In The Darkest Hour – Anna Carlisle

In The Darkest Hour – Anna Carlisle

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If you like Kay Scarpetta of Patricia Cornwell fame, you HAVE to give Anna Carlisle’s “Gin” Sullivan a try!!

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

Virginia “Gin” Sullivan is a pathologist with a specialty in disinterment and decomposition of remains, who on leave from her Chicago position as an ME, has returned home to Trumbull, Pennsylvania where she teaches, and consults for the local police departments. She is sharing a home with her boyfriend Jake, who’s mother is found dead of a drug overdose.

Distanced from his mother since infancy, Jake initially denies any issues stemming from her demise, until one night he drags home a teenager that he saw selling street drugs and accuses him of murder. While the teen is initially arrested, Jake realizes that he needs a break, and essentially ends his relationship with Gin and leaves town.

Then Gin is asked by Tucker Baxter, Trumbull’s police chief to attend the autopsy for Jake’s mother. And a remorseful teenaged drug dealer leads police to another body buried in the woods – but this body has been embalmed…leading Gin and Tuck into a search for a grave robber, as well as a killer…

I’ve not read anything from this series before, and I must confess, I thoroughly enjoyed it!! Gin Sullivan should rank right up there with Kay Scarpetta for all of you Cornwell fans, and is well worth the read!! I look forward to catching up on this series in it’s entirely and seeing more from Anna Carlisle! A fabulous find!!

Liar, Liar – Lisa Jackson

Liar, Liar – Lisa Jackson

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

Remmi Storm has spent half of her life looking for her mother. As a child, her mother DiDi made a living as an impersonator, often dressing like Marilyn Monroe and providing her talent in various shows in an effort to support her family, including infant twins, all the while grasping for fame that seemed to be just out of her reach. Then one of the twins disappears, with Didi coming home with a suitcase full of money in its place. Taking the second baby, Didi vows to right her wrong and disappears into the night – never to return. Remmi, at the age of 15, reports her disappearance to the police, and is ultimately sent to live with her aunt – but DiDi and the twins are never found.

Now, 20 years later, a book has been published – a tell-all book about DiDi Storm and her colorful life. Sightings of DiDi commence, and Remmi is present when a Marilyn Monroe impersonator plunges to her death from the 19th story of a high-rise hotel – but the victim is not DiDi herself – but who is she, and why is she impersonating DiDi? That’s what Remmi sets out to discover, with road blocks at every turn – the book author – unavailable, the publisher’s office – non-existent. The police – less than forthcoming as they pursue their own investigation. Is DiDi still alive, or is someone from the past hoping to profit on DiDi’s memory?

Then, seemingly out of the blue, an old high school crush comes back in to Remmi’s life. He too has questions about that last night that he wants answered, but for very different reasons. He and Remmi team up in an effort to discover what truly happened all of those years ago, and unwittingly put their own lives in peril to do so…

I truly enjoy anything that Lisa Jackson pens, and this book, perhaps not her best, was no exception. While I confess, I was hoping for a bit different ending, this book is filled with drama, action and plenty of twists and turns that will keep you reading late into the night!

Copycat – Hannah Jayne

Copycat – Hannah Jayne

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

Addie Gaines is your typical high school student, with one exception. She loves books and is particularly infatuated with the Gap Lake books – a series of young adult mystery/thrillers that have developed quite the cult following. Addie is so entranced, she’s created her own blog about the series, and has written some fan fiction as well, that rivals the authors storytelling. She lives and breathes the series, and her blog has 27,000 followers. She’s also president of author R.J Rosen’s fan club!

Out of the blue, Addie receives a message from the reclusive author himself, praising her devotion to the series and offering her a sneak peak into the newest book, and hinting that there will be surprises along the way. Shortly thereafter, a classmate winds up dead, in a manner straight out of the Gap Lake series. Coincidence? Or is it something much more sinister??

This was quite enjoyable for a young adult novel, and something I will pass on to my daughter to read next! Mild on forensics, but big on teenaged drama with school and boys – with just enough suspense to keep you turning the page. Where were these kinds of books when I was younger??!! Nancy Drew, this isn’t!! A great read for the ‘tween’ and teen who loves mysteries!!

Available in stores on July 3rd!

The Girl In The Ice – Robert Brynzda

The Girl In The Ice – Robert Brynzda

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

DCI Erika Foster makes her debut in this fabulous series by Robert Brynzda. Set in London, England, DCI Foster is returning to work after an incident on a drug raid left several members of her former team dead, including her husband Mark. Having been sidelined by grief and her own feelings of inadequacy, Foster is brought into another precinct to command a murder investigation.

A young girl has been found frozen in pond ice and has been determined to be the daughter of a prominent London family. Due to the family’s stature in the London community, the investigation is expected to be run low key, in deference to the family, a situation that Erika does NOT agree with. Almost immediately her actions are questioned by both the dead girls’ family, and her commander, s well as the former commanding DCI who relinquished the case to her unwillingly. Erica’s refusal to dismiss a sighting ultimately leads to her removal from the case, forcing her to continue the investigation on her own.

But investigate she does, and soon she finds a witness, who’s information helps build Erica’s theory and sends the investigation that much closer to home. Reinstated, Erica takes advantage of her superiors being out of town to pull of a stunning move – but will she catch her killer or become his next victim??!

This was my first encounter with DCI Foster, but it will not be my last. A feisty, get-er-done Detective, who’s not afraid to buck her superiors to get a job done, Erika is my kind of character! Since this writing, Mr. Brynzda has released several more DCI Foster mysteries, and I aim to read each and every one of them! Great series for mystery lovers!!

Advance Directives…seriously…

I am a critical care nurse, and have been for the last 15 or so years. I’ve seen a lot of needless sufferings in those years, and so much of it comes down to being unprepared. We don’t like to talk about death – so many of us feel that talking about taboo subjects can somehow invite them into our lives. I don’t know why that is – even my significant other – when I attempt to discuss our growing older and eventual illnesses, states “I don’t want to talk about that.” Well, people, we HAVE to talk about it…now, more than ever.

We’ve all heard of living wills…they are documents that we fill out in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury, that state our wishes should an event like this happen. I do NOT want to be resuscitated, I do NOT want to live my life on a machine, I do NOT want to be fed through tubes, etc. They also allow us to designate a person to make those decisions for us if/when we are able to do so. If there is no document, then those decisions fall to your nearest relative, typically your spouse, child, or parent. Well, sorry that you’re going through an acrimonious divorce, your husband is still legally the decision maker at this point in time. Yes, I know you have children, but your eldest is only 17, so your estranged father has to make these decisions – from California. Yes, I’ve seen ALL of these things happen. I’ve watched a trophy wife try to get her critically ill husband to sign over the rights to his estate while he was sedated and on a ventilator! (Yeah, no – we nurses did NOT allow that to happen!)

Now a word about those machines…it’s a knee jerk reaction for some to say “No – I don’t ever want to be kept alive by machines!” But what many don’t understand is that we can often get you through a critical illness and on the road to recovery using those machines on a temporary basis. Not every illness requiring a ventilator is a ‘forever’ type of illness. Just ask the 25 year old asthmatic who was put on life support the other day – she’ll be fine – she just couldn’t get the job done (breathing) without some support in an acute flare of her asthma. Ask the septic patient – he required life support for an infection that had overwhelmed his body – but should recover with supportive care and strong antibiotics. If you’ve ever had a surgery – you’ve likely been on life support for the procedure as well. We don’t think about that.

Then there’s the other side of the coin – a stage 4 cancer patient, who suddenly stops breathing in the car on the way to his next chemo appointment – an ambulance is called and the patient is resuscitated, and the family wants everything done. He has no living will, so we do as the family wishes. Some of you may be thinking – “that’s right, take care of him, he can beat this yet and he deserves the chance!”; while others may be cringing, thinking, “why would you do that to the poor man – he’s already dying of cancer for cripes sake?”. And honestly, I’ve heard it all…I can remember one woman – from my early years of nursing, who’s elderly, vegetable-like husband, was in the hospital for another bout of pneumonia, and the physician attempted to clarify goals of care with her. Meaning, he’s sick, he’s never going to recover from his old stroke that left him bedbound, unable to move, and fed through tubes – do you want us to treat him aggressively, or make him super comfortable and let him go peacefully? (Nowadays, we call that hospice care.) That woman poked her index finger hard into that doctors chest and said “It’s your JOB to keep him alive for as long as you can!” I will never forget that.

And yet, this isn’t about the judgement of others – we all have different feelings about life and death, and different desires – it’s about knowing what YOU would want and having it in writing – and designating a person to speak for you when you cannot – who will uphold your wishes, as emotionally difficult as it may be.

Hmmm…why’d she make that bold? Well, let me tell ya. You’ve got to be sure your designated decision maker won’t flake out on ya. Two big scenarios I’ve seen…

The first involved a young woman who was in the beginning stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). She had told her physician that she did NOT want a tracheostomy and ventilator support when that time came. The doc had it well documented in office notes, etc. But the patient never did any advance directive paperwork, so when it came down to the wire – the patients husband basically told the hospital and her physicians, “Do it, or I’ll sue you”. And it was done. Could the docs office notes have protected him? Perhaps… But in the litigious society we live in now, no one is going to take that chance. I often wondered how their marriage fared after that, or how long she lived, and what quality of life she had.

Another incident occurred more recently. Another advanced stage cancer patient, had a potentially curative surgical procedure, but wasn’t doing well post-operatively. This woman had a living will, and a DNR (do not resuscitate) order. However, DNR does not mean we won’t treat you to get you better – it just means we will not resuscitate you if your heart should stop. She went on the ventilator, and over the course of a few days, wasn’t getting better. The physician wanted to take her back to the OR to see if there was something amiss. The patient, still on the ventilator and moderately sedated, was shaking her head no – no she did not want to go back to the OR – she wanted the tube out and wanted to be comfortable. Because she was receiving sedation, it could be inferred that the medications were not allowing her to think clearly. Her family overruled her and back to surgery she went. She died a few days later.

These situations haunt me…they really do…

I’ve been rambling here, but I guess the moral of the story is – HAVE those discussions with your family and loved ones. KNOW what you would want and be sure that your loved ones do too. Designate someone you TRUST to uphold those decisions in the event that you cant, and REVIEW your paperwork frequently and AMEND it as needed – marriages fail, friendships fade, and families change.

Do you have a living will or a health care power of attorney yet?? Why not??

OMG – This was sooo good!!

Bum Deal – Paul Levine

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

Jake Lassiter is a practicing defense attorney, working in South Florida. Along with his partners & best friends, Steve & Victoria, they have made a name for themselves providing defense for anyone who needs it. Jake, being a former football player, and infamous for a play on the field that once cost his team a big game, also appears to be suffering from the beginning stages of CTE.

As this book begins, Jake finds himself irresistibly tempted by an offer from The State’s Attorneys Office of Florida – asking him to ‘switch sides’ and assist with the prosecution of a well-known physician for the murder of his wife. Intrigued, Jake accepts the challenge. The trouble is, there is no body…

As Jake attempts to put together a case, his friends and colleagues are called upon to defend the physician, a former college boyfriend of Victoria’s, pitting the best friends against one another in this high profile case, with a stunning ending!

I’ve not read any of Paul Levine’s work before – and I cannot understand how I could have missed this series. With snappy, laugh-out-loud dialogue and characters that are so well written you want to step right into the pages with them, Bum Deal is a real winner!! I can’t wait to read more of Jake Lassiter’s adventures!! Fabulous book!!

Something In The Water – Catherine Steadman

Something In The Water – Catherine Steadman

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Erin & Mark have been a couple for years – finally marrying and honeymooning in Bora Bora. As the novel opens, Erin is digging a grave deep in the woods, and the grave is for her husband Mark. As she labors over the dig, she opts to let the reader decide whether she’s a good or bad person – and then the story begins.

Mask is an investment banker, and Erin is a novice filmmaker, presently working on a documentary about three individuals who are preparing to leave prison to resume normal lives, one of whom is a crime boss. As they celebrate their anniversary of meeting, and planning a wedding, Mark unexpectedly loses his job. With financial pressures now looming, they modify their wedding plans, and opt for a shortened honeymoon to Bora Bora. While enjoying the idyllic atmosphere, they spend time boating and diving – it is on one of those excursions that they find a locked duffle bag floating in the ocean – they retrieve it, intending to turn it in, but giving into temptation they open it… changing their lives completely…

There’s not much more to say without spoilers…I really, really enjoyed this book – the character development and the nuances of personality change exhibited over time by the findings, are totally believable and make for a great read. I read this book in one sitting – highly recommend!!

I’ve had a GREAT run of reads from Netgalley lately – if you’re an avid reader, but not familiar with the site, head on over to http://www.netgalley.com