Book Review: The First Mistake – Sandie Jones

Author: Sandie Jones
Book Name: The First Mistake
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Overall SPA: 2 Stars
2 Stars




THE WIFE: For Alice, life has never been better. With her second husband, she has a successful business, two children, and a beautiful house.

HER HUSBAND: Alice knows that life could have been different if her first husband had lived, but Nathan’s arrival into her life gave her back the happiness she craved.

HER BEST FRIEND: Through the ups and downs of life, from celebratory nights out to comforting each other through loss, Alice knows that with her best friend Beth by her side, they can survive anything together. So when Nathan starts acting strangely, Alice turns to Beth for help. But soon, Alice begins to wonder whether her trust has been misplaced . . .

The first mistake could be her last.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2.5/5 Stars
Believability: 2/5 Stars
Peeve Factor: 2/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 2/5 Stars

This book was told in three separate parts. The first part is the present with Alice. The second was from Beth’s perspective of her history. The final part is back in the present.

Part one of this book was interesting, but I didn’t get very far into that before I was already getting a pretty strong impression of where this was going. Nor did I get very far before Beth became annoying. I was still mostly enjoying this by the time I got to part 2. Alice came across as sympathetic at this point and I was interested in how her story was going to play out.

The second part with Beth didn’t do a thing to make me feel any better for her. This is where the story starts bouncing on my peeve button because Beth’s character starts shouting that she wants to be that Too Stupid To Live kind of character, being oblivious to things that are insanely obvious to the reader. While you do get a few bits and pieces that are essential to the overall story, the majority of this part of the book dragged for me and I was anxious to get to a point where it felt like the story was progressing.

The final part is noted as being both Alice and Beth but you only get it from Alice’s perspective. While you get a little bit of an unexpected twist in here, the overall end game is what was given away in the first part of the story. That end game was also incredibly and inexplicably convoluted. There was no reason for the setup other than to create drama and just didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The reasons behind the various motivations and character actions, given in an overly dramatic info dump, were completely unbelievable and based entirely on petty cruel motives that just seemed unbelievable.

By this point, Alice has also fallen into that TSTL category that Beth owned earlier in the story. I had a couple of moments as parts of her story were revealed where I couldn’t help but think “Really? THAT is how this is being played? WHY?” Mostly because it turned what was a decent story into one that really wasn’t anymore.

And for the final note to make this not a book I could enjoy, it had to end in a really, unnecessarily ridiculous way that was completely unsatisfying as so much was left just hanging out in the open, which is a rather big peeve of mine. While I don’t always need everything perfectly tied up, I cannot stand vague, especially when it is intentionally vague and only for the purpose of attempting to create a high level of drama that doesn’t do a thing for the story.

When it is all said and done, this fell between the okay and didn’t like range for me.

Other areas of note (not included in the SPA rating):

Cover: 3/5 Stars
This is getting only a 3 star mention because, while it is an attractive cover, it really has no relation to the story itself. The images of the broken apart pieces of roses evokes a sense of a broken relationship which isn’t what the bulk of this story is about. That is also a little offset by the bright colors, so you lose the feeling you should get of this being a darker story. For me this cover has more a feeling of sadness rather than the actual emotions this story is designed to generate, so I don’t feel like it fits the book all that well.



Book Review: Chasing Shadows, South Shores – Book 1

Author: Karen Harper
Book Name: Chasing Shadows
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Series: South Shores
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Overall SPA: 2 Stars
2 Stars



Blurb: The dead still talk if you know how to listen… 

Every case that Claire Britten cracks is a win, not only professionally but personally. The forensic psychologist has spent a lifetime fighting a neurological disorder, and her ability to conquer it is a testament to her razor-sharp intuition.

Nick Markwood is used to winning in the courtroom, so when his latest case is overthrown by Claire’s expert testimony, he can’t help being impressed by her skill. He needs her on the team of his passion project—investigating unusual cases involving mysterious deaths. Her condition doesn’t deter him, and neither does the attraction that sparks between them…even if it should.

As they join forces to investigate a murder in St. Augustine, Florida, Claire is thrust into a situation far more dangerous than she’d anticipated, pushing her disorder to a breaking point. Just when she fears she can’t trust her own mind, she discovers Nick’s personal connection to the case—and wonders whether she can trust anyone at all.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2/5 Stars
Believability: 2/5 Stars
Peeve Factor: 2/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 2/5 Stars
While reading this, I was smacked repeatedly with the lack of believably, both in the plot and the characters. You kind of get hit over the head with the abundance of truly ignorant characters. This is made worse when the main characters, those that are supposed to be professional, at least in some capacity, come across as though they are completely incompetent and ignorant. I’m not sure a single character wasn’t one of those Too Stupid To Live types, unless you count the child prop that is Claire’s daughter.

There are only so many times you can turn a character that is a potential suspect in a crime into someone that is worthy of suspicion and then attempt to twist them back into being obviously innocent before then going back to being suspicious before you stop being clever and just become annoying. And yet, every single character was both suspicious and obviously innocent numerous times throughout this book.

While all of those did a fun little jig on my peeve button, I was still resigned to finish this on a relatively decent note of being okay with this book. But what was an oddly placed side plot line got yanked at the last minute and turned this into utter ridiculousness. Not only are you given one hell of a cliffhanger, and one that is completely unrelated to the majority of the plot for this book (an attempt to drag readers into other books in this series), but you are given one hell of a level of crazy, over the top, unbelievable “what the hell?” kind of stupid. Sorry, but it was just way too much and pushed me straight into the “Nope!” range for me.

If you are okay with extreme levels of totally unrealistic (as in the author didn’t do much to make the reader believe the story), clumsy and unprofessional behavior from supposedly professional characters, hints at a really odd and potentially abusive love triangle, slightly clunky dialog, side characters that have zero set personality, or you are one of those people that loves the really bad scary movies so you can yell at the dumb characters, then this may be the book for you. If not… might want to skip this one.