Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter


Title: The Serial Killer’s Wife
Author: Alice Hunter
Publisher: Avon UK
Release Date: May 27, 2021

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re husband and wife – till death do them part…

Beth Hardcastle's life is upended when the police come knocking on her door. 

Her husband, Tom, a wonderful father, and loving husband, is taken for questioning over the death of his ex-girlfriend Katie, who disappeared eight years ago. 

Beth is shocked. Is her husband guilty? 

Beth can only think that her wonderful life is imploding. She has to protect her daughter, Poppy, the best way she can while keeping her store open too. Living in a small town, she knows people can turn on them in the blink of an eye. 

Thankfully, there is Adam. He has gone through something awful too and he seems to understand her and wants to help them.

But is Beth hiding something? Does she know more than she should?


As soon as I saw this novel on NetGalley, I knew I wanted to read it. From the cover to its name, it called to me. 

For the most part, I will say that I enjoyed it despite seeing the twist a mile away. I found myself still reading along. 

Good debut novel. 

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Avon Books UK via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker


Title: We Begin at the End
Author: Chris Whitaker
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: March 9, 2021

There are two kinds of families: the ones we are born into and the ones we create.

Walk has never left the coastal California town where he grew up. He may have become the chief of police, but he’s still trying to heal the old wound of having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released.

Duchess is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Her mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent. Walk is in overdrive trying to protect them, but Vincent and Star seem bent on sliding deeper into self-destruction. Star always burned bright, but recently that light has dimmed, leaving Duchess to parent not only her mother but her five-year-old brother. At school the other kids make fun of Duchess―her clothes are torn, her hair a mess. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Rules are for other people. She’s just trying to survive and keep her family together.

A fortysomething-year-old sheriff and a thirteen-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.

Chris Whitaker has written an extraordinary novel about people who deserve so much more than life serves them. At times devastating, with flashes of humor and hope throughout, it is ultimately an inspiring tale of how the human spirit prevails and how, in the end, love―in all its different guises―wins

If you want to be depressed about the world by all means grab this book.

I’ll be an OUTLAW, sorry meant an OUTLIER and say it: The story felt short for me. I do believe the author had great characters especially Duchess and Walk but something was missing for me to rate it higher.

What did I like about We Begin at the End?

-I liked how much Duchess loved her brother, Robin. She was willing to do anything for him. 

-Walk being there for his best friend Vincent, Star, Star's kids and his town despite what was happening in his personal life.

-Hal's patience with Duchess.

-Dolly being there when she was needed.

-Martha bringing spice to Walk's life.

What did I learn from We Begin at the End? 

If you have been born into a bad life, you will live a bad life and you will probably die because of your bad life too. 

In my opinion, this novel didn't have much hope, redemption or forgiveness. 

The ending frustrated me. I don't need to read rose-colored glass stories but if a story is having an against all the odds type of feeling, then I want more from it. 

Take my opinion for what it is, my opinion. I know so many of my book friends truly loved it and I'm glad they did.  

Lastly, I switched back and forth from the ebook to the audio. The audio narrator did a good representation of the characters and kept the flow of the story.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker

Title: She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be
Author: J.D. Barker 
Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Release Date: March 31st, 2020

A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster.

After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child--this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She'd creep into his thoughts, his every waking moment, until he finally finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after.

The body of a man found in an alley, every inch of his flesh horribly burned, yet his clothing completely untouched. For Detective Faustino Brier, this wasn't the first, and he knew it wouldn't be the last. It was no different from the others. He'd find another just like it one year from today. August 9, to be exact.

Isolated and locked away from the world in a shadowy lab, a little boy known only as Subject "D" waits, grows, learns. He's permitted to speak to no one. He has never known the touch of another. Harboring a power so horrific, those in control will never allow him beyond their walls. All of them linked in ways unimaginable.

