Another Goal!

I got notification that my book is finally, fully published on all the platforms I submitted to. One more publishing goal checked off. It’s a small goal, but it is still a pretty awesome one.

I am also probably going to have to place another order of the paperbacks for myself as all the ones I bought for the first round were gone before I could blink. I had about half of them accounted for when I placed the order, but between giving a few away for reviews and BG being a better salesperson than I am, I’m out.

I do still have an opening for a reviewer that wants any of the ebook versions. Just drop me a message if you are interested.

Book Review – Playing With Fire: Magical Romantic Comedies, Book 1

Author: R.J. Blain
Book Name: Playing With Fire
Series: Magical Romantic Comedies
Order: 1
Genre: Romance/Paranormal/Urban/Fantasy
Rating: Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:

What do you get when you mix gorgons, an incubus, and the Calamity Queen? Trouble, and lots of it.

For Bailey, catering to the magical is a tough gig on a good day, but she has few other options. She can either keep spiking drinks with pixie dust to keep the locals happy, or spend the rest of her life cleaning up some of the world’s nastiest magical substances.

Years after helping Police Chief Samuel Quinn escape an unhappy marriage, Bailey is once again entangled in his personal affairs. To make matters worse, Quinn’s ex-wife is angling for revenge, tossing Bailey into the deep end along with her sexiest enemy.

Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.

This was full of snark and humor in an over the top kind of way, but knowing it was over the top makes most of the ridiculous even more funny. It never really settles into any level of serious, maintaining that crazy, snarky vein throughout the entire book.

It takes a slightly different perspective from the typical in the magical and creature concepts that fantasy/paranormal worlds are built on, which I found really refreshing. By the time I got to the end of this, I was really wishing it delved a bit more into that world because it was different and interesting.

This was also very light on the steam factor, so if that is what you are looking for, you won’t get it here. Nothing at all against steamy, but I did love that there wasn’t so much page time dedicated to overly wrought steam scenes because it left more time for snark and ridiculousness and frickin’ flaming unicorns that think napalm is fun to eat. In this case, I’ll take the flaming unicorns.

Book Review – Upside Down, N.R. Walker

Author: N.R. Walker
Book Name: Upside Down
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/MM
Rating: Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb: Jordan O’Neill isn’t a fan of labels, considering he has a few. Gay, geek, a librarian, socially awkward, a nervous rambler, an introvert, an outsider. The last thing he needs is one more. But when he realizes adding the label ‘asexual’ might explain a lot, it turns his world upside down.

Hennessy Lang moved to Surry Hills after splitting with his boyfriend. His being asexual had seen the end of a lot of his romances, but he’s determined to stay true to himself. Leaving his North Shore support group behind, he starts his own in Surry Hills, where he meets first-time-attendee Jordan.

A little bewildered and scared, but completely adorable, Hennessy is struck by this guy who’s trying to find where he belongs. Maybe Hennessy can convince Jordan that his world hasn’t been turned upside down at all, but maybe it’s now—for the first time in his life—the right way up.

This was cute and sweet and seriously funny. One of those warm, fuzzy reads. Come one, who isn’t going to crack up at the perfect visual of “feline buttholitis of the face.” Both of the main characters were adorable, but I really loved Jordan.

I think the only reason I’m not giving this the full five stars is because it does ride that line of being syrupy, perfect sweet, but it is still a really awesome book and is exactly what I was in the mood for.

Book Review – Dead Memories: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 10

Author: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Dead Memories
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #10
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Police/Crime
Rating: Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb: She ruined their lives. Now they’re going to destroy hers.

‘Someone is recreating every traumatic point in your life. They are doing this to make you suffer, to make you hurt and the only possible end game can be death. Your death.’

On the fourth floor of Chaucer House, two teenagers are found chained to a radiator. The boy is dead but the girl is alive. For Detective Kim Stone every detail of the scene mirrors her own terrifying experience with her brother Mikey, when they lived in the same tower block thirty years ago.

When the bodies of a middle-aged couple are discovered in a burnt-out car, Kim can’t ignore the chilling similarity to the deaths of Erica and Keith – the only loving parents Kim had ever known.

Faced with a killer who is recreating traumatic events from her past, Kim must face the brutal truth that someone wants to hurt her in the worst way possible. Desperate to stay on the case, she is forced to work with profiler Alison Lowe who has been called in to observe and monitor Kim’s behaviour.

Kim has spent years catching dangerous criminals and protecting the innocent. But with a killer firmly fixed on destroying Kim, can she solve this complex case and save her own life or will she become the final victim?

Oh, look! I’m writing about a book that isn’t mine!

The fact that this is book 10 in this series and that I’m still sticking with it is nearly miraculous, especially considering genre. Ms. Marsons has managed to keep me interested in these characters and these stories by ensuring that they stay feeling fresh and unique instead of falling into the trap of having similar (or even identical) plot pieces that make stores feel cookie cutter. That is one of the things I have loved about this series. Every story always feels like it is different from all the others.

For the first time in the series, though, this book brings in the concept for a second time of Kim being targeted specifically. The first time, it was sort of a secondary plot line in a larger story. This time, it is the focus. I did like that it brings up a lot of Kim’s history and we learn more about her as a character, but this book didn’t feel quite as unique as the others in the series.

I did really enjoy this story, but I wonder if it is an indication we are getting to that point where that uniqueness begins to wear off. I’d really hate to see that because it is one of the things that has kept me coming back book after book.

Looking For Reviewers

I am down to one paperback copy for this and a spot or two for another reviewer. If you or someone you know would like a copy (ebook or print) in exchange for providing a review, please drop me a note or pass this along! Every tiny bit helps, especially as a brand new author in the indie field.

TJ Fox

On to the part of the book process that I dislike with a flaming passion. Pretty much begging for help. As a raging introvert that struggles with most any communication, this part is excruciating, but necessary. That said, I do need some help from anyone that is willing to step forward and volunteer to read my little baby and give me a review. Ideally, I’d like to see reviews spread out in various different places like Goodreads, Amazon, B&N and blogs, but I’m not going to be picky.

I am looking to get between 3 and 5 people willing to write up a review in exchange for a copy of my book. I’ll provide their preferred format, ebook for any platform I’ve published on or a print copy that I can mail to you. If you are posting to a blog, I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review…

View original post 335 more words

An Unexpected Turn Availability

I am posting this for an easy share as it is a single link to all the various platforms An Unexpected Turn is available on.

Even if it isn’t a genre (women’s fiction/family life) you normally read, maybe you have a friend that does and you’d be willing to slide this under their nose or at least share the link (or this post) with others. If you are amazing enough to read it, please leave a review! Every tiny bit helps me to get this out there.

Please take a few to check it out. The blurb is below.

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

 

 

Looking For Reviewers

On to the part of the book process that I dislike with a flaming passion. Pretty much begging for help. As a raging introvert that struggles with most any communication, this part is excruciating, but necessary. That said, I do need some help from anyone that is willing to step forward and volunteer to read my little baby and give me a review. Ideally, I’d like to see reviews spread out in various different places like Goodreads, Amazon, B&N and blogs, but I’m not going to be picky.

I am looking to get between 3 and 5 people willing to write up a review in exchange for a copy of my book. I’ll provide their preferred format, ebook for any platform I’ve published on or a print copy that I can mail to you. If you are posting to a blog, I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review to my AUT page with a link back to your blog as an additional thanks. (unless you don’t want that, then that’s okay too!)

If you are awesome enough to volunteer, please drop me a note through my contact page, letting me know your interest and the platforms you would normally post reviews along with your format preference. This isn’t a contest, but more along the lines of “if you send me a message you will get a copy” unless I’ve hit my limit. If I see a lot of interest, then I may rethink the numbers, but I’d prefer to keep it small to start.

Massive thank you in advance to those that volunteer! I will update this post when/if I hit my numbers.

For those that haven’t seen it… the blurb… (oh, and I thought I’d mention that this falls into the women’s fiction and family life/drama genres)

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

Wild Country: The World of the Others, Book 2

Author: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Wild Country
Series: The World of the Others
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars

 

Blurb: There are ghost towns in the world—places where the humans were annihilated in retaliation for the slaughter of the shape-shifting Others.

One of those places is Bennett, a town at the northern end of the Elder Hills—a town surrounded by the wild country. Now efforts are being made to resettle Bennett as a community where humans and Others live and work together. A young female police officer has been hired as the deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff. A deadly type of Other wants to run a human-style saloon. And a couple with four foster children—one of whom is a blood prophet—hope to find acceptance.

But as they reopen the stores and the professional offices and start to make lives for themselves, the town of Bennett attracts the attention of other humans looking for profit. And the arrival of the outlaw Blackstone Clan will either unite Others and humans…or bury them all.

