Review: The Rules of Burken (Traci Finlay)

The Rules of Burken
Author: Traci Finlay
Publication Date: April 11, 2019
Genre: Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-four-year-old Charlotte Stahl would do anything for her older brother, Ian. After all, he’d done everything for her growing up.

He played Burken with her—a hide-and-seek game they made up as kids.

He comforted her when their mom deserted them.

He raised her when their dad went to prison for murder.

To Charlotte, Ian is the only reason she’s still alive—he’s her rock. So when Ian asks her to play Burken in the isolated woods of Cadillac, Michigan, Charlotte feels she could use the nostalgia and agrees. Besides, they haven’t played this game since childhood. Burken—it’s the one thing that never changes …

…until Ian threatens to kill her in the middle of the game.

More than the rules have changed as Brother turns to Predator, Sister turns to Prey, and she’s navigating the forests of Northern Michigan on foot with nothing but the clothes—and a target—on her back.

If Charlotte wants to stay alive, she knows she has to untangle the web of her haunting past to find out where things went wrong, and at what point she lost sight of reality. With no other choice but to reopen old wounds—and with Ian hot on her trail—Charlotte learns that sometimes evil has to manifest in order for good to succeed. Which makes her wonder…

Is Ian really a monster? Or her savior?


I came across The Rules of Burken when author Tarryn Fisher promoted it on her Instagram at release time. I was intrigued by it then and wanted to read it, so I downloaded it. I don’t have a good reason for taking so long to get to it. It sat on my Kindle for over a year before I picked it up, which I’m not proud of.

This psychological thriller was addictive from the start. I was constantly tense trying to figure things out. The game Charlotte and her brother Ian played was brutal. Their sibling bond fascinated me. I was desperate to understand it, so I could make guesses as to what was happening. There these great flashbacks throughout the story heightened my curiosity even more. Everything moved at such fast pace, I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want to put the book down.

Honestly, I was impressed this was Traci Finlay’s debut novel. The writing was great, the plot moved quickly, and the end left me wanting more. Not only do I want to read another book by this author, but I would read a sequel. It wasn’t the most complex psychological thriller, but it was a good one and I would recommend it.

Mini Reviews: Engagement and Espionage & Batter of Wits

Engagement and Espionage
Series: Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries, #1
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: Cipher-Naught
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged!

But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.
Sabotage!

Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

‘Engagement and Espionage’ is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after ‘Beard Science,’ Winston Brothers #3.

My thoughts:

If you’re a fan of Cletus Winston and his baker love Jenn Donner, you will most likely enjoy Engagement and Espionage. It’s a fun cozy mystery filled with antics that can only be attributed to Cletus. Plus, getting more of Cletus and Jenn’s relationship was so fulfilling. They are a couple of favorite characters of mine and I’m so glad there are more books in this series to come.

Batter of Wits
Series: Donner Bakery, #5
Author: Karla Sorensen
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Hate at first sight couldn’t possibly exist, right?

That’s what Grace Buchanan thought, before her useless car stranded her on the side of a deserted road just inside the Green Valley city limits.

When Tucker Haywood—tall and handsome and full of southern charm— shows up to help, her reaction to him is the strongest thing she’s ever felt in her life, and it makes no freaking sense.

It doesn’t make much sense to Tucker either. Not why she hates him, or why he finds her so intriguing. He knows well enough that Grace is moving to Green Valley for a fresh start, not to distract him when he’s got no room for something like her in his life.

The complications between them are endless, but that doesn’t stop her definitely not love-at-first-sight feelings from changing into something else entirely.

Grace and Tucker are about to learn the hard way that in Green Valley, hating someone has never tasted so sweet.

My thoughts:

I’m always a little hesitant to read a book by one author set in a world created by another author. I’m afraid that it just won’t have the right “feel” to it. Penny Reid’s writing style, settings, and characters are one of a kind. Her Green Valley, home of the Winston brothers, has a special place in my heart. I have read a couple books in this world now, and neither of them quite reflected the setting or style I expected. This is all a big build up to say that Karla Sorensen is the first author who has managed to write her own unique characters and do Green Valley justice. Batter of Wits felt like coming home to Green Valley, and that’s a good thing. I loved Grace and Tucker. Their love story had some uncomfortable bumps, but it was fun.

Review: The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…


The Sun Down Motel isn’t a book I would normally reach for. I like a good thriller, but a ghost story isn’t my thing at all. I ended up with The Sun Down Motel after accidentally forgetting to cancel my Book of the Month subscription. It sat around for a couple of months until I was in the mood to challenge myself. I’m really happy I ended up with a copy of it because it was a fantastic read — ghosts and all.

The mystery of the dead and missing girls was fascinating to me. I loved how it was woven between Viv and Carly’s point of views. Their stories were similar and yet completely different. I enjoyed adding up all the revelations  and being surprised at some of the twists and turns.

The ghost aspect of this story creeped me out. I have to admit that I could only read it during the day. I am a wimp when it comes to that stuff, so take this comment with a grain of salt. Once I got used to the ghosts and what was happening, I didn’t get as freaked out. I loved how the Sun Down Hotel became a character of its own through the ghosts who inhabited it.

I don’t want to give anything away about this book, so I’m just going to leave everything else unsaid. The Sun Down Motel was a well written thriller infused with just the right amount of horror. I was immediately drawn into it and felt its pull the entire time I was reading it. I highly recommend reading it.

Review: Little Secrets (Jennifer Hillier)

Little Secrets
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him.
Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado’s four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he’s rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn’t her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he’ll be the last. She’s falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek’s lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek.


Normally, I shy away from thriller involving missing children. It’s just too hard to read as a parent — one of my biggest nightmares. That being said, I couldn’t pass up Little Secrets. I loved Jennifer Hillier’s last book, Jar of Hearts, so I was reading this book no matter what. I’m so, so glad I did!

Little Secrets is a book about a mother’s despair after the abduction of her only child, Sebastian, and the depths she will go to find out the truth. This book unravels slowly, building up to the truth. Not that it’s slow paced. It’s not at all. It’s a page turner that gives divulges those little secrets at the perfect time and pace. You’ll be so wrapped up in the story, you won’t realize the end is near until it’s on you. At least, that’s the way it was for me and I loved every second of it.

Review: Creole Kingpin (Meghan March)

Creole Kingpin
Series: Magnolia Duet, #1
Author: Meghan March
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Meghan March goes back to New Orleans and the world of Lachlan Mount with a dangerous and bold new anti-hero.

The thing about ghosts is they’re supposed to stay dead.

That’s exactly what I am, but I can’t stay away from Magnolia Marie Maison for one more day, let alone another year.

We’ve already got fifteen of those between us.

As it stands, she’ll want to kill me as soon as she lays eyes on me. And knowing her, she’s completely up to the task.

But I’m a man on a mission, and I’ve got everything riding on this.

So, here I come, Magnolia. This ghost is ready for whatever you got.

After all, there’s only one way I want this to end—’til death do us part.


I don’t know how Meghan March does it. Each book and series better than the last. From beginning to end, Creole Kingpin had me transfixed. I loved being back in March’s New Orleans setting with Magnolia, I character who has intrigued me from the minute I learned her name. Add in Moses, the villain from the Legend Trilogy who I wasn’t exactly a fan of, and things were crazy good.

Magnolia had a rough and not exactly lawful past life. She is ready to leave it all behind. Her navigation out of that world and the resurrection of Moses in her life was so much fun to read about. Add in a little dangerous mystery, and Creole Kingpin was the best kind of ride.

I would leave my review at that, but I HAVE to mention Moses some more. I didn’t think I could love him based on his relationship with Legend. I did, though… His relationship with Magnolia made me see him in a completely new way. I loved it.

So… This is a duet. You know what that means in a Meghan March book, right? CLIFFHANGER. This one went a direction I wasn’t expecting. It left me more curious than shocked, and I’m dying to know what’s going to be revealed in Madam Temptress.

