Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Way We Weren't by Phoebe Fox


Title: The Way We Weren't
Author: Phoebe Fox
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: November 9, 2021

An unlikely friendship between a septuagenarian and a younger woman becomes a story of broken trust, lost love, and the unexpected blooming of hope against the longest odds.

You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?

Marcie Malone didn't think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger's home, she doesn't seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.

Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it--he's learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment, he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she's on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.

As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damages life has wrought, Marcie and Flint have to decide whether to face up to the past they're each running from and find a way to move forward with the people they care about most.

Do you ever feel like you want to leave your life behind and drive away without looking back?

This is what Marcie Malone chooses to do. She recently had a loss in her life and the day that she has to return back to work, she decides to start driving. She gets on the interstate and leaves Georgia for sunny Florida. 

Herman Flint is an old man. He is a loner and doesn't interact much with anyone else. To his discontent, he finds a woman passed out on the beach in front of his home. At first, he doesn't want to get involved thinking she is just another junkie but when the woman remains in the same spot, he decides to check on her and takes her inside his house to recuperate.

Marcie is confused at first to find herself in a house she doesn't recognize. Once she meets grumpy Herman, she decides to leave but then she changes her mind. She is not ready to go back to Georgia. She needs time to heal and think about what she wants for her future. Herman agrees for her to stay while she begins this new chapter in her life.

This was heartwarming!

I liked both of the main characters. Marcie was reinventing herself in a way. She was recognizing all the things she gave up through her adulthood and how she would like to move forward. On the other hand, Herman had closed himself to life and Marcie invading his space was the best thing that could happen to him. The addition of the turtles to the story was wonderful for someone who enjoys seeing turtle nests at the beach. Lastly, I loved the ending. It's full of hope.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

The Woman on the Pier by B.P. Walter


Title: The Woman on the Pier
Author: B.P. Walter
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter
Release Date: November 11, 2021

Two strangers meet on the pier. Only one walks away…

Screenwriter Caroline Byrne is desperate to know why her daughter Jessica died, murdered in Stratford when she was supposed to be at a friend’s in Somerset.

When Caroline discovers the messages Jessica had been sending a boy named Michael, she realises it’s because of him. Because he failed to meet her that day.

He’s the reason why her daughter is dead.

And so she makes a choice. He’s the one who’s going to pay.

That is her promise. Her price.

Set between Essex, Kent, and Australia, The Pier is a dark suspense thriller brimming with secrets and lies seeping across three generations. A must-read for fans of Lucy Foley and Rosamund Lupton

This was disappointing in all ways possible!

Caroline Byrne is devastated when her daughter Jessica is murdered during an Isis attack. Caroline doesn't understand why her daughter was in Stratford when she was supposed to be at Somerset. 

Why did her daughter lie?

Then Caroline opens her daughter's phone and she starts reading a thread her daughter had with another teenager. Caroline couldn't believe what she read and she knew she has to do something about it. 

But is she ready to go too far?

To mention a few issues I had with this book:

-It was extremely hard to relate to Caroline who was all over the place. I couldn't respect her. She was spineless and felt entitled because she had money. I hated what she did at the end. 

-I didn't really like any of the characters: The husband, the mother, etc.

-The whole TV issue was completely unnecessary. It brought nothing to the plot. 

-Lastly, the name of the book has nothing to do with the book. 

Cliffhanger: No

2/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by One More Chapter via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter


Title: False Witness
Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 20, 2021


Leigh Coulton has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defence attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilised - her life is just as unremarkable as she'd always hoped it would be.


But Leigh's ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average... a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.


Then a case lands on her desk - defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It's the highest profile case she's ever been given - a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realises that it's no coincidence that he's chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.


If she can't get him acquitted, she'll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Calli, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice...

Two sisters, one crime. Two different futures.

Callie and Leigh were brought up by a mother who repeatedly abused them. At a young age, they had to find work to stay alive and feed themselves.

In the present, Leigh is a great lawyer, with a wonderful daughter but separated from her nice husband. Leigh's coping mechanism is to compartmentalize the different aspects of her daily life. On the other hand, Callie is a heroin junkie although she would do any other drugs yet nothing calls to her so much as the needle.

When Leigh finds out she has been chosen to represent a young man accused of rape, she is ready to do her job until she recognizes the person in front of her. She knew him many years ago and he seems to know her deepest secret.

Karin Slaughter is the writer of one of my favorite series, Will Trent. I do love that man and I would read any of the books he is in. Just like Will Trent, False Witness is also set in Georgia. Callie and Leigh were characters I was rooting for. They were fully characterized and I liked both of them despite their issues. I might not have agreed with the ending but I knew it was going that way earlier on so it wasn't surprising, just sad. 

Slaughter doesn't hold back. False Witness does have many topics that might not be for everyone. The violence is quite detailed. Same with the sexual abuse, drug abuse, mental illnesses, and COVID pandemic to name a few.

Do I think it was too early for COVID to be in my fiction book? yes, but that is just my opinion.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand


Title: Golden Girl 
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: June 1, 2021

In this #1 bestselling page-turner a Nantucket novelist has one final summer to protect her secrets while her loved ones on earth learn to live without their golden girl.

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she's assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

With all of Elin’s trademark beach scenes, mouth-watering meals, and picture-perfect homes, plus a heartfelt message—the people we lose never really leave us—Golden Girl is a beach book unlike any other.

So refreshing to be back in Nantucket!

Time and again, I do my yearly visit to Nantucket using Elin Hilderbrand's eyes and I enjoyed my time there. 

This time, Golden Girl introduced us to Vivian Howe but don't fall in love with her character too soon. After all, she dies at the beginning of the book in a hit and run. The person responsible for her death is a mystery to the other characters but not so much to the readers. 

Vivian Howe is a mother and a friend. She was a wife too but she is divorced from her husband who left her for a younger woman. 

Vivian was a writer. A well-known writer who was hoping her new book Golden Girl would push her to the top of the sales.

Vivian gets a second chance. No, not to come back to earth and be alive again, but to spend the summer following her three children from the great beyond and make sure they are all doing fine before she moves on. She even gets 3 "nudges" approved by her guide Martha to use on her children as she sees fit.

Willa is Vivian's oldest child. She is married and enjoys her work and life in general. The one thing missing is a child of her own. She has suffered a couple of miscarriages and just found out she is pregnant again when her mother passes away, She is also the one who finds out her mother's past and is not sure what to do with the information.

Carson is the middle child. She is a wild one. She enjoys a little cocaine and alcohol while she bartends at the coolest place in town. She is also hiding something that could hurt more than one family member.

Leo is the youngest. He should be getting ready for college instead of being confronted with his mother's death. He's probably the one with the biggest secret. A secret that could come out if the detective investigating the case finds out what happened the day before his mother's death.

Golden Girl was just what I needed at this time. It transported me to a beautiful town with interesting characters and it made me forget reality for a few hours.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Buried Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #21


Title: Buried Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #21
Author: John Sandford

A house demolition provides an unpleasant surprise for Minneapolis-the bodies of two girls, wrapped in plastic. It looks like they've been there a long time. Lucas Davenport knows exactly how long.

In 1985, Davenport was a young cop with a reputation for recklessness, and the girls' disappearance was a big deal. His bosses ultimately declared the case closed, but he never agreed with that. Now that he has a chance to investigate it all over again, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: It wasn't just the bodies that were buried. It was the truth.

Probably one of my favorite in this series.

On Buried Prey, we get to meet Lucas when he was just a young man. He is getting bored with his job as a patrolman and he is either thinking of climbing the ladder or leaving and going to law school instead. We see that Lucas was a womanizer and his love for good clothes was present already there but also his skill for digging into an investigation and tying the details together to find his target.

Lucas finds himself assisting in the investigation of two young girls who have gone missing. All clues point to a homeless man but Lucas believes there might be more to the story. 

In the present, the bodies of both girls had just been discovered and Lucas knows he needs to catch the real killer before he does it again.

Most of the time, I'm not a fan of going back in time but I think John Sanford did an outstanding job at it. It was a blast meeting young Lucas and learning more about his aspirations, his love of the chase, his early manipulative behaviors as well as meeting a younger Del. 

Even though this is one of my favorites, there is a great loss in this one. So be prepared.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

Beneath Devil's Bridge by Loreth Anne White


Title: Beneath Devil's Bridge
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publisher: Montlake
Release Date: June 1, 2021

A true crime podcast yields new revelations about a shocking murder.

True crime podcaster Trinity Scott is chasing breakout success, and her brand-new serial may get her there. Her subject is Clayton Jay Pelley. More than two decades ago, the respected family man and guidance counselor confessed to the brutal murder of teenage student Leena Rai. But why he killed her has always been a mystery.

In a series of exclusive interviews from prison, Clayton discloses to Trinity the truth about what happened that night beneath Devil’s Bridge. It’s not what anyone in the Pacific Northwest town of Twin Falls expects. Clayton says he didn’t do it. Was he lying then? Or now?

As her listeners increase and ratings skyrocket, Trinity is missing a key player in the story: Rachel Walczak, the retired detective who exposed Pelley’s twisted urges and put him behind bars. She’s not interested in playing Clayton’s game - until Trinity digs deeper and the podcast’s reverb widens. Then Rachel begins to question everything she thinks she knows about the past.

With each of Clayton’s teasing reveals, one thing is clear: he’s not the only one in Twin Falls with a secret.

I can't believe I waited this long to read her release of this year. I blame it on work. It has been a busy year for me.

Loreth Anne White's books are a treat. I usually preordered (which I did) and then when the audio is available I listen to it while I drive. She is an auto-buy for me. 

But I digress...

Beneath's Devil's Bridge is set in the small town of Twin Falls. A teenager, Leena Rai was found sexually assaulted and drowned in 1997. The detective in charge of the investigation, Rachel Walczak investigated Clayton Pelley whose confession sent him to jail for over twenty years. 

In the present, Trinity Scott is doing her new podcast, Criminal, which follows Leena's case. When Trinity interviews Clayton, she gets the best soundbite. He tells her he is innocent and that means the real killer is still running free! Of course, Trinity goes in search of Rachel to find out what she remembers from that time and what did the cops miss during their investigation.

Beneath Devil's Bridge was a page-turner, audio-fast-speeding thriller for me. I couldn't wait to see what really happened to Leena and why.  

Loreth Ann White does a wonderful job in leaving all the crumbs necessary for a perfect delivery. 

I can't wait to read/listen to her next book!

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

Storm Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #20

Title: Storm Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #20
Author: John Sandford

A daring drugs raid on a Minneapolis hospital takes place on the same day that Lucas Davenport's wife, Weather, is due to perform an operation to separate conjoined twins. Investigating the raid, Davenport concludes that it must have been an inside job and, as a witness, Weather is now in grave danger.

Truly enjoyed this one!

A robbery has occurred at the hospital where Weather Karkinnen works at. Weather is Lucas Davenport's wife. During the robbery, a man was attacked and he succumbs to his injuries. Lucas is called to investigate the crime once he realizes Weather might have seen the killers leaving the premises. Unbeknownst to Weather, she has also met another one of the criminals the morning of the attack.

Lucas would like to make Weather leave the city but she is performing a conjoined twin surgery so she won't do it. Weather decides to let Lucas worry about her safety and she will only concentrate on the twins' surgery and their survival instead. 

Another great addition to this series! John Sandford continues to write great character development. He also brings his other main character, Virgil Flowers to help protect Weather which makes fans of both series quite happy. 

There is plenty of action and hilarity on this one too, things that I have come to expect regularly from this series.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs