Death By Chocolate

As my boys have gotten older they no longer think a fun or cool cake is the thing for birthdays as much.  Instead they lean more towards “What I like to eat the best”, and that is usually not cake at all.  For Middle Child’s birthday this year, he chose Death By Chocolate.  Again.  Continue reading “Death By Chocolate”

Welcome to Forever: A Hero’s Welcome, Book 1

Welcome To ForeverAuthor: Annie Rains
Book Name: Welcome to Forever
Series: A Hero’s Welcome
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  In Seaside, North Carolina, there are two kinds of people: Marines, and kids of Marines. Then there’s Kat Chandler. Recently hired as the principal of Seaside Elementary, Kat makes it her mission to turn the school into a place of peace and calm. That’s not going to be easy with hard-liner parents like Micah Peterson storming in, telling her how to do her job–and then kissing her with those gorgeous lips of his and turning her brain into mush.

As a Marine Sergeant and a single dad, Micah Peterson has just two priorities: doing his job better than anyone else, and getting the absolute best for his son, Ben. But when he meets Ben’s beautiful new principal, a different yearning shifts into focus. He wants her, sure, but he’s also moved by the connection Kat forges with her students. So after learning that she refuses to date Marines, Micah sets two more objectives: convincing Kat to give him a chance . . . and then holding on to her forever.

Review:  This was a sweet, lighthearted read with lots of feel good parts and likable characters.  I’m just not sure that there was really all that much to really differentiate it from a whole host of other romance novels out there.  It didn’t grab me emotionally and drag me on a journey through the story, it was just a nice, entertaining story.

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Silent Scream: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 1

Silent ScreamAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Silent Scream
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever…

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

 

Review:  I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  So many times, I struggle with British writing because there is often enough of a cultural difference, both in the quirks and phrases used as well as presenting the subject matter in a rather dry way, that I don’t often like them.  While I did run into a few issues of just not knowing a particular term here and there, none of the other issues that I’ve found with other authors seemed to really be a problem here and I ended up really liking this one.  The biggest issue I did have was that I’m not even remotely familiar with British police procedures and norms, so it was, at times, a little difficult to determine believability and is the only reason this didn’t get a higher rating.

I did really enjoy the many layers and threads running through this story and it kept me interested all the way through.  It was complex and a little challenging to follow without being overly convoluted.  I liked Kim’s character and the fact that she is a female authority but doesn’t step into that stereotypical ball buster role that so many women in any position of power tend to get shoved.  She still has all kinds of attitude, but it isn’t an ugly or vindictive one, just spunky with an interesting personality.

 

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Whispers: Lisa Jackson

WhispersAuthor: Lisa Jackson
Book Name: Whispers
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:   When Voices In The Night Become Whispers. . .

In the chill of an Oregon night, a man plunges to his death. Another vanishes without a trace. A third drowns in the murky waters of a quiet lake. Alone in the dark, a ruthless killer is certain that every loose end has been cut, every enemy silenced except one. . .

Be Afraid. . .

It’s been sixteen years since Claire St. John fled in terror from her family’s home on Lake Arrowhead. Sixteen years since her fiancé’s tragic death and the shocking secret she promised never to reveal to anyone. But that was before journalist Kane Moran began probing the mystery of that horrible night, turning a light on the darkest corners of Claire’s life, exposing her once again to a cold-blooded murderer’s vicious fury. . .

Be Very Afraid. . .

Now, as Claire returns home to face a past she’s tried to forget, another body is unearthed, revealing the twisted nature of a killer who is ready at last to make Claire pay the ultimate price…

Review: I wasn’t a big fan of this one.  It started out decent and then shifted time perspective and for a good 1/3 of the book, you are basically reading a young adult book with some pretty messed up teen drama and sex, which I seriously am just not interested in, before jumping back to the present.  The whole book is really just about some convoluted, twisted and unhealthy relationships, most of which really struggle to ring true even through the lens of teenage ignorance and intensity.

Just like the relationships in this, the story line is twisted and convoluted as well.  Pretty early on, you kind of figure out who the bad guy is, then get a few misdirection threads tossed in so you question it, but when it is all said and done, those first impressions prove true, in a much more messed up way than your originally thought.  That part isn’t bad, but it is all just a bit too over the top for my tastes, especially when mixed with stereotypical spoiled, entitled teens and other side of the tracks bad boys for the underdog.

This just isn’t the kind of story I really enjoy.  I can’t say that it is badly written or that it isn’t worth the read as others may really enjoy it, but it just isn’t my thing.

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Past Cake Projects

I’m getting ready to head into what I consider cake season as all of my kids birthdays fall over the next couple of months.  Sadly, the two oldest no longer want a “cool” cake that I can get really creative with, so I may end up only actually doing my daughter’s cake, which she never fails to push me to top the previous year. Continue reading “Past Cake Projects”

Bones of Betrayal: Body Farm, Book 4

Bones of BetrayalAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: Bones of Betrayal
Series: Body Farm
Order: #4
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Dr. Bill Brockton is in the middle of a nuclear-terrorism disaster drill when he receives an urgent call from the nearby town of Oak Ridge — better known as Atomic City, home of the Bomb, and the key site for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Although more than sixty years have passed, could repercussions from that dangerous time still be felt today?

With his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady, Brockton hastens to the death scene, where they find a body frozen facedown in a swimming pool behind a historic, crumbling hotel. The forensic detectives identify the victim as Dr. Leonard Novak, a renowned physicist and designer of a plutonium reactor integral to the Manhattan Project. They also discover that he didn’t drown: he died from a searing dose of radioactivity.

As that same peril threatens the medical examiner and even Miranda, Brockton enlists the help of a beautiful, enigmatic librarian to peel back the layers of Novak’s life to the secret at its core. The physicist’s house and personal life yield few clues beyond a faded roll of undeveloped film, but everything changes when Brockton chances upon Novak’s ninety-year-old ex-wife, Beatrice. Charming and utterly unreliable, she takes him on a trip back into Oak Ridge’s wartime past, deep into the shadows of the nuclear race where things were not quite as they seemed.

As Beatrice drifts between lucidity and dementia, Brockton wonders if her stories are fact or fancy, history or myth. But he knows one thing — that she holds the key to a mystery that is becoming increasingly labyrinthine. For as the radiation count steadily rises, and the race to find the truth intensifies, the old woman’s tales hint at something far darker and more complex than the forensic anthropologist himself could have ever imagined.

Review:  This one was missing much of what I have found I really love in the Body Farm books.  The dorky humor was there, but it sort of fell flat this time.  We had almost no actual forensic work or science in this at all and it was a bit on the dull side to me.

I think the biggest problem and why so much of those things are missing is because this is more of a history on the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb, the culture of Oak Ridge and very little else.  Bill’s part and his participation in this entire story never made any logical sense to me outside of discovering the older body and working with those remains, which again, was a tiny part of the overall story.  Even the revelation of the bad guys was really off in this one, with little to no science or police work really being how those bad guys got found out.

What is there is as well written as any other Body Farm book, but it is just way outside of my sphere of interest and isn’t at the level I’ve come to expect from these books.  It comes very close to skirting the border of what I dislike most with many books in this genre by having Bill being and doing things well outside of his sphere of expertise and being in places and talking to people he has no reason to professionally.  At least in other books, it has been made to work in ways when he may fall close to that kind of behavior to make those situations believable.  It just wasn’t here.

This is by far my least favorite of the series so far and I’m hoping that this isn’t an indication of where the series is going from here.

Troubled Waters: Elemental Blessings, Book 1

Troubled WatersAuthor: Sharon Shinn
Book Name: Troubled Waters
Series: Elemental Blessings
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood—and the secrets of the royal family—she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.

Review:  While I did like this, it just seemed to take forever to actually get anywhere or to have anything truly interesting happen.  When things did start to happen, it was really good, but a huge part of this book dragged on with a large portion of the book dedicated to Zoe shopping and not nearly enough dedicated to the parts that got pointed out in the blurb.  It took until nearly the 30% point before any real hint that she held any actual mystical power was indicated and then nearly 60% before she actually actively uses it.  Considering those really are the best parts of the book and outside of a handful of times that really only occur in the second half, not much else actually happens.

I was torn on trying to figure out where to rate this because I did really enjoy parts of it, but it was just so incredibly slow that it brings it down quite a bit.  I’ve got the next one in this series on my list and am hoping to find that one to be a bit better than this one.

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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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