Format: ARC

#BookReview Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak @Flatironbooks #HiddenPictures #JasonRekulak #FlatironBooks

#BookReview Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak @Flatironbooks #HiddenPictures #JasonRekulak #FlatironBooks Title: Hidden Pictures

Author: Jason Rekulak

Published by: Flatiron Books on May 10, 2022

Genres: Horror, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 384

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Flatiron Books

Book Rating: 8/10

Fresh out of rehab, Mallory Quinn takes a job in the affluent suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy.

Mallory immediately loves this new job. She lives in the Maxwell’s pool house, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body.

As the days pass, Teddy’s artwork becomes more and more sinister, and his stick figures steadily evolve into more detailed, complex, and lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to suspect these are glimpses of an unsolved murder from long ago, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force lingering in the forest behind the Maxwell’s house.

With help from a handsome landscaper and an eccentric neighbor, Mallory sets out to decipher the images and save Teddy—while coming to terms with a tragedy in her own past—before it’s too late.


Review:

Intense, eerie, and dark!

Hidden Pictures is a haunting, character-driven thriller that takes you into the life of recovering addict Mallory Quinn who, after recently being hired to nanny the delightful five-year-old Teddy, whose love for drawing and his imaginative friend Anya become creepier day by day, discovers quickly that something isn’t right in this seemingly perfect home of Ted and Caroline Maxwell, and that someone or something is determined to reveal the secrets they’re desperately trying to hide.

The prose is unsettling and taut. The characters are suspicious, troubled, and wary. And the plot is a simmering, sinister tale of familial drama, class division, tension, deception, violence, and desperation, all interwoven with a sliver of the supernatural.

Overall, Hidden Pictures is a tight, creepy, atmospheric tale by Rekulak that, with its quick pace and disturbing illustrations, kept me unnerved and highly entertained right from the very first page.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

           

 

 

Thank you to Flatiron Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Jason Rekulak

Jason Rekulak is the author of The Impossible Fortress, which was translated into 12 languages and was nominated for the Edgar Award. For many years, he was the publisher of Quirk Books, an independent press, where he acquired and edited multiple New York Times bestsellers. He lives in Philadelphia with his family.

Photo by Jason Varney.

#BookReview Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting @helenahunting @smpromance @StMartinsPress #StarryEyedLove #HelenaHunting #SparkHouseSeries #smpromance #smpinfluencers

#BookReview Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting @helenahunting @smpromance @StMartinsPress #StarryEyedLove #HelenaHunting #SparkHouseSeries #smpromance #smpinfluencers Title: Starry-Eyed Love

Author: Helena Hunting

Series: Spark House #2

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on May 10, 2022

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 352

Format: ARC, eBook

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 9/10

Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.


Review:

Captivating, charming, and romantic!

Starry-Eyed Love is a cosy, heartwarming tale that takes you into the life of the ambitious, overworked London Sparks as she juggles her job as an administrator for the family business, her Etsy store that’s her true passion, a sister who’s determined and extremely stubborn, and a new partnership with a handsome CEO who she unfortunately happened to turn down once and is entirely too irresistible for his own good.

The writing is warm and tender. The characters are professional, genuine, and considerate. And the plot is an enchanting, push-pull tale of life, love, drama, friendship, self-discovery, familial dynamics, miscommunication, jealousy, dreams, goals, secrets, and finding a positive work-life balance.

Starry-Eyed Love is the second title in a series that, for me, just keeps getting better and better. It’s an amusing, sweet, adorable read by Hunting with characters I couldn’t help but root for and a swoon-worthy ending that left me smitten, satisfied, and ecstatic that there’s Harley’s story still to come!

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

           

 

 

Thank you to SMP Romance – St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Helena Hunting

Helena Hunting is the author of The USA Today and NYT bestselling PUCKED Series. She lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes everything from romantic sports comedy to new adult angst.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Website.

#BookReview The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill @PPPress #TheWomanintheLibrary #SulariGentill #inkedinpoison

#BookReview The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill @PPPress #TheWomanintheLibrary #SulariGentill #inkedinpoison Title: The Woman in the Library

Author: Sulari Gentill

Published by: Poisoned Pen Press on Jun. 7, 2022

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 288

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Poisoned Pen Press

Book Rating: 8.5/10

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers sitting at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.


Review:

Devious, intense, and full of surprises!

The Woman in the Library is an intricate, twisty, complex thriller featuring Hannah, a successful writer who is writing her latest mystery about four strangers, Freddie, Cain, Whit, and Marigold, who accidentally meet one day as they all share a table in the Boston Public Library and after they hear a woman scream subsequently work together to not only identify who the slain woman was but who out of the four of them, as impossible as it may seem, actually murdered her.

