Book Review: THE CHOICE by Nora Roberts

THE CHOICE by Nora Roberts cover featuring bluish-grey clouds in a circular formation centered above mountains and a winding river

The Choice, The Dragon Heart Legacy #3, by Nora Roberts
ISBN: 9781250272720 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272737 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250859327 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250859310 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B09Q75MDWK (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09NTKJXFR (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 22, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Fiction | Fantasy | Romantic Fantasy

The conclusion of the epic trilogy from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Awakening and The Becoming.

Talamh is a land of green hills, high mountains, deep forests, and seas, where magicks thrive. But portals allow for passage in and out—and ultimately, each must choose their place, and choose between good and evil, war and peace, life and death…

Breen Siobhan Kelly grew up in the world of Man and was once unaware of her true nature. Now she is in Talamh, trying to heal after a terrible battle and heartbreaking losses. Her grandfather, the dark god Odran, has been defeated in his attempt to rule over Talamh, and over Breen—for now.

With the enemy cast out and the portal sealed, this is a time to rest and to prepare. Breen spreads her wings and realizes a power she’s never experienced before. It’s also a time for celebrations—of her first Christmas in both Talamh and Ireland, of solstice and weddings and births—and daring to find joy again in the wake of sorrow. She rededicates herself to writing her stories, and when his duties as taoiseach permit, she is together with Keegan, who has trained her as a warrior and whom she has grown to love.

It’s Keegan who’s at her side when the enemy’s witches, traitorous and power-mad, appear to her in her sleep, practicing black magick, sacrificing the innocent, and plotting a brutal destruction for Breen. And soon, united with him and with all of Talamh, she will seek out those in desperate need of rescue, and confront the darkness with every weapon she has: her sword, her magicks—and her courage…

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In the first book in this trilogy, The Awakening Breen “O’Ceallaigh” Kelly learns about her “true” heritage. She’s a child of the Fey, a demigod, and a child of Man. Her father, Eian, and paternal grandmother, Mairghread, both served as taoiseach or leader in the world of Talamh, the land of the Fey. Her grandmother resigned when she discovered the true nature of her partner and father to her son. Her son died fighting his father, Odran, and the evil he has wrought. Breen not only learns her heritage, but she uncovers her creative nature as a writer as well, writing one middle-grade book, and obtaining an agent and a publishing contract. As she grows her writing skills with her second middle-grade book and an adult fantasy book, she also grows her skills as a child of the Fey. Learning spells, how to heal, how to ride a horse, combat with a sword and later a bow and arrows, Breen is simply becoming more.

In the second book, The Becoming, Breen is accompanied back to Talamh by the current taoiseach, Keegan O’Broin, and her bestie, roommate, and “brother from another mother,” Marco Olsen. Both Breen and Marco become enmeshed in the battle of good versus evil in Talamh. Breen continues to grow her relationship with her grandmother, meets other family members, and learns more about herself and her paternal grandfather, Odran. As she adapts to living in two worlds, Breen also begins a relationship with Keegan and must deal with the black jealousy of Keegan’s former bed partner, Shana, who eventually turns to the dark and Odran.

As mentioned in my review of The Awakening, this series is somewhat reminiscent of several of Ms. Roberts’s other fantasy trilogies, namely The Cousins O’Dwyer and Chronicles of The One. All series where someone is “awakened,” discovering their previously dormant magical talents, and then must accept the duty that comes with their awakening, namely to fight against evil. For Breen, this means protecting Talamh and all worlds from the madness and despotic nature of Odran. The Choice presents Breen, Marco, Keegan, family and friends battling that ultimate evil and his minions. Of course, The Choice isn’t just about the fight against evil, it’s also about living life to its fullest no matter what. Marco has fallen in love with one of Breen’s Talamhish cousins and is planning a wedding. Breen has tried to make amends with her mother but has had to give up on that for now (what can I say, she’s an optimist). There are plenty of ups and downs in the battle against Odran and Breen’s Fey skill development. I forgot to mention, there are dragons folks! Dragons, trolls, elves, weres, faeries, merpeople, magicks, fights against evil, and romance, what’s not to love! I particularly enjoyed watching Breen’s development from a shy, anxious young woman to a strong, talented, and kick-a$$ woman. There’s a lot to unpack in each of these books, but Ms. Roberts provides fantastical storylines, wonderful characters, and amazing action, not to mention a great resolution. I found all three books to be fast-paced and engrossing reads. If you’ve read The Awakening and The Becoming, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Choice to read. I re-read the first two books before my initial reading of The Choice. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already re-read this trilogy (and am looking forward to re-rereading it soon). ♦

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: A BRIGHTER FLAME by Christine Nolfi

A BRIGHTER FLAME by Christine Nolfi book cover, blue background with a large orange-red leaf behind a orange-yellow thin leaf mimicking a flameA Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi
ISBN: 9781542038843 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781799783862 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B09WPKL13Q (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09RK5VJLX (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Family Life

She’s always wanted a sense of belonging. The last place she expects to find it is home.

Vale Lightner’s dreams turn to ash when the Pittsburgh bar she owns goes up in flames. Just like the past she escaped, very little seems salvageable. Facing unavoidable change, Vale returns to her hometown of Philadelphia to stay with her grandmother.

She knows that returning also means facing everything she left behind: a mother and stepfather who shunted her into the background from the day they married, and her charmed and favored half-sister, Blythe, who has abandoned a perfect marriage and is now at a crossroads of her own. Everyone has their secrets, and this reunited family racked by them is about to reach a crisis point.

For a mother and her two daughters, this reunion is a chance for closure, newfound love, and forgiveness. As each of them reassesses her own memories of the past, only the truth can bring them together—in ways that could last forever. From the bestselling author of The Passing Storm comes a poignant novel about family secrets, healing, and the hope of second chances.

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Vale Lightner is like so many others, in that she doesn’t feel that she quite fits in with her family. She is also constantly struggling to “fit in” various work environments. Vale is estranged from her mother, stepfather, and half-sister. The only “family” she currently has a relationship with is her father and maternal grandmother, but she strives to maintain those relationships no matter what. Sadly, Vale’s relationship with her father is tottering on the edge as they deal with their jointly-owned bar burning down. Vale isn’t quite sure what she wants to do with her life at this point, but owning another bar and returning to Philadelphia isn’t it. Vale is forced to accommodate her grandmother, who seems to be dealing with a major health issue. Returning to Philadelphia isn’t her first, second, or third choice, but she is used to starting over. This time around, she has to do it with her half-sister watching. As Vale begins to deal with the memories of her past, she comes to realize that there is a thin line between what we remember and what actually happened. Is it possible her relationship with her mother, stepfather, and half-sister was built on misperceptions? Is it possible for her to craft a new relationship with her sister? Vale has to decide if she’s willing to start over with her family? Can she forgive them as she seeks forgiveness for her own mistakes and start anew?

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Tolstoy

I found A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. Vale was all-too-familiar in that she doesn’t feel like she quite fits in with her family. Vale is struggling on so many levels. She has to contend with the idea that her father is irresponsible and will never quite grow up and be the parent she wants. She is tormented by the idea that her mother didn’t really want to keep her but refused to give up custody to an irresponsible parent. She worries that her grandmother might be seriously ill. Vale also comes to the realization that her sister is dealing with just as many issues as she is and the only way to rebuild that relationship is by being the “big sister” her younger sister wants and needs. I won’t even get into the whole budding romance with her neighborhood pharmacist. I thought all of the characters were not only realistic but realistically flawed. Some were idealistic, others were pessimistic, and others were realistic with a touch of idealism. There aren’t any “bad guys” in this story, just a family filled with flawed individuals trying to make a way the best way they know how.

I have a huge list of “favorite” authors but only a handful that I will buy any and everything they write. Christine Nolfi is in both categories. A Brighter Flame is a multi-faceted multigenerational story that portrays relationships with all of their flaws. Each character is struggling with something major and it is only when they voice their struggles and fears that they are capable of moving forward with the help of family and friends. A Brighter Flame is not just about family or second chances, it is also about forgiveness, acceptance, and growth. If you can’t tell, I enjoyed A Brighter Flame. Even though I was afforded the opportunity to read this early via a digital review copy, I pre-ordered a digital copy for my personal library and ordered a print copy for my 87-y.o. mother (she loves reading Christine Nolfi books almost as much as I do). If you’re interested in reading a well-written contemporary story about family, hope, love, and second chances, then I strongly encourage you to go and get a copy of A Brighter Flame for yourself (I can’t wait to reread this one!).

Happy Reading, y’all! ♦

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the author via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: DESPERATION IN DEATH by J.D. Robb

Desperation in Death, In Death #55, by J. D. Robb
ISBN: 9781250278234 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250278241 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250859259 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09Q7ZGLL8 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09NTJRDJ3 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Mystery | Thriller

“The #1 New York Times bestselling author presents a gripping new thriller that pits homicide detective Eve Dallas against a conspiracy of exploitation and evil…

New York, 2061: The place called the Pleasure Academy is a living nightmare where abducted girls are trapped, trained for a life of abject service while their souls are slowly but surely destroyed. Dorian, a thirteen-year-old runaway who’d been imprisoned there, might never have made it out if not for her fellow inmate Mina, who’d hatched the escape plan. Mina was the more daring of the two—but they’d been equally desperate.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get away fast enough. Now Dorian is injured, terrified, and wandering the streets of New York, and Mina lies dead near the waterfront while Lt. Eve Dallas looks over the scene.

Mina’s expensive, elegant clothes and beauty products convince Dallas that she was being groomed, literally and figuratively, for sex trafficking—and that whoever is investing in this high-overhead operation expects windfall profits. Her billionaire husband, Roarke, may be able to help, considering his ties to the city’s ultra-rich. But Roarke is also worried about the effect this case is having on Dallas, as it brings a rage to the surface she can barely control. No matter what, she must keep her head clear—because above all, she is desperate for justice and to take down those who prey on and torment the innocent. 

 
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It has to be incredibly difficult for an author to continue writing a series after a few books and keep not only the characters but the action fresh. Thankfully, J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) doesn’t seem to have a problem with this and her “In Death” series featuring homicide detective Eve Dallas and her zillionaire husband, Roarke. Eve Dallas was initially presented as someone whose background was unknown. It has gradually been revealed that she grew up in the foster care system, was sexually and physically abused as a child by her father – a grifter and thief, had a grifter and drug addict as her biological mother, and was never given a name by her biological parents. The trauma of her childhood has caused a host of issues for both Eve and Roarke as Eve has confronted her past. Cases dealing with children and sex crimes are difficult for anyone to deal with, but doubly so if that person has dealt with these issues in their own past. But Eve Dallas is not only a strong woman, but a good detective as she truly cares about each homicide victim she stands for with an impressive support system in her husband, friends that are now family, and her co-workers. The big question for Eve in Desperation in Death is whether she can find the guilty parties before someone else suffers the same fate as the murdered young girl.

Desperation in Death is the fifty-fifth installment to the “In Death” series and is just as fresh, to this reader, as the first book. Although we know Eve, Roarke, and all of their family and friends a bit better, we’re still learning about them as individuals, as a couple, and as friends. The world they live in is changing and they are definitely changing with the times. This particular case deals with child abduction, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, torture, and murder. Eve may not have an issue dealing with the murder, but the reason for the murder is one that touches a little too close to home. As with all of the previous books in this series, there are emotionally charged moments along with plenty of suspense. I found Desperation in Death to be an engrossing read and finished it in one sitting over less than six hours. I know that this series might end at some point, but I’m hopeful that Eve, Roarke, family, and friends will re-appear in many more stories before the inevitable end occurs. If you’ve been reading this series, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Desperation in Death to read. If you’ve never experienced the awesomeness of the “In Death” series, then I encourage you to begin with Naked in Death and read your way through all of the books leading up to Desperation in Death, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Something tells me that I’ll be re-reading this one at some point over the next few months (what can I say, I’m an avid re-reader!).

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  

Book Review: TO CATCH A RAVEN by Beverly Jenkins

 

 

TO CATCH A RAVEN by Beverly Jenkins book coverTo Catch a Raven, Women Who Dare #3, by Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 9780062861740 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062861757 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062861825 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09MV846YB (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09MD9MKDG (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Historical Romance

“A living legend.” — Julia Quinn

The newest novel in USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’s compelling Women Who Dare series features a fearless grifter who goes undercover to reclaim the stolen Declaration of Independence.

Lying and cheating may be sins to some people, but for Raven Moreaux, it is a way of life. She comes from a long line of grifters and couldn’t be prouder…Until she’s forced to help the government.

A former Confederate official is suspected of stealing the Declaration of Independence, and Raven, posing as his housekeeper, is tasked with getting it back. Her partner is the too handsome Braxton Steel. Masquerading as a valet/driver, Brax is also supposed to be her “husband.” He has his own reasons for doing this job, but when their pretend marriage ignites into fiery passion, they’ll have to put everything—including their hearts—on the line.

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To Catch a Raven is the third book in the “Women Who Dare” series and is set mainly in the post-Civil War South. The female main character, Raven Moreaux, is a member of a family known as grifters, con artists, and thieves based out of Louisiana. Raven’s family has struggled with poverty, but they all work together to achieve a united goal of uplifting the family. The male main character, Braxton Steel, is from a leading Black New England family of entrepreneurs. He grew up with servants and wealth and has never known anything but privilege. To say that he was shocked to learn to about his father’s prior associations with the Moreaux family is a major understatement. Now Braxton must work along with a known grifter/con artist in an effort to save his father from possible prosecution. But he knows nothing about grifting and frowns upon even the thought of doing something illegal or underhanded. Braxton learns that he shouldn’t be so quick to judge and that all is not what it seems with Raven Moreaux and her family. These two are forced to work together but each one learns valuable lessons from the other regarding pride, prejudices, and presumptions.

I found To Catch a Raven to be an enticing and fast-paced read. I enjoyed the dynamics between Raven and Braxton. Ms. Jenkins has incorporated quite a bit into this story beyond the search for a natural treasure. Just a few of the things a reader should check off on your Romancelandia Bingo card when reading this book include: enemies-to-lovers, one bed, older couple-second chance romance, fake marriage, fake royals, fake nuns, mice in a bag, a broken bed, a young girl with second sight, Alice in Wonderland, ice skating, Confederate money with a woman’s face, laudanum, betrayal, and more. What’s amazing to this reader is that all of these elements, (SPOILER ALERT: along with a bullying Pinkerton agent receiving her comeuppance), are combined in such a manner that nothing seems out of place within the telling of this tale. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I loved reading this story. The relationship between Raven and Braxton is sassy, steamy, and sexy, not to mention sweet. Their quest to find a stolen document takes them from Louisiana to the Carolinas and the journey allows both to learn from one another. Yes, this is a romance. And yes, there’s a HEA. But in addition to the romance story, Ms. Jenkins provides fascinating tidbits of history and it’s always a pleasure learning about our hidden history. If you enjoyed reading Rebel and Wild Rain, the first two books in this series, then I strongly encourage you to get a copy of To Catch a Raven to read. In addition to my print and digital copy, I purchased a second print copy for my 87-y.o. mother. I can only hope that you enjoy reading this series as much as I have, and I can’t wait to re-read this series (along with a few other favorite Beverly Jenkins books).

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Giveaway

Told y’all that I LOVED this book, well I’m going to share the love with one lucky reader. I’m giving away one digital copy of this book, winner’s choice of Kindle or eBook copy. To enter the giveaway please use the Rafflecopter form below or click HERE. This giveaway begins at 12:01 AM ET on 08/26/2022 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on 08/31/2022. The winner will be selected and notified by 10:00 AM on 09/01/2022.

Apologies to my international followers, but this giveaway is limited to US residents. All entries from non-US residents will be disqualified. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY by John Scalzi

THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY by John ScalziThe Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
ISBN: 9780765389121 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780765389138 (ebook)
ASIN: B098GQYDZG (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B0927B1P8L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Science Fiction

The Kaiju Preservation Society is John Scalzi’s first standalone adventure since the conclusion of his New York Times bestselling Interdependency trilogy.

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society that’s found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too—and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die. 

 
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Let’s suspend belief in what we know or think we know and imagine an earth that looks remarkably like this earth but it’s just one of many in the multiverse. Now imagine there are creatures on this alternative earth that look nothing like anything on our earth. Due to a fluke, okay, due to humanity’s destructive nature, we’ve ripped the barriers between this earth and that earth and periodically creatures cross over. We now know what causes these rips in the barriers and the “powers-that-be” have aligned and are working together to ensure the barriers remain intact and that these creatures are protected. Sounds a bit outlandish, but that’s the basic premise behind The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. After being fired from his job at an up-and-coming food delivery service company, Jamie Gray is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with KPS and help protect the kaiju from mankind. The job comes with great benefits, a wonderful salary, and requires him to sign a formidable NDA. Of course, the job might end up being the death of him but every job has a downside.

I’ve been plagued with migraine headaches of late and often can’t complete a book in one sitting anymore. (Okay, it might also be that I’m getting older and the eyes just aren’t what they used to be.) However, I started reading The Kaiju Preservation Society shortly before noon on a Thursday afternoon and was finished before 6:00 PM the same day. I literally and figuratively could not put this book down. I’m not a big science-fiction reader, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by John Scalzi to date: Redshirts, The President’s Brain is Missing, Fuzzy Nation, Lock In, and Head On. I enjoy the humor found in his writing. I even enjoyed the scientific references because they were presented in manner that made sense, meaning the science isn’t dumbed down or glossed over but presented matter of factly. His works often reference other works of science fiction, whether they’re books or movies, and that always piques my interest in finding out more. The Kaiju Preservation Society references the Godzilla movies, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and the Doom video games. There is action in this story, heroic action in my opinion, and that helped send the story into overdrive. I enjoyed the characters (good and bad guys) and their interactions. Jamie is the main character, but he couldn’t function in isolation and it’s his ability to get along with a variety of people in a variety of circumstances that makes him “that guy.” The basic premise of this story is preserving an environment and it’s inhabitants from all of the destruction that might be wrought by mankind. Unfortunately, mankind is responsible for protecting this world and that’s a recipe for disaster. Mr. Scalzi has, once again, provided a well-written, thought-provoking, yet entertaining story that I think any reader can pick up and enjoy. I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Kaiju Preservation Society to read for yourself. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Now I need to get a copy for my 87-y.o. mother to read.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: ABANDONED IN DEATH by J.D. Robb

Abandoned In Death, In Death #54, by J. D. Robb
ISBN: 9781250278210 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250278227 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250835512 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250835482 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B094DM5TWR (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B092T8K767 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 8, 2022

Homicide detective Eve Dallas must untangle a twisted family history while a hostage’s life hangs in the balance—in the new In Death novel by #1 New York Times bestselling J. D. Robb.

