WHAT YOU NEVER KNEW by JESSICA HAMILTON

What You Never Knew

Meet the Bennett family. June, May and their mother. Imagine finding out that everything you believed about your family was a lie.

The book is told from the POV of May and June. One is dead and one is alive. June is all grown up now with her own family. When her sister dies, she finds out that the place they loved the most, Avril Island, which her family owned and where her father disappeared in a mysterious way had not been sold as their mother told them, but is still sitting waiting for her.

Feeling lost and looking for answers, June heads to the island. But not everyone is welcoming and there are as many secrets as trees. Things begin happening that are hard to explain. And the answers she gets are shocking.

The point of view May tells is rather disjointed, but then she is dead. I have to say the ending left me unsatisfied. The writing seemed a bit stiff. This is not anything like The Lovely Bones that it is compared to.

NetGalley Reviews/ April 13th, 2021 by Crooked Lane Books



THE GOOD SISTER by SALLY HEPWORTH

The Good Sister

Fern and Rose are twins. And as different as two people could be. Rose is married and seems to be happy with life except for the fact that she can’t get pregnant.

Fern is more of a free spirit but has severe sensory issues. The world and it’s inhabitants are a bit too extra for her.

But they both have secrets. Rose protected Fern from their crazy mother. Or did she?

Rose manipulates Fern into having a baby for her. And as soon as she is pregnant Rose turns into someone Fern doesn’t know at all.

I loved Fern. She has all these issues but she finds love with someone who understands them perfectly. But in the end, will she be able to stand up to Rose? Or will her mother actually save the day and expose who is the sociopath here?

That was some ending! Did not see that coming!

NetGalley/ April 13th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

 

VALCOUR-The 1776 Campaign That Saved The Cause of Liberty by JACK KELLY

Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty

The wild and suspenseful story of one of the most crucial and least known campaigns of the Revolutionary War when America’s scrappy navy took on the full might of Britain’s sea power.

Valcour is about the people involved in the 1776 three-day battle of the fledgling American Colonies against the pesky Brits. In the summer of that year, word came that the British were coming from Canada.

The Americans had wanted to maintain their hold on the upper rivers and knew that to do so they would have to make a stand. And what a brave stand these soldiers who were really just volunteers, made. A stand that would change the course of history.

You will recognize the names. Washington, Schuyler, a General who would become Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law by marrying Eliza. We also see a different side of Benedict Arnold. A bit rougher than some, but a brilliant strategist.

While Washington routed them in Trenton, Arnold sent the British Gates packing in a three-day battle on Lake Champlain and forced a retreat.

This is a well-researched book. I think we all are familiar with Benedict Arnold as a traitor, but he really is so much more. These men were young and untried but passionate about not being under the thumb of Britain. This was more than a history lesson. These were real people who overcame incredible odds to hold up our fledgling country against more powerful enemies and prevailed.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.

NetGalley/ April 6th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

DANGER IN NUMBERS by HEATHER GRAHAM

Florida State Police Agent, Amy Larson, never expected the sight she was about to see on the edge of the Everglades. Just off a remote road, but not far enough away that someone won’t see the horrible crime that has been committed and left for them to find.

This is some gory stuff going on here and it has the look of someone who has killed before. When the FBI jumps in with a similar case, we meet Agent Hunter Forrest. Yes, that is the name. He somehow has a lot of information on local cults and how they work and as we find out he also knows how to escape them.

There are plenty of suspicious characters. And none of them tell the entire truth, which leads one to think there is someone on the inside who they are all afraid of. But we never get enough information on that which could have been good.

This was not my favorite work by Graham. I didn’t feel I knew Amy at all and Hunter Forrest? That was predictable. What should have been a timely and thrilling story fell flat for me.

March 23rd, 2021 by MIRA

THE JIGSAW MAN by NADINE MATHESON *BLOG TOUR* @nadinematheson @HarlequinBooks

The Jigsaw Man

A serial killer and his copycat are locked in a violent game of cat and mouse. Can DI Anjelica Henley stop them before it’s too late?

DI Anjelica Henley is back on active duty with the SCU. She has no idea what she will face when called out to a crime scene.

By the river, dismembered body parts are washing up. While the crime has all of the marks of a serial killer she locked up not that long ago, she knows he is still in strict lockdown. Right?

The Jigsaw Killer. A total sociopath. No remorse, no second thoughts, just monstrous acts against people that would send the strongest of cops running.

