Scandal in Fair Haven(Henrie O. #2) by Carolyn G. Hart

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 1994

Format: Audio/Audible

When Hart’s latest sleuth, 60-ish widow Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins, a.k.a. Henrie O, made her debut in Dead Man’s Island, readers everywhere were delighted. In this mystery, Henrie O returns in a classic, teasing puzzler.

Review –

“Just because Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins has retired from reporting the news doesn’t mean she’s retired from asking nosy questions; and when Craig Matthews stumbles into the Tennessee vacation cottage she was to share with his stricken aunt gasping that he didn’t kill his socialite wife, Patty Kay, she swiftly assumes the role of his aunt and takes up his cause. The deck is stacked against Craig — somebody went to a lot of trouble to lure him home to discover Patty Kay’s body — but Henrie O, alertly noticing that there are no footprints in the cheesecake (don’t ask), is sure that he’s innocent and turns instead to the town’s secrets, heralded by the incessant sniping of Fair Havenites. After pausing to note the obligatory adulteries — both Craig and Patty Kay were not only having active affairs but were worshiped from afar — Henrie O focuses on the links among Patty Kay’s death, the suicide of Walden School student Franci Hollis a day earlier, and the murder of a bookstore clerk who maybe remembered too much about the phone call that lured Craig back home. As before, serenely self-confident Henrie O proves a paragon of sturdy, old-fashioned detection. On the evidence here, Fair Haven must be the busiest, nastiest little hamlet in the galaxy.” Kirkus Review

 

Thought I’d start a new cozy mystery series, but while this one was okay, it didn’t pull me in enough to read the next one.

 

 

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Incandescent (Knights Rebels MC #1) by River Savage

Book Description:

Published: August 9, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Phoenix ‘Nix’ Knight thought pulling his club out of the illegal shit his Pops got them into was difficult.

Until he meets Kadence.

Kadence Turner has no business lusting over a student’s father, especially the president of the Knights Rebels MC. Nix is crass, obnoxious and dangerously sexy and for some reason, Kadence can’t seem to hate him for it. The bossy biker breaks down her defenses, but unlike the old Kadence, the woman she is today won’t give in without a fight.

The tension is undeniable, the attraction fierce. A man that wants what he wants and a woman that will fight him every step of the way.

Review –

Kadence Turner had a rough relationship three years ago that left her scarred (literally, she was involved in a fire) and hurt and unable to open up to people, but now she is finally taking control of her life again and facing her future as a new single woman. Kadence is not a people’s person and she is shy (although sassy and witty too) and would rather stay in and read a book than go out to bars.

But this all changes when she meets Nix. Phoenix Knight is the President of the Knights Rebels MC and father of Zayden, one of Kadence’s students. When the kid gets in trouble and Miss Turner organizes a reunion with the parents of the two kids who were part of the fight Nix comes in the room all scary and hot and Kadence can’t help but feel interested in him.

What starts as a fun chase and a one-night stand ends up to become so much more, because Nix is capable of making her feel alive again and not ashamed of anything that has happened to her in the past. She is to him, the strongest woman he knows.

But of course, things couldn’t be so easy. In the middle of the love story we have to deal with not only one, but two crazy exes, although luckily only one of them is dangerous, the other is just a bitch and a terrible mother. I don’t want to spoil the end so I’m just going to say that Kadence’s life is in danger a couple of times, but everything turns out alright.

If you aren’t into seriously hot sex scenes with glorious dirty banter, then you should find yourself another book. But, if that lights your fire, grab a copy and clear your schedule!

 

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

Book Description:

Published: January 5, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

 When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother’s bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law’s for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother’s friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard’s life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.

Review –

Another FIVE STAR read by an author I’m coming to love!

The book starts with a bachelor party that goes horribly wrong. Not only do most of the guests have sex with the two girls who were the “entertainment”, but then two men end up dead and girls are nowhere to be found. Because, see, these strippers aren’t strippers at all, but Armenian sex slaves—and the cue-ball-headed, no-neck bodyguards are their Russian overseers.