The woman’s body was found on a bench in a New York City playground. She was clean, her hair neatly arranged, her makeup carefully applied. But other things were very wrong—like the tattoo and piercings, clearly new. The clothes, decades out of date. The fatal wound hidden beneath a ribbon around her neck. And the note: Bad Mommy, written in crayon as if by a child.

It seems clear the killer’s childhood was traumatic—a situation Eve is all too familiar with herself. Yet the clues point to a perpetrator who’d be around sixty, and there are no records of old crimes with a similar MO. What was the trigger that apparently reopened such an old wound and sent someone over the edge? When Eve learns that other young women have recently vanished, the case grows even more urgent—and to solve it she’ll need to find her way into a hidden place of dim light and concrete, into the distant past, and into the depths of a shattered mind.

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I’ve mentioned before that I eagerly await the release of the new additions to the “In Death” series each Winter and Fall. This is one of the few series that just never seems to get old for me and I never tire of reading and re-reading. (Yes, I know that I never seem to tire of re-reading a lot of books, it’s what I do!) Stop and think about it folks, there are 55 books in this series. Yes, that’s 55 and each story is fresh, often introducing new characters and new action even though it’s basically someone commits a crime and Eve Dallas, along with her police partner, co-workers, husband, and friends work together to solve said crime. Sometimes the crimes might involve one of Eve’s friends or her acquired family, but often not. It never really matters who is involved, the reader knows that the crime will be solved and it’ll be solved by Eve Dallas, NYPSD murder cop extraordinaire, and Abandoned In Death is no different.

This begins with what appears to be a simple murder, but it touches a little too close to home for Eve since the body is found in a park that is used by her friend Mavis and daughter Bella. Eve may not have any biological family, that we know of, but Mavis is her sister in everything but blood. Eve may not know the “rules” of family, friendship, or marriage, but she knows that you protect the ones you love and she doesn’t want anything to touch the life of her innocent niece-in-love, Bella. Her investigation quickly uncovers a number of abducted women in the area and when a second body is found, also in a prominent area used by children and teens, Eve knows that she’ll need to use everyone and everything at her disposal to ensure there aren’t any more bodies left in her city by this killer. Can she uncover the reasons why this killer is targeting these particular women when the clues seem to point to a time before most police departments even shared documentation? Why is this killer branding the victims as “bad mommy?” What set off this killing spree and who will be next if Eve can’t find the killer and stop the killings in time?

As I stated earlier, you know with each “In Death” novel that there will be a crime and that Eve and friends will try to beat the clock and solve the crime before more people die. has similarities to previous storylines in that this murder seems to affect the lives of Eve’s family and friends. Obviously, there is a lot more going on in this story as there are women being abducted, dressed in a very specific manner, and then killed apparently for the crimes of someone else. Eve and friends must determine who the victims are surrogates for and, hopefully, that will provide the necessary link to identifying the killer. If only it were that easy! This story involves child abandonment, child abuse (emotional and verbal), drug abuse, abduction, torture, murder, and more. As always, there’s a lot happening in the story and J.D. Robb ties it all together for us at the very end with a nice neat bow. Many of the stories in this series were initially classified as romantic suspense, but the past few have been straight suspense thrillers. Although it is possible to read any book in this series without reading any of the previous books, I feel that would be like starting a movie in the middle and don’t recommend it. So, for those of you that have been reading this series all along, I know I don’t have to tell you to grab a copy of Abandoned In Death to read because you probably had it pre-ordered like I did (yes, that’s in addition to receiving a digital review copy). If you’re into suspense reads and think you’re up to the challenge, then I suggest starting with Naked In Death, the first book in this series, and work your way up to Abandoned in Death. You can thank me later.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: NEVER TELL by Stacey Abrams

Never Tell by Stacey Abrams writing as Selena Montgomery
ISBN: 9781250805829 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781250847645 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250847881 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250841575 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B094L8S6LD (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B0966B2CTW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Page Count: 320
Release Date: January 25, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Psychological Suspense | Romantic Suspense

From popular political leader and lawyer Stacey Abrams comes a reissue of her romantic suspense novel, Never Tell, written under the name Selena Montgomery.

Criminal psychologist Dr. Erin Abbott wants nothing more than to live a quiet life. That means no danger, no intrigue—and absolutely no romance. But when Erin suspects a serial killer is roaming New Orleans, her investigation throws her straight into the arms of the only man who can help her.

Journalist Gabriel Moss is hot to find his next huge story—and he knows Erin is on to something big. From the moment they meet, Gabriel senses that Erin is hiding something. One thing is certain: Erin’s boxy suits and sensible shoes hide a delicate beauty waiting to emerge…and Gabriel is just the man to reveal the woman inside.

