Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Title: The Child Finder
Series: Naomi Cottle #1
Author: Rene Denfeld
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Release Date: September 5th 2017

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

"No matter how far you have run, no matter how long you have been lost, it is never too late to be found." 

I had The Child Finder in my To-Read-List for quite a while. I was in the mood for something suspenseful and this one fit the bill perfectly. 

I can say that  I was thoroughly captivated. At times, I was so worried for Madison. So sad for the parents of all the kids missing. Sad for Naomi and how she was avoiding living her own life. And to be honest, I even felt sad for the monster.

The book begins with the disappearance of a five-year-old girl, Madison Culver. A girl, who loved to read, enjoyed nature and believed in fairy tales. She was last seen when her family stopped in the forest to cut a Christmas tree. 

Fast forward three years and Naomi Cottle is investigating her disappearance in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She has been hired by Madison's parents. She's their last resource. Naomi's reputation precedes her. She's known as the Child Finder. She has found thirty children but not all of them alive.

Why does Naomi dedicate her life to do this? She does it because once she was lost too. She has no recollection of her own life before she was found running by a family of migrants and taken to the Sherif who in turn took her to live in foster care and where she was given the last name of Cottle. During her time living there, she met a boy, Jerome who grows up to be a man.  Jerome's the only man she could love but she won't stay with him. Her calling is to leave and to help those lost children.

Besides Jerome, Naomi's only other friend is Diane which I loved. I also liked Ranger Dave. I hope to see him again.

The Child Finder is a chilling, haunting, page-turner novel. One that absolutely shows you how sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Unkindest Tide
Series: October Daye, #13
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW Books
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong.

When the Luidaeg—October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price...or face the consequences.

Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour.

Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?

Why is this series still standing? Because Seanan McGuire created an amazing world we don't want to part ways from. I'll probably cry when it does.

We are now on book 13 and I don't want this to end. I love Toby. She's a strong female character with a great heart and a knack for getting into trouble. Being "hero" of the realm comes with its drawbacks. 

I'm glad at the beginning of the book, Toby is enjoying a nice night with her family before the Luidaeg's comes to visit. It was nice to see all of the kids, Jaz, and Tybalt all relaxed for a change. 

The Luidaeg is coming for payment. Toby owes her a lot and it's time to settle her debts. As payment, Toby and friends will accompany the Luidwaeg to the sea and travel to the Duchy of Ships to have the Selkies pay their own debts. Of course, nothing is simple when Toby is around.

I love seeing Tybalt and Toby together. He's so Shakesperean and he always delivers perfect lines that make me laugh or swoon. Quentin has grown so much as a character. He's now a man, almost ready to leave his blind fosterage. Dean is also becoming his own person and ruler which Marsha is making sure he does. Marsha is an intriguing character. I wonder if she will have a more important role in the next few books. She certainly did in this one. Pete was a nice addition and a surprise. I hope to see her again but probably not. I love to see Deanda again. She's another favorite of mine. The addition of the Merrow's conflict made the plotline more interesting too.

What can I say about the Luidaeg? She's probably my favorite character after Toby and Tybalt. She can be funny. She has helped Toby so many times. She loves Quentin. She has been in terrible pain for so many years thanks to her own sister. I hope after this book, she achieves some type of peace.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley Publishing Group -DAW via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

Title: The Last Widow
Series: Will Trent #9
Author: Karin Slaughter 
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 20, 2019

New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter brings back Will Trent and Sara Linton in this superb and timely thriller full of devious twists, disturbing secrets, and shocking surprises you won’t see coming

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor. 

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.

Talk about being at the wrong place and at the wrong time!

Michelle Spivey, a CDC scientist is shopping with her daughter, when she's abducted by a man in a van. 

A month later, Sara and Will are at her aunt Bella's home to enjoy lunch when an explosion is heard. Will and Sara run to the rescue but they are derailed when they find the scene of a car crash. Sara's instinct, as a doctor and as a medical examiner, is telling her something is wrong. She tries to alert Will but things go from a DEFCON 1 to 5 real fast. The end result is that Sara is abducted in front of Will (who's severely injured) and her mother, Cathy.

Will is not himself without Sara. He will do anything to bring Sara home back to her family. He will break any rule necessary to get her back. Amanda Wagner and Faith Mitchell will be by his side and help him in any way necessary. The GBI will work closely together with the FBI. When the investigation leads to a white supremacist group involved in bioterrorism and pedophilia, Will will go undercover. There are some harsh scenes to read but not as bad as some from other Karin's books. 

There are so many things I liked about The Last Widow. As you know from my prior reviews, I'm in love with Will Trent. I just love him so much. I love his 3 piece suits, his scars, his dog, his intelligence. Sigh! 

Faith said it best:  "Will was a missed opportunity." or like Maggie told Faith: "You should've locked that down before Sara entered the picture."

Karin made me love Will even more on The Last Widow:
"Then there was his sweet side.

He marked his calendar with a star on the days Sara got her hair done so he would remember to compliment her. He was constantly finding ways to say her name. He listened to her, respected her, thought she was smarter than he was, which was true, because she was a doctor, but what man admitted that?"
I could continue loving on Will but I need to talk about the other characters. Sara as always is phenomenal. She's a strong, resolute and resourceful lady. Amanda always has something up her sleeve and she loves Will in her own way, after all, her friends call Will, "her boy". 

Faith, I love her. She's a tough cookie, very smart and determined. May I hope that agent Aiden Van Zandt and Faith will become something in a later book? He was intriguing and I thought they had chemistry in this one.

The Last Widow was a fast-paced, gripping, nail-biting thriller. I couldn't put it down. I read and listened to it alternatively. The POVs come mostly from Will and Sara, some by Faith.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Silent Prey by John Sandford

Title: Silent Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #4
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: Berkley

He was right. His guards slain, the brilliant, insane pathologist of Eyes of Prey flees to New York, there to continue his research into aspects of death. Carefully, he conducts his experiments, searching the eyes of his dying victims for what they can reveal, the mounting body count causing an uproar in the city.

In desperation, the police reach out for the man who knew Bekker best, but when Lucas arrives, he finds unexpected danger as well. For Lily Rothenburg, the policewoman whose intense affair with Lucas has never completely faded, is there too. Now, consumed with her own investigation of a group of rogue killers within the police department, she draws Lucas into her orbit again, until their hunts merge, their twin obsessions driving them ever closer to the edge . . . and then over.

Silent Prey follows Lucas as a consultant this time for the NYPD. 

Lily Rothenburg comes to Minnesota to ask Lucas to come to her city to catch Bekker, the deranged criminal from Eyes of Prey who escaped during his trial to NYC. Dekker is not only killing his victims but he's also publishing articles about his "medical findings".

For her part, Lily wants Lucas to help her with her own investigation into a group of possible rogue cops nicknamed, Robin Hood who are murdering people who they consider dangerous. When one of Lily's cop friends, Walter Petty, who's investigating Robin Hood gets murdered, it makes it personal for her.

Silent Prey was easy to enjoy. Even though I haven't liked Lucas because of his philandering ways, he's starting to change or at least he's trying. He's still an arse but not a complete one. He does make me laugh and he's a true detective. I like how he pieces things together and he always gets to surprise me with something. 

I wasn't a fan of Bekker and in this one, he was even weirder. I have no clue how a psychopath like him who was always high on so many things could even move, let alone plan and abduct anyone.

The Robin Hood storyline was much more interesting to me than the Bekker one. Sandford made no one safe and that kept my interest going.

I've decided to stick with this series and hope for the best.

Cliffhanger: No

3.75/5 Fangs

The Passengers by John Marrs

Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs 
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 27, 2019

You’re riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, “You are going to die”. 

Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.

From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first?"

What a dark and possible nightmare!

In the near future, people are using self-driving cars. One day, eight passengers are taken hostages by a mysterious voice. Their routes are modified and they are told they are in a collision course to their death. Social media and a group of selected people are all in charge of selecting the sole survivor. 

Who would you pick? 

The pregnant female? The husband or wife? The abused wife? Or the man you met once and had a connection with?

The hacker has placed cameras inside each of the cars. He also has cameras inside the Vehicle Inquest Jury, where Libby Dixon is a Juror. Each of the passengers will have a chance to defend their lives as the sole survivor. The only problem is that each of them is hiding a terrible secret and the man behind their abduction seems to know their deepest secret. A secret so terrible that death could be a better choice.

What made The Passengers so exciting and scary is that it could become a possibility in the near future. The idea of self-driving cars is not outrageous any longer.  I for one, hate driving, and I'm not sure I wouldn't love a self-driving car. Although, after reading this book, I'd think about it twice. Maybe I'd chose a level 3 and not a 5.

John Marrs does a wonderful job with The Passengers. He gives us great characters, a fantastic plot and at least two very good twists.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Thank you, Loren Jaggers, Berkley and Netgalley for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Title: Well Met
Author: Jen DeLuca 
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 3, 2019

All's faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon's family legacy and from the start, he makes clear he doesn't have time for Emily's lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds, he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she's in her revealing wench's costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they're portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can't seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

One of my favorite debut romance novels this year!

Well Met by Jean Deluca surprised me with its originality and charm. I was taken by the characters early on. I was invested in their relationship and my wish was for a happy ending.

Things I enjoyed: 

Enemies to lovers story: ✔
A love between a Pirate and a Wench: ✔
Good secondary characters: ✔
A Renaissance Faire: ✔
Hot guys fighting: ✔
A Kilt and Leather Pants: ✔

Emily moves to Willow Creek, a small town in Maryland to help her sister and her niece. Emily's sister, April was involved in a car accident and she's still recuperating. Emily is taking care of all the chores and driving her niece, Caitlin to school and April to the doctor's appointments and physical therapy. 

Emily was able to be there for April because her own life had imploded. Her boyfriend of many years, Jake, had dumped her without a second thought. Without a home or a relationship, Emily takes the opportunity to forget about her problems by helping others, and hopefully, come up with a plan for her future too.

When Emily takes Caitlin to sign up to play a part in the Renaissance Faire, the last thing she thought was that she needed to sign up herself or Caitlin couldn't join it. Next thing she knows, Emily is going to be playing one of the tavern wenches.

"That was what I was there for. Be the cool aunt. Do the fun stuff. Distract her."

Emily likes the small-town people feel. Emily is enjoying making new friendships and the feeling of being accepted by everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. The English teacher is not too keen on her. Simon never appears happy to see her and he keeps on looking at her with disapproval. He's the Renaissance Faire organizer and wants everything done to perfection.

"I knew which of these two guys I was looking forward to getting to know better this summer, and it wasn’t the Ren Faire Killjoy."

However, when Emily turns into Emma, the local tavern wench and Simon Graham turns into a pirate, Captain Blackthorne, everything is different. Simon becomes flirtations, easy-going, and has a smile on his face. A smile that makes Emily forget about her first impressions of him.

“Well, love. I’d be fighting for you.” 

Well Met was sweet, charming and left me with a smile on my face. I would love to read another book by Jen DeLuca set in the same town. Maybe one with Mitch and April.

"But then you came along, Emily, and you weren’t a should. You were a want."

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker

Title: The Sixth Wicked Child
Series: 4MK Thriller #3
Author: J.D. Barker 
Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Release Date: August 27, 2019

In the riveting conclusion of the 4MK trilogy, Barker takes the thriller to an entirely new level. Don't miss a single word of the series James Patterson called "ingenious."

Hear No Evil

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten; a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth concealed for decades.

See No Evil

Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer—discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina—clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos—a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious 4MK serial murders turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

This series has ended with a BANG!

The ending was priceless and memorable.

I can tell you, I think this author is a master of deceit. I was sure who the bad guy was and then poof, I was wrong and then the guy I thought was a good one, was not. Or wait, maybe the bad guy was the bad guy after all or u see my point. A complete mind play.

J. D. Baker does such a fantastic job in this series.  The suspense and the writing were phenomenal. At some point, he had me rooting for Anson. A total psychopath but whom I wanted some type of happiness after everything he had to endure. It helps that we get glimpses of Anson as a teenager and the crush he had on Libby helped humanize him for me. 

Sam Porter, what can I say? He was a very interesting character. I liked him from the very beginning of the 4MK series. Smart, likable, a nice boss with great powers of deduction. He was still mourning the loss of the only woman he had ever loved. In the Sixth Wicked Child, he gets himself into a corner. He's in deep trouble and I wasn’t sure I could or should trust him.

The secondary characters like Clair, Nash, Agent Poole and Kloz were all very well-developed. They complemented Anson and Sam's in every way possible. 

I don't think I want to say anything else because a lot of it could be spoilers.

Thank you so much Hampton Creek Press for my free digital copy of The Sixth Wicked Child.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs