REVIEW: HEAVEN ADJACENT, BY CATHERINE RYAN HYDE

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

I found Heaven Adjacent tucked away on my Kindle, begging to be read, and I was happy to have discovered it at just the right time in my life. I needed something heartwarming that would pull me out of my own problems. The perfect kind of escape.

I really enjoyed Roseanna and her entourage of squatters on that little hideout she had created for herself. Who wouldn’t find her new life a perfect respite from New York City and its pressures?

The author paints a beautiful picture of Roseanna’s new life and the characters that soon fill it up for her. Dealing with loss and creating a new kind of world sounds perfect to me. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and gave a blissful sigh at the conclusion. An unexpected five star read.

***

REVIEW: THE MISSING SISTER, BY ELLE MARR

In Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one.

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…

Shayna is the first person narrator of The Missing Sister, and when she arrives in Paris to search for her twin, she is unsure if her sister is missing or dead.

She follows clues she finds in Angela’s apartment, and accepts help from a man she believes to be her sister’s boyfriend. There was something off about him, but also the man who claimed to work for the embassy set off red flags, too.

Would Shayna figure out what happened to Angela? Would she escape those who seem to be following her? Who is the serial killer that seems to be one step ahead of her while she searches?

An engaging story that kept me turning the pages, I was happy when the answers were finally revealed. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: COCONUT LAYER CAKE MURDER, BY JOANNE FLUKE

 

When Hannah learns that her sister Michelle’s boyfriend, Detective Lonnie Murphy, is the prime suspect in a murder case, she goes straight from a movie studio sound stage to the Los Angeles airport.

Back in frigid Minnesota, she discovers that proving Lonnie’s innocence will be harder than figuring out what went wrong with a recipe. Lonnie remembers only parts of the night he went out to a local bar and ended up driving a very impaired woman home. He knows he helped her to her bedroom, but he doesn’t recall anything else until he woke up on her couch the following morning. When he went to the bedroom to check on her, he was shocked to discover she was dead.

Hannah doesn’t know what to believe—only that exonerating a suspect who can’t remember is almost impossible, especially since Lonnie’s brother, Detective Rick Murphy, and Lonnie’s partner, Chief Detective Mike Kingston, have been taken off the case. Before everything comes crashing down on Lonnie like a heaping slice of coconut layer cake, it’ll be up to Hannah to rack up enough clues to toast a flaky killer . . .

The main thing we know for sure at the beginning of Hannah’s investigation into the Coconut Layer Cake Murder is that her friend Lonnie is innocent. She would bet her life on it. Well, almost. As Hannah goes through the process of eliminating the various other suspects, she is baking cakes and cookies regularly, her way of thinking when she is trying to solve something.

I liked Hannah’s sense of humor, her thought processes, and how she was also trying to sort through her feelings for both Norman and Mike, potential love interests in her life.

As we follow Hannah and her investigation, we are also treated to various recipes stashed between the chapters. Yum! It’s a good thing that I couldn’t actually see her baking the goodies, like we do when viewing her actions on the Hallmark Channel. I wouldn’t be able to turn away from the temptations.

In the end, Hannah figures it out, with the help of her friends, and even starts to decide who is the most suitable partner for her in life. 4 stars.

***

REVIEW: WHEN YOU SEE ME, BY LISA GARDNER

FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy and Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren have built a task force to follow the digital breadcrumbs left behind by deceased serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. When a disturbing piece of evidence is discovered in the hills of Georgia, they bring Flora Dane and true-crime savant Keith Edgar to a small town where something seems to be deeply wrong. What at first looks like a Gothic eeriness soon hardens into something much more sinister…and they discover that for all the evil Jacob committed while alive, his worst secret is still to be revealed. Quincy and DD must summon their considerable skills and experience to crack the most disturbing case of their careers—and Flora must face her own past directly in the hope of saving others.

Multiple narrators tell the story in When You See Me: D. D. Warren, Kimberly Quincy, and Flora Dane take us into the deep and dark tale set in a small town in Georgia. A town surrounded by forests that feels familiar to Flora from her captivity with Jacob Ness.

I loved how the characters interacted with one another, one of my favorite aspects of this series. D. D. and Flora have a special connection because of Flora’s experiences with Jacob Ness. Flora also brings out the nurturing qualities in D. D.

A young girl unable to communicate is a victim in the mayor’s house, and as D. D. tries to help her, the girl opens up in small ways until there is finally a breakthrough for her. Plus, she helps by revealing information through her drawings.

Another brilliant and engaging book that earned five stars from me.

REVIEW: DEAD TO HER, BY SARAH PINBOROUGH

Marriage can be murder…

SOMETHING OLD

Marcie’s affair with Jason Maddox catapulted her into the world of the elite.
Old money, old ties, old secrets. Marcie may have married into this world—
but she’ll never be part of it.

SOMETHING NEW

Then Jason’s boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London.
Young, attractive, reckless—nobody can take their eyes off Keisha.
Including Marcie’s husband.

SOMETHING YOU CAN NEVER, EVER UNDO…

Some people would kill for the life Marcie has—what will she do to keep it?

 

Marcie is trying to fit into her new life in Savannah without letting the past keep her captive.

Keisha wants the money she would have if her wealthy and brutish husband dies.

Jason longs to take over the company from his boss.

All of these people have secrets, and the darkness that keeps them from being truly good will surely dictate what happens next in their lives.

Dead to Her unfolds from the perspectives of them all, and we are left trying to guess who has suddenly turned a corner into true darkness. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the author surprised me in the end.

An enjoyable read, but it seemed to take forever to read it as I sank further into the darkness with the characters. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: YOU ARE NOT ALONE, BY G. HENDRICKS/S. PEKKANEN

Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.

Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better.

Shay would die for them to like her.
She may have to.

Shay Miller is lonely, sharing an apartment with a man she secretly loves…and his girlfriend. When she witnesses a tragic event on the subway, she is caught up in the victim’s life and swept away by the attractive friends.

But suddenly, just when the new friends have seemingly brought her into the fold, everything changes. How did Shay become another victim? Were her questions about the victim Amanda suddenly putting a target on her back? Who could be turning her life upside down, and why?

Trying to find the links and connections brought her closer to the answers.

I loved how Shay took notes in her “data book,” and the more she writes down the closer she comes to discovering the truth. An intense story, You Are Not Alone kept me rapidly turning pages to the conclusion of this 5 star read.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE VANISHING, BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ

 

Decades ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, The Incident occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases. The residents slept for two days. When they woke up they discovered that things had changed—they had changed. Some started having visions. Others heard ominous voices. And then, scientists from a mysterious government agency arrived. Determined not to become research subjects of strange experiments, the residents of Fogg Lake blamed their “hallucinations” on food poisoning, and the story worked. But now it has become apparent that the eerie effects of The Incident are showing up in the descendants of Fogg Lake.…

Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClair, best friends and co-owners of an investigation firm in Seattle, use what they call their “other sight” to help solve cases. When Olivia suddenly vanishes one night, Cat frantically begins the search for her friend. No one takes the disappearance seriously except Slater Arganbright, an agent from a shadowy organization known only as the Foundation, who shows up at her firm with a cryptic warning.

A ruthless killer is hunting the only witnesses to a murder that occurred in the Fogg Lake caves fifteen years ago—Catalina and Olivia. And someone intends to make both women vanish.


We first meet Catalina and Olivia when they stumble into the caves and witness a murder. The explosion that left them forever changed will lead them to go along with the town residents in blaming the after effects on food poisoning, and it will be years before they realize that the visions they are seeing are actually useful and can help them solve cases.Their investigations become very personal when Olivia is snatched from the streets by the nefarious members of a group called Vortex.

As she follows clues, Catalina literally bumps into Slater Arganbright, a member of the Foundation, and together they will search for Olivia…and become connected in interesting ways.

Finding the truth about the caves and that long-ago murder will finally keep them safe and help the residents of Fogg Lake.

The Vanishing is an interesting tale that will become an ongoing quest in this new series. 4 stars.

***

REVIEW: WHEN I WAS YOU, BY MINKA KENT

After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence.

But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why, Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger.

What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.

From the very first page of When I Was You, I was drawn in and invested in what might happen next. The beginning part of the novel was in the first-person narrative of Brienne, and I kept reading long into the night. When the narrative switched to Niall’s voice, the thriller aspect reared itself big time.

Who are these characters? What is really happening? It is clear that our characters and their stories are not at all what we believed them to be.

To avoid spoilers, I will leave the plot there. Suffice it to say that I was captivated and intrigued. As each narrator took over, alternating over time, I was on the edge of my seat. While each one was believable, I knew who was reliable right away. A five star read.

***

REVIEW: NO PLACE LIKE HOME, BY REBECCA MUDDIMAN

What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home. The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.

Polly, our first person narrator in No Place Like Home, just wants her own house. A home to call her own. Everything she does is directed toward that goal, and just when she thinks she finally has what she wants, everything starts unraveling.

Because Jacob keeps showing up. Then Cathy, the woman at her mother’s care home, stops by uninvited. Why are they all disturbing her and ruining everything?

In the beginning, we feel sorry for Polly, as she tells the story from the past to the present and back again. Her story is a bit confusing at times, suggesting that she might have issues. Is she making everything up? Is there more going on with her?

Then comes an opposing reality as we look more deeply into her story…and into Jacob’s. Maybe nothing is what it seems.

By the end, we are just happy to escape from these disturbing and somewhat unlikeable characters. But the story kept me turning the pages, earning 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: SUCH A PERFECT WIFE, BY KATE WHITE

On a sunny morning in late September, Shannon Blaine sets off for a jog along the rural roads near her home in Lake George, New York. It’s her usual a.m. routine, her “me time” after dropping the kids off at school…except on this day she never returns.

Is her husband lying when he says he has no clue where she is? Could Shannon have split on her own, overwhelmed by the pressures of her life? Or is she the victim of a sexual predator who had been prowling the area and snatched her before she knew what was happening.

True crime writer Bailey Weggins, on assignment for the website Crime Beat, heads north from New York City to report on the mysterious disappearance. An anonymous tip soon leads Bailey to a grisly, bone-chilling discovery. Every town has its secrets, Bailey reminds herself, and nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. She keeps digging for answers until—when it’s almost too late—she unearths the terrifying truth.

 

From the first page of Such a Perfect Wife, I was pulled into the story of a missing jogger in the lovely town of Lake George. Having read other books with reporter Bailey Weggins as the main character and first person narrator, I was rapidly turning pages to see what she would discover next. I liked the way her mind worked, and how we learned her processes through her internal monologues and the conversations she had with the missing woman’s family and friends.

Just when we thought there was nothing to connect one suspect to the murder because of a link to other murders, suggesting a serial killer, something unexpected tipped Bailey off…and put her in grave danger. A heart-pounding tale that kept me glued to the pages and earned 5 stars.

***