Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)

The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman

Publication Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants-—the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too-smart-for-their-own-good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming—until one of them mysteriously disappears…

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past—and a voice that won’t be silenced… 


Last year, I read The Sun Down Motel. I enjoyed that book so much that I knew I wanted to read some of Simone St. James’s back list. I decided to start with the audiobook of The Broken Girls. I was intrigued by the blurb and loved the cover. By the time I finally got it from my library, I had completely forgotten what it was about. That made this listen very interesting because I had no idea where the story was going or how the two timelines were connected at first.

The Broken Girls didn’t quite captivate me the way The Sun Down Motel did. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy The Broken Girls. I did. Rebecca Lowman brought the story to life in a great way. I love her voice and narration. I enjoyed Fiona’s POV and the mysteries she was trying to solve. Her POV was especially interesting considering her thoughts and opinions were skewed by the untimely murder of her sister. I loved the ghost aspect of the story and was curious as to why Mary was haunting the halls of Idlewild. Plus, there were some great twists.

All of these good things being said, there were still a couple things that prevented this book from wowing me. First, the two timelines didn’t mesh as well as I wanted them to. I think part of the issue was the past timeline. It was in four different POVs and it took me a while to keep the girls and their stories straight. It was too distracting. I get why the four were used, but I also think it might have been better to just have it be Katie’s POV. Second, I loved the ghost aspect, but it also ended up feeling a little anticlimactic at the end. I wanted there to be a better tie in or timeline all of its own.

Despite those two things, I did end up enjoying listening to this book. It moved at a good pace and kept my curiosity going. It was a good mystery.

Review: The Good Lie (A.R. Torre)

The Good Lie
Author: A.R. Torre
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

Six teens murdered. A suspect behind bars. A desperate father. In a case this shadowy, the truth is easy to hide.

Six teenagers dead. Finally, the killer behind bars. But are the games just beginning?

Psychiatrist Dr. Gwen Moore is an expert on killers. She’s spent a decade treating California’s most depraved predators and unlocking their motives—predators much like the notorious Bloody Heart serial killer, whose latest teenage victim escaped and then identified local high school teacher Randall Thompson as his captor. The case against Thompson as the Bloody Heart Killer is damning—and closed, as far as Gwen and the media are concerned. If not for one new development…

Defense attorney Robert Kavin is a still-traumatized father whose own son fell prey to the BH Killer. Convinced of Thompson’s innocence, he steps in to represent him. Now Robert wants Gwen to interview the accused, create a psych profile of the killer and his victims, and help clear his client’s name.

As Gwen and Robert grow closer and she dives deeper into the investigation, grave questions arise. So does Gwen’s suspicion that Robert is hiding something—and that he might not be the only one with a secret.


My review for The Good Lie is going to be different. There are a lot of different characters and multiple points of view going on in this book. Rather than lay it all out for you and possible spoil something, I’m going to give you my impressions while reading this book.

First impression: I’m kind of confused to what’s going on. All of these people are messed up. I can’t tell if I’m going to like this book or not.

Impression half way through: All of these people are REALLY messed up. I can trust no one. Why are they all so sketchy? Except Nina. She’s the real sleuth.

As things start being revealed: I saw that coming, but why didn’t I expect that?

Final impression: The Good Lie was a fast paced thriller with expected and unexpected twists and turns. It took me a bit to get into, but once I was hooked I couldn’t put it down. All the characters were flawed and messy and I loved that. I enjoyed the ride this book and its multiple POV took me on. I loved how everything tied up at the end.

Review: Tarnished Soul (Beth Flynn)

Tarnished Soul
Series: A Nine Minutes Spin-Off Novel, #4

Author: Beth Flynn
Publication Date: May 21, 2021
Genre: New Adult, Dark Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒂𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒏 𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒔, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒘𝒐 𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒅𝒆, 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒕𝒘𝒊𝒄𝒆, 𝒊𝒕 𝒔𝒆𝒆𝒎𝒔 𝒇𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒎𝒂𝒚 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒘𝒂𝒚.

