Pretty Girls Dancing: Kylie Brant

Author: Kylie Brant
Book Name: Pretty Girls Dancing
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb: 

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

*Potential Spoilers*

For probably the first half of this book, I was pretty interested and enjoying the story, but it kind of started falling apart for me after that.

There is a lot of jumping between character POVs throughout the whole book. That didn’t bother me so much, but there were a couple of times that I was wondering why we were even getting that POV as it didn’t really seem to add much to the story.

I have two bigger issues with this though. One is the fact every single male character in this book was portrayed in a less than stellar light. All had aspects of sliminess to them that made them not very likable. All the women came across as extremely emotionally fragile and weak. When you pair those two together in ALL characters, it didn’t leave much to like other than the actual events of the story and figuring out the “who dunnit?” part.

That leads to my biggest problem with this story and the potential spoilers. Yes, I was a bit surprised by the end. No, I seriously didn’t like it, nor did I believe it. There was such a heavy emphasis throughout the whole story on making connections between the victims, trying to find the common ground in an effort to figure out why they were the ones taken. After all those threads get pulled, making some solid links and pointing in some real directions, you are suddenly tossed in a completely unrelated direction for the killer, leaving all those threads dangling and unresolved. When you finally get the bad guy reveal, you are never actually given that why or shown those links as to why those victims. All that had been brought up before? Apparently a bunch of nothing burgers dangled in front of the reader’s nose, not even important enough to close up to round out the story. The bad guy? Made no sense.

There were so many dangling threads that never got explained or resolved and the lack of tie in between the victims and the bad guy made the ending feel as though the reader had been cheated. It felt like the bait and switch of expecting a luxury sedan and you got a flashy, but cheap economy car instead.

The story concept was actually really good, but I didn’t like the character portrayal and I really didn’t like the ending, so… just okay on this one.

Dying Truth: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 8

Dying Truth
Dying Truth

Author: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Dying Truth
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #8
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


 

 

Blurb: How far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead.

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable – whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim.

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price.

Almost always, no matter the genre, by this point in a series an author has lost me for one reason or another. This one? She isn’t even close to losing me yet. I have literally JUST put this one down and I can’t wait to gorge myself on the next one.

I have always loved how this author tackles the different issues she brings up in the books in this series and this one is no different. There is an awesome balance of looking at those issues without falling into preaching or judging from either side. In this case, the focus being on the privilege of the moneyed and elite.

Kim’s character is still riding the edge of being a broken human with mountains of baggage, but still being compassionate and dragging herself forward one step at a time. This book continues to keep every character interaction solid and realistic within the team. Though I will say, without spoiling much, that I really wasn’t ready for how this ended. I was deeply shocked, but again, the author handled the whole situation in an awesomely realistic way.

As awesome as this book was, it is keeping this series solidly on my “buy on release day” list.

This Bright Beauty: Emily Cavanagh

This Bright Beauty
This Bright Beauty

Author:  Emily Cavanagh
Book Name: This Bright Beauty
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Family Drama/Literature
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

Blurb:

A long-buried secret changes everything two sisters thought they knew about each other.

Franci and Lottie may be identical twins, but that’s where the similarities end. Franci has always been the stable one, while Lottie has bipolar disorder, constantly battling depression and mania. After years of taking care of her sister, Franci moves across the country to build a life for herself. Now, all the two share is distance.

But when Lottie gets in an accident, Franci reluctantly steps back into her familiar role as protector. She returns to find her sister’s life in complete disarray and makes a shocking discovery: Lottie has an infant daughter she never told Franci about. Although Franci swore she wouldn’t get sucked back in, she can’t leave the baby alone in Lottie’s care.

As Lottie further unravels, a secret is revealed that she has kept since childhood—one that has the power to reframe the sisters’ entire relationship, forcing Franci to ask herself if the secret was too much for Lottie to bear. Was the accident really an accident, and who has been protecting whom all these years?