David Pickford is a beautiful man. David Pickford is a beautiful man. David Pickford is a beautiful man. David Pickford is a beautiful man. David Pickford is a beautiful man. David Pickford is a beautiful man. David Pickford is a beautiful man. 

Now I understand why all my friends love this book.

It was everything I wanted from a fantasy. For me, it was like Heroes and X-man had a kid while an 80's soundtrack was playing. 

How cool is that?

At the center of the storyline we have a few main characters:

Jack Thatch (or Pip): an eight-year-old boy who meets a girl on a bench while visiting his parent's grave on August 8, 1984. You see, Jack's parents died in a car accident and he was the sole survivor. His aunt Jo is now his guardian. 

Stella Nettleton: the girl on the bench. The girl with an extraordinary vocabulary for her age. A girl who uses gloves and reads her favorite book by Dickens, Great Expectations. She will arrive year after year in a white SUV surrounded by people dressed in white.

Subject D: a boy who wears a mask. A boy with power so grand that he has to be confined for years. 

Detective Faustino Brier: The cop who knows every year someone will die on August 8th. A body "burned but not burned" will appear. on August 9th.

Detective Joy Fogel: who will join forces with Brier to discover the mystery of his Wall of Weird.

Duncan "Dunk" Bellino: a kid who becomes Jack's friend.  As a teenager, he will make some not so legit choices.

"Preacher": a guy with a good sense in cars. 

With this fabulous cast, how can you not enjoy it? I certainly did. My heart was beating fast. The action at the end was non-stop leading to a very fulfilling culmination. 

I do wish this was not the end.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Flight by Laura Griffin
The Texas Murder Files #2


Title: Flight 
Series: The Texas Murder Files #2
Author: Laura Griffin
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 30, 2021

When former forensic photographer Miranda Rhoads moves to the seaside town of Lost Beach, she's decided to make her living as a wildlife photographer and put crime scenes behind her. But her plans are quickly upended when one morning, she comes across a couple sleeping in a canoe, entwined in an embrace. Looking closer, she realizes the man and woman aren't asleep – they've been murdered.

Detective Joel Breda sets out to find answers – not only about the unidentified victims in the marshy death scene, but also about the aloof and beautiful photographer who seems to know more about his investigation than he does.

As they begin to unravel the motivation of a merciless serial killer, Miranda and Joel must race against the clock to make an arrest before the killer can find them first. 

As a fan of her Tracers series, I always welcome a book by Laura Griffin.

In Flight we get to know two new characters: Miranda Rhoads and Joel Breda.

The novel begins with Miranda, a photographer, taking pictures of birds at sunrise. After her perfect shot is done, she encounters two dead bodies arranged on a boat. The coupled looked staged. A feather is found at the crime scene. Miranda, who is a CSI on a break, calls the cops after taking pictures of the bodies to preserve the scene since rain is on its way.

Joel Breda is the lead detective of the small town of Lost Beach. He’s in charge of finding the killer. He knows that Miranda can be of help, Her expertise could be invaluable to the investigation. He will do anything to convince her to join his team.

But the closer they get to the answers, the clearer it is that Miranda’s life is in danger. 

Who is trying to hurt her?

Laura Griffith writes great romantic suspense. I’m always ready to jump into the story because I know I will relish it. 

The Flight was no different. Enjoyable characters that I wanted to learn more about. Of course, there are always secondary characters that make you think: I want to read about them next!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Do No Harm by Christina McDonald


Title: Do No Harm
Author: Christina McDonald
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: February 16, 2021

Emma loves her life. She’s the mother of a precocious kindergartener, married to her soulmate—a loyal and loving police detective—and has a rewarding career as a doctor at the local hospital.

But everything comes crashing down when her son, Josh, is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Determined to save him, Emma makes the risky decision to sell opioids to fund the life-saving treatment he needs. But when somebody ends up dead, a lethal game of cat and mouse ensues, her own husband leading the chase. With her son’s life hanging in the balance, Emma is dragged into the dark world of drugs, lies, and murder. Will the truth catch up to her before she can save Josh?

