Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Book Review: TELL NO LIES by Allison Brennan

Yes! I was super excited to see that Brennan wrote a sequel to THIRD TO DIE! Scroll down to read my complete review.

Tell No Lies
by Allison Brennan
Date Published: March 30, 2021
Publisher: MIRA
ISBN: 9780778331469

Description from the Publisher:

Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the mountains just south of Tucson. When a college intern turned activist sets out to collect her own evidence, she, too, ends up dead. Local law enforcement is slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and its copper refinery in search of possible leads.

Quinn and Costa find themselves scouring the desolate landscape, which keeps revealing clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking and more death. As the body count adds up, it’s clear they have stumbled onto much more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost. 

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan believes that life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year.

40 books and numerous short stories later, Allison relocated in 2019 from Northern California to Arizona with her husband and two youngest children.

She currently writes the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan thriller series, and launched the Quinn & Costa thrillers this year with THE THIRD TO DIE. Catherine Coulter called it an "amazing new series" and Kirkus Reviews says Kara Quinn is "A strong and damaged protagonist as compelling as Lisbeth Salander."

My Review:

I loved this book! 

I love the team of characters that Brennan has created. I love her writing skills. I love the complicated plot of this story.

Allison Brennan has assembled a diverse and intriguing cast of characters that work together to solve a complicated mystery in her latest book, Tell No Lies.

At first, I was concerned with the number of characters being introduced. How in the world would I keep track of them all? But I trusted that Brennan would help me keep them straight, and she did. With gentle reminders, Brennan made it clear who the various characters were as they came back on scene. The beginning of the story was filled with a lot of telling and information overload, but once the story got going, I was sucked in and couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. I also realized that some of my frustration with the beginning was actually because it took a while for Kara Quinn to appear in the story. She was my favorite character from the first book in the series, Third to Die. Once Kara was a part of this story, I felt at home with the team of characters.

If you didn't read the first book in the series, no worries. This is a stand alone novel that you can pick up and read. However, I do highly recommend you start with Third to Die just so you can get to know the main characters better.

My favorite series to read are the ones where each book contains a complete and finished plot -- all loose ends are tied up, and then following books continue to develop the main characters and their relationships. The characters (and writing) are what keep me coming back for more. So, I 'm thrilled that this series by Brennan will be following (I'm assuming) these lines.

A couple of my favorite lines from the book:

"Papa said that the stars were God's glitter to make the dark not as scary."

"She detested anything that slithered--criminals or reptiles."

Bottom line: 

Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan is a fascinating mystery, where readers can try to solve the crimes right along with the FBI team in the vast Arizona landscape.

[I received an early copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Monday, March 29, 2021

Book Review: DANGER IN NUMBERS by Heather Graham

There's a reason Heather Graham is a best-selling and award-winning author, and that reason is: she's a terrific writer! Scroll on down for my complete review of her latest novel.

Danger in Numbers
by Heather Graham
Date Published: March 23, 2021
Publisher: MIRA
ISBN: 978-0778331452

Description from the Publisher: 

On the edge of the Everglades, an eerie crime scene sets off an investigation that sends two agents deep into a world of corrupted faith, greed and deadly secrets.

A ritualistic murder on the side of a remote road brings in the Florida state police. Special Agent Amy Larson has never seen worse, and there are indications that this killing could be just the beginning. The crime draws the attention of the FBI in the form of Special Agent Hunter Forrest, a man with insider knowledge of how violent cults operate, and a man who might never be able to escape his own past.

The rural community is devastated by the death in their midst, but people know more than they are saying. As Amy and Hunter join forces, every lead takes them further into the twisted beliefs of a dangerous group that will stop at nothing to see their will done.

Doomsday preppers and small-town secrets collide in this sultry, twisty page-turning thriller.

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com, eHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv.

My Review:

Oh, I love a good thriller! Technically, though, I would classify this novel more as a mystery than a thriller, but I suppose that's a debatable topic. 

Heather Graham delivers a spine-tingling tale of murder and mystery in her latest novel, Danger in Numbers

Graham's writing is easy to read and the storyline was simple to follow. While many plot elements were anticipated and predictable, there were also plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. Plus, I love a strong female lead character, and Graham gives us a good one who can fight her own battles and still know when to accept help from others.

The only element of the book that I found a bit cheesy were some of the characters' names. There were a lot of trees and plants involved: Hunter Forrest, Detective Mulberry, Aidan Cypress, Karyl Vine, and maybe others that I missed!

And a fair warning: if you're squeamish at all, you should know there are a lot of gruesome death scenes in this story.

Bottom line: 

Danger in Numbers is another well-written murder mystery by highly-acclaimed author Heather Graham.

[I received an early copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

IWSG: Reading Choices

If you're a writer, you'll want to check out the Insecure Writers' Support Group. On the first Wednesday of the month, we post on a related topic.

This Month's Question: "Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?"

My Answer: I read broadly. I often find techniques and styles outside my typical writing genre that I can utilize to improve and enhance my own writing skills. I love to read nonfiction, memoirs (sometimes), thrillers, horrors, mysteries, historical romance (sometimes), and contemporary novels. The biggest motivators in my reading choices are: author, publisher, recommendation from friend, description (in that order).

What about you? What motivates your reading choices?

Monday, February 22, 2021

Book Review: THE INITIAL INSULT by Mindy McGinnis


The Initial Insult (The Initial Insult, #1)The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mindy McGinnis is an "auto-buy" author for me --- meaning: I will read anything she writes because I am a huge fan of her talented writing and a masterful storytelling.

This story, THE INITIAL INSULT, is one that left me shaking my head at the end.

Did I like it? Did I love it? Did I hate it? I had to take a few weeks just to process what I'd digested.

It's a complicated story (which I love). It's a weird/unique story (which I love). It was exceptionally written (love). The timeline was nonlinear (which I personally struggle with oftentimes). This is the first of two books, and plotlines are not yet resolved (which is hard for me, because I'm an impatient person). I listened to an early audio edition that was read by a non-human voice (which I disliked). Side note: I've noticed a lot of other reviews give Mindy less stars on the review because of the awful synthetic audio, but that is NOT Mindy's fault, for heaven's sake! So that in no way influences this review. And rest assured, the finished audio book for sale to the general public is recorded by a professional narrator.

However, I do think that this is the type of story that is better served by a visual copy of the book because of the timeline jumps, point-of-view shifts, and unusual name pronunciations.

Overall, I loved this complicated and unusual story of teenage revenge, and I look forward to the next book!

Thanks, Mindy, for another great rollercoaster of a story.

[I received an early audio copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way influenced my opinion.]

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

IWSG: Making Friends in the Blogosphere

The purpose of The Insecure Writer's Group is: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

February's Question: Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

My Answer: Oh, yes! The online writing community is excellent. I met my long-term critique partners online, and I've made many wonderful friends and acquaintances because of blogging. Additionally, groups like this one, The Insecure Writer's Support Group, give writers -- new, veteran, young, old -- a great place to start connecting and interacting with other authors. Alongside blogging is Twitter. Once you become familiar with some of the common writers' hashtags -- such as #WritingCommunity #AmWriting #MSWL #WriteTip #IWSG -- you can connect with the vast writing community there, too.

How about you? Have you made friends through the blogosphere?

Monday, January 11, 2021

Book Review: YOU HAVE A MATCH by Emma Lord


You Have a MatchYou Have a Match by Emma Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

YOU HAVE A MATCH by Emma Lord is a fun adventure, exploring the ups and downs of friendships, family, and first loves.

Initially, I wanted to read this story because this publisher (Wednesday Books) puts out quality books, and I was intrigued by the premise. YOU HAVE A MATCH is well-written and engaging from page to page, and I found myself walking on the treadmill longer than I had to because I wanted to finish a scene or chapter. My only real criticism of the story is based on a personal pet peeve of mine: I hate it when an entire problem (or plot) could be resolved by simply talking to someone rather than keeping an issue secret. I wanted to yell at the main character: JUST TALK TO THEM! But that was honestly my only issue with this book. And even with that, I still looked forward to returning to the story each time I'd left it.

Thanks Emma Lord for a terrific story!

Some of my favorite passages from the story:

"Living in that moment-in the adrenaline rush of seeing something magical and knowing you only have a small window to capture that magic ... photographing nature and landscapes ... You never know exactly when the magic is going to happen. There's nothing quite like the rush of getting to hold that magic still and keep it forever-allowing something so big to feel so intimate and personal because a part of you belongs to it, and a part of it belongs to you."

"It was always too good to last. Like when you're in a good dream, but you know you're dreaming. I was here on borrowed time."

"Confidence blazes through me, making me feel like I could snap fire into existence, strike lightning at will, control the tides."

[I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Book Review: WRONG ALIBI by Christina Dodd

Oh, boy. I love a good thriller. So I jumped at the chance to read an early copy of this one. Scroll down for my complete reveiw.

Wrong Alibi

by Christina Dodd

On Sale: 12/29/20

ISBN: 978-1335549594

Publisher: Harlequin Trade

368 Pages

Description from Publisher: 

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.


Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.


Evie's escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.


At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family…

“This is Dodd at her brilliant best.” —Booklist (starred review) on Strangers She Knows

Dodd's twisty suspense will have readers turning the pages and keeping the lights on at night.

About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called "scary, sexy, and smartly written" by Booklist and, much to her mother's delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

My Review:


The opening pages hooked me right away, and I started reading faster to find out what was going to happen. I loved the setting of Alaska.

There were only a couple of things that bothered me. There were a lot of switches in the points-of-view, and . . .


. . . the sex between Zone and Petie was hard to buy into.

Other than that, I LOVED this book!! 

Christina Dodd masterfully brought all the pieces together for a very satisfying resolution.

Some of my favorite lines from the story:

"Outside, the storm roared. Inside, cold swallowed the heat with a greedy appetite."

"So much better than her last job, the one that led to her conviction for a gruesome double murder."

[I received an early copy of the book for free from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.] 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

IWSG: Most Productive Times for Writing

The first Wednesday of the month is time for the Insecure Writers' Support Group post!

This Month's Question: "Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?"

My Answer: Pre-pandemic, yes. Pre-2020, sure. But boy, oh, boy, 2020 has been way too stressful for me to be highly productive with my writing. So, I suppose I am most productive when I can find a sense of peace and calm within my mind and spirit. Going to the mountains helps me with this. Avoiding social media helps me. Listening to music helps. And reading inspiring nonfiction books definitely helps me find the right head space to be more productive with my writing. I'm currently working through THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron. I say "working through" because it's more than a book to read. It is a 12-week program to help artists attain a higher level of creativity, but it is hard work. I've found it quite challenging (this is my third attempt to complete the program), but this particular time through, I'm recovering a sense of myself and that has been enlightening and calming. I'm excited to write and revise, again. I'm ready to be productive, again. We all need a little help sometimes finding our way back to the path, leading to our own true north.

How about you? When is your most productive time for writing?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

IWSG: Why Do You Write?

Over the years, I've found THE INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP to be such a great community. I look forward to the monthly posts to connect us. I encourage you to visit the website and join the group!

This Month's Question: Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

My Answer: I write because I love telling stories. I love creating worlds, characters, plots, and twists. I love creating. I love exploring all of the possibilities. I've always been a curious person, and as a writer, I can ask as many questions as I want. Then I can explore, hunt, and find the answers to those questions.

How about you? Why do you write?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Book Review: THE MIRROR MAN by Jane Gilmartin

Such a fascinating premise! Scroll down for my complete review.

The Mirror Man

Author: Jane Gilmartin

On Sale Date: October 20, 2020

ISBN: 9780778309642

Publisher: MIRA

352 pages

Description from Publisher:

The offer is too tempting: be part of a scientific breakthrough, step out of his life for a year, and be paid hugely for it. When ViGen Pharmaceuticals asks Jeremiah to be part of an illegal cloning experiment, he sees it as a break from an existence he feels disconnected from. No one will know he’s been replaced—not the son who ignores him, not his increasingly distant wife—since a revolutionary drug called Meld can transfer his consciousness and memories to his copy. From a luxurious apartment, he watches the clone navigate his day-to-day life. But soon Jeremiah discovers that examining himself from an outsider’s perspective isn’t what he thought it would be, and he watches in horror as “his” life spirals out of control. ViGen needs the experiment to succeed—they won’t call it off, and are prepared to remove any obstacle. With his family in danger, Jeremiah needs to finally find the courage to face himself head-on.

About the Author:

Jane Gilmartin has been a news reporter and editor for several small-town weekly papers and enjoyed a brief but exciting stint as a rock music journalist. A bucket list review just before she turned 50 set her on the path to fiction writing. Also checked off that list: an accidental singing career, attending a Star Trek convention, and getting a hug from David Bowie. She lives in her hometown of Hingham, Massachusetts.

My Review:

Fascinating premise but bland delivery. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this book, and I do recommend it for the interesting premise alone . . .

However . . . 

Page after page, I found myself wanting. I wanted more of a creepy vibe. I wanted more tension. I wanted more plot and character development. And in the end, I wanted more from the main character. If the ending had been stronger, I could’ve overlooked the other issues, but as is, the ending made me overthink the earlier page-by-page issues, and I found myself feeling disappointed.

Spoiler: I didn’t want him to just save himself, I wanted him to take down the bad guys one by one and save the world from being replaced by clones. Instead, he basically negotiated a deal only to save himself, his son, and his dog.

[I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.]