Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle’s escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.

My Thoughts: As I turned the pages of My Absolute Darling, I felt a sense of urgency, of hope for this young girl to escape a violent life. Nothing good could come of her life with the father who regularly abuses her and creates in her a perspective that shuns all that is good in the world.

How can she keep staying with him? Why does she not even try to escape when small connections with others show her an alternative to what she experiences with him?

Perhaps it is the years I spent saving children from abuse and neglect that kept me turning pages, longing to protect this girl.

But despite these concerns and the longing to see the character take another path, I found myself discouraged and frustrated. Parts of the story revealed the tedious details of living off the grid, and how Turtle continued to give in the demands of her father.

But then something happened that turned the tide, and Turtle suddenly and intensely fought for her life and the lives of others. Those pages saved the book for me, earning three stars; I could not give more due to the darkness of a book littered with violence and excessive verbal abuse. I had to keep reading, though, in order to see how it all ended.



February definitely flew by, and the month was packed with great reads for me.    Check in at Book Date to add your wrap-up post and see what others have read.




Genres Read:

Mysteries/Thrillers – 9

Contemporary Fiction – 4



1.Blood Sisters (e-book), by Jane Corry – (352 pages) – (thriller) – 2/23/18

2.Exposed (e-book, Rosato & DiNunzio Novel), by Lisa Scottoline – (338 pages) – (mystery) – 2/3/18

3.Even If It Kills Her (e-book, Bailey Weggins Mystery), by Kate White – (448 pages) – (mystery thriller) – 2/28/18

4.Family Next Door, The (e-book), by Sally Hepworth – (354 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/11/18 – (NG – 3/6/18)

5.Flight Attendant, The (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian – 368 pages – (thriller) – 2/17/18 – (NG-3/13/18)

6.Here We Lie (e-book), by Paula Treick DeBoard – (368 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/8/18

7.Lie with Me (e-book), by Sabine Durrant – (305 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 2/12/18

8.Look for Me (e-book, D.D. Warren), by Lisa Gardner – 398 pages – (thriller/mystery) – 2/20/18

9.Perfect Roommate, The (e-book), by Minka Kent -(260 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 2/9/18

10.Promise Between Us, The (e-book), by Barbara Claypole White – (384 pages) – (contemporary fiction) -2/26/18

11.Promise Not to Tell (e-book), by Jayne Ann Krentz – (334 pages) – (mystery) – 2/2/18

12.Two Girls Down (e-book), by Louisa Luna- (322 pages) – (mystery/thriller) – 2/15/18

13.Wife, The (e-book), by Alafair Burke – (352 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 2/7/18




BOOKS READ YTD:                                                                          26




Bailey Weggins’ great new friend in college, Jillian Lowe, had everything going for her. Pretty, popular, and whip-smart, she lit up any room that she walked into. All of that dramatically changed during her sophomore year, when a neighbor became unhinged and murdered her family. Jillian immediately left school, and ever since, Bailey has felt guilty for not staying in closer contact and being a greater support to her friend.

Now, sixteen years later, Bailey is shocked to see Jillian at her book event, and even more stunned when her still-gorgeous friend approaches her with a case. The man accused of murdering her family is on the brink of being cleared of the crime through new DNA evidence. With the real killer walking free, Jillian is desperate for Bailey’s help to identify him and allow her the closure she yearns for.

As the two women return to Jillian’s childhood town to investigate, it doesn’t take long for their sleuthing to cause shock waves. Someone starts watching their every move. As they uncover deeply-guarded secrets, so shocking that they make Jillian rethink her entire relationship to her family, Bailey and Jillian find themselves in great peril. They must decide just how much they’re willing to risk to finally discover the truth about the Lowe family’s murder.

My Thoughts: Plunging into a Bailey Weggins mystery always keeps me rapidly turning pages. And in Even If It Kills Her, the story wrapped itself around me and kept holding on until the very end.

All the characters felt like real people, and as Bailey approached each one, I was alert and on guard, because who knew what secrets might provide the answers she needed.

Jillian stayed out of Bailey’s way, opening doors to the people from her past in the small town of Dory, Massachusetts…and for some reason, hung out mostly with old friends Mamie and Blake. At one point, Bailey began to sense something between Jillian and Blake that made her nervous. Was she flirting with him?

There were a lot of persons of interest for Bailey, like Bruce Korda, a former business partner to Mr. Lowe, with whom there had been tension near the end. Then there was Bruce’s stepson, Trevor, who had been fired just before the murders. Reported animosity between others in the town made for intense interactions and the building up of suspicion.

What had happened at the high school years before that might have led to the murder? Was there a big secret that could have been the tipping point? Finding the people with answers kept Bailey going, and in between there were conversations by phone with her boyfriend Beau Regan, who disapproved of her pursuit of a murderer.

At each turn, I thought I had it figured out, and as the danger increased, I waited for the final piece of the puzzle…and then I was stunned to discover the identity of the perpetrator. I hadn’t seen that coming…except when looking back, I realized that it all made sense. 5 stars.



Since we have almost completed two months this year (so far), I think it is time to take a look at unfinished books from 2017.  Here is my page of Books Purchased in 2017, with the completed books linked to the reviews.  Total Books Purchased in 2017:  149; total books unread:  41…

My Breakdown by Month:

January:  12 Books Purchased

                        2 Books Unread

February:  13 Books Purchased

                          4 Books Unread

March:         11 Books Purchased

                             3 Books Unread

April:              13 Books Purchased

                              5 Books Unread

May:                 14 Books Purchased

                               4 Books Unread

June:                 12 Books Purchased

                                2 Books Unread

July:                    7 Books Purchased

                               2 Books Unread

August:             17 Books Purchased

                                 6 Books Unread

September:      15 Books Purchased

                                   3 Books Unread

October:             12 Books Purchased

                                    1 Book Unread

November:         12 Books Purchased

                                     3 Books Unread

December:          11 Books Purchased

                                       6 Books Unread


So…not as bad as I originally thought.  I did make a nice dent in these numbers with my Read the Books You Buy Challenge of 2017.

I hope to continue reading the books I’ve bought…even a few from 2014, 2015, and 2016.

How do your TBR stacks fare?  What tactics do you utilize?




As addictive, cinematic, and binge-worthy a narrative as The Wire and The Killing, Two Girls Down introduces Louisa Luna as a thriller writer of immense talent and verve.

When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls.

Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing Oxycontin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied.

With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.


My Thoughts: Alice Vega is an interesting character: tough, vulnerable, damaged, and with a great track record for finding missing people. Two Girls Down first shows her in her home in Central California as she goes through her yoga routine. We follow her thoughts as she connects with someone who wants to hire her to find two missing girls in the Pennsylvania small town of Denville.

Jamie Brandt knows she is not the best mother. She is impatient and feels burdened by the task of rearing her two girls, Kylie, 10, and Bailey, 8. But she is devastated by the loss of them, and we watch her go through the emotional wringer over the days that follow.

Once Vega arrives and connects with the police, she realizes she must find another way, since they are “locking her out,” claiming they don’t work with civilians. She finds a PI named Max Caplan, a former cop, and the two of them take on the task together.

Alternating narratives take us along for the ride as they find potential suspects, people who might have connected with the girls. They watch videos of the scene where they disappeared; they talk to witnesses; and connect the dots. Eventually the police and FBI let them in, and the collaboration is often frustrating, but productive.

Their search takes them to the ramshackle homes of druggies and dealers…and then, finally, to some wealthy habitats where the darkest secrets hide. What will they discover? Who is behind the elaborate taking of the two young girls, and how do their kidnappings connect to others in the state? An engaging story that was sometimes confusing to follow, this one earned 4 stars.***


Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is The Last Move, by Mary Burton.  In this gripping stand-alone from bestselling author Mary Burton, an FBI agent must catch a copycat killer. The only difference this time: she’s the final victim.




Beginning:  When love is betrayed, there is nothing to contain the demons.

San Antonio, Texas

Sunday, November 26, 12:35 a.m.

He’ d been following her for weeks.  Watching.  Observing.  Loving the chase.  The hunt.  But he wasn’t a monster, nor was he evil.  He was a man with a narrowly focused plan that gave his life purpose and structure.


Friday 56:  His clothes were neat, crisp, and in accordance with his salary:  off the rack.  He cared about his appearance because it instilled discipline, not because he was fussy.  No signs of a tattoo, but of course the suit hid much, and calluses on his palms and his deep tan suggested he liked the outdoors.


Synopsis:  Catching monsters helps FBI agent Kate Hayden keep her nightmares at bay. Now an urgent call brings her back to San Antonio, the scene of her violent past. A brutal new murder shows hallmarks of a serial killer nicknamed the Samaritan. Tricky part is, Kate already caught him.

Either Kate made a deadly error, or she’s got a copycat on her hands. Paired with homicide detective Theo Mazur, she quickly realizes this murder is more twisted than it first appeared. Then a second body is found, the mode of death identical to a different case that Kate thought she’d put behind her.

Now Kate and Detective Mazur aren’t just working a homicide; the investigative pair is facing a formidable enemy who knows Kate intimately. While Mazur is personally trying to protect Kate, the closer they are drawn to the killer, the clearer it becomes that in this terrifying game, there is only one rule: don’t believe everything you see…


What do you think?  Would you keep reading?



Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download:  The Perfect Roommate, by Minka Kent.  A taut and twisted tale by the author of 2017’s THE MEMORY WATCHER, which has been optioned by NBC Universal’s UCP with Escape Artists attached to produce. 




Book Beginning:  (Prologue)

All I needed was a cheap room to rent.  I didn’t plan this.  I swear.

Chapter One:  It’s a pretty little house with an ugly little address.

47 Magpie Drive.

What should have been an ordinary Sunday kicked off with an eviction notice on my door and ended with my belongings shoved into wrinkled grocery sacks and the neighbor’s stolen WiFi on my computer.  With just minutes to spare, I managed to find the perfect place—one that didn’t require credit checks, a huge deposit, or a long lease.


56:  There’s a swirl of nervous energy in my middle, but my ego is flattered that she likes me enough to introduce me to her family.  If nothing, it solidifies the fact that we’re becoming friends.  Actual friends.


Synopsis: “Think you know what to expect? Think again. This is the kind of book you devour in one sitting, let that twist soak in, and then re-read the entire thing immediately.” – The Riveted Reader Blog   

She’s my roommate.

I know how she takes her tea, how she organizes her closet.

I know when she goes to bed each night, what she eats for breakfast, the passcode on her phone.

I know she calls her mother on Mondays, takes barre on Thursdays, and meets her friends for drinks on Fridays.

But more important than any of that … I know what she did.  


What do you think?  Do the excerpts grab you?  Would you keep reading?




Mary DiNunzio wants to represent her old friend Simon Pensiera, a sales rep who was wrongly fired by his company, but her partner Bennie Rosato represents the parent company. When she confronts Mary, explaining this is a conflict of interest, an epic battle of wills and legal strategy between the two ensues—ripping the law firm apart, forcing everyone to take sides and turning friend against friend.


My Thoughts: From the very first page of Exposed, I was drawn into Mary’s big South Philly family, as she met with several of them to talk about Simon, another friend from the neighborhood. His case ignites Mary’s passion and she is all in, fighting not only for their friend, but for family and neighborhood.

As Mary gets prepared to take over Simon’s case, her partner Bennie argues with her about the potential conflict of interest. Both Mary and their associate Judy show aspects of the rules that suggest they are not in conflict.

But before anything can be settled, several things happen to make it all seemingly moot, and suddenly both Mary and Bennie are in danger.

Who has taken steps to frame Simon for a crime? What will bring the partners together again in a fight for their case, their friendship, and their lives?

I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the alternating narrative of Mary and Bennie. As different as the two are, they definitely complement each other…and their fight could prove the strength of their bond. 5 stars.



Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download:  Fates & Furies, by Lauren Groff.  From the award-winning, New York Times- bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia, one of the most anticipated books of the fall: an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception.




Beginning:  A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping.  The seabirds stopped their tuning, the ocean went mute.  Houselights over the water dimmed to gray.

Two people were coming up the beach.


Friday 56:  Rachel sat down beside her brother, leaned into his warmth.  She was up for fall break, had pierced her ears all the way around, and wore her hair long in front, shaved in the rear.


Synopsis:  Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. 

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.


Reading the blurb gave me the kind of chill you feel when you stumble upon something powerful, a description of events that resonates like nothing else.  What do you think?



Another month bites the dust!  January was a book full of suspenseful reading…and some surprising stories.

How did your month unfold?

Check out some of my titles, and then head on over to Book Date to see what others have accomplished.

Favorite Fiction:  The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

Genres Read:

Thrillers/Mysteries/Cozies:     7

Contemporary Fiction:               2

Literary Fiction:                            2

Nonfiction:                                     2

Click Titles for My Reviews:


1.Almost Sisters, The (e-book), by Joshilyn Jackson – 357 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 1/30/18

2.Anatomy of a Scandal (e-book), by Sarah Vaughan – 400 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 1/13/18 – (NG – 1/23/18)

3.Be Frank With Me (e-book), by Julia Claiborne Johnson – 288 pages – (literary fiction) – 1/2/18

4.Best Day Ever (e-book), by Kaira Rouda – 334 pages – (suspense thriller) – 1/18/18

5.Eaves of Destruction (e-book, Fixer Upper Mystery), by Kate Carlisle – 288 pages – (cozy mystery) – 1/4/18

6.Every Breath You Take, by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke – 287 pages – (mystery) – 1/1/18 – (First Book of 2018)

7.Fire & Fury (e-book), by Michael Wolff – 328 pages- (nonfiction) – 1/27/18

8.Great Alone, The (e-book), by Kristin Hannah – 448 pages – (literary fiction) – 1/26/18 – (NG-2/6/18)

9.I Am Watching You (e-book), by Teresa Driscoll – 302 pages – (mystery) – 1/6/18

10.Jane Fonda:  The Private Life of a Public Woman, by Patricia Bosworth – 640 pages – (biography/nonfiction) – 1/9/18

11.Seeing Red (e-book), by Sandra Brown – 585 pages – (mystery) – 1/22/18

12.Watch Me (e-book), by Jody Gehrman – 302 pages – (suspense thriller) – 1/17/18 – (NG -1/23/18)

13.Woman in the Window, The (e-book), by A. J. Finn – (448 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 1/15/18




BOOKS READ YTD:                                                                          13


What did your month look like?