Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Hunt Them Down, by Simon Gervais {ends 1/17}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Hunt began his controlled descent down the stairs leading to the basement. He kept his back pressed against the wall and his gun in front of him but close to his body. When he reached the final step, a chill coursed through him.

Leila. She was here. I can feel it.

He listened closely for any sound. Once he was satisfied that the only noise was his own breathing, Hunt moved rapidly, room by room, searching for any signs of his daughter. The first room consisted of a double bed, which had been slept in, a dresser with a large mirror, and a night table with a lamp. A sink and a toilet were tucked next to each other in one corner. A video camera hung from the ceiling in a back corner. A lump formed in his throat.

Was it here that they kept her?

While I’m not any sort of operative or secret agent, a lot of the intricacies of their operations seemed a bit far-fetched to me. But Hunt Them Down was definitely a page-turner, and I was eager to find out what happened next.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Hunt Them Down, by Simon Gervais
Former Army Ranger Pierce Hunt is no stranger to violence. Fresh off a six-month suspension, he’s itching to hit a notorious Mexican drug cartel where it hurts, even if that means protecting crime boss Vicente Garcia, a witness in the case against sadistic cartel leader Valentina Mieles. But things spiral out of control when the cartel murders Garcia and kidnaps his granddaughter and an innocent bystander, Hunt’s own teenage daughter.

Mieles wants the new head of the Garcia family on a plate—literally. Hunt has seventy-two hours to deliver, or Mieles will execute the girls live on social media. With the clock ticking, Hunt goes off the grid and teams up with Garcia’s daughter, a former lover and current enemy. To save the girls, Hunt will have to become a man he swore he’d never be again: an avenging killer without limits or mercy.

Luckily, I mostly read just to be entertained, and escape from the doldrums of my predictable life. If I were a deep undercover DEA agent, I can’t imagine someone approving a reporter with his personal cell phone on an important bust. But this is the first scene we’re expected to believe in Hunt Them Down. After understandably losing his temper, Pierce Hunt (our hero agent) gets some time off in the form of a suspension. Then on his first day back to work (at a different office), he ends up in a motorcade that is ambushed. What are the odds?

This is just the first book in a whole new series about Pierce Hunt. We’re also introduced to his daughter, ex-wife and ex-wife’s new hubby. Hunt also has several friends who are as close as family from his days of being in the armed forces and his illustrious career with the DEA. The characters are well described, but some of their overlapping is incredibly coincidental. Having the same characters as the players in multiple aspects of the plot is quite helpful, as the plots get somewhat confusing.

I actually really enjoyed this book, with the appropriate suspension of disbelief. Like I said, I don’t guess what’s coming next, I just read to find out. If you’re into action/adventure, this will most likely be a book you’ll enjoy as well. I can’t say too much more about it without ruining the multiple twists and turns for you, so you’ll have to read it for yourself. I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

{click here to purchase}
*Note from Liz: Book #2 in this series, Trained to Hunt, will be released on September 24, 2019 - click here to pre-order.

Becki Bayley lives a life free of too many secrets. She is reliable and predictable—sometimes another word for boring, but usually safe. She blogs and tries to be mildly amusing and document anything worth a few words at her blog,


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Hunt Them Down!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, January 17th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. and Canadian residents only, please.

Good luck!

1 copy of HUNT THEM DOWN, by Simon Gervais

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Quick Pick book review: Paper Ghosts, by Julia Heaberlin

Quick Pick book review: Paper Ghosts, by Julia Heaberlin
  • Opening lines: When she was twelve, my sister fell into a grave.

    We were two children by ourselves in an empty cemetery, old stones jutting out of the ground in all directions. The grass was dead, the same straw color as my sister's hair. I remember the terrific flutter in my chest. How her fingertips barely brushed mine when I reached my little hand down to try to pull her out. It was freshly dug earth, waiting.

    She was laughing down in that hole.

    I was five.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I've read books by Julia Heaberlin before, and they are always fantastic and full of suspense.
  • And what's this book about?
  • Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer. That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted. before his admission to a care home for dementia. Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip. Only she's not his daughter and, if she has her way, he's not coming back . . .

    Because Carl's past has finally caught up with him. The young woman driving the car is convinced her passenger is guilty, and that he's killed, other young women. Including her sister Rachel. Now they're following the trail of his photographs, his clues, his alleged crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. Confesses to any of it. To discover what really happened to Rachel. Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he's guilty of nothing and she's the liar. Either way in driving him into the Texan wilderness she's taking a terrible risk. For if Carl really is a serial killer, she's alone in the most dangerous place of all . . .

  • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys mysteries with a lot of twists and turns.
  • Favorite paragraph: Old serial killers who roam free have to land somewhere, of course. I've thought about this a lot. They must get tired. Decide to pamper roses or grandchildren. Break hips and suffer heart attacks. Go impotent. Run out of money. Don't see the car coming. Put guns to their heads.

    The killers who publicly beat the system, and the unseen monsters who are never caught and slip around silent, pulsing background music. Screeching oboes and pounding drums. Only a few ever hear their soundtrack, right at the very end, and then it's too late.

    It took a long, long time to find the man I believe killed my sister. Years. Dozens of interviews. Hundreds of suspects. Thousands of documents. Reading, stalking, stealing. It's been a singular, no-holds-barred obsession since I was twelve and my sister's bike didn't make it the three miles in broad daylight from our house to her summer babysitting job. It was
    • Something to know: You will probably be surprised at the ending of this book - I know I was. 
    • What I would have changed: Nothing I can think of.
    • Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
    • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.
    *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

    Monday, December 17, 2018

    Quick Pick book review: I Owe You One, by Sophie Kinsella

    Quick Pick book review: I Owe You One, by Sophie Kinsella
    • Opening lines: The problem with me is, I can't let things go. They bug me. I see problems and I want to fix them, right here, right now. My nickname isn't Fixie for nothing.

      I mean, this can be a good thing. 
    • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella's books.
    • And what's this book about?
    • Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” And since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will?

      It’s simply not in Fixie’s nature to say no to people. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, she not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, an investment manager, scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

      But then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life, and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. As always, she wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. No sooner has Seb agreed than the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

    • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys a light read or British fiction.
    • Favorite paragraph: I'm the one who took a loan from Mum ("our inheritance," Jake always calls it) and tried to set up a catering business and failed. And who still hasn't paid the money back.

      I'm not the black sheep of the family. That would be glamorous and interesting. I'm just the stupid dumb sheep who still has a stash of dark-green aprons under the bed, all embroidered with my logo:
      Farr's Food. (I sold everything else, but I couldn't get rid of those.) And whenever I'm around Jake, I feel even more stupid and dumb. Like, literally dumb. Because I barely even open my mouth, and when I do, I start to stammer.

      I have opinions; I have ideas. I really do.
      • Something to know: You can probably figure out the ending of this novel before it ends, but it was fun getting there. Most of Kinsella's characters kind of seem the same to me but they are always well-thought out and interesting.
      • What I would have changed: Nothing I can think of.
      • Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
      • Where can I find this book? The book will be online and in stores on February 5, 2019. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
      *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

      Monday, December 3, 2018

      Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory {ends 12/10}

      I left the Queen's presence with a renewed sense of purpose. Gran had called me in to remind me what I had been raised to do, what I had always done. Princess Theodora of Drieden was polite, respectful, and compliant. She put the Crown and its priorities first. Even if it meant acquiescing to the blackmail of a dangerously cocky reporter.

      This book reminded me a bit of The Princess Diaries in that it focuses on the princess of a fictional monarchy—Drieden—and what happens to her after her fiancee doesn't show up for their wedding.

      About the book:
      Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory
      For fans of The Princess Diaries and The Royal We comes a fun and daring novel about a modern-day princess who teams up with a spy to find out what happened to the fiancé who left her at the altar—and who just might get her own fairytale in the process.

      Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent is so over this princess thing.

      After her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day, she’s finally back home after spending four months in exile—aka it’s back to press conferences, public appearances, and putting on a show for the Driedish nation as the perfect princess they expect her to be. But Thea’s sick of duty. After all, that’s what got her into this mess in the first place.

      So when she sneaks out of the palace and meets a sexy Scot named Nick in a local bar, she relishes the chance to be a normal woman for a change. But just as she thinks she’s found her Prince Charming for the night, he reveals his intentions are less than honorable: he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s not above blackmail. As Thea reluctantly joins forces with Nick to find out what happened the day her fiancé disappeared, together they discover a secret that could destroy a centuries-old monarchy and change life as they know it.

      Funny, fast-paced, and full of more twists and turns than the castle Thea lives in, The Royal Runaway is a fresh romantic comedy that will leave you cheering for the modern-day royal who chucks the rulebook aside to create her own happily-ever-after.

      Imagine if Megan had left Harry at the altar—that's what happens to Theodora, known as Thea to her close friends and family. After the event, her family sends her to an island they own, so that she can recover and have some peace. The book starts when she gets back from the island. 

      Thea likes to sneak out at night sometimes, and this night she "randomly"—so she thinks—meets a guy named Nick ... whom she later finds out is a spy who wants to find out what happened to her fiancee. There's another twist about Nick too but I won't spoil it here.

      If I'm being honest, I liked this book but didn't love it. Someone on Goodreads said something like "nothing is resolved in the end" which is kind of true, at least in certain aspects of the novel. I brought this book to my parents' house with me over my Thanksgiving break (I get a few days off from work) and finally finished it there, but it probably took me a week or two to get through it. 

      That being said, if you're a fan of The Princess Diaries and similar books, like I am, you will probably like it. It has similar aspects and both Thea and Nick are interesting characters. 

      3 stars out of 5.
      {click here to purchase}


      Two of my lucky readers will each win a copy of The Royal Runaway!

      Enter to win via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, December 10th, at 11:59pm EST and winners will be notified via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

      U.S. residents only, please.

      Good luck!

      2 copies of The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory

      Monday, November 12, 2018

      Book Review: Her Pretty Face, by Robyn Harding

      Kate's laughter tinkled, and Frances felt warm and happy. She was having a girls' day out. Like other women did. Like women whose children didn't require special diets and structured routines and constant research into treatments and behavioral modification therapies. Like women who didn't eschew close relationships because their past was full of terrible secrets they'd protect at all costs. As the SUV exited the freeway, Frances felt a shiver of anticipation. Today felt like the start of something.

      What would you do if you found out a friend had been hiding something from you?

      If it was something small, would it matter? How about if it was something larger—like she was a murderer?

      That is the question that Her Pretty Face asks of us.

      Official synopsis:
      Book Review: Her Pretty Face, by Robyn Harding
      The author of the bestselling novel The Party—lauded as “tense and riveting” by New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda—returns with a chilling new domestic drama about two women whose deep friendship is threatened by dark, long-buried secrets.

      Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

      A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

      Until she meets Kate Randolph.

      Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart.

      Because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunik. And she’s a murderer.

      In her masterful follow-up to
      The Party, Robyn Harding spins a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, asking the question: Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past?

      I haven't read a twisty mystery in a while, and I really enjoyed this book. Frances is kind of an outcast at her child's school after he pees in another child's water bottle (yes, really; she was mean to him first, though), and is labeled as one to stay away from. Frances finally meets a kindred spirit in Kate, another mother, who essentially takes her under her wing; eventually they become best friends. 

      Frances has a past she's hiding as well, though it's not quite as bad as Kate's ... 

      From the book synopsis, we know that one of these two women is a murderer. I figured out early on which woman was Amber, in a previous life, but there were still some twists and turns near the end which surprised me. I read this book in about two days because I couldn't put it down, and I wanted to find out what happened at the end.

      I'd recommend this novel for anyone who likes mysteries, stories about friendship, or thrillers. 

      4.5 stars out of 5.
      {click here to purchase}

      Sunday, November 11, 2018

      Quick Pick book review: Girls' Night Out, by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

      • Opening lines: The Day After. Natalie.
        Waves lapped against the shore. It sounded as if the sea were breathing.
        In and out. In and out. Between the whitecaps breaking against the sand, there was a pause, almost as if the ocean were inhaling and preparing to release another breath. In and out. In and out. 
      • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a fan of Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke's books - I've reviewed a few of them, as well.
      • And what's this book about?
      • From the bestselling authors of The Good Widow comes a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will make you think twice about what your best friend may be hiding...

        For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it's time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls' getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they're reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they're hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls' night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

        Was Ashley with the man she'd met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse - could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

        As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren's search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing - or too afraid - to admit.
      • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys thrillers, or stories about friends (trying to) reconnect.
      • Favorite paragraph: She hung up the phone and raised her head to the sky, a dark storm cloud making its way towards her from the east. "What if I can't convince her?" she whispered to herself. She almost always let Ashley have her way. She could count on one hand the number of times she'd put her foot down about something at work. Would Ashley understand it was Natalie's turn to get her way? She stood there until the ominous cloud was directly overhead, and let her tears mix with the rain it brought, finally composing herself and walking back to where Lauren sat, as if the world she built weren't crumbling.
        • Something to know: I could definitely see this being adapted into a movie - the majority of the book takes place in Mexico, which is very picturesque. The women are all in their late 30s (one mentions she's 39) and I believe two of them just turned 40, which is another reason they wanted to take this trip together - they've known each other since college.
        • What I would have changed: Nothing I can think of.
        • Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
        • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.
        *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

        Thursday, November 8, 2018

        Book Review: What I Leave Behind, by Alison McGhee

        Guest review by: Becki Bayley

        At some point she has to walk out of the house into invisible air, air that has no roof or walls.

        And how do you get through? You know? When things are too much?

        Because the world, it’s full of air. Full of sky and space. Ocean, too. All of which are bigger than any crowd of human beings, on the street, at school, at Dollar Only, at restaurants. At parties.

        It’s hard to remember that, though. Hard to remember that people are tiny. They stare at you, they talk about you, but all they are? Tiny.

        Look up, artists.

        I seriously think this is one of my new favorite books. I just finished it, and I may read it again. The voice in What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee is just that good.

        Official Synopsis: 
        Book Review: What I Leave Behind, by Alison McGhee
        Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

        When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.

        The voice of Will, and the lyrical way he told his life completely resonated with me. Over the course of the two evenings it took me to read this book, it gave me a feeling of peace.

        Will knows himself pretty well, and reads those around him in an insightful and warm way. He’s compassionate and wants the world to be a better place. Each of his chapters about lifejust a few paragraphs each, always less than a full pagepresented a memory of an interaction with the world around him. I loved every single one.

        I can’t tell if everyone else would love this book as much as me, but with less than 100 pages of actually words, I think you should give it a try. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and I may not pass along the book like I usually do, since I already want to read it again.

        {click here to purchase}

        Becki Bayley has been a blogger for more than 15 years at She wishes her words could make someone feel as good as this book made her feel. Someday.


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