This! This, this, this, THIS!! This is more along the lines of what I expected from Lake Silence. Where Lake Silence is set in this world, it is almost entirely a stand alone book. Outside of the need to be familiar with the world, there is almost nothing that ties that into the original The Others series and can be almost be read by itself. While that is still an excellent book, it didn’t have any familiar characters or settings. This book, however, absolutely does!

Many of the main characters are ones readers got to meet in the original series and it is set in Bennet, a place readers are familiar with because of events in the original series. No, it does not have Meg and Simon, other than mentions (always going to be a tiny bit of a disappointment because they are some of my all time favorite characters).

The timing of this book runs a little in step with Etched in Bone. It actually runs along Lake Silence as well, but because that one is so disconnected from all the other books, it is irrelevant. I would almost call this book #6 in the original series, but because of the lack of Meg and Simon, it does mostly fall outside of that series.

I love the fact that you get to follow many of the characters that we met through the job fair in Lakeside in Etched in Bone. We get to see what happens with them once they  make it to Bennet and how that town, Prarie Gold and it’s characters settled in. This ties up a lot of threads that were left open at the end of Etched in Bone. It also bring into the front a new element, a concept that has been flirted with throughout the original series, with the introduction of Joshua Painter.

While it is truly doubtful this is the end of the World of books, this book does not leave a reader with an obvious sense of where the next book is going to take them. I think it is a real possibility we will see a Hope book, but that isn’t clear. Or maybe we get to see more of Joshua’s story. It is just as likely we will see another unattached book like Lake Silence.

As is always my biggest complaint (if you can even call it that) about any Anne Bishop book is that it had to have a final page. I am never ready to step out of the worlds that she creates.

Circle of the Moon: Soulwood, Book 4

Author:  Faith Hunter
Book Name: Circle of the moon
Series: Soulwood
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars

 

Blurb: Nell can draw magic from the land around her, and lately she’s been using it to help the Psy-Law Enforcement Division, which solves paranormal crimes. Joining the team at PsyLED has allowed her to learn more about her powers and the world she always shunned–and to find true friends.

Head agent Rick LaFleur shifts into a panther when the moon calls him, but this time, something has gone wrong. Rick calls Nell from a riverbank–he’s naked, with no memory of how he came to be there, and there’s a dead black cat, sacrificed in a witch circle and killed by black magic, lying next to him.

Then more animals turn up dead, and team rushes to investigate. A blood-witch is out to kill. But when it seems as if their leader is involved in the crime, the bonds that hold the team together could shatter at any moment.

One of the best days ever is release day for a new book in a favorite series. Yesterday did not disappoint.

I cannot state it strongly enough, but I LOVE this world. Every single thing about it. I love it even more that there are two distinct but tightly intertwined threads, the original Jane Yellowrock series and Soulwood. Technically, you do not have to read the Yellowrock series to be able to read and follow the Soulwood series, but you will miss out on some really important nuances that fill in gaps if you don’t. The farther along in this series you get, the bigger some of those gaps can become.

This book addresses issues with Rick that were initially introduced in the Yellowrock series. They have been covered in this series as well, but there is some not critical information that you would only have gotten by reading the first series. Heck, there is even a Rick short story flying around out there that I haven’t read yet that probably gives readers and even deeper look into those issues. Still, you don’t NEED to have read any of those.

I don’t think that there is a significant character in this series that I don’t like. The team is amazing, so it is going to be interesting to see how they move forward with the changes that are going on by the end of this book. I never disliked Rick, but he was also never a favorite from the Yellowrock series. I do really like him in his roll here, though. The changes he goes through in this book could become really interesting for both series.

If I had anything negative to say about this (besides the fact that there always has to be a final page that means I’ve finished a book), and it is really kind of a tiny one at that, it is the fact that, so far, Nell is the one to always figure things out/solve the problems, even when she isn’t the expert. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her character and her abilities. It just sometimes rides the boundary of her being too perfect, especially because she isn’t the head or lead of the group and there are others that are more likely to have the knowledge and/or the skills. It is something that I didn’t really notice or pick up on when I read all the books the first time through, but caught it when I reread before this one came out.

I think the next book in this series may see some definite changes from things we’ve seen so far. I’m interested to see what direction those changes take.

 

 

 

Firstborn: The House War, Book 7

Author: Michelle West (Sagara)
Book Name: Firstborn
Series: The House War
Order: #7 (Triple Series Order #15)
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Excellent/Favorite

5+stars

Blurb:

Jewel ATerafin has never wanted to be a power. What she truly wants, she built in the streets of the poorer holdings. To protect what she built, to protect what she values above all else, she has accepted that power is necessary.

But with power comes responsibility.

Jewel has forced herself to do what would have once been unthinkable: She has surrendered her den-kin, Carver, to the wilderness, because she must if she is to have any hope of saving the rest of her family, and the city in which they dwell.

But she cannot leave him with nothing. Into his hands, she has placed the single, blue leaf that came from the wilderness and the dreaming combined. She doesn’t know what it does or what it was meant to do—but it is the most powerful item on her person, and it is the only thing she can leave him.

That leaf, however, was created to serve a purpose that Jewel does not understand. Nor does Carver, who now possesses it. With Ellerson by his side, Carver intends to traverse the wild Winter in an attempt to reach home—and the people who are waiting for him.

There are those who do understand the significance of Carver’s gift, and the disaster that will prevail if it remains in his hands. But time is of the essence. These lands are not unclaimed, and the Lord of these lands is waking from his ancient slumber.

Nor is the Lord the only threat. Firstborn, demons, and wild elementals are swirling around two mortal men in a storm that threatens to end the only chance the city of Averalaan has of surviving what is to follow.

I almost wish that I had reread at least the last couple of books in this series before I read this as it took me a bit to sink back into all the characters and this world, especially since it has been a while since Oracle.  As usual, I loved this book, so that isn’t much of a shock.

I did hit a couple of places with regards to Jarven, Haval and Hectore that felt repetitive or redundant, making those portions of this book drag, especially when I wanted to get back to what was going on with Carver and Ellerson. I also still didn’t get enough page time with Avandar or Angel, which I was still expecting/hoping for.

In the grand scheme of things, those are minor gripes as this was supposed to be the last book in the series, but in classic MS tradition, one book became two, which means we get another book. I’ll take those gripes instead.

Much like Oracle, though, this book does more to fill in blank areas that are needed before we can get to that last book. I don’t know that we saw any overwhelming change or growth from any of the characters, with the exception of Carver, because of that. I don’t really see that as a negative, though. Lack of growth and the few times of feeling that bit of redundancy aside, this book felt like a whole lot happened. Including my prediction that I was definitely going to be needing lots of tissues by the time this is all said and done.

The last book is due out this June, so only a tiny bit of patience is required.

Cast in Oblivion: Chronicles of Elantra, Book 14

Author: Michelle Sagara
Book Name: Cast in Oblivion
Series: Chronicles of Elantra
Order: #14
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Really Good

4+stars

 

 

Blurb: POLITICS ARE HELL

Kaylin wasn’t sent to the West March to start a war. Her mission to bring back nine Barrani might do just that, though. She traveled with a Dragon, and her presence is perceived as an act of aggression in the extremely hostile world of Barrani-Dragon politics. Internal Barrani politics are no less deadly, and Kaylin has managed—barely—to help the rescued Barrani evade both death and captivity at the hands of the Consort.

Before the unplanned “visit” to the West March, Kaylin invited the Consort to dinner. For obvious reasons, Kaylin wants to cancel dinner—forever. But the Consort is going to show up at the front door at the agreed-upon time. The fact that she tried to imprison Kaylin’s guests doesn’t matter at all…to her.

A private Barrani Hell, built of Shadow and malice, exists beneath the High Halls. It is the High Court’s duty to jail the creature at its heart—even if it means that Barrani victims are locked in the cage with it. The Consort is willing to do almost anything to free the trapped and end their eternal torment. And she needs the help of Kaylin’s houseguests—and Kaylin herself. Failure won’t be death—it will be Hell. And that’s where Kaylin is going.

It pains me greatly to write this, but… I didn’t love this book. I have adored this series (and pretty much every single thing put out by this author) from the very beginning, but…

There really wasn’t anything new in this book. Kaylin does all the same kinds of things that Kaylin has always done. There really wasn’t any real growth for her in this book. That and like the last one, I don’t feel like I got enough of the other characters that I want to have page time, mostly Severn and Nightshade. We didn’t even get to see Marcus or the Hawklord in this book. I’m not dissing this. It was not a bad book at all. It was still really good. I just didn’t feel like it did much to move the series forward. There was so much time spent on dealing with the cohort, in this and the last one, that nothing else has room to develop.

Things seem to be getting crowded for Kaylin in this series. She has become a collector, of people and magical creatures, and there are only so many new people/things you can introduce before you lose the important ones that have been there from the beginning. You see it heavily in this book.

I would love to see the next book having more of the feel of the earlier books where more time is spent with Kaylin actually doing things rather than massive chunks of time spent in her head. Characters need to grow. Absolutely. But there are things about characters that readers fall in love with and if you leave those things behind, you may end up leaving the readers behind as well. This book rides very close to that line for me.

Now That I Am Someone Else: Carol Paxman

Author: Carol Paxman
Book Name: Now That I Am Someone Else
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Family Drama
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

Blurb:

Who am I now that I’m not who I thought I was? This is the question Cindy asks herself.

Cindy’s life was a fairy tale.
A beautiful home, three amazing daughters and married to the man of her dreams.

When Cindy’s very own Prince Charming decides he’s had enough of the fairy tale, and takes off with her friend. Where does that leave her?

Now Cindy has to figure out who she is now that she is no longer who she thought she was.

Note to self… Double, triple and quadruple check book length BEFORE getting a book. The title of this is almost longer than the book itself. This doesn’t even qualify for novella status. It is a short story at best, but more a long essay.

Because of how ridiculously short this is there is no story or character development. The story comes across as simplistic, choppy, and unfinished with major gaps in events along the way and is presented almost entirely within the main character’s head and thoughts.

Seriously. The story covers about a 6 month period of time in 41 pages. How much actual story can you get in that space? There is 6 months worth of time to work with an you only have 41 pages?! There is truly no point to reading anything this short because you do not have enough room to go anywhere unless you are writing about a single, very brief moment in time. It is kind of like reading the diary of a bitter woman’s emotional dumping ground during a divorce, but that woman only writes in said dairy sporadically and only writes about her feelings and very little about actual events.

I won’t go into the problematic formatting or editing mistakes or the extremely unrealistic time frame, which is normally a whole lot longer than that 6 months. The pretty cover art is completely wasted on this.

And yes, I probably spent more time writing this review than I did reading the damn thing in the first place.

 

Straight From The Heart: Wilde Love, Book 1

Author: Sam Burns
Book Name: Straight from the Heart
Series: Wilde Love
Order: 1
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

Blurb:

On the same night that Alex finds himself disowned and sleeping on his best friend’s couch, he meets Liam, who saves him from being mugged. It’s a strange time for him to be starting a relationship, but everything about being with Liam feels right. When it becomes apparent that Liam isn’t exactly the prince charming he seems to be, Alex has to deal with some hard truths about not just his new boyfriend, but his own history as well.

Liam is just trying to do his job, but everything keeps getting in the way. First he gets assigned to watch some stranger, then somehow, he finds himself dating the guy. Even if it doesn’t offend the boss, Liam knows the wrong thing to do when he does it. He finds himself wondering, though: is his job really the most important thing in his life, or can he walk away from it all for a brand new relationship?

 

I hesitated on reading this at first because the blurb made me think this was going to be a pretty heavy, darker read. I was pleasantly surprised that it really wasn’t. It was sweet and funny, but still balanced with enough of the deeper stuff to make it pretty well rounded.

Though Alex can come across as a little simple and naive, I still really liked his character. I especially liked Liam, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. He just came across as this genuine, yet conflicted guy. I think I liked the sense of humor the two shared together.

Some of my favorite books are those that can portray their characters with that kind of lighthearted banter that actually works without coming across and cheesy or trying too hard. This one really made it work.

Buying the Farm: Kimberly Conn

Author: Kimberly Conn
Book Name: Buying the Farm
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature/Family Drama
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

Blurb: Missi Jennings has no family, with the exception of her cold, critical mother, who makes her feel like a perpetual disappointment. She muddles through life in Washington, D.C. despondent, yet unmotivated to do anything about it. When a horrific accident on a Downtown street leaves Missi shaken, numb, and wealthy beyond her wildest imagination, it also becomes a catalyst for unthinkable change, launching her on a journey to a place completely foreign to her—rural Mississippi. The cynical, solitary city girl must confront a lifetime of lies created by the woman she always knew to be her mother and contend with a large, loud, extended family she had no idea existed. Missi’s fortitude is tested by strange new surroundings and a cantankerous grandfather, but it is a child-like woman with Down syndrome, with whom Missi shares an unbreakable bond, who changes her the most. Buying the Farm is a poignant story about loss, gain, and both the joy and pain that come from being a part of a family.

This was a truly heartwarming kind of book that had a wonderful balance of emotional responses, which is one of my favorite kinds. If you can evoke laughter and tears, both happy and sad, all rolled into a single story then you have done an awesome job as an author.

The one thing that kept me from rating this higher was how nearly every single character in this book fawned over Missi as though she was some sort of perfect paragon deserving adoration just because she exists, even those she just met 2 seconds ago. There are a few exceptions. Her boss, but he is such a tiny, minor character as to not make a difference. Nina, one of the few people that SHOULD have treated her that way, but again, still kind of at a periphery level. And her grandfather who is the only major character to kind of go the opposite direction. The near hero worship from so many characters nearly became too much and lessened some of her realism for me.

I did love the family story here and the various turns this took. It made the story feel very unique and atypical, which I loved. And the emotional touches were incredibly well done.

A Slight Change Of Plan: Dee Ernst

Author: Dee Ernst
Book Name: A Slight Change of Plan
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

Blurb: Kate Everett is about to begin her “second act.” She’s been a widow for eight years and thinks it might be time to start looking for someone to share her life with again. She quits her high-pressure job for something that will allow her more leisure time. She gets rid of the huge family home and moves into a fabulous condo that’s smaller and easier to manage. She’s pretty much got the rest of her life figured out. All she has to do is sit back, relax, and let the pieces fall into place.

But her real life never gets the memo. First, her son moves back in with her—along with his girlfriend. Her dream job falls through, leaving her unemployed. Her mother, whom she hadn’t spoken to in years, can no longer live alone and has to move into her basement. And her only daughter is planning the smallest and simplest wedding in the history of all weddings, much to Kate’s dismay.

Kate thinks that she and Jake, her former college love who has reemerged on an online dating site, of all places, can build something real, and that maybe her happy ending is in front of her at last. But the arrival of Edward, her daughter’s future father-in-law, presents Kate with an unexpected choice.

It looks like real happiness may require a slight change of plan.

I liked the idea of a book centered around adults in this age range, so was excited when I picked this up. Sadly, the attitude and actions of most of the characters put their maturity level back in their late teens to early twenties rather than in their 50’s so I might as well have been reading a new adult book, except the characters all have older/adult children.

I could have gotten past that and enjoyed the story if this book had been able to evoke even a lick of emotional response from me, but… nada. I felt nothing other than irritated with the relationship between Kate and Jake and there was absolutely nothing to suggest that Kate and Edward had anything stronger than a friendship. Everyone, including Kate, Edward and Jake just left me feeling rather meh. It was just incredibly bland.

When I finally got to the ending, I was kind of “Wait. That was it? Um… why did I read this?”

So this was one of those I didn’t hate it but didn’t particularly like it either books.

 

Ghosted: Rosie Walsh

Author: Rosie Walsh
Book Name: Ghosted
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

Blurb: When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.
Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened—there must be an explanation.
Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

**Spoilers**

It is kind of impossible to review this without giving spoilers because those very spoilers are what dropped this from a good book to only okay for me.

I honestly cannot imagine a scenario in reality where ANYONE would legitimately blame Sarah for the accident that happened. Maybe Alex’s mom, in her grief, and Sarah feeling guilty (a typical survivor’s guilt) and blaming herself, but that is about it. The blame getting laid on her by pretty much everyone around her, including her apparently very close sister is completely unbelievable. If there is any blame to be laid on anyone other than the idiotic driver, it would have been Hannah, not Sarah. Because of that, the entirety of what this story is based on kind of falls flat and Eddie’s reaction becomes unreasonable.

While I liked the fact that the reader’s perspectives and assumptions got turned around, that turn around worked against the grain, again, because of the attitudes toward Sarah. Going from feeling sympathetic towards her to having the author try and make her out to be the bad guy, when she REALLY isn’t left a bad taste in my mouth over a story that I had been liking up to that point.

I don’t think the story was awful, but it fell apart and didn’t work for me by the time it was over. Especially when everything gets tied up so cleanly and neatly without any actual work through that the reader gets to experience first hand. They just get told it worked out and are expected to accept it without details. So, I didn’t dislike this, but I didn’t particularly like it either.

Fighting For You: Fighting For Love, Book 1

Author: J.P. Oliver
Book Name: Fighting For You
Series: Fighting For Love
Order: 1
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

Blurb: Luke’s life couldn’t really get any worse. His parents have died, his family bar is failing, he’s had to drop out of college, and he’s now engaged in a custody battle with his grandparents over his younger brother.

Adam is a drop-dead gorgeous lawyer, representing the grandparents in the custody battle. He isn’t pleased to be representing such snobby clients, and he’s definitely miffed to be shipped out to the Midwest for this case. But all that changes when he meets Luke. He’s handsome, charming… he gets Adam’s sense of humor, and definitely deserves to win the case.

They’re not supposed to even be talking to one another, much less dating, but both Adam and Luke feel a connection they can’t ignore. Can they figure out a way to make it work? Or will the case – and the things they have to do to win it – tear them apart?

This just barely hit the okay mark for me. Honestly? I was bored and ended up skimming through a lot of this book because there just wasn’t anything overly believable or emotionally stimulating here.

I love books about kids and families, yet this book uses the kid, Seth, as a prop and an afterthought when he should be the underlying focus of the story since that is the whole premise. Luke behaves and makes decisions like there isn’t even a kid in the picture at all, let alone one that he is willing to fight for. For someone who is apparently desperate to keep his brother with him, he sure as hell doesn’t act like it outside of a few pat sentences provided as a way of saying “See, this IS a book about battling for custody.” The kid is 12 and yet Luke apparently leaves him alone pretty much 100% of the time, treating him like he is much older and nearly ready to be living on his own instead of like a young kid that just lost both of his parents. There isn’t even any kind of cover like calling to ensure Seth knows where Luke is or checking in to make sure Seth is okay. That aspect of the story just flat out fails on all fronts.

The whole legal issue and sabotaging the case thing is so outside of the realm of believability as to be laughable. The fact that there were zero consequences for that ridiculous mess makes it all even more unbelievable.

Throw in some really meh or unlikable characters, even some of the peripheral ones (are they ALL fallen down drunks? Really?), and you aren’t left with much that is worth the time unless you just enjoy fluff stories with little to no substance.

A Family For Keeps: Rheland Richmond

Author: Rheland Richmond
Book Name: A Family For Keeps
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

Blurb:

Tristan was devastated when his sister died. His only consolation was her newborn daughter. He promised to take care of her like she was his own, but he’s broken that promise.

After growing up in foster care, Nathaniel’s finally built the life he’s always wanted. Now one case of human error could tear it all apart.

An unthinkable mistake that could never be rectified. Two men. Absolute strangers until tragedy and unforeseen circumstances bind them together. They must now find a way to co-parent and make the best of a bad situation. With no shared history to help them and two little girls caught in the middle, they now have no choice but to make it work. What could possibly go wrong?

Can two men put their differences aside for the sake of their children? They both have difficult choices to make, or what they love most will be taken away.

When I first read the blurb for this, I was pretty excited because it checked a lot of boxes for me on things I love in a good story. The premise and idea behind the story is really good, if maybe a little bit over the top. Sadly, the execution of that idea kind of flopped. There were just too many things that kept yanking me out of this story for me to ever really sink into it emotionally and I hated that.

The majority of this book is contained inside the characters heads, giving the reader very little dialog. Even a lot of character interaction is handled this way, even several situations being a character’s remembrance of scenarios instead of allowing the characters to experience them as a natural flow of events. That hampered my ability to connect with the characters and feel their connection with each other. This is a classic example of needing to show, not tell.

What little dialog you get was painfully one sided. There was almost no actual back and forth conversation, only one character speaking without getting any feedback, either in words or actions, from the other character(s) in the scene, leaving you with this bizarre kind of monologue. The few times you do get a little back and forth between characters, it is nearly impossible to tell who is speaking, which made all the dialog scenes even more convoluted because you couldn’t always tell if it was a monologue or back and forth. I honestly got lost several times in the dialog parts.

This is written in a dual POV between the two main characters. Sections were made clear as to who’s POV the reader was getting, yet there were still these random jumps where we get a tiny bit of perspective that came out as the other character, lasted maybe a sentence or two or even a paragraph before shifting back to the designated character’s POV. These always tripped me up and I had to go back and reread to try and figure out if I misread something or had missed a noted POV switch.

While I do really like the concept idea of this story, the details to make it happen are just too pat. Both main characters are stupidly good looking and stupidly wealthy. Tristian has the added benefit of being surrounded by stupidly good looking, talented, equally stupidly wealthy friends and adopted family. The kids are all insanely perfect, docile little dolls that roll with every single change like it is nothing. Anyone that has kids or even knows a kid will tell you this is straight up fantasy, because that would NEVER happen no matter how you work to justify it. Yes, there are a few historical challenges and difficulties as well as the issue of the medical thing (which also turns out perfectly), but… there just are no character imperfections to make them feel realistic, believable or relatable. Even the one real struggle towards the end seems overly simplistic.

And as much as I hate harping on editing mistakes… this just had too many obvious and annoying ones that just made all the other annoying issues combine to make me just not enjoy the story. I’m pretty sure I even ran into a few character history/background contradictions (massive peeve of mine). This story is okay, but this is one of those books that could have been really good if some of those issues had been noted and fixed before someone hit publish.

Hearing Evil: Cycle of Evil, Book 2

Author: Jason Parent
Book Name: Hearing Evil
Series: Cycle of Evil
Order: 2
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Crime
Rating:  Good

3+stars

Blurb:

Michael Turcotte wants nothing to do with his so-called gift—the ability to see other people’s fates simply by touching them. Michael decides to spend his summer searching for answers about his past. He can’t rest without the sounds of forgotten tragedy echoing through his dreams, but reconstructing his memories will come with a whole new set of problems even he can’t foresee.

Detective Samantha Reilly has always looked out for Michael, but now that she’s taken him into her home, she fears her maternal instincts are lacking. When a brutal gang sets off a chain reaction of crimes, Sam struggles to choose between the two most important things in her life: her job and her new foster son. Fate intervenes when Michael is kidnapped, forcing her two roles to collide.

As Michael’s past meets Sam’s present, their bond will be tested while a city crumbles around them. They’ll need all their skills and a lot of luck in order to survive.

While the first book in this series deals with the concept of the paranormal, its focus leaned more heavily towards the crime aspects and the gruesomeness of those crimes. This book heads deeper into the paranormal and steps away from the gruesome and the crime. Personally, I was a bit relieved by that.

At the same time, I didn’t like this one as much as the first because that shift more towards the paranormal brings with it an even bigger leap into over the top situations and scenarios, losing some of its grip on reality and believability. It is incredibly difficult to marry paranormal with realism, especially if you are going to focus on things like crimes and police work. There has to be a solid foundation in reality to be able to pull that off in a believable way for a reader. I think this one took several of the scenarios too far out of the bounds of being able to suspend disbelief.

Top that off with a story line that seems overly complicated and disparate at times, I struggled to really get to the point behind a lot of what was going on. I understand that this book is built in such a way to create a foundation (and what seems to be a very elaborate one at that) for future books, but it all just got to be a bit too much for me as I’m just not a huge fan of those types of stories.

**This book was provided to me in exchange for a review.**

Seeing Evil: Cycle of Evil, Book 1

Author: Jason Parent
Book Name: Seeing Evil
Series: Cycle of Evil
Order: 1
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Crime
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

Blurb: Fate in plain sight.

Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?

Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.

One of the first things that stood out to me in this book was the author’s ability to write in such a way to make it incredibly easy to visualize a scene. For me, that maybe wasn’t such a good thing because there are some seriously gruesome scenes in this book that are told in minute detail. For lovers of true thriller type novels where the more gruesome the better, that is probably a great thing.

As someone who enjoys crime dramas, I also have a few peeves about them. Mainly that they fall into a believable range with regards to following actual police procedure (or at least a semblance of it). This kind of pushed those boundaries for me just enough to make parts of this feel a bit too much. Yes, you have a paranormal aspect to the novel, but that doesn’t mean everything else can be fantasy and unreal. That said, though, I think for me it was probably a good thing that parts of this were unbelievable, otherwise this would have given me nightmares.

I liked Michael as a character and how he was presented with his ability worked for me, but I struggled to really get a good feel for who Sam is which made it harder to connect with her. I can’t say that I disliked her, but I don’t feel like there was enough of her in the story to find something to like about her either. Part of that for me was that her lack of procedure following made it difficult to understand her as a police officer or what drives her and motivates her decisions.

I don’t typically like straight up thriller/horror. There is a reason I don’t watch scary movies (nightmares are NOT something I enjoy). I love a good crime novel, suspense, mystery and even thrillers that run more towards the psychological rather than the straight up gore and terror, which made this one a little harder to review because, on a personal taste level, I didn’t enjoy those parts of the book. I even stopped a couple of times to mention to Hubby how sick something was. I do know that much of what I wasn’t a fan of would be pure gold to someone that loves that kind of thing.

**This book was provided to me in exchange for a review.**