The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton

Book cover of The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton

Book cover of The Finders by Jeffrey B. BurtonA review copy was generously provided by St. Martin’s Press

I am a huge dog fan – I have my own pampered pooch who I dote on all day, every day. When St Martin’s Press approached me about reviewing an upcoming mystery about a dog trainer and his cadaver dogs, I was immediately sold. Bonus points: there’s an adorable dog on the cover. The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton was an exciting mystery, with some underdeveloped characters and half-baked explanations.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. He trains dogs to hunt for the dead. Reid’s coming off a taxing year—mourning the death of a beloved springer spaniel as well as the dissolution of his marriage. He adopts a rescue dog with a mysterious past—a golden retriever named Vira. And when Reid begins training Vira as a cadaver dog, he comes to realize just how special the newest addition to his family truly is…

Suddenly, Reid and his prize pupil find themselves hurled into a taxing murder case, which will push them to their very limits. Paired with determined Chicago Police Officer Kippy Gimm, Mace must put all his trust in Vira’s abilities to thwart a serial killer who has now set his sights on Mace himself.

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Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu

Book cover of Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu

Book cover of Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu

A review copy of this book was provided by Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.

India is a place I’ve always wanted to visit and while it’s still on my bucket list I’m trying to read as many books set there as possible. Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu definitely ticked a lot of boxes for me – it’s a work of literary fiction set in India about a millennial woman attending a lavish wedding. Destination Wedding is a big vibrant book with lush settings, family drama, and an interesting story of a woman trying to figure out what she wants in life.

When Tina Das finds herself at a crossroads both professionally and personally, she wonders if a weeklong trip to Delhi for her cousin’s lavish wedding might be just the right kind of escape. Maybe a little time away from New York will help get her mind straight about her stalled career, her recent breakup, and her nagging suspicion that she’ll never feel as at home in America as she does in India. Tina hopes this destination wedding, taking place at Delhi’s poshest country club, Colebrookes, will be the perfect way to reflect and unwind.

But with the entire Das family in attendance, a relaxing vacation is decidedly not in the cards. Her amicably divorced parents are each using the occasion to explore new love interests—for her mother, a white American boyfriend, for her father, an Indian widow arranged by an online matchmaker—and Tina’s squarely in the middle. A former fling is unexpectedly on the guest list, a work opportunity is blurring the lines of propriety on several fronts, and her best friend Marianne’s terrible penchant for international playboys is poised to cause all sorts of chaos back home. The accommodations are swanky, the alcohol is top-shelf, but this family wedding may be more drama than Tina can bear and could finally force her to make the choices she’s spent much of her life avoiding.

Infused with warmth and charm, Destination Wedding grapples with the nuances of family, careers, belonging, and how we find the people who make a place feel like home.

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Devil Springs by Faydra Stratton

Book cover of Devil Springs by Faydra Stratton

Book cover of Devil Springs by Faydra StrattonA copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Devil Springs by Faydra Stratton is one of those books that a lot of people can relate to: whether you’ve struggled with your faith, grew up in a small town that you dreamed of breaking out of, or even if you have had less-than-pleasant relatives. This book was a little bit outside of my normal purview, as I often avoid books that focus on religion. As somebody who identifies as agnostic, I usually can’t relate to books that focus on characters struggling with their faith. But, when the author reached out to me about this book I was immediately interested – I’ve been trying to branch out and read genres of books that I wouldn’t normally read. Plus I’ve been trying to read more indie authors.

The devil has come to Devil Springs. Except he hasn’t. Not at all. But try and tell that to Mesa Crane’s grandmother, Mayor Avis Kneller. This is not the senior year Mesa had pictured for herself. She’s used to her grandmother’s restrictive dress code and no boys rule, but thanks to some skinny-dipping cheerleaders making some questionable social media posts, Avis is ratcheting up her expectations and decreeing spiritual warfare. Mesa is sick of being bullied into fake piety, but defying her grandmother will mean losing the small freedoms she does have, including her spot on the cross country team. Most unfortunate, since she’s started training with the school’s best (and okay, admittedly hot) athlete, Cody Howard. But when Mesa won’t get baptized—as Grandma Avis mandates—her isolation begins. The actual devil may not have come to Devil Springs, but judgment sure has. Can Mesa endure until graduation? Or will she find the swell of faith she needs to stand up to her grandmother once and for all?

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More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn Review

Book cover of More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

Book cover of More Than Maybe by Erin HahnA review copy was provided by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

One of the best feelings in the world is discovering a new band that you absolutely click with. There’s nothing like finding that new sound and just diving into their discography. For me, most of my music recommendations come from much more hip friends, but for the first time I have a brand-new playlist from just reading a book. More Than Maybe is an ode to good music – the characters send it to one another, hang out in a dive bar music venue, and one of the leads was raised by an ex punk rocker. Music emanates from the absolute soul of this book and I’m happy to say that not only is the book phenomenal, but you’ll get a very, very good playlist out of it.

Growing up under his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, eighteen-year-old Luke Greenly knows fame and wants nothing to do with it. His real love isn’t in front of a crowd, it’s on the page. Hiding his gift and secretly hoarding songs in his bedroom at night, he prefers the anonymous comfort of the locally popular podcast he co-hosts with his outgoing and meddling, far-too-jealousy-inspiringly-happy-with-his-long-term-boyfriend twin brother, Cullen. But that’s not Luke’s only secret. He also has a major un-requited crush on music blogger, Vada Carsewell.

Vada’s got a five year plan: secure a job at the Loud Lizard to learn from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out-of-this-world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke singing about some mystery girl on their podcast and she really, really wishes it was her?

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The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

Book cover for The Perfect Escape by Suzanne ParkThe Perfect Escape originally caught my attention because of the original concept (a romance framed around a zombie survival contest) and the fact it was blurbed by one of my favorite romance authors, Helen Hoang. I was also drawn to this book because I’m always looking for new voices in my favorite genre. Getting down to the nitty-gritty – I really, really wanted to love this book – it sounded original and I’m a sucker for a good contemporary romance. While I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped, The Perfect Escape was still a fun contemporary story with a great plot and good leading characters.

Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and Kate needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a true shot at winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

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