Saturday, June 15, 2019

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Release Date: April 16th, 2019

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.

It has been a few days since I finished reading Miracle Creek. While I was reading it, I could only imagine how good this book will be as a movie. 

I usually don't like court dramas but I think Angie Kim did her best work by delivering us the lies and the truth through the characters on the stand and in the courtroom.

Miracle Creek tells us the story of the death of an autistic child during a hyperbaric oxygen treatment or "dive" caused by a fire in August of 2008. A year later, Elizabeth, the mother is on trial and if found guilty, she could receive the death penalty. 

Through four days of the trial and the voices of the Yoo's (Young (mother), Pak (father) and Mary (teenage daughter)) Matt Thompson and his wife, Janine Cho, and Teresa Santiago, Angie Kim begins presenting to us the true events that happened the night of the fire. Was Elizabeth the only one with a reason for arson or does anyone else who was there that night have a motive too? The list of suspects starts to elongate as the narrative continues. 

Personally, I've referred patients to be evaluated for hyperbaric oxygen to treat nonhealing wounds or second/third-degree burns but I didn't realize it was being used for autism or infertility. My knowledge of it has always been in a hospital setting, so I was quite surprised that the Yoo's had an HBOT in a regular neighborhood. All kinds of medical error scenarios popped through my mind while I was reading it but the truth was so much worse.

Miracle Creek is not your usual debut novel. The descriptions, character development and suspense were done as masterful as a seasoned writer. Angie Kim's novel inserts pieces of humanity at its worse but we also get -or at least I did- the sense of hope. Some of the characters decisions made me nauseous by their omissions and lies. Some infuriated me. One, I disliked tremendously. 

As a fiction reader, I can't recommend enough Miracle Creek. If you heard the audio which I did for the majority of it, the narrator does an amazing job. At the end of the audio, there is an interview with Angie Kim where she mentions her own experience with immigration, becoming a lawyer and HBOT treatment for one of her children. The music done by her son is perfect for the audio too.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Title: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Author: Abby Jimenez
Publisher:  Forever Romance
Release Date:  July 9, 2019 

Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen--especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

I'm amazed by Abby Jimenez's ability to write a romance dealing with the main topic of infertility.

I was pulled into The Friend Zone from the very first chapter. There were some gut-wrenching moments when I couldn't stop myself from spilling tears but also so many moments where the sarcastic humor was freaking awesome.

The first time we meet the main characters Kristen Peterson and Josh Copeland is when they were involved in a fender bender. Their first interaction didn't go that great. Their second one was a little bit better.

Kristen runs her own business. Her company makes products for dogs including ladders to help small dogs climb, she makes cute little shirts too. In regards to her personal life, she's dating a marine Tyler (who's overseas), has a cute little dog (who hates the marine), doesn't have a close relationship with her mother and she's dealing with a medical condition that will end up in infertility.
The moment she meets Josh, she knows she's in trouble. He's handsome, super nice and available as her new carpenter on his days off. She has never cheated and she won't start now. Making Josh believe she has no interest in him is a priority. She will wear unattractive clothes, no makeup, and even rulers to prevent him from getting any ideas.

Josh has recently moved to California to be closer to his best friend Brandon who's getting married soon. He's joining the same firehouse as him but his new status as probie is not a fun one. He's frustrated with some of the calls they get. Some are completely and truly unnecessary. As for his personal life, his last relationship ended on a bad note. He wanted kids and his girlfriend didn't. He let her have everything they had but his credit card balance is still quite high. He needs cash fast to pay his debts and when an offer to be Kristen's new carpenter presents, he has no other choice but to take it. He discovers that he likes Kristen. He likes her sense of humor, her honesty, and her loyalty. He realizes she's not a cheater but he wants her in his life.

Kristen and Josh are both very creative characters. I love both. Kristen was funny, sarcastic and a true friend to Sloan. Yes, I got annoyed at Kristen more than once for pushing Josh away but I understood why she did it.
Josh was perfect. He had my heart. He was understanding and dedicated to Kristen and his best friend Brandon. He fell for Kristen's dog too (which is a bonus in my book).

The last third of The Friend Zone was hard to read. Plenty of sadness. I was devastated for Josh but even though the ending had some bittersweetness to it, the sweet overcame the bitter.

I was excited to see that Abby Jimenez is writing a second book with a secondary character. I'd love to see where she takes her story.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

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

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine

Title: Wolfhunter River
Series: Stillhouse Lake
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: Published April 23, 2019 

A Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller.

She can’t ignore a cry for help. But in this remote hunting town, it’s open season.

Gwen Proctor escaped her serial-killer husband and saved her family. What she can’t seem to outrun is his notoriety. Or the sick internet vigilantes still seeking to avenge his crimes. For Gwen, hiding isn’t an option. Not when her only mission is to create a normal life for her kids.

