Monday, February 19, 2024

The Woman on the Ledge by Ruth Mancini

 

Title: The Woman on the Ledge
Author: Ruth Mancini
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Release Date: January 4, 2024







A woman falls to her death from a London bank's twenty-fifth-floor roof terrace.
You're arrested for her murder.

You tell the police that you only met the victim the previous night at your office party. She was threatening to jump from the roof, but you talked her down.

You've got nothing to do with this tragedy.
You're clearly being framed.

So why do the police keep picking holes in your story?
And why doesn't your lawyer seem to believe you?

It soon becomes obvious that you're keeping secrets.

But who are you trying to protect? And why?












Engrossing and with great twists!

Tate Kinsella is working as a temp in a bank. She's at the bank's Christmas party when she decides to go to the rooftop terrace to smoke a cigarette. It is there where Tate realizes she is not alone. A woman who says her name is Helen is sitting on the lede. She seems to be ready to jump! Tate starts talking to her and convinces her to come down to safety. They leave the party together and spend some time in a bar before calling it a night.

The next day, she gets a call from Helen. Helen has left something at the bank and will Tate mind going back to the office with her. Tate has no idea that this decision will complicate her life immensely. By the end of the night, a woman has fallen from the rooftop and Tate is the prime suspect!

The more Tate talks to the cops, the worse her story becomes. What really happened that night? Did the woman fall to her death on her own or did someone push her? And if so, why?

Ruth Mancini's plot was devised with the right amount of suspense, darkness, secrets, and a more than satisfying conclusion. I couldn't put this one down. The twists were the best!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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


The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins

 

Title: The Heiress
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: January 9, 2024








When RubyMcTavish Callahan Woodward Miller Kenmore dies, she’s not only North Carolina’s richest woman, she’s also its most notorious. The victim of a famous kidnapping as a child and a widow four times over, Ruby ruled the tiny town of Tavistock from Ashby House, her family’s estate high in the Blue Ridge mountains. In the aftermath of her death, that estate—along with a nine-figure fortune and the complicated legacy of being a McTavish—pass to her adopted son, Camden.

But to everyone’s surprise, Cam wants little to do with the house or the money—and even less to do with the surviving McTavishes. Instead, he rejects his inheritance, settling into a normal life as an English teacher in Colorado and marrying Jules, a woman just as eager to escape her own messy past.

Ten years later, Camden is a McTavish in name only, but a summons in the wake of his uncle’s death brings him and Jules back into the family fold at Ashby House. Its views are just as stunning as ever, its rooms just as elegant, but coming home reminds Cam why he was so quick to leave in the first place.

Jules, however, has other ideas, and the more she learns about Cam’s estranged family—and the twisted secrets they keep—the more determined she is for her husband to claim everything Ruby once intended for him to have.

But Ruby’s plans were always more complicated than they appeared. As Ashby House tightens its grip on Jules and Camden, questions about the infamous heiress come to light. Was there any truth to the persistent rumors following her disappearance as a girl? What really happened to those four husbands, who all died under mysterious circumstances? And why did she adopt Cam in the first place? Soon, Jules and Cam realize that an inheritance can entail far more than what’s written in a will—and that the bonds of family stretch far beyond the grave.












I can say that I loved this one!

We get 3 points of view:

The first one is from the letters written by the deceased heiress RubyMcTavish Callahan Woodward Miller Kenmore. She was the sole owner of the McTavish's fortune. She was also abducted when she was a child and returned home to Ashby House after a year of being taken. Ruby never got along with her sister Nelle who seemed to be full of envy and jealousy towards her. Ruby was also married four times and all her husbands died. Did she kill them or did she just have bad luck in love?

The second one is from Camden. Ruby's adopted son. He was bullied while growing up by his cousin Ben and hated by Nelle. As soon as Ruby passed, Camden left for California. Leaving his inheritance behind and working as a teacher he is much happier especially when he meets his future wife, Jules. Then, he is summoned to come back to Ashby House after the passing of his step-uncle.

