Close To Home: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 5

Author: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: Close To Home
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 5
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

While investigating the hit-and-run death of a young boy, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite makes a startling discovery: the suspect is an active-duty serviceman at a local naval base. After a key piece of case evidence goes missing, he is cleared of charges in a military court. But Tracy knows she can’t turn her back on this kind of injustice.

When she uncovers the driver’s ties to a rash of recent heroin overdoses in the city, she realizes that this isn’t just a case of the military protecting its own. It runs much deeper than that, and the accused wasn’t acting alone. For Tracy, it’s all hitting very close to home.

As Tracy moves closer to uncovering the truth behind this insidious conspiracy, she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

And there is my wall. Dammit! I was really hoping this author could pull it off and keep me going with a series, but this one fell down for me. I was actually kind of bored until about the 60% mark, which is a bit of a shock after how well I’ve liked the other books.

The biggest issue I had with this book was it felt horribly repetitive. It kept going over and over the exact same information on the case again and again. Once we are presented with something during the reveal of the crime, we don’t need it then talked about again in detail, then presented in court with the same level of detail and then talked about again between different characters, IN DETAIL. If you remove all the times the same stuff was presented here you would have a decent book that was about one third of this.

I’m also seeing a trend with the character or setting descriptions throughout the series. I get that you want to be able to say each book is a stand alone, but for readers that have been reading the series, we don’t need the… wait for it… exact same details (see a pattern there?) and descriptions every time one of those secondary characters or locations come into play again, especially when you see those same characters in nearly every book, sometimes more than once.

This also reached my max believability meter with the main character, yet again, being put in a life or death situation. EVERY BOOK. I’ve been able to swallow it because the author made the scenarios believable enough to work (mostly) up until this point, though I was pushed in the last one a bit. This time, the situation was just over the top ridiculous.

The finial part that dropped my rating way down on this one was the overly PSA/preachy feel to it. It was like reading medical journal article on opioids, addiction and their history. It was made worse by the blatant regurgitation of the popular, but false, belief that pot is a gateway drug. While I actually enjoy learning something new that I’d never run across before, I don’t need to be preached to or have your personal opinion pushed down my throat. It is one way to have a character have certain beliefs or a stance as that makes it part of that character, but to work it in as general facts in the book is preaching.

So, no. I wasn’t much of a fan of this one and that is just disappointing.

Say You’re Sorry: Morgan Dane, Book 1

Say You're SorryAuthor: Melinda Leigh
Book Name: Say You’re Sorry
Series: Morgan Dane
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime, Romance
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.

I think that this book is a good example of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” There are so many sub-plots and side-plots, you nearly need a flow chart to remember which characters are which and who is doing what and to follow along. A few of those don’t ever even get fleshed out, so serve no real purpose.

I JUST wrote in another review about how it drives me crazy if an author puts their main character in life or death peril over and over again throughout the series, making it completely unrealistic and unbelievable. This book takes it to a whole other level, putting the main character, Morgan, in peril in what seems like nearly every other chapter. I’m talking full on gun in her face, getting shot at, knife at her throat, life threatening peril. If this were some sort of a combat drama, maybe that would work, but this isn’t. And this is only book one of a series featuring this same main character?

While there were parts of this that I really enjoyed, it was a bit too much and why this is only an okay/good book for me. I don’t know if there was enough that I liked about this to make me pick up the second book.

Someone to Call My Own: Road to Blissville, Book 2

Someone to Cal lMy OwnAuthor: Aimee Nicole Walker
Book Name: Someone to Call My Own
Series: Road to Blissville
Order: 2
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Psychic Emory Jackson and former black ops specialist Jonathon Silver are men from two completely different worlds with one thing in common: heartbreak. Emory still mourns the loss of his husband five years prior, and Jon is reeling with grief from the recent death of his twin brother.

Sparks fly when mutual friends introduce them, but it’s so much more than basic attraction. There’s an undeniable awareness and a sense of belonging that neither man can deny. Despite Emory’s premonition of a future with Jon, he has vowed never to love again. Jon is convinced that his tainted soul is the reason he will never have someone to call his own. What if they’re both wrong?

Maybe these broken men with their jagged edges could somehow align perfectly to form something whole and beautiful. But will that realization come too late for them?

This was on the disappointing side. Having read all the books in the Curl Up and Dye series and loved them, I had high expectations for this series since it is set in the same world with lots of run ins from the characters in that series. Sadly, with the second installment in The Road to Blissville series, it just doesn’t measure up.

My first issue is that there are so many overlaps between the story lines in the Curl Up and Dye series that there is a good chunk of events and information in this book that I’d already read in that series. I think in this case, you just might be better off if you haven’t read the other series first. For me, that made the first third of this book seem to drag because I needed something new (kind of the point in picking up a new book).

The other is probably more of a personal taste issue, but I strongly dislike stories with this concept of fated mates where the people have no choice. Don’t get me wrong. I love all kinds of things that run to the paranormal and I don’t even mind the general concept of fate, but when it is pushed to the point where it feels like all choice is taken away and it doesn’t matter how a character feels about it, that is just the way it is going to be, I lose any kind of connection to the story. It pushes boundaries for me that are distasteful to me. This pushed those boundaries.

Because of how unwelcoming both characters felt about this relationship, it made it even harder for me to believe anything that happens emotionally, especially when you are suddenly getting the “I love you” bombs dropped and they know absolutely nothing about each other. When you have absolutely nothing to base those feelings on, I cannot find any realism in them. It just does not work at all for me.

There was so much energy and character and fun in the Curl Up and Dye series that this book (and the first one in this same series) is lacking. I was expecting at least a few touches of the same here, but you never get it. That is also a part of why this only rated as okay for me. I was just expecting more.

 

 

 

Silent Child: Sarah A. Denzil

Silent ChildAuthor: Sarah A. Denzil
Book Name: Silent Child
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.

His body was never recovered.

Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…

… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

I need to preface this by saying that this book was really well written. The lower rating is only because of my personal tastes.

A good portion of this book was intriguing and kept me interested. Then, somewhere along the way, things started to just get to be too much for me to swallow. There were so many different things going on, so many different motivations for different acts and so many of the characters end up being horrible on so many different levels. It is impossible to express the degree to which this was over the top, the characters that drove me crazy and why, without giving anything away.

When a story becomes so convoluted you can hardly follow, it doesn’t work for me. I was disappointed that this became that kind of a story because I loved the premise. I just do not like crazy, twisted, totally unrealistic solutions to a story.

The Weight of Lies: Emily Carpenter

The Weight of LiesAuthor: Emily Carpenter
Book Name: The Weight of Lies
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

This was… strange. There were so many things going on and the sideline parts of the book “Kitten” at times made this difficult to follow. I think this was well written and I could never predict what was going to happen, but there was just so much that ended up being ridiculously over the top, I think it became too much.

It wasn’t awful and if you like some weird creepy in your stories, this may be worth it. I’m just not usually a fan of overblown, beyond twisted plot lines.

The Forgotten: Linda S. Prather

The ForgottenAuthor: Linda S. Prather
Book Name: The Forgotten
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Loki Redmond is positive her grandfather’s 100 acre farm in Mississippi will be the perfect place for Jake Savior to heal after the murder of his wife and his banishment from law enforcement before they begin their partnership in Redmond Private Investigations.

But fate has other plans.

The discovery of a month old baby and young girl with no memory of her name, running from a man she calls The Devil, plunges them into danger. Loki’s Native American connection to the spirits makes her a target for the delusions of a madman who is determined to kill her.

Tension continues to rise when a special unit of the FBI enters the case, and Jake is forced to decide what he believes in. Can he change the future seen by Special Agent Brian Wilkes, or is Loki destined to die?

By chapter 3, I had to put this down and go back and research through whatever I could find to see if I had somehow missed the fact that this was actually a book that landed square in the middle of an existing series, but I never found anything that alluded to that being the case. So, that said, I was confused and frustrated because it was written in a way that EVERY character had huge amounts of back story that the reader is never privy to, and there are a ton of characters in this book. So many, that it was at times confusing. In a book that IS in the middle of a series, that fact wouldn’t be an issue, but because this was a standalone, it made it incredibly difficult to understand or connect with the characters.

Outside of my issues with the lack of backstory and info on the characters was the fact that the story just seemed so incredibly unbelievable. I generally love books that bring a paranormal element into the story, but a story that is set in what is apparently a normal world rather than a paranormal one, it was so not believable that so many of the characters had special abilities. I would have even been willing to buy a special division in the FBI having a group, but to then throw in several other characters that just so happened to also have abilities stretched my ability to believe too far, especially when there is no rationale provided for the clustering.

The other big issue I had was with the multitude of weird, random other potential plot lines that didn’t really have anything at all to do with this book. Some of which are really the back story issues and others were just tossed out there with no real impact on the plot of THIS story. There was one with Rosie, one with Jules, one with Jake and Loki, one with Teresa… I think I lost track after a while as it became difficult to determine what was important and what wasn’t. My guess is these are groundwork for more books, but again, I’ve seen no mention of any other books, past or future.

While I just really wasn’t a fan, I think the writing was well done. If this had truly been in a series or connected to other books to where I had the chance to get to the know the characters without them popping up, fully formed in the middle of nothingness, I think I would have been better able to connect with the characters. Same thing with some of the scenarios. If there had been some believable rationale attached that made the situations more believable, I think I would have liked this a whole lot more and is probably the only reason I didn’t give this a straight up didn’t like rating.

On a non-book related note, if you are an author and have a website, you really should have at least one location where you list, oh, I don’t know? The books you have written? Apparently, lack of rationale extends in all directions.

Looking In: Michael Bailey

Looking InAuthor: Michael Bailey
Book Name: Looking In
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: David Barrows world fell apart at the age of eleven after his mother died. Years of physical and emotional abuse followed, leaving him scarred in body and mind, mired in the belief that he is unlovable. He spends his days working in a comic shop, and his nights alone wrestling with the ghosts of his past.

As a Marine, Adam Duncan has sworn to protect and serve, and there is no one he is more protective of than his brother and nephew. When tragedy strikes, threatening the security of his family, his protective instincts kick in. But how can he fight an enemy he can’t see?

David and Adam feel the connection between them, but David has built walls around his heart that no one has bothered to break through, until Adam. Adam can see what a special man David is, and is willing to do whatever it takes to break down those barriers. Can he make David see he doesn’t have to keep living his life…Looking In?

As a debut novel for a new author, this is a decent book. It was a sweet read, but edged just a little too close to being too sweet.

Adam’s character, being a former Marine, doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. Partly because of a complete lack of any kind of emotional trauma after being in the service, in combat, for 15 years. There are allusions to people he knew that had issues, but he was immune to those, apparently.

David’s character kept confusing me because he would seem so utterly withdrawn and broken and messed up and then suddenly he would say or do something that felt way too confident or just didn’t mesh with the brokenness of his character.  Both his character flaws and Adam’s came across as flawed in the wrong ways, making them both hard to believe.

My other, big issue, and why I could not rate this any higher were all of the editing mistakes. I hate, hate, HATE having to harp on those issues, because it is beyond impossible to catch them all. But if you have enough and they are just obvious and bad, they yank you right out of the story and you lose whatever emotional flow you had going on. If a story is done incredibly well, it can cover some of those, but not the big ones. If the story is only decent in the first place, those things can really drag it down.

Things like sentence sections being duplicated, obvious sections left out entirely to where you don’t even understand what the sentence said, putting periods in the middle of the thought for a pause instead of commas or ellipses or ANYTHING else to indicate the thought isn’t complete, and typically misused or mistyped words. This book had all of those sprinkled throughout. Sadly, this looks to have gone through both one editor and one proofreader (I double checked the info noting them in the beginning of the book at one point) yet it STILL had all of these problems, so I gotta say, they aren’t all down to the author.

I think one of the main reasons I have such a huge issue with editing problems is the fact that one tiny mistake can entirely change the mood or meaning of a sentence. Enough of those and you can completely misinterpret an author’s intent on character, mood or story development. I think that, at least in part, was why I had some of the issues I did with this story.

I won’t discuss my issues with the ending as it will give things away. Suffice it to say, it didn’t really fit in places, wasn’t enough information in others and the ended with the absolute PERFECT outcome and part of why this was just a bit too sweet for my tastes. So, this was decent and it was sweet. If that is what you like, then this is perfect for you. If you like your characters to be a little bit more developed and full and things to be just a bit more real, then maybe not so much.

 

The Memory of Butterflies: Grace Greene

The Memory of ButterfliesAuthor: Grace Greene
Book Name: The Memory of Butterflies
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Family
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Hannah Cooper’s daughter is leaving for college soon. The change is bittersweet. A single mother since the age of eighteen, Hannah isn’t eager to confront the pain of being alone, but she’s determined not to let her own hang-ups keep Ellen from the future she deserves. As Ellen’s high school graduation approaches, Hannah decides it’s time to return to her roots in Cooper’s Hollow along Virginia’s beautiful and rustic Cub Creek.

With the help of longtime friend Roger Westray, Hannah devotes her energies to building a new house on the site of the old family home, destroyed in a fire more than a decade ago. But Hannah’s entire adult life has revolved around one very big secret. And her new beginning comes with unanticipated risks that will cost her far more than she could have imagined—perhaps more than she can survive.

When a confrontation forces Hannah to expose her secret, the truth may destroy her beloved daughter. Hannah is prepared to sacrifice everything to protect her family, but can their lives and their bond withstand the seismic shift that’s coming?

There are two specific things that kept me from liking this book more. First, this just dragged in the beginning. It took forever to get to a point where I could feel like there was going to be anything of interest going on. I came very close to giving up before I got to the 1/3 mark. It did nothing to grab me and drag me into the story.

The second is partly just me, but I’m sick of seeing stupid lies that could very easily be found out being used as the main premise behind a story. Lies have their place in stories and can do a whole lot of things to move a story and give it a depth you wouldn’t have otherwise. But when the lie is created with zero base in reality, it falls apart with very little effort when someone pokes at it. You do that with your main character, then all of the work you’ve done to create this emotional, deep, layered personality crumbles and all that is left is, “Damn! How stupid can you be?”

That is where I ended up by the time I finished this. I did not like the main character because she came across as just being brainless by the end. I didn’t hate this because I do think the author wrote it well, but I didn’t like the backbone of the story.

Wish Me Home: Kay Bratt

Wish Me HomeAuthor: Kay Bratt
Book Name: Wish Me Home
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Family
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: A hungry, stray dog is the last thing Cara Butter needs. Stranded in Georgia with only her backpack and a few dwindling dollars, she already has too much baggage. Like her twin sister, Hana, who has broken Cara’s heart one too many times. After a lifetime of family troubles, and bouncing from one foster home to another, Cara decides to leave it all behind and strike out alone—on foot.

Cara sets off to Florida to see the home of her literary hero, Ernest Hemingway, accompanied only by Hemi, the stray dog who proves to be the perfect travel companion. But the harrowing trip takes unexpected turns as strangers become friends who make her question everything, and Cara finds that as the journey unfolds, so does her life—in ways she could never imagine.

I think I expected a lot more from this than what I got. The story was good, but almost every single important issue was resolved in a way that was pretty anticlimactic and what emotions that surrounded those issues fell apart. The ending felt rushed and a bit too neat and perfect.

I guess I was thinking this was going to be quite a bit heavier emotionally. In reality, while some of the issues brought up are heavy, the emotion that should have added weight to them just wasn’t there for me. Because I was expecting heavy and got something much softer, I was a bit disappointed and that keeps me from rating this higher.

Dear Mother: Angela Marsons

Dear MotherAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Dear Mother
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Family
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: A story about three sisters brought together by the death of their cruel and abusive mother.

Alex, the youngest, is a bitter, unforgiving woman who refuses to face the events of her childhood. She hides in a bottle and destroys any chance of happiness that comes her way. Her life is spiralling dangerously out of control but she doesn’t have the strength to stop it.

Catherine, the eldest, has strived to achieve everything her mother said she would not. She has everything she ever wanted but appears to be more like her mother than she thought. One single act brings her carefully constructed world tumbling down around her.

Beth, the middle child, suffered the worst of them all. She has no memory of the cruelty and remained with their mother until she died. But eventually the memories must return.

When they are brought together as strangers, the sisters must embark on a painful journey to the past to discover themselves and each other.

But will all of them make it back safe?

This is NOT a Kim Stone book. And I don’t mean just that it isn’t a part of the series. It is not written the same and feels entirely different than any of those books. If you are a fan of those, then this may end up being a disappointment.

It’s hard not to compare this book to the Kim Stone series because they are written by the same author. I had expected a similar level of writing even though the genres were entirely different, but I didn’t get that.

For me, it just felt like something was missing. Something that added just the right element to create depth or allowed me to connect to the characters a bit better. Considering this should have been an incredibly emotional read with the subject and events in this story, I just didn’t ever really get strongly emotional with this. It felt… flat? Again, like it was missing something.

The characters felt emotionless even though they were expressing emotions in the story. Like that part just didn’t exist and they were going through the motions. Kind of like listening to someone else talk about yet another person and how that person felt about things, discussing those emotions, but not actually connecting with them.

So, even though I really enjoyed the premise of this story, I just didn’t get into it in the way I expected to.

The Favor: Megan Hart

The FavorAuthor: Megan Hart
Book Name: The Favor
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature/Family Drama
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

Janelle Decker has happy childhood memories of her grandma’s house, and even lived there through high school. Now she’s back with her twelve-year-old son to look after her ailing Nan, and hardly anything seems to have changed, not even the Tierney boys next door.

Gabriel Tierney, local bad boy. The twins, Michael and Andrew. After everything that happened between the four of them, Janelle is shocked that Gabe still lives in St. Mary’s. And he isn’t trying very hard to convince Janelle he’s changed from the moody teenage boy she once knew. If anything, he seems bent on making sure she has no intentions of rekindling their past.

To this day, though there might’ve been a lot of speculation about her relationship with Gabe, nobody else knows she was there in the woods that day…the day a devastating accident tore the Tierney brothers apart and drove Janelle away. But there are things that even Janelle doesn’t know, and as she and Gabe revisit their interrupted romance, she begins to uncover the truth denied to her when she ran away all those years ago.

When you get to the end of a book and you are asking yourself “What exactly just happened?” then something isn’t quite right.

As always, Megan Hart does an incredible job of creating very real, flawed, human characters. They are the best part of the book. I didn’t necessarily like who they were, but not because of the way they were written. Gabe in particular was a jerk, intentionally, but still a jerk.

What I wasn’t a fan of was the fact that you have this dramatic story that should be deeply emotional, and is to an extent, but she chose to go with a level of vagueness on some of the details towards the end when the reader should be getting answers. Sure, you can make assumptions based on what you are given, but you don’t know that those assumptions are right. You do not get any specific or even vague reasons for much of what happens in the book or why the characters interact the way they do. That vagueness shifted me from emotional towards analytical, so it looses much of its impact.

There were a couple of places where events that really should have held some significance towards resolving some of those issues for the reader, points that would have given much clarity, were glossed over and reduced down to barely a mention. I’m talking maybe a sentence or two. It felt like the book had taken all of those chapters to build this drama only to completely fizzle out to almost nothing. It was odd.

I liked the story, I just don’t like how little feeling of wrapping up lose ends or explanation and clarity were given. Normally when I finish a book I have a feeling of completion and satisfaction, even books I don’t like. With this, I just felt left wanting.

Being Sawyer Knight: Souls of the Knight, Book 1

Being Sawyer KnightAuthor: Nicola Haken
Book Name: Being Sawyer Knight
Series: Souls of the Knight
Order: #1
Genre: LGBT/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


 

 

Blurb:  As lead singer and guitarist of the internationally renowned Souls of the Knight, Sawyer Knight is living a life most men can only dream of. He’s surrounded by music, fame, wealth, women throwing themselves at his feet. He has everything…

Yet he has nothing.

Life as one of the world’s most sought after rock stars is tiring, oppressive and lonely. He spends every day being who the world wants him to be, who his manager tells him to be, who his mother expects him to be… all the while fighting against who he really is. Truth is, he’s used to it. He’s actually gotten pretty good at pretending… at living the lie.

Until Jake Reed, his ex-best friend and the only person who’s ever made him ‘feel’, waltzes back into his life as the band’s new head of security. Jake wants Sawyer – always has, always will. Now, he just needs to get Sawyer to admit that he feels the same…

“You will be mine, Sawyer Knight. The faster you try to run the quicker you’ll fall to your knees. Then, Sawyer… then you’ll be too weak to resist.”

Review:  When I was trying to figure out what to say about this book, one word just kept poking around in my head.  Bland.  No matter what aspect I was trying to focus on, that word fit.  The story itself, the characters, even the sexy scenes were all just pretty bland.  Which is kind of a surprise considering the story is about a rock star.

Rock stars should never come across as bland, especially a rock star trying to come to terms with his sexuality.  Rock stars are the stereotypical bad boy, or at least they are on the surface, no matter how soft they may be at heart.  Here, while we get something of a history of a guy that was famous for his slutty ways, it is never really apparent in the character that we see.  Sawyer’s character comes across as incredibly insecure and weak.  We never really see anything truly rock star like out of him other than the crazy death threats, fans and the press, all of which is only on the periphery.   Even with the weakness of his character, it isn’t so much so that I couldn’t stand him, just that he wasn’t all that interesting.

Jake isn’t any better.  He is supposed to be some elite level body/security guard, but is so easily distracted by attraction, it takes away what it supposed to be special about him and makes him rather ordinary instead.  When he comes on the scene at the start of the book, his words and actions seem bold and confident, but it comes across off in a way that is kind of unbelievable and almost creepy stalkerish instead.

With the lack of something special from the main characters and a story that also doesn’t have anything that stands out and says “This is what makes this book different and awesome”, it isn’t one that will ever stand out and won’t prompt me to run out and read other books by this author.

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The Skull Throne: Demon Cycle, Book 4

The Skull ThroneAuthor: Peter V. Brett
Book Name: The Skull Throne
Series: Demon Cycle
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


 

 

Blurb:  The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.

Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.

But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.

In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing one another and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.

In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.

Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton—rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.

All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared. . . .

