Thoughts on Books (#14): The Last Woman in the Forest / Séances Are For Suckers / The Witch of Willow Hall / Cross Her Heart


The Last Woman in the Forest
The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Marian is a conservationist who works with rescue dogs in research projects, often in very remote and dangerous locations. After her boyfriend Tate is killed on assignment, she begins to suspect that he was responsible for the unsolved murders of four young women. Marian enlists the aid of a retired criminal profiler in hopes of putting her mind to rest.

The cold, desolate, and quiet natural setting of this book added an eerie sense of dread to the story. The writing was beautiful, and the ending was not what I expected. The story jumps around quite a bit, before and after Tate’s death, and also snippets from the victims leading up to their encounter with the murderer. There was a big focus on descriptions of the natural world and conservation projects which were enjoyable, though I would have liked the characters to have been fleshed out more. It was a bit slow moving for a mystery/suspense, but it held my attention and kept me guessing until the end.

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


Séances are for Suckers (Eleanor Wilde Mystery #1)
Séances are for Suckers by Tamara Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eleanor (Ellie) Wilde doesn’t believe in the paranormal, but that doesn’t stop her from making a living as a medium. She doesn’t consider herself a fake, because she really can solve pesky ghost problems. The ghosts, however, are typically rats in the attic or rattling pipes — but her clients don’t need to know that.

Ellie is flown to England to the ancestral manor home of Nicholas Hartford III. His mother is convinced they’re being haunted by a spirit called Xavier, and Nicholas wants Ellie to put Xavier to rest. Before that happens though, Ellie stumbles across a dead body. Now she’s charged with solving the mystery of Xavier and that of the stranger’s corpse that disappeared in the blink of an eye.

I enjoyed this first book in the Eleanor Wilde Mystery series. Ellie was a great character — witty, astute, clever, and likable — even if she is a bit of a con-artist. There’s a touching side story with Ellie and her ailing sister, and you can see how much she cares about her family. SÉANCES ARE FOR SUCKERS is a charming cozy mystery mixed with romance and a touch of “real” paranormal, which I’m excited to see what happens next with that!

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


The Witch of Willow Hall
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL is a wonderful throwback to those beloved vintage gothic romances. Set in 1821, the story follows the Montrose family as a scandal in Boston sends them retreating to the small town of New Oldbury. Their fresh start in the country is anything but peaceful, as a malevolent force seems to be plaguing their home, Willow Hall. Will middle daughter Lydia’s inheritance of a powerful family legacy be able to save them? Unfortunately, I was in a rush to finish this book and get it back to the library in time, so I didn’t get to savor it like I wanted to!! Still, I thought WILLOW HALL was an enjoyable witchy read and an impressive debut from Hester Fox. Just the right about of spooky goodness and sweet romance. Borrowed from the library.


Cross Her Heart
Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me. I found it slow and repetitive, and lacking any big surprises that made me want to keep reading. The twist at the end was so far-fetched, which sometimes can be entertaining (like in her previous book, Behind Her Eyes), but this time I was just shaking my head. I see lots of positive reviews for Cross Her Heart, so probably an “it’s me” situation here. Borrowed from the library.


⭐ FIND ME ON: INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS | BLOGLOVIN ⭐

BREAKING WILD by Diane Les Becquets

BreakingWild
Publisher: Berkley
Released: February 9, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


In captivating prose, Diane Les Becquets tells the story of one woman missing in the Colorado wilderness and another bent on discovering the missing woman’s whereabouts, in an unforgettably moving and thrilling literary debut.

It is the last weekend of the season for Amy Raye Latour to get away. Driven to spend days alone in the wilderness, Amy Raye, mother of two, is compelled by the quiet and the rush of nature. But this time, her venture into a remote area presents a different set of dangers than Amy Raye has planned for and she finds herself on the verge of the precarious edge that she’s flirted with her entire life.

When Amy Raye doesn’t return to camp, ranger Pru Hathaway and her dog respond to the missing person’s call. After an unexpected snowfall and few leads, the operation turns into a search and recovery. Pru, though, is not resigned to that. The more she learns about the woman for whom she is searching, and about Amy Raye’s past, the more she suspects that Amy Raye might yet be alive. Pru’s own search becomes an obsession for a woman whose life is just as mysterious as the clues she has left behind.

As the novel follows Amy Raye and Pru in alternating threads, Breaking Wild assumes the white-knuckled pace of a thriller laying bare Amy Raye’s ultimate reckoning with the secrets of her life, and Pru’s dogged pursuit of the woman who, against all odds, she believes she can find.


I don’t read many survival stories, but I was so intrigued that the two main characters of BREAKING WILD were women – one lost in the wilderness, and another determined to find her. Had I known upfront that it was heavy on recreational hunting details, I probably would have skipped it, but in the end, I’m glad I read it.

Pru is a ranger who works search & rescue missions in Northwestern Colorado. When a bow hunter named Amy Raye goes missing, Pru is called in to help. The story alternates between Pru in first person, and Amy Raye, in third person. Both women are complex characters whose pasts are slowly revealed over time. Amy Raye, in particular, has her flaws, and it’s easy to judge her before realizing how her past has brought her to this point and time.

Some parts I thought were slowed down with too many hunting details, but overall BREAKING WILD was an exciting and suspenseful adventure story. The author’s descriptions of the snowy Colorado wilderness were vivid and gorgeous. I felt like there could be a mountain lion slinking up behind me at any moment. This is a perfect winter read — you’ll feel the chill in your bones.

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