Creole Kingpin is the first book in the Magnolia Duet. Magnolia’s story concludes in Madam Temptress releasing April 14, 2020.

Add to your Goodreads TBR:

http://bit.ly/CreoleKingpinGR

Where to buy:

https://meghanmarch.com/creole-kingpin

Amazon:  mybook.to/creolekingpin

Apple Books:  http://bit.ly/CreoleKingpinApple

B&N:  http://bit.ly/CreoleKingpinBN

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/CreoleKingpinKobo

Google Play:  http://bit.ly/CreoleKingpinGP

About the author:

Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

Sign up for Meghan’s newsletter and receive exclusive content that she saves for her subscribers:  http://meghanmarch.com/subscribe

To get the inside scoop on a daily basis, search Meghan March’s Runaway Readers on Facebook and join the fun!

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Review: Unforgiven (Jay Crownover)

I am so excited to celebrate the release of UNFORGIVEN by Jay Crownover with you today by participating in the blog tour! UNFORGIVEN is part of the Loveless, Texas series and you can grab your copy now. Join Jay’s Group for details about all of her titles.

Unforgiven
Series: Loveless, Texas, #2
Author: Jay Crownover
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series comes an irresistible and suspenseful romance between a tough Texas Ranger and his first love–a woman in danger who insists she doesn’t need his protection.
Hill Gamble is a model lawman: cool and collected, with a confident swagger to boot. Too bad all that Texas charm hasn’t gotten him anywhere in his personal life, especially since the only girl he ever loved has always been off-limits. But then Hill is assigned to investigate her father’s mysterious death, and he’s forced back to the town–and the woman–he left behind.
When Hill left Loveless, he broke Kody Lawton’s already battered heart. And now that he’s working on her father’s case, avoiding him is impossible. She can handle Hill and her unwanted feelings–until he puts his life on the line to protect her. Suddenly, Kody realizes that Hill could be taken away from her…for good.


I was immediately drawn into Kody and Hill’s story from the very beginning. They had such an emotionally charged connection that drew them together as well as kept them apart. I loved their dynamic and how they found their way to each other.

Kody and Hill’s romance almost felt like a side story compared to the romantic suspense plot of the story. So much was going on with the investigation into Kody’s father’s murder that it pretty much took over the entire book. I’m not really complaining about that. It was interesting.

What I am going to complain about it the ending. Was there really an ending? That was my question when the Epilogue suddenly began and then again when I closed Unforgiven for the final time. First, Kody basically just explained how things are working out for her with Hill. It wasn’t really an HEA in my opinion and left me disappointed and wanting more. Second, the romantic suspense aspect of the story wasn’t tied off. The Epilogue felt more like one big push toward the next book in that series. Granted, I am SUPER curious about that book now. So while I enjoyed reading Unforgiven, I just felt let down in the end.

Grab your copy of UNFORGIVEN today!

Amazon | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

Add UNFORGIVEN to your Goodreads TBR here!

Grab your copy of UNFORGIVEN today!
Amazon | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

———————

About JAY CROWNOVER:

  Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, The Point Series, Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road. Connect with her: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Reader Group IS-Blogger-1-1024x158

Review: Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel (@thegingerscott) @wordsmithpublic

Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: January 30, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: This review is for an ARC provided by WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

RIVERDALE meets INCEPTION in this twisty and unique YA coming-of-age romance.

Quarterback.
Class president.
Burnout.
We all have our identities.
Most of the time, they come from our circumstances. They’re made by others—shoes for us to walk in whether they fit or not.
But what if?
What if we could take off those shoes.
What if we could wear a different pair?
What if those boxes we put ourselves in are better…worse?
And what if, when we do…we’re trapped there for good?
They all call me Cowboy.
She’s the damsel who doesn’t need to be rescued.
And him…he’s the villain.
This is our story. And this is how we want it to be told.


I don’t know where to start with Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel. I have so much to say about it…that I can’t say about it because I would spoil the entire thing for you. What I will say is that it’s unlike anything Ginger Scott’s ever written and maybe even unlike anything else I’ve read before. It truly was “A Ginger Scott Experience“.

