Serpentine (Anita Blake,Vampire Hunter #26) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book Description:

Published: August 7, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Vampire hunter Anita Blake has managed to overcome everything she faces. But this time there’s a monster that even she doesn’t know how to fight…

A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita’s fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it’s the first trip she gets to take with wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it’s not all fun and games and bachelor parties…

In this tropical paradise Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowout within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse–her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There’s a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that’s rendering those around her helpless in its thrall. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret–if she survives at all, that is…

Review –

Since the meaning of the word “serpentine” is “of or like a serpent or snake” I expected this twenty-sixth  installment of the Anita Blake,Vampire Hunter series to be about snakes, but I was very disappointed because the “snake cursed people” were more of a second thought.

A huge chunk of Serpentine is focused of the interpersonal dynamics of longtime relationships — between lovers, friends, colleagues, and enemies. If you prefer more action than character development, you might not enjoy this particular story as much.

In the first few books of this series, I always thought of Anita Blake as a paranormal female Sam Spade. Anita lives and works in a world that is more often gritty than full of hearts and rainbows, and she is a detective, warrior, and survivor all rolled into one. In Serpentine, Anita has a full plate. What ideally should be a fun vacation with loved ones for a destination wedding, turns into more work than playtime. The last few chapters of Serpentine are perhaps more of the action and adrenaline-rush that fans of this series are accustomed to, but overall it is very much worth reading.

Serpentine is a wild destination wedding-palooza — with snake people, a meddling bridesmaid from hell, and a sociopath or two. The last few chapters of racing to stop a killer are entertaining, but also relieve some of the tension from all the relationship drama. I look forward to reading Laurell K. Hamilton’s next book in this series.

Redemption Point (Crimson Lake #2) by Candice Fox

Book Description:

Published: January 29, 2018 (in Australia)

Format: Audio/Audible

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 –

Redemption Point is the second book set in the fictional far north Queensland community of Crimson Lake. And again Fox not only offers up some amazing characters, but also firmly plants readers in the humid dense rainforest and the murky crocodile-infested waters of my home-state’s isolated and often unwelcoming far north.

The first book in this series introduced us to Ted and Amanda. We learn of the accusations against Ted and his escape from Sydney. We also meet Amanda and though they pair up to solve a recent crime, Ted can’t but help dig into the past Amanda would prefer to stay buried. She doesn’t hide the fact she’s served 10 years in prison for murder, but the questions surrounding her crime interest Ted and it becomes one of two mysteries solved in that first outing.

That book ended just as Amanda uncovers new information about the rape of a thirteen year old – the crime of which Ted’s accused. And as this book opens we learn he’s done nothing with that information, and nothing to support an online community who believe in his innocence.

There are a couple of additional voices in this book. One we’ve met before, a former uniformed officer promoted to Crimson Lake, DI Pip Sweeney, who’s captivated by Amanda and her ways; and then there’s Kevin, whose diary extracts we read and whose role soon becomes clear.

Again the author offers two mysteries for the price of one as we delve into the charges against Ted, as well as the murders in Crimson Lake.

There are a few red herrings and local secrets thrown into the mix however and the author again does a great job of recreating the far north, nailing the idiosyncrasies of some of the small and unusual  communities you find there. So, although I wasn’t really drawn into that mystery, a sense of foreboding surrounding the investigation remained.

And then there’s Ted’s case which is the more interesting of the two and I guess we get into the psychology of the crime (of which he’s accused) a little more than the double-murder. And this time around we meet some of the players from his former life and wonder if he will (one day) return to it.

Ted’s again a bundle of surprises. In some ways it’s almost as if he’s given up on life; but then there’s a smidge of rebellion as he fights his way out of his fugue and self-imposed isolation.

As for Amanda – she seems even more outrageous (and endearing) in this outing. Having said that she’d be bloody hard work to be around.  She is tough as nails in this installment and takes beating after beating and keeps on ticking.

She and Ted have settled into a bit of a pattern now and their relationship is an interesting one.

In this book Ted’s story in done but I’m sure the author will show us (the readers) that Queensland is a hot bed of crime and corruption and I’m anxious to see where she takes the series.

Five stars!

 

 

 

Crew (Crew #1) by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: August 26, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

 

To survive where I live, you have two options.

You can be a Normal–a cheerleader, jock, member of the debate team, or on the yearbook committee. You pretend everything is normal.

Or you can be crew.
You insult us? We hurt you.
You hurt us? We really hurt you.
And if you screw with us, we will end you.

My name is Bren.
I’m the only female in the Wolf Crew–the best, fiercest, and most dangerous crew there is–and we have a rule: There’s no falling in love.

Well… too late.

