Monday, September 6, 2021

Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves


Title: Heard It in a Love Song
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: November 2, 2021

Love doesn’t always wait until you’re ready.

Layla Hilding is thirty-five and recently divorced. Struggling to break free from the past—her glory days as the lead singer in a band and a ten-year marriage to a man who never put her first—Layla’s newly found independence feels a lot like loneliness.

Then there’s Josh, the single dad whose daughter attends the elementary school where Layla teaches music. Recently separated, he’s still processing the end of his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. He chats with Layla every morning at school and finds himself thinking about her more and more.

Equally cautious and confused about dating in a world that favors apps over meeting organically, Layla and Josh decide to be friends with the potential for something more. Sounds sensible and way too simple—but when two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away?

As a huge fan of On the Island, I jumped at the opportunity of reading Heard It in a Love Song.

Layla is a thirty-five-old woman recently divorced. She is still healing, her divorce took a toll on her. Her ex-husband never supported her dream of becoming a professional singer so for all the years they were married, she had to give it up. Now, she has decided to sing for herself. She changes her basement and makes it her studio. A place where she can play her guitar and sing her music without a disapproving glance or an explanation needed.

Josh is an electrician. He recently separated from his high school sweetheart. He is in his 40s and has a daughter who is going to kindergarten. Josh shares custody and loves the time he spends with her. Yet, his free time is another matter. He would like to have someone he can share things with.

Layla works at the school. She is the music teacher. She's also at the receiving end of drop-off time at school. Here is where she starts interacting with Josh when he drops his daughter every morning. Soon thereafter, a friendship with potential ensues. 

I liked the story. It's more about realizing what your dreams are and resuming them. It's also about moving forward after a failed relationship and rediscovering who you are on your own. Learning to enjoy the time alone.

I wouldn't call this a romance per se since I felt the romance was secondary at times. Both Layla and Josh were cautious despite their attraction. They knew they wanted to avoid making a mistake in their new relationship. I liked their growth from strangers to friends to something more.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Invisible Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #17


Title: Invisible Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #17
Author: John Sandford

In the richest neighbourhood of Minneapolis, two elderly women lie murdered in their home, killed with a pipe, the rooms ransacked, only small items stolen. It's clearly a random break-in by someone looking for money to buy drugs. But as he looks more closely, Davenport begins to wonder if the items are actually so small or the victims so random, if there might not be some invisible agenda at work here. Gradually, a pattern begins to emerge — and it will lead Davenport to somewhere he never expected. Which is too bad, because the killers — and yes, there is more than one of them — the killers are expecting him.

Invisible Prey is another enjoyable book in the Lucas Davenport series.

The novel starts with two cases. 

One is of an underage young woman who might have had a sexual relationship with a politician and Lucas is called to find out the truth and deal with the repercussions.

The second investigation is about an elderly woman and her maid found at home murdered in a gruesome way. At first, it looks like a simple burglary but soon it looks more like it's an antique robbery with the possibility that other murders might be connected to this case.

Lucas's hands are full. Time is ticking and he needs to solve the mystery before someone else dies. 

I have learned to love Lucas and to root for him to catch the bad guys with the exception of Clara Rinker.

It's always great to be able to "see" Lucas working through the investigation, connecting leads, and understanding what makes the killers tick.

Invisible Prey has also a bonus in the form of John Sandford introducing the readers to his other series main character, Virgil Flowers. 

I got to say that I'm intrigued about "F**cking Flowers" already.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary


Title: The Road Trip
Author: Beth O'Leary 
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 1st 2021

Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry's enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven't spoken since.

Today, Dylan's and Addie's lives collide again. It's the day before Cherry's wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland--he'll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan's best friend, Addie's sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart--and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

Is this the same author that gave us The Flatshare and The Switch?

It didn't feel that way to me.

Dylan and Marcus are driving towards their friend Cherry's wedding in Scotland when they hit the car in front. Of course, the car in front is driven by Dylan's ex-girlfriend, Addie. 

Addie is also going to the wedding. Her sister, Beth is in the passenger seat and Rodney, a guy from the Facebook wedding group is in the back. 

When Dylan's car ceases to work, Addie can't leave Dylan stranded. So both Dylan and Marcus join them in Addie's car. What follows is an uncomfortable trip for most of them.

I had 3 issues with The Road Trip.

First one: Connecting with the characters. I didn't like Dylan and hated his best friend, Marcus. Addie was not so bad but If I have to pick a favorite character, it would be Beth, Addie's sister. Beth was there for Addie every time she needed her. She also gave good advice and inserted humor into the story.

The second problem: Addie's reactions. It felt like Addie was in love with Dylan just a few hours after meeting Dylan. Then, in the present, just a few hours into the drive she was forgetting and sweeping under the rug all the bad times Dylan and Marcus have caused her. 

Third, I didn't understand the necessity to include Rodneys's drama into the storyline. It felt it came out of nowhere and it didn't contribute to anything.

I felt disappointed that I didn't like it when I have loved her other books.

Sigh, Hopefully, I can connect with the next book.

Cliffhanger: No

2/5 Fangs

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

A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones
Sunshine Vicram #2

Title: A Good Day for Chardonnay
Series: Sunshine Vicram #2
Author: Darynda Jones
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: July 27th, 2021

Running a small-town police force in the mountains of New Mexico should be a smooth, carefree kind of job. Sadly, full-time Sheriff--and even fuller-time coffee guzzler--Sunshine Vicram, didn't get that memo.

All Sunshine really wants is one easy-going day. You know, the kind that starts with coffee and a donut (or three) and ends with take-out pizza and a glass of chardonnay (or seven). Turns out, that's about as easy as switching to decaf. (What kind of people do that? And who hurt them?)

Before she can say iced mocha latte, Sunny's got a bar fight gone bad, a teenage daughter hunting a serial killer and, oh yes, the still unresolved mystery of her own abduction years prior. All evidence points to a local distiller, a dangerous bad boy named Levi Ravinder, but Sun knows he's not the villain of her story. Still, perhaps beneath it all, he possesses the keys to her disappearance. At the very least, beneath it all, he possesses a serious set of abs. She's seen it. Once. Accidentally.

Between policing a town her hunky chief deputy calls four cents short of a nickel, that pesky crush she has on Levi which seems to grow exponentially every day, and an irascible raccoon that just doesn't know when to quit, Sunny's life is about to rocket to a whole new level of crazy.

Yep, definitely a good day for chardonnay.

It's fun going back to this crazy town of Del Sol and Its Sherriff, Sunshine Vicram.

However, in order to enjoy this ride, you must read A Bad Day for Sunshine or you'll be very confused.

So where does Chardonnay go?

Many places all at once.

*Sunshine is called in when strangers to the town attacked and stabbed a local man and hurt Levi in the process. 

*She also gets a call from prison in regards to her own past abduction.

*Her daughter Ari is investigating a cold case.

*Cruz is hiding something.

*Levi has many secrets that Sunshine wants to know.

What I love about Darynda's style is that her characters are full of snark, quick comebacks, sassiness, and brooding men. Yes, sometimes it can be too much and you think the characters are on speed or something like it but when you mostly read dark thrillers, it's refreshing. 

A Good Day for Chardonnay has all those ingredients and the best part is that we do get some answers to some of the questions A Bad Day for Sunshine left us with. However, it does end in a cliffhanger.

Will I read the third book? 

Absolutely, I need more of Sunshine, Levy, Ari, and Cruz.

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens


Title: Dark Roads
Author: Chevy Stevens
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: August 3rd, 2021

The Cold Creek Highway stretches close to five hundred miles through British Columbia’s rugged wilderness to the west coast. Isolated and vast, it has become a prime hunting ground for predators. For decades, young women traveling the road have gone missing. Motorists and hitchhikers, those passing through or living in one of the small towns scattered along the region, have fallen prey time and again. And no killer or abductor who has stalked the highway has ever been brought to justice.

Hailey McBride calls Cold Creek home. Her father taught her to respect nature, how to live and survive off the land, and to never travel the highway alone. Now he’s gone, leaving her a teenage orphan in the care of her aunt whose police officer husband uses his badge as a means to bully and control Hailey. Overwhelmed by grief and forbidden to work, socialize, or date, Hailey vanishes into the mountainous terrain, hoping everyone will believe she’s left town. Rumors spread that she was taken by the highway killer—who’s claimed another victim over the summer.

One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek, where her sister Amber lived—and where she was murdered. Estranged from her parents and seeking closure, Beth takes a waitressing job at the local diner, just as Amber did, desperate to understand what happened to her and why. But Beth’s search for answers puts a target on her back—and threatens to reveal the truth behind Hailey’s disappearance…

Dark Roads is another entertaining tale by Chevy Stevens.

The story unfolds along the Cold Creek Highway. Over the years, multiple women have gone missing without a culprit ever being caught in this area of British Columbia.

Hailey McBride is a seventeen-year-old girl. Her dad has recently passed away in an accident. Haley has moved in with her aunt and her husband. Her husband, Vaughn is a police officer. People called Vaughn the Iceman for a reason. He is mean and a bully and he wants to control Hailey. Luckily, Haley has a good friend in Johnny who helps her out when she needs it. Hailey also meets Amber, a waitress at the local diner. She falls for her but then Hailey makes a discovery that causes her to run away.

A year later, Beth, Amber's sister is in town. She wants to know what happened to Amber. She meets both, the Iceman and Johnnie and she will have to make her own choices and decide who she can trust. 

Unfortunately for Beth, the killer has her eyes set on her and she is running out of time.

I liked Dark Roads. Yes, some areas were just too unbelievable for me but I was able to let it go and kept hoping for the best. 

I do think that Wolf stole this book. He was such a good boy 🐕

After reading this book, I do know that the one thing I won't ever do is to be around those 450 miles of the Highway of Tears. All those women have died and most have never been found or if found, their killers are running free.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Title: For Your Own Good
Author: Samantha Downing
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 20th, 2021

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.

He says his wife couldn't be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.

Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.

All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way.

It's really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

Talk about a nutso teacher!

Teddy Crutcher is a teacher at a private school, the Belmont Academy. He has won the Teacher of the Year award but kids don't enjoy being in his class. He can be sarcastic and when he thinks a student is too privileged, he decides to make him suffer. He believes that by making them sweat he is doing them a favor.

Enters Zach Ward, a 17-year-old student. He has the looks, he comes from money and he is liked by everyone. Zac is smart and has good grades and his family is a power couple. That is enough for Teddy to give  Zac a B on his latest paper to bring down his GPA.

Besides, picking on a student, Teddy also has a secret pastime. A pastime that Teddy believes is his duty. Some teachers need to be more mellow, some need to be more alert, and some need to die!

Just when Teddy thinks he is getting away with everything, an ex-student Fallon is back to watch him. 

Was Teddy narcissistic and unrepentant? Sure. Was he a psychopath? Sure. Yet, I was avidly awaiting the next chapter and devouring every second of his craziness.

Once again, Samantha Downing has done it and For Your Own Good takes you on a rewarding thriller ride. 

I know, with so many books out there sometimes you just have to pick your poison. Grab this one, it's worth it.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Falling by T.J. Newman

Title: Falling
Author: T.J. Newman
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster
Release Date: July 6th, 2021

You just boarded a flight to New York.
There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

What would you choose, your family or the lives of over one hundred under your care?

This is the dilemma Captain Bill Hoffman of flight 416 is confronted with.

His wife and his two kids have been taken hostages by a terrorist and unless he crashes the plane when he is told, they won't survive the day. 

Bill is told he can't contact anyone, he can't say anything to Ben, his copilot. He can't share his news with the Crew either or his family is gone.

What to do?

Falling has an excellent premise to trap you and ensnare you all the way through. 

I could feel the tension in the cabin. The desperation and fear of the passengers and the determination of the Crew which by the way had a fantastic characterization. Bid Daddy, Jo and Kellie are the crew you want to have in a situation like this other than Bill or Sully Sullenberger for that matter.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.