The Forever Gift – Brooke Harris

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Fifteen-year-old Kayla Doran is a high school athlete from Cork, Ireland, who is well known and respected for her abilities on the basketball court, and the novel opens as she shoots the winning shot in a game, her mother in the stands cheering her on. Kayla meanwhile is holding back tears as she feels an incredible pain in her knee and begins looking for her Mam.

A visit to the doctor reveals that Kayla has Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that affects children and young adults. Her mother, Heather, summons Kayla’s Dad to Cork, where they together break the news to Kayla. She’s been referred to Dublin, where there are better resources to handle Kayla’s case. Kayla’s father Gavin and his present wife Charlotte, live there, along with Kayla’s little sister Molly. Kayla’s doctor, Dr. Patterson, wants to begin w/ surgery and chemotherapy as soon as possible. She is promptly admitted, and Gavin invites Heather to stay in the spare room in Gavin & Charlotte’s home, putting the household in disarray.

As Kayla becomes sicker, and the chemotherapy doesn’t seem to be effective, she begins to realize that she is not going to survive, but she wants to leave a legacy for her mother, so she enlists the help of her best friend Aiden, her step-mother Charlotte and her doctor to help her see things through.

Told from the perspectives of Kayla, Heather & Charlotte, the reader gets private glimpses into the chaos, the despair and the pain of Kayla’s illness and the impacts it has on each family member, from Kayla’s slow recognition that she is not going to recover, to Heather’s pain over losing her best friend and only child, and Charlotte’s grief over Kayla, and insecurities of being on the outside looking in as Gavin & Heather bond again over their shared child. Even young Molly is impacted by Kayla’s illness in ways the reader will empathize with.

I laughed, I sobbed, and I smiled my way through as Kayla’s larger than life personality shone through this novel, and as she made sure that her mother would continue to live. A fabulous read, one I could not put down, and one that will resonate with you long after the final page is turned. A MUST READ!

I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.

Labyrinth – Catherine Coulter

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Another 5 star read from Catherine Coulter!!

Savich & Sherlock’s newest adventure starts off suddenly, when Sherlock is out running errands, and she is suddenly t-boned in an intersection, causing her to strike a pedestrian as her car careens out of control. When she regains consciousness at the hospital, she remembers the body striking her windshield, but no victim is found at the scene. Who was he and what became of him?

Agent Griffin Hammersmith is out visiting a college friend in Gaffer’s Ridge and is walking through the streets of the more remote sections of town when he hears a voice screaming for help. Taking a quick look around, he sees no one, and he heads for the nearest home to assist. Inside, Carson DeSilva, has managed to free herself from after being kidnapped and wrapped in duct tape, and is waving a broken piece of pipe at her captor as she yells for help. Griffin bursts through the door, distracting the kidnapper, who Carson then hits in the head, subduing him. When they call for help from the local police, they learn that then kidnapper is the sheriff’s nephew, and both Griffin & Carson find themselves locked up. Griffin calls Savich for help.

As Griffin & Carson talk amongst themselves, he learns of her abilities, that seem to mirror his own – she had heard the kidnapper, Rafer Bodine, thinking about three missing girls, and how one of them had died hard. As the FBI descends upon the town of Gaffer’s Ridge and takes over the investigation, it appears that the entire Bodine family perhaps has something to hide…but what??
As both investigations continue, Sherlock struggles to overcome her injuries, as she and Dillon continue their search for the missing and injured pedestrian, they learn that he was a CIA analyst, and surmise that he is on the run…but from what? Meanwhile, during a search of the Bodine properties, Sherlock learns that the Bodine matriarch may have a few psychic secrets of her own…

This is another series that I just cannot get enough of! Sherlock & Savich are like old friends that have come back to visit, each time I open the cover of a new book, and I just want the story to go on and on. Saying goodbye as I turn the last page is always so hard to do! Another, great, un-put-downable read from one of the best!!

I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.

Publication date: 30 July 2019

Smokescreen – Iris Johansen

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Eve Duncan is working on her latest child reconstruction, as husband Joe Quinn & son Michael are packing for a trip to England, Joe to attend a Scotland Yard seminar, and Michael will be joining Jane MacGuire for an archaeological dig at a Welsh castle. Eve is awaiting the arrival of Pulitzer prize winning journalist Jill Cassidy, who has expressed an interest in an interview.

