Summer of Mystery (Authors)

Every booknerd loves a signed book. The only thing better than a signed book is getting the opportunity to get it signed in person. This summer I had the opportunity to do that with three incredible authors.

Linda Castillo

Linda is the author of the Kate Burkholder series and was in town for her latest book, Down a Dark Road, which I attended with my dad. The series is set in Ohio and Linda’s book tour always stops in the area. This was my fourth time getting to see her and it is always a wonderful time. I always love hearing about her inspiration for the books and her path to getting published. This particular tour stop has become my new favorite because when I went to get my book signed she remembered my name before I even said anything!

Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter was in the Cleveland area for her new book The Good Daughter and I attended it with my Book Buddy, Amanda. One of the first books I reviewed on this blog was one of Karin’s Will Trent books. I didn’t know it was part of a series when I started reading it, but once it was done I had to go back and read the rest of the series and thus discovered a new favorite author. Karin spoke of her childhood and how she started writing (stories about her sisters being mutilated lol). In regards to The Good Daughter in particular she shared that the inspiration for Gamma was one of her old English teachers. She also shared that both the Will Trent series and Cop Town has been optioned for tv series. I asked her if there would be any more books with the characters from this novel and she said no, other than the prequel novella. “The characters have been through enough, don’t you think?”

Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline was in the Cleveland area for Exposed, part of her Rosato & DiNunzio series, and I attended it with Amanda. Lisa was a hoot! She had us laughing the whole event. She told a lot of stories about her family and how she got started writing. Before this event I had only read one book by her, One Perfect Lie, but afterward I read the first book in the series that preceded this series (I’ve decided I want to read them all in order, so I haven’t read Exposed yet) and really enjoyed it. Hearing Lisa’s stories and her style of humor really added something to the reading experience and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

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Review: Down a Dark Road (Kate Burkholder #9) by Linda Castillo

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this electrifying new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series, a convicted murderer is on the run and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must catch him before he strikes again.

Eight years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and, according to local law enforcement, a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire and putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. A nightmare scenario becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and kidnaps his five children from their Amish uncle’s house. He’s armed and desperate with nothing left to lose.

Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate leaps into action, but her frantic search for a killer leads her into an ambush. When King releases her unharmed, asking her to prove his innocence, she begins to wonder whether the police are hiding something, and she embarks on her own investigation to discover the truth.

I’m a big fan of the Kate Burkholder series. I have been looking forward to Down a Dark Road for awhile and am so happy that it lived up to my expectations.

An Amish man convicted of murdering his wife has escaped from prison. When the escapee, Joseph King, jumps chief of police Kate Burkholder and takes her service weapon, he takes her hostage, along with his kids. She tries to talk him into turning himself in while he tries to talk her into proving he didn’t kill his wife. Though the evidence against him seems insurmountable, Kate finds herself wanting to believe him due to their shared past. Kate grew up Amish and Joseph was her neighbor and friend for a couple years. He was also her first childhood crush.  I really loved the flashback portions where we see Kate’s past experiences with Joseph. Even knowing the outcome and how much I love her current boyfriend, Tomasetti, I found myself shipping young Kate and Joseph. I can definitely see why Kate had such a hard time believing he could do all the things he was accused of.

Kate, being Kate, decides to investigate even though it has to be unofficial and under the radar. I really loved how the mystery played out. There are several great moments of suspense and lots of little twists as Kate discovers new information. I had a couple of guesses who the real murderer was, but was wrong about the one I was convinced was the bad guy for most of the book. I read a lot of this genre and am rarely surprised anymore, so I love that I didn’t figure things out until late in the game.

The only thing I didn’t really like is that there wasn’t as much Tomasetti as I wanted. What we got of him was great, but I always want more. I would’ve loved to have seen a couple of chapters from his POV working the case.

Overall, I really enjoyed Down a Dark Road. It had a great mystery and is definitely one of my favorite books of the series. I love that I got to see Linda Castillo on book tour for the fourth year in a row (and she remembered my name when I went to get my book signed!!). Having the book set near the town where I grew up and recognizing a lot of the places mentioned makes a great series that much more special. I definitely recommend the Kate Burkholder series to mystery fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017.

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1.  Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. Publication Date: 12/26/17

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2. Renegades by Marissa Meyer. Publication Date: 11/7/17

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3. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. Publication Date: 10/10/17.

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4. Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor #3) by Dani Pettrey. Publication Date: 10/3/17.

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5. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Publication Date: 9/26/17.

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6. Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton. Publication Date: 9/5/17.

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7. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. Publication Date 8/29/17.

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8. Ready to Run by Laren Layne. Publication Date 8/22/17.

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9. Lucky in Love by Kasie West. Publication Date 7/25/17.

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10. Down a Dark Road (Kate Burkholder #9) by Linda Castillo. Publication Date 7/11/17.

What books are you looking forward to?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2017

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond. Read April 1-2. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed The Marriage Pact. Though it started out a little slow for me and did get bogged down in the details a bit, for the most part it was well-paced and seriously creepy. I had fallen into a book slump before I started this and it definitely pulled me out. This is my first Michelle Richmond book and I’ll definitely be reading more from her. Full review to come.

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  Read April 8-10. 3 Stars.

After all the glowing reviews and everyone saying this book was better than Mackintosh’s I See You (which I read first and really enjoyed), I had very high expectations going into this. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite met. Part One of this book was sooooo slow. If it wasn’t for all the good reviews, I may have given up on it. I didn’t really care for Jenna’s POV until closer to the end of Part One and while I liked Ray’s POV, he started to really make me angry. However, it definitely got more interesting in Part Two. I liked the reveal right before Part Two. I knew a twist was coming and I had a few guesses and one of my them was about half right. I knew there was another twist coming and I did figure it out before the reveal, but that’s ok. Overall this was a good book, but it did not live up to my expectations.

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Marrying His Best Friend (The McKinnon Brothers #3) by Jennifer Gracen. Read April 9-11. 3 Stars.

A very cute Friends-to-More/Marriage of Convenience story. I loved, loved Aiden. He was so sweet. This was well on it’s way to being a 4 star read for me, but then Maura started acting like an idiot and I couldn’t stand her for awhile so it definitely brought my overall feelings about the book down. It was still, cute, though. This was a free Nookbook (and is probably on Kindle too?) and I’m glad I actually read it instead of letting it sit for years untouched on my Nook, like most other free downloads do.

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The Girlfriend Request by Jodie Andrefski. Read April 13-14. 3 Stars.

I reject the premise of this book. Emma basically decides to catfish Eli with the end goal being Eli asking her out. Ummm, ok. There was also a kind of random love triangle thrown in towards the end of the book that was kind of pointless. All of Eli and Emma’s friends existed for the sole purpose of advancing the Eli/Emma relationship. Despite all those problems, though, there were still several cute moments and I did like Emma and Eli together once they stopped being stupid. I liked their friendship, as well. I appreciated that this was a pretty clean YA Contemporary. Overall, this was a quick, easy read that provided the distraction I was looking for.

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Driven to Date (Better Date than Never #7) by Susan Hatler. Read April 15. 3 Stars.

I’ve had this book on my Nook forever and finally decided to read it today when nothing else was working for me. It was a workplace romance with a bit of a mix of fake-relationship, insta-love, and enemies-to-lovers. It was short and sweet with likable characters and I’ll be reading some of the other books from this series that have also been sitting on my Nook for awhile.

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. Read April 16-17. 3.5 Stars.

It took me a little while to get into this. I didn’t really care for either Juliet or Declan in the beginning. I’m an avoidant people pleaser, so I can’t really relate to angry, confrontational characters. However, as the story went on I became more invested in the characters and the story. The chapters alternate between Declan and Juliet’s POVs and I have to say that I enjoyed Declan’s chapters a lot more. While I liked the relationship between Declan and Juliet, it was the friendship between Declan and Rev that really made this book for me. I loved their interactions and how supportive of each other they were. I also really liked Frank, Declan’s “supervisor”, and a couple of the teachers. This was not as emotional as I was expecting it to be (that isn’t really a bad thing, though). Overall, a good book, but not my favorite of Kemmerer’s.

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The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham. Listened to April 19-24. 4 Stars.

I listened to this on audio and even though the book would be good on it’s own, Kristen Bell’s narration just made it amazing. I loved the show and listening to this book was almost like watching an episode. I thought the mystery was well done and it definitely kept me guessing. A must-read (or listen) for all Veronica Mars fans.

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Arrowood by Laura McHugh. Read April 25-27. 2.5 Stars.

I feel a little bad for rating this under 3 stars because the writing wasn’t bad (though much too descriptive for me), but when I finished the book my first thought was, “That was a waste of time.” The chapters were long and the pace was slow and it took well over half way through for me to really get interested in the story. The solution to the mystery wasn’t really a surprise at all and I thought the reveal wasn’t very well done. The characters could have used a little more development, but I didn’t mind Arden and I liked Josh. If you’re really into description and some light history you would probably enjoy this more than I did, but if you’re looking for a good mystery or suspense I would say to look somewhere else.

****************RE-READ****************

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Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3) by Linda Castillo. I listened to most of this on audio on the drive home from vacation and I couldn’t remember all the details of the conclusion, so I had to read the rest as soon as I could. This was a good mystery. I really like this series.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Nemesis by Brendan Reichs. I got almost half way through this and just don’t care about it. It might just be my mood, though, so I’m putting it back on the TBR to read another day.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. DNF at 38%. When I first saw this book I didn’t think it looked like my cup of tea. But then I saw it was Taylor Jenkins Reid and I thought, “yes, please.” Sadly, I should’ve gone with my first instinct. I pretty much hated Evelyn – both in the present and the past. I felt a little sorry for her as a young girl, but then she grew up into an awful person who did awful things and was not the least bit sorry about it. Now, I can read and enjoy books that have unlikable characters. But I either have to love to hate them or they have to have some type of redeeming quality and I felt like both of those aspects were missing here. I also didn’t really find Monique developed enough to care about one way or the other, but by the time I stopped reading I was growing to dislike her a bit. I’m sure there will be many people who like this book, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

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The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts. DNF at 12%. I have absolutely no patience whatsoever for Vivian.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Zero Day by Jan Gangsei. Read June 28-July 1. 2 stars.

This book was full of interesting ideas that were never really fully developed. It left a lot of loose ends open – so much so I thought it was series, but according to the author it’s a standalone “with potential for more.” Which honestly just makes the lame cliffhanger even more frustrating. I think the book would have been better if it focused on less perspectives and cut out a couple of the extraneous storylines and just really focused in on Addie and Cerberus.

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Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt. Read July 1. 3 Stars.

Um, this is supposed to be YA? It definitely reads way more adult, even though the main characters are in high school. I’ve been seeing such great reviews for this book that I finally decided I had to read it, even though I knew it wasn’t the type of book I usually go for. And it’s definitely not the kind of book I generally like, but once I started it, I couldn’t stop. It was a very quick, easy read with interesting, if often clichéd, characters. I hated them half the time and rooted for them the other half. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to YA readers, even though it’s supposed to be YA, but I think usual Romance readers will like it.

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This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills. Read July 4. 4.5 Stars

I loved this book so hard! I read it basically in one sitting. The characters, the family, the friendships, the humor, the emotion. This book just made my heart happy. I think Emma Mills has made her way onto my auto-buy list. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read July 2-4. 3 stars.

I think this book tried too hard to teach me something and in doing so came off a little cheesy. I liked the main characters and I liked the romance enough – even though there was an “Anna and the French Kiss” inspired love triangle that took WAY too long to be resolved. In some ways I could really identify with Mallory, but there was just something missing where I didn’t feel at all connected with her. There were definitely some sad moments, but I didn’t feel that much about them either. Not a bad book, but kind of a disappointment, given my love for JLA.

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Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo. Read July 12-16. 4 Stars.

This is the eighth book in the Kate Burkholder series and I think it’s my new favorite. I really liked the story – the undercover aspect and how genuinely creepy some of the characters were. There was a surprise towards the end that I definitely didn’t see coming. I was a little concerned about Kate being in a different state and not having the usual cast of characters around, especially Tomasetti, but it worked. And while I am always wanting more Tomasetti, he still had a presence in the book. I wish there was just a bit more interaction with Bishop Schrock since he was such an interesting, creepy character. Overall, though, a very good read.

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Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein. Read July 17. 3.5 stars.

There was a great deal of cuteness in this book, but there were several things that kind of annoyed me, too. Lately I seem to be reading a lot of books where the main characters hide behind sarcasm and a generally bad attitude to avoid having feelings about things. And while I completely and totally relate to that, it’s made me start to wonder how annoying other people must find me. I mean, about 99% of the drama June goes through in this book is manufactured by herself. I felt like a lot of it could have been avoided. But, overall, while I did have some issues with this book, it did have so many cute moments. I loved, loved Oliver and I really liked June’s friendship/relationship with him (when she wasn’t screwing everything up). A cute, fast read that I think a lot of YA lovers will enjoy.

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Best of My Love (Fool’s Gold #20) by Susan Mallery. Read July 16-17. 3.5 Stars.

I was a little iffy about this in the beginning. The premise that you need to set up some “experiment” to be friends with a member of the opposite sex was kind of silly to me. I also thought setting up a time limit for that friendship was odd. But once I got past that, I did really end up liking the relationship between Aiden and Shelby. I wish there would have been a little more Just Friends time before they started to fall for each other, though. However, I did really like that they became such good friends and I shipped them hard. The message of opening yourself up to love got a little heavy handed towards the end and a part of me wish they would have only been just friends. It kind of took away from the point that men and women can be just friends by having them fall in love. But, I guess you can’t really expect anything else to happen in this type of book. And I did really like their relationship. Overall, it was a cute, quick read that fans of romance and the Friends to Lovers trope would enjoy.

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Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare, Read July 18-22. 3 Stars.

This book was ridiculously too long. It could have been a couple hundred pages shorter and if it was I think it would’ve been much better. It was still a solid 3-star book, but I do have to admit I got bored for long stretches of it.

I liked pretty much all the characters. I liked that one of them is on the Spectrum and how he was written. I was a big fan of the romance, but found the ending regarding it completely annoying (though not as annoying as supposed incest like in some of other Clare’s books…). Julian was my favorite. It was often repeated that he kept a lot of secrets, but I thought they were completely obvious. When he pulls Mark and Emma aside to tell them about one of the secrets, I was expecting something really shocking, but what he told them was something I thought we already knew? And did Emma really not figure it out before that?

While the book was almost completely predictable, I was surprised by who the Guardian was, so that was a good twist, even though it made me sad. I think the rabid Clare fans will really enjoy this book and the cameos from characters from the other series. For me, it was kind of average, but I’ll still plan on reading the next book in the series.

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Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard. Read July 23-24. 3 Stars.

I’ve had this on my TBR shelf forever (mostly because I adore the covers for the books in this series) and when nothing else was keeping my attention, I decided it was finally time to try it. I think I *wanted* to like it a little more than I actually liked it. I liked the premise and for the most part I liked Alyssa. I liked Jeb to an extent, but his super-protectiveness often veered into controlling, which is not cool. Morpheus had SO MUCH potential to be this really awesome character, but he fell a little flat for me. Though there were several chapters I kind of skimmed, I did overall like the book enough to continue the series.

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The Moth in the Mirror (Splintered #1.5) by A.G. Howard. Read July 24. 3 Stars.

I liked the idea of getting to see some of Jeb’s POV from the first book, while getting new scenes with Morpheus. Unfortunately, most of Jeb’s scenes were him finding things out we already knew, with little insight into anything else. I did like the scenes with Morpheus, though. I have high hopes that he’ll live up to his potential in the next book.

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Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard. Read July 24-26. 3 Stars.

There was a bunch of nothing happening for most of the book and it would have benefited from being shorter. However, there were some good things that happened, too. I liked Morpheus a lot more in this installment, though I still don’t LOVE him yet (but I’m definitely not Team Jeb, either). I’m glad that we got to find out more about his and Ally’s mom’s past. I liked where things ended and am looking forward to the next book.

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. Read July 26-29. 3 Stars.

Once again Moriarty writes some amazingly well-developed characters. While they weren’t always likeable (in fact they were almost all unlikable a good deal of the time), they did really start to feel like people I knew and cared about. Poor, sweet Oliver was my favorite.

While the character development was spot on, the story, unfortunately, underwhelmed me. It took over half way through the book to find out what the big incident at the barbecue was and it wasn’t as shocking as I thought it was going to be. I felt myself just wanting to kind of get through it, instead of enjoying it or being entertained by it. So while it definitely wasn’t my favorite Moriarty book, I think fans of really character-driven stories would enjoy it.

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Blitzing Emily (Love and Football #1) by Julie Brannagh. I got a copy of this for free awhile ago and we all know how much I love fake relationship stories. But this one just wasn’t keeping my interest. I do plan on trying it again sometime, though.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White. I was really looking forward to his book since I love some of White’s other books, but it just didn’t really keep my attention. I’m not sure it’s my type of book, to be honest. However, it might have just been my mood and I will definitely try it again someday.

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DNF

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Lady Renegades (Rebel Belle #3) by Rachel Hawkins. I just could not get into this book. After reading some reviews I decided it didn’t look like it was going to be something that would suddenly catch my interest. I ended up skipping ahead and reading the last couple chapters and I’m glad with my decision to not continue reading.

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Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker. DNF at about 44%. Since I got this from NetGalley, I really wanted to finish it, but I just couldn’t take any more. The characters are completely unlikable, the plot is unbelievable. While Christian is slightly more likable than Lexi, his POV included basically caricatures of Mexican culture and was honestly a little offensive and uncomfortable to read sometimes. I think heist books need to have a certain level of Fun, but I was completely unentertained. I just felt sad for the characters.                  

Among The Wicked Book Tour Stop

We don’t get a lot of author-related activities in my neck of the woods, so one of my favorite events every year is Linda Castillo’s book tour. Her Kate Burkholder series is set in a fictional town a couple counties away from where I live (and the county next to where I grew up) so her book tour always involves a couple of Ohio stops. She spoke about her journey as an author, how she researches her novels, and answered many questions from the audience. She’s so nice and she has a great sense of humor. I definitely recommend you read her books and try to catch her if she ever comes to your area.


Among the Wicked
is the 8th book in the Kate Burkholder series, which features Kate as a formerly Amish police chief in a small town in Amish country. Here’s an official synopsis from Good Reads:

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff’s department in rural, upstate New York to assist on a developing situation that involves a reclusive Amish settlement and the death of a young girl. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and “English” communities, the sheriff asks Kate to travel to New York, pose as an Amish woman, and infiltrate the community.

Kate’s long time love interest, State Agent John Tomasetti, is dead set against her taking on such an unorthodox assignment, knowing she’ll have limited communication – and even less in the way of backup. But Kate can’t turn her back, especially when the rumor mill boils with disturbing accounts of children in danger. She travels to New York where she’s briefed and assumes her new identity as a lone widow seeking a new life.

Kate infiltrates the community and goes deep under cover. In the coming days, she unearths a world built on secrets, a series of shocking crimes, and herself, alone… trapped in a fight for her life.

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Bookish Book Lover Tag

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I saw this over on A Novel Glimpse (you should check out her blog, btw) awhile back and thought it looked like a fun tag, so I’m stealing it 🙂

What book are you currently reading?

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I’m currently not reading anything, but my next read will either be This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills, which I just got approved from NetGalley for (I’m so excited!) or The Problem with Forever by JLA, which I just got from the library (finally!)

What’s the last book you finished?

Paper Princess by Erin Watt. This is definitely not the type of book I usually like, but it was a super addicting read. I’m kind of eager to read the next book (out later this month). Though this is a YA book, I WOULD NOT recommend it for YA readers. It reads way more adult.

Favourite book you read this year?

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Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown. The whole Red Rising trilogy is amazing, but this one is my favorite of the three.

What genre have you read most this year?

Contemporary

What genre have you read least this year?

Historical Fiction

What genre do you want to read more of?

Mystery/Suspense. It’s one of my favorite genres, but I haven’t read a ton of it this year yet.

How many books have you read this year, and what’s your goal?

My goal is 75 and I’ve read 69. I should probably up my goal.

What’s the last book you bought?

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Imposter by Susanne Winnacker and Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I was having a bad day at work and walked down to the Dollar Tree that’s in my work plaza for a break and picked these books up on a total whim. Imposter was pretty decent (though I later found out the author decided not to finish the series, so that kind of pissed me off). I haven’t read Messy yet, but I after I bought it I realized it’s by the same authors as The Royal We, so I have high hopes for it.

What book are you saving up to buy next?

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Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo. I’m planning on seeing her in a couple weeks at one of my local libraries and usually buy the book there so I can get it signed.

How many books did you check out last library visit?

I use the e-library, so I usually just get one at time – whenever my hold on a book comes in

What’s a book you can’t wait to read?

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I am dying for Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

What’s a series you’d recommend to everyone?

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I think that The Hunger Games, though kind of old news these days, has mass appeal to all ages – every single person in my family has read this series and enjoyed it (that includes a brother in his 20s and dad in his 60s). For YA/Fantasy/Paranormal enthusiasts, I think everyone needs to read The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan. Great characters and witty writing.

Who’s an author you’re hoping writes more?

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Can Erin Morgenstern PLEASE write another book? The Night Circus is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read and I just need more from her!

A few books your heart adores?

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Unspoken by Sarah Reese Brennan

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

What series’ coming conclusion makes you sad?

I’m sad that Six of Crows is only a duology.

What books are on your wish-list?

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Broken Prince by Erin Watt

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty