Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Mother Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon



High-powered businesswoman Lana Rubicon has a lot to be proud of: her keen intelligence, impeccable taste, and the L.A. real estate empire she’s built. But when she finds herself trapped 300 miles north of the city, convalescing in a sleepy coastal town with her adult daughter Beth and teenage granddaughter Jack, Lana is stuck counting otters instead of square footage—and hoping that boredom won’t kill her before the cancer does.
Then Jack—tiny in stature but fiercely independent—happens upon a dead body while kayaking near their bungalow. Jack quickly becomes a suspect in the homicide investigation, and the Rubicon women are thrown into chaos. Beth thinks Lana should focus on recovery, but Lana has a better idea. She’ll pull on her wig, find the true murderer, protect her family, and prove she still has power.
With Jack and Beth’s help, Lana uncovers a web of lies, family vendettas, and land disputes lurking beneath the surface of a community populated by folksy conservationists and wealthy ranchers. But as their amateur snooping advances into ever-more dangerous territory, the headstrong Rubicon women must learn to do the one thing they’ve always resisted: depend on each other.

I loved this book!  It’s part mystery and part family drama.  The relationship dynamics between Lana, Beth and Jack reminded me a lot of Gilmore Girls except Jack is cooler and more resourceful than Rory.  I loved reading about the change and growth in Lana, Beth and Jack’s relationship.  Lana is a fierce riot.  If gory mysteries turn you off, don’t worry, this one isn’t grizzly.  I also loved the small town coastal setting.  This is one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club selections and I can see why, it’s got a little something for everyone.  Fans of contemporary family stories and mystery fans alike will love Mother Daughter Murder Night. 


I got my copy of Mother Daughter Murder Night as an ebook through my local library. You can pick yours up at book stores everywhere or your local library.  For more information, visit the author's website.

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she must discover the truth—or suffer the same fate. -

I loved this book.  It was an excellent thriller and had really intriguing, well developed, dimensional characters.  While a few beats were predictable, many others were not which was breath of fresh air with the recent glut of cookie cutter thrillers I’ve read lately.  In addition to the thriller elements,   Alex also goes through a period of self-discovery and explores her sexuality in what seemed like a very natural way to me.  The third act of this book goes bananas in a wild way that I was not expecting.  I also loved the book within a book as  Alex crafts her story for the retreat.  With frigid temperatures expected again in the Hudson Valley this weekend, you can’t go wrong with staying in with this winter set thriller. 

****/5 stars

I received my copy of The Writing Retreat as an e-book loan through my local library.   You can get your copy at your local book store, local library or visit the author’s website for more information.   

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead


Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.
     But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

Have you ever read a book and hated all the characters in it?  LOL  That was my experience with this book.  It was definitely entertaining and it did keep me guessing as to who the murderer was longer than other thrillers have lately.  However, Jessica, the main character, is just awful.   She’s obsessed with materialism and class rank to the point of obsessive neurosis.  Her fellow alumni in their friend group aren’t any better. I don’t even understand why any of them were friends as they all seem to hate each other.  Her friends also break one of the cardinal rules of horror films along the way, which had me screaming at them to not do certain things.  Also, mild spoiler here, if you’re expecting the titular knife to come into play here, don’t hold your breath and pay closer attention to the scissors on the cover art. 

This was another e-book that I borrowed from my local library.  You can find “In My Dreams I Hold a Knife” at book stores everywhere and your local library or for more information, visit the author’s website.



Monday, January 15, 2024

Meme Crush Monday

Forget about “Man Crush Monday’s,” here #MCM means Meme Crush Monday! For those who don’t have access or don’t wish to use Instagram, I’ll share a bookish meme right here weekly on the blog.

This Week’s #MCM Meme Crush Monday:

Fortunately if this is you today, you’re off thanks to a three day weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. day or maybe you’re like me super tired but at work. 

What’s the last book that kept you reading when you should be sleeping and getting ready for the week? Share with us. 

Friday, January 12, 2024

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall


They were eleven when they sent a killer to prison.
They were heroes . . . but they were liars.

Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder—the Goddess Game. The game became an obsession and a refuge for the three girls. That sanctuary was suddenly shattered when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes. And they were liars.

For decades, the friends have kept a secret that might be worth killing for, hidden in the forest. But now, Olivia wants to tell the whole story. Then she goes missing, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods—no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.


I was really let down by this book.  The initial premise hooked me in but the execution just fell flat.  The onset of the Goddess Game made me think of a younger version of “The Craft” but then things went in another direction and then I thought there was something like “Slenderman” at play but that was dropped too.  I found the “twists” very predictable.  I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for those who decide to read this book but I saw the one character’s reveal coming from a mile away. 

Many of the characters were un-likeable but I really liked Naomi’s alcoholic hoarder father and I wish the book explored more of his recovery process.

This book did not have Chapters.  I thought at first this was due to some technical problem with my e-book but I asked a good friend about her print copy and she confirmed there were no traditional chapters either, just a graphic flourish to signal a break or where presumably a chapter number would fall.  The lack of chapters drove me insane as I like to pause at designated markers when reading and it’s easier to go back to a certain section when there are traditional chapters.  

What this book did do well was describe how trauma can affect someone and how perceptions of events can differ from person to person.  There was also an interesting commentary on how trauma, perception and influence can affect, alter and even manipulate criminal investigations.   

I obtained my copy of What Lies in the Woods as an e-book through my local library.  You can obtain yours at retailers/libraries everywhere or check out the author's website for more information. 

I have seen lots of praise and high marks for this book but it just didn’t hit with me.  If you’ve read What Lies in the Woods, please share what you liked/disliked about! I'd love to compare our thoughts.

** ½ (out of 5) 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Listen to Me and The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen

One of my goals for this new year is to revive this blog and post frequently. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with a backlog of overdue reviews. So welcome to a new recurring feature “Wayback Wednesday: Catching up on the Overdue for Review Pile.”

Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are newly plagued by what seems like a completely senseless murder. Sofia Suarez, a widow and nurse who was universally liked by all her neighbors, lies bludgeoned to death in her own home. But anything can happen behind closed doors, and Sofia seemed to have plenty of secrets in her last days, making covert phone calls to old contacts and traceless burner phones. When Jane finally makes a connection between Sofia and the victim of a hit-and-run months earlier, the case only grows more blurry. What exactly was Sofia involved in? One thing is clear: The killer will do anything it takes to keep their secret safe.

Meanwhile, Angela Rizzoli hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in all the years since her daughter became a homicide detective. Maybe the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Nothing in her neighborhood gets by Angela—not the gossip about a runaway teenager down the block and definitely not the strange neighbors who have just moved in across the street. Angela’s sure there’s no such thing as coincidence in her sleepy suburb. If only Jane would listen; instead she writes off Angela’s concerns as the result of an overactive imagination. But Angela’s convinced there’s a real wolf in her vicinity, and her cries might now fall on deaf ears.

With so much happening on the Sofia case, Jane and Maura already struggle to see the forest for the trees, but will they lose sight of something sinister happening much closer to home?


This was another fantastic entry in the Rizzoli & Isles series.  I loved that this one featured more of Angela Rizzoli (Jane’s mother) than previous installments.  This was a great balance of crime thriller and the interpersonal relationships of Jane, her mother, and her best friend Maura.  However this book could’ve used a dash more of Maura.  She is my fictional bestie, after all and one of my favorite fictional characters.  I devoured this book in one day, it was just that good!! 

Special thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for the digital ARC.

Listen to Me is available at book retailers everywhere or check out Tess Gerritsen’s website for more information.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you already love Tess Gerritsen and are looking for something different and brand new, I recommend her latest thriller, The Spy Coast, book one in the new Martini Coast series.

Former spy Maggie Bird came to the seaside village of Purity,  Maine, eager to put the past behind her after a mission went tragically  wrong. These days, she’s living quietly on her chicken farm, still wary  of blowback from the events that forced her early retirement.

But  when a body turns up in Maggie’s driveway, she knows it’s a message  from former foes who haven’t forgotten her. Maggie turns to her local  circle of old friends―all retirees from the CIA―to help uncover the  truth about who is trying to kill her, and why. This “Martini Club” of  former spies may be retired, but they still have a few useful skills  that they’re eager to use again, if only to spice up their rather sedate  new lives.

Complicating their efforts is Purity’s  acting police chief, Jo Thibodeau. More accustomed to dealing with rowdy  tourists than homicide, Jo is puzzled by Maggie’s reluctance to share  information―and by her odd circle of friends, who seem to be a step  ahead of her at every turn.

As Jo’s investigation  collides with the Martini Club’s maneuvers, Maggie’s hunt for answers  will force her to revisit a clandestine career that spanned the globe,  from Bangkok to Istanbul, from London to Malta. The ghosts of her past  have returned, but with the help of her friends―and the reluctant Jo  Thibodeau―Maggie might just be able to save the life she’s built.

I was enthralled by this seemingly mundane small town that is quietly filled with retired CIA operatives.  I loved that older characters were the driving force of the action.  You definitely don’t want to mess with Maggie Bird and her former associates.  I also loved Maggie’s teenage neighbor, she’s super quirky and I hope we see more of her as well in future installments.  The central mystery of the story also kept me guessing which was an avid reader/sleuth-er of mysteries, is hard to do.  

I received a digital copy of The Spy Coast through Amazon “First Reads” program but you can get your copy at book retailers everywhere or check Tess Gerritsen’s website for more information.

4.5 out of 5 Stars