I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. For one, it was so tediously slow to get through. I was doing pretty good and enjoying what I was reading for a while when I started wondering where we’d hit that secret reveal moment promised in the blurb. I look down and I’m only at 35% or so when I expected to be so much farther into the book. From there, everything just really started to drag.

Nearly the entire book is done in memories of each character. I don’t mind that so much, but that is part of why this felt so slow. You are waiting and waiting for the promised build up that takes forever to get to and are constantly dropped into yet another memory with nothing ever really coming out of those other than background. When you do finally get to it, way farther into the story than I expected, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already expected and when it is all said and done, it doesn’t actually change a thing. Not really.

I had a hard time connecting or getting invested in either of the main characters as I felt that they were both petty and spiteful to each other which made them not very likable. Sure, there are some potential reasons, but those reasons didn’t change their likability.

All the wait and plowing through to get to the end and, again, it wasn’t anything that I didn’t already think was going to happen and I kind of felt like I was left with a “That’s it?” kind of a feeling which is pretty irritating as a reader.

Daddy Issues: Seth King

Daddy Issues
Daddy Issues

Author:  Seth King
Book Name: Daddy Issues
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBTQ
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

Blurb:

Their bond is forbidden. Their relationship could upend lives. But their love? It’s a force of nature…

Ten years ago, a desperate and confused Robert Glazer briefly married a woman before confronting his sexuality and starting his life as an out gay man. They divorced and lost contact – until now.

Today, a sudden family death throws Robert and his ex-wife back together for the first time. That’s where Robert meets her son Eliot, who was raised with his own father and is now a gorgeous – and openly gay – adult. And to Robert and Eliot’s surprise, sparks fly.

Passion ignites, then threatens to explode. Soon Eliot knows three things. One: Robert is not his father figure, and never was – in fact, he barely remembers him. Two: news of their union would still rock his whole world. And three: he craves Robert more than anything he has ever wanted. And as suspicions arise, their attraction only grows…

This was kind of a train wreck. I came so close at least a half dozen times to putting this down and walking away, but kept at it wanting to see why it was so highly rated (Amazon).

There were so many things about this one that just drove me up the wall. A big one, which confuses the hell out of me because apparently the author is gay himself, is the way he drops almost every negative gay stereotype into this story in such a way that he turns being gay into an ugly caricature. Then, he turns around and seems to get on his soap box about how bad life can be for gay men and how they are treated by the world around them. It is a glaring contradiction, being this incredibly strange cross between preachy and offensive at the same time.

I had a terrible time trying to overlook some of the errors in scene specifics or contradictory plot elements. You could read something in one chapter/paragraph/line and in the next, you would read something that appeared to be the opposite of what was mentioned previously. I found myself flipping back to reread several times to to check that I didn’t miss something or read it wrong, but it was just two very different versions. One in particular dealt with a character having put clothing on then the next mention, there isn’t any and it just killed the entire scene.

I get that authors have habits or phrases that they like to use. Often, they are done well enough that they are either not noticed or are not annoying, but this one drove me up the wall because because it was used in nearly every single dialog scene in the book. “… he said soon.” or some version of that phrase. For one, this extreme level of repetition shows a lack of depth, but it also very often didn’t even work for how it was used and made the already choppy dialog even clunkier. Dialog that often left me feeling as if I’d missed huge chunks of the conversation. What makes all that even worse is that there is so little dialog in the first place. Nearly this entire book happens inside the characters heads and there is a lot of history dumping and even repetition that had me skimming through parts of this.

The scene/timing transitions also often left me confused because most of the time they didn’t flow between one and the next in a smooth way so I wasn’t sure that the scene had even shifted or how much time that had passed between one scene and the next. Toss in a sudden POV shift from the two main characters to a third character somewhere in the 60% range, only to go back to the two main characters, never getting the POV of that third again, only to then be tossed into a 4th POV a few chapters later and you get the readers version of whiplash. Don’t even get me started on the convoluted, crazy mess that was the last couple of chapters.

Neither of the main characters showed any level of believably or maturity, no matter their age. It was like watching extremely immature 16 year olds rather than adults, let alone someone that is supposedly in their 40s. The yo-yoing is off the charts and makes it all that much worse.

Even though I’ve pretty much blasted this book, there are tiny parts that are genuinely good, but they aren’t nearly enough to make up for all that isn’t.

One Man’s Trash: The Heretic Doms Club, Book 1

One Man's Trash
One Man’s Trash

Author:  Marie Sexton
Book Name: One Man’s Trash
Series: The Heretic Doms Club
Order: #11
Genre: Romance/LGBTQ
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

 

Blurb:

After four tours in Afghanistan, Warren Groves couldn’t settle into civilian life. For the last twelve years, he’s survived by working odd and often illegal jobs for some of Denver’s less fortunate. His personal life is equally unsatisfactory. He can barely remember the last time he had sex, let alone the last time he got to use somebody hard and rough, the way he likes. Fate intervenes when a favor for a friend leads him to a pretty young rentboy named Taylor Reynolds.

Taylor’s spent the last few years on his own, working as a hustler, going home with anybody who’ll give him a warm meal and a place to sleep. He enjoys having a bit of force used against him, and he makes Warren an offer he can’t refuse — all the sex he wants, as rough and dirty as he likes, in exchange for room and board.

At first, Warren thinks he’s struck gold. Taylor’s the perfect roommate — he cooks, he cleans, and he’s dynamite in the sack. But Taylor has some dark demons in his head and some even darker cravings. Falling for somebody as volatile as Taylor is dangerous enough, but when Taylor’s urges turn truly self-destructive, it’ll be up to Warren to decide just how far to let things go. 

*Potential Minor Spoilers*

First off, no matter how I feel about this book, it is absolutely not one for everybody. It runs along a very dark side and deals with some seriously ugly subject matter that will just flat out be unappealing to some (addiction and abuse for some specifics). That said, that dark is liberally laced with spots of brightness and the better aspects of humanity shining through.

I thought this was beautifully written, no matter the subject matter. It pinged on several concepts of right and wrong that I’ve been pondering a lot lately, so some of those background themes really resonated with me. Even though I don’t usually go for dark books like this, I did really like it. Probably because of how many of those issues were presented and dealt with. There was no preaching to either direction, side, or right or wrong, simply presented as just the way it is.

The very imperfect humanness of the characters and their situations made them feel real. That kept me skirting this edge of compassion and understanding for them. It didn’t tip me into being overly emotional about them. That and the darker side that isn’t my favorite kept this from getting that slightly higher rating.

Even with the heavier nature of this, it does have a positive ending for the main characters. That is probably the other reason why this did work for me. I wouldn’t have like it even a fraction as much if this had not had that kind of ending.

Dark Queen: Jane Yellowrock, Book 12

Dark Queen
Dark Queen

Author:  Faith Hunter
Book Name: Dark Queen
Series: Jane Yellowrock
Order: #12
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars


 

 

Blurb:

As Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, Jane Yellowrock stakes her reputation and her life on keeping her territory safe. But Leo has been issued a blood challenge by the emperor of the European vampires, who seeks to usurp all of his power and possessions. If Leo loses the match to the death, the city will be forfeit, and the people of New Orleans will suffer the consequences. Jane can’t let that happen.

Preparing for the duel requires all of Jane’s focus, but with so much supernatural power in play, nothing goes according to plan. She has to rely on herself and the very few people she knows she can trust to stand and fight. Only two things are guaranteed: nothing is sacred, and no one is safe.

There is really only so much one can say about the 12th book in the series that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before. That is also only if an author is talented enough to keep a series going strong for that long, which in and of itself is exceptionally rare in my opinion. Keeping the series going strong has not been an issue with this series. It still falls solidly into that rare category of one of my favorites, one I’m willing to read over and over again. This book is no exception.

I kind of wish I’d taken the time to reread all the books leading up to this one because this ties up a lot of threads from past books and I didn’t remember some of those threads getting pulled. I wasn’t lost because of that, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if all of that had been fresh. Not a problem though. I will probably go back and do a full read through of the entire series, including this book, even though I just finished this. That is how much I like these books.

When I finished reading this, I had to go and do some hunting to find out if this was actually the last in the series. I’ve seen mentioned that it isn’t, which is wonderful. In part because I don’t have to be mad at the author for the way this book ended. Some will argue, but there is a bit of a cliffhanger in this. If that had been it for the series, I would have been hugely disappointed, but… fingers crossed that what I’ve seen is right and we will be seeing more of Jane soon.

*Potential tiny spoiler*

Favorite line of the book has got to come from Leo and mostly because it is Leo and… who would have ever predicted those words to come from his mouth?

“Titus! Come on up, dude. We have beer.”

Our Little Secret: Roz Nay

Our Little Secret
Our Little Secret

Author: Roz Nay
Book Name: Our Little Secret
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Rating:  Really Good*/Didn’t Like*

4+stars

2+stars


 

Blurb:

Our Little Secret is a twisted tale of love, pain, and revenge that will stay with the reader long after they turn the last page.

They say you never forget your first love. What they don’t say though, is that sometimes your first love won’t forget you…

A police interview room is the last place Angela expected to find herself today. It’s been hours, and they keep asking her the same inane questions over and over. “How do you know the victim?” “What’s your relationship with Mr. Parker?” Her ex’s wife has gone missing, and anyone who was close to the couple is a suspect. Angela is tired of the bottomless questions and tired of the cold room that stays the same while a rotating litany of interrogators changes shifts around her. But when criminologist Novak takes over, she can tell he’s not like the others. He’s ready to listen, and she knows he’ll understand. When she tells him that her story begins a decade before, long before Saskia was in the picture, he gives her the floor.

A twenty-something young professional, Angela claims to have no involvement. How could she? It’s been years since she and H.P., Mr. Parker that is, were together. As her story unfolds, it deepens and darkens. There’s a lot to unpack… betrayal, jealousy, and a group of people who all have motives for retribution. If Angela is telling the truth, then who’s lying? 

Yes, I have two different star ratings on this. It was nearly impossible to rate this because I have two very different opinions on it.

This was truly very well written and well developed. The problem? I didn’t like it. Not because of poor quality or that it tripped any of my pet peeves, but because by the time I finished the book, I felt as though it had left a stain on me.

There is not a single likable character in the book. Again, not because they were poorly written, but because they all touch on some of the ugliest aspects of humanity , the ones that are subtle and insidious. At one point or another in the book, each character just felt as though they were coated in slime. Not necessarily evil, but ugly.

The story is interesting and intriguing, but along the lines of watching a train wreck. There is just not a single, genuinely positive thing that happens in the entire book. The tiny bits that seem to be good/happy/positive as you read them become tainted as the story moves along. Combine that with the truly unlikable, nearly vile characters, and no, I really didn’t like this, though I won’t completely ding the rating because of my personal tastes as this author is talented.

For those that enjoy that kind of a story, you will probably love this book. It just really wasn’t for me.

Forever With You: Londra Laine

Forever With You
Forever With You

Author: Londra Laine
Book Name: Forever With You
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Okay/Didn’t Like
2+stars


 

 

Blurb:

Kelly Brooks Montes is only nineteen years old and just starting college in New York City when tragedy strikes, and he becomes a single dad to his toddler brother. Four years later, Kelly and his baby brother, Jaylen, are doing well, though Kelly leads a double life to make ends meet. He’s a high-level administrative assistant by day and a racy go-go boy by night. Between raising his brother, dancing, and trying not to run afoul of his new boss, Kelly doesn’t have time for a boyfriend. Even if he did want a man in his life, a past trauma makes him question whether he can ever trust a man with his body or his heart. But then Kelly receives an unexpected but steamy birthday kiss from his boss, a man he was sure hated him, and he begins to wish for things he knows he shouldn’t.

Andrew Whitman knew from the moment he held Kelly’s hand that the man was special, and it both annoyed and terrified him. Kelly makes him feel a little out of control and Drew is a highly controlled man. He has to be to keep his sexuality a secret from his father, a conservative politician. And he is OK with that. He has a perfectly good, mutually beneficial, life plan with his best friend, Lex. A long time ago, he’d made his peace with the fact that he’d never find a man worth turning his life upside down for. Then he ends up with his capable and gorgeous assistant under him on top of his desk, and his life plans change. Drew can’t seem to get out of his own way when it comes to the quiet, sexy, and surprising single dad, but he can’t stop himself from falling for Kelly and his sweet baby brother. And just when it seems that Kelly has worked through his past hurts enough to let Drew into his body and his heart, manipulative family and words unspoken threaten to tear them apart. But after getting a taste of a life he never thought he could have, Drew won’t let anything tear his fledgling family apart.

***Please be aware that this book contains a flashback of and several references to sexual assault that may be triggering to some readers.***

Andrew, aka Drew, killed this book for me. He is an absolute a**. He started out that way so much so, that I nearly didn’t finish the book. Towards the middle, it became better and I thought he might, just might, redeem himself. Then it all went down in flames towards the end with his ridiculous excuse for his deception. There was absolutely no realistic or believable reason for that deception. It was childish and inane. When you look at that on a balance with what Kelly trusted him with, it makes Drew an absolute selfish douche, putting him on par with Kelly’s past abuser.

The only reason I could give this two stars instead of one is because Kelly was a pretty decent character and I liked Jayden, but they weren’t enough to overcome how awful Drew was.

TJ Klune: Author/Series Review; Bear, Otter, and the Kid

I am kind of kicking my own butt over how long it took me to actually pick this series up and read it. I’ll say straight up that my reasons for not doing so look pretty stupid at this point, but they seemed valid at the time.

Continue reading “TJ Klune: Author/Series Review; Bear, Otter, and the Kid”

Lake Silence: The World of the Others, Book 1

Lake Silence
Lake Silence

Author: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Lake Silence
Series: The World of the Others
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars


 

 

Blurb: Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shape-shifters, and even deadlier paranormal beings. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget….

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns such as Vicki’s don’t have any distance from the Others, the dominant predators who rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what is out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shape-shifting Others–discovers a murdered man, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, ancient forces are roused by the disturbance in their domain. They have rules that must not be broken–and all the destructive powers of nature at their command.

The last several days I’ve spent re-reading The Others series in preparation for the new release. I’ve been sitting on pins and needles since the newest book was announced. As usual, I dropped this in my wish list as soon as it was available to do so and have been anxiously awaiting the release date.

Note to self: Just because a book is from one of your favorite authors and appears to be in their current series and you have loved every single book ever written by said author does not mean that you shouldn’t still read the blurb. Silly me didn’t actually notice that this was a “World of…” book and not actually the next installment. Oh, I noticed pretty much on the first page and figured it out, but I had to try really hard not to be disappointed. I should have really known since the cover art for this one was so different from all the other books in The Others series, but I just thought it was decided to go a different direction. Again, silly me for making assumptions.

I did struggle not to be a little disappointed because the problem was mine, but I had spent months looking forward to another Meg, Simon, Sam, Vlad and all the rest of the courtyard’s residents book. This book didn’t have them at all, even as side characters. There are teeny tiny bits where a name is mentioned in passing, but you never see any of those characters in this book. It is a whole new location, new characters and even a few new types of Others that we haven’t seen before.

The other thing that I think was hard for me is that because I love all of those original characters so much, it is exceptionally hard to measure up to them and I just don’t think that anything can ever compare. I enjoyed getting to meet these new characters and learn about a new place. I love this world and will take anything I can get from it, but the original series will probably always be my favorite. This one is still stunningly amazing, but sits just below the level of amazing that the original series holds.

I hope like crazy that this doesn’t mean that Ms. Bishop is done with that original one because I am so not ready to say goodbye to all of those characters. Then again, that is kind of classic for just about anything that Anne Bishop has ever written and why I can continue to read those books over and over again and never begin to get sick of them.

When I’m Gone: Emily Bleeker

When I'm Gone
When I’m Gone

Author: Emily Bleeker
Book Name: When I’m Gone
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature/Family Drama
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.

Once again, I’m struggling to write a review because a book has left me torn between good writing and a story I just wasn’t fond of.

I expected more of this story to focus on how Luke deals with his loss, raising his kids alone and moving on. Instead you get what starts as a kind of endearing story that moves as expected and slowly turns into this weird, crazy blend of going too far with too many unbelievable twists and kind of ridiculous secrets. Top that off with what amounts to really a non-ending and you kind of have a mess.

This wasn’t horrible, but it was only okay because it just became too much and didn’t offer anything to balance that out in the end. I find that sad because I really thought I was going to like this one.

Cast in Deception: Chronicles of Elantra, Book 13

Cast in Deception
Cast in Deception

Author: Michelle Sagara
Book Name: Cast in Deception
Series: Chronicles of Elantra
Order: #13
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Really Good

4+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?

Private Kaylin Neya thought her home couldn’t possibly get more crowded. But when one of her housemates, Annarion, decides to undertake the Barrani Test of Name, his friends refuse to let him face his task alone—and Kaylin’s sentient home, Helen, is the only structure capable of shielding the rest of Elantra from the magnitude of their power.

Annarion and Mandoran almost caused the destruction of the High Halls once already. Add nine of their closest friends, and the danger is astronomically higher—especially since these guests are at the heart of a political firestorm. Imprisoned almost a millennium ago, their recent freedom threatens the rulership of several prominent Barrani families, and the machinations of those Lords make it almost impossible to tell friend from foe.

As political tensions ramp up, the shadows beneath the High Halls are seeking a freedom that has never been possible before. Kaylin must find a way to keep those shadows from escaping, or that freedom will destroy her city, the empire and everything she holds dear.

If I had to compare this to any of the others in the series, it is probably most like Cast in Peril. That said, I think this is the most different of all of the books so far. It is probably my second least favorite of the series.

Even though I still really enjoyed this, it felt like I was missing much of my favorite characters because the focus was almost entirely on the extended group of the cohort than on any of the established existing characters. It is obvious that Kaylin is bringing them into her sphere of people she considers hers, but I’m not as much of a fan of this group as I have been of every other character that has been brought in.

It was also missing a bit of what I’d consider classic Kaylin. Her personality is absolutely still there. She is still growing and maturing, but there was very little of her innate abilities displayed in this book so it almost felt as if even she were somewhat missing from this story.

This was a much lower key book, with the focus on the politics and intrigue of the Barrani court. If it follows a pattern being much like Cast in Peril (feeling sort of like a gap book to bridge major story arcs), then the next book will be much fuller in the sense of action and progress.

Reread Mode

I am currently on a rereading binge. But again, being the occasionally brainless person I am, I completely forgot how many books are in this series. Probably because I only have the first few in print and the rest are digital. I had wanted to get them all read again before the new book came out. I have just started on book 9 of 13 and the new book came out a few days ago so I am way behind.

Continue reading “Reread Mode”

Ashes of Life: Erica Lucke Dean

Ashes of Life
Ashes of Life

Author: Erica Lucke Dean
Book Name: Ashes of Life
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature/Family Drama/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Married for just three months, Alex Barrett is stunned when her husband, David, dies in a tragic accident. And the absolute last thing the pregnant young widow wants is to take on responsibility for his teenage daughter, Maddie. Reeling from loss, Alex struggles to deal with her grief and her troubled stepdaughter, but one question haunts her: why was David with his ex-wife when he died?

All Maddie Barrett wanted was for her parents to get back together, but an icy road took that dream away. Afterward, Maddie is riddled with guilt that she can’t share with anyone. Feeling angry and alone, she lays all the blame on Alex.

Alex and Maddie must find a way to move past their pain—shared, yet separate. Thrown together in an untenable arrangement, they fight through a frozen landscape of sorrow and redemption while redefining love, forgiveness, and family.

I just was not a fan of this. Neither of the two main characters were likable. No matter their situation, they were both pretty self absorbed, bratty and unwilling to look outside of their own bubble of existence. I really wasn’t a fan of the romantic relationships on either of their parts either. Way too much yo-yo action going on. To the point that if these characters existed in real life, they should probably be seeking help for mental disorders.

The writing itself wasn’t bad, but I won’t enjoy a book if I don’t like the characters or the believably of their situations. This just didn’t do anything other than irritate me.

Archangel’s Viper: Guild Hunters, Book 10

Archangel's ViperAuthor: Nalini Singh
Book Name: Archangel’s Viper
Series: Guild Hunters
Order: #10
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

Years of reading and loving Nalini Singh has left me with certain expectations from one of her books. This is probably one of my least favorite in the Guild Hunter series.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great book (see all those stars), but, for me, I just struggled to really feel or get any chemistry from this pair. I liked them both, but this didn’t quite grip me emotionally like pretty much every single other Nalini Singh book out there. What I did get, and it was there, seemed to come way late and with not quite enough going on between the two to make the fast turn around work as well as it could have.

I guess this was just missing that bit more spark I’m used to.

Butterfly Kisses: Detective Damien Drake, Book 1

Author: Patrick Logan
Book Name: Butterfly Kisses
Series: Detective Damien Drake
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: His hands are bound behind him, a crude butterfly drawn in blood on his bare back. He isn’t the first.

When a drug addict finds the body of a man in the basement of an abandoned warehouse in New York City, Detective Damien Drake is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim was a philanthropist, father, doting husband, and wealthy junior partner in one of the cities most respected law firms.

He seemed to have the perfect life.

Yet when Damien probes deeper, he realizes that this man isn’t the first. His investigation soon connects this murder with another in Montreal, both of which were emblazoned with the same bloody butterfly.

What dark secrets is the NYC lawyer hiding? And what is the significance of the butterfly?

As Damien inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on him… and those close to him.

Damien’s last case cost him his partner’s life. This case threatens not only his job, but his sanity, as well. And this time, the killer may even be smarter than he is.

One thing for certain is that if he doesn’t catch the killer soon, more people will die. The only question is, will the next victim be someone close to Detective Damien Drake?

Apparently I’m going to start the year off with a good old book bash. And not in a good way.

First off, if this book had an editor, they probably need to be looking for a new job. There were so many mistakes, glaringly obvious ones that should have been caught at even a rough read through, that I was constantly tripping over problems and forced to go back and reread sentences to try and figure out what was actually being said. There was no way I was going to sink into this book with those problems. I hate to harp on edits because mistakes get made, even with good editors, but when it is as bad as this, it kills the story.

Both of the main cop characters were horrifically bad. Drake was the stereotypical bad, drunk cop that truly had nothing at all likeable about him. He broke just about every single rule with regards to investigation and interviewing, to the point there is zero chance a reader is going to buy him as a cop who still has his job. Chase’s character isn’t any better, different issues, but equally bad. The bumbling of both of them killed what was left for me after I waded through the errors.

The basic idea behind the story is decent, but the follow through falls flat.

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.