May Book Reviews Part One

The reading continues. Five months into the year and I’m going strong. I didn’t expect to read this much, but since I am, I’ve decided to go back to a weekly review schedule. Today’s post is the first half of my May reviews. The second half will be next week. Beginning in June, I’ll post individual reviews.

Thunder Bay

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After feeling a bit let down by the fifth and sixth books of the Cork O’Connor series, Thunder Bay did not disappoint.

There are a few characters from the Cork O’Connor books that have become favorites. Henry Meloux is one of them. The Ojibwe medicine man has been a friend and advisor to Cork throughout the series. Now, we finally learn his story.

At the beginning of the book, Henry is rushed to the hospital and the doctors suspect his issues are cardiac-related. Turns out it is his heart, but it’s not physical. We learn that Henry fathered a son seventy years earlier—one that he’s never seen except in visions. The old Mide asks Cork to travel to Thunder Bay, Ontario to find him.

Henry Wellington has become a recluse and Cork’s meeting with him isn’t pleasant. After Cork returns to Minnesota, an attempt is made on Meloux’s life and evidence points to his son.

The book is written in three parts—the present-day events, back in time seventy years to when Henry was young, and the conclusion. We learn how Meloux met Wellington’s mother and also how he became a medicine man.

There is a secondary story of Cork’s family, and as usual, I enjoyed the family dynamics. In each book, I see Cork’s character grow as he becomes more aware of the most important things in life.

“The biggest word in the human vocabulary has only four letters and no definition that’s ever been adequate… But ask most human beings what they value above all else in this life and, five’ll get you ten, it’s love.”

This book is so far, one of my favorite books in this series.

Amazon Link

Artifacts of Death

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next on the list is a book from another series, this time by author Rich Curtin.

I read my first Manny Rivera book earlier in the year, not realizing it was the eighth in a series. Having enjoyed that story, I picked up a copy of Artifacts of Death. It didn’t disappoint.

Deputy Sheriff Manny Rivera is assigned to investigate the murder of a ranch hand near Moab, Utah. Eager to please his boss and hoping to redeem himself after an earlier botched assignment, Manny tries to piece together the few clues from the crime scene.

One clue is an ancient Indian potsherd. Manny’s investigation leads him to the story of a man who disappeared in 1938, an elderly woman who pines for her lost love, and a surprising confession that causes Manny to face a moral crisis.

Manny is a likeable character, and I enjoyed learning about his background. He’s a hard worker who enjoys his job, but his insecurity over being assigned a murder case shows through (a perfectly natural reaction). But his determination and perseverance overshadow any feelings of inadequacy.

The author did a wonderful job of describing the southeastern Utah area. It’s a plus for me when a writer makes his readers feel like they are in the setting.

An underlying theme in Artifacts of Death is how money can drive people to do things out of character. Some in the name of a good cause, others for greed. This line really stood out to me:

“The smaller your desire for material things, the larger your happiness.”

The book is well-paced and the ending is satisfactory with a resolution to a decades-old mystery as well as the current events. I look forward to reading more of this series.

Amazon Link

The Girl Before Me

After reading a lot of psychological fiction last year, I’ve focused more on mystery and suspense in 2022. However, when I learned Laura Wolfe had a new release, I had to jump on it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rachel Gleason has a chance to start over, leaving behind an abusive ex-husband and moving from the suburbs to the city. There are times she can’t believe her luck. She gets a great deal on an apartment after the previous tenant broke her lease and disappeared without a trace. Her daughter, Lily, receives a scholarship at a prestigious private school.

Most of her new neighbors are friendly, especially Alex who lives next door, and Bridget, an attorney who lives upstairs. However, life isn’t without problems.

Keith, the ex-husband, is determined to see his daughter outside of court-appointed visiting times. He tracks her down to the city, thanks to Rachel’s neurotic mother. The principal at Lily’s school is also a womanizer, and he makes it clear he’s interested in Rachel, threatening to pull Lily’s scholarship if Rachel doesn’t do what he wants. Then, there is the weird neighbor Drake who is more than creepy.

The biggest mystery is what happened to Annie, the woman who lived in 4B before Rachel moved in. When Rachel opens a card addressed to Annie from her sister in Australia, she begins to question. Add to that the strange noises she hears during the night and the tone is set for a suspenseful read.

“Revenge is the best medicine… Sometimes justice needs a little push in the right direction.”

There are plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing right up to the end. Laura Wolfe is a go-to author for me, and once again she delivered.

Amazon Link

My Top Reads of 2021

Hey, everyone. With 2021 rapidly coming to a close, I wanted to take time to share my top reads for the year.

I’ll preface this post by saying I’ve read many enjoyable books this past year, but there are a few that really stood out for me—ones I’ll remember in the days and months to come.

These are listed in the order I read them.

An Unwanted Guest

This was my first time reading anything by Shari Lapena. The setting is an old-fashioned hotel where there are no modern amenities such as cell phones during the middle of a winter storm. It was a mere coincidence that I finished the book just prior to being stuck at home because Snowmageddon hit Texas in February.

The Curse of Deadhorse Canyon

I’ve been fascinated by Native American culture for quite some time, so this book particularly intrigued me. Co-written by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun, the book has elements of murder, a government conspiracy, greed, environmental issues, and Native American legends. The second book of this series was recently released, and I’ve already snagged my copy.

She Lies Alone

I discovered the author of She Lies Alone in early 2021 and have since read four of her psychological fiction books. When a writer keeps me guessing as to the killer’s identity, it’s a big plus for me. Laura Wolfe has become one of my auto-buy authors

Death in Panama

I enjoy reading a good legal thriller on occasion. I learned of Death in Panama through fellow author Jan Sikes sometime last year. I had the book on my Kindle for several months, but when I did read it, I wasn’t disappointed. William Venema is a retired attorney and I look forward to more from this author.

The Guilty Husband

I discovered this book through Book Bub. This debut novel of author Stephanie DeCarolis did not disappoint. While I don’t condone extra-marital affairs, I couldn’t help but root for the main character, Vince. And the ending totally surprised me.

Iron Lake

When Judi Lynn wrote a review of this book, I was intrigued enough to buy a copy. William Kent Kruger’s Iron Lake was written and first published in the late 1990s. It’s the first of his Cork O’Connor mysteries and also includes elements of Native American folklore.

Home Before Dark

I read Riley Sager’s latest release, Survive the Night, and it didn’t do much for me. But Mae Clair encouraged me to try Home Before Dark, so I checked out a copy from my local library. How can you go wrong where the setting is a house with a mysterious past that’s been abandoned for twenty-five years and is possibly haunted?

You Can Run

After reading Staci Troilo’s review of this upcoming release by Rebecca Zanetti, I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced reader copy. There is mystery and suspense (my favorite genre) with a touch of romance. The book releases in January, and I highly recommend it. It’s the first of Zanetti’s Laurel Snow series and you can bet I’ll be reading the next book.

We Live Next Door

Wrapping up the list is another novel from Laura Wolfe. This was another page-turning psychological thriller set in a small-town neighborhood where things aren’t always as they seem.

That’s it for my top 2021 reads. What are some favorite books you’ve read this year?

Book Review: We Live Next Door

Hey, Everyone. My reading time has decreased somewhat in the past few weeks as I’m trying to concentrate on writing. However, I recently purchased Laura Wolfe’s latest release and couldn’t wait to read it.


You think you know the people next door… What if they know you better?

I always dreamed of moving back home to Ridgeview Pines, with its white fences and sloping lawns. I wish it had happened under different circumstances, but now I’m here I feel safe and ready for a fresh start with my little family.

The first thing I do every morning is pick up my phone and check The Neighbor List—our local message board. Maybe the people next door know a little too much about where their neighbors are and what they’re doing, but it’s safer that way, isn’t it? And my husband—he wouldn’t dare sneak behind my back with so many eyes watching.

Just when I’m beginning to relax, a woman I’ve known since I was small is found dead on the white tiles of her bathroom floor. I watch messages of condolence flood my screen. No one else suspects a thing.

But I know that among all these friendly people, watching out for one another, someone knows more than they’re sharing. And I wonder—how far back do they remember, and who’s next?

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I discovered author Laura Wolfe earlier this year and have since read all her psychological fiction stories. Just when I think I’ve found a favorite, then another one comes along.

We Live Next Door is the story of Jessica Millstone, a young mother who moved with her husband Mark and daughter Isabelle back to her childhood home. For the most part, it’s a pleasant neighborhood with a few notable exceptions.

Barbara Draper is a long-time resident who complains about everyone and everything. Her grown son, who has a drug problem, lives with her. While walking her dog one night, Jessica sees Barbara in her upstairs window. At first, she thinks Barbara was shouting about the dog, but the next morning she learns Barbara died when she slipped and drowned in her bathtub. Jessica starts to wonder what really happened.

Was the noise she heard in Barbara’s shrubs a nocturnal animal or was someone lurking there? When Phil Draper tells Jessica his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, she begins to play detective. The police don’t believe Phil because he was inebriated the night his mother died, but Jessica agrees to meet him to gather an important piece of evidence. Before they can meet, Phil is killed by a hit and run driver.

Now convinced both deaths weren’t accidents, Jessica tries to persuade the police otherwise. Who is the guilty party? Was it Avery Moreno, a neighbor whose dog was killed by Barbara Draper? Or Sean Peale, another creepy neighbor who has his own secrets? Even Jessica’s friend Bree, a real-estate agent is suspect. Not to mention Jessica’s own mother is hiding secrets.

Someone doesn’t want Jessica to learn the truth. She begins to get threatening messages on a popular Neighborhood App. As with Laura’s other books, there are a lot of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. While I had my suspicions, it wasn’t until near the end that I put everything together. Kudos to Ms. Wolfe for another page-turning read.

Book Review: She Lies Alone #PsychologicalFiction

Hey, everyone. As I said in an earlier book review, psychological fiction is fast becoming my favorite genre. I recently finished my third novel by author Laura Wolfe, and I can’t wait for her next release.


News spreads fast. Gossip spreads faster. Deadly secrets spread fastest of all.

Jane Bryson obeys the rules. A long-standing science teacher at Ravenswood High School, she lives a simple life with her husband Craig and Moose the black Labrador. When free-spirited new English teacher Elena Mayfield joins Ravenswood, Jane’s excited to have a friend who is ready to challenge authority, and Elena’s soon shaking things up.

When Elena starts a controversial club, Jane is ready to support her. When Elena begins an illicit romance with a colleague, Jane is there to help her shield her secret. When people begin asking questions about Elena, Jane backs her all the way.

But the morning after the annual fundraiser, Elena’s body is found crumpled on the soccer field.

It soon becomes clear that not everyone found Elena charming and funny. A thousand people were at the fundraiser: there’s a town full of suspects and a long list of motives. Who was angry with Elena? What had her curiosity and rule-breaking uncovered? Who wanted to shut her up?

Who has told lies they would kill to hide?

A totally gripping psychological suspense novel that you won’t be able to put down, She Lies Alone is a compelling thriller that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware and The Woman in the Window.

My Review

This may be my favorite Laura Wolfe novel yet…

I have only a handful of auto-buy authors and Laura Wolfe has just become one. After reading Her Best Friend’s Lie¸ I didn’t think this book would be any better.

It was.

Jane Bryson is a science teacher at Ravenswood High School. She plays by the rules (for the most part) and is surprised when the new English teacher, Elena Mayfield, decides to hold class outdoors. That’s not the least of Elena’s defiant acts.

Elena is a rule-breaker and a free spirit, but she and Jane quickly become good friends. But not everyone shares Jane’s opinion about her. When a jogger finds Elena’s body on the school’s soccer field after an annual fundraiser, the list of suspects includes students, a fellow teacher, and both her current and ex-boyfriend.

I usually figure out a killer’s identity long before the end of a novel, but not this time. While I suspected several people, Wolfe weaves enough tantalizing threads into the story to keep readers guessing.

If you like page-turning psychological fiction, you won’t want to miss this one.

Book Review: Her Best Friend’s Lie

Hey, everyone. Despite being busy with my own writing, I’ve made a point to read more books this year. My latest review is the second book I’ve read by this author, and it was a page-turner.

I should note the title of this book changed from The Lake House to Her Best Friend’s Lie shortly after I purchased it.


You can always trust your closest friends. Can’t you?

This trip was a chance to reconnect away from our busy lives. The five of us used to be so close—going right back to our college days, when we shared a rickety house and all our favorite clothes, as well as every high and low of our lives—but that was then.

Now, the thought of three days in a small cabin far from anywhere, surrounded only by water and trees, with my four oldest friends makes my stomach sink and my hands sweat. Because if they knew what I’d done—the betrayals I’ve committed—they’d never forgive me. And neither would you.

The straight-A student, the sports star with a bright future ahead of her, the sheltered girl who blossomed away from her family and the hippie child who was going to save the world. Their lives have turned out so differently to how we pictured all those years ago. I try not to think about why.

But then danger strikes, and too late I discover I’m not the only one keeping secrets. And I wonder: who will go furthest to keep the truth hidden?

Gripping, addictive and totally unputdownable, Her Best Friend’s Lie will have you reading late into the night. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window and Big Little Lies.

My Review

After reading Laura Wolfe’s, Two Widows, earlier this year, I knew I wanted to read more of her books. Her Best Friend’s Lie is so far my favorite.

Five college friends plan a long weekend to celebrate turning forty at a secluded cabin near a lake. Sounds like a perfect getaway, right?

Wrong. When they arrive, the cabin does not look like it did in the advertisements, or as Wolfe described it, “looked like a long-lost sibling who’d fallen on hard times and lived a much more difficult life.”

To make matters worse, the landlord doesn’t appear to be the type of person you’d want to meet in a dark alley. They learn a nearby summer retreat for wayward youths closed after the death of a staff member under “suspicious circumstance.”

But the women decide to stay and make the best of it.

Then the unthinkable happens.

One friend is strangled to death. Was the creepy landlord responsible? Or someone else? Could it be one of them?

When a second friend is also killed, the remaining three try to find a way out of the place. They have no cell phone service, the minivan they arrived in has two flat tires, and one woman has a severely sprained ankle.

The author weaved in enough plot twists to keep me guessing the killer’s identity. And though I figured it out before the end, I was on the edge of my seat hoping the murderer wouldn’t strike a third time.

Five stars!