mystery

Book Review: Justice for Belle by Didi Oviatt

Posted on Updated on

Justice for BelleJustice for Belle by Didi Oviatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Justice for Belle is one fast-faced novella! But in truth, I wouldn’t expect any less from author Didi Oviatt whose thrillers and suspense novels I’ve read in the past always get your heart racing and your mind flying. Another fantastic release showing why she’s on the rise as an amazing storyteller who will gut-punch you with twists and shocks when you least expect them.

The story: Ahnia did something wrong. We don’t know what it is, but it was bad. Very bad. Only one person knows. Or so she thought! The problem, other than what this other person might do to Ahnia, is that Ahnia seems to only be able to write when she’s coming off the high of doing something awful. A best seller as a teenager / early 20s young woman made her popular, but now, can she live up to that expectation? Several years later, she’s intrigued by a guy who makes an offer, but then she finds out what’s really going on behind the scenes. Who should she trust?

GIRL – no one! Never trust anyone once you’ve done what you’ve done. Poor Belle… will there ever be justice? Interested in the novella yet? The premise is outstanding, and the best part, we really don’t ever know why something happened in the past. We get bits and pieces, but it’s not really important. It’s the psychological FREAK-OUT we go thru wondering what happened that revs our engines. That’s a great author… now… the ending?!? I don’t ever expect Oviatt to do what you think she will, and that’s an amazing thing. She likes to make you wait just a bit longer, then pops you one with a doozy of a shock factor. Nothing personal, but I’m staying away from her in a dark alley!

Less than two hours, this is a wild ride… it slows down for a few chapters to let you catch your breath, but don’t be fooled. You’re not getting a break again after that first pause, so relish the hunt and figure out who’s behind the games in this great novella.

View all my reviews

***

It’s my latest author alert and today we’re revisiting Didi Oviatt, a past spotlightee (is that a word… wait, I’m a writer — should I know?), to reveal the cover of her newest book. I’ve read and loved two of Didi’s other books, Search for Maylee and Aggravated Momentum. Check out her dedicated profile page on my blog too! But today… it’s all about ‘Justice for Belle’ which drops on May 15th, 2019 and is available for sale NOW!

Pre-Order/Purchase Link

Book Quote:

***Call me weird, obsessed, paranoid, twisted or whatever, but I have this nasty little habit of trying to guess what kind of killers people would be… if they were actually killers, that is. Whenever I see someone in a crowd who stands out among the rest, I see it. It all depends on their size, the way they move, the look in their eyes. Everything plays a part, and the image is usually fairly detailed. Then, I jot down my observations for future use.***

Blurb:

Ahnia, has a very dicey past, one that is scratching under the surface, just dying to get out. She’s hit rock bottom, broke and desperate to be on top again. When she finds herself partnering up with man she hardly knows, and who’s utterly untouchable, she’s forced out of her comfort zone and left to question her own sanity. Will Ahnia and Mac’s dangerous business move be a success? Or, will Ahnia find herself in the clutches of an unforgiving force, brought about by her childhood sin? In this nail biting thrill ride, no one is as they seem… and no one is truly safe with those they trust.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her  thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, Justice for Belle, and New Age Lamians. Along with a six- piece short story collection called the Time Wasters. She’s also collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology The Suspenseful Collection. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid back outdoorsy life. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, sun-bathing in the desert heat, along with watching the relaxing dance of a campfire plays an important part of her day-to-day lifestyle. 

Didi can be found on her Website/Blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and most importantly AMAZON

Excerpt #1:

“You get lost?” Mac’s voice rings loudly at my side.

I jump, knocking a cold glass bottle of booze over with my arm. I grab it back up with trembling hands. I straighten myself to a stand and hand it over before grabbing two more for myself. Mac takes a step closer to me no sooner than the fridge door shuts completely.

The scent of him is just as fresh as the first day we met; only tonight there is a muskier underlining. The delicious smell of his natural skin, no doubt. My knees weaken, and I take a step back. The center of my back touches the counter causing me to reach back with my free hand and grab ahold of it for balance.

“What are you doing?” I ask desperately under my breath.

“You were taking a while, so I thought I’d check up on you.” His voice is wanting and raspy.

“I’m fine.”

