Blog Tour: This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

This is How I LiedThis is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

This is how I lied, and this is my truth.

In 1995, 15-year old, Eve Knox was murdered in a cave walking distance from her house.

When she doesn’t arrive home that night, her Mom panics and sends people out looking for her.

Her best friend, Maggie, teams up with Eve’s little sister, Nola, and they ultimately end up finding her body.

Neither girl will ever forget that night.

Twenty-five years later, Maggie, has followed in her Father’s footsteps and is now a detective in her hometown.

Around eight months pregnant, she is currently working desk duty, when new evidence is found related to Eve’s case.

The boot Eve was wearing on the night of her death has been discovered.

The hope is that with new advancements in forensic science, they will be able to extract some DNA that could finally lead to the killer.

The sudden resurgence of interest in the case begins to take its toll on Maggie.

She becomes slightly obsessed with it all over again and starts doing some digging of her own.

The secrets that come to light, it’s a lot. Secrets involving multiple characters.

I had some serious jaw drop moments while reading this.

This is How I Lied is a quick, compelling read.

If you are looking for something to get your mind off real life for a while, look no further. This is it!

I will be honest, there were definitely some elements in this that made me uncomfortable.

Specifically, Nola, Eve’s sister, is a very disturbing character. There are some aspects of her personality that at times, made me want to close this book and never pick it back up again. But I needed to know the truth!

There were also times when I was uncomfortable with Maggie’s pregnancy and the risks she was taking caused some anxiety for me.

As the story unfolds, however, it becomes clear as to why she feels so compelled.

This is a wild story. It is dynamic and engaging.

Oh, the secrets of a small town. You never know what you are going to dig up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Park Row Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

It was a wicked fun read!

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Review: The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

The Familiar DarkThe Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the birth of her first and only child, a girl named Junie, Eve Taggert vows to do a better job than her own mother did.

She spends the next 12-years putting her past far behind her. She never introduces Junie to her Grandmother and tries her best to make sure Junie always feels safe and loved, a luxury she never had.

When Junie is murdered, along with her best friend, Izzy, on a snowy day at an abandoned playground, Eve is shattered with grief.

Her girl was her entire world, her entire purpose, but now she has a new purpose, getting justice for Junie and she may have to go back to her roots in order to get it.

We’re talking some real hillbilly justice.

It’s clear the police, her brother Cal included, are not getting anywhere in their investigation. At least if they are, they aren’t sharing it with her.

So, Eve decides to do a bit of investigating of her own.

One of her first stops is her Mama’s house. A warm reunion it is not, but Eve feels oddly supported for the first time.

Maybe her Mama’s lessons are going to pay off after all.

This book is aptly titled, as it got dark real quick and stayed there. The overall feeling is desperate and depressing, but it worked.

I thought Eve’s character was written so well. I could feel what she was feeling, it hurt and kept me engaged the whole way through.

Coming in at under 300-pages, it is a pretty quick read, but definitely packs a punch.

If you like gritty Crime Fiction with the perfect touch of Hillbilly Noir, you should definitely give this one a shot!

I feel like this is Engel’s wheelhouse; it definitely suits her writing style well. Atmospheric and DARK, just how I like ’em.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Review: A Beautiful Corpse (Harper McClain #2) by Christi Daugherty

A Beautiful Corpse (Harper McClain, #2)A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

One night as Harper McClain is having a few drinks and visiting with her best friend, Bonnie, a bartender at The Library Bar, she receives a call that there has been a shooting.

As an investigative reporter on Savannah’s crime beat, Harper needs to get to that scene and fast.

She’s had a couple of drinks by this point, however, so Bonnie insists on driving her. It’s closing time anyway and she promises not to get in Harper’s way.

Once on scene, Bonnie recognizes the murdered girl as 24-year old, Naomi Scott, a waitress at The Library Bar. In fact, Naomi had been working that very night, having just left the bar for home around an hour before.

Reflecting back on it, they realize, Naomi had seemed a bit frazzled right before she left, but why?

The police believe the perpetrator to be Naomi’s boyfriend, Wilson Shepherd, but both Bonnie and Harper, who know the young man, don’t like him for the crime.

Harper follows other leads that send her down some dark roads against some very powerful people.

