Labyrinth of lies by Irene Hannon

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

St. Louis County detective Cate Reilly can’t believe she’s agreed to work undercover again. Her trafficking assignment was dreadful enough, but admittedly she’s the best candidate for this current job. An Ivy Hill Academy boarding school student, Stephanie Laurent, age 17, has disappeared. Her boyfriend is missing as well, and Cate has been assigned to go undercover to find out what happened to them. Thankfully, her youthful appearance is an asset to the investigation. At 33, she’s not looking forward to becoming a student again, especially since she’ll be working on the case with her ex, Zeke, who practically abandoned their relationship eight years prior to pursue a career opportunity. Cate was devastated, and collaboration on their assignments at Ivy Hill is more than she bargained for. But illegal activities are taking place at the school, and Cate and Zeke have already been targeted and attacked while trying to crack their individual cases, leading them to believe that Stephanie’s disappearance is likely linked to the school. It won’t be easy keeping up the pretense of teenage student, and pretending not to have feelings for Zeke, but if foul play is involved in Stephanie’s disappearance, Cate is determined to stay the course.

Labyrinth of lies was a page-turner. Suspicious key characters were introduced almost immediately and drew me right into the story. The intrigue and suspense held up until the mystery was solved. Cate’s teenager persona was convincing and fun to observe, along with her attempts to deny interest in her ex. The secondary characters had questionable intentions and kept me guessing as to whether any of them were involved in Stephanie’s disappearance. Ultimately, there was a twist I didn’t see coming that led to a satisfying conclusion.

Labyrinth of Lies was an excellent read that I truly enjoyed. An added bonus was that it was free of any foul language or sexual content. If you like fast moving suspenseful books with a romantic element and characters that will keep you riveted from the first page to the last, then you’ll want to read Labyrinth of Lies. Definitely recommended.

Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of Labyrinth of Lies. My opinions of it are strictly my own.

Yukon Justice by Dana Mentink

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

Someone is stealing reindeer off of Katie Kapowski’s aunt Addie’s Family K Reindeer ranch, and her reluctant aunt needs Katie’s help to apprehend the perpetrator, Addie’s estranged brother, Terrence. Leaving her dream job in Anchorage, Alaska as assistant to the Alaskan K-9 Unit, no thanks to Brayden Ford who thought her incapable of handling the job and denied recommending her for it, Katie is on her way from Anchorage to Palmer to assist the woman who raised her since she was ten years old after a tragedy changed Katie’s life forever. Realizing that she can’t capture a homicidal lunatic on her own, Katie knows she will need help. She didn’t expect that help to come in the form of Trooper Brayden Ford, the man who felt humiliated by what Katie revealed to him regarding the woman he loved. Brayden is the last person she wants helping her, but her uncle is hurting people she cares about and she can’t let him win. Terrence is relentless, and Katie is determined to get the stolen reindeer back and save the Family K Ranch even if she has to wrestle with her feelings about Brayden Ford while doing it.

Dana Mentink is a highly skilled suspense writer. Yukon Justice has just the right amount of suspense to keep the pages turning. When you consider the gentle development of romance and subtle Christian theme it wins on all levels. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading others like it.

I received a complimentary copy of Yukon Justice from the author for my honest opinion which I have given.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 4.5 stars

Rose and Fern Castle are fraternal twins. Fern relies heavily on her sister Rose and trusts her to keep her calm and in control. Fern, while fully capable of working and living on her own, has a disorder that causes her to experience sensory overload when exposed to too much light, sound or commotion. Rose knows how to rescue her sister from those unpleasant situations and comforts her, and Fern is grateful. Rose is Fern’s “person.”

Rose and Owen’s marriage is in trouble. Rose wants a baby so badly that it’s put a strain on her marriage. Fern could give her beloved sister that special gift. Her new beau, Wally, would be a good candidate. He’s incredibly smart and financially set. He understands Fern’s behavior and still accepts her and cares deeply for her. But one thing he disagrees with Fern on is Rose’s character. Wally doesn’t trust Rose. What if Rose isn’t so special after all?

Secrets, lies, deceit, suspense, excellent characterization and a surprising ending, The Good Sister has a mix of elements that makes it hard to put down.  I liked the structure—short chapters composed of present day and intermittent journal entries by each sister. I particularly loved Fern’s character. She was quirky and straight-forward. The book kept me guessing about Rose and Fern—which one was the good sister? I truly enjoyed trying to figure out which sister I could trust. I would have given the book five stars but the ending, although good, was lacking something. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I wanted a little more.

