Sunday, June 4, 2023

Daylight by David Baldacci
Atlee Pine #3

Title: David Baldacci
Series: Atlee Pine #3
Author: David Baldacci 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: November 17, 2020

FBI Agent Atlee Pine's search for her sister Mercy clashes with military investigator John Puller's high-stakes case, leading them both deep into a global conspiracy -- from which neither of them will escape unscathed.

For many long years, Atlee Pine was tormented by uncertainty after her twin sister, Mercy, was abducted at the age of six and never seen again. Now, just as Atlee is pressured to end her investigation into Mercy's disappearance, she finally gets her most promising breakthrough yet: the identity of her sister's kidnapper, Ito Vincenzo.

With time running out, Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum race to Vincenzo's last known location in Trenton, New Jersey -- and unknowingly stumble straight into John Puller's case, blowing his arrest during a drug ring investigation involving a military installation.

Stunningly, Pine and Puller's joint investigation uncovers a connection between Vincenzo's family and a breathtaking scheme that strikes at the very heart of global democracy. Peeling back the layers of deceit, lies and cover-ups, Atlee finally discovers the truth about what happened to Mercy. And that truth will shock Pine to her very core.

A great addition to the series!!

Atlee Pine and her assistant Carol Blum are on the trail for answers. Atlee wants to know what happened to her sister Mercy who was abducted from their bed when she was six.

Her latest clue takes her to New Jersey and a man named Ito Vincenzo who seems to be the person who kidnapped her. No one knows where Ito is but she trails his grandson and when she tries to ask questions, he runs away. Unbeknownst to Atlee, she was interfering with a military bust by nonother than John Puller, military CID.

Feeling intrigued about where John Puller's case was taking them, she decides to stay and help with the investigation, hoping to find more clues about Mercy in the process.

Baldacci can make you root for his characters every single time. Atlee has become a quick favorite. A good FBI agent which for the most part uses her intellect but is not scared to use her strength to catch a bad guy.

I haven't read the John Puller series but my husband is a fan and he was excited to see the crossover of worlds.

By the end, we have more shocking discoveries and more clues into Mercy's fate. I can't wait to start the next one.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Quarantine Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
The Princess Diaries #12


Title: The Quarantine Princess Diaries
Series: The Princess Diaries #12
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: March 28, 2023

Mia Thermopolis knows just what to do in a crisis: Rule.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, a section of the diary of Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia fell into the hands of Meg Cabot, the Princess’s royal biographer.

As reported in media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, The Mary Sue, Refinery 29, Bustle, and more, from March until June of 2020, sixteen entries of the princess’s diary were leaked onto Ms. Cabot’s blog, to the delight of over a million fans.

In these entries, titled The Coronavirus Princess Diaries, the princess recorded her most heartfelt emotions while dealing with her husband’s quarantine after exposure to the virus; her personal (and political) battles while imposing health restrictions on her small European nation; life during lockdown (even in as idyllic a location as a palace on the Riviera); and of course, dealing with her demanding royal family, especially her grandmother.

Since then, readers have been clamoring for more chapters of Mia’s coronavirus diary . . . and here they are at last: The Quarantine Princess Diaries include not only the previously released entries (now edited and updated with new content), but two hundred more pages of entirely original, never-before-seen entries, including the princess’s worries over a possible royal affair; a showdown between Mia and Grandmère over the latter’s intended nuptials; the eventual development and distribution of a groundbreaking intranasal vaccine for every citizen in Genovia; and, as always, a royally happy ending.

I have to say that I'm disappointed. I mean the Princess Diaries' first book was refreshing and cute. This one not so much. 

The novel is supposed to be about Princess Mia dealing with the pandemic arriving at her doorstep. In my opinion, the author had a great chance to give some substance to the characters instead the majority of the book is just fluff. No real conflict. Worse, Mia is still insecure about her husband Michael. She passes her time drinking wine in sweatpants.  She says she is worried about her family and the people of Genova but she doesn't do much except a couple of indictments to mandate masks and social distancing.  Worse,  all the fun of reading it went away between how political the book was and Mia making fun of Americans.

No one is sadder that I didn't like it than myself. 

Cliffhanger: No

2/5 Fangs

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

Happy Place by Emily Henry


Title: Happy Place 
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 25, 2023

Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.

They broke up six months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.

Which is how they find themselves sharing the largest bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blue week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.

Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week… in front of those who know you best?

A couple who broke up months ago make a pact to pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends in this glittering and wise new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry.

Happy Place is the latest book by Emily Henry. This one is about friendship and of course love too.

It's about best friends who met in college and who reunite once a year to spend time together in Coastal Maine where so many of their memories have been created.