But now, a threatened woman has reached out. Marlene Crockett, from the remote town of Wolfhunter, is panicked for herself and her daughter. When Gwen arrives in the small, isolated rural community, Marlene is already dead—her own daughter blamed for the murder. Except that’s not the person Marlene feared at all. And Gwen isn’t leaving until she finds out who that was.

But it may already be too late. A trap has been set. And it’s poised to snap shut on everyone Gwen loves. Her stalkers are closing in. And in a town as dark as Wolfhunter, it’s so easy for them to hide…

When I began reading Wolfhunter River, I wasn't sure which way Rachel Caine was going to be taking Gwen Proctor's character. Yet, a couple of chapters into it, I was sure the ride had to be a good one. If you read the first two books in this series, you know a big baddie is no longer a threat to her or her family.  

In case, you're not reading them in order, Gwen Proctor is the ex-wife of the famous serial killer, Melvin Royal. She changed her name and the name of her kids after Melvin was convicted. She moved many times and lately, Stillhouse Lake, is what she calls home. Her kids, Lanie and Connor have confronted many ugly things since learning about their father and they had to grow up sooner than they should have. 

Wolfhunter River begins with Gwen agreeing to do a live interview on a TV show, but getting ambushed in the process. The only thing productive that surfaces from the interview was discovering that a new enemy is out to get her and her family. A woman's from Sam's past is making it clear that this is war. 

When Gwen receives a call for help from the town of Wolfhunter, at first she doesn't want to do much. The second time someone calls her from the same town, she knows she has to go and maybe it's time for the whole family to leave Stillhouse Lake for a while.

In Wolfhunter, nothing goes the way it should. The town reeks of deceit, abuse of power, and endangered lives. It's up to Gwen and her family to uncover the evil. 

Kudos to Rachel Caine for writing another entertaining book in this series. I like Gwen, she's not a doormat. She's strong and she will fight for her kids until her last breath. The kids are also becoming more involved in the process. Connor is smart and handy with a computer. Lanie is protective of her younger sibling. She tries to keep him safe.

I'm excited to see what is going to happen in the next one, now that I know how this one ended. Gwen is going to open so many can of worms! I'm sure I don't want to miss it.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Title: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
Series: Hannah Swensen #1
Author: Joanne Fluke
Release Date: April 1, 2000

Discover the delicious mystery that started it all!

No one cooks up a delectable, suspense-filled mystery quite like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke's dessert-baking, red-haired heroine whose gingersnaps are as tart as her comebacks, and whose penchant for solving crimes one delicious clue at a time has made her a bestselling favorite. And it all began on these pages, with a bakery, a murder, and some suddenly scandalous chocolate-chip crunchies. Featuring a bonus short story and brand new, mouthwatering recipes, this limited edition of the very first Hannah Swensen mystery is sure to have readers coming back for seconds.

Hannah Swenson already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother's attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden, Minnesota's most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah's famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can't get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer. 

Who would have the sheer audacity and the motive to kill the most punctual delivery man Hannah ever had? Topping the list is the high school football coach. What exactly was his wife doing, making the rounds with the milkman? Could Max Turner, owner of Cozy Cow Dairy, have had a secret he didn't want to share with his top employee? The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. Why has Lake Eden's most prominent prodigal son, Benton Woodley, just resurfaced? And what about the mysterious Mr. Harris who seemed interested in buying the property next to the dairy, but then disappeared? This is one murder that's starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah's mouth. And if she doesn't watch her back, Hannah's sweet life may get burned to a crisp.

Filled with a healthy sprinkling of humor and a delightful assortment of nuts, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MURDER serves up a great new mystery series and introduces a delicious, down-home sleuth that mystery readers will surely savor for years to come.

Why did I decide to read Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder? A simple answer. As a book lover, I like to read the book before I watch the movie. This book was made into a movie and Alison Sweeney is the protagonist. 

Hannah Swensen lives in a small town. She moved back home after her father passed away to help out. She doesn't have a great relationship with her mother (her mom is always trying to set her up with any unmarried guy). She has a better relationship with her sister, Andrea, her niece and her brother in law, Bill.  Hannah doesn't have a man in her life but she does have a beloved cat, Moishe.

Hannah owns The Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Her shop specializes in selling different type of cookies. Her cookies are the best in town and her business is always quite busy. One morning, as she's about to start her day, she finds the dead body of a man she used to know from high school. The town is shaken by the news of the murder.  

Hannah's brother in law, Bill is a policeman and a promotion is in the works if he can solve this case. With the help of Hannah,  Bill might be able to achieve it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is my first Cozy Mystery but I'm not sure this one was the right one for me to start with. I had to place it in the unbelievable category. I had issues with Hannah doing all the work and Bill letting her do it. She followed no police procedure and her questions were too direct when she was approaching the suspects. Anyway, I didn't love it.

If you have any good recommendations about a Cozy Mystery or if this series gets better, please don't hesitate to let me know in the comments.

Cliffhanger: No

2.5/5 Fangs