Book Review Tuesday: The Accident, Wall of Silence, Bad Habits @TracyBuchanan @judypost

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Happy Tuesday, friends!I have a new roundup of books for you. I’m still sharing reviews of books I read during April quarantine, along with a newer title. Lately, I’ve been immersed in a single series (Harry Dresden), but we’ll chat about that in the weeks to come. 🙂

In the meantime, I hope one of these fabulous novels tickles your reading fancy.



Book cover for The Accident by Natalie Barelli shows woman from back walking up stepsThe Accident
by Natalie Barelli

I believe I’ve found a new auto-buy author, if the rest of Natalie Barelli’s work is anything like The Accident. Katherine is a shining star on a fast-track career, plus a single mom with a teenage daughter. She becomes friends with Eve, who worms her way into Katherine’s life and her place of employment. When the two have a girls’ night out, Katherine wants to call an Uber, knowing she’s had too much to drink. Eve talks her into driving, pointing out the roads will be deserted. Halfway home, Katherine strikes a pedestrian on a lonely road. Eve convinces her they need to get back in the car and take off. It’s a decision that will become a nightmare for Katherine as her life spirals out of control. But as each day passes and she wrestles with what happened, she realizes Eve is not at all the person she originally thought.

The book gets very twisty very quickly. I blew through it in two sittings, glued to the pages. It’s fast-paced, does require a stretch of credibility in a few places, but is pure popcorn enjoyment. Part soap-opera, part Lifetime movie, it sucks you in quickly and doesn’t let go until the thoroughly satisfying ending. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, this is an excellent read. I’m already scouting out more books by this author.

5 Stars
Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Women’s Psychological Fiction


Book cover for Wall of Silence by Tracy Buchanan shows closeup of trees in forest with title  laid overtop imageWall of Silence
by Tracy Buchanan

Wall of Silence presents an interesting mystery and an interesting concept. Melissa Byatt has an ideal life with three wonderful children and a popular husband who is running for a local office. She lives in an upscale “forest” community, with neighbors who look out for one another. Her childhood was less than ideal, but she’s risen above it and has so much for which she’s grateful.

One day she comes home from a bike ride to find her husband stabbed, her three children clustered around him with the knife. It quickly becomes apparent one of them is responsible, but which one and why? When the police arrive, Melissa decides to protect her children at all cost. With her husband, Patrick, in a coma waffling between life and death, Melissa must unravel what happened to so drastically alter her perfect family.

As the book progresses, the reader gains insight not only to the Melissa’s children, her in-laws, and her childhood, but also the neighbors in the community of Forest Grove. A neighborhood Facebook group is used for back and forth chit-chat (and gossip) to advance the story, which I thought was a brilliant and intriguing move by the author. Slowly, old secrets, suspicions and grudges come to light, and many are not who they seem at first glance.

There were times I was thoroughly aggravated by Melissa’s behavior, and the behavior of her children, much of which contributed to the slow build of the story. This is not a book that moves at a fast clip but a mystery that falls into place bits and pieces at a time. The tension is constant and there is always some new nugget of information to keep the reader flipping pages. I found this an intriguing mystery and would definitely read more by this author in the future.

5 Stars
Amazon Link
Genre: British and Irish Literary Fiction > Psychological Fiction


Book cover for Bad Habits by Judi Lynn shows shows bloody revolver in background, cute redhead in foreground on a laptop, yellow Bentley behind herBad Habits
by Judi Lynn

There is a lot of heart in this story. To be sure, there is mystery too—murder, drugs, a crime to solve—but the characters themselves bring an entirely different dimension. Lux hasn’t had a great upbringing or childhood, but she’s independently wealthy. She finds the loving environment she lacked with her own parents with her best friend Gabbie’s family, including Gabbie’s brothers. She’s especially drawn to Keon, a chef, and soon realizes what she feels surpasses simple fondness.

As Keon and Lux grow closer, they find themselves caught up in a web of trouble revolving around Keon’s brother, Tyson. The cast of characters is large, but there are many standouts, including Pete, a cop who’s attracted to Gabbie. I also liked Ian, who found himself in difficult situations even as he tried to do the right thing, and his sister, Shelly—a fifteen-year-old learning the value of self-worth over game-playing and manipulation.

The mystery ties together neatly at the end, but it is the warmth among the characters that brought me a special smile when I finished the story. I also have to mention that I really loved the addition of Lux’s yellow Bentley as a cute aside. Although this story is complete, the book has all the earmarks of an engaging series. A pleasure to read.

