#BookReview: The Revenge List by Hannah Mary McKinnon

If We Don’t Get A Sequel, We Riot! Or we at least start jokingly pestering McKinnon until she finally caves and gives us the sequel this story demands. And I in particular have a history with more than one author of eventually getting my way in these matters – through nothing more than constant begging. ๐Ÿ˜€ Read this book, and join my campaign!

Seriously though y’all, this book starts out a touch slow ish – Frankie is in anger management and meets a guy. But as things start to pick up, they *really* start to pick up. Then, it appears that McKinnon has shot her shot a touch early and we get into almost a Return of The King situation (where the ending begins to feel long and drawn out for no obvious reason)… except those last few pages. That is where you’re going to join my campaign to demand a sequel from McKinnon, and we will eventually win this battle and get our sequel.

One of McKinnon’s better books – which is saying quite a bit in and of itself, as McKinnon really is a masterful storyteller across all the books I’ve read from her – and I do believe the first I’ve ever demanded a sequel from. Yes, the story and particular its ending are that compelling. Very much recommended.

This review of The Revenge List by Hannah Mary McKinnon was originally written on January 13, 2023.

#BookReview: The Retreat by Nicola Marsh

More Dual-Timeline Suspense Than Hotel California. For whatever reason, I went into this book thinking it would be some level of Hotel California type story. Maybe the whole “bed and breakfast where people seem to wind up dead” thing? Just to clarify for anyone who may be getting that vibe as well… this is not that, not really. Instead it is more of a dual timeline suspense with secrets and connections both obvious and not. A lot of people are tossing around the word “gothic”, but I’m not quite sure I personally picked up on that. But maybe I’m just not as certain of what a “gothic” story is supposed to be? Regardless, this was truly a well written and well told story, one that is both compelling and creepy enough to keep the reader engaged without being so over the top as to compel the reader to throw the book out the nearest window (which is even rougher on Kindles than it is on paper books, just sayin’). As I’ve noted with at least a couple of other authors who normally do romance books (as Marsh is more known for) but who open themselves up to more suspense/ thriller/ etc… Marsh does a truly excellent job in both spaces, and seeing her expand her stories into these new (to her) spaces is quite interesting and a mark of a strong storyteller regardless of chosen genre. Very much recommended.

This review of The Retreat by Nicola Marsh was originally written on January 13, 2023.

#BlogTour: His Secret Daughter by Melissa Wiesner

For this blog tour, we’re looking at one of the most realistic domestic mystery/ thrillers I’ve ever encountered. For this blog tour, we’re looking at His Secret Daughter by Melissa Wiesner.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

What Would You Do? Wiesner does a tremendous job here of making a realistic, grounded mystery from a tragic yet all too real setup. Everything else flows fairly naturally here, and all of the character motivations are again all too real. (Particularly as someone who has experienced some version of some of the things that would be a spoiler to reveal, even these sections are, sadly, all too common.) And yes, the ending, while not something everyone will *want* to happen… is again, very, very realistic given the story to that point. Ultimately this really is one of the most realistic domestic mystery/ suspense books I’ve ever encountered – and I don’t know if that is an indictment on the genre or a praise of Wiesner. ๐Ÿ˜€ Truly a great read, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and sales links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: His Secret Daughter by Melissa Wiesner”

#BookReview: No More Secrets by Kerry Lonsdale

Satisfying Conclusion. Let’s be clear up front: This is absolutely one of those trilogies where you need to read the books in order to both avoid spoilers and to understand all that is going on. So go read No More Words and No More Lies before you read this book – and then be glad you bought all three of them at once, because unlike certain apparently masochistic advance reader copy readers, you had the wisdom to wait until the entire trilogy was available to read this book. Because this entire trilogy is one where you’re going to want the next book *now*, and at least with this concluding chapter, all is revealed – finally – and everything comes to a satisfying conclusion for all characters. Not that I’m going to reveal what those conclusions were for anyone in this review, but Lonsdale does do a solid job of wrapping up the trilogy.

In this particular tale, we finally find out what has been motivating Lucas all along, where he ran off to and why, and yet again we also get a satisfying “solo adventure” before the siblings from the first two books intersect with the tale once again. Truly a compelling series, and truly a compelling “solo” tale here. Very well executed, with near perfect pacing throughout. With this latest trilogy complete, and with it a bit of a break from the types of tales Lonsdale was telling quite a bit before this, it will be interesting to see where Lonsdale goes from here – she has proven quite conclusively that she doesn’t need the “crutch” her previous stories were almost beginning to seem like they were leaning on, and now that she has the sky is truly the limit. This book, this trilogy, and this author are all very much recommended.

This review of No More Secrets by Kerry Lonsdale was originally written on January 3, 2023.

