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Book review fiction mystery reading suspense Uncategorized

Read & Review (R&R) – “Dead Man’s Leap” by Tina de Bellegarde

It’s another intriguing and suspense-filled, character-driven mystery for Agatha Award nominee, Tina de Bellegarde. In her latest mystery, “Dead Man’s Leap,” the flood waters are washing away more than material possessions. In the tiny town of Batavia-on-Hudson, relationships are put to the test, a dead body, bones and long-buried secrets from the past all threaten to alter the quaint village life.

This is the author’s 2nd book of her series “Batavia -on Hudson Mystery,” and while it is not necessary to read her first book “Winter Witness,” it is helpful as you are familiar with the characters.

Her main character, Bianca St. Denis is teaming up again with Sheriff Mike Riley to solve the mystery. De Bellegarde vividly sets the scene, beautifully portrays love and loss and writes characters that jump off the page and into her reader’s hearts. I am looking forward to reading the next Bativa-on-Hudson Mystery.

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Book review crime fiction mystery psychological thriller reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) “Survive the Night” by Riley Sager

Riley Sager weaves a masterful tale of psychological suspense.

When Charlie’s parents are killed in a car accident, she turns to movies as a way of escaping real life. At college, Charlie becomes best friends with Maddy. But, one horrific night changes everything. Maddy has been killed by the “Campus Killer.” A serial killer who has killed three times before. Charlie can’t get over Maddy’s death and decides to leave campus before Thanksgiving accepting a ride from a male stranger who she meets at the ride-share board. As their ride ensues, Charlie begins to doubt the sincerity of the man. Could he be the campus killer or is her mistrust a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

This book takes place in the 1990’s, when pay phones were the only way to check in with someone or call for help. No cell phones, no texting. The premise of a girl getting into a car with a stranger and things going wrong is nothing new and Sager presents it with a road trip story that is filled with twisted, unbelievable characters. To Riley Sager’s credit, I couldn’t put it down. It kept me on the edge of my seat with tension, intense emotion, and danger around every turn. I had to find out – would the campus killer be revealed? What would happen to Charlie?

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Book review cozy mysteries humorous fiction mystery reading suspense

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Deep End,” by Julie Mulhern

Picture perfect life in the 70s-except the murders

When a friend recommended Julie Mulhern’s Country Club Murders books, I had to check them out. I wasn’t disappointed. Julie has fifteen books in this series. I started with the first, “The Deep End,” which came out in 2015.

I loved this book! Julie Mulhern writes with great humor, wit, wonderful characters and a killer plot.

When Ellison Russell swims into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress, she becomes the prime suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. A missing kinky husband with a vault full of secrets, a handsome detective, a well-to-do lawyer, and a mother who can’t keep her hands out of Ellison’s life, all add up to more trouble than Ellison can swim her way out of.

A laugh-out-loud whodunit!

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Book review fiction reading

Read and Review (R&R) – “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover

Our book club selection for this month is “It Ends With Us,” by Colleen Hoover.

If you are on BookTok, you already know there is a lot of buzz about this book.

I think the following words tell everything without posting spoilers in my review:

Powerful, inspiring, heart-wrenching, honest, raw, real-life, tough decisions, beautiful, unforgettable!

Colleen Hoover masterfully covers hot romance, devastating heartbreak, mental health and domestic violence in one novel.

“It Ends With Us” is a memorable read that I want to tell all my friends to pick up and I can guarantee, you won’t put it down.

Lilly Bloom is an unforgettable character and Colleen Hoover does an excellent job of bringing the readers along on Lilly’s journey. You discover the truths right alongside Lilly.

When I read the title, I was curious as to what it meant. When you read the book, and you get to the part where that is revealed, you will agree, it is the perfect title for this riveting book.

This book will leave a lasting mark on your heart.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book

That’s what fifteen minutes can do to a person. It can destroy them.
It can save them.

“It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”

Lastly, fingers crossed for the rumors that this book will be made into a movie.

Categories
Book review crime fiction humorous fiction mystery reading suspense

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Man Who Died Twice” by Richard Osman

“The Man Who Died Twice”
Richard Osman

This book was given to me in a book exchange with my local “Sisters in Crime” group. What a wonderful read. I loved this book and its characters, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim.

What happens when four septuagenarians who live in the Cooper’s Chase retirement community band together and form a crime club (aka The Thursday Murder Club)? A heartwarming friendship, and a book filled with laugh-out-loud humor.

“I am learning that it is important to stop sometimes, and just have a drink and a gossip with your friends, even as corpses start to pile up around you.”

The narrative is split between all the characters mentioned above, but Joyce and Elizabeth play the largest roles.

With diamonds, Elizabeth’s ex-husband, the MI5, a cocaine dealer, crooked businessman, the mafia, local thugs, and piling up bodies, the members of the Thursday Murder Club have their hands full.

This is the second book in this series. The first is called “The Thursday Murder Club Mystery.”

Richard Osman has created a wonderful story line and I am anxiously awaiting the next novel with these characters.