As they join forces to find the killer, Gabriel slowly seduces Erin with his soft kisses. But Erin knows their love can never be. For she is hiding a terrible secret—and if Gabriel reveals the truth, Erin’s life will be shattered forever…

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Dr. Erin Abbott knows that there’s someone playing a deadly game of “find me.” All of the clues are tied to a secret past life and the deceased mentor in that past life. Erin thought she was starting anew in New Orleans. Wearing dowdy clothing and trying to be as unappealing and unassuming as possible was supposed to be her mask. Unfortunately, the ABC killer knows all about Erin’s past, and journalist Gabriel Moss isn’t fooled by her disguise. Fortunately, Gabriel does believe Erin’s declarations about a local serial killer. The more Gabriel and Erin uncover, the more Erin realizes each murder is linked to her, and those links are benign acquaintances. Not wanting any other innocent to die because of her, Erin tries to push Gabriel away in order to protect not only him but his sister. But Gabriel isn’t budging. Can they uncover the motivations of the killer and the killer’s identity before it’s too late and someone else dies?

I’m an eclectic reader, but one of my go-to genres for the past two years has been romance, especially romantic suspense. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled when offered the opportunity to read and review Never Tell by Stacey Abrams writing as Selena Montgomery. Although billed as a romance or romantic suspense story, the romance (in my opinion), plays a close second to the psychological suspense that builds with Erin’s attempts to preserve her secrets and secret identity while facing the killer’s taunts head-on. Yes, there’s a definite romance factor and a bit of steaminess, and the relationship between Erin and Gabriel is definitely important, but there are quite a number of other things going on as well: murder, psychological torture, physical abuse, physical torture, psychological and mental abuse, and more. Ms. Abrams has taken quite a number of dark topics and combined them into one immensely readable story. Although the abuse elements might be a trigger for some, I felt it was presented with a deft touch that didn’t diminish the impact of the abuse or provide detailed descriptions that might be repulsive. Never Tell isn’t exactly a light read due to the topics presented, but it is one I found to be intriguing. For those of you into slightly darker reads, I encourage you to grab a copy of Never Tell to read. I’m putting Never Tell on my TBRR or to be re-read list.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: DESOLATION CANYON by P. J. Tracy

DESOLATION CANYON by P.J. Tracy book cover

Desolation Canyon, Detective Margaret Nolan #2, by P. J. Tracy
ISBN: 9781250754950 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250830197 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250845498 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09557MV5Z (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B092T9QHCS (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Page Count: 320
Release Date: January 18, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Mystery

P.J. Tracy “seems to have found her literary sweet spot” (New York Times Book Review) with her dazzling new series, and in Desolation Canyon, fans get a deeper look into the complex characters who call Los Angeles home.

LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan is struggling to move forward after the death of her brother in Afghanistan and taking a life in the line of duty. Her stoic parents offer little support – they refuse to address anything difficult, and she’s afraid their relationship is eroding beyond the point of recovery.

The days off are the hardest, because they give Margaret time to think. A moment of weakness leads to cocktails with a colleague—an attraction she knows could be dangerous —at the luxurious Hotel Bel-Air bar. A stroll through the grounds leads to a grim discovery beneath the surface of Swan Lake: the body of a successful attorney who made his fortune in international trade.

It initially appears to be death by misadventure, but the case is anything but straightforward. As a series of shocking revelations emerge, Nolan finds herself confronting a sinister cabal that just might destroy her and everyone she loves.


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Good day, book people. Although it’s a new year with plenty of new books and new-to-me authors to discover, I find myself leaning in on reading favorite authors. I’ve been hooked on the writings of P.J. Tracy since reading Monkeewrench and the subsequent books in that series. Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that a new series was beginning last year and devoured Deep Into the Dark. I’m eternally grateful that I was given the opportunity to read the second book in this series, Desolation Canyon. I enjoy smart, taut, and well-written mystery or suspense thrillers, especially those involving realistic characters, like LAPD Detective Margaret “Maggie” Nolan. This time around Maggie has to deal with the apparent suicide of a divorced attorney that is ruled murder by poisoning, a subsequent murder and torture of the attorney’s ex-wife, “…kidnappings past and present, a Russian import-export company, and maybe the Russian Mob up in Death Valley hiding behind a cult. Oh, and nerve gas…” One of the kidnappings is personally tied to Detective Remy Boudreau, a possible love interest for Maggie. And if that’s not enough, her mother is visiting the “cult” to deal with the grief over her deceased son. The big question seems to be if Maggie and friends can tie everything together without getting any of the innocent bystanders hurt or worse.

Desolation Canyon introduces us to a host of characters in addition to Maggie Nolan and Sam Easton from Deep Into the Dark. We get to know Maggie’s parents, York and Emily Nolan, a bit better and understand how and why they opt to deal with their grief in a certain manner. Maggie’s partner, Al Crawford, is featured a bit more in this story, as well as the pathologist Dr. Weil, and a private investigator hired by Remy Boudreau, Malachai Dubnik. Ms. Tracy takes the reader through a variety of twists and turns while introducing the Russian Mob angle, along with the money laundering, reverse money laundering (yes, it’s a thing), and more. Desolation Canyon features kidnapping, poisoning, murder, torture, trafficking, and more. Yes, it’s a lot to throw at the reader, but it works. It might not be possible to see how all of the puzzle pieces will fit, but Ms. Tracy does a fantastic job of putting everything together to provide the reader with a picture-perfect resolution. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for stories that feature a group of characters working together even if it’s an ever-changing cast of characters. Police officers/detectives don’t work in isolation and it’s always nice to see books reflecting this fact. It takes a village to raise a child and it usually takes a team to solve crimes. Desolation Canyon has plenty of crimes and a great team working together to solve them. If you enjoy reading thrillers or if you read Deep Into the Dark, then I encourage you to grab a copy of Desolation Canyon to read. For those of you not sure about thrillers, I suggest you grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark and Desolation Canyon to read. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next for Maggie Nolan and her friends.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: FIND ME by Alafair Burke

FIND ME by Alafair Burke Book CoverFind Me by Alafair Burke
ISBN: 9780062853363 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062853387 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062985019 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0876GPJGF (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08728FV3Y (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 11, 2022
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fiction | Suspense Thriller | Psychological Thriller

The disappearance of a young woman leaves her closest friend reeling and an NYPD homicide detective digging into her own past in this thrilling mystery full of twists from the New York Times bestselling author of The Better Sister and The Wife.

Some pasts won’t stay forgotten . . .

She calls herself Hope Miller, but she has no idea who she actually is. Fifteen years ago, she was found in a small New Jersey town thrown from an overturned vehicle, with no clue to her identity. Doctors assumed her amnesia was a temporary side effect of her injuries, but she never regained her memory. Hope eventually started a new life with a new name in a new town that welcomed her, yet always wondered what she may have left behind—or been running from. Now, fifteen years later, she’s leaving New Jersey to start over once again.

Manhattan defense lawyer Lindsay Kelly, Hope’s best friend and the one who found her after the accident, understands why Hope wants a new beginning. But she worries how her friend will fare in her new East Hampton home, far away from everything familiar. Lindsay’s worst fears are confirmed when she discovers Hope has vanished without a trace—the only lead a drop of blood found where she was last seen. Even more ominously, the blood matches a DNA sample with a connection to a notorious Kansas murderer.

With nowhere else to turn, Lindsay calls NYPD homicide detective Ellie Hatcher, the daughter of the cop who dedicated his life to hunting the Kansas killer. Ellie has always believed there was more to the story of her father’s death twenty years earlier—and she now fears that Hope’s recent disappearance could be related.

In pursuit of answers, three women search for the truth beneath long-buried secrets. And when their searches converge, what they find will upend everything they’ve ever known.

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A woman with no sense of a past decides, after 15 years in a small town, to move on with her life. Hope Miller survived a car accident but has no idea where she came from or even who she was before the accident. She’s been dealing with amnesia for 15 years. The woman that discovered the accident scene is now Hope’s best friend. Hope decides to move from New Jersey to the Hamptons in New York. She has no driver’s license, no social security number, and doesn’t officially exist due to her amnesia. She finds a kind landlord willing to rent to her without documentation, as well as an employer willing to hire her and pay her in cash. Then Hope disappears. Her friend, Lindsay Kelly, is determined to find her no matter what. Little does Lindsay know that her “investigation” will open the proverbial “Pandora’s box” linking Hope’s past to murder. Sometimes it’s best to leave the past in the past…or is it?

Folks, as soon as I read about this book with the amnesia hook and featured character Ellie Hatcher, I knew it had to be a book on my MBR (must be read) list. It has been a few years since I read any books in the Ellie Hatcher series. I enjoyed the books I had read and definitely wanted to find out what’s happening now! I found Find Me to be a bit of a slow read at first, but when it picked up, it picked up with a bang. This story incorporated amnesia, murders (past and present), possible blackmail, secret love, and more. The more Ms. Burke revealed about Hope Miller, the more it was possible to see just how her past was intimately linked to Ellie Hatcher’s past. (No, I’m not going to tell you how. Read the book to find out for yourself!) There are plenty of twists and turns in Lyndsay Kelly’s investigation into the disappearance of her friend, Hope Miller. Some of those twists bring in Ellie Hatcher and her brother. The more Lyndsay discovers, the more she realizes that perhaps she didn’t know Hope as well as she had thought. But is it ever possible to know everything about another person? The tension in this story gradually builds and continued even after several unbelievable reveals. For those of you that have read anything by Ms. Burke or if you’re into suspense thrillers, then I encourage you to grab a copy of Find Me. I have a feeling that I’ll be re-reading the Ellie Hatcher series just so I have an excuse (not really needed, but…) Find Me. If you do grab a copy of this book, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 349: CITY OF TIME AND MAGIC by Paula Brackston

City of Time and Magic, Found Things #4, by Paula Brackston
ISBN: 9781250260697 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250260703 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250818874 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08TZ38281 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08R2HCFLR (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 23, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy | Time-Travel

Xanthe meets Brackston’s most famous heroine, Elizabeth Hawksmith from The Witch’s Daughter, in this crossover story with all the “historical detail, village charm, and twisty plotting” of the Found Things series (Publishers Weekly).

