Mutts and Mistletoe by Natalie Cox

Thirty-one-year old Charlie isn’t having the best year. She’s just broken up with her cheating boyfriend, and her upstairs neighbor had an accidental explosion, making her apartment uninhabitable and giving her several injuries from which to recover. Her only option is to go and stay with her cousin Jez, out in the English countryside where she runs a dog resort called the Cozy Canine Cottages.

Charlie is determined to get back to her apartment as soon as possible, but in the meantime she’ll be pitching in around the dog resort, helping to care for several very unique pups and their eccentric owners, to boot. When Jez decides to take an impromptu trip to meet her cyber love interest in the Arctic, Charlie is suddenly left to hold down the fort on her own.

This city girl is about to learn a few lessons about her own happiness, and maybe even involuntarily get involved in a love triangle with a sexy, rich dog owner and the super-cute-but-mostly-surly local veterinarian. Maybe she’ll even learn to appreciate her canine companions…

If you’re looking for a light read, and you love dogs, Mutts and Mistletoe, by Natalie Cox, is a great choice for you.

The Grave’s A Fine and Private Place, by Alan Bradley

Flavia De Luce is a precocious young girl in a quiet little town called Bishop’s Lacey, a delightful little warren full of colorful characters located someplace in rural post-war England. Flavia De Luce isn’t any ordinary girl, unlike her more conformist older sisters. The boisterous, incorrigible girl has some unique hobbies, to include deadly poisons, forensic science, and even a bit of dabbling in decomposition of carbon based life forms.

When murder or suspicious deaths occur in her little town, Flavia sees herself as the obvious detective on the job. If only the local police were more appreciative of her insight and involvement…

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, by Alan Bradley, is the 9th novel in the Flavia De Luce series. One day while Flavia and her sisters are on holiday during a warm summer, Flavia happens upon a dead body floating in the water next to their boat. Something very suspicious is most definitely happening in the quiet little town. An air of mystery hangs over the local morgue, a shady police constable, and a scandal involving church members and a clergyman in which 4 people ended up deceased.

Flavia, true to form, has decided to solve the mystery for once and for all, despite the inability to use her laboratory at home, and the unwelcome reception from the local police. But can Flavia solve the mystery before the killer decides to turn attention to her?

Bradley fans will adore The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, and mystery lovers who haven’t given the series a chance should definitely give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Single mother Kate didn’t have it easy-she struggled daily to balance between her maternal responsibilities and the demands of her career as a successful lawyer. She thought that her daughter Amelia was weathering the strain fairly well, her grades had been good and she never seemed to have behavioral problems. Her private school was one of the best and she had long lasting friendships. Everything seemed ok.

But one day Kate gets a phone call from the school and her life is forever changed. Kate suddenly finds herself desperately trying to pick up the pieces of Amelia’s secret life and get answers to explain the tragedy that took her life.

Strange text messages from a boy Kate had never heard of before, anonymous threatening messages, provocative photos online… Kate is beginning to learn that her daughter was much more troubled than she had ever let on… Not to mention, the school is covering up something serious and the police may be corrupt, too.

Can Kate reconstruct her daughter’s life and figure out what really happened to her? Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight is a mystery/suspense novel of the Girl on the Train persuasion, where nothing is as it seems and people have many secrets. Pick it up today if you like dark, suspenseful mysteries.

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Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Maud may hold the only clues to the case of a missing woman… But she suffers from dementia, and the clues fade in and out of her consciousness. No one seems to want to help her find her best friend Elizabeth and no one believes her when she tells them the woman has gone missing.

But things are not all as they seem in Maud’s world, and the past keeps stirring up into the present. Maud’s sister disappeared decades ago and was never found. Can the two mysteries be related in some way? Why do specific images and memories keep coming to her mind, so close but then sliding back out of reach before she can connect the dots? Does the truth about the missing women live inside a grandmother with advanced dementia who will stop at nothing until the truth resurfaces for once and for all?

Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey was a special read for me because I too have loved a grandmother who suffered much like Maud. The unreliable narrator tests your patience brutally, and the choppy stream of consciousness is highly irregular for a mystery novel. But if you love women’s fiction and suspense novels, and you think you have what it takes to follow endearing, sassy, confused Maud through her story, I highly recommend the book.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

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The Flavia de Luce series is a special favorite of mine. If you love cheeky british heroines and a good murder mystery, you don’t want to miss it. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley, is the 6th novel in the series, which started with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

In the 6th installment, Flavia has been sent to some kind of mysterious finishing school in Canada, Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, where her deceased mother Harriet went to school. The first night, unfortunately, a singed body falls out of the chimney like a blackened mummy, right onto the floor of her bedroom-and no one wants to talk about what might have befallen the poor victim-or who it might be. Something is very suspicious right away, her chaperones to the school are very strange and she can’t make heads or tails of the cryptic messages she keeps getting from her teachers and fellow students. Is there a conspiracy in effect? Who is in on the secret? Who can she trust? What will happen if she asks the wrong person the wrong question?

Our cheeky little heroine isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, however…She’s determined to shake out the truth no matter what danger befalls her in the process.

This series is a top recommendation from me to you…Don’t miss it! And if you do audiobooks, the audiobook for this series is perfectly narrated and very enjoyable. No excuses, start this series!

Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah

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Nicki Clements is a housewife with a lot of secrets. When she isn’t buzzing her kids around and running errands, she likes to have a secret life…It seems harmless at first, but when the police show up at her door to question her about a murder investigation, she realizes that she may be in much more trouble than she ever imagined. But how could her innocent cyber activities have caused a murder? And how did it relate to her?

The police have more than enough suspects-the crowd of enemies surrounding Damon Blundy, the murder victim, was vast and full of colorful and eccentric personalities. Nicki may not be the only person of interest, but the way the murder took place, its odd details planned out perfectly…Something is nagging at the back of Nicki’s mind…Something oddly familiar. She can’t tell the police everything, for risk of exposure, but she knows she must try to find out the truth, and how it might be connected to her.

Woman with a Secret, by Sophie Hannah, is a psychological thriller from the Spilling CID series-but I’ve never read the series before this book and I felt like I was reading a stand-alone novel the whole time. I may try to hunt down some more of the series, because this was a page-turner! I read it every chance I got because I couldn’t wait to see what Nicki Clements has been up to that could land her in so much trouble.

If you like psychological thrillers, Woman with a  Secret is impeccable! Get it today!

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

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Dana Catrell wakes up after a night of drinking with her neighbor friend, only to find that in the night, the woman has been brutally murdered. She was the last known person to see Celia alive, and the police are highly suspicious that she can’t seem to remember clearly what happened the night before. With the pressure of her friend’s death and the suspicion that her husband is having an affair hanging over her, she begins to unravel, losing a little bit of her sanity around every corner. What is real, and what is imagined? Does she really remember her neighbor showing her a picture of her husband with another woman, or is her subconscious just trying to tell her that her husband is a cheater?

The lives of several broken people cross paths in this psychological thriller that will have you reading late into the night. Did Dana kill her friend? Or has she been framed? Can she figure out what happened before she is wrongfully arrested for the crime? Can she trace her own steps? Can she hold on to her sanity long enough to find the truth?

The Pocket Wife, by Susan Crawford, is a psychological thriller in the vein of The Silent Wife or Dark Rooms. The suspense will keep you guessing until the end, and wading through the main character’s unreliable narrative will leave you dying to find out the solution to the mystery. If you like psychological thrillers, The Pocket Wife is for you.

