Posted in Reviews

Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cook

***** 5-stars

In 1998, Liv, a single mother of three daughters, takes on a project involving the painting of a mural in a lighthouse on an island in Scotland called Lon Haven. She soon learns of a local legend involving the killing of women accused of witchcraft and the wildlings that were rumored to take over the bodies of missing children and destroy their families.

Although Liv doesn’t initially believe these crazy stories, she begins to wonder about them when two of her daughters disappear, and one returns bearing the branded numbers that are said to differentiate a wildling from the real child. The story changes perspective from Liv to her daughter, Luna, twenty years later. Luna, now grown, is still searching for her sisters. When she is contacted with the news that her younger sister, Clover, has been found after all this time and is at a hospital, she rushes there expecting to see a woman close to her own age. Instead, she finds a young girl who seems to be Clover but hasn’t aged. How can this be? The book answers this question as it goes back and forth in time.

I found the explanation an interesting twist. My only criticism of this absorbing book was that it sometimes was difficult to keep the characters and time periods clear. Other than that, I found the writing compelling with realistic characters. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys supernatural novels that take place in different time periods.

This review was from the NetGalley ARC. The book will be released on October 5, 2021.

Posted in mystery, Reviews, Thriller

Review of Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

*****5 stars

This was my first Lisa Unger book, but it won’t be my last. I couldn’t stop turning the pages (or actually swiping them because I was reading the NetGalley digital ARC copy on my phone). The book, publishing in October but available for pre-order now, is somewhat dark. Although very different, I can compare it to Gone Girl which I also enjoyed and which also featured a missing person. In this case, several missing women. It takes place in New York City, right before the COVID pandemic closed things down and refers to a Chinese virus that was starting to spread.

The main character, Wren Greenwood (not her real name), is the author of the popular Dear Birdie advice column that is also a podcast. Only her friend Jax knows her background, how, at 15, Wren’s world was turned upside down after her family moved to an isolated area because her father, a war veteran, had become what some term a Doomsday Prepper. His actions culminated in a tragedy that caused Wren, born as Robin, to change her name and return to society to build a life to help others facing challenges in their lives.

When Wren hooks up with a man named Adam through Torch, an online dating site, she finds herself opening up to him and revealing her dark past. When Adam unexpectedly disappears and a detective comes to Wren’s door seeking help in finding missing women who used Torch to meet a man he believed was Adam, Wren once again faces horror.

The twists and turns in this book had me on the edge of my seat. Although I liked the ending that featured additional twists, I found the pace a bit slow in the last part of the book after the climax. I thought each character in the book was well depicted and would highly recommend it if you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn and Lisa Diaz Meyer, two dark fiction authors I admire.

Posted in Next Chapter, Reviews

Review: A Liverpool Lullaby: Mersey Murder Mysteries Book 8, by Brian L. Porter

*****5-stars

If you haven’t read any of the Mersey Murder Mysteries, you’re missing some great reads. Book 8, A Liverpool Lullaby, is no exception and is easily read as a standalone. What intrigued me most, besides the search for a killer who took his victims’ hearts and played a tape of lullaby’s as he was killing them, was the interplay between the characters of the Merseyside Police Special Murder Investigation Team. The glimpses into the back stories of each of these detectives makes me want to go back and read each prior book. There’s one scene in particular that is quite emotional and that both shocked and touched me toward the end of the story. I won’t give this away, but I highly recommend this book and the series to anyone who enjoys a good police procedural with great characters and fast-paced action. It reminded me of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct Mysteries.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3xnOuCi

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Reviews

Review: Mrs. Peabody’s Party Line: A Honeyspoon Murder Mystery by Marianna Heusler

*****5 stars

Mrs. Peabody is a character you’ll enjoy meeting. Living in the 1950’s and being connected to her neighbors through a party line, she can’t help but listen in to all the conversations through which she becomes privy to secrets, adulterous affairs, and other matters some people would’ve preferred kept private.

When a murder occurs in the town library, she takes it upon herself to investigate. Teaming up with a cute little dog who joins her later in the book, she faces danger but also helps solve the mystery.

I loved the period setting of this quaint town and all the quirky characters including the nun who isn’t happy following her vows and some of the kids who are smarter than their parents. It was a perfect cozy and one that gets this fun series off to a great start.

Posted in Reviews, Romantic Suspense

Review: Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison

**** 4 stars

This book reminded me of a gothic novel. Taking place on an island in Italy during a storm and including a villa and family crypt, it was very atmospheric. I received an advanced reader’s copy and couldn’t stop reading, even though the key to the mystery was revealed early in the book. When Claire Hunter meets the rich Jack Compton, her life changes. Having led a tough teenage life and becoming involved with a criminal, she still feels guilt about the night her father was killed in a car accident that she caused.

When Jack arranges their wedding on the island where his family owns a villa, she’s excited but somewhat overwhelmed. It doesn’t help that the night before they leave for Italy, someone breaks into the house, and Claire kills the intruder in self defense. Her actions are covered up by the bodyguard who was meant to protect her and Jack. Trouble continues to follow them to the island as they prepare for their wedding, and the incoming storm adds to the mystery. Claire learns that many of the Compton wives died accidentally, including Jack’s first wife, Morgan. The only difference is that Morgan’s body has never been found, although when Jack and Claire arrive on the island, a body is discovered.

Secrets are revealed about Jack’s family, but Claire, with her own secrets, still wants to marry Jack. After her wedding gown is ruined and people start being killed by unexplained accidents at the villa, Jack’s mother moves up the wedding in the hope that whoever is trying to prevent it will stop after it has taken place. Unfortunately, the person behind the incidents has other plans.

Although I wasn’t surprised at the ending, there was a twist. I really enjoyed this book, but I found it a bit too dark for my taste. The changing point of views, even of the person behind everything, added interest and insight to the characters. For those who enjoy dark fiction with a gothic feel, I would recommend this read.

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Cozy Series, Reviews

Review: A Medium’s Birthday Surprise: Becky Tibbs: A North Carolina Medium’s Mystery Series, Book 1 by Chariss K. Walker

***5-stars

The first of the Becky Tibbs: A North Carolina Medium’s cozy mystery series, this book introduces Medium Becky Tibbs, who on her 26th birthday, receives a vision from her boyfriend who died ten years ago on her 16th birthday. She needs to find out why Josh is so angry, why he’s chosen to visit her after all this time, and why he didn’t know he was dead. With the aid of a detective who once had a crush on her sister and her two siblings, Becky discovers who killed Josh and why. This helps him have closure and enter the light.

The best part of this book, in my opinion, was the relationship between Becky and her brother and sister who, also mediums, have chosen not to use their powers, although her brother begins to change his mind at the end of the story. I also liked the fact that Becky works in an antique shop, a perfect place to find ghosts. The setting in Asheville, North Carolina, is also interesting. This book has hooked me into checking out the others in the series. I recommend giving it a try.

Posted in Anthology, Reviews

Review of Behind Closed Doors, the New Mystery Anthology in the Red Penguin Collection

*****5 stars

The Red Penguin Collection of anthologies feature short stories of various genres. Their latest, a mystery collection called BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, includes wonderful offerings by 15 talented authors. Although I haven’t read all the stories, my favorites so far are “Last Lap” by Diane Kane (what a twist); “The Time of His LIfe” by William John Rostron (a story every bored young person should read); and, no bias here, my story, “The Return of the Arch Villain,” about a St. Louis cop who reopens the cold case of his wife’s murder before he retires. This is a great collection of mysteries of all types and one any mystery reader won’t want to miss.

Grab your copy here: https://amzn.to/2RW3us4

Read more about the Red Penguin Collection in this blog post: https://debbiedelouise.com/2021/01/18/the-red-penguin-collection-a-great-opportunity-for-writers/

Posted in Reviews

Review of the Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

*****5 stars

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

I can’t say enough good things about this book. It had me turning the pages as the story shifted from 18th-century to modern London. Nella is an apothecary in 1791 who takes over her mother’s business but now dispenses poisons instead of herbal remedies to women who wish to do away with their husbands or lovers because of abuse or infidelity.

Current-day Caroline is visiting London on what would’ve been her anniversary trip, but she recently learned of her husband’s adultery. Seeking time away, she takes the trip herself and is enlightened by what she learns during a mud lurking expedition in which she recovers an old bottle in the sea with an inscription of a bear. Investigating her find at the British Library, she befriends a researcher who helps her discover the whereabouts of Nella’s apothecary shop that has been hidden for over 200 years.

As the story alternates between past and present, Caroline becomes absorbed in investigating the apothecary’s story. When Caroline’s husband joins her in London to apologize for his behavior and ask her for a new start, she is faced with a decision regarding her marriage. Delving further into the apothecary’s life, Caroline seeks to solve a mystery which allows her to confront her own future.

Posted in Reviews

Review for Falling into Magic: Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic #1 by Elizabeth Pantley

*****5 stars

This is an enchanting read. I savored the descriptive details of the magical town of Destiny Falls. It made me want to pack up, jump in the mirror that transported Hayden, and move there. Of course, the cat on the cover, the sassy Latifa, was a big plus for me. All the characters in this story were well written. If you like mystery, a touch of romance, fantasy, and twists, you’ll enjoy this book. I’m looking forward to the next in the series, The Disappearance of Emily, and participating in the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour starting this week.

Blurb to Falling into Magic

When Hayden was a child, she lost her cat. Adults told her the cat ran away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken her.
She knew because the mirror had given her a glimpse of an alternate world and had nearly pulled her in, so she was certain the cat had suffered that fate.
Twenty years later Hayden discovers the secret of the mirror when she is thrust into it. She learns of a world she never knew existed, and a family she never knew she had.
But danger brought her here, and it followed her. Now, Hayden is on a mission to remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical, meaningful new life in this enchanted world.

About the Author (from her Amazon author page)

Elizabeth Pantley is the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her parenting books have been published in over twenty languages.
Elizabeth has also written the new Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic book series. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She’s the mother of four, and Nana to one.
You can get more information, articles, contests, and more, at her website: http://www.nocrysolution.com/ or her blog at http://elizabethpantley.com

Posted in Reviews

Review for Bettina’s Tail: My Story of Rescue by Stasie Fishman

***** 5 stars

This children’s book, following the author’s previous cat rescue story, Sammie’s Tail, is just as charming and educational. Bettina will win any child’s heart with her adorable face and “I am” sayings such as “Brave, brave, brave! I am!” when she runs past people after a snowstorm and “Happy, happy, happy! I am!” when she goes into an outdoor cat house that was put out for her and eats some food that a kind lady she met gives her. This true story, told from the cat’s point of view, also includes photos of Bettina’s rescue by the author and resources for adults interested in cat rescue. More rescue stories are in the works for the other cats Ms. Fishman has rescued with Freddie’s Tail coming next. Each cat, like Sammie and Bettina, will share their special story to the delight of young and old cat lovers. Highly recommended.