April Book Reviews Part Two

Hey, everyone. I posted the first part of my April reviews last week. If you missed that post, you can find it here. Now for the second half.

Means to Deceive

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was my first time reading anything by author Alex Craigie. I’m glad I did.

If I had to summarize this book in one word, that word would be “wow!”

Gwen Meredith left her job and returned home in order to help care for her aging grandmother who is in the early stages of dementia. She takes a job as a learning support assistant in a local school. On the last day of the school year, she manages to make not only one but two, enemies. When a misinterpreted photo of her appears on social media, her problems really begin.

The situation quickly escalates—graffiti spray-painted on her car, weed killer used in her garden, dead goldfish in the backyard pond. Gwen also has a past event that has haunted her since childhood. She has support from her older brother Gethin, who comes to stay for a few days. There’s also a new neighbor, Ben, whom she becomes romantically interested in.

The book starts as a slow burn, but the suspense and tension increase until I didn’t want to put it down.

Although I figured out the culprit, the author threw in plenty of red herrings that kept me second-guessing. And the ending? You just need to read for yourself.

You can bet I’ll be reading more books from this author.

Amazon Link

Carolina Moonset

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After reading Mae Clair’s review of this book, I immediately went to Net Galley to request an advanced reader copy. The book releases on May 31.

I almost always enjoy stories when there is an unsolved mystery from the past, so I was drawn to this one. Carolina Moonset did not disappoint.

Joey Green returns to Beaufort, South Carolina to visit his aging parents. He immediately recognizes something is wrong with his father. Marshall Green has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. His short-term memory is practically non-existent, but he can remember things from long ago in vivid detail. Marshall is also starting to hallucinate, another symptom of the disease.

The stress of caring for her husband has taken its toll on Carol Green. When she has an opportunity to accompany a friend to Florida for a Pickleball tournament, Joey encourages her to go, saying he’ll care for his father.

But when a prominent citizen of Beaufort is murdered, police suspect Marshall may be responsible. He hadn’t tried to hide his dislike of the man and his entire family. What’s worse is that an antique gun belonging to Marshall turns up missing and police determine it’s the same type of gun used in the murder.

Carolina Moonset is not only a murder mystery, but there is also romance, family dynamics, and enduring friendships. Both the major and minor characters are well-developed. The mystery of the past probably intrigued me the most, but I also was eager to learn the identity of the present-day killer.

The book has a comfortable pace—not exactly a page-turner, but neither a slow burn. I found it just right for the genre and recommend it to anyone who enjoys not only a good mystery but also for the enduring family dynamics.

Thanks to Net Galley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for an advanced reader copy.

Amazon Pre-order Link

The Bones of Amoret

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Arthur Herbert is a new to me author. I learned of The Bones of Amoret after reading a review by Jan Sikes.

The book is set in a small west Texas town near the Mexico border and takes place in the early 1980s. Those two things alone were enough to pique my interest.

Noah Grady, the main character, is a doctor who is beloved by many. He has a good heart and does a lot to help the people of the community, particularly the Mexican immigrants. The story is told from Noah’s reflections forty years later in a conversation between him and an unknown reporter.

In 1982, Blaine Beckett, one of Amoret’s residents, goes missing. His burned-out Jeep was found in a dry creek near a box canyon outside of town. There is no sign of Blaine. The local sheriff investigates, and we soon learn that Noah has secrets, one of which is that he carried on an affair with Beckett’s wife. Because of this, he briefly becomes a suspect but is quickly ruled out. After all, there isn’t a body. Eventually, the sheriff surmises Beckett chose to disappear.

But in the meantime, there are plenty of events that keep a reader guessing. Besides his medical practice, Noah helps illegal immigrants cross into Texas. On one run, when a young man who is nearly dead of dehydration is found carrying drugs, it could cause a problem. Noah, with his good heart, can’t leave the man to die.

Shortly afterward, Noah and his family become targets of someone bent on revenge. Is it the drug cartel or is Beckett involved? The author lays out plenty of events that keep the reader guessing. Near the end, we learn Noah’s biggest secret of all, which came as a total surprise to me.

The book is well written, and the descriptions of the Texas landscape are superb. Herbert did a fantastic job of capturing small town life in the early 1980s. The characters are well developed. Of note, there are times when Noah jumps back to the present day in his conversation. The first time this occurred, it jarred me a bit, but once I realized what he was doing, the story flowed. After all, you’d expect an eighty-four-year-old to digress at times.

I’m confident I’ll be reading more books by this author.

Amazon Link

The Resort

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wrapping up my review for this month is a quick and fun read.

I picked up a free copy of this book after seeing a friend’s recommendation. The Resort is a fast read—perfect for the beach or a lazy afternoon.

Three couples, a single woman, and a single man are invited to spend a week at a brand-new resort with all expenses paid before it opens to the public. They are treated to a life of luxury—gourmet meals, spa treatments, and exclusive shopping excursions.

Told from the point of view of the four females, we soon learn that each of their lives aren’t what they seem. Some of the characters are likable, others are despicable, and one of them is downright creepy. The suspense builds, and the ending surprised me.

The book had mixed reviews—some readers liked it, others hated it, but I found it satisfactory—enough that I finished it in an afternoon.

Amazon Link

April Book Reviews Part One

Wow! We’ve almost reached the month of May. I read several books during the month of April, so like last month, I’m splitting my reviews into two posts. Here’s part one.

Mercy Falls

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Many of you know I’ve gotten hooked on the Cork O’Connor series. I actually finished reading Mercy Falls in March, but I had a reason for withholding my review until now.

I won’t say I’m totally disappointed in this book, but the ending left me frustrated.

Mercy Falls is the fifth book in the Cork O’Connor series. The story takes place several months after book four leaves off.

Cork O’Connor has been reinstated as sheriff of Tamarack County. He’s lured to the nearby Ojibwe Reservation to investigate a domestic disturbance. Upon arriving at the residence, a sniper fires at Cork and Deputy Marcia Dross.

Not long afterward, Cork is called to the scene where a mutilated body is found near the waters of Mercy Falls. The victim is Eddie Jacoby, a Chicago businessman who is trying to negotiate a contract with his employer to manage the Iron Lake Casino.

Eddie’s wealthy father hires a private investigator to assist with the case. Cork also learns his wife Jo once had a relationship with Eddie’s brother.

Is the sniper’s attempt to kill Cork related to the murder? Can Cork trust the private investigator? Who is out to get him and why?

Like most of Krueger’s books, this one kept me turning the pages. I honestly didn’t know who to trust. Although Eddie Jacoby gave plenty of people a reason to kill him, I wasn’t sure about the killer’s identity until the latter part of the book. So far, so good.

Then came the end.

I like series fiction, but I’m not a fan of serial fiction. Mercy Falls leaves readers with a cliffhanger ending. Hopefully, everything will be resolved in book six, Copper River. It’s a good thing I bought both books as part of a collection, otherwise, I might be tempted to skip the next one.

Amazon Link


Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Rebecca Zanetti’s You Can Run late last year, I knew she was an author I wanted to read again. The book releases on June 7 and is available for pre-order.

Unforgiven is the fifth book of Zanetti’s Deep Ops series. Although I’ve yet to read the first four books, this one easily read as a stand-alone novel.

Gemma Falls is on the run from her abusive former fiancé, Monty. She’ll do anything to keep her daughter safe. So far, she’s managed to protect Trudy, but when she takes a job at a Washington, DC university, things begin happening to make her believe Monty has finally caught up with her.

Jethro Hansen is a former MI6 agent who is working as a philosophy professor. Troubles arise when his psychotic brother Fletcher, a hired killer, escapes from prison. And Fletcher is out for revenge.

Sparks fly in more ways than one when Gemma and Jethro meet. And both of them are in danger. Jethro takes Gemma to a safe house where members of the Deep Ops team become involved in trying to track down a killer while protecting Gemma and her daughter.

The book is well-paced with plenty of action and a touch of romance. It’s a page-turner, and I found the ending satisfying. It goes without saying I’ll be catching up with all the books of the Deep Ops series.

Amazon Pre-order link

Good Liniment

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next on the list is another in C. S. Boyack’s highly entertaining Hat series.

Good Liniment is the latest entry in The Hat series. Author C. S. Boyack brought back characters from other books including the stuttering vampire Kevin, Detective Joe Yoder, and Patty Hall from Will O’ The Wisp. New characters come on board as well that add to the story.

Lizzie and the Hat are on the search for a killer who is targeting a coven of witches. This time the killer is human, a bit of a twist from the villains in the other hat books.

The banter between Lizzie and The Hat is always entertaining, and the Hat is his usual snarky self. (Would we love him any other way?)

I’m always impressed by the author’s vivid imagination. If you’re looking for a quick and fun read, this is it.

Amazon Link

Copper River

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

After Mercy Falls ended on a cliffhanger, I was curious to see if the mystery would be solved in Copper River.

Book Six of the series picks up immediately where Mercy Falls leaves off. Sheriff Cork O’Connor is on the run after Lou Jacoby placed a half-million-dollar bounty on his life. Jacoby believes Cork is responsible for the death of both his sons.

Cork narrowly escapes death and takes refuge with his cousin Jewell DuBois in a small town on Michigan’s upper peninsula. Jewell is a widowed single mother, raising her teenage son.

Instead of lying low, Cork gets involved in helping Jewell’s son Ren and his friend Charlie (Charlene). Charlie’s father was murdered and she’s on the run. One of their friends was seriously injured by a hit and run driver after word got out the three of them may have seen a body floating in Copper River. Then, the body of a teenage girl washes up that has connections with Charlie.

Cork has his own problems, and former FBI agent, Dina Willner, shows up to help. Like the other books in the O’Connor series, there was plenty of action in this one. I missed some of the familiar characters from the other books, particularly Henry Melloux and Cork’s family. At the same time, it was nice to see new characters introduced. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them make appearances in later books.

While I didn’t enjoy this one as much as some of the other books in the series, it was still a good read. The focus was on the current crime in Michigan, but there was a satisfactory conclusion to the cliffhanger Krueger left us with at the end of Mercy Falls. However, I hope there aren’t any more cliffhangers in the rest of the series.

3.5 stars rounded up to four for review purposes.

Amazon Link

I’ll post the second part of my April reviews next Tuesday.

February Book Reviews

Happy first day of March. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy spring is just around the corner. With a new month, it’s time to post reviews for the books I read in February.

I’m averaging about one book a week so I’m right on track with my reading goals this year. Last week, I went through the books on my Kindle and shelved several of them in the “did not finish” list. A few of them had me wondering what I was thinking when I bought them.

Last year I read a lot of psychological fiction and I have a few on my list for this year, but I’m getting back to my preferred genre of mystery and suspense. Enough about that. Let’s get to the reviews.

Boundary Waters

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Okay, I admit I’ve gotten hooked on William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. So much so that I purchased a box set of the first three books. Boundary Waters is the second of the series. In Krueger’s own words it was his exploration into writing suspense. It picks up about a year after book one Iron Lake.

A popular young country-western singer named Shiloh has disappeared in the vast Quetico-Superior Wilderness. When her father arrives in Aurora, he enlists Cork’s help to find her.

But someone doesn’t want her to be found alive. Who and why? Kreuger weaves in a cast of characters that keeps the reader guessing. It wasn’t until near the end of the book that I figured out who the guilty party was. Like with his other books, Krueger is a master of description. He puts the reader right in the heart of the story. Although I enjoyed Iron Lake a bit more, this was an excellent read.

