The Lullaby Girl (Angie Pallorino #2) by Loreth Anne White-Review, Interview & Giveaway

THE LULLABY GIRL (Angie Pallorino #2) by Loreth Anne White-Review, Interview & Giveaway

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THE LULLABY GIRL
Angie Pallorino #2
by Loreth Anne White
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, murder, mystery, suspense

The Lullaby Girl

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 14, 2017

Detective Angie Pallorino took down a serial killer permanently and, according to her superiors, with excessive force. Benched on a desk assignment for twelve months, Angie struggles to maintain her sense of identity—if she’s not a detective, who is she? Then a decades-old cold case washes ashore, pulling her into an investigation she recognizes as deeply personal.

Angie’s lover and partner, James Maddocks, sees it, too. But spearheading an ongoing probe into a sex-trafficking ring and keeping Angie’s increasing obsession with her case in check is taking its toll. However, as startling connections between the parallel investigations emerge, Maddocks realizes he has more than Angie’s emotional state to worry about.

Driven and desperate to solve her case, Angie goes rogue, risking her relationship, career, and very life in pursuit of answers. She’ll learn that some truths are too painful to bear, and some sacrifices include collateral damage.

But Angie Pallorino won’t let it go. She can’t. It’s not in her blood.

•••••••••••••

REVIEW: THE LULLABY GIRL is the second instalment in Loreth Anne White’s contemporary, adult ANGIE PALLORINO murder/mystery/suspense series focusing on Vancouver Police Department sex crimes Detective Angie Pallorino, and her partner/lover Detective Sergeant James Maddocks. THE LULLABY GIRL can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary but I recommend reading the series in order for backstory and cohesion.

Told from several third person perspectives including Angie and James THE LULLABY GIRL picks up immediately after the events of book one-The Drowned Girls-in which Angie Pallorino discovered that the life she lived has been based on a lie. Our heroine has recently been demoted and assigned desk duty in the face of violent take-down that was deemed excessive and unnecessary. Now with time on her hands, Angie begins a personal investigation into a thirty-year old cold case that will alter her life in more ways than one. Going rogue, and without the help of the man that she loves, Angie will come face to face with her past-a deadly encounter meant to end her life-a second time around.

Meanwhile, James Maddocks investigation into a sex-trafficking ring has caught the attention of the FBI and Canada’s RCMP. Partnering with the elite forces James will discover similarities between his case, and the one Angie has been investigating; and a potential showdown with the people in charge places Angie in the direct line of fire as she inserts herself where she doesn’t belong.

THE LULLABY GIRL is a story of betrayal and revenge, of power and control. The imagery and descriptive nature of the story line is dramatic and realistic. The emotional fall out is palpable and intense; the suspense is riveting and powerful. Loreth Anne White’s attention to detail is brilliant; the character development and world building is phenomenal; the energy and passion inspiring; the delivery fluent and artistic- a movie for the mind.

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
The Drowned Girls
The Lullaby Girl

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview

TRC: Hi Loreth and welcome to The Reading Café.

Congratulations on the recent release of THE LULLABY GIRL.We would like to start with some background information.

Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Loreth Anne White 2Follow: Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Website

Loreth: Thank you for having me here! I’m excited to share Book 2 in my Angie Pallorino series with everyone. I’m a South-African-born-and-raised Canadian who lives in the stunning but wet, cold, and grey mountains of the Pacific Northwest. While it’s chocolate-box beautiful I miss blue African skies and sunshine and the wild ocean like a small hole in my soul. Like most writers, I’ve always loved books and stories. I’m a wife, a mother, a pet and nature lover, and weather influences my moods far more than it probably should.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Loreth: I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by people who fed me books and stories from a very young age. From my Dutch grandfather, to my mother and father, my English teachers at school, my lecturers at university. Over the years these people all kept opening doors with secret keys to worlds of imagination.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Loreth: Early on, when I first seriously sat down to write a novel, I was still working as a journalist. By far the most challenging hurdle was to come home after a day of overtime, deadlines, and solid writing at work, and then to try and write even more at night and over weekends while still balancing family commitments. Also, at that time, my girls were young, we were new immigrants who lived in a very small space. Our jobs were insecure, and I had no writing corner I could truly call my own—I wrote at a tiny table in our bedroom for the most part, where I could hear the noisy neighbours through the thin condo walls. Writing a novel, in some respects, seemed a ludicrous idea at the time. But I managed to sell that first one to New York, and while many more challenges lay ahead–and still do—it’s a journey I am pleased I started, and it’s a road I am happy to travel.

The Lullaby GirlTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of THE LULLABY GIRL and the Angie Pallorino series?

