The Last Laugh by Mindy McGinnis

5 stars YA Suspense

It went off the rails pretty quickly!  I suggest that you read the first book in this series before you tackle this book, as you’ll want to enjoy this ride to the fullest effect.  There was quite a bit of drama amongst the characters even before this book began.  As things started to heat up, I had a hard time putting this book down.  Taking off right where the previous book left off, Mindy’s not just wrapping things up inside this book, Mindy begins by stoking up the fire.  Into this dark storyline, I met some fantastic characters that I didn’t trust but they fit perfectly inside this story.  Thanks, Mindy, for that fantastic ending.  

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

4 stars Drama, Fiction

Step away from the fire!  Too many red flags were being raised, all the warning signs were there, yet Emily kept on walking right where they wanted her.  When I first started to read this book, I thought that Emily had caught onto her former bosses’ shenanigans and she was just playing along it but then, the issues started to get pretty deep.  Emily soon realized she didn’t have the perfect job. 

Emily wants to be an actress but for now, she has found temporary work in an office building.    Her acting career, is going nowhere so her temporary position pays the bills, or it did.   Emily has just been fired from her temporary job which just adds to the financial frustration weighing on her shoulders.  Acting sincere, her former boss Scott, offers Emily a position overseas at his home there.  This same boss that just fired her NOW wants to hire her.  Yep, you read that right.  He wants her to work and live in his beautiful home with his wife and child and money doesn’t seem to be an issue??  Do you not see this as an issue?  Hello!  Scott will pop in once and a while but the majority of the time, he won’t be living in that home.  Emily will have a lot to do if she takes the position, as she’ll be the housekeeper, the wife’s personal assistant, and the au pair for their daughter.  How desperate is she?  Pretty desperate.  Emily takes the job and off she goes.

Scott had warned Emily how isolated this fantastic, beautiful mansion was but when she arrives, she finally realizes how remote it really is.  I’m visualizing The Overlook Hotel in Colorado from The Shining isolation and that’s exactly what Emily gets.  Sorry Emily, your cell phone and computer won’t work out here.  They have to have some kind of communication, they can’t expect Emily to be cut off from the world and they should have had that ready for her on Day #1.  Don’t unpack those bags yet Emily, this doesn’t look like paradise to me.

I had to know what the purpose was behind all this.  I felt Emily was being set up for something but why? Who was involved and how far would this go on?  I was definitely motivated by the author’s writing and had a lot of questions as I read.  I was intrigued by the isolation of home and by Emily’s isolation from others, two traits that shouldn’t be mixed together.   This was a page-turner for me: more drama and mysterious than thriller.    4 stars    #TheSafePlace!

A huge thank you goes out to Anna Downes and Minotaur Books for the copy of this book that I received in exchange for this review’s honest opinion. 

Old Country by Matt Query

5 stars Mystery

This was crazy good!  What an interesting concept of a story.  I could feel the adrenaline and fervor in the characters and I loved how the tension built.  You just never know where life will lead you but you should try to do some research before packing your bags. 

Harry was an Afghanistan marine who received an early discharge.  Back on American soil, he continues to fight his own battles.  Harry enrolls in college and he meets his future wife, Sasha.  Finding a secluded piece of land, the couple decides that this will be their new start in life.   Sasha stands beside her husband as he deals with the effects of the war as the couple tries to get used to their new surroundings, isolated from most everyone.   

Where I live, we have four seasons so when their neighbor Dan explains to them about the change of seasons in the countryside, I was prepared.  What I wasn’t prepared for, was when Dan talked about the spirit that lived in the valley with them.  Was he serious?   The more Dan talked about this spirit, the more I knew either he was either trying to scare the couple or Dan was totally serious about what was happening in their valley.  According to Dan, each season, the spirit would take on a different form and there were specific rules that needed to be followed, to get rid of it.  Dan had even written these directions down!   Like me, Harry and Sasha pondered if Dan and his wife were people they could actually trust. 

The couple start to enjoy their new private, isolated life together – learning to rely on each other (with having only one close neighbor), as they fall into a routine.  As the seasons begin to change, what Dan and his wife warned the couple about, suddenly becomes a reality.  The spirit makes his appearance, leaving Harry and Sasha wondering, “did we really just see that?”   This is just the beginning.  Hold on people as this book is just getting started!

I couldn’t stop thinking about this story after I put it down.  As the seasons changed, the anticipation as what awaited this couple kept my heart pumping.  Harry and his wife were just looking for some quiet time together.   The Afghanistan War had already left its mark on Harry and now another battle is beginning, only this time Harry has his wife beside him.  

This is one terrific book that will have you staying up late until you turn the final page!   5 stars  

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

4 stars Suspense

This book got me going from the get-go.  I wanted to slap pretty, young Heather (have to keep it nice) and you don’t want to know what I wanted to do to Stephen. URG! I just couldn’t believe that Stephen thought it was okay to divorce his wife Pamela, to marry Heather.  Seriously?!  I know what you’re thinking, that this happens all the time but the deal is ….. Pamela has Alzheimer’s and is living in a nursing home.  Stephen is basically having an affair and now, he wants to get rid of his baggage. 

Meanwhile, Pamela and Stephen’s adult daughter’s Tully and Rachel are surprised of their father’s announcement.  How could their father act this way towards their mother?  The daughters decide to take some action to help their mother while at the same time protect themselves.  I enjoyed the many surprises and the endless twists this book provided.  I’m getting used to endings like these, not saying that I’m liking them but I feel it gives up readers something to talk about.  Great story.  4 stars   

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to Sally Hepworth for the opportunity.

The Island by Adrian McKinty

4.5 stars Fiction

This was one of those books that I really wanted to read but I never got a chance to finish it before it was due back at the library.  I had to know how this story ended.  Were all the islanders bitter and aggressive?  Were any of the vacationers going to make it off the island?  How? Each time I started this book, I had a bad feeling about Heather.  Heather started the ball rolling in this novel and when I finally turned the last page in this book, she wore a blue ribbon which she might have earned but I still wasn’t an admirer.

Tom needs to travel to Australia to deliver a speech when he asks his wife and children to join him.  With the chance to see wildlife, the children are excited and Tom feels that the time away will give his family a time to bond with his second wife, Heather. Welcome to Australia! 

Disappointed in the wildlife, an island is recommended to the family which will provide just what the family needs.  This sounds like a great plan and the family takes advantage of this excursion. Paying a small fortune, the family is ferried across for their day trip, when everything just starts going downhill.  How did things get so out-of-control so quickly? Can they stop things before it’s too late? The family tries to explain that it was an accident but to the residents of this island, they’re not buying this explanation.  As Tom and his family work to push the undo button, all eyes are on them, and it’s not looking good. Was it Tom’s rental car or being on an unfamiliar road?  Could it have something to do with Ellen’s sudden appearance or Heather’s decisions as they deal with the reality of the situation?  Or it is the residents of this small island, this secluded family who know this island like the back of their hand?

I didn’t think they had a chance once Heather went into action.  I thought Heather was good for jumping up and helping out when they were in a mess.  Not saying if her actions/words were helpful all the time but she wasn’t one to crumble under pressure.  Having small children along on this trip made this adventure even more thrilling for me.  Tom tried to be practical and calm but having Heather along made this journey quite a ride.  The children were the innocent ones and the ones I wanted to see crossing the water at the end of the book.  4.5 stars

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

4.5 stars Mystery

Lie. Lie. Lie.  Holy buckets people, can anyone tell the truth?  It wasn’t like these individuals were digging themselves into a hole with their deceptions, for they were already sitting in their holes.  They were now just wondering how they were going to get out of it, successfully. 

The “therapist” definitely had some unusual techniques which gained her some new clients but at a cost.  Avery knew how to be a professional, she knew which lines not to cross but Avery preferred to get to the heart of the matter and get results.  She was a therapist and continued to be one, even when they removed her license.  Avery had expectations, she was motivated, and if you were serious and willing to put everything on the line, she’d be the one to help you through your most difficult time. 

Marissa and Matthew, they were the golden couple.  I tip my head back and laugh……ha, ha.  On the outside, they put on a good show (like so many other individuals) but beneath it all, there’s a storm brewing.  Perhaps their storms will calm down and perhaps they’ll turn into a hurricane, who knows how the wind will blow. I thought it was sneaky how Marissa got Matthew to come into Avery’s office at the beginning of the book.  This got the story started for me and I felt that perhaps Marissa values her relationship with Matthew and wanted to save it.  Tennis Match: Learning more about Matthew, I began to think I was rooting for the wrong person, what the heck is Marissa think she’s doing?  They’re a couple because? This book was more of a mystery for me than a thriller.  Lots of fun with this book.   #thegoldencouplebook

The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub

4 stars Mystery

There was a lot to figure out in this book.  Does a vacant house troubled with the history of an unsolved triple homicide sound appealing to you?  I would think that most individuals would have done some type of research before buying such a home.  Let me introduce Nora, Keith and their family.  This husband and wife packed up their California home, along with the 2 teenage daughters, their dog and they found such a house in Brooklyn. Trying to grasp why this family would make such a move was just the beginning of my inquiries as the mysteries grew the minute this family took possession of their new home.

Told from a variety of viewpoints, I found this family a bit different.  Nora doesn’t waste much time after the move to sneak off and privately use her phone to call Teddy.  Who this Teddy is, I had no idea, but their conversation sure was close and personal. Who is Teddy?  Their daughter Stacey enjoys true crime and once the whole family becomes aware of the home’s history, Stacey becomes obsessed with it.  She was definitely into figuring things out including who the individual was, that she’s saw watching their house.  Individuals get introduced and strange things start to occur that I needed to straightened out.  How did this all pertain to the storyline?  I liked how some of the characters were able to make some discoveries on their own and how they acted sensible and clever instead of being crazy and stumbling around.  There were a few parts in the book that were slow but I did enjoy trying to figure out the various mysteries in the book.  I also thought that the ending of the book was rushed and cut-off, it just didn’t fit, compared to how the rest of the book was written.  The ending was a big disappointment.  4.0 stars

I received a copy of this book from Scene of the Crime Early Read, Harper Collins, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you.

Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

4 stars Mystery

Written like true crime but truly fiction, I fell for this book quite a few times while I was reading it and I could’ve sworn that what I was reading had actually occurred.  With the addition of the photographs, it was hard not to lean towards true crime as the authorities tried to find their serial killer and the body count kept creeping up.

I enjoyed the concept behind how the author put the book together.  I liked how the author put the book together so it read like a true crime novel. I know that I checked the genre on this book at least a couple times just like I checked Daisy Jones and the Six when I read that book.  These stories play tricks with us, they want us to believe them but then, where is the memory of such events in our heads?

I was looking forward to some impressive reading when I picked up this book after looking at the title and the synopsis, as it sounded scary and intense. After reading this book though, I felt disappointed.  I enjoyed the book but I guess with all the glowing reviews, the title and the synopsis, I was expecting something grander.  I guess I was expecting it to be a I-can’t-stop-thinking-about-this-book, with me sitting on the edge-of-my-seat and the words just flying across the page.  There were also moments where I felt the author gave me information just to give me information, where I grew bored.   I wanted to be scared and I wanted to devour this book. There were moments of mystery, intense and bizarre activity but nothing that frightened or alarmed me.

I wanted to know who was killing these young girls.  I needed to know what sick individual would then, take the time to pose their victim’s mutilated dead bodies for others to find.  Why? What was the purpose? With a fantastic cover and a unique style of writing, this book is by an author who has some amazing talent.  4 stars

A Blizzard of Polar Bears by Alice Henderson

4 stars Mystery

My Review:

He couldn’t miss this opportunity so he dove.  Rex, a marine archaeologist, felt that he had finally located the boat that he’d been searching for.  Rex knew that he shouldn’t dive alone but he couldn’t just walk away from this without knowing for sure. At the end of the day, Rex would be lucky if he could even walk.  What a find for Rex but what price would he have to pay for this great discovery?

With matching PhDs in wildlife biology, Sonia and Alex are good friends who continued their education after college by tracking and tagging polar bears in Norway together.  When Sonia’s much-awaited study finally gets approved, she asks Alex if she’d be interested in it.  A different research project has Sonia wrapped-up at the moment.  Alex takes this new job and she immediately gets to work.  With her aide and pilot, Alex goes out on the ice to gather her data. At the end of the day, it’s time for dinner and I enjoyed that she runs into Sasha and now, the two stories are coming together.  Sasha was Rex’s dive partner who wasn’t with him on the day that he made his wonderful discovery.  The story starts to get exciting as we learn more about what actually occurred that day when Rex dove to see the wreckage in the water.  As Sasha talks to Alex about her relationship with Rex, this is just the beginning of their friendship and I’m just dying to know the whole story of what happened that day when Rex decided to dive alone.

Arriving to work the next morning, Alex discovers that the lab has been broken into.  The only area that the intruder has ransacked was Alex’s and now, she has items missing.  As the police investigate this invasion, Alex continues to gather data on the polar bears but in the back of her mind, there’s a lot going on.  Out in the field gathering date, Alex doesn’t get a break.  As Alex makes discoveries, she realizes that she’s not alone on the ice.  Her job is the bears but her mind is somewhere else.  Who are these individuals who are keep showing up in her life?  What do they want from her? 

There was a lot of action in this book as Alex tries to continue doing her study while these individuals invade her life.  Alex becomes acquainted with a variety of different individuals quickly as she dives into her job and she becomes familiar with the town.  As she made these connections, I learned more about Alex and these individuals.  I liked Alex’s attitude and her resourcefulness.  There was so much happening in this book, I thought at times that it might never end, yet Alex would still try to piece all the different aspects together so it’d make sense.  I see that this is part of a series and now, I’m curious about the first book in this series.  I’ll be looking for Alex in future books.    #ABlizzardofPolarBears #NetGalley

One of my favorite parts:  Casey confronting the Warlord – I thought it was a clever and sneaky idea and I could totally see this being played out in my head as I read it.  I laughed after I read it and I wondered how that all played out in the end.    

Thanks to Scene of the Crime Early Read, Alice Henderson, and NetGalley for proving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. 


Wildlife biologist Alex Carter is back, fighting for endangered species in the Canadian Arctic and battling for her life in this action-packed follow-up to A Solitude of Wolverines, “a true stunner of a thriller debut” (James Rollins) and “a great read” (Nevada Barr).

Fresh off her wolverine study in Montana, wildlife biologist Alex Carter lands a job studying a threatened population of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. Embedded with a small team of Arctic researchers, she tracks the majestic bears by air, following them over vast, snowy terrain, spending days leaning precariously out of a helicopter with a tranquilizer gun, until she can get down on the ice to examine them up close.

But as her study progresses, and she gathers data on the health of individual bears, things start to go awry. Her helicopter pilot quits unexpectedly, equipment goes missing, and a late-night intruder breaks into her lab and steals the samples she’s collected. She realizes that someone doesn’t want her to complete her study, but Alex is not easily deterred.

Managing to find a replacement pilot, she returns to the icy expanses of Hudson Bay. But the helicopter catches fire in midflight, forcing the team to land on a vast sheet of white far from civilization. Surviving on the frozen landscape is difficult enough, but as armed assailants close in on snowmobiles, Alex must rely on her skills and tenacity to survive this onslaught and carry out her mission.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

4 stars Fiction

I actually am in awe with this book.  I liked how the author made me think about different stories and how they’re all kinda the same, yet somewhat different.  I believe it was in the middle of the book, that Jacob talks about how some plots are all the same but it depends on how the author tries to make them unique.  I realize this but what would happen if authors can’t piggyback on one another’s plots?  Would we lose great authors or pieces of great fiction? 

As I listened to this novel on audio, Jacob claimed he wasn’t stealing Evan’s story because he hadn’t read the whole book, but had he?  I contemplated this thought as I read further into the novel.  There were lots of little facts that kept popping up that I enjoyed but were scaring Jacob.  I loved how Jacob stated he was enjoying the stardom of being a successful writer yet he actually wasn’t, as it seemed that he was constantly looking over his shoulder.  His investigation into Evan Parker sure was extensive and I was impressed at how far Jacob’s pursuit went.  He could become an investigator if being a writer doesn’t work out for him. 

I thought there was a big lull in the middle of the book.  Jacob’s investigation was getting boring for me.  His love life was getting interesting, almost too cozy but he doesn’t seem to give her too much attention, as all his thoughts are focused on Jacob.  I’m glad that I stuck it out to the end of the book as it was really good.  The audio was good on this book and I highly recommend it.   4 stars (middle is so-so)