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Review: A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo

A Gathering of Secrets (Kate Burkholder, #10)A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a big fan of the Kate Burkholder series, and as someone from Pennsylvania, a lot of the references are very homey to me. I can’t believe this book is the tenth already!

The series remains nice and fresh in this latest installment, and honestly, I could read ten more. You can read it as a standalone if you’d like, but trust me, you’re going to want to read the others in the series, as well.

FYI: This book deals with themes of sexual assault. If that is triggering for you, I would recommend another book.

Kate is called to a barn fire, where they find the body of a teenage boy trapped inside. By all accounts, he was a poster-perfect Amish boy, so who would want him dead? As Kate digs into the mystery, she realizes that not everything is as it seems, and she begins to discover a much darker side to the wholesome image presented to her by the community.

This mystery was just a really good, straightforward mystery, with a little bit of darkness that begins to seep through as things develop. I really like that about this series: it may seem wholesome and “plain,” but then the dark, gritty details really slip in. Nothing is ever off limits or completely straightforward in this series.

The only thing I didn’t like about this one is that there were a couple connections that the reader is able to make way before Kate does. A couple times she finds a piece of information that you’re immediately like “Ooh! That’s …. !” And she doesn’t get to that point until several chapters later. That took a little edge off some of the reveals. But I wasn’t so disappointed in anything that it took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, if you’re not reading this series, you’re missing out. It’s great mysteries wrapped in this really interesting Amish exterior. And this tenth installment continues this amazing series.

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Review: The Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes

Today I have the review of “The Snow Witch” for you! I really liked this book and think many of you will too. Make sure to come back tomorrow for an exclusive interview with the author, Rosie Boyes!

The Snow WitchThe Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a good fairy tale – especially ones with a little bit of a dark side. “The Snow Witch” by Rosie Boyes really scratched that itch for me – while it is technically a “young adult” book, it is a really well-crafted story with plenty to keep both young readers and adults entertained.

The book follows brother and sister pair Kes and Star, foster children who gets news that a relative has stepped forward to care for them, and that relative lives in a grand old house called St. Flurries, which is full of crazy characters, including possibly, a ghost. Kes has to solve the mystery of the house, hidden deep in the past, to keep him and his sister safe.

The story is told from two perspectives in two different time periods and both stories are interesting – I liked both storylines and thought both moved the action along really well.

The characters are what really makes this book, however. The cast of characters that inhabit St. Flurries are amazing, from Granny Bird, to her staff and companions (both human and feline). Boyes did a fabulous job crafting a world that really sucks you in and grabs you.

The author also does a great job at evoking a wide range of emotions throughout the book – from fear, to happiness, to sadness and then back to happy. This book really runs the gamut. I enjoyed it immensely and think that any reader who wants to cozy up with a quick read this winter that is just enough of a dark fairy tale to keep you interested until the very end.

Highly recommended,

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#BlogTour: She Lies Hidden by Christine Stephenson

B L O G B L I T Z (5)

About the Book

How far would you go to find your missing sister?

When DI Thomasine Albright is informed that the remains of her fifteen-year-old sister have been found, she has the tragic responsibility of breaking the news to her mother. Thomasine promises her mother that she will be the one to find Karen’s killer.

But Karen Albright wasn’t the only girl to go missing during that weekend in 1973… Veronica Lightfoot disappeared too. They’d lived barely four miles apart, yet apparently never met. Suddenly there is a new question, was Veronica involved in Karen’s death? Is that why she vanished?

DI Mel Philips is handed the original case file and begins a new investigation. Unwilling to be side-lined, Thomasine decides to go it alone.

As the case unfolds, Thomasine realizes that there may be other victims. Can she find them too?

C.M. Stephenson - She Lies Hidden_cover

My Review

She Lies HiddenShe Lies Hidden by C.M. Stephenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writing in this book was top-notch, in my opinion. This book had so many seemingly unrelated characters and storylines going on that the author weaves together seamlessly as the story goes on. I loved that. The story was complex enough to keep my interest, but not so complex that I got lost.

There were several perspectives that the story is told from, which gives the reader the advantage of seeing all sides of the characters and story.

I did not figure things out until things were revealed in time. It was a nice ending that wrapped things up with some good twists thrown in. It also gives a different perspective than a
“regular” straightforward police procedural, since Thomasine was “on the other side” of this investigation, as a family member. It really showed how the families are continuously affected, years and years after someone goes missing.

I liked Thomasine and hope to see more of her and Mel Phillips in the future. The author doesn’t say whether this will turn into a series, but I liked both main policewomen and hope that they reappear in the future.

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About the Author

C.M.Stephenson colourAfter growing up in a small Lancashire village, Christine Stephenson left school at fifteen. Four years later she moved to Cornwall.

In her late teens she met people whose lives were complicated, fuelled by drugs, and filled with violence and aggression. There were others too, in her mid-twenties, everyday people, educated, with careers, who had decent parents; people who you wouldn’t look at twice in the street. They were worse; she knew the victims of their crimes too. These experiences continue to influence her writing.

Her career can be described as eclectic. Jobs ranging from office junior to dental nurse, management consultant to executive and corporate coach. She ran her own training consultancy for over twelve years. It was there that her love of writing bloomed. She went on to produce an extensive portfolio of work which included resource packs, case studies, role-plays, games, presentations and academic texts.

In 2008 her husband’s job dictated that they move to South Gloucestershire. This in turn, lead to a brand-new life. They now live just outside a small medieval town, set between Bristol and Bath.

In 2009, she decided it was time to study the craft and undertook the A215 in Creative Writing with Open University, and later followed that with an MA Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, graduating in 2016. She gained representation with Andrew Nurnberg & Associates soon after. She spent the following eighteen months writing and editing what is now her debut novel. In May 2018 Christine was delighted to accept a contract with Bloodhound Books.  ‘She Lies Hidden’ is due for release in September 2018.

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Review: The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White

The Girl in the Moss (Angie Pallorino, #3)The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Angie Pallorino series – the characters are so well developed and the plots are amazingly complex and detailed, though not overwhelming. I hope it goes on for a long time. So, naturally I had to check this latest book out.

This third addition to the series is just as good as he other two, in my opinion.

FYI: I would recommend reading the other two in the series before you tackle this one, but it is not imperative that you do so, as the main mystery stands alone.

The third book follows Angie as she embarks on her private investigator career (having been fired from the police department) and things with Maddocks heat up – which slows Angie down. As all this is happening, Angie and Maddocks literally happen upon a body and Angie is asked to look into the 24-year-old cold case by the victim’s last remaining family member. Turns out, the victim’s life is just as complex as Angie’s, which means things aren’t going to be easy.

I loved how meaty this mystery was. There were a lot of threads to pull and Angie really methodically went over everything in a way that made things less overwhelming for the reader and gave the book a lot of suspense. If you figure this one out, I commend you, because it’s very multi-faceted. But brilliant. So, so brilliant.

I also liked where the characters themselves – Angie, Maddocks, Holgersen – because it opens the door for some great storylines in the future, which I look forward to. It takes talent to keep readers wanting more after three books, and I certainly do!

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Review: Fire on the Fens by Joy Ellis

Fire on the Fens (DI Nikki Galena, #9)Fire on the Fens by Joy Ellis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Joy Ellis’ novels, which all have such intricate and interesting plots woven together with great characters to create an excellent novel. And this book is no exception.

What starts as a series of small fires escalates when someone is deliberately burned alive. Nikki and her team are locked in a mental game of cat and mouse as the body count rises, but no connections can be found between the victims. Meanwhile, a new religious group with some…interesting…beliefs has moved into town and trouble follows. Can Nikki, Joe and the gang figure everything out before the fens completely burn?

I really enjoyed this latest chapter in the Nikki Galena series, which is creepy and gruesome, while not terribly graphic. I was suitably creeped out and intrigued at the same time. The ending was pretty complex and I really liked it – it pulled at my heartstrings a little bit. Plus the personal storylines of the detectives continued, I can’t wait to see what happens next with Nikki and Joe.

There was one disappointing element to this whole thing, however. One of the plot elements – I’m trying not to spoil anything here – was a bit of a let-down. It had some great build up and I was really excited to see where it was going, but then it really just….fizzled. I was a bit let down there. But seeing as it was only a sub-plot, I still highly recommend the book.

Joy Ellis’ two Fens series are some of the best police procedurals out there and I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. This book is a great addition to the line-up.

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Review: The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer

The Chosen Ones (DI Robyn Carter, #5)The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Robyn Carter series is one of my favorites. The stories are complex and interesting, while not being too overwhelming or confusing. The mysteries are gory and creepy, but just the right amount. And that ending. Whoa.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When the team is assigned a grisly murder case to solve, they dive in but can’t find anyone with any reason to want the victim dead. Then more bodies show up and things get even more complex as there aren’t any concrete connections between the victims that could have lead to the murders. Meanwhile, Robyn is beginning to move on from her fiance’s murder two years prior, but then the past seems to catch up with her in a big way. Can she solve the case and deal with her own personal demons?

I love the characters on Robyn’s team: Mitz, David, Annie, Ross, etc. They’re all super fun and can make you laugh and cry in the same chapter – I’m definitely invested in them.

The mystery is also a really interesting main storyline, which has a great conclusion I didn’t see coming- and proves that no character is truly safe in this series, which makes things exciting. The flashbacks which show how the killer got to this point are also very harrowing and make things even more complex. But it all worked out satisfactorily in the end.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes a good mystery/thriller. This book does have some personal storylines that continue from previous novels, but it can be read as a standalone.

Highly recommended.

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Review: The Surviving Girls by Katee Robert

The Surviving Girls (Hidden Sins, #3)The Surviving Girls by Katee Robert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a great thriller which shows the “other side” of so many of the books we read – what happens when you escape a madman? When you’re the two in 23 to walk away from a crazed killer? Often, the novels end after the killer is caught. But this one picks up the thread 12 years later, when the two survivors of a massacre are still trying to get over the pain. It’s really an interesting premise.

Lei and Emma are those two girls, who survived an infamous massacre in their sorority house, when Lei’s ex-boyfriend slaughtered 21 of their sisters, one-by-one. Now, 12 years later, three girls from another chapter turn up murdered with eerie similarities to those original murders. As Lei and Emma try to keep calm, tensions escalate as it becomes clear that the nightmare isn’t over for them. Will it ever be?

This book really starts the action in the beginning and continues to keep it pumping throughout the entire book. I mean, when your background information contains 21 murders, it’s hard to start out slow. It also elevates the killer to an intensely creepy psycho – he’s really a completely disgusting and scary guy. The author does a great job creating a book that is the stuff our worst nightmares are made of.

This book also has a romantic storyline and this is where I think the book stumbled. I did not feel the chemistry between Dante and Lei – it seemed really forced and awkward, especially given the circumstances: Lei struggles with trying to trust anyone after her past (she dated the killer and was the one who actually let him into the sorority house that night) and all of a sudden she just falls head-over-heels for a random dude? Eh, not buying it. I just didn’t feel the actual passion there.

But other than the romantic storyline stumble, I think this really is a solid book. It’s got that something special that really draws you in and makes you curious about the outcome. I’m excited to see where things go from here (I dont’ want to give anything away, but there is potential for a sequel and I would read it).

Recommended.

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