Death in the Family by Lanny Larcinese

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  • Published: January 1, 2020
  • Genre: Crime Thriller

Donny Lentini is a talented young man hungry for his mother’s love. To please her, he becomes guardian angel to his mob-wannabe father. When the father is murdered and found with his hands hacked off, Donny is dealt a set of cards in a game called vengeance. The pot is stacked high with chips; the ante, his soul and the lives of loved-ones. With the help of friends—ex-con, defrocked Jesuit Bill Conlon along with former high-school nemesis, Antwyne Claxton—he digs for whether the murder had anything to do with the mob’s lust for a real estate parcel owned by the family of Donny’s lover. He’s new at this game. He doesn’t cheat, but plays his cards well. And he gets what he wants.

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Lanny Larcinese’s short work has appeared in magazines and has won a handful of local
prizes. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s a native mid-westerner transplanted to the City of Brotherly Love where he has been writing fiction for seven years. When not writing, he lets his daughter, Amanda, charm him out of his socks, and works at impressing Jackie, his long-time companion who keeps him honest and laughing—in addition to being his first-line writing critic. He also spends more time than he should on Facebook but feels suitably guilty for it.

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What Lies in Paradise by Leah Cupps

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  • Published: January 10, 2020
  • Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

She’s got 400,000 fans. One of them could be the killer.
 
Instagram Influencer Sydney Evans carefully curates her enviable public persona. Despite being freshly widowed, she’s eager to strike a pose at her best friend’s extravagant destination nuptials. But Sydney’s feed goes dark when she blacks out on the plane, awakening to discover another guest poisoned to death.
 
With the FBI keen to use Sydney as an insider, she takes the arm of a rookie undercover agent hoping to capture something incriminating. But a deadly run-in exposes a shocking criminal underbelly lurking beneath her own picture-perfect marriage. And if she doesn’t solve the case before her friends tie the knot, the culprit will make sure her next selfie is her last.
 
Can Sydney catch a murderer or will the wedding become a funeral?

You can find this author on: Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Leah Cupps is an entrepreneur and author. She has built and sold several businesses, and documented the process in her first book #MomLifeInc.

Leah lives in Indiana with her husband, three young children and two small dogs. When she isn’t losing sleep writing her next novel or scaling her next business, she enjoys running and spending time with her family.

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Lost Girl by Holly Kammier

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  • Published: January 5, 2020 by Acorn Publishing
  • Genres: Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 292
  • Rating: 3 stars

AN APPALLING ACT OF VIOLENCE AND AN UNSOLVED DOUBLE MURDER.

SMALL-TOWN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, SHELBY DAY, IS DETERMINED TO HUNT A KILLER. 

As her search draws closer to uncovering the twisted truth, she begins receiving ominous warnings to stay quiet and drop the story. The young journalist is in danger. Her cameraman and best friend, a person with his own secret past, says he wants to protect her. But Shelby is headstrong and dodging anything that could lead to love. She can’t allow anyone to distract her as she fights for the two women who deserve justice. 

She never expects along the way she’ll have to stop and save herself.

Ticktock… If Shelby doesn’t solve the crime soon, she’ll become the killer’s next victim. 

This is my first book by this author and it will certainly not be my last! I sat down with this book and only planned to get a few chapters knocked out, but ended up binge-reading it in one sitting! This book has a little bit of everything: an unsolved double murder, a budding romance, and unexpected reveals!

When this book opens, readers are quickly introduced to the main character: Shelby Day. The protagonist’s career is in reporting and she is currently tasked with interviewing individuals close to the two murdered victims whose killer still hasn’t been caught.

Day’s character is very career driven and feels like she does not have time for a committed relationship while opting for casual flings instead. However, things get complicated when she starts acknowledging her deeper feelings for a longtime male friend.

The mixture of suspense and feelings of love continue to build as this novel goes on, which leads to one killer ending. You see what I did there?

I hope those who read this enjoy my review and are encouraged to pick this one up! I’d also like to take a moment and thank Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me a spot on this tour.