The third comes from Jules, Camden's wife. She can't wait to move into Ashby House. She feels they deserve the estate and they need to get rid of the people who made Camden's life hell. Yet, things are never that clear once they get there.

The Heiress is an atmospheric and full-of-intrigue novel with perfect-timing twists that had me turning the pages as fast as I could. A winner for sure!

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

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


The Guests by Margot Hunt

 

Title: The Guests
Author: Margot Hunt
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: January 9, 2024








From USA Today bestselling author Margot Hunt comes the chilling tale of what happens when a family besieged by a storm must play host to uninvited guests.

When a Category 5 hurricane is poised to hit their coastal Florida town, the Davies family takes refuge in their waterfront manse. Marlowe, Lee, and their teenage twins invite their close friends to wait out the storm in comfort and style.

Uninvited are the three strangers who dock on the family’s shore right before the storm descends. Brothers Jason and Bo—and Bo’s girlfriend, Darcy—are a charming, helpful trio in need of a safe haven that the Davies are only too happy to provide.

But as the storm outside grows more threatening, so does the tension in the house.

Soon, the lines between family, friends, and strangers blur. Danger mounts with every pointed finger and broken confidence, and long-held secrets are revealed one after another until only one truth not everyone is going to make it out alive.











A terrifying situation with deadly consequences.

As a category-5 hurricane approaches Florida, the Davies family is ready to spend it at their waterfront home. After all, the house was built with hurricane standards. Even if this is the wrong decision, it is too late to leave the premises. Traffic is at a standstill with all the people who are trying to evacuate. If they leave now, they will just be experiencing the hurricane winds on the road. Staying at their home should be safer or so they think until a boat carrying three strangers arrives uninvited at their dock.

Two brothers (Bo and Jason) and Bo's girlfriend Darcy join the Davies and their friends who are already in the house. As the storm rages, the possibility that the brothers showed up as a coincidence becomes doubtful and a more menacing plan seems to be in the works.

The Guests had a good amount of suspense and I felt bad for Marlowe and her kids. I was rooting for them to succeed in surviving the night.

I had some issues with the storyline and how naive some of the characters were. The end was too far-fetched for my taste which took some of the enjoyment away from the novel.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

 

Title: First Lie Wins
Author: Ashley Elston
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books | PENGUIN GROUP Viking
Release Date: January 4, 2024








Evie Porter has everything a nice, Southern girl could want: a perfect, doting boyfriend, a house with a white picket fence and a garden, a fancy group of friends. The only catch: Evie Porter doesn’t exist.

The identity comes to Evie Porter. Once she’s given a name and location by her mysterious boss Mr. Smith, she learns everything there is to know about the town and the people in it. Then the target: Ryan Sumner. The last piece of the puzzle is the job.

Evie isn’t privy to Mr. Smith’s real identity, but she knows this job will be different. Ryan has gotten under her skin, and she’s starting to envision a different sort of life for herself. But Evie can’t make any mistakes--especially after what happened last time.

Because the one thing she’s worked her entire life to keep clean, the one identity she could always go back to—her real identity—just walked right into this town. Evie Porter must stay one step ahead of her past while making sure there’s still a future in front of her. The stakes couldn't be higher--but then, Evie has always liked a challenge...












Perfectly crafted thriller!

Evie Porter is living the suburban life with her boyfriend, Ryan Sumner. She wishes for a garden and to have a place to call home. She can envision this future with Ryan.

The only problem is that she is not really Evie Porter.

Ryan is the next mark on Mr Smith's list. "Evie" has worked for Mr. Smith for the last few years and her identity is created and changed depending on what he wants from his targets. Evie is the best at what she does but Ryan has made her question her future.

A truly enjoyable thriller from the very first chapter. Ashley Elston has written a fast-paced, twisty-galore, and addictive story that kept me glued to the pages.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Pamela Dorman Books | PENGUIN GROUP Viking via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Please Tell Me by Mike Omer


Title: Please Tell Me
Author: Mike Omer
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: November 7, 2023








After a year in captivity, a kidnapped child escapes―only to reveal horrific truths that lead her psychologist on a race against time in this thriller from New York Times bestselling author Mike Omer.
When eight-year-old Kathy Stone turns up on the side of the road a year after her abduction, the world awaits her harrowing story. But Kathy doesn’t say a word. Traumatized by her ordeal, she doesn’t speak at all, not even to her own parents.

Child therapist Robin Hart is the only one who’s had success connecting with the girl. Robin has been using play therapy to help Kathy process her memories. But as their work continues, Kathy’s playtime takes a grim turn: a doll looks to stab another doll, a tiny figurine is chained to a plastic toy couch. All of these horrifying moments, enacted within a Victorian doll house. Every session, another toy dies.
But the most disturbing detail?

Kathy seems to be playacting real unsolved murders. Soon Robin wonders if Kathy not only holds the key to the murders of the past but if she knows something about the murders of the future.
Can Robin unlock the secrets in Kathy’s brain and stop a serial killer before he strikes again? Or is Robin’s work with Kathy putting her in the killer’s sights?












This had a disappointing ending.

The novel begins with a child, Kathy Stone, escaping capture. She had disappeared for a year when she was found wandering around the road at night. Her parents are ecstatic to get her back but Kathy has been non-verbal since returning. Her mother knows she must get help and she believes the local child therapist, Robin Hart, can help her.

Robin followed the case of Kathy's shocking disappearance like the rest of the town. When Kathy's mother asks her to help her daughter, Robin can't say no and takes the case. Robin wants to help Kathy and her play sessions are usually quite successful. As Kathy starts trusting Robin, the therapy process, and her own safety,  her reenactments become too real. It seems that Kathy is reenacting real murders!!

I have a few issues with the story and the characters.

Robin is supposed to be a great therapist but her relationship with her own mother is so dysfunctional and the whole thing with the dollhouse was nuts. Her behavior was beyond childish. You would think she would have learned some coping mechanisms to deal with her crazy mother. 

The worst was where the story went at the end. In my opinion, the big reveal was too out there to be believable.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Sunday, January 14, 2024

A Winter in New York by Josie Silver


Title: A Winter in New York 
Author: Josie Silver
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 3, 2023








A young chef stumbles on a secret family recipe that might lead her to the love—and life—she’s been looking for in this stunning novel.

When Iris decides to move to New York to restart her life, she realizes she underestimated how big the Big Apple really is—all the nostalgic movies set in New York she’d watched with her mom while eating their special secret-recipe gelato didn’t quite do it justice.

But Bobby, Iris’s best friend, isn’t about to let her hide away. He drags her to a famous autumn street fair in Little Italy, and as they walk through the food stalls, a little family-run gelateria catches her eye—could it be the same shop that’s in an old photo of her mother’s?

Curious, Iris returns the next day and meets the handsome Gio, who tells her that the shop is in danger of closing. His uncle, sole keeper of their family’s gelato recipe, is in a coma, so they can’t make more. When Iris samples the last remaining batch, she realizes that their gelato and her gelato are one and the same. But how can she tell them she knows their secret recipe when she’s not sure why Gio’s uncle gave it to her mother in the first place?

Iris offers her services as a chef to help them re-create the flavor and finds herself falling for Gio and his family. But when Gio’s uncle finally wakes up, all of the secrets Iris has been keeping threaten to ruin the new life—and new love—she’s been building all winter long.












Sweat in a gelato kind of way!

Iris was devastated after losing her mother to cancer. Then she moved to New York City after leaving London or escaping London should be a better way to describe it. She was in an abusive relationship and she finally was able to leave him behind.

Iris is a chef but in NYC, she is working in a noodle restaurant. Here is where she met Bobby, her friend who offered her a job and a place to stay. Iris doesn't go out much but when Bobby insists that she must go with him to the Little Italy's autumn fair, she can't say no. Her future changes when she stumbles into a family-owned gelateria with a door that seems familiar to her. She remembers the door from a picture her mother had. Her curiosity makes her return to it and walking inside she meets Gio, one of the family owners.