Overall, I loved The Good Sister and highly recommend it.

The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars

Currently, Tessa’s home life isn’t the greatest, so she’s hopeful about her escape to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York with her two children, Katherine and Ben, for the summer. She’s left her husband, Kyle, at home. Pine Cottage doesn’t compare to the sprawling beach homes surrounding it, but Tessa is determined to show the kids a good time. And things might be looking up. Rebecca Finlay is vacationing in one of those large houses next to Pine Cottage, and she has three kids: Zoe, Charlotte and Max, who are in the same age range as her two kids. Rebecca and Tessa couldn’t be more different. Rebecca is perfect in every way—incredibly poised and always impeccably dressed, self-assured and confident with an air of sophistication, attractive and well-off financially. Tessa, on the other hand, is none of those things. Yet, she’s attempting to form enough of a connection with her next door vacation neighbor so that the following three months will be tolerable, maybe even enjoyable, for her and her kids. But things aren’t always what they appear to be. As the summer progresses on both women will have to face troubling realizations about their lives, and they’ll pay a heavy price doing it.

The Secrets We Keep pulled me right in. Kate Hewitt is one of my favorite authors so that didn’t surprise me. There was an element of suspense that intrigued me and kept me glued to its pages. I could feel the tension building as I read on and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen. But then the focus shifted in a direction I wasn’t expecting and things slowed down a little for me. The book was still good but I felt like the narrative lingered in some parts and wasn’t comprehensive enough in others. I was left with questions that needed answers. I hope there’s a sequel. It felt like a lot of leading up to what I thought would be this tantalizing revelation, but that fell a little flat for me in the end. 

The Secrets We Keep is still a solid four stars and I did enjoy reading it.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4-stars

Alice Lake

Alice Lake is a middle-aged single mother of three boisterous children and three unruly dogs. Her home is a chaotic mess, but it’s warm and sufficient. She lives by the ocean and one day sees a strange man sitting outside on the beach in the rain, cold, with no jacket and looking bewildered. Curious, Alice approaches him, offers him a jacket and learns that the man has lost his memory. He doesn’t even know his name. Against her instincts and her children’s objections, she invites the lost man to stay in her vacant rental unit. He agrees. Who is this man and could he be dangerous?

Carl and Lily Monrose

Carl and Lily Monrose have been married three weeks before he up and vanishes one day. Lily knows something is wrong when he’s more than an hour late getting home from work. Carl is never late. He can’t wait to get home to her. Lily knows virtually no one where they live in England. They’ve lived there a short time, and she’s from Kiev, Ukraine, so she has no friends or family nearby to reach out to. The police are not taking her too seriously about her husband’s supposed disappearance. They figure she’s some mail order bride, and that her husband has gone off voluntarily. Lily waits the requisite period and when a policewoman finally fills out a report on Carl she’s slightly relieved. She hands over her husband’s passport for the police to inspect and goes home. But soon afterwards she receives a phone call with information that sends her searching for answers about her missing husband.

The Ross family

Gray and Kirsty are traveling with their parents to the same old cottage they’ve been going to for years on vacation. They’re teens now and would rather not go, but they have to. Gray observes how his sister is growing up into a young woman and he feels a brotherly affection for her; the need to look out for her and protect her from men who think like he does about attractive women. He sees how men look at his sister, especially the man called Mark Tate, who winds up in close proximity to them on the beach, close enough to charm Gray and Kirsty’s parents into coming over his aunt’s sprawling home, where he’s staying, for tea and cake. The parents immediately accept the invitation and Gray is furious. Mark’s eyes seem to linger on Kirsty, and Gray doesn’t like it one bit. What does this Mark character, who’s 19, want with his 15 year old sister?


These are the three narratives that play out in I Found You. Each storyline makes slight progress as the scenes revolve from one to the other. And then the three narratives converge into one jaw-dropping revelation.

I immediately started on I Found You after finishing my first Lisa Jewell book last week. It was so good I needed another, and this one did not disappoint. It had the right amount of suspense and kept me guessing throughout until the conclusion, when it all came together.

Between the two books, I enjoyed Then She Was Gone more than I did I Found You, because it wasn’t as raw and felt more plausible. However, you will get a well developed, excellently constructed suspense story with either one.

