Close To Home: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 5

Author: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: Close To Home
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 5
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

While investigating the hit-and-run death of a young boy, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite makes a startling discovery: the suspect is an active-duty serviceman at a local naval base. After a key piece of case evidence goes missing, he is cleared of charges in a military court. But Tracy knows she can’t turn her back on this kind of injustice.

When she uncovers the driver’s ties to a rash of recent heroin overdoses in the city, she realizes that this isn’t just a case of the military protecting its own. It runs much deeper than that, and the accused wasn’t acting alone. For Tracy, it’s all hitting very close to home.

As Tracy moves closer to uncovering the truth behind this insidious conspiracy, she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

And there is my wall. Dammit! I was really hoping this author could pull it off and keep me going with a series, but this one fell down for me. I was actually kind of bored until about the 60% mark, which is a bit of a shock after how well I’ve liked the other books.

The biggest issue I had with this book was it felt horribly repetitive. It kept going over and over the exact same information on the case again and again. Once we are presented with something during the reveal of the crime, we don’t need it then talked about again in detail, then presented in court with the same level of detail and then talked about again between different characters, IN DETAIL. If you remove all the times the same stuff was presented here you would have a decent book that was about one third of this.

I’m also seeing a trend with the character or setting descriptions throughout the series. I get that you want to be able to say each book is a stand alone, but for readers that have been reading the series, we don’t need the… wait for it… exact same details (see a pattern there?) and descriptions every time one of those secondary characters or locations come into play again, especially when you see those same characters in nearly every book, sometimes more than once.

This also reached my max believability meter with the main character, yet again, being put in a life or death situation. EVERY BOOK. I’ve been able to swallow it because the author made the scenarios believable enough to work (mostly) up until this point, though I was pushed in the last one a bit. This time, the situation was just over the top ridiculous.

The finial part that dropped my rating way down on this one was the overly PSA/preachy feel to it. It was like reading medical journal article on opioids, addiction and their history. It was made worse by the blatant regurgitation of the popular, but false, belief that pot is a gateway drug. While I actually enjoy learning something new that I’d never run across before, I don’t need to be preached to or have your personal opinion pushed down my throat. It is one way to have a character have certain beliefs or a stance as that makes it part of that character, but to work it in as general facts in the book is preaching.

So, no. I wasn’t much of a fan of this one and that is just disappointing.

Bright Side: Bright Side, Book 1

Bright SideAuthor: Kim Holden
Book Name: Bright Side
Series: Bright Side
Order: #1
Genre: Literature/Romance*
Rating:  Really Good*
4+stars


 

Blurb: 

Secrets.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

*Possible Spoilers*

I have never once written a review and rated a book that I’ve had to note with an *, yet this is the second one in a very short period of time. This was so hard to figure out how to rate this.

If you are looking for a happy book with a nice happy ending, don’t read this because this is so not that book. This is just incredibly sad. I will say straight up that this is really well written and that it can wring some deep emotions from the reader, and it is for that that I’ve given this the rating that I have.

That said, I struggled with this. I didn’t really know what to expect with this, but it wasn’t what I got. I didn’t expect to struggle to read the last half of the book because I was trying to do so through tears, and not happy tears.

Before that, I seriously struggled to like Kate because she is unbelievably perfect, the stereotypical saint that everyone loves and gravitates to, she is perfect at everything she does and is the kind of person that is just too good for this flawed world we live in. There were several times I came close to not finishing because I just really didn’t like her all that much. Even after the big reveal when you gain a bit of understanding, I still just couldn’t believe her.

In the end, I’m not sure what I got out of this besides a serious crying headache. There really weren’t any feel good kind of feelings by the time the story wrapped up. I have no clue if I I will be reading the other books in this series. I liked some of the other characters that those books would follow, but I’m just not a fan of depressing reading and anyway you look at it, that is what this was. Sure there was love, both romantic and friendship, but it is all lost and that is just depressing.

Stillhouse Lake: Stillhouse Lake, Book 1

Stillhouse LakeAuthor: Rachel Caine
Book Name: Stillhouse Lake
Series: Stillhouse Lake
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good*
4+stars


 

Blurb: Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Seriously?! Cliffhanger?! GRRRR!!!! I hate those with a passion! This book is a lesson to me to do a little deeper research into a book before I read it. I saw that this was a part of a series, but I didn’t really think about it for some reason (I normally dig when I see that) or I would have realized there was no way for this book to be self contained. I also didn’t realize (again, lack of research) that I’d read this author before with her Weather Warden series and found it beyond frustrating and never finished the series. If I’d known those things, I don’t think I ever would have read this.

That said, I did think this was a really great book. It pushes to just past the line of believability, but it makes up for it in the crazy, twisted, well thought out way the rest of it is written. I loved Gwen. She is kind of a badass. I want to be that kind of mom when I grow up. Really, if you look past the ugly, twisty that is the surface of the story, that is really what this book is about, the love of a mother and what she is willing to do to protect her kids. That is what I loved the most about this book.

See the little * next to my “Really Good”? The only reason I’m giving this book that high of a rating is because it is well written. I saw signs throughout this that ticked some red flags for me, but wasn’t until I went to start doing my links for my review that I realized the author and her connection to that other series. The main reason I quit reading that one series is because it became this never ending, bleak, hopeless mess of crazy. Every single time the MC got knocked down and then stood back up, they got knocked down again before they could even take a single step. Over. And over. And OVER. I seriously hate books/series like that. I saw an awful lot of potential with that in this book, but know that there really aren’t a ton of authors that go that route and overlooked it and let it go. Now, as much as I liked this, I’m seriously worried that this is going to do the exact same thing and I really don’t want to waste my time reading books that frustrate the hell out of me. If that is your thing, cool, but I just don’t enjoy books/series that suck every last drop of hope out of a reader. They are too damn depressing. I honestly don’t know that I will read the second book.

 

 

The Ghostwriter: Alessandra Torre

The GhostwriterAuthor: Alessandra Torre
Book Name: The Ghostwriter
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Suspense, Family
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

 Blurb: Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends, and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. And all of them believed me.

I wasn’t surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.
Now, I have one last story to write. It’ll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.

They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.

Damn! Just… Damn! This was really frickin’ amazing. Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is bursting at the seams with emotion. It is beautiful and messed up and sad and gut wrenching. If a book can drag tears out of you, then the author has done something really right. Let me tell you, there were lots with this one and that is never fun when you are already congested with a cold.

Books like this are hard to read because of the emotional gut punch, but that is kind of one of the things that I like. This is incredibly intense and beautifully written. I had a kind of love hate relationship with the main character all the way through. It is also the kind of book that is best read with as little information about it beforehand as possible.

Some Kind of Hero: Troubleshooters, Book 19

Some Kind of HeroAuthor: Suzanne Brockmann
Book Name: Some Kind of Hero
Series: Troubleshooters
Order: #19
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

Blurb:

Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.

Still, working alongside Pete has its own perils—like letting the heat between them rise out of control. Intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps . . . or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.

It is kind of funny, I rarely still like any books in a series by the time you get past book 4 or 5, let alone any deeper because it always seems like the author just no longer has anything new or interesting to add. This seems even more apt when talking about romance books because they tend to become cookie cutter, fill in the blank books. This is probably one of the very few book series that I can easily say doesn’t fit the standard in any way and that is a very good thing.

One of the things that I like so much about Suzanne Brockmann and why I still, after all this time pick up any of her books, is that her characters are always strong, especially her female leads. Too often in romance, the women suddenly become weak and needy when an alpha  male comes into the picture and they need the cliched rescue. Not so with Brockmann’s characters. They are always capable of standing on their own, even when they do need a little help. It is rare you will see a weak, ditzy character. The times it is touched on, that character is never genuinely weak, just less confident in that strength.

I also love that her alpha males are never these overbearing, borderline assholes. They are true badasses that do not diminish their romantic counterparts. Both sides fully complement the other, no matter who they are.

Her characters are also extremely varied. Yes, this series focuses almost exclusively on SEALs, but outside of that restriction, you will find characters of all shapes, sizes, races, physical abilities and sexual preferences. Not only does this give the reader variety, but it opens the door to different challenges for the characters to overcome, which is part of why this series hasn’t gone stale.

This book fits perfectly into the mold that Ms. Brockmann set from the very beginning of this series. Strong, capable characters from both sides of the romantic relationship. A truly enjoyable story that keeps you turning the page every step of the way. It does run just a little bit into the romance novel trap of “too perfect”, but sometimes that is exactly what you want and need. Something light and fun tossed with a bit of intense action.

The Kinfolk: Eliza Maxwell

The KinfolkAuthor: Eliza Maxwell
Book Name: The Kinfolk
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Suspense, Family
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Along the banks of the Neches river, surrounded by the dense piney woods of east Texas, where the humidity makes even the mosquitos go a little soft in the head, there’s a pack of liars, thieves, and fools that Mimosa Mabry reluctantly calls family. After a lifetime spent trying to put the place behind her, the kinfolk have come calling, and they want her home.

Against her better judgement, Mo returns, but finds the answer she’s searching for—the truth about a child named Lucy—slipping further from her grasp than ever. Because in deep east Texas, at the mercy of your kin, truth is relative. As enigmatic as a carnival shell game. And the game is rigged.

Having read The Grave Tender, I had extremely high expectations for this book, which doesn’t usually bode well. While I think this was still extremely well written, it didn’t have that extra layer of “wow” or that sense of being extremely disturbed and enjoying it at the same time that I got from The Grave Tender. Because of that and being unable to not compare the two even though they aren’t related in any way other than being written by the same author, I just didn’t find that I liked this as well as I would have if I’d read this first. That said, this was still a really good book.

Broken Bones: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 7

Broken BonesAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Broken Bones
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #7
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


 

Blurb: The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers in the Black Country are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.
At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what at first looks like a tragic abandonment soon takes an even more sinister turn.

When another young woman goes missing, the two investigations bring the team into a terrifying, hidden world, and a showdown puts Kim’s life at risk as secrets from as secrets from her own past come to light.

As Kim battles her own demons, can she stop the killer, before another life is lost?

Even though I know I haven’t necessarily rated all the books in this series quite so high, the D.I. Kim Stone series is one of my top favorite crime drama series and this one is no exception. For me, that is a bit surprising because most authors this deep into a crime series tend to lose me with too much repetition or similarity between the themes in the books. You absolutely get something new with each and every book in this series.

Like with most books in this series, there are several different plot lines and threads woven throughout. The way Ms. Marsons manages to pull that off every time without being too much is one of the things I think I like the most about these books.

If I have really anything negative to say it is that I wanted to spend more time with Kim’s character, but we got a pretty large balance across the board with the rest of her team in this one. I like the team and their dynamics, but I love Kim and want to see her hog the pages and get only sprinklings of the others.

 

Say You’re Sorry: Morgan Dane, Book 1

Say You're SorryAuthor: Melinda Leigh
Book Name: Say You’re Sorry
Series: Morgan Dane
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime, Romance
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.

I think that this book is a good example of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” There are so many sub-plots and side-plots, you nearly need a flow chart to remember which characters are which and who is doing what and to follow along. A few of those don’t ever even get fleshed out, so serve no real purpose.

I JUST wrote in another review about how it drives me crazy if an author puts their main character in life or death peril over and over again throughout the series, making it completely unrealistic and unbelievable. This book takes it to a whole other level, putting the main character, Morgan, in peril in what seems like nearly every other chapter. I’m talking full on gun in her face, getting shot at, knife at her throat, life threatening peril. If this were some sort of a combat drama, maybe that would work, but this isn’t. And this is only book one of a series featuring this same main character?

While there were parts of this that I really enjoyed, it was a bit too much and why this is only an okay/good book for me. I don’t know if there was enough that I liked about this to make me pick up the second book.

In The Clearing: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 3

In The ClearingAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: In The Clearing
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 3
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Detective Tracy Crosswhite has a skill, and a soft spot, for tackling unsolved crimes. Having lost her own sister to murder at a young age, Tracy has dedicated her career to bringing justice and closure to the families and friends of victims of crime.

So when Jenny, a former police academy classmate and protégé, asks Tracy to help solve a cold case that involves the suspicious suicide of a Native American high school girl forty years earlier, Tracy agrees. Following up on evidence Jenny’s detective father collected when he was the investigating deputy, Tracy probes one small town’s memory and finds dark, well-concealed secrets hidden within the community’s fabric. Can Tracy uphold the promise she’s made to the dead girl’s family and deliver the truth of what happened to their daughter? Or will she become the next victim?