Gio is in dire straights. His gelateria might close soon. Santo his uncle and father figure had a stroke. Santo is the one who has the secret recipe for the famous vanilla gelato they have been serving for years. Unbeknownst to Gio, Iris knows the recipe and she has been making it for years. Her mother had been given the recipe years earlier by someone in Gio's family!

How can Iris help Gio without revealing secrets that could hurt him?

I liked the story. Gio was sweet and caring. His family was amazing. They all treated Iris so well. I also loved Bobby. He was there for Iris when she needed a helping hand.

I had some issues with Iris. I didn't like how many secrets she had and the lies she was keeping.

Overall, it was an enjoyable story.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

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


Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

 

Title: Thornhedge
Author: T. Kingfisher
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: August 15, 2023







Thornhedge is the tale of a kind-hearted, toad-shaped heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone completely sideways.

There's a princess trapped in a tower. This isn't her story.

Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?

But nothing with fairies is ever simple.

Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He's heard there's a curse here that needs breaking, but it's a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…












A nice way to retale Sleeping Beauty with a twist.

Toadling was taken by faeries when she was born. She was raised in the water in fairyland. She loved the monsters that lived there as her own family. Then, she is retaken from the water that she loves and told that she must be educated. Furthermore, she is told that she must go back to the human world and give a blessing to a child.

Due to her inexperience, the blessing she performs turns into a curse. As the years pass and the danger grows, Toadling decides to do what must be done to stop worse things from happening.

Centuries later, Toadling's isolation is interrupted when a knight stops by trying to break the curse. Toadling thinks he would be better off staying away but she can't seem to make him leave and starts looking forward to spending time with him. But can she let him break the curse?

I like the writing, the descriptions, and the main character, Toadling. Yet, I did feel like the end was underwhelming.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

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

The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson


Title: The Christmas Guest
Author: Peter Swanson
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: October 17, 2023








An American art student in London is invited to join a classmate for the holidays at Starvewood Hall, her family's Cotswold manor house. But behind the holly and pine boughs, secrets are about to unravel, revealing this seemingly charming English village's grim history.

Ashley Smith, an American art student in London for her junior year, was planning on spending Christmas alone, but a last-minute invitation from fellow student Emma Chapman brings her to Starvewood Hall, country residence of the Chapman family. The Cotswold manor house, festooned in pine boughs and crammed with guests for Christmas week, is a dream come true for Ashley. She is mesmerized by the cozy, firelit house, the large family, and the charming village of Clevemoor, but also by Adam Chapman, Emma's aloof and handsome brother.

But Adam is being investigated by the local police over the recent brutal slaying of a girl from the village, and there is a mysterious stranger who haunts the woodland path between Starvewood Hall and the local pub. Ashley begins to wonder what kind of story she is actually inhabiting. Is she in a grand romance? A gothic tale? Or has she wandered into something far more sinister and terrifying than she'd ever imagined?

Over thirty years later the events of that horrific week are revisited, along with a diary from that time. What began in a small English village in 1989 reaches its ghostly conclusion in modern-day New York, many Christmas seasons later.












This was a very creepy and successful novella!

Ashley Smith is an American girl studying art in London for her junior year. She has no family after the death of her mother. Not having many choices, Ashley is prepared to spend the holidays alone when a classmate, Emma Chapman invites her to stay at her family home, Starwood Hall.  

Ashley is more excited about the trip after meeting Ashley's twin brother, Adam. The days spent in Starwood Hall are full of family, games, food, and the local bars.  Ashley finds herself falling for Adam. He is charismatic and spending time in his company is exciting to Ashley until she discovers that Adam is the prime suspect in the murder of a local woman who looks like her. 

In the blink of an eye, this goes from being a romance to becoming a horror novel.

The Christmas Guest is an atmospheric novella with engaging characters and I couldn't wait to see how it all ended.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Rough Country by John Sandford
Virgil Flowers #3

 

Title: Rough Country
Series: Virgil Flowers #3
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: September 29, 2009








Virgil Flowers has always been known for having a somewhat active, er, social life, but he's probably not going to be getting too many opportunities during his new case. While competing in a fishing tournament in northern Minnesota, he gets a call from Lucas Davenport to investigate a murder at a nearby resort where a woman has been shot while kayaking.

The resort is for women only, a place to relax, get fit, recover from plastic surgery, commune with nature, and while it didn't start out to be a place mostly for those with Sapphic inclinations, that's pretty much what it is today.

Which makes things more complicated for Virgil because, as he begins investigating, he finds connections between people at the resort and some local women, notably a talented country singer. The more he digs, the more he discovers arrows of suspicion that point in many directions, with many motives: jealousy, blackmail, greed, anger, and fear. Then he discovers that this is not the first murder, that there was a second, seemingly unrelated, the year before. And that there's about to be a third, definitely related. As to a fourth... well, Virgil better hope he can catch the killer before that happens. Because it could be his own.

Librarian's note: as of 2021, there are 13 volumes in the author's Virgil Flowers series. The last was published in April 2021. It is part of the "Prey" series but Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers share the billing - "Ocean Prey."












Ok, now I'm starting to really like this series.

As a fan of the Lucas Davenport series, it was hard not to compare the two series. The end result was Virgil's falling short every time.

It pays to trust the author. In the first two books, I was missing the funny one-liners and the banter Lucas has with everyone. In Rough Country, we finally get Virgil showing some of the same.

Now to the story:

The novel begins with Virgil on vacation. He is participating in a fishing tournament when Lucas calls and assigns him a new job. A woman has been killed while canoeing. As soon as he gets there, many become suspects. It's up to Virgil to figure out who is behind the murder.

I can't wait to start the next one.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Good Girls Don’t Die by Christina Henry

 



Title: Good Girls Don’t Die
Author: Christina Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 14, 2023








A sharp-edged, supremely twisty thriller about three women who find themselves trapped inside stories they know aren’t their own, from the author of Alice and Near the Bone.

Celia wakes up in a house that’s supposed to be hers. There’s a little girl who claims to be her daughter and a man who claims to be her husband, but Celia knows this family—and this life—is not hers…

Allie is supposed to be on a fun weekend trip—but then her friend’s boyfriend unexpectedly invites the group to a remote cabin in the woods. No one else believes Allie, but she is sure that something about this trip is very, very wrong…

Maggie just wants to be home with her daughter, but she’s in a dangerous situation and she doesn’t know who put her there or why. She’ll have to fight with everything she has to survive…

Three women. Three stories. Only one way out. This captivating novel will keep readers guessing until the very end.












I got to say it, this was fantastic!

I know some readers didn't like the ending and I kind of agree with it but I loved the book so much and would love to see it as a movie.

Three women's destinies can be cut short unless they can survive what is coming for them.

The first woman we are introduced to is Celia. She wakes up one morning in a house she doesn't recognize, with a daughter she doesn't remember giving birth to and a husband with whom she doesn't feel any connection at all. The only thing that seems to bring a spark of recognition, is the restaurant she is working at. Cooking relaxes her and she knows how to do it. Her life makes no sense to her and she is pretty sure that this is NOT her life. Why can't she remember her past?

The second woman is Allie. She is in her twenties. She is supposed to spend her birthday at the beach with her two best friends. However, the two friends's boyfriends have decided to show up too. Worse while the girls were sleeping instead of going to the beach, they woke up in a remote cabin. Why are they there? And who is out there stalking them?

Third but not least is Maggie. She is abducted from her home. She finds herself in a container with other women who have been abducted as well. Men come in and the women are told that they need to enter a maze and survive it if they want to live and see their loved ones again. Maggie can only think about her child. She must survive at all costs.

You can feel the tension while reading Good Girls Don't Die. The sense that time was running out and their lives were at stake. I liked all three women. They were survivors and despite their horrible circumstances, they were going to fight until the end for their freedom.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

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