DARK CIRCLES by CAITE DOLAN LEACH

An embattled actress turns to podcasting when she becomes entangled in a dark conspiracy at a spiritual retreat in this absorbing mystery about fame, violence, and our morbid fascination with murder—from the acclaimed author of Dead Letters.

Olivia Reed is an actress. With some success. Enough that the paparazzi follow her every move and are more than happy to splash all of her erratic behavior all over the tabloids. After hitting rock bottom, her friend and manager, Jess, gets her into a retreat. The House of Light. Not a rehab, a retreat. Only it’s not.

Everyone is odd and Liv can see something is off. Getting close to Ava, a local woman who is trying to find who killed her twin sister. If that ever happened. She pushes Liv to use her celebrity to do a podcast to find out what happened to other women there and why everyone is afraid to speak about it.

We also have the disappearance of Liv’s mother when she was a teen. And the father, who is a real piece of work.

I really struggled with this one. Mainly because the characters were so shallow and unfinished I thought. I could have cared less if any of them had up and died. Liv is clueless and just self-absorbed, Jess is controlling and suspicious, the dad is a cliched character of a Brit.

I couldn’t find one redeeming character here. And there were so many questions left in the end.

NetGalley/April 19th, 2022 by Ballantine Books





THE NIGHT SHE WENT MISSING by KRISTEN BIRD

The Night She Went Missing

“The lies they tell can be deadly”

An intriguing and twisty domestic suspense about loyalty and deceit in a tight-knit Texas community where parents are known to behave badly and people are not always who they appear to be.

Galveston Island is a place with a lot of secrets. Catherine and her husband, Carter Callahan have moved home to be closer to his mother after the death of his father. At least that’s the story they tell.

The Callahan name is sacred here. Nothing goes on without their matriarchs approval or knowledge. Even the school is named for them.

Emily loved her old school. She hates this one. And when she finally does make a friend, Alex, a boy with his own demons, she begins receiving threatening notes.

Then Emily goes missing. Her clothes washed up on shore and no sign of her. Until the day of her funeral when she is found floating in the water with a life preserver on. Unconcious. Where has she been all this time? Every judgy mom in this book was awful. Even though they think they are protecting their children, they are actually harboring a rapist.

So the first half of the book I was intrigued. In the second half, I was frustrated. And the ending was not in the least believable.

NetGalley/February 8th, 2022 by MIRA

http://www.piratepatty.com

A sneak peek:


EMILY

They find me faceup in the murky water of the harbor on the day of my funeral. Or memorial service. Whatever. It’s not like there’s much difference. Dead is dead.

Except I’m not. I. Am. Not. Dead. I would pinch myself if I could move.

“Can you hear me? Hey, what’s your name? Can you open your eyes?”

My eyes are as dense and heavy as basalt. Basalt: rich in iron and magnesium, Mr. Schwartz penned on the board during our volcanic rock unit in eighth grade. I fight to come out of the emptiness that has held me for the past…the past what? Hours? Days? Weeks?

I attempt to whisper my name even though my eyelids remain anchored. Emily. That’s right. Emily. I can’t remember the last time I voiced those three syllables.

“Pull her up.” 

Hands yank at me, jerking me from the arms of the water. Two hands wander up my body—over my feet, my legs, the arch of my hips, my arms, onto my neck, stopping at my forehead. This touch is not like the familiar plying of the boy I love, so fiery that it almost stings. This touch is necessary, cold, perfunctory. Perfunctory, Mrs. Abbot, my sophomore English teacher had pronounced for us students as we learned the word for the first time. P-E-R-F-U— 

The voice cuts in. “Tell them we have a girl, a teenager. No broken bones as far as I can tell but looks like she’s been out here for hours. Unconscious, but breathing on her own.” His voice muff les as he turns his head. “I think she might be Emily.” 

Suddenly, a brilliant choir of tenors and baritones and basses burst forth. “The Emily?” 