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense thriller unreliable narrator

Read and Review (R&R) – “We Were Never Here” by Andrea Bartz

When two best friends travel, what could go wrong? How about a hookup turned violent and deadly? Not once but twice – I guess lightening can strike more than once.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers, this book may interest you.

I enjoyed the travel and psychological twists and turns. The friendship element drew me in, but then really it creeped me out. Gaslighting~there was a lot of it. The inner monologue was a bit long and the boyfriend a bit too sweet. So as not to put a spoiler, I will simply say, I would have enjoyed a different ending.

I agree with several reviewers who pointed out that this would make a good Netflix movie.

And…, what is up with the last line of the book? No way could it happen again…

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Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Not a Happy Family,” by Shari Lapena

“Not a Happy Family”
By Shari Lapena

Normally, I write my own brief synopsis on the books I’ve read, but this synopsis on Goodreads of “Not a Happy Family,” by Shari Lapena, says it all!

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings could do something this gruesome, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

From a reader/writer’s standpoint, I loved the quick, easy read chapters which switch from one POV to another. Shari Lapena does a great job of creating a rivetingly good book where everyone is a suspect and could have a motive. “Not a Happy Family” is full of deceit, troubled siblings, rivalry, and greed.

A binge-worthy book!

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Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Redemption,” by C.L. Tolbert

The Redemption
By C.L. Tolbert

A suspenseful legal thriller!

Emma Thornton, a law professor in New Orleans is one tough woman. When two men are murdered on the grounds of the Redemption housing projects, she and her law students mount a defense case.

Louis Bishop is a 16-year-old boy, who grew up hard and fast in the housing development. He is charged with the crimes as an adult and incarcerated with violent adult offenders. Emma takes on a gang, guns, and corruption in the police force to defend him against the potential of a death penalty verdict.

The story is set in a seedy area of New Orleans where the cousin of the accused runs the show and everyone is afraid to talk. As the murders of witnesses who have spoken to Emma began to pile up, she knows she and her family are in the crosshairs, but she won’t stop until there is justice.

I wasn’t surprised to find out the author was a retired attorney. She wove the law, the court system and police procedure throughout the book seamlessly.

Kudos to CL Tolbert for creating such unique characters and plot line. The story is rich with vivid descriptions of New Orleans, secrets, twists, turns, and a developing romance.

I enjoyed reading this well-written, action-packed story.

I only have one question for the author – There was a lot of foreshadowing about a man referred to as “Ninja,” and I kept waiting for him to appear. Will he appear in a future Emma Thornton mystery?

I purchased this book after hearing the author speak on a Zoom event conducted by my local independent bookstore, Mystery Lovers in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. This is the second book in the Thornton Mystery Series, but can be read as a stand-alone. I hadn’t read the first book entitled “Out of Silence,” but I will be sure to pick it up now.

Categories
Book review fiction reading uncatagorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine” by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine
by Gail Honeyman

This is Gail Honeyman’s debut novel and the winner of the 2017 Costa Debut Novel Award.

I probably would not have read this story had our office book club not picked it for the November read. I am very glad they did. Wow! What an emotionally-packed read!

The journey into Eleanor Oliphant is thought-provoking, sad, powerful, touching, uplifting, and at times very humorous. You can’t help but chuckle at Eleanor’s views of the world and her forthright comments to people.

Eleanor is definitely a product of her horrific childhood environment. A physical scar on her face and an emotional scar on her heart, are a lifetime reminder of her traumatic past. She was bought up in foster homes and after attending University, gets an office job and is placed in her own apartment. Her only companion, a plant and her only visits are from social workers and meter readers. She drinks a lot of vodka and spends time on the weekends talking to her “Mummy” (author and story setting are based in Scotland) on the telephone.

From a writer’s view, Gail Honeyman does an excellent job with the voice of Eleanor throughout the novel. You can’t help but cheer Eleanor on.

Categories
Book review fiction history mystery reading suspense Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary
By Sarah Penner

I am a fan of historical fiction and when I read the synopsis of this book, it immediately caught my interest.

A female apothecary in 1791 dispenses poisons to women to liberate the women from the men who have wronged them.

During this time period, a woman could do little to remedy a horrible situation. That is where Nella, the apothecary came in handy. Her shop of poison remedies is discretely hidden in Bear Alley, a back street in London.

This story is written in first person and goes back and forth between three POVs:
Nella, the apothecary who dispenses the poisons;
Eliza, a twelve year old lady’s maid who comes to Nella’s shop seeking assistance for her mistress; and
Caroline, a present day woman traveling to London on her 10th wedding anniversary. Her plans and dreams however are ruined by the infidelity of her husband shortly before the trip causing Caroline to take a soul searching journey to London alone.

When Caroline is invited to go mudlarking (scrounging for treasures along the shoreline) of the Thames’ River, and discovers an old vial with a bear logo scratched into the bottle, the past and present collide.

I enjoyed this book and found the old natural remedies fascinating. Sarah Penner did a wonderful job of creating in her characters a likeability that I found myself rooting on even the apothecary, Nella.

Filled with mystery, murder, betrayal, heartache, and lost dreams, “The Lost Apothecary” is Sarah Penner’s debut novel and a New York Times Bestseller.