A Caller’s Game

Hampton Creek Press

US Publication – February 22,2021



“I’m going to offer you a choice.”

Controversial satellite radio talk show host, Jordan Briggs, has clawed her way to the top of the broadcast world. She doesn’t hold back, doesn’t spare feelings, and has no trouble sharing what’s on her mind. Her rigorous pursuit of success has come at a price, though. Her marriage is in ruins, she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, and she’s distanced herself from all those close to her. If not for her young daughter, Charlotte, her personal life would be in complete shambles.

When a subdued man calls into the show and asks to play a game, she sees it as nothing more than a way to kick-start the morning, breathe life into the beginnings of drive-time for her listeners. Against her producer’s advice, she agrees, and unwittingly opens a door to the past.

Live on the air with an audience of millions, what starts out as a game quickly turns deadly—events long thought buried resurface and Jordan Briggs is forced to reconcile with one simple fact—All decisions have consequences.

My Thoughts

It started as a typical day in the life of Jordan Briggs, a talk show radio host. Her ex-husband shows up at work with their daughter Charlotte, even though it is his turn to watch her. But Jordan is used to people letting her down and not pulling their weight. Just another typical day. How much is she supposed to endure from upper management who try and tell her how to do her job, or from her so, so staff. Charlotte seems to be the only person she actually cares about, but still, it is an inconvenience since she is supposed to visit her mother( for the first time in 15 years). It is not easy being Jordan, but this day will make her rethink everything.

When one of her listeners, Bernie, calls her show, she thinks she is dealing with another slightly demented caller. But when he suggests that they play a game, Jordan has no idea that her choices will lead to mayhem and murder. It seems as though Bernie has a score to settle with Jordan and before the day ends, she will have to fight to live to see another day.

One twist after the other is the best way that I can describe this nonstop thriller. None of JD Barker’s books are slow burns; they always grab you from the first page and don’t let go. Another great read by this author.

I received a DRC from Hampton Creek Press through NetGalley.

An Extravagant Death

St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books

US Publication – February 16,2021



In what promises to be a breakout in Charles Finch’s bestselling series, Charles Lenox travels to the New York and Newport of the dawning Gilded Age to investigate the death of a beautiful socialite.

London, 1878. With faith in Scotland Yard shattered after a damning corruption investigation, Charles Lenox’s detective agency is rapidly expanding. The gentleman sleuth has all the work he can handle, two children, and an intriguing new murder case.

But when Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli offers him the opportunity to undertake a diplomatic mission for the Queen, Lenox welcomes the chance to satisfy an unfulfilled yearning: to travel to America. Arriving in New York, he begins to receive introductions into both its old Knickerbocker society and its new robber baron splendor. Then, a shock: the death of the season’s most beautiful debutante, who appears to have thrown herself from a cliff. Or was it a suicide? Lenox’s reputation has preceded him to the States, and he is summoned to a magnificent Newport mansion to investigate the mysterious death. What ensues is a fiendish game of cat and mouse.

Witty, complex, and tender, An Extravagant Death is Charles Finch’s triumphant return to the main storyline of his beloved Charles Lenox series—a devilish mystery, a social drama, and an unforgettable first trip for an Englishman coming to America.

My Thoughts

An Extravagant Death is the first book I have read in the Charles Lenox series. Way back in 2019,( which does seem like a lifetime ago)I never read a series out of order. But this year, I am reading whatever intrigues me, so I guess 2020 has changed me in many ways. #2020BreakingAllMyReadingRules

Charles Lenox is a well-known detective. The year is 1878, and Charles has traveled from London to New York City at the request of the Prime Minister. He has his reasons for wanting Charles out of the country, and this gives Charles the opportunity to fulfill one of his travel dreams. His plan is to travel from NYC to Boston by train, but when the train is unexpectedly stopped, his plans change. An urgent plea finds Charles in Newport, trying to find out who killed a debutante.

There were numerous suspects and plenty of red herrings. I looked twice at a particular character and decided I was wrong. Imagine my surprise when that individual was indeed the killer(Finch-1, Me-0). What really made this mystery stand out to me, was the very detailed descriptions of the lifestyles of the very wealthy, and the differences between the US and England. I was fascinated and not only was I transported from my house through the book pages, but to another time and place.