*This book contains mature young adult situations.

Review –

Crew is centered around four teen-agers and they aren’t a gang but they have each other’s back at all times. In this book we are introduced to Bren, a very complex person, with many layers. Bren is  cold, closed off, a bad ass, and volatile but there is a vulnerable, sad and scared side to her as well.

Throughout the story we get glimpses and pieces as to why Bren is the way she is and it really breaks your heart. Bren was a very interesting character to read about and some of the stuff she did in the book had me stunned. She was a legit badass at times and I loved it! Bren also did some growing in this book and that warmed my heart as well.

Cross is also apart of the crew and I’ve added him to my list of Book Boyfriends.  He was very protective of Bren. He was silent but lethal and always had Bren’s back and was there for her and could reach her in ways no body else could at times.

The other two members of the Crew are Jordan and Z. Each of them plays an important part in this story.

This book was  addictive from start to finish. I’ve read a few books by Tijan and this one is a lot darker and grittier  than her others and it was great. It’s a best friends to lover romance and those are some of my favorite reads. It was a delicious slow burn between the two characters and I loved seeing their relationship played out. 

I have not read Tijan’s series, Fallen Crest, but Heather and Channing are integral in this new series. I may have to go back and read the series later.

This isn’t your typical YA story. Yes, there’s a romance, but this series starter really is about love, family, and friendship, and how there are times that family isn’t limited to just the ones who share your DNA. This also has quite a few supporting characters, but majority of them have marked appearances. Warning:  Crew does end in a cliffhanger.

Loved this book.

Five stars !!!!

 

Crimson Lake (Crimson Lake #1) by Candice Fox

Book Description:

Published: March 6, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Crimson Lake, by Sydney-based, Ned Kelly Award-winning author Candice Fox, is a thrilling contemporary crime novel set in Queensland, Australia, perfect for readers of authors like James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Lisa Gardner, and Tana French.

How do you move on when the world won’t let you?

12:46: Claire Bingley stands 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 –

In Crimson Lake by Candice Fox, (an author wh is new to me)readers are introduced to Detective Ted Conkaffey. After a particularly tough and testing time in which Ted is accused of the abduction of a young girl, he is hiding away in the sweltering heat of Crimson Lake where he is hoping to keep out of the radar in order to start afresh.

He is adamant he didn’t do it. Convinced, even. But with everything and everyone standing against him, it seems the label of abductor just can’t be scrubbed off. Still, in his new surroundings, no one knows he is the man accused of the crime, and he’s seriously hoping that it remains that way.

Visited by his lawyer, Sean, one day, Ted is made aware of a woman in town, Amanda Pharrell, who Sean thinks will help Ted out in some way. At first, after imagining that what Sean had set him up for was something romantic, Ted realises that what Sean has actually done is sent him to Amanda in order to put his detective skills to good use unofficially.

The two team up to try and find out what happened to the author of a wildly popular book series which juxtaposed religion and young adult drama. It turns out the author had some secrets of his own, and there appears to be more than a few people who wished him harm.

As Amanda and Ted work their case, Ted isn’t entirely sure whether Amanda was guilty of the crime she was punished for, and he can’t stop himself from looking into it. Meanwhile, he continues to be taunted by those who believe he shouldn’t be free, and those who don’t like the idea of the two criminals joining forces—and some mean to do him, and perhaps Amanda, grave harm if they don’t heed their warnings.

Both characters were incredibly intriguing in this instance, both with a rocky past behind them that only strengthened their beliefs and motives even more. I adored getting to know both of them, thoroughly enjoying figuring them out as they approached a missing persons case that would put their acquired skills to the test. They were strong alone, but when standing together, Ted and Amanda were truly a force to be reckoned with.

This is one of those books that hooks you at page one and doesn’t let you go. It’s taut, tense, and it packs quite a one-two punch of action and suspense. Ted and Amanda are both fascinating characters—you really don’t quite know what to believe about either of them. Fox is a great storyteller, and she really makes you feel you’re right there in the croc-infested wetlands with her characters, hearing the sounds of nature and watching your surroundings.

I had never read anything Fox has written before, but I was really impressed, and I love the she added the geese into the story. (you’ll have to read the book to find out the part they play) I’m excited there are more books in the series, because I’m definitely hooked. There may be an unending supply of thrillers and mysteries out there these days, but Crimson Lake is one you should add to your list.

 

 

The Fall of Crazy House(Crazy House #2) by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Book Description:

Published: April 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Escape is just the beginning.

Twin sisters Becca and Cassie barely got out of the Crazy House alive. Now they’re trained, skilled fighters who fear nothing–not even the all-powerful United regime.

Together, the sisters hold the key to defeating the despotic government and freeing the people of the former United States. But to win this war, will the girls have to become the very thing they hate?

In this gripping sequel to James Patterson’s YA blockbuster Crazy House, the world is about to get even crazier.

Review –

I had been looking forward to this book because the first one was so good, but this one is just plain bad!

It’s rushed and leaves many unanswered questions and the ending is horrible. Thank Heavens there is not a book three.

Don’t waste your time!

 

 

Beautiful Mistake by Vi Keeland

Book Description:

Published: August 3, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

The first time I met Caine West was in a bar.
He noticed me looking his way and mistakenly read my scowling as checking him out.
When he attempted to talk to me, I set him straight—telling him what I thought of his lying, cheating, egomaniacal ass.
You see, the gorgeous jerk had wined and dined my best friend–smooth talking her into his bed, all along failing to mention that he was married.
He deserved every bit of my tongue-lashing and more for what he’d done.
Especially when that lazy smile graced his perfect face in response to my rant.
Only it turned out, the man I’d just told off wasn’t the right guy.
Oops. My mistake.
Embarrassed, I slunk out without an apology.
I was never going to see the handsome stranger again anyway, right?
That’s what I thought…until I walked into class the next morning.
Well, hello Professor West, I’m your new teaching assistant.
I’ll be working under you…figuratively speaking.
Although the literal interpretation might not be such a bad thing—working under Professor West.

This was going to be interesting…

Review –

This book features a sort of teacher/student forbidden love aspect. Caine West is exactly what you’d think of when you hear his name is Caine—strong sexual presence, perfect body, sex god. He’s a music professor and Rachel is his graduate teacher assistant (GTA), much to her shock. Why? Well, she may or may not have told him off at a bar the night before her first class, without knowing she was going to be working under him.

He’s the professor and she’s his new TA.  Leave it to Ms. Keeland to work in a trope that you usually see done a certain way and give it her own spin.  That’s one of my favorite things about her writing.

I don’t want to give a spoiler so lets just say that with this book giving you some insight into the past at times, it added another element to this story that added the emotion it needed. (you may need tissues)

This book has everything you would want in a contemporary romance: chemistry, sexy banter, swoony hero that has more layers than meet the eye at first, feisty and smart heroine.  The relationship between Caine and Rachel was explosive at times and tender at others.  And the writing, kept me engaged and wanting more.  If you are looking for something that will keep you glued to your seat while sipping a nice drink this summer, pick this up.  You’re in for some fun with this one.

Slashes in the Snow (Baum Squad Novel #1) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: March 3, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Ky
Three years ago my father walked away. Away from our MC club, all his responsibilities, and me. We haven’t spoken since the day he handed me the keys to the kingdom.

Shoved them down my throat was more like it.

I hate him, and the new family he’s playing house with. He left his entire life behind for a woman he barely knows. But I’m strong, resilient, and don’t need a damn soul to survive.
At least, that’s what I thought…until she walked into my bar.

Kira
Someone is watching me. I can feel it. I wake up in the middle of the night freaked out of my mind, paranoid a stranger is there. My skin prickles every time I leave my house, because I know someone is following me.
I’m afraid. Alone. And there’s only one person left to turn to.

The stepbrother I never met. The man my stepfather speaks so highly about, but never sees. He’s the president of a notorious motorcycle club, and exactly the kind of person I need to protect me.

Little did I know, Ky Parish, freakin’ hates my guts.

Review –

Slashes in the Snow is an enemies to lovers, stepbrother romance, romantic suspense (emphasis on romance) with dark elements and a motorcycle club throw in for good measure.  What more could a female reader ask for?

Fantastic read!

 

 

Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Gerber

Book Description:

Published: May 7, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Review –

“Picking up just after the end of Legendary (2018), Garber continues to build the world of Caraval with a final installment, this time focusing equally on both Dragna sisters’ perspectives.

After they released their long-missing mother from the Deck of Destiny, Scarlett and Donatella hoped to rebuild their relationship and gain a new sense of family. However, Legend also released the rest of the Fates, and, much to their dismay, the Fallen Star—essentially the ur-Fate—is only gaining in power. As the Fates begin to throw Valenda into chaos and disarray, the sisters must decide whom him to trust, whom to love, and how to set themselves free. Scar’s and Tella’s passionate will-they-or-won’t-they relationships with love interests are still (at times, inexplicably) compelling, taking up a good half of the plot and balancing out the large-scale power games with more domestic ones. Much like the previous two, this third book in the series is overwritten, with overly convenient worldbuilding that struggles nearly as much as the overwrought prose and convoluted plot. While those who aren’t Garber’s fans are unlikely to pick up this volume, new (or forgetful) readers will find the text repetitious enough to be able to follow along.” Kirkus Review

I was disappointed with this final book of the Caraval series. I loved the other two, but for me, this one fell flat. It’s true that the sisters had their hands full with fighting the Fates, keeping their romances alive and surviving to love another day, so I don’t know why I felt like there should have been more.

The thing I COULDN’T get enough of was the vivid imagery and the lush fantasy with which the author filled all three books in the series. Her descriptions are colorful and majestic.

 

 

 

 

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

Book Description:

Published: November 20, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?

From the mind of Wall Street Journal bestselling author Christopher Greyson comes a story with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey of light and dark, good and evil, to the edge of madness. The Girl Who Lived should come with a warning label: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. Not since Girl on the Train and Gone Girl has a psychological thriller kept readers so addicted—and guessing right until the last page.

Review –

“The sole survivor of a killer’s attack searches for the murderer she believes she can identify in Greyson’s (Jack of Hearts, 2017, etc.) psychological thriller.

Faith Winters is nearly 23 when her yearlong stay at Brookdale Mental Health Hospital mercifully ends. She’s been in and out of institutions for a decade since evading an assailant at a multiple-murder scene. Police have closed the case, surmising a murder-suicide. They theorize that Faith’s dad, Michael, killed three people—his lover; Faith’s bestie; and Faith’s older sister, Kim—before shooting himself. But Faith thinks the partially obscured man she saw attack Kim at the family cabin is the same individual she had spotted earlier and dubbed “Rat Face.” Her release from Brookdale requires she regularly see a therapist and attend AA meetings, and she soon frequents a support group for survivors. Downing multiple whiskey shots is a setback, and it’s also why others have trouble believing Faith when she says she’s seen Rat Face again. She made the same claim over a year ago, prompting a public outburst that ended with her most recent stay at Brookdale. Certain the cops won’t help her, Faith starts her own hunt for Rat Face. The threat of a killer’s presence becomes tangible when someone following Faith starts humming “Happy Birthday,” just like the murderer did.

Greyson’s dark, twisting mystery employs considerably less humor than his Detective Jack Stratton series. While Jack’s investigations often feel like adventures, Faith is perpetually tortured by internal forces (e.g., alcoholism) or unknown menaces. The novel, however, isn’t entirely bleak. Characters come with an array of fascinating subplots. Faith’s mom, Beverly, for example, is a therapist who, in order to overcome her own psychological turmoil, wrote a book about her daughter’s survival that brought Faith unwanted notoriety. Faith herself is a strong, confident protagonist. Even after someone terrifies her in the woods, she remains an amateur sleuth and makes a remarkable deduction. She’s also not above cynicism, like pointing out the irony of the group of survivors: everyone seems dreary instead of happily sharing survival stories and “high-fiving each other or something.” The narrative further strengthens Faith as a character with her recurring memories of Kim and the night in question. These images aptly showcase her determination in unmasking a murderer while struggling with her tenuous mental state. The mystery, too, is indelible. Though readers get an early indication as to Rat Face’s identity, there is plenty to unravel, including the possibility of someone else’s involvement in the murders. Nevertheless, it’s during the final act when the plot turns come fast and furious. It’s a convoluted but exhilarating ending with a few surprises and perhaps a red herring or two.

Sharp characters enmeshed in a mystery that, particularly in its final lap, is a gleefully dizzy ride.”Kirkus Review

A great Summer time read!

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

 

Book Description:

Published: July 30, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this game, even winning can be deadly…

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

Review –

It was supposed to be book club as usual: a group of suburban mothers gathering to talk over a glass of wine or two and then going home to bed. But when new neighbor Angelica Roux shows up at hostess Amy’s door, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose. The booze flows freely, and soon the women are engaged in a game: What is the worst thing you did today? This week? This month? In your life? There are many women in the gathering with secrets to protect, but none more than Amy, who, as a teenager, committed a terrible crime that almost destroyed her. Saved by her love for diving, and then by meeting her husband and stepdaughter, Amy has worked hard to build a normal, stable life; she even has a new baby.

Angelica has come to threaten all of this; she clearly knows about Amy’s past and will expose her to her loved ones if Amy doesn’t pay her. As Amy tries desperately to outscheme Angelica, she also realizes just how much she has to fight for—and what she might be willing to do to keep her family safe and her secrets buried.

This is a fantastic book and once you start reading or listening(as in my case), you can’t bear to stop.

There are so many twists and turns. Just when i thought I knew the motive for all of Roux’s actions, the author throws a curve ball that puts the story in a totally different direction. No spoilers, but you don’t get to the true crux of the plot until the end and what an ending it is!

Five stars!