Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea – **TOP PICK**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars

Well, he’s done it again folks. This book!! 😃 I didn’t think he’d be able to top his last hit, Don’t Believe It, but this one certainly measured up. Charlie Donlea is quickly becoming my favorite suspense writer. I’ve read and loved all four of his books. They are page turners. I won’t attempt to summarize Some Choose Darkness for fear I might accidentally disclose spoilers, so here’s the description from Goodreads

The truth is easy to miss, even when it’s right in front of us. As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office a week after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case come to life once more.

In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies and no clues behind—until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, whose unorthodox investigation skills appear to have led to his identity. But before police could question her, Angela disappeared. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder—the only crime the DA could pin on him. As a former client of her father’s, Rory becomes reluctantly involved with the killer—though he continues to insist he didn’t murder Angela. Now he wants Rory to do what her father once promised: prove that Angela is, in fact, still alive.

As Rory begins reconstructing Angela’s last days, another killer emerges from the shadows, replicating those long-ago murders. With every startling discovery she makes, Rory becomes more deeply entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell—and in The Thief’s tormented mind. Drawing connections between past and present is the only way to stop the nightmare, but even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging . .

The suspense is incredible in this thriller! There’s a dual timeline and both plots kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t intrigued by one part and bored with the other, as is sometimes the case when authors write parallel plots.

Charlie Donlea is a master of twists. Each time one is revealed it leaves you wide-eyed, with mouth agape wondering how he pulled it off so effortlessly without your catching on to it. The twists in his books never cease to amaze me. His writing style is ultra-appealing—fluent, crisp, and without extremes. You won’t find excessive, unnecessary foul language and sex scenes in this book. Just great writing. The amount of research that goes into his books is evident, and I love his use of flawed characters which make his stories more realistic and relatable. I’ll be waiting patiently for his novels to be made into movies. 😌 They’re just that good. Period. Very highly recommended.

Thank you, Kensington Books and Netgalley, for a complimentary e-book copy of Some Choose Darkness. All opinions stated in this review are my own.

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Bad Blood by John Carryrou – **TOP PICK**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

Bad Blood is a startling account of how young Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes, used misleading information, persuasive speeches and downright lies to advance her start-up company’s interests by pulling the wool over the proverbial eyes of investors who collectively contributed to the nine hundred million dollars she amassed before finally relenting and succumbing to the accusations of fraud, which eventually caused her net worth to plummet to zero dollars. Elizabeth Holmes maintained that her mini-lab invention would revolutionize healthcare. With her striking blue eyes, unusually deep voice and Steve Jobs-like work attire, Elizabeth’s charismatic charm and convincing sales pitch mesmerized audiences and won her listeners over, time and time again. Her staff was impressive both in size and credentials, although turnover was high. Nevertheless, the money poured in. There was only one problem. Elizabeth’s invention didn’t work.

Before I started listening to this book I wondered how the author would keep me interested in a start-up company’s downfall for a whopping 11 hours, 37 mins.! I underestimated his ability and the intensity of the story. This book blew my mind!! I had so many emotions while listening, but the foremost one was disbelief. I was astounded by how long Elizabeth Holmes was able to fool so many people with what amounted to a product that never advanced from the prototype stage, but that nonetheless made its way into a major drugstore chain.

I want to believe that Elizabeth had good intentions in the beginning, but that perhaps greed slowly began to crowd out her vision, and as a result, somewhere along the line her actions belied the very cause she set out to advance. Maybe she got caught up in the fervor of being the successful female entrepreneur that so many people were rooting for. Perhaps in her quest for fame and fortune she stopped considering the human factor involved and the lives she could harm by pushing her invention when she knew it had failed miserably.

The fake it ‘til you make it tactic worked for an impressive amount of time, but eventually the jig was up, and it was all downhill from there. In the end, Elizabeth had a good idea, but she couldn’t implement it. The question that still lingers within me is did she ever think she really could?

This book was incredibly well written and kept me immersed in the narrative the entire time. Very highly recommended.

Thread Herrings by Lea Wait (audiobook – Tantor Audio, and ARC – Kensington Books)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

First, I’d like to thank Kensington Books for a complimentary paperback ARC of Thread Herrings. And Tantor Audio, for the free audio download. What a privilege to have both versions to enjoy.

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When a tattered, badly damaged coat of arms embroidery piece catches Angela Curtis’s eye while at an antiques auction with her friend and antique shop owner, Sarah Byrne, Angela is determined to own it. In its dilapidated state few people seem interested in it and Angela easily wins it. She’s curious about its origin, particularly because of the piece of paper from a foundling hospital she finds tucked inside. So when she’s presented with an opportunity to find out more about the embroidery and its contents by appearing on television, she accepts the invitation. But when a seemingly harmless investigation into the coat of arms embroidery turns deadly, Angie’s life, as well as her family’s, is soon in terrible danger. Who’s behind the death threats, and why would anyone want her dead over an old piece of embroidery?

Thread Herrings is another keenly plotted cozy mystery in the Mainely Needlepoint series. These stories are always well developed and full of depth, both in plot line and characterization. I always learn something new when I read a book in this series, and I can count on a unique story of a high calibre that will keep me entertained and in suspense. Thread Herrings delivers. Recommended.

Thanks for stopping by. Here are a couple of pictures of my 18.5 year old cat, Kit-Kat. 😊

Have a great day.

The Bad Seed by William March – Read by Elizabeth Wiley (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars

Rhoda Penmark is not your ordinary little girl, and her mother, Christine, senses that something is off about her child. There’s a cold, calculating way about Rhoda that makes her mother uneasy and hesitant to confront her innermost fears regarding her daughter. Others are troubled by Rhoda’s odd behavior and shy away from her. Even the devious, troublemaking maintenance worker, LeRoy Jessup, senses that there’s something amiss about Rhoda. When he catches her alone he taunts her and lets her know he’s got her all figured out. Does he? But then there’s Christine’s wise and intelligent neighbor, Monica Breedlove, who’s intimately acquainted with Rhoda and adores the child. Who’s assessment about little Rhoda stands true? After all, she can be quite sweet with those whom she likes. But it’s quite different when the reverse is true, or if you have something she wants.

I loved listening to this book!! It took me back to the 1956 film of the same name starring Patty McCormack as young Sociopath, Rhoda Penmark. The book was written in 1954, and it was excellent!! Slightly different from the movie version and a bit more detailed. The author is a highly proficient writer and I was frequently caught up by his expressions and viewpoints on various topics and subject matter. Although Rhoda’s behavior factors prominently in the story, this book is not about a child’s murderous rampage. It was written in 1954 after all. It equally focuses on Rhoda’s mother and how she handles the truth about who her daughter really is.

This book was excellent and I highly recommend it. The audio narrator, Elizabeth Wiley, did an INCREDIBLE job portraying each character—both male and female. Her portrayal of Rhoda was so similar to how the young girl sounded in the movie I was enthralled. Fantastic job!

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of The Bad Seed. All opinions about it are honest and entirely my own.

Have a great day everyone!! 🦋

The Twin Test by Rula Sinara – (To Kenya, with Love series – book 5)

💚💚💚💚💚 – 5 hearts

Dax Calder is in over his head. He’s taken a job in Kenya, far from the U.S., where he lives with his eleven-year-old identical twin girls, Ivy and Fern. While in Kenya, Dax is desperate to find someone to look after his girls while he works on a new project for the oil company that’s employed him. Upon observing a young, attractive woman, Pippa Harper, patiently giving a tour to six children, he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. He’ll pay her an inflated wage if she’ll watch his girls until he can find a nanny to replace the one who just quit. Did I mention she is nanny number seven (or eight)? Pippa is no fool. The money will help her to expand and accelerate the education program she provides to village children who wouldn’t otherwise be given an opportunity to learn how to read. But these twin girls are no ray of sunshine in the behavior category. They’re starving for attention, as Pippa will soon learn.

Having grown up in Kenya with her mom on the Busara Elephant Research and Rescue Camp, Pippa’s all about preservation and environmental conservation and all that. Meanwhile, Dax is selling his soul by abandoning his true love of researching seismic activity in exchange for the large paycheck he’ll receive developing subterranean maps so that the oil company can drill or frack in Kenya’s wilderness, which could stir up earthquakes. Dax is cautiously withholding that information from Pippa, but his heart is another matter. What will she think of him if she finds out who he’s working for and what he’s doing? Can feelings supersede principles?

I loved this book!! Rula Sinara is an amazing storyteller who knows how to develop a convincing love story. The evolution of Dax and Pippa’s relationship was so beautifully orchestrated. Ms. Sinara is also very good at educating us about foreign affairs and unfamiliar cultures. I am always enlightened and fulfilled by her stories.

There is only one book left in this series beyond The Twin Test, and I will be so sad to see it end. The first book in the series, The Promise of Rain, was the first Harlequin Heartwarming book I ever read and I haven’t looked back since.

I highly recommend this book, and the entire series. I look forward to the sixth and final book, The Marine’s Return.

Have a great week everyone!! And thanks for reading. ☺️

The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland – (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

Kirsty Rawlings is beside herself with fear. She overheard something on her child’s baby monitor that horrified her. She summons the police and informs her husband of her suspicions. But her fears seem unfounded.

Kirsty is feeling a bit insecure. After their baby, Daisy, came along, her relationship with her husband, Dominic, has become mostly platonic and less romantic. Money is tight, and her nerves are on edge after a mess of strange, unexplained occurrences have happened. Paranoia grips her. She’s always harried and suspicious of everyone around her. Neighbors regard her cautiously. Do they think she’s crazy? Is somebody trying to take her baby? Is her husband involved with someone else? Has her best friend betrayed her? Is she delusional?

This book!! I have to admit that when I first started it I thought it was going to be just another predictable psychological thriller. I was wrong. I did not anticipate the twists and turns that left my mouth agape and my mind whirling. And that epilogue!!

This was my first Shalini Boland book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I purchased this audiobook from Audible. The narrator, Katie Villa, was excellent and contributed to my enjoyment of the book. Recommended.

Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

When four of her employers go out of town without informing her, or paying her, sassy domestic worker, Blanche White, is forced to write a few bad checks that land her in hot water. She might be headed off to prison. Fortunately, a commotion surrounding an unfortunate event involving the county commissioner enables Blanche to make her escape from the courthouse without notice. What will she do? Where will she go? She finds herself in the home of a wealthy family, disguised as a former worker. Blanche figures she can make some money in the meantime before she’s found out and then move on with her life. But she’s chosen the wrong house to get lost in. Things are not what they appear to be in the household. So when two murders happen within her short stay at this hideout home, Blanche will need her quick wits to get away safe, and to uncover who did away with her newfound friend.

This book immediately drew me in. It was creative right from the start, which hooked me. And then Blanche’s personality, which mimicked some women I’ve encountered in real life and in the movies, entertained me. How can I explain her character? 🤔 It was a little like a mix of Octavia Spencer’s character, Minnie, from The Help, and Madea from one of Tyler Perry’s movies. One of my favorite characters was Mumsfield, a mentally challenged man with a big heart, a love of cars, and an instant attachment to and wholesome affection for Blanche. Mumsfield, although autistic, was very keen in many ways, and there was just so much to love about him.

I would not characterize this book as a cozy mystery because it contains some mature themes and serious subject matter; material that’s best suited for adult readers. It was not the comedic mystery that I thought it would be based on the cover. The setting was the Deep South, and if you are particularly sensitive about outspokenness regarding racial inequalities and prejudice, I’d think twice before picking up this one. Blanche can be a bit salty with her tongue, and other characters are not shy about expressing their feelings about minorities and using condescension in their tones. Nonetheless, the mystery aspect was top-notch, and I was both impressed and surprised by the outcome.

The audible narrator’s performance given by Lisa Reneé Pitts was OUTSTANDING!! She imitates male and female voices, dialects and accents with ease. As the villain, her maniacal laugh was priceless. I look forward to listening to other books she’s narrated.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary audio download of Blanche on the Lam. All opinions expressed about it are my own.