City of Time and Magic sees Xanthe face her greatest challenges yet. She must choose from three treasures that sing to her; a beautiful writing slope, a mourning brooch of heartbreaking detail, and a gorgeous gem-set hat pin. All call her, but the wrong one could take her on a mission other than that which she must address first, and the stakes could not be higher. While her earlier mission to Regency England had been a success, the journey home resulted in Liam being taken from her, spirited away to another time and place. Xanthe must follow the treasure that will take her to him if he is not to be lost forever.

Xanthe is certain that Mistress Flyte has Liam and determined to find them both. But when she discovers Lydia Flyte has been tracking the actions of the Visionary Society, a group of ruthless and unscrupulous Spinners who have been selling their talents to a club of wealthy clients, Xanthe realizes her work as a Spinner must come before her personal wishes. The Visionary Society is highly dangerous and directly opposed to the creed of the Spinners. Their actions could have disastrous consequences as they alter the authentic order of things and change the future. Xanthe knows she must take on the Society. It will require the skills of all her friends, old and new, to attempt such a thing, and not all of them will survive the confrontation that follows.

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Xanthe Westlake no longer only has Harley to rely upon when finding lost things that sing to her. She has confided her talents to step through time to her mother, Flora, and her boyfriend, Liam. The third book of this series, The Garden of Promises and Lies ended with Xanthe traveling back in time with Liam. Unfortunately, Liam was snatched from her when they attempted to return to their own time. Now Xanthe, Harley, and Flora are eager to find something that not only sings to Xanthe but will take her back to the right time to rescue Liam. Xanthe’s past travels haven’t been without danger, especially in the form Benedict Fairfax, another time spinner. But this time she has to deal with dangers that not affect those of that time period, but her loved ones as well. Is Liam safe? Where is he? How is he? What dangers, if any, are awaiting Xanthe back in time? And what would motivate another time spinner to snatch Liam in an effort to obtain Xanthe’s attention?

If you’ve been following me for any time now, you know beyond any reasonable doubt that I re-read the previous books in this series—Little Shop of Found Things, Secrets of the Chocolate House, and The Garden of Promises and Lies—to re-familiarize myself (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it), before reading City of Time and Magic. Just as the third book in this series was a bit different from the first two, this book reintroduces us to Elizabeth (Hawksmith) Balmoral, originally introduced in The Witch’s Daughter, as well as Mistress Lydia Flyte, Erasmus Balmoral — a time stepper, former lover to Lydia Flyte and now married to Elizabeth Hawksmith, Dougal Harley — publican, neighbor to Flora and Xanthe, and Xanthe’s “advisor.” We’re also introduced to a host of other characters that play major and minor roles within the story, including more time spinners. This particular chapter of Xanthe’s ongoing saga, she must not only right a wrong from the past, but she also to choose the side of the righteous spinners. Her choice will have repercussions on her friends and acquaintances from the past as well as her contemporary loved ones. Does she have to battle evil again, well you’ll need to read the book to find out for yourself!

Reading City of Time and Magic took me a bit longer than normal, not because I found in uninteresting but because of a variety of family trials (elderly parental health issues and a death in the family). I was simply unable to focus my attention on reading for a few days because of these situations. However, once I began to re-read this book, I was enraptured and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. I enjoyed the interaction between Liam and Mistress Flyte, Liam and the Balmorals, as well as Harley with everyone else. Yes, Harley gets to travel back in time to assist Xanthe. Xanthe, Liam, and Harley make quite the team in this story and although I can’t tell you more about what happens, I sincerely hope that they will have more adventures in the future, especially with Elizabeth Hawksmith Balmoral! Can you tell I enjoyed this story? City of Time and Magic has hints of romance, intrigue, magic, betrayal, and more. I can’t say that this is the best book in the Found Series because I love them all. I can say that if you’ve read any of the previous books in this series then you owe it to yourself to grab a copy of City of Time and Magic to read. This author provides the reader with fascinating glimpses of the past and usage of past items when compared to contemporary times. The juxtaposition of the timelines is just one of the many things that make this series so enjoyable, at least to this reader. If you enjoy historical fiction, contemporary fiction, bits of fantasy, or just plain good writing, then I encourage you to read this series, consider it a gift to yourself for the holiday season! Something tells me I’ll be getting all four books for my 87-y.o. mother to read.

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”