2018 Book #8 – In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green

51nqAxpBqbLTitle: In a Cottage In a Wood
Author: Cass Green
Date finished: 1/23/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller,suspense
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 21, 2017 on Kindle (Paperback January 23, 2018)
Pages in book: 321
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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:

Her dream home will become her worst nightmare…

A USA Today and Sunday Times top ten bestseller. This is the dark and twisty psychological thriller from the No.1 ebook bestselling author of The Woman Next Door.

A strange encounter
Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death in the icy Thames below.

An unexpected gift
Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

A twisted secret
But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…

My rating:  4.0 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.

How much fear can one person withstand? 

This book reminded me a little bit of The Girl on the Train, mostly because of the extremely flawed and sometimes unreliable main character. I have to say though I absolutely hated that the main character didn’t have a car – it made me so anxious every time she stepped outside to go somewhere. And (**SPOLIER ALERT**) I should have known from the beginning that a woman was behind the hi-jinks just based on how passive aggressive it was. Not to generalize (but stereotypes exist for a reason) but if a man were trying to scare Neve he would’ve done something much more forceful and in her face. Only a woman would think to leave the radio on all day so that there was no electricity left by the night time and Neve was stuck in the dark, that is just diabolical.

I loved how the author really was able to get inside the reader’s head and make you question whether the things that were happening were real or not. And there was a pretty darn good twist at the end of the book, although I kind of pieced it together it was still really good. While I didn’t love the main character, mostly because of how flawed she was, I did like the character development overall. There were some unanswered questions for me in the story and I don’t like it when villains get to just skip away with no consequences, but overall I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #1 – The Dry by Jane Harper

51MFa84Sb9LTitle: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Date finished: 1/2/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 326
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:

A small town hides big secrets in The Dry, an atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

My rating:  4.0 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 was provided with this copy from BookBrowse and will be participating in an online book discussion, feel free to join us and participate in the discussion!

This book really delves deep into the darker side of humanity and how a mob mentality can twist and morph in a very dark direction. While I thought the town’s treatment of Aaron as an adult was entirely frustrating (he’s a cop and they’re still treating him like a delinquent), the characters and the plot of this book were intriguing and the author did a great job of developing the plot through the twists and turns. The ending really took me by surprise too, I did not expect it to turn out that way. I thought this was a really interesting and engaging read and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book # 57 – Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

51hiXwy2TSLTitle: Duke with Benefits
Author: Manda Collins
Date finished: 7/10/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Studies in Scandal series
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:

LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?
Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.
Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

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 book tells the story of Daphne Forsyth, daughter of the Earl of Forsyth, and Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland. Daphne is one of the recent inheritors of the Duke’s aunt’s estate, left to a group of four woman scholars. Daphne’s scholarly focus is  mathematics, which is why Lady Celeste left Daphne with a specific task. Lady Celeste knew of a clue to a hidden treasure, a cipher dating back hundreds of years. Knowing of Daphne’s skills with ciphers, Lady Celeste left it to Daphne to unravel the clue and find the treasure. But not before trying to play matchmaker once again in asking her nephew (Maitland) to help Daphne find the clues to the hidden cipher. Lady Celeste had been similarly stealthy in Book 1 (Ready Set Rogue) in getting Ivy and Kerr together. But when someone else finds out about the cipher, someone who is willing to do anything to obtain it including murder, Daphne must solve the mystery before anyone else gets hurt. And along the way, Maitland discovers that beneath Daphne’s brusque exterior, there is a heart of gold.
Overall I liked this book. It was a quick and easy read, but was full of romance and danger and mathematical challenges. I love this series overall because the heroines are all so strong and intelligent. I loved that Maitland’s character understood Daphne’s need for independence and respected it, acting more as a support for her than a driver. Some heroes in historical romances can get a little heavy-handed, so it was refreshing to see this change of pace. And Daphne’s character as well was slightly unusual for a historical romance, I think she might be diagnosed with something similar to Asperger’s in today’s day and age based on her inability to look people in the eye, her dislike at being touched, and her difficulties with understanding social interactions. Altogether made for a pretty interesting read. I liked this book and I look forward to reading more in the series. I would recommend!

The bottom line: This was a really good book, I liked the story line and it was a quick and easy read. I like the series overall too, I would recommend!

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2017 Book #45 – The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler

51RzRwlEwRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Mediterranean Caper
Author: Clive Cussler
Date finished: 5/14/17
Genre: Fiction, military
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: July 16, 2013 (40th Anniversary reprint)
Pages in book: 220
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Dirk Pitt Adventure series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

On a quiet Greek island, a U.S. air force base has come under attack—by a World War I fighter plane . . . a famous yellow Albatros supposedly lost at sea in 1918.
Now it is up to Dirk Pitt, Al Giordino, and the rest of the NUMA team to root out the elusive truth behind the incident—and find out how it’s connected to mysterious acts of sabotage against a scientific expedition, an international smuggling ring, and a dark-haired beauty with some dangerous secrets.  The search for answers will lead Pitt from a lavish island villa, to a moving freighter eerily empty of crew, to a massive underwater cavern housing the heart of a criminal operation that is larger and more elaborate than he ever could have imagined . . . a lucrative operation that its mastermind would kill to protect.
With its fearless and dashing hero, high-stakes action, and non-stop excitement, The Mediterranean Caper is classic Dirk Pitt . . . and classic Cussler.

My rating:  1.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (May). This was a military adventure type novel, supposedly in the same vein as an Indiana Jones type novel. Dirk Pitt is called out to a Greek island with his friend Giordino to help with a problem that’s come up. Along the way, through a series of events that could only be arranged by fate, Pitt gets involved in a larger issue: major drug deals and a dastardly villain who is the very definition of evil.
Overall this was not my favorite book. The hero was so cocky and arrogant, I hated it. And it didn’t make any sense how he kept figuring out the scheme/story behind every twist and turn, I couldn’t understand how Pitt seemed to be this all-knowing character. I mean yes he was smart but it was ridiculous how much he knew about each facet of other people’s plans just by guessing. And I think part of the reason I didn’t love this book was because it was written so long ago there were certain things that just were cringe-worthy. In the first 40 pages of the book, Pitt meets a beautiful but sad woman on the beach, backhands her, and then has sex with her all within like a page and it was just so ridiculously unrealistic. So overall not my favorite but I can where it would appeal to certain readers.

The bottom line: This book was not my favorite, it just didn’t capture my interest. The hero’s character didn’t appeal to me personally but I am sure this book would appeal to some.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #38 – I Dared the Duke by Anna Bennett

51QomAefeLLTitle: I Dared the Duke
Author: Anna Bennett
Date finished: 4/25/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Pages in book: 365
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Wayward Wallflowers series
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:

DARE TO FALL IN LOVE
Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.
Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?

My rating:  4.0 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. This book tells the story of Elizabeth Lacey, the middle sister of the Wiltmore Wallflowers. Elizabeth has recently become a lady’s companion to the dowager duchess Blackshire in an effort to make herself feel useful. Having been a wallflower for three years and with one of her sisters recently married, Elizabeth has been looking for something to do with herself, and she has found the dowager duchess to be an engaging friend and conversationalist. When she meets the Duke though, she doesn’t find him as charming as the rumors claim him to be. Alex has recently found himself the target of a couple accidents that seem too odd to be coincidental. He has determined that his grandmother must retire to the country for her own safety until the whole situation gets sorted out. But he didn’t expect to find her being guarded by the fearsome Miss Lacey. Elizabeth is determined that Alex should not send his grandmother away, as it would surely break her heart, but in doing so Miss Lacey is walking right into the crossfires of whatever is threatening Alex.
Overall I really liked this book. Alex was just the right amount of surly and endearing. Beth was charming and kind-hearted. I especially liked how, when describing what Alex liked most about Beth, he admired her for her kindness towards his grandmother. There were numerous times in the book that Alex compliments Beth on things beside just her physical appearance and I really liked that, for a rogue, he wasn’t all that shallow. And I love Beth’s sisters, I especially can’t wait to hear brash Julie’s story. I liked this book a lot and I like the series overall too.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, the story line was interesting and the cast of characters was engaging. If you like historical romances especially, this is a good pick! It is a quick read with a romantic story, just what we all need.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #17 – The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

510KMAZR9FL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Surgeon
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Date finished: 3/15/17
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 21, 2001
Pages in book: 356
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Rizzoli & Isles series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

In her most masterful novel of medical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen creates a villain of unforgettable evil–and the one woman who can catch him before he kills again.
He slips into their homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, unaware of the horrors they soon will endure. The precision of the killer’s methods suggests he is a deranged man of medicine, propelling the Boston newspapers and the frightened public to name him “The Surgeon.”
The cops’ only clue rests with another surgeon, the victim of a nearly identical crime. Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed her attacker before he could complete his assault. Now she hides her fears of intimacy behind a cool and elegant exterior and a well-earned reputation as a top trauma surgeon.
Cordell’s careful facade is about to crack as this new killer recreates, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s own ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. Her only comfort comes from Thomas Moore, the detective assigned to the case. But even Moore cannot protect Cordell from a brilliant hunter who somehow understands–and savors–the secret fears of every woman he kills.
Filled with the authentic detail that is the trademark of this doctor turned author . . . and peopled with rich and complex characters–from the ER to the squad room to the city morgue–here is a thriller of unprecedented depth and suspense. Exposing the shocking link between those who kill and cure, punish and protect, The Surgeon is Tess Gerritsen’s most exciting accomplishment yet.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (March). This book tells the story of a homicide case under investigation in Boston, MA. Some crazy person is running around murdering women and cutting out their uteruses, and Detective Moore and Rizzoli is one of the people assigned to the case. Through their research, Moore and his team come to discover that this exact MO was also unique to a string of murders in Savannah, GA. And the only person to survive that murderer is now living in Boston. Rizzoli feels outnumbered as a woman on the force and feel like she has a lot to prove, so she’s determined to solve this case and put a win in her column, whatever it takes.
Overall I didn’t especially like this book. I thought Rizzoli was a total jerk and didn’t like her character at all. I felt like she was just whining the whole book and her surliness was way past tolerable. I’m all for the underdog but she put herself and her whole team in danger repeatedly. She kept complaining how she was better than everyone else but didn’t get the recognition because she was a woman but to be honest she didn’t seem all that better than everyone else to me. I didn’t understand how one character could be so insecure and so full of themselves at the same time. Also the conversations and other interactions between the characters seemed stilted and forced to me. The tension in this book, which I would have expected to be high due to the sick and twisted nature of the killer, just wasn’t there for me and I found it hard to work up any kind of emotion towards the plot. The mystery itself was good, if somewhat predictable. I enjoyed the plot twists though and found myself somewhat engaged in that piece of the story at least. If you like detective shows or novels then this book might work for you but it just feel flat for me.

The bottom line: I didn’t care for this book very much. The mystery plot line was alright but I hated Rizzoli as a character and the conversations and interaction between the characters was pretty stilted. I have heard this is a popular series but I personally didn’t enjoy this one.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #14 – The Hidden Man by David Ellis

41mczwmlkl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Hidden Man
Author: David Ellis
Date finished: 3/1/17
Genre: Fiction, crime/mystery
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: September 3, 2009
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Series, Jason Kolarich #1
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Jason Kolarich is a midwestern Everyman with a lineman’s build and an easy smart-ass remark. He’s a young, intelligent maverick, but he’s also struggling with an overwhelming emotional burden—one that threatens to unravel his own life, and possibly the lives of those around him.
Twenty-seven years ago, two-year-old Audrey Cutler disappeared from her home in the middle of the night. She was never found. All the detectives had to go on were vague eyewitness accounts of a man running down the Cutlers’ street, apparently carrying someone. Without enough evidence to suggest otherwise, Griffin Perlini—a neighbor with prior offenses against minors—was arrested, but never convicted.
The case is long closed when Perlini is murdered nearly thirty years later. Now a man named Mr. Smith appears in Jason Kolarich’s office, saying only that he represents a third party who wants the man charged with murder off the hook and that Kolarich is perfect for the job. The new client: Audrey Cutler’s older brother, Sammy—Kolarich’s estranged childhood best friend—a man he hasn’t seen in nearly twenty years.
But when Kolarich starts receiving violent threats from Mr. Smith’s enigmatic employer, he figures out that the secrecy behind this nameless third party—and the key to winning Sammy’s case—is entangled with the mystery of Audrey’s disappearance. With his own life and Sammy’s in the balance, Kolarich has to put aside not only the mounting anxiety of the job but also a heart-wrenching personal tragedy in order to find out what really happened to Audrey all those years ago.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (February). This book tells the story of Jason Kolarich, a lawyer who is still reeling from a recent personal tragedy. In the previous few months, Jason had helped to win a high-profile case against the feds, making him somewhat of a local celebrity. But that’s not why a stranger named “Smith” shows up in his office one day demanding legal services. Turns out Jason’s best friend from childhood, Sammy Cutler, has been arrested for the murder of Griffin Perlini, the man suspected of abducting and killing Sammy’s baby sister, Audrey, 20 years ago. Jason doesn’t understand what Smith’s part in all this is but he owes a lot to Sammy, so he takes the case. But when Smith starts dictating how Jason needs to try the case, Jason wonders what the story is beneath the surface. And as Jason defies the rules and tries the case his own way, he learns there are consequences for disagreeing with the people he’s now working for. And when they start trying to use his brother as leverage, Jason decides its time to figure out what’s really going on, even if he has to do it on his own.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was pretty engaging and I loved how kick ass the plot twists were. I ended up enjoying this one more than I expected to, I would probably even read another from the series if I had time. The ending was a little too neat and tidy for me, everything just kind of worked out ok and the bad guys didn’t fight back much in the end. I would have liked it a lot better if Jason had gone through with his threat to cut off a couple of Smith’s fingers, he definitely deserved it. But other than that, I thought the plot was pretty good. It was engaging and was set at a good pace with lots of plot twists, some of which I didn’t see coming at all. This was a good read and I would recommend it, especially if you like a good mystery novel!

The bottom line: I liked this book ok. It isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own but it was interesting. I would recommend it if you’re into crime/mystery novels.

Link to author website

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