Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

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From the publisher: “Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct.

“Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help. Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found?

“It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons—because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.”

Can I be honest with you? I was never a fan of Temperance Brennan and the Bones books (or the TV show). I tried, I really did. But I could simply not force myself to be interested in that character. So, when I saw that Kathy Reichs had a standalone novel with a new heroine, I debated whether or not I should bother to read it.

However, I’m glad I picked it up. Sunnie is very different (to me, at least) than Temperance was. I felt much more at ease with these characters than with previous Reichs books that I’ve read. And the story, including both the mystery Sunnie is trying to solve and her own backstory, was intriguing enough to keep me interested, wanting to know if I’d really figured it out or if Reichs had another twist to throw at me.

Two Nights is a great beach read, so grab a copy when it is released on July 11th and head to your favorite chill spot.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!! 🙂

A Time of Torment by John Connolly

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When private investigator Charlie Parker is contacted by recently released hero-turned-inmate, Jerome Burnel, he hears a story that he’s not sure he believes. According to Burnel, he was set up by someone and is still being tormented and hunted by them. When Burnel disappears, Parker dives into the investigation, uncovering strange links to an area in West Virginia known as the Cut. The further he delves, the weirder things get, and the more certain he is that there is something more than just a close-knit family living in the Cut.

John Connolly’s A Time of Torment (Charlie Parker #14) is an intense, sinister ride. This is the first Charlie Parker Thriller that I have read, but I find myself wanting to start the series from the beginning now. Connolly seems to have a unique insight into the mind of a psychotic killer – I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. I really do wonder what he eats before bed to give him the nightmares he must have to come up with some of this stuff! Maybe he should consider changing his diet. Or maybe not, since it does make for a seriously creepy and super interesting story.

If you like your stories weird and wild, grab a copy of A Time of Torment. But be prepared to climb into the mind of some seriously whacked-out characters…

Many thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for the free copy of this ebook for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Shadows of the Stone Benders by K. Patrick Donoghue

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When Dr. Anlon Cully’s archaeologist uncle dies unexpectedly, Cully has to leave his Lake Tahoe home to settle his uncle’s affairs. Upon arrival in Massachusetts, Cully learns that his eccentric uncle was making some ground-breaking, ground-shaking discoveries that could change the way people understand history. Secrecy surrounds his uncle’s affairs, so when his uncle’s assistant also dies mysteriously, Cully, along with his friends Pebbles and Jennifer, will have to determine what is really going on and what his uncle’s research is really all about.

I wanted to read this book because the description said that if I like reading Steve Berry or James Rollins or Preston and Child, I’d like this story. I guess I can see why Donoghue was equated to those authors – archaeology mixed with the notion of re-writing history and tossed into a modern-day mystery – but he’s not quite up to their level, yet. This is his debut novel, after all, so he’s got time to progress.

And I hope he does, because the story did have some good points. He built the tension fairly well and kept me guessing and wanting to know how it would all wrap up. The character backstories were relatively well-developed; however, at times the dialogue was a bit stiff, making the characters seem too formal for close friends sharing their deepest secrets.

Overall, it was not a bad read. I did enjoy it and hope that the next episode of the Anlon Cully Chronicles is more smoothly written. Borrow a copy from your local library this summer and curl up on the couch in front of your air conditioner for a decent read.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Leaping Leopard Enterprises, LLC, for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

That Darkness by Lisa Black

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Maggie Gardiner leads a quiet life, doing fingerprint analysis and occasional forensic work at crime scenes for the Cleveland Police Department. But when the body of an unidentified young girl and some unusual trace evidence end up in her case load, Maggie begins to wonder if maybe she’s stumbled across a serial killer working his way through the seedier side of Cleveland’s residents.

As a homicide detective, Jack Renner spends his days working to solve the mysteries of those whose last breaths have been taken in Cleveland, but his nights are spent in other endeavors. When their paths cross while working a case, Maggie and Jack must decide whether or not they can trust each other, or if that darkness surrounding them will be too much to overcome.

Well, this one certainly was a page turner. Full of tension and twists, with a not-so-subtle undercurrent of darkness, and moral questions that you believe you know the answers to until someone really makes you think about them, That Darkness made for a crazy ride. The story contained a decent amount of detail, but moved along swiftly enough, with enough ups and downs and turns, that I could never have been bored or distracted.

And the characters were well-rounded – Maggie was nice, but not sweet; liked, but not adored; attractive, but not defined by her looks; intelligent, but still able to question herself; in other words, more real than not. And Jack? Well, let’s just say that he is definitely multi-faceted.

I love a good crime novel, and That Darkness more than fits the bill. If you’re a fan of Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell, you’d no doubt like Lisa Black. Grab a copy today, hunker down, and enjoy the show. You won’t regret it.

Many thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Progeny by Tosca Lee

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Set to be released May 24, 2016. Available for pre-order now!

Emily wakes in Maine with no memory – by design. She’s recently undergone an experimental procedure to have her memory erased. Yet, she quickly finds that erasing her memory can’t erase her past or keep her safe. She must set off on a quest – from the quiet woods of Maine to the pulse-pounding underground of eastern Europe – to discover who she is and what she’s hiding from, or she and those she loves will never be safe again.

If you’ve read Tosca Lee before, know that this isn’t like what she’s written in the past. But that is in no way a bad thing! The intricacy and attention to detail with which she wrote books like Havah, Iscariot, and The Legend of Sheba are still found in The Progeny, but with a whopping dose of thrill and mystery. Intense was the first word that came to mind. I felt like I was driving over Red Mountain Pass going too fast in the dark – crazy twists with no idea what might happen next, just gripping tight and keeping my eyes peeled for the next surprise.

Tosca Lee has found a new niche, and I’m so excited to see what she places in there next. Can’t wait for the next book in the Descendants of the House of Bathory series!

Many thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

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Bibi Blair is a writer – she spends her days creating stories. Yet, when her own story takes an unexpected turn, Bibi refuses to believe that a rare form of brain cancer will defeat her. The night after her diagnosis, she receives a strange visitor to her hospital room and wakes to find a miracle. But things take another wild turn, leaving Bibi on the run, desperate to find a girl named Ashley Bell – for she was told that if she saves Ashley, she’ll save herself.

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If you’ve read Dean Koontz before, you’ll note that Ashley Bell is a relatively typical Koontz-ian tale: a dash of creepy, a splash of darkness, mixed with a drizzle of humanity, in a pool of exciting twists and whaaaaats?, with a golden retriever 🙂 While I wasn’t super keen on the occult aspects, it is significant for me to note that dabbling in the occult is what sparks the trouble for Bibi. Ashley Bell is a fascinating examination of the capacity of the human mind/spirit to both hurt and heal itself, as well as a captivating look at the unlimited power of imagination and storytelling.

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Weird? Yes. This story is creepy cool – there’s no other way for me to put it. But I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it to my friends.

Thanks to Random House/Bantam Dell Publishing Group and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!