Crystal Falconer
LibraryCrystal
Book reviewer, Librarian, Tech geek wannabe
Crystal Falconer graduated with her B.A. from Western Oregon University, followed by her M.L.I.S. from University of Denver. She was born in Oregon but currently resides in Colorado with her husband, son and trusty canine counterpart.
Boulder, CO
USA
falconercrew@gmail.com

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Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline

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Kathryn Campbell is a grown woman, but she finds herself haunted by events from her teenage years. Her best friend Jennifer said goodbye to her at a campfire after graduation, and no one ever saw her again. Did she run away? Was she kidnapped, or worse, murdered? The mystery remains unsolved…Until Kathryn’s marriage falls apart and she finds herself living back at home with her mom, and seeing the same faces she once saw in her high school hallways. To make matters more complicated, the editor of the local newspaper asks her to write a freelance piece in tribute to her missing friend, in light of their ten year reunion in a matter of days.

Kathryn doesn’t want to stir things up or dredge up those old memories…Or does she? She finds herself pulled into a cyclone of tensions that she was too clueless to realize as a teen…And finally finding a challenge that she can’t back down from no matter how tempting it might be to do so.

I, personally, love this kind of books, in the vein of Emily Arsenault (or Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places), where someone is tracking the steps of someone who died or disappeared after the trail has run cold…Probably because I really adore anything related to cold case kinds of files and stories about killers who get justice long after the public has given up the chase. This novel was a decent read, although I have to admit I was occasionally confused by inconsistencies in the heroine’s behavior…Check it out for yourself and feel free to comment your thoughts, too.

Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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Annie Hewitt is down on her luck. Her mother passed away, leaving her a secluded island house in Maine, and since Annie is broke and jobless she has no choice but to sort through her mother’s things and decide what to do next with her life. Unfortunately, the island has many bad memories for Annie, mostly attached to the house next door, a giant mansion where her mother was briefly the lady of the house.

Is the current man of the house responsible for her near death as a teen? Is he a sadistic murderer, waiting for his next victim? Or is he just a dark, brooding, reclusive writer with serious sex appeal? The line is getting blurry for Annie, especially when she is very limited on social company…with the exception of her 3 larger-than-life puppets, of course.

I didn’t know what to make of this book at first-I truly thought I was stepping into a serious “unreliable narrator” situation, which is great because I have a penchant for that type of literature. But as the story unfolds, there are others on the island who might not have pure intentions, and evil is lurking in the corners. Annie has to use her humor and wits to shake down the community and figure out just what is going on there on Peregrine Island..And where is the legacy her mother claimed to have left her at the cottage? Does someone else want it, too?

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a darker sense of humor and a taste for sarcasm. It is a combination of romance, comedy, suspense and drama, all tied together. I plan to read whatever else Susan Elizabeth Phillips has to offer the world, after reading Heroes Are My Weakness. Highly recommended!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This book will creep you out. I mean seriously. I read Gone Girl a couple years back and when I saw that the movie was coming out this year, I decided to check out what else Gillian Flynn has been up to. Sharp Objects came onto my radar since it was available in audiobook from my library and I was in need of some new listening. So here it is:

Camille Preaker is a journalist who grew up in a small southern town. She is mostly estranged from her family, but her boss sends her home to cover story-girls keep going missing and when the bodies appear, they are missing teeth. Camille will stay with her overbearing, narcissistic mother and horribly spoiled half sister while she talks to community members and the police about the missing/dead girls.

Going home is never as simple as it seems to be, however. Things aren’t quite right in the small town, there are secrets and somehow Camille can’t help but feel they are somehow tied into her own past. And Camille may not be what she originally seemed, either. What is true and what is warped out of focus? Who is telling the truth and who is hiding something? Who would kill a young girl? Multiple young girls?

I like mysteries, and I LOVE unreliable narrators. If you liked The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, or if you enjoyed Gone Girl as much as I did, let this book leave you sleepless and horrified. I’m pretty tough and I have to say, Gillian Flynn, you really know how to leave readers looking for psychopathic killers around every corner. If you think you can handle it, pick up Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn today.