Pretty Little Killers – Rita Herron! A GREAT read!!

Pretty Little Killers – Rita Herron

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

Korine Davenport was only a child when her father was shot and killed in front of her in their Savannah home. There was never an arrest made in his murder. Now, 25 years later Korine is an FBI Special Agent, who is determined to right that long ago wrong.

Special Agent Hatcher McGee is also searching for a killer – that of his estranged wife. He carries tremendous guilt after ignoring her phone calls about a stalker, because he was in bed with then FBI Cadet Davenport. In the same case, his partner was also critically injured, and remains unable to work. Hatcher has just returned to active duty, after hitting rock bottom himself. His new partner? Agent Korine Davenport.

Both have regrets about their one night together, for very different reasons. Now, thrown together, they attempt to ignore the burning attraction that still exists, as they investigate a series of murders – which all evidence indicates to be a vigilante serial killer, with a grudge. First, a judge, under derision for allowing a rapist to go free on a technicality. Next, a child molester, tied to a tree, emasculated, and left for alligators to consume, after a daring escape from a prison transport bus. Finally, a driving instructor, who liked to molest teenaged girls, but was never convicted of a crime. Found with a bullet wound to his groin, and his hands hacked from his body. All bodies are found with a symbol on them, representing justice.

As the search for a killer continues, passions flare, and Korine & Hatcher discover long buried secrets of her past, leading to a stunning and unforgettable conclusion!!

I LOVED this book! And the best part – it is the start of a series! I look forward to reading more of Special Agents McGee & Davenports adventures!

Shattered Mirror – Iris Johansen

Shattered Mirror – Iris Johansen

I received this novel as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review.

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Eve Duncan is back in her 23rd novel, as a mysterious gold wrapped box is left on the seat of Joe Quinn’s jeep. After carefully extracting the package and ensuring it’s not explosive, Joe opens the box to find a two faced mirror – with one side intact and the other broken. Beneath the mirror, there is a skull, charred from fire, but with a bullet hole evident. As he explores the property, he finds evidence that someone has been trespassing, and presumably surveilling the area.
As Eve starts to prep the skull for reconstruction, her son Michael, only six years old, but already displaying signs of a sixth sense intuition, suggests that the skull be named Sylvie.

Meanwhile, adopted prodigy Cara is in New York City, getting ready to head to Connecticut for a concert with roommate and best friend Darcy. Although very few know that she is the granddaughter of Sergei Kaskov, Jock Gavin comes back into her life to tell her she’s been shadowed, and he steps in to protect her. When she is attacked, and nearly killed, both she and room mate Darcy head to Atlanta to stay with Eve and Joe.

Meanwhile, Eve has just about completed the reconstruction of the skull, when Michael comes to look at it, and tells her that the eye color is wrong – they should be blue. And when Cara and Darcy arrive, Eve realizes that the skull is an exact duplicate of Darcy – and Darcy has a twin named Sylvia.
And so the next adventure in the Eve Duncan series begins, as Eve, Joe, Cara, Darcy and Jock search for answers in this seemingly complex puzzle, where lives are in danger, no one is safe, and uneasy alliances are made in an effort to save the lives of those they love.

From the lakes of Atlanta, to the bayous of Louisiana, this novel is packed with non-stop action! Much like the first Eve Duncan novel, written 20 years ago, and all the others since, I could NOT put it down!

Look For Me – Lisa Gardner

Look For Me – Lisa Gardner

I received this novel as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review.

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Detective Sergeant DD Warren is back, this time to investigate the slaying of a small family in Boston’s Brighton section. There she finds four family members dead, nothing of value missing, and the oldest child of the family missing, along with the famil’es’ two dogs. Is missing teenaged Roxanne the killer, or running scared?

Enter Flora Dane, a vigilante of sorts, who after surviving a kidnapping and torture of her own, now runs private chat rooms and teaches other victims how to protect themselves and go on living. Her newest rescue is Sara, a young woman who survived the brutal slayings of her roommates after a one night stand goes awry. They approach DD with information of their own as they realize Roxanne has been reaching out to them in their chat room, and DD grudgingly agrees to name her a confidential informant (CI).

As the investigation continues, we learn more about Roxanne and her siblings from Roxanne herself, as she re-lives the horror of she and her siblings being removed from her mother and being placed in foster homes – and we learn through her, that not all foster homes are safe and loving homes, and kids prey upon other kids in the name of survival.

As the action heats up and Roxanne is finally located, more questions than answers arise, until a stunning standoff reveals all is not as it seems, and even the most passive bystander is not quite what they seem to be…

A fabulous new addition to the DD Warren series, and one I read late into the night as it was too good to put down! While based on fictitious events, this book parallels the realities that some children in ‘the system’ face and will leave you wondering about the state of our ‘Child Protective Services’ for a long time to come…

Darkest Night – Tara Thomas

Hello Readers!!

Yet another book to write about – this one is along the lines of mystery/romance/suspense, along the lines of a Harlequin INtrigue. I quite enjoyed it and I hope you will too!!

Darkest Night – Tara Thomas

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The Benedict brothers are the heirs apparent to the large shipping company bequeathed to them by their father. Set in beautiful Charleston, SC, the company is prosperous, the family is Charleston royalty, and the youngest of the three, Keaton Benedict, has graduated from college and is expected to take his place within the company.

Tilly Brock was once a neighbor and close friend of Keaton Benedict, until false accusations of embezzlement left her father in disgrace and her family exiled from Charleston society. Now, with both of her parents gone, Tilly is working in an adult night club, as she puts herself through, school, in hopes of realizing her dream of becoming a teacher.

In an off chance, Keaton visits the night club, and spots Tilly out of the corner of his eye. As he realizes who she is, the past comes rushing back, and they realize they’re getting a second chance at love.

Meanwhile, someone wants to bring the Benedict family down. Known only as the Gentleman, he methodically kills those close to Tilly, with hints of her being the presumed end-game. And a young woman from another well-to-do Charleston family, Elise, has her eyes set on Keaton and his fortune, and will stop at nothing to ensure she becomes his bride.

This book will keep you turning pages as you cheer on Tilly and Keaton! However, there are unanswered questions and mystery abounds as the novel ends, leaving you in anticipation for books 2 & 3!

This is the first book I’ve ever read by author Tara Thomas, but it will not be my last!

The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an objective review…

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Lenora Allbright is a pre-pubescent ‘tween’ in 1974 when her war veteran father makes an impromptu decision to move the family to Alaska. After losing yet another job, the PTSD ridden Ernt receives a letter from the father of a deceased military buddy offering him his sons’ home and land in the last frontier state. They pack their meager belongings and head to rural Kaneq, AK, where they quickly learn that Alaska is another world all together.

A small town with no electricity and none of the modern conveniences, Kaneq is full of colorful characters who quickly welcome the Allbrights into their midst. There’s Large Marge, who left behind a life as an attorney, and runs the towns market. There’s Mad Earl, the town eccentric, and Thomas Walker, who’s family once founded Kaneq, and whom Ernt rapidly comes to resent, and the lovable Thelma.

As summer gradually gives way to fall and into the long, dark Alaskan winter, Ernt becomes more and more irrational, planning for events that don’t come, and pitting himself against the whole town. He takes out his fears and frustration on wife Cora, while Leni does her best to protect her. However, Leni becomes close to Matthew Walker, Tom’s son, and Ernt refuses to allow the relationship to continue. But continue it does, and Leni finds herself in an impossible position – run away with the man she loves, or remain at home and attempt to protect her mother from an increasingly abusive and volatile situation?

When an attempt to run results in a serious accident that threatens Matthews life, Leni must remain home to safeguard her mother. On a dark winters night, violence flares once again, leaving Leni and Cora having to flee the land they’ve come to call home, and the man that Leni loves …

I LOVED this book, and like most of Kristin Hannah’s novels, it really resonated with me. I don’t believe I’ve ever made it through one of her books without tears – and this one is no different!! A must-read for Hannah fans, and for anyone looking for heartwarming characters, descriptive and colorful writing, and a story you’ll remember long after you put the book down!

Also, Alaska has just moved way up on my ‘bucket list’ of places I need to see!

Ellie Bean

So, like most pet lovers, I swore that I was done for a while after the loss of my Sophie (see last weeks post), and yet, I didn’t make it for more than a couple of days before the overwhelming loneliness got to me and I found myself at the local humane society, wandering through their collection of animals looking for forever homes. It was a painful couple of hours…there were so many dogs, cats and even rabbits looking for homes.

I selected a few that I wanted to meet, but none of them were quite what I was looking for, nor did I find an instant connection with any of them. I honestly went in there hoping that a dog would pick me – not the other way around. It was distressing to say the least – all of these poor critters in cages, and the noise was deafening. They were power washing and cleaning/painting cages that day, so add that noise to the mix of barking dogs.

Then, somehow, I spotted Ellie. This poor little brown and white dog was cowering on her little mattress, and had her head hidden and she wouldn’t look at, or come to anyone. When I asked to see her, she shook like a leaf and tried to run and hide. Her backstory was that she was found in a pack of dogs, along with her presumed parents and siblings (who had all since been adopted) and that she was from another shelter. She was about a year old and had been at this particular shelter for a few months. She was so frightened – I knew I had to save her. And so, Ellie came home with me.

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Her first day home, scared and hiding

I tend to come up with crazy nicknames for my critters. Sophie, for example, resembled the color of peanut butter (sort of) so she eventually became known as ‘Sophanutter’ or ‘Nutter Butter’. Ellie is little so we started calling her Ellie Bean, or just Bean, which is pretty much all that we call her now…

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Getting used to the back yard, and no leash!

It’s been an interesting couple of months! She’s still afraid of everything, but she has come such a long way! She is my constant companion, night and day, and is an absolute cuddle bug at night. She has chewed through any harness we attempt to put her in, has destuffed pillows, chewed flip flops, and some articles of clothing, pulled seams apart on comforters, chewed holes in my sheet sets, and I wouldn’t change anything! She still doesn’t seem to know how to play, but the absolute joy on her face as she’s running on the beach or in the back yard gives me hope that she’ll continue to progress and forget whatever may have happened to her in the past.

Beach days!!

We LOVE our Ellie Bean!! I think Sophie approves and would have loved her too…

I LOVED this book!

Not That I Could Tell – Jessica Strawser

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An innocent wine filled Saturday night around a campfire amongst six neighborhood women with baby monitors in hand, sharing laughter and life. But the next day, one of these women is missing, with the evidence pointing to a hasty departure – children, clothing, luggage and money all missing. Did she really leave of her own free will? Or did her estranged husband have something to do with her disappearance??

This novel takes you on an intriguing ride, as you see the investigation unfold through each of the women’s eyes.

Kristin has vanished, an event that comes to light on early Monday morning, after her estranged husband Paul, receives a call from school, reporting that the children are not there. Puzzled, he comes to the house they once shared, looking for her, only to discover that certain items are missing from the home, with evidence of a hasty departure present. Mystified, Paul calls the police.

Clara and Isabel, two of Kristin’s closest neighbors, are also stymied by her disappearance. After interviews with the investigating Detective, Claire realizes how little she truly knew about her friend, and doubts begin to fill her head about Kristin’s estranged husband Paul. These doubts are further fueled when detectives report that Kristin had researched domestic violence in the hours prior to her disappearance.

The story unfolds through the eyes of Clara and Isabel, as well as past musings of Kristin, as time passes and no evidence of Kristin’s whereabouts can be found. Clara’s doubts about Paul grow, while Isabel, whom recently lost the love of her life in a strange twist of fate, struggles with loneliness, and finds herself feeling sorry for, and drawn to, Kristin’s bereaved husband.

Is Paul a jilted husband, or something far more sinister?

I have never read anything from this author before, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! One finds herself rooting for Kristin in the hopes that she escaped safely, all the while wondering is Paul is as innocent as he seems. Izzy and Clara become close to your heart as you learn about their lives and their concerns for their missing friend. As the novel races towards a stunning and somewhat predictable conclusion, it ends with a sweet surprise that ties it all together.

I LOVED this book!!