I duck and spin, maneuvering my body around him. I’m careful not to brush our flesh together. He props himself against the exact spot of the counter that I just left by the hip, his gaze fixated on me. I look away, twist the top off of my first drink and guzzle the entire thing as if my life depends on it. He, too, takes a drink, but barely a sip. The serious clench of his jaw tells me that he means business. My chest tightens.

“Why are you really here?” I ask.

“A few reasons, actually.”

“Which are?”

“I’m trying to decide which one I wanna tell you first.”

He takes another sip and continues to stare. I toss my empty bottle into the trash can, and twist open the top of my next. It’s quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Aside from my own heavy breath, I hear only haunting silence.

“Start with whatever it is you’re so afraid to say.” I breathe, my heart quickening another pace.

Mac takes a few quick steps forward, again closing the gap between us. The wildness of his eyes and his hair reminds me of a lion, ready to pounce. Soon I’m backed against the wall, with our chests pressed together. I stare at his mouth. His lips are the perfect shade of pink. I want to lick them. I tuck my own in and bite the insides lowering my head…denying him access. He places his palms against the wall, beside my shoulders, and lowers his forehead to mine.

“You’re not who I thought you were,” he says, the hops in his breath mixing with my own.

I close my eyes tightly and breathe him in. The image I once had of his fists closing in around the neck of an unknown man as he shook the life from him is all I can think about. God, I wish I could stop enjoying the thought of death. I can feel his heartbeat through my shirt and my nipples harden. The heat from his body screams danger, and the pool of nerves between my legs wants it.

“Mac,” I whisper, our foreheads still together.

I try and lift my arms to push him away, but can’t. Like dead weight, they stay motionless at my sides. I shake my head against his. This is wrong.

“Ahnia, I know we can’t do this. I just… I…”

Mac slaps an open palm against the wall. It’s an angry, powerful blow a mere foot from my face. I jump, feeling the vibration of it against my entire body.

“F**k!” He shouts, and pulls himself away.

He runs a fist through his hair and storms off. After helping himself to another beer from my fridge, he disappears back into the living room, leaving me behind to gather myself. I take a couple deep breaths and run my shaking hands down the front of my shirt a few times.

I’m scared to death of him right now, but I don’t want him to leave either. I can’t kick him out, what if he comes at me? Or worse, what if I wind up throwing myself at him. I don’t trust me at this point, any more than I don’t trust him.

***

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.



Advertisements

Book Review: Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings by Erin Johnson

Posted on Updated on

Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels Book 10)Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings: A Cozy Witch Mystery by Erin Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Erin Johnson is my heroine these days… Ten (10 books) of semi-substantial page content in less than 2 years… all are great, tie together well, and make me yearn for the next release. But now I suffer… because with this 10th one in the Spells & Caramels Cozy Witch Mystery series, we have the final one: Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings. Is it okay to cry over the end of a book even though I know the author and she’s already gearing up for another series?

If you’re new to the series, here’s the brief scoop: Imogen is human and doesn’t know she’s a witch. She has an odd baking incident and sets a building on fire, then finds herself magically transported somewhere near France. She learns the truth about her heritage, meets and falls in love with royalty, fights monsters, meets her real family, and solves crimes in the world of witchery!

In this final book, Imogen is finally about to marry her beloved, but disaster strikes. Half the book involves her wedding preparations, the other half is figuring out who poisoned someone she’s close to. No spoilers here! In the end, of course, she saves the day, but the path to it is quite treacherous. I loved getting to revisit characters we missed from earlier books, as Imogen goes to each of them for help. The wedding is such a fun scene, and the ending is touching.

I highly recommend the series. The mysteries are light, the magic is low-level, and the characters are hilarious. When you add it together, it’s a recipe for awesomeness! Thanks for a great series, Erin Johnson. I’ll be with you on to the next one…

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Blood Rain in Trieste by George Henry

Posted on Updated on

Blood Rain in TriesteBlood Rain in Trieste by George Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blood Rain in Trieste is a thriller written by George Henry and published in 2015 by Creativia. I saw the book available on Amazon at a discounted price last month and picked it up. I’d definitely recommend keeping an eye out for future discounts or heading to the site to grab a copy now. What a roller coaster of emotions, battles, and intense drama.

I am a frequent thriller reader, but it’s usually psychological or medical. I’ve read a few international ones (mostly series) about various historical time periods that I love, but this was a new kind for me. The story mostly takes place in Italy but there are American, Canadian, and Afghani components that created a much larger cultural and religious read than I’ve devoured before. Not a worry, I found it all easy to follow and quick to suck me in.