When Anjelica can’t find answers she goes to the source. Peter Olivier. The Jigsaw Killer. Who also tried to kill her. He isn’t happy someone is copying his crimes. Not at all happy. Which is very scary for some people.

Horror at its finest! Hope to hear more about this!



A Sneak Peek:

Chapter Two

‘How long have we got until the tide comes in?’ Henley was facing the river watching the small waves crashing against the derelict pier. She checked her watch. Nearly two hours had passed since the first 999 call. 

‘I checked online, and high tide is at 9.55 a.m.’ Ramouter replied as he stepped around a half-submerged car tire, his eyes glazed with anxiety. ‘Low tide was at 3.15. Sunrise was at 6.32. A three-hour window for someone to dump whoever this is and hope that someone would find it before the tide comes in?’

‘Maybe,’ Henley acknowledged. ‘But for all we know it could have been dumped after sunrise or was dumped earlier upstream before being washed up here.’ She inspected the glass façade of the Borthwick Wharf, empty commercial spaces and work units that opened to the terrace and lacked security cameras. Henley doubted that the local council would have extended their own CCTV cameras to this part of the street. They had been neglecting this part of Deptford for as long as she could remember.

‘Has it been touched?’ Henley asked Anthony who had appeared at her side.

‘As far as I’m aware, it’s in situ. It wasn’t touched by the woman who found it. Matei, your builder, said that he hadn’t touched the legs but unhelpfully, it’s covered in his vomit. I had a quick look at the arms that were found downstream before I came here. From the looks of things, the treasure hunters may have prodded around a bit.’

‘There’s always one.’

The wind dropped and the air softly crackled with the electricity generated from the substation nearby.

‘We’re isolating the recovery of evidence to the direct path from the alleyway to the torso,’ said Anthony. ‘I doubt very much that whoever it was sat here and had a coffee afterwards.’

‘They may not have had a coffee, but if we go with Ramouter’s theory and the body parts have been dumped then whoever it was certainly knows the river,’ Henley replied. ‘We’ll let you get on. Ramouter and I are going to take a walk.’

‘Where are we going?’ asked Ramouter.

‘To meet Eastwood.’

‘And you want to walk it?’

Henley did her best to push aside her frustration when Ramouter pulled out his phone. ‘Google maps says that Greenwich pier is almost a mile away,’ he said.

‘Your body-part dumper isn’t the only one who knows the river,’ Anthony shouted out as Henley began to walk determinedly along the riverbank.

The gold scepters on the twin domed roofs of the Old Royal Naval College pierced the cloudless sky. The bare masts of the restored Cutty Sark completed the historical panoramic view that Greenwich was known for. It was a resplendent, whitewashed version of history that contrasted with the sewage that washed ashore. Henley stopped walking when she realized that she could no longer hear the sounds of Ramouter’s leather soles slipping on wet pebbles.

‘Where are you from?’ Henley asked, waiting for Ramouter to take off his jacket and loosen his tie. She moved closer towards the moss-covered river wall as the tide began to encroach.

‘Born in West Bromwich. Moved to Bradford when I was twelve.’ Ramouter tried to brush off the bits of mud that had stuck to his trousers, but they only smeared more. ‘Lots of moors, no rivers. Surely it would have been quicker in the car.’

‘This is quicker. Unless you fancy sitting in traffic for the next half hour while they raise the Creek Road Bridge.’

‘You know this area well?’

Henley ignored the question. She didn’t see the point in telling him that she could have walked this path with her eyes closed. That this small part of South-East London was ingrained in her. ‘Whoever dumped the torso would have taken this route. It doesn’t make any sense to come down here, go back up to the street level and then drive up to Watergate Street. Out of sight, below street level. Lighting would have been minimal.’

‘Body parts are heavy though,’ Ramouter tried to quicken his step to catch up with Henley. ‘The human head weighs at least eight pounds.’

‘I know.’ Henley pulled out her mobile phone, which had started to ring. She saw who it was and ignored the call.

‘Head, torso, arms, legs. That’s at least six individual body parts.’

‘I know that also. So, tell me, what point are you making?’ Henley waited for Ramouter to reach her before maneuvering him towards the river wall as though she was chaperoning a child.

‘I’m just saying that that’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying around at three in morning.’ Ramouter paused and placed his hand against the wall, trying to catch his breath.

Henley didn’t openly express her agreement. She fished out a black hair band from her jacket pocket and pulled her thick black curls into a ponytail. She had forgotten how much energy it took to walk across the gradient slope of the riverbank. Worse, she felt mentally unprepared for the job ahead, with a trainee struggling behind her who had no idea this was her first time as senior investigator in almost a year.

‘It’s a bit grim, isn’t it?’ DC Roxanne Eastwood shouted out as Henley finally reached the first crime scene. ‘Morning, Ramouter. Not a bad gig for your first day.’

Henley had always thought that Eastwood actually looked and carried herself like a detective. Now, Eastwood was poised on the riverbank, the sleeves of her jacket rolled up with her notebook in her hand. She had come prepared for the river and was wearing a pair of jeans and trainers that had seen better days.

‘Morning, Eastie. How does it feel to be out of the office?’ Henley asked, her eyes drifting to a crime scene investigator who was putting an arm into a black bag.

‘I should be asking you that,’ said Eastwood, with a look of concern.

Henley silently appreciated the empathy and placed her hand on Eastwood’s shoulder.

‘But since you asked, it’s bloody terrible. I think I’ve got sunburn.’ Eastwood rubbed a hand over her reddening forehead. ‘Forensics are going to be wrapping up in a bit. Not that there’s much for them to do. Bag it and tag it.’

‘Where’s Mr Thomas?’

‘Ah, our illustrious treasure hunter. Last time I saw him he was heading towards the shops. Said that he needed to get some water for his dog.’ Eastwood shook her head, obviously not believing a word of it. ‘I’ve got an officer keeping an eye on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d already uploaded pictures of his find onto Instagram.’

‘I want him taken back to the station. Ramouter can take another statement from him.’ Henley said it purposely so that Ramouter would sense she was in control. ‘If he’s like most mudlarkers, he would have been out here first thing this morning waiting for the tide to go out. Where exactly were the arms found?’

‘Just over there.’ Eastwood pulled down her sunglasses and pointed towards the foamed waves created by a passing river bus. The tide had already come in where X had once marked the spot. A sense of urgency filled the air as the river regained its territory.

‘Did he say anything else?’

‘Only that he found the second arm about three feet away from the first.’

‘It’s a sick trail of breadcrumbs,’ said Henley.

‘You’re telling me and before you ask about CCTV, there’re loads of cameras—’

‘But none aimed at this part of the river.’

‘Exactly.’

Henley’s mobile phone began to ring. She pulled it out and answered. After a quick chat, she ended the call.

‘That was Dr Linh Choi. You wouldn’t have met her yet but she’s our go-to forensic pathologist. She’s just arrived,’ Henley explained to Ramouter. She wiped away the sweat from the back of her neck.

‘So, we’ve got two arms, both legs and a torso,’ said Ramouter. ‘Where’s the head?’

Good question. Henley thought of the places between the two locations. A primary school, two nurseries and an adventure playground among the flats and houses. The last thing she needed was to find a head in the kids’ sandpit.

‘Can I have a quick look?’ Henley asked the assistant from Anthony’s CSI team, who had just bagged up the arm and was scribbling in her notebook.

‘Sure.’ The assistant unzipped the bag and pushed the plastic apart.

‘Fuck,’ Henley said under her breath. Her heartbeat quickened, her stomach flipped.

‘Oh,’ said Ramouter as he peered over Henley’s shoulder. One arm was covered with gravel. Slivers of seaweed criss-crossed old scars. The second arm. Slender wrist, the ring finger slightly longer than the index, broken fingernails. Black skin. Henley could hear Pellacia’s words from earlier ringing in her ears.

‘Too early to say if it belongs to the same victim or if it’s more than just one.’

‘Call DSI Pellacia,’ Henley told Ramouter. ‘Tell him that we’ve got two possible murder victims.’

NetGalley/ March 16th, 2021 by Hanover Square Press





Her Dark Lies by J.T.ELLISON *BLOG TOUR* @thrillerchick @HarlequinBooks

Her Dark Lies

At the wedding of the year, a killer needs no invitation

What could be more romantic than a wedding on the Isle Isola? Surrounded by cliffs and water with an over the top villa where you can get lost if you aren’t careful.

Claire Hunter is an artist. On the rise and to top it off, she is marrying Jack Compton of the uber wealthy Compton family. The Comptons have secrets. A lot of secrets.

When Claire and Jack arrive at the villa, things begin to go wrong. A skeleton has been found and it has everyone on edge. Brothers are fighting, the help is sketchy at best. When her wedding dress is ruined and people start dying, she has to find out who is trying to get rid of her. And what happened to Jack’s first wife?

And then the power goes out, and things get even scarier.

J.T. Ellison is always on point with her books. No one does menacing characters and twisty plots like Ellison.

Will this one have a happy ending or will the wedding of the year become something more sinister?

Well Done!

NetGalley/ March 9th, 2021 by MIRA

A Sneak Peek

1

Beginnings and Endings

She is going to die tonight.

The white dress, long and filmy, hampers her effort to run. The hem catches on a branch; a large rend in the fabric slashes open, exposing her leg. A deep cut blooms red along her thigh, and the blood runs down her calf. Her hair has come loose from its braid, flies unbound behind her like gossamer wings.

In her panic, she barely notices the pain.

The path ahead is marked by towering cypress and laurel, verdant and lush. A gray stone waist-high wall is all that stands between her and the cliffside. It is cool inside this miniature forest; the sky is blotted out by the purple-throated wisteria that drapes across and between the trees. Someone, years ago, built an archway along the arbor. The arch’s skeleton has long since rotted away and the flowers droop into the path, clinging trails and vines that brush against her head and shoulders. It should be beautiful; instead it feels oppressive, as if the vines might animate, twist and curl around her neck and strangle her to death.

She tries not to look down to the frothing water roiling against the rocks at the cliff’s base. She thinks the ruins are to her right. From what she remembers, they are between the church and the artists’ colony, the four cottages cowering on the hillside, empty and waiting.

A horn shrieks, and she realizes the ferry is pulling away. A crack of lightning, and she sees the silhouette of the captain in the pilothouse, looking out to the turbulent seas ahead. A gamble that he makes it before the storm is upon them.

Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

Where is the church?

There it is, a flash of white through the trees. The stuccoed walls loom, the bell tower hidden behind the overgrown foliage. Now the path is moving upward, the grade increasing. She feels it in her calves and hopes again she is going the right way. The Villa is on the hill, on the northwest promontory of the island. If she can reach its doors, she will be safe.

It is too quiet. There are no birds, no creatures, no buzzing or cries, just her ragged, heavy breath and the scree shuffling underfoot as she climbs. The furious roar of the water smashing its frustration against the rocks rises from her left, echoing against the cliffside.

The dogs begin to howl.

Climb. Climb. Keep going.

She must get to the Villa. There she can call for help. Lock herself inside. Maybe find a weapon.

A branch snaps and she halts, breathless.

Someone is coming.

She startles like a deer, now heedless of the noise she’s making. Fighting back a whimper of fear, she breaks free of the cloistered path to see an old decrepit staircase cut into the stone. Careful, she must be cautious, there are gaps where some steps are missing, and the rest are mossy with disuse, but hurry, hurry. Get away.

She winds up the steps, clinging to the rock face, until she bursts free into a sea of scrubby pines. Two sculptures, Janus twins, flank a slate-dark path into a labyrinth of rhododendron and azalea.

This isn’t right. Where is she?

A hard breeze disrupts the trees around her, and a rumble of thunder like a thousand drums rolls across her body. Lightning flashes and she sees the Villa in the distance. So far away. On the other side of the labyrinth. The other side of the hill.

She’s gone the wrong way.

A droplet of water hits her arm, then her forehead. Dread bubbles through her.

She is too late. The storm is upon her.

The howls of the dogs draw closer. The wind whistles hard and sharp, buffeting her against the stone wall. She can’t move, deep fear cementing her feet. Rain makes the gauzy dress cling to the curves of her body, and the blood on her thigh washes to the ground. None of it matters. She cannot escape.

When he comes, at last, sauntering through the storm, the barking beasts leaping and growling beside him, she is crying, clinging to the wall, the lightning illuminating the ruins; the ancient stones and stark, headless statues the only witness to her death.

She goes over the wall with a thunder-drowned scream, the jagged rocks below her final companions.

The Hospital (Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town) by Brian Alexander

The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town by [Brian Alexander]

Bryan, Ohio is a small town with small town problems. Keeping the town afloat. Keeping the hospital open. Alexander takes us into small town hospitals and the quickly disappearing small town hospitals and medical care.

Phil Ennen, CEO of the hospital is fighting what looks like a losing battle. They are losing money and the big guys are waiting around the corner to grab up another local hospital.

You find out a lot of things you may have never thought about if you didn’t grow up in a small town. I don’t think I have ever given it a thought since I’ve always lived in the city. On a road trip this past year we took the back roads to explore Oklahoma and it was then that I saw entire towns dying when the hospitals go down. Miles and miles from any form of emergency care or just continued care. It was shocking how the towns were just empty.

We see real people in real life or death situations and the consequences from lack of dependable medical care. We have one such town right now trying not to close its doors or give in to a buy out. With a lot of small towns still recovering from the 2008 recession, money is not exactly flowing in. People can’t afford to drive 2 hours in an emergency and they can’t afford healthcare.

With the Medical and Hospital Industry puts money over care, we all suffer. Look at the situation we are in now. Covid. Rural hospitals aren’t able to care for the people in their small community. Even big cities are ill equipped to fight this one. Why? This gave me a new insight into the issues we all will face.

NetGalley/ St. Martin’s Press March 09, 2021

OLD LOVEGOOD GIRLS by GAIL GODWIN

 

Old Lovegood Girls is the story of two women and the complicated friendship they share over years and years. The type of friendship where you don’t have to talk every day, but when you do, you just pick up where you left.

Feron Hood and Merry Jellicoe are as different as night and day. But in 1958, the dean of Lovegood Junior College for Girls pairs them up as roommates. Feron, has a much darker past than Merry and yet they click. Bonding quickly as best friends. From the outside they are a perfect set.

But there are some bonds not based on sharing rooms. Secrets, professional rivalry, and with all of Merry’s money and influence, things are about to go south for her and she may lose everything.

Feron wants to write. She wants to be an author. Ten years later and she hasn’t spoken to Merry since school. They have lived different lives. And when Feron reads that Merry has been writing, that old rivalry returns, along with a need for each other and once they are back, things begin to happen and their lives will change.

This is not a typical boarding school read where there is a poor girl and a rich girl. This is a literary work that will have you thinking and asking questions about life and friendship. About the bonds women form and the complications of friendships.

This was a book I savored. Understanding the emotions and desires of both of them. Excellent Work!

May 5th, 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing

A CALLER’S GAME by J.D.Barker

A Caller's Game

DIE HARD meets TALK RADIO in this heart-pounding, relentlessly fast-paced thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fourth Monkey—master of suspense, J.D. Barker.

“I’m going to offer you a choice.”

J.D. Barker is truly a master of suspense and horror! Makes my black little heart all fluttery whenever I see his name on a book. This one is really scary because I can see this happening at any time.

Jordan Briggs is the female Howard Stern. Brash, in your face, controversial. A total bad-ass. She has no filter and doesn’t care in the least what she has to do to stay at the top of the ratings board. But this single- minded dedication to success has cost her. Her husband is now her ex. She hasn’t spoken to her mother in years. If not for Charlotte, her eleven -year -old daughter, she would be alone and she doesn’t seem too bothered about that.

If you get the impression she’s a pretty shallow and unpopular human being then you are correct.

Until… one day a caller asks if she would like to play a game. Angry because her boss has scheduled an interview with a rather shady senator, she decides to play along. And that sets into motion a series of events that lead to her past and the present colliding in awful ways.

Jordan has made some bad decisions in this business. Not very moral or ethical. And now she is about to pay for all of those. Consequences are always there waiting.

Is it odd to say I felt worse for the killer than Jordan? I understood his motivation although I didn’t agree with his deeds. You never know how your words and actions ripple out into the world until they find that one unstable person who is going to show you how much they matter.

Dare I say that I’ve replaced James Patterson with Barker? Well, I have.

NetGalley/ February 22nd, 2021 by Hampton Creek Press

LADIES of the HOUSE by LAUREN EDMONDSON

Ladies of the House: A Modern Retelling of Sense and Sensibility

A very modern spin on Sense and Sensibility that I adored. Daisy, Wallis, and their mother Cricket never expected the sudden death of father and husband Senator Gregory Richardson. And they certainly never imagined it would be in such a salacious way. The media is all over this juicy headliner and Daisy just wants to disappear.

What they know is bad. What they don’t know is worse. They can’t afford their Georgetown home now and they must sell it and move into much smaller accommodations. While Cricket clings to her former life, and Wallis finds a man and is ready to move on that, Daisy is just trying to support them and protect them. Yes, the journalists are camped out on their doorstep but the worst part is the journalist writing the expose’ on her father.

Atlas has always been her best friend and to be honest she wants more. The question is can she trust him? Is this story only going to bring more pain to her family?

Those Richardson women. My grandmother would say they come from strong stock. And they do. They may have been gobsmacked in the most public and sordid way possible, but they get right out there and figure out who they are and make a new path in the world for themselves.

A very engaging book that I loved. It is so refreshing to not see simpering females in a story like this. Well Done!

NetGalley/Harlequin-Graydon Trade February 09, 2021