Friday, July 19, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Witch Elm by Tana French

Release Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 22 hours 7 minutes
Narrator: Paul Nugent
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life - he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden - and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed. 
A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Review:

This is a dark mystery. Toby has everything, a good job, a lovely girlfriend and a charming personality that allows him to talk himself out of just about anything until the unthinkable happens. He is attacked in his apartment and left struggling to survive, the attack leaves his memory in taters, his speech impaired, leaving him reeling and struggling. He goes to stay with his Uncle who is sick and lives alone. While there a skull is found in a tree in the garden, leading to a murder investigation of a young man who Toby and his cousins went to school with. Toby doesn't remember much about that time in his life, the attack wiped out a lot of his memory and his cousins seem to be hiding something. Torn between letting sleeping dogs lie and finding out the truth Toby goes on a quest to find out if he was the killer because if he is, he isn't sure he can live with himself.

This is a slow paced mystery that keeps peeling back layer upon layer. It is not like French's other books but I still liked it. Toby is a young guy who has had it all but when it gets taken away he is left trying to pick up the pieces of his life and try to discover who he was and who he is now. This isn't just a mystery of who dunnit but a mystery of who you are and if you are the same person after something tragic befalls you. I found this book to be really interesting and the Narrator kept me engaged. Not all of the characters are likable, in fact I would say the vast majority of them aren't likable but there is something so childlike and lost about Toby that I couldn't stop listening.




Monday, July 15, 2019

Book Review: Who She Is by Diane Byington

Release Date: March 28, 2018
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 278 pages
Genre:  womens fiction
Buy: Kindle | paperback

Synopsis:

In the fall of 1967, Faye Smith’s family moves to Florida to work in the orange groves, and she has to start a new school… again. She tries out for the track team, knowing her mother would never approve because of Faye’s epilepsy.

When Faye discovers she has a talent for distance running, she and her friend Francie decide to enter the Boston Marathon, even though women aren’t allowed to compete. Desperate to climb out of the rut of poverty, Faye is determined to take part and win a college scholarship.

After the school bully tries to run her down with his car, a strange memory surfaces—a scene Faye doesn’t recognize. Her parents insist that it’s a symptom of her epilepsy, but Faye thinks they might be lying, especially when it keeps happening. To get her life on the right path, she’ll need to figure out what her parents are hiding and never lose sight of the finish line.

Review: 

This was a fast paced read, that I couldn't put down.  Faye Smith's family moves around a lot.  She is never in the same place more than a few months at a time but this time her parents have said they would stay until she finishes high school in a year and a half.  Faye makes friends for the first time and discovers a love of running.  Her parents don't agree with it and want to keep her home but Faye and her friend Francie decide to enter the Boston Marathon despite her parents protests and the fact that women aren't allowed to run.  Faye is determined to run in order to obtain a full scholarship to college so she can break free of the transient hard work of the farm hand.

What starts off as a book about a strict family with a daughter who wants to break free and find her own way turns into a mystery.  Faye starts having flashbacks and bad dreams about another woman, a car wreck and another life. As her home life unravels Faye is forced to try to defend herself and her will.

I liked that this was set back in the late 60's when women were just starting to break out of gender stereotypes. You weren't sure what was just a family scared of the unknown and wanting to keep their daughter "in her place" or what is actually fear of something else. Well written and interesting I really enjoyed this book. 




Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, July 12, 2019

ARC Book Review: After the End by Claire Mackintosh

Release Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: ebook
Pages: 400 pages
Genre:  Womens Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Audio

Synopsis:

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They're best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can't agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

Review: 

This book is tough, but not overly so.  What would you do if your child was terminally ill? Would you make the decision to let them go or would you fight to give them a little more time, even if that time is spent confined to a wheelchair, and unable to communicate? Max and Pip have different opinions on what would be best for the their son Max. This leads to court hearings and a huge strain on their marriage. There doesn't seem to be any right decision and about halfway through the book Mackintosh shows you what would happen with Max and Pip if the ruling went in their favor - two different outcomes with similar results.  Its not a happy book but its a book that makes you think.  Some have compared it to books written by Jodi Picoult and I have to agree.  There is a moral dilemma that doesn't have a definitive answer.  I was a little confused when the book branched off into two different directions but once I got the hang of it, it was interesting to see what the author felt the outcome of Pip and Max would have been if they had made different decisions.





Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Book Review: Love Lines by Sheri Langer

Release Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 344 pages
Genre:  Chic Lit, romance
Buy: Kindle | paperback

Synopsis:

Fordham Price is juggling her job at a publisher, her precocious 10-year-old daughter, and her feisty mother. She wants to find time for men, but a stream of dating disasters has her relationship status stuck at single. As if her Latte wasn’t already overflowing, a co-worker gets pregnant, sticking Fordham on the hook for the company’s latest reality read from their popular series. She must supplement her own romantic misadventures with tales of cynical cat-ladies, identical-twin husbands, spunky monks, and creepy web-crawlers.

As she wades through submissions, one from a widower gives her tingles in all the places she forgot existed. His words draw her in until she finds herself daydreaming about him more than she’d care to admit…

Review: 

Fordham is a single mother trying to juggle her profession and her job as a mother.  With the help of her mother she is raising her daughter who is a precocious 10 year old with a physical disability. Her best friend keeps setting her up on dates that she really has no interest in but then she runs into her high school boyfriend and first love, Aaron. Could this be the start of what was meant to be all along? In the wings is her daughters principal, David who always seems to show up at the same places she is and they appear to have a chemistry of sorts.

Fordham's mother lives with her and between helping Fordham she plays online scrabble and always wins until she finds the one player she can't seem to beat.

This is a sweet romance, learning how to start over and move forward. Its a reminder to us all to really pay attention to the people in our lives and what they are putting out there.  I really loved all the characters and Fordham's relationship with her daughter is sweet. I really enjoyed this book and think it would make a great beach read. 




Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, July 1, 2019

ARC Review: Those People by Louise Candlish

Release Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Format: ebook
Pages: 368 pages
Genre:  thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Audio

Synopsis:

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying—and everyone has something to hide.

Review: 

I read Louise Candlish's last novel "Our House" and this one shows how little it takes to make average everyday people do things that seem out of character. When Darren and Jodie move into the close knit community of Lowland Way they disrupt the lives of their neighbors causing an uproar in the neighborhood.  There is scheming, plotting and downright bad behavior from these "nice" suburban families.

I really appreciate how Candlish uses normal everyday activities like a new neighbor to launch these books into the horror show they turn out to be. Darren and Jodi are not good neighbors, they blast music all night, have turned their front yard into a construction zone / used car lot but what about the other people in the neighborhood who are so involved with other peoples business that they are constantly on the lookout for something new to police.  These so called good neighbors aren't so good, plotting and scheming about how to get Darren and Jodi to move since they won't toe the line.

You feel the anxiety and crazy as it starts to amplify throughout the book.  The mystery unfolds at a fast pace leaving you with so many suspects its almost hard to keep up! Great book with an element of wondering if this could really happen anywhere to it.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ARC Book Review: We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn book 4) by Becky Masterman

Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 156 pages
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Audio

Synopsis:

In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo's days as a prison chaplain--a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo's old things--has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he'd like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he'll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

Review: 

I didn't read the first 3 Brigid Quinn books and I didn't feel that you needed to.  There were some questions I had about Brigids relationship with the local sheriff that seems to have been strained by something that happened in a previous book but it didn't take away from the story.

Masterman weaves her own story regarding Perry Smith and Dick Hickok who were convicted of murder and were the main characters in Truman Capote's classic In Cold Blood. Masterman imagines what it may be like if Hickok had made a confession claiming his innocence in writing prior to being put to death and given this confession to the care of a Catholic priest. What if someone else was named in that confession and now that person is out of prison and worried that if the confession comes to light he may be forced back to prison or worse sentenced to death.

Brigid Quinn's husband Carlo was a prison chaplain back when Hickok and Smith were in jail. Jerry Beaufort tracks Carlo down hoping that he can find this written confession and get rid of it before it incriminates him, what he doesn't count on is Quinn. Ex FBI with a moral compass that is just off center, a psychopath niece and excellence at defending herself and others.

This is a fast paced mystery that re imagines Smith & Perry's crimes and pits Quinn against a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to try to hide his past crimes. I really enjoyed this book despite not having read the others.  In fact I may go back and pick up some of the past books to see how Quinn's character has evolved. If you like kick ass women this may be a good series for you.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Audio Book Review: Coroner by Jennifer Graeser Dornbush

Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 9 hours 13 minutes
Narrator: Sophie Amoss
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Summoned from her promising surgical career first to her estranged father's bedside and then to his post as medical examiner when his small town needs urgent help with a suspicious death, Emily Hartford discovers home is where the bodies are in this pitch-perfect mystery debut.

Recently engaged and deeply ensconced in her third year of surgical residency in Chicago, Emily Hartford gets a shock when she is called home to Freeport, Michigan, the small town she fled a decade ago after the death of her mother. Her estranged father, the local medical examiner, has had a massive heart attack, and Emily is needed urgently to help with his recovery.

Not sure what to expect, Emily races home, blowing the only stoplight at the center of town and getting pulled over by her former high school love, now sheriff, Nick Larson. At the hospital, she finds her father in near total denial of the seriousness of his condition. He insists that the best thing Emily can do to help him is to take on the autopsy of a senator's teen daughter whose sudden, unexplained death has just rocked the sleepy town.

Reluctantly agreeing to help her father and Nick, Emily gets down to work, only to discover that the girl was murdered. The autopsy reminds her of her many hours in the morgue with her father when she was a young teen - a time which inspired her love of medicine. Before she knows it, she is pulled deeper into the case and closer to her father and to Nick - much to the dismay of her big-city fiance.
When a threat is made to Emily herself, she must race to catch the killer before he strikes again. 

Review:

Emily has been assisting her father with autopsy's since she was 13. Now she is a surgical resident in Chicago and hasn't been home since her mothers death when she was in high school.  On her birthday she performs an amazing surgery, gets engaged to her rich and accomplished boyfriend and gets called back home when she is informed her father has had a massive heart attack.

Coming back to the small town she grew up in brings up a lot of memories. She finds her high school sweetheart is now the sheriff and still has feelings for her, her father has remarried and is still stubborn. With her father, the county coroner out of commission Emily is tasked with doing the autopsy on a high profile death.

The autopsy brings back memories and Emily soon finds herself sinking into the slower pace of life in Freeport and reconnecting with old friends.  She also finds herself caught up in a murder investigation and feeling pressured by her new fiancé.

This is a great first book in a new series. I am anxious to read more about these characters. I found that the book flowed well and I was instantly drawn into the story. I'm assuming that Emily will take over her dads position while he recovers but I guess only time will tell.





Friday, June 14, 2019

Audio Book Review: Redemption Point (Crimson Lake book 2) by Candice Fox

Release Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 13 hours 10 minutes
Narrator: Euan Morton
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rainforest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire's devastated father.

Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out - and if Ted doesn't help find the real abductor, he'll be its first casualty.

Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It's Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney's first homicide investigation - complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to 'assist' on the case. Amanda's conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioural traits, top-to-toe tatts - and a keen eye for killers . . .

For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly on the cards - but it may well cost them their lives . . .

Review:

I actually picked up a copy of this in Heathrow airport and didn't realize it was the 2nd in a series.  I'm kind of glad I never got to it yet even though its been calling to me from the shelf. I loved this book as much as the 1st one. Ted and Amanda assist in a homicide case with new Inspector Pip Sweeney. Ted is still struggling with his life in limbo caught between the media who has branded him a pedophile and never having been convicted of the crime. Dale Bingley is the father of the girl Ted has been accused of raping last we saw him Ted gave him a file with new evidence showing that Ted was most likely not who hurt his baby girl.  Dale returns set on getting Ted to help him find who really hurt his daughter. 

There is a lot going on in this book between the murder investigation that Amanda and Pip are working on, Ted dancing between the murder investigation and his own case with Dale and having to defend himself against new accusations.

These characters keep getting stronger and the little town that Ted finds himself in is full of interesting characters.  Amanda once again provides some comic relief with her outburst of knowledge and her ability to see things most people don't seem to notice. Dale and Ted have a weird sort of non friendship and Ted also finds himself with one of the most notorious and dangerous drug dealers on his side, protecting him and offering help to find and eliminate the person responsible for destroying Teds life.

Candice Fox hit another one out of the ballpark for me with this sequel.  Gonna have to go buy the 3rd one soon.





Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Audio Book Review: Crimson Lake (book 1) by Candice Fox

Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 12 hours 17 minutes
Narrator: Euan Morton
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

How do you move on when the world won’t let you?
12:46: Claire Bingleystands alone at a bus stop
12:47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her
12:52: The girl is missing . . .

Six minutes in the wrong place at the wrong time—that’s all it took to ruin Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of a brutal abduction, Ted is now a free man—and public enemy number one. Maintaining his innocence, he flees north to keep a low profile amidst the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

There, Ted’s lawyer introduces him to eccentric private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself a convicted murderer. Not entirely convinced Amanda is a cold-blooded killer, Ted agrees to help with her investigation, a case full of deception and obsession, while secretly digging into her troubled past. The residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair's every move . . . and the town offers no place to hide.

Review:

I love that the narrator is either Australian or at the very least uses an Aussie accent it gives the novel more atmosphere since the novel is set in Australia.

I love Candice Fox.  I'm a huge fan of her Archer Bennett series and when I found this book I had to grab it.  I really like Ted who is really struggling just to survive as the main suspect of the rape and murder of a young girl.  The fact that he used to be a cop make it even harder on him.  I know some people took exception to Ted getting beat up but Ted while a bigger guy who is an ex cop is often blindsided or knows that fighting back might get him in bigger trouble because although he was never convicted, the stigma of his case hangs over him.  In the media he is guilty so despite not being convicted he still has that weight hanging over his head.

Amanda is a convicted murderer and is a totally quirky character who brings levity to this book.  She almost appears to be on the Autism Spectrum due to her strange outbursts of random inappropriate facts. But honestly it doesn't matter why she is the way she is I just love her character.

Ted and Amanda together make a great team they see things that others miss and despite their differences do a great job.  I think they help each other emotionally as well.  Like they are connected on some weird plane.  Both having been accused of hideous crimes (Amanda convicted, Ted having the charges dropped).

I loved this book and immediately picked up book 2 in this series.





Friday, June 7, 2019

ARC Book Review: In Her Words by JS Ellis

Release Date: January 21, 2017
Publisher: Common Word Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 156 pages
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis:

One Night. One Man. One Mystery

While she seems to have it all, Sophie Knight is looking for more. When gorgeous and carefree Michael Frisk walks into her life, he offers the excitement and passion she desires.

Sophie is willing to risk everything she has. After all, she is used to concealing things from her husband—like her alcoholism, her unhappiness. But soon she has more to hide. She wakes up one morning in an alcoholic haze and finds bruises on her body, but has no recollection of what happened to her. Was she raped?

When unsettling notes and mysterious phone calls start, Sophie wonders whom she should turn to. Is Michael the cause of the frightening things happening in her life, or is he the answer to her problems?

Review: 

This story is told through the eyes of Sophie as she writes in her diary.  This is a twisted fast paced thriller that keeps getting stranger and more crazy as time goes by.  I loved that it was written in diary format and really only told by Sophie's perspective. The last part of the book was like unraveling a tangled string.  As you started to get toward what you thought of as the end you would find another tangle that you had to straighten out first. 

