3.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, L, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book

Review: Academic Affairs by Peter Likins

Academic Affairs
by Peter Likins

Academic Affairs

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 150

Read: Jan. 5-9, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Publicist for review

Blurb: “Jerry, you can’t do this, you can’t!” – Beaufort Prendergast, president of Chickamin Christian College, had gasped these words just before dropping dead of an apparent heart attack outside the office door of Executive Dean for Academic Affairs Jeremy Pilkington just a day before Pilkington himself was murdered in that office.  The murder weapon?  A poisoned apple brought to him by the pretty young college girl he had been tutoring, Mary Belle.  There¹d been whispers of an affair.  But wasn’t she too obvious a suspect?

 So it seemed to the small town’s sheriff, Jake Muffet.  Along with his son and daughter, Muffet comprised the entire law enforcement authority of the sleepy Alabama town of Sparta in the 1930s and now, for the first time in his tenure, there was a murder to solve.  Or maybe two murders if President Prendergast’s death was connected to Pilkington’s.

 At first the investigation looks simple:  Just follow the apple.  Whoever touched it before it reached Pilkington could have laced it with the strychnine.  But as Sheriff Muffet and aspiring young journalist Katy O¹Halleran interview the short list of suspects, a more complicated and far darker picture emerges – a tale of sex, power and blackmail lying just underneath the veneer of Southern respectability.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.

I was excited to read this one. The blurb immediately caught my eye. A fun little cozy mystery set in the south in the 1930s. I figured it would be a quick and enjoyable read.

My one and only complaint is that I’m not sure I liked how the same story was told by three differing viewpoints. I mean, it worked … but it felt a bit unnecessary. I’m okay with two viewpoints, but it was that third one that really threw me for a loop. I had a little trouble keeping everyone straight at the beginning.

Overall, a pretty good book. A quick read that held my interest well enough. The characters were all portrayed appropriately for the setting. The writing itself was good. The plot was original. This probably isn’t a book I ever would have picked up on my own, but it was still a good read. Definitely recommended!

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5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, S

Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls
by Riley Sager

Final Girls

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 339

Read: Jan. 4-8, 2018

Rating: 5/5

Source: Book of the Month

 

 

Blurb: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie-scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to – a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls: Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now Quincy is doing well – maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-finance, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam has sought her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


Review: This was my second read of 2018 and my first 5 star rating! I mean I could gush on and on about this book! It was THAT good!

So basically you’ve got Quincy who acts like she has her act together after surviving a terrible incident which saw her best friends murdered before her eyes. She’s labeled a “Final Girl”. She’s effectively blocked it completely out of her mind and “thinks” she’s moved past it. But can one really move past something like that?! When Sam, another “Final Girl” randomly shows up on her doorstep, things start to spiral for Quincy. She’s not nearly as perfect as she wants everyone to believe. And then she begins remembering what happened that night many years ago …. Maybe some things are better left unremembered ….

I don’t want to give any more plot details about it without getting into spoilers. But really, this book caught me from the very first page and I was absolutely hooked until I finished it. And that ending …. well! It’s a crazy ending that I was not prepared for! I’m so glad that I picked this one up. It had been on my shelf since July when it was my BOTM pick. And when I saw that Samantha had really enjoyed it, I knew I had to pick it up sooner rather than later. I haven’t been caught up in a book like I was with this one in a very long time, so I really enjoyed my time with it.

I know this one has been marketed as a horror novel. I’m not sure I’m entirely on board with that classification. It definitely has a horror movie feel. But I personally think it’s more in the psychological thriller genre than horror. Maybe that’s just because I tend to correlate horror novels with scary books and this was more intense suspense than scary.

And can I just say that I really hope this book is made into a movie ASAP! I know I read online that the rights have been purchased, but I haven’t seen any more information than that. But I know this one will make an awesome movie! And I don’t usually feel that way about book to movie adaptations.

Anyway … I can only give you one solid piece of advice ….. read this book!!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Women's Murder Club

Review: 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

14th Deadly Sin
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

14th Deadly Sin

Copyright: 2014

Pages: 304

Read: Dec. 29, 2017 – Jan. 2, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Grandmother

 

 

Blurb: With a beautiful baby daughter and a devoted husband, Detective Lindsay Boxer can safely say that her life has never been better. In fact, things seem to be going well for all the members of the Women’s Murder Club (for a change). But a birthday celebration for medical examiner Claire Washburn gets cut short when Lindsay is called to a gruesome crime scene, where a woman has been murdered in broad daylight. Then video footage of another crime surfaces, so horrific that it shakes the city to its core. Wearing SFPD jackets, their faces obscured by masks, the cold-blooded criminals on tape could be anyone – and all of Lindsay’s coworkers are suspects. As pubic fear and anger grow, Lindsay and her friends must risk their lives in the name of justice – before it’s too late.


Review: This was my first finished book of 2018. It was a quick read that I took on my vacation and read mainly on the airplane rides (and during the 4 hour delay ::eyeroll::)

I can always rely on James Patterson for an enjoyable and easy read. This one was no exception. The two storylines were both fun to “work the case” with Lindsay and company. The character development was good – Joe is trying to figure out where he’s going next after losing his job, Yuki leaves the DA’s office and takes a new job, Cindy has written a book and is doing the publicity for that. I just love series books because you get to know all these great characters!

As usual, I would recommend starting this series from the beginning, but at the same time it would probably stand well on its own if need be. This one was just a good, easy read … definitely “brain candy” for me. And I look forward to the 15th in the series.

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, M, Maggie Hope, RATING, Read in 2017, SERIES, What Should I Read Next

Review: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary
by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mr Churchill's Secretary

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 349

Read: Dec. 9 –15, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased new

 

 

Blurb: London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character,  Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.


Review: So this was my December pick chosen by you dear readers! I was really looking forward to digging into it! So what did I think? ……

Well. The beginning was excruciatingly slow. EXCRUCIATINGLY. No joke. To be completely honest, had I not been also reading this one in conjunction with a Goodreads challenge that required the book to be finished by Dec. 15th, I have a pretty good feeling I would have walked away from this one.

But. But. But! …. I am very glad that I stuck it out because it got really good around the halfway mark and was a lot better from that point on. The first 100 pages or so was really setting the scene. I understand that. But it just didn’t grab me like I wanted it to. So once I got past that 100 page mark it got a lot easier, and by the halfway mark I was fully invested in the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s character. She felt very real to me. And the supporting characters were all well-developed with their own backgrounds. This book is very character driven and I personally enjoy that. I like series where I can get invested in the characters. So just that alone makes me look forward to continuing on in this series!

Like I said, once you get past the first 100 or so pages the pace really picks up and the book gets a lot more interesting from that point on. I would definitely recommend this book to historical fiction lovers as well as mystery lovers and even espionage lovers too! It’s a good book that will appeal to a variety of readers. And I’m really looking forward to reading more from this series in the future.

So, dear readers …. you did pretty good for me this first go around! I’ve got another three selections coming up for you to vote on for my January version of this! Hopefully it’ll be another good read! See you next week!

MyTBRList-1024x661

2/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, N, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2017, Review Book

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Before I Let Go
by Marieke Nijkamp

Before I Let Go

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 372

Read: Dec. 16 – 22, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Source: NetGalley

 

 

Blurb: Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…


Review: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

So this was totally an impulse request on NetGalley. The cover really drew me in. The blurb made is sound so creepy. I don’t read a lot of YA, but this one really sounded great to me.

But. It fell flat. Very flat for me. There were times I considered just DNF’ing it. The writing  itself was good, but the actual structure of the book was strange. There were flashbacks and then there were chapters that were written like a script. It was just a strange set up for a book in my opinion.

And the overall plot/storyline? It fell flat as well. I think I expected more from it somehow. It started out extremely slow. Like slower than slow. And it was a little bit all over the place and really confusing.

I didn’t really care for how Kyra’s bipolar illness was portrayed. If you or someone you know has a mental illness issue of any kind, I do not feel like you should read this book at all. The way it is presented was just very disheartening to me.

Bottom line? This book just didn’t work for me.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: Oath of Office by Michael Palmer

Oath of Office
by Michael Palmer

Oath of Office

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 464

Read: Dec. 2 –8, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased used

 

 

Blurb: In a suburb of Washington, DC, Dr. John Meecham goes on a shooting spree in his office, killing his associate, staff, and two patients before killing himself.

On a quiet country road, a housewife finds herself compelled to drive recklessly, nearly killing herself and her passenger.

In a quaint restaurant, a kitchen worker wields his knife, unable to stop himself from almost severing his hand.

What is the connection? How can Dr. Lou Welcome clear his friend Meecham’s name? And what is the unspeakable conspiracy that leads all the way to the White House?


Review: I’ve had this one on my shelf for quiet some time, but had been putting it off for whatever reason. Well, to be honest … it’s probably because I’m not usually a fan of medical thrillers. I figured it was time to get to it or get rid of it. (Remember, my shelves are at critical levels….)

So this one started out with a bang for me. I read the first couple hundred pages rather quickly. And then the book started to take a more scientific route and I kind of ran out of steam. I can handle medical storylines, but you really start to lose me with science.

Overall this book was a decent read for me, but not necessarily a favorite. It was interesting enough, and the storyline itself was quite believable. I look forward to reading more of Michael Palmer’s medical thrillers in the future.

3/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2017, Review Book

Review: The Undertaker’s Daughter by Sara Blaedel

The Undertaker’s Daughter
by Sara Blaedel

The Undertaker's Daughter

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 320

Read: Nov. 26 –28, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: NetGalley

 

 

Blurb: Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen.  Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: her father–who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on Ilka and her mother more than three decades ago–has died.  And he’s left Ilka something in his will: his funeral home.  In Racine, Wisconsin.

Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn’t heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin.  Desperately hoping to gain some insight into her father’s life, she plans to visit the funeral home and go through her father’s things before preparing the business for a quick sale.

But shortly after her arrival, one of the bodies in the morgue is vandalized. The dead man, Mike, was suspected of killing his girlfriend in high school, but disappeared from Racine and was never seen again–until recently. Disturbed by the attack, Ilka resolves to find out what really happened all those years ago….


Review: I hadn’t signed on to my NetGalley account in probably more than a year … I’m not exactly sure what made me log in randomly one day last week, but I figured why not? I browsed around a little bit and checked out my auto-approved options … this book was one of those. So I figured I’d give it a shot – the blurb appealed to me almost immediately. Plus I have a friend who lives like 30 minutes from Racine, so I thought it would be interesting to read a book set there!

So what was my opinion? This book was extremely easy for me to read. I flew through it in 2 days flat. But …. it wasn’t necessarily compelling I suppose you could say. I think I was expecting this to be more mystery/thriller than this ended up being. I expected Ilka to follow through on the “find out what really happened” part mentioned in the blurb. That whole aspect of the book seemed to take more of a backseat. Yes, we did “find out what really happened” but it was not because Ilka solved the case – like I was sort of expecting.

I enjoyed Ilka’s character to a certain extent. I didn’t care for her very relaxed opinion towards sex at all. And I didn’t find it very believable that someone who had been a school photographer back home could suddenly start dealing with dead bodies (some in pretty nasty shape) with little to no problem. I did appreciate her drive and resolve to turn her father’s funeral home around. But honestly, she’s still sort of an enigma to me. The character development was a little bit all over the place. Every character had their quirks that were discussed at some point, but I never really felt like I got to know any of them. They were all still shrouded in mystery…. maybe that was supposed to be the draw of this series?

I’m not exactly sure what more to say. It really wasn’t a bad book … it just wasn’t what I expected it to be. I needed just a little bit more mystery in this book. And more character development. Plus … it ended in a cliffhanger – just, no! A huge pet peeve. I’m not sure I’ll read more in this series as it is released, but I do look forward to trying out Ms. Blaedel’s Louise Rick series in the future.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Reckless Abandon by Stuart Woods

Reckless Abandon
by Stuart Woods

Reckless Abandon

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 342

Read: Nov. 18 –23, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: Stone Barrington is, once again, right at home in New York City. But this time he’s joined by the tenacious Holly Barker – the lady police chief of Orchid Beach, Florida. She’s come to Manhattan hot on the trail of a fugitive from her jurisdiction. And Stone is, well, glad to see her, right up until the moment when her presence creates a great danger to both of them – and to their surprise, she becomes the pursued instead of the pursuer…


Review: I say this every time – Stuart Woods Stone Barrington books are no literary feat by any means. They are simply good fun escapism. Nothing more than some brain candy for a few days. And that’s okay. Sometimes that’s exactly what a reader needs!

This particular installment (#10 in the series) introduced me to Mr. Woods’ other recurring character, Holly Barker. And I’m not entirely sure I liked her. She came off as Stone Barrington in a female body and I don’t know exactly how that translates in her own series. Ed Eagle, another of Mr. Woods’ characters also has a small role in this book so I was introduced to two new characters.

This book had Holly on the hunt for a particularly nasty fugitive. The FBI wants him in Witness Protection so he can testify in some cases for them while Holly wants him for something like 12 murders back in Florida. I think most of my issue with this book is that Stone is not stupid. Woman-crazy, sure. Stupid, no. So the mere fact that he went off with Holly (who was half-cracked over catching the fugitive) really didn’t translate well for me. I think I just didn’t care for Holly as a character. Or maybe I just didn’t like the character crossover – I know they do that sometimes with the TV shows I watch and I very rarely like those episodes.

Either way, not a terrible book, but not one of my favorites in this series either. On to the next one … there’s only 30 something books to go!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie

About Garden of Lamentations

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 14, 2017)

Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are drawn into separate investigations that hold disturbing—and deadly—complications for their own lives in this powerful mystery in the bestselling series.