5 Stars
Amazon Link
Genre: Amateur Sleuths > Women Sleuths


Although I did a minimal amount of writing during shelter-in-place months, books were my friend. I still have a few more to share before I catch up to the present. You just can’t go wrong with books. Here’s hoping you’ve had a few entraining tales to distract yourself as well! 🙂

Book Review Tuesday: The Body in the Apartment, The Trophy Wife, Subject A36 #CozyMystery #PsychologicalThriller #YADystopian

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageIt’s been ages since I did a book review Tuesday, and I have a LOT of reviews I haven’t shared. I’m going to work in my five star reads as I continue to add new ones. I did read one or two not-the-best of books during my absence, and I’ll skip those. For now, take a gander at these!


Cute pug dog looking into the open door of an apartmentThe Body in the Apartment
by Judi Lynn

House flippers, Jazzi, Ansel, their families and friends are back in the fourth Jazzi Zanders mystery novel. This time around the stakes are higher as Jazzi finds herself immersed in two separate murders.

The book starts with a bang—literally. Ansel’s brother Radley is in River Bluff when their older brother Bain arrives to try to get Radley to return to the family farm. After an argument between Radley and Bain, Radley’s boss is shot and killed. Bain becomes the prime suspect when it’s discovered his gun is missing from his truck. Murder #1, but things are far from over. It isn’t long before another killing occurs.

As Jazzi and her detective friend Gaff begin to fit the pieces together, it becomes apparent the two murders are related. Getting there—unraveling multiple threads, false leads, numerous suspects and motives makes this the most intricate Jazzi mystery to date. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, each with plenty of motive. If you like your cozies complex, while maintaining a wonderfully breezy feel, you’ll love this series and this book.

As with most mystery readers, I always like trying to “finger” the murderer before the reveal, but I love the family and friends element in this series every bit as much. This time around there is a wedding to prepare for, the arrival of a new baby, Easter celebrations, and the flush of new romance for new friends. Twine all of that up with a great mystery, adorable pets, two fabulous lead characters, plus lots of home cooking, and you’ve got the winning combination that makes this series a sheer delight!

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery > Amateur Sleuth Mysteries


Book cover for the trophy wife shows blue background with wisps of long blonde hair fanning from left spineThe Trophy Wife
by Sunday Tomassetti

Wow! This book amazed me with its many twists and turns. Cate Cabot works at an exclusive boutique in Palm Shores, Florida. She doesn’t do friends, preferring to keep people at a distance—even the boyfriend who loves her. Then Odessa DuVernay walks into the boutique. From the start, Odessa is different than most of the trophy-wife clientele Cate is accustomed to dealing with. She’s pleasant and friendly and takes a sincere interest in Cate—inviting her to lunch, engaging her in girl talk, going to a movie matinee.

It’s an adjustment for Cate. Then just when she finds herself opening up, Odessa mysteriously disappears. Not long afterward, Cate gets a panicked voicemail from Odessa asking to meet. When Cate arrives at the designated place, Odessa ghosts her. Concerned, Cate begins a search of her new friend, only to hit obstacle after obstacle. It’s like Odessa DuVernay never existed.

This is where things get VERY weird. Not just one unexpected turn, but several surprises that are cleverly unraveled a bit at a time by the author. When the final revelation arrives, it’s a jaw-dropper, and SOOOOO GOOOD! A thread I never expected, but one I love when it is handled deftly and Tomassetti definitely did that. If you enjoy psychological fiction, this is an inventive and highly riveting take on the genre. Superb!

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Women’s Psychological Fiction > Women’s Crime Fiction

NOTE: The ebook seems to have disappeared from Amazon so the link above is for the audio book. I couldn’t even find the ebook on B&N. Very strange.


Book cover for Subject A36 by Teri Polen shows title text over watermark of old building, plus small figure a man in silhouetteSubject A36
by Teri Polen

Set in a dystopian future, Asher and his team live in a world where children with desirable traits (specific hair or eye color, physical strength, agility, etc), are captured and harvested for “gene stripping” so the wealthy can purchase coveted qualities like selecting from an a la carte menu. After seeing the destruction of his family, seventeen-year-old Asher has found a new family with his team, including, Brynn, who he has come to love and Noah, who is like a brother. But doing what they do comes with excessive risk and plenty of danger.

From the start, there is barely time to catch your breath. The reader is given detailed insight into Asher’s character as well as multiple members of his team. Each are unique and fully fleshed out individuals, the good and the bad.

The Colony—which orchestrates gene stripping—is set on finding and capturing Subject A36, a genetically altered individual designed as the perfect killing machine.

This novel is packed with non-stop action, and shocking revelation piled upon revelation. The writing is smooth and snappy, scenes plunging like a roller coaster from one into the next. I devoured this book in two sittings and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, great YA characters, and pulse-pounding action.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Teen and Young Adult Dystopian 


More reviews to come next week. I don’t want to post too many at once, but hopefully I’ve piqued your interest with a few of these titles. Happy reading!

Book Review Tuesday: The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHappy Tuesday! I have an intriguing book to share, one that I can definitely see generating a lot of book club discussion.The Other Mrs. is also slated for Netflix, and I can’t wait! I have so many thoughts about this story, but I’ll restrict them to my review.

And a bonus today—look for a special announcement at the end of this post! 🙂


Book cover for The Other Mrs. shows lighted window in gale of dark house, a woman's image in backgroundThe Other Mrs.
by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. is a psychological thriller with a murder mystery at the core. Dr. Sadie Faust and her husband Will, a professor, relocate to Maine when Will inherits his sister’s home.

Will’s sister Alice, has committed suicide, leaving her old home, and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Imogene, behind. Maine is a huge adjustment, especially given the home is located on an island, the mainland only reachable by ferry. It’s winter and storms are common. Queue claustrophobic atmosphere. I’m not a fan of winter, but I do love reading books set during the season.

And then there is Imogene—bitter and resentful—who does everything in her power to make Sadie feel threatened and unwelcome. Sadie and Will have two other children, Otto, fourteen and awkward, and Tate, grade school age and a bundle of energy. Shortly after the Faust family moves into their new home, a neighbor woman is murdered. Thus, begins the mystery of who killed her and why.

The story unfolds through the viewpoints of three different characters—Sadie, a woman named Camille, and a young girl called Mouse. Chapters alternate between them, some more engrossing than others. There were several chapters mid-point where the story dragged, and I grew weary of Camille and Mouse’s narration (mostly because it’s told rather than shown), but Sadie’s chapters kept me thoroughly engrossed. As suspicion regarding the killer mounts, she pulls a few stunts that had me doing palm/forehead, but they’re forgiven in the overall tension of the book. Once past the middle bubble, I couldn’t read fast enough.

Between the setting with the plague of winter snow, the oppressive weight of Alice’s questionable suicide, and Imogene’s rebellious behavior, there’s a lot going on in this book in addition to a murder mystery.

I did figure out the main plot point early on, but the author peppered the story with enough curve balls to make me second guess myself repeatedly. And I do mean repeatedly. Eventually, my suspicions were proven right, but the connection to the murder and the killer’s motive came as a complete surprise. If you enjoy psychological thrillers that blur lines with domestic thrillers and murder mysteries,The Other Mrs. is well worth the read. 4.5 Stars from me.

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Domestic Thrillers > Murder Thrillers


Now, about that bonus I mentioned…

My Story Empire colleagues and I have big announcement taking place today. We don’t normally post on a Tuesday, but our news couldn’t wait. If you haven’t already visited, I invite you to hop over to the Empire, and see what the Story is all about. 😉

Book Review Tuesday: The Sister Pact @JacqBiggar, The Good Neighbors @kmodglinauthor

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Welcome to another Tuesday Book Reviews! I have two books to share today, both of which kept me glued to the pages.


Book cover for The Sister Pact by Jacquie Biggar shows pretty blonde woman with sunglasses and headscarf sitting in profile in a convertible, hand on steering wheelThe Sister Pact: Home is Where the Heart is
by Jacquie Biggar

Holly Tremaine returns home when illness forces her to step back from her career as a concert violinist. The holidays are approaching, and home seems the place be—only there are several untidy messes in Holly’s past. Her sister, Susan, married Steven, the man Holly was once in love with, and Holly had a drunken one-night stand with Steven’s brother, Levi.

Sound a bit complicated? It is, in a wonderfully flawed and heart wrenching way. This is a blend of chick lit and romance with neither overshadowing the other. The story is not only about the buried feelings Holly and Levi have carried for each other, but also the emotional scars and bonds between sisters. When Susan’s marriage falters, it’s Holly who rushes in to try to hold it together, and when Holly’s illness gets the better of her, Susan’s eyes are opened to the distance they’ve allowed to grow between them.

This is a beautiful story about family, siblings, sisters, emotional healing, and true loves. Jacquie Biggar writes with perfection and infuses every story with warmth to touch a reader’s heart. The Sister Pact is another perfect gem. 5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre:  Contemporary Romance > Family Life Fiction 


Book over for The Good Neighbors shows a rural home at night with oppressing cloudy skyThe Good Neighbors
by Kiersten Modglin

Harper and Bryant are a young couple who move from Chicago to a quaint southern town where Bryant has accepted a job as a teacher. Their next-door neighbors are slightly older, extremely wealthy, and model perfect.

The Good
I read this book in one day. I was home with a cold and got sucked in from page one. From the get-go, the reader can’t but help being pulled along in the twisted tale of neighbors Harper and Bryant and Tori and Jason. Like a soap opera, there are a plenty of juicy secrets and over the top encounters.

The Bad
Like a train wreck, it’s hard to look away even when the characters make horrendous decisions, and there were plenty of them in this story. Even so, the writing and story keeps you flipping pages wanting to know what’s going to happen next, despite mounting frustration over the actions of all involved. Harper and Bryant are average, everyday people, where Tori and Jason seem as though they stepped off the screen from a 1980’s prime time soap.

The Ugly
I had a hard time swallowing the ending. Far too many puzzle pieces don’t align­—or at the very least—make sense. I think the author wanted to deliver a bombshell, but rather than feeling shocked, I was left with a sense of incredulity. It’s hard to say more without giving away spoilers, but too many things didn’t add up or were too extreme to swallow.

The Takeaway
I waffled on what rating to give this book given the problems with the plot. But in the end, it kept me glued to the pages and rapidly reading to reach the finish. The entertainment value warrants 5 stars, the plot 3. Therefore, I give The Good Neighbors 4 stars, and note that I would read this author again with that hopes that plot and entertainment meet in a solid middle.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Thrillers > Psychological Fiction


Until next Tuesday, I hope you enjoyed the reviews, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Tuesday Book Review: Silent Payback @jaydawes2 #PsychologicalFiction #DetectiveFiction

Hi, everyone, and welcome to my last book review of October. It seems like only yesterday I was lounging by my pool, but in two days I’m going to be handing out trick-or-treat candy. Yet another month has blown by on a whirlwind! Somehow, despite all that fast-forward flash of time, I still manage to slow the hours down long enough to read. Which brings me to today’s review!


book cover for Silent Payback by Jaye Marie shows profiles of two men, one side by side, one with long hair, beard and mustache, other clean cutSilent Payback
by Jaye Marie
This is a polished story that reads easily and moves at a good clip. The author does an excellent job of getting into the minds of her characters and sharing their emotions. Detective David Mallory is tasked with finding a serial killer, but in addition to tracking down the murderer, he must prove himself worthy to his peers while facing the scrutiny of a legendary commander.He’s also struggling with an issue in his personal life, that if exposed, could ruin everything.

The focus on the crime, and the efforts David employs, along with his partner Anna to find the killer before he strikes again, are the strength of the book in this reader’s opinion. I also loved the inclusion of Snow, the commander whose reputation precedes him. He has a quiet strength and dominates every scene he’s in. When the book is focused on crime solving, it’s great.

Somewhere near the halfway point, David’s secret is revealed (although we get hints prior) and the focus shifts to his personal life. His secret is a big one. Clearly, the author intended for it to be a surprise. It’s definitely nothing I would have guessed, but nor is it something I would normally choose to read about. Which could be why that part of the novel doesn’t work for me.

Huge points to the author for deft handling of a delicate situation. At this point it becomes a matter of personal taste, but I found too much of the story focused on the details of David problem. I liked the wrap to the crime. Coupled with the strength of the writing, and the obvious effort the author put into telling this tale, it warrants five glowing stars despite the issues I had.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Murder Fiction


Congratulations to Jaye on her new release! I probably won’t be reading much (or as much) during the month of November due to NaNo, but before the year is out, I hope to have several more reviews to share. In the meantime, I wish you happy reading!

New Release: Silent Payback @jaydawes2 #DetectiveFiction #PsychologicalFiction

Tour banner for Silent Payback by Jaye Marie lists participating blog hosts against a background of a city street/alley with ligjts

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Jaye Marie to my blog. Jaye is awesome at supporting other authors and is a talented writer. She’s dropped by to share her latest release, Silent Payback. If you like mysteries and suspense, this is a book you’re going to want to check out!

book cover for Silet Payback by Jaye Marie shows profiles of two men, one side by side, one with long hair, beard and mustache, other clean cutBLURB:
A city on edge – a detective on shaky ground…

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for his next victim.

When the case lands on detective David Mallory’s desk, will his personal demon prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice?

As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of his heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.

With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case, before more women die?