With her signature style, Harper doesn’t give up. She is determined to get to the bottom of the case and see justice for Naomi and her family.

This is the second installment to the Harper McClain mystery series. While I wasn’t as engaged with this story as I was with the first book, this was still really strong and enjoyable to read.

One of the things I enjoyed so much about the first book was learning about Harper’s past and the trauma that really shaped the course of her life. There wasn’t as much of her backstory in this one and I kind of missed that.

I love Harper as a character. I feel like her job as a crime reporter is a great way to frame a mystery story. I like her interactions with the local police and how that dynamic plays out.

Additionally, this one had a really intriguing ending that set it up perfectly for the third book.

I believe in the next book, we are going to be learning a lot more about Harper’s mother and I’m so ready!

Overall, this is a great mystery series with a strong female protagonist who needs no one to save her. It’s the perfect time to jump in on the series as well, with the third book releasing next Tuesday, March 10th!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. My apologies for taking so long, it was definitely worth the wait for me. Looking forward to continuing on Harper’s journey!

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Review: Watching From the Dark (DCI Jonah Sheens #2) by Gytha Lodge

Watching from the Dark (DCI Jonah Sheens, #2)Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up **

This was everything I wanted it to be. Gytha Lodge, you have made me a happy girl.

Signing on to his standard 11 o’clock Skype date with his girlfriend, Zoe, Aidan Poole can tell right away something is off.

For one, Zoe isn’t in front of the camera. He observes her, but then she goes into the bathroom and starts running a bath.

Anticipating something kinky may be in the works, he sits back and watches.

Things take a disturbing turn however, when he observes a shadowy figure entering her apartment and then the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Next he hears sounds of a struggle. Zoe is being attacked and there is nothing he can do!

Well, you’re probably thinking, he could call the police. But he doesn’t.

Not right away, anyway. He ultimately does end up calling the next day, but if Zoe were brutally attacked, wouldn’t he want to get her help as soon as possible?

If you think this sounds like an intriguing way to a kick off a story, you’re absolutely right!

When his odd crime report makes its way to the desk of DCI Jonah Sheens, he and his team decide to take on the case.

Soon they discover, Zoe didn’t survive the attack. Now tackling a murder investigation, Sheens and the team dig deep into her life, friend group and mysterious relationship with Aidan.

I really enjoyed the first installment to the Jonah Sheens series, She Lies in Wait, and was highly anticipating this release.

I am happy to report this exceeded my expectations. I feel like Lodge’s writing has matured in such a pleasant way. The investigatory aspects of this were so strong.

I loved being back with Sheens and the other officers. They work so well together as a team and that is nice to see. Often there can be a lot of drama within investigative units, so it is nice to see a group that works together in a supportive way.

I do think this can be read as a standalone, so if you haven’t read the first book, please don’t let that keep you from picking this one up. If the premise sounds good to you, jump on it.

I have a feeling you’ll be adding the first book to your TBR after. As you should, because it is great too!

As for me, I am so excited about the potential for this series. I hope it lasts a long, long time. I know I will be picking up every single one that gets released.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate it. I am looking forward to reading so much more from Gytha Lodge in the future!

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Review: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

A Nearly Normal FamilyA Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Apparently, legal thrillers are something I am into now because I f*ing loved this!!

I listened to the audiobook and I feel it was brilliantly cast and narrated. I definitely think that had an influence on my reading experience.

I thought the format was so clever. The three perspectives were presented in three separate chunks as opposed to alternating back and forth.

The story started with ‘The Father’s’ perspective. Adam, a family man and pastor, tells his side of the story. His relationship with his 18- y.o. daughter, who is now being held in police custody accused of a brutal murder.

He fills in a large part of the narrative and you think you have a fairly good handle on the overall story.

Then we get ‘The Daughter’s’ perspective. Well, she would know, wouldn’t she? She was there. The events happened to her.

But as I love, Stella, is a deliciously unreliable narrator, who openly admits to her outstanding ability to lie and manipulate others.

Her perspective fills in some blanks and of course, creates some new ones.

At this point, I was thinking a lot about how two different people can experience the same things and interpret those events completely differently.

It’s fascinating to think about. I love this type of psychological examination of characters.

