Thursday, November 30, 2023

{I've Been Reading} Please Tell Me

 Please Tell Me by Mike Omer

In her therapist's playroom, eight-year-old Kathy uses an intricate Victorian dollhouse to act out horrific murders. The little girl hasn't spoken since she escaped the abductor who had held her captive for the past eighteen months. No one knows who took her or what happened during that stretch of time, but the stories she play acts with the dolls she buries in the playroom sandbox match up with unsolved murders...and she did some of them before the murders occurred. 

I really enjoyed this thriller. The pace is a bit slow and there are a lot of characters doing a lot of things that don't have much to do with Kathy and her story, but one things start to come together my patience absolutely paid off. 

My biggest complaint -- and the thing that drew me to the book in the first place -- is the dollhouse. I think the author is unaware of the fact that there are dollhouses for children to play with and dollhouses for adult collectors. Some of the scenes with the dollhouse left a sour taste in my mouth in a book that I otherwise loved. 

No Child of Mine by Nichelle Geraldes 

"She was not exhausted from the work of multiplying cells. That work could be done by a mouse or someone in a coma." I'm still not sure how I feel about this horror novel where one of the biggest horrors is just being pregnant. Essie's birth control fails and although she almost immediately decides to keep the pregnancy, she sees it as an inconvenience that will derail her law school graduation. There's also a curse that causes  the women in her family line to lose their husbands shortly after giving birth, but she's not as concerned about that.  The plot alternates between Essie's daily life and two women in a previous era. It gets seriously creepy and I was holding my breath for the last few chapters, but I spent the first three quarters of the book feeling extremely critical of the protagonist. 

Seeds of Murder by Rosie Sandler 

This one is the first in a new series and, as uninterested as I am in actual gardening, I can't wait to read more.  Steph Williams is the new gardener for an exclusive gated community and spends her days working on the extensive grounds....except for the upper paddock (where she quickly finds what appears to be an unmarked grave) and the locked enclosures. The wealthy homeowners are all keeping secrets and have decided that she's the one who is blackmailing them all. She has no idea what's going on behind closed doors, but she's got to figure it out fast if she wants to save her dream job. The characters and mystery are intriguing and the setting is absolutely fantastic. 

The Wife in the Photo by Emily Shiner 

Here's another domestic thriller where the new housekeeper has lied to get her position and has ulterior motives. What makes it stand out from the rest is that those reasons aren't kept secret  for long. There's more going on than it first seems and it's an extremely fun roller coaster ride to find out what actually happened that night that Evan's wife died. I've read several of Emily Shiner's books, thoroughly enjoying some while being disappointed in others. This is one of the best. 

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

{I've Been Reading} Mister Lullaby

The Woods are Waiting by Katherine Greene

Silver coins in their pockets and sprinklings of dirt in their shoes...the old traditions date back hundreds of years and are supposed to keep the children safe from the Hickory Man who lurks in the woods, but they aren't working. The lost child posters in town are layered thickly, new pictures covering the ones that are decades old. Cheyenne's mother sprinkles salt across doorways and sweeps herbs into the wooden floors, convinced that it's her duty to keep her neighbors safe. It's why Cheyenne moved away and why she's returned. Her mother is getting worse and more children have been found dead in the woods. This is some seriously creepy folk horror and I absolutely loved it, even though there are a few sounds I may never hear again without thinking about the Hickory Man.  

Mister Lullaby by J. H. Markert

The people of Harrod's Reach all know about the abandoned train tunnel. They've used bits of twisted metal from a long ago crash as rustic decor. They've played a game that dates back to the 1800s, daring each other to run from one end to the other. They know about the mysterious deaths in the tunnel, the severed limbs found just outside the entrance.  Mister Lullaby by J. H. Markert feels like a Stephen King novel. It's got all of the right elements and the right language, it just didn't capture my imagination the way the author's last book did, maybe because there's so much going on in so few pages. 

The Homemaker by Miranda Rijks

I've lost track of how many domestic thrillers I've read where a nanny or housekeeper lies her way into a job because she has a hidden motive to get closer to her employer. This is one of the better ones. Maria and Imogen aren't likeable characters, but watching them interact while each hides secrets from the other was absolutely fascinating. I did  find myself wondering if some of the events were physically possible, but it was a thoroughly entertaining read that left me holding my breath more than once. 

Breaking by Amanda Cassidy 

Mirren Fitzpatrick was drinking at the beachside bar when her eight-year-old daughter vanished from the water's edge. As searchers fail to find the missing child, the media circus grows. Everyone questions what kind of mother Mirren was. I had my suspicions about Mirren, because early chapters make it clear that she's never really bonded with her adopted daughter.  The characters are hard  to like. There's a lot going on, though, and even though I thought I could tell where the plot was headed, the end was not what I expected. 

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

{I've Been Reading} Trotting into Trouble


Trotting into Trouble by Amber Camp 

When Mallory Martin's horse rescue is called to retrieve a horse that was found wandering alone in a hunting area, she stumbles across the rider's body and gets tangled up in the murder investigation. I enjoyed the mystery and the chance to vicariously spend some time with Mallory's rescue animals, which are a major part of the book. If you haven't read the first book in the series (I hadn't) be aware that this book will let you know who the killer was. I'm going to be watching for the third book so I can spend more time with Mallory and her animals. 

Stay by Jane Bailey

In the last days before the lockdown, Caitlin is hitchhiking home and accepts a ride from a happy couple and their young daughters. They seem like a perfect family and she's in no hurry to face her parents so she accepts their offer to stay the night. Then she accepts their offer to stay longer and help homeschool the girls. Something about Marcus and Mimi and their hippy lifestyle seems a bit off, but they're so welcoming she just wants to settle in for a while. I keep picking up books that are set during lockdown and, so far, this has been one of the best. The author uses the pandemic, along with the isolated setting, to keep Caitlin isolated and it works extremely well. As she walks through the fields with the girls, Caitlin sings songs from traditional Irish folklore that echo her situation and add to the atmosphere. I can't wait to read more by this  author! 

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

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

{I've Been Reading} A Corpse at the Witching Hour

 A Corpse at the Witching Hour by Debra Sennefelder

On Halloween night, Hope is helping hand out candy at a historic house with a chilling reputation. A woman has died there every twenty years and Halloween is the night. When she finds a dead witch on the lawn, she desperately hopes that it's a decoration...but of course it's not.  I really enjoy the Food Blogger mystery series and this book absolutely lived up to my expectations. It's the perfect world to lose yourself in with a great setting and yummy food ideas and a rich history that gives many people motives to have committed the murder. 


The Beautiful and the Wild by Peggy Townsend 

A woman being held captive in a shipping container on an isolated Alaskan homestead struggles to free herself and rescue her son from the man who is keeping them both there. The author really captures the setting and Liv's desperation. I might have questioned a few of her decisions, but I stayed up way too late to see how it would all turn out. 

The Elevator by Claire Cooper 

Two women find themselves trapped in an elevator and share dark secrets from their past. It's an intriguing premise and the book gets off to a great start before bogging down in the flashback scenes. As soon as the elevator lurches to a stop, the plot's pace slows to a near crawl. I found myself really working at it to keep track of who was who and how it all connected and the reveal was interesting, but it took forever to get there. 

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


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