You Kill Me by Holly LeRoy

Available on Amazon‘s Kindle Unlimited.
  • Publication date: August 17, 2019
  • Genres: Mystery, Thriller

LIEUTENANT EVE SHARPE should have seen the avalanche of trouble headed her way but events had dulled her edge and crumbled her foundation of toughness. With the press and politicians all coming for her, Eve begins to question whether she is really a cold blooded murderer or simply losing her mind. Was it an officer involved shooting gone wrong? An honest mistake? Or, something much, much worse?

There’s one thing for sure, it has turned the Chicago Police Department upside down, and Lieutenant Eve Sharpe’s life along with it.

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I’d like to take a moment and thank Goddess Fish for a spot on this tour.

Amber Hollow by Edgar Swamp

Trigger Warnings: This novel contains the following topics that may be upsetting to readers: gore, mass murders, sexual assault, and suicide.

  • Published: October 10, 2019 by Swampland Enterprises
  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Suspense
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 471
  • Rating: 2 stars

On July 14, 1991, an isolated village in Northern Wisconsin is ground zero for an unprecedented, fiery tragedy. Of the community’s 600 residents, there are only five survivors. Detailed accounts by the victims contradict one another; the only link they have in common is a man named Anthony Guntram, who they allege is the primary suspect. Because he is presumably dead, this claim can’t be verified. Further inquiries expose a culture enshrouded in mystery. What are the survivors are hiding? Only the villagers know the secret of Amber Hollow, a place where sanity is checked at the town line, and the parameters of reality become blurred. An unconventional horror story by design, Edgar Swamp delivers an action-driven page-turner that will keep readers guessing until the calamitous ending.

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I must confess that the book’s cover and synopsis is what initially drew me to sign up for this tour. Once I started reading, I quickly became hooked; the readers are introduced to two detectives: Sadie and Jeremy, who are working a case about a suspicious fire set in the community known as “Amber Hollow.” The duo begin questioning their limited survivors, but soon realize that their stories aren’t lining up, but can’t seem to figure out why…yet. Unfortunately, it is shortly after these events that the book begins to lose my interest. I felt like this book had the potential to be a great horror read, but the author’s mentions of known serial killers and a climactic buildup that fizzled out by the end really put a damper on this one for me.

Throughout the novel, the author makes references to well-known serial killers such as: Jeffrey Dahmer, Jim Jones, and Ed Gein. I can understand his reasoning for including them as the case the detectives are working on involves elements drawn from these three in particular, but I felt it took away from the story a tadbit for me personally.

Throughout this novel, Swamp is slowly rewarding the readers with the pieces needed to complete the overall investigation puzzle. Readers are gaining insight from survivors’ testimonies, exploring the isolated community, and more with each new chapter. However, by the time the “big reveal” occurs, it came across as rushed and did not pack the punch it could have for me.

Overall, I found this book to be an okay read that was a fast read; I’d still recommend others to check it out. Perhaps, this one would be best for those readers that enjoy slow-burners.

Thank you, Goddess Fish Promotions for allowing me a spot on this tour and providing me a copy of this one in exchange for an honest review.

Dragon's Burn by Brooke Warren

Trigger Warning: This book is intended for readers over the age of 18 due to adult language and content.

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  • Published: December 27, 2019
  • Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Reverse Harem, Romance

High school is over which means summer vacation has officially begun. I just spent the last four years busting my butt making sure I secured a one way ticket out of hicksville and the suffocating small-town life.

To celebrate my impending freedom I attend an end of year party with the same people I can’t wait to escape from. Except this party is different from the rest, there’s someone new.

What starts as a summer fling quickly turns into more. My carefully guarded heart is split wide open. Meeting him sends my life on a detour and threatens to destroy all my future life plans.

He’s not supposed to happen, he’s not part of my plan. He spins my world out of control, like a drug addiction I can’t seem to kick.

Can he escape his obligations with Legion’s Fallen MC or will our love destroy everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve?

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Glass Half Full by Katia Rose

  • Publication date: January 8, 2020
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Rating: 3 stars

You win some, you lose some.

Back at home with half a college degree after the fiasco of the century sent her packing, it’s safe to say that Renee Nyobé is losing some. She’s a hot mess, and not the cute kind. No, if hot messes had categories, hers would be ‘littering the stairs of the metro station with your sweaty underwear because you were too busy rushing to the job interview you’re already late for to zip up your yoga bag.’

A job—any job—is just what she needs to get her life back on track, and it might as well be at Montreal’s most famous dive bar, Taverne Toulouse.

Dylan Trottard is winning some. As Taverne Toulouse’s new manager, he’s got one rule for himself: don’t screw up. Following that rule gets a lot harder when the woman he’s spent the past three years trying to forget starts working behind the bar.
They were never supposed to want each other, and they sure as hell aren’t supposed to want each other now. She’s the girl that got away before he even had her, and he’s the guy she didn’t think would ever give her a second glance.

Now they can’t keep their eyes off one another, and the stakes are even higher than before. There’s a lot to lose, but as the pull between them gets harder and harder to ignore, Renee and Dylan start asking how much winning is worth.

Those who follow my blog are probably aware of the fact that romance is the least likely genre to find me reading, but I have been making more of an effort to embrace more titles in this particular category. Although this book is the second in a series by the author, each book can be read as a standalone. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I became invested in the budding relationship between the two main characters: Dylan and Renee; both individuals have flaws that readers can relate to and keep them rooting for a happy ending for the duo.

Renee is a twenty-one year old woman who finds herself back at home after her overseas education was cut short due to her suffering a mental breakdown. Even though it has been months since her incident, her family still feels the need to treat her like a fragile human-being. While trying to adjust to living life with anxiety and a different outcome of the life she had pictured for herself, Renee decides to apply for a job at a local dive bar. Unbeknownst to her, the newly promoted manager is someone from her past.

Dylan is a twenty-something year old who readers find has been recently promoted to manager at the dive bar that he has been working at for quite some time. When Renee comes walking through the doors, he cannot help but be taken on a journey through the past when he was crushing on her in their poetry group. Even though this is a second chance at being an item, he feels conflicted to pursue anything as he is hiding a secret that he seems unable to truly forgive himself for.

Over the course of the novel, readers see the characters work through their own personal struggles and find themselves drawn closer to one another. I read this book rather quickly and already wish it was time for the release of book three! Trust me, you will want to go ahead and preorder this one!

I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • Published: May 7, 2019 by HarperTeen
  • Genre: Young Adult
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 395
  • Rating: 5 stars

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

With 2019 quickly coming to an end and not having a five star read since September, I was worried that I would not be able to discover another one in time. I was delighted when my library hold came in for this title as I had heard great things about this book and I can happily report that it did not disappoint! The author does a wonderful job at demonstrating how one can overcome obstacles, pursue dreams, and take time for things that matter.

Emoni, the story’s strong female lead, is a teenager who has had the odds stacked against her since she became pregnant during her freshmen year of high school. With a child of her own while still a child herself, she fought hard to stay at her current school instead of being placed in an alternative one intended for other expectant mothers; she also made the decision to attend summer school to catch up on her missing credits and obtained a job to help cover the expenses of raising her child.

Emoni has always loved cooking and enjoys adding her own personal twist to every dish she prepares; it is one of the things I loved about her character while reading this book. She aspires to become a chef who owns her own restaurant one day, so it is no surprise that she quickly hops on the opportunity to attend a culinary arts course when it becomes available at her school. She struggles to accept her decision to join the class as she knows that it will cut into her studying and job hours, but is soon reassured by her loved ones that this is a great decision on her end.

Towards the end of the novel, the readers start to see the female character take control of her life and really start focusing on things that matter; she starts applying to several colleges, she starts trusting her baby’s father with more responsibilities that in return helps lighten her load, and she plans a trip to visit her relatives over the summer.

I highly recommend others to read this book when given the chance; I can almost guarantee that you won’t be disappointed! Despite finishing this book a couple days ago, I’m still thinking about the plot and wanting more of Emoni’s story!

The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit GARAI

  • Published: March 17, 2019
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 278
  • Rating: 3 stars

Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.

Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.

This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.

Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

The Bridge of Little Jeremy starts out with the readers being introduced to the narrator: Little Jeremy himself, who is a twelve year old boy suffering from a medical condition that readers will quickly be informed about. He lives with his mother and his beloved pet dog in the city of Paris, but finances are particularly tight at the moment. From medical bills to the newly discovered inheritance tax, his mother’s nursing home salary is not enough to cover all the expenses; this is when Little Jeremy starts using his art skills to secretly sell his paintings to help ease the burden for his mother. This venture sets the stage for the journey the narrator takes through the European city, where he uncovers a valuable artifact, uncovers knowledge about his heritage, and uncovers the importance of love.

The protagonist of this story is quite adventurous and is often left to roam freely around the city, which may be unimaginable to some of those who decide to pick up this book. On one of these explorations, he finds himself in the presence of a valuable Vittorio painting; he decides to take it upon himself to restore the painting and collect a profit that will eliminate any financial stress that his family is currently battling. In his process of restoring the painting, Little Jeremy becomes engrossed in his work and begins seeking out any tidbit of information that can be given pertaining to the piece of art.

When the narrator is not at work on the painting, readers will find him wandering about Paris following leads that may gain him some knowledge about his valuable find. One of these trips finds Little Jeremy making the acquaintance of someone who purchased property from his great-grandfather; on the site of the property, the boy spots a portrait of a woman holding a child that sparks his curiosity. He is sure that he recognizes that face, but cannot seem to recall who or were he may have saw the woman. He begins chatting with the landowner and learns that he has ancestral ties to the painting he has been working on, but that his mother must not know of its existence!

The restoration mission comes to an end and not a moment too soon! Little Jeremy’s mother has received notice that they must leave their flat and she is facing a few years behind bars due to the impending debts she has accumulated. The protagonist comes clean to his mother about the painting; she is shocked to learn of her son’s unknown trips and hobbies, but appreciates him trying to help. She agrees to sign the authorization allowing him to sell the painting, so the family can be released from their economical stress. As it is starting to seem like the family is receiving their happy ending, things take a turn for the worse fast; I cannot say much without giving the resolution away, but I will say that I did not expect it and it has stayed with me even after finishing the book.

I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those that enjoy books with character-driven plots, in particular.

* I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My 2019 Five Star Reads

The Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides

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This was Goodreads 2019 Mystery & Thriller winner! I reviewed this one on my blog earlier this year, which you can check out here.

The One by: John Marrs

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Amazon is having a deal on the Kindle version of this novel at the time of posting.

This book took me for one heck of a roller coaster ride! Each chapter revealed a plot twist that I didn’t see coming and kept me hooked till the very end! To see my review, click here.

A Stranger on the Beach by: Michele Campbell

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I ended up reading this book in one sitting! The author alternates between two points of view: Caroline and Aidan. The readers are left wondering whose side to defend through the entire course of events, but will have them questioning their own judgments when the ending is revealed. My full review can be found by clicking here.

Horns by: Joe Hill

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Amazon is having a deal on the paperback version at the time of posting.

This was my first read by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King, and it has become one of my favorites of all time. I can’t put into words how much I loved this book!

We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

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This is the only celebrity memoir that I have read this year to receive a five star rating by me. Union’s style of writing makes readers feel like they are sitting across the table from her the entire course of the book!

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

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Amazon is having a deal on the paperback and Kindle versions of this novel at the time of posting.

Readers follow Sarah Perry on her journey of finding out the events surrounding her mother’s death and who the suspect was. The author provides a thorough breakdown of what she uncovers and fans of true crime will want this one on their TBR!

A Mother’s Reckoning by: Sue Klebold

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Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one half of the Columbine shooting duo. The author tells her story of events leading up to and after the shooting with the help of diary entries. This is one readers won’t want to miss out on; I reviewed this one on my blog earlier this year, which can be found here.

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This was the last five star read of 2019 for me and it happened as the year was wrapping up. You can read my full thoughts on this one by reading my review.