I will say I was a little disappointed with the ending.  I felt it was a bit abrupt and I wasn't completely certain why the person who was in police custody talking to Sophie was going to jail or thought he was, I couldn't figure out his crime so that didn't sit well with me. I was left feeling incomplete and if I was Sophie I'm not sure how I would move on when there was no closure.

I did blow through this book at lightening speed because it held my attention and was like a car crash you can't look away from.  Sophie's drinking, her blackouts, her husband's bizarre controlling ways, what may have happened on that mysterious night Sophie can't remember all left me turning pages up until the very end. I really want to give this a 4 worm rating but I have to drop it to 3 due to my dissatisfaction with the ending.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, June 3, 2019

ARC Book Review: Devils Fjord (A Faroe Islands Mystery Book 1) by David Hewson

Release Date: May 1, 2019
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Format: ebook
Pages: 288 pages
Genre:  International Mystery/crime
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis:

New District Sheriff Tristan Haraldsen uncovers a series of dark secrets when he investigates the disappearance of two boys in the remote Faroe Islands. Newly-appointed District Sheriff Tristan Haraldsen and his wife Elsebeth are looking forward to a peaceful semi-retirement in the remote fishing village of Djevulsfjord on the stunningly beautiful island of Vagar. But when two boys go missing during the first whale hunt of the season, the repercussions strike at the heart of the isolated coastal community. As he pursues his investigations, Tristan discovers that the Mikkelsen brothers aren’t the first young men to have vanished on Vagar. Determined to solve the mystery of Djevulsfjord, yet encountering suspicion wherever he turns, Haraldsen comes to realize he and his wife are not living in the rural paradise they had imagined, and that the wild beauty of the region hides a far darker reality.

Review: 

As with many Scandinavian mysteries this one is dark, atmospheric and slow paced. Djevulsfjord is a dying village. There are few children or young people and the ones that do live there have lived their whole lives there. They don't like outsiders much and tend to stick to the same way of life they have had forever.  From the Grind where they drive whales to the beach for slaughter to get them through the winter to understanding the hard life it is to live in such a remote desolate place.

Bodies drop like flies in Djevulsfjord, some older than others but all of them start to seem connected and some seem like they were covered up. There are many mysteries in this little town and new District Sheriff seems to be caught in the middle of it.

I've traveled the Fjords of Norway and they are isolated little towns and I can certainly see how if they didn't have tourists coming that it would be a very isolated and difficult life.  This was a really well done mystery and if you love Scandi mysteries you will love this book and the ending gave me chills.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Book Review: Holding out for a Hero (Jelvia: Not Human Book 1 by TE Kessler

Release Date: January 21, 2017
Publisher: Common Word Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 156 pages
Genre:  Religion
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis:

Primal. Savage. Untamed.
An alternate Earth where humans live alongside another species.
When she was twelve years old, her mother was murdered—and ever since Macy Shaw had been subconsciously searching for a hero to protect the defenceless.
But the hero she found was a Jelvia—a species deadly to humans.
When her friend was rescued by a Jelvia, Macy used her connections as a journalist to go after the biggest story of her life.
Narcifer saved a woman by merely being Jelvian—his presence striking terror in the hearts of the men who were attacking her.
So when a red-headed reporter not only began asking questions about his ‘heroism’ but brazenly offered her business card, his interest was piqued.
Narcifer was tracking a scientist who had been imprisoning and conducting experiments on Jelvias—but no matter where Narcifer’s line of investigation took him, he was always brought back to the red-headed journalist, Macy Shaw.
Was she involved? If so, she was guaranteed to die.
His orders were to track Macy.
But he went one step further.