The main couple is Harriet and Wyn who were best friends first, and after a year, they became more. Later on, engaged but in the present, they are not together anymore. Between two timelines past and present, we learned how they met, fell in love, and why they broke up.

In the present when Harriet arrives, she is surprised to see Wyn there, she never thought she was going to see him there again. She is shocked, to say the least, but the shocks keep on coming, her friend Sabrina is going to marry at the end of the week and the house they have loved for so many years is being sold!! So of course Harriet and Wyn need to fake being still together not to upset the dynamics despite not being a couple for the last six months. Harriet still loves Wyn so she is not sure how to navigate the situation without getting hurt further.

Happy Place had me wanting to go visit Maine right away and follow all the places they enjoyed and the food they ate. It also had me rooting for a happy ending for the main characters and for their friendship between the six to survive the passing of time.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

The One Who Fell by Kerry Wilkinson
Whitecliff Bay mysteries #1

Title: The One Who Fell 
Series: Whitecliff Bay Mysteries #1
Author: Kerry Wilkinson
Narrator: Helen Keeley
Publisher: Bookouture audio
Release Date: April 17, 2023 

In the seaside town of Whitecliff, everyone looks out for each other. Everyone knows your name. And everyone knows your secrets... Moonlight falls on the figure of the girl standing on the red-tiled roof. Her white dress and blonde hair flutter in the freezing night wind. And suddenly - she is gone. Volunteering at the local nursing home is Millie Westlake 's one escape from the rumours that swirl around Whitecliff about her past. But speaking with elderly resident, Ingrid, as they play board games, Millie gets chills at her strange story about a young girl being pushed from a roof, somewhere across the valley... Everybody thinks Ingrid is but Millie knows how it feels to not be believed. Her parents died a year ago, and the residents of Whitecliff - such a quiet place, other than crashing waves and cawing seagulls - are convinced Millie killed them. Desperately searching for evidence to find the girl Ingrid saw, a broken roof tile could prove Ingrid was telling the truth. But when strange footprints appear in Millie's garden, she's certain someone out there is watching. Have Ingrid and Millie stumbled across something terribly dangerous? And with the town against her, will Millie have to face up to her own secrets to solve the mystery before it becomes deadly? An utterly compelling, character-driven mystery by bestselling author Kerry Wilkinson, perfect for fans of Faith Martin, Mary Burton and LJ Ross.

I enjoyed prior Kerry Wilkinson's books and I was excited to start a new series by this author.

Millie Westlake volunteers at the nursing home where her friend Jack works. Millie lives in Whitecliff where everyone knows each other and gossip spreads faster than you can say hi. Millie is well known but not with affection but with recrimination. She has committed two crimes in the minds of the inhabitants. First, she cheated with a politician, broke her marriage, and lost the custody of her son when the affair was found out, The second crime is that they believed she killed her parents and she got away with it plus inherited their home after they passed. The only job Millie can have is being a dog groomer although the reviews left on the net are not as nice as she would like.

One day, after spending time with Ingrid, a nursing home patient, she is told by Ingrid that the night before she saw a woman being pushed off the roof of a home close by through her window. Millie can't let it go and decides to investigate. This decision will put a target on her back but she can't stop digging with the help of Guy, an ex-reporter now blogger.

I liked Millie, her story was intriguing and I wanted to know more about her affair, her parent's death, and of course, if a woman was truly pushed and why. The story grabbed me from the very beginning and I was happy with the way the novel unfolded. The narrator Helen Keeley did a great job of bringing the character to life.

I will read the next one in the series and hope to see more of the characters. Hopefully, she can get her son back.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

In the Lives of Puppets by T.J. Klune

Title: In the Lives of Puppets
Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: April 25, 2023

In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots--fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They're a family, hidden and safe.

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled "HAP," he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio-a past spent hunting humans.

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio's former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic's assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?

Author TJ Klune invites you deep into the heart of a peculiar forest and on the extraordinary journey of a family assembled from spare parts.

Another hit for T. J. Klune!

In The Lives of Puppets, we are taken to a world in the future where robots run free.

At the beginning of the story, we get to know the hero Victor, a young human living in a secluded home with his adopted father Gio, and two robots, Nurse Ratched and Rambo.

Victor was the one who fixed Nurse Ratched and Rambo and he is always on the lookout for another machine he can reactivate. So when he finds an android who for a minute was still "alive" before his battery stops, he knows he will do anything to fix the android who he names HAP (Hysterically Angry Puppet). At first, he hides him from GIO until HAP is fully operational. Without realizing by saving HAP, Victor has put his life in danger. Next thing he knows, androids are surrounding his home and GIO is taken prisoner to the City of Electric Dreams. Gio has left a message not to try to find him but Victor can't stop himself but embark on a trip to save the only father he has ever known.