On a beautiful morning in mid-May, the body of a young woman is found in one of Notting Hill’s private gardens. To passersby, the pretty girl in the white dress looks as if she’s sleeping. But Reagan Keating has been murdered, and the lead detective, DI Kerry Boatman, turns to Gemma James for help. She and Gemma worked together on a previous investigation, and Gemma has a personal connection to the case: Reagan was the nanny of a child who attends the same dance studio as Toby, Gemma and Kincaid’s son.

Gemma soon discovers that Reagan’s death is the second tragedy in this exclusive London park; a few months before, a young boy died in a tragic accident. But when still another of the garden residents meets a violent end, it becomes clear that there are more sinister forces at play. Boatman and Gemma must stop the killer before another innocent life is taken.

While his wife is consumed with her new case, Kincaid finds himself plagued by disturbing questions about several previous—and seemingly unrelated—cases involving members of the force. If his suspicions are correct and the crimes are linked, are his family and friends in mortal danger as well? Kincaid’s hunch turns to certainty when a Metropolitan Police officer close to him is brutally attacked. There’s a traitor in the ranks, and now Kincaid wonders if he can trust anyone.

As Gemma begins to see a solution to her case, she realizes she holds a child’s fate in her hands. Can she do the right thing? And can Kincaid rely on his friends, both inside and outside the Scotland Yard force, to stand beside him as he faces the deadliest challenge of his career?


Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

I was thrilled when I was offered this book for review. I had read and reviewed the 15th book in the series, The Sound of Broken Glass, back in 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed that book and was looking forward to jumping back in with Gemma and Duncan.

It’s always hard to pick up a book in the middle of a long running series and not be a little lost. Looking back at my review for the previous book I mentioned that, but it didn’t really affect my opinion on the book all that much. For this installment, while I still enjoyed the book …. I definitely missed something big in the 16th installment. Practically the entire case that Duncan is working on throughout this book is heavily influenced by something that happened in the 16th book. It was definitely frustrating, but not a deal breaker by any means.

Gemma’s case she was working on was a lot easier for me to read, because it had nothing to do with the previous books. It was fun to work the case with Gemma. And I enjoyed unraveling the who-dun-it with her. But it felt strange because she wasn’t working with her normal crew, she got pulled into the nanny case because she happened to know someone who knew the victim. She found herself working with someone she obviously had a history with …. but once again, that seems to have been something a previous installment touched upon.

See a trend here? This is why I hate to pick up a book in the middle of the series. Because it just makes me want to go back and read the entire series from the start so that I can get a good base … but at the same time you hate to do that because you already know things that are slightly spoiler-ish. Such a conundrum when dealing with a long running series!

I did enjoy this book. I just happened to prefer the storyline Gemma was dealing with more than Duncan’s storyline. So definitely give this book a chance…. but I highly recommend reading at least the 16th book first!

And now I’ll be going back to the beginning……. 🙂


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Deborah Crombie

Deborah Crombie is a New York Times bestselling author and a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She now lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, three cats, and two German shepherds.

Connect with her through her website, Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

tlc tour host

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark

I’ve Got You Under My Skin
by Mary Higgins Clark

I've Got You Under My Skin

Copyright: 2014

Pages: 371

Read: Nov. 4 –9, 2017

Rating: 5/5

Source: Grandmother

 
Blurb: Five years after watching his father brutally gunned down, eight-year-old Timmy Moran is still haunted by a killer’s piercing blue eyes. His mother, Laurie, is troubled by the man’s threat as he fled the scene: “Tell your mother she’s next, then it’s your turn…”

As the producer of a true-crime television show, Laurie is no stranger to murder. Her new series will feature the twenty-year-old unsolved case of a socialite who was found suffocated in bed following a graduation gala for her daughter. The sensational murder made news nationwide. Reopening the case in its lavish setting with the cooperation of the fatal night’s surviving guests, Laurie is sure to have a hit on her hands. But when filming begins, it becomes clear her subjects are hiding secrets … small and large.

And a pair of blue eyes is watching events unfold, too…


Review: Mary Higgins Clark is the epitome of murder mysteries. Her books are always so good! Entertaining, suspenseful, clean …. just good fun! This particular book was no different.

I went back and forth between all of the subjects throughout the entire book before the killer was finally revealed in the last few pages. The killer wasn’t even someone I had even given a second thought to! I thought I had it all figured out …. but nope! I wasn’t even close! That to me is what makes a perfect murder mystery. I shouldn’t be able to peg the killer early on in the book. Even though looking back on it, this person should have been more suspect to me … they weren’t. Wasn’t even really on my radar!

Apparently this is the beginning of a series, one featuring Laurie Moran continuing to find and produce her television show showcasing old unsolved cases. I didn’t realize that going into this one, but I will definitely be looking forward to reading more of Laurie’s story in the future!

So another backlist book that I definitely highly recommend! If you love a great murder mystery this one is definitely for you! Just Mary Higgins Clark at her finest!