Sorry, not sorry I read this book first. I believe that there are at least another ten books in this series and I am looking forward to learning more about Charles Lenox, and his family and friends. Congratulations Mr. Finch, you gained a new fan! 4.5 stars.

I received a DRC from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books through NetGalley.

Amelia Unabridged

Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

US Publication – February 16,2021



Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future in this unforgettable debut novel sure to entice fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer E. Smith

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

Ashley Schumacher’s devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.

 My Thoughts

The day that Jenna and Amelia became friends, changed Amelia’s life. On that day, her father left Amelia and her mother and Jenna saved her from loneliness and despair. For years, they have been inseparable, like sisters. It is now their last summer before college, and Jenna’s parents buy them tickets to an author event, featuring N.E. Endsley, the author of the Orman Chronicles. The event doesn’t go as planned, and only Jenna meets the author. Amelia’s  disappointment leads her to argue with Jenna, and a fracture appears in their relationship. Amelia thinks she has all the time in the world to make things right with Jenna, but a tragic accident means she will need to figure out how to go on without Jenna.

When Amelia receives a book in the mail, not just any book, but a beautiful copy of the Orman Chronicles, she is sure that Jenna sent it. Figuring out the mystery gives her a reason to go on, and her trip to the Michigan bookstore it came from, might just mean that Jenna, once again, will change the course of Amelia’s life. She will meet N.E. Endsley and discover that he has a tragic past of his own.

There is so much I would like to say about this book, but much of it would lead me precariously close to spoiler territory. So what did I love? The main character in love with books, the magic of a wonderful bookstore, a reclusive author with a heavy heart, and the realization that while loss and grief never leave your side, it doesn’t mean that you cannot open yourself to the future. I have to mention the Orman Chronicles too, I loved the story, and wished I could get my hands around it in my real life. One final thought, this is a debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

I received a DRC from Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

Her Perfect Bones


US Publication – February 16,2021



The girl’s body is curled up like a shell and almost completely buried in sand. Only her fingertips can be seen, reaching helplessly up towards an escape she will never find…

Seventeen-year-old Shelby Mayfield sits alone on a bus to Fog Harbor, California. Aside from a few items of clothing, all she has with her is twenty-two dollars, the ragdoll she’s kept since kindergarten, and the devastating secret she’s been hiding.

How long will it be before her family realizes she’s gone?

Can anyone see the fresh bruise on her cheek beneath the makeup?

Perhaps she was a fool to believe the person she is meeting in this remote little town could help her…

When a girl’s body is found hidden in a barrel in a woodland cabin, the local police are at a loss. The film from an old camera found looped around her neck is their only lead, but Criminal Psychologist Olivia Rockwell’s blood turns to ice when she recognizes the ragdoll in one of the girl’s last photographs. She used to own one just like it, and it can only mean one thing: if she doesn’t dig deep into the mind of a deadly killer from her past—her own father—more innocent lives will be in danger…

A totally gripping and utterly addictive crime thriller for readers who love Lisa Regan, Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh. But be warned: you’ll be sleeping with the lights on after you’ve raced through the pages in one sitting!

My Thoughts

This is the second book in Ellery Kane’s Rockwell and Decker series. Olivia is a criminal psychologist and Will is a detective in the lovely town of Fog Harbor, California. In the first book, we learned a lot of backstory about these characters, but more details are revealed in this book.

Will is trying to figure out who killed a young girl thirty-five years ago. Olivia is knee-deep in the investigation, offering her professional opinions regarding the killer’s motive. She is also rather reckless and doesn’t really listen to Will( or anyone else)when he advises her to stay out of harm’s way. These two have a strong connection, but something always seems to get in the way of it progressing. There are a surprising number of potential suspects and both Olivia and Will’s personal demons continue to rise to the surface.

An engaging whodunnit and while there is resolution regarding the central mystery, there are still breadcrumbs left behind that I am sure will play a part in the next book(s). I would recommend reading this series in order, as the first book left some threads dangling too.

I received a DRC from Bookouture through NetGalley.

The Echo Wife

MacMillan / Tor-Forge

US Publication – February 16,2021



Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife is a non-stop thrill ride of lies, betrayal, and identity, perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and Killing Eve.

