Finding Balance

Apparently I don’t have enough things to do to keep me occupied, I have to go and create a bunch of blogs.  Not just one, because there are some things I need to keep organized and this is just one of ways I can be incredibly anal.  I debated a while about just doing a single blog, but I really wasn’t comfortable dumping the personal drama on the reading site and I didn’t think that everyone that wanted to read about books would care about the art or the cake.  It is possible, but there is no need to pump out a bunch of stuff that just may not be something someone wants to read, even if the main reason for all of this is for me. Continue reading “Finding Balance”

Exploring My Hobbies

To say that I’m a creative person would be an understatement. I have so many hobbies that I love doing that I spend a lot of time not doing them at times because I can’t decide which one to focus on.  I have actually been on something of a creative hiatus because I haven’t been overly inspired.  The last few months, I’ve had a few ideas fermenting in the back of my mind but they weren’t quite ready to come out and play, so I’m hoping that break is about over and it is time to get back into my studio. Continue reading “Exploring My Hobbies”

Getting Organized

For as long as I can remember, I have loved being in the kitchen.  Some of my favorite memories growing up revolve around helping my mom or either of my grandmothers making cookies and bread and dinners or whatever we felt like making at the time.  The best were when I was still too short to see over the top of the bowl and had to sit on the counter to be able to help stir. Continue reading “Getting Organized”

Precious Thing: Colette McBeth

Precious ThingAuthor: Colette McBeth
Book Name: Precious Thing
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense
Rating:  Good
3+stars



Blurb:  I know her inside out. I know what she’s thinking, I know what she wants. So I can’t give up on her, she knows I never will.
Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last forever.
They met in high school when Rachel was the shy, awkward new girl and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Instantly, they fell under one another’s spell and nothing would be the same again. Now in their late twenties Rachel has the television career, the apartment and the boyfriend, while Clara’s life is spiraling further out of control. Yet despite everything, they remain inextricably bound. Then Rachel’s news editor assigns her to cover a police press conference, and she is shocked when she arrives to learn that the subject is Clara, reported missing. Is it abduction, suicide or something else altogether?
Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

Review:  This was good.  In a weird, creepy, twisted way.  But… it was insanely dry and it took a ridiculously long time for it to really start to develop into something worthwhile.  So, while it was good, it really wasn’t my kind of book.

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Untraceable: Tracers, Book 1

UntraceableAuthor: Laura Griffin
Book Name: Untraceable
Series: Tracers
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars



Blurb:  ALEX LOVELL MAKES PEOPLE DISAPPEAR.
TURNS OUT, SHE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE.

Private investigator Alexandra Lovell uses computer skills and cunning to help clients drop off the radar and begin new lives in safety. Melanie Bess, desperate to escape her abusive cop husband, was one of those clients. But when Melanie vanishes for real, Alex fears the worst, and sets out to discover what happened. Using every resource she can get her hands on — including an elite team of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, and a jaded, sexy Austin PD detective — Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth.

As far as homicide cop Nathan Deveraux is concerned, no body means no case. But as much as he wants to believe that Alex’s hunch about Melanie’s murder is wrong, his instincts — and their visceral attraction — won’t let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, Nathan realizes this investigation runs deeper than they could ever have guessed. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear….

Review:  This was a frustrating read because the blurb leads you to expect one thing, but you really kind of get another.  I really was expecting more of a true police/crime drama or even something focusing on forensic or computer investigation.  What I got instead was something that felt like I was missing a whole heck of a lot, as if I jumped into the middle of a series and didn’t read the books that lead up to this one.  Since this is the first book in the series, that is apparently not the case, though after some deeper digging, it looks like there may be at least one book that has some of those missing pieces, but it isn’t in this series.  Even though you can supposedly read the books in this series in any order, there is still enough that transfers over, by the looks of it, from one book to another to leave you feeling as though you missed something if you don’t.  I’m so not a fan of that.

I also struggled with the characters.  There was just too much jumping around and not much of that giving any real insight into the characters to give the reader a chance to know them.  There were some really tiny, brief allusions to history, but it was dealt with in a way that made me feel as if I should already know it, like it was given in some other book.  There is very little actual personality shown by either Nathan or Alex and what we do see is sometimes contradictory or is such a singular note that it kind of hangs out there all by itself without really tying in to anything else, that it ends up being a nothing kind of thing or just confusing.

Between expecting something more investigative or technically focused, feeling a little lost on the history and the way this had some rather harsh transitions from one plot line (Melanie going missing) to another (the romance between Nathan and Alex) this whole story felt choppy, as though it was missing something to give it a more solid, cohesive feel.  When it was all said and done, I’m not sure I could tell you “This was a romance” or “This was a suspense novel” or really what the focus of this book was, because I don’t think it new what it was supposed to be.  The lack of definition, in the end, left me wondering what the story was actually about, in this really weird way that I am struggling to express.  It wasn’t a story about Alex and what she does.  It wasn’t a story about Nathan being a cop.  It wasn’t about Melanie going missing or the uber famous lab that did some of the forensic work.  But it was, too.  It is as if you have all these story lines, but none are actually the main story, but that they are all side plots.  Like I said, it was just weird.

The story was decent, but it just all felt tossed together, unfinished and just not fully fleshed out.

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The Devil’s Bones: Body Farm, Book 3

The Devil's BonesAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: The Devil’s Bones
Series: Body Farm
Order: #3
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars



Blurb:  A burned car sits on a Tennessee hilltop, a woman’s lifeless, charred body seated inside. Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton’s job is to discover the truth hidden in the fire-desecrated corpse. Was the woman’s death accidental . . . or was she incinerated to cover up her murder?

But his research into the effect of flame on flesh and bone is about to collide with reality like a lit match meeting spilled gasoline. The arrival of a mysterious package–a set of suspiciously unnatural cremated remains–is pulling Brockton toward a nightmare too inhuman to imagine. And an old nemesis is waiting in the shadows to put him to the ultimate test, one that could reduce Brockton’s life to smoldering ruins.

Review:  As book three in this series, this is just as great as the first two.  I have to say after reading all of these so far, I’m absolutely loving the series.  I love the characters that are developing along the way as well.

Bill’s character comes across as this truly genuine guy that is imperfect but still tries to be a decent human being.  All of the supporting characters that seem to be constant, Miranda and Art are much the same.  The humor that gets tossed around amongst them is very much on the corny side, but it is kind of a charming sort of corny that I actually like.  I think it tends to emphasize a bit of the dorky side, especially with Bill’s character, and helps the reader get a strong feel for who he is outside of just his professional expertise.

For this book, I was glad to see a resolution to the Hamilton plot that has spanned the first three books.  It has been excellently written and handled and by resolving it now, it didn’t become a burden to the series, but it got enough time and attention to give it weight and importance. My one teeny, tiny complaint is that there was a somewhat big event in the last book (Bill getting sued by a student), that didn’t get addressed or resolved in that book that I expected to see in this one, but didn’t.  Either I missed it, or it just got glossed over, but it wasn’t mentioned at all so I was a little surprised because it isn’t clear how that got worked out.

Overall, though, another wonderful addition to the series.

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Hollywood Dirt: Alessandra Torre

Hollywood DirtAuthor: Alessandra Torre
Book Name: Hollywood Dirt
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars



Blurb:  Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Move over Colin Farrell, there’s a new bad boy ruling Los Angeles.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year. Other than that… I don’t have too much going on.

We were from different worlds, our lives shouldn’t have collided. But when Cole Masten’s jet landed in our country airport, we all sat up in our rocking chairs and watched. And when an opportunity crossed my path, I jumped at the chance. But I didn’t expect what ended up happening. I didn’t expect Cole Masten to be an ass, or to pursue me, or for everything to get tangled up around set riggings and heartstrings.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.

Review:  Not really sure what I was expecting with this read, something a little deeper maybe, but this wasn’t quite it.

The biggest reason this was only an okay read for me and not even a good one is because I just didn’t like either one of the characters.  Cole is incandescently arrogant and blindly self absorbed.  There really wasn’t anything at all to like about him.  Summer, I think was supposed to be kind of broken with a little attitude tossed on the side, but I struggled to get those two sides to really mesh and ended up feeling more like she walked around on in a one man pity party all the time when she wasn’t looking for ways to make her life lazy.

I’m not a fan of seeing male characters act like jerks and have the females get all melty when they show they actually have a sliver of a human side.  Sorry, I’d much rather just see the human.  There is not excuse to be that kind of a jerk or that self inflated.  I also really don’t like the female characters that are just looking for someone to take care of her and can only see the wallet and the body.  Though, the just seeing the wallet or the body aspect really does go for both the guys and the girls.

Since that is pretty much all that this one had going on, this one just wasn’t all that great for me.

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Fractured: Will Trent, Book 2

FracturedAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Fractured
Series: Will Trent
Order: 2
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars
Blurb:  Ansley Park is one of Atlanta’s most upscale neighborhoods–but in one gleaming mansion, in a teenager’s lavish bedroom, a girl has been savagely murdered. And in the hallway, her mother stands amid shattered glass, having killed her daughter’s attacker with her bare hands. Detective Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is one of the first on the scene. Trent soon sees something that the Atlanta cops are missing, something in the trail of blood, in a matrix of forensic evidence, and in the eyes of the stunned mother. When another teenage girl goes missing, Trent knows that this case, which started in the best of homes, is about to cut quick and deep through the ruins of perfect lives broken wide-open: where human demons emerge with a vengeance.

Review:  Much like the first book in this series, the crime in this book is investigated and solved by people who actually appear to know what they are doing.  One big difference between book one and this one is the fewer character perspectives this was presented in.  I’d say it was probably a plus as we could spend more time focused on the more important characters and not jumping all over the place.  At the same time, I’m not sure this had quite the emotional impact the first book did.

The crime and investigative aspects of this story were really good and I have no complaints in that regard because that was really well written.  My one issue was with the tiny side plot of the romance between Will and Angie.  For one, them suddenly being engaged is a complete 180 from where their relationship was left at the end of the last book and there is no rational explanation for it.  She gave him an STD so now they are getting married?  That makes absolutely no sense what-so-ever.  This is such a small portion of the story.  It really only got a few pages of attention, so that makes it even more confusing because why is it even really necessary?  To underscore how messed up Will is?  That is already abundantly clear and his weirdness really doesn’t need that additional layer.  The relationship between the two characters is so ugly and unhealthy, it makes it incredibly hard to like either character.  The whole thing is beyond strange and awkward.  So much so that if more time and attention were spent on it, I’d quickly start not liking these books.

Because that aspect of the story was so small and got so little page time, it didn’t take away from the rest of the story too much this time.  Instead, the focus was mainly on the believable story of the crime and what Will and Faith, who he is partnered with in this book, do to solve that crime.  I am liking what I’m reading in these books because of how believable they come across.  I am just hoping this series doesn’t go off the rails in some crazy direction.

A Perfect Evil: Maggie O’Dell, Book 1

A Perfect EvilAuthor: Alex Kava
Book Name: A Perfect Evil
Series: Maggie O’Dell
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Romance
Rating:  Okay
2+stars



Blurb:  The brutal murders of three young boys paralyze the citizens of Platte City, Nebraska. What’s worse is the grim realization that the man recently executed for the crimes was a copycat. When Sheriff Nick Morrelli is called to the scene of another grisly murder, it becomes clear that the real predator is still at large, waiting to kill again.

Morrelli understands the urgency of the case terrorizing his community, but it’s the experienced eye of FBI criminal profiler Maggie O’Dell that pinpoints the true nature of the evil behind the killings–a revelation made all the more horrific when Morrelli’s own nephew goes missing.

Maggie understands something else: the killer is enjoying himself, relishing his ability to stay one step ahead of her, making this case more personal by the hour. Because out there, watching, is a killer with a heart of pure and perfect evil.

Review:  It is reasonable to assume that there have been huge changes with regards to investigating and solving crimes between when this book was originally published and now, but basic common sense and police procedure surely wasn’t that inept nearly 10 years ago.  If it was, then I cannot imagine that a single crime was ever solved or that every single person behind bars is innocent.

Every single thing that came up in this with regards to the investigation, how the crime scenes or evidence collection were handled, even just general common sense blew my mind at how utterly unprofessional it all seemed.  Maggie is supposedly a profiler, but she never actually gives the police a profile.  Apparently she has one, because she keeps telling Morrelli how different people don’t fit it, but she never actually presents one.  Morrelli is a joke in every sense of the word.  And in the end, after watching every single thing happen in this book like it is a three stooges act, the killer still isn’t caught and they have lots of circumstantial evidence against lots of other people (who will be getting charged on that thread of evidence) and the killer walks free.

The romantic aspect in this feels just as inappropriate and unprofessional as the job aspect.  Sorry, but a guy that can’t keep it in his pants and is thinking about getting it on, even when his own nephew is kidnapped is crazy.  Maggie, the FBI profiler, getting distracted by the typical jerk jock?  Makes her look like a stupid ditz, not someone who is smart enough to have a high level degree and job like that.

I don’t know that there is a single thing about this book that worked for me, there was so much that was just wrong.  Even if I were to consider some of my issues being irrelevant because of a dated version of crime fighting, this still wasn’t that great.

 

Best Worst Mistake: Brightwater, Book 3

Best Worst MistakeAuthor: Lia Riley
Book Name: Best Worst Mistake
Series: Brightwater
Order: #3
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars



Blurb:  Sometimes the worst mistakes turn out to be the best…

Smoke jumper Wilder Kane once reveled in the rush from putting out dangerous wildfires. But after a tragic accident, he’s cut himself off from the world, refusing to leave his isolated cabin. When a headstrong beauty bursts in, Wilder finds himself craving the fire she ignites in him, but letting anyone near his darkness would be a mistake.

After her Hollywood life went up in smoke, Quinn Higsby decided to leave Tinseltown behind and return to Brightwater to care for her ailing father. She spends her days in a small bookstore, until her peaceful existence is up-ended by a fascinating but damaged man. Quinn is determined not to be scared off by Wilder, not once she’s experienced the heat of his passions.

But when an arsonist targets the community and Wilder is accused, he must confront the ghosts of his past. Will his desire for Quinn burn him up or will he be able to tame the wildness inside and rekindle a hope for their future?

Review:  For a sweet, lighthearted romantic read, this is a decent choice.  If you want something with any substance and depth, you might look elsewhere.

I’m all for lighthearted and sweet when I’m in the mood and this would fit that kind of craving, but there was a level of awkwardness in places that took a lot away from the good.  Scene transitions and skips in the dialog were only a bit on the annoying side, but what really bugged me was the weird conversations during the intimate scenes.  I’ve read some authors that can do conversation and sexy times really well together, but this kept me confused because I couldn’t tell if they were still in the leading up to it moments or if they were actually in the middle of getting it on, which shouldn’t happen.  There is nothing worse to kill a moment than to not actually know you are in the moment.  It was just really fumbly and awkward.

You also get the classic insta-love as the entire period of time this book happens in is about a week and a half, maybe two if you stretch it a bit.  During that incredibly brief period, while our love interests are going through some difficult times, everything is really pretty much all perfect.  He sees her and suddenly all his ugly inside is made all better.  She sees him and all the clouds in her life went bye bye.  Like I said, this was very sweet.  Probably a bit too sweet for me as this just kind of felt like a fluff story.  I guess I just like my sweet to have some substance to go along with it, like straight up sugar vs. dark chocolate and caramel truffles.  I’ll take the truffles, thank you.

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Edge of Black: Dr. Samantha Owens, Book 2

Edge of BlackAuthor: J.T. Ellison
Book Name: Edge of Black
Series: Dr. Samantha Owens
Order: #2
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Rating:  Good
3+stars



Blurb:  Dr. Samantha Owens is starting over: new city, new job, new man, new life. She’s trying to put some distance between herself and the devastating loss of her husband and children–but old hurts leave scars.

Before she’s even unpacked her office at Georgetown University’s forensic pathology department, she’s called to consult on a case that’s rocked the capital and the country. An unknown pathogen released into the Washington Metro has caused nationwide panic. Three people died–just three.

A miracle and a puzzle…

Amid the media frenzy and Homeland Security alarm bells, Sam painstakingly dissects the lives of those three victims and makes an unsettling conclusion. This is no textbook terrorist causing mayhem with broad strokes, but an artist wielding a much finer, more pointed instrument of destruction. An assassin, whose motive is deeply personal and far from understandable.

Xander Whitfield, a former army ranger and Sam’s new boyfriend, knows about seeing the world in shades of gray. About feeling compelled to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Only his disturbing kinship with a killer can lead Sam to the truth…and once more into the line of fire.

Review:  After the first book, this one ended up being a bit of a disappointment in comparison because this jumped into the mostly ridiculous arena with regards to the characters and their jobs.

Sam has gone from being an ME to a teacher after book one, which works and isn’t the issue.  Within a chapter, she is already neck deep in doing not only ME things again, but police investigation, probably even on a level of what should be homeland security or some other alphabet soup kind of a job.  She isn’t any of those things, except the ME.  Outside of a page or two of teaching, she didn’t do any other teaching in this book even though that is what she is supposed to be doing because she couldn’t handle the stress and emotional weight of being an ME any longer.

Then we have Xander, who of course jumps in and goes all lone wolf, not once but twice with his manly man, commando self.  Just because you are ex military, even special forces, does not suddenly make you the only man on the planet that knows what is going on and how to catch the bad guy.  He becomes the cliched one man army, then later drags not only his pacifist dad into an incredibly dangerous situation, but his completely untrained and unqualified girlfriend, too.

Yes, this is a really entertaining and intense read and for the most part, I actually did enjoy the story, but I am just a little tired of characters that are not cops or law enforcement being the only characters in any kind of crime drama book that seem smart enough or capable enough to solve the crimes.  Why even bother having the police if they are that incompetent?  I will accept a certain level of bleed in or cross over in job duties, but the level that it happens in this book is way out there, especially when these characters go and do all this stuff without authorization and there is absolutely no fall out for going against the rules.

Book one did a much better job of keeping the characters within the lines drawn for them than what we see in this book or at least made the reasons for crossing those lines seem more legitimate to where they actually worked.  Not sure if the next book will follow in the path of this book or the first one, but I’m hoping for the first.

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Flesh and Bone: Body Farm, Book 2

Flesh and BoneAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: Flesh and Bone
Series: Body Farm
Order: #2
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars



Blurb:  Anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton founded Tennessee’s world-famous Body Farm–a small piece of land where corpses are left to decay in order to gain important forensic information. Now, in the wake of a shocking crime in nearby Chattanooga, he’s called upon by Jess Carter–the rising star of the state’s medical examiners–to help her unravel a murderous puzzle. But after re-creating the death scene at the Body Farm, Brockton discovers his career, reputation, and life are in dire jeopardy when a second, unexplained corpse appears in the grisly setting.

Accused of a horrific crime–transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah–Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that’s tightening around him . . . and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence.

Review:  It has been hard for me to find a crime drama genre book that I truly like, even though I do love the genre, let alone one that impressed me.  This one did.   Simply because all the things that all those other books do wrong and drive me crazy, this one managed to do right.

The main character, Bill, while incredibly educated and intelligent isn’t the one to do all the work in this to solve the crime.  His character does stick mainly to his expertise and lets others that have their own expertise come in and do their jobs.  The police aren’t idiots.  They may not be perfect and they may not always get it right, but they also don’t always need someone else to do their jobs for them.  On a whole, the situations that go on in this book are so much more realistic and believable than what you so often see in others in this same genre.

Having read the first book in the series, I really kind of knew just from reading the blurb where this would end.  In a way.  I had no clue the path it would take to get there, though, and that kind of hit me in the gut because I really didn’t expect that at all.

I was seriously impressed by the emotional impact of this story.  For me that is kind of huge as I don’t often see a male author get that aspect of a story to ring true enough for me to connect with it.  That is one of the bigger reasons I tend to stay away from male authors, so to be able to get the emotions to resonate as they did in this book is surprising and will definitely keep me coming back to this series as it continues.

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Dead Past: Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation, Book 4

Dead PastAuthor: Beverly Connor
Book Name: Dead Past
Series: Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation
Order: #4
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars



Blurb:  As a child, Juliet Price witnessed the bloody slaying of an entire family. Then the killer chased her down, brutalized her, and left her for dead. The police were never able to find the man responsible. For years, Juliet’s traumatized mind hid the events from her. Then she sees a television show featuring the unsolved cold case, and the horrors come to her in her nightmares. She shares her fears with Diane Fallon, who realizes that Juliet’s shattered visions recall not one, but two intertwined crimes-crimes that Diane intends to uncover.

Review:  If you don’t mind a level of unbelievability and extreme coincidence, then this, like the others in this series, is a decent read, but there is just so much that screams “Yeah, right!” that it is sometimes hard to enjoy the rest of the story.

As the forth book in this series, I’m starting to wonder if this is going the wayside of the cookie cutter, formula writing as this just isn’t really anything new or different than what we got out of the other three books in this series.  As always, Diane is doing way more than just collecting and analyzing evidence.  As always, someone tries to hurt or kill her, multiple times throughout the book.  As always, the police are idiots and Diane knows everything there is to know about pretty much everything and is the one to solve all the different plot threads in the book.

Since I’m not much of a fan of reading the exact same thing with slightly different names and specifics over and over again, this book most likely dropped this series out of my list of potential reads for the future unless I’m just really hurting for something to read.  If you look at the book as a single entity, it is well written and decently interesting so it deserves a rating that reflects that.  But viewed in the context of the rest of the series, there is just nothing to make it stand out, which brings that rating way down.

With Everything I Am: The Three, Book 2

With Everything I AmAuthor: Kristen Ashley
Book Name: With Everything I Am
Series: The Three Series
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars


Blurb:  One night, Callum is driven into the woods by instinct, an instinct to protect. In the form of wolf, he meets a young human child who he is instantly drawn to in a fierce way he doesn’t quite understand.

Sonia Arlington has lived a lonely life. She has certain abilities that make her strange and she has a rare disease that, if untreated, could kill her. Her father makes her vow that she will never let others discover her abilities. This forces Sonia to stay distant, always guarding against exposure.

Intelligence leaks that Sonia is Callum’s human mate. He is now King of the Werewolves and has war on his hands. He’s forced to claim his mate and integrate Sonia into a world that is strange and frightening.

As Sonia attempts to adjust, Callum attempts to cope with the knowledge that his mate is mortal. He will have her beauty and gentleness only the length of a mortal life making their union unbearably bitter even as Sonia makes it unbelievably sweet.

Review:  More often than not, I really enjoy Kristen Ashley, but when I don’t, there are very specific reasons and this book is a classic example of the things I really don’t like about her writing.  If anything, this one is probably the worst offender.

What is classic KA is the alpha male.  In this case, that is literally as Callum is a werewolf.  But there is a gigantic difference between a sexy, bossy alpha male and what essentially amounts to ugly abuse.  Sometimes that line can be thin, but there is a definite line.  KA likes to skirt that line and when she gets too close to it, I don’t usually like those male characters.  For Callum, she went flying over that line with a jet pack.

This book basically states that if you are a female, feel a little different or lonely, that it is okay if the one person that makes you feel less alone treats you like trash and can run roughshod over your feelings, wants and desires.  That it is okay to be treated as an object and set aside when you are not currently in need.  That it is okay to push you into things that you don’t want, but since they make you feel not alone, that it is a privilege to have to put up with the crap to get the not alone.  That is force and coercion and that is not sexy.  It is not romantic.  It is not sweet.  It is ugly.

There is also a very, very thin line when it comes to violent sexual situations.  There can be, if it is handled well and carefully, consensual sexual violence, but is should be dealt with carefully, otherwise it is just violence.  What happens in this book really isn’t dealt with carefully in any way.  It edges in places to being rape, even if Sonia eventually gives in.

It doesn’t matter that there are parts of the romance in this book that are incredibly sweet.  It is like telling the abuser that it is okay that he beat the crap out of his wife because he apologized and gave her flowers afterwards.  Making the arrogant and controlling attitude seem to be a cultural thing in the werewolf community and that it is just a misunderstanding between the different cultures is just a way make something ugly look not so ugly.  You stick flowers in a turd, it is still gong to be a stinking turd.

Unlike so many other KA books, I had a visceral dislike of Callum and found him a truly ugly character, no matter what good parts were tacked onto what is essentially a pretty abuser.  So no, I really did not like this book at all.

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Mirror Sight: Green Rider, Book 5

Mirror SightAuthor: Kristen Britain
Book Name: Mirror Sight
Series: Green Rider
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars


Blurb:  Karigan G’ladheon is a Green Rider—a seasoned member of the elite messenger corps of King Zachary of Sacoridia. King Zachary sends Karigan and a contingent of Sacoridians beyond the edges of his nation, into the mysterious Blackveil Forest, which has been tainted with dark magic by a twisted immortal spirit named Mornhavon the Black.

At the end of Blackveil, in a magical confrontation against Mornhavon, Karigan is jolted out of Blackveil Forest and wakes in darkness. She’s lying on smooth, cold stone, but as she reaches out, she realizes that the stone is not just beneath her, but above and around her as well. She’s landed in a sealed stone sarcophagus, some unknown tomb, and the air is becoming thin.

Is this to be her end? If she escapes, where will she find herself? Is she still in the world she remembers, or has the magical explosion transported her somewhere completely different? To find out, she must first win free of her prison— before it becomes her grave. And should she succeed, will she be walking straight into a trap created by Mornhavon himself?

Review:  To say that this was a disappointment would be a gross understatement.  I’d say that up until this book, the series has been relatively well crafted and interesting with regards to character and world building.  With this book, it seems as if all that work got hit with a giant eraser and tossed in the trash.  It honestly felt like I’d picked up a book by another author entirely with the subject in a completely different genre.  This book fit so poorly into the rest of the series that it just never should have been written.

There had been points in previous books where the main character, Karigan, had jumped around in time and that had been decently done, though time travel is not even remotely something I enjoy reading.  This entire book was out of time with the rest of the series, instead of just being a minor point along a larger thread, which is not what this series had originally been based on.

Not only is the entire book out of the timeline of the series, but the only character you actually get to see really is Karigan.  The rest are entirely new.  As I said, it was like reading a completely different series.  What made it worse is that even the Karigan we have come to know through this series isn’t the one we saw in this book.  The self assured, strong woman from previous books becomes this utterly weak and powerless creature that has to rely on everyone around her and she trusts in places that her previous character never would have.  It also strikes me as untrue to her character that in 4 books, she never got really romantically involved outside of her feelings for Zachary, definitely not enough to form a physical relationship with someone, but in book 5 she suddenly becomes a twitty little lust muffin.  So much so that she is oblivious to what is going on around her.

Tack on to all of that ridiculousness the fact that, in the end, the entire story was pretty useless to the rest of the series because, having gone forward and then back, that future never actually happens.  Every single bit of this story, as painfully slow and uninteresting as it already was (did not have anything even remotely exciting happen until about 60% and then it got dull again until almost the end) has zero actual impact on this series outside of a very few minor details that could help the realm in the upcoming battle, if that even happens at all now.  It would have been much better handled as a glimpse of precognition and then move on to more important things rather than an entire book dedicated to something that essentially gets erased.  It is a waste of a read.

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Blackveil: Green Rider, Book 4

BlackveilAuthor: Kristen Britain
Book Name: Blackveil
Series: Green Rider
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars


Blurb:  Karigan G’ladheon is a Green Rider—a seasoned member of the elite messenger corps of King Zachary of Sacoridia. But Karigan is no ordinary Rider, for she was able to transport the evil spirit of Mornhavon into the future, though no one knows how far he has been sent. During this window of relative safety, King Zachary decides to send Karigan and a small contingent of scouts, accompanied by a small group of Eletians—a magical race who once lived in the lands now tainted by Mornhavon’s magic—into Blackveil Forest.

Though Mornhavon is gone, the forest is still a treacherous place filled with monstrous creatures and deadly traps. And unbeknownst to the band of Eletians and Sacoridians, another small group has entered the forest—Arcosian descendants who have kept Mornhavon’s dark magic alive in secret for centuries, and who now plan to avenge their long ago defeat by bringing Sacoridia to its knees. Blackveil is the fourth novel of the acclaimed Green Rider series.

Review:  This is going to be rather short and sweet.  Like the last book, there were places where this slowed down a bit and started to kind of drag on.  This also started to get more into deeper court intrigue and political plays, which isn’t my favorite.

Other than those things, I did really like this.  Until I hit the end.  Major, ugly cliffhanger, which I really do not like at all.  This hasn’t been a series that has done that up to this point so that was a big disappointment.  All I can say is that I’m seriously glad that the next book was already available so I could jump right in where I left off.  This is still a 4 star book, but if this is any indication of where this is going to go from here on out as a series, I’m not sure the other books are going to be able to hold on to that rating.

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The High King’s Tomb: Green Rider, Book 3

The High King's TombAuthor: Kristen Britain
Book Name: The High King’s Tomb
Series: Green Rider
Order: #3
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars


Blurb:  More than a thousand years ago the armies of the Arcosian Empire, led by Mornhavon the Black, crossed the great sea and tried to conquer the land of Sacoridia using terrible dark magic. Eventually Mornhavon had been captured, and his evil spirit imprisoned in Blackveil Forest, protected by the mighty D’Yer Wall; and in the centuries since the war’s end, knowledge of the working of magic had disappeared from Sacoridia.

Karigan G’ladheon was now a seasoned Green Rider—a member of the magical messenger corps of the king. But during her first year as a Rider, a rogue magician had cracked the D’Yer Wall. The spirit of Mornhavon, sensing the weakness, had begun to wake, seeking vengeance. Karigan had managed to transport the spirit of Mornhavon into the future, buying valuable time for her king and country. But how far in the future was Mornhavon now? There was no way to tell.

And though Karigan and her fellow Riders scoured the land searching for lost magical knowledge, they were unaware of a threat to their kingdom that lay far closer: the descendants of ancient enemies had spent generations honing their powers of dark magic—a force against which the Sacoridians had no defense.

Review:  It took a little longer for things to start really going in this book, at least for Karigan.  Once it did, though, things really took off.  Despite the slowish start, this was just as good as the other two books in the series.

Karigan’s character does a whole lot of growing up in this book, having to face the fact that life isn’t always what you wanted it to be, nor are the people in it.  She still has her moments that show a less mature side, but that is part of the growing up process.  It doesn’t happen instantly.

We see a side of Estora in this that I wasn’t a huge fan of.  She seems to get wrapped up in herself and her own desires an awful lot, not taking into consideration the impact that might have outside of herself and that doesn’t bode well for a future queen.  At one point, I thought she was also going to undergo a forced maturation by being tossed into the fires of real life.  There were definite indications that she was also being forced to see many of the same lessons that Karigan was, but towards the very end, we kind of see that same attitude from the beginning of the book peak back out so it is hard to tell if those lessons stuck.

I’m conflicted as to how I feel about Karigan’s relationship with the king.  So many times, especially in fantasy, when you have an impossible to come to fruition romance because of class lines between nobility and commoner, you usually end up getting some solution that ends up allowing those characters to come together.  Most of the time it is some discovery of some previously unknown heritage getting revealed so that the commoner isn’t so common after all.  Whatever it is, it is usually one of those way too perfect to be believable situations.  So far, this hasn’t happened in this series and I’m not sure that I want it to.  I also don’t want there to be a new potential romantic interest for Karigan in every other book or so.  I’m anxious to see if this is going to continue to be really good or if it is going to start going off the rails into the ridiculous.  I’m leaning towards the really good, so I’m really interested to see how that is managed and what direction the story is going to take from here.

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Triptych: Will Trent, Book 1

TriptychAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Triptych
Series: Will Trent
Order: 1
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars
Blurb:  From Atlanta’s wealthiest suburbs to its stark inner-city housing projects, a killer has crossed the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries, too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread–and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael’ s lover before she became his enemy. But unbeknownst to both of them, another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer’s trail in the most coincidental of ways–and who may be the key to breaking the case wide open.

Review:  Following what appears to be something of a pattern in the crime drama genre, we get this story from a wide variety of perspectives.  Interestingly, though, none from the victims.  I was a bit surprised when I read the blurb that the person this series is named after wasn’t even mentioned.  Probably because he isn’t the focus character in this book.  Will is a part of it, but really kind of isn’t the star of the show.

I’ll say absolutely that I liked this and that I thought it was really good, but I did have a few issues.  Sometimes having that many perspectives going on can be a bit too much.  It is really easy to miss out on details when you are jumping all over the place.  There were a couple of times that I thought I ran into errors with a couple of facts along the way, but they were pretty minor in the overall so I didn’t take the time to dig to be sure.

There were a couple of times where I was frustrated when a character meant to talk about something with another character that would have opened up the plot more, but then doesn’t get around to it.  It is one way to write a story and build up the suspense, but it does sometimes take away from the story a bit if it is overused.  This came close.

Since I’m not a cop, have never been a cop or ever known one or what procedures are in different situations, I don’t know this for a fact, but it sure does seem like there are quite a few places where fiction may be playing fast and loose with fact in this one.  Same thing with the legal/trial procedure end of things.  This is another thing that came pretty close to being just too much without ever actually crossing over that line into the ridiculous.

I didn’t feel as though Will got enough page time for a reader to get to know him as much as we probably should in the first book in a series.  I think I was more emotionally connected to John and learned more about and understood most all of the other characters than I did Will.  Hopefully that will be rectified in future books.

While I did have those few issues, and they were few, but they were just enough to keep this from getting a 5.

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Closer Than You Think: Cincinnati, Book 1

CloserThanYouThinkAuthor: Karen Rose
Book Name: Closer Than You Think
Series: Cincinnati
Order: 1
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars
Blurb:  Psychologist Faith Corcoran is desperate to escape the stalker who’s made her life a nightmare for the past year—desperate enough to run to the one place that has been her nightmare far longer. Both boon and bane, her recent inheritance of her grandmother’s old house in Cincinnati offers sanctuary in which she can start her life anew, but requires that she face the dark memories that still resonate to this day.

But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are.

Two college girls have gone missing in the area, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work on the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for. Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. Reaching back decades into Faith’s own past, it will shatter everything she believes to be true and will give terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.

Review:  I really loved the characters in this.  Faith is genuine, intelligent and easy to connect with.  Deacon is just cool.  I liked him from the moment he stepped onto the page flaunting his uniqueness in a way that makes it work for him and not so much against him.  I definitely liked them together.

You do get a touch of the instant attraction thing going on here, but it is in one of the very few situations where it works.  When you are thrown together into intensely emotional, life and death kinds of situations, you tend to get to know a person’s character pretty quickly and that is the case with this book.  Spending nearly every waking second together while going through all of that, it is kind of impossible not to know the person you are spending that time with, so this is the exception to the rule with the insta-romance thing.

This was seriously intense, with bodies dropping left and right.  Normally, I’d be screaming that it is way too much, but again, this is an example of how you do that right.  There is a lot going on.  There appear to be some pretty crazy coincidences going on that wouldn’t be believable under other circumstances, but once you get into it, you realize that all of that isn’t so crazy after all.

Love the fact that this is resolved with hard work, smarts and teamwork.  No one person is the big hero doing all the heavy lifting.  It is incredibly well balanced.  What we figure out isn’t given to us in a giant reveal.  It is doled out in bits and pieces along the way which is exactly the way I like it.

Heat Exchange: Boston Fire, Book 1

Heat ExchangeAuthor: Shannon Stacey
Book Name: Heat Exchange
Series: Boston Fire
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars



Blurb:  Lydia Kincaid’s shipping back to Boston, but she’s not happy about it. She left to get away from the firefighting community–her father was a firefighter, her brother’s a firefighter and, more importantly, her ex is a firefighter. But family is number one and her father needs her help running the pub he bought when he retired. Soon, Lydia finds it hard to resist the familiar comfort and routine, and even harder to resist her brother’s handsome friend Aidan.

Aidan Hunt is a firefighter because of the Kincaid family. He’s had the hots for Lydia for years, but if ever a woman was off-limits to him it’s her. Aside from being his mentor’s daughter, she’s his best friend’s sister. The ex-wife of a fellow firefighter. But his plan to play it cool until she leaves town again fails, and soon he and Lydia have crossed a line they can’t un-cross.

As Aidan and Lydia’s flirtation turns into something more serious, Lydia knows she should be planning her escape. Being a firefighter’s wife was the hardest thing she’s ever done and she doesn’t know if she has the strength to do it again. Aidan can’t imagine walking away from Boston Fire–even for Lydia. The job and the brotherhood are his life; but if he wants Lydia in it, he’ll have to decide who’s first in his heart.

Review:  I’m not sure if it was that I just wasn’t in the mood or if I’m getting too old to think that some of this kind of stuff is sexy or romantic, but so much of this just felt a bit too middle school for my tastes and I just wanted to yell at everyone to grow the hell up already.

The idea that you have to keep your relationship secret when everyone involved are supposedly mature, rational adults just didn’t do it for me.  Then, when the secret finally gets let out, the adult men end up like school yard idiots beating each other up.  These are not the makings for a mature relationship.

I also couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that every single family mentioned in this book was seriously messed up.  Not only that, but that it was okay that those families were messed up, treated each other like crap and yet the not messed up members of the family kept coming back for yet another emotional beat down.  I don’t see it as noble or grand for a person to take care of or continue to participate with a family that is horrible.  I see it as a form of self flagellation and that isn’t an appealing trait.

The main female character and her family were nearly as bad.  When you combine that with the fact that she is so wishy washy on getting involved with another fireman drove me a bit nuts.  Either accept that you have feelings for someone that might live in a way that could be difficult for you and deal with it or be willing to draw the hard line on what may not be an emotionally healthy relationship for you.  There is nothing wrong with the fact that some people just don’t have what it takes to be in a relationship with someone that has a highly risky job, but have the guts to own that you may be one of those people.  Oh, but it isn’t even the risky job that is the issue, it is the fact that Lydia wants to be a priority and come first.  Again, that is fine, but open the mouth and have the words come out to have that conversation rather than expecting someone else to read your mind and just do and be what you want them to be.

Maybe it is a combination of too old and not in the mood because, while this was okay, it just wasn’t that great.

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