The Blue Diamond

Author: Leonard Goldberg

Series: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #6

Publisher: Minotaur

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes is back with her toughest case yet! 

Two premier hotels in London had valuable items stolen out of one of the guest rooms over the past two nights, prompting hotel owners to request for added protection from Scotland Yard.  But it is not until a third hotel has an item stolen that Joanna Watson, her husband, and father-in-law are solicited for their assistance.  The Governor-General of South Africa is in London to visit the crown and has brought with him the famous Blue Diamond that was discovered as a gift.  But even with the entire penthouse suite provided to the security entourage, the thief has somehow managed to break-in and make out with the diamond without anyone being aware. 

As the Watsons go about observing to discover all the facts, another break in is committed at the same hotel.  This time to a French Diplomat whose wife’s necklace and bracelet were stolen as well as his briefcase which contained a most important document that could be used to turn the war into England’s favor against Germany.  With national secrets on the line, the Watsons must act quickly before the Germans can discover the military’s plans, but someone is willing to kill the Watsons to move the plan forward.  Will they be able to stop them?  Or is it the end of the line to the daughter of Sherlock Holmes?

This is one of those series that I can’t wait for the next installment every year!  It always winds up on my “best of” list and the “looking forward to” list!  The mysteries are always so intertwined that my brain keeps turning throughout the whole book trying to keep with Joanna and figure out who is the culprit.  Just when I think I have it figured out, Goldberg throws in a curveball to keep me guessing right up till the end with Joanna reveals it all.  I’ve read all the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series and have enjoyed each one.  They can be read as a standalone or you can enjoy them one at a time throughout the series.  There is some character growth throughout each book and I love seeing several repeat characters throughout each story and how they grow as well.  Just a great mystery that all will love!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Souls of Lost Lake

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Jaime Jo Wright has outdone herself! The Souls of Lost Lake pulled me in deeper than the waters of Lost Lake with a magnificent story that will stay with me long after the last page.

Wren Blythe has a complicated life. She lives with her father, working ministry at a youth camp in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. She joins in the search for a little girl who has gone missing in the area causing rumors of decades old murderess, Ava Coons, could be involved. In the 1930s, Ava Coons comes out of the woods carrying an ax and covered in blood. Her family’s cabin is found burned to the ground with blood around the ground but no sight of any of her family. At thirteen years old, Ava doesn’t remember what happened to her family and the townspeople blame her for their deaths. Years pass before another murder hits the town and Ava is the prime suspect. Decades separate Ava and Wrene, but there is a wickedness in town that will bring them together to save the lives of those they love.

Jaime Jo Wright is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I was slow to pick up her books because she writes part of her stories in the past and historical fiction has not been one of my top go to genres. But when you write in the way Jamie Jo Wright does, it doesn’t really matter if it is past, present, or future; the story is so good it takes time out of the equation and puts the reader deep within the story. I am finding with each of her books that I read it is better than the last and The Souls of Lost Lake is no exception. Both the past and the present timelines are so intriguing with characters readers will have no choice but to fall in love with and want to desperately find out how their story turns out. I have never enjoyed historical stories much, just hard for me to get into and relate to the characters, but here I have fallen in love with even the secondary characters and can’t wait to turn the pages and see what happens. I started this one while in a reading slump, not even wanting to read for a few weeks, which is very unusual for me, but this book turned me around and I flew through the pages devouring the story within. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great mystery that will be hard to put down and accomplish anything else. One of the rare books I wish I could give more than five stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Fires of Edo

Author: Susan Spann

Series: Shinobi Mystery #8

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Release Date: February 15, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After almost three years, Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo have returned for another mystery!

Upon arriving in Edo to fulfill their task of alerting Iga operatives that they may be in danger of Lord Oda’s uprising, Hiro and Father Mateo get caught up in the fire brigade’s rush to extinguish a burning building before it can spread to other structures.  Head of the fire brigade is no other than Hiro’s childhood nemesis from Iga, but he must put feelings aside to warm him of the possible danger.  When the remains of a samurai are discovered in the fire, all attention is put on the shop owner who is responsible for the damage and the death.  As the penalty in Edo for a negligent fire is death, Father Mateo and Hiro agree to investigate and determine the true cause of the fire to hopefully spare an innocent man’s life.

I have loved this entire series and this installment is no different.  What makes these stories so great is the banter between the two main characters.  It’s just comical and makes the story move along so well, but the mysteries are always intriguing to keep the reader trying to guess at what the truth is.  With colorful supporting characters as always, Spann does a great job introducing new friends as you lose some along the way.  The ending made me feel like this could be the end for the series, but I sure hope not.  I’ve waited three years just for this one and I hope she manages to pen one or two more before it’s officially over.

Driving Force

Authors: Lynette Eason & Kate Angelo

Series: Elite Guardians

Publisher: Sunrise Publishing

Release Date: March 22, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The start of a new collection adding to the Elite Guardians series with a fresh author brings a fresh look at an already fantastic series!

The Elite Guardian’s newest member, Christina Sherman is in for a surprise with her newest client she is assigned to protect. Her client is bossy, headstrong, and to top it off, he is a highly trained military working dog called Boss. Special Forces Air Commando Grey Parker is his handler and has been training him to help find explosive materials that no other dog can track. That has made him and especially his dog a target. When Grey is scheduled to undergo a surgery to try and help him to walk again, he needs someone with the right clearance level to handle Boss while he is out of commission. Christina is supposed to keep Boss alive and well but ends up having to protect both he and Grey when they come under attack. What seems at a first to be a normal assignment ends up being more than Christina bargained for, and with more than their lives on the line, The Guardians are going to have to pull all their resources to get the job done.

I have enjoyed the Elite Guardians series by Lynette Eason and when I learned there would be a new set of authors exploring these characters and adding to the series, I was excited. While I was excited, I was also a little bit nervous, Eason has become one of my favorite romantic suspense authors and it is hard to fill those shoes. With Eason as her mentor, Kate Angelo has proven herself with Driving Force. The characters of Christina and Grey are engaging and charismatic in a way that shows the influence of Eason and that made Angelo a great author for this novel. Christina is a great protagonist; strong and full of passion no matter what obstacle she encounters she is going to give it her all. Even with all that said, she isn’t above showing fear in the face of great danger and still letting it work for her. The feelings she develops for Grey and the feelings he develops for her drive the story full speed ahead. I recommend this novel to fans of the Elite Guardians series and even if you haven’t read any of the series you could read this one and enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Girl In Ice

Author: Erica Ferencik

Publisher: Scout Press

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A chilling, thrilling and original story that wasn’t what I expected it to be but also a satisfying read!

Valerie Chesterfield has been studying as a linguist for years and is skilled in many languages, including several “dead” ones. She doesn’t get out much, especially after her twin brother died while stationed on a remote island off Greenland. When she gets a call from Wyatt, a researcher who worked with her brother asking for her help, she packs up and goes to try and help with a scientific impossibility. Wyatt has found a young girl frozen in the ice who thaws out alive, but he can’t understand her language and calls Val to try and help him understand this girl and what he has discovered. The girl doesn’t speak any language Val knows but is also sick and getting worse by the day. Their time to figure out what is wrong is running out and on top of that Val is looking for more answers about her brother’s death. With the artic temps and freezing wind, their time to save the girl and possibly themselves is running out.

To say this book was unlike any book I have ever read would be an understatement. This book was full of all kinds of twists and turns with cunning characters and an imaginative and innovative plot. At times I did find myself scratching my head wondering if what was happening could really occur, it was out in left field from what I normally read but kept my attention. With the setting being what it was and the story matter being so deep, it did get dark at times. One of the things the author did particularly well was description, not only of the desolate setting but also the sights, smells and other senses to make the readers feel as if they were in in the freezing cold with Val and the other characters. While the story flowed well and was interesting, I would have liked more information on the girl found in the ice, readers learn a little bit, but I would have enjoyed more. Several of the scenes were more for mature audiences along with language throughout the book. With that said, I believe this is a good book that readers looking for a unique mystery that is a quick read.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Silent Sisters

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #3

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 22, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fantastic addition to the Charles Jenkins series full of all the fun, espionage action we have come to love from Dugoni!

After his last mission where he barely escaped Russia alive, Charles Jenkins thinks he can finally settle down with his family and put the spy game behind him. When the final two of the seven sisters, assets who have been deep undercover, have cut off communication and Charles is tasked with finding out if they have been turned, or in hiding. A job that becomes harder as he has been placed on the Russian kill list. Immediately after he arrives, his plans fall apart when he gets involved in the death of the son of one of Russia’s most powerful crime leaders. Now, he must watch every move he makes even more carefully and try to accomplish his assignment without getting caught and killed. All he wants is to make it back home to his family in one piece before his luck runs out.

Every time I pick up a new Robert Dugoni book, I know I am going to be in for a fantastic read. The Charles Jenkins books would normally not be ones I pick up being set in Russia, not what pulls me in usually, but when Robert Dugoni writes it all bets are off and I’m in for the duration of the story. Charles is a character that is full of strength, determination, and will to live and return to his family. He is written in a way that readers will be able to relate to him and want to cheer him on to achieve his mission and return to his family. Each character in this book has a place and purpose; even with several different storylines and many characters it was easy to follow with Dugoni’s smooth writing.

The world of espionage is fun to read about with different settings and people the characters encounter, but it can also be confusing depending on how well it is written. If you pick up a Robert Dugoni novel, doesn’t matter if it is one of the Charles Jenkins novels or one of his Tracy Crosswhite novels, you know you are going to be in for a story that is well written with characters that will pull you in and keep you intrigued by what they are going through and sucked into a really great story. There are some mature themes throughout this book, but it is written so well it never bothered me or took away from the story. I recommend this to those that enjoy thrillers and mysteries, but you will need to have read the first two in the series to get the most out of this one.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Base Notes

Author: Lara Elena Donnelly

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A very different take on the usual mystery genre books; Base Notes is unique and intriguing.

Vic Fowler lives in New York City and has been working as a perfumer trying to make it in the big city for years. During her time there, she has figured out how to use scents to bring about memories, strong memories that some would even kill for. Living in the city cost a lot and her day job isn’t always enough to pay the bills. Vic is approached by one of her former clients, Joseph Eisner, who gives her an opportunity to make the kind of money that is too good to turn down. But it might also be too dangerous to go about by herself. With the help of fellow artists, Vic tries to keep her plans from coming apart and worse things happening, all because of greed.

Base Notes was a completely unique take and not what I expected at all.  The beginning started a little slow, but once I got past that it was a quick read with a good female protagonist and storyline. There was a lot of terms and moments dealing with the perfume industry that went over my head and could have been toned down for readers like me. This is not the kind of book you can just breeze through; more time is going to be needed to make it through the pages to get the most out of this one. This is definitely the right book for the right kind of audience, but not for everyone. The writing was very technical at times which lost me, and the tension of the story didn’t pick up quick enough for my liking. Overall, it was a good read but not one I will be racing to read again.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Stitchers

Author: Lorien Lawrence

Series: Fright Watch #1

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Release Date: August 3, 2021

A perfect thrilling and creepy read for young fans of Goosebumps that are looking for a fast and menacing story.

Goodie Lane has been the home of “the Oldies” for as long as thirteen-year-old Quinn Parker or anyone else has lived there.  The Oldies never seem to age leaving Quinn and her friend to wonder if they are vampires, aliens, or something else supernatural. Quinn and her dad used to come up with theories about ‘the Oldies’ but since he died, she has had to carry on the investigation by herself; that is until her neighbor Mike joins her to solve the mystery. The further into the investigation they get, the more dangerous it becomes as ‘the Oldies’ are onto them and what they are doing.

The Stitchers was not my normal read but my son picked it out, so I wanted to read it before he did. I love being able to do that so we can talk about the books afterwards. I am happy to say that this was a fun read that I know he will also enjoy. The main characters were a perfect blend of fun, energetic, detective skills at just the right point for their age and a storyline that is great for young readers to enjoy. This is the perfect blend of spooky that both kids and adults can enjoy. When I saw the recommendation by Stephen King, I figured it was going to be a good one, and he didn’t lie. This is the start of a new series and I am very curious to see where the story is going to go next; the end of this one tied things up in a great way but did leave me wanting more. I loved the way the author brought together different generations to help the kids solve the mystery, it showed us that we need each other and must work together to make a difference in our area. I was able to read this in a single day and know kids will fly through the pages and enjoy the story within. I recommend this to adults and kids that love a thrilling story like Goosebumps but with nothing to worry about any questionable content.

How to Murder a Marriage

Author: Gabrielle St. George

Series: The Ex-Whisperer Files #1

Publisher: Level Best Books

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A clever plot with fun characters and great dynamics between all that came on the page.

Gina Malone writes books and a blog giving relationship advice to others even as her own marriage is imploding. After she gives advice to one writer telling her to leave her abusive husband, the husband starts attacking Gina online. Her kids have left home and now that she and her husband have split, she dyes her hair, gets a nose ring and moves back to her hometown on the shores of Lake Huron. It isn’t long after she arrives that she feels she is being watched and strange things start occurring. Gina has a stalker, but is it her ex-husband holding a grudge, the husband of the woman who wrote to her or someone else entirely?

This book had great potential to be a clever and funny read all while being suspenseful at the same time. Unfortunately for me, it fell flat in a lot of places. It really wasn’t that funny; the suspense had its moments, but I also found myself just ready to finish the story. The blog exerts were interesting and could have used a few more to keep the story moving at a better pace. The relationship between Gina and Hugh was the best, I enjoyed their flirting and dynamic. Gina has a few scenes with her children at the beginning but nothing more making me think that could have been omitted and not hurt the story. This is the start of a series as the ending is left wide open for the next. I’m not sure that I will be diving into the next as this one was only mediocre. While this wasn’t the book for me, I do think readers that enjoy crime writing with a little edge to it will enjoy this one.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Her Name is Knight

Author: Yasmin Angoe

Series: Nena Knight #1

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: November 1, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun and energetic story told in dual timelines laid out perfectly!

Nena Knight, as she is called today, was stolen as a child from her Ghanaian village and sold to the highest bidder. Her life was a nightmare until she was able to escape. Once she did, she managed to become part of a family that loved and cared for her and took her

into the family business where she became an elite assassin for a powerful group called the Tribe. On her latest assignment, she ends up saving a life instead of ending one which changes everything for her. The life she saved is a man she starts to fall for causing her family and the Tribe problems. The newest member of the Tribe turns out to be the man that destroyed her village and sold her into captivity. She wants vengeance more than anything, but she is also afraid to lose the family she has worked so hard to gain over the last decade.

Her Name is Knight is a really great novel for a debut author. The story is entertaining, fun, and contains characters that I wanted to follow. Nena especially, but her sister got on my nerves at times. The back and forth between past and present can sometimes get confusing but the way Angoe went about writing it really worked for me.   The story was great and flowed well, but there was a lot of over-the-top foul language that I just didn’t feel had to be included throughout the whole story.  This is recommended for mature audiences.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.