2021 Book #4 – In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce

Title: In the Garden of Spite
Author: Camille Bruce
Date finished: 1/4/21
Genre: Historical fiction, thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 473
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book is a little outside of my normal wheel house but it sounded too interesting to pass up! Belle was a fascinating character and I loved this author’s interpretation of her as a person. Her back story was heart-breaking and captivating – what happened to her when she was young defined her in ways that she didn’t even understand. Even as terrible as she was, I weirdly found myself empathizing with her after the ordeal she went through. This book was a little darker than ones I usually read though, and she killed a ton of people. Once we got towards the end of the book I was pretty ready for things to wrap up but overall the book was one I really enjoyed. It was great to read about a famous female serial killer from the Midwest and learn more about that piece of history, even if some pieces of the book were fictionalized. It was an interesting read and I’d recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #116 – Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

51qlhx3infl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Til Death Do Us Part
Author: Amanda Quick
Date finished: 12/8/16
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Pages in book: 342
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.
Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.
But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I received this book from Book Browse in a giveaway a few months back and I finally got some time to read it. This book tells the story of Calista Langley and Trent Hastings. Calista runs an “introduction agency” out of her house, creating a safe environment for people of the gentry to meet new people and learn about new things at the same time. It’s kind of like a modern day singles mixer. And this is how Calista ends up meeting Trent, who comes in to try and prevent his sister from being scammed by a fortune hunter at home of Calista’s singles events. Trent is a well known local author. His Clive Stone detective series has been immensely popular. And when someone begins focusing on Calista in a very deadly way, Trent must pull on all his research and do everything in his power to help protect her.
Overall I liked this book. I enjoy Jayne Ann Krentz books and all her other pen names. This book was fairly predictable for an Amanda Quick novel, it follows a pretty similar story line: independent woman comes under some kind of threat and a stoic and seemingly tamed beastly man comes along to save her. It’s a good story line formula and this book was no exception. The plot was interesting and set at a good pace so the reader doesn’t get bored at any points. Calista is fierce and independent, exactly as I’d expect. The cast of characters were all endearing and the villain was not someone I would have expected, which made it quite a good suspense. Overall I enjoyed this book and I would say if you’ve liked other Quick novels to give this one a read.

The bottom line: I liked this book, it had an interesting story line and was a good read. It was pretty standard plot line for this author, I would recommend if you’d read and enjoyed other Amanda Quick novels.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #78 – As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman

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Title: As Night Falls
Author: Jenny Milchman
Date finished: 7/27/15
Genre:  Thriller/suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Pages in book: 359
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from Amazon:

Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. But, as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close.
In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old—smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight—keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy’s husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease.
Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he’s looking for . . . before he disappears forever.
Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: **(ALERT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW)** I feel like I have just seen this book everywhere lately (web sites, publications, summer to read listings) so when I saw it at the Library I grabbed it. I’ve been pretty into the thrillers lately so I’ve been looking forward to reading it. This story starts off being about a lady named Sandy and her husband Ben and daughter Ivy. As the story unfolds we also read passages from the viewpoint of a man named Nick and every once in a while a woman named Barbara, who we learn in one of the first few passages about her is Nick’s Mom. It isn’t 100% clear at first how Nick and Barbara are connected to Sandy’s life but it doesn’t take very long to put the pieces together.
I have to say that I wasn’t overly surprised by many of the things that happened in this book, whereas in most thrillers I like to have a few twists that I don’t see coming. The only one I can think of that I didn’t really see coming though was the crime that Nick was sent to jail for. That being said though, I didn’t consider the book predictable in the least and it definitely kept me on my toes trying to keep up with where the story was headed! I liked the plot development and also the characters’ development through the story. I have to be honest though, I was a bit turned off to the book until about halfway in because some of the scenes with Nick in them made me feel so creepy and grossed out and icky that I wanted to go take a shower and scrub my brain of the wretched man. He was a truly evil and dark person and even up to the end I was astounded that Barbara stood by him. Gosh I just wanted to punch that lady in the face, especially because of how she treated Cassandra, who was only ever a perfect angel.
Overall I thought this was a really good book and a solid thriller. I didn’t really get to like any of the characters too much but I think that was part of the point. Only person I did really like a good amount died, which was unfortunate. I mean I liked the main characters well enough but we all have our secrets I guess.
The bottom line: I would recommend this book, I thought it was a good psychological thriller.
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page