Evelyn Caldwell’s husband Nathan has been having an affair — with Evelyn Caldwell.

Or, to be exact, with Martine, a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn’s own award-winning research.

But that wasn’t even the worst part.

When they said all happy families are alike, I don’t think this is what they meant…

My Thoughts

Evelyn Caldwell is a brilliant scientist whose work revolves around clones. If only she could see things in her personal life as clearly as she does at work, perhaps she would have noticed that her husband Nathan was having an affair. Not just any old heartbreaking, gut-wrenching affair with someone younger, prettier, nicer, or less driven, but with Martine, a clone. Nathan has stolen much of Evelyn’s work and created a clone of……Evelyn!But a nicer, more maternal version, and for Nathan, life is good. I suppose he had one redeeming quality, he didn’t move Evelyn into the attic or kill her, but I am really stretching it by saying anything good about him.

Despite the threat, this poses to her career, Evelyn is also humiliated and suffering on a personal level. A desperate phone call from Martine annoys Evelyn, but curiosity makes her head to the lovebird’s house. What she finds will test her in ways she never imagined, and send her down a slippery moral and ethical slope. If two wrongs don’t make a right, can any amount of bad decisions make for a happy ending? Evelyn is going to find out.

Well, this one was a trip to cray cray land. The book description was very short, but if I could change one or two things, I think it actually gave too many plot points away. If I discovered them while reading The Echo Wife, it definitely would have upped the what just happened moments. But, there are still a lot of shocking surprises, and at less than 250 pages, I abandoned my garden work plans and devoured this book. Kudos to a story that made me forget about the madness that is 2020 for a little while. 4.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Macmillan – Tor/Forge through NetGalley.

What They Knew

US Publication – February 11,2021




DI Clare Mackay starts the new year with a death…

It is the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay when Alison Reid admits a caller to her home. When her death is later reported, DI Clare Mackay attends the scene. The initial evidence does not rule out murder, but it’s not possible to say for certain if foul play was involved. Yet when the coroner informs Clare about a post mortem of a young woman found in the Kinness Burn, and with some similarities to Alison’s case, it seems there’s a strong chance that there’s a killer on the loose in St Andrews.

Clare and her team will have to look past the obvious conclusions and delve deeper into the lives of the victims to get to the truth. But who else risks meeting the same fate while the clock is ticking?

Don’t miss this compulsive new addition to the gripping DI Clare Mackay series from Bloody Scotland Scottish Debut Crime Novel 2020 shortlisted author Marion Todd.

My Thoughts

DI Clare Mackay has got a lot on her plate. Her long-distance relationship may or may not be working and a case that initially looks like a suicide turns out to be murder. No one knows much about the victim’s personal life, and except for her ex-husband and his new wife, no one has anything bad to say about Alison. Then another victim is found and there are enough similarities to make DI Clare determined to figure out how these women are connected.

As the body count continues to rise, could something from the distant past bind the victims and the killer together? Figuring out the motive and finding the murderer might even put Clare in harm’s way. A very engaging mystery and my first book by this author.

Yes, this is part of a series, and this is the fourth book! No issue reading it as a stand-alone, and lucky for me, I have three more books to read to catch up on everything that has happened so far.

I received a DRC from Canelo through NetGalley.

The Burning Girls

Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

US Publication – February 9,2021



An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present–and intent on keeping its dark secrets–in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

My Thoughts

When Jack and her daughter Flo move to Chapel Croft, their expectations are low. After all, it is a small village where nothing much happens, and moving here was not Jack’s choice. She will be the temporary vicar, sent to replace the recently deceased one. Neither one is prepared for the secrets the town holds and nothing in Chapel Croft is what it seems.

For a town in the middle of nowhere, Chapel Croft has quite a history. From Protestant martyrs burned alive, to missing girls, to creepy twig dolls, there is an awful lot of unsavory history here. A wealthy family seemingly above the rules, a little girl who accidentally died, and the fact that the last vicar killed himself make this assignment anything but boring. But Jack has secrets too and someone dangerous is hot on her trail.