Ex-con and ruthless biker, Jonas Brooks is stunned when he encounters the selfless angel who saved his life six years ago. With his massive size and alarming tattoos, Jonas terrifies people on sight. But the beautiful, kind, and intelligent Lucy Renquest sees beyond his frightening exterior the moment she lays eyes on him.

Despite being an outcast with an extremely high IQ, Lucy’s confidence and courage propels her to success. Finding the good in people is her biggest strength—and greatest weakness. When Jonas cleverly deceives her into accompanying him to a secluded cabin in the alligator-infested Florida Everglades, she’s beyond furious—until her anger fades and their passion ignites.

When Jonas and Lucy return to their normal lives, he discovers that she’s in danger. Now, it’s up to Jonas to save the woman who saved him.

Can a criminal with a tarnished soul protect his angel and find the truth before it’s too late? 


Every new Nine Minutes related book from Beth Flynn feels like a gift. I could not wait to read Tarnished Soul. Brooks and Lucy’s relationship has been hinted at in two of the previous books in this series, and I was dying to know more about them. Brooks is Anthony Bear’s right hand man, if that helps anyone trying to place him from previous books. I wish Beth Flynn would give us a “family” tree because I had to refresh my memory to remind me which biker gang he was related to. 

Tarnished Soul was exactly what I would expect from Beth Flynn. It was a journey through Brooks and Lucy’s relationship. We get to find out how a studious and somewhat geeky woman attracted a devilish brute like Brooks and vice versa. (When I say devilish, I’m not talking devilishly handsome like some romance novels. I’m talking brute force with no conscience, so be prepared for some stomach turning scenes that you would probably expect in a dark romance.) Their love story was unconventional and sweet. I would never condone what Brooks does, but I did love his love for Lucy and desire to protect her from the world. 

One of my favorite things about Nine Minutes books is the way they are all woven together through characters, setting, and plots. Each new book puts a piece in place and makes the entire series better. This book had some fun cameos and pieces of the puzzle. The only thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars was a major revelation about Brooks that came toward the end. It caught me off guard and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. What the revelation was didn’t bother me, but more that it was one. I should have seen it coming. There were some major hints and I admit one had me thinking back to something, but I guess I thought I just missed that it was foreshadowing. I don’t know how to explain it without giving it away. I just thought it was an interesting direction to go.

Anyways. Tarnished Soul was another fantastic addition to the Nine Minutes Spin-Off series. I loved getting the story behind Brooks and Lucy’s romance. I loved getting more time with everyone. I am only sad I finished this book because now I want another from Ms. Flynn. 

𝔾𝕠𝕠𝕕𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕤: http://bit.ly/TarnishedSoul-GR

𝟙ℂ𝕝𝕚𝕔𝕜: http://mybook.to/TarnishedSoul

Review: Every Last Secret (A.R. Torre)

Every Last Secret
Author: A.R. Torre

Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous. 


Every Last Secret had my undivided attention from the very first page. I knew I would enjoy it going in because I am a fan of Alessandra (A.R.) Torre’s writing (no matter what genre), but I didn’t expect to want to read it in one day. I was so hooked! There was something about the vibe of it that reminded me of Tarryn Fisher’s Bad Mommy, and that was a good thing. I just really loved how the story was set up and how everything played out. Not everything was a surprise to me. Some revelations I could see coming, but that didn’t matter. I was engrossed in Cat and Neena’s lives and actions that each little twist made the story that much better. I loved everything about this fast-paced domestic thriller.

Review: Heartbreak Bay (Rachel Caine)

Heartbreak Bay
Series: Stillhouse Lake, #5
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

They’re hunting a killer so silent, so invisible, that his unspeakable crimes are the only proof he exists.

A car submerged in a remote pond. The bodies of two girls strapped into their seats. The mystery of their mother, vanished without a trace, leads Gwen Proctor and Kezia Claremont into dangerous territory.