Review: 

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book but I really did.  It was a fun sexy read. Jelvia are a new species and humans are terrified by their silver eyes and ability to spit venom.  Rarely do humans interact with Jelvia as they are taught by the media to fear them. Jelvia do hunt humans and kill them but only after careful research and after the human in question has been deemed dangerous to society at large. Most Jelvia reside on 3 islands or incognito in cities occupied by humans. The only thing that distinguishes them is their height, silver eyes, and the uniform they seem to wear.  When they wear regular clothes and sunglasses its hard to distinguish them from human. 

Macy has always been fascinated by Jelvia, when the opportunity to interview one is presented to her she jumps at it and finds herself in the middle of something she didn't bargain for.  Being used as a pawn by a human and under investigation by the Jelvia, Macy and the Jelvia Nacifer find they may have more in common than they thought.  Inexplicably drawn to each other Macy and Nacifer defy convention and try to form a relationship.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, May 13, 2019

ARC Book Review: No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Water Brook
Format: ebook
Pages: 379 pages
Genre:  Culture/ Race/ Fiction/Christian
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis:

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray--the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser--faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones--the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge's top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she's stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as "this" or "that", when such complexity exists in each person?

Review: 

What a timely book. This was a great book because it really gave different perspectives on the same situation.  I was particularly drawn to Jen who has an adopted daughter from Africa given that I work in adoption and we are strong advocates for making sure that adoptive parents really understand what raising a child of a different race is going to be like.  What they need to think about, what talks they need to have with their children, hair and skin care etc.  I've already recommended this book to several people that I work with and that I know who have adopted transracially.

Given the racial tensions going on in our country today this book couldn't have come at a better time.  People really need to take a look at themselves and what drives them to do or say the things they do. Camille learns her lessons the hard way, even Anya the new teacher at the all white school learns some valuable lessons about how stereotyping people can be used to create fear. This book is full of the complex issues surrounding race in America.  This book should be read by everyone. 






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Audio Book Review: Bridge to Burn (Kay Hunter book 7) by Rachel Amphlett

Release Date: February 8, 2019
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours 39 minutes
Narrator: Allison Campbell
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

When a mummified body is found in a renovated building, the gruesome discovery leads Detective Kay Hunter and her team into a complex murder investigation.

The subsequent police inquiry exposes corruption, lies, and organized crime within the tight-knit community - and Kay's determination to seek justice for the young murder victim could ruin the reputations of men who will do anything to protect their business interests.

But as Kay closes in on the killer, tragedy strikes closer to home in an event that will send a shockwave through her personal life and make her question everything she values. Can Kay keep her private and professional life under control while she tries to unravel one of the strangest murder cases of her career?

Review:

Kay's personal life gets a front seat in this book as in the middle of a particularly strange investigation she finds her beloved father in the hospital.  Although she drops everything to be by his side her mother's sharp tongue leaves her feeling torn between her responsibility to family and her responsibility to her job.

Kay loves her job and her squad and she is good at what she does.  Her father knows that, her partner supports her but Kay can't seem to help feeling like she is doing something wrong.  That she is never quite good enough at anything.

Alison Campbell is a fabulous narrator and really captures the whole feel of the characters and the book.




Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Audio Book Review: Gone to Ground (Kay Hunter Book 6) by Rachel Amphlet

Release Date: July 5, 2018
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours 36 minutes
Narrator: Allison Campbell
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth - a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs. With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population and a scornful media.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.

Review:

Kay has been promoted to Detective Inspector leaving her with even more on her plate and Sharp is back to work. I realize that I think I like these books because they aren't this sensational breakneck mystery.  They are slower and more methodical, somewhat like Scandinavian mysteries that I love so much.

I love Kay's partner Adam, the vet who frequently brings his work home with him for short stays, this time its a goat, with a desire for the plants in the back garden.

While this murder scene is particularly gruesome there is a lot of gallows humor that takes away the squeamishness. I love these police procedural's and like watching the characters evolve book to book.




Monday, May 6, 2019

Audio Book Review: Call to Arms (Kay Hunter Book 5) by Rachel Amphlett

Release Date: March 5, 2018
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours 28 minutes
Narrator: Allison Campbell
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country's most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn't the only victim of that investigation. DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But as she gets closer to the truth, she realizes her inquiries could do more harm than good.
Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay's inquiries will reach far beyond her new role..

Review:

Having survived a brutal attack and finally having her name cleared Kay Hunter returns to work only to find that her mentor is now under investigation. Determined to clear his name Kay digs for the truth with the help of some of her squad mates.

Another Edgy mystery, with well developed characters and solid investigative work. You could probably read these as stand alones but you would miss the interaction and solid relationship building and character development that takes place across the books.




Friday, May 3, 2019

Audio Book Review: Hell To Pay (Kay Hunter Book 4) by Rachel Amphlett

Release Date: January 24, 2018
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 15 minutes
Narrator: Allison Campbell
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle  | Paperback

Synopsis: 

When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter's investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiraling out of control, Kay's determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Could Kay's need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?

Review:

When a dead woman turns up in the trunk of a car after an accident, Kay Hunter is tasked to find out who she is. As the case unravels there is a connection to the man whose case may have ruined her career.

Kay is determined to take down this criminal and find out who is behind trying to derail her career and bugged her house. With her husband out of town Kay is feeling the pressure to stay safe but her determination pushes her forward.

This is a darker chapter in this series, because this one is personal and the criminal has his sites set on Kay. Another well written mystery in this series that keeps you guessing and holds you to the edge of your seat.




Monday, April 29, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline Miller

Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 11 hours 15 minutes
Narrator: Frazer Douglas
Genre: Fiction/Classic
Buy: Audible | Kindle  | Paperback

Synopsis: 

The legend begins...

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. "The best of all the Greeks"-strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess-Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine-much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles' mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Review:

I haven't read the Illiad or the Odyssey since 5th grade so it was nice to revisit this modernized tale.  This is the love story between Patroclus and Achilles, of war and oaths, of destiny. This story is beautifully told the narrator really brings the characters alive and Miller's beautiful prose helps guide the story along.

The fate of these two beautiful characters is well known but it still was devastating to my heart. I love how Miller really updated this story.  Bringing forth the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Even though it was sort of alluded to in the Illiad it was never really fleshed out so this modernized version really tugs at your heart.

The downfall of pride is really prevalent in this story. Both Achilles and his mother were very prideful and so was Achilles son who was raised by his mother. This pride led to devastating consequences and ultimately was the the downfall of both Achilles and his mother (from the loss of her son). In the end it seems she learned a bit of humility but the ending was pretty rough going there for a while.

I've had this book on my TBR list for a long time and I'm not sure what took me so long to actually get to it but I am so happy I did. Makes me intrigued to read her more recent book Circe



Friday, April 26, 2019

Book Review: The Harvard Skull Fiasco (Blue Bandicoot book 1) by Kris St. Gabriel

Release Date: December 16, 2018
Publisher: Broke Duck Press
Format: ebook
Genre:  Humor / Mystery
Buy: Kindle 

Synopsis:

Meet Shea. He's difficult—he suffers from pathological problems with authority and an unrepentant truthfulness. When he's not fixing computers in the library at Harvard Medical School, he's tormenting middle managers, and feuding with his boss. But where in the Harvard employee manual does it say you have to behave perfectly at all times?

When one day he uncovers the administration's secret plot to replace the library with a Starbucks cafe, Shea decides to stop them. He soon finds himself on a collision course with just about everyone, including a vivacious librarian named Astrid who doesn't quite agree that stealing the world's most famous skull is the best way to save a library. What follows is a comical and heart-warming tale of a misfit breaking all the rules in his quest to become a better person.

Review: 

This is an off beat mystery comedy. Right from the start you know what happened but the main character Shea is hilarious.  He wants to be a great thief but he suffers from problems with lying.  He can't seem to do it.  Shea believes that stealing the famous skull that resides in the Harvard library will prevent the school from replacing it with a starbucks.  His intention is to save the library which he holds in very high regard.

This book reminds me of those by Carl Hiaasen, The same twisted sense of humor and wit. This book is utterly engaging and fun. Quick paced with quirky characters.





Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Audio Book Review: One to Watch (Kay Hunter book 3) by Rachel Amphlett

Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 28 minutes
Narrator: Allison Campbell
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle  | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.
Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.
A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.
Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.

Review:

I am totally hooked on this series. I love Kay, her relationship with her husband and her relationship with a small set of her colleagues. While Kay is still having issues with some of the people she works with due to the Moral Standards investigation she was cleared of she still finds herself working to clear her name.

In this book Hunter is untangling the death of a young girl at her purity pledge party.  It seems this young woman took a vow of chastity before marriage and pledged herself to another young man. Yet she was far from chaste, in fact she was pregnant. Whoever the father is may be the killer.

While Kay tries to figure out who may have killed this young girl she finds her home broken into and vital information leaked to the press and attributed to her which brings swift backlash from those who don't trust her anyway. As Kay struggles to figure out who is behind ripping her world apart she finds disturbing information that may lead to the culprit.

Fast paced police procedural with good character development and intriguing mysteries.




Monday, April 22, 2019

Audio Book Review: Will To Live ( Kay Hunter Book 2) by Rachel Amphlett

Release Date: October 12, 2017
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 15 minutes
Narrator: Allison Campbell
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle  | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Reputation is everything.
When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as "Suicide Mile", it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.

As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realizes the railway's recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.

With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.
When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realizes the killer's timetable has changed, and she's running out of time to stop him....

Review:

Kay Hunter is back and this time the murder really creeped me out. Victims are being found drugged and tied or someone bound to the train tracks. They wake up just in time to realize their predicament and see the train barreling down on them.

This is a faced paced thriller with multiple suspects and good character development.  We are really getting to know Kay and her colleagues and the more we know the more I like them. Kay is still not trusted due to a prior investigation into missing evidence in a case but she was found innocent. However not everyone believes she really is innocent which makes Kay's job all the more difficult.

These books are a quick read and highly addictive. 






Friday, April 19, 2019

Audio Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Release Date: December 27, 2015
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 16 hours 44 minutes
Narrator: Robin Wall Kimmerer
Genre: Native American/Botany/Nature
Buy: Audible | Kindle  | Paperback

Synopsis: 

As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as "the younger brothers of creation". As she explores these themes, she circles toward a central argument: The awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return.

Review:

Beautifully written, I can't say enough about this book.  Its a gift to read. The author is a botanist and professor but is also an Indigenous woman who has learned about plants through her family and traditions. She uses these teachings in conjunction with her western knowledge of plant science to help nurture a new generation of botanists.  She challenges them to look beyond science to listen to ancient wisdom and explore the earth and plants thanking them for everything they give to us.

This book is a reminder to be grateful for all life. For the paper that was once a tree, the food we eat, the clothing we wear was all once something else and we should be grateful that those plants, trees and animals gave their lives for us to have shoes, or shirts, food to eat. If everyone started remembering how we are all connected to the earth and give thanks for it maybe we wouldn't be facing the ecological disasters we do. Maybe if we started remembering that plants, trees and animals have life just like we do and we are all connected in a delicate balance then maybe we wouldn't keep seeing an us vs. them.  Maybe by listening we will relearn what has been lost.

Indigenous teachings about harvesting and growing and creating may just seem like rituals but when really explored in a scientific way many of the traditions helped to keep the ecology growing and flourishing around them. Without harvesting sweetgrass the sweetgrass wouldn't thrive, without taking certain trees for baskets new ones couldn't grow, life is a balance and we as humans have to remember to respect that. We need to listen more and try to exert our will less.

I recommend this book to everyone for its teachings, its beautiful words and its insights - I actually began this book with trepidation not thinking I was going to like it at all, instead I've fallen in love.


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