Posted in Book Reviews

Book Spotlight: The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker

SYNOPSIS: Ever since her husband’s death collided with the birth of her daughter, postpartum depression has taken hold of Veronica Shelton. She can’t sleep, can’t work, and can’t bear to touch her beautiful baby girl. Her emotional state is whispering lies in Veronica’s ear: You’re a bad mother. Your baby would be better off without you. But not everything can be reasoned away by Veronica’s despair. Can it?
After all, the break-in at her house happened. The disturbing sketches she found in her studio are real. So is the fear for her daughter’s safety—especially when Veronica comes home to a cold, silent nursery and a missing baby.
As she turns from victim into primary suspect, Veronica realizes that only she can find her daughter. Authorities aren’t helping. They’re only watching. Veronica’s concerned mother has suddenly vanished from her life. And a new friend seems to be keeping secrets from her too. Now, reality is waiting for Veronica in a dark place—because someone’s mind games have only just begun.

MY THOUGHTS: Often we can figure out the course of a book within the first chapter. That was not the case with this book. I was completely wrong with how I thought it was going to go.
The best adjective I can use to describe this book is creepy. From start to finish, it was creepy. It wasn’t the kind of creepy that you get from watching an episode of Discovery ID but it was creepy none the less.
The main character is incredibly difficult to like. She’s the type of person you probably wouldn’t be friends with because she just puts you off. Her mannerisms, her dialogue, her attitude – all give you the feeling that there’s more there than you know.
The mystery suspense component is awesome. I really wanted to continue reading and was aggravated when I had to stop. Mostly, I had no idea how it was going to end up and I desperately wanted to know.
It is a good book. But it will stay with you after you’re done reading it. I give it 4 stars because it’s original and creepy, but it still seems to be missing a little something that I can’t quite put my finger on.
I would still recommend it to be read.
The synopsis belongs solely to the author publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Spotlight: Girls’ Night Out: Liz Fenton , Lisa Steinke

SYNOPSIS: 

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

MY THOUGHTS: It’s been a while since I was so engrossed in a novel that I read it every chance I had. But, I did just that with ‘Girls’ Night Out’. As the memories and realities of the ladies’ lives are revealed, the mystery just deepens and deepens. Each of the women is an awful friend and each has their own demons to fight. But, every time I thought I knew the plot, it twisted again.

Our authors expertly went back and forth, each chapter belonging to one of the three women main characters, never missing a beat. There were AHA moments and wow factors galore. But, the whole thing may make you rethink and trips you may have in the works.

Even the end itself blew my mind. The author duo also penned ‘The Good Widow‘ which was great, too. They work incredibly well together. I certainly hope they’ll collaborate again soon. ‘Girls’ Night Out’ is worth every bit of a 5 star rating.

*Synopsis belongs solely to the author/publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews

River Road: Carol Goodman

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Nan Lewis has had enough heart ache to last a lifetime. Losing a child is never easy. Losing them to a violent death is even worse. Nan’s Emmy was taken from her by a drunk driver. Seven years later, Nan faces an eerily similar situation.

While walking home from a party, Nan’s favorite student, Leia, is struck & killed in a hit & run. Unlike Emmy’s story though, Nan is the prime suspect. Knowing that the circumstantial evidence is piling up around her, the only thing Nan has to hold on to is the knowledge that she didn’t do it. In the court of public opinion, she’s already been convicted. Now she must fight an uphill battle to clear her name & get what’s left of her life back.

‘River Road’ crosses a number of genres. Mystery, suspense, thriller, & even a bit of romance are all twirled together to make one superb novel. Carol Goodman also hits a number of social issues with fictional characters who could definitely be real people. Alcoholism, drug addiction, social class discrimination- none of them are easy, feel-good topics. But, our author doesn’t shy away from them. Instead, she uses the good & bad to show the good & bad in everyone. No one is immune from battling them or being victimized by them.

The plot was definitely tricky to navigate at some points. Just when I thought it was over, there was another loop. It made for a darkly fun read. Our heroine, Nan, is easily likeable but just as easily detestable. In other words, she’s uncomfortably real. Readers will feel as if they have the whole book figured out and then sadly realize they don’t. Plots such as this are what keep mystery/thrillers exciting! My only complaint would be that there are a few places that got a bit wordy. Other than that, it definitely provides a surprise ending many won’t be expecting.

Carol Goodman has done a fantastic job with ‘River Road’. It’s easily a 5 star novel.

Sensitive readers: there is some strong language, sexual scenes (pretty tame by today’s standards), and minimal violence. None of that is a deal-breaker for this book because it’s not overly done.

Posted in Book Reviews

Five Days in May: Ninie Hammon

In a Women’s Prison in Oklahoma, Princess has five days left to live. Having readily admitted her guilt, she’s served fourteen years for murdering her two-year old sister. As a part of the death sentence process, she’s granted time with a spiritual advisor to make peace. That is when she meets Mac.

Mac is a local minister who recently became a single parent when his wife lost her battle with breast cancer. Raising a teenager is hard enough, but Joy is slipping away as he grieves. Joy, herself, is struggling. Granted, she just lost her mom, but when she finds out she is about to become one herself, she contemplates her options. Pregnant teens in the ’60s were expected to be pure & Joy is terrified.

Equally terrified is Jonas, Joy’s grandfather. His wife Maggie is slipping away with Alzheimer’s. Just as Joy is debating ending a life, Jonas wonders if Maggie would be better off. Violent outbursts & toddler-like behavior are too much for him to bear. Neither Joy nor Jonas confide in Pastor Mac. Princess, however, wants to talk to him.

At the warden’s request, Mac visits Princess. Expecting the worst, he instead finds a woman who has endured beyond belief & has a supernatural talent for knowing things she shouldn’t know. Many in the prison can testify that Princess has foretold events that they later witnessed exactly as she’d said. unbeknownst to him, Mac is about to see it for himself, firsthand. Time is definitely not on their side with a mere five days ahead. Unloading all she knows could take Princess years.

None of us knows the number of days left in our lives, usually, & the folks in Mac’s small town think they have all the time in the world. While Princess prepares for eternity, Graham, Oklahoma is about to meet the Reaper in the form of a massive tornado. Can Princess, Mac, Jonas & Joy get their affairs in order before ‘The Big Ugly’ hits Oklahoma?

‘Five Days in May’ is a touching story of grace & redemption as well as sacrifice. So far, this has been my favorite from the author. Each character could easily be identified with by readers. The plot is fresh & packed with suspense.

One word of caution: the era involved is during the beginnings of desegregation. One particular character is the epitome of racism & uses despicable language.

Despite this, I found it nearly impossible to put the book down. I got so caught up in the characters that I genuinely wanted to know how the whole story came together. Switching between character points of view, our author allows us to truly connect.

I would definitely recommend this one with a 5 star rating.

Posted in Book Reviews

The Inn At Ocean’s Edge: Colleen Coble

_225_350_Book.1563.coverTwenty-five years ago, a little girl went missing. One year after her disappearance, she simply returned with her name on a note, pinned to her dress. At the time of her disappearance, she’d been attending her own birthday party. Hotel Tourmaline was where her family was vacationing at that time & it was where she reappeared. Claire is now twenty-five years older & has no recollection of her year away. Having to return to the Hotel to broker a merger, memories are sparked. When she witnesses a murder, she has no doubt that bad things continue to occur here.

Twenty-five years ago, a woman heard crying in the woods near her home. Not willing to forgo helping a child, she enters the woods & never returns. Most folks in town believed she’d run away from her husband & his cranberry farm. Her children believe something sinister happened to her. Now grown, her children cannot forget her memory. Luke & Meg Rocco have suspicions about their father. When a storm unearths bones, they brace themselves for the inevitable.

A chance meeting places the Rocco’s & Claire in each other’s lives. Luke & Meg remember the stories surrounding young Claire’s disappearance. Beautiful Claire has caught Luke’s full attention & he eagerly agrees to help her piece together her childhood. Too many coincidences exist between the story of Claire & the disappearance of Mrs. Rocco. But, as the three work together, more strange & violent incidents occur. Someone doesn’t want either side to know the truth. Wading through betrayals, lies, & family ties, they know the truth is there somewhere.

Colleen Coble is a new author for me. I was impressed with the twists & turns of the plot. It too a while for me to piece together what had happened. That’s rare & I like that. The plot is unique & well done.

My only issue with the novel is the interaction between the main characters in many places. The Sheriff’s flippant attitude towards such violence in a small town was confusing. Claire seemed like the type of woman who tries too hard to be well liked. With her affluence, she shouldn’t have appeared so weak especially considering she worked to broker mergers with high-powered clients.

However, these instances are enough to detract from a well-written mystery. I give it a 4 star rating.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Book Reviews

Lethal Beauty: Lis Wiehl

_225_350_Book.1519.coverNew York Times Best-Selling Author, Lis Wiehl, brings back King County prosecutor, Mia Quinn in her newest mystery.
Anyone who’s watched the news lately knows that immigration is a hot topic. It’s hardly a secret that there are a number of immigrants in the US illegally & some have been brought here deceptively. ‘Lethal Beauty’ revolves around illegal immigration.
Mia Quinn is prosecuting a case involving a pillar of the community accused of killing a young prostitute. To Mia, it’s a no-brainer, but the case is proving difficult nonetheless. Wanting justice for this young girl, Mia pours herself into the case. Juggling it plus a household isn’t easy. Gabe, her son, has become increasingly agitated & she’s beginning to wonder if is really is normal teenaged angst. As if that’s not enough, the body of a second undocumented immigrant has been found.
Unfortunately, Mia believes him to be an Asian man she tried to help once. Trying to positively identify him won’t be easy. But, as she & Charlie begin their search, they soon realize what a Pandora’s box they’ve opened. With all the plated she has spinning, Mia can’t afford to drop one. Racing against the clock, it seems she’ll have to solve all 3 mysteries at once.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Lis Wiehl. I’ve seen her often as a Fox News Contributor & admire her insight. Her Mia Quinn series is enjoyable, clean, & well-written. As a heroine, Mia is a mix of the ‘normal’ working mom & a devoted employee. Someone we can all relate to. Having read all books in the series, I have to say that this wasn’t as noteworthy as the first book.
It’s a quality novel & worth a read, but that ‘wow’ factor just wasn’t there for me this time. Still, I look forward to the next installment. It’s a 4 star rating.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Wilderness Rising: A.L. Shields

_225_350_Book.1564.cover

Most people recognize the name ‘Pilate’. More than a name, he infamously washed his hands of Jesus’ crucifixion. Truth be told, not a whole lot is known of him apart from this event. But, his role in Jesus’ life made him famous, regardless.

In ‘Wilderness Rising’, we find that many highly influential people are talking about Pontius Pilate. According to legend, Pilate penned thoughts, specifically about Jesus, onto a piece of stone. Supposedly the ‘Pilate Stone’ had been hidden for centuries.

Two powerful factions are competing to be the first to find the stone. Caught in the middle is Bethany Barclay. Having been framed or bombings & murder, Bethany has lost several loved ones to these warring groups. Now, she’s been tasked by one group with finding the stone in order to save another life. Call it life insurance or pure manipulation, finding it is also her only chance to remain alive.

With the Garden on one side & the Wilderness on the other, it’s hard to know who she can trust. For the Garden, the mission is to protect the Church. Wilderness members are atheists who wish to discredit all those associated with any religion. Each faction has a purpose for the stone. Following clues left by a deceased friend, killed during the groups’ activities, Bethany heads to Europe.

Still a fugitive regarding the murders & bombing. she’s on the lam. Dodging police, outrunning hired killers, & seeking out Biblical scholars are no easy task. If the stone does truly exist, can she find it before she, too, becomes history?

Book 2 in the Church Builder Series, ‘Wilderness Rising’ can certainly stand alone. What sets it apart from other books on Biblical archaeology is the relic. Although I’ve read many in that genre, I haven’t encountered Pilate as the center.

Conspiracy theories involving networks of influential people -good & bad- isn’t new territory. However, the way they’re portrayed is fresh. Throughout the plot, we see errors on both sides. Christians aren’t portrayed as perfect. Atheists are shown to have a conscience. Bethany is a perfect lead who doesn’t follow either side nor is she led around by the nose. Cautious & intelligent, she makes a great heroine.

If you love conspiracy theories and/or Biblical archaeology, this novel is perfect for you. I will be watching for the next installment. Beautifully done & realistic, I give it a perfect 5 stars.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.