Review:  At first, I wasn’t even going to write a review on this because I was so conflicted I just didn’t know where to even begin or how I really felt about it.  After thinking on it and having it drive me crazy I decided that I apparently needed to just get it out.

From a general standpoint, the concept and basic story is still pretty interesting and is really the only reason why I decided to read this one after the first three frustrated me so much.  They are actually pretty good, but there are also so very many specifics that make me want to toss this across the room and that just out and out piss me off.  There isn’t a rating for “This is good, but it also totally sucks.”

For the first time, we didn’t spend over half the book focused on stuff that has already happened and that we apparently have to suffer through from yet another character’s viewpoint, so that was a plus.  Sadly, Mr. Brett still managed to find ways to bloat this with so much that was rather unnecessary filler.  This could have easily been cut down by about 1/3 at least.  I have no problem with lengthy books.  In fact, those are typically some of my favorites, but only when every bit is important to the overall story.  That isn’t the case here.

Once you wade through all the stuffing, you then have to deal with seeing characters that have been pretty great in the series suddenly get a personality transplant into something rather ridiculous.  We saw it between book one and book two with Leesha.  With this one, it was Rojer.  He had his moments of self pity in previous books, but he seemed to get over those and get a backbone.  In this, he kind of becomes pathetic and only interested in getting yet another wife (don’t even want to get into the cultural overload in this series or how pathetic or horrible every single woman is portrayed).  He isn’t the only one.  By the time this book was finished, I don’t think that there really was a single character that was left even remotely likable, with maybe the exception of Arlen and that is only because he hardly has a second of page time, yet another annoyance.

Not only does the author do a pretty thorough job of destroying the personalities and likability of the majority of his characters in this book, he decides that it is a good idea to go on a giant killing spree and knock off a few pretty major characters as well as a whole slew of other secondary, but still prominent characters.

Between the personality changes and so many characters dying and the fact that not a single character is now left in this story that isn’t a self-serving, greedy, hateful creature, by the time I reached the end of this book I was ready to root for the demons to wipe out the human race because they were all too stupid to live.  While I would like to know how this all ends, I don’t think there is enough left to like after this book to suffer through all the garbage that I just can’t stand enough to read any more books in this series.

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Primal Possession: Moon Shifters, Book 2

Primal PossessionAuthor: Katie Reus
Book Name: Primal Possession
Series: Moon Shifter
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  To protect her, he will unleash the beast within…

As his pack’s second-in-command, lupine shifter Liam Armstrong gives orders and takes what he wants—until he meets red-headed, blue-eyed December McIntyre. Liam knows the human beauty is his intended mate the moment he sees her, but December is far too strong-willed to accept his protection.

December, whose brother is the town sheriff, has every reason to mistrust shifters after one killed her youngest sibling. But the forceful and handsome Liam has gotten under her skin in a way she hadn’t thought possible, and the desire she feels for him is almost too much to bear.

When a radical hate group targets all humans known to sympathize with paranormal beings, December is attacked in her bookstore. Reluctantly, she turns to the only one who can help her: Liam. And he is going to take her to places within herself she never knew existed.

Review:  There was nothing about this book that really made it stand out as being all that different than just about any other shifter book on the market.  You have your standard pushy, arrogant, alpha male shifter that isn’t all that smart and the weak, ineffective human female that he is stupidly determined to protect, even from himself.  That isn’t such a horrible concept, but it is just so typical and common and over done.  I didn’t hate this but I also probably won’t remember it a month from now.

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Evil Games: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 2

Evil GamesAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Evil Games
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #2
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal stabbing, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But as further disturbing events come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone even more sinister at work.

With the investigation gathering momentum, whilst also trying to expose the secrets of a sick paedophile ring, Kim finds herself in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Pitted against a dangerous sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

Review:  Not sure if it is just my perception of this one or if the writing and construction of this story was just different from the first book, but this one didn’t have quite the same feel.

The story line was interesting and intriguing and I did really enjoy that.  It was the huge chunks of time we spent with the bad guy that brought this down for me.  I don’t mind that approach in writing, but in this it just seemed to be way too much and not entirely necessary.  There is only so much devious mind exploration and self ego stroking I need to read before I get the idea of the bad guy’s thinking.  I like Kim’s character so much, that I’d much prefer the majority of the time be spent focused on her.

There were also two separate stories going on here and even though both of those cases were Kim’s to work on, the majority of her time was spent focused on Alex.  So much so that the pedophile part to the story kind of gets shoved to the side and all the other members of her team are the ones to work on it, becoming more of an afterthought rather than a bigger part of the overall story.

