Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano
Finlay Donovan #3


Title: Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun
Series: Finlay Donovan #3
Author: Elle Cosimano
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 31, 2023

Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she's a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had "borrowed" in the process of saving the life of Finlay's ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them.

Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer themself.

Luckily, hot cop Nick has just been tasked with starting up a citizen's police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay's looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with a tempting detective), Finlay and Vero use their time in police academy to sleuth out the real contract killer to free themselves from the mob's clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero's past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.

I listened to the audio and it made me laugh so many times. I can picture Vero and Finlay in all the crazy situations they get themselves into.

This time, Finlay and Vero are in dire straights from different baddies.

The Russian mob leader, Feliks wants Finlay to find Easy Clean. Finlay has no clue how to do it but she believes Easy Clean might be a cop and she still suspects Joey, Nick's partner.

Vero owes money to people in Atlantic City and they are coming for payment.

So what do they do, they decide to join the one-week police academy for civilians and lay low while investigating who is Easy Clean.

It's always nice to get back into this crazy world. I love Finlay and Vero. I also liked Nick and Javi. I like Finlay's sister Georgia who now has a love interest. I still don't trust Finlay's ex-husband, Steven. He is hiding something. There is also a cameo of a certain law student and I was kind of sad Finlay was done with him.

In my opinion, this series should be read in order, otherwise, you might not get too many spoilers at once or not appreciate the craziness Finlay lives in.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

The Angel Maker by Alex North


Title: The Angel Maker
Author: Alex North
Publisher: Celadon Books
Release Date: February 28, 2023

A dark, suspenseful new thriller about the mysteries of fate, the unbreakable bond of siblings, and a notorious serial killer who was said to know the future.

Growing up in a beautiful house in the English countryside, Katie Shaw lived a charmed life. At the cusp of graduation, she had big dreams, a devoted boyfriend, and a little brother she protected fiercely. Until the day a violent stranger changed the fate of her family forever.

Years later, still unable to live down the guilt surrounding what happened to her brother, Chris, and now with a child of her own to protect, Katie struggles to separate the real threats from the imagined. Then she gets the phone call: Chris has gone missing and needs his big sister once more.

Meanwhile, Detective Laurence Page is facing a particularly gruesome crime. A distinguished professor of fate and free will has been brutally murdered just hours after firing his staff. All the leads point back to two old cases: the gruesome attack on teenager Christopher Shaw, and the despicable crimes of a notorious serial killer who, legend had it, could see the future.

I was excited to read The Angel Maker. Even better was getting the audiobook narrated by Rosalie Craig!

What was the novel about? Hmm..I guess first we have to talk about the main characters.

First, there is Katie Show she is a mother, a little overprotective but she knows that bad things can happen when you are not careful. She might be having marital problems because of all her worrying.

Her brother Chris Show has been estranged from her. He was an addict. He had a lot of self-esteem issues growing up. In the year 2000 when he was a young boy, he was attacked by a man, Michael Hyde who was driving a red car. The man doesn't know why he decided to attack him. For Chris, the scars on the inside are much worse than the scars on his face and body.

Third, there is detective, Laurence Page. He will be the cop involved in solving the murder of professor Alan Hobbes. Detective Page has a link to the Shows. He was one of the officers in 2000 who were there after the attack on Christopher.

Alan Hobbes used to be a philosophy professor who wanted his students to decide if things were all predetermined or not. He also had the biggest collection of items owned by the Angel Maker serial killer, Jack Lock. The question is why?

Truly an enjoyable thriller. I was worried about who was going to survive the evil that was lurking and I was hoping for both Chris and Katie to survive.

The novel does make you wonder if you believe in fate or in free will. Maybe a little bit of both?

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Every Missing Girl by Leanne Kale Sparks
Kendall Beck #2

Title: Every Missing Girl
Author: Leanne Kale Sparks 
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Release Date: February 7, 2023

The stunning landscape of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are among our greatest natural treasures. But there are deadly secrets lurking in the craggy heights. FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck and Denver Homicide Detective Adam Taylor team up to investigate a kidnapping crime, but the case quickly turns cold. When Taylor’s niece, Frankie, suddenly vanishes at a local hockey rink, it’s clear that there’s a predator on the loose—and now, the case has turned personal.

One discovery after another leads Beck and Taylor closer to the truth, as they close in on the devastating truth about the fates of the missing girls—and the many who came before them. Will they be able to find Frankie before it’s too late? In this thrilling story, Leanne Kale Sparks weaves the threads of this harrowing drama and builds the intensity to a fever pitch.

Shocking ending!

I didn't read the first in the series and now I know I want to go back and do it despite the spoilers.

