How I Spent My Summer (I Have A Book Deal!!!!)

When I started this blog back in 2012, it was because I wanted to write. And though it’s been a while since I’ve written a post (March of this year – time flies!) I have been writing. A lot. And I’ll be writing a lot more. And editing. A lot. And smiling . . . also a lot.

Because while success doesn’t happen overnight, hard work does pay off.

Earlier this year, I signed a five-book deal with UK publisher Bookouture. That’s right – the same publisher who gave us Angela Marson’s wonderfully dark and gritty DI Kim Stone series. And Lisa Regan’s hauntingly disturbing Detective Josie Quinn series. And now . . . my Chief Maggie Riley series. That’s right!

But that’s not all!

Because I also have two standalone psychological thrillers coming out – the first one as early as January 2023! I should hear the final titles any day now, and also . . . covers!!!!

Which I will definitely make sure to share here, and in less time than it took me to get around to sharing this fantastic news, I promise! (In all fairness, I just came up for air for the first time in months! Seriously – family members are starting to forget what I look like!)

I can’t wait to share more details with you about this amazing journey as it gets further underway!

But in the meantime, I have. So. Much. Work. to. Do!!!!!!

Book Review: The Locked Door By Freida McFadden

From Goodreads:

Some doors are locked for a reason…

While eleven-year-old Nora Davis was up in her bedroom doing homework, she had no idea her father was killing women in the basement.

Until the day the police arrived at their front door.

Decades later, Nora’s father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon with a quiet, solitary existence. Nobody knows her father was a notorious serial killer. And she intends to keep it that way.

Then Nora discovers one of her young female patients has been murdered. In the same unique and horrific manner that her father used to kill his victims.

Somebody knows who Nora is. Somebody wants her to take the fall for this unthinkable crime. But she’s not a killer like her father. The police can’t pin anything on her.

As long as they don’t look in her basement.

My Review:

McFadden has quickly become one of my go-to authors when I need a book that will keep my attention and deliver an intriguing plot with impressive twists. She’s a master at suspense, and I love that no matter what the ‘theme’ of the book, from influencers to camping trips to serial killers, there’s going to be something that feels fresh, inventive, and unexpected in the pages!

Book Review: She Lies In Wait By Gytha Lodge

From Goodreads:

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

“A dark, deep, terrific thriller and a scorching portrait of friendship and its betrayal” Nicci French

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.

But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

My Review:

I always find British (or any country other than the US, really) procedural books interesting because there’s a definite difference in the way cases (even fictional ones) are approached. This one had an interesting premise, with plenty of suspects. It was well written and held my attention, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped, probably for the very reason that it was a procedural book set in another country, and while I always find them interesting, there’s also always a little bit of a disconnect because of the very differences I find so interesting. Also, while there were clues left for the reader, I would have enjoyed a stronger “aha!” moment. Overall, though, a good mystery and an enjoyable read.

ARC Book Review: The Night Shift By Alex Finlay

From Goodreads:

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive.

Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words… “Goodnight, pretty girl.”

In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive.

Twisty, poignant, and redemptive, The Night Shift is a story about the legacy of trauma and how the broken can come out on the other side, and it solidifies Alex Finlay as one of the new leading voices in the world of thrillers

Review:

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I could NOT put this book down! The initial mystery grabbed me by the throat and kept me in a stranglehold until the very end! Then, as layer upon layer was added, deepening the intrigue, my finger started blistering from turning the pages so fast! This one will keep you guessing (and on the edge of your seat) until the very end! I liked ‘Every Last Fear’, but I LOVED ‘The Night Shift’. This is definitely an author to watch!!!

Book Review – Want To Know A Secret? By Frieda McFadden

Freida McFadden is one of the new authors that I’ve recently discovered whose work just keeps me glued to the pages. Take this book, for instance – it’s about a wife/mother/YouTuber with secrets. Given the blurb alone, this isn’t something I would have normally picked up. It would have been an easy pass because it’s not the kind of plot I’m normally interested in. And even while reading it, I asked myself what I was doing because, again, this isn’t the type of plot I’m normally interested in, plus, I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and yet – I couldn’t put it down! My eyes literally devoured it at breakneck speed! Bonus points for the nasty little twist she put at the end to sink the dagger of surprise deep between the reader’s shoulder blades. She’s quickly becoming an automatic yes author for me!

Book Review – You’ll Be The Death Of Me By Karen McManus

The newest release by YA mystery author Karen McManus is described at Ferriss Bueller’s Day Off – with murder, which, I have to tell you, sounds like an adventure in awesomeness that I very much wanted to be a part of.

There’s no denying that parts of this were suspenseful, but I couldn’t help comparing this to her other books…..and it kind of underwhelmed. I was more interested in the dynamics of the friendship than in the mystery, and even that didn’t make me feel vested enough to stay glued to the pages like she usually keeps me, which is a shame because I wanted to love this one so badly! Entertaining, but definitely not her strongest.

Book Review: At First Light By Barbara Nickless

Gritty murders full of symbolism. Viking lore and ruins. An academic and a detective hot on the killer’s trail.

This was a smart book that read like watching a movie and kept me guessing until the end! The characters were great, well developed, perfectly flawed, and interesting. The plot was enthralling, and the Viking history, semiotics, and lore were fascinating! This is the first in a brilliant new series that is sure to be a success!

From Goodreads: Ritual murder. Archaic clues. A visionary killer. In this heart-stopping novel by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Sydney Rose Parnell series, words can kill.

On the muddy banks of the Calumet River, a body has been found posed next to a series of mysterious glyphs and bearing wounds from a ritualistic slaying. Chicago detective Addie Bisset knows only one man who can decipher the message left by the killer: her friend Dr. Evan Wilding. A brilliant forensic semiotician, Evan decodes the etchings as Viking Age runes. They suggest either human sacrifice or righteous punishment. But to what god? And for what sins?

Only one thing is clear from the disturbing runic riddles: there are more victims to come.

As Evan races to determine the identity of the Viking Poet, he and Addie uncover the killer’s most terrifying secret yet: the motive. This startling discovery puts Evan’s life in mortal danger, and verse by ancient verse, time is running out. 

Book Review: Third Girl By Agatha Christie

A young woman confesses that she thinks she may have committed a murder, then vanishes, leaving Christie’s legendary sleuth Poirot desperate to find her and to figure out just exactly how one could not know whether they were a killer or not.

This was a little slower than some of Christie’s other tales, but is good nonetheless. This slow burner presents a complex mystery where reality is subjective and not everything is as it seems.

From Goodreads:

In this breathtaking Agatha Christie mystery, the Third Girl sharing a London flat with two others announces to Hercule Poirot that she’s a murderer and then disappears. The masterful investigator must figure out whether the missing girl is a criminal, a victim, or merely insane.

Three young women share a London flat. The first is a coolly efficient secretary. The second is an artist. The third interrupts Hercule Poirot’s breakfast confessing that she is a murderer—and then promptly disappears.

Slowly, Poirot learns of the rumors surrounding the mysterious third girl, her family, and her disappearance. Yet hard evidence is needed before the great detective can pronounce her guilty, innocent, or insane.…

Book Review: One By One By Frieda McFadden

Three couples leave for a rural resort vacation, but when their car breaks down they find themselves stranded and lost in the woods . . . but are they alone?

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and while the plot was no less compelling than the first, I found the writing a little weaker in this one. I was so drawn in by the story, however, that I barely noticed the little hiccups after a while as I sped through the pages!

From Goodreads: One by one, they will get what they deserve…

A night spent sleeping on dirt and leaves is not how Claire Matchett expected to spend her vacation.

She thought this would be a break from the stresses of work and raising her young children. A chance to repair her damaged marriage. A week of hiking and hot tubs with two other couple friends. It sounded like heaven.

Then Claire’s minivan breaks down on a lonely dirt road. With no cell reception, the group has no choice but to hike the rest of the way to their hotel. But it turns out the woods aren’t as easy to navigate as they thought.

Hours later, they are lost. Hopelessly lost.

And as they navigate deeper into the woods, the members of their party are struck down mysteriously one by one. Has a wild animal been hunting them? Or is the hunter one of them?

But as more time passes, one thing becomes clear:

Only one of them will return home alive. 

Book Review: The Girl In The Moss By Loreth Anne White

An ex-cop strives to find her new normal as she reconciles recently recovered memories about her traumatic past, tries to earn her P.I. license, and her feelings about her engagement to a man who’s still with the force. A new client’s cold case may be just what she needs – if it doesn’t end up getting her killed.

This thriller had twists out the wazoo! Just when one revelation was made, everything was turned upside down by the next! Not my favorite by this author, but a solid, suspenseful read.

This is the 3rd book in a series, which I didn’t know when I picked it up. It definitely wasn’t necessary to read the previous books, but it probably would have helped with certain aspects of the MC’s backstory.

From Goodreads: A shallow grave exposes deadly secrets as bestselling author Loreth Anne White brings her thrilling series of romantic suspense to its shocking conclusion…

Disgraced ex-cop Angie Pallorino is determined to make a new start for herself as a private investigator. But first, she and her lover, newly promoted homicide detective James Maddocks, attempt a quiet getaway to rekindle a romance struggling in the shadows of their careers. The peace doesn’t last long when human skeletal remains are found in a nearby mossy grove.

This decades-old mystery is just what Angie needs to establish her new career—even as it thrusts her and Maddocks back into the media spotlight, once again endangering their tenuous relationship.

Then, when Angie’s inquiry into the old crime intersects with a cold case from her own policing past—one that a detective on Maddocks’s new team is working—the investigation takes a startling twist. It puts more than Angie’s last shot at redemption and a future with Maddocks at risk. The mystery of the girl in the moss could kill her.

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