In regards to the characters, even though I care about Victor and root for his success and love HAP's evolution, my heart was stolen by Nurse Ratched and Rambo. Who doesn't love a nurse who can engage in an empathy protocol but truly has a murderous streak with the sole goal of drilling? And Rambo with his sweet disposition, innocence, ferocious loyalty, and the need to be brave?

Worth mentioning is the narrator Danny Henning who does a marvelous job with these wonderful characters just like he did with Cerulean which is still my favorite of Klune's novels.

Adorable characters that make you feel are the recipe for Klune's success. I can't wait for any of his books to become a movie.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

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

A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci
Atlee Pine #2


Title: A Minute to Midnight 
Series: Atlee Pine #2
Author:  David Baldacci 

FBI Agent Atlee Pine returns to her Georgia hometown to reopen the investigation of her twin sister's abduction, only to encounter a serial killer beginning a reign of terror, in this page-turning thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.

FBI Agent Atlee Pine's life was never the same after her twin sister Mercy was kidnapped--and likely killed--thirty years ago. After a lifetime of torturous uncertainty, Atlee's unresolved anger finally gets the better of her on the job, and she finds she has to deal with the demons of her past if she wants to remain with the FBI.

Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum head back to Atlee's rural hometown in Georgia to see what they can uncover about the traumatic night Mercy was taken and Pine was almost killed. But soon after Atlee begins her investigation, a local woman is found ritualistically murdered, her face covered with a wedding veil--and the first killing is quickly followed by a second bizarre murder.

Atlee is determined to continue her search for answers, but now she must also set her sights on finding a potential serial killer before another victim is claimed. But in a small town full of secrets--some of which could answer the questions that have plagued Atlee her entire life--digging deeper into the past could be more dangerous than she realizes . . .

A Minute to Midnight is the second book in the Atlee Pine series. 

After catching a little girl's kidnapper and beating him almost to death, Atlee Pine's boss makes her take a leave. He knows Atlee needs to step away from work and look into her past to be able to move forward.

Atlee decides to go back to Georgia. The last place she saw her twin sister, Mercy. They were six when a man came into their bedroom and took her and hit Mercy so hard that she ended up in the hospital with severe head trauma. However, during the trip down memory lane, Atlee is not alone. Her assistant Carol Plum is with her. 

Coming back home brings all kinds of feeling for Atlee and when she starts asking questions to the people who used to know her parents, she realizes more than one is hiding things from her making it harder for her to follow a trail. 

When a series of murders start occurring. Atlee lends a hand to the investigation. Another FBI agent is called to help out. He and Atlee have some history but they will put their feelings aside to help with the task at hand. 

Quite an interesting novel this was. Trying to figure out if the murders were related to Atle's sister's disappearance and what really happened all those years ago had me on my toes.

As for the characters, Atlee was likable. She was a good agent. She was smart and logical without being the usual broken-need-fixing protagonist.  I also liked Carol. She was loyal to Atlee and always gave the support she needed but also made her see her faults when Atlee was making mistakes.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

Title: A House with Good Bones
Author: T. Kingfisher
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal 
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: March 28, 2023

A haunting Southern Gothic from an award-winning master of suspense, A House With Good Bones explores the dark, twisted roots lurking just beneath the veneer of a perfect home and family.
"Mom seems off."

Her brother's words echo in Sam Montgomery's ear as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives alone.

She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam's excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.

But stepping inside, she quickly realizes home isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white. Her mom jumps at the smallest noises and looks over her shoulder even when she’s the only person in the room. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.

To find out what’s got her mom so frightened in her own home, Sam will go digging for the truth. But some secrets are better left buried.

I liked it well enough.

Sam Montgomery is an archaeoentomologist who just finished a job in Arizona. After her brother calls her to tell her something seems off with their mother, she decides to go visit her in North Carolina. Sam is excited to spend her time off watching crime tv shows and drinking wine.

Sam's mother is usually a carefree, easy-going, and stress-free woman but when Sam sees her, she can't believe this thin, jumpy, and distracted person is her mother. In addition, her home feels off too. Her mother had painted all the walls white like when her Gran Mae was alive instead of the vibrant colors they were the last time she visited. Is her mother getting dementia or is someone harassing her? And why are all these crows watching the house and her every move?

A House with Good Bones had an entertaining character to keep my interest throughout. The gothic elements were well-balanced. Furthermore, the narrator, Mary Robinette Kowal did a fantastic job of keeping things moving for me.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

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