Every Missing Girl starts with a good thing happening. At a gas station, a kidnapped teenager is found alive and the kidnapper is dead. The bad part is that the store's cashier is murdered too.

FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck is called to the crime because her job is to find missing children. Denver Homicide Detective Adam Taylor is there because of the double murder and he needs to figure out what happened before a good samaritan killed the kidnapper.

Kendall and Adam had worked together before and they have a good rapport. Then while they are both at Adam's niece's hockey game, the unthinkable happens: Frankie is taken.

Adam and Kendall embarked on a mission to recuperate Frankie from whoever has her.

I figured out early on what was happening but it didn't diminish my interest at all. Both Adam and Kendall are great characters that I want to see again working together to solve a crime.

The narrator Erin DeWard did a great job keeping the action moving.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks


Title: The Lindbergh Nanny 
Author: Mariah Fredericks
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: November 15, 2022

Mariah Fredericks's The Lindbergh Nanny is powerful, propulsive novel about America’s most notorious kidnapping through the eyes of the woman who found herself at the heart of this deadly crime.

When the most famous toddler in America, Charles Lindbergh, Jr., is kidnapped from his family home in New Jersey in 1932, the case makes international headlines. Already celebrated for his flight across the Atlantic, his father, Charles, Sr., is the country’s golden boy, with his wealthy, lovely wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, by his side. But there’s someone else in their household—Betty Gow, a formerly obscure young woman, now known around the world by another name: the Lindbergh Nanny.

A Scottish immigrant deciphering the rules of her new homeland and its East Coast elite, Betty finds Colonel Lindbergh eccentric and often odd, Mrs. Lindbergh kind yet nervous, and Charlie simply a darling. Far from home and bruised from a love affair gone horribly wrong, Betty finds comfort in caring for the child, and warms to the attentions of handsome sailor Henrik, sometimes known as Red. Then, Charlie disappears.

Suddenly a suspect in the eyes of both the media and the public, Betty must find the truth about what really happened that night, in order to clear her own name—and to find justice for the child she loves.

This was an interesting historical fiction novel.

The book is narrated by Charlie Lindbergh's nanny, Betty Gow before he was kidnapped and months later found dead.

in 1939, Betty Gow is taking care of the baby when he disappears from his crib at night. A ramson note is left behind. When the police start investigating the crime, they immediately zoom in on Betty and make her a suspect. She was the last person to see the baby alive, she was a single woman going out with a Norwegian sailor named Henry, and she was a foreigner.

In Betty's words, she describes how she got the position of a nanny. She didn't like Charles Lindbergh. She thought he was an odd man. She especially didn't like the way he treated baby Charlie. The child's mother, Anne Morrow was a nice woman but Betty couldn't understand how she could leave the child for weeks at a time and then wondered why the child would cling to the nanny and not to her when she came back.

The Lindbergh Nanny had my attention from the very first page since it's based on a truly horrible crime with too many unanswered questions. Was it an inside job? Probably. Do I believe Betty had something to do with it? I doubt it.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

A History of Fear by Luke Dumas

Title: A History of Fear 
Author: Luke Dumas
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: December 6, 2022

Grayson Hale, the most infamous murderer in Scotland, is better known by a different name: the Devil’s Advocate. The twenty-five-year-old American grad student rose to instant notoriety when he confessed to the slaughter of his classmate Liam Stewart, claiming the Devil made him do it.
When Hale is found hanged in his prison cell, officers uncover a handwritten manuscript that promises to answer the question that’s haunted the nation for years: was Hale a lunatic, or had he been telling the truth all along?

Unnervingly, Hale doesn’t fit the bill of a killer. The first-person narrative that centers this novel reveals an acerbic young atheist, newly enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to carry on the legacy of his recently deceased father. In need of cash, he takes a job ghostwriting a mysterious book for a dark stranger, but has misgivings when the project begins to reawaken his satanophobia, a rare condition that causes him to live in terror that the Devil is after him. As he struggles to disentangle fact from fear, Grayson’s world is turned upside-down after events force him to confront his growing suspicion that he’s working for the one he has feared all this time—and that the book is only the beginning of their partnership.​​

A History of Fear is a propulsive foray into the darkness of the human psyche, marrying dread-inducing atmosphere and heart-palpitating storytelling.

An eerie literary suspense debut following the harrowing downfall of a tortured graduate student who’s been nicknamed the Devil’s Advocate for his sensational crime: murdering a classmate, then claiming the Devil made him do it.

The Devil is in Scotland.

Grayson Hale has been accused and found guilty of killing his classmate Liam Stewart. Grayson justifies the killing by saying that the Devil made him do it. Over a year later, he is found dead in his cell by suicide.

After his death, a manuscript written by him comes to light. From it, we learn that Grayson's father was a pastor and that his life was not easy growing up. As a kid, Grayson was terrified of the devil and anything related to him. As a teenager, he became an atheist.

When his father passes. Grayson decides to go to Scotland, a place his father had visited as a young man. Grayson believes living there will bring him closer to his father. Then a stranger asks him to become a ghostwriter for a novel about the devil. This act will forever change the course of his short life.

To be honest, I was disappointed. The story was not scary. I found the narrative to be repetitive. The pace was also too slow. I did feel terrible for Grayson. He had a terrible life and a worse ending.

Cliffhanger: No

2.5/5 Fangs

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


Long Shadows by David Baldacci
Amos Decker #7


Title: Long Shadows
Series:  Amos Decker #7
Author: David Baldacci
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: October 11, 2022

Memory man FBI agent, Amos Decker, returns in this action-packed thriller to investigate the mysterious and brutal murder of a federal judge and her bodyguard at her home in an exclusive, gated community in Florida.

Things are changing for Decker. He’s in crisis following the suicide of a close friend and receipt of a letter concerning a personal issue which could change his life forever. Together with the prospect of working with a new partner, Frederica White, Amos knows that this case will take all of his special skills to solve.

As darkness falls, evil comes to light . . .

Judge Julia Cummins seemingly had no enemies, and there was no forced entry to her property. Close friends and neighbours in the community apparently heard nothing, and Cummins’ distraught ex-husband, Barry, and teenage son, Tyler, both have strong alibis. Decker must first find the answer to why the judge felt the need for a bodyguard, and the meaning behind the strange calling card left by the killer.

Someone has decided it’s payback time.

I wasn't expecting a change!

Since I liked this series from the beginning, I don't read the blurbs anymore so I was shocked to see so many changes happening with this series. 

First Amos receives a call that leaves him disturbed and profoundly sad. Then I realized Boggart, his boss has retired and Alex Jamison is assigned to a different city and partner.  

What the heck is happening?

Yet, I shouldn't have worried. Baldacci knows what he is doing. 

Amos is given a new partner, Frederica White. She is short and a black woman. She is also a black belt in martial arts and she speaks her mind. I instantly liked her.

The case was a mystery too. A judge, Julia Cummins, and her bodyguard, Alan Draymont have been found murdered and the FBI sends Amos and Freddie to Florida to investigate.

Amos knows something doesn't add up. The judge was stabbed to death and the bodyguard was shot instead. Are there two killers?

Glad Amos was back and I'm glad Freddie is his new partner. Hopefully, we can see Amos becoming happier with his life and his abilities. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Violet Is Nowhere by Faith Gardner
The Jolvix Episodes #2


Title: Violet Is Nowhere
Series: The Jolvix Episodes #2
Author: Faith Gardner
Publisher: Mirror House Press
Release Date: September 22, 2022

Two strangers. One phone.Everything on the line.

Rising rock star Violet is kidnapped from her Los Angeles home in a near-future dystopia. She wakes up locked in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with a mysterious note and a burner phone that only dials one unfamiliar number.

Construction worker Bud answers a call from his Bay Area apartment and a stranger’s on the line claiming to have been kidnapped and locked in a cabin.

The note says they have one week to figure out the connection between them. Otherwise someone out there—or something—will take her life.

A psychological thriller with a sci-fi twist, this book is part of The Jolvix Episodes.

This is the second book in the world of Amen Maxine.

I enjoyed Amen Maxine and I was happy to be able to get a copy of Violet is Nowhere.

Violet is almost a famous rock star. She is becoming quite popular and even though she is in a band, it looks like her big break is about to happen. Then, she wakes up in a strange cabin. She has no way out. She is a captive and the only thing left behind is a cellphone with only one number. When she dials it, she gets a man named Bud on the other line.

Bud is a construction worker. He likes his beer and doesn't have any desire to improve himself. He had a couple of relationships that left him a little broken. When Violet dials him, at first he thinks it's all a joke but he can't shake the desperation he hears in the voice on the other side of the line. Soon, he is playing detective and trying to figure out, who captured her and why. He wants to help Violet get free.

Violet is Nowhere is a good installment but not as good as Amen Maxine. I felt bad for Violet and I was hoping for Budd to find her in time. The ending unfolded in an unexpected way, or at least part of it did.

I will continue reading the next book in this series. It has my attention.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Mirror House Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan


Title: Nora Goes Off Script
Author: Annabel Monaghan
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: June 7, 2022

Nora's life is about to get a rewrite...

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it's her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage's collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it's picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne'er do well husband Nora's life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He'll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it's the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it's the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story--the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.

Nora Hamilton is a scriptwriter. When her husband leaves her and her kids, she writes a script about that too.  To her surprise,  a studio buys it and then decides to make it into a movie. To her shock, the most coveted actor, Leo Vance is playing her ex-Ben. 

Leo, who is handsome, rich, and famous is staying in his trailer next to her home since the filming is done at her house. How awesome is that!

After the movie wraps, she is ready to pay her debts and start writing a new script until she realizes that Leo didn't leave with the rest of the crew. Quite the opposite, he wants to pay her $1000 a day for one week to continue staying with them. Yet, when the week is done, nobody wants Leo to leave. Her kids have become used to him and she is falling for him. But, how can it work?

Loved the book, loved the audio. Nora and Leo were both very likable characters. They felt real and honest. I was rooting for their HEA the whole time.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Title: Hello Stranger 
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: July 11, 2023

Sadie Montogmery has had good breaks and bad breaks in her life, but as a struggling artist, all she needs is one lucky break. Things seem to be going her way when she lands one of the coveted finalist spots in a portrait competition. It happens to coincide with a surgery she needs to have. Minor, they say. Less than a week in the hospital they say. Nothing about you will change, they say. Upon recovery, it begins to dawn on Sadie that she can see everything around her, but she can no longer see faces.

Temporary, they say. Lots of people deal with this, they say. As she struggles to cope―and hang onto her artistic dreams―she finds solace in her fourteen-year-old dog, Peanut. Thankfully, she can still see animal faces. When Peanut gets sick, she rushes him to the emergency vet nearby. That’s when she meets veterinarian Dr. Addison. And she’s pleasantly surprised when he asks her on a date. But she doesn't want anyone to know about her face blindness. Least of all Joe, her obnoxious neighbor who always wears a bowling jacket and seems to know everyone in the building. He’s always there at the most embarrassing but convenient times, and soon, they develop a sort of friendship. But could it be something more?

As Sadie tries to save her career, confront her haunting past, and handle falling in love with two different guys she realizes that happiness can be found in the places―and people― you least expect.

5 amazing stars!

I have loved all of Katherine Center's books and this one is not the exception.

Our heroine is Sadie Montgomery. She is a struggling artist who paints portraits. She has recently entered a competition and she might have the chance to win 10000 dollars. This is the same competition her mother, who passed away, entered too. Sadie wants to demonstrate to her father that she can be successful in doing what she loves.

However, six weeks before the competition, she learns that she needs to have brain surgery. The surgery has minimal risk and after it, she could begin painting her portrait. What Sadie was not expecting is to stop being able to see faces. After her surgery, she develops acquire apperceptive prosopagnosia. When she realizes this, she freaks out. To make matters worse, her dog, Peanut gets sick. She takes him to the emergency vet. Dr. Addison is able to save Peanut and even without seeing his face, she falls for him. She's thrilled when he asks her out. But things can't be easy, she also meets Joe. He lives in the same building as she does. At first, she dislikes him but the more she gets to know him, the more she starts falling for him too.

What is Sadie going to do? And how is she going to win the competition without being able to see faces?

Loved it. Love Sadie and Joe. So cute together. I also loved Peanut and thankfully no John Wick harm comes to pass.

Now that Happiness for Beginners it's coming to the screen, Hello Stranger can come out as a movie too.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

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

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins


Title: The Villa
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: January 3, 2023

From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.
As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

Another good novel by Rachel Hawkins.

The Villa is narrated by two characters: Mari in 1974 and Emily in the present.

Emily and Chess have been friends since they were kids. Through the years, they have stayed in touch but they haven't been able to spend quality time together in a long time. 

Emily is a writer of cozy mysteries. Her series' love interest is based on her ex-husband and because of it, she is having a hard time starting her next book without killing the character. On the other hand, Chess has become a very famous and successful self-help writer. When Chess invites Emily to spend a few weeks in Orvieto, Italy, Emily decides to go. Not long after arriving in Italy, Emily becomes quite intrigued by Villa Aestas' history. She learns the house has been the site of a murder in 1974. Emily starts thinking that a book and an album might have clues about what really happened that fateful day.

In the 1970s, Villa Aestas was known as Villa Rosato. Here a famous singer Noel Gordon stayed with Pierce Sheldon, his girlfriend Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. After Pierce is murdered, Mary writes the greatest horror novel of all time and Lara will compose a platinum album that everybody has heard and most own. 

The question is: 

Is the person who killed Pierce really the man accused of the crime or perhaps there is more to the story. 

I enjoyed the two timelines and the two main characters. I liked how the story progressed. We are able to learn how things occurred in 1974 although when you think you know everything, you really don't. 

I've been a fan of  Rachel Hawkins since her Hex Hall series and now I'm a fan of her thrillers.

Lastly, if someone from Netflix is reading this review, I think the Villa could be a great movie!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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