Loreth: My Detective Angie Pallorino starts out in The Drowned Girls working sex crimes. It’s her wheelhouse. She’s good at it, and fiercely-driven to do it for reasons she doesn’t fully understand at the start of the series. By the end of that first book Angie has taken down a serial killer, permanently, and according to her superiors, with excessive force. Now, in The Lullaby Girl, Angie is forced back into uniform and she’s been benched on a desk assignment for 12 months. This challenges Angie in every way possible—if she’s not a detective, who is she? Then a decades-old cold case washes ashore, and Angie is pulled into an investigation she recognizes as deeply, frighteningly, personal. It could be a key to her past.

Driven and desperate to solve her own cold case in spite of her probation, Angie goes rogue, risking her relationship with Detective Maddocks, her career, and her very life in pursuit of the answers to her origins. But Angie will learn that some truths might be too painful to bear, and some sacrifices include collateral damage. And she’ll have to make some hard choices.

TRC: What type of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?

Loreth: It depends on the story. I read non-fiction books, biographies, watch videos, movies, interview experts, do courses, and attend workshops. For example, for my Angie series, I read text books written for cops on how to investigate various kinds of homicides and crimes. I’ve done workshops conducted by law enforcement personnel, spoken with cops, and attended events like the wonderful Writers Police Academy that comes complete with hands-on weapons experience. And of course, there’s the writing craft aspect as well—for that, also courses, workshops, and better than anything—reading other novels in the genre.

TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believeability?

Loreth: I can only hope the plots are unpredictable while still delivering on genre expectations! I think the key is to develop rich characters who have their own unique takes on a plot situation, and to allow a unique setting to become character as well. Combined with one’s own voice and one’s own world view, hopefully the result is something fresh.

TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

Loreth: Hah! My editors and reviewers and readers all began to sit on my shoulder as I wrote. They’d jeer and point at the screen and yell: no, no ways can you do that! Oh no, that sucks, that’s silly!! …. I still struggle to shut them out and let my ‘girls in the basement’ loose–in private–on the first draft.

TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever-to write?

Loreth: I can’t think that there was any one scene particularly harder to write over any other. I do however find sex scenes challenging to craft because they need to deliver so much in a romance novel, in terms of not being gratuitous, in showing real character development, in driving the plot forward, and in still complicating or ramping up the suspense element of a romantic suspense.

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Loreth: Yes!

The Drowned GirlsTRC: When writing a story line, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Loreth: They go hand-in-hand as the story develops.

TRC: How do you select the names of your characters?

Loreth: I do think about marketing and back cover copy when I consider names. I think about what might resonate with readers, and how some names might put readers off reading a story. Also, I try limit names starting with the same letter, or ones that sound too similar. And then I consider the sound of the name itself and try to match it to character. For example, for a certain kind of hero, or villain, one might want a harsher, or shorter sounding word. Or maybe something softer for a female character. Or, if she’s bad-ass, maybe certain names could undermine that tough quality. Then … at the final stage, an editor might still ask you to change a name! This happened to me with my book A Dark Lure. Cole, my hero, was initially named Hunter, and I was (rightly) asked to change this because of the hunting theme and metaphors already playing strongly through the novel. But to this day, when I get reader letters that mention Cole, I scratch my head thinking, who in the hell is Cole!? (to me, he’s still Hunter 🙂

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the story line so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?

Loreth: This is a big craft question! Bottom line, I think the key is to have real-time, blow-by-blow beats occurring in a scene–without summarizing–in order to make readers feel right there, part of the unfolding events. The summarizing–or introspection or ‘telling’–works better in the sequels that bridge the real-time scenes. It also helps to decide on who the focal character in each scene will be, and what his or her scene goal is. This goal, ideally, should be apparent to the reader at the outset, and the blows should come as that goal is obstructed beat-by-beat throughout that scene—either via dialogue/argument, events, or physical action. And at the end of that scene, that focal character should have arrived at a new direction, a next scene goal in mind.

TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?

Loreth: I used to. Now I prefer quiet. But I do listen to music in between, or before writing, to set mood/tone. And yes, I pick music I think might help amplify the tone I am seeking.

TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?

Loreth: That authors enjoy writing!

TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?

Loreth: Ooh, I don’t know … I was a competitive swimmer and once eyed by coaches as a potential Olympic hopeful. I still love long-distance, open-water swimming and have trained in the past with guys like Lewis Pugh who have crossed the English Channel and who swim the most extreme polar ends of the earth. I enjoy cooking, but not baking. I cannot sing to save my life but wish I could. I don’t like ice cream.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Loreth: Right now I’m tackling a project that is challenging me in new ways. It requires more research than I’ve ever done. There is an epic romance at the core—a love triangle–where my characters face impossible choices against extraordinary circumstances. And there’s a mystery. It’s something that is really pushing me beyond my traditional comfort zone. Which is both a good thing and scary! I’m terribly excited about it so far, but the perennial writerly struggle remains: Will I ever be able to meet my own vision for this idea? Perhaps not. But as my mother-in-law used to say: if you aim for the star you might hit the top of the tree. Heh. So I’m trying.

