STEEPED TO DEATH by Gretchen Rue

Series: Witches’ Brew Mystery, #1
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★¼


This was an enchanting start to a new mystery series! Main character Phoebe Winchester has just inherited a spooky gothic mansion and cozy tea/bookshop from her Aunt Eudora in Raven Creek, Washington. Yep, I spent a good portion of the book trying to figure out a way to jump inside. My dream! The descriptions of the brews and baked goods were to die for.

The mystery comes into play when a deceased man is found outside Phoebe’s store, possibly murdered as he was trying to break in. What was he after, and who wanted him dead? Phoebe also discovers that Eudora was a witch (that tidbit wasn’t just a town rumor!), and she may have inherited more than just an estate from her dear aunt.

This was an enjoyable read with a little magic, romance, and a solid mystery element. Plus a delightful cat named Bob! I can’t wait for the next book. If you love witchy/paranormal cozies be sure to pick this one up.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

SUN DAMAGE by Sabine Durrant

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: June 2, 2022
Source: Purchased from The Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★¼


The heat is intense.
The secrets are stifling.
She just needs to escape…

Nine guests arrive at a remote villa in the south of France.

They know each other well. Or think they do.

But at least one of them has plenty to hide — and nowhere to run.

Under the relentless sun, loyalties will be tested, secrets revealed, and tensions pushed to the point of no return.

I think the blurb for SUN DAMAGE is purposely vague, so I’m not going to say much about the plot. It’s set in the south of France, my favorite new thriller setting. Two con artists are working the beach resorts there, until things get a bit out of hand. And then…

Is summer gothic suspense a thing? Because that’s how I would describe this book. It’s an absorbing slow-burner with just the right amount of tension. I was really taken in by the rich descriptions of this place, like the yummy food, gorgeous scenery, and the stifling heat. The big twists at the end were brilliant.

CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW by Brad Parks {Review}


Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★¼


Disaster, Melanie Barrick was once told, is always closer than you know.

It was a lesson she learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she’s survived into adulthood–with a loving husband, a steady job, and a beautiful baby boy named Alex–she thought that turmoil was behind her.

Until one Tuesday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he’s been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It’s a terrifying scenario for any parent, but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls “the system.”

Her nightmare mushrooms when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff’s deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming, and if Melanie can’t prove her innocence, she’ll lose Alex forever.

Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Amy Kaye–who has been assigned Melanie’s case–has her own troubles. She’s been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women.

Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation . . . or her undoing.


Folks, this book made me a nervous wreck!! The protagonist Melanie Barrick is faced with a nightmare scenario: She goes pick up her infant son from daycare, only to be told he was taken away by Social Services, and no one will tell her why or where he is. Honestly, I don’t know how I would continue to function. Things get worse when she gets home to find the police have raided her home and found a HUGE dealer’s amount of cocaine hidden in the ceiling. Defending herself seems hopeless, and thoughts of being reunited with her baby are all that keep her going.

CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW was a great read, fast-paced and exciting, and I will forgive the nervous knot it put in my stomach. It wasn’t without some flaws though. There were a few things that just didn’t make sense (like why only Melanie was blamed for the hidden cocaine and not her husband too). I did figure out the culprit about half-way through, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I was still flipping pages as fast as I could to see if/how Melanie got out of her predicament. I could easily sympathize with Melanie, and I liked the prosecuting attorney, Amy Kaye, too. Both were smart, tough, and relatable. I’m looking forward to more from Brad Parks.

First To Read

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

THE LIAR’S GIRL by Catherine Ryan Howard {Audiobook Review}


Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★¼


Will Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin’s elite St. John’s College – and Ireland’s most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his five young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just 19, Will is locked away in the city’s Central Psychiatric Hospital.

Freshman Alison Smith moved to the Big Smoke to enroll in St. John’s and soon fell hard for Will Hurley. Her world bloomed…and then imploded when Liz, her best friend, became the latest victim of the Canal Killer – and the Canal Killer turned out to be the boy who’d been sleeping in her bed. Alison fled to the Netherlands and, in 10 years, has never once looked back.

When a young woman’s body is found in the Grand Canal, Garda detectives visit Will to see if he can assist them in solving what looks like a copycat killing. Instead, Will tells them he has something new to confess – but there’s only one person he’s prepared to confess it to.The last thing Alison wants is to be pulled back into the past she’s worked so hard to leave behind. Reluctantly, she returns to the city she hasn’t set foot in for more than a decade to face the man who murdered the woman she was supposed to become.

Only to discover that, until now, Will has left out the worst part of all.


Poor Alison Smith. She couldn’t wait to move to Dublin and attend St. John’s College with her best friend Liz, but her happiness was short-lived. Will, the charming boy Alison fell in love with freshman year, turned out to be a serial killer, and worse yet was that his last victim was Liz. A decade passes with Will locked up and Alison trying to forget that terrible time, when a copycat killer strikes. Will has new information to share that may help police, but the only person he’s willing to talk to is Alison.

THE LIAR’S GIRL is an absorbing slow-burn novel of suspense. I was easily wrapped up in the lives of the characters. The author has an engaging and descriptive writing style that makes the reader feel like part of the story. The mystery was constructed well and kept me guessing. I loved that final disturbing twist which brought everything together.

I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Alana Kerr Collins, with smaller parts by Alan Smyth and Gary Furlong. Ms. Collins’ performance of Alison was fitting with her character – not overly dramatic, yet emotional and expressive when the situation called for it. Alan Smyth narrated Catherine Ryan Howard’s previous book DISTRESS SIGNALS, and I loved, loved, loved his performance. Though his part was smaller in this book, he was just as wonderful. I’d listen to anything he narrates.

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


★ Happy Blogoversary to me! Book of Secrets was launched on St. Patrick’s Day 2010. ★