What will a mother do for her kid?

Will she donate an organ? 

Will she give her child away to give her or him a better life? 

Will she sell her body to earn money to bring food to the table? 

Or will she sell opiates to pay for a medical treatment that is cost-prohibitive?

The last one is exactly the scenario Dr. Emma Sweeney is living.         

Emma has only wanted one thing since her parents died: to have a family. Meeting Nate and having their son, Josh has been the best thing that happened to her.  She loves her husband and adores her child. 

Emma is a doctor at a local clinic, she is still paying her student loans and her husband Nate is a detective. They live a modest life without luxury but they're happy. Then the blow comes, Josh is diagnosed with AML and he needs treatment right away. He can either have chemo and a poor prognosis or he can go with CAR T-cell therapy which will cost them 100k plus insurance. 

Emma, who knows time is of the essence and money is needed or the hospital won't help Josh, does the unimaginable. She decides to sell signed prescriptions of opiates for cash. She needs to be smart about it. She has old connections she can push to help her while making sure her smart husband, the cop, doesn't discover her. 

What a heartbreaking story! Christina McDonald does a great job at describing some of the broken pieces in medicine including the cost of cancer treatment, the opiate crisis, addiction, the power of insurance companies, to name a few. 

I was surprised how easy it was for Emma to leave her conscience behind. Yet, I understood her motives. I felt for her dilemma and her fear of losing Josh. However, I can't say that agree with what she was doing. The world of drugs is a dangerous and usually a lethal one. 

I  had some minor issues with the story and it might because of my job. Nowadays, Eforce is becoming universal. PDMP is checked regularly. Most prescription pads are under lock and key and we never have opiates at the office. 

Despite the above, Do No Harm was a gratifying thriller.

I do know now that whatever Christina McDonald writes next, I will read.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

Monday, March 15, 2021

A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser

Title: A Million Reasons Why
Author: Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: March 23, 2021

When two strangers are linked by a mail-in DNA test, it’s an answered prayer―that is, for one half-sister. For the other, it will dismantle everything she knows to be true.

But as they step into the unfamiliar realm of sisterhood, the roles will reverse in ways no one could have foreseen.

Caroline lives a full, happy life―thriving career, three feisty children, enviable marriage, and a close-knit extended family. She couldn’t have scripted it better. Except for one thing:

She’s about to discover her fundamental beliefs about them all are wrong.

Sela lives a life in shades of gray, suffering from irreversible kidney failure. Her marriage crumbled in the wake of her illness. Her beloved mother and lifelong best friend passed away. She refuses to be defined by her grief, but still, she worries about what will happen to her two-year-old son if she doesn’t find a donor match in time.

She’s the only one who knows Caroline is her half-sister. That Caroline may be her best hope for a future. But Sela’s world isn’t as clear-cut as it appears―and one misstep could destroy it all.

After all, would you risk everything to save the life of the person who turned yours upside down?

From the moment Caroline meets Sela, both must reexamine what it really means to be family, the depths of a mother’s love, and the limits and the power of forgiveness

A Million Reasons Why was a sad story but a believable one. 

With the help of a DNA kit, Sela is able to locate her half-sibling, Caroline. Sela is in need of help. She has chronic kidney failure. She feels tired, unable to do much exercise and sometimes feels like she can't take care of her child. Her best friend and her ex-husband are pushing her to do the Big Ask. To ask her half-sibling whom she has never met for a kidney. Sela feels conflicted but she also wants to live. 

Caroline had no clue that her husband's Christmas gift to her family was going to be the one responsible for creating chaos. Caroline's world implodes when Sela's email arrives. She is shocked, to say the least. She can't believe that one of her parents was not faithful. It shocks her to her core. Worse, she and Sela are almost the same age. 

Sela's email also opens old wounds for Caroline. Sela lives in the town Caroline thought about moving to with her boyfriend, Keaton many years ago. When a job doesn't pan out, Keaton breaks her heart without a good explanation. Yes, she is now married to Walter, she has three children and Walt is attentive, sweet and a great dad but Caroline still thinks about what it could have been.

The road for Sela and Caroline is not an easy one. So many secrets affecting them all. Some are hard to forget and to forgive but can they find a way to do so?

A Million Reasons Why was a well-written and well-developed novel. I was rooting for both sisters to find a way to each other and also I really wanted Sela to get a new kidney. At times, I felt like Caroline had it all and Sela was due for something good to happen to her. I was not happy with the decisions taken by Caroline's parents but I guess, it works in the end.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting


Title: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
Author: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 9, 2019

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? 

I wanted a fun audio to listen to and I had Meet Cute in my audible library for a while. The audio was just what I thought it was going to be. Something rom-com with a side of heartfelt that was perfect entertainment during my commute. Meet Cute made me laugh and it made me swoon a little bit too.

Kailyn's favorite TV show was It's My Life. She grew up watching it and she had the memorabilia to prove it. She loved the protagonist and on her first day of law school, she crashes into Daxton Hughes, the actor of the show. The man she has had a crush on since she was a teenager! However, by the end of law school, she wants to murder him. And this all happens in the prologue!

Then eight years later, they are face to face again. He's seeking her help with his parents' trust. He's becoming his sister Emme's guardian. His life is changing in all the ways that matter. He's losing most of his independence but he knows he has to fight for Emme.

In the beginning, Kailyn is not sure about his motives but the more time she spends with Dax and Emme the more she starts falling for both.

At first, I wasn't sure about Kailyn. She was a little too harsh and calculating but as the story and their feelings progressed, I warmed up to her. I loved how much she cared about the show. She was the perfect fangirl and I could relate to that. Dax was all kinds of nice. He went above and beyond to show Emme that she could trust him.

Since I'm reviewing the audio, I've to say that I thought the narrator did a great job at interpreting the characters and their feelings. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Finding Tessa by Jamie Lynn Hendricks

Title: Finding Tessa
Author: Jamie Lynn Hendricks
Publisher: Scarlet
Release Date: May 11, 2021

Jace and Tessa appear to be a young couple in love with nothing to hide. But looks can be deceiving.

When Jace Montgomery comes home late from entertaining clients, he discovers that his wife Tessa is missing. There’s broken glass at the back door. Clumps of her hair. Blood. The cops in their small New Jersey town have him pegged as a suspect, especially after he explodes at a reporter during a press conference. Jace maintains his innocence despite the mounting evidence against him, but when a coworker he's accused of having an affair with also disappears and a search warrant turns up an illegal gun in Jace’s home, all signs point to him as the culprit. What is he really hiding?

Meanwhile, Tessa finally feels safe, having set up her husband to take the fall for her disappearance—and someone close to him is helping her put him away. Breaking her lifelong pattern of bad men is only one hurdle she has to overcome. The other is outrunning her secret past while trying to stay alive, especially when those in her new life aren’t who they appear to be.

Jace’s lies don't add up and the authorities are closing in. Will Tessa’s old life catch up to her and drag her back to a life of abuse before justice is served? 

Finding Tessa is a smart domestic thriller where nothing can be taken at face value, where every twist reveals a deadlier secret than the one before. Fans of Gillian Flynn, Samantha Downing, and incisive, fresh psychological suspense won't want to miss it.

Book friends, listen to me. Finding Tessa is a book that you won't be able to put down. 

Who hasn't met a Tessa or know about a Tessa? Women who make the wrong decisions about a man over and over. Women who are abused mentally or physically. I certainly do!

Tessa has had bad luck with "Assholes". Her latest "Asshole" has punched her in the face leaving her black and blue but this time she is going to disappear and make him pay for it. So when Jace Montgomery arrives at his home and his wife, Tessa is gone, he calls the cops. Of course, the cops know the drill. The husband did it especially after finding broken glass, hair, and blood. But is it always the husband? 

With Finding Tessa, we get two different points of view. We are giving glimpses of the real Tessa and Jace. The more info I got, the more intricate the story became. 

As a domestic thriller, Finding Tessa receives a two thumbs up from me. Both Tessa and Jace were smartly crafted. There was no way, I wouldn't sympathize with Tessa and her bad luck. With all the times' men have hurt her, she was due to find someone nice but looks can be deceiving.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Smoke Signal
by Marie Benedict and Kate Quinn

Title: Smoke Signal
Series: The Rose Code | The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
Author: Marie Benedict and Kate Quinn
Publisher: Audible Original
Release Date: February 11th 2021 
Narrators: Nicola Barber, Saskia Maarleveld

Best-selling authors Marie Benedict (The Mystery of Mrs. Christie) and Kate Quinn (The Rose Code) join forces to tell the captivating story of how history's most famous mystery writer crossed paths with one of Britain's top secret code breakers in the throes of World War II.

Recruited as a code breaker of enemy ciphers, ex-debutante Osla Kendall spends her days translating Axis military messages and her nights reading mystery novels. When Osla gets her hands on Agatha Christie's most recent work, N or M?, a mysterious signal within its pages catches her eye, and she and her eccentric book club get in touch with the famous but reclusive writer. Osla's outreach is a welcome distraction for Agatha, who feels restless and underestimated toiling away in a London pharmacy while men like her husband can contribute to the war effort from the front lines.

So begins the story of an unlikely friendship and the secrets that bind two brave women embroiled in war. Based on true events and told by two beloved authors and champions of history's heroines, Smoke Signal is a breathtaking novella of espionage and the unforgettable women who risked everything to serve their country.

To learn more about Osla Kendall and Agatha Christie, see Marie Benedict's The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, a novel of Agatha Christie's disappearance in 1926, and Kate Quinn's forthcoming The Rose Code, a novel of the female code breakers of Bletchley Park.

I've made no secret that I absolutely loved The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. When audible alerted me that they had an original novella where Agatha Christie meets Osla Kendall, I couldn't download it fast enough.

I haven't read The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict but I absolutely loved the female code breakers from Bletchley Park. I was happy to have more of their world.

The novella has Agatha and Osla meeting twice, once during the war and the second time after it has ended. They compare notes and realized that due to a certain oath, a spy couldn't be stopped earlier.

If you have read The Rose Code, this audio is a must. The narration takes 1 hour and 10 minutes which was perfect for my work commute. 

I'm very thankful to Kate Quinn and Marie Benedict for coming up with this character's meeting.

Both, Nicola Barber and Saskia Maarleveld did an amazing job in bringing these women to life.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary


Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O'Leary
Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition
Release Date: May 28, 2019

Tiffy and Leon share a flatTiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

What a delightful story!

Meet her: Tiffy is going through a bad time. Her ex-boyfriend has kicked her out of his apartment and she needs a place to stay. She is a tall woman who dresses with things she enjoys and doesn't care what people think of it. She is an editor and currently, she is editing a crochet book. She has 3 great friends who support her despite her troubled relationship with Justin. 

Meet him: Leon is a hospice nurse. He is a quiet person, an introvert, bordering on a loner. His brother is in prison and Leon constantly worries about how to get him out. His relationship with his current girlfriend is at a standstill. Leon needs more money to be able to help his brother out and sharing his flat sounds like a good idea. 

As you can imagine, Leon offers his flat to Tiffy but they never meet. He works nights, she works days. 

They will never cross paths or will they?

I laughed, I smiled, I couldn't get enough of Tiffy and Leon. I loved how they started learning about each other because of what they ate, drink, read, dress, etc.

The best part was all the post-it notes. Really a fun read.

The audio was fantastic. Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune brought both characters to life for me.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs