Blog Tour & Book Review: Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Soon to be released, Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle jumped out at me when I was looking at my download options from the Harlequin 2020 Summer Reads Blog Tour – Mystery & Thriller list. It was not what I expected going in, and I mean that in a good way. Sometimes you read the book blurb and think you know exactly what you’re getting and this exceeded my expectations.

From the Publisher:
When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

My Thoughts:
I had some serious trust issues with many of the characters. I really couldn’t quite get a handle on whether they were telling the truth throughout the dialogue. The pacing was excellent and most of the characters were appealing… until they were not. There were flashbacks that drew an interesting comparison between personalities as teens vs. who they grew up to be. I had niggling doubts (those trust issues, again) because I couldn’t determine who was lying and being true to their character.

The author did a wonderful job of conveying Charlotte’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Her voice and the threads throughout the novel made me more and more curious throughout. There was a lot of convenient scenarios that had me arguing with myself about whether it was too convenient or just a matter of luck and I think that speaks well to the author keeping things muddy enough to keep the reader interested. Again, it was not a fast paced thriller, but it had me going “hmmmm…” more than once and through in some unforeseen twists and turns.

About the Author:
Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

Social Links:

Buy Links:

Stranger in the Lake
Kimberly Belle
On Sale Date: June 9, 2020
9780778309819, 0778309819
Trade Paperback
$17.99 USD, $22.99 CAD
Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological
352 pages

Blog Tour & Book Review: This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

It’s a bit of a gloomy spring day and somehow it seems a little atmospheric while sharing about the newest title from author Heather Gudenkauf. Just released, I’m taking part in a blog tour organized by the publisher, Park Row Books, an imprint of Harlequin, and throwing my two cents into the hat.

From the Publisher:

With the eccentricity of Fargo and the intensity of Sadie, THIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row Books; May 12, 2020; $17.99) is a timely and gripping thriller about careless violence we can inflict on those we love, and the lengths we will go to make it right, even 25 years later.

Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is dreading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.

Maggie has her work cut out for her. Everyone close to Eve is a suspect. There’s Nola, Eve’s little sister who’s always been a little… off; Nick, Eve’s ex-boyfriend with a vicious temper; a Schwinn riding drifter who blew in and out of Grotto; even Maggie’s husband Sean, who may have known more about Eve’s last day than he’s letting on. As Maggie continues to investigate, the case comes closer and closer to home, forcing her to confront her own demons before she can find justice for Eve. 

My Thoughts:

As far as a mystery/thriller, this one was excellent. There were portions that I maybe didn’t quite buy as far as how things went down, but overall it was a gripping and evocative read. It was atmospheric and intense – I felt every emotion, saw every incident with a vividness that indicates the magnitude of the author’s talent in delivering a well-written scene.

I seem to enjoy the proverbial small town setting where everyone is in everyone’s business. This small town just happens to also be rife with bad seeds and deep, dark secrets. Fortunately, truth always tells… that or DNA testing. Threads of history keep unraveling as the horrible event and incidents leading up to the death of a beloved friend are revealed throughout an investigation by someone with very close ties to the murder. On the whole, it did what a thriller should – kept me on my toes and I couldn’t put it down!

About the Author:

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.

Buy Links:

Harlequin 
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books-A-Million
Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website
Twitter: @hgudenkauf
Instagram: @heathergudenkauf
Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor
Goodreads

THIS IS HOW I LIED
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778309703
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Publisher: Park Row Books

Book Review & Blog Tour: The Third to Die by Allison Brennan

While historical fiction and women’s fiction seem to be my regular go-to’s when it comes to genres I enjoy, every once in awhile I enjoy pulling out a heart-pounding, fast-paced thriller or suspense. I’m excited to say that Harlequin hooked me up and I’ve recently had the chance to read The Third to Die, the highly anticipated first book in Allison Brennan’s new series. This title hits shelves on February 4th. All the Buy Links and author information will be posted way down below if you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy for yourself – and if you’re a fan of this genre, you’ll want to pick up a copy.

From the Publisher:

New York Times bestselling author and gifted storyteller Allison Brennan’s new standalone thriller features a troubled female police detective and an ambitious FBI special agent who wind up at the center of a ticking-clock investigation into a diabolical serial killer.

Brennan’s novel will launch a book-a-year series featuring a fabulous cast of recurring characters. It’s the story of a troubled female police detective and an ambitious FBI special agent who wind up at the center of a ticking-clock investigation into a diabolical serial killer; and the bond they forge in this crucible sets the stage for the future books in the series.

Detective Kara Quinn is visiting her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, after being placed
on administrative leave by the LAPD, when she comes upon the mutilated body of a young
nurse during an early morning jog. The manner of death is clearly ritualistic; she calls it in.
Meanwhile back in DC, special agent in charge Mattias Costa is meticulously staffing his
newly-minted Mobile Response Team. One of his first recruits is the brilliant FBI forensic
psychologist Catherine Jones. When word reaches Matt that the Washington state murder
appears to be the work of the Triple Killer–it will be the first case for the MRT. Jones has done
the only profile on this serial killer, but she is reluctant to join the unit, still shaken by the death
of her sister a year ago under circumstances for which she holds herself responsible. But only
she holds the key to understanding the killer’s obsessive pattern–three murder victims, three
deep slashes a piece, each three days apart, each series beginning on a March 3rd–3/3, then a
three-year hiatus before he strikes again.

This time they have a chance to stop him before he claims another victim strikes, but only if they
can figure out who he is and where is is hiding.

About the Author:

Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. She was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers, has had multiple nominations and two Daphne
du Maurier Awards, and is a five-time RITA finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. Allison believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five kids. Allison and her family live in Arizona. Visit her at allisonbrennan.com

Social links for the author include:
Facebook: @AllisonBrennan
Twitter: @Allison_Brennan
Instagram: @abwrites
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/52527.Allison_Brennan

My Thoughts:

Ms. Brennan is an award winning author for a reason – simply put, she knows what she’s doing. This book was fast-paced and had my heart-pounding. Twists and turns will keep you on your toes in anticipation. She gets inside the mind of a psychopath so well, but also paints a picturesque view of the surrounding landscapes. Her heroes are brilliant, damaged, and likeable and the whole package will keep you engrossed until the very last page. The Third to Die is the very ideal of a page-turning, nail-biting, read-it-all-in-one-sitting-don’t-talk-to-me type of novel – suspenseful, intense, and entertaining!

For my more discriminating friends, I’ll leave you with this caution: reader discretion is advised for violence, mature situations, and strong language. This is not a tip-toe through the tulips, neat and tidy, no rough edges fiction. It’s dark and gritty as the plot is all about stopping the lowest dregs of humanity.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0778309444/httpwwwalli0f-20
Amazon (Canada): https://www.amazon.ca/Third-Die-Allison-Brennan-ebook/dp/B07S4BCQMJ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+third+to+die&qid=1580228085&sr=8-1
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-third-to-die-allison-brennan/1131669020;jsessionid=C1
F1BD4B1DE6C665460E505FA5022816.prodny_store02-atgap03?ean=9780778309444

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778309444
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/product/9780778309444
AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-third-to-die/id1464894471
Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Allison_Brennan_The_Third_to_Die?id=0sWZDwAA
QBAJ


Book Review: The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron is the latest in the Lost Castle series. You may have read my review for the previous book, Castle on the Rise, here, back in January. I mentioned in that review that: “The modern characters weren’t as well developed (in my opinion), but it was a colourful novel…” Same goes for this one! 

That being said, I loved this book. It was even better than the second. It spans three eras and includes art, love, loss, mystery, war, and follows the stories of three women whose lives intertwine across time. If I had to pick a favourite timeline, I would say WWII countryside England… or would it be the Victorian Era portion where women of the upper class were under-estimated for any talents aside from needlepoint? I couldn’t choose. Even with my statement above regarding the modern characters, the contemporary storyline was still intriguing and enjoyable. The women are strong. Their stories are moving.

I love watching the threads unravel through the back and forth of the stories and then ultimately weave back into a beautiful tale of secrets and triumphs in a beautiful historical castle.

“I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”

I would recommend this entire series for those who enjoy a poignant, heartwarming read with a strong dose of mystery to untangle. Pre-order your copy of this title so you have it on hand for its Tuesday release!

Published by: Thomas Nelson Fiction
Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Book Review: Strands of Truth by Coleen Coble

There are certain authors that you read and you know – with a great deal of certainty – that you’re bound to enjoy the storyline. Coleen Coble is one of those authors for me – she has a formula for mystery and thriller with a dash of romance that works.

I was given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Strands of Truth before publication (it came out yesterday!) I, not surprisingly, enjoyed it. Strong characters, the right amount of dangerous tension, and a storyline that was easy to follow, but left you wondering just a little.

My only two complaints, as they were, is that I feel like, blink, and all the preexisting tension between our lead characters disappeared and they fell, a little unbelievably, in love.

Secondly, I wanted to know a bit more about the research… and not just the byssus. I wanted a little more “meat” to some of the important, heavily referenced details.

Now, those complaints vocalized, I will say that I found this absolutely enjoyable to read. I enjoyed how everything was all neatly wrapped up. I enjoyed the secondary characters and the story arc as a whole.

As the publisher touts, “Suspense, romance, and generational secrets meld in this engrossing new novel from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.” I can’t say that I disagree. Tension and promise were balanced nicely providing a fast-paced easy-to-read seaside escape.

I received a complimentary copy of this title with thanks to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Family Secret by Terry Lynn Thomas

I am a huge fan of historical fiction relating to WWII – books along the lines of The Nightingale or Lilac Girls hold a little corner of my heart. I am sure this stemmed from my childhood readings of The Hiding Place or even one of my favourite titles as a teen, Vienna Prelude. This genre sheds light on a terrible time in our recent history, but somehow softens the delivery a bit while still gripping emotions as we recognize how absolutely horrible it was to live through that dark time.

Engrossing and Intriguing

I recently finished The Family Secret by Terry Lynn Thomas. It’s the second title in the Cat Carlisle series. It was easy to read as a standalone, but I think you would understand more of the characters’ histories if you read the first novel, The Silent Woman (which I have not yet read.) I was vaguely expecting this to be more along the lines of the titles mentioned above, and was surprised when it actually was a bit more mysterious and focused on an investigator and his romantic interest, in their small town escape from London. Rather than being the main backdrop for the events and going-ons, the war actually loomed distantly on the horizon, influencing decisions (i.e. evacuating from London.) (This surprise is all on me – it was definitely touted as historical mystery.)

All that said, I was not disappointed in this read. It was well-written and colourfully descriptive. Characters were developed enough that even though you were invested in their doings, you didn’t necessarily love them. Spoiled teens, entitled adults, nosy neighbours… you’ll find them all. The plot – the actual mystery – was engrossing and intriguing, the character backgrounds giving them a bit more depth, and I loved the dramatic climax.

Overall, while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I was pleased I picked it up. It was historical fiction set in an era I enjoy reading about – just from a different perspective than I typically enjoy. A good solid 3-star (I liked it) rating from me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: March 1, 2019

Book Review: Secrets at Cedar Cabin by Colleen Coble

While a warm and fuzzy historical romance will always be my first pick for escapism when it comes to books, a close second is a fast-paced thriller or mystery and Colleen Coble always delivers in that genre. I’ve read a number of her titles in the past and find them enthralling and still manage to sleep at night. Win-win.

Drama & Suspense With A Good Dose of Romance

Secrets at Cedar Cabin is the third release in the Lavender Tides series and I read it as a standalone a few weeks ago without any issue. (I’m a little behind in posting my reviews… life has been a little hectic lately. Reading is a must. Reviewing was shelved.) This contemporary novel is rife with drama and suspense while focusing on human trafficking and the sex trade.

Of course, romance is entwined with all the excitement and the good guys win in the end. (If only real life were so tidy.) The whirlwind mystery left me guessing until (almost) the end. Likeable, flawed characters. Family secrets. Descriptive settings. Some kick-butt scenes. It has it all.

Coble is a Christian author and as such, her books are clean as far as content, but theme’s are still adult. I don’t find the faith aspect overdone, but appreciate the struggles and humanity of the characters. Easy to read and not too graphic – but still intriguing and sometimes infuriating – it was an entertaining book overall.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from ThomasNelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Publication Date: 22 Jan 2019 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson