book review, Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Serena’s Favorites, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: The Nanny’s Secret (A Locke Industries Novel) by Kiersten Modglin

Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: June 16, 2020


Olivia Mendes has a secret.
With her new position as a nanny for the prestigious Locke family, she’s learning just how powerful secrets can be.

Orrick and Iris Locke, owners of the billion-dollar security company known as Locke Industries, are beautiful, mysterious, and seemingly perfect. When she enters their home, Olivia quickly discovers everything is not what it seems. The Lockes’ elusive empire is built on dark and terrifying truths and with Olivia now a part of their lives, she has no choice but to play her role.

As she finds herself digging deeper into the Lockes’ web of lies, Olivia begins to question everything she’s learned. When the family’s insidious nature is revealed, her loyalties will be put to the ultimate test.

In this installment of the standalone LOCKE INDUSTRIES SERIES, The Nanny’s Secret may be the one to destroy everything…



Holy thriller !!!!! I was truly shocked at the spine-tingling ending of this fantastic novel!!!

Kiersten Modglin is the queen of twists and “The Nanny’s Secret “ is no exception.

You are instantly trapped in the tangled web of secrets from the beginning of this page-turner until the riveting ending!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.


Author Bio:

Kiersten Modglin is an award-winning author of bestselling psychological suspense novels. Kiersten lives in the rural Midwest with her husband, daughter, and their two Boston Terriers: Cedric and Georgie. She is best known for her unpredictable suspense and her readers have dubbed her ‘The Queen of Twists.’ A Netflix addict, Shonda Rhimes super-fan, psychology fanatic, and indoor enthusiast, Kiersten enjoys rainy days spent with her nose in a book.


Book Release, book review, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Serena’s Favorites

#BookReview & #NewRelease: A Summer of Surprises by Judith Keim

Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: June 23, 2020


Jill Conroy is tricked by her sister into becoming the housekeeper and cook for the summer at Seashell Cottage where Greg Campbell and his nephew, Brody, have been hired to do maintenance projects on the house. Annoyed at first, Jill soon realizes how wonderful it is to be away from her home in New York and the memories of her deceased, emotionally abusive husband. Soon the magic of the beach heals Jill enough for her to decide to move to Florida permanently to make a new life for herself. Her part-time work at a summer camp and the promise of a new job as a third-grade teacher in the fall make it seem as if her future is set. But a visit from her sister, followed by her mother, reveals secrets that surprise them all. Jill learns to accept the idea of love not only from Brody but from his daughter, Kacy, as the summer brings even more surprises.



“A Summer of Surprises” is a poignant novel in the “Seashell Cottage Series” that tells us all about Jill starting her life over and starting fresh on many levels.

Judith Keim has given us a charming, whimsical & emotional romance. I found myself teary-eyed a few different times while reading.

My heart broke for Jill during some of these difficult decisions that she had to make.

This was my first book in the Series and can be read as standalone.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.


Author Bio:

Judith Keim enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.

While growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young age. Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the books in general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid imaginations.

A hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet them with strength, and find love and happiness along the way. Her best-selling books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many loyal readers love. Ms. Keim loves to hear from her readers and appreciates their enthusiasm for her stories.

*Please Come Join Us at The Write Review when Judith Visits on July 15th at 7PM EST*

book review, Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Serena’s Favorites, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: You Can’t Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie

0E47E713-FB52-4E7C-B45D-CB67AE6F2D47Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: June 9, 2020


When the game is deception, nothing is as it seems in this novel of cunning psychological suspense by the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of I’ll Never Tell.

Do you want to play a game?

Twelve years ago Jessica Williams escaped a cult. Thanks to the private detective who rescued her, she reintegrated into society, endured an uncomfortable notoriety, and tried to put it all behind her. Then, at an airport bar, Jessica meets a woman with an identical name and birth date. It appears to be just an odd coincidence—until a week later, when Jessica finds her bank account drained and her personal information stolen.

Following a trail of the grifter’s victims, each with the same name, Jessica gathers players—one by one—for her own game. According to her plan, they’ll set a trap and wait for the impostor to strike again. But plans can go awry, and trust can fray, and as Jessica tries to escape the shadows of her childhood, the risks are greater than she imagined. Now, confronting the casualties of her past, Jessica can’t help but wonder…

Who will pay the price?



I was truly shocked by the ending of Catherine McKenzie’s thriller “You Can’t Catch Me”.

I was instantly lured in with the horrible things that happened to Jessica Williams from page 1.

There were quite a few unexpected turns in this novel all the way to the end.

Page turning and mysterious, this was definitely unputdownable.

You should definitely pick this one up and see for yourself what could possibly happen when you run across someone with the same name.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.



Catherine McKenzie was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. A graduate of McGill in History and Law, Catherine practices law in Montreal. An avid runner and skier, she’s the author of numerous bestsellers including HIDDEN, FRACTURED, THE GOOD LIAR and I’LL NEVER TELL. Her works have been translated into multiple languages.

In 2019, I’LL NEVER TELL was a #1 Amazon Bestseller, a Globe & Mail and Toronto Star Bestseller, was shortlisted for the Hugh McLennan Prize for Fiction and was optioned for a television series by Paramount TV.

annie mcdonnell, book review, Book Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Netgalley

#BlogTour & #BookReview: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: May 26, 2020


Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.



I love all things Austen!

As Natalie Jenner quotes in her novel “The Jane Austen Society”, ‘But one can always read Austen’; I can definitely read about her at any time!

I was enamored with the idea of a society being created to preserve Jane Austen’s home and legacy! Even if you don’t know who Jane Austen is, you will feel the pull of this desire to hold on tight to her memories, and more!

We meet each member of the Society along the way, and as they create relationships with one another we feel their bonds growing! I was touched, moved and often inspired!

With an overall message of hope, I found this book to be truly delightful!

One that often had me smiling, because it simply radiated warmth! I am so happy I had the chance to read this story!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

4 Stars.



Natalie Jenner was born in England and emigrated to Canada as a young child. She obtained her B.A. and her LL.B. from the University of Toronto, where she was the 1990 Gold Medalist in English Literature at St. Michael’s College, and was Called to the Bar of Ontario in 1995. In addition to a brief career as a corporate lawyer, Natalie has worked as a recruiter, career coach, and consultant to leading law firms in Canada for over two decades. Most recently Natalie founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. A lifelong devotee of all things Jane Austen, “The Jane Austen Society” is her first published novel.



annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Fiction, Mystery, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: What She Found by Emerald O’Brien

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: March 26, 2020


After her recent separation, Tabitha Weaver is holding her life together by a thread. Luckily, her six closest friends have the perfect cure for heartbreak: a weekend in the countryside complete with relaxation, a blind date, and all the wine she can handle.

But it isn’t long before their night at the secluded rental house goes sour. The drinks flow a little too freely and lingering tensions arise before they’re interrupted by frantic knocking at the door. The stranger claims to have been in an accident, and though her head is bleeding, she refuses to let them call an ambulance.

With Tabitha distracted by her new beau, another friend leaving to check out the scene of the accident, and the rest of the group busy feuding, they lose track of the stranger’s whereabouts. It isn’t until she wakes up with a hangover that Tabitha finds a note on her dresser: Don’t stop until you find it.

Tabitha disregards the note, and the evening, and returns home believing the weekend is behind her. But when the strange woman is reported missing, the police start circling—the group must reexamine their accounts of what happened that night. And the discrepancies in their stories cannot be overlooked. It doesn’t help that the police have discovered clues to suggest foul play.

As the evidence mounts against them, loyalties are tested. Tabitha is desperate to find the truth about what happened to the woman.

Which of her friends is lying? Who can she trust?


“What She Found” proves to be a story that I found myself fully invested in! Unputdownable! With an ending I did not see coming…A mile away!

Emerald O’Brien offers generous amounts of shock value! She puts twists in this story that appear like a blind curves in the road!

I loved all of the friends! The drama! The baggage! The secrets! The Stranger!!

The goosebumps I consistently got!

Be Sure to Grab “What She Found” and be prepared to be Wow’d!

5 Stars.








book review, Fiction

#BookReview: Better Choices by Rod Pennington & Jeffery A. Martin

Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: June 12, 2020


Allison Clark has made many bad choices. Now, on the cusp of a divorce, she finds herself sandwiched between caring for her often difficult and dying mother and dealing with her rebellious teenaged twins.

When she thinks life couldn’t get any more complicated, Allison discovers her mother has concealed an ominous secret from her for her entire life.

At her twins’ eighteenth birthday party, and nearing the end, her mother checks off the last item on her bucket list and reveals the long-hidden family secret. Allison’s world is immediately turned upside down and the revelation stuns family and friends alike.


“Better Choices” was a thought-provoking novel which begins with Allison finding out shocking deeply buried family secrets. She is on the path to begin her next life stages but has to figure out how to accept and learn to control her “lizard brain” and deal with the cards recently dealt.

Watching the evolvement of Allison with her family definitely kept me wanting to turn the page.

Rod Pennington has given us a motivating entertaining novel. This was a new to me author and glad to have found him.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

4 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, book review, Fiction

#BookReview & #Excerpt: As Good As Can Be by William A. Glass

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: April 14, 2020


A novel about the wayward son of an alcoholic army officer. As his dysfunctional family moves from one military base to the next, Dave Knight develops a give-a-damn attitude and an ironic sense of humor.

In high school, he becomes the class clown and is accepted by other delinquents. He joins them in a series of escapades, some dangerous, others funny, and a few that would be worthy of jail time should the troublemakers be caught.

After barely graduating, Dave’s drafted into the army and sent to guard a nuclear weapons depot in Korea. There he runs afoul of his sergeant and must scramble to avoid dishonorable discharge.



This was quite a change of pace for me! I really enjoyed reading about Dave and his challenges between growing up in a military family and having to move around so often from base to base.

Reading a coming of age story about a young man was very intriguing. The 1950’s was super interesting to learn about, especially from Dave’s point of view.

I have learned I am enamored with military stories. His collision of military, Coming-of-age and mid-century America is flawless!

William A. Glass has painted a picture so vivid I have the desire to learn more about these subjects!

A great writer always does this!

4 Stars


Chapter One: 


Dave Knight is on his toes peering through a playroom window at the snow. It fell overnight, but there are already tracks in the fresh powder. They lead to the shallow end of the swimming pool. Several servants have gathered there, and now Dave sees why. “Uh-oh, Haji fell into the pool again,” he exclaims.

“Let me see,” Melissa says, shoving Dave aside. Haji Baba is her donkey, and she watches with concern as two houseboys cling to his tail. The driver, Mahmoud, is partway on the ice holding the animal’s neck. “Stupid donkey,” Melissa says. “Now he’s stuck.” She allows the curtain to close and goes out. 

Soon Melissa is back holding a Coca-Cola bottle. “This is for you,” she says and gives the drink to Dave. He takes a swallow and immediately gags. As he regurgitates his breakfast, Dave’s nurse, Farah, rushes over and looks at what’s left of the drink. “You give brother soap water,” she says to Melissa. “Bad girl.” Farah spins Melissa around and gives her two bops on the behind. Then she takes Dave on her hip and carries him down the hall to the master bedroom. 

Lieutenant Colonel David S. Knight Jr. answers Farah’s knock. He belts his uniform jacket while listening to Farah describe what Melissa did. Then the officer wrinkles his nose. “What’s that smell?” he asks.

“He throw up,” Farah replies.

“Well, get him changed, we have to leave,” Knight tells the nurse. “Stop sniveling,” he barks at Dave.

“You don’t have to holler at the poor child,” Bobbie Knight says to her husband. She’s still in bed, propped up on pillows having breakfast. “I wonder why Melissa takes such delight in tormenting him.” 

Farah carries Dave into the bathroom to clean up. Then she takes him to the bedroom he shares with his brother, Dan, who’s sitting on the floor playing. The toddler looks up and blinks his brown eyes curiously as Farah gets Dave into a fresh set of clothes. Dan’s the only one of the children to inherit Knight’s dark good looks. The others all have Bobbie’s fair hair, light-colored eyes, and Celtic complexion. 

While Farah gets Dave ready, Knight goes downstairs to the kitchen. His youngest child, Marie, is in a high chair being spoon-fed breakfast by the family’s cook, Aliya. “Where in the hell is Mahmoud?” Knight asks with an impatient glance at his watch.

“Haji fall in pool,” Aliya replies.

“Not again,” Knight exclaims. He stalks to the front door past Oscar, who’s wagging his tail in anticipation of a pat on the head. Knight ignores the dog and goes outside, where he’s momentarily stunned by the sight of the Alborz Mountains rising in front of him. With the sun just up, only the peaks are illuminated, so the icy spires appear to be floating. It’s a captivating illusion, but Knight now turns his attention to the swimming pool. “Where’s the goddamn rope?” he shouts after a quick assessment.

“I get,” Mahmoud hollers back. He beckons a gardener to take his place holding Haji’s neck. 

As the driver makes his way to the stable through deep snow, Knight lights a cigarette. He watches Mahmoud return to the pool with a length of thick rope, loop it across the donkey’s chest, and then organize the other servants to pull on the ends. They quickly haul the animal out. “Put Haji back in the shed and lock the gate,” Knight directs. “What idiot left it open anyway?” 

Flicking the cigarette away, Knight reenters the house to see Farah coming down the stairs with Dave who is once again properly attired. Melissa follows, holding the hand of her nurse. Knight shepherds both schoolchildren outside and into the backseat of the family car. Mahmoud closes the door behind his passengers then gets behind the wheel. “Don’t you people ever learn?” Knight asks as the vehicle gathers speed. 

“Yes, boss.”

“No, you don’t, or you would’ve got the rope right away.”

“Forget rope.”

“That’s what I mean,” Knight laughs. “You forget what worked last time and go back to what was not working last time; pulling on the poor creature’s tail, for Chrissake.” 

Knight relaxes now that they’re on the way, and soon the vehicle is passing through the outskirts of Tehran. At first, there’s little traffic, but as they near downtown, the streets become congested. Wagons drawn by horses or donkeys intermingle with bicycles, pushcarts, automobiles, and trucks. Businesses housed in rudely constructed cinder block buildings line the road. In between are rubble-strewn vacant lots that shabbily dressed pedestrians cut through on their way to work. 

Once past the commercial district, the neighborhood improves, and soon Mahmoud is turning onto the treelined street that leads to the United States embassy. It’s in a compound that takes up an entire city block. Enclosed within the walls are the ambassador’s residence, an apartment building, a dinner club, barracks for the Marines, and the multistory embassy building, which is topped with an antennae array. This electronic gear was installed by Knight and his command to spy on the Russians. 

As the Knights’ car approaches the embassy entrance, a crowd chants anti-American slogans. Many of the protestors carry signs while others shake their fists. They crowd around the front gate, so a squad of Marines comes out to clear the way. Then a sergeant waves the vehicle through, and now, despite all the chaos at the house this morning, Mahmoud pulls up to the embassy building right on time. He springs out of the driver’s seat to open the back door, and the Knights go inside. Once past more Marine security, they approach a bank of elevators. Melissa and Dave take one down to the basement schoolroom, while their father goes up to his spacious corner office on the sixth floor. 



book review, Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Serena’s Favorites, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: The Request by David Bell

Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: June 30, 2020


When a man agrees to do a favor for a friend, he gets more than he bargained for as he becomes embroiled in a woman’s murder in this new thriller from the USA Today bestselling author of Layover.

Ryan Francis has it all–great job, wonderful wife, beautiful child–and he loves posting photos of his perfect life on social media. Until the night his friend Blake asks him to break into a woman’s home to retrieve incriminating items that implicate Blake in an affair. Ryan refuses to help, but when Blake threatens to reveal Ryan’s darkest secret–which could jeopardize everything in Ryan’s life–Ryan has no choice but to honor Blake’s request.

When he arrives at the woman’s home, Ryan is shocked to find her dead–and just as shocked to realize he knows her. Then his phone chimes, revealing a Facebook friend request from the woman. With police sirens rapidly approaching, Ryan flees, wondering why his friend was setting him up for murder.

Determined to keep his life intact and to clear his name, Ryan must find the real murderer–but solving the crime may lead him closer to home than he ever could have imagined.


Oh my goodness, I could not put this riveting page-turning thriller down….
I was on the edge of my seat for practically the entire book.
David Bell captures you instantly and keeps that grip until the very  last page with “The Request”. 
All of the twists and unexpected turns were exhilarating. I never saw that ending coming !!!! 
The complex characters were extremely well developed.
This is definitely a “must read”!!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Time Travel Fiction, womans fiction

#BookReview: Time With Norma Jeane: A Time Travel Novel by Elyse Douglas

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: January 13, 2020


A young woman is hurled back to 1954 to spend a week with Marilyn Monroe.

Together, they embark on their own personal journeys — one a coming-of-age — the other, Marilyn’s journey, a struggle to reconcile with her past and perhaps change the future.


I hear “Norma Jean” & “Novel” together and I often stop in my tracks. I love both fiercely! So, I had to read this novel,

Elyse Douglas brings Marilyn Monroe to life with breathtaking and genuine beauty inside and out in “Time with Norma Jeane”. Elyse captured her very essence! It was lovely.

Darla stumbled into an almost surreal adventure with Marilyn Monroe after her Mother died. Literally! Stumbling from 1998 to 1954, right in to the helping hands of Marilyn! Such an odd sensation! Fate? Time Travel?

No matter the reason, Darla was going to spend time with Marlyn! Along the way both of their lives might change…

This Time Travel novel is told so brilliantly, there is such an ease….I was in awe! Truly taken away, I could not put this story down until the very end!  I felt like I’d gone back to 1954!

I fell in love with Darla, and grew more inspired by Ms, Norma Jean!

It’s amazing what a pen can do when put to paper!

It’s super talented whimsy when Elyse Douglas holds that pen! It’s beautiful!

You won’t want the story to end! I didn’t.

5 Stars.

About the Author: (Too interesting not to share)995D1576-F33E-4A34-B6E6-E8E4C954567F

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse began writing poems and short stories at an early age and graduated with a Master’s Degree in English Literature. Douglas grew up in a family of musicians, astrologers, and avid readers. Some of Elyse Douglas’ novels include: “Time Change,” The Summer Letters,” “Daring Summer,” The Christmas Eve Letter” and “The Christmas Town.” They reside in New York City.