Thanks for visiting.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell **TOP PICK**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars

This book kept me on the edge of my seat!! Here’s why…

Paul and Laurel’s daughter, Ellie, goes missing one day at the age of 15. She just disappears. Years later the effect of her disappearance has taken a toll on the family. Laurel is divorced from Paul, and their two other children, Hannah and Jake, have moved on with their lives, trying to put the past behind them. Laurel works a job a few days a week, visits her elderly mum in a nursing home and exercises regularly in order to keep some semblance of normalcy to her life. But then more devastating news comes, and Laurel struggles to find a way to keep going.

Things start looking up when Laurel meets Floyd and they begin a relationship. Floyd has two girls of his own; Sara Jade, 21, and Poppy, 9. Poppy is a precocious child who Laurel feels drawn to because of her resemblance to Ellie. Laurel might be on her way to finally putting her life back together. But then she begins to have doubts about her relationship and the man she’s dating. She’s not sure if she can trust him. She’s finding out things about Floyd that cause her to feel suspicious about him. Is he the man she thinks he is? Is her life in danger?

Then She Was Gone is psychological suspense at its best!! This was my first Lisa Jewell book and it was phenomenal!! The build up was intense, and I was thoroughly engaged in the narration from beginning to end. The characters were all very well developed and there was an amazing twist I didn’t see coming.

Regarding Lisa Jewell, I finally know what all the hoopla is about. She is an excellent writer!! I already started on another one of her books. I highly recommend Then She Was Gone.

Have you read any books by Lisa Jewell?

A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

When Ryan Gracey gets an unexpected phone call from her older sister, Wendy, who’s out of town, asking her for a huge favor, Ryan is alarmed. Something sinister has transpired and Wendy insists that Ryan travel to her home and care for her two young daughters until further notice, a tall order from her near-perfect sibling, the mother of her two nieces of whom Ryan knows very little about. Stunned and confused by her sister’s instructions, Ryan finally relents and heads to Florida where their mother is currently watching her nieces, Holly and Noelle. The girls are taciturn, odd little precocious children, and Ryan quickly realizes the enormity of her decision. As days turn into weeks with very little contact from Wendy, Ryan begins to put her sleuthing skills to work to find out what’s going on with the sister she hardly knows. When the pieces of the puzzle begin taking shape will Wendy turn out to be an innocent victim, or a mastermind of deception?

Wowza!! I devoured this book. A Family of Strangers was like patiently awaiting a light rain transform into a thunderous storm. As the storm intensified I could feel the tension mounting and the mystery unfolding, relieving me of the unanswered questions that lurked in my mind. Why was Wendy refusing to come home? How would Ryan find out what happened to her? Was Wendy the golden girl everyone made her out to be, even her parents? Why were Ryan’s nieces so peculiar? As the story

unfolded I got the answers to all of these questions and more.

I connect easily with Emilie Richards’ writing voice. I love the dialog between characters, and the length of her books allows for excellent character development, which makes for a great story.

There’s so much to love about A Family of Strangers; excellent character building, a thoroughly satisfying mystery, an enormous twist I didn’t see coming, intrigue, a little romance, an amazing dog and a couple of kids who eventually stole my heart. A great read.

Thank you, Emilie Richards, for a complimentary ARC of A Family of Strangers in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Have a great day everyone, and thanks for reading. 😊

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.

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 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.

The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

[I’m trying to get back on a regular reading schedule amid doctor’s appointments and other life complications. Thank you for being patient with me as I play catch up with reading your posts and posting reviews. You guys are the best!! 😊]

Charlie Donlea sets the bar incredibly high for suspense novels. His books are compulsively readable. They are automatic buys for me, and I’ve read all three of his releases. His writing style is uniquely appealing, and I connect with it immediately. From the first few pages a mental picture develops and evolves into a vivid story that’s so engrossing that I’m completely immersed until the last page.

Phew! Now that I’ve finished gushing about Donlea’s writing skills, here’s a look at The Girl Who Was Taken….

Two girls go missing one night from the same beach party. One girl, Megan McDonald, escapes her abductor and returns home. The other girl, Nicole Cutty, is still missing. The book opens about a year after the girls were taken. Livia Cutty, Nicole’s older sister, has not given up looking for her. She’s a fellow in forensic pathology and is hopeful that she will find her sister and put an end to the mystery of what happened to her. As Livia intensifies her investigation into Nicole’s life she discovers many bizarre things about her sister and the activities she was involved in—shocking things.

Nicole has been all but forgotten by the general public, whereas Megan is in the spotlight, receiving accolades and recognition from her bestselling book, Missing, about her ordeal. And while Livia can’t help feeling bitter about Megan’s lot, she also couldn’t resist buying and reading Megan’s book, hoping that she would somehow discover clues leading to her sister’s whereabouts. What Livia doesn’t expect is to perform an autopsy on a man who is linked to her sister. What, if any, clues can come about from this discovery?

The Girl Who Was Taken was spectacular!! Seriously, I was on the edge of my seat, especially toward the end when the chapter lengths shortened and the tension amped up. I felt as though I was on an exhilarating joy ride that refused to slow down and release me, and it was wonderful.

I loved the plot development. Intricate details are successively woven throughout the chapters that begin to paint a picture of the lives of the abductees. I was in eager anticipation of the twist I knew would come, and I was not disappointed. And while the book left me with a few questions, it in no way detracted from my overall opinion of it. Excellent read. Highly recommended.

(Warning: There’s some teenage foul language, and detailed forensic descriptions in this book.)

Have you read a book by Charlie Donlea?

Thanks for reading everyone!!

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage


😩😩😩😩= 4 frightened faces

WARNING: MEAN, CREEPY CHILD ALERT!!

If you’ve ever seen the 1956 movie, The Bad Seed, the little girl in Baby Teeth is a younger version of that disturbed child, but worse!! Hanna’s behaviour makes it clear that there’s something seriously amiss with her, but her father refuses to acknowledge it since she’s all sunshine and roses when she’s with him. Consequently, her mother’s accusations about their daughter fall on deaf ears. Sweet little Hanna couldn’t possibly be as bad as Suzette asserts. Or could she? Suzette is a nervous wreck, trying to find out what’s wrong with Hanna. Everything she says to her daughter is taken as a personal affront, and Hanna lies in wait for the perfect opportunity to retaliate. She wants her father to herself, but has she gone too far to achieve her goal?

I was scared y’all. While reading Baby Teeth I had mixed emotions. But mostly I was feeling like…

Hanna’s devious, demented mind made me stop and ponder what I’d do if I had a child like her. Sometimes I felt like shouting at Hanna’s mother….RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!

At other times I wondered what Suzette could have done to make her daughter feel the way she did. 🤔

I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and compulsively readable. I felt intrigued, horrified, angry, compassionate and sad while reading it. I did have a couple of issues with the book. For one thing, Hanna’s internal dialog, at times, seemed too mature for a seven-year-old child, even a precocious one. I had to suspend disbelief to believe that she could contemplate and then execute some of the dastardly things she did. Another issue stemmed from the author’s occasional use of vulgar language which was entirely unnecessary. I’d be reading along happily and then BAM!, I would get hit with a vulgar word or statement and I thought, “what just happened here?!” 😡 Omitting those parts would not have changed the highly satisfying quality of the book.

Overall, Baby Teeth was a very good thriller that kept me in suspense, frightened me and left me with a contented smile on my face at the end.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of Baby Teeth. All opinions about the book are honest and entirely my own.

Have a great day everyone, and thank you so much for visiting.

Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea – **Top Pick**

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 5 stars

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In the words of Joe Kenda of Investigation Discovery: “Well my, my, my.”

Charlie Donlea certainly knows how to spin a tale.

Following is confirmation that I loved this book:

1. I couldn’t wait for an opportunity during the day to read it

2. I couldn’t stop thinking about it

3. I kept inundating my husband with details about it

4. I opened it up at 3:00 a.m. and started reading instead of going back to sleep after using the bathroom

5. I wasn’t longing for it to be over so I could read something else

6. I kept thinking to myself, “this guy can write!” as the book progressed and I was flipping pages faster than my little arthritic pinky finger could handle

7. The final sentence sent a wave of exhilaration coursing through my body, making me wish I could call up Mr. Donlea ASAP and gush about my thoughts

8. My e-reader showed I’d reached 100%, but I was still attempting to find more pages

9. I’m poised to add it to my Best Reads list for 2018

Need I go on?  If those reasons don’t convince you, then I highly suggest that you read this book and see for yourself. (Don’t Believe It releases in the U.S. on May 29th.)

And now here’s a very brief summary of the plot….

Julian Crists’s body is washed up on Sugar Beach, part of an island resort in St. Lucia, where he was vacationing with his girlfriend, Grace Sebold, who is found guilty of his murder and spends a decade in a St. Lucian prison cell, all the while proclaiming her innocence. She’s exhausted her appeals and it looks likely that she’ll be living out her days locked up. Desperate, she reaches out to a former acquaintance, Sidney Ryan, by means of letters written continually asking for her help. Sidney is a documentary film writer whose films have exonerated a couple of wrongly convicted criminals. Sidney makes the decision to help Grace by producing a real-time documentary of her findings regarding Grace’s case; new episodes airing each week revealing her findings from the previous week’s research. The documentary is a monumental hit for Sidney, and fans of the show loyally tune in to find out the fate of Grace Sebold. Will Sidney’s instincts prove true regarding Grace’s innocence?

There’s so much more content, but this is all I can share without giving anything away. Charlie Donlea truly delivers with this one. And I just love his writing. His stories are riveting. He’s a new favorite suspense writer for me. Highly recommended.

Thank you Netgalley, Kensington Books, and Charlie Donlea for an e-ARC of Don’t Believe It. In exchange I have provided an honest review of my thoughts about it.

Have an awesome day everybody! And thanks so much for visiting Cozynookbks. 💕

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

Look what I found. The U.K. edition:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫- 4.5 stars

The Perfect Nanny gets off to a chilling start and then takes us back to what leads up to its tragic beginning.

The nanny, Louise, does everything right. EVERYTHING! The delicate-looking, dainty woman is much stronger than she appears, and handles domestic chores with ease while still proficiently looking after Myriam and Paul’s two young children, Adam and Mila. Myriam feels relief that she can pursue her career goals again now that Louise keeps things running smoothly and efficiently at home. She does get in the way sometimes though, when Myriam wants to spoil and nurture her children. And Louise’s quirks can be a bit irksome at times. But Myriam can’t deny the confidence she has in the woman’s adeptness and dismisses any concerns that crop up along the way. That is until some of her noticeably bizarre behavior becomes unsettling. Why are the childrens’ parents delaying in taking necessary steps to dismiss her? They will pay the ultimate price for their callousness.

Sometimes when things appear too good to be true, they really are….

The Perfect Nanny is a psychologically gripping page-turner. Incredibly, this book is not laced with violence and profanity, just a subtle creepiness that gives you pause. Tidbits dispersed throughout the book help us to piece together how and why the nanny may have become deranged. The author wants us to draw on Louise’s life circumstances to reach our own satisfying conclusion regarding her ultimate insane act. Initially, I was thoroughly miffed about the ending. I felt like why did the author do this to me, ….

But after a few days of ruminating on it I started to feel much better about it, to the point of actually liking it. (Thank you Holly B of Dressed to Read, my reading buddy, you were right!!) 😉

Holly also alerted me to the fact that this book was inspired by true events.

Some scenes were a bit wordy at times, and the litany was causing me to feel like, ALRIGHT ALREADY! I GET IT!! But overall, this book was an excellent read. Just keep in mind that it’s the journey that will amaze you, not the destination. Recommended.

Thank you Edelweiss for a complimentary copy of The Perfect Nanny. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Has anyone else read The Perfect Nanny? I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!!

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

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4-Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Four women wonder who the presumably single woman is who moves onto their family-friendly Pleasant Court street. And why does she feel comfortable speaking to them so familiarly almost immediately, as though she’s known them all for years? Perplexed, they watch Isabelle, wondering what her intentions are. Essie’s mother has misgivings about the mysterious neighbor from the start. She’s different from their little clan, and vague about her background, so why did she move from Sydney to Melbourne and into their neighborhood?

Each of the three families on Pleasant Court has its own secrets and insecurities that tidily remain hidden within the confines of their own homes, while outside appearances paint a very different, more pristine picture. They’re keeping secrets from their families, and secrets from their neighbors. But the women are slowly becoming unhinged by the various complexities affecting their lives. Fran is trying to run from her problems—literally; subconsciously burning through the fear and regret that prods her every day. Essie is detaching from her familial obligations; her husband and mother worrying about her, especially since her frightful episode a few years back. In their minds she’s fragile and unstable. Ange’s guilty conscience is eating her alive, even though she is the one everybody envies—the one with the great career, gorgeous husband, immaculate home and well-mannered kids. Little do they all know that Ange is insecure about said husband whom she can never seem to track down, and who gives her a niggling feeling about his activities when he’s not at home. What is everyone hiding, and who is the stranger on Pleasant Court?

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I like the way The Family Next Door starts out mellow, builds, and then reaches a crescendo. But after that it ends rather abruptly. The psychological buildup was intense, but the end result was tamer than I’d anticipated in some instances. Specifically when it came to the enigmatic neighbor. I think there could have been a little bit more dramatic effect in some cases. However, the story advanced forward easily overall, and I was eager to turn pages. But as far as the conclusion goes, I wanted just a bit more. Other than that it really was a great read. The way and time in which secrets were revealed was excellent. Each revelation came when I wasn’t expecting it and I was blown away by how the author executed those parts. It was very well done. I would definitely recommend this book.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an E-ARC of this book, in exchange I have provided an honest review.

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The Wife Between Us

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 3.5 stars

I will dispense with summarizing the plot on this one because it’s too difficult to do without spoilers.

My initial reaction to this book was confusion when I first started reading it, yet I was also intrigued. I was intent on figuring out what was truly taking place with a wife, a husband and a mistress, since the back of the book said this:

WHEN YOU READ THIS BOOK, YOU WILL MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement—a woman who is about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume you know the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing.——————

So I did. I assumed nothing. I dismissed from my little brain what appeared to be the obvious and waited patiently to understand what was really going on with these three characters; and I waited….and waited….. And there lies the challenge I had with this book. It peaked and then waned. I felt like not much was happening in the middle and I was getting too easily distracted away from continuing on with it. By this time I was feeling like….

At one point I put it down to start another book, but I continued on with this one and eventually finished it. In the end, I didn’t feel that the main character’s actions were enough to carry this book. Perhaps more involvement from secondary characters or external factors would have made it more exciting?? I don’t really know. It was enticing in some ways at times, but not enough to make me long to pick up where I left off until maybe the last seventy pages or so. And by then I just wanted to know what the supposed surprises would be. There were a few clever twists, but unfortunately the greatest twists took too long to be revealed and I had a feeling of too little, too late.

Overall, The Wife Between Us had wonderful potential, with a few great twists, but to me it was a little disjointed. Had the execution been different I think I would have enjoyed it more. The conclusion didn’t quite compensate for the lead-up. The authors used a fair amount of subterfuge to set things in motion, but by the time I got to the end I felt a little cheated. Apparently from the ratings I am not in the majority as to my feelings about this book, so maybe it just wasn’t for me. Please don’t let my review stop you from giving this book a try since so many others seemed to enjoy it.

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for a complimentary copy of The Wife Between Us in exchange for an honest review which I have given. Until next time. Thank you for reading.

Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

On Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, pretty, young law student, Becca Eckersley, died. Why did somebody take her life in such a passionate way? And why are the state police tight-lipped about any details surrounding Becca’s Murder?

Kelsey Castle, True Crime book author and journalist for Events Magazine, has just returned to work prematurely after a six-week leave-of-absence, having survived her own, as yet undisclosed, traumatic life event. Her boss informs her that he’s sending her to Summit Lake, a small town in the foothills of the beautiful blue ridge mountains of NC, to formulate a story about what might have happened to Becca.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Rewind fourteen months and we are introduced to Becca’s three best friends, and then we’re given a sequential account of Becca’s daily activities which consequently led to her demise. At the same time, Kelsey Castle is tracing Becca’s steps in Summit Lake; questioning her acquaintances, friends and significant others in an attempt to learn more about the girl that she’s becoming psychologically attached to. As she digs deeper into Becca’s life, she unmasks secrets, coverups and deceptions that just might explain what caused Becca’s death.

This book was perfect for me. It had just the right amount of mystery and suspense, and a more subtle thriller factor which I personally prefer. I really appreciate it when an author can create an amazing story without having to resort to needless shock value content in the way of excessive foul language, gratuitous violence or explicit sex scenes. Charlie Donlea accomplished this in a skillful way. There were a couple of unexpected twists that had me like …

Yup, I couldn’t believe it. Totally caught me off guard. I love it when an author can pull that off successfully.

This book was excellent. I was impressed, kept in anxious anticipation of what would happen next, and would jump at the chance to read another mystery/suspense book by Charlie Donlea. Highly recommended.

And finally, below is a trailer for Summit Lake.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by Cozynookbks.  Have a great week.

Review: Home to Stay


Home to Stay by Kate James
My rating:            5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚

Home to Stay is San Diego K-9 Unit Book 4.

Sawyer Evans’s four-year-old son, Dylan, was kidnapped from their campsite while vacationing with family.  San Diego K-9 unit officer, Shannon Clemens, is called upon with her search and rescue dog, Darwin, to try to locate the missing child. The initial search is unsuccessful and Sawyer is livid. Shannon’s emotions are stirred by Sawyer’s deep agony over his son’s disappearance, and because of her own prior personal experience with loss, she feels compelled to help Sawyer find Dylan. In time, the distraught father and caring, compassionate officer develop feelings for one another. But when another incident causes tension between the couple, their connection is strained. Will the feelings they’ve developed be enough to overcome the obstacles they’re currently facing?

Home to Stay was thoroughly engrossing from the start.  As new developments in the abduction case surfaced, the suspense and intensity continued to build, keeping me interested and engaged in the story. The intriguing mystery surrounding Dylan’s disappearance propelled the plot forward. I was put in the mind of a romantic suspense novel—albeit a milder approach to the romance and suspense elements, making it suitable for a wholesome romance book. The relationship and dialog between Sawyer and his son was endearing—so sweet and pleasant to read. Dylan was a darling little boy, and I looked forward to scenes where he was present. The relationship between Sawyer and Shannon was at times complex because of surrounding circumstances and I kept trying to envision how things would turn out for the two of them.

Riveting and imaginative, I enjoyed this book immensely. An intriguing mystery, suspense, police procedurals, a strained romance and HEA, are some of what you’ll get in Home to Stay. Very highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Review: Hunted

Hunted
Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Evelyn Baine, special agent and FBI profiler extraordinaire is on the hunt for a particularly cold-blooded, sadistic serial killer who displays his victim’s bodies from the neck up in the deep woods for his own pleasure.   Identifying this violent and demented killer won’t be easy for a petite, mixed-race woman working amidst a male-dominated investigation team that treats her more like a newbie than the skillfully trained, ardent and proficient professional that she is.  Her determination in catching these criminals can be attributed to the loss of her best friend, Cassie, who was abducted and never found nearly seventeen years ago. But now Evelyn is the one being Hunted, and this monster is intent on adding her to his list of victims.
This evenly paced, cleverly crafted thriller kept me interested throughout. I was intent on finding out how Evelyn would escape her fate of winding up like the victims before her.  The ending had me flipping pages faster than I could count!!  I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for thriller/suspense lovers everywhere. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, VANISHED.  Thank you Elizabeth Heiter for a copy of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Hazardous Homecoming by Dana Mentink

IMG_3410.JPG ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️   Oooohhh….this was a good one, a great love-inspired suspense story. The suspense aspect kept me guessing to the very end, and I was both shocked and surprised by the outcome. Ruby’s friend goes missing and 20 years later she finds key evidence that could lead to what actually happened to her. However, this finding has the potential to negatively impact the lives of cherished loved ones, and in the midst of it all could ulimately shatter and destroy the bond of love between Ruby and Cooper, who seem destined to be together. I enjoyed this story of love and loss; and Ruby’s struggle to exercise faith in God was both moving and realistic given the trials she was faced with. More often than not I am hesitant to read inspirational fiction, not because I am not a believer, but because I AM. Oftentimes I find this particular genre of books to be too preachy, with the spiritual message often forced into the dialogue at seemingly inopportune times, and in an unnatural way. I can be happily reading along and suddently I’m barraged with a heavy dose of scripture and the author’s interpretation thereof. Isn’t that what inspirational fiction is? Perhaps to some, but not all. For those of us who are religious and possess scriptural knowledge interpretations are taken quite seriously, and if the reader perceives it as incorrect or misinterpreted the reaction can be one of annoyance rather than satisfying. The inspirational fiction category can be tricky in this regard. A writer may be attempting to upbuild readers when in actuality they may be accomplishing the opposite effect, offending the readers’s own cherished belief system and doctrinal interpretations. Dana Mentink handled this superbly in Hazardous Homecoming. She used just enough inspiration to render the book encouraging. It was not overly saturated or laced with scriptural doctrine so as to conflict with my own Christian beliefs. It was for this reason, and the fact that the story was suspenseful and intriguing that I gave Hazardous Homecoming 5 stars. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review which I have given.