Review: The Dragon’s Promise (Six Crimson Cranes #2) by Elizabeth Lim

The Dragon’s Promise (Six Crimson Cranes, #2)The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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The Dragon’s Promise is the follow-up to Elizabeth Lim’s fabulous YA-Fantasy novel, Six Crimson Cranes.

I have had this on my shelves since its release, but couldn’t read it, because I hadn’t gotten around to reading the 1st-book yet. Also, a long-time veteran of my shelves.

Earlier this month, I finally decided to pick up Six Crimson Cranes and I absolutely adored it. I fell in love with the world, as well as the characters. I had to have more.

After the heart-breaking conclusion to SCC, I needed to know immediately what was going to be next for our protagonist, Shiori. There were a lot of possibilities.

This story begins with Shiori now in possession of the powerful dragon’s pearl. Her goal is to return it to its original owner, but that is not to be an easy task.

At its heart this is a quest, which works well for me as that’s one of my favorite Fantasy tropes. It also features most of the characters that I grew to love in the first installment.

We travel to places such as the dragon realm and to Shiori’s step-mother’s homeland. The brothers are back supporting Shiori and offering her guidance when she needs it.

Her love interest, Takkan, also played a role here and I ended up loving him even more after this. They have the cutest relationship. The way it developed over the course of the two books just feels so natural. They’re easy to root for.

While I still loved the writing, the characters and the world, I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first book.

I know this doesn’t get said a lot, but I actually wish this had been longer. By that, what I really mean, is that I wish it had been broken into two books.

This feels, in a way, like two distinct stories. We have the first part, where Shiori gets to travel to the dragon realm. In the second part, she returns to the mortal realm and travels around there and does what she needs to do.

Personally, I loved the dragon realm and wish we could have spent more time there. There was a lot of political happenings and interesting new characters that I wanted to know more about.

Then in the same vein, the mortal realm section was just as interesting, but I also wanted to know more. It just felt rushed and like the two halves were smooshed together, when Lim’s fantastic writing could easily have carried this into two separate books.

With this being said, I still really enjoyed this story. It’s actually a compliment to say I wanted more.

I loved how quickly this kicked off. Having read the two books pretty much back-to-back made this a seamless experience for me. I love the lore behind the dragon pearl and learning more about that along with Shiori was so fun.

I can’t wait to the get to the prequel, Her Radiant Curse, which tells the story of Shiori’s step-mother, Raikama.

She is actually one of the most intriguing characters in this series for me, so I am so happy that prequel exists. She needs her time to shine!

I would recommend this series to anyone who loves YA Fantasy, particularly stories that incorporate fairy tale elements, or quests. Elizabeth Lim’s writing never disappoints. It’s always engaging and fast-paced.

Thank you to the publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it. This is a fabulous series!!

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Review: Her Lost Soul (Detective Maria Miller #2) by Helen Phifer

Her Lost Soul (Detective Maria Miller #2)Her Lost Soul by Helen Phifer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Her Lost Soul is the 2nd-installment to Helen Phifer’s Paranormal Mystery series, Detective Maria Miller.

As the name suggests, this series follows Detective Maria Miller and her partner, Frankie Conroy, as they investigate possible paranormal cases, in and around NYC.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Haunting on West 10th Street, so was looking forward to being reunited with Maria and Frankie.

Just to be clear, this is actually a Paranormal Mystery series. I know a lot of Readers enjoy the feel of, is it paranormal, is it not, but then when it comes right down to it, they don’t actually enjoy a paranormal conclusion, or explanation.

This isn’t a Scooby-Doo situation, where the mask is pulled off at the end to reveal the old librarian, who has been tricking everyone with mirrors and lighting effects.

The case in this novel is the disappearance of 17-year old, Riley Holt, daughter of a local Sheriff, who went missing while exploring an abandoned asylum with some friends.

Inspired by media such as Ghost Adventures, the four teens entered the asylum to explore and have some fun. Things start getting creepy though and in a sudden panic, they all flee, only noticing once they are outside that Riley is no longer with them.

Since the asylum is believed to be haunted, and after vigorous searching, no signs of Riley are found, Maria and Frankie are called in to take over the case.

As known experts in all things unexplainable, they seem like the right people for the job.

Maria and Frankie are forced to dig into the dark history of the asylum, leaving no stone unturned in their desperate search for Riley.

As with the first book in the series, this one also contains a historic perspective that is in some way connected with the current investigation.