Earlier, one of them, a beautiful Armenian girl named Alexandra, almost managed to seduce Richard before he changes his mind. In the aftermath of the murders, Richard is turned out of his house, which has become a crime scene with reporters camped outside, and forced to hire a lawyer. As the consequences of the night pile up, Richard becomes estranged from his wife, is banned from his office, and finds himself the target of a blackmailer from the party who has an incriminating cell phone video of him and Alexandra. And then there is Alexandra herself, who returns to the scene of the crime, tailed by her seriously scary Russian bosses. 

The point of view alternates, with Richard; his wife, Kristin; their daughter, Melissa; and an enslaved girl dubbed Alexandra by her captors, all get a chance to tell the story. Richard has no idea what to do with himself. Kristin is freaked out—not so much because people were slaughtered in her house, but because her husband almost had sex with a girl half their age. Melissa is frightened and bewildered, which is perfectly OK because she’s nine. This, the book says, is how people who thought they had it made come unmade.

The author makes Alexandra the conscience in this conscienceless world, a girl who manages to hold on to her innocence and compassion despite the horror of her life. Her voice, with its sometimes uncertain, quirky English, is rendered with such perfection that it’s easy to forget that the author is male. 

I gave the book five stars but I was disappointed that the author gives the reader/listener a forewarning of the ending and it took away, at least for me, the utter shock of the conclusion.

 

 

 

The Fallen (Amos Decker #4) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: April 17, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped.

Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.

Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.

Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time–when one mistake could cost him everything–Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…

Review –

While on what’s supposed to be a low-key vacation, Amos Decker accidentally finds all kinds of trouble in The Fallen, the latest novel in David Baldacci’s  Memory Man series.

Amos, star agent of an elite FBI task force, and his partner, Alex Jamison, head to Baronville, Pennsylvania to visit Alex’s sister, Amber, and her children. Decker struggles to connect with his partner’s family. Only little Zoe, the six-year-old with an old soul, gets him to open up a bit when Amos admits to himself while sipping a beer on the back deck that when it comes to catching killers, “it’s really the other thing I’m good at.”

Decker tries to relax, at least until he notices the neighbor’s lights flicking next door, followed by sparks shooting through the window. Upon investigating things, he finds the reason for the flying sparks — blood from a corpse has begun soaking into exposed electrical wires.

It turns out that the dead body is one of several recent homicides to hit Baronville over the past few weeks. With the local police unable to make any headway on the open cases, Decker and Alex call off their vacation, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

It doesn’t take long for the duo to realize that nothing about the small Pennsylvania town is quite what it seems — as Baronville has struggled since the local mill closed and an opioid addiction broke out among the town’s people.

After chasing several leads, an attempt is made on Decker’s life. But rather than scaring off the large FBI agent, Amos now knows he’s barking up the right tree. . . he just needs to stay alive long enough to reach the top and expose the real bad guys, and does he ever !!!!

I love the character of Amos Decker and I love this series!

 

 

 

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Book Description:

Published: March 20, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Review –

OMG!    Five Stars!

This is the best “edge of your seat” book that I have read or listened to in ages.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great murder mystery that involves the past colliding with the present.

In The Broken Girls, Simone St. James delivers two gothic mysteries for the price of one. The narrative bobs and weaves through time with two sets of characters.

In the contemporary mystery, Fiona searches for definitive proof that Deb’s murderer is in prison. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes everything has not been tied up into a pretty bow. Plenty of dangerous darkness lingers in the present.

Back in 1950, we meet four vastly different girls—haunted Sonia, abandoned CeCe, athletic Roberta, and beautiful Katie—who become closer than sisters through their experiences at Idlewild and their shared brokenness. Mary Hand is a real presence in their lives, but not nearly as terrifying as the traumas they’ve already overcome.

They love one another fiercely. But one of them won’t leave Idlewild Hall alive.

With this dual narrative, the author produces an excellent  mirage, interweaving historical fiction, thriller, gothic horror, and mystery into an incredibly satisfying and cohesive whole. Every character springs vividly from the page. In a predominantly female cast, St. James shuns stereotypes and creates complicated, flawed women who support one another at any cost.

The societal commentary is frequent and biting: how some lives are prioritized over others; corruption in police forces; psychological trauma going untreated, seen more as a weakness and failing than a genuine problem to be fixed; how society has constantly devalued and oppressed women.

Sisterhood is the beating, undying heart of The Broken Girls; without it, crimes go unpunished and the victims remain nameless.

And, of course, we can not leave out the ghost. Mary Hand takes a backseat to the primary plots—she’s more of a signal post, a ghostly emblem of Idlewild and the horrors the girls have already experienced. Yet her moments are perfectly eerie and unsettling, adding a supernatural, psychological flavor to the already bloody tragedies.

By the last page, St. James has gathered up every thread into a solid knot. The Broken Girls is an intense, emotional lament on loss and pain. 

This is my first read by this author, but it will not be my last !!!!!

The Ex-Wife by Jess Ryder

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

You’ve got everything she wants …

Newly married Natasha has the perfect house, a loving husband and a beautiful little girl called Emily. She’d have it all if it wasn’t for Jen, her husband’s ex-wife who just won’t leave them alone …

Then Natasha returns home one day to find her husband and Emily gone without trace. Desperate to get her daughter back, Natasha will do anything even if it means accepting an offer of help from Jen. But can she trust her? And do either of them really know the man they married?

If you loved The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl or The Couple Next Door then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.

Review –

The story begins with an intriguing prologue set in a hospital which doesn’t give anything away. The plot then unravels through alternating chapters narrated by Natasha and Anna. Natasha has a wonderful marriage and lives a life of luxury with her husband, Nick and daughter, Emily. The only issue with her picture-perfect marriage is Jen, Nick’s ex-wife, who seems to be in their lives a bit too much. Naturally, Natasha is not too pleased about this. Things take a nastier turn when Nick and Emily disappear. The second narration tells the story of a woman on the run. We don’t get to know much about Anna until later in the story. However, it was easy to feel the tension in her story. I kept wondering who was after her and why.

This story is very well narrated. It is captivating and full of surprises. The plot is masterfully developed and so were the characters. I had some clear favorites from the first page. However, my feelings about other characters kept changing with each new chapter. Not knowing what would happen next is what I enjoyed most in this story. I couldn’t predict any of the twists and I love the fact that the author just kept them coming.

With a fast pace, complex characters and well executed twists, (many that you won’t see coming)this ended up being quite an enjoyable, addictive read. A great read and a great psychological thriller!

Innocence Defied (New York #3) by Lainey Reese

Book Description:

Published: July 16, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Gage Hollister is a Southern Dom looking for a full time sub/slave. When his family’s business brings him to New York City for an indefinite stay, he decides that now is the time to find her. Night after night he prowls the local BDSM club in search of a woman whose need to be dominated equals his thirst for true submission. As the search drags on he begins to wonder if his perfect match even exists. When he is asked to play chaperone for a family friend embarking on her first trip as an adult; he welcomes the chance for distraction from his thus far fruitless endeavor.

Zoe Marshall is the youngest sister to Gage’s best friend and she has been in love with Gage for as long as she can remember. She has saved herself for him and him alone. Now, after careful planning and a bit of luck she finally has her opportunity to show Gage that she’s all grown up and ready to be his. Although he believes himself too old and jaded for an innocent like her, Zoe will not relent until she belongs to him in every way.

Soon Gage’s resistance crumbles and Zoe’s dreams become reality but their budding love is tested when her brother discovers them. As those bonds of friendship strain under betrayal and broken trust, Zoe is confronted with having to choose between the man she loves and the brother she worships. Will having the love of her man cost her the love of her family? If so, is her heart strong enough to survive that loss? Is their love?

WARNING
This book contains graphic language, BDSM elements, M/F/M ménage, a Southern Dom who’s a gentleman; and the woman who brings out the scoundrel in him.

Review –

We met Gage Hollister in the last book in this series and he made quite an impression but we soon find out there is a whole lot more to Gage but all it takes is one little woman to turn him upside down and inside out. I really felt for him because Zoe Marshall, Gage’s best friend, Brice’s little sister has decided he’s the one for her and despite their 13 year age different she aims to make him see her as a woman. Gage finds himself in one hell of a mess when he finds Zoe irresistible and despite her innocence and lack of experience they fall head first into a BDSM relationship.

I felt Gage did a very good job of trying to dissuade Zoe from getting involved with him, and while I didn’t care for the little game she played to grab his attention I reminded myself how young she is and how little life experience she has. Did I think their relationship was ideal? No, the age and experience level differences were huge but I do believe Zoe knew her mind and once Gage was on board it was easy to see that they were meant to be. I like that Gage slowly introduced Zoe into the lifestyle and how careful he was with her from the start. I was not surprised by the reaction of Brice, Cade and Trevor and to be honest I was truly surprised Gage didn’t wind up in the hospital BUT, and this is huge, I love how Gage reminded Brice that he trusted him with his wife but he wasn’t good enough for his sister.

One of my favorite things about this book is getting to see Cade, Trevor, and Riley from the first book and Brice and Terryn from book two. I loved watching them all interact with one another and even when they were at odds, you could still see the love, admiration, and friendship between them all. I especially loved Terryn’s insight and her level head regarding Zoe and Gage’s relationship.

Another great book in the New York series.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Description:

Published: November 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Review –

Heartless is a prequel to Lewis Carroll’s 1863 classic Alice in Wonderland, being the history of one of the most recognizable characters in fiction; The Queen of Hearts. Set in the kingdom of Hearts, a world of talking animals, animate furniture and occasional bouts of unpredictable magic, the story follows Lady Catherine Pinkerton, the seventeen year old daughter of the Marquess of Rockturtle Cove.

Cath begins the book as sweet, naïve and rather overly sheltered, not to mention very much under her parent’s’ thumb (one reason for my lady’s initial exasperation), however seeing her change, grow and evolve through circumstances is truly a pleasure. Meyer seems to have a gift for character depiction since this is a book where even the minor players turn out to be more than they appear, and as for Catherine rarely have I seen an author write character development in such a pure sense, i.e. taking a character from one place at the start of the book, and showing how they journey to a very different place at the end of it.

I liked how the King of Hearts, despite being cast almost immediately in the role of an unwanted potential husband is neither sadistic nor lecherous. He is simply good natured, foolish, ineffective and not overly endowed in the brain department. While this makes him of course completely out of the question as a match for Catherine, it also makes her position a more unique one than a lot of characters facing forced marriages in modern fiction, since it’s one thing to wish to avoid a vile suitor at all costs, quite another to have to reject an innocent but dim-witted one.

The  character I did feel slightly short-changed by was Jest, the court joker and very obvious love interest. Dashing, clever, accomplished at everything from magic tricks to music and of course hopelessly smitten with Catherine (he even has golden eyes). While Meyer does undoubtedly reveal enough hidden truths about Jest to make him play an interesting part in the plot, I did feel that he was a bit too idealised. 

The final conclusion is a very apt end to the story, employing prophecy, destiny and character revelations. If you know the story of the Queen of Hearts then you know that this story will not end well, BUT you keeping hoping …

Despite its at times slow pace and its rather too obvious Joker I did very much enjoy Heartless. Take a large serving of Lewis Carroll, add a table-spoon of Jane Austin, season with a bit of Gaiman like twisted fairy tales and a likable, if rather sheltered protagonist and you have something sweet, fluffy and delicious on the outside, but with a dark, and troubled centre within.

Loved it!

 

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

Book Description:

Published: August 10, 2010

Format: Audio/Library Book

For eighteen years, Fran Benedetto kept her secret. And hid her bruises. And stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father. And because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son’s face, Fran finally made a choice–and ran for both their lives.

Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. And in this place she uses a name that isn’t hers, and cradles her son in her arms, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Because Bobby always said he would never let her go. And despite the flawlessness of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time…

Review –

“Frannie, a nurse, fell deeply in love with Bobby, a handsome New York cop who at the time seemed attractively “tasty and dangerous,” as well as kind and thoughtful. But after 17 years of marriage, Bobby has become more dangerous than appealing. Tired of being beaten up, and now coping with a broken nose, Fran takes her ten-year-old son Robert and flees their Brooklyn home. Helped by a women’s organization, she and Robert are given new identities and a new place to live: a duplex in Florida. Now known as Beth Crenshaw, Frannie also tries to make a new life for herself and Robert, whom she loves with a fierce and protective devotion. She finds a good friend in the resilient Cindy and a satisfying job as a visiting health aide. She grows close to her patients, especially Mrs. Levitt, a Holocaust survivor. But Frannie can’t relax her vigilance: Bobby has resources and investigating tools that might make it easy to find her, and so while her life is increasingly normal she dates Mike, Robert’s nice soccer coach she’s still afraid. The tension is nail-biting but nicely complemented by perceptive insights, as in Frannie’s meditation that “whenever I thought about leaving, I thought about leaving my house . . . balloon shades and miniblinds . . . mugs for the coffee . . . small things; routine, order that’s what kept me there for the longest time.” Inevitably, Bobby catches up with her and exacts a terrible revenge, but an appropriately bittersweet ending gives Fran, who’ll always wonder whether she was right to flee, a new love and life. Quindlen writes about women as they really are neither helpless victims nor angry polemicists, but intelligent human beings struggling to do what’s right for those they love and for themselves. A book to read and savor.” Kirkus Review

When I first started listening to this book I thought that at the end Fran would kill Bobby, what happened is much worse. When you’re done reading or listening you will be left thinking for a long time.

 

 

The Towering Sky (The Thousandth Floor #3) by Katharine McGee

Book Description:

Published: August 28, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Welcome back to New York, 2119. A skyscraper city, fueled by impossible dreams, where the lives of five teenagers have become intertwined in ways that no one could have imagined.

Leda just wants to move on from what happened in Dubai. Until a new investigation forces her to seek help—from the person she’s spent all year trying to forget.

Rylin is back in her old life, reunited with an old flame. But when she starts seeing Cord again, she finds herself torn: between two worlds, and two very different boys.

Calliope feels trapped, playing a long con that costs more than she bargained for. What happens when all her lies catch up with her?

Watt is still desperately in love with Leda. He’ll do anything to win her back—even dig up secrets that are better left buried.

And now that Avery is home from England—with a new boyfriend, Max—her life seems more picture-perfect than ever. So why does she feel like she would rather be anything but perfect?

In this breathtaking finale to The Thousandth Floor trilogy, Katharine McGee returns to her vision of 22nd-century New York: a world of startling glamour, dazzling technology, and unthinkable secrets. After all, when you have everything… you have everything to lose.

Review –

Five stars !

I am so very happy with this book and the ending it gave to this series. I’ve loved this series from the very beginning, and was so so excited for this! I was not disappointed at all. There were a few boring parts and places that I thought could have been better, but overall I really loved it!

One of the things I love the most about this series is how complicated it is, yet how easy it is to slip back into. These characters are crazy. You need a little diagram to keep track of all the relationships between them, how they all know each other, what their secrets are and who knows them. Yet it was so simple to pick up The Towering Sky and fall back into the story, the author gently reminding you of all the previous book’s events as you go.

The book opens with the suspicious death of Mariel, Eris’ girlfriend, who drowned in a river. Avery, Watt, Leda, and Rylin are drawn back together by a police investigation that is slowly putting together the pieces that connect Mariel’s death to Eris’ and with it the nasty secrets of these four young people. Watt is after Leda but is worried that people will find out about Nadia; Rylin is after Cord but is concerned about her drug-dealing past; Leda is suffering with addiction and her actions in The Thousandth Floor; and Avery is trying to get over her one true incestuous(which is not really incestuous) love for Atlas.

I was content with how the series wrapped up for these characters. The author did a nice job of making sure that every loose end was neatly tied up, while leaving us with a bit of an open ending for our imaginations to think about what might happen next. Everyone finds some kind of happy ending, which tends to make me very happy.

Excellent YA series.