The prose is complex and tight. The characters are multilayered, secretive, and consumed. And the plot builds nicely to create just the right amount of tension and suspense as it unravels all the different personalities, questionable motivations, duplicitous actions, and relationships within it.

Overall, The Woman in the Library is a compelling, sly, creative tale by Gentill that, with its story within a story, is a clever, unique, addictive whodunit that certainly kept me guessing from start to finish.

 

This book is available June 7, 2022.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

            

 

 

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sulari Gentill

Once upon a time, Sulari Gentill was a corporate lawyer serving as a director on public boards, with only a vague disquiet that there was something else she was meant to do. That feeling did not go away until she began to write. And so Sulari became the author of the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries: thus far, ten historical crime novels chronicling the life and adventures of her 1930s Australian gentleman artist, the Hero Trilogy, based on the myths and epics of the ancient world, and the Ned Kelly Award winning Crossing the Lines (published in the US as After She Wrote Hime). In 2014 she collaborated with National Gallery of Victoria to write a short story which was produced in audio to feature in the Fashion Detective Exhibition, and thereafter published by the NGV. IN 2019 Sulari was part of a 4-member delegation of Australian crime writers sponsored by the Australia Council to tour the US as ambassadors of Australian Crime Writing.

Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

#BookReview Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird @sarahbirdwriter @StMartinsPress #LastDanceOnTheStarlightPier #SallyBird #StMarinsPress #SMPInfluencers

#BookReview Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird @sarahbirdwriter @StMartinsPress #LastDanceOnTheStarlightPier #SallyBird #StMarinsPress #SMPInfluencers Title: Last Dance on the Starlight Pier

Author: Sarah Bird

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Apr. 12, 2022

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8/10

Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird’s Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes.

July 3. 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She’d come to Galveston to escape a dark past in vaudeville and become a good person, a nurse. When that dream is cruelly thwarted, Evie is swept into the alien world of dance marathons. All that she has been denied—a family, a purpose, even love—waits for her there in the place she dreads most: the spotlight.

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the Thirties. Unforgettable characters tell a story that is still deeply resonant today as America learns what Evie learns, that there truly isn’t anything this country can’t do when we do it together. That indomitable spirit powers a story that is a testament to the deep well of resilience in us all that allows us to not only survive the hardest of hard times, but to find joy, friends, and even family, in them.


Review:

Hopeful, heartwarming, and atmospheric!

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is an intriguing tale that sweeps you away between Chicago and Texas during the early 1930s and into the life of Evie Grace Devlin, a young woman who yearns to become a registered nurse, but who after her past as a Vaudeville performer comes to light and she is denied graduation, ends up in the world of competitive dance competitions until tragedy strikes, and she must rethink what’s truly important and where, what and who she’d truly like to be.

The prose is smooth and expressive. The main characters are spirited, resilient, and hardworking. And the plot is a compelling, emotional tale about life, loss, self-discovery, familial drama, social injustices, political unrest, poverty, inequality, heartbreak, courage, romance, and friendship.

Overall, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweet, entertaining, sentimental tale by Bird that was a pleasure to read with a setting I don’t often get a chance to read about and a unique storyline that was informative as well as refreshing.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

           

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird’s novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. A Dobie-Paisano Fellowship helped in researching Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. Raised in an Air Force family on bases around the world, Sarah is the child of two warriors, a WWII Army nurse and an Air Corps bombardier, who met at a barn dance in North Africa. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Photo by Sarah Wilson.

#BookReview The Last Summer by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillan #TheLastSummer #TheWildIsleSeries #KarenSwan #PGCBooks

#BookReview The Last Summer by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillan #TheLastSummer #TheWildIsleSeries #KarenSwan #PGCBooks Title: The Last Summer

Author: Karen Swan

Series: The Wild Isle #1

Published by: Pan Macmillan on May 3, 2022

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 496

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

When the residents of St Kilda ask to be evacuated from their remote island home in the summer of 1930, it’s in search of a better life on mainland Scotland compared to the scratch existence on their mountain in the sea.

For eighteen-year-old tomboy Effie Gillies, it’s a bittersweet departure. She’s the best young climber on the island, as skilled and brave as any of the men. But it is Effie’s expansive knowledge of local bird life that leads her to take up a position as curator of Dumfries House’s ornithological collection – and back into the arms of Lord Dumfries’ son and heir, Sholto.