So while this was still good, I much preferred the first book to this one.

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Criminal: Will Trent, Book 7

UnseenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Unseen
Series: Will Trent
Order: #7
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Will Trent is a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent whose latest case has him posing as Bill Black, a scary ex-con who rides a motorcycle around Macon, Georgia, and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. The cover has worked and he has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer who thinks he might be a useful ally. But undercover and cut off from the support of the woman he loves, Sara Linton, Will finds his demons catching up with him.

Although she has no idea where Will has gone, or why, Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s shooting is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.

Review:  I think I kind of hit a wall with this one.  While the story itself is good, there is just only so much of the seriously dark, ugly and nearly unforgiving hopelessness that these stories tend to exude that I can stomach.  The cops are almost always bad.  Even the supposed good guys in the stories are really kind of nasty and horrible to each other.  The bad guys are so horrifically bad and on all kinds of levels that it can’t help but poison everyone around them.

I don’t mind reading the darker stuff.  I’ve found a few that I’ve really enjoyed, but that was because they were pretty well balanced by the time I reached the end with a level of positive that made the darker more interesting.  These books, and this addition to the series is no exception, are just so excessively depressing with little to no relief that there just isn’t a whole lot to recommend when you can’t pull yourself out of the dark hole these tend to drop you in.

A book kind of loses something for me when I feel relieved that I finally reached the end.  I don’t enjoy a story that doesn’t let up on all the negativity so I think I might need to be done with this author for a while.

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Dragon Storm: Black Dragons, Book 2

Dragon StormAuthor: Katie MacAlister
Book Name: Dragon Storm
Series: Black Dragons
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  TURN ON THE CHARM
According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .
TURN UP THE HEAT
Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.

Review:  Not sure if I just wasn’t much in the mood for this one, if it was that it just wasn’t  as interesting, but I just didn’t like this one as much as I have many of the other books in this world.  Constantine’s demeanor is supposed to be funny, but it just kind of felt more pompous and it all sort of fell flat for me.  Bee’s personality didn’t grab me either.

The story wasn’t bad, I just didn’t really get as into it as I had hoped, so I think I may have to go with mood more than anything.

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Sing the Four Quarters: Quarters, Book 1

Sing the Four QuartersAuthor: Tanya Huff
Book Name: Sing the Four Quarters
Series: Quarters
Order: 1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  The Bards of Shkoder hold the country together. They, and the elemental spirits they Sing – earth, air, fire, and water – bring the news of the sea to the mountains, news of the mountains to the plains. They give their people, from peasant to king, a song in common.

Annice is a rare talent, able to Sing all four quarters, but her brother, the newly enthroned King Theron, sees her request to study at the Bardic Hall as a betrayal. To his surprise, Annice accepts his conditions, renouncing her royal blood and swearing to remain childless so as not to jeopardize the line of succession. She walks away from political responsibilities, royal privilege and her family.

Ten years later, Annice has become the Princess Bard and her real life is about to become the exact opposite of the overwrought ballad her fellow students at the Bardic Hall wrote about her. Now, she’s on the run from the Royal Guards with the Duc of Ohrid, the father of her unborn child, both of them guilty of treason – one of them unjustly accused. To save the Duc’s life, they’ll have to cross the country, manage to keep from strangling each other, and defeat an enemy too damaged for even a Bard’s song to reach.

Review:  Not really sure how I felt about this one.  It was an okay story, but I had a really hard time getting pulled into it or having any kind of an emotional connection with the characters.  Not that they were bad or anything, but there was just so much that seemed to be missing that I never really got to understand them or even the world this was set in.

There were lots of concepts and ideas that were tossed around that you could only ever make some very general assumptions about because they were never explained.  I think a huge portion of this was based on the world’s belief system, but with little to no details provided to help the reader understand what that was made it incredibly difficult to grasp a character’s behavior or how those beliefs either enhanced or limited their abilities, if it did at all.

I guess it just felt like there were a lot of important details missing or that they were never fully fleshed out.

 

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Have You Seen Her? : Karen Rose

Have You Seen Her?Author: Karen Rose
Book Name: Don’t Tell
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  Steven dropped to his knees next to the paramedic. “Jenna.” Her eyes opened and in them he saw shock and tears and guilt. “I’m so sorry, Steven. I should have listened to you.” Steven noticed the smears of blood on her worn Duke T-shirt. “Any other wounds?” he asked the paramedic.Only her throat. the blood on her shirt appears to be her own.” “We found bloody handprints on the carpet where she crawled from the bedroom,” said Uniform Two.Steven’s gut seethed as he pictured her scared and hurt and crawling through her own house like a wounded animal. For that alone, whoever did this to her would pay…

Review:  I was really surprised that I didn’t like this one better as I’ve really enjoyed the other Karen Rose books I’ve read in the past.  For this one, I just really wasn’t a fan of the characters at all.  Both of the main characters came across as insanely immature rather than rational, intelligent adults with regards the romantic aspects of the story.  Steven especially.  One or two of his little quirks wouldn’t have been an issue, but it was kind of a never ending thing that made it rather ridiculous.  Jenna wasn’t as bad, but she still had her moments that played off of Steven’s.

Outside of the romantic aspect is how Steven had nearly a complete lack of interaction with his own children.  I get the job takes you away, but there was this lack of concern or action or real emotional tie that never made itself known in the story which made him seem very uncaring about his kids.  It was made even more apparent when he had zero qualms about having Jenna come in and pretty much act like a mom with them when he’d only known her for days.  It just didn’t really add up to caring, involved dad to me.  Especially when you consider the traumatic history with the youngest, Nicky.

The suspenseful aspects of the story were pretty good and were the only parts that kept me reading this because the rest was off just enough for me that it kept me from enjoying the good like I could have.  This was definitely not my favorite.

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Too Hard to Handle: Black Knights Inc, Book 8

Too Hard to HandleAuthor: Julie Ann Walker
Book Name: Too Hard to Handle
Series: Black Knights Inc
Order: 8
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  “The Man” is back

Dan “The Man” Currington is back in fighting form with a mission that takes him four thousand miles south of BKI headquarters, high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. He’s hot on the trail of a rogue CIA agent selling classified government secrets to the highest bidder, when Penni DePaul arrives on the scene. Suddenly the stakes are higher, and keeping Penni safe becomes Dan’s number one priority.

And this time she’s ready

A lot has changed since former Secret Service Agent Penni DePaul last saw Dan. Now a civilian, she’s excited about what the future might hold. But before she can grab onto that future with both hands, she has to tie up some loose ends—namely, Dan Currington, the man she just can’t forget. And a secret that’s going to change both their lives—if they can stay alive, that is.

Review:  This is a good actiony, steamy romance that had a lot of great going on, even had me laughing my butt off a time or two.  I just wasn’t a huge fan of either of the main characters.

Penni goes from being strong and capable to being uber panicky at times.  The only saving grace is that the majority of the panicky moments are more in her head and don’t actually prevent her from going all stupid girl.  At least until the end.  What little I did like her shriveled up and blew away by the end of the book because her flip out was just out of proportion to the situation and then she just drug it out beyond reason.

Dan was pretty decent as a tough guy covering for a teddy bear underneath, but it wasn’t so smooth at times.  There were a couple of times where the softer emotions just didn’t seem all that genuine to me.  Then we had the absolutely jarring transitions around the intimate scenes where it seems like the guy in those parts of the book were a completely different guy all together and didn’t fit with what we saw all the rest of the time.  It didn’t add up to a really strong, solid whole.

If you can let go of those things and that there are a few incidents that are pretty unbelievable, this is a pretty decent romance book otherwise.

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The Daylight War: Demon Cycle, Book 3

The Daylight WarAuthor: Peter V. Brett
Book Name: The Daylight War
Series: Demon Cycle
Order: 3
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men, both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more–the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all–those lurking in the human heart.

Review:  Again we have a book that has been bloated with redundancies and stuffed with dullness to the point where it does an impressive job of drowning out the rest that is actually pretty great.

It was bad enough when we had a rather large percentage of book 2 being a rehash of many events from book one, but presented from a different character perspective.  Here, we have almost all of those same events getting presented yet again from a third character’s perspective.  It was interesting, but not awesome the first time, as those were my least favorite parts of the book, but to have had them redone now three times in all three books in just stupid.  We didn’t get a single bit more useful information or addition to the story at all by going over it again.  The amount of time it took to even skim through all that to ensure I didn’t miss anything actually important was way more than I wanted to spend and it was surrounded by an awful lot that was just dull.

With the repeat and some truly boring filler, this book probably could have been cut down to about 1/3 of its size and been a stellar book because all the rest is actually pretty awesome, though I think it is pretty official that I cannot stand Leesha’s character.  I was a bit iffy on Reena after the last book and while I liked her better here, she had her stupid girl moments where I wanted to smack her.  Arlen is still the best in this series by far and there just wasn’t nearly enough time spent on him with all the rest going on.

I’m developing a serious love hate relationship with these books and I’m still not sure if they are worth the time it takes to wade through to get to the good stuff.

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