Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Christmas Village by Annie Rains
Somerset Lake #2


Title: The Christmas Village 
Series: Somerset Lake #2
Author: Annie Rains 
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: October 12, 2021

xxxUSA Today bestselling author Annie Rains delivers a tender trade paperback romance that will appeal to readers with its warmth and bestselling themes!

Lucy Hannigan has inherited her mother's bulldog, Bella, and her childhood home, the only pink house on Gingerbread Lane. With the holidays coming up, the pressure is on to decorate the house for the annual lights competition and maintain her parent's winning streak. But Lucy already has her hands full as a midwife and a new landlord-to her ex-fiance.

When Miles Bruno is suddenly asked to move out of his rental home, he's grateful to Lucy for taking him on as a tenant. But their broken-off engagement doesn't make it easy to live next door. Sparks still fly between them, and he'd give anything to get back in Lucy's good graces. But to do that will take much more than just tree trimming and house decorating and contest winning. Will one wildly grand romantic gesture on Christmas Eve finally soften her heart?

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Just as good as a Hallmark movie!

I love Christmas time. It’s my favorite season. There is nothing better than reading a romance novel set during this time of the year.

Anne Rains writes a second chance love story set in a small town. I didn’t read the first book but I don’t think you need to in order to enjoy it.

Our protagonists are Lucy and Miles. They were in love when they were teenagers but Miles broke her heart. Lucy moved away but now Lucy has come back to live at her parents' home after her mother's passing. She loved the pink house and all the memories but discovering her mom had many debts was unexpected. Lucy will need to get a tenant to start paying the bills. Her job as a midwife doesn't give her a great income to cover all the expenses.

Miles is a town cop. He loves his job and he is good at it. He is saving money to buy a home. When Miles finds himself needing a new place to live and Lucy needs money to pay her mother’s bills, Miles becomes her tenant. Having to see each other regularly will bring back all those feelings they had for each other. 

Can Lucy forgive Miles for what happened so many years ago? Can they move forward?

The Christmas Village was heartwarming, sweet, and just what I needed for the beginning of the season!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard


Title: 56 Days
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release Date:  August 17, 2021

No one knew they'd moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder?

Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin the same week Covid-19 reaches Irish shores.

When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests that Ciara move in with him. She sees a unique opportunity for a new relationship to flourish without the pressure of scrutiny of family and friends. He sees it as an opportunity to hide who - and what - he really is.

Detectives arrive at Oliver's apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Will they be able to determine what really happened, or has lockdown provided someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime?

56 Days is set in Ireland the week COVID-19 hit the island.

56 days ago
Ciara meets Oliver in the supermarket. Oliver is tall and handsome and Ciara wants nothing more than continue talking to him. 

Oliver for his part can't believe that Ciara is who she says she is. Oliver lives in fear of people finding out about his past. What he did and every time he brings his walls down, something happens that makes his new life disappear right in front of his eyes. This time, this is a new beginning for him, one he doesn't want to lose. 

35 days ago
Then the world goes into lockdown due to a pandemic. What better way to find out more about Ciara than to spend time together in the apartment his work is providing. No one will see much of them and they can explore what they are feeling for each other.

A body has been found in Oliver's apartment. Who's the body??


I was hooked! Despite the different timelines from past and present and the voices from Ciara, Oliver, and the detective Leah Riordan, it all made perfect sense and my attention never wavered. 

56 Days had the right kind of suspense. Do I wish the ending was a little different? Sure but the way it went also works. 

The Nothing Man is still in my TBR. I know I have to read it after enjoying 56 Days so much.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

I Don't Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

Title: I Don't Forgive You 
Author: Aggie Blum Thompson
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: June 8, 2021

An accomplished photographer and the devoted mom of an adorable little boy, Allie Ross has just moved to an upscale DC suburb, the kind of place where parenting feels like a competitive sport. Allie's desperate to make a good first impression. When she's framed for murder.

It all starts at a neighborhood party when a local dad corners Allie and calls her by an old, forgotten nickname from her dark past. The next day, he is found dead.

Soon, the police are knocking at her door, grilling her about a supposed Tinder relationship with the man, and pulling up texts between them. She learns quickly that she's been hacked and someone is impersonating her online. Her reputation--socially and professionally--is at stake; even her husband starts to doubt her. As the killer closes in, Allie must reach back into a past she vowed to forget to learn the shocking truth of who is destroying her life.

I liked this one!

The whodunit was always in the back of my mind. Who was torturing Allie? I knew why, but I wasn't sure who. 

Allie Ross was living a suburban life. Her husband Mark, an attorney, has started a new job and they have moved to DC. Her six-year-old son is in a good school and Allie is moving in the right direction as a photographer with the hope of starting her own studio in the near future. 

Allie and her husband are invited to a neighborhood party where Allie flirts a little with a man until he calls her by a nickname (Lexie) that she hasn't heard in many years. Then the same man follows her up into a bathroom and tries to have sex with her. She is shocked and is able to escape him but not without her husband noticing something was not right. After taking a shower, Allie only wants to forget the weird encounter. 

The next morning, the neighborhood is uproar. A man has been found dead. The man is none other than the same man that accosted Allie in the bathroom. Then, detectives come on knocking and they want to know more about her Tinder app. An app she never downloaded herself despite showing up on her phone.

The more confusing and damaging her life becomes, the more Allie questions who is behind this vendetta and why?

Quite entertaining from beginning to end. I couldn't stop reading it!

Allie was likable and I could feel how desperate she was becoming. I wasn't really happy with the way her husband Mark took things and his lack of support when she needed it but I guess it worked in isolating her even further. 

I Don't Forgive You had me guessing to the end which is my favorite type of book.

I know that when Aggie Blum Thompson writes another novel, I won't hesitate to read it. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Phantom Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #18


Title: Phantom Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #18
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: May 6, 2008

A widow comes home to her large house in a wealthy, exclusive suburb to find blood on the walls, nobody — and her college-age daughter missing. She's always known that her daughter ran with a bad bunch. What did she call them — Goths? Freaks are more like it, running around with all that makeup and black clothing, listening to that awful music, so attracted to death. And now this.

But the police can't find the girl, alive or dead, and the widow truly panics. There's someone she knows, a surgeon named Weather Davenport, whose husband is a big deal with the police, and she implores Weather to get her husband directly involved. Lucas gets in only reluctantly — but then when a second Goth is slashed to death in Minneapolis, he starts working it hard. The clues don't seem to add up, though. And then there's the young Goth who keeps appearing and disappearing: Who is she? Where does she come from and, more importantly, where does she vanish to? And why does Lucas keep getting the sneaking suspicion that there is something else going on here... something very, very bad indeed?

As an invested reader of the Lucas Davenport series, I couldn't stop myself from listening to the next book. I can't believe we're up to #18 and getting closer to #33! Maybe in one more year, I'll be caught up?

Anyway, what's new for Lucas in Phantom Prey?

Weather, Lucas's wife, has asked him to help investigate the disappearance of Alyssa Austin's daughter, Frances. Alyssa is an acquaintance of Weather and she wants Lucas to help find her.

Frances Austin had it all. She had the money and the freedom to do whatever she wanted with it. Then, she went missing. Alyssa knows something bad has happened to her. When Lucas offered to look around, she welcomes Lucas's help. 

Lucas for his part is also in the middle of another investigation. As the head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Lucas is always trying to put out some fires. This time a coke dealer, Siggy, who escaped capture might be coming back for his wife Heather and Lucas and his team have spent weeks surveilling her to catch him when he comes back to see her.

Although busy with this, Lucas becomes interested in Frances's disappearance. He knows he is getting too close when someone tries to eliminate him.

I do love Lucas, Dell, and company. I do miss the older crowd too. They made a great team. There was always a lot of humor mixed with the suspense which was missing a little bit in this one. 

I don't think Phantom Prey was as captivating as some others in this series, partly because the killer was not a very interesting one. The other part that bothered me is the constant idea of the killer thinking: why don't I kill the head of the investigation, meaning Lucas. It just seems overplayed.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune


Title: Under the Whispering Door
Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: September 21, 2021

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn't ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo's help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days

Is not a secret that I absolutely loved The House in the Cerulean Sea. It made me a fan of T.J. Klune. So of course I was going to read his next book. 

Under the Whispering Door had me at Apollo. Who doesn't like a ghost dog that is always happy to see you and lick you to death? (no pun intended)

Ok, maybe it had me at more. Quirky characters, a tea shop, a love story, and learning the lesson to be a better person and to enjoy life while you can. These are all things I took away from the story. 

Wallace Price is a ruthless lawyer. When the book begins he is firing an employee who is already in an economic bind. For Wallace, the only thing that matters is his job. He spends enough hours to know this is what gives him satisfaction. His marriage failed because his priority was his job. So when Wallace suffers a heart attack and dies, no one is more shocked than him. Shocked and angry that is.

Wallace meets his reaper first, Mei at his own funeral. She is there to take him to the Ferryman who would help Wallace understand what is happening to him and then guided him to the next step. When they arrived at Charon's Crossing Tea and Treats, Wallace meets Hugo, the Ferryman, the ghost of Hugo's grandfather, Nelson, and Hugo's ghost dog, Apollo. 

As the days progress, Wallace goes through similar stages of grief and he begins to understand and assimilate that he is dead. Then, the Manager shows up and gives him 7 more days before crossing and Wallace sets himself to right some wrongs before it's too late.

I listened to the audio which was fantastic. The narrator Kirt Graves does an amazing job at separating all the characters and making them fun to listen to. It made it so smooth and clear. Never doubting which "voice" was talking.

As I said earlier, Under the Whispering Door was charming and quirky in the most endearing way!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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