Milo is a former… well, I’ll let you be the judge of how former his job really is, hit man. His Muslim wife was murdered. His Canadian CIA-equivalent boss seems to be responsible. A lookalike shows up begging for his help. And that’s just the beginning. Milo’s life explodes in the dirty and wealthy streets of Trieste where he beds hookers, murders mafia folks, falls in love, gets injured, and learns many secrets of the underworld (not Hell, although it certainly could feel like it at some points). Author Henry has a powerful voice in his protagonist, one who I loved in many scenes and wanted to sucker punch for being stupid in others. But that’s real life, we don’t always make the right decisions. And talking about real life, while I’m sure some people might experience similar things to Milo, this was about as far removed from my cozy little world as one could get. But I loved it!

George Henry is a new author to me. I’ll read his work again. He’s created memorable characters and settings. He’s unfolded layers of drama where no one stays on one side forever — there are secret allies, promises, and vengeance that must be fulfilled. Just when you think you know who’s behind it all, or which character is double-crossing another, one of the nuts in this cast releases a flame thrower, and readers, you better watch out! You won’t see it coming, but it makes sense when it glides past you and singes the hair off your arms. If you don’t have any, maybe just your shirt sleeve!

This is the kind of book that is consuming. While a few sections were overly detailed, the majority was a perfect balance of dialog and narrative that kept me coming back for more. My favorite scenes had to be between Mohammed and Milo. There is a tension not unlike father and son, but of two men who could kill each other or promise to protect one another forever at given times. There is anger but respect, admiration but pain, love but frustration. The author has done a phenomenal job at creating the tentative bond between these two characters, then tossed Mohammed’s greedy and sinning children in the mix.

Take a chance on this new author… especially if you like a raw, sometimes explicit but tasteful, and challenging read full of spider webs and multi-level dimension.

View all my reviews

TITLE REVEAL: Book 4 in the Braxton Campus Mysteries

Posted on Updated on

It’s an exciting week on the Braxton College campus! We have two great promotions going on: (1) the 2nd book in the series, Broken Heart Attack, available for .99 cents from 3/28 thru 4/1 and (2) the 3rd book in the series, Flower Power Trip, had its launch day on 3/30. But that’s not all… today, we reveal the title for the upcoming 4th book in the series which will be published in June 2019. We’ll also share the official cover in a few weeks…

MISTAKEN IDENTITY CRISIS

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer in order to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove.

As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he’ll have to make a few ruthless sacrifices.

Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County.

All Books in the Series

Academic Curveball (#1) – 10/15/18

Broken Heart Attack (#2) – 11/25/18

Flower Power Trip (#3) – 3/30/19

***

Visit the blog tour for Academic Curveball to read reviews, author interviews, and character guest posts
Visit the blog tour for Broken Heart Attack to read reviews, author interviews, and character guest posts
Visit the blog tour for Flower Power Trip to read reviews, author interviews, and character guest posts

Book Review: Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Posted on Updated on

Leave It to Cleaver (Vintage Kitchen Mystery #6)Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leave It to Cleaver is the 6th book in the ‘Vintage Kitchen Mystery’ series written by Victoria Hamilton. All I can say is… this series keeps on getting better. Jaymie and her sister are cleaning out a friend’s home when they discover a body trapped in a trunk for over 30 years. Who killed the missing teenager? It seems to be one of their friends who fought back in high school with the girl, except a second body turns up days later. That girl disappeared from high school around the same time. Someone was up to no good… what kinda shady characters was Becca hanging out with!?!?

Hamilton’s mystery itself is complex and full of believable suspects. I liked the way Jaymie went back and forth with her suspicion cast upon several people she knew and was close with. As she learns the truth about adoption, abuse, cheating, and hidden tempers, everything comes to a blow. What excelled in this story was the structure and approach. In alternating chapters, we see exactly what happened to different characters thirty years ago, all in third person perspective. We also see Jaymie’s current investigation, and decide for ourselves how the details will play out.

On the personal side, Jaymie is engaged, which we knew from the last book… but her wedding is finally here and it’s a double one with Becca, her sister. We meet more members of Jakob’s family – he’s such a good influence and match for Jaymie. And Grandma Leighton comes for a visit. Another wonderful edition in this series. I’ve already got the next one in my queue to order.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

Posted on Updated on

Eaves of Destruction (Fixer-Upper Mystery #5)Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eaves of Destruction is the fifth book in the ‘Fixer-Upper Mystery’ cozy series by Kate Carlisle. In these books, Shannon, a ~30ish construction business owner, solves crimes as an amateur sleuth while helping renovate a wonderful seaside town in California. In this edition, the local town inspector causes trouble at several of her job sites and finds himself murdered in the neighbor’s orangery (sun room / conservatory). Whodunit!?!

Shannon is a fun protagonist. She pokes fun at herself but also knows when to be serious, just like the series itself. Obviously, if this many murders occurred in a small town, and the same person found the body all the time, she’d be locked up for some sort of charge to prevent anything else from happening! But this is a book, and there needs to be some level of recognition for that fine line of reality versus fiction. Of all the cozies I’ve read, this one is near the top of the list of those that manage that balance quite adeptly.

The victim was mean and ruthless, he just invaded people’s homes to inspect work even when it wasn’t time or he didn’t have permission to enter. The culprit was semi-believable, but I wish it had been someone else. The family we’re focusing on is interesting, and I liked the addition of Amanda, a new contractor who helps save the day when too many jobs turn up. I liked that we saw more of Shannon’s friends and their personal relationships with the men and/or families in their lives. I was glad to see the connection between the sheriff and Shannon turning into something much more easy-going.

The ending was a little over-the-top, but it made me laugh and I enjoyed how it all came together. I have already ordered the next one in the series and will read it in early April. My goal is to be caught up as soon as possible because the seventh book comes out later this year. BTW, it was adapted into a TV series in case anyone is interested in watching it. Maybe then I can shift over to the author’s other series.

View all my reviews

Book Review: One Little Secret by Cate Holahan

Posted on

One Little SecretOne Little Secret by Cate Holahan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

One Little Secret is the second novel written by Cate Holahan that I’ve read. Part mystery and thriller, it tells the story of six neighbors (three couples) who rent a house on the eastern shores of Long Island for part of the summer. As each chapter unfolds in third person perspective, we learn of the drama transpiring in their individual and combined households.

This book was a very easy read. I devoured it in two chunks over a twenty-four hour period, finding myself unwilling to put it down except for meals and priorities that I couldn’t skip out on. The characters are vivid, realistic but with a slight caricature-like tendency, and will clearly show their motivation for each move they make. Holahan has weaved clever tension beyond just the normal marital problems of infidelity and monotonous boredom. At times, I thought these people were all horrible, yet at others, I saw moments of intimacy and pain that provoked sentimental feelings for them.

Given where they rented a summer home, it’s obvious they came from money, though some try to indicate they do not. Doctors, lawyers, tech start-ups, and sports reporters earn a lot in this world, so be prepared for a high amount of affluence and the drama that comes with it. From the start in the prologue where someone is being pushed under water, you know there is a secret worth protecting, but which of the six is the victim and which is the murderer is the game you’ve signed on to play when you picked up this book. Love it!

By 15% in, all the major clues are dropped. We know the victim’s hair color or body type, then one by one the author described the six people so that it became obvious who died. The detective from the Suffolk County police force is also a key focus, as she’s called to scene of this crime and another one which has a connection we’ve yet to realize. It’s also personal for the detective given her young daughter was innocently sucked into a party gone wrong, and that party was attended by one of the six house guests.

My favorite aspect of the book is how the story alternates across three days–day before, day of, and day after. There are flashbacks, and information dropped about the past, but the critical elements are what’s not being said in conversations and which neighbor has a connection we don’t understand to someone else. I adore that suspense, especially trying to guess not only who but what happened.

Overall, I waffled between a 4 and 4.5 stars, but settled on the higher rating. There were a few items that needed a better closure or clarity, so I couldn’t give it a perfect rating. The ending was apropos, but I felt like the detective lingered in the story and made too many mistakes. I didn’t always believe she was smart enough to solve the puzzle and felt like a distraction to the story. It was minor, but enough that I noticed it. Also, we didn’t get enough time with the victim to understand exactly who (s)he was as a person and parent. I felt bad for the death, but one or two more scenes to show the vibrant life and charisma once held would’ve made it pop even more.

Holahan’s writing style is engaging and has a stellar fluidity that makes you believe you’re standing in the rental house or on the beach as everything occurs around you. I look forward to her next book as it will be at the top of my reading list.

View all my reviews