Agatha Raisin and The Dead Ringer (Agatha Raisin Mystery #29) by M.C. Beaton

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2018

Format: Audio/Overdrive

The team of bells at St. Ethelred church is the pride and glory of the idyllic Cotswolds village of Thirk Magna, together with the most dedicated bell ringers in the whole of England: the twins Mavis and Millicent Dupin.

As the village gets ready for the Bishop’s visit, the twins get overly-excited at the prospect of ringing the special peal of bells created for the occasion and start bullying the other bell ringers, forcing them to rehearse and rehearse . . . so much so that Joseph Kennell, a retired lawyer, yells at the sisters that he ‘felt like killing them’!

When the twins’ home is broken into one night and Millicent is found dead, struck from a hammer blow, suspicion falls onto the lawyer.

Will Agatha unmask the real killer and clear Joseph’s name?

Review –

Being  a regular reader of this series I wasn’t confused over who was who, as a first time reader to the series might be, but then this isn’t a series you read for the intellectual challenge of working out whodunnit before it’s actually revealed. You read it for the black humor, the fun of wondering what drinking, smoking, man-chasing, glamorous Agatha will do next. There are so many bodies that you stop feeling the horror of violent death: you know that as soon as you look away the corpses will get up and walk away. It’s a fun read, although, not one of my favorites and I think that was because of the voice of the narrator, I miss Penelope Keith because she did a perfect Agatha Raisin!

 

 

 

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Defiant Queen (Mount Trilogy #2) by Meghan March

Book Description:

Published: November 14, 2017

Format: E-Book/OverDrive

I’m his entertainment. His toy. Payment on a debt.
I tell myself I hate him, but every time he walks into the room, my body betrays me. How can I want him and fear him in the same moment?
They told me he’d mess with my head. Make it go to war with my body.
But I didn’t realize it would be complete anarchy.
I should’ve known better. When Mount’s involved, there are no rules.
I will not surrender. I will not show weakness. I’ll stand my ground and make it out of this bargain with my heart and soul intact.
But he has other plans . . .

Review –

Mount, as we learned in the first book, is a ruthless criminal, but as this story unfolds we find out so much more about this man.  He’s had a shitty childhood, lived in foster homes where he’s had to protect others, as well as defend himself.  He’s learned early on how to survive in a city that has the ability to swallow you whole.

We see Mount start to soften when it comes to Kiera, his queen.  Which isn’t necessarily a good thing in his world.   He has a reputation to uphold, he needs folks to continue to fear him.  So what is it with this mouthy woman and her attitude that has him buckling to his knees?  

Kiera keeps coming to Lachlan willingly.  There’s something about this man she can’t seem to say no to.  Not only is she drawn to him sexually, she’s starting to really like him.  Mount urges her to continue to be the be the best she can possibly be at running her whiskey distillery.  He really adores her and treats her well even though he commands her submission in the bedroom, and holy hell she has no problem at all with his orders when it comes to the sexy times.  But, once they calm down after all the mind-blowing, star seeing big fat orgasms, she’s back to her mouthy, defiant self.

I love The Mount series.  Lachlan is a hero you so badly want to hate,  but you just can’t help fall in love with this filthy talking, controlling asshole.  And don’t we all love a heroine who knows how to bring such man to his knees???

Now on to the end of the series, Sinful Empire.

 

Year One (Chronicles of The One #1) by Nora Roberts

Book Description:

Published: December 5, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed–and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river–or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Review –

When I started listening to this book, I knew immediately that I was going to love it, and therefore would have to not rush the experience. By that I mean, I don’t “binge-listen” hour after hour, but take it slow and make it last. I even set it aside for a week here and there to make it last longer.

This is unlike anything that Nora Roberts has ever written and she hit it out of the ball park!

“When the world as they know it ends, the survivors of a mysterious plague are faced with a new world in which both dark and light magic are rising.

“When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he’d killed himself. And billions of others.” So begins the latest novel from publishing juggernaut Roberts, and the rest of the book is just as gripping. When a virus takes out nearly 80 percent of the Earth’s human population, the survivors must figure out how to live in their new world, which includes the appearance of a varied set of magical abilities in a large part of the surviving population. Both the magick and un-magick people have violent factions which are trying to vanquish internal and external enemies, and good people from both groups have to band together in order to stay safe and establish a new order that honors life and decency. In one such community, witches Lana and Max are having a child, and from the moment of conception, it’s obvious that the child will be magical. As her pregnancy advances, Lana begins to suspect that even in the context of the new magical paradigm, her child has a special destiny, an impression that becomes clearer when she realizes she and her unborn child are being hunted. Finding sanctuary on a remote farm, Lana ushers the child into the world, and soon both foes and allies begin to arrive at her doorstep, deepening Lana’s belief that her daughter is meant for something great and dangerous. Roberts’ new direction is electric and ground-breaking. In some ways, it’s a synthesis of her past work: she’s often written about magical elements, family—both biological and emotional—and community. In this series launch, she’s created a believable apocalypse that is obviously leading to a grand showdown between good and evil, but the story and the characters—there are many, and she’s made some choices that are going to stun her die-hard romance fans—navigate timely issues of tolerance and bigotry; fear of the Other; violence on behalf of perceived “purity” and misdirected religious zeal; and how good people combat evil.

A fast-paced, mesmerizing, and thought-provoking novel that will no doubt add to Roberts’ legions of fans.”

KIRKUS Reviews

Five stars!!!

grab a warm cup of Theraflu, snuggle up with a copy of Year One and pray you’re one of the lucky survivors.

 

Ron Charles of the Washington Post

Shadow Over the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #2) by Joy Ellis

BookDescription:

Published: June 30, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

WHO CAN NIKKI TRUST WITH TWO BRUTAL KILLERS LOOSE ON THE FENS?

Someone terrible from DS Joseph Easter’s past is back . . .

DI Nikki Galena’s friend and neighbour meets a tragic end but there’s more to his death than meets the eye . . .

A man is found executed on a piece of wasteland in Greenborough town. The cold-blooded murder triggers terrible memories for DS Joseph Easter. Just when things seemed to be going well for DS Easter, he realises that the nightmare is coming back, threatening his career, his sanity, and maybe his life.

In a breath-taking conclusion even DI Galena begins to doubt him as he faces a race against time to save someone very close to him.

Set in the Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you’ve ever seen.

Review –

Joseph has decided to join the team and stay as DCI Nikki Galena’s sergeant and he is just getting over his injury from the first book. Now things are going horribly wrong for him as someone very bad from his past is back or is he? His competence is being questioned as nobody else has really seen the guy, but now people are being killed.

Nikki has come to trust Joseph and so she believes him when he says that it was Billy,(Joesph’s evil friend from the past) but that is not the only case they have her friend and neighbor Martin, looked to have committed suicide but she just can’t believe he would do that so she refuses to call it that and investigates.

Shadows Over the Fens was a very enjoyable and  interesting listen as things were not really looking good for Joseph, but yet you just know he can’t be doing anything bad. I thought I might know a bit how it was going to turn out and I was right on a few things but it still was a bit surprising. I am really enjoying getting to know DCI Nikki and DS Joseph! (still hoping something develops between these two)

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen

Book Description:

Published: September 30, 2014

Format: Audio

She had the perfect life.
She had the perfect cover.
She was the perfect witness.
Until they found her.

When Teresa Casali was young she discovered she had a strange gift: the ability to read people’s memories. But the gift seemed more like a curse as her mob boss father used her to gain the upper hand in his world of corruption and violence. Exposed by her own family to the darkest impulses of mankind, Teresa is alone and unprotected. She realizes that if she is to survive, she has to run.

Out of nowhere, or so she believes, a man by the name of Andre Mandak appears. He kills her pursuers—but that’s not nearly enough for Teresa to trust him. It is his promise to get her into Witness Protection, along with his mind-blowing ability to help her control her gift before it consumes her, that convinces Teresa Casali to become Allie Girard. Living a normal life with a new family, she shuts the door to the past …although Mandak is clear: when the time is right, he too will benefit from her powers.

For years Allie flourishes …until the day her cover is blown and the truth comes tumbling out. Once again she is on the run, with her own life and those of her loved ones at stake. But this time she will not be a pawn. This time she will use her finely honed gift to end the threat that began with her family’s betrayal. From perfect target to perfect witness, Allie Girard is ready to take on the past even if it kills her.

Review –

The author creates an intriguing world that revolves around a psychic underground and is peppered with some really diabolical bad guys. Readers may feel engaged by the story, though a few plot points seem slightly contrived, and the sexual tension between Mandak and Allie begins when she’s sixteen, which makes sense contextually but feels slightly unwholesome.

Parts of the book seemed repetitious  and that got on my nerves. Also, I never became invested in the characters and I was glad when the book came to an end. Just not my cup of tea.

 

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic. Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody. But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

Review

This book will appeal to some, including fans of Lost or Stephen King’s novels, but it’s certainly not for everyone (including me).  It’s  incredibly dark and violent, with graphic scenes involving cannibalism and murder, among other things. Coming in somewhere between a horror story and a supernatural thriller, Afterlife, is a dark, gory, and twisted novel that, while trying to deliver a more profound message, ends up falling short of its goal.

I can not believe the movie rights were snapped up and Ron Howard is involved, BUT I still will not be buying a ticket!

Two stars.

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: December 12, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

Review –

Killman Creek is the second book in the Stillhouse Lake Series. You don’t have to read the first book if you do not want to, as much of what happened in that book is explained in this one, but I would recommend it. Gwen Proctor is back as the primary protagonist,, although Sam (a man working with her to stop her ex, Marvin, whose sister was murdered by Marvin) and Gwen’s two children, Lanny and Connor (formerly Lily and Brady), also have their own voices within the story.

I like the back and forth between perspectives even though sometime I found both of the children to be very annoying, which fits with the characters being teenagers.

Killman Creek was darker than its predecessor as Caine took us on the hunt to catch a brilliant and twisted killer. OMG! I was biting my nails and clenching my fists with some of these realistic, terrifying scenes.

Gwen’s story is over, but there will be a third book, Wolfhunter River. Rumors  indicate this  book will deal with one of the supporting characters.  I cannot wait to see who it will be.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Book Description:

Published: June 23, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

Review –

“When a young librarian comes into possession of the diary of a traveling circus from more than 200 years ago, he decides the book may hold clues to a family mystery he needs to solve to save his sister’s life.

Narrator Simon and his younger sister, Enola, grew up in an 18th-century house on a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound. Taking after her mother, a former circus performer who drowned herself when Simon was 7, Enola travels with a carnival as a tarot card reader. Simon is still living in their dangerously dilapidated family home when, out of the blue on one June day, he receives a book from an antiquarian bookseller, who had noticed Simon’s grandmother’s name inside. Soon Simon discovers a frightening pattern among his female ancestors, all unnaturally good swimmers, all drowning as young women on July 24. If this “coincidence” sounds a bit far-fetched, it sets the bar for the novel’s credibility. Swyler intercuts Simon’s present drama—intensifying research into the diary’s history, loss of his job at the local library, incipient but already rocky love affair with fellow librarian Alice, return home of Enola, irretrievable collapse of the family manse—with the romantic tragedy of Amos, a traveling circus performer, and Evangeline, an aquatic performer with a guilty secret. Born in the 1780s and abandoned by his parents, Amos is mute when he joins a traveling troupe to perform a disappearing act as a “Wild Boy.” The fortune-teller takes him under her wing, teaching him to read the future. But despite her warnings, he falls for the dangerously mysterious Evangeline. She has his baby girl, and the havoc that follows leads straight to the curse that Simon, a whiny loser, is frantic to solve before someone else dies. A bit fey, even as romantic whimsy.

For die-hard mermaid-fiction lovers only.” Kirkus Review

I disagree with Kirkus’s last catty remark, the book was a joy to read and the description of the house falling apart was so real I felt I was there and anyone enjoying an epic, all-encompassing will love this book.

Five stars, and I love the cover!

First & Then by Emma Mills

Book Description:

Published: October 13, 2015

Format: Audio

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Review –

“Senior Devon Tennyson assumes college is next but isn’t so clear on why. Her longtime friend and crush, Cas Kincaid, isn’t interested in her romantically, alas. While she is part of his football crew, Devon has other friends who are as individual, though not as average, as she is.

The wide-ranging cast provides background to Devon’s struggles with her future, exemplified by her boring college essay. Add in the long-delayed and dreaded phys-ed requirement to make her unhappiness complete. It’s mostly freshmen except for Devon and an All-American football player and transfer student, Ezra. Also in the class is Foster, a freshman and a cousin who recently joined her household after his mother asked her parents to take him on full-time. Devon’s clearly not impressed with his irrepressible presence and knowing observations. However, her protective instincts go on high alert when socially inept and scrawny Foster’s great ability to kick a football is discovered by Ezra. When Ezra takes Foster under his wing, Devon isn’t sure if it’s a setup or real, given Ezra’s low popularity quotient. With sporadic references to Jane Austen’s famous characters and wickedly inventive language, Mills closely observes the social milieu of an American high school obsessed with our favorite sport and makes readers care what happens.

A fresh, smart, inventive, and altogether impressive debut. (Romance. 11-16)” Kirkus Review

A totally sweet young adult romance mixed with football.  Love it!

 

 

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: January 10, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Review –

“A young Englishwoman named Kate, mending after a horrific trauma—her jealous ex stalked her, locked her in a closet, and killed himself just outside it—decides a change of scenery might help restore her, and she agrees to a six-month apartment switch with Corbin, an American cousin she’s never met.

If she’s looking to tamp down her paranoia and learn to trust again, though, her cousin’s ultra-luxe Boston apartment is a disastrous choice. As soon as she arrives, Kate discovers there’s been a grisly murder next door. A series of small discoveries in the borrowed apartment, a little police attention/skepticism, and a couple of “chance” conversations with neighbors and acquaintances of the victim lead her increasingly to the conclusion that Corbin was romantically involved with the young woman and is the prime suspect. 

The author is most persuasive when we’re with the vulnerable but resourceful Kate, who ends up carrying on an ever more dangerous shadow investigation, and with her unlikely romantic interest, an awkward, somewhat creepy (the “somewhat” makes him a rarity—and a catch—in this world of fiction), but well-meaning neighbor named Alan. The book flounders a bit when Swanson enters Highsmith territory, attempting to inhabit the minds of sociopathic killers, but he does complicate things interestingly and engineers a tense and intricate finale.

A solid and quick-paced thriller—but one that seems to feature a pop-up psychopath behind every door and under every bed.” Kirkus Review

This is a great, creepy read.