Icon Tag: Murder

Review: The Lost Children by Helen Phifer

Posted November 6, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review:  The Lost Children by Helen PhiferThe Lost Children by Helen Phifer
Series: Detective Lucy Harwin #1
Published by Bookouture on March 24th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…
For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to an ancient gurney...
Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging the asylum’s wrongs.
What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.
As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose?
An absolutely terrifying and gripping thriller that will chill readers of MJ Arlidge, Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott to the bone.

On her first day back to work after her last case ended in a devastating murder, Lucy Harwin is thrown into another case where a ruthless killer seems to be out to get everyone who did wrong back when The Moore Asylum was open. Past blends with the present as Lucy must figure out what had happened in the Asylum all those years ago and who would be responsible in committing such brutal murders before they strike again.

I don’t know how to feel about this book. It started out strong and interesting. I liked the flash back to the past and learning about the Asylum, even thought what they did to those kids made my stomach turn it was weaving to be an interesting ARC.

Half way through the flashbacks stopped prematurely I feel and I never got the feel scope of why the killer decided to avenge, I felt like we did not get the full story of what drove the killer and the author probably should have stuck with it.

On top of it, I did not really know how Lucy came to the conclusion of who the murderer is because I felt like it could have been a number of people from the flashbacks. This of course leads back to me feeling like that particular part was left undeveloped. There was also one clue that threw me off, because when we get the murders perspective, the second murder smelled aftershave, which you would assume is usually associated with a man?

I also wished the characters were more likable, but outside of Mattie – Lucy’s partner – who I tolerated, everyone else was really hard to like. Lucy in particular was hard to like. She is a workaholic who spends a lot of time focusing on her work, which is expected with the type of work she is doing. But Lucy also drinks a lot and has a really rocky relationship with her teenage daughter. There was one scene in particular that made me dislike Lucy more when she came home to a ransacked bedroom and automatically assumed that her teenage daughter was responsible for it. Based on what? Her daughter does not live with her. So she drives to her ex-husband’s house and lays into her daughter without bothering to give her even one brief benefit of a doubt.

Lucy started to become redeemable at the end as she did her best to fix her relationship with her daughter, but I wasn’t sure I was feeling her character anymore.

The story does feel like you are thrown into a middle of the series because Lucy is in the middle of a therapy session after her last case goes haywire. Unfortunately, we only get bits and pieces of this later on in the book.

Overall the plot could have been more interesting, a killer taking out revenge from the past? Sure. Flashback to the Asylum? Sure. But it all somehow fell flat in the end and a bit underdeveloped. I enjoyed myself when I wasn’t frustrated but it could have been so much more and it wasn’t.

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Guest Review: This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

Posted October 28, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 Comments

Morning everyone! Sophia Rose is back on the blog today with a guest review and she has an interesting one for you. A historical mystery set in England of 1919. That sound fun already. Read on to see what Sophia Rose thought of the book.

Guest Review: This Side of Murder by Anna Lee HuberThis Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber
Series: Verity Kent #1
Published by Kensington Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Great War is over, but in this captivating new series from award-winning author Anna Lee Huber, one young widow discovers the real intrigue has only just begun . . .
An Unpardonable Sin?

England, 1919. Verity Kent’s grief over the loss of her husband pierces anew when she receives a cryptic letter, suggesting her beloved Sidney may have committed treason before his untimely death. Determined to dull her pain with revelry, Verity’s first impulse is to dismiss the derogatory claim. But the mystery sender knows too much—including the fact that during the war, Verity worked for the Secret Service, something not even Sidney knew.
Lured to Umbersea Island to attend the engagement party of one of Sidney’s fellow officers, Verity mingles among the men her husband once fought beside, and discovers dark secrets—along with a murder clearly meant to conceal them. Relying on little more than a coded letter, the help of a dashing stranger, and her own sharp instincts, Verity is forced down a path she never imagined—and comes face to face with the shattering possibility that her husband may not have been the man she thought he was. It’s a truth that could set her free—or draw her ever deeper into his deception . . .

I first noticed this author’s regency era mysteries and they seemed good. Then I noticed that she was starting a whole new series of historical mysteries and they were to be set post WWI with a clever former Secret Service heroine. Immediately, I chose to go with the shiny new series though after reading, This Side of Murder, I do very much need to go back for the older, Lady Darby series, too.

