#historical fiction, #NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Domestic Drama-Dysfunctional Families, Fiction, Recent Reads, Rapid Reviews, Thriller

Saturday Shorts: #Bethlehem #SixthWickedChild#HerSistersSecret

Recent and Rapid

In my attempt to catch up on all of the reviews I missed while out sick (months ago, I’m good now) I’m writing some rather brief reviews of the books I read/listened to while away. Okay, they’re brief in comparison to what I normally write, recognizing that for some, they still are full reviews.

BETHLEHEM by Karen Kelly

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Honestly, I would love to have that cover in a frame in my Victorian house. I think it’s gorgeous! That also sums up my thoughts about the book – beautiful! As you know, this is the favorite era in US history – the Gilded Age as industry and new inventions are just beginning to flourish but the mass corruption hasn’t quite taken hold. The novel, however, has a dual timeline as it spans the multi-generational story of a family in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the second of which is the 1960s. Bethlehem is a tale of family secrets, heartbreak, survival and, most of all, love. Kelly has created characters that truly represent a generation as a whole and families in general. Most of all, it is a story of forgiveness and is one from which I think many readers and their families might benefit.

Bethlehem is shelved as “historical fiction,” and it is that but so much more. I’ve read where others have suggested that it be classified solely as “women’s fiction,” but that is selling the book short. Not every historical novel has to deal with major, monumental events in history, nor should they. It is the basic human story that has to be told or else we, as a people, tend to gloss over our past. Families are history. Every day mundane tasks are history. It is how we learn from the past so that we may do better in the future and to that end, Kelly has given us a marvelous example, a wonderful read. This is a must-own book for my shelves and I hope it will be a “must-read” for each of you.

THE SIXTH WICKED CHILD by J.D.Barker

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The Sixth Wicked Child is the action packed conclusion to JD Barker’s 4MK trilogy. If you have not read The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, do not read this one until you have done so. There is absolutely no way to fully understand the plot or the characters without reading the entire series. Unfortunately, I wish I had stopped at The Fourth Monkey. I thought it was one of the best books I ever had read. Not just thriller or horror or fiction, but one of the best in general. The characters were witting, biting, mysterious and thrilling. I loved the dialogue, the intelligence that went into the writing. Simply stated, I loved The Fourth Monkey! I was sorely disappointed with The Fifth to Die and, had The Sixth Wicked Child not been the conclusion, I would have passed on it entirely. The wit, the marvelous dialogue, the humor and the intellect were missing from the second and third installments.

In The Sixth Wicked Child, we pick up exactly at the cliffhanger of the second book. As it progresses we – and they – are presented with “facts” that show both Detective Porter and Anson Bishop as the possible serial killer. In addition, the girls who were rescued at the end of The Fifth to Die were injected with what is believed to be deadly contagion. Half of Porter’s team is in lock-down at the hospital and the other half, including the FBI, are on a manhunt for Porter. If this sounds confusing and conflicting that is because it is! There was so much information stuffed into this novel and so many questions to be answered that adding the contagion seemed like too many pieces of pie after a huge holiday meal. By the end of the book, I just wanted it to end, to give me the answers I needed to feel satisfied with the series, but no, it just kept going. The ending finally came with a “surprising twist!” Two surprises actually. Both of which were so incredibly unbelievable that I just shook my head in sadness. All that I had come to know and love about J.D.Barker’s writing was undone by the last chapters of the book. I detest twists that you know are just there for shock purposes. I also detest vigilante justice. That’s all I will say. If you like this series then I know you’ll read the conclusion. If you haven’t read the series – stop after the first. You will be glad you did.

HER SISTER’S SECRET by E.V. Seymour

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Her Sister’s Secret by E.V.Seymour begins with a woman killed in a car crash. We read her emotions, thoughts, fears and anguish as the car careens into another. We suspect, and eventually so do the police, that this was no accident and the driver intentionally killed herself via the fatal crash. But that is just the beginning to the twists, secrets and questions that we encounter within.

There are three Napier siblings – one is perfect and adored, one struggles to live up the image her sister has set while never quite achieving that goal in the eyes of their parents. The third doesn’t even try to meet the parental expectations and is now a recovering addict. When the perfect sibling dies in this car crash, one sibling withdraws back into their addiction and the other, Molly, goes on a quest to learn the truth. Why would her perfect sister with a perfect husband and perfect life kill herself – and did she intentionally attempt to kill the other driver as well? As Molly searches for the truth, she discovers more questions and secrets than anyone, including herself, are prepared to answer.

Everything about Her Sister’s Secret was interesting: the characters were complex, the writing was exceptional and the plot was riviting. There were plenty of red herrings to keep me guessing how the ending would play out. I had my own suspicions, but the nuances of the story line kept me intrigued to the very end. This is exactly how thrillers and suspense should be written. If you haven’t picked up Her Sister’s Secret yet, then I highly encourage you to do so.

And those are my “shorts for Saturday.” Have you read these three, one or all? What did you think about them? Let me know. As always, I’m appreciative to #Netgalley for my copies of these books and to @StMartinsPress and @HarperImpulse as well as to the authors who make it all possible. Happy Reading!

 

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#historical fiction, Fiction, Recent Reads, Rapid Reviews, Thriller

RecentReads and RapidReviews

Recent and Rapid I have two quick reviews for you today. Let me know if you’ve read them and what you thought about them.

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I actually read two books within a week of each other involving an “escape room” and I could have sworn that I reviewed both. Wrong. Luckily, the review today is for the one that I enjoyed most: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin.

The setting is Wall Street in a brokerage firm that either is everyone’s worst nightmare working environment or is dead-on regarding the cut throat nature of Wall Street. The book is told in present day and through flashbacks of one its workers, Sara, who was a brilliant recent graduate in need of a break. When she is hired at Stanhope and Sons, she believes that all of her dreams have been fulfilled and her problems are over. She could not have been more wrong. In the present, four fellow workers of Sara’s – the most successful team at Stanhope – are summoned to a late night meeting in what appears to be an abandoned building. After entering the elevator, the four discover that they are part of an escape room puzzle that goes horribly and terrifyingly wrong. As the team solves more of the puzzles’ clues, they realize that it is not a game, unless it’s a game to the death.

There were parts of the story line that were questionable and took a little suspension of belief, however, I absolutely loved this book. The characters are developed so well and so thoroughly that I despised each of the four in the elevator. By the end of the book, I was actually hoping they all would die. Seriously. They are bad people. At the same time, the background story of Sara was fascinating and realistically well told. I read this one in one night without stopping. If you like thrilling thrillers and despicable characters, then this is a must-read book for you!

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Laura Lippman is a “hit or miss” author for me, more often hit than miss. Lady in the Lake demonstrates why I keep coming back to her work. It is a stellar mystery set in the perfect era. She manages to capture the frustration of women in the 1960s, the racial tension of then and now and lays out an incredible mystery that keeps readers guessing until the very end. That she does all of this with a very likeable and witty character is “icing on the cake.”

Lady in the Lake is actually inspired by a true story of the unsolved murder of Shirley Parker in Baltimore. Although that case remains unsolved, Lippman’s indomitable character, Maddie, is on a mission to prove that she has what it takes to be an ace reporter and solve the mysterious death of Cleo aka The Woman in the Lake. The story is told from multiple points of view but Lippman seamlessly transitions through each of them as she makes each of their voices clear and understood. Lippman’s past as a reporter shows in her astute descriptions of the newsroom. Add to that the nuances of racial tension that was simmering throughout America at this time and you have a winner of book. To say that this was one of my favorite books of the summer is an understatement. I loved the characters, the era and the writing immensely.

Thank you to the publishers, #Netgalley, #MeganGoldin and #LauraLippman for my copies of #LadyintheLake and #TheEscapeRoom.

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Fiction, Tags and Challenges, Thriller

29 Seconds @tmlogan

I fell in love with TM Logan after reading “Lies,” and now I’m absolutely addicted to his writing! 29 Seconds is more than a thriller, it is a story about choices. If you could make one person disappear without a trace forever, would you do it? That is the choice that Sarah has after rescuing a young girl from an abductor. Sarah has been harassed by her boss for years, as have other women. Now she has a chance to do something about “the monster,” but will she be able to make the call.

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The writing was gripping, the story line believable and the twist was perfect – not melodramatic and totally unforeseeable. I absolutely love 20 Seconds and highly recommend it to lovers of women’s fiction, suspense and thrillers.

Book Reviews, Crime, Dectective, Fiction, Thriller

The Last Widow #KarinSlaughter

Enthralling, Emotional, Enlightening – these are merely the beginning of a long list of adjectives I often use to describe Karin Slaughter’s books. Thrilling and captivating, The Last Widow, was a heart stopping, engrossing read from cover to cover, something I have come to expect from this author, which is why she is on my “must read” list for every new book she writes.

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After a hiatus, Slaughter has returned to the Will Trent series which includes Sara Linton, both of whom now are working for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and who are tentatively in a relationship. The book begins with a shopping trip turned abduction and rapidly moves to a bombing at the Emory campus in downtown Atlanta. En-route to the bombing, Will and Sara become entangled in a car crash that escalates into murder and mayhem and Sara being taken hostage. Whew! And that was all in the first few pages of the book! Soon we, the readers, realize that all of this is part of a white nationalist terrorist plot that has been brewing for well over a decade. The problem is how to stop the looming attack without losing half the population as well as Sara.

What I love most about Karin Slaughter’s books is the volume of research that goes in to each and every one of them. I know that when I read one of her books not only are they going to be an exceptionally well written thriller, I am going to come away from the experience with a greater knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. She always deals with “ripped from the headlines” topics in her books and The Last Widow is no exception. As the characters are informed and updated on the standing of white nationalists in the US, we learn as well and what we learn is frightening and eye-opening. Never does Slaughter preach or make judgement calls; she is even handed and quite neutral on the issues at hand. I, on the hand, am not at all and wish that there had been more anger on anyone’s part. Those from the FBI often were apologetic over not doing more, stopping more, shutting down more terrorist groups and their reasons were not reasons with which I could agree. Too many people are dying and, unlike fiction, there is no one rushing in to save the day.

The Last Widow is realistic, sobering and frightening and I am quite sure it will regarded as controversial as many of her previous works have been. It is, however, one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. My only concern is with the first few chapters of the book. Slaughter begins by telling the same events from different perspectives. It is, at first, quite repetitive and somewhat strange. The remainder of the book continues to be told from multiple perspectives but not the same events from each character’s point of view. The shift is an odd one and I’m unclear why it was used in the first place. That isn’t her usual writing style and I found it distracting. Once she stopped doing that, the book was perfection.

If you’ve never read Karin Slaughter before now, I highly encourage you to do so. She has several stand-alone books including Coptown which is one of my all time favorite books. This is the 9th book in the Will Trent series which was merged with the Sara Linton series. You could read it on its on but I wouldn’t suggest it. There simply is too much backstory with all of these characters and it is that backstory that makes this book as remarkable as it is. Start at the beginning of the Will Trent line and work forward – you’ll be glad that you did.

 

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Crime, Dectective, Fiction, Horror, Noir, Crime and Dark Endeavors, Thriller

The Whisper Man #PublicationDay #AlexNorth

There is nothing that I love more than a true psychological thriller, one that gets into your head and won’t let go. That is exactly what I found in The Whisper Man by Alex North. 41nYBGAZjpL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Let me first say that the cover art is one of my all time favorites. I had to read this book just for the cover alone and it definitely is representative of the horror within.

Tom and his son Jake have suffered the loss of their wife and mother. As a result, Jake – a very sensitive child – is having nightmares about the house in which she died. The pair move to a new village and into a home that others call “the scary house” but Jake insists is his very favorite. Tom decides the house has character, not terror, within its walls. He was wrong. In their small, sleepy village there once was a child killer, currently behind bars, Now another person is abducting children. Will Jake be the next victim of The Whisper Man?

This very easily could have been a run-of-the-mill child abduction book but it is so much more than that. The character development was superb throughout, even with minor characters who only appear infrequently such as Jake’s teacher. These characters draw you into their lives so that you become part of the story itself. And what a story it is! This is a very scary, creepy book. It is on the scale of Stephen King’s earlier works and reminded me why I originally read horror/thrillers. It turns out to be more psychological than horror but, wow, you do not know that until the very last chapter of the book. And yes, I am being deliberately evasive about the story line because part of the joy of reading this book was going into it blind and not knowing the real from the psychological terror. I want that for you as well.

This is a must-read book for anyone who loves horror, thrillers, psychological suspense or simply a really well told story! It is in my Top Ten favorites for this year and I highly recommend it.

It is publication day for The Whisper Man so run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookseller and get it today.  Thank you to #Netgalley, #CeledonBooks and @writer_north for my copy of this terrific book!

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Fiction, Noir, Crime and Dark Endeavors, Tags and Challenges, Thriller

Two for Thursday? The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchinson

I know, I know… it’s supposed to be Two for Tuesday but since I’m so behind I have to keep going with these reviews and I definitely didn’t want to forget this one by one of my favorite authors: the final installment in the Collector Series by Dot Hutchison.

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We were first introduced to this series with The Butterfly Garden, a book that horrified and traumatized many readers several years ago. It continued with The Roses of May and last years bestseller, The Summer Children. (You can read my review of that book HERE) Each book has built on the development of the team members who originally found girls in the Butterfly Garden and their work within a special unit of the FBI. Now a child has been abducted, their specialty, but the case is eerily similar to kidnapping of Eddison’s sister years earlier. As the team members deal with their own haunting demons from past cases, they also must search through clues to see how and why this case may be linked to the cold cases from old before it is too late to save the missing child.

Let me state up front that absolutely is not a “stand alone” book. I read The Summer Children last year and only slightly fell through the cracks a few times. After that, I promptly went back and read the first two books in the series. All of these books are top notch, horrifyingly marvelous thrillers. This one, however, is the end of the story. For those of us invested in these characters it is a book that ties up all of the loose ends, answers questions from the past and allows us and the author to move on to new topics. It is a must -read for followers of Hutchison’s work, but I don’t recommend starting here. I do, however, recommend reading every single one of the books in the series. They are absolutely fantastic! Hutchison is a masterful storyteller whose tales you will not want to miss.

Book Reviews, Crime, Dectective, Fiction, Noir, Crime and Dark Endeavors, Thriller

Blood Relations @JonathanMoore

Lee Crowe is a dis-barred lawyer, now a PI who has a reputation of getting the job done – regardless. Even he doesn’t realize what that will mean when he finds a body of a beautiful woman, dead, on the roof of a Rolls Royce in the middle of the ghetto. Wait, can we still use the word ghetto? Well, you know…. Being the type of guy that Lee is, he snaps some great photos of the woman and sells them to the highest bidding magazine. That sets him a course that will take him from coast to coast with a trail of dead bodies in his wake.40796146

Blood Relations started off like any other PI/Crime/Detective story: dead bodies, downtrodden former somebody barely getting by in their new life with a beautiful ex-spouse who haunts them. But this isn’t just any ‘ole story; this is a Jonathan Moore story. If you know anything at all about this author then you know that there will twists, turns and a pile of noir throughout and I absolutely was not wrong or disappointed with this one. While the theme of the story, and the atmosphere remains constant – that of a gumshoe looking for a killer – soon we are on the trail of an errant FBI agent and a scientist who is so cutting edge that his work is either insane or genius or both. This is Mary Shelley meets Michael Crichton with some Mickey Spillane thrown in for good measure. How could it be anything other than amazing?

Obviously, I highly recommend Blood Relations and, if you haven’t already Moore’s other books, I absolutely loved The Dark Room. Check him out and let me know what you think.

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Crime, Dectective, Murderous Mondays, Tags and Challenges, Thriller

Lying Next to Me @Gregg_Olsen

 

Murder monday with textcover159593-mediumNo matter what you see, no matter what you’ve heard, assume nothingD5KO2IEUUAIQIwJOne of my favorite quotes is “believe nothing that you hear or see, even salt looks like sugar.” I thought of that quote often while reading Gregg Olsen’s latest thriller, Lying Next to Me. Absolutely nothing was what it appeared to be  – nothing.

Adam and his wife Sophie, along with their 3 year old daughter, have rented a cabin on a lake. Next to them is another couple, Kristin and Connor Moss and on the other side, a grandmother with her grandkids. On the second day of the trip, Adam takes his daughter out in a row boat to go crabbing. While on the water, he sees someone abduct Sophie who is sitting on the shore. An elderly walker also sees Sophie being abducted. The grandmother and her grandkids arrive home to see Adam and his daughter frantically rowing toward shore and calls 9-1-1. The Moss’ couple. sees and hears nothing. But what really happened that morning. What did anyone truly see or hear? They all experienced the same thing, right? Right!?

Admittedly, I adore Gregg Olsen. I’ve read everything he has written, including his true crime novels. When it comes to crime – real or fiction – I think no one does it better. Lying in Wait is a tense, stay-awake-to-finish thriller that had me hooked from the very first line. While I suspected who might have done it – but wait – there’s no way they could have done it – it was a locked room mystery and too many variables and too many unsolved questions as to why. Until the answers were there before us in the end and then … just WOW. This is a suspense novel that makes you really hate everyone while at the same time hoping that at least one of the bad guys isn’t as awful as you think they might be. There is a child involved, surely someone is good. They have to be! In the end, I sat staring at my Kindle and wondering about what I had just read while knowing that is exactly how I like my thrillers! Leave me in awe. Leave me in wonder. Leave me speechless and Lying in Wait absolutely did just that!

Obviously I highly recommend #LyinginWait to anyone who enjoys a great crime novel. I also encourage you read Olsen’s other work. It’s all fantastic. Lying in Wait will be available May 21 at amazon

Thank you to #Netgalley, #Thomas&MercerPublishing and #GreggOlsen for my copy of Lying in Wait.

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Murderous Mondays, Tags and Challenges, Uncategorized

#MurderousMondays: The Thin Edge #PeggyTownsend

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It’s Murderous Monday here at Macsbooks and I am very excited about the book I have to share with you today! The Thin Edge is by a new-to-me author Peggy Townsend and it held me riveted to my seat from beginning to end! What a surprise and a treat!

Aloe Snow is a fallen from grace crime reporter in Bay area who is attempting to pick up the pieces and begin writing again as an independent reporter. She has acquired a rather interesting group of friends, a gay couple who own a bar and a trio of former (?) anarchists who gather around to discuss their glory days and guide young minds toward higher intellectual thinking. When of the trio’s son is found to be the likely suspect in a murder case, he asks Aloe to investigate further to prove his son’s innocence. What Aloe discovers could prove far more dangerous than any story she has followed before.

There are multiple story lines within The Thin Edge. There is the primary case of the murder itself which should prove straight forward but is anything but. The victim was married to a quadriplegic who was a former interrogator for US Special Intelligence Services. His care giver has a somewhat surprising past of his own and the victim has a myriad of secrets that are uncovered in layers. In addition, through her work, Corrine, the victim, came in contact with some of the city’s worst criminals and any one of them could have been her killer. As Aloe traces some of them down, she stumbles across a vigilante cult that is a dangerous as it is fascinating. To say that there is a ton of action and thrills in this book is a vast understatement. However, Townsend does a remarkable job at keeping everyone straight, fleshing out the characters, even the secondary ones, so that the reader never gets lost or confused. You will be invested in each one throughout and the conclusion will stun you. While I might have figured out the who, the how and why was astounding!! This was a top-notch psychological murder thriller with heavy emphasis on the psychology! I absolutely loved it!! I also should add that, while this is the second in the Aloe Snow series, I had no idea that it was a follow up until the end. It works very well as a stand alone. Of course, I adored this one so much that I’ve already got my hands on Townsend’s first book, See Her Run, and will have a review for you on that one soon. Have a marvelous week everyone!

So much thanks to #Netgalley, @peggytownsend and #Thomas&Mercer for my advanced copy of #TheThinEdge.

What about you? What murderous delights have you read this week? Let me know! Here is a link to The Literary Potpourri and their post for this Monday’s edition of their Murderous Monday. Be sure to check it out! It’s great!!

 

 

 

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Crime, Dectective, Domestic Noir/Thriller, Fiction, Murderous Mondays

Murderous Mondays – The Dark Bones @Loreth Anne White

Let’s face it, Mondays are Murder! Seriously, I love murder: Crime thrillers, suspense, historical murders, sci-fi murders, cli-fi murders, cosy, paranormal, I’ll take them any way you serve them up. I find that no matter how many other genres I read, I always come back to…. Murder. So each Monday I will share with you my latest Murder read. Of course, I probably will share with you others throughout the week, but if you like a good murder, you know you can find here on #MurderousMondays! 

retro open book isolated on white backgroundI started reading books by Loreth Anne White a few years ago and fell in love with her Angie Pallorino series. Some of you may be familiar with those. The Dark Bones is the second book in a new series, A Dark Lure, and I actually didn’t realize that until after I finished the book. Obviously it didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the first book since I thought it was a stand-alone. It is fantastic! 

41943994amazonWhen Detective Rebecca North left her rural Canadian hometown, she vowed never to return. A call from her drunken father made her nervous, a follow up call notifying her of his apparent suicide brought her home. However, “Becca” is not content with the suicide findings. Her father may have been a drunk, but he was not suicidal. Despite what she believes, the town, including all of the “officials,” seem hell-bent on making sure his death is classified as a murder. Becca is determined to find out what her father was doing before he died, who he was with and why the townspeople are behaving so strangely and to give her father the proper RCMP burial he deserves. 

The Dark Bones swept me up in its saga from the very beginning – the frantic phone call, the alleged suicide, teens accidently setting fire to cabin – there is so much action in the beginning that it was difficult not to get carried away in the drama. But this is more than just a thriller. There are multiple storylines for several families. A few story lines that I know now harken back to the first book which are resolved in this book – don’t worry, you will either appreciate the closure or enjoy the independent story on its own . Becca has unresolved issues from her high school years that led to her fleeing the town. There are underlying issues of drug trading, which sadly afflicts all rural small towns and there are stories of abuse – physical and mental – which were undetected for years. There is a lot going on in this book but it is handled with care, deftly written and marvelously crafted. There are tiers and folds to this story, each waiting for you to pull back their coverings so that they can reveal their mysteries to you. Mystery, romance, murder and more – you cannot ask for a better story than this. 

Have you  read other books by White or this one? Do you have murderous exploits on your reading list – are they something you enjoy? Let me know and, please, join me each Monday as we follow along with our favorite culprits and their captors on Murderous Mondays. 

Thank you to #Netgalley, #LorethAnneWhite and #MontlakeRomance for my copy of #TheDarkBones available May 21,2019.