THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET by DIANE CHAMBERLAIN

The Last House on the Street

Some history, a little mystery and a lot of prejudice!

Told in two times, this story takes one of the characters, Ellie Hockley, and tells her story from 1965. A time when I watched the world through a child’s eyes. I was a child of the deep south and integration didn’t come for longer that it should have. The Voting Rights Act was passed and the SCOPE program was put into motion to help black people register to vote and to know their rights.

It was dangerous work. Work that did get people killed. Remember Mississippi? But against everyone’s advice and threats, Ellie has joined up to help. Her story and her character were very well done.

In 2010 Kayla and her daughter are moving into the house she designed with her husband. He died before the house was finished in an accident. There seem to be a lot of accidents around. But really this is Round Hill, North Carolina. What could possibly be so frightening about her house?

When a scary-looking old lady tells her not to move into the house, she is already shakey on that so maybe she will sell it.

In the end, they move in. Her next-door neighbor is Ellie Hockley and she is very helpful and welcoming. She also has secrets. A lot of secrets.

This book doesn’t clean up the past. I like that. I lived through this period as a child and it was just this bad. There is a lot of violence and prejudice and just plain meanness in here. And that is okay with me because it happened. And if we ever forget it we will repeat it. And right now this is a good time to read this book!

NetGalley/January 11th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

RECKLESS GIRLS by RACHEL HAWKINS

Reckless Girls

Remember The Wife Upstairs? Well, Ms. Hawkins is back with another movie worthy book!

It took me a bit to warm up to Lux and Nico. Okay, I never liked Nico. Lux was a very sympathetic character. So let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Lux has spent a few years caring for her dying mother. Her parents divorced long ago and her father found a new family. She has a lot of bad energy about that. After her mother dies, she is adrift. Having nothing and no prospects,she is at her lowest when she meets Nico.

Nico is a rich and troubled playboy who is about surface deep. When he asks Lux to go to Maui with him aboard his boat she jumps at the chance. And you just know she should not do this.

,In Maui Nico is approached by two young women who offer a lot of money to be taken to Meroe Island. Yes, it is as creepy as the name implies. Supposedly used during WWII and the subject of a lot of suspicious stories, this island is anything but inviting.

But they could use the money to repair the boat and the girls, who say they are college friends, seem friendly, so on they go.

On arrival they find they aren’t alone. Meet Eliza and her boyfriend,Jake. They have a beautiful boat and plenty of booze and food. Very quickly they become close. Until someone else arrives and threatens to break up their idyllic vacation. And when he and his boat disappear they are relieved. And that is when everything goes awry.

Everyone here has secrets. Some deadly. No one is really who they say they are. And some of them are more than willing to kill to keep them.

This was a twisty, mind screw! And I loved every page of it!

NetGalley/January 4th, 2022 by St. Martin’s

THE SORORITY MURDER by ALLISON BRENNAN

The Sorority Murder

A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions. 

Lucas Vega seems to be a bit obsessed with the death of sorority girl, Candace Swain. Candace was at a party one night and nowhere the next. And while her body was found two weeks later, it was discovered she didn’t drown in the lake she was found in. And she had been alive quite a bit of time.

Now Lucas is creating a podcast for his capstone project and re-opening the case and asking for people to call in with anything they remember about that night. Lucas has a bit more insight into the case as he worked in the medical examiner’s office and knows some unreleased information. But the cops aren’t listening and the Sorority has closed ranks. Threatening any member who talks to him.

When his advisor introduces him to Regan Merritt, a former US Marshall and a mother who recently had her child murdered. She isn’t home to help anyone but herself. However, something about Lucas and his podcast captures her attention. She agrees to be interviewed and review the case.

Then people start dying. Someone is desperately trying to cover something up. And when tips begin coming in they know they have something. Especially when a caller ends up dead. The cops seem to be sketchy as well. With the help of Regan, Lucas may be able to share his own secret and help figure out who is killing people and why?

I enjoyed the way we would hear Rachel’s voice in her journal. There was just enough there to make you wonder. I made a lot of wrong guesses and would never have guessed that ending. What a fresh and twisty new murder mystery to solve.

It kept me up way past my bedtime!

NetGalley/December 28th, 2021 by MIRA





 

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR by ELLY GRIFFITHS

The Midnight Hour (Brighton Mysteries)

The Brighton Mysteries

Elly Griffiths is also the author of the Dr. Ruth Galloway series,which is one of my favorites.

It’s 1965 in Brighton. Emma and Sam have set up their Detective Agency and have their first big case. Impresario Bert Billington is found dead. When the results return and they learn he was poisoned, his wife, Verity Malone, who was also a theater performer, hires Emma and Sam to find out who did this and keep her name out of it.

Lucky for Emma they have Max Mephisto on the inside to push for information. Interestingly he is in town filming Dracula along with Verity’s son, Seth.

There were so many people who looked guilty! You could tell they were all hiding something, but does that something have anything to do with the case? I am most definitely happy I was not an adult woman in the ’60s. I remember my mother reading The Feminine Mystique and finding it and reading it myself. I didn’t understand most of it,but I knew I did not want to be one of those wives.

I especially enjoyed when Emma would just pop her little boy on her hip and go interview suspects. Although eventually Edgar stepped up and pulled some weight.

I also enjoyed seeing Meg become bolder.

This is Cozy with a Bite! And I loved it!

NetGalley/ November 2nd, 2021 Mariner (formerly HMH)









UNSAFE HAVEN by LUCY BURDETTE

Unsafe Haven

A chance meeting on the New York subway leads to the destinies of two very different women becoming intertwined with terrifying consequences in this nerve-jangling thriller.

Addie is sixteen, pregnant, and trying to escape a situation that unfortunately a lot of runaway girls are tricked into. Trying desperately to get to what she thinks is her savior, Rafe. And as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, she’s about to give birth in the subway toilets.

Terrified and not knowing what to do she stumbles out to the subway platform with baby and placenta wrapped in a coat.

Elizabeth Brown should be getting married but that isn’t happening now. Time to go home to lick her wounds and return wedding gifts. As she walks up from the subway a young girl runs to her and thrusts the baby into Elizabeth’s arms with just a whispered,” I can’t take care of her” and then runs.

Elizabeth is a med student and to say she is shocked is an understatement. She finds a phone number in the pocket of the coat and calls it. Something she will soon come to regret. Addie isn’t running from one person, they all want that baby and murder may be the way to get her.

This was an excellent transition from Burdette’s cozy mysteries! She has amped up the suspense and left us biting our fingernails and reading past our bedtimes! Well worth it!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by Severn House Publishers

Personally, I am a big fan of Lucy’s Key West Food Critic Cozy Mystery Series. Who knew she had a darker side? Very well done and I hope we see more!


NO SHADOW WITHOUT LIGHT by LUKE GRACIAS

No Shadow Without Light

The long-awaited sequel to The Devil’s Prayer.

On 06/06/06, the world’s population crossed 6.66 billion. Any further increase could only occur at the cost of other species and future generations.

The rise of the population has reached critical mass. This in turn has triggered the Devil’s Game. A hunt around the world for twelve missing pages of the Devil’s Bible which holds the Devil’s Prayer.

It is a game with very real consequences. Jess Russo, daughter of Denise and sister to Siobhan, is also the daughter of the devil. After her mother’s murder, the hunt began for the pages she had stolen. Every time Jess releases a page chaos ensues. This is a real game of good versus evil.

Siobhan is in a race with her sister to find the pages and release them before mankind disappears. And while she and a lot of very interesting characters are on the hunt, someone is hunting her.

This one had everything. Templars, Doomsday Chest, and tombs of Amir Temur and all the way to Wuhan.

I had to read this slowly. There was a lot to digest and think about. To be honest I’m still thinking about it. The end was a total surprise.

A very timely read and I would highly recommend it!


NetGalley/October 4th ,2021 by Authors Upfront


MADAM by PHOEBE WYNNE

Madam

Light a fire they can’t put out…

This story takes place in Scotland. High on a cliff, stands Caldonbrae Hall. Built 150 years ago by Lord William Hope to become a boarding school for girls. He had a lot of them. With names like Temperance, Charity, and on and on.

The goal of the school is to turn out girls who are educated and ready to fulfill their role in society.

When Rose, a young Classics teacher is hired to work there she is shocked by the invitation and honored, as she is the first new hire in about 10 years.

At this point you want to ask yourself why. And it will become abundantly clear.