Emily. Yes, that’s me. What a comforting thing to hear one’s name spoken by those who can point the way home. I breathe in gratitude and descend into the lightness of sleep before a hand touches my cheek again. 

“You awake, Emily?” 

The swooshing of the waves calls to me, a reminder that the song of the deep is steady despite all the new sounds: The bustle of work boots, the hum of the boat waiting to churn to life and set out across the open sea. 

“Your mama’s been looking for you, Ms. Emily. You gave us all a fright. You hear me?” The man seems to sense that I can hear his words while my body remains frozen despite the warmth of the water and the sun overhead. “You’re gonna be okay, sweetheart. Yes, ma’am, you’re gonna make it just fine. Got a daughter about your age, and I woulda been worried sick if my girl had gone missing for weeks on end. Your mama sure is gonna be happy.”

A nasal voice now. “Where you think she’s been all this time? Turned into a mermaid?” The boy chuckles. 

“Hush, Beau.” 

The man’s hand touches my forehead, his fingers sandpapery with callouses. “Now, sweetheart, if you can open your eyes for a sec, I can introduce you properly to the crew. We’re getting you help as fast as we can, but you can go ahead and open them eyes before all the medics arrive. They’d be good and relieved to see you looking around.” 

I try. Oh, how I want to flicker them open, but my head aches, and oblivion pulls harder. The siren call of the void is too tempting to resist.

The VIOLIN CONSPIRACY by BRENDAN SLOCUMB

The Violin Conspiracy

A riveting tale about a Black classical musician whose family heirloom violin is stolen on the eve of the most prestigious classical music competition in the world.

A Black classical musician who has discovered his great-grandfather’s fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius! Ray loves playing the violin. Sure, he could get a regular job but music is his love and the violin is his instrument.

And he is good. As he gets more and more successful, someone from his great-grandfather’s past demands the violin be returned to him. Claiming to be the owner. And just before the International Tchaikovsky Competition, the violin disappears.

Ray will do anything to get it back, but will he? I did not know the world of classical music was quite as cutthroat and racist. It was similar to The Queen’s Gambit in that way. I enjoyed the story and didn’t see that end!

NetGalley/ February 1st, 2022 by Anchor Books

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



WOLF KILL by CARY J. GRIFFITH *A Sam Rivers Mystey*

In this outdoors thriller, the investigation of a bizarre wolf attack leads to evidence of murder, conspiracy, and shocking family secrets.

Things on the Iron Range of Minnesota are hard. The cold is hard, the terrain is hard and the men are extremely hard.

Sam Rivers ran from his family farm 20 years ago and changed his name and became a wildlife biologist specializing in wolves. He’s very well respected and has found peace working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He knows predators. He was raised by one.

Now he is getting cryptic e-mails from someone taunting him. But he’s not ever returning home. Until his father dies.

Which happens suddenly. Called a hunting accident, the old man has blown his head off. But as Sam decides to return to his hometown and he wants to see the old man dead and he needs to retrieve something his mother has kept hidden for him in her own house.

The time to face demons has come. The only problem is can he trust anyone in this town. So when a bizarre wolf attack happens in his fathers’ barn, things become very interesting.

I really enjoyed this book. Writing from a wildlife expert’s view. Looking at nature in an entirely different way. How it can nourish us and how it can kill us.

I’m very glad I read this one and can’t wait for the next one.

Adventure Publishers Re-release on June 15, 2021

YOU WILL REMEMBER ME by HANNAH MARY McKINNON

You Will Remember Me



The story is told from three perspectives. Jack/Asher, who was konked on the head and now has amnesia, Lily, who is dating Jack/Asher, and Maya, his stepsister who still lives in the family home.

Jack has woken up on a beach and has no idea how he got there or what happened. For that matter, he has no idea who he is. The only thing he knows is a string of numbers. 

When he calls the number, Maya answers, and quick as can be he is back at home and being spoon-fed lies.
Maya is a scary girl. Sociopath seems about right.

When Lily follows a lead and finds him, he doesn't remember her but he is drawn to her and understands she is important to him. Maya isn't about to let that stand. Whatever his name, he isn't leaving again if she can help it.

I think I knew all along who did what to who. It was a fast read and I wish there had been more details and in the end, I just had unanswered questions.

NetGalley Review/ May 25th, 2021 by MIRA Books

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



COLD WIND by PAIGE SHELTON

Cold Wind (Alaska Wild Mysteries, #2)

Second in a new series set in Alaska from beloved cozy author Paige Shelton, Cold Wind will chill your bones.

We all know Shelton from her cozy mysteries and with this new series she has given us a thriller series that is sure to be a hit.

Beth Rivers is still hiding out from the unknown man who kidnapped her and isn’t going back home until he is found.

Beth Rivers is still in Alaska. The unidentified man who kidnapped her in her home of St. Louis hasn’t been found yet, so she’s not ready to go back. The more time she stays in Benedict the more it feels like home. She has started writing again. She is a successful thriller writer and is living inside one of her books.

When a major mudslide turns up a body in an old trapper’s cabin and Beth has two girls turn up at her door. Covered in mud and not speaking a word, there is a mystery there. No one knows them but the man running the general store keeps turning up.

Beth is determined to find out if the girls and the body are connected. There are so many odd people who seem sketchy. There is something very scary going on here and it needs to be solved.

This was an edge of your seat mystery and thriller. I read this one straight through. I just could not find a stopping point. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 December 8th, 2020 by Minotaur Books






THE HALF SISTER by SANDIE JONES

The Half Sister

Kate and Lauren are sisters who have nothing in common on the surface. One is career-oriented and seems to live a glamourous and carefree life with her husband while the other is married to a jerk with kids and an unhappy life.

But on Sunday they all sit at their recently widowed mother’s home for dinner. They are all still grieving. Kate was especially close to her father while Lauren has always been closer to their mother, Rose.

What no one knows is Kate has been trying for years to conceive a baby. And Lauren would just as soon leave her husband and escape her life.

All of that is the backdrop for the one Sunday dinner when there is a knock at the door and a woman stands there asking for their father. Who she says is her father as well. It seems she has uploaded her DNA and found a match with Lauren. But has she? Can they believe anything she says?

These sisters could have avoided all of this if any of them had bothered to talk to each other. But secrets are what families do. And sometimes they are what blows your world apart. And everyone in this book is keeping secrets!

There were some issues I had with the DNA thing, but overall it was a good mystery!

NetGalley/ June 16th, 2020 by Minotaur Books

 

 

 

 

Puddin’ on the Blitz by Tamar Myers

Puddin' on the Blitz

A Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery

The success of Magdalena Yoder’s new Amish-Asian restaurant is threatened by murder in the deliciously quirky new Pennsylvania-Dutch mystery.

A murder mystery with an Amish/Mennonite theme.

The Story:

Magdalena Yoder is Mennonite and married to a Jew. Her mother-in-law is a piece of work and lives across the street with the other members of her apathy cult.

A woman who almost killed her is now in prison and has split her restaurant between her daughter and Magdalena, with Mags getting the 60% share. Between the daughter and Magdalena, they come up with an Asian Amish combo they call Asian Sensations.

Hiring Barbara Hostetler was a genius as she is a wonderful cook and baker. And soon enough we have a recent patron dropping dead.

Now Magdalena is being arrested for a murder she did not commit. Who is setting her up?

My Take:

I almost stopped a quarter of the way in because I wasn’t sure if this was satire or sarcasm. I couldn’t pronounce the names of anyone and I just did not care for the main character. I wasn’t sure if she was making fun of the people or if she just had a sarcastic tongue, which doesn’t really add up with the Amish.

It was less than okay, but you can read it yourself and let me know!

NetGalley/Severn House December 3rd, 2019