The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (Renee Ballard, #4, Harry Bosch Universe, # 35) @Connellybooks @littlebrown @NetGalley #mystery #suspense #characterdrivenfiction #thriller #bookreview #bookblogger #harrybosch

Susanne’s Review:

Nowadays, times appear rougher than they used to be. Danger shows itself in different ways.  Here and now, you can’t always see what’s right in front of your face simply because everyone is hiding behind a mask and Covid is ever-present. 

Never one to shy away from reality, Michael Connelly’s new novel, The Dark Hours brings it home. 

It’s in The Dark Hours that  Detective Renee Ballard does her best work.  She is a night owl and she loves flying solo. When a homicide occurs on her watch in the Late Shift, she wants it, even if the investigation should go to the detectives in the Hollywood Division. Once she dives into the case, what she finds, makes her want it even more. Her case links to an old unsolved crime, a cold case of retired Detective Harry Bosch’s, and wouldn’t you know it, the two decide to work together to solve them both.  

Ballard, of course, investigates other crimes as well, one of which involves several women assaulted in their homes, in the middle of the night, by a group called The Midnight Men, which brings about a different type of danger altogether.

This was a nail-biter, to say the least!

A very well-written, well-done police procedural, which took place during the pandemic.  Something very few authors even attempt.  I truly appreciated the care that Michael Connelly took, to center a police procedural in and around the pandemic and give major kudos to him for that.  

What I love most about this series is the camaraderie between Ballard and Bosch which warms my heart. If you know me, you know how much I love these characters, Harry Bosch specifically.  I could, in fact, wax poetic about my love for Harry Bosch (and have, in many a book review in this series, lol).  While I wish that Bosch took a more prominent role here, I still adored this novel and love the character of Renee Ballard. It’s clear that there will be some changes in store for both of these characters and I look forward to seeing where life takes them. 

A huge thank you to Little Brown and Company and NetGalley for the arc. Thank you for always being so generous in feeding my Harry Bosch obsession (lol). 

Published on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.

It Started with a Dog (Lucky Dog #2) by Julia London @JuliaFLondon @BerkleyPub @NetGalley #romcom #contemporaryfiction #bookbloggers #rottiepuppy

Susanne’s Review:

Seriously Cute, though a Tad Predictable.

A Ridiculous Lyft Share Ends with an Inadvertent Phone Swap and a Meet Cute.

If only life worked out this way, for real!  Ha.

When Harper Thompson and Jonah Rodgers inadvertently swap phones during a wild Lyft share, they of course start swapping text messages. The fact that they are both cute, single, and live in the same city is a bonus!

Nothing could tear these two apart, except, of course, their career aspirations.  

Love, of course, prevails!

If you’re a dog lover, this book is definitely for you!  If you don’t have an animal in your life, watch out as this book is going to make you want to rescue one asap!

A cute weekend buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley for the arc.

Kaceey’s Review:

For all dog lovers!🐶 

A sweet, warm, and fuzzy rom-com sure to put a big smile on your face. And very possibly, have you seriously considering adopting a rescue.😉 

Harper and Jonah are two strangers, desperate to get out of town as the Christmas travel rush is in full swing. 

Now the two fatefully share a ride to the airport. When their five-star rated driver unexpectedly hits the brakes, everyone’s phones are sent flying. In all the confusion, Jonah and Harper accidentally end up with each other’s phones. What ensues is hilarious! 

Can you even imagine a total stranger going through your phone? Reading all your texts… Ogling at all your pictures. Yes, all of them.🙈. Eeks! Umm, Just a thought…Lock your phone everyone!! 

When they finally re-connect to return the phones to their rightful owners, it’s a deep crush at first sight. And well, of course, they feel like they’ve known each other for years. No doubt, due in no small part from all that snooping into the other’s phones?🤔. And it certainly didn’t hurt that Jonah’s screen-saver was of his dog Truck. He’s got to be a good guy…right?💁🏻‍♀️ 

This was an extremely heart-warming and cute rom-com. And though almost every rom-com follows a formula, I must admit this one was highly predictable. But it was still entertaining and time well spent! 

A weekend rom-com buddy read with Susanne. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Elisha at Berkley Publishing 

No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield @katrosenfield @WmMorrowBooks @NetGalley #mystery #suspense #bookreview

Kaceey’s Review:

Are you tired of the same old thriller? Ready for something just a bit different? Look no further, my thriller friends! 

Lizzie Oulette seemed destined to be on the outside looking in. Never accepted by her peers growing up. And even though she married a local guy, still finds herself cruelly left out of any social gathering. 

And things just got considerably worse for poor Lizzie. Her body has been discovered and her husband has suspiciously disappeared. The evidence trail leads detective Ian Bird to a disgraced socialite couple who had previously rented a remote cabin from Lizzie.  

The storyline plays out with Lizzie herself describing the events leading up to the killing. Can you put the pieces together? Can Detective Bird solve the mystery? 

This was a cleverly plotted thriller that felt so different from the “formulary thrillers” we‘ve all been accustomed to reading lately. 

It was shocking, with some tasty jaw-dropping moments along the way. Now that’s more like it! Everything I could want and hope for (but rarely find) in my thrillers. 

My first read by this author and anxiously await her next release! 

A buddy read with Susanne 

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow and Custom House

Susanne’s Review:

Sheer Craziness!

When Lizzie Oullette’s body is found in her lake house, it sends the community of Copper Falls into a tailspin.  

The investigation into Lizzie’s death leads Detectives to the wealthy Adrienne Richards.  Adrienne is hiding something.  The question, however, is what?

Nothing is as it seems in this wild tale.  

Deception at its absolute best, No One Will Miss Her will have your head spinning in every direction.

A buddy read with Kaceey that left us both highly entertained.

Thank you to NetGalley, William Morrow and Custom House, and Kat Rosenfield for the arc.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

Cul-de-sac by Joy Fielding @joyfielding @randomhouse @NetGalley #Thriller #Suspense #Contemporary #Bookblogger #Bookreview

Kaceey’s Review:

Oh what scandalous, delectable fun!  

I just adore neighborhood books and this was among the best of them

A shot rings out in the night. One neighbor is dead. Of course, everyone wants answers. 

Although there’s a considerable list of characters in this book, Ms. Fielding did an amazing job of bringing vivid depth and life to all of them. At no time did I have any difficulties keeping them apart.   

The storyline unfolds from multiple POV. and I enjoyed them all. Once again, I think we can all agree, no one ever really knows what goes on behind closed doors. 

My third read from this author and my favorite to date and can’t wait to see what she conjures up next.  Meanwhile, I have an enormous backlog of her books to keep me busy!🤓🍿

 Enjoy domestic drama? Make sure this book is on your list!  

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group Ballantine for granting my wish. 

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun @AlisonCochrun @AtriaBooks @NetGalley #lgbtqia #romcom #fiction #contemporaryfiction #mentalhealth #bookreview #bookblogger

Susanne’s Review:

So much more than a Rom-Com!

Have you ever gone into a book expecting one thing and getting something else entirely?  Well, that is exactly what happened to me when reading The Charm Offensive.  I expected an LGBTQIA+ rom-com, and what I got was a book centering around acceptance, identity, mental health, self-esteem, self-love, sexual identity, romance, and of course, so much more. 

To say that my cup runneth over while reading this one isn’t enough!

This book, my friends, captures ALL OF THE FEELS and centers around extremely important themes as well.  What’s not to love?!  

I adored the characters of Dev and Charlie, and couldn’t believe the sparks that flew between the two.  What I also loved was how the relationship developed between these two, and how well they communicated.  This is how relationships should be my friends!

While the premise of this novel sounds familiar: there’s a twist (it’s not just a dating show!) that will immediately make you laugh and smile, whether LGBTQIA+ rom-coms are your thing or not. 

What I’m trying to say is that this book will just automatically make you CHEER FOR LOVE! 

Huge props to Alison Cochrun for writing this fabulous story.  Let me just say that I will read anything you write from here on out.  

Thank you to Isabel DaSilva, Atria Books, and NetGalley for the arc. 

Dark Horse (Orphan X, #7) by Gregg Hurwitz @GreggHurwitz @MinotaurBooks @NetGalley #fiction #suspense #mystery #bookreview #bookblogger

Susanne’s Review:

Dark Times, They are Upon Us.  

For the first time ever, I must admit to skimming an Orphan X novel.  I’m sorry to say it but Dark Horse didn’t thrill me.  

After the last Orphan X novel, Prodigal Son, I was eagerly awaiting this one. You might even say that I was waiting for this one with bated breath.  What I got was a big letdown.

Here, Evan Smoak helps find the daughter of Aragon Urrea, a drug kingpin, after she is kidnapped.  Mr. Urrea is not a good man and yet, his daughter is not responsible for his actions, calling into question ethics and morality, which is something Evan must explore.

For me, unfortunately, much of that storyline was a drag.  What I did love, however, was the return of Joey Morales.  That girl is a hoot and a half!  The interaction between her and Evan saved the day for me. Then there was Evan’s relationship with Mia and her son Peter, which gave us all some heart palpitations.

While this one wasn’t my favorite, I look forward to seeing what happens next.

A buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Gregg Hurwitz for the arc.

Published on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.

Kaceey’s Review:

Once again I have been let down by the man of my dreams. Well in this case – book dreams!

I have been crushing on Evan Smoak since book one. And love joining him on all his adventures. But this latest… well maybe I should have sat it out.

Evan is off to South Texas. With a few stop across the border. He is desperately trying to save the life of the daughter of a known drug kingpin named Aragon. Can Evan infiltrate the Mexican drug cartel and rescue her before it’s too late?

Evan Smoak known as Orphan X is my kind of super hero. And yes, you need to suspend some (ok a lot) of believability in order to enjoy his escapades. And with all the previous books I could. But this once Evan was asking a bit too much from me. I just couldn’t do it. Yes he is a bad ass and can take on just about anything or anyone. But an entire Cartel …well…

Evan, I still love ya! And will be sitting her (im)patiently waiting for your next adventure.

A buddy read with Susanne that left us both a bit disappointed.

Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books.

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby #sacosby @MacmillanAudio @NetGalley #fiction #mystery

Susanne’s Review:

Justice, Revenge, and Vengeance.  

Sometimes there is a fine line between them and such is the case in S. A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears.

If only I had loved this book.  For me, a lot was missing.  First, I did not feel a connection to the characters of Ike and Buddy Lee, whose gay sons were murdered, and sadly I felt that this book was full of stereotypes and left a lot to be desired.  

The truth is, I went into this novel with trepidation – I liked this author’s prior book, Blacktop Wasteland, but didn’t quite love it.  As it turns out, I was right to be concerned going into this.  There is A LOT of homophobia and violence in this novel and for me, both were turnoffs.  Admittedly, when discussing the amount of violence in this book with Kaceey, my book buddy with whom I read this novel, I said that sadly, I felt that it was realistic given where we are in this nation, and for that reason, the level of violence didn’t bother me.  In thinking it over, however, that did not make it ok. There were so many stereotypes here: homophobic, racist, sexist, white men who at the end of the novel had a change of heart, about their sons and the world, it bordered on ridiculous. 

What I will say however is that S. A. Cosby is an excellent writer and his storytelling skills are fabulous. While I’m not sure that I’m the right reader for his novels, I urge all of you to read other reviews as almost everyone else has loved his novels.  

This was a buddy read with Ms. Kaceey.  So glad we got to discuss this one and share our thoughts Kaceey!

Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan Audio for the alc.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter. 

Kaceey’s Review:

Two very different men brought together by the deaths of their sons. 

Ike and Buddy Lee’s sons were happily married and raising a beautiful daughter. When the young couple is brutally murdered their fathers are left with profound grief…and guilt. Neither were ever able to accept their son’s lifestyle during their lives, now cut so horribly short. But is it truly too late for them? As they both struggle with the incomprehensible loss, is there hope in all the pain they may come to accept their sons and the love they had for one other? 

One thing is certain…Buddy Lee feels the deaths must be avenged! In his mind, the police are doing little to find the killers. The two fathers team up, determined to bring some justice to their son’s death (by whatever means necessary.) 

I absolutely loved S.A. Cosby’s previous book Blacktop Wasteland and I was certain I’d be placing this latest release right next to it on my favorites’ shelf. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. It just didn’t connect to me the same way.  

Perhaps it was the violence. Yes, my fellow readers, the violence was outrageously over the top. (in my humble opinion.) This gal just didn’t have the stomach for it, finding myself skimming over some of those darker scenes in order to make it through the book.  

However, on the bright side, I listened to the audio version and felt the narrator did a fabulous job in the telling of the story. 

There are so many five-star reviews for this book. So perhaps this book will work out better for you.

A buddy read with Susanne 

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio

The Forever Girl (Wildstone #6) by Jill Shalvis #jillshalvis #fiction #contemporaryfiction #womensfiction #libraryloan

Susanne’s Review:

There’s just something about Wildstone.

Returning to Wildstone for her best friend’s wedding isn’t easy.  After all, it’s been several years and Maze walked away for a reason.  Leaving everyone behind broke her heart.  Once part of a foster family that included her estranged best friend Cat, baby sister Heather, and Walker, the man who stole her heart, Maze has been wandering since the moment she left. Back together for Cat’s wedding, this family has a lot of history to work through.

Maze and Walker have a past.  One they can’t fight, though Maze tries to.  Walker however wants nothing more than to be with Maze, if only she’ll have him.

A novel about the family you choose and letting bygones be bygones.  

If you’re looking for a series to dive into, I highly recommend this one!

Thank you to my library for loaning me a copy of the audiobook.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead (Finlay Donovan #2) by Ellie Cosimano @ElleCosimano @MinotaurBooks @NetGalley

Kaceey’s Review:

Shes at it again!  

Finlay Donovan is a mystery novelist currently (well, almost always) in the throes of yet another writer’s block. The primary inspiration for her next book will come from her everyday life. Because Finlay’s life is in fact, just crazy enough to work as a piece of fiction! I believe the saying is, “you can’t make this stuff up!” 

Finlay discovers that someone wants her ex, dead (other than her). So now it’s a race against time to find who’s putting this bounty on his head and bring it to a grinding halt, if for no other reason than to protect her children.   

Finlay is such a fun and quirky character. You cant help but love her. Shell keep you amused and chuckling throughout!   

If you’re looking for a light read that will have you rolling your eyes, (strictly from all the shenanigans) look no further. This book can definitely be read as a stand-alone. But as always, I highly recommend starting with book one Finlay Donovan Is Killing It. You’ll be glad you did! 

A buddy read with Susanne  

Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an Arc to read and review. 

Susanne’s Review:

We Have a Winner, My Friends!  Finlay Donovan Knocks it out of the Park!

Wild, Crazy Hilarity Ensues in Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead.  

Finlay and Vero are back and this time, they are trying to save Finlay’s ex-husband.  It appears that someone has put a hit out on him and as the father of her kids, Finlay, does her absolute best to save him.

There is lots of laughter and levity to be found in this second book in the series, whether it’s when Finlay and Vero are off saving Steven from the hit men or while watching Finlay flesh out the details of her next manuscript, which is in fact, a doozy.  Though this is a tad over the top, this is exactly what was needed during these stressful times.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead is a fun, engaging, suspenseful read.  If you haven’t checked out this series, I highly recommend it.

Another fabulous buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the arc.

Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram.  

the Heart Principle by Helen Hoang @HHoangWrites @Dreamscapeaudio @librofm #contemporary #romance #fiction #bookreview #bookblogger

Kaceey’s Review:

Oh my gosh. I went into this read expecting a fun romance. Yes, I heard there were some deeper themes involved. But truly I thought those would be a side note. Turns out it was the romance that took second stage.

Anna’s long time boyfriend just asked or should I say presented her with the fact he wants an open relationship to explore other women before they get engaged. Umm….what!?

Reluctantly (not that she had a choice) Anna agrees. Because she always agrees. It’s easier that way right!? How does one actually say “no” and stand up for what they need?

Well if Julien can do it so can Anna! Enter Quan. A good looking tattooed ‘biker’ recovering from his own personal trauma. Trying to conquer his fears, he would like to start dating again.

Anna knows she is different. She ‘masks’ in order to fit in.

As Quan sees this side of Anna he is drawn in closer rather than running away. Anna’s family chooses to ignore this side of her. Not acknowledging or helping her.

When a family emergency requires Anna to put her life on hold to tend to her family, her resilience is put to the test. As she starts to crumble under the pressure, her pain and anguish are palpable.

When Anna reached her breaking point – so did I. I listened to her chapters while sobbing (yes ugly crying). She touched a part of me and her undoing became mine.

The romance is sweet and spicy. The messages of grief, family responsibilities and acceptance is strong and powerful.

Thank you to