On the surface, Gwen’s life is good—two children approaching adulthood, a committed partner, and a harrowing past dead and gone. But that past is attracting the attention of someone invisible…and unstoppable. Trouble’s just beginning. So is the body count in this backwoods Tennessee town.

As threats mount and Gwen’s hunted by an enemy who pulls all the strings, Kezia has her back. But working to solve these vicious and unreasonable crimes will expose them both to a killer they can’t for the life of them see coming.


Not going to lie. My heart is breaking a little as I write this one last review for Rachel Caine and the Stillhouse Lake series. Knowing Caine is no longer with us and will no longer be writing hit me hard as I finished Heartbreak Bay. While this book was a fitting end for Gwen Proctor, family, and friends, I would have loved for this series to gone on longer. It takes a lot for me to stay confined to my seat with a thriller, and Rachel Caine has always managed to do that with this series. Heartbreak Bay was no different. I was taken on a stressful but addictive journey to find another killer taunting Gwen and it was everything I hoped it would be. Rachel Caine finished up this series on a high and I will forever be grateful to her for writing a thriller series that kept me always coming back for more. Fans of this series won’t want to miss out on this spectacular ending.

Series Review: In the Company of Killers (J.A. Redmerski)

I have mini reviews for the In the Company of Killers series for you today. This series isn’t for everyone. It’s dark, violent, angsty, and suspenseful. I would say it’s rated R. I would caution potential readers that it is truly dark with many, many trigger warnings. It’s about a woman who breaks free from a Mexican drug and sex trafficking ring with help of an assassin, if that explains a bit. Every character in messed up in a deeply disturbing way.

Killing Sarai
Series: In the Company of Killers, #1
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: June 8, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I’ve had Killing Sarai on my Kindle for years because friends raved about it. I’ve put off reading it for two reasons: 1. The series is SEVEN books long and 2. It’s super dark. Sarai escapes a Mexican drug lord who has abused her for years and ends up in the hands of professional killer Victor. This isn’t a love story between Sarai and Victor (as much as I might have wanted it to be), but a thrilling ride of violence and death to those who deserve it most. Killing Sarai was intense and addictive. I didn’t want to put it down, but was also scared to find out what came next. I wouldn’t say I loved reading it because it was torture in some ways. I guess all I can say is that I’m committed to reading at least the second book. (Let’s be real — I’ll end up reading the entire series.)

Reviving Izabel
Series: In the Company of Killers, #2
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: December 4, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Not going to lie. I thought I might take a break in between Killing Sarai and this book, but I couldn’t. I HAD to know what was going to happen to Sarai and Victor after the ending of the first book. Reviving Izabel surprised me in ways only the Nine Minute Trilogy by Beth Flynn has. Twists and turns came out of nowhere. When Victor warned Sarai not to trust anyone, I think he was really speaking to the reader. Man! This book was intense and blew my mind. I’m scared to find out what comes next in the third book, which is bound to be even darker since it is about their friend(?) Fredrik.

The Swan & the Jackal
Series: In the Company of Killers, #3
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: March 3, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Once again, MIND BLOWN. I was warned The Swan & the Jackal was darker than the first two books, but I don’t know that I was prepared for Fredrik. I don’t think anyone could actually be prepared for him or what he was willing to do to find Seraphina. Dude was disturbed. Knowing the reasons behind his actions… Well, that was just heartbreaking with a side of nauseating. Fredrik is one of those characters I knew I shouldn’t love, but can’t help it because he’s more vulnerable than I expected. So, yeah. Shock and awe with this third installment. How will J.A. Redmerski ever be able to keep the surprises coming?

Seeds of Inequity
Series: In the Company of Killers, #4
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: September 25, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Seeds of Inequity is probably my favorite book in the series so far. It wasn’t quite as shocking as some of the other books — even if my mind was blown on more than one occasion while reading it. What I loved so much about it was the levity it brought to the series. Even while it was being dark and twisted, it managed to be humorous at times. The addition of Nora’s character was so smart. She really got in everyone’s heads and put the team through some stuff. I loved how that changed some dynamics. It’s going to be very interesting to find out where things go after this book. It was a game changer.

The Black Wolf
Series: In the Company of Killers, #5
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I took a break in between books 4 and 5 because I had to read an ARC, but I couldn’t wait to get back to this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t immediately pull me in. It wasn’t until about half way through when the story ramped up and I became more interested. Even then, I wondered what the point of everything was…right up until the very end. That ah-ha moment had me rethinking everything that happened in this installment of In the Company of Killers. In the end, my biggest complaints were I needed more Victor and Izabel time and more Fredrik.

Behind the Hands that Kill
Series: In the Company of Killers, #6
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: May 7, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

After the end of the last book, I was a little nervous regarding Victor’s intentions and idea of taking Izabel on a vacation. I had no idea where things would go with that — and what happened wasn’t on my radar. This book was all about revealing some of Victor’s secrets. It was an education on the man in a stressful way. I’m not happy with where things left off between Victor and Izabel, but it sure is making for some interesting reading. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Spiders in the Grove
Series: In the Company of Killers, #7
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

If I were to share my train of thought while reading Spiders in the Grove, it would go something like this:

Niklas is what?
Fredrik is what?
Victor is what?
Please tell me that’s a lie…
What is this? I don’t even…
IZABEL!
Ah, crap! Deal with the devil coming right up.
Ahhhh!!!!
That’s who…?
Woohoo!
I FREAKING KNEW IT!
I didn’t expect that.
I HATE IT!
That’s where it ends??? I need more now! Where is the next book?

Spiders in the Grove was non-stop revelations and crazy, crazy happenings. I was blindsided by so much! I wanted to say I loved every minute of it, but the subject matter would make that disgusting. The writing, though. It was pure genius and those twists and turns were perfection. I loved that we got real time POVs for all the characters. Also, the title is one of my favorites ever now. It matches the book so well.

I’m both happy and angry to be caught up with the series. I need that eighth book like NOW.

Overall thoughts on this series so far:

 This is one of the best dark romance/thriller series I’ve ever read. It is right up there with Beth Flynn’s Nine Minutes Trilogy for me. The twists and turns kept coming and I couldn’t stop reading.  I am on pins and needles waiting for the rest of the books.

Review: Loverboy (Sarina Bowen)

Loverboy
Series: The Company, #2
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Secrets, desires, and exquisite pie. It’s all in a day’s work at The Company.

Growing up, I was the rough guy from the wrong neighborhood who couldn’t catch a break. Posy was the pampered girl I tried to impress. But all she gave me was a single kiss before I had to skip town.
Now I’m back, and the tables are turned. Posy runs a struggling pie shop. I’m the VP of a secretive billion-dollar security company. 
Not that I can tell her.
There’s a murderer on the loose in New York, and he seems to spend a lot of time at Posy’s shop. It’s my job to identify him before he can harm a hair on her pretty head.
Going undercover as Posy’s new barista wasn’t my idea. I don’t even drink coffee. But now I have to call her “boss,” and do everything the curvy perfectionist asks of me. I’d forgotten how much we infuriate each other, and that she somehow fills me with both irritation and desire in the same breath.
There’s nobody more skilled at stealth ops than me. I can bring this killer down. Right after I take a cold shower. And just as soon I figure out how to make a skinny peppermint latte with milk poured in the shape of a kitten…


I normally shy away from romantic suspense novels, but there’s nothing that would keep me from reading one from Sarina Bowen. Especially since I read and loved the first book in The Company series, MoonlighterLoverboy was as good as Moonlighter, if not better. It had an even larger suspense aspect to it while still maintaining the contemporary romance feel I love in Bowen’s books.

Gunnar and Posy had a great enemies vibe going on. They hated each other from their early adulthood and those feelings carried over to meeting again. It was more a fake enemies thing because the two couldn’t get enough of crushing on each other. I loved how they were thrown together in Posy’s pie shop. The whole situation was fun and engaging. I loved how their relationship built as the drama and suspense built.

That drama and suspense was so interesting! Like I said before, I’m not usually into it, but I loved how it was set up in this story involving the company and Posy’s shop. There were so many little twists to keep track of. It was fun. My only maybe complaint about it was that it took longer for Gunnar and Posy to interact because of the set up. That set up was actually a lot of fun, though!

Overall, Loverboy was another fantastic read by Bowen. It had a swoon worthy romance, hilarious moments, and an engaging suspense plot. I loved Gunnar and Posy, plus all the supporting characters. I am really hoping Max finally gets his book next.

PURCHASE LINKS

All in one link page: https://shor.by/the-company
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54585164-loverboy

VENDORS

🗝️ Amazon https://geni.us/Amazon-LB 
🗝️Apple https://geni.us/Apple-LB 
🗝️ Kobo https://geni.us/Kobo-Lb 
🗝️ Nook https://geni.us/Nook-LB 
🗝️ Google https://geni.us/Google-LB
🗝️Audio: https://geni.us/LoverboyAudible

Audiobook Review: Anxious People (Fredrik Backman)

Anxious People
Author: Fedrik Backman
Narrator: Marin Ireland
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Humor

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Trapped in an apartment open house with six neurotic strangers, a would-be bank robber gets much more than he bargained for in this clever, rollicking, and heartfelt novel that is one-part locked-room mystery and one-part insightful character study from the beloved, bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown.

This is a story about a hostage drama. But more than that, it’s a story about idiots. That’s why, from the very outset, I need to say that it is always very easy to declare people idiots, but only if you forget that it is also almost always idiotically difficult to be human.

When a failed bank robber escapes into an apartment filled with people during an open house, a group of six strangers are suddenly forced to get to know one another quickly and under extreme circumstances. But what will be the result?

In captivity we meet Roger and Anna-Lena, a recently retired couple who are on a manic hunt for fixer-uppers because they don’t know how to fix their own marriage. They have the distinction of shopping at every Ikea in Sweden—and those are some of the most romantic moments they ever shared. Then there is Zara, a wealthy director of a bank who has never cared for poor people or their problems (and isn’t shy about saying so). But when tragedy strikes in her life, she becomes addicted to visiting real-estate open houses to see how the middle-classes live—and possibly to find a suitable place to commit suicide. Julia and Danijela are a young lesbian couple with a newborn baby who can’t agree on anything. Their opposite and idiosyncratic home preferences are making them increasingly anxious about their chances of spending a lifetime together. And Estelle, an eighty-year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by some bank robber waving a gun in her face. Despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn’t really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn’t outside parking the car.

As police surround the premises and television channels are broadcasting live, the pressure of an increasingly tense situation mounts, causing each person to reveal more and more about themselves to each other. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.

A riotous comedy, Anxious People is about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and a group of very anxious people who experience exactly the same events in wildly different ways.


I’m a fairly new Fredrik Backman reader. I read and ended up loving Beartown, but to be honest it took me a long time to get into it. It started so slow for me. That was not the case with Anxious People. Where Beartown was dreary and took a lot of time to build up to action, Anxious People took off at an addicting pace. I loved the way the story was set up. I couldn’t wait to find out how everything unraveled. Learning about the characters along the way was like a cherry on top of a sundae.  I loved how their personal stories wove into the bigger picture. I appreciated how this book managed to be incredibly funny while delivering some very strong punches. So many things hit me right in the heart. I loved every minute of it. Anxious People will be going on my list of favorite books I’ve read this year.

Since I listened to this book, I want to comment on the narration as well. It was spectacular. I got both the audiobook and e-book from my library at the same time. I thought about switching from the audiobook to the e-book just so I could read the book faster than listen, but I liked the narrator too much. Marin Ireland brought the story to life in the best way.  Her narration was so good that I had to listen and sent the e-book back for someone else to read.

Review: The Rules of Burken (Traci Finlay)

The Rules of Burken
Author: Traci Finlay
Publication Date: April 11, 2019
Genre: Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-four-year-old Charlotte Stahl would do anything for her older brother, Ian. After all, he’d done everything for her growing up.

He played Burken with her—a hide-and-seek game they made up as kids.

He comforted her when their mom deserted them.

He raised her when their dad went to prison for murder.

To Charlotte, Ian is the only reason she’s still alive—he’s her rock. So when Ian asks her to play Burken in the isolated woods of Cadillac, Michigan, Charlotte feels she could use the nostalgia and agrees. Besides, they haven’t played this game since childhood. Burken—it’s the one thing that never changes …

…until Ian threatens to kill her in the middle of the game.

More than the rules have changed as Brother turns to Predator, Sister turns to Prey, and she’s navigating the forests of Northern Michigan on foot with nothing but the clothes—and a target—on her back.

If Charlotte wants to stay alive, she knows she has to untangle the web of her haunting past to find out where things went wrong, and at what point she lost sight of reality. With no other choice but to reopen old wounds—and with Ian hot on her trail—Charlotte learns that sometimes evil has to manifest in order for good to succeed. Which makes her wonder…

Is Ian really a monster? Or her savior?


I came across The Rules of Burken when author Tarryn Fisher promoted it on her Instagram at release time. I was intrigued by it then and wanted to read it, so I downloaded it. I don’t have a good reason for taking so long to get to it. It sat on my Kindle for over a year before I picked it up, which I’m not proud of.

This psychological thriller was addictive from the start. I was constantly tense trying to figure things out. The game Charlotte and her brother Ian played was brutal. Their sibling bond fascinated me. I was desperate to understand it, so I could make guesses as to what was happening. There these great flashbacks throughout the story heightened my curiosity even more. Everything moved at such fast pace, I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want to put the book down.

Honestly, I was impressed this was Traci Finlay’s debut novel. The writing was great, the plot moved quickly, and the end left me wanting more. Not only do I want to read another book by this author, but I would read a sequel. It wasn’t the most complex psychological thriller, but it was a good one and I would recommend it.

Mini Reviews: Engagement and Espionage & Batter of Wits

Engagement and Espionage
Series: Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries, #1
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: Cipher-Naught
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged!

But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.
Sabotage!

Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

‘Engagement and Espionage’ is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after ‘Beard Science,’ Winston Brothers #3.

My thoughts:

If you’re a fan of Cletus Winston and his baker love Jenn Donner, you will most likely enjoy Engagement and Espionage. It’s a fun cozy mystery filled with antics that can only be attributed to Cletus. Plus, getting more of Cletus and Jenn’s relationship was so fulfilling. They are a couple of favorite characters of mine and I’m so glad there are more books in this series to come.

Batter of Wits
Series: Donner Bakery, #5
Author: Karla Sorensen
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Hate at first sight couldn’t possibly exist, right?

That’s what Grace Buchanan thought, before her useless car stranded her on the side of a deserted road just inside the Green Valley city limits.

When Tucker Haywood—tall and handsome and full of southern charm— shows up to help, her reaction to him is the strongest thing she’s ever felt in her life, and it makes no freaking sense.

It doesn’t make much sense to Tucker either. Not why she hates him, or why he finds her so intriguing. He knows well enough that Grace is moving to Green Valley for a fresh start, not to distract him when he’s got no room for something like her in his life.

The complications between them are endless, but that doesn’t stop her definitely not love-at-first-sight feelings from changing into something else entirely.

Grace and Tucker are about to learn the hard way that in Green Valley, hating someone has never tasted so sweet.

My thoughts:

I’m always a little hesitant to read a book by one author set in a world created by another author. I’m afraid that it just won’t have the right “feel” to it. Penny Reid’s writing style, settings, and characters are one of a kind. Her Green Valley, home of the Winston brothers, has a special place in my heart. I have read a couple books in this world now, and neither of them quite reflected the setting or style I expected. This is all a big build up to say that Karla Sorensen is the first author who has managed to write her own unique characters and do Green Valley justice. Batter of Wits felt like coming home to Green Valley, and that’s a good thing. I loved Grace and Tucker. Their love story had some uncomfortable bumps, but it was fun.