Review: For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.

He says his wife couldn’t be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.

Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.

All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way.

It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

Review

I don’t have the best memories of high school. I was a good student, got a long well with the teachers but stayed on the outside when it came to cliques. This meant that I had my nose stuck in a book most of the time which didn’t make me very popular with my peers. However, my time in high school was nothing compared to what students and staff went through in Belmont Academy.

At the heart of the story is Teddy. He is an English teacher who cares about his students and wants them to be the best versions of themselves. Sounds good, right? Not exactly! Teddy’s ideas about what it means to be a good teacher are unconventional. For one, he knows how to keep a grudge. He goes out of his way to settle scores. He is cold, so cold. Someone is onto him. However, Belmont Academy is not focused on Teddy and his weird ways though. There are unexplained deaths at the Academy that have everyone on edge. What exactly is going on in this school?

I love Samantha Downing’s books. They have subtle kind of darkness. A story begins all innocent enough before the darkness builds up. There are unlikable, selfish characters in this book who are developed in a way that won’t have you hating them.

There is a murder mystery that is a mystery only to the community and the investigators. Readers are in the know. I kept waiting to see how the mystery would get solved. I was curious about the villains especially when they just kept getting away with everything.

This was such a fun, captivating, twisty rollercoaster ride. I didn’t want the book to end. Nonetheless, the ending left me shook. Samantha Downing is definitely in a league of her own when it comes to twisted, outrageous yet entertaining characters. This was a brilliant read!

Review: My Daughter’s Mistake by Kate Hewitt

In the pretty, privileged college town of Milford, New Hampshire, everyone is friendly, everything is safe. And on this cold autumn day, as red and yellow leaves begin to fall from the trees, and everyone wraps up for the first time, it would be easy to believe nothing bad could ever happen here.

Until a screech of tires is heard, a thud, a child’s scream. The crash that sees Jenna’s six-year-old daughter Amy Rose being hit by a car driven by seventeen-year-old Maddie.

Maddie’s mother, Ellen—a college professor with a warm, approachable reputation—insists it must have been an accident. Her daughter is always safe on the road—and she’s vulnerable herself.

But as Amy Rose lies unconscious in hospital, the town begins to take sides. With Ellen, who just wants to defend her daughter. Or with Jenna, a single mother with a past, whose child hovers between life and death…

The truth is that both mothers have secrets they’re trying to keep. And, with Amy Rose’s life hanging in the balance, one of them will stop at nothing to protect the person she loves—her daughter.

Review

I love Kate Hewitt’s books. They are always quite emotional but I still can’t resist them.

Ellen receives a call from her teenage daughter, Maddie. who has had an accident. The victim is 6-year-old Amy Rose who is quickly rushed to hospital in critical condition. Through the chapters, we see Ellen struggling to support her daughter. She is worried about Amy Rose but as Maddie’s mother, she still has to put her daughter first. On the other hand, the second narrator is Jenna, Amy’s mother. Through her narrative, we follow Amy to the hospital and see doctors try to save her as her mother helplessly stands on the side. She is hurt, angry and scared. Ellen and Jenna are devastated by the position that their daughters are in. However, the 2 women are also hiding secrets. Worse still, Maddie is also hiding a secret about the accident.

This was such a heartbreaking read. The accident scene reminded me of an incident that occurred when I was new driver. I was driving to work on a clear road when suddenly two children in school uniform appeared in front of me, running across the road. They just seemed to have appeared from nowhere. I panicked and instead of hitting the emergency brakes, my foot found the accelerator. When the kids saw the car speeding up to them, they stopped running and just stood rooted on the road staring at me. Mercifully, I was able to stop a few feet from them. Innocently, they waved at me smiling and ran to the other side of the road. Needless to say, I was petrified.

This was a well-narrated story. The two women were quite relatable. I can’t imagine what they were going through but can totally understand the need to protect one’s child at all costs. Such a heartbreaking story overall but I enjoyed the themes of family, forgiveness and motherhood. I was intrigued by all the secrets and the final twist was as beautiful as it was heart-wrenching .

Review: A Cut for a Cut (Detective Kate Young #2) by Carol Wyer

DI Kate Young can’t trust anybody. Not even herself.

In the bleak countryside around Blithfield Reservoir, a serial murderer and rapist is leaving a trail of bloodshed. His savage calling card: the word ‘MINE’ carved into each of his victims.

DI Kate Young struggles to get the case moving—even when one of the team’s own investigators is found dead in a dumpster. But Kate is battling her own demons. Obsessed with exposing Superintendent John Dickson and convinced there’s a conspiracy running deep in the force, she no longer knows who to trust. Kate’s crusade has already cost her dearly. What will she lose next?

When her stepsister spills a long-buried secret, Kate realises she’s found the missing link—now she must prove it before the killer strikes again. With enemies closing in on all sides, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them down. But time is running out, and Kate’s past has pushed her to the very edge. Can she stop herself from falling?

Review

There is a serial rapist and murderer in Blithfield Reservoir. The unsub stalks women before attacking them. It is up to Detective Kate and her team to stop him. However, as in the previous case, Kate is working with very limited resources and a small team. In addition, she suspects that her superiors are corrupt and involved in the murder of her husband, Chris. Its clear that her suspicions do not go unnoticed as someone is trying to frustrate her investigation to show that she is incompetent hence get her to lose her job. All in all, this was a complex case. The work environment made it even more difficult to solve.

I enjoyed Kate and her team of investigators and the meticulous way that they conducted the investigation. I have to admit though that the pace of the investigation slowed down the entire narrative for me. I usually don’t mind the lack of leads and suspects as this is a realistic representation of how real investigations go. However, in this case, I was getting just as frustrated as Kate and her team as I wondered whether the case would ever get solved.

The parallel investigation into Chris’ death had my attention as more progress was made. I am curious to see how Kate will handle this case especially as the book ends with more twists and new evidence.

This was another great addition to the series. I can’t wait to catch up with Detective Kate in the next book and see how her unofficial investigation on the police corruption will go. I recommend reading this series in the order in which the books were released. This mainly because the corruption case is ongoing from the first book.

Review: First Girl to Die (Detective Morgan Brookes #4) by Helen Phifer

When Detective Morgan Brookes is called to the scene of a suicide, she’s devastated to recognise the young teacher sprawled out on the grass like a broken doll. She hasn’t seen Brittany for years. Not since the tragic death of Morgan’s high-school boyfriend ripped their friendship group apart. But when witnesses describe Brittany’s erratic behaviour and jumbled speech that morning, Morgan is convinced the fearless, life-loving girl she once knew didn’t jump of her own accord.

Traces of poison found in Brittany’s blood prove Morgan’s theory right, but no one can find the source. Then Morgan uncovers a distinctive jar in Brittany’s home filled with toxic herbs, and the sight of it turns her blood to ice. She has a jar just like it, a handmade gift from her aunt. Is this a coincidence, a set-up, or could the only person she’s ever trusted with her damaged past be capable of murder?

Then another woman from Morgan’s past is found, close to the scene of that fatal teenage party. Has Morgan been looking at this all wrong? Are these deaths connected to that deadly night? And how could someone from her own family possibly be involved?

Review

First Girl to Die is the 4th book in the Morgan Brookes series. We first met Morgan as a rookie in book 1. Needless to say, she has come a long way since then. Her character development has been stellar and I enjoy her working style and relation with her team. Although there is a hint of a possible romance in the team, I like the fact that it has not been rushed. I love not knowing what will happen between the 2 detectives in future though at this point, the romance wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This is a personal case for Morgan. It begins with the suicide of a school teacher. Morgan is devasted to find that she knows the victim. Brittany was Morgan’s old school friend. Her suicide seems odd right from the start. She is described to have been acting erratic and mumbling about a baby right before she killed herself. If that is not twisted enough, Morgan’s aunt, Ettie, had supplied herbal tea to Brittany and the tea is found to contain a deadly herb. Right from the start, there are numerous questions. What really happened to Brittany? Is Ettie involved? Is someone targeting Morgan’s old friends? If so, what is the motive?

This was a fast-paced, entertaining read. I enjoyed the twists and the unconventional MO of the villain. It was hard to guess the villain(s) identity or motives. I also liked the background story which took us back to Morgan’s high school days and the day that seems to have set off the present crimes. Overall, this was quite a good, captivating read.

October 2021 Wrap-up Post

I read 8 books this month! I am actually shocked by that number. I really thought that I had read only 4 books until I sat down and counted back. Here are my October reads:

Loud Black Girls by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene – 5*

Darkness Falls (Kate Marshall #3) by Robert Bryndza – 5*

Lost Angels (Nikki Hunt #3) by Stacy Green – 5*

The War Child by Renita D’ Silva – 5*

Good as Dead by Sue Walter – 4*

The Angel Creek Girls (Detective Kay Sharp by Leslie Wolfe – 4*

She Kills Me by Jennifer Wright – 3.5*

The Girl in the Stripped Dress by Ellie Midwood – 3.5*

November, 2021 TBR

I am still playing catch-up with my ARCs so I will be aiming to clear my backlog in November. Here are some of the new releases coming out in November that I also plan to read.

God of Mercy by Ozieke Nwoka

Carved in Ebony by Jasmine L. Holmes

A Little Bird by Wendy James

From my backlog, I hope to read the following titles:

Litani by Jess Lourey

Carefree Black Girls by Zeba Blay

The Last Time She Died (Blake and Bryon #1) by Zoe Sharp

Finding the Hero in Your Husband by Juli Slattery

Frozen Souls (Detective Ellie Reeves #4) by Rita Herron

First Girl to Die (Detective Morgan Brookes #4) by Helen Phifer

The Hidden Girl (Agent Tori Hunt #3) by Roger Stelljes

So, I have 10 books in my November TBR which is 2 more than I was able to read this month. If I manage to read all these, I will have made a huge dent on my TBR. Fingers crossed.

Have you read any of these titles? Are you up to date with your ARC reviews? Have you ever fallen behind this bad that you find yourself with ARCs that have already been published?

Have a lovely November.