Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Midnight Call by Jode Millman

Late one August night, her mentor/confidante and popular high school teacher Terrence Butterfield calls, admits he’s killed someone and pleads for Jessie’s help. Out of loyalty, she rushes to his aid, unaware that she’s risking her love, her career, her life and that of her unborn child.

When the police arrive, her presence raises questions as to her role in the gruesome slaughter of the teenage boy found in Terrence’s basement. Did Terrence call her as a lawyer or a friend? Was she somehow responsible for the murder?

To dismiss the murder charges Terrence betrays Jessie, making her wonder whether he’d been a monster in disguise all along.

To prove her innocence, Jessie must untangle the web of betrayals and the shocking truths behind the homicide. This quest turns out to be the fight of her life.
Publisher: Immortal Works |  Genre: Contemporary Legal Thriller | Source: MM Media  | Rating: DNF

I’m always up for a good thriller and, this one being a legal thriller, I found it intriguing, especially given the connection between Terrence and Jessie. The book—even though it’s told from several POV’s—quickly gained my attention as Terrence’s behavior becomes erratic and Jessie’s opinion about whether he’s innocent or guilty bounces back and forth. Then suddenly the book changes from a legal thriller to a book about cheating with a bit of legal drama thrown in. By that point, I was done with the book.


Overall, I’m getting tired of authors turning potentially good books into cheating free-for-alls and expecting readers to be okay with it. For me, it ruins the book and makes the characters irredeemable.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran - quite literally - into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either...

Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can't help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn's new celebrity client, there's even more at stake than Dax's custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she'll be promoted to partner.

The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?

Publisher: Hachette Audio | Narrator: Holly Warren, Teddy Hamilton | Length: 9 hours, 18 minutes |  Genre: Contemporary Romance  | Source: Purchased  | Rating: 1 Cup

Challenges Read For:  Lit Pickers  Photo Album -  2019 Try Something New New-to-me Author
Everyone has been raving about this one so I thought I’d use one of my Audible credits and give it a go. Yeah, I’m not sure I made the right choice.
Here’s what’s going on. When Kailyn runs into her teenage crush (who happened to be a teen actor), she never imagined just how much that one event would change her life. Fast-forward eight years, and her one-time crush now turned enemy is in her law office asking for her help now he’s the guardian of his teenage sister. While Kailyn’s heart goes out to Dax and his sister, she’s not sure she can trust him after the way he betrayed her. As they spend more time together, there’s no way Kailyn can deny she’s falling for Dax. Although this time, Dax is the one who’s betrayed.
I know I’m probably going to be the odd one out, but I struggled with this one. The struggle was real, my friends. It had it’s good moments but the rest of it was just a bit meh.
I could not make myself care about Kailyn. She’s one of those types that I would go out of my way to avoid. The whole ‘Dax betrayed me’ thing grew old fast and when the betrayal was brought to light, it was one of the stupidest things. Honestly, the thing in question was something she should have been responsible for so the fallout should have been on her shoulders. So that irked me the wrong way that she vilified Dax for something she should have done. She also went eight years holding this crazy grudge without even inquiring about why it happened. Then the way she acted toward Dax when she was working as the advocate for his sister rubbed me the wrong way.
Dax was easy to like and care about although I spent most of the book wondering why he was trying to snag Kailyn when he could have done so much better. I also found myself feeling sorry for his sister.
The relationship was rather meh. I couldn’t get behind it because it felt like Kailyn was using it just to get Dax to come to firm so she could make partner.
There’s this strange custody battle with the aunt that was rather preposterous.
I’m not sure the writing style of this one clicked with me. It felt choppy to me and a bit flat.
This was my first time listening to Holly Warren and Teddy Hamilton. I actually found that I enjoyed their narration although, at times. Holly Warren came off a bit whiney (that could have been because of the character).
Overall, this one just wasn’t for me. The plot was meh, I couldn’t get behind the characters, and the writing didn’t pull me in. I’m not sure if this author is for me.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Fouth Friend by Joy Ellis

Police detective Carter McLean is the only survivor of a plane crash that kills his four best friends. He returns to work, but he is left full of guilt and terrible flashbacks. So for each of his four friends, he decides to complete something that they left unfinished.

Eighteen months before the crash, Suzanne Holland disappeared, leaving a room with traces of blood but no other leads. Suzanne was the wife of one of Carter’s four best friends. Adding to the pressure, the boss’ niece has a stalker. Due to the sensitivity of the Holland case, Carter is put on this investigation.

DS Marie Evans is the only person Carter can confide in. But even she begins to doubt whether he can really cope and whether he is actually losing his mind. DI Jackman and DS Evans of the Fenland police face a battle to untangle three mysteries, and can they really believe their friend and colleague Carter?
 Series: Jackman and Evans #3 | Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Richard Armitage | Length: 7hrs 56mins | Genre: Contemporary Thriller/Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 2 Cups


Do you know when your favorite show decides to do that one weird Halloween-themed episode that’s a little wonky and doesn’t fit? Unfortunately, that’s what The Fourth Friend felt like. I was expecting this stellar mystery/thriller and I got a rather odd little story that made me wonder if Joy Ellis had a ghostwriter on this one.
This one had potential. Carter’s the lone survivor of a plane crash and he’s on a mission to make sure his deceased friends’ wishes are fulfilled. Suzanne Holland, the girlfriend Tom (Carter’s mate that died in the plane crash), has gone missing. There are no leads or evidence ex a few traces of blood in her living room. Then we have someone stalking Ruth Crooke’s niece, which makes things interesting considering Ruth’s the Superintendent.
Each thread could have made for an epic mystery/thriller instead the book mainly focused on Carter and his instability. I wasn’t too thrilled with the way the Suzanne Holland case unfolded, either. Considering Jackman and Evans are brilliant detectives, it seemed they overlooked so much in this case that made me wonder how they could be detectives at all.
As always, Richard Armitage brilliantly narrates this one. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would have finished this one.
Overall, this one was a letdown. It had a different feel and style than the previous ones and I wasn’t pleased with this one. I feel that I was being rather generous with this one by giving it a two-cup rating.

Jackman & Evans Series (recommended listening order)

The Guilty Ones
The Stolen Boys

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Red Creek: A Horror Novel by Nathan Hystad

Once a best-selling horror author, Paul Alenn is in a slump. His wife and daughter are across the country, moved away to the West Coast, leaving him alone in his Central Park-adjacent New York townhouse. When his sister calls, asking for help packing up his estranged mother’s house in his old hometown, Red Creek, he decides to put the past behind him and face his demons.

What he finds back home is an ongoing mystery that stems from his childhood, a time he has no recollection of. When a boy is taken on his second night in the Creek, Paul starts to unravel a dark he hadn’t even known was buried. All paths lead to the orchard and the eccentric owners, but Paul doesn’t know if the shadow he keeps seeing is real, or his imagination’s cover-up of a traumatic event.

With help from his former best friend, his brother-in-law, and a cranky old sheriff, Paul digs up the truth of the shadow looming over Red Creek.
Series: Red Creek #1 | Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Will Damron | Length: 6 hrs 54 mins |  Genre: Contemporary Horror/Thriller  | Source: Publisher  | Rating: 2.5 Cups

Challenges Read For:  -  2019 Try Something New: New-to-me Author
I went into this one thinking I was going to get this creepy little horror story, after all the book is subtitled: A Horror Novel, what I got was a suspense novel, which was a letdown.  
Here’s what’s going on. Paul’s been haunted by shadows all of his life but attributed them to his overactive author’s imagination. When Paul returns to his hometown, he soon realizes there’s more to the shadows than he realized. Now that a child has gone missing, Paul and his friends set out to uncover the truth Red Creek is hiding but when Paul discovers his childhood bike in the basement of a local orchard he soon realizes his ties to the orchard and the missing children are stronger than expected. Will they be able to figure out what’s lurking in Red Creek before another child vanishes?
Okay, the premise for this one sounded amazing and reminded me of Stephen King, sadly this one failed to deliver any of the horror that I was promised. I was rather disappointed because the author’s writing was brilliant and hooked me from the start.
The suspense is riveting. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see who/what was behind the missing children, how everything was connected, and what Paul’s daughter had to do with things. Unfortunately, I was left with more questions than answers. While there was a conclusion of sorts, there were no answers or no explanations for some of the major points of the plot. I just felt there could have been so much more added to this book
This was my first time listening to Will Damron and I enjoyed his narration.
Overall, I enjoyed the writing and the suspense but I was let down by the conclusion and I spent the entire book waiting for something that never happened.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

I took the IKEA Plunge

Hello My Lovelies!


I hope you’re doing well!


So, I did a thing…I finally took the plunge and ordered a desk from IKEA. I’d spent far too long looking in the shops and batting away commission-seeking sales people (they drive me mad) without finding a desk that I wanted. So I turned my attention to the online shops. After searching a few, I finally found the desk I’d been wanting on IKEA. This desk….The Hemnes desk with add-on unit in gray.



I’ve spent the last few days decluttering, packing up my old desk, and taking the old desk apart. It’s been busy few days but I’m looking forward to my new desk being delivered today.
The only left to do is assemble the desk—cue dramatic music. I’m hoping it’s not going to been too difficult.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues by Molly Harper

Ingrid Asher is the newest resident of Mystic Bayou, a tiny town hidden in the swamp where shapeshifters, vampires, witches and dragons live alongside humans.

Ingrid doesn’t ask for much. The solitary tree nymph just wants to live a quiet life running her ice-cream shop in peace. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to shake her new neighbor, Rob Aspern, head of the League’s data science department and so good looking it just isn’t fair.

If there’s one thing Ingrid doesn’t need, it’s someone poking around in her business. But the more she gets to know the hunky mathematician, the more she finds herself letting her guard down. Can she trust him with her secrets, or will her past destroy everything?
Series: Mystic Bayou #2.5  | Publisher: Audible  | Narrators: Amanda Ronconi and Jonathan Davis  | Length: 3 hours and 3 minutes  |  Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source: Audible | Rating: 3 Cups                Literary Pickers: Flower Pot/Planter

Once again, I’m back in the fun and snarky world only Molly Harper can create and I enjoyed every minute of being there.
So, sadly, this one is a short at only a little over 3 hours but it was still a nice addiction to the series—even if it could have been a little longer.
Here’s what’s going on. Ingrid is tree nymph who has just moved to Mystic Bayou with the intentions of opening an ice-cream shop. Used to being on her own, she’s not sure what to make of it when Rob Aspern ventures onto her land. Sure, her neighbor is attractive but he also works for the League, which means he’s dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. Rob can’t shake the attraction to Ingrid but she’s not exactly the easiest woman to get to know considering most of their interactions abruptly end when she disappears into a tree. Although Rob’s determined to prove to Ingrid that while he works for the League, he’s not out to harm her. Will Rob be able to win over Ingrid?
Ingrid and Rob made an interesting pair. She’s been hurt in the past so she’s hesitant. She’s been on her own for so long, she’s not really sure what to make of the people who are now in her life and she not sure if she can trust them. We’ve met in the previous book when he was pining after Dani. He’s a loyal and persistent guy and I was glad he finally found someone.
So the romance was a little rushed but I was okay with that. Sure, I would have liked more but I always want more of Molly Harper snarky goodness. To me, this come across more as Ingrid finding her way in Mystic Bayou with a bit of romance on the side.
Overall, still a good edition to the series and a nice one to pick up between reads.

Mystic Bayou Series
#3 Selkies are a Girl’s Best Friend

Friday, July 12, 2019

Justified by Jay Crownover

Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he's determined to do everything by the book--until he's called to Aspen Barlow's office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn't the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge...

Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she'll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there's a thin line between love and hate... because there's nothing Case wouldn't do to keep her safe.
Series: Loveless, Texas #1 | Publisher: Forever |  Genre:  Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher  | Rating: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Literary Pickers  -  Soup- 2019 Try Something New: New-to-me author
What’s a sheriff to do when his enemy needs protection?
When Aspen Barlow becomes the target of someone out to harm her, Sheriff Case Lawton has no choice but to step up and take action. Although protecting Aspen isn’t going to be easy considering she’s the one who lost him custody of his son and he’s viewed her as the enemy since that day. Not wanting to be like his father, Case is determined to sort out Aspen’s situation. As more attacks are launched at Aspen and the investigation gets underway, Case and Aspen find themselves growing closer. Now they have to figure out if they’re ready to let go of the past and start again.
This was my first time reading Jay Crownover and she has such an inviting writing style. I couldn’t put this book down.
Aspen’s a tough cookie. She’s used to being on her own from a young age since her parents could really care less about what she was doing. She was also used to being the outcast until she married a local guy from a respectable family but now that she’s left him and is in the middle of a divorce, she’s back to being viewed as the outsider. Aspen’s always been one to stand on her own two feet so when she needs help from someone else, she’s not sure how to accept it, especially since the help is coming from someone she’s always looked up and had feelings for but Case has soundly put her in the enemies category. I was a little worried when Aspen was described as a bleeding heart liberal; I’m not one to like reading about character’s with causes but thankfully nothing popped up.
Case’s story pulled on my heartstrings. He’s grown up with a dirty sheriff for a father who was abusive to Case and his siblings so Case has had to fight to prove he’s nothing like his father and he’s still proving that to some of the town’s residents. He’s also firmly held a grudge against Aspen, which was understandable. She cost him custody of his son and it’s not something that he’s able to easily look past. Although Case is a man of integrity, who respects the badge he wears so he knows it’s his job to make sure Aspen’s looked after and her case is taken seriously.
The relationship between Case and Aspen was fraught with tension. They both had been hurt before and they both had wounds that the other had inflicted so there was a lot of healing and letting go that had to happen before they could figure out what was happening between them. With all that going on, there was still so much chemistry bouncing between the two of them but I’m glad that they waited before jumping into something.
The suspense aspect was spot on. It had me on the edge of my seat as events unfolded. While I had an inkling about who was behind the threats, I wasn’t sure until the last few pages.
While I enjoyed this book—and nearly gave it a 5-cup rating—the author used ‘marine’ instead of ‘Marine’. That capitalized ‘M’ makes all the difference and I really wish that authors and editors would pay it more heed.
Marine: military a soldier who serves at sea as well as in the air and on land, e.g. a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
marine: relating to, found in, or living in the sea
Apparently Case has made an appearance in some of the author’s other books—while I would eventually like to read those because I really enjoyed Case—I don’t feel they were needed to get the full scope of Case.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. It had a nice combination of suspense, angst, and romance without one overpowering the other. I’m eager to see what happens in the next book since this book ended with the start of a new mystery that I’m sure will carry over to the next one. I’m also eager to see what happens with Case’s siblings.

Loveless, TX Series

Friday, July 5, 2019

Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

Murder is on the to-do list when construction contractor Shannon Hammer looks for a killer in the fifth Fixer-Upper Mystery....

At the annual Victorian Home and Garden Tour, Lighthouse Cove, California's premier contractor, Shannon Hammer, realizes that the competition is about to turn deadly....

Shannon is in high demand among rival homeowners who will do anything to win Best in Show. One-upmanship and even espionage break out among neighbors, construction crews, decorators, and landscapers. Thanks to several new hires, Shannon is sure she can handle the extra load - until murder throws a wrench in the works.

The small town's corrupt building inspector is found dead on one of Shannon's jobsites, and soon plenty of suspects are coming out of the woodwork. When another body is discovered, Shannon calls on her team of close friends and devilishly astute thriller writer Mac to help her nail down the details and build a case against the killer before the door shuts on someone else - for good.
Series: Fixer-Upper Mystery #5 | Publisher: Audible  | Narrator: Angela Starling  | Length: 7 hrs 35 mins| Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery | Source: Audible | Rating: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Cruisin' Thru The Cozies: Book of My Choice
Praise to the book gods! Shannon’s finally stopped complaining about the ‘mean girls’ from high school. Let’s have a moment of appreciative silence because her whinging was getting really old.
Now, on with the review…With the Victorian Home and Garden Tour looming, Shannon and her crew find themselves with more work than they know how to handle so when Amanda shows up looking for a job, Shannon is happy to put her woodworking skills to use. Although when the building inspector, who’s been giving Shannon and her crew trouble, turns up dead and it’s discovered Amanda possibly has a connection to the family they’ve been doing repairs for, Shannon realizes she needs to do a little digging of her own before one of her crew is charged with murder. Although when a woman is murdered in a local hotel owned by Shannon’s friend, she realizes there’s more going on than what meets the eye and all roads seem to be leading back to Amanda. Shannon must figure out what’s going on before the murderer catches on.
This has to be one of my favorites in the series. It was slightly predictable but not entirely in your face; there were still a few key of parts of the mysteries that had to be worked out.
I felt like Shannon showed a lot of personal growth in this one. She’s not constantly going on and on about how she doesn’t compare to the ‘mean girls’ from high school or how they treated her. She doesn’t seem caught up on how Tommy—her high school boyfriend now cop—was trapped into marriage by one of the ‘mean girls’. She seemed more well-rounded and adult and I really enjoyed seeing this side of her.                                                                    
Both the murder mystery and the mystery of Amanda—the newest member of Shannon’s construction company—were equally entertaining. While I had a feeling things were going to play out the way they did, I was still sussing out a few of the whys and hows. I did have a slight problem with the believability of one particular reasoning and I did question how it went undiscovered—I’m not going to say what as I don’t want to spoil it for reader—but I feel those two items in particular could have been handled/explained a bit better. I don’t really see how the one went undiscovered.
The romance in this one felt a bit stilted. Shannon’s been wavering between the Mac and Eric but leaning more towards Mac. The last book showed them growing closer but this book was a bit lackluster in the romance. I didn’t really see any growth in their relationship and it felt as though they were just really good friends hanging out rather than being a couple.
Angela Starling is back narrating and, for me, she’s just a better fit for this series. She really brings Shannon to life and it easy and enjoyable to listen to.
Overall, there still a few spots that could have improved but I rather enjoyed this one. I feel like this one is getting back on track with how the first book in the series was and I’m hoping that will continue.

Fixer Upper Series
Eaves of Destruction (Fixer-Upper Mystery #5) 
A Wrench in the Works (Fixer-Upper Mystery #6)

Monday, July 1, 2019

Agatha's First Case: An Agatha Raisin Short Story by M. C. Beaton

At age 26 Agatha Raisin has already come a long way. She has clawed her way up since leaving the Birmingham slum where she was born. She's lost her Birmingham accent, run away from her drunken husband, and found a job at a public relations office as a secretary. Then her boss asks Agatha to go to the home of Sir Bryce Teller to tell him that he is soon to be arrested for the murder of his wife and that the agency no longer wants to represent him.

Teller, impressed with the pugnacious Agatha, asks her to handle PR for him and even offers her an office and tells her she can hire a staff. Certainly the best thing Agatha can do for her first client is to find out who really murdered his wife and clear his name. And with her wits and gumption, Agatha sets out to do just that.

Series Agatha Raisin #0.5 | Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.| Narrator: Alison Larkin  | Length: 1 hour 19 minutes  Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery  | Source: Purchased | Rating: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Cruisin' Thru The Cozies -  My Book Choice
This one was quick but rather enjoyable.
When Agatha is tasked with the job of telling Sir Bryce Teller that the PR agency he’s currently with will no longer represent him due to the murder investigation he’s currently the prime suspect of, Agatha sees this as her chance to rise up from being a secretary. Impressed with her fortitude, Sir Bryce aids Agatha in establishing her own PR firm. Now Agatha only has one tiny little problem standing in her way; the murder she must solve to clear her clients name.
It’s been a minute since I’ve read an Agatha Raisin mystery and, to be honest, I didn’t even realize that this short existed until I was trying to use up my monthly Audible credit.
I was rather impressed with this one. Considering it was a little over a minute, I was expecting this to be rushed and incomplete. Thankfully, this was a well-rounded short that showed not only character origin and growth but also a full murder investigation with a conclusion.
This was my first time listening to Alison Larkin. She was such a delight to listen to and she really brought Agatha to life.
Overall, I really enjoyed seeing Agatha’s start. While it was a quick listen, it was fully fleshed-out. I highly recommend this to full-fledged Agatha Raisin fans and newbies alike.

Agatha’s First Case (short story)
Christmas Crumble (short story)
The Quiche of Death
The Vicious Vet
The Potted Gardener
The Walkers of Dembley
The Murderous Marriage
The Terrible Tourist
The Wellspring of Death
The Wizard of Evesham
The Witch of Wyckhadden
The Fairies of Fryfam
The Love from Hell
The Day the Floods Came
the Case of the Curious Curate
The Haunted House
The Deadly Dance
The Perfect Paragon
Love, Lies and Liquor
Kissing Christmas Goodbye
A Spoonful of Poison
There Goes the Bride
The Busy Body
As the Pig Turns
Hiss and Hers
Something Borrowed, Someone Dead
The Blood of an Englishman
Dishing Up Dirt
Pushing Up Daisies
The Witches’ Tree
The Dead Ringer
Beating about the Bush