There are numerous mysteries waiting to be revealed and I was left with my mouth hanging open and my jaw on the flor more than once. When everything came together and I read the last page, all I could think was C. J. Tudor has done it again. My super sleuth book detective powers were foiled by her words, or as I like to call them, her kryptonite. I absolutely loved Jack as this character had more layers than an onion.

I have read some very good books that are publishing in 2021, and this one ranks right on top. When I hear that the author is publishing a new book, I don’t have to see the cover and I don’t have to read the synopsis. All I need is to get my hands on a copy and clear my schedule because I won’t be getting anything done until I finish. Creepy, clever, and oh so twisty! Did I mention I loved it!

I received a DRC from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine through NetGalley.

Between Two Kingdoms

Random House Publishing Group

US Publication – February 9,2021



A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission and, ultimately, a road trip of healing and self-discovery.

In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world.” She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a war correspondent. The real world she found, however, would take her into a very different kind of conflict zone.

It started with an itch—first on her feet, then up her legs, like a thousand invisible mosquito bites. Next came the exhaustion, and the six-hour naps that only deepened her fatigue. Then a trip to the doctor and, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, a diagnosis: leukemia, with a 35 percent chance of survival. Just like that, the life she had imagined for herself had gone up in flames. By the time Jaouad flew home to New York, she had lost her job, her apartment, and her independence. She would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life and chronicling the saga in a column for The New York Times.

When Jaouad finally walked out of the cancer ward—after three and a half years of chemo, a clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant—she was, according to the doctors, cured. But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it’s where it begins. She had spent the past 1,500 days in desperate pursuit of one goal—to survive. And now that she’d done so, she realized that she had no idea how to live.

How would she reenter the world and live again? How could she reclaim what had been lost? Jaouad embarked—with her new best friend, Oscar, a scruffy terrier mutt—on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country. She set out to meet some of the strangers who had written to her during her years in the hospital: a teenage girl in Florida also recovering from cancer; a teacher in California grieving the death of her son; a death-row inmate in Texas who’d spent his own years confined to a room. What she learned on this trip is that the divide between sick and well is porous, that the vast majority of us will travel back and forth between these realms throughout our lives. Between Two Kingdoms is a profound chronicle of survivorship and a fierce, tender, and inspiring exploration of what it means to begin again.

My Thoughts

When you are about to graduate from college, life is full of possibilities. It is almost inconceivable to imagine one of those possibilities being diagnosed with cancer, but this was the deck dealt to the author at twenty-two. Not only will everyday challenge Suleika to just live until the next treatment, the next round of side effects, the next dose of bad news, it will also leave her much different than she was before.

The first part of the story chronicles what Suleika went through, from feeling unwell to the initial diagnosis to her(hopefully) final treatment. Her family, friends, and the man she loves support her as much as they can. Unfortunately, not everyone will be standing next to her as she embarks on the next phase of her life. She can’t always see beyond her own misery and pain, and it is hard to empathize with those around her, after all, she is the one suffering all these indignities and the one who might die. I know both sides of this dilemma personally, your own need encompasses everything else.

The second part focuses on Suleika venturing beyond the land of the sick and trying to figure out how to rejoin the land of the well. She sets off on a road trip to meet some of the strangers that reached out to her while she was sick. The people she meets and the lessons she learns are a bridge to her creating a new life that accepts her new normal and allows her to move forward.

This was not an easy read but was a very moving memoir. When you think life has thrown every hard knock your way, there might be one or many more. I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t benefit from reading Between Two Kingdoms. It is a raw and honest look at mortality and what it means to be given another chance. 4.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Random House Publishing Group through NetGalley.

No-Waste Composting

Quarto Publishing Group – Cool Springs Press

US Publication – February 9,2021



In No-Waste Composting, you’ll discover the hows and whys of composting and find over a dozen practical step-by-step plans for building both indoor and outdoor composting systems that require a minimal amount of space. 

“I don’t have enough space to compost.” 
“I don’t know what’s safe to compost and what isn’t.” 
“I live in the city, so I don’t think I can compost.” 
“Indoor composting systems are smelly.” 
“I don’t have a garden, so I don’t need to compost.”
If any of these is your excuse for not composting, then this is the book for you! Small-space composting has never been easier, more efficient, and more eco-friendly. Composting keeps millions of tons of waste out of landfills and creates carbon-sequestering, nutrient-dense compost that can be used to help fuel plant growth (including houseplants!) and build soil health.  Build a DIY worm-composting system for a cupboard or garage. Craft a layered, under-the-sink composting system from terra cotta pots. Construct a simple outdoor compost bin from repurposed wooden pallets. Use upcycled wire fencing to build a mobile composting system on the driveway. Learn how to compost larger sticks and branches to build new food and flower gardens. Upcycle a plastic bucket to make an indoor compost fermenting system. Plus, you’ll find plans to keep cat and dog waste out of the landfill by using a groundbreaking (and safe) DIY composting system. And if you don’t garden, author and composting professional Michelle Balz offers plenty of other ways you can utilize the wonderful, crumbly compost you create. 
Whether you’re just starting your no-waste journey or you’re a seasoned recycling and repurposing pro, No-Waste Composting is an invaluable tool to have at your side. This book is part of the Cool Springs Press No-Waste Gardening series, which also includes No-Waste Kitchen Gardening and No-Waste Organic Gardening. 

My Thoughts

If there is one thing I am passionate about, it is my vegetable garden. I start seeds indoors in February, start growing cool-season plants outdoors in March, and am busy with my garden until it goes to sleep in November(Zone 7, NY). So how do I spend the nongardening months(December and January)? By reading books, perusing seed catalogs, and making a plan for next year.

I started composting two years ago when I found two bins on clearance at a big box store( love end of season sales). I knew that I could add leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps, keep it moist(like a damp sponge), and turn the pile occasionally, and eventually, I had black gold for my garden. So I knew the basics but had no idea that there were so many choices for outdoor composting, or that you could compost indoors

No-Waste Composting is divided into seven chapters, highlighting everything from composting basics, to harvesting and using your finished compost. By the time I finished reading this book, I knew a lot more about getting the most out of my resources. Did I know that my compost pile should be balanced with 75% brown and 25% green materials? Why yes I did. But did I know that chopping up food scraps like banana peels would help my pile by aiding the microorganisms that digest them? No, I did not.

Whether you have been composting for years or are interested in starting, this book provides a wealth of information. Everything is presented clearly and concisely, whether it is how to build a kitchen bin compost liner from a newspaper, or how to pit compost right in your garden beds. Whether you have a large yard or just some room on your patio, or if you have a little or a lot to spend, you will find something that works for your situation. The best part is you will have great compost without having to lug those bags home from the garden center, and you will have reduced your contributions to the trash. The pictures in this e-book were great too, and I do not doubt that when I get my hands on a physical copy, it will be a lovely addition to my gardening bookshelf.

If there was one thing I would have liked to see in this book, it would have been some information on winter composting. That might just be me though since we had a major snowstorm yesterday and it looks like my compost bins will be frozen for quite a while.4.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Quarto Publishing Group – Cool Springs Press through NetGalley.

The Future Is Yours

Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

US Publication- February 9,2021



Two best friends create a computer that can predict the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship—and society—apart.

“A fantastic page-turner and a future classic.”—Peter Clines, New York Times bestselling author of 14 and Paradox Bound

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you? 

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity. 

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

My Thoughts

What an interesting way to tell a story! The Future Is Yours is told through emails, letters, congressional hearings, and texts. The premise, two college friends invent a machine that can see one year into the future. Imagine the possibilities: knowing the winning lottery numbers, picking stock market winners, being prepared for a pandemic….the list is endless. Of course, who decides who has access to this wondrous machine? The wealthy or academics or the government or any number of choices.

If you think about it, in the wrong hands it could have catastrophic ramifications. Even those without nefarious intent have issues with the havoc this could bring to people’s lives. What if you saw your own death, could you somehow change the future, and if not, what would be the point of living. So many questions and not nearly enough answers.

You know what that means, it is time for government involvement, and this is how we will learn all about this invention. What could go wrong?

This was a quick read based on quite a thought-provoking premise. It seems like a given that most people would want to be able to see the future, but there are many things that I never even considered. Not my usual genre, but a very entertaining read.

I received a DRC from Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine through NetGalley.