During her last summer on St Kilda, Effie had been Sholto’s guide, and their attraction had seemed irresistible. But, in the glamorous polite society of Ayrshire, it is clear they are worlds apart. When a body is discovered on the island, soon after the evacuation, a scandal erupts as Effie is implicated. Sholto knows she’s keeping secrets – but are they even her own?

The Last Summer is the first in an epic, sweeping historical series by Sunday Times bestseller Karen Swan, set in and around the Scottish island of St Kilda.


Review:

Enthralling, mysterious, and romantic!

The Last Summer is an absorbing tale that sweeps you away to 1930 and into the life of Effie Gillies, an eighteen-year-old girl who, along with her family and closest friends, is one of thirty-six inhabitants of the isolated St. Kilda archipelago who is content with her isolated existence, living a simple life amongst the birds and the cliffs, until things start to get a little more complicated and she falls for a man way above her station, the government decides to evacuate the island villagers to the mainland, she takes on a new job curating the ornithological collection of Lord Dumfries, the father of the man who stole her heart, and the deserted island is left with more than just empty dwellings and whispered secrets, but the body of a man who wasn’t all that kind or liked and had more than one person who wished him dead.

The writing is eloquent and vivid. The characters are hardy, resilient, and brave. And the plot is an alluring tale of life, loss, family, friendship, community, intrigue, mystery, drama, expectations, angst, social division, heartbreak, and love.

Overall, The Last Summer is a beautifully written, incredibly atmospheric, brilliant start to a new series by Swan that I absolutely devoured, highly recommend, and is hands down one of my favourite reads of the year.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

           

 

 

Thank you to PGC Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

#BookReview That Cowboy of Mine by Donna Grant @donna_grant @smpromance @StMartinsPress #ThatCowboyofMine #DonnaGrant #smpromance #smpinfluencers

#BookReview That Cowboy of Mine by Donna Grant @donna_grant @smpromance @StMartinsPress #ThatCowboyofMine #DonnaGrant #smpromance #smpinfluencers Title: That Cowboy of Mine

Author: Donna Grant

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on Apr. 26, 2022

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Pages: 304

Format: ARC, eBook

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8.5/10

Is he an enemy?

Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt’s ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillion suspects her no-good neighbor and fellow wealthy rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillion is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillion is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Or a lover?

Waking up on a stranger’s property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett’s idea of a good time. Never mind that the woman on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It’s clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and he is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them. There is no turning back.


Review:

Gripping, menacing, and taut!

That Cowboy of Mine is a riveting, seductive tale that takes us to Hill Country, Texas and into the life of the strong, confident Dillion Young who, after inheriting her Aunt Dolly’s ranch and deciding to stay, quickly discovers that someone desperately wants her to leave and figuring out the good guys from the bad is going to be a lot harder than she originally expected, especially when it comes to the ruggedly handsome, bull rider Cal Bennett who suspiciously turned up just when she needed him.

The writing is sharp and crisp. The characters are complex, wary, and intriguing. And the plot is a passionate tale filled with twists, turns, secrets, red herrings, lies, danger, sexual attraction, mayhem, betrayal, corruption, and steamy romance.

Overall, That Cowboy of Mine is an action-packed, twisty, satisfying standalone by Grant that kept me on my toes, warmed my heart, and certainly left me eager for more.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

            

 

 

Thank you to SMP Romance – St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Donna Grant

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. She’s written more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance including the bestselling Dark King stories, Dark Craving, Night’s Awakening, and Dawn’s Desire. Her acclaimed series, Dark Warriors, feature a thrilling combination of Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas.

Photo by Yvette Michelle Portraits LLC.

#BookReview The Dachshund Wears Prada by Stefanie London @Stefanie_London @HarlequinBooks #TheDachshundWearsPrada #StefanieLondon

#BookReview The Dachshund Wears Prada by Stefanie London @Stefanie_London @HarlequinBooks #TheDachshundWearsPrada #StefanieLondon Title: The Dachshund Wears Prada

Author: Stefanie London

Series: Paws in the City #1

Published by: HQN Books on May 3, 2022

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 336

Format: ARC, eBook

Source: Stefanie London

Book Rating: 9/10

How do you start over when the biggest mistake of your life has more than one million views?

Forget diamonds—the internet is forever. Social media consultant Isla Thompson learned that lesson the hard way when she went viral for all the wrong reasons. A month later, Isla is still having nightmares about the moment she ruined a young starlet’s career and made herself the most unemployable influencer in Manhattan. But she doesn’t have the luxury of hiding until she’s no longer Instagram poison. Not when her fourteen-year-old sister, Dani, needs Isla to keep a roof over their heads. So, she takes the first job she can get: caring for Camilla, a glossy-maned, foul-tempered hellhound.

After a week of ferrying Camilla from playdates to pet psychics, Isla starts to suspect that the dachshund’s bark is worse than her bite—just like her owner, Theo Garrison. Isla has spent her career working to make people likable and here’s Theo—happy to hide behind his reputation as a brutish recluse. But Theo isn’t a brute—he’s sweet and funny, and Isla should not see him as anything but the man who signs her paychecks. Because loving Theo would mean retreating to his world of secluded luxury, and Isla needs to show Dani that no matter the risk, dreams are always worth chasing.


Review:

Cute, tender, and light!

The Dachshund Wears Prada is a heartwarming, uplifting tale that takes you on a journey into the life of social media specialist Isla Thompson as after an unfortunate turn of events, her career is in tatters, and she finds herself inadvertently taking the job of dog carer for the spoilt, spunky, four-legged Camilla whose owner the aloof, sexy Theo Garrison may just require a little assistance of his own.

The writing is humorous and sweet. The characters are hesitant, charming, and supportive. And the plot is a delightfully engaging mix of friendship, family, life, introspection, secrets, communication, compromise, taking chances, and finding love.

Overall, The Dachshund Wears Prada is another adorable, passionate, addictive read by London that, as is typical when I finish any of her books, has left me already looking forward to whatever she comes up with next.

 

This book is available May 3, 2022!

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

 

       

 

Thank you to Stefanie London for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Stefanie London

USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance with humour, heat and heart. Also llamas.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia Stefanie now lives in Toronto, Canada with her wonderful husband. She loves to read, collect lipsticks, watch zombie movies and drink coffee.

Her bestselling book, Pretend It’s Love, is a 2016 Romantic Book of the Year finalist with the Romance Writers of Australia.

#BookReview Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez @readforeverpub @grandcentralpub #ReadForever #ReadForeverPub #ReadForever2022 #PartofYourWorldBook #AbbyJimenez #TheFriendZoneSeries

#BookReview Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez @readforeverpub @grandcentralpub #ReadForever #ReadForeverPub #ReadForever2022 #PartofYourWorldBook #AbbyJimenez #TheFriendZoneSeries Title: Part of Your World

Author: Abby Jimenez

Series: The Friend Zone #4

Published by: Forever on Apr. 19, 2022

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 400

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Forever

Book Rating: 10/10

The New York Times bestselling author of Life’s Too Short delivers a refreshingly modern fairy tale perfect for fans of Casey McQuiston and Emily Henry.

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?


Review:

Quaint, alluring, and undeniably affecting!

Part of Your World is a sweet, intimate, evocative tale that takes you into the life of ER doctor Alexis Montgomery as she struggles to juggle a successful career, a toxic ex, weighty familial expectations, and a budding attraction to a man almost ten years her junior who seems to be slowly stealing her heart piece by piece.

The writing is heartwarming and tender. The characterization is spot on with a wonderful cast of characters that are multilayered, quirky, amusing, and endearing. And the plot unwinds and unravels effortlessly into a beguiling tale bursting with heart, hope, healing, and heat.

Part of Your World is, ultimately, a story about life, love, expectations, trust, forgiveness, family, friendship, community, relationship dynamics, and discovering one’s true self. It is an addictive, moving, exceptionally romantic novel by Jimenez that is hands down one of my favourite reads of the year and is, without a doubt, another brilliant novel by an author I can never get enough of.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

            

 

 

Thank you to Forever & Grand Central Publishing for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Abby Jimenez

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network champion, motivational speaker, and contemporary romance novelist living in Minnesota. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to open multiple locations in two states, won numerous Food Network competitions and amassed an international cult following. Abby has since turned her talents to penning novels. She loves a good book, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes with Robin Gaby Fisher @PaulHoles @CeladonBooks #UnmaskedBook #CeladonBooks #CeladonReads

#BookReview Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes with Robin Gaby Fisher @PaulHoles @CeladonBooks #UnmaskedBook #CeladonBooks #CeladonReads Title: Unmasked: My Life Solving American's Cold Cases

Author: Paul Holes

Published by: Celadon Books on Apr. 26, 2022

Genres: Nonfiction

Pages: 288

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Celadon Books

Book Rating: 9/10

From the detective who found The Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards–and toll–of a life solving crime.