The book was an engaging blend of history and mystery with a whiff of romance. The heroine, Verity Kent, is a war widow who is living on the edge as a way to push back the shadows of grief. This island house party hosted by a friend of her dead husband is not one she would have attended save for the cryptic letter accusing Sidney of treason. Nothing feels right about the party from the atmosphere to the other guests to the hosts themselves and then someone dies…

I was bowled over by this author’s gift for time, setting, and atmosphere. I had no trouble believing this story was from the ’20s or that the characters had all been touched by the horror of war in their own ways. Verity was a character gem and I enjoyed exploring her world and watching her backstory and personality develop as things progressed. She wants to move on with her life after Sidney and the war, but she can’t seem to let go. And now there is Max who seems to awaken feelings in her even while he is also a suspect in the current situation and so cannot be trusted entirely.

The mystery was complex. It was a current murder mystery that was strongly connected to a secret past incident that ties all the house party guests together and makes them suspects. Just when I thought I had a grip on the answer there was this huge twist at the end that showed me I only had a partial answer.

All in all, I was thrilled with my first encounter with the author and her new lady sleuth. I will definitely be exploring further mysteries with Verity and also want to go back for the Lady Darby ones as well. Historical mystery fans should definitely give this a try.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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2 Quick Book Reviews

Posted October 6, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

2 Quick Book ReviewsDeath by Eggnog by Alex Erickson
Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery #5
Published by Kensington Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Krissy Hancock is staying in her adopted hometown of Pine Hills, Ohio, for Christmas this year--and she even has a whole week off from her combination bookstore-cafe. But a killer is about to dampen her spirits . . . Unfortunately, Krissy's been roped into filling in for a sick elf in the local holiday musical extravaganza. With a demanding director, backstage gossip, and two men in fierce competition for the starring role, it isn't all sweetness and Christmas lights. Then a murder puts a stop to the production, and Krissy is faced with a pageant of suspects. Could her ex-boyfriend, a fellow elf, really be the culprit as the police are claiming? Or will the actor playing Santa be trading his red suit for an orange jumpsuit? When her behind-the-scenes investigation starts getting dangerous, the only thing Krissy really wants is to make it to Christmas dinner alive. But first she'll have to finish wrapping up this case . . .

After her father cancels their Christmas plans, Krissy Hancocks finds herself staying home for the holidays. Already taken time off from work, one of the towns people ropes her into helping with a Christmas play. Everything seems to be going fine until the very crude Santa is found dead in his dressing room and the person suspected of murder is no other than Krissy’s ex-boyfriend who now wants Krissy to clear his name.

I enjoyed this for the most part, I thought it was interesting and it seems like a great read for Christmas with a small town setting and a group of people who really love the holidays.

This would have been a 4 star read, but I took half a star off because of who done it in the end. I thought it came out of no where and the reason was just like, blah, really? It felt a bit disappointing.

2 Quick Book ReviewsSugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #7
Published by Harlequin Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!
Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's.
Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…

If you are looking for some holiday reading this Christmas season, look no further. RaeAnne Thayne is an amazing author to pick up when you are looking for a cozy, heartwarming romances. Yes, they are predictable as far as romance goes, but her books are very character driven.

Julia Winston was a lovely librarian character with a big heart that took in two boys in need and gave them a temporary home, even if she knew it would eventually break her heart.

Jamie had quite a lot of heartbreak in his life when it came to women and family, but watching his affection grow for Julia was so heartwarming.

Wonderful characters, sweet romance, and heartwarming writing that just keeps me coming back for more.

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Review: The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Posted May 25, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 32 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  The Kept Woman by Karin SlaughterThe Kept Woman: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
Series: Will Trent #8
Published by William Morrow on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.


Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them.

The author of Pretty Girls returns with an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges its fascinating protagonist into the darkest depths of a mystery that just might destroy him.
With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.
Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found.
Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.
But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.
Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller -- a searing, unforgettable novel of love, loss, and redemption. 
 

Okay, I am kicking myself for not giving Karin Slaughter a try sooner. If you love Crime, Thriller or gritty Mystery and you have not read this author before, you really need to give her a try. This was my first book by Karin Slaughter, but it will not be my last.

The story follows a murder of an ex-cop at an abandoned construction site. A murder that might also be linked to a very wealthy, very powerful and politically connected athlete that has all the money in the world to protect him. A man that Will has already tried to put away due to a rape and has used that power to get away with.

But things are not always what they seem and the crew is about to step into something a lot more dangerous. When a ton of blood at the crime scene implicated Will’s “ex” wife, not only is this case a lot more personal, but a lot more is riding on it.

Wow.. Oh…Wow… I totally adored this. I loved the way the book started with a sneak peak into a scene that sets up the entire investigation. Just as Will, his boss Amanda and partner Faith start to uncover something – there is a brief pause as the author goes back and reveals what had actually transpired through Will wife Angie’s side of the story. It was so messy that it’s scary to think what people with enough money and power can get away with. Angie was a fixer, who got herself involved with the wrong group of people in order to save her daughter. I didn’t know how to feel about Angie, her character was seriously messed up. She had good intentions for sure, but her weird stalking of Sarah (Will’s new girlfriend) and possession of Will was a bit uncomfortable.

That being said, Slaughter is really good at making you feel uncomfortable. The book is definitely not for the faint of heart. The author is really good at the dark and gritty and messy murders. She has really amazing skill at unfolding the story and making the pieces fit together like a great big puzzle. I was left gaping by the end of the book because just as I was starting to think I knew what was going on, nope, she threw in a curve ball.

Her characters are amazing and so human. So flawed, but they feel super real and believable. The entire book was just enjoyable.

I did take a star off only because despite me loving the curve ball and the ending – I was a bit reserved on the plausibility of it.

Regardless, I am looking forward to more from this author and definitely revisiting her other books. Because her writing is great and just hooks you from the very first page.

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Review: I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk

Posted March 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel BjørkI'm Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk
Series: Holger Munch & Mia Kruger #1
Published by Penguin Books on March 14th 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

International bestseller Samuel Bjork makes his US debut, a chilling and fast-paced thriller in which two detectives must hunt down a vengeful killer--and uncover the secret that ties each of them to the crime A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree and dressed in strange doll's clothes. Around her neck is a sign that says "I'm traveling alone." A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger's first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Kruger, who has been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past. When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number "1" carved into the dead girl's fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning. Could this killer have something to do with a missing child, abducted six years ago and never found, or with the reclusive religious community hidden in the nearby woods? Mia returns to duty to track down a revenge-driven and ruthlessly intelligent killer. But when Munch's own six-year-old granddaughter goes missing, Mia realizes that the killer's sinister game is personal, and I'm Traveling Alone races to an explosive--and shocking--conclusion. "From the Hardcover edition.""

As I am sitting here trying to figure out how to write a review for this book, I think I am slowly coming to terms that I am not positive how to word my feelings.

I’m Traveling Alone is a US debut novel by a Norwegian novelist about two detectives who are in a fight against time to track down a vengeful killer coming after six year old girls. To say that I breezed through this book would be a lie, but not for completely negative reasons.

This book was good. The writing was amazing. Samuel Bjørk is an excellent, creative writer that knows how to pull you in and tell an interesting story that will really pull you right out of your comfort zone.

With the victims in this book being six year old girls, this book was NOT an easy read. It was heart-wrenching, dark and uncomfortable. So even thought the book was completely engrossing, well crafted and a page-turner – I couldn’t finish it in one sitting. I had to take a step back and read something easy in between because being a mother, at times the story was truly terrifying.

I really liked the two main detectives in this story. Mia and Holger grew on me quick and I found myself rooting for them until the very end. Mia comes with a dark past and at the beginning of the book, Mia is in a really dark place. There is mention of alcohol and drug abuse, which can potentially be a bit triggy for some people (thus the content warning). I got to see how being bought back to work on this case with the only other person she cares in the world, pulls Mia back out of this haze she lives in.

There is just so much going on in this book, so much. The killer leaves puzzles for the detectives and it was interesting to see how Mia’s mind works in uncovering these puzzles. It was just so cleverly crafted, which made this book so hard to put down at times – even thought I had to. There are also other storylines that we get a glimpse into and how they end up merging and connecting with the case. There is a church, that’s like a cult and we get to see where that is relevant. It was just so much, but so good and there was just never really a dull moment. The story ran at a steady pace and completely enthralling when not dark and scary. It really did pull me out of my comfort zone as I find stories with children as victims absolutely hard to read. I wasn’t sure if I would like it or would be able to finish it – but I did and I enjoyed it.

My only gripe was I did not understand how Mia came to the conclusion the way she did about the killer. I have to admit, I did not know whodunit. The story follows so much that it could have been any of the people mentioned. Once unveiled, though, I think it was even more frightening. Also the fact that psychopaths like that can exist just really makes you shudder.

Oh, also the writer is Norwegian so the story takes place in Norway, which I think was the best part of this whole experience. I love when books take place outside of the states

Overall, it was gripping, it was intense and compelling. I am glad I read it. These characters really grew on me and I am looking forward to see what’s in store for them next, because they have issues with their own inner demons that they are still battling.

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Review: Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

Posted March 2, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnonBel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon
Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 7th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Bel McGrath loves her work as a wedding chef. But with her latest event set to take place at Shamrock Manor, she just can't seem to catch a break. The Casey wedding has left her with ten thousand greenbacks in the hole, a missing staff member, and a dead groom. Now, in between Guinness beers and pub brawls, Bel must find a way to crack the case--even though what she should be cracking are eggs into the batter of the wedding cake. A good Irish girl's work is never done. . .
What begins as local town fodder for an episode of "Wedding Gone Wild" is turning into "Gangsters with Guns." With the Casey family spiraling out of control, and billable McGrath hours being lost by the minute, Bel is definitely in too deep. With all these shenanigans, she barely has time to obsess over her new boyfriend and her own unsolved mystery from years ago! Time is running out on getting the next couple down the aisle before the so-called luck of the Irish takes a deadly turn... Bel of the Brawl will keep Maggie McConnon's fans, new and old, guessing.

When I first saw the blurb for Bel of the Brawl, I knew I had to read it. It’s a cozy mystery, set in a small town. It focuses on Bel and her family who owns the Shamrock Manor (seriously, I love the name) the family is also very Irish. I didn’t read book one, but I kind of get the feel for it in the second book. There has been a murder and Shamrock Manor is suffering a little because it’s a wedding place, so the brides and grooms have a bit of reservation when it comes to booking their wedding. It also doesn’t help that when they do book, Bel’s father gives them massive discounts.

After managing to book the wedding, despite some obvious concerns, things seem to go smoothly until the end of the wedding when Bel discovers the groom – dead in the women’s bathroom. Now the tip money from the wedding is missing, along with one their server’s, and Irish gangster’s are breaking into Bel’s apartment. Can she sort through all the lies flung at her and uncover the real killer?

This was a quick read. I really appreciated the quick short chapters, with my schedule it just seemed to work out well for me. What I liked most about this book is the sibling relationship between Bel and her brother Cargan. The two are very close in this book and are working on the mystery behind the murder and the disappearing banquet server together.

This book was filled with interesting characters, from Bel’s mother and father to her brothers. I really adored the family and the closeness and how they seem to look out for each other. I absolutely adore the way her mother complains about Bel’s cooking, because Bel likes to branch out and try thing that are outside of her parents or Irish comfort zone.

I followed Belfast (loved her name) as she sorted through the lies and was bold enough to approach some people that she never should have.

Also, there is a secondary ongoing mystery in this series with Bel’s long lost best friend Amy. A girl who disappeared years ago and seemed to have shaken the little town. In this book it seems remains have been uncovered and Kevin (Bel’s friend, ex boyfriend) believes that this might be Amy. New evidence has come to light about that night also that shake Bel’s world.

What didn’t I like?

I found myself a bit peeved at Bel and Kevin. In this book Kevin is also getting married to what seems to be a wonderful woman, but because of the connection they share over this mystery with their disappearing friend – Kevin and Bel find themselves in a lip lock not once but twice now. I guess, that bothers me a bit. Bel has some unresolved feelings for Kevin and Kevin seems to as well – but they are also indirectly hurting Kevin’s soon to be wife, who seems to be Bel’s friend and a wonderful person.

The pacing was interesting, but there seem to be a few things I was left unsure of. I wanted to know what happened to the Irish Gangster and the man that was helping him, Donnie.

The reveal was weird and also felt a bit anticlimactic. If you are looking for a cozy mystery that is really just a bit subdued – this will be for you. Also, I wasn’t sure I was 100% on the same page about the reason behind the murder.

But it was cozy, and it did feel like a page turner for me. I didn’t find this boring at all.

Overall, I loved the Irish family dynamics. I loved the secondary mystery lurking in the background and I enjoyed the authors laid back writing. This series comes with well fleshed out characters, some sibling love and an interesting mystery. I did enjoy following the clues and meeting the town locals. I am looking forward to seeing where this takes us next.

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