Wednesday, January 24, 2024

{I've Been Reading} Of Hoaxes and Homicide

 Of Hoaxes and Homicide by Anastasia Hastings

I absolutely love this series and the second book is almost more fun than the first! Of course it couldn't have existed without the first book setting up Violet's unexpected new role as an agony aunt....but this one has a cult that Violet's stepsister is much too intrigued by. Sephora has been absolutely devouring stories of the group, which include rumors of virgin sacrifices. When "Miss Hermione" receives a letter from a troubled mother she joins the Childred of Aed herself in an effort to rescue a missing girl. This one got a little darker than I expected, but the gruesome events were filtered through Violet's Victorian sensibilities, so it wasn't too dark.  

The Book of Renfield by Tim Lucas 

This book weaves text from the original Dracula in with original notes by Doctor Seward and Renfield telling the story of his own life and how he became a servant of the vampire. I picked it up after watching the recent movie, which combines characters from the original book (which I haven't reread in decades) I was reading about the wrong Renfield, if that makes any sense at all. It was an enjoyable read for the most part, but some sections absolutely dragged and the introduction and the author's notes at the end were downright tiresome.  I'm apparently not enough of a Dracula fan to thoroughly enjoy this. 

The Au Pair by Jane Renshaw 

Melanie is the second au pair to work for the Davidson family. Her predecessor, a young girl named Alice, is missing, assumed drowned after her clothes were found on the beach. Deep scratches on her bedroom floor show where Alice pushed a heavy dresser against the door, presumably to keep someone out. The story alternates between Alice and Melanie and as soon as Melanie is introduced it's revealed that she's there to investigate what happened to Alice. I never quite got caught up in the suspense of this one and couldn't suspend my disbelief nearly enough to be satisfied with the ending.  

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

{I've Been Reading} One Last Breath

 One Last Breath by P S Cunliffe 

This thriller plunges right into the action, with the protagonist trapped at the bottom of the same well her best friend's body was found in years earlier. Jessie is well known for the documentary series she filmed about Amy's death and not everyone is happy that her work led to the release of the man originally convicted of the crime. The plot alternates between the present, with Jessie in the well, the days leading up to that, and earlier points in time. It all makes sense -- there are secrets to be revealed, but it was always clear whose head I was in and when. The best part of this book for me was the sense of suspense and urgency the author creates and the vivid settings. As fantastic as it was, right up until the very end, I would have been happier with one or two fewer twists. I couldn't suspend my disbelief quite that far. 

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

{I've Been Reading} The Heiress

 The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins 

Ruby McTavish Callahan Woodward Miller Kenmore led a long and eventful life. When she was six years old, her kidnapping made headlines and had the entire country praying for her safe return. Her first husband was shot on their honeymoon. Her second was electrocuted in the barn of the family estate. Her third and fourth husbands also died under questionable circumstances. She left everything to her adopted son, Camden, who refuses to have anything to do with the family estate or the relatives who still live there. He's created a life for himself in Colorado and is doing just fine without Ruby's money until an email from his cousin draws him back to Ashby house and his wife gets a look at everything he walked away from. Told through Ruby's letters, brief news stories, and the point of view of Cam and his wife, this book kept me hooked from the beginning.  The old scandals and current drama between family members combined to make an absolutely fascinating read. 

A Bean to Die for by Tara Lush

Coffee shop owner Lana Lewis is delighted to get a spot in the local community garden, where she hopes she'll be able to grow her own coffee plants. Her father, a long term member, has warned her about the many rules and ongoing conflicts between members, but nothing could have prepared her for the shock of discovering a dead body on her first visit. It's the fourth book in the series, so it's not the first time Lana's seen a murder victim and her previous career as a journalist has helped her discover the skills she'll need to figure everything out. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The setting, cast of characters, and intriguing mystery all come together in a perfect blend. Even though I haven't read the previous three books, I felt right at home in Lana's world.  

Everything is Temporary by Jon Cohn

Sarah never knew about the nightmares of her husband's childhood, not until he was suddenly arrested for attempted murder and told her to retrieve a box from the rafters of his art studio. In the battered cardboard carton is an elf costume and a book that Tom wrote, detailing the time he spent with Mrs. Claus and her house full of talking ornaments, what started out as friendship and turned quickly to a horrific nightmare. Now, Tom warns her, the monster is after their teenage daughter. I enjoyed this quick read and found myself more interested in Sarah's situation than the horror elements. The monstrous candy canes and figurines are fun, but I was more worried about how Sarah was going to keep her family together. 

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

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

{I've Been Reading} The Yacht

 The Yacht by Sarah Goodwin

The morning after an exclusive New Year's Eve party on a luxury yacht, six friends awaken to find the boat drifting in the middle of the ocean with no fuel, no way to contact the outside world, and very little food or water. Then one of them goes missing. I loved the premise, but the book gets off to a very slow start. The characters, except for one, are extremely wealthy and superficial. Most of them are mean. They're not resourceful when it comes to surviving the situation they find themselves in.   Midway through, the suspense starts to pick up and I found myself enjoying the read, but I struggled to get that far and didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as I enjoyed Stranded by the same author.  

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. 


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