How did I feel about Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel? Short answer: I was mind blown. Long answer: I started out thinking things would go one way. Then there was a twist and I thought things were going another way. Repeat that scenario a bunch and I was so confused, but in a good way. I don’t think I truly figured out where this incredibly addictive, utterly unique story was taking me up until almost the very end. I’m going to be thinking about this book for a long time. It’s just… WOW.

About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award
nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

Review: Destructive (Jay McLean)

Destructive
Series: Combative, #3
Author: Jay McLean
Publication Date: January 6, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Some villains are made.
Some villains are born.
And some villains aren’t villains at all.

Nate DeLuca was born into a life he didn’t want.
Forced to walk a path that was already chosen for him.
Grandson to a mob boss, he’s forever torn between his duty, his honor, his legacy, and the truth.
But the truth is never simple, and it’s not at all what it seems.

In a world full of secrets, heartache, and betrayals, Nate only has one thing on his mind: redemption.
But with redemption comes destruction.
And that destruction might cost him his heart.

***

Three Lives.
Two Loves.
One ticking time bomb…
Tick tock.


Destructive is the third and final book in the Combative series. Each book builds on the last, so you don’t want to jump ahead because you will miss out on the build up and all the good stuff. You can find my review for the first book, Combative, here.

Woah.

If Combative left me slightly confused with its cliffhanger and Redemptive left me mind blown, then Destructive left me fulfilled. It was everything I didn’t know I wanted, but needed from Jay McLean and her characters. It tested everything I thought I knew about Nate, Ky, Madison, and Bailey. There were so many revelations, so many moments of clarity. It took McLean years to wrap up this story, and I now understand why. It both shocked and amazed. What a way to end such an explosive trilogy!

Review: Call Down the Hawk (Maggie Stiefvater)

Call Down the Hawk
Series: Dreamer, #1
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .


The first two chapter of Call Down the Hawk had me wondering if maybe I had outgrown this this author. I just wasn’t pulled in as I expected to be. Once I got to the first chapter that was actually Ronan, I was pulled back into his world. I became interested in the story and what was to come. I was glad I didn’t simply give up on this book because there was so much to love about it.

Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is as enchanting as always. Her dream world, while sometimes overly descriptive, is mesmerizing. I got bogged down a bit by all those descriptions and the almost 500 pages felt long at times, but the underlying story was so good that I didn’t care.

I loved being back with Ronan. I liked getting deeper into his thoughts and opinions. His world was more than I was expecting. I was happy we got to see some of the other Raven Cycle characters through his POV. (Though, not as many moments as I was hoping for.)

As for the other Lynch brothers… I loved them. Declan wasn’t my favorite character in the other series, but he opened my eyes in this book to the good parts of him. He ended up being one of my favorite characters. Matthew… Well, who doesn’t love Matthew?

There were a couple new main characters in Call Down the Hawk. At first meet, I was a little confused by Jordan Hennessy and Carmen Farooq-Lane. It took some time to build their stories, but I loved how they were woven into the Lynch brothers’.

When I got to the end of Call Down the Hawk, I had two feelings. I both wanted more and was relieved that it was over. It feels weird to say that, but I needed a break after so many pages. I’m very curious about where this story is taking us. I’m both relieved I have to wait a bit for the next book and chomping at the bit to find out what’s next. Weird, but true.

Review: The Wives (Tarryn Fisher)

The Wives
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?


What. The. Heck. No, seriously. What the heck?

I’m exhausted from reading The Wives. It is a great example of why I love Tarryn Fisher’s writing. She’s so crafty in her delivery. It may start out in a sleepy thriller sort of way, but when things start to go down THEY GO DOWN. I was on edge for the entire second half of the book. Surprises were lurking behind every corner, people! Just when I thought I had finally figured freaking Thursday and the story out, BAM! I was proven wrong again… and again… and again. I want to say I loved every minute of this thriller, but I can’t — only because my stress level was way up there. My nerves are frayed in the best way.