In this case, we follow a patient at the asylum in 1960. We go back and forth between her experiences at the asylum, including the people she interacts with, and Maria and Frankie’s investigation.

I did really enjoy this. It didn’t hit as hard for me as the first book, I think because I didn’t find the mystery as creepy as that first one.

Also, it almost felt too short. I would have enjoyed a longer build-up to the final showdown and some more explanation as to how this was all resolved. I know what the results of the resolution are, but am unclear how we got there really.

With that being said though, I still found the back-and-forth perspectives intriguing and loved learning more about Maria. She’s a fun protagonist. I feel like I can relate to her and I enjoy the chemistry that she has with Frankie.

I am absolutely planning to continue on with this series. I hope there are a lot more future installments. They’re fun, light reads, that can help you forget about life for a while. Finally, two thumbs up for the audiobook format.

Thank so to the publisher, Storm Publishing and Dreamscape Select, for providing me with copies to read and review. I am looking forward to more Maria Miller!

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Review: You Know What You Did by K.T. Nguyen

You Know What You DidYou Know What You Did by K.T. Nguyen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You Know What You Did is an intensely-suspenseful Mystery/Thriller debut from a hot up-and-coming author, K.T. Nguyen. And what a crackling debut it is!!

This story follows a fascinating-MC, Anh Le, who goes by Annie. She’s married, and the mother of a teenaged daughter. Annie is also an artist, although she’s feeling unsatisfied with her career lately.

In fact, a few aspects of Annie’s life are beginning to derail after the passing of her Mom, a Vietnam War refugee, who Annie had a contentious relationship with.

Annie’s mother had been residing in an out-building on their family property, so she had been a fairly constant presence in Annie’s life.

The loss impacted Annie in a lot of unexpected ways. Her severe-OCD comes roaring back and the dark fixations of her mind seem to be morphing into her reality.

When Annie’s most wealthy patron goes missing, shortly after Annie visited her home, the police come knocking.

The disappearance is shocking and it has Annie questioning everything, even herself. She can’t seem to keep current events straight in her mind.

She’s confused about many things and it’s scary. She begins to distance herself from her family and friends.

With Annie’s husband traveling for work, and her daughter off to summer camp, Annie is left to her own devices. As you can imagine, that doesn’t go well.

Waking up in a hotel, with a lifeless body beside her, Annie has officially hit rock bottom. The police are back and she doesn’t have answers that make sense, not even to herself.

Y’all, I loved this. I found it completely engaging, creepy and thought-provoking. K.T. Nguyen delivered all the tense, claustrophobic, desperate, unreliable narrator vibes that I could ever hope for.

I found it so easy to connect with Annie. I felt everything she was feeling. It made me incredibly anxious, but in a good, entertaining way, if that’s possible. There were times that I was crawling out of my skin of anticipation.

I was sympathetic to Annie’s character from the start, particularly since I couldn’t stand her husband, or her daughter. It often felt like they were ganging up on Annie and were just not giving her any slack.

I was happy when they both left, so Annie could be alone. Although it definitely didn’t help her mental state.

It’s funny, I was Buddy Reading this with a friend and she mentioned, like how much is what Annie is relaying to us about her husband and daughter true? Could it be her paranoia? Part of her mental spiral? Or were they really being that rotten to her?

It’s so funny, I didn’t even consider that before she said it, but yeah, Annie’s mental state definitely added so much to the suspense of this story. It was an exceptionally well-executed unreliable narrator situation.

I absolutely loved Nguyen’s writing. The character work in particular, I was so impressed. I enjoyed not only the suspense and mystery of this story, but Nguyen also chose to tackle some difficult topics, such as the immigrant experience and mental health.

I enjoyed the levels of depth that these topics added to the story. This is more than just your standard Popcorn Thriller. This story has meat and I enjoyed every bite.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a taut, engaging and emotional Mystery/Thriller. Particularly, if you enjoy an unreliable narrator.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton, for providing me with a copy to read and review. If this is her debut, I cannot wait to see what Nguyen delivers next!!!

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Review: The Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson

The Forest Demands Its DueThe Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

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The first thing that attracted me to The Forest Demands Its Due was the stunning cover. It’s 100% my go-to aesthetic.

The colors, the imagery, even the font, I had to know what it was about. After reading the synopsis, I wanted it ASAP.

In this story, set in Winslow, a small town in rural-Vermont, we follow Douglas Jones, a recently enrolled student at the prestigious Regent Academy.

Douglas differs from the other students. He’s there because his Mom works there and he got in a bit of trouble elsewhere. He’s a scholarship kid. He’s not rich like the other kids, and really doesn’t expect to get the same experience out of Regent as they do.

Douglas simply wants to keep his head down and quietly make it through the year. Unfortunately, some of his peers are bound to make that goal challenging.

Douglas is on edge at Regent as it is, but after the mysterious death of a fellow student, one which only he seems to remember, Douglas is more sure than ever that something is off at the ivory-towered school.

When he meets Everett, the groundskeeper’s son, and discovers that Everett remembers the murdered boy too, Douglas decides he needs to find the truth. What in the heck is going on at Regent?

In his search for answers, Douglas uncovers a giant horde of secrets kept by the locals. Not only that, he’s awakened the horrific entity hiding at the heart of the forest surrounding the school.

Will Douglas be able to harness his inner power and defeat this formidable enemy before all of Winslow is destroyed?

He doesn’t know, but he’s certainly going to try and his new friend, Everett, plans to be with him every step of the way.

This isn’t a perfect book, but I did enjoy a lot of what the author created here. Douglas was great MC to follow and learn about. I loved his narrative voice. Additionally, the ideas behind the Horror elements were strong.

I enjoyed the blending of Social Horror with the Folk Horror-evil forest elements. The private school setting was well done and Jackson successfully set an ominous tone from the start. I think this truly deserves a higher overall rating, which is why I decided to round up.

At the beginning, it was giving me heavy We Don’t Swim Here vibes, which I enjoyed a lot, so that really helped to grab my attention early. The way Douglas was noticing things at Regent that other people either weren’t noticing, or weren’t admitting to noticing, was hella intriguing.

It felt menacing and heavy. What was going on?

I will admit, some of the plot was hard to track, particularly towards the end when the pace increased. I think some of the confusion came from the magical elements. I never felt like I had a full grasp on the magic system.

Overall though, I felt like the characters and setting were well done, and I enjoyed thinking about the different social topics explored.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA Social Horror, or Haunted Forest stories. Also, if you are looking for a Diverse, or Queer YA Horror read, this is a strong recommendation.

Thank you to the publisher, Quill Tree Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am looking forward to reading more from Kosoko Jackson.

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Review: The Yacht by Sarah Goodwin

The YachtThe Yacht by Sarah Goodwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hannah has been best friends with Libby and Maggie since they were kids. As they’ve aged into adulthood though, their lifestyles have taken them in different directions.

Libby and her husband Ollie are incredible wealthy. Maggie, a successful fashion designer, and her husband, Leon, are quite wealthy as well.

Then there’s Hannah, who has struggled since Uni. She’s not flat broke or anything, but in comparison to the other two gals, she’s definitely the ‘poor’ friend.

Hannah would be lying if she said that the differences didn’t make her self-conscious. They do, but they’re her oldest and dearest friends. They love her really. Don’t they?

For New Year’s Eve, Libby decides to throw an intimate party on their yacht, located at a marina in Italy. It will be just her, her husband, Ollie, Maggie, Leon, Hannah, and their other dear friend, Harry, a recently successful artist.

Hannah is excited, but also anxious. It’s just another chance for Libby to rub her nose in their money. Nevertheless, Hannah decides to go and make the best of it. Of course, she has to drive like 11-hours, or something ridiculous to get there, because she can’t afford the plane fare.

The party is…let’s say, eventful. By the time Hannah gets herself to her cabin that night, she’s happy to be away from the lot of them. She’s ready for morning to come so she can get the hell out of there and never look back.

As she awakes the next day, hungover and anxious to leave, Hannah makes a startling discovering. The yacht, previously docked at the marina, has now been set free. They’re adrift, unpowered, with no harbor in sight.

The New Year’s Eve party has suddenly turned into a desperate fight for survival, but how and why?

When someone disappears, the stakes are raised even higher? Is there a murderer in their midst? Will any of them survive, or will they all go down with the ship?

The Yacht is the epitome of a Popcorn Thriller. We have an exciting destination, an OTT-circumstance, an unlikable group of characters and a fast-paced race to the end.

I had a lot of fun reading this. I enjoyed Hannah’s perspective. There were times, of course, when I wanted to shake her, but I was also fully in her corner.

Some of these other characters were absolutely reprehensible and I wanted to get away from them as badly as Hannah did.

I enjoyed how Goodwin truly turned this one into a survival story, in the truest sense of the term. That bit was unexpected and I liked that she actually took it there.

I was happy to go along with Hannah on this journey. Even though my heart broke for her at times, particularly in the last couple of scenes, I was pleased with her growth and the ultimate conclusion.

I would recommend this one to any Reader who loves OTT-dramatic, messy friendship stories. Particularly if you are into Survival Thrillers.

Thank you to the publisher, Avon, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m looking forward to more from this author!

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Review: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

The Bad Ones: A NovelThe Bad Ones: A Novel by Melissa Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Bad Ones is the latest from beloved YA-author, Melissa Albert. I was immediately drawn to this stunning cover.

It screams beautiful darkness and that’s definitely the mood that this story delivers. The dark atmosphere was a hit for me, as well as the moody, yet fluid and engaging prose.

In this story we mainly follow Nora, whose estranged best friend, Becca, goes missing at the very start of our tale. We also learn of some other residents of their town who all go missing on that same night.

While many adults in her life feel like Becca, who has had a tumultuous life, has most likely run away, Nora knows that isn’t the case.

It’s not just the cryptic message Becca left her on the night she disappeared, Nora can just feel in her heart that something sinister is afoot.

The Reader follows along with Nora as she steadfastly searches for the truth. As Nora begins her investigation, she receives what she believes are coded messages from Becca.

These lead her to examine a local legend, known as the goddess, whose forgotten origins, even played a roll in Nora and Becca’s own childhood games.

I really enjoyed this. I found the premise so interesting and enjoyed learning about the local lore that helped to build out the heart of this story.

I feel like Readers are going to be hit or miss on Nora’s narrative voice, but for me, I really enjoyed her. She’s blunt and a bit morose, but personally, I felt like that helped develop the overall tone of the story.

I did have the pleasure of listening to the audiobook and I feel like the narrator, Emma Galvin, did an incredible job bringing Nora to life. I truly felt like I was listening to this character relay her story. It was so well done.

Nora does end up making a new friend, James, who aids her in her search for truth. I enjoyed their relationship. Nora is the type of character who pretty much keeps to herself, but James was able to help break down some of her walls.

At first I wasn’t sure if I trusted him. He seemed too cool for school, but I liked the way his character was able to draw Nora out of her shell. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of their relationship, I feel like he played his part by giving Nora the confidence boost she needed in her search.

There were a couple of small things, in the reveal of the truth, that structurally, I may have preferred formatted differently, but who am I to judge how this author chooses to tell this story? I might not have written it this way, but then again, I’m not a writer, so what do I know?

I’ll be honest, not a lot, but I do know that I really enjoyed the reading experience. It delivered me the dark, supernatural vibes and ‘small town full of secrets’ atmosphere that I was hoping for. It kept me engaged and guessing throughout and it made me even more excited to read future works from this author.

Thank you to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Melissa Albert continues to impress me with her captivating concepts, interesting characters and beautiful writing. The Bad Ones is available now!!

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Review: Five Bad Deeds by Caz Frear

Five Bad DeedsFive Bad Deeds by Caz Frear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

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Five Bad Deeds is suspenseful Domestic Drama from one of my go-to authors, Caz Frear.

I really enjoyed all the books in the Cat Kinsella series by this author, so was looking forward to this standalone novel. The synopsis sounded intriguing and luckily, it delivered.

We do get a few different perspectives in this story, but our main perspective is that of Ellen; a wife, mother, and by all appearances, a good person.

Ellen has a lot on her plate, raising a head-strong teenage daughter, as well as toddler twin sons. She’s currently job-hunting and undertaking a fairly significant renovation on their beautiful family home.

She’s also balancing time with her sister and friends, just trying to keep all the balls in the air.

When the first sinister note arrives, Ellen can hardly believe it. Is someone threatening her? Who could possibly dislike her so much they would be this cruel? What has she ever done to deserve this kind of ire?

The anonymous enemy doesn’t stop with notes though, it seems this person is truly out to trash Ellen’s life and her reputation. As the threats intensify, Ellen scrambles to figure out who is behind it all and stop them, before it’s too late.

I had so much fun with this. I read 43% in the first sitting. I couldn’t put it down once I started. I loved the perspective shifts and how they were used to build-out the story.

As mentioned above, Ellen is our MC and we are getting her perspective the majority of the time. But every once in a while, mixed amongst the Ellen sections, we get the perspectives of various side characters in her life.

Their perspectives are pretty much solely providing their personal commentary on Ellen. So, in this way, it’s very how you see your life, versus how outsiders see it. It was interesting to me to have it formatted this way.

Ellen’s sister, Kristy, plays a big role in the story, and her thoughts on Ellen were some of the most enlightening, IMO. It’s very true that there are two sides to every story, and it was never more evident than in the sister’s thoughts about one another and their relationship.

This is just the kind of secret-laden, spite-filled Domestic Drama I love. I was captivated by the twisty storyline. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any crazier, it did.

The structure felt unique and I loved how the truth was revealed. It was a bit of a jaw-dropper. Well done by Frear!!

While I understand this type of Domestic Suspense/Drama may not be for everyone, I tend to have a lot of fun with this type of story. I eat it up like cake; it’s so good.

If you are the type of Reader who loves small town stories, with a cast of characters harboring a ton of secrets, than this story may be for you. Also, if you are reading for fun, or escape, and are mainly looking for something to take your mind off life for a while, this could fit the bill.

If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, give it a go. Hopefully, you’ll end up enjoying it as much as I did.

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Paperbacks, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Caz Frear is a go-to author for me. I’m definitely looking forward to whatever she delivers next!

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Review: What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier #2) by T. Kingfisher

What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier, #2)What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

What Feasts at Night is the 2nd-release in the Sworn Soldier series by one of my favorite authors, T. Kingfisher.

When I read the 1st-book in this series, What Moves the Dead, an atmospheric reimagining of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, I believed it to be a standalone novella.

Having loved it as much as I did, imagine my surprise when I learned we were going to be getting more stories following the witty, charming and delightful MC, Alex Easton.

Alex has quickly become one of my favorite character perspectives to read from. Kingfisher channels her signature sense of humor beautifully into this character and reading their perspective feels like you are sitting with a friend, as they tell you the most horrifying vacation stories ever.

In this installment, Alex, along with some of the best side characters ever, including Hod, Angus and Miss Potter, travel to Alex’s family’s hunting lodge, deep in the dark, cold forests of Gallacia.

When they arrive the rest and relaxation they were hoping for is impossible to find, as the caretaker has died and the property is in disarray.

The local village is a titter, claiming that a breath-stealing monster, coming in the cover of night, has taken up residence at the hunting lodge.

While Alex generally doesn’t put much stock in local rumors, or the monsters of lore being real, having just survived what they did at the Usher manor, it’s hard to write off the possibility entirely.

Soon things that Alex could have never imagined, nightmare-like situations, begin to become reality. Maybe something is going on in the lodge after all?

I loved this. I’m already excited to read it again and to get a hard copy for my shelves. I’m not sure what the plans are for the Sworn Soldier series, but I truly, truly hope this is not the last we are going to see of these characters.

Whether there is one more to come, or sixty more, I am here for them all!!

Kingfisher succeeded again in making me care so much about these characters and what was happening to them. Even though this is just a novella, it packs a punch. The atmosphere, plot progression and horror imagery, were all so well done.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a dark, gothic story, following fun and engaging characters. If you enjoyed the first book, I definitely think you will love this one as well.

Thanks to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

I will be keeping my fingers crossed for more Alex Easton!!

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Review: The Traitors by Carissa Ann Lynch

The TraitorsThe Traitors by Carissa Ann Lynch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

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Over 25-years ago, Beechwood Castle was the site of a grisly axe murder. Three teens lost their lives on that gruesome night, while one teen survived. A final girl.

In the aftermath of the killing, the local community was left reeling. In an effort to catch the person responsible, a local cop ended up killing a boy he suspected was the murderer, but as it turns out, he was most likely innocent.

The castle has had a rocky history every since, the grounds falling into ruin. Now six people have received invitations for an overnight stay at the infamous castle. The selling point, the chance to win a portion of a million dollar cash payout.

All they need to do, make it a full 24-hours on the property.

From the publisher:

Six people walk into the house. One of them is an imposter, all of them are traitors, which of them will survive the night?

The Traitors is a hoot! It definitely reads like a B-Horror film, but y’all know that I have no problem with that.

It gets categorized as a Locked-Room Mystery, and while I guess I can understand that comp, to me it’s the classic set-up for a blood bath of a Horror Thriller.

Sure, there’s some mystery as to who is killing people, but to me the blood and brutal slayings sort of take center stage. It is a And Then There Were None format, but with much more of a heavy-handed Horror slant.

That’s all semantics though, either way, it’s a fun time.

I enjoyed the initial character set-up. Getting to meet each of the six people who received a Willy Wonka-esque Golden Ticket invite for the overnight stay at Beechwood.

I was instantly reaching for the popcorn as the drama of this cast of unlikable characters began. They each had their own motivations for being there, but who wasn’t supposed to be there at all? That was the question.

It seems someone has infiltrated and they begin picking off the competition one-by-one. Is it as simple as that though, or is something else going on?

I had a lot of theories as to what was going on. It’s all a bit chaotic, but there’s never a lack of action. Lynch keeps the pace going at a nice steady speed throughout.

The twists and turns were surprising and they kept me engaged. I wasn’t just eating the popcorn, I was throwing it at some of these characters.

This is the third novel I have read by Carissa Ann Lynch and I’ve had fun with them all. They don’t take themselves too seriously. We’re all just here for a good time.

I would recommend this to anyone who just wants a fun, quick-paced, intense, OTT-dramatic weekend read. If you enjoy multiple kills, unlikable characters and an ominous setting, you absolutely need to check this out.

I enjoy all of those things and feel like this novel checks all those boxes.

Thank you to the publisher, One More Chapter, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had fun with this and am definitely planning to pick up more from Carissa Ann Lynch!

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Review: Murder, She Wrote: Fit for Murder (Murder, She Wrote #57) by Terrie Farley Moran

Murder, She Wrote: Fit for MurderMurder, She Wrote: Fit for Murder by Jessica Fletcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fit for Murder is the 57th, and latest installment, in the long-running and beloved Cozy Mystery series, Murder, She Wrote.

If I am counting correctly, this is the 36th-book that I have read in the series. I absolutely adore Jessica Fletcher. These are my go-to, number one, comfort reads.

They’re nostalgic, relaxing and always entertaining. I just love MSW and its intrepid amateur sleuth.

This mystery is entirely set in Jessica’s hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine. As much as I love when Jessica travels, getting to learn about different places and being dazzled by new settings, I do always love a story set in Cabot Cove.

I enjoy the comfort of being with Jessica at home, surrounded by her very best friends, and often nosy neighbors. This installment was no exception to that.

This mystery involves a new-to-town fitness instructor, Martin Terranova, who causes quite the stir by paying a little too much attention to some of his older clientele.

One woman in particular, Bertha Mae Cormier, whose property abuts Terranova’s gym, appears to be of particular interest to the trainer, decades her junior.

When one-time Cabot Cove Gazette editor, Evelyn Phillips, points out the startlingly-unbalanced relationship to Jessica, she can’t help but agree.

The optics aren’t great, but what could Terranova stand to gain from a relationship with Bertha Mae?

Shortly after Terranova comes to Jessica’s attention, he is found dead in his weight room. Before you even say it, no, Jessica didn’t do it. We all know that, but someone did.

We go along with Jessica as she digs into Terranova’s past and tries to suss out the killer.

With Jessica’s friend Evelyn as the leading suspect, the clock is ticking. Jessica needs to get to the bottom of this and quickly, before Evelyn takes the fall.

This was a fun one. I love how in a tither the whole town got about this guy’s presence. It was like they had never seen a personal trainer before. People flocked to him, but were also highly suspicious of everything he did.

There were a lot of interactions amongst the townspeople during Jessica’s investigation and I really enjoyed that. Many of the characters, most actually, we’ve met before in previous installments, so it was fun seeing them again.

I also enjoyed Evelyn being back and she and Jessica working together. Evelyn is bullheaded and has a tendency to steamroll through anything in her path, but Jessica seems to be a calming force for her. That worked well here.

There was some drama included involving the town Budget Office, which I wasn’t expecting and frankly, I’m not sure why was included. The book was exciting enough just following the mystery surrounding Terranova’s murder.

With that being said though, that was really the only thing I felt was a little wonky. Overall, I have been so delighted with Terrie Farley Moran being at the helm of this series.

Since the passing of the series original author, Donald Bain, Farley Moran has done the best job of capturing the original tone and feel of the series. I am so happy this long-running series is still going strong and I will continue to pick them up for as long as they are published.

Thank you to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Another great installment from Terrie Farley Moran. These books are the epitome of Cozy to me, and I’ll continue reading them until the end of time. Keep ’em coming!!!

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