Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Black Fall by Andrew Mayne

Title: Black Fall
Author: Andrew Mayne
Series: Jessica Blackwood, #3
Published: March 2017, Harper Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

In Black Fall, the third book in the ITW Award-nominated series that began with self-published eBook phenomenon Angel Killer, magician-turned-FBI agent Jessica Blackwood investigates a series of seemingly unrelated, but equally bizarre and sinister, crimes that lead her to the Colorado desert and a town that has, simply, disappeared.

With two big cases under her belt, FBI Agent Jessica Blackwood is learning to embrace her unconventional past as the rising star in a family dynasty of illusionists. Her talent and experience endow her with a unique understanding of the power and potential of deception, and a gift for knowing when things are not always as they appear to be. Once resenting her eccentric grandfather, a brilliant magician in his own right, Jessica now sees him as a mentor and regularly seeks his advice about her work.

But Jessica’s routine surveillance operation becomes a fight for survival when a disturbed young woman, clutching a baby, shows up at the stake-out location and threatens to kill her child. On the same day, an hour after a severe earthquake rocks the eastern seaboard, a strange video goes viral. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Devon has been dead for eight years, yet here he is on camera, predicting the location and date of the earthquake. Jessica is put on the case by her boss, Dr. Ailes, but when Detective Aileen Lewis reports that they’ve found a Jane Doe who matches her description of her attacker, she’s torn between professional duty and a personal desire to find out who the woman was, and why she was killed.

The investigations pull her in very different directions—until they start to converge, leading Jessica to confront something darker, and more powerful, than anyone expected. Something so twisted, only one person could be behind it…the Warlock.

My thoughts: This is the third book in Andrew Mayne's Jessica Blackwood series and I just love this series! It's such a unique series in it's premise and I just cannot get enough of it.

Once again, I found myself completely engaged in the story and hooked from page one. As soon as I started reading, I had a hard time putting this book down - the story just grabs you, and then there's the short chapters that typically end with mini-cliffhangers where you just can't stop reading - you need to find out more about what was just revealed! 

And then there's Jessica - one of my favorite characters! She's endearing because she's so unsure of herself at times and known for her bluntness, yet she's so good at her job that she ultimately ends up getting the case solved. I loved the way she took to Detective Aileen Lewis. I would love to see them work together again - that bond they created just seemed to jive, and the dinner invitation was just priceless! I also like how we get the occasional flashbacks of Jessica's childhood every once in a while - these help give us a better glimpse of who Jessica really is, a more solid picture of her. 

The case that Jessica and her team are working on is quite intense and it never really seems to let up. The tension is so palpable I could feel everyone's nerves as they feverishly worked to solve what was going on. And it seems as if it could have been ripped from today's headlines to some extent - that's a little scary!

This is such a great book and while it can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the two previous books in the series first to have a better understanding of Jessica and all her talents.  Now, hopefully we haven't seen the last of Jessica...I need more of her, more of this magician turned FBI agent!!!

Books in this series:
     1.  Angel Killer
     1.5  Fire in the Sky

     2.  Name of the Devil
    3.  Black Fall


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

Title: The Secrets You Keep
Author: Kate White
Published: March 2017, Harper Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wrong Man and Eyes on You comes a harrowing new psychological thriller about a successful self-help author who suddenly finds her life spiraling dangerously out of control.

What would you do if you realized that your new husband, a man you adore, is keeping secrets from you—secrets with terrifying consequences?

Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She’s still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can’t shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning.

In the beginning, Bryn’s husband Guy couldn’t have been more supportive. But after moving into a new house together, disturbing incidents occur and Guy grows evasive, secretive. What the hell is going on, she wonders? Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered.

As Bryn’s world unravels—and yet another woman in town is slain —she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.

With unexpected, riveting twists, The Secrets You Keep is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that once again showcases Kate White’s extraordinary storytelling talent.

My thoughts: I've long been a fan of Kate White's books, ever since I started reading her Bailey Weggins series - which I am ever so patiently waiting for the next one!!! But her stand-alones are equally engrossing and suspenseful, keeping you engaged and flipping the pages from start to finish. This one was no exception!

I loved the characters in this book. There were plenty to keep you guessing as to whether you could trust them or not and right from the start I was enamored with Bryn - I felt for her, having just been in a horrific car accident and still needing time to recover and get her life back on track. Deciding to spend the summer with her husband in the country instead of staying the city, she is a bit out of her element, and the nightmares she's having aren't helping. But that's only the start.

Kate White hooks you slowly, but boy oh boy does she hook you and soon you find yourself unable to put the book down. You say, "Oh, I'll just read one more chapter"...and then, you find you've read five more and still you can't manage to tear yourself from the pages. This book has twists and turns and secrets and a mystery that haunts you. But, it also delves into the marriage itself of Bryn and Guy. I can't say too much about this without giving any spoilers, but this is something Kate White doesn't often tackle - usually her main protagonists are strong, single females, or if they are married, the marriage itself is not a subject to be questioned. 

I really liked this book. It kept me engaged and guessing throughout - each time I thought I had it all worked out, another clue would be worked out to thwart my guesses. This is the type of book that will consume you until you reach the conclusion - so be ready for some good reading - and be ready to be suspicious of all you meet along the way!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Title: The Cutaway
Author: Christina Kovac
Published: March 2017, 37Ink/Atria Books
Format: ARC e-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher
The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.

My thoughts: There's been a lot of buzz about this debut novel from Christina Kovac and I've been anxious to read it...though a bit apprehensive. Sometimes the buzz is overkill, but in this case, it is well-deserved - this book kept me engaged throughout. 

What I loved most about this book is having it told from the journalist's point of view. This was a nice change of pace from the usual police procedurals that I tend to gravitate towards. Virginia Knightly is an investigative journalist - so we see the investigation from her side. She is one determined, strong-willed, capable reporter who goes after whatever she wants and isn't willing to let anyone or anything stand in her way.  

For some reason, the case of this missing woman haunts Virginia - she can't let this go and is determined to do whatever it takes to not only find out everything about this woman and investigate what happened to her, but to also get the exclusive story for her tv station. This is where the story takes off! And let me tell you - with this case, it is so much more than what it first appears to be.

Having the story told by Virginia means there is no question as to the reliability of the narrator. It also means that we are not only on the case with her at all times, but we also see her in action as the television producer - getting to see the inner workings of the news world was intense at times! 

This was a fast read with a mystery that builds slow, but then comes crashing down at the end. It kept me engaged the entire time and the twists and turns that take place kept me on my toes. I loved the intrigue, the political scandal and the behind-the-scenes look at journalism that we get. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what comes next from Christina Kovac!!! 


Sunday, March 19, 2017

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in March 17


It was a relatively quiet week...despite the crazy snowstorm we had. We ended up with 15 inches - not as much as they were originally predicting, but enough to be a complete nuisance and shut everything down for two days! And since it's stayed cold since, the snow is taking it's time melting. Hopefully that's the last of the snow - I want the warm weather we had only days before this storm came!

As for exercise...I was out shoveling every day - we had quite the fiasco with our plow guy - needless to say, we will not be using him again! It was a good workout, arms and back were quite sore and I ended up with a ton of steps :) This week I'm hoping to make it to a yoga class or two and I'm really loving doing the Leslie Sansone Walking DVD's again - just to change things up a bit!

March Goals: 

  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - met
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - met
  • Eat mindfully/eat enough - met
Here's how last week went:    
Mar 11:  10,227 steps
Mar 12:  9,015 steps

Mar 13:  14,990 steps (Leslie Sansone's 2 Mile Brisk Walk w/ Resistance Band)  
Mar 14:  14,659 steps
(1 hour shoveling) 
Mar 15:  15,732 steps (3 hours shoveling)

Mar 16:  10
,098 steps (1 hour shoveling)
Mar 17:  12
,269 steps (1 hour shoveling) 

Total Steps: 86,990 steps

Audiobooks listened to last week (since I'm not much of a music fan, I listen to books while I walk):

  • Started & Finished The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell, narrated by Colleen Prendergast
  • Started The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg, narrated by Simon Vance

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:                             September:   
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     February:                             June:                            October:

           5K  -  4                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  9                                10K  -                                 10K  -   
     March:                                  July:                             November:
           5K  -  0                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     April:                                    August:                        December:
           5K  -                                     5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -                                    10K  -                                  10K  - 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

Title: The Missing Ones
Author: Patricia Gibney
Series: Detective Lottie Parker, #1
Published: March 2017, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 518 pages
Source: Netgalley via Bookouture
The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My thoughts: I've been on a streak with good books coming from Bookouture lately and this one is certainly no exception! This is Patricia Gibney's debut thriller novel and the start of a new series - double winner in my book!!! 

As soon as I started reading this book, I was hooked. From the prologue to the epilogue, I found myself completely engaged and needing to know just what was going on. And even though this is a bit disturbing at times, it is highly suspenseful and kept me flipping the pages long after I should have been turning out the light! 

With all first books in a series, you need time to set up back stories of the main characters and develop the purpose of your main character's purpose. Well, in this book, we not only get that, but an amazing first case. I love the characters in this series.  

First, there's Detective Lottie Parker - she's a spit-fire, that's for sure! She's certainly got her baggage - she's a widow, has three teenage children, an estranged mom, battles with the bottle, and is constantly at odds with her boss. She's a flawed character for sure!  Then there's Lottie's partner, Boyd - I just might have a little crush on him! He's the perfect balance to Lottie - he seems to be able to handle her, calm her down when she's being just a bit unrational and unbalanced and can talk her down. And he seems to have a bit of a thing for her, too! I love watching these two work together. The rest of the team - Lynch and Kirby - make up a good team and I look forward to getting to know more about each and every one of them.

The case itself that Lottie and her team were called to investigate in this first book was shocking and disturbing at times. It seemed to be all over the place, with many possible perpetrators, therefore making it difficult to guess who the guilty party really is. It takes us on a roller coaster of a ride, with plenty of twists and turns.

I really enjoyed this first installment in Patricia Gibney's new series and look forward to getting to know these characters more. This first book starts with a bang and really holds up the entire time, even though it was a rather long book! Hopefully we don't have to wait too long for the next one!!!  

Books in this series: 
  1. The Missing Ones
  2. The Unwanted - due out ???


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