LIGHTNING ROUND

● Favorite Food – cheese!

● Favorite Dessert – more cheese! (and dark chocolate and espresso coffee)

● Favorite TV Show – too many to name, but at the moment I am hooked on several great Nordic noir-ish crime series, and UK and other European crime shows.

● Last Movie You Saw – Victoria and Abdul

● Dark or Milk Chocolatedefinitely dark and fine and bitter

● Secret Celebrity Crush I love Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Emma Thompson – all wonderful celebrity role models who show women both young and old that females can age with ferocity and grace and embrace the wisdom acquired over years on this earth, and who are not shy of the wrinkles that come with that hard-won place.

● Last Vacation Destination – Australia

● Do you have any pets? – Hudson and Brunswick, my black labradog and my orange cat, and some wild birds who flap outside my window to be hand fed.

● Last book you read – Love In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

TRC: Thank you Loreth for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of THE LULLABY GIRL. We wish you all the best.

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Damned (Magnus Blackwell #1) by Alexandrea Weis: Review, Excerpt Tour & Giveaway

DAMNED (Magnus Blackwell #1) by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor-Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

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DAMNED
Magnus Blackwell #1
by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Genre: adult, paranormal,

Damned

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 3, 2017

Over a hundred years after the death of Magnus Blackwell, Altmover Manor sits abandoned.

Lexie Arden and her fiancé, Will Bennett, are determined to rescue the neglected Mount Desert Island landmark. They want to make Altmover Manor their home. But Magnus has other plans.

A spirit bound to his former residence, Magnus finds himself inexplicably drawn to the young woman. She has a supernatural gift; a gift Magnus wants to exploit.

As Lexie and Will settle in, secrets from Magnus’s past begin to surface. Compelled to learn all she can about the former owner, Lexie becomes immersed in a world of voodoo, curses, and the whereabouts of a mysterious dragon cane.

Magnus’s crimes won’t be so easily forgotten, and what Lexie unearths is going to change the future … for everyone.

••••••••••

REVIEW: DAMNED by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor is the continuing story of Magnus Blackwell, a Victorian era gentleman whose spirit has been cursed to his beloved Altmover Manor in Maine. The new owners, Lexie Arden and her fiancé Will Bennett are determined to renovate Altmover Manor to its’ original glory but the building’s fabled history of hauntings and ghosts becomes the focus of our heroine when two spirits from the past battle for Lexie’s attention and help. Enter Magnus Blackwell, the former owner of Altmover Manor, and the ghost who will mentor our heroine through a world of the supernatural, voodoo priestesses and curses, magic, murder, power and revenge.

NOTE: Although listed as book one in the series, DAMNED is technically book two. For background and history about Magnus Blackwell pick up a copy of BLACKWELL (Magnus Blackwell .5) before venturing into the territory of the DAMNED.

DAMNED is a story of the paranormal; an intriguing thriller where the ghost of Magnus Blackwell is caught between the past and present; cursed to serve time for the sins of the past. Lexie Arden has the ability to see and speak with the spirits but there is more to our heroine than a reluctant medium-she’s a woman whose growing powers are seen as a threat to those in charge. From Boston to New Orleans Lexie, along with her ghostly companion, will go in search of a mysterious dragon cane that will change our heroine’s life forever.

Fans of Alexandrea Weis will recognize the author’s love of New Orleans, ghosts and the power of voodoo from many of her previous story lines including the Corde Noire Series, The Ghosts of Rue Domaine, and The Satyr’s Curse Series. DAMNED will explore the cult religion of voodoo-the power, the magic, the belief system and the rituals-all meant to pull the reader into a fantasy tale of ghosts caught in the ether between the ’then and now’, and the one woman whose gift of talking to the spirits is only the beginning of a magical journey. The world building is phenomenal; the sights and sounds of New Orleans are palpable; the mystery of the restless spirits continues to unfold.

Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor’s DAMNED is a fantastic journey; a well –written, dark and spirited story that will captivate the imagination with its’ passionate characters and vivid imagery.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of BLACKWELL

BLACKWELL purchase links: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / BAM /

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Damned Teaser

 

Excerpt beige

A thin layer of mist covered the foyer floor as the lotus sconces glowed with an eerie light. Lexie wore a formal white gown, woven with lace and gold ribbons. The dress harkened back to a long-ago era. She didn’t recall putting on the outfit or where she had gotten it.
She ran her hands ran over the smooth silk and played with the lace on her sleeves.
“This is weird.”
The grand chandelier came to life, filling the foyer with its bright light. Ethereal music wafted through the house. Lexie swore she recognized the piece—a waltz. The music got louder; embedded in the notes was the distant murmur of conversation and glasses tinkling.
Lexie moved toward the sounds, stopping along the way to admire the home. The dull and drab foyer, once ravaged by time, blossomed before her as if magically restored. The golden wallpaper glistened in the candlelight, and the tears in the material came together as the dusty hardwood floors took on a dazzling shine. The chandelier appeared new, its chain covered with red velvet rope.
She made her way to the staircase where the red dragon’s eyes at the base of the banister glowed. Her fingers caressed the colored glass, and she raised her head to the massive chandelier. The light fixture swayed.
Terrified, Lexie took off running down the hallway. Her flight halted as long, flowing, multi-colored gowns, intermingled with black tuxedos with long tails, sprung up around her. Couples caught up in the frenzy of the waltz kept time with the music, but these dancers had no hands and no heads. They were nothing more than costumes inhabited by ghosts.
“They’ve outdone themselves. Quite an event,” a haughty man’s voice came from the flurry of twirling clothes.
“Have you seen Katherine’s dress?” a woman twittered. “He imported it from Paris for their anniversary.”
Lexie carefully maneuvered through the swirling apparel, anxious not to disturb them.
“I never thought they’d last the year,” another man said. “They’re so ill-suited.”
“Well, I’ve discovered the most scandalous things about Magnus Blackwell and the lurid things he likes to do with women,” a woman remarked. “Do you think they’re true?”
Eager to get away from the creepy dancing garments, Lexie ducked into the closest room. She slid inside a set of shiny double oak doors and closed them behind her. Resting her pounding head against the wood, she relaxed.
“This is a bad dream. Nothing more.”
When she turned from the doors, Lexie had somehow arrived in the living room. But unlike before, the room had rich furniture, the polished paneling gleamed, and an oriental carpet with a green dragon graced the center of the parquet floor.
By the entrance, she toed the same spot where she’d found the deep gouge, but it wasn’t there.
The bloom of a roaring fire in the hearth commanded her attention, drawing her gaze to Magnus Blackwell’s portrait. Lexie stared at the painting. Something changed with the colors. They morphed and moved as if taking on a shape.
A voice emanated from inside the painting; a man’s voice.
“I’ve been waiting for you, dear girl.”

About The Author beigealexandrea-weis1

FOLLOW: Goodreads / Website/ Facebook/ Twitter

From New Orleans, Alexandrea Weis was raised in the motion picture industry and began writing stories at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen once again and began her first novel, To My Senses. Since that time she has published many novels. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning books, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable. Her work has been critically acclaimed and has been continually growing in popularity.

Alexandrea Weis is also a certified/permitted wildlife rehabber with the La. Wildlife and Fisheries. When she is not writing, she rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She is married; they live in New Orleans .

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Such a Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond – a Review

Such a Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond – a Review

 

Such a Pretty GirlAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
In Grace Sinclair’s bestselling crime novels, the good guys win and the bad guys always get caught. As the FBI’s top profiler, she knows that real life is rarely so straightforward. But her new case isn’t just brutal—it’s also personal. The victims look like Grace. And the FBI recruit assigned to her team is trouble of another kind.

 This isn’t how Special Agent Gavin Walker imagined running into Grace again. Two years ago they shared one earth-shattering night, then she vanished from his life. She’s brilliant, fiercely independent, and in mortal danger from a killer masterminding a twisted game …

The body count is rising. Entangled in the case and in each other, Gavin and Grace are running out of time and chances. And as Grace puts the pieces together, she knows she’ll have to confront her own deepest secrets before the final, fatal move is played.

 

Review:

Such a Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond is an exciting, well written and intense psychological thriller. Grace Sinclair, our heroine, writes crime mystery novels, but Grace is also a profiler with the FBI.  Grace loves her job, helping to find the bad guys, and devotes everything to her job, with writing being something to relax her.  When she attends an awards ceremony, even though she is one of the winners; she leaves early to go visit a crime scene. 

Gavin Walker, a former cop, is now a new agent with the FBI.  His first assignment is to pick up Grace and become her partner for this new case.  When Grace sees him, she is shocked.  Two years before, both Grace and Gavin had a one night stand, and Gavin has not forgotten it, since she was gone before he woke up.  Now though a bit uncomfortable, they need to work together. Grace is one of the best at her job, totally brilliant and independent, but as the murders begin to escalate, she begins to see clues that this is a serial murderer.

Gavin surprises Grace at how well he understands and reads her thoughts.  They work very well together, and a slow build romance will begin as they work closely in this intense case.   The romance does take a backseat to the investigation, but it adds a nice element. The crimes are violent, and soon Grace recognizes that the killer is someone she knows, and she is to be the final victim.  Gavin is determined to protect Grace at all costs, but the race is on to find the killer before he kills someone close to Grace.

Being a thriller with lots of twists and surprises, I will not tell too much more, which could ruin it for you.  What follows is an exciting, dark, suspenseful adventure that holds you on the edge of your seat.  I loved how strong Grace was, especially when she realized that the killer was someone from her past, and this was personal.  I also loved Gave and Grace together, and they did make a nice team, not to mention they sizzled together. Tess Diamond knocked this out of the park.  I loved every moment of this book. If you like thrilling murder mysteries, with a bit of romance, then I suggest you read Such a Pretty Girl

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly – a Review

A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly – a Review

 

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Description:
With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town’s history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don’t work for free…

 

 

Review
:
A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofia Kelly is the 9th book in her Magical Cats Mystery series.   I have not read the previous books in this series, but it read very well as a standalone.  With that being said, reading the early books would be fun and enjoyable. 

Our heroine in this series is Kathleen Paulson, the librarian of Mayville Heights, as well as her adorable two cats, Hercules and Owen.  No..the cats do not talk (as in another series I read), but they do have some strange magical abilities like walking through a door, or just disappearing.  What make Hercules and Owen fun, is the little simple hints they give Kathleen in helping her solve crimes, and the cute humor is enjoyable throughout the book.

A Tale of Two Kitties is a murder mystery, as Kathleen is the one who finds her friend, Simon’s father dead and the mystery begins.  A 20 year old scandal will be the catalyst that sets the stage of this mystery.  Victor Janes has just returned to visit his brother Leo, to make amends  after he had run away with Leo’s wife twenty years hence.  When Leo is found dead, there are a number of suspects, including Victor, Simon and a few other suspects.

Kathleen gets involved in trying to solve the murder, and find a way to prove that Simon is innocent.  She will talk to the local people in trying to find clues, and as we get closer to the end, the danger and excitement escalates.  Though this is murder, the entire story flowed so well, and except for a short period, it was a calm fun read, with no tension.  As we held our breaths at the end, I loved how Kathleen got out of her predicament.   The characters that are part of this series were great, and I also enjoyed the sweet romance between Kathleen and her detective boyfriend, Marcus. 

A Tale of Two Kitties was a lighthearted mystery that was a fun and fast read.  Hercules and Owen were delightful, as they always managed to get Kathleen’s attention ‘pawing’ out the clues. If you want a fast cute fun mystery , I wholly suggest you read this series.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld – a Review

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld – a Review

 

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Description:
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

 

 

Review:

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld is an exciting chilling thriller.  This is my first book by Denfeld and I was very impressed with her writing, and I will not hesitate to read any books by her.   Naomi Cottle, our heroine, is an investigator who specializes in finding missing children.  She has over time been able to find 30 missing children (either dead or alive), giving her the nickname of ‘the Child Finder’.  Naomi herself was kidnapped as a child, managing to escape and had no memory of who she was, and continues to have nightmares giving her little hints, but still no memory of her past.  Naomi ended up in a home of a woman who was fostering another child, Jerome, and brought them up to be upstanding young citizens.  Naomi devotes herself to finding the missing children, using her uncanny ability to know where to look for clues, and asking the right questions.  We meet Naomi when she takes on the cold case of 5 year old Madison Culver, who is still missing after three years.  The Culver family refuses to believe their daughter is dead, and begs Naomi to investigate, even if she feels the girl is probably dead.

The second POV is indeed Madison, and we follow her when she is found unconscious in the snow by a mountain man named Mr. B.  He will help bring her back to health, but at the same time keep her locked in the cellar of a cabin.  Madison doesn’t remember much, and soon will call herself Snow Girl, as she uses her imagination to create the world she is in and tries to learn how to live with this mountain man who cannot talk. Mr. B also has a sad past that makes him what he is today (using two extreme personalities (angry or nice) with Madison; she will be the one who brings some little bit of happiness to his life.  As much as this is a heartbreaking story, Denfeld handles this so well.

Though this is the main focus of the story, there is also a side story where Naomi also becomes involved in about a missing baby and the mother who is in jail. 

What follows is an amazing story as we watch Naomi interviewing not only the parents, the police, park ranger and all the townsfolk who live in the area where Madison disappeared.  Naomi in the beginning expects to find clues in the snowy mountains to the child’s death; then begins to look for those local people who may know more.  As she continues to take chances in dangerous situations, Naomi will also learn a little more of her past during her dreams.  The last ¼ of the book was so exciting and intense; I could not put the book down. 

Rene Denfeld has done a fantastic job writing this moving and heart wrenching story, and has created such a wonderful character in Naomi, who will do anything to either save those missing children or give the families closures that they so desperately need.  This is a standalone, but I can see this becoming a series.  The Child Finder is a must read.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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Her Dark Half by Paige Tyler – Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Her Dark Half by Paige Tyler – Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

 

Her Dark Half
X-Ops series – Book #7
by Paige Tyler
Release Date: September 5, 2017

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Description:
Trevor Maxwell
Coyote shifter with an attitude
Covert operator
Trusts no one, especially his devastatingly beautiful new partner

Alina Bosch
Former CIA, newest operative on the covert team
Hired to spy on her partner
Motto: “Never be deceived again.”

Coyote shifter Trevor Maxwell is teamed up with CIA agent Alina Bosch to catch a killer. But when the mission becomes much more dangerous than they expected, they’re going to have to ignore the attraction between them and learn how to trust one another to come out on the other side…

 

Review:

Her Dark Half by Paige Tyler is the 7th book in her wonderful X-Ops series.  When we last left off in the last book, our heroes throughout this series were all on the run. The man they trusted who ran DCO (Department of Covert Operations) was killed, and the two major villains were out to arrest and kill them all. It was a huge game changer.

In Her Dark Half, Trevor Maxwell, our hero, was still working with DCO, but he was acting undercover helping his former teammates in hiding.   The goal was to find evidence to prove that Thomas Thorne, who was now in charge, was behind all hybrids being created to build his own army.  Trevor is forced to accept a new partner, who was new to DCO.

The story starts off a few years prior, where we meet our heroine, Alina Bosch, who is  a CIA agent leading a mission that goes bad.  Alina lost her whole team because her partner betrayed them and had set up a trap.  Alina has spent this few years wanting revenge, but has not been able to find her ex partner.  Alina leaves her job with the CIA and accepts a job with DCO, having been tempted by DCO that they will help her find her ex partner.  Alina is told by Dick (one of the two villains) that she needs to spy on her new partner…Trevor. She finds it hard to trust anyone, but she sees something about Trevor that makes her suspect that there is more than she has been told.  Trevor, at first also doesn’t trust Alina, but pretty quickly they are in the middle of some attacks, and Alina begins to realize that Dick is using her information to kill those that they have interviewed.

Trevor and Alina will also become very attracted to each other, and in a short time a romance will begin.  Alina will realize that Trevor is a good guy, and also learn about him being a shifter; they will join hands to fight off hybrid attacks. What follows is an intense, fast paced, exciting and dangerous attempt to reveal the truth about Thomas Thorne and those now in charge at DCO.  It was great and fun to see all our former heroes, such as Landon, Ivy, Tanner, Declan, Kendra, Danica, Adam, Braden, Dreya, just to name a few.  It will take the entire team to band together to fight these ultra powerful hybrids, who are impossible to kill. Of course, one of those powerful hybrids, is the man Alina has been trying to find all these years.

The last half of the book was very suspenseful, with a few twists, and a thrilling ride to the finish.  Paige Tyler, as always, gives us another terrific story, with another wonderful couple. I do not know what she has in store of us next, but the game has changed and I can’t wait to see how this will affect our team.  Her Dark Half should not be read out of order; this is not a standalone.  You need to start from the beginning, in order to enjoy all the wonderful characters and the continuing story line.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

excerpt

“What’s the plan here?” she asked Trevor quietly as the restaurant’s patrons eyed them curiously. “Because I don’t see anyone warming up to us enough to invite us into the back room.”
“We’re Trevor and Alina Hoffman, a filthy rich, newly married couple from Silicon Valley,” Trevor said, glancing around as if taking in the ambience. “We’ve been on an extended honeymoon for the past few months and are currently heading for a trans-Atlantic cruise out of New York City. We decided to do some gambling and got tired of dealing with all the crap at the local casino.”
“You think they’ll buy that?” she asked as he led her across the room toward the door with the guards.
“You sell the fact that we’re a newly married couple, and I’ll make them believe I’m a rich guy with a gambling addiction.”
She could do that. Then she realized one big flaw in their cover story. “If we’re a newly married couple, shouldn’t I be wearing a ring?”
Trevor gave her a sidelong glance. “What makes you think you aren’t?”
She looked down at her hand in confusion and almost fell off her stacked heels as she saw the monstrously large diamond he’d somehow slipped onto her ring finger when she wasn’t looking. Oh crud, it was huge! And as beautiful as any she’d ever seen.
“When did you put this on? More importantly, is this thing real?” she whispered.
Thank goodness she had his arm to keep her steady. She was feeling faint at the idea of wearing a diamond that was probably worth more than her entire apartment.
“I put it on you when we were married on the first of June in Monaco,” he whispered back. “And of course it’s real. I would never put something fake on the love of my life.”
“Trevor, I’m serious,” she said.
He made a face. “Okay. I slipped it on your finger when I was helping you out of the SUV. And yes, it’s real, so don’t lose it. I had to sign my life away to get it out of the DCO safes.”
She gulped. “How much is it worth?”
“Nothing compared to you, sweetheart,” he said in a romantic tone as they stopped in front of the two guards.
The bouncers working this door were a little bit more professional than the ones outside.
“Can I help you?” one of the men asked in a deep, rough voice that made Alina wonder if he chewed gravel for fun.
“Someone told me a man might be able to find a friendly game of poker somewhere near here,” Trevor said casually. “I don’t suppose you two might be able to point my wife and me in the right direction for a game like that?”
The two men regarded him suspiciously.
“I think you’re talking about the Horseshoe Casino,” Gravel said. “It’s nearby, very clean and friendly.” Trevor chuckled. “The Horseshoe is very friendly. But the place doesn’t have the quite the atmosphere we’re looking for. It’s a little too…what’s the word?… sanitized for our liking.”
Gravel studied Trevor for a moment, then glanced at the bar, giving someone there a nod. Ten seconds later, a slim man in an expensive suit appeared at their side.
“My name is Teddy,” he said in a cautious yet friendly tone. “What can I do for you?”
“I’m Trevor Hoffman. This is my wife, Alina. We’re getting ready to head out on a cruise in a few days and decided to do some gambling while we’re in town. Someone told us this place runs a clean game, so I thought I’d spend some money here.”
Teddy surveyed them with a practiced eye, taking in the cut of Trevor’s suit and her expensive gown, not to mention the big honking ring she wore. He must have liked what he saw, because he nodded.
“If I could get some identification and a credit card from you, Mr. Hoffman, I can quickly check your credentials and set you up with a line of credit.”
Alina tensed as Trevor handed over the requested ID and credit card. They could be in trouble. The fake ID and credit card by themselves would have taken quite a bit of time and money to pull off. Coming up with an Internet background to support that would take even longer.
“What are they going to find when they run your name and that credit card number?” she whispered as he slipped his arm around her and casually urged her away from the two men guarding the door.
“Relax.” He flashed her a grin. “They’ll find us with all the relevant financial and societal tidbits one would expect to see when looking at the rich and bored.”
She glanced at Teddy. He typed something into a computer just out of sight behind the bar. A moment later, he lifted his head and frowned in their direction.
“Something’s wrong,” she whispered.
Even the two guards were eyeing them funny now. She was starting to wish she had a weapon. If things went bad, they were in trouble.
“Alina,” Trevor said softly as he tightened his arm around her waist and tugged her closer. “Now’s the time for you to sell the newlywed thing.”
She opened her mouth to ask him exactly how he suggested she do that when he pulled her even closer.
She wished she could have said it was years of CIA training that took over and made her kiss him. But that wouldn’t have been true. Instead, it was a totally different kind of instinct. The kind that made a woman want to kiss a hot guy.


 

About The author

Paige Tyler

Paige Tyler is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. Paige writes books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. She lives with her very own military hero (a.k.a. her husband) and their adorable dog on the beautiful Florida coast. Visit www.paigetylertheauthor.com.


Find Paige Online:

Website: http://www.paigetylertheauthor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaigeTylerAuthor/
Twitter: @PaigeTyler
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2300692.Paige_Tyler

 

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Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose – Review & Giveaway

Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose – Review & Giveaway

 

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Description:
A mother is dead, and now her killer hunts the child that witnessed the brutal crime…

Private Investigator Clay Maynard locates missing children for clients, but has nearly given up hope of finding his own daughter, cruelly stolen from him by his ex-wife twenty-three years ago.

Equine therapist Taylor Dawson has chosen to intern at Daphne Montgomery-Carter’s stables so that she can observe the program’s security director – her father, Clay Maynard. Trying to reconcile the wonderful man she’s getting to know with the monster her mother always described, Taylor never expects to become the target of a real monster, the man who murdered the mother of the little girls she works with at the stable. Neither does she expect to fall for Ford Elkhart, Daphne’s handsome son, who is dealing with his own demons. As family and friends gather for a wedding, Taylor starts to imagine a permanent life in Baltimore.

But not if the real monster gets to her first…

 

 

Review:

Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose is a fantastic romance suspense story line.  I was not sure what to expect, as I have read only one of her romance suspense books, and none in her Baltimore arc within this series.  Monster in the Closet read very well as a standalone, as the author deftly gave us enough information on the other characters, who made appearances and had their own stories. 

Taylor Dawson, our heroine, has just started working at Daphne Montgomery-Carter stables, for the Healing Hearts with Horses program, where she works as a therapist for problem children.  Taylor has another reason for coming from California to take this job.  She wants to meet the man who is the security director, Clay Maynard, and learn about him.  Before Taylor’s mother passed away, she told her daughter the truth about the father she never knew.  Taylor had spent all of her life fearing her father, who was supposed to be an abusive man, only to find out it was all a lie. Now she travels from her home in California to take this job in Maryland to discover for herself, what her real father was like and what she has missed not knowing him. 

Clay Maynard has been searching for his long lost daughter unsuccessfully for 23 years.  Clay has a great life in Maryland, wonderful and loyal friends, a wife he loves and a daughter.  When Taylor’s new boss, and Ford, calls him to the ranch, Clay will come face to face with the daughter he has been searching for most of his life.  This is an amazing story of family, secrets, friends and a slow build romance, which plays a major part of this story.  But the real story that drives Monster in the Closet, is a murder mystery, where an 11 year old child, Jazzie comes home from school to find her mother dead, and while she hides, she sees that her estranged father is the murderer.  We see this from the beginning, and know who the evil murderer is.  But Jazzie doesn’t talk, and no one knows she was at the scene at the time of the murder.  Detective Fitzpatrick suspects that Gage Jarvis killed his wife, but he cannot prove it, as Jarvis has an alibi.  When a few people are murdered, Fitzpatrick knows Jarvis murdered those people to keep his secret, but he cannot prove it. 

When Taylor is working at the ranch, she has the ability to reach out to the young children, and one morning Janie Jarvis, the younger sister of Jazzie, is riding a horse with Taylor’s help.  When they get ready to leave, Jazzie hugs Taylor and thanks her for taking care of her younger sister.  Everyone was thrilled that this was a breath through.  But the police know they need to protect Jazzie, in case her father finds out she was there and can identify him.

What follows is an intense exciting adventure; with Gage Jarvis willing to do anything to make sure no one can identify him.  Taylor is put in the middle, as when Jarvis does find out that Jazzie recognizes him, he thinks she told Taylor.   All hell will break loose, with Clay, Ford, and Taylor becoming injured.  All the people that are part of the ranch, police members who know the Maynards and Montgomeries come forward to help find the murderer before he kills the young girls and Taylor. 

A sweet romance builds between Taylor and Ford, who is the owners son.  I really liked them together.  The family atmosphere and this romance were just enough to release some of the tension of the case.  Karen Rose has written a wonderful suspenseful thriller, with a nice blend of family and second chances.  Monster in a Closet is one of the best suspense thrillers I have read this year.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

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9.. Giveaway runs from August 30  to September 5, 2017

 

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The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter – a Review

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter – a Review

 

The Good DaughterAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

 

 

Review:

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter is the first book in her new series, which is a suspenseful psychological thriller. This was my first time reading Karin Slaughter and after finishing this book, it will not be my last. I loved The Good Daughter, which turned out to be one of the best thrillers I have read this year, and I have read quite a few.

The Good Daughter revolves around two sisters, Sam (Samantha) and Charlie (Charlotte) Quinn, who both survived a horrible tragedy 28 years ago.  The story starts in the past, in their hometown of Pikeville, North Carolina; Sam & Charlie were practicing relay running with their mom testing them; they have just moved to a small cabin, after their house was burned down.  Their father Rusty, was a defense attorney who made enemies, especially after he always managed to get the criminals off.  When they return to the house, someone enters threatening them all, causing a terrorizing event that results in a death, two brutal attacks and a family that is devastated.

We now are in the present, 28 years later, with Charlie stopping at the school to return something, and all hell breaks loose, as the shots can be heard throughout.   Charlie and one of the teachers (Mason) race the halls to try to help, only to find two people dead, and the shooter pointing the gun on them self.   The police come with guns threatening to kill the shooter, and Mason is determined to convince the police to allow her to surrender.  So much of what happens in the school, brings forth terrible emotional memories for Charlie, who continues to live in Pikesville with her husband, and her father.  Sam has not returned for many years, having left when she was a teenager.  Sam was the most physically  damaged in the attack when she was a teen, but she managed to have a very successful career as a lawyer, though she does suffer; when Rusty has a heart attack, Sam will be called home.  It has been 20 years since Sam and Charlie have seen each other, as they had become a little estranged, but they still loved each other.  While Sam has suffered physically, Charlie is the one who still suffers emotionally,  which includes secrets that she has not told her sister or husband.  Sam will work on Kelly’s (the young shooter) case while her father is recovering, and Charlie will help.  As the present mystery unfolds, we will return occasionally to the past with the point of view of either Charlie or Sam, as we learn more of what happened then.

What follows is an intense, exciting, mind boggling story line that has us holding our breath throughout.   Sam will uncover some clues that make her second guess what really happened at the school.  One of the things Slaughter has done so well, is show us a small town that has not forgotten the event from the past, which they show with their terrible treatment of the victims; we get the see the narrow minded attitudes of the police, district attorney, and the families involved in that tragedy.  We also get to see how much Sam and Charlie’s lives changed, and how it has affected them all these years. 

The last third of the book was simply amazing, with excitement, revelations and multiple twists that blew our minds, especially since we needed to keep up with them.  Sam and Charlie were great characters that had us also emotionally tied to them.  I do not want to tell too much more, as it would be spoilers, and this book is too good to ruin.  The Good Daughter was a fantastic read, so very well written by Karin Slaughter.   I suggest you read The Good Daughter, as it is a must read.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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