#BookReview: The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding

Innovative Use Of Multi-Perspective. This is one of those tales that repeats itself a decent amount – something like 50-60% or so of the text is the same events through two different perspectives, each providing their own wrinkles. It is within the back third that the overall tale really begins to take off, and is quite explosive in its own right. Quite a few twists and turns – some even bigger than the ones we’ve already experienced to this point – occur through this section, and indeed at times it feels like we may be going a much darker direction (of a couple of different variants) than we ultimately do. Indeed, the ending itself is quite reminiscent of a particular 90s era movie, but revealing which movie would likely be a significant spoiler, so I’ll just point the reader of the review in that direction and allow them to figure it out for themselves. Ultimately a fun book that raises some challenging points without ever being preachy about them. Very much recommended.

This review of The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding was originally written on December 23, 2022.

#BookReview: The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan

Slow, Slow, Slow – And Then A NASCAR Race Through The Mountains. This is one of those mysteries that perhaps spends a bit *too* much time in the “setup” phase, letting us get comfortable with – though never *too* comfortable with – an unlikely budding friendship. Then, in its final quarter or so, the twists and turns and flips and flops and zigs and zags come so rapidly paced that it will feel like someone let loose a NASCAR race on the roads of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (Some of the twistiest roads I’ve ever personally driven, for those who don’t quite get where I’m going there. :D) Ultimately it all works and works great together, if a bit tried and true in its ultimate design. Still, the process of getting there was new-ish and done quite well. Very much recommended.

This review of The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan was originally written on December 23, 2022.

#BlogTour: Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke

For this blog tour we’re looking at one of the better trilogy-ending books I’ve ever come across, as everything in this tale is geared at telling its own tale *within the context* of wrapping up the entire trilogy. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

All Will Be Revealed. In this conclusion to the Brambleberry Creek story, series-running questions are answered, series-running plans are executed, and everyone gets some form of their happy ending. Thus making this a perfect trilogy-ending book. Yet again on the shorter side at 273 pages, Bromke manages to pack quite a few laughs, a few tears, and even a touch of steam into a generally shorter tale – and, again, manages to wrap everything up while doing so. Truly an excellent series and an excellent endpoint to that series, with a solid send-off to boot. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke”

#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane

For this blog tour we’re looking at a tale where the author can *finally* combine “both halves” of who she is as a storyteller. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Slight Departure From Lane’s Typical Approach, Same Great Storytelling. I think this may be the first dual timeline book I’ve encountered from Lane, who normally writes historical fiction – mostly WWII – under this name. Here, we get a WWII story… but it serves to fill in the holes of the current day mystery, which is the other timeline. This is potentially an excellent starter that does well to both set up a series *and* combine “both” sides of Lane’s storytelling – she also writes actual romance stories as her name without the “M” middle initial, and the romance/ women’s fiction element here is particularly strong in *both* timelines. Which arguably makes this Lane’s strongest book to date, as she is finally able to combine her components into one full “self”. Truly an outstanding work, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane”

#BookReview: A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi

All Too Real Story Of Sisters And Family. Finishing this book early on my own brother’s birthday, when between the three brothers we actually have at least some similar events happening in our own lives as what the sisters go through here has been… interesting. Even for those without such a direct personal connection though, this is a strong tale of sisters, family, suppositions, realities, and learning to love and forgive even after years apart and deep misunderstandings. Yet again Nolfi does a tremendous job with the topics she chooses to write about, and while somewhat rare in some cases, everything she includes here is all too real for at least some people. This is a fictional story of real heartbreak and of real ways of finding oneself even at times when others think that you either have it all or have nothing at all, and Nolfi manages to explore these ideas with her usual skill. Yet again a great book for any readers who may be new to her, even if the ultimate topic is yet another publisher-directed fad. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Seriously, without giving the topic at hand away, let’s just say that there have been at least a handful of books also from Amazon Publishing covering it in their own ways over the last couple of years in particular. :D) Still, read *this* one. Nolfi puts her own spin on it and really emphasizes the full family with all of its benefits and detriments, and she really pulls everything off quite well. And hey, guys… there’s even some minimal baseball in here. (Though Phillies, *really*, Christine? #GoBraves #ChopOn!) Very much recommended.

This review of A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi was originally written on September 20, 2022.

#BookReview: A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre

Almost Two Semi-Tightly Coupled Novellas. This book is a strange one in that it is almost two separate novellas that are somewhat tightly coupled (with the second one using the same characters and playing off the events in the first one), but which are otherwise fairly distinct in both style and tone. In the first half of this book, it is more of a domestic suspense where we get a countdown every so often of how long is left until someone dies. Then, suddenly, a random perspective we’ve yet encountered… and this person discovers a body. This is effectively the prologue of the second novella, and from here we get more of a crime thriller where the reader is trying to figure out who the killer actually is even as various people reveal themselves to be on one side of the law or another and the two sides eventually converge with interesting and explosive results. Overall, the complete tale works, almost in a Without Remorse (the original Clancy, not the bastardized movie form) manner where you need the first half to make any real sense of the second half. An interesting tale and told using some rare mechanics. Very much recommended.

This review of A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre was originally written on September 19, 2022.