Wednesday 8 November 2023

*** 5 Star Review *** Inheritance The Lost Bride Trilogy #1 by Nora Roberts



Inheritance is the first in The Lost Bride Trilogy by #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts―a tale of tragedies, loves found and lost, and a family haunted for generations.

1806: Astrid Poole sits in her bridal clothes, overwhelmed with happiness. But before her marriage can be consummated, she is murdered, and the circle of gold torn from her finger. Her last words are a promise to Collin never to leave him…

Graphic designer Sonya MacTavish is stunned to learn that her late father had a twin he never knew about―and that her newly discovered uncle, Collin Poole, has left her almost everything he owned, including a majestic Victorian house on the Maine coast, which the will stipulates she must live in it for at least three years. Her engagement recently broken, she sets off to find out why the boys were separated at birth―and why it was all kept secret until a genealogy website brought it to light.

Trey, the young lawyer who greets her at the sprawling clifftop manor, notes Sonya’s unease―and acknowledges that yes, the place is haunted…but just a little. Sure enough, Sonya finds objects moved and music playing out of nowhere. She sees a painting by her father inexplicably hanging in her deceased uncle’s office, and a portrait of a woman named Astrid, whom the lawyer refers to as “the first lost bride.” It’s becoming clear that Sonya has inherited far more than a house. She has inherited a centuries-old curse, and a puzzle to be solved if there is any hope of breaking it…




Oh my, what a great story.  Nora Roberts knows how to pull her readers into the tale from the first page.  

I love the present-day characters.  Sonya MacTavish is a courageous woman.  I love how she deals with finding her fiancĂ© in bed with her cousin.  She takes the high road, but the ex and co-worker is a jerk and tries to make her look bad.  Sonya decides to have a trial stay at the home her uncle left her in his will.  As soon as she moves in, she encounters ghosts from generations past.  

Cleo is Sonya's best friend.  She is the best friend we all want and need.  Cleo is another strong, independent woman.    It is impressive how she builds Sonya up and supports her whenever she needs it.  She also has a "white" witch in her Louisiana family.  Connections are always positive.

Oliver "Trey" Doyle is the son of the lawyer representing Colin Poole's (uncle) estate.  There is an immediate connection with Sonya, but it isn't acted on immediately.  Trey is concerned that he might move too quickly after Sonya's breakup. However, he is very familiar with the house and the ghosts that haunt it.  His connection brings him to the Manor whenever Sonya has questions.  

The manor ghosts are interesting.  They are all women who died young.  They are sweet and welcoming to Sonya, except for one.  Hester is the evil witch ghost who adds suspense and villainous vibes to the story.   She is so hateful I can't wait to see what else she has up her sleeves in the future.

I could not put the book down.  I knew each page could introduce harm to Sonya, and I worried each time Hester Dobbs made her presence known.  I love the way Nora develops her characters, especially the women.  Inheritance is an entertaining nail-biter.  Nora makes the story amusing, atmospheric, and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.  Now I need the next book to see what else will happen at the Manor and see if more sparks fly for other characters in the story.  I'm so grateful that Nora Roberts is a prolific writer.  I am confident that she won't make me wait long. 



Thursday 14 September 2023

*** REVIEW *** LAST BREATH by Robert Bryndza

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.
When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.


Erika Foster is back on a new case. The thing is, she isn’t supposed to be on this case. Erika pushes herself onto the crime scene by pulling rank on Peterson and taking advantage of their growing relationship. (That was a little nasty on Erika’s part.) A woman is found in a dumpster. Once Sparks, the primary, is on the scene, he and Erika have words, and she is sent away. Erika is upset because she is a good investigator, but department politics has her on a desk instead of in the field. However, events pull Erika into the investigation officially. It doesn't take long for the team to recognize that this is a potential serial killer.

I am a big fan of this series. I love the characters and how they all interact, both good and bad. Erika often hurts her own cause by stating her feelings bluntly. She is a “what comes up, comes out” person, which doesn’t help anybody in their career, least of all a woman. This characteristic puts her in management’s crosshairs. Fortunately, she has a team of colleagues who admire and follow her without question.

I enjoyed seeing Erika’s lighter side. We don’t get this very often. It is difficult for Erika to move on from her husband’s death despite her feelings for Peterson. Fortunately, Peterson is a good guy and understands Erika’s dilemma. I love Moss. She is the type of person everyone wants on their team. She is hardworking, loyal, and puts the team first.

I like that the murderer is known from the start. We get in his head and learn firsthand how evil he is. In my opinion, this is more a villainous character study than a whodunit. While I believe Last Breath works as a standalone novel, I believe it is important to start the series from the beginning for all the backstories. Erika will rub some readers the wrong way, but for me, it is her abrasiveness and tunnel vision in solving crimes that make her a realistic character.

I can't wait to get to the next book.


4.5 STARS 


Wednesday 13 September 2023

*** 5 Star REVIEW *** SICK HATE by JA Huss



I should’ve hugged her more. I should’ve loved her more. But the truth is, I couldn’t. Even after we were free, I couldn’t love them like that. Because I could never shake the feeling that each time they walked away from me, it would be the last time I saw them.
The only way I knew how to show them I cared was to train them. And once I forced Irina to stop training, I didn’t have another way to love her.
I just didn’t know how. So I made her leave.

I was supposed to die nine times already, at least.
The nine ghosts of my opponents follow me around like reminders. Their gaunt faces, their expressions of pain, the fear in their eyes when they realize death has come for them. They have stuck with me all this time.
I’m not supposed to be here. I was supposed to go out fighting.
So I am doing nothing now. I am just existing. I am just doing it thousands of miles away from where I started. And I am doing it alone.
Then I meet a man I could fall in love with in a blink.
And I have to make a decision.
Should I blink?

Every morning there is a choice. To get up, or not.
That’s my choice. To go on, or give in.
And on most days—recently, at least—I get up and go on.
But it’s never gonna be enough. Ever .
Just breathing is hard.
Then I meet a girl who is so incredibly sweet. So perfect, and pretty, and innocent that the pain in my chest fades when she’s around.
Until I find out who she killed on that fateful day seven years ago.

Written by New York Times bestselling author, JA Huss, Sick Hate is story of love, lost and found, starting over, and learning to let go and live on. It is the second book in the Sick World Series.

412 pages, Kindle Edition

Published September 12, 2023

Sick Hate is the second book in the Sick World series, primarily focusing on Irina and Maart from the first book and a new character, Eason. If you read Sick Heart , you will remember that Maart was the trainer for Cort’s team of kids who are a part of the Ring of Fire Circuit fighters. Irina was one of the oldest girls on the team. After they gained their freedom, Irina and Maart had a falling out. Irina decided to go off and make a name for herself. Maart is filled with guilt and decides it is time to find her and make things right.

Sick Hate takes off seven years after Sick Heart . There are many things that happened over these seven years, but the biggest hurdle is how to live without the prospect of death leaning over your shoulder. I did not expect the way Julie took this story. I was sure that she had another plan for Irina. However, I admit that how the story rolls out is much better than my plan. (No Surprise there!)

What I love:

The characters and the way they grabbed my heart and emotions. These people are all so broken but get up every day and decide to tackle their demons.

I love visiting with some of my favorite characters from Sick Heart to see where they are and how they are doing.

I love “Beth.” I wasn’t a fan of this reporter in the previous book. In fact, I think I disliked her immensely. Somehow, Julie turned her around with a good backstory.

My only criticism (which isn’t a real criticism) is that I wanted more. I could read about these characters for a few more days. I’m sure that we will get more answers and maybe even more questions as the series continues. Ja Huss is always one of my most anticipated authors. I can't wait for the Sick Hate audiobook. Her narrators fit her characters perfectly. 

 5 Stars


Tuesday 12 September 2023

*** REVIEW *** DARK ANGEL by D.K. Hood



 In the dark pine forest surrounding the quiet town of Rattlesnake Creek, the body of a young girl lies on the ground. Her angelic blonde hair spills over her shoulders and her unblinking eyes stare up toward the sky...

It was Beth Katz's serial killer father who made her like she is: a successful FBI agent and an unstoppable vigilante dedicated to hunting down murderers who have evaded capture. Beth will push herself to the limits to deliver justice. Even if it means killing those who deserve to die.

When the body of missing schoolgirl Brooklyn Daniels is discovered in a secluded patch of woodland on the outskirts of town, Beth and her partner Dax Styles race to the scene. Brooklyn and her best friend left home to pick wildflowers a week ago and vanished without trace.

Taking in Brooklyn's body carefully laid on a blanket and the dress neatly folded next to her, Beth suddenly freezes. She's seen this before: in the files of a cold case. The perpetrator takes two girls-one vanishes, the other is killed and left with her clothes beside her. Now Beth knows she has a twisted serial killer on her hands, she'll stop at nothing to catch him. Even if it means going against Dax's orders...

Desperate to find the other missing girl, Beth's heart pounds as she puts herself up as bait and walks into the secluded forest, knowing evil is lurking nearby. With Dax watching her every move, Beth prays the gamble pays off. Can she outsmart the murderer, or did she just walk into a trap? And when Beth finally comes face to face with the killer, will she hand him over or serve justice of her very own?


OMG! I loved this story.

Dark Angel is the first book in the Beth Katz series. Katz's boss didn’t like how she acted after her last case. Her boss sent her for psych testing, after which he sent her to Rattlesnake Creek, Montana, to work with the local law enforcement of the small towns in the area. A demotion in Beth's eyes.

Her new assignment teams her with Dax Styles. Neither of these agents likes to work with a partner. However, when a young girl is found dead, and her friend is missing, Katz and Styles put their heads together to devise a plan to find the serial killer of children. While searching for the pedophile, Katz and Styles are pulled into another unrelated case. Styles gets a good look at the real Katz, which makes him wonder if he can trust her.

I love these two unconventional FBI agents. Beth is the daughter of a serial killer, and she has some of the dark in her. I think of her as a female Dexter with an FBI badge. She doesn’t have a problem with delivering her own brand of justice. Not only does Beth scoff at the conventional rules for an FBI agent, but she also pulls Styles into her darkness. Styles has PTSD from his time in the military. He is still in love with his wife, from whom he is divorced. (What a story that is!)

I enjoyed the banter between Katz and Styles. They are both trying to sort out their working relationship. Katz is often the leader even though Styles has seniority. She knows when to step back to let Styles catch up and get on the same page with her. She is clever.

Hood has created some wonderful supporting characters that include a local sheriff, café owner, and medical examiner that all give us insight into the main characters and the small towns in the area. The story gives a true feeling of life in a small town. Also, the villain is a truly horrible guy. He made me shiver more than once.

The narrator, Lauryn Allman does an excellent job telling this story. Her voice is exactly what the story needs to keep the listener in the action from the beginning to the end. When Katz explains the details or profile of a serial killer, you don’t question Katz’s knowledge. Allman gives her an air of authority and confidence. The same is true when she explains cybercrime and how the dark web is full of predators. Her voice is very convincing of the evil lurking just around the corner. Allman’s voice clearly depicts the characters, scenes, and events in my head.

Hood created the perfect introduction to Detectives Beth Katz and Dax Styles, which hooked me from page one. I plan to read the next book in the series.

4.5 Stars

I just reviewed Dark Angel (Detective Beth Katz Book 1) by D.K. Hood. #DarkAngel #NetGalley
[NetGalley URL]


Wednesday 6 September 2023



Ann Cleeves—New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—returns with The Raging Storm, the extraordinary third installment in the Matthew Venn series.

Fierce winds, dark secrets, deadly intentions.

When Jem Rosco—sailor, adventurer, and legend—blows into town in the middle of an autumn gale, the residents of Greystone, Devon, are delighted to have a celebrity in their midst. But just as abruptly as he arrived, Rosco disappears again, and soon his lifeless body is discovered in a dinghy, anchored off Scully Cove, a place with legends of its own.

This is an uncomfortable case for Detective Inspector Matthew Venn. Greystone is a place he visited as a child, a community he parted ways with. Superstition and rumor mix with fact as another body is found, and Venn finds his judgment clouded.

As the winds howl, and Venn and his team investigate, he realizes that no one, including himself, is safe from Scully Cove’s storm of dark secrets.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin’s Press.



The Raging Storm is the third book in the Two Rivers series about DI Matthew Venn.  Like Ann Cleeves' other main characters, Detective Inspector Matthew Venn is not an easily understood character at first glance, but he quickly grows on the reader.  The mystery is nicely plotted and captivating.  The murderer took me by surprise. 

 A famous son, Jem Rosco, returns to Scully Cove on a stormy night, making the town wonder what he is up to now.  When they found out that he rented a nearby cottage, there was more speculation about the reason for this visit.  When he disappears and is later found dead in a dinghy, DI Venn is called to investigate.

Venn doesn’t have good memories of this area either.  The close-minded religious community caused a lot of anguish for him when he admitted that he was gay.  I love Venn.  He is honest, and he has a routine that he likes to follow when on an investigation.  Circumstances don’t allow him to do that sometimes, which makes him a little antsy.  It reveals a lot about him when he deals with his frustration.  We are learning more about his personal feelings and self-doubts not only on the job but also in his relationship with his husband.  There are times that I want to give him a big hug because he is too hard on himself.

 Ann Cleeves creates great characters as well as an extremely atmospheric setting.  I love how she sets the stage for murder and dread.  It is intriguing the way the atmosphere carries over to the residents of the town, which makes the story feel darker and the foreboding grows with each tidbit the author reveals about the town, the people, and the investigators.

 I listened to the audio for this book.  It is narrated by Jack Holden.  I love the way Holden brings Matthew Venn to life.  He does an excellent job conveying the gloom and doom of the area and characters.  He pulled me into the story totally. 

 Ann Cleeves has another page-turner here that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Jack Holden is the perfect voice for the story and these characters.  I will be reading/listening to more in this series. 

 I just reviewed The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves. #NetGalley