, she missed many opportunities to help herself.
To be fair to Clara though, everyone in this story is hiding something or lying and it does hinder Clara looking into her own past. But when a ten-year-old mystery turns into a twenty-year-old coverup, Clara’s sanity could be yet another casualty in Hickory Hills.
Help does come from an unlikely source when Clara needs it most, but crazy people can be counted on to make mistakes and get too cocky.
I reviewed the audiobook version of A Mother’s Lie. While the narrator did a wonderful job with inflections, emotions, and different characters, I personally feel her voice is too soft for Clara McNair and even when Clara was angry, she sounded weak. I must confess here I also purchased the book and highlighted and re-read certain scenes for clarity in my mind.
Fans of mysteries and psychological thrillers will find an enjoyable read in A Mother’s Lie.
When her child’s life is at stake, a mother will do anything to save him.
Clara McNair is running out of time to save her son, James. When the two-year-old is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, only an experimental treatment can save his life. She desperately needs money to pay for the surgery, but she’ll have to travel back to the site of her darkest memories to get it.
Clara has escaped the demons of her youth—or so she thinks. It’s been ten years since the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Widely suspected of murdering her mother and father, Clara fled west to start a new life. Now, a documentary film crew is offering cold, hard cash—enough to pay for James’s treatment—in exchange for the sordid secrets of her past.
With no other choice but to delve into a long-ago tragedy, Clara must unravel the lies surrounding that terrible night. Facing hostile gossip, Clara is fighting to clear her name and learn the truth about what really happened. But how far will she go into the dark to save her son—and herself?
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Relay Publishing
AudioBook Release Date: April 23, 2018
AudioBook Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
Jo Crow gave ten years of her life to the corporate world of finance, rising to be one of the youngest VPs around. She carved writing time into her commute to the city, but never shared her stories, assuming they were too dark for any publishing house. But when a nosy publishing exec read the initial pages of her latest story over her shoulder, his albeit unsolicited advice made her think twice.
A month later, she took the leap, quit her job, and sat down for weeks with pen to paper. The words for her first manuscript just flew from her. Now she spends her days reading and writing, dreaming up new ideas for domestic noir fans, and drawing from her own experiences in the cut-throat commercial sector.
Not one to look back, Jo is all in, and can’t wait for her next book to begin.
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jo Crow. There will be 5 winners of one (1) A MOTHER’S LIE by Jo Crow audiobook. The giveaway begins on October 2, 2018 and runs through October 8, 2018. Void where prohibited.
Three young women reported missing—two already found murdered—and now promising starlet, Zoe McCabe is missing. Is she the fourth victim of the killer the media has dubbed the Star-Struck Strangler?
Will it make any difference that Zoe’s uncle is Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, formerly of NYPD but now a cop in Portland, Maine?
Will Mike’s distinguished career with NYPD that ended under questionable circumstances bar him from helping with his niece’s kidnapping?
You must read the book to find these answers, and trust me, you want to read this book!
A late-night call from big brother, Bobby, brings Mike back to NYC. A nasty fall and early on-set pneumonia will take their elderly mother, Rose McCabe, from them. Mike returns with his partner (and brand new fiancée), Margaret ‘Maggie’ Savage, to say goodbye. They discover Zoe’s abduction after Bobby cannot reach her to let her know about Rose.
It’s cops against the clock to find Zoe before the killer works through his usual M.O. leaving a dead body in his wake.
A Fatal Obsession is a tightly written police procedural. Mike reconnects with old friends and alliances just as new lines are drawn in the sand. However, even with some rivalries still uneasy despite the passage of time, there’s only a hint of cops-behaving-badly—although two attorneys are way too full of themselves.
Told in multiple POVs, the reader gets to watch the investigation unfold and get inside the head of kidnapper, Tyler Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is no choir boy but even as he plays the role of kidnapper, murderer, bully, and forced paramour, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for him, if only just a little. He’s not everything he seems and before the story’s end, the depth of his true pain is revealed.
But it’s Zoe McCabe who wins favorite character honors from me.
She’s living a young woman’s worst nightmare—drugged, kidnapped, assaulted, beaten—yet, she keeps her wits about her. The young actress will play a variety of roles to get inside Tyler’s head searching for a connection… or weakness, and a way to escape.
Zoe has every reason to be weepy and hopeless. Tyler holds the power of life and death over her but she will not make it easy for him. Kudos to the author for such a strong female character who’s anything but a victim.
This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it will not be the last. Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage have other stories to tell, and yes, I’ve already downloaded one. But, you should grab this one—it’s a great place to start!
Paperback version reviewed.
“James Hayman’s edgy, ingenious novels rival the best of Lisa Gardner, Jeffery Deaver, and Kathy Reichs. A Fatal Obsession is his finest to date: a ferocious live-wire thriller starring two of the most appealing cops in contemporary fiction.” —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
Zoe McCabe is a beautiful young actress on the verge of stardom who has been basking in the standing ovations and rave reviews she’s been getting from critics and fans alike for her portrayal of Desdemona in an off-Broadway production of Othello. As she takes her final bows, Zoe has no idea that, seated in the audience, a man has been studying her night after night, performance after performance. A man whose carefully crafted plans are for the young actress to take a starring role in a far deadlier production he has created just for her.
Portland, Maine detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage are settling into the new rhythm of their relationship when McCabe gets a late night call from his brother Bobby that Zoe, McCabe’s favorite niece and Bobby’s daughter, has suddenly disappeared. The NYPD is certain Zoe’s abduction is the work of the man the tabloids have dubbed “The Star Struck Strangler,” a killer who has been kidnapping, abusing and finally strangling one beautiful young performer after another. Bobby begs McCabe to return to the New York City crime beat he’d left behind so many years ago, to work his old connections, and to help find Zoe before her time runs out. The stakes for McCabe and Savage have never been higher. Or more personal. And suddenly the race is on to stop a vicious attacker, before the McCabe family is torn apart beyond repair.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: Aug. 21, 2018
Number of Pages: 432
Series: McCabe and Savage Thrillers #6
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Harper Collins/Witness Impulse and James Hayman. There will be 3 winners of one (1) copy of The Cutting by James Hayman (eBook). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2018 and runs through October 1, 2018. (FOR BOOKS Open to U.S. addresses only). Void where prohibited.
The Barefoot Road is set in a remote village surrounded by mountains in Transylvania. But, it could be Nazi Germany, Cape Town, South Africa or Des Moines, Iowa, the story is the same—people fear what they do not understand.
There is little understanding in The Barefoot Road, and when people don’t understand, those with an agenda can manipulate them.
To raid villages, murdering women and children.
To send a message by gouging an eye from a woman’s head.
To see evil spirits in the innocent dancing of children.
To slit the throat of an old woman.
The saddest part of it all is while the fearful may not be the ones to perpetrate the violence, they are as guilty for not speaking up or out. They watch and wait then return to their dreary lives where each day is only distinguished from another by birth, death or marriage.
Early in the story, it says, “… that a hunger lay under the earth. It would sleep for a while, a generation perhaps, until, fed on old blood and fear, it would rise again, claiming the land, and the people who lived on it, as its own.”
Nature’s elements and the earth have a starring role in The Barefoot Road, exacting their due even in good weather.
But do I blame a hunger in the earth?
Set aside some time to take this journey and you’ll understand why I don’t blame possessed land but ignorant, foolish men who never learn from life and history and doom us all to repeat it.
The Barefoot Road isn’t pretty or joyous, but it is honest, intense, relatable, and an excellent read.
Vivienne Vermes’ debut novel is a gripping read which will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction, thrillers and evocative themes. The book begins with a young woman found, emaciated and unconscious, in the mountains surrounding a village in Transylvania. When it is discovered that she is of an ethnic group which was violently driven out of the regions many years before, old wounds are reopened as the villagers are reminded of their role in the bloodshed.
An uneasy peace is maintained until a young married man falls in love with the girl, and tension begin to rise within the community. The mysterious disappearance of a child causes this tension to mount into hysteria, driving the story to its chilling outcome.