2019 Book #90 & #93 – Don’t Close Your Eyes and Don’t Breathe a Word by Christie Craig

Title: Don’t Close Your Eyes & Don’t Breathe a Word
Author: Christie Craig
Date finished: 11/19/19 & 12/1/19
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 28, 2018 & November 5, 2019
Pages in book: 480 & 424
Stand alone or series: #1 and #2 in the Texas Justice series
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Don’t Close Your Eyes: 
Annie Lakes has had the same recurring nightmare for years. Her heart pounding in her chest. A panicked voice, begging her to run faster. Her own bloodcurdling scream. But now Annie is starting to realize it’s more than just a bad dream. She’s starting to remember things about the night her cousin Jenny disappeared all those years ago. Things that make her believe her family was involvedand what they’re hiding is much worse than she ever imagined. But she can’t unravel this alone. She needs someone she can trust, someone like sexy Detective Mark Sutton ….
Mark has seen enoughtoo muchto assume that Annie’s story is a dead end. It turns out that her family is hiding some killer secrets. A long time ago, Annie was just an innocent little girl who saw something she shouldn’t. Now she’s a target, and Mark’s running out of time to protect the woman he’s starting to fall for. But how does Mark face off against a murderer who just may be someone Annie loves?
Don’t Breathe A Word: 
Police detective Juan Acosta doesn’t only carry scars on the outside. He’s filled with guilt and anger ever since his undercover job led to the murder of those he loved the most. Now he’s living for one thing: revenge. That is, until Juan meets his beautiful new neighbor.
Vicki Holloway prides herself on being capable and independent, but her life is turned upside down when her sister Sara is killed by an abusive ex. Fearing for the safety of her niece, Vicki and the little girl go into hiding…resurfacing in Texas with new identities.
Juan finds his once-frozen heart thawing around Vicki, but he knows she’s hiding something. Juan needs answers, but Vicki isn’t talking. She has to keep her secrets if she wants to keep Bell safe, which means resisting her growing feelings for the sexy, scarred man next door. But when Juan’s quest for justice brings danger to her door, divulging the truth might be the only thing that keeps her alive.

 

My rating:  1.75 & 3.0  stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested these because the plots sounded really interesting and I liked the availability of getting them both together. I definitely liked the second novel better. So going in order, the first book I didn’t love. For a book written in 2018 it seemed like it was written in 1990 – it felt a little outdated. The heroine has sex with the hero on the first date and then follows up with that by calling herself a slut multiple times, which I was just not ok with. She also makes some pretty  And the hero was a pretty intense alcoholic and just could not get his stuff together. Plus the mystery I found to be kind of flat, they were making a big deal out of it but then it turned out to not be that much of a thing. Although I was interested in reading until the end to find out what happened, I found the book to be dry and there were some really problematic pieces to it. Overall I did not really enjoy this one too much.

The second book I liked a lot better. The romance development between the characters felt a little rushed / underdeveloped but I liked the mystery plot line a lot better. I still felt like it was a little outdated for how recently it was published but there wasn’t as much sex-shaming as there was in the first book. The villain in this book was intensely villainous – he was a bad freaking dude and was definitely scary. The hero and heroine both had areas that I thought they could have been developed further. The climactic scene also went by really quickly – I thought it could have been drawn out a bit more. Overall though I liked this one better than the first in the series and I wanted to keep reading it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #74 – The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

51EoaKhZDyLTitle: The Other Girl
Author: Erica Spindler
Date finished: 9/1/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages in book: 247
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A horrific crime. One witness—a fifteen year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks, one known for lying and her own brushes with the law.
Is it any surprise no one believed her?

Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community.

When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealed…except for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist.

Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop—the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Miranda Roder, a cop in harmony, Louisiana. She’s called into work late at night on a murder case, the son of the President for the local college was murdered in a brutal way. While searching his house though, she discovers a news article about her arrest from twenty years ago when she was 15. And then her fingerprints are found at the crime scene even though she wore her gloves the whole time. And the Police Chief, her boss, suspects her of killing the guy. Miranda gets taken off the case but she can’t let it go and so decides to do some investigating of her own. Along the way, her new relationship with her partner Jake and her friendship with local bartender Summer lend Miranda the resources she needs to look into who might be framing her. And as more bodies start to pile up, she needs all the help she can get to solve this case.

Overall I liked this book a lot. The story line was interesting and original and kept me on my toes. The plot twists were really good but I thought Miranda could’ve put the pieces together a little quicker. The conversations between characters at a couple points were stilted or lacked depth but it wasn’t so bad. And I felt like the plot was inventive enough that it was easier to look past some of the smaller downfalls. This was a pretty quick read and I didn’t want to put it down. I liked that the author tried to throw off the reader a little but at the same time they felt a tiny bit off within the story line at a couple points. Like with Jake’s sister towards the end and Jake’s cryptic message it made me start to think things but it never explained really why it ended up being included in the story. Overall though it was good, ending was a little sad but I really liked it.

The bottom line: This book was awesome! I loved the mystery and all the surprise twists, I thought the plot was really well done. Some of the conversations were awkward but other than that this was really good, I would recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #26 – If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

51jEpw+Dl0L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Title: If We Were Villains
Author: M.L. Rio
Date finished: 3/26/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 354
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.
As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.
Intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed, If We Were Villains is a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of a group of fourth year theater students attending Dellecher Classical Conservatory, an elite college for the arts that has a slightly unorthodox approach to advancement. Each year only certain students are allowed to advance to the next year’s level, which for this particular story resulted in a group of 7 unusually close senior year theater students. In this particular group, the line between friend and enemy is continually blurred and tensions reach new heights. The story is narrated by one of these seven students, Oliver Marks, who when we first meet him is at the end of his 10 year prison sentence. We meet him as he begins to tell the story of what actually happened a decade ago to Detective Colborne, his arresting officer. Colborne has been haunted by this case the past ten years because he never believed that Oliver was actually the killer. And as the story of that year unfolds, there are many layers to be peeled back before the truth can be uncovered. There are heroes and damsels, tragedy and comedy, lovers and friends. And in the end, there is more than one villain.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. I thought it was so different and so interesting. As the theater student’s curriculum centers mostly around Shakespeare, there were many different passages from his various works woven into the story line and the conversations, and I just loved it. You could feel how young the group of them were, even though they were dealing with such intense adult problems. And Oliver was perhaps the most innocent of them all, and seeing the story through his eyes added that extra layer of naivete. After the murder Oliver and his remaining friends fall to pieces, each of them dealing with their own feelings of guilt and responsibility in different ways. Centered within Oliver’s story is his best friend, James, and his love interest, Meredith. The roles here even are oftentimes blurred, as Oliver’s feelings for James are not so easily categorized into the label of “friends.” That was one of the things I loved most about this book was how well it portrayed that love and hate are on the same spectrum of emotion, and if you feel one it is very easily turned to the other side of the spectrum when a person is pushed to their limit. I also thought the character development in this novel was really well done, I could feel everything that Oliver felt with such strength that I felt sucked into the story itself. The story was heart-warming and heart-breaking all in one and while I was a little surprised at the ending I really just enjoyed this book so much. I would most definitely recommend and I can’t wait to see more from this author in the future!

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This is the coat of arms for Dellecher Classical Conservatory mentioned in the novel. I found this picture on the author’s website and thought it was a neat addition!!

The bottom line: I really liked this book a lot. I loved that quotes from Shakespeare’s plays were interwoven so skillfully throughout the text and I loved the strength of emotions portrayed by all the characters in the book.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Books #18-25 – Tough Justice series

51xOPnG8JdLTitle: Tough Justice series: Exposed (1), Watched (2), Burned (3), Trapped (4), Twisted (5), Ambushed (6), Betrayed (7), and Hunted (8)
Author: Carla Cassidy, Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson, Gail Barrett
Date finished: 3/23/17
Genre: Fiction, crime, detective
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages in book: 649
Stand alone or series: Series, 8 books in the set
Where I got the book from: Harlequin Romance Insiders NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Special Agent Lara Grant has finally put her life as an undercover agent in the Moretti gang behind her and started a new assignment in New York City. Until a dramatic sniper attack leaves Lara’s face — and real name — all over the media. In the blink of an eye, her cover is blown, her identity exposed.
Then a woman’s body is found, branded with the ritual Moretti tattoo. Someone knows who Lara is…and exactly how to make her pay…

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This is an 8 part series about FBI Special Agent Laura Grant. Laura recently went undercover within the Moretti crime syndicate and was able to make it all the way to the top, arresting Moretti and cutting the head off this particular snake. The undercover operation took a lot out of her though, more than she can really admit to anyone, especially her new team with the FBI. Her new partner Nick Delano doesn’t realize how badly scarred Lara is after this last assignment, but his sexy good looks bring her aroung to trusting him in the end. And when Moretti starts coordinating attacks on/near Lara from inside prison, Lara’s whole team must come together to put a stop to it.
Overall I liked this series. The plot line for this series was so interesting and there were some great plot twists. Some of the plot twists I kind of saw coming but they were still really good. I also thought it was really great that even though the series was written by 4 different authors it was still a cohesive story line and the plot line flowed well in between the books. That being said there were some things I didn’t love about the books. There were some holes in the story line and things that were introduced with the other characters that I’m not sure if they’re supposed to lead to another series or if they were just not followed up on. Also, similar to my issue with Rizzoli from The Surgeon series, I didn’t like that Lara was so insecure but also thought she was the coolest thing at the same time. And she broke some rules along the way which I also didn’t like. And her life was just so sad, the last book especially was heart-breaking. I still really liked the series overall though, it was an easy read (the books were shorter than a normal size book and the chapters were nice and short) and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this series, though the conclusion of it wasn’t my favorite. The series itself though was very interesting and had some great plot twists. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #3 – Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

51fpei4tytl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Title: Two Days Gone
Author: Randall Silvis
Date finished: 1/9/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense/thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now.
What could cause a man, when all the stars of fortune are shining upon him, to suddenly snap and destroy everything he has built? This is the question that haunts Sergeant Ryan DeMarco after the wife and children of beloved college professor and bestselling author Thomas Huston are found slaughtered in their home. Huston himself has disappeared and so is immediately cast as the prime suspect.
DeMarco knows―or thinks he knows―that Huston couldn’t have been capable of murdering his family. But if Huston is innocent, why is he on the run? And does the half-finished manuscript he left behind contain clues to the mystery of his family’s killer?
A masterful new thriller by acclaimed author Randall Silvis, Two Days Gone is a taut, suspenseful story that will will break your heart as much as it will haunt your dreams.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I also am participating in the Blog Tour for this book, you can see my post with an excerpt from the book and other information here. This book is about the murder of Claire Huston and her three children: Thomas Jr,  Alyssa, and little David Ryan. The small town is shocked and grieving, and Detective Ryan DeMarco is determined to find out what happened to the family. Ryan doesn’t believe his new friend Thomas, Claire’s husband and the children’s father, could really be responsible, but since he disappeared from the house the same night as the murders it’s hard not to consider him as a suspect. Thomas was a local college professor and a best-selling author, the pride of the local community and by all appearances a committed husband and father and part of a happy family. But as Ryan starts digging into the events that led up to the tragic event, he realizes there was darkness in Thomas’s life that no one knew about. And unless Ryan can find Thomas quickly, there is a chance that more will die.
Overall I really liked this book. The book is told through two alternating points  of view, Thomas and Ryan’s. I think the author did a great job of creating a well layered story line and an intriguing mystery. The story itself was so very tragic, even two days later I feel bad for everyone involved and I am still struck with sadness over the pain that these characters endured. The ending overall was very fitting for the story, just very sad. The only part that felt a little off to me was the additional party’s involvement at the end (I can’t really be more specific without giving away parts of the end). That part still doesn’t feel like it fit with the rest of the story line for me personally. Other than that though I really liked this book and I would recommend it, especially for anyone who likes a good thriller/suspense.

The bottom line: This was definitely a good book. I’m still recovering from how tragically sad it was but it definitely had an interesting/thrilling story line. I would recommend it, especially for readers who enjoy suspenseful novels. Just be forewarned, your heart will hurt.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #85 – Melting Steele by Kimberly Amato

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Title: Melting Steele
Author: Kimberly Amato
Date finished: 8/12/15
Genre: Fiction, mystery/suspense
Publisher: Little Crown Productions
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Pages in book: 175
Stand alone or series: #2 in Jasmine Steele series
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

We live in a digital age where everything you do, say and are, appears online. Nothing is ever really gone when you upload those photos, leave a bullying comment or surf mature websites. Detective Jasmine Steele is faced with a series of murders all tied to technology and the ever expanding Dark Web. Out of her element she needs to trust others in order to fully understand what she is faced with. In order to solve these cases, Steele has to put aside her obsession with those that killed her brother and tried to kill her. How can she do that when breadcrumbs all lead back to a powerful man who is connected to both prior cases? She has to find her focus before she loses herself to her own desire for revenge. Past obsessions can easily become crippling addictions.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #7 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.This book continues the story of Detective Jasmine Steele, picking up about 14 months after where the last book left off. Jazz has been in physical therapy and recovery pretty much this whole time (she got pretty beat up in the end of the first book) and physically she’s finally starting to feel close to normal again. Unfortunately she can’t seem to let get of the case that got away from her. She almost died at the end of the first book, was so close in fact that she had a conversation with her grandmother who told her to just let this whole thing go. But she becomes a woman obsessed with getting justice for her brother and sister-in-law. She begins to “fall down the rabbit hole” as she calls it. And really she’s just making it more difficult for herself; she so much wanted to get Frankie back in the first book and now she’s risking her relationship with her (again) by pushing her away and keeping her out. It’s so frustrating to see how much Frankie just wants to help or at least find Jazz help, but Jazz doesn’t want to talk to anyone. And Jazz really needs to talk to someone; she’s having very intense, awful nightmares where she can feel everything including being physically assaulted. She really needs to talk to a therapist about what the dreams mean and how to move past them and how to deal with the fact that she killed someone.
Anyways so in this book Jazz and her partner (Will) will have to solve a triple homicide case. It ends up being a much bigger case than just that and ends up involving a lot of different technology, including a program called the Dark Web which allows users to access basically an online black market. Jazz is able to connect some of the goings-on to Irving Garrison, the ultimate villain from the first book who she’s been obsessed with the past 14 months. And while all this is happening, Jazz and Frankie are also trying to decide whether or not they should adopt another child plus Frankie’s trying to deal with Jazz pushing her away again.
Overall I liked this book, it was a little less gory than the first book, which I appreciated, but I also thought there was a little less suspense and action in the plotline than the first book. I felt more like this book was an important piece of the story but was acting as a middle part to the story where we are building up to a grand finale, which I’m assuming is coming in the third book. I did find some of the transitions into new days or new scenes to be a bit short or choppy and sometimes I had trouble following the flow of information. Also some pieces of Jazz’s inner monologue seem almost forced or awkward. Other than that this was a good continuation of the series I think and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the third book in the series.

The bottom line: I thought this was a good mystery novel, it felt more like a filler book to keep the series going but those are important too. Good mystery, looking forward to Book #3.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page