Sunday, February 20, 2022

Crowbones by Anne Bishop
The Others #8


Title: Crowbones
    Series: The Others #8, The World of the Others Series #3
Author: Anne Bishop
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: March 8, 2022

In this engrossing and gripping fantasy set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, an inn owner and her friends must find a killer-before it's too late....
Crowbones will gitcha if you don't watch out!

Deep in the territory controlled by the Others-shape-shifters, vampires, and even deadlier paranormal beings-Vicki DeVine has made a new life for herself running The Jumble, a rustic resort. When she decides to host a gathering of friends and guests for Trickster Night, at first everything is going well between the humans and the Others.

But then someone arrives dressed as Crowbones, the Crowgard bogeyman. When the impostor is killed along with a shape-shifting Crow, and the deaths are clearly connected, everyone fears that the real Crowbones may have come to The Jumble-and that could mean serious trouble.

To "encourage" humans to help them find some answers, the Elders and Elementals close all the roads, locking in suspects and victims alike. Now Vicki, human police chief Grimshaw, vampire lawyer Ilya Sanguinati, and the rest of their friends have to figure out who is manipulating events designed to pit humans against Others-and who may have put Vicki DeVine in the crosshairs of a powerful hunter.

The Others is one of my favorite fantasy series ever!

The idea that beings that can appear human but are more like animals and that they are in control of the world and that humans need to learn how to survive in their world is just different. Meg and Simon's love story, if you can say that, was the best.

Crowbones is a continuation of this world but it could be considered book 2 of the Lake Silence storyline. 

I absolutely believe that you have to read Lake Silence to enjoy Crowbones as much as I did.

Vicki DeVine (human) is the owner of the Jumble, a resort that is as good as it can be after the Great Predation. Vickie is still dealing with being afraid of men since her ex-husband did a number on her self-confidence. She is working on getting better about it. 

Vicki is excited about throwing a party during Trickster Night. She has guests and friends coming over. Of course, everything goes wrong when someone comes by the door dressed as Crowbones and scares the Crowgard. A second later that person is dead and a shape-shifting crow is found murdered too. 

Officer Wayne Grimshaw (human) starts an investigation with the help of Julian Farrow (Intuit) and Ilya Sanguinati (vampire). 

They know someone is manipulating people to do harmful things but can they be manipulating Others too?

I gotta say, I was much more invested in this one because now I'm familiar with the main characters and their environment. 

Vickie and Julian's love story is moving -not fast- but moving along. Ilya and Natasha are now a couple.
The Elders make quite an appearance and the addition of Crowbones made this novel quite satisfying. 

Does Megan or Simon make a cameo in any way? 

I can't tell. My lips are sealed. 

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

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

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Stolen Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #22


Title: Stolen Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #22
Author: John Sandford

Lucas Davenport has seen many terrible murder scenes. This is one of the worst. In the small Minnesota town of Wayzata, an entire family has been killed—husband, wife, two daughters, dogs.

There’s something about the scene that pokes at Lucas’s cop instincts—it looks an awful lot like the kind of scorched-earth retribution he’s seen in drug killings sometimes. But this is a seriously upscale town, and the husband was an executive vice president at a big bank. It just doesn’t seem to fit.

Until it does. And where it leads Lucas will take him into the darkest nightmare of his life.

Not my favorite in this series but still engaging.

Stolen Prey begins with Lucas getting mugged. After jogging, he decides to stop by the ATM. He is robbed and in the process, he suffers a fractured wrist. He ends up with a cast he will need to wear for the next 3 months. As a reader, you know Lucas can't be happy about this. Lucas asks Virgil to find the culprits for him and he wants to know as soon as Virgil finds them, so he can be there for the arrest. Of course, each interaction between these two ends up making me smile. 

At the same time, Lucas's time is going to be dedicated to a recent crime in a wealthy community. A family including the dogs has been tortured and killed. To Lucas, it smells like a Mexican cartel killing. He soon follows the crumbs and realizes that a bank might have been laundering money for a cartel and someone has stolen 22 million away from them. The cartel has sent 3 men, Uno, Dos, and Tres to find the robbers, dispose of them and get their money back. 

Lucas has an idea of who took the 22 million, he just has to prove it while concurrently tracking the cartel killers and stopping them any way necessary. 

Stolen Prey has the same humor and banter that I liked. I just wasn't crazy about the "baddies" in this one. They were not mentally challenging. I did like Letty at the end. She is sure Davenport's daughter more than his blood children are.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

Mr. Wrong Number by Lynn Painter


Title: Mr. Wrong Number
Author: Lynn Painter
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 1, 2022

Things get textual when a steamy message from a random wrong number turns into a thrilling anonymous relationship in this hilarious rom-com by Lynn Painter.

Bad luck has always followed Olivia Marshall...or maybe she's just the screw-up her family thinks she is. But when a "What are you wearing?" text from a random wrong number turns into the hottest, most entertaining—albeit anonymous—relationship of her life, she thinks things might be on the upswing....

Colin Beck has always considered Olivia his best friend's annoying little sister, but when she moves in with them after one of her worst runs of luck, he realizes she's turned into an altogether different and sexier distraction. He's sure he can keep his distance, until the moment he discovers she's the irresistible Miss Misdial he's been sort of sexting for weeks—and now he has to decide whether to turn the heat up or ghost her before things get messy.

I LOVED this one. My romantic heart was so happy with it. Perfect for this month of February!

Olivia Marshall has a reputation. She finds herself in weird situations like the last one that has ended her up without a home. She was burning the love letters from her ex-boyfriend when her apartment went up in smoke. Not having a place to live, she moves into her brother's condo. 

Her brother shares a room with his best friend Colin Beck, Olivia's nemesis. Olivia had a HUGE crush on Colin since she first met him as a teenager but after a while, it turned into hate. In her mind, he has nothing but behaved as douche to her over the years. Yes, he is still sexy or maybe even better looking now but who is looking at his abs?  To her shock, she starts noticing nice things about him when he is not teasing her any longer. 

But Olivia is in a conundrum. She is starting to like Colin as a person but she has created this friendship over text with a stranger, Mr. Wrong Number. Their textship begins when he sends her a text meant for someone else. Over the next few weeks, they are happy to interact this way. Olivia starts relying on Mr. Wrong Number while they bounced back ideas about life and plans for the future. 

Who would Olivia pick? Colin or Mr. Wrong Number???

Did I crush on Colin? 


In truth, I loved both characters. Oliva's "luck" was cringe-worthy and I felt sorry for her. I also was laughing while reading Mr. Wrong Number many many times. I thought it was delightful! I read the book in one sitting and the pages just flew away.

I also recommend not reading the blurb which in my opinion gives way too much information. I didn't read it, so I was extra happy.

Thank you, Berkley and NetGalley, for my free copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane


Title: The Replacement Wife
Author: Darby Kane
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: December 28, 2021

A domestic suspense novel that asks, how many wives and girlfriends should disappear before your family notices?

Elisa Wright is a mom and wife, living a nice, quiet life in a nice, quiet town. She’s also convinced her brother-in-law is a murderer. Josh has one dead wife and one missing fiancée, and though he grieved for them he starts dating someone new. Elisa fears for that woman’s safety, and she desperately wants to know what happened to her friend, Josh’s missing fiancée.

Searching for clues means investigating her own family. And she doesn’t like what she finds. A laptop filled with incriminating information. Other women.

But when Elisa becomes friends with Josh’s new girlfriend and starts to question things she thinks are true, Elisa wonders if the memories of a horrible incident a year ago have finally pushed her over the edge and Josh is really innocent. With so much at stake, Elisa fights off panic attacks and a strange illness. Is it a breakdown or something more? The race is on to get to the truth before another disappearance because there’s a killer in the family… or is there?

Once again, I found myself being on the polar opposite of the majority. I was so entertained by this one. I'm not sure if it was Elisa and her mind chaos or the audible which was fantastic!

Elisa Wright is a mother and a wife. Something horrible happened to her about a year ago and she is plagued by PTSD and anxiety attacks. She doesn't like to leave a certain radius around her home because she can get a panic attack. Elisa is also a good sister-in-law to Josh. Josh has been unlucky in love. His wife died and his fiancee, Abby, disappeared. Elisa likes to do nice things for him. She cares for him like a brother. She goes to his home to set up a cleaning appointment when she finds Abby's computer. In it, she finds incriminating information about Josh.

How to prove Josh is a serial killer when your mind can be playing tricks on you and paranoia can be part of your looming soon-to-happen breakdown?

Not easy to make it simple. Especially when your husband who is a vet (one positive on Harris) loves his brother Josh dearly and will never believe he has done anything wrong.

Then, Josh is dating a new woman, Rachel, who seems friendly enough. Elisa starts fearing for her life. She doesn't want another woman to succumb to his claws because no one is stopping Josh. Elisa knows she must prove beyond a reason of a doubt what monster he really is. Yet, she is plagued by doubts. Is he gaslighting her? and who is the red hair woman she sees everywhere?

I enjoyed the ride and despite thinking that Elisa should have done some things differently, like changing the locks in her home, I went with the flow.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by William Morrow Paperbacks via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham


Title: A Flicker in the Dark
Author: Stacy Willingham
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 11, 2022

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren't really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

In a debut novel that has already been optioned for a limited series by actress Emma Stone and sold to a dozen countries around the world, Stacy Willingham has created an unforgettable character in a spellbinding thriller that will appeal equally to fans of Gillian Flynn and Karin Slaughter.

I'm glad my luck is holding. Another book that I connected with and was unable to put down. 

Chloe Davis is a psychologist in the present time. She is trying to help teenagers and their trauma. After all, she knows something about trauma. When she was twelve, she discovered her father was a serial killer and he went to jail for it but the bodies were never found. This impacted her life and her older brother's life too. 

Chloe is engaged to be married and she is thinking that life is finally giving her some happiness when a teenager goes missing and then another one after her. The situation seems too coincidental and it's eerie how much these cases have in common with what her dad confessed to. Is there a copycat? Does she know him? Is she close to him?

Read it to find out. 

So what did I enjoy about A Flicker in the Dark?

I did enjoy this unreliable narrator despite her addiction to pills (which is new for me since I hate when the female character is impaired and is not sure if things that are happening around her are true or she is just imagining it). I was reading and listening as fast as I could. 

Did I guess the plot? 

Yep, from the very beginning but despite that I was able to root for Chloe.

Did I like the ending?

I think it was fitting.  

Am I happy it will be a limited series on TV?

I didn't know Emma Stone was interested in this novel before I read it but I'm glad this book will be coming to life on my TV.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins


Title: Reckless Girls
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: January 4, 2022

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

Well, I'm in the team that liked this one.

Was it unbelievable at the end? You bet it was. Nevertheless, I enjoyed its craziness.

Lux is a young woman who has lost a lot in life already. Her father married again and started a new family without her. She and her mom moved to San Diego after their divorce. Then, her mother gets sick and Lux quits college to take care of her, losing her after a battle with cancer. Lux decides she doesn't want to go back to college and starts working as a waitress. Here is where she meets Nico, a gorgeous guy who comes from money. He has his own boat, the Susannah, and he offers to take her sailing around the world. The first stop is Hawaii but once they get there, unfortunately, the boat needs repairs so Lux works as a maid while Nico is happy working at the marina.

Then, two college girls, Brittany and Amma, offer Nico 50 K to take them to Meroe Island for a couple of weeks to enjoy life unplugged. Nevermind, that the island is thought to be cursed due to its dark past. Nico accepts the proposal in a second and Lux is welcome to come with them too.

When they arrive at Meroe Island, a Catamaran, The Azure Sky, is already there. Elisa and her boyfriend Jake are the owners and they are welcoming and glad to share their own supplies of amazing food and alcohol.

Then, one more person arrives in a sailboat, Robbie. He doesn't seem to click with the rest and shortly he seems menacing. 

Lux doesn't know what to think about Robbie. She is worried about him but then she also starts realizing that no one on the island is exactly truthful about who they really are and their motives to be there too. 

Reckless Girls is a welcome locker room type of book, atmospheric and enticing. The audio was fantastic. Kudos to Barrie Kreinik for bringing it all to life. She was awesome in The Good Sister so I knew I was going to love her in this one too.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano
Finlay Donovan #2


Title: Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead
Series: Finlay Donovan #2
Author: Elle Cosimano
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: February 1, 2022

Finlay Donovan is―once again―struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. On the bright side, she has her live-in nanny and confidant Vero to rely on, and the only dead body she's dealt with lately is that of her daughter's pet goldfish.

On the not-so-bright side, someone out there wants her ex-husband, Steven, out of the picture. Permanently. Whatever else Steven maybe, he's a good father, but saving him will send her down a rabbit hole of hit-women disguised as soccer moms, and a little bit more involvement with the Russian mob than she'd like.

Meanwhile, Vero's keeping secrets and Detective Nick Anthony seems determined to get back into her life. He may be a hot cop, but Finlay's first priority is preventing her family from sleeping with the fishes... and if that means bending a few laws then so be it.

With her next book's deadline looming and an ex-husband to keep alive, Finlay is quickly coming to the end of her rope. She can only hope there isn't a noose at the end of it...

I loved the first book in the series, I thought it was a breath of fresh air. It was fun and had me laughing out loud multiple times. So it made perfect sense for me to want to read Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead.

If you read book one, you know it ended with Finlay finding out about a hit set up on her ex-husband, Steve. Steve might not be a good husband, fiancee, or boyfriend material but Finlay doesn't want him dead. Well, maybe a little and if was up to Vero, she would have given ideas to the killer on how to cause the most pain before killing him.

Naturally, Finlay and Vero embarked on an investigation to try to find out who is trying to off him. Ramon, Vero's cousin is there to help a few times. A young IT millennial is there to help them with the clues (but not for free). A wig is needed for a certain dangerous visit. We get to see more of Susan, Finlay's mom. A nice car makes an unexpected appearance and of course the crazy situations Finlay and Vero get themselves in are abundant.

I can honestly say that I liked it and I laughed with poor Finlay's absurd and fantastical adventures she got herself tangled up with but I didn't love it like I did the first one. Yet,  I was glad to see certain characters popping back in from the last book. I hope the trend continues.

What I did love was Finlay and Vero's friendship getting stronger despite certain secrets not being revealed. I want to know more about what happened to Vero before she met Finlay. 

As for the love triangle, I like detective Nick Anthony but I still like the lawyer-to-be, Julian too. Decisions...decisions. 

The next installment's path is set at the ending of this book. Can't wait for more Finlay and Vero shenanigans.

As for the narrator, Angela Dawe, Kudos!! She had me entertained all the way!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

The Chocolate Box by Agatha Christie
A Hercule Poirot Short Story
Hercule Poirot #ss-12


Title: The Chocolate Box
Series: Hercule Poirot #ss-12
Author: Agatha Christie

Poirot investigates a murder in which the only clue is a box of chocolates. This case took place in Brussels early in his career when he was a detective with the police force there. Likely before the start of the Great War. As far as we are aware, this is the earliest Poirot case!

This was just a taste of how amazing Agatha Cristie's imagination was.

Yes, we have read so many ways someone can be killed with thousands of thrillers out there but she was the one who jumped into writing mysteries with exotic characters and interesting plots. She gave the world Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple and the rest is history. After all, she is the Queen of Mystery.

The Chocolate Box is a short story featuring Hercule Poirot. In it, he is telling a friend which case was the one he didn't solve.

What, someone outsmarted him?

You might think it was impossible but in this audio, Poirot gets a dose of humility.

The audio is super short which was perfect for the small drive I had that day. Listening to it, made me want to read her books all over again. I read them as a teenager since my dad collected them. Some of her books are crystal clear in my mind but some I have forgotten.

Not for nothing, she is the best-selling female fiction writer of all time. Some might say she beat Shakespeare.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Maid by Nita Prose

Title: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: January 4, 2022

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had, unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

A wonderful character with a perfect plot!

I can't believe that someone would read this book without enjoying it. I did the audio for some chapters and the narrator did an amazing job as Molly!

Molly Gray is a young woman working as a maid in a hotel. Molly is quite different from another 25 year old. She has a hard time understanding certain expressions, situations, sarcasm, and evil. When her grandmother was alive, she helped her navigate the world. Grandmother created a safe routine for Molly. She is the one who got her a job at The Grand Regency Hotel and the one who took care of her until she became ill.

After her passing, Molly felt lost but working is one of the things she loves the most. She is always on time, proud of her crisp clean uniform, and enjoys having her trolley full of supplies. Molly is OCD about her cleaning and she makes sure all the rooms she takes care of are left pristine, back to a state of perfection.

Molly starts becoming friendly with Mrs. Black. She and her husband stay in one of the suites regularly. Molly doesn't like Mr. Black. She believes he is a bad egg but the last thing she was expecting was to find him dead on his bed. After passing out, she comes back to herself and calls her boss to let him know about Mr. Black's death. The police are called in and soon they believe Molly is involved. Clue after clue is pointing to Molly but she knows she is not responsible for his death. Friends she thought she had begun turning on her and if she doesn't get help soon, she will lose more than her job, she will lose her freedom.

I adore Molly. She was an amazing woman. She had respect for others. She was smart and resourceful in her own special way. She had pride in her work and she was ready to help her friends.

I can't wait to see this book turning into a movie.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

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