As Eve and Jill begin to talk, Jill tells Eve of an attack on a schoolhouse that killed 27 children, and that she needs Eve to assist with reconstructions to bring all of the children home to their parents. Eve recommends other sculptors, until she learns of the circumstances – the killings took place in a war town area of the Congo, the children all killed by a mercenary named Nils Varak. As Eve declines the project and offers her information on other sculptors and programs, Jill leaves her with a packet – filled with biographies of the children – and asks her to read them.

As Eve reads the biographies and researches the civil unrest, she senses that she’s been manipulated by a master, but she’s also compelled to give her assistance, much to Joe’s dismay. With the assistance of Jed Novak, a CIA operative and friend of Jill’s, Eve makes her way to Maldara, to the city of Jokan, in Central Africa and sets up a makeshift studio for her work, she meets some bereaved parents in the small village, and begins the reconstruction of the first victim. It’s then she comes to learn the real reason she’s been brought to the country…to ensure that the killer is really dead…

As conflict arises, and Eve finds herself in danger, Joe leaves London and flies to her side. Soon, Eve, Joe, Jill & Novak find themselves pitted against a much greater evil – one they’re determined to stop for good – unless they are stopped first…

I cannot say enough about the Eve Duncan series and this book was no exception. With a well-crafted storyline and a great supportive cast, Eve again gets the job done, with the assistance of husband Joe, and as always, I could not put the book down!! I do miss Bonnie and her visits, but I love the way Eve’s character has evolved, and love the addition of Michael’s seeming empathic abilities too. This series just keeps getting better!

I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.

A Stranger On The Beach – Michele Campbell

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I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.

All I can say about this one is WHOA… I was sucked in with in the first page or two, and stayed up well into the night because I just could not put it down!
Caroline Stark and her husband Jason are a high society couple, and Caroline is putting the finishing touches on the sleek new home they just built on some beachfront property. Alone for the time being, Carolina is working on plans for their upcoming housewarming party, when she notices a young man standing on the beach, staring at the house, like he was casing it for a robbery. Later, after a run down the beach, she again finds him on the beach, admiring the house. She walks up to him, he complements the home, they exchange names, and he waves and walks off.

Aiden Callahan is a local bartender, and an out-of-town couple have purchased his grandfather’s old beachfront property and have erected what looks like a mansion to him. Reminiscing often of his childhood days on that beach, he visits often, and there he meets Caroline. He also is fortunate to be hired to tend the outdoor bar at her housewarming party, where he finds her fascinating.

In a sudden and unexpected twist, Caroline’s marriage comes unglued at the seams, and she finds solace in vodka at The Red Anchor. Aiden is tending bar that night, and in her drunken, angry state, she takes him home for a one-night stand – and Aiden decides he loves her. Meanwhile, Caroline decides to fight for her marriage, and she and her husband attempt to reconcile. She explains this to Aiden, but desperate to become a part of her life, he begins to exhibit possessive, angry and stalking behavior. And that’s just the beginning…

Told from the perspectives of both Caroline & Aiden, this novel grabs hold of you and won’t let go. As the stories begin to diverge in each character’s telling, you can’t help but wonder… just who is telling the truth?

Filled with edge of your seat suspense, I could not turn the pages fast enough to see where this was going to go! A great read, but once you pick it up, be sure you have time to read it from cover to cover, because you won’t be able to put it down…. Awesome read!!

Buried – Ellison Cooper

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FBI Agent and neuroscientist Sayer Altair is a week away from the end of her medical leave when she receives a call from her director, asking her to investigate a burial site that was inadvertently found deep in Shenandoah National Park, in the town of Rockfish Gap. With the FBI under congressional scrutiny after a serial killer was found in its midst, agents are spread thin, leaving Director Holt no choice but to activate Sayer early.

Off duty FBI & K-9 Agent Maxwell Cho was out walking his cadaver dog Kona in the park, when the dog unexpectedly alerted for remains nearby. Approaching the area, Max fell, literally, into an underground cavern with the skeletal remains of several individuals, prompting the mobilization of an investigative team.
Rockfish Gap’s sheriff, Kyle Nelson, also responds to the scene, and it becomes readily apparent that there’s bad blood between him and Max. Seventeen years ago, Kyle’s sister Cricket approached Max with a plea to help her disappear, and she’s never been seen or heard from again, leading Kyle to wonder if Cricket is one of the victims.

As the investigation begins, it becomes apparent very quickly that someone didn’t want those bodies found…and as the team struggles with identifications, they begin to receive some conflicting DNA data, leaving Sayer and her team mystified. But a killer is watching and waiting and soon another woman goes missing…

As they race to identify their killer, Sayer gets some unwanted help from a very unusual source – who just may have his own agenda for Sayer…
On my goodness, this was so good, and it kept me reading well into the night, and ever changing my mind as to who the protagonist was! A great read!! I cannot wait to read more of Sayer’s adventures in the hopefully very near future!

I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.

The Seekers – Heather Graham

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The FBI’s elite Krewe of Hunters returns in yet another paranormal adventure!
Joe Dunhill, former Savannah Detective, is the newest member of the Krewe of Hunters. After having a bit of unexpected paranormal help in solving his last case, and seeking to put his new talent to use, he is tagging along with agent Dallas Wicker as they investigate their latest case.

Keri Wolf is a writer who researches historical crimes and then documents her findings. She has been invited to witness and document the exploration into an old building in York, Philadelphia where a mass murderer reportedly lived and killed his prey. The historical story includes the death of a young woman at the hands of the innkeeper, and her father, so deranged from grief, then killed him and massacred the other inn inhabitants, with restless ghosts still haunting the Inn. Along with the new owner, Carl Brentwood, and the “Truth Seekers’, a crew of paranormal investigators, they also plan to try to validate the haunting.

Shortly after Keri’s arrival, a woman is found dead in the basement of the old inn, her body splayed out on an altar of sorts, covered in blood. She also sees another figure, a woman in white, staring at the body with tears running down her face… before she disappears. The York County Police investigate, led by the abrasive Detective Catrina Billings. When the body is identified as an FBI agent, the Krewe of Hunters is called in to oversee the investigation.

As Keri, Carl & the Krewe join forces and share information, they seek answers as to why an FBI agent from NY has become the latest victim of violent crime in PA and begin to suspect a link in their cases somehow. Meanwhile a pair of old ghosts recognize their intent to set the past right, and do their best to steer Keri & Joe in the right direction…

Filled with rich history of the area, likeable characters, mystery, paranormal suspense and a touch of romance, this book will hit the spot for paranormal suspense fans everywhere! Great read!!

I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.

Expire – Danielle Girard

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I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.

At the close of the last book of the series, San Francisco Medical Examiner, Dr. Annabelle Schwartzman was drugged and tossed into the back of a non-descript white van, while rendering aid to her neighbor.

Now, she’s awake and has found herself tethered by a plastic collar and chain in a home that appears to be in a remote location. Although she has long escaped an abusive marriage and gone forward with her life, she has always known that she would encounter her ex-husband again, and presumes he is the one who has taken her.

Hal Harris, San Francisco homicide cop and Anna’s lover meanwhile, is searching frantically. He too believes that Spencer is responsible for Anna’s kidnapping – but how can he be, when he’s hundreds of miles away, and meeting with his clients daily?

As Anna explores her prison, hoping to find some way out of her predicament, Spencer is plotting. His ultimate plan is so smuggle Anna out of the country, to a remote land where she’ll be forced to live as his wife…and prisoner.

The story progresses from each character’s viewpoints, as we watch Anna explore her situation, and we watch Hal as he attempts to hide his frustration at the roadblocks in his way. We watch Anna’s mother, as she slowly comes to realize that Spencer isn’t the ‘wonderful’ son-in-law she has always thought him to be, and we see her become an unlikely hero in the search for her daughter. And we see Anna, fierce in her desire to protect a secret, and to find her way back to Hal.

Even though we know, logically, that Anna should persevere, as she is at the center of this series, it’s hard not to lose hope, as the clock ticks and the past moves ever closer…

I found this novel quite suspenseful and found myself on the edge of my seat numerous times as I cheered with and feared for Anna & Hal. While certainly enjoyable as a standalone (and maybe the outcome is less certain to those who don’t know the characters) I highly recommend reading in the series order! Outstanding!!