Lastly, we get ‘The Mother’s’ perspective. Just when you think you have a super firm handle on the events in question, you discover there’s so much more going on.

Stella’s mom, a high powered attorney, knows how the system works and she’ll do anything in her power to protect her little girl.

While I can see how some readers may find this slow or choppy, I had absolutely no complaints about the writing or the format.

I was hooked into this story, start to finish, and loved how much it made me think outside of the reading experience itself.

Overall, a huge fan of this, recommend to anyone who enjoys a legal or crime drama. Would absolutely recommend the audiobook as well!

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Review: The Janes (Alice Vega #2) by Louisa Luna

The Janes (Alice Vega #2)The Janes by Louisa Luna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the successful conclusion to the missing Brandt girls case, Alice Vega, reputable ‘people-finder’, returns home to California, leaving Max Caplan behind.

They both return to their regular lives, Alice being Alice, and Cap being lovable father to teenager, Nell.

Soon enough, a new case falls in Alice’s lap and it’s no surprise, she calls on dear old Caplan to help her out.

This time, he joins her on the West Coast to investigate the death of two Jane Does and their possible connection to a human trafficking ring.

With their street smarts and unending energy, Vega and Cap have quickly become one of my favorite investigative pairs. The underlying sexual tension is a bonus that is hard to resist.

Although a slow burn, for crime thriller classicists, this story packs a solid punch.

The steadfastness with which Vega tackles each investigation is oddly inspiring and Cap’s dedication to her is lovely to read.

This case, set in San Diego, tackles real life issue of human trafficking, as well as sexual slavery and abused minors. If these are topics that will be sensitive for you, tread cautiously.

The good news is, Vega and Cap are on the case and they never let up.

I’m not sure how much longer Luna plans to write this dynamic duo together, but I hope it is for a long, long time.

I know I will continue to pick them up. As a matter of fact, I am ready for the next one already!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Doubleday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and really look forward to solving another case with Vega and Cap!

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Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Whisper ManThe Whisper Man by Alex North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

This is exactly how I like my police procedural/investigative thrillers. Well done, Alex North!

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy thinks a fresh start is just what he and Jake, his young son, need.

They move into a house in the small town of Featherbank. A town with a sordid past.

20-years ago a serial killer abducted and killed 5 residents. He was captured, tried for his crimes and imprisoned.

The killer’s name was Frank Carter, but he was known to the world as The Whisper Man, as he lured children out of their homes by whispering at their windows.

The Whisper Man has become a bit of a legend in the small town and even decades later seems fresh in the minds of many.

When a boy in Jake’s class gets abducted, the similarities to the Whisper Man crimes, cause many to wonder if he had an accomplice all those years ago, or if there is a clever copy cat in town.

This story follows the perspectives of Tom and Jake, two detectives working the case, and even into the mind of the killer.

I loved the atmosphere of this one. It felt gritty and heavy. Any scene with Jake in it, your classic creepy kid, left me entirely unsettled.

The action was high-intensity and I felt the investigatory portions were well done.

I will admit, I was a little nervous going into this one because I had heard mixed reviews. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely read more books by this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Celadon Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. My apologies for taking so long. It was definitely worth the wait!

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Review: The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets

The Last Woman in the ForestThe Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How well do you really know the ones you love?

When Marian receives an opportunity to work as a dog handler for a biological study researching endangered species in the remote Northwest, she jumps at the opportunity. It is perfect for her. The freedom and beauty of the outdoors, working with dogs and ultimately being able to help the species they are studying.

Before she knows it, she is there, trying to fit in and adjust to her new lifestyle. Her mentor and trainer, Tate, is an attractive man with a strong personality, and as often happens they end up falling in love.

Assignments end up taking them in different directions however, and once separated, something terrible happens to Tate. He dies in a freak accident. Marian is devastated and wants to find out all she can about the circumstances leading up to his death.

Unfortunately, as she is looking into his past, she begins to discover startling inconsistencies about who he told her he was. She begins to harbor great suspicion that Tate may have been involved in the disappearances and murders of multiple women taking place in the area of their studies.

In fact, her feelings are so strong, she ends up contacting the now retired criminal profiler, Nick, who worked the unsolved cases. Between the two of them, the reality of Tate’s life and deeds are slowly pieced together for the reader.

Told in alternating perspectives between Marian, Nick and the killer’s victims, this slow-burn thriller captures perfectly the horror of one man’s deeds set against the beauty and ferocity of nature. I really enjoyed the setting of this and this nature of Marian’s work was also very interesting.

While the narrative was a bit slow, I think the story itself was very well pieced together. It was horrifying for poor Marian to realize how close she slept to death. I felt for her and ended up really enjoying her character as a person; Nick as well.

The scenes told from the victim’s perspectives are very dark and graphic but felt truthful and disturbingly real. The more I sit and think about this story, the stronger my appreciation for it grows.

Initially, I was thinking this would be a 3-star for me but after reading the Author’s Note and really thinking about what she had to say, and the courage it took to write it, I bumped it up to 4-stars. I did really enjoy this and would definitely read more from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) by Robert Galbraith

Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, #4)Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Well done! Goodness I love this series.
Cormoran and Robin impress yet again.

Lethal White, the fourth installment of the Cormoran Strike detective series, kicks off with a bang. A disturbed young man named, Billy, arrives at Strike’s office claiming that when he was just a kid, he witnessed a child’s murder and subsequent cover up. As in, he knows where the body is buried.

While it is clear that Billy is suffering from severe mental health issues, he seems sincerely distressed by his memories and Strike believes him. Before he can get any concrete details however, Billy flees the detective’s office and thus begins Cormoran’s fascination with Billy’s story.

When Strike and Robin begin investigating a blackmail case for a high profile family, they are surprised to discover the two cases may actually be connected.

I love this series so much. Strike and Robin are the best. Currently my favorite detective duo. These books are extremely intricate and the plots never fail to astound me. How Rowling keeps all of the details straight and coherent whilst writing is beyond me.

While this one is not my favorite of the series, I can’t deny how creative and well done this book is. It is really long. Like really, REALLY long and I had moments where I was confused and had to go back a few pages and reread but again, that didn’t turn me off to the series at all. I blame it more on the fact that I had a lot going on in my life when I was reading this than on any fault of the book.

I don’t think I am spoiling anything by announcing here that I ultimately want Robin and Strike to fall in love, get married, have little detective babies and live happily ever after in a flat other than the office.

Will this ever happen? It’s unclear but I feel like if I put it out there in the universe, there will be a better chance of it.

Overall, I really enjoyed being back in the twisted clutches of a Cormoran Strike investigation and am HIGHLY anticipating book #5!!!!

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Review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The ChainThe Chain by Adrian McKinty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As Rachel drives to Boston for an early morning appointment with her oncologist, she thinks her daughter, 13-year old Kiley, is safe, getting on the bus and heading off to school. Then she gets a chilling phone call that rocks her world to its core.

The caller says Kiley has been kidnapped and in order to get her back Rachel needs to pay a hefty ransom and kidnap another child to take her place.

An entity known as ‘The Chain’ is on the other end of the line and they make their money by fusing traditional kidnappings together with the horrifying chain letter concept of the 1980s. They are very detailed in their directions to Rachel. She is not the first and she won’t be last.

Whatever you do, do not break the chain.

Rachel already knows she will do anything they say. Kiley is her whole world and she will stop at nothing to get her back! We follow along with Rachel and her brother-in-law, Pete, as they work around the clock to ensure Kiley’s release.

This dark, crime thriller is highly entertaining! It starts off with a bang and you instantly feel a part of the action. The premise is super creative and I love how intense the majority of the story was. Rachel has to almost immediately transform herself in order to play ‘The Chain’s’ game. She goes from meek, defeated suburban housewife to a criminal mastermind.

I can get behind that.

For me, the pacing was a little off. I did enjoy the first half of the book a lot more than the second half but overall, it’s a solid story. You have to be able to just roll with a few implausible details and have fun with it. That’s what it is meant to be, a fun, wild ride.

McKinty’s writing is engaging and I liked the different perspectives he offered us throughout. It provided a nice wide scope for taking in The Chain’s reach. I particularly liked learning about the villain’s background and early life. Seeing where they were coming from added to the darkness of the story and that’s basically what I am here for.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Mulholland Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and I know a lot of Thriller Readers will enjoy this one!

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