Review & Blog Tour: Murder Game

**4.5 Goodreads Stars**

I’m excited to have Caroline Mitchell’s Murder Game featured as my very first book blog tour! This was a great literary precursor to Halloween, as it was a terrifying, heart-pounding mystery that kept me guessing until the very last page!

A murderer is on the loose in London, holding the city hostage in fear of becoming his next prey. At first the murders appear to be the work of Mason Gatley, a serial killer who is now behind bars for his gruesome killing spree years ago. The recent murders share many similarities, which leads Detective Ruby Preston to question Gatley about his possible involvement with them. Is Mason orchestrating killings from behind bars, or is someone else committing the stomach-turning murders for entirely different reasons? Is Ruby’s involvement with a former criminal coming back to haunt her and her police force?

Murder Game is the third book in the Detective Ruby Preston series. Since this was my first book in the series, I was a little nervous to dive into it. Thankfully I had no trouble immediately jumping into the story because of Caroline Mitchell’s writing. She familiarizes her readers with all the characters within the first few chapters of the book so you aren’t missing any backstories.

I absolutely love authors who create living, breathing characters who are human and have faults. Caroline Mitchell’s detective Ruby Preston is that type of character, one you root for but can also be critical of. I liked that Ruby is strong female lead who is opinionated and smart but also makes mistakes like any human being.

I also appreciated the richly written dialogue and Mitchell’s attention to small, but critical details. Things like how a person moves, how they glance at another person, and their mannerisms made the characters come to life for me, and offered the reader clues as to who may be behind the murders. Mitchell is the master of what writers call “show not tell,” meaning that she shows a character’s personality through their actions and behaviors rather than telling the readers a character’s motivations. The book was a seamless read for me due to Mitchell’s command of the written word, and I will definitely be picking up more books in this series in the coming months!

Finally, I enjoyed the plot and did not see the killer coming until it was revealed to the reader. More seasoned murder mystery readers might pick up on it a bit earlier into the book. Mitchell drops hints here and there in the book, so mystery fans may figure it out before they get to the end of the book. I liked how Mitchell took the readers in many directions, all of which could have lead to the unveiling of the killer. The plot had thrilling twists and turns that kept me guessing with each page.

Thank you so very much to Noelle Holten at Bookouture, NetGalley, and Caroline Mitchell for an advanced copy of the thrilling Murder Game. It was a pleasure reading it!

Buy Murder Game at Amazon UK or, if you are in the US, at Amazon US.

A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead.

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die…

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one…

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.


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Caroline Mitchell, author of Murder Game

USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories.

Her fast-paced DC Jennifer Knight thrillers carry a hint of the supernatural and are weaved from Caroline’s personal experiences in the police and paranormal.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston series is described as “terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers”.

Caroline also writes psychological thrillers, the most recent, Witness, has been described as “thrilling, tense, exciting, dark and twisted in the best possible way”.


Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish


**4 Goodreads Stars**

How far would a woman seeking power, prestige, and fortune go to secure a man who would provide all of those things and more? This is the question that Liv Constantine’s The Last Mrs. Parrish initially asks, but as the book progresses, we find appearances are deceiving.

The first half of the book follows the plight of the conniving, self-absorbed Amber, a young woman in her 20s who is running from her sordid past. Seeking money and power, Amber has moved far from her Nebraskan hometown to the high brow community of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut. She’s done investigate research to find a wealthy, attractive man to fulfill her life goals, selecting the wealthy, seemingly successful family of Jackson and Daphne as her prey.

Amber is calculated and cold; she knows exactly how to worm her way into the family without arousing too much suspicion. Or, at least it seems that way. Amber befriends Daphne at the local upscale gym. Having done extensive research on Jackson and Daphne, Amber reveals that her sister passed away of Cystic Fibrosis. Daphne runs a charity for families suffering from Cystic Fibrosis as her sister passed away from it many years ago. Daphne immediately takes a liking to Amber, as she has yet to meet many women who know what it is like to lose a beloved sister to Cystic Fibrosis. This seemed to be a bit of a plot hole to me; isn’t it somewhat odd that Daphne has yet to make good friends with other families who have suffered a loss given she runs a huge charity for Cystic Fibrosis? We later learn that Daphne has ulterior motives for befriending Amber, which resolved this plot hole.

Amber manages to not only become a permanent fixture in Daphne’s life, but also in Jackson’s. Jackson hires Amber as his assistant to his assistant (yes, he’s rich) after Amber tearfully tells Daphne she is being sexually harassed by her boss. Slowly, Amber transforms from a woman lacking fashion sensibilities to a woman who men desire; she changes her hairstyle, her makeup, and clothing to appeal to Jackson. Jackson starts to take note of Amber, and soon they are arranging secretive trips around the world, nights out on the town, and wild evenings in hotels and at Jackson’s other properties. Amber thinks she has secured Jackson’s affections and the future she envisioned, only to find out that she has simply scratched the surface of Jackson and Daphne’s family dynamics and secrets.

If it weren’t for the thrilling twist in this book that happens midway through it, Amber’s story would seem like another Lifetime movie plot. There is certainly no lack of novels involving scorned lovers and cunning mistresses. But this book takes it to another level, illustrating that what we thought about Daphne and Jackson’s marriage is superficial at best. I suppose this should have been a red flag for me as a reader, especially considering we initially learn about Daphne and Jackson through Amber’s jaded eyes.

It’s hard to write this review without revealing some major spoilers. Let’s just say that besides being a cheater, Jackson is not the person he seems to be, nor is Daphne the meek, submissive, and money hungry woman Amber makes her out to be. Once I got through Amber’s narrative (at about the 40% mark of the book), I could not put this book down. The ending was satisfyingly delicious.

Please note that there are scenes of domestic violence in this book, so if that is a trigger for you, you probably should not read this book.

Thank you to the authors, the publisher, HarperFiction, and NetGalley for the opportunity to review the The Last Mrs. Parrish. Note that Liv Constantine is the pen name of the sister writing team, Lynne and Valerie Constantine, who wrote the book over Skype (how neat is that?!).  The Last Mrs. Parrish was recently published by HarperFiction on October 17th, and is available at your local bookseller for purchase.

How to Finance Your Book Habit

If you are anything like me, you probably spend a good portion of your salary on books for yourself and your family. Back when I worked for Barnes & Noble, I relished being able to buy books at the employee discounted price. Besides having a paycheck in college, the employee discount on books was a big perk of the job for a book nerd like me.

I read articles, book chapters, and books for my career as an archaeologist, and tend to have those covered by my university. Since finishing my Ph.D. and eventually earning tenure as a professor, my personal reading has increased. I’ve tried to read something for fun every single day, even if it is a few pages of a book at the very end of my day. This year, I’ve focused on reading a book a week, and so far I’ve met that goal nearly every week.

How do I afford all of these books? I buy a good deal of them, and have used consumer survey sites to help pay for them. I’ve done consumer surveys since I discovered them back when I was a struggling college student in the late 1990s, often making up to $200 a month. Companies hire consumer survey websites to funnel consumers of certain demographics to their surveys in order to gauge consumer interest in new products and upcoming movies. You can read more about consumer survey websites on Survey Police, which provides ratings and reviews of survey sites (including their pay offs or lack thereof). Consumer surveys range from filling out surveys online to reviewing products that range from clothing to food to household goods.

OneOpinion is my favorite consumer survey website, as they are reliable, have good customer service, they pay well for surveys, they have great payout options (Amazon gift certificates; PayPal money; VISA gift cards; Starbucks gift certificates; Home Depot gift certificates, and Walmart gift certificates) and their surveys are high quality. Note that OneOpinion does not want you to complete surveys using your phone; you should make sure to only complete these surveys on a desktop or laptop, and stick with one computer for all surveys. Because there are dishonest people out there who use bots to complete surveys, most survey sites will monitor your IP address. If you are constantly switching computers and/or doing surveys in different parts of the state/country, they will notice, and it can result in freezing or potentially deactivating your account.


I also like Forthright surveys, which are easy, can usually be done on your phone, immediately pay you for filling out a survey (I usually choose PayPal), pay between $2-$3 per survey, and, if you don’t qualify for a survey because of your demographics, you still get credit towards a payout. I also like PanelPolls, which offers surveys for parents and children, and opportunities to test new and exciting kids’ products. Their payouts are fair, and they send you a check for your time.


How much money can you make in one month of survey taking? If you do about 10 minutes of surveys a day, you can make between $50 to $200 a month on average. For example, in February 2017 I made $75 in cash from OneOpinion. Here’s a snapshot of my earnings that month:


Finally, there a few survey websites out there that are fun, but often don’t offer the best payouts. I like VIPVoice because the surveys can sometimes be interesting, and they have verifiable raffles for big gifts. I’ve only won a few gift certificates from them, but I have completed some interesting surveys that have resulted in cash awards directly from the company initiating the survey.

None of the survey websites have paid me for writing this, and for any friends who are struggling with money, I always recommend going the consumer surveys route. It’s simple, and can be done from the comfort of your own home. There are no gimmicks, no products you have to purchase, and there are no membership fees for doing surveys and making money off of them.

I won’t cover how to get free books on this blog, because Chelsea of The Suspense is Thrilling Me has already started an absolutely fabulous series on book blogging and reviewing. Check out her blog post on that topic here.

Review: Silent Lies


**5 Goodreads Stars**

Wow. I did not see that ending coming! Kathryn Croft’s Silent Lies starts off as a somewhat unsuspecting thriller; there are characters who make slightly poor choices, but no one seems capable of the murder (or murders?!).

The book begins with a funeral. Mother and child are mourning the death of their dearly beloved husband and father. We quickly learn that the mother, Mia, lost her university professor husband to what is believed to be a murder suicide. The running theory is that her husband, Zach, committed suicide after killing his college student and lover, Josie.

The second narrator is Josie, Zach’s supposed college-aged lover. The book tacks back and forth between Mia and Josie’s stories. You start to sympathize with both of the narrators, both leading you to form different, and sometimes contradictory, opinions of up to the two narrators, Mia and Josie. You develop feelings for both of them despite the years separating them and the man in between them.

Josie has led a hard life. She was raised by a teenage mother who really didn’t want her. As a result, Josie was beat, starved, and taunted by her mother, Liz, to the point that she nearly died by her mother’s boyfriend’s hands (while her mother stood by watching).

I won’t spoil this book for future readers, but I would encourage readers to think about Mia’s motivations for telling her story. I tended to sympathize more with Mia, but then I started to question why she was telling me her story and the narrative conventions upon which she was relying. I’d also encourage the reader to think about Josie’s story as well. Why is she sharing it?

I really loved the shocker of an ending, and how it wrapped up so neatly.

Thank you to the author, Kathryn Croft, the publisher, Bookouture (one of my favorites!), and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Silent Lies.

What I Am Reading Right Now

This past week has been busy at work and at home, so I’ve made some minimal progress on my reading. I am still making my way through a number of books, which is certainly not a reflection of their content but rather a reflection of my busy schedule!

I started reading Kathryn Croft’s Silent Lies a day or two ago, and then was up half last night reading it. I am close to 50% of the way through the book. I will be featuring her book during a blog tour, so my review won’t be up until closer to the book’s publication date.


I also started reading Chris Bohjalian’s The Flight Attendant, but I am only a tiny bit of the ways into the book (9%). I am on the fence about it right now, and I may or may not return to reading it.


I just received an advanced review copy of Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World, which I had been wanting since I heard it was coming out. This is a post-apocalyptic adventure that I am excited to start reading soon.


I am enjoying Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, which is a powerful read on the importance of intersectional feminism. There are so many great passages and quotes in this book that I think I have half of what I’ve read highlighted! I am 57% of the way through that book.


I am close to finishing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ We Were Eight Years in Power, which is a compilation of his articles on race and inequality here in the contemporary U.S. I am 67% of the way through it.


I have reviews forthcoming for AJ Finn’s The Woman in the Window, which is sure to be a bestseller. The book comes out January 2, 2018 (my birthday!), and I rated it 5++ out of 5 Goodreads stars.


I also have a review coming out in a month in celebration of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us publication date. I really enjoyed the book (and rated it 4/5 Goodreads stars), and yes, that cover is everything!