THE WOLF WANTS IN by Laura McHugh {Review}


Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


In a small town ravaged by the opioid crisis, a woman confronts a dark secret about her brother’s shocking death–a gripping novel of suspense for fans of Sharp Objects and S-Town.

Sadie Keller is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it’s worth investigating. Untimely deaths are all too common in rural Blackwater, Kansas, where crime and overdoses are on the rise, and the small-town police force is consumed with the recent discovery of a child’s skull in the woods. Sadie is on her own, delving into the dark corners of a life her brother kept hidden and unearthing more questions than answers.

Eighteen-year-old Henley Pettit knows more than she’d like to about the seedy side of Blackwater, and she’s desperate to escape before she’s irreparably entangled in her family’s crimes. She dreams of disappearing and leaving her old life behind, but shedding the past is never easy, and getting out of town will be far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

As more bones are found in the woods, time is running out for Sadie to uncover the truth and for Henley to make her escape. Both women are torn between family loyalties and the weight of the secrets they carry, knowing full well that while some secrets are hard to live with, others will get you killed.

Like Laura McHugh’s previous award-winning thrillers, The Weight of Blood and Arrowood, The Wolf Wants In is an atmospheric, beautifully told novel that barrels toward a twisting, chilling end and keeps us turning the page to find out how these small-town secrets will unravel–and who will survive.


THE WOLF WANTS IN is a quiet mystery/family drama set in a small Kansas town. Sadie Keller believes her brother has died under suspicious circumstances and wants answers. At the same time police are investigating the discovery of a child’s skull found in the woods. Henley Pettit is just looking for a way out of Blackwater, a town of people plagued by the opioid epidemic, including her mother.

I very much enjoy Laura McHugh’s writing style and the way she crafts her atmospheric Midwestern settings. I don’t think the mystery & suspense elements in this book were as strong as in her previous novels (The Weight of Blood & Arrowood). There weren’t a lot of clues presented until the end, and I was left a bit confused about what happened & why. However, this character-driven book presents a realistic look at how poverty and opioid abuse affects people in small town America.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

NO ESCAPE CLAWS by Sofie Ryan {Review}


Series: A Second Chance Cat Mystery, #6
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


Sarah Grayson and her feline ally Elvis get a chance to see if their sleuthing skills are up to scratch in the sixth installment of the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

It’s fall in North Harbor, Maine, where Sarah owns a charming secondhand shop. A cold case heats up when Mallory Pearson appears at Sarah’s doorstep. Mallory’s father is in prison for negligence after her stepmother’s mysterious death in a house fire, but Mallory believes he’s innocent and asks the quirky team of senior citizen detectives who work out of Sarah’s shop to take on the case. With Sarah and Elvis lending a paw, they decide to try to give Mallory’s father a second chance of his own…


NO ESCAPE CLAWS is book six in the Second Chance Cat Mystery series (I’ve also read the first). Main character Sarah Grayson runs a lovely secondhand shop in North Harbor, Maine, along with a quirky group of her grandmother’s friends (known as the Angels). I could spend hours in her store.

The Angels are part-time detectives as well, and with Sarah’s help they solve local mysteries. Their latest case comes at the request of young Mallory Pearson, who wants them to prove her father is innocent of negligence in the death of her stepmother. Prison is a nightmare for him, but for some reason he doesn’t want help getting out. The mystery surrounding the suspicious death was a puzzler, and Sarah & the gang were smart about their investigation. I enjoyed tagging along!

My one quibble with the book was the large number of characters. Too many to keep straight at times, which made reading frustrating. Not only were there many speaking characters, but there were lots of “off screen” folks they talked about. Maybe it’s because I’ve missed many of the previous books?

Overall I enjoyed this cozy, and it made me want to catch up with the rest of the series!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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ONE FATAL MISTAKE by Tom Hunt [Blog Tour Review]


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ¾


The author of Killer Choice, a thriller “full of shocks and twists you won’t see coming” (Lee Child), delivers a nail-biting novel about a hit and run, and a lie that goes horribly wrong…

Her son accidentally kills a man.
They cover it up.
Then everything goes wrong.

When eighteen-year-old Joshua Mayo takes a man’s life in a horrible accident, he leaves the scene without reporting the crime to the police. He hopes to put the awful night behind him and move on with his life. But, of course, he ends up telling his mother, Karen, what happened.

Karen has raised Joshua on her own in Cedar Rapids, Iowa–and she’d thought they’d finally made it. He was doing well in school and was only months from starting college. After hearing his dark confession, she is forced to make a choice no parent should have to make, one that draws them both into a web of deceit that will change their lives forever–if they make it out alive…


One fatal mistake sets off a crazy and chaotic chain of events for 18-year-old Joshua Mayo and his mother, Karen. When Karen learns that Joshua has accidentally killed a man and fled the scene, she’s faced with a dilemma — help him cover it up, or risk him going to prison and ruining his future. Little do they know, that one mistake is just the tip of the iceberg.

ONE FATAL MISTAKE is a super-fast paced and unique thriller. It’s part crime drama and part family drama with lots of tension. While the characters felt real and their predicaments made me anxious, some of their actions were so frustrating. I suppose if you’re caught up in extreme situations trying to save your child, you may not make the best decisions.

Overall, this was an entertaining read I’d recommend to fans of suspenseful survival stories. Not really a mystery, but definitely a thrill ride. (I also enjoyed the Midwestern setting — Cedar Rapids!)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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YULE BE DEAD by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson {Christmas Cozy Mystery Review}


Series: Victoria Square, #5
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


A Christmas crime shocks the merchants of a quaint shopping district in this latest installment of The New York Times bestselling Victoria Square series.

It’s Christmastime, but not everyone is jolly–especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found in Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne’s mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many–but the clues are few. A broken teacup leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a murderer, but time is ticking because the murderer is definitely closing in on her.


Yule be dead — is that a great Christmas cozy mystery title, or what? This is the fifth book in the Victoria Square series, with Katie Bonner and her Artisan’s Alley merchants gearing up for the busy holiday season. Things get even more hectic when the tea shop owner’s daughter is murdered, and the questions Katie starts asking put her in hot water.

I’ve read one previous book from this series, so it was a delight to reunite with these characters. YULE BE DEAD is part mystery and part Victoria Square saga. Katie has so much going on in her life. She’s managing her business, entertaining her visiting mother-in-law (mother of her late husband), dealing with two romantic interests, and eyeing the tea shop that’s now for sale. While I enjoyed reading about all of those elements, I felt that the murder mystery got somewhat lost in the shuffle, and Katie’s investigation didn’t actually lead to the killer’s identity.

While I was hoping for a stronger mystery, I still greatly enjoyed this book. The characters and their relationships are real and complex, and I’m also looking forward to seeing where Katie’s new venture takes her.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE ELIZAS by Sara Shepard {Review}


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars Sara Shepard makes her mark on adult fiction with this Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival.

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

Fans of Pretty Little Liars, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 will be drawn to the drama of feeling like no one is on your side, the high tension of not knowing who you can trust, the hair-raising truths hidden among lies, and a faceless, nameless presence controlling Eliza’s life from the shadows.


THE ELIZAS is a dual narrative featuring Eliza, a young author who’s about to have her first novel published, and Dot, the main character in her book. Eliza is a troubled individual, both her past and present self. I found her irritating at times, but I understood her current paranoia. When she’s pulled from the bottom of a swimming pool yet again, her family is convinced it’s another suicide attempt, but Eliza thinks she was pushed in. Whose story is to be believed?

And then there’s Dot. This is a book within a book, as chapters from Eliza’s novel THE DOTS alternate with her own. I enjoyed this set up quite a bit, because it added to the overall madness of the situation. After a while it was hard to tell who was real and who was the character. Though some parts were a bit far-fetched, it was still a fun and strange read, especially if you love unreliable narrators.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.