Initially, after reading the blurb, I was worried this was going to fall into that repetitive, beginning to be totally unbelievable zone where the main character is forever in a constant battle for their life. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Yes, we have a point where a very real danger presents itself, but it isn’t like the other books in the series where it is a major part of the story. So, while it brushes up against that line, it doesn’t cross it, staying solidly on the side of being believable.

I love that this book touches on the concept that one situation that is totally unrelated to another can spark a light bulb moment to make the other one more clear. This is something that happens to me all the time, so it was kind of cool to see it here.

All in all, I’m still loving this series.

 

The Roanoke Girls: Amy Engel

The Roanoke GirlsAuthor: Amy Engel
Book Name: The Roanoke Girls
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense, Family Saga
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

This was kind of hard to rate. Not because the book isn’t good or incredibly written, because it really is, but because it is seriously sick and twisted. It is hard to say, “Yeah, I really liked it” when it is that dark and heavy.

This isn’t something that has harsh jumps or revelations. You pretty much know from very early on what the ugliness is in this family. In a way, this story is more about Lane. How she deals with it all, her own personal growth through it and where she lands in the end.

So, yeah, I liked it. I can’t love it, it was just a little too dark and twisty for me to love, but it is incredibly well written. So much so, I liked pretty much all of the characters, even the ones that I probably shouldn’t. Fair warning, though. This is a book that can be way too ugly for some readers.

Lost Child: D.S. Butler

Lost ChildAuthor: D.S. Butler
Book Name: Lost Child
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense, Mystery
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: She only turned her back for a moment but that was all it took.
Two years ago, Beth Farrow turned her back on her three-year-old niece, Jenna, for just a few seconds. She disappeared without a trace.
How does a three-year-old go missing from a crowded summer fete without anyone noticing?
When Beth leaves the country to try and escape her guilt, someone sends her a photograph from an anonymous number. It’s a photograph of Jenna. She’s older, but Beth is sure it’s her niece. She is determined to do what the police cannot: Find Jenna and bring her home.
But someone isn’t pleased when Beth returns, and they will do what ever it takes to get rid of her. This time, for good.

*Potential Spoiler*

One of my peeves with regards to books is a blurb that either gives too much away or is completely inaccurate and doesn’t match the story it is supposed to describe. For this book, it is the second part that applies, because this…

“But someone isn’t pleased when Beth returns, and they will do what ever it takes to get rid of her. This time, for good.”

NEVER actually happens. Based on the blurb, you’d think the book is something where the main character has things happen that would potentially harm her, or scare her away or that someone is actively trying to do her harm. Nope. Doesn’t happen. If you want to get technical, there is one event in the end, but it doesn’t fit with the blurb. It isn’t about Beth coming back and trying to find out what happened and the bad guy trying to stop her from doing so, but rather about her actually finding it out and the bad guy wanting to try and get away with it.

Besides the fact that I kept expecting something different, I could not stand Beth’s character. She came across as completely stupid, making asinine decisions all over the place as well as being horrifically judgemental. I didn’t like any of the characters, really. None of them ever made much sense as they all seemed unnecessarily nasty or suspicious.

So no, this one was not my cup of tea.

 

Too Late: Colleen Hoover

Too LateAuthor: Colleen Hoover
Book Name: Too Late
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  DNF

NO STAR RATING

 

 

 

Blurb: Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn’t approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan’s disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.

I dropped this at about the 40% mark. I don’t know if it was a mood thing for me, but it was just not quite what I thought it would be. I knew it would be dark and ugly, but it was just a bit too much and I didn’t like any of the characters or the decisions they were making. I would put it down after about a chapter or two, go do something else and then come back. I NEVER do that with books.

Maybe if I were in a different frame of mind, I might be able to enjoy this, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Someone to Call My Own: Road to Blissville, Book 2

Someone to Cal lMy OwnAuthor: Aimee Nicole Walker
Book Name: Someone to Call My Own
Series: Road to Blissville
Order: 2
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Psychic Emory Jackson and former black ops specialist Jonathon Silver are men from two completely different worlds with one thing in common: heartbreak. Emory still mourns the loss of his husband five years prior, and Jon is reeling with grief from the recent death of his twin brother.

Sparks fly when mutual friends introduce them, but it’s so much more than basic attraction. There’s an undeniable awareness and a sense of belonging that neither man can deny. Despite Emory’s premonition of a future with Jon, he has vowed never to love again. Jon is convinced that his tainted soul is the reason he will never have someone to call his own. What if they’re both wrong?

Maybe these broken men with their jagged edges could somehow align perfectly to form something whole and beautiful. But will that realization come too late for them?

This was on the disappointing side. Having read all the books in the Curl Up and Dye series and loved them, I had high expectations for this series since it is set in the same world with lots of run ins from the characters in that series. Sadly, with the second installment in The Road to Blissville series, it just doesn’t measure up.

My first issue is that there are so many overlaps between the story lines in the Curl Up and Dye series that there is a good chunk of events and information in this book that I’d already read in that series. I think in this case, you just might be better off if you haven’t read the other series first. For me, that made the first third of this book seem to drag because I needed something new (kind of the point in picking up a new book).

The other is probably more of a personal taste issue, but I strongly dislike stories with this concept of fated mates where the people have no choice. Don’t get me wrong. I love all kinds of things that run to the paranormal and I don’t even mind the general concept of fate, but when it is pushed to the point where it feels like all choice is taken away and it doesn’t matter how a character feels about it, that is just the way it is going to be, I lose any kind of connection to the story. It pushes boundaries for me that are distasteful to me. This pushed those boundaries.

Because of how unwelcoming both characters felt about this relationship, it made it even harder for me to believe anything that happens emotionally, especially when you are suddenly getting the “I love you” bombs dropped and they know absolutely nothing about each other. When you have absolutely nothing to base those feelings on, I cannot find any realism in them. It just does not work at all for me.

There was so much energy and character and fun in the Curl Up and Dye series that this book (and the first one in this same series) is lacking. I was expecting at least a few touches of the same here, but you never get it. That is also a part of why this only rated as okay for me. I was just expecting more.

 

 

 

Worthy: Catherine Ryan Hyde

WorthyAuthor: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Book Name: Worthy
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

They might’ve been a family.

Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together.

Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancé set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever.

** Potential Spoilers **

There really wasn’t anything about this that worked for me. All of the characters were incredibly simple minded. I genuinely thought for a while that they had some sort of mental disability before I realized they didn’t.

There is some hazy ground for the Buddy/Jody character to come across that way, but even that never made a whole lot of sense. One moment he came across as well educated and intelligent and the next, you’d think he lived completely secluded from people and the world for his entire life (as in locked in a closet secluded), which is not the case. He went to school. He graduated. It would have worked if the author had managed to come up with some tangible reason for his personality and inability to function in the world, but didn’t, even went so far as to specifically and clearly rule out EVERY rational reason for it. It made zero sense.

Virgina could not rub two brain cells together to form an original thought of her own. Every single thing that came up, she had to have someone tell her the obvious. I’d thought at the beginning of the book, based on the way she acted and needed someone else to think for her, that she was much younger than she actually was. Move forward 19 years and, if anything, she is even worse.

Besides the fact that I didn’t like a single character, this was so slow. Reading the blurb, I expected Virgina and Jody to cross paths much sooner than they did. All the lead up to that point crawled. Even after that, it tended to drag.

As for the emotional aspects of this book, I just didn’t find them. Because of the utter simplicity of the characters, their interactions felt hollow or even somewhat hostile at times. Virginia’s relationship in the beginning with Aaron rang of a crush from a teeny bopper that was flirting for the first time rather than a relationship an adult was in. The author gave no ground at all for the reader to believe that Virginia was in love and later made it worse when should couldn’t come up with a single real thing to tell Jody about. How can you so deeply and desperately love someone you don’t even know the very basics about, like… Oh, say, his child’s real name?

So, no. Nothing about this book worked for me.

Her Final Breath: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 2

Her Final BreathAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: Her Final Breath
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 2
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite has returned to the police force after the sensational retrial of her sister’s killer. Still scarred from that ordeal, Tracy is pulled into an investigation that threatens to end her career, if not her life.

A serial killer known as the Cowboy is killing young women in cheap motels in North Seattle. Even after a stalker leaves a menacing message for Crosswhite, suggesting the killer or a copycat could be targeting her personally, she is charged with bringing the murderer to justice. With clues scarce and more victims dying, Tracy realizes the key to solving the murders may lie in a decade-old homicide investigation that others, including her captain, Johnny Nolasco, would prefer to keep buried. With the Cowboy on the hunt, can Tracy find the evidence to stop him, or will she become his next victim?

So far, I’m still loving this series.

The way that Nolasco managed to get away with blatant harassment kind of bugs me, but that is part of his character. I have a feeling it may be groundwork for something later in the series, so it didn’t impact my enjoyment of this one.

I am on edge with this because it is only book two in the series. I have some concerns we will see Tracy in life or death peril in every single book and that kills a series for me because of how unrealistic and repetitive it becomes. For now, though, I did really love this one and am looking forward to the next.

Silent Child: Sarah A. Denzil

Silent ChildAuthor: Sarah A. Denzil
Book Name: Silent Child
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.

His body was never recovered.

Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…

… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

I need to preface this by saying that this book was really well written. The lower rating is only because of my personal tastes.

A good portion of this book was intriguing and kept me interested. Then, somewhere along the way, things started to just get to be too much for me to swallow. There were so many different things going on, so many different motivations for different acts and so many of the characters end up being horrible on so many different levels. It is impossible to express the degree to which this was over the top, the characters that drove me crazy and why, without giving anything away.

When a story becomes so convoluted you can hardly follow, it doesn’t work for me. I was disappointed that this became that kind of a story because I loved the premise. I just do not like crazy, twisted, totally unrealistic solutions to a story.

My Sister’s Grave: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 1

My Sister's GraveAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: My Sister’s Grave
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

I thought this was really awesome, probably one of the best crime/mystery dramas I’ve read.

The main character, Tracy, was incredibly well done. I’m often annoyed by how female police officers are portrayed. They are usually utterly cold and hard and completely flawless, weak and weepy and stupid, or horribly trampy. That is not the case here. She is solid and firmly grounded in humanity, not perfect but not a mess.

The main reasons I often struggle with giving a full 5 star rating to most crime or mystery dramas is because they tend to be over the top unrealistic or too simplistic and obvious because I know what was going to happen at every turn. This kept me interested from beginning to end and I was kept not knowing anything until it happened. This managed to do all of that and still gave a solid, unexpected end that maintained the believability and realism of the rest of the book.

I’ve been burned in the past on starting a new series only to find out by the time I got to book three that all the goods were in the first book or two and the rest are only slightly adjusted carbon copies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed with this one that the rest of the books can continue the pattern that this one set.

Looking In: Michael Bailey

Looking InAuthor: Michael Bailey
Book Name: Looking In
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: David Barrows world fell apart at the age of eleven after his mother died. Years of physical and emotional abuse followed, leaving him scarred in body and mind, mired in the belief that he is unlovable. He spends his days working in a comic shop, and his nights alone wrestling with the ghosts of his past.

As a Marine, Adam Duncan has sworn to protect and serve, and there is no one he is more protective of than his brother and nephew. When tragedy strikes, threatening the security of his family, his protective instincts kick in. But how can he fight an enemy he can’t see?

David and Adam feel the connection between them, but David has built walls around his heart that no one has bothered to break through, until Adam. Adam can see what a special man David is, and is willing to do whatever it takes to break down those barriers. Can he make David see he doesn’t have to keep living his life…Looking In?

As a debut novel for a new author, this is a decent book. It was a sweet read, but edged just a little too close to being too sweet.

Adam’s character, being a former Marine, doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. Partly because of a complete lack of any kind of emotional trauma after being in the service, in combat, for 15 years. There are allusions to people he knew that had issues, but he was immune to those, apparently.

David’s character kept confusing me because he would seem so utterly withdrawn and broken and messed up and then suddenly he would say or do something that felt way too confident or just didn’t mesh with the brokenness of his character.  Both his character flaws and Adam’s came across as flawed in the wrong ways, making them both hard to believe.

My other, big issue, and why I could not rate this any higher were all of the editing mistakes. I hate, hate, HATE having to harp on those issues, because it is beyond impossible to catch them all. But if you have enough and they are just obvious and bad, they yank you right out of the story and you lose whatever emotional flow you had going on. If a story is done incredibly well, it can cover some of those, but not the big ones. If the story is only decent in the first place, those things can really drag it down.

Things like sentence sections being duplicated, obvious sections left out entirely to where you don’t even understand what the sentence said, putting periods in the middle of the thought for a pause instead of commas or ellipses or ANYTHING else to indicate the thought isn’t complete, and typically misused or mistyped words. This book had all of those sprinkled throughout. Sadly, this looks to have gone through both one editor and one proofreader (I double checked the info noting them in the beginning of the book at one point) yet it STILL had all of these problems, so I gotta say, they aren’t all down to the author.

I think one of the main reasons I have such a huge issue with editing problems is the fact that one tiny mistake can entirely change the mood or meaning of a sentence. Enough of those and you can completely misinterpret an author’s intent on character, mood or story development. I think that, at least in part, was why I had some of the issues I did with this story.

I won’t discuss my issues with the ending as it will give things away. Suffice it to say, it didn’t really fit in places, wasn’t enough information in others and the ended with the absolute PERFECT outcome and part of why this was just a bit too sweet for my tastes. So, this was decent and it was sweet. If that is what you like, then this is perfect for you. If you like your characters to be a little bit more developed and full and things to be just a bit more real, then maybe not so much.

 

The Memory of Butterflies: Grace Greene

The Memory of ButterfliesAuthor: Grace Greene
Book Name: The Memory of Butterflies
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Family
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Hannah Cooper’s daughter is leaving for college soon. The change is bittersweet. A single mother since the age of eighteen, Hannah isn’t eager to confront the pain of being alone, but she’s determined not to let her own hang-ups keep Ellen from the future she deserves. As Ellen’s high school graduation approaches, Hannah decides it’s time to return to her roots in Cooper’s Hollow along Virginia’s beautiful and rustic Cub Creek.

With the help of longtime friend Roger Westray, Hannah devotes her energies to building a new house on the site of the old family home, destroyed in a fire more than a decade ago. But Hannah’s entire adult life has revolved around one very big secret. And her new beginning comes with unanticipated risks that will cost her far more than she could have imagined—perhaps more than she can survive.

When a confrontation forces Hannah to expose her secret, the truth may destroy her beloved daughter. Hannah is prepared to sacrifice everything to protect her family, but can their lives and their bond withstand the seismic shift that’s coming?

There are two specific things that kept me from liking this book more. First, this just dragged in the beginning. It took forever to get to a point where I could feel like there was going to be anything of interest going on. I came very close to giving up before I got to the 1/3 mark. It did nothing to grab me and drag me into the story.

The second is partly just me, but I’m sick of seeing stupid lies that could very easily be found out being used as the main premise behind a story. Lies have their place in stories and can do a whole lot of things to move a story and give it a depth you wouldn’t have otherwise. But when the lie is created with zero base in reality, it falls apart with very little effort when someone pokes at it. You do that with your main character, then all of the work you’ve done to create this emotional, deep, layered personality crumbles and all that is left is, “Damn! How stupid can you be?”

That is where I ended up by the time I finished this. I did not like the main character because she came across as just being brainless by the end. I didn’t hate this because I do think the author wrote it well, but I didn’t like the backbone of the story.

The Grave Tender: Eliza Maxwell

The Grave TenderAuthor: Eliza Maxwell
Book Name: The Grave Tender
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Suspense, Family
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before.

When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.

But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need, or putting their lives in danger?

The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.

This was truly beautifully done. It explores the darker side of humanity, but still threads it through with touches of warmth. It isn’t light. It isn’t happy, but it is just good.

You do not get a few answers to some secondary, lesser parts to this story, but for this, I was really good with that. Normally, that would irritate or frustrate me, but we rarely ever get all the answers or have things tied up neatly in a bow in real life, so it fits for this.

Every one of the characters feels real. They all have that perfect blend of imperfection and humanity without dropping off into something that feels contrived or forced.

I think one of the reasons why I’m struggling so hard to articulate what I liked about this is that it wasn’t any one single thing or group of things. It was just incredibly well written, on all levels.