About Jaye:
Jaye Marie is affectionately known as the giant redwood, probably because she is very tall, but also because of her love for trees. Most afternoons she can be found repotting or taking care of her bonsai collection, but her love of detective mysteries soon brings her back indoors. She has written three fiction novels in this genre, Nine Lives, Out of Time and Crossfire and is looking forward to publishing Silent Payback, her fourth book.

She spends any free time learning everything she can about self-publishing, and despite all the obstacles, she never gives up on anything and is as stubborn as a mule. She also shares a website http://jenanita01.com with Anita Dawes…

Connect with Jaye at the following haunts:

Email: jayemarie01@btinternet.com
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest | Instagram | Medium

Sound good? Then you’re going to want to One-Click on AmazonRight now you can grab this engrossing story for only .99c. I know I’ve already got my copy. Happy reading!

Book Review Tuesday: Under the Water by Paul Pen, Under Siege by @ judipost

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Happy Tuesday! I have two books to share this week. One—despite being a bestseller with polished writing from an author I enjoy—earns three stars. The other is a one-hour read from a series I’ve fallen in love with.


Book cover for Under the Water by Paul Pen shows title on watery background with bubblesPaul Pen is a Spanish author whose work is routinely translated into English. My first experience reading one of his novels was Desert Flowers, a highly unique, haunting, yet disturbing story. It’s one that remains with me to this day despite the fact I read it in early 2018. A book like that sets a high bar for anything that follows. When I saw Under the Water, I couldn’t wait to download it.

The story started off with a bang—a family of four moving from Seattle to Boston, traveling across country in an RV, planning to sightsee along the way. We get the idea they are hoping for a new start after a series of misfortunes. The ten-year old son lost his eye in an accident, the teenage daughter’s two pet ferrets disappeared, the mother’s hair is now healthy again after falling out in clumps. Weird, huh? This is when the book is good, offering sketchy details that are never quite filled in.

Then, while night-driving in a secluded area, the husband clips a woman who leaps onto the road. Here, things start to sour instead of kicking into high gear. My first problem was accepting that a family of four traveling across country wouldn’t pack a single flashlight in their RV. An RV! Instead, they rely on their cell phones for flashlights—and, of course, those end up missing.

After that, the story degenerates into a hot mess, especially when the woman’s reasons for being on the road are revealed. It requires a stretch of the imagination and dedication to stay with the book. Had it been any author other than Paul Pen, I would have probably stopped reading. I wanted mystery. A haunting, disturbing plot like Desert Flowers. Instead I got infidelity and revenge. I’ve read plenty of books with unlikable characters that I found enthralling, but this one fell short. Toss in the fact the opening chapter seems gimmicky and unnecessary after you know the ending, and I can’t give this book more than 3 stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Literary Fiction >  Spanish & Portuguese Literature


Book cover for Under Siege by Judi Lynn shows fierce looking woman in skimpy warrior outfit holding long knife as if to attackUnder Siege: A Muddy River One Hour Read
by Judi Lynn

The citizens of Muddy River have seen their share of problems. A town populated by witches, vampires, shifters, fae, and other preternatural beings, it’s also a place where locals pull together when trouble surfaces. Lead by Raven, the town’s enforcer and fire demon, along with his mate Hester, a powerful witch, Muddy River has stood up to several diabolical challenges.

In this short read, evil surfaces in the form of mortals who have targeted the town. As always, Raven, Hester, and their friends rise to the challenge, banding together to defend their community, including newly arrived members.

If you’re not familiar with Muddy River, this is a nice introduction to the many diverse people who populate it. A magical world where shifters, vampires, and witches gather at the local pub to discuss the day’s events, or rally around a kitchen table to plot strategy. If you’re already familiar with Muddy River, it’s a time to reconnect with characters who have become family. If you’re new to the town, it’s an excellent glimpse into what makes this series—part paranormal, part cozy mystery, part suspense—such a winning combination. You can read this tale in under an hour, and like a Halloween treat, you’ll find yourself wanting more.
5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Paranormal Mysteries > Witch and Wizard Fiction


Judi Lynn always delivers a good story and I hope you’ll check out her Muddy Series if you haven’t already.

I expected more of Paul Pen’s book. I think of three stars as an average read. Nothing spectacular, but nothing dreadful either. This book was well written, but there were flaws I found hard to overlook. My biggest issue—when the gloss of the mystery was stripped away, I didn’t care for the story. That’s personal taste, and it happens to all of us. I’m sure others will love the book.

How do you feel when a favorite author disappoints you? I will certainly read Paul Pen again. Will you stick with an author after they deliver a story you didn’t care for?

Let’s chat about it.