I order another bourbon, neat. This is the drink that will flip the switch. I don’t even know how I got here, to this place, to this point. Something is happening to me lately. I’m drinking too much. My sheets are soaking wet when I wake up from nightmares of decaying corpses. I order another drink and swig it, trying to forget about the latest case I can’t shake.

Crime-solving for me is more complex than the challenge of the hunt, or the process of piecing together a scientific puzzle. The thought of good people suffering drives me, for better or worse, to the point of obsession.

People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize; the rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. But I had always taken pride in the fact that I can keep my feelings locked up to get the job done. It’s only been recently that it feels like all that suppressed darkness is beginning to seep out.

When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.

But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”

It is a promise I know I can keep.


Review:

Candid, eye-opening, and fascinating!

Unmasked is the intriguing, informative story of Paul Holes’ personal and professional experiences, successes, frustrations, and accomplishments as a CSI for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, focusing specifically on cold cases and serial killers with one of his most infamous cases being that of the Golden State Killer.

The writing is detailed and precise. And the novel is an introspective, compelling, absorbing tale of one man’s dedication, passion, and almost obsessive commitment to identifying the most heinous of criminals and making sure there’s enough evidence to put them behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Unmasked is, ultimately, a memoir that I absolutely loved and which gives a valuable, insightful, disturbing look into crime scene investigation, scientific advancements and their effect on the evolution of the crime-solving process, and how pieces, evidence, and clues are collected and reviewed in order to identify and eliminate suspects, and prosecute criminals successfully.

 

This novel is available April 26, 2022.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to Celadon Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Paul Holes

In 2018, Paul Holes retired as a cold case investigator after spending more than twenty-seven years working in Contra Costa County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul specialized in cold case and serial predator crimes, lending his expertise to notable cases, including the murder of Laci Peterson and the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard. Most prominently, Paul’s career culminated with his identification of the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, the most notorious and cunning serial predator in U.S. history.

Since the arrest of DeAngelo, Holes has been very involved on the media side, continuing to assist law enforcement and victims’ families with their unsolved cases through the television shows The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes and America’s Most Wanted and the podcast Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad.

Photo by Steve Babuljak.

#BookReview Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch @AmandaPanitch @simonteen #GoneDark #AmandaPanitch #SimonTeen

#BookReview Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch @AmandaPanitch @simonteen #GoneDark #AmandaPanitch #SimonTeen Title: Gone Dark

Author: Amanda Panitch

Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books on Apr. 12, 2022

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult

Pages: 448

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster

Book Rating: 7.5/10

Dry meets Hatchet in this thrilling tale of survival following a teen girl who must lead her friends across country to the safety of her estranged father’s survivalist compound after a mass power failure leaves the country in chaos.

When seventeen-year-old Zara escaped her father’s backwoods survivalist compound five years ago, she traded crossbows and skinning hides for electricity and video games…and tried to forget the tragedy that drove her away.

Until a malware attack on the United States electrical grids cuts off the entire country’s power.

In the wake of the disaster and the chaos that ensues, Zara is forced to call upon skills she thought she’d never use again—and her best bet to survive is to go back to the home she left behind. Drawing upon a resilience she didn’t know she had, Zara leads a growing group of friends on an epic journey across a crumbling country back to her father’s compound, where their only hope for salvation lies.

But with every step she takes, Zara wonders if she truly has what it takes to face her father and the secrets of her past, or if she’d be better off hiding in the dark.


Review:

Dark, eerie and compelling!

Gone Dark is a unique, intriguing tale that sweeps you away to California and into the life of Zara Ross, a teenage girl who, after being raised by her father to shoot, hunt, and survive any disaster, heads across the country encountering obstacles, danger, injuries, and limited resources in the hope of seeking refuge on her father’s wooded compound, for herself and a small group of friends, when a malware attack on some of the largest power grids leaves the country reeling and in complete and utter chaos.

The prose is tight and intense. The characters are complex, tormented, and resourceful. And the plot is a riveting tale full of suspicious personalities, unreliable characters, unexpected twists, nefarious motivations, terrorism, upheaval, angst, survival, violence, and murder.

Overall, Gone Dark is a gritty, engrossing, creative novel by Panitch that is entertaining, a wee bit disturbing, and the perfect choice for anyone who enjoys a good YA survivalist tale.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

              

 

 

Thank you to Simon Teen for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Amanda Panitch

Amanda Panitch spent most of her childhood telling stories to her four younger siblings, trying both to make them laugh and scare them too much to sleep. Now she lives in New York City, where she writes dark, funny stories for teens, kids, and the pigeons that nest on her apartment balcony.

Photo by Cassie Gonzales.

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