The girls are not at all interested in learning anything and there is quite a mystery over Rose’s predecessor. She may or may not have had an inappropriate relationship to a student or she may have just moved, no one will say and the girls aren’t even looking at her.

Rose should have listened to her own instincts and never come to Scotland, but now she’s in and it is made clear that she is going nowhere. With overt threats about her mother and the town people hating all of them, she is truly alone.

At first I thought maybe this was a ghost school. Where everyone is dead except Rose. The girls were rude and cruel to her and each other. When they finally tell her why they are all there, she is horrified and sets out to right the situation.

I have to say I did not care for Rose at all. She was rather slow in the beginning and I thought about skipping to the end as it just plodded along.

This may be a great Netflix, Handmaid’s Tale type of thing but the book itself bored me to death. This isn’t feminism at all. More like sex trafficking.

NetGalley/ May 18, 2021 St. Martin’s Press



HER PERFECT LIFE by HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN

Her Perfect Life

Meet Lily Atwood. Famous television reporter with everything going for her. Money, awards, a producer who does her every bidding and a seven-year-old daughter who is adorable! Her life is perfect. Maybe. But secrets have a way of coming out at the most inconvenient of times. And Lily is keeping some big ones.

Lily now has an anonymous source feeding her stories. The stories pan out but the source becomes questionable when he begins feeding Lily information about herself. Who is this person and what do they know about her?

It becomes clear that someone is playing with her life. Does it have anything to do with the disappearance of her sister years ago? Or maybe her child’s father come to haunt her? With literally no one to trust she will have to trust her gut and maybe one other person. Maybe.

This was a twisty one. A total mind screw. With Ryan, it’s always a thrill ride as you try and untangle the knots of intrigue!

NetGalley/September 14th, 2021 by Forge Books



Whisper Cottage by Anne Wyn Clark

Whisper Cottage

How well do you know the woman next door? 



-Stina and Jack are expecting a baby. So they move out of the city to Avoncote. In a rather shabby but cute semi-detached cottage. There is a lot of work to be done on the cottage beginning with the re-thatching of the roof. And since they are joined to their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Barley, hers will be done as well.

It’s while the men work on the roof that they find a bizarre find in the chimney next door. mummified cats. And then the odd noises in the night begin. And the questions. Why is everyone in town afraid of Mrs. Barley? Is she just a nice old lady or is she something much worse? Is that a man Stina sees in her window? Is it the same man she keeps seeing outside, but no one else does?

For one, this story made me look at my neighbor a bit closer. Stina was just not a character I clicked with. I’m not fond of weak women. This is a good look at what secrets and rumors can do to a life and a town. And that was powerful.

,NetGalley/ September 2nd 2021 by Avon

THE FAMILY PLOT by MEGAN COLLINS

The Family Plot

Author of The Winter Sister and Behind The Red Door is back with another twisty, shocking thriller!

Twenty-six- year-old Dahlia Lighthouse is returning to her family home. A place she hasn’t been back to for years. Taking the ferry across to the island she was raised on with her twin brother Andy and much older siblings, Charlie and Tate. Their father has died and they are all coming home to bury him.

Not that they particularly want to. Raised in a mansion in the woods, the neighbors called it the Murder Mansion. Isolated and home-schooled, Dahlia is unable to get past the terrible things that happened here. Totally unprepared for life and afraid to live.

The mother is obsessed with true crime. The father goes along with it and the four children are brought up on the ABC murders instead of the alphabet. The house is filled with murder memorablilia. The town thinks they are insane. The police chief is suspicious and keeps hanging around. Everything about this place is creepy and just not right.

Dahlia spends all her time trying to find her twin brother who went missing on their sixteenth birthday. Dahlia knows he ran away because of their unnatural home life.

When they are all together there is just something not right with her sister or brother. What are they hiding?

As the handyman digs the grave for the father he is shocked, along with everyone else, to find the bones of Andy. With an ax. Every one of them handles this so differently. Dahlia knows someone killed him and she isn’t going to stop until she knows the truth.

I think you should find out the rest on your own. This was a disturbing story. My favorite kind. The mother was doing murder reenactments and the sister makes dioramas of the victims for Instagram. The brother, well he’s just nuts.

There were so many suspects in this. There is also a sub-plot going on as well. Also about murder. I stayed up way too late reading this. It was worth it!

NetGalley/ August 17, 2021 Atria