Thursday, March 16, 2023

{I've Been Reading} The Loch


The Loch by Fran Dorricott 

After rain spoils their camping trip, three friends find  themselves staying in a rental house at the edge of Loch Aven. The last signatures in the guest book are from before they were born. The local residents of the small town aren't welcoming. Michaela, who made the arrangements for their trip, says she has a surprise for Eleanor, dropping some vague hints about a podcast she'd listened to. Then Michaela vanishes. The premise had me intrigued, but the plot moves very slowly and it feels like it would be almost impossible not to guess where things are going to end up. There was a small twist I didn't expect, but the important details are mentioned over and over again. 

The Last Wife by J A Baker

This one sounded right up my alley. Fiona and her husband move to Winters End, a small island where they can hide from what they did. The locals are unwelcoming and it's not long before she realizes that there are almost no women in the small town. The local cemetery is filled with gravestones, most of them recent. It's an atmospheric, slow burn that held me interest most of the way through. The revelations -- both of the awful thing Fiona did and of what happened to the local women left me a bit underwhelmed.  It's a solid read, but nothing unique. 

Eve in Overdrive by Faith Gardner 

A journalist picks up her new luxury car. There's just one problem -- the columns that earned the money that paid for her solar powered, self-driven vehicle really made some people angry. The engineer who programmed her car is one of those people. I loved this novella. It's a fast paced psychological thriller that plunges the reader almost immediately into the action and I read it straight through, hoping that somehow Eve was going to escape the nightmarish situation. There are other, longer, thrillers by this author, set in the same universe. I'll be downloading those as soon as I get the chance!

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

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

{I've Been Reading} A Sinister Revenge


Did you know that "she sells sea shells by the sea shore" refers to an actual historical figure, Mary Anning? (Or maybe that's just folklore. Either way, the woman's history is fascinating) And did you know that on New Year's Eve  1853, a group of scientists held a dinner parts in a life size model of an iguanodon?


A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn

I spent a chunk of time looking up the historical details from this book. I already love the characters and the setting and the mysteries and those historic details gave me an extra appreciation for the time and place where Veronica and Stoker live. I sometimes spend more time thinking about what they didn't have in the past than realizing how many amazing things they DID have. 

This time, Stoker's brother Tiberius has asked for their help. Friends from his younger days, members of a group that described themselves as The Seven Sinners, are dying. The obituaries that he's received in the mail make him suspect foul play, and that he may be the next target. Their investigation takes place at the family estate, which means we get to learn more about Stoker's childhood and his relationships with his brothers. 

If you haven't heard of wolpertingers, look them up. They're like jackalopes, but better! 

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hilier

Paris Peralta is found in her bathroom, covered in blood, holding a straight razor over the body of her much older, much richer husband, unable to explain what happened to him. The media circus is immediate. She didn't kill her beloved husband, but this isn't the first murder she's been involved in. 

I was immediately pulled into this fast paced thriller. I wanted so badly for Paris's husband not to be dead. I know, there wouldn't be a book if he wasn't, but the author's descriptions of their relationship had me wanting to know more about him and their backstory. There's a little of that, but the main focus is on the woman Paris was before she married a famous comedian and the events she thought she'd finally left behind her. Once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down. 

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

Thursday, February 09, 2023

{I've Been Reading} Of Manners and Murder

 Of Manners and Murder by Anastasia Hastings 

The first book in this new cozy series is absolutely delightful! The protagonist, Violet, is plunged into the action right along with the reader, learning that her aunt Adelia is a popular Agony Aunt, an anonymous writer who offers advice through a newspaper column. In that same conversation, she learns that Adelia is leaving for the Continent and expects Violet to take her place. When the first letter she opens is from a new bride fearing for her life, Violet sets off to offer advice in person, only to learn that the young woman is already dead. The book is fast paced and entertaining and, while I started to get an idea what the solution to the mystery would be, I didn't come close to solving it all. I can't wait to read more about these characters!

Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron 

After some crates of what could be very valuable wine are discovered hidden at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, Ricki starts looking for ways to combine the upcoming auction with promotions for her vintage cookbook shop. Those bottles of wine could generate a small fortune, money that will definitely help the museum, and she's eager to help. Even if that means venturing back onto social media, something she's shied away from since her husband died while filming a prank video. News of the auction brings distant Charbonnet cousins to town, all hoping to claim what they see as their share of the windfall and seemingly willing to do anything to make that happen. 

I loved this one, with its quirky characters and the atmospheric backdrop of New Orleans. This murder mystery could only have happened at this museum with these people and I can't wait to see what happens to Ricki and her friends next. 

Such Pretty Flowers by K. L. Cerra 

Plagued with guilt about avoiding her brother's last few text messages and horrified by the details of his grisly suicide, Holly goes looking for explanations. Was her brother's enigmatic girlfriend somehow involved or had Dane experienced a psychotic break? Holly scrolls endlessly through Dane's messages and considers every detail of their last encounters, trying to figure out what actually happened. Maura is welcoming and supportive and almost before Holly realizes what's happening, she's moved into the gorgeous woman's apartment. The horror is absolutely claustrophobic and the author has a way of making things that don't seem like they should be scary work. The protagonist suffers from trypophobia, an aversion to clusters of small holes. When she first explains it and uses strawberries as an example of a sight that makes her uncomfortable, it seems silly. By the end of the book, descriptions had me squirming. 

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, February 02, 2023

{I've Been Reading} Cheddar Late than Dead


Cheddar Late than Dead by Linda Reilly 

Well, now I've got to buy some glazed donuts so I can try recreating the grilled cheese confections that Carly and her friends whipped up for the ill-fated bridal shower that launches her into a third murder investigation. 

Catering isn't one of the services that Carly's eatery offers, but when a former classmate has to make last minute changes to a bridal shower, she lets herself get talked into it. The sandwiches are a hit, but the event ends in tragedy when the groom-to-be is poisoned. With an entertaining mystery element and plenty of characters to suspect, this series is always fun and always leaves me craving grilled cheese. 

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel 

Cousins Maeve and Andrea spent their early childhood in a cult, then lost contact with one another. Many years later, Maeve takes one of those mail order DNA tests and the two find each other again. quickly rekindling their friendship. 

The brief glimpses this book provides of the Motherhood Collective, the cult where Andrew and Maeve were raised, are absolutely chilling. It's not the same cookie cutter cult I've come to expect from this kind of book, it's something else entirely. Then there's Andrea's wildly successful wellness company with it's AI baby dolls intended to help prepare women for motherhood. This book delivered so much more than I was expecting -- I can't wait to read more by the author. 

Death a Sketch by Cheryl Hollon

I'm not at all interested in moonshine. Despite that, I've loved all three books in the Paint and Shine mystery series, even the details about the distillery. Miranda is working to reach her goals before a deadline and the teambuilding company retreat for a sporting goods company will definitely help her reach it, if she can pull it off. The executive in charge seems determined to pit his employees against one another. Members of the winning team will get promotions. The losing team will be fired. Not even a murder is enough to change that plan and Miranda can't afford to cancel so she'll have to find the killer and keep the rest of her clients safe. I really enjoyed the setting and characters. 

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

Thursday, January 12, 2023

{I've Been Reading} The Hiking Trip

The Hiking Trip by Jenny Blackhurst

It's been twenty years since a British backpacker vanished from a Canadian hiking trail. Laura has tried to put the memories of what happened behind her, but news stories announcing that human remains have been found have her fearing what other secrets might be revealed. Then someone starts targeting her family. The story shifts between the days on the hiking trail, snippets of news reports, and what's happening to Laura now. Cliff hangers kept me turning pages without making me feel manipulated by the author. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

The Nightmare Man by J. H. Markert

Bestsellinig horror author Ben Bookman creates nightmares. When bodies are found in a barn, hanging in cocoons that have been stitched from corn husks, the crime is a near perfect imitation of her newest book, The Scarecrow. Someone is bringing the horror to life...but it gets a lot worse from there. What's going on at the Blackwood estate is SO much worse. The history and folklore made this one really intriguing and it's just the right kind of creepy.  

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, January 05, 2023

{I've Been Reading} The Stay at Home Mother


The Stay-at-Home Mother by Nicole Trope 

Two mothers become friends, but neither is exactly what she seems to be. I enjoy domestic thrillers that involve motherhood and this kept me turning pages the whole way through.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting - that scene from the book's description doesn't happen until the very end - but it was an entertaining, fast paced read. 

Disclosure -- This post contains affiliate links. The publishers provided me with advance review copies. 


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