Jagged Feathers

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Jan Sikes has a winner on her hands with her White Rune series. I’m intrigued by Native American folklore and customs. Jagged Feathers includes some of that and it’s also set in my home state of Texas.

Vann Noble is a wounded warrior who suffers from PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan. Together with his trusty canine companion, Champion, he lives a somewhat secluded life in a remote cabin.

Nakina Bird suddenly finds herself mixed up in a dangerous situation. Vann comes to her rescue and together the two of them travel to Dallas to deliver a mysterious package Nakina’s boss gave her.

The book is a mixture of suspense and romance. Nakina has Native American heritage, and I loved reading some of their customs and beliefs. Jagged Feathers blends lots of action and plenty of romance.

Nine Perfect Strangers

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I said last month that I would only post four-star and five-star reviews but changed my mind. This time I’ve included a couple of three-star reviews. (This one is actually 2.5 rounded to three.) I checked it out through my library and I’m glad I didn’t spend money on it.

I probably haven’t read another book with such a cast of flawed characters. Nine strangers come together at a resort for a ten-day transformational retreat. Each character has plenty of issues to overcome.

While I thought things were a little strange at Tranquillum House, the first half of the book was nicely paced and I had high hopes for the story.

Then came the second half. The action slowed. There was a large amount of internal dialogue from each character. Still, I kept reading.

The book also took a rather disturbing turn. I don’t believe I’ve ever disliked an antagonist as much as I did Masha. Her superior attitude was over the top. She thought she was smarter and better than everyone. What’s the old saying about genius being next to insanity? She was certainly insane and should have been locked away for life.

The last few chapters were more of the author’s rambling and the last two were in my opinion utterly ridiculous. Although other reviewers say this isn’t Moriarty’s best work, I doubt I’ll bother with any of her other books. And by the way, all nine aren’t perfect strangers. Did the author intend this as satire? A play on words? Who knows? (Or cares?)

The Happy Family

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’ve had this book sitting on my Kindle for a few months and decided it was time to read it. The Happy Family is another book that I have mixed feelings about.

Single mother Beth lives a good life. She’s the practice manager for a surgery (medical) clinic, has two children, and lives in a nice home. She has friends—even though they are older than her. Life is not without problems. Beth’s elderly father lives in a Senior care facility after having suffered a stroke, and her mother left when Beth was only ten years old.

The story opens as the date of her mother’s sixtieth birthday approaches. Beth was bitter over the abandonment but has often thought of the woman who gave birth to her and wonders if she’s still alive. When a woman shows up on Beth’s doorstep claiming to be her mother, she readily accepts this person into her life.

That’s when things begin happening—Beth misplaces things, she’s convinced a man is watching her, and Beth’s friendships begin to fall apart. Things go from bad to worse. What’s more, Beth has a secret from her past she’s kept from everyone, and she’s terrified it could cost her everything, including her children and her job.

It didn’t take me long to figure out who was responsible for all the strange events. That part was obvious. I had a problem with Beth being portrayed as such a weak-willed person. Why was she so blind to the obvious?

There was a secondary “surprise” reveal near the end, but I figured that out as well. Still, this book intrigued me enough to continue reading it. Although it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read (far from it), and I wanted to knock some sense into Beth, there was something about the book that kept me reading.

If you’re looking for fast-paced psychological fiction, this isn’t for you. But if you enjoy slow-burners that delve a bit into the psychological aspects of love, life, and loss, it’s a decent book.

Purgatory Ridge

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wrapping up the month is another in William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. It might be my favorite so far.

William Kent Krueger was coming into his own as a writer of mystery and suspense when he wrote Purgatory Ridge.

Former Sheriff Cork O’Connor is working hard to get his life back on track. He’s reunited with his wife, and they are working through their marriage issues.

Tensions are already high between the Iron Lake Ojibwe and wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom, as well as many of the area residents who depend upon logging to make a living. Add to that a group of environmentalists who had ascended on the small town of Aurora to protest logging in what had been a protected area.

When an explosion happens at Lindstrom’s lumber mill, killing a member of the Ojibwe tribe, it’s sure to set off a battle. Cork finds himself in the middle of the investigation, and he also discovers he’s missed being in law enforcement.

There is a secondary story with a character whose brother perished in the sinking of a freighter a decade earlier in Lake Superior. As the only survivor, John LePere has his own demons to deal with.

In a twist of fate, Cork’s wife Jo and his son are at the wrong place at the wrong time and become the victims of a kidnapping.

Krueger spun a masterful web of intrigue. I didn’t figure out who was the mastermind behind the events until about two paragraphs before the person’s identity was revealed. Any time an author keeps me guessing, that’s a big plus.

Jo O’Connor takes on a bigger role in this book. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her in books one and two, but she came into her own in this one.

Krueger has fast become one of my favorite authors. Despite his overuse of similes in this one, I enjoy his style of writing and will be reading the rest of the series.

Book Review: Greenwich Park

It’s Tuesday, so that means it’s time for another book review. I read this back in July and had originally scheduled this post for early next year since the book releases on January 4, 2022. However, I decided to go ahead and post my review.


Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and cherished baby on the way (after years of trying)—begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears.

But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. And Helen’s not the only one who’s noticed. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history in unexpected ways. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath the broad-leaved trees and warm lamplight of Greenwich Park.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read a lot of psychological and thriller fiction and most of the time, I’m able to figure out the villain’s identity long before the end of the book. Not so with Greenwich Park. While I had several suspects, the author wove a tangle of events that kept me wondering.

Helen lives a life many people would envy—a lovely Victorian home, a husband with a great career, and her first baby on the way. But all is not well in paradise. When Helen arrives at her first prenatal class, she’s disappointed that her husband won’t be able to make it. Neither will her sister-in-law and brother, who had agreed to attend the same classes.

So, she finds herself alone. In comes Rachel, a single mother-to-be with an outgoing personality and an unconventional way of looking at pregnancy. The two strike up a friendship and soon Helen begins to see Rachel everywhere—when she’s at lunch with her friend Katie, in a local pub, in the park.

Then Rachel shows up on Helen’s doorstep, saying she’s in trouble, and begging to stay the night. One night turns into two weeks and there’s no indication Rachel intends to leave. Helen suspects she is stealing from them and later asks her to leave.

But when Rachel turns up missing, the police begin asking questions. What did happen to her and who is responsible?

This book is a slow-burner. I admit after the first two chapters, I wondered if I’d like it. But once I moved on, I became engrossed and found it to be an extremely satisfying read. Greenwich Park is Katherine Faulkner’s debut novel, but I can see her becoming a successful author.

Thanks to Net Galley and Bloomsbury Publishing for a free ARC.

Book Review: Reckless Girls

Several years ago, I read Vincent Bugliosi’s And The Sea Will Tell, the true story about two couples who sailed to a deserted island in the Pacific. Only one couple came back alive. I was reminded of that book when a friend recommended Reckless Girls. After reading her review, I immediately snatched up an ARC.

This book is scheduled for release on January 4, 2022.


When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lux and her boyfriend Nico want to sail the seas. They get stuck in Hawaii when their boat needs repairs. Two friends, Amma and Brittany, hire them to sail to the deserted island of Mereo. When they arrive another couple, Jake and Eliza, are already there in a luxurious cataraman. But the six people strike up a friendship. Each character has baggage from the past.

Mereo has a dark history with tales of marooned soldiers and cannibalism. It was last used by the navy in WWII. All goes well until the arrival of a third boat carrying a single passenger. That’s when strange things begin happening. Smashed radios, people disappearing, dead bodies.

The author weaves in timelines from the past which begins to reveal the secrets of Lux, Brittany, Amma, and Eliza. While I did figure out one part of the mystery, the ending was a total surprise.

This is a quick read and one you won’t want to put down. Perfect for fans of page-turning psychological fiction. Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for an advanced reader copy.