Wednesday, October 13, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Nothing But Blackened Teeth

 

 

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Looking for a quick read about a haunted house?  This novella is just what you need as we count down towards Halloween. The imagery is wonderfully creepy and, thanks to a well-timed bump on the roof of my own house, it managed to make me jump out of my own skin in the middle of a sunny afternoon.

What better wedding surprise could there be than a late night visit to a Heian-era mansion, built on the bones of a bride and the girls sacrificed over the years to keep her company? This must be the third book I've read in recent months about houses built on bones, but in this one it works. The author does a fantastic job of making you feel how cold and lonely the bride is down in the dirt. She uses a lot of Japanese terms and some of them aren't easy to figure out through context clues. I know I was missing details because I wouldn't put the book down long enough to look everything up, but I was okay with that. 
 

 Mother's Helper by Julia Crouch 

Rachel, a picture perfect influencer hires Abbie, an awkward young woman, to move into her home as a fully time nanny for her baby. Neither of the two women is exactly what she claims to be. This one was an entertaining fast-paced read. At first, not much made it stand out from all of  the other thrillers I've read about social media stars, but by the end I was absolutely holding my breath as the plot twisted and turned. 


Lost You by Haylen Beck 

I was quickly pulled into the first few chapters of this domestic thriller. Libby and her young son are vacationing alone at a huge resort. Despite her concerns about travelling along with a preschooler it's all going great until the little boy darts into an elevator ahead of his mother and manages to hit the buttons before she can reach the closing doors. The search for Evan is a tense one....and then the plot shifts to a completely different set of characters and a completely different situation. Of course they eventually tie together, but it felt like I'd been pulled out of a book I was really enjoying into a second book that wasn't quite as good. 


Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, October 07, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Nanny Needed

 


Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross 

This is the kind of domestic thriller I love best. Sarah Larsen finds an elegantly printed  job flyer in the lobby of her apartment building. She's never worked as a nanny before, but she's struggling to pay off her debts and the job will help her to reach her goals more quickly. After visiting the opulent penthouse apartment of the Bird family for an interview, she signs the employment contract and nondisclosure agreement with no hesitation. 

Quickly, Sarah begins to realize that the job isn't what she was told it would be and that nondisclosure agreement keeps her from sharing her concerns with her boyfriend. That's one of the things I liked about this book -- Sarah is young and desperate, but she doesn't start out alone in the world and with no support system. This is a fast paced gothic with everything but the creepy old house and I kept turning pages to see what would happen next. 

 
The Stalker by Satah Alderson

A pair of newly-weds enjoying their honeymoon on a remote Scottish island quickly discover that they aren't alone. Someone scratches an unsettling message into the window of their cabin and it quickly becomes obvious that the stranger means to harm them. 

I absolutely loved this one! The setting is wonderfully atmospheric, with its ruined castle and ancient burial sites. The characters seem to really love each other. And the plot itself is suspenseful and kept me intrigued until the very end. 


 


The protagonist from An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good is back and this time she's on a flight to South Africa, remembering her younger years. It turns out that Maude has always known how to get what she wants and always been ruthless in making that happen. She's also surprisingly likeable and I hated to see the book end. 

 

Murder Outside the Lines by Krsta Davis 

I can't resist cozy mysteries set during the Halloween season and this book had everything I could have wanted. It's filled with fall atmosphere and crunching leaves and ghostly apparitions...and a couple of other fun things I can't tell you about without ruining the surprise. Adult coloring book author Florrie Fox sketches her way to the mystery's solution and there's one scene where she's drawing a rolled carpet with a foot sticking out of one end (because that's what the celebrity psychic insists she saw) and contemplating whether the foot was male or female, flexed or pointed... watching her think things through is what I love most about this series.



The Child Who Never Was by Jane Renshaw 

The book opens with Sarah's frantic search for her eighteen-month-old son, Oliver. Everyone insists that Sarah has never given birth, that the child she remembers and insists is her own is actually the son of her identical twin, Evie. Everyone insists that his name is James. The official records states that James is Evie's son. But Sarah remembers giving birth and refuses to believe that it's all a delusion brought on by her agoraphobia and fragile mental state. Watching this unreliable narrator try to reclaim the life that she believes is hers had me holding my breath until the very end, wondering what was actually the truth. 



Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

{I've Been Reading} The Corpse in the Gazebo

 


The Corpse in the Gazebo by Debra Sennefelder

Food blogger Hope Early isn't the only one fighting with Birdie Donovan, but she's the one who finds the unpleasant woman lying dead in her backyard gazebo and the one who baked the muffins that are responsible for Birdie's death. 

I enjoyed the mystery element, but really started to lose patience with Hope. Her actions immediately after discovering Birdie's body had me asking a whole lot of questions. This is the fourth book I've read in the five book series and something seems off with the character. 
 


I've had  this book in my TBR pile for a very long time and kept cautiously circling around the idea of reading it until I finally picked it up last week and read through the whole thing in three sittings. My biggest take away from reading it is that I'm not nearly as angry about my own two c-sections as some of the authors who wrote these essays. That honestly surprised me. What I'm upset about is the quality of care I received after major surgery, not missing out on the birth experiences I expected. 

I appreciated the chance to read about the surgery and recovery from so many different perspectives. I learned a lot and had some of my own opinions confirmed. 


Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance  review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Murder Gets a Makeover

 


Murder Gets a Makeover by Laura Levine 

This time writer-for-hire Jaine Austen hasn't been hired to pen something ridiculous....instead her friend and neighbor, Lance, has volunteered her to be the subject of a makeover. As soon as she meets influencer Bebe Braddock, Jamie has second thoughts. Everyone on the woman's staff hates her. She's nasty, and overbearing, and before long Jaine finds Bebe strangled with a wire hanger and Jaine's fingerprints are all over the murder weapon. 

This short mystery novel is fast paced and funny. In addition to solving the murder, Jaine is trying to recover her beloved Cuckoo for Coco Puffs T-shirt, to deal with her cat who just went viral for rescuing a toddler, and to navigate a new relationship with a much younger man.


Danger at the Cove by Hannah Dennison

There's a lot going on at Tregarrick Rock Hotel. Sisters Evie and Margot have their hands full with renovations, but it's looking like things might just get done in time for their grand opening. Margot is sure that they can accommodate one of her old friends who just arrived from Hollywood with little advance notice, and the friend's new beau, who arrived with absolutely no advance notice. And then there's a murder. I didn't reread the cover copy before starting the book so I wasn't quite sure who was going to wind up dead and not knowing definitely added to the suspense. 

I've really been looking forward to the second Island Sisters mystery and this one is just as much fun as  the first book. The hotel and island sound enchanting, especially the garden of figureheads. A rare low tide is going to expose a centuries old shipwreck and they plan to walk out to it. (Unlike the characters, I think I'd be headed out as soon as it was safe to start walking instead of waiting until after breakfast!) 




Murder at the House on the Hill by Victoria Walters 

Nancy Hunter and her grandmother live in the tiny village of Dedley End where they run a bookstore specializing in mysteries and thrillers. When a party at the stately mansion on the hill over their tiny village ends in murder, Nancy's best friend bets that the two of them won't be able to solve the mystery before the police. This one has all of the elements you'd expect to find in a cozy mystery, but it took me a while to get into it. The mystery element is eventually complex and satisfying, but for the first few chapters I couldn't keep the members of the victim's family straight or remember for sure who the dead woman was. 



Disclosure -- This post contains affiliate links. The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. 

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