A Family For Keeps: Rheland Richmond

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

3+stars

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hearing Evil: Cycle of Evil, Book 2

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

3+stars

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Last Time I Was Me: Cathy Lamb

Author: Cathy Lamb
Book Name: The Last Time I Was Me
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb: I wrapped up my grandmother’s tea cup collection and my mother’s china, then grabbed a violin I’d hidden way back in my closet that made me cry, a gold necklace with a dolphin that my father gave me two weeks before he died of a heart attack when I was twelve and, at midnight, with that moon as bright as the blazes, I left Chicago.

When Jeanne Stewart stops at The Opera Man’s Cafe in Weltana, Oregon, to eat pancakes for the first time in twelve years, she has no idea she’s also about to order up a whole new future. It’s been barely a week since she succumbed to a spectacularly public nervous breakdown in front of hundreds of the nation’s most important advertising and PR people. Jeanne certainly had her reasons–her mother’s recent death, the discovery that her boyfriend had been sleeping with a dozen other women, and the assault charges that resulted when Jeanne retaliated in a creative way against him, involving condoms and peanut oil.

Now, en route to her brother’s house in Portland, Jeanne impulsively decides to spend some time in picturesque Weltana. Staying at a B&B run by the eccentric, endearing Rosvita, she meets a circle of quirky new friends at her court-ordered Anger Management classes. Like Jeanne, all of them are trying to become better, braver versions of themselves. Yet the most surprising discoveries are still to come–a good man who steadily makes his way into her heart and a dilapidated house that with love and care might be transformed into something wholly her own, just like the new life she is slowly building, piece by piece.

The good: I liked most of this author’s style. The books was funny in a lot of spots, which I often find hard to pull off. The humor being snarky and so “wish I could come up with those lines on the spot when I really need them” kind of things. Jeanne was a character that you could easily empathize with on most levels.

The not so good: I just could not get past how over the top crazy Jeanne got at times and got away with it. Yes, you can totally empathize with her. You can even understand her and why she does the things she does. It was the absolutely unbelievable level of “she is so cute and adorable in her snarkiness and everyone loves her so everyone just lets her do whatever she wants” kind of thing that forced me to drop my rating on this. Sure, this is fiction. It is not real life. But… I have to believe in the situations and the characters. There is absolutely zero real consequence for her actions going on here and it just made it all too much and negated all the things that made her feel human and relatable.

I also got sick of the regular future sneak peaks the reader was given as to what was going to happen later in the book. One or two of those might have been okay, but they happened a few too many times and made the story feel a bit jumpy because of it.

I’m really torn about those “not so good” parts because I really did enjoy this book otherwise.

No One Ever Asked: Katie Ganshert

Author: Katie Ganshert
Book Name: No One Ever Asked
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb: When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

This is one of those books that leaves me torn on how to rate it. On a general, quality level, I think that this was a well written book with a lot of great insight into racial issues. That aspect wants me to rate this higher.

Sadly, there were a few other issues that I just wasn’t much of a fan of. Since this is told from the perspective of 3 different characters, the reader’s attention is split pretty hard and that made it difficult to connect with any of them enough for me to like them. What I did get from all three wasn’t all that appealing as individuals, making them fall into the dislike side of things for me.

One of my other issues, and I realize this is on me more and my personal tastes than anything, is that this book gets a bit religiously preachy in places. Since this is one I checked out of the library, I didn’t think to look at the sub-genres it was classified under on Amazon. It wasn’t noted as Christian fiction through my library, but did have that tag in Amazon. If I’d seen that up front, I probably wouldn’t have read it because I do not enjoy being preached to.

The last issue I had was how the story gets wrapped up in the end. You have all this pretty great stuff going on with regards to race and segregation in schools and then you have this kind of crazy, over dramatic and not really connected ending that just doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the story at all. No, it wasn’t really predictable, which could be viewed as good, but it also just didn’t seem to work for me because it didn’t feel like it meshed with everything that happened up to that point.

I think the things I wasn’t much of a fan of overpowered the parts I liked so this ends up being only an okay read for me.

Pretty Girls Dancing: Kylie Brant

Author: Kylie Brant
Book Name: Pretty Girls Dancing
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb: 

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

*Potential Spoilers*

For probably the first half of this book, I was pretty interested and enjoying the story, but it kind of started falling apart for me after that.

There is a lot of jumping between character POVs throughout the whole book. That didn’t bother me so much, but there were a couple of times that I was wondering why we were even getting that POV as it didn’t really seem to add much to the story.

I have two bigger issues with this though. One is the fact every single male character in this book was portrayed in a less than stellar light. All had aspects of sliminess to them that made them not very likable. All the women came across as extremely emotionally fragile and weak. When you pair those two together in ALL characters, it didn’t leave much to like other than the actual events of the story and figuring out the “who dunnit?” part.

That leads to my biggest problem with this story and the potential spoilers. Yes, I was a bit surprised by the end. No, I seriously didn’t like it, nor did I believe it. There was such a heavy emphasis throughout the whole story on making connections between the victims, trying to find the common ground in an effort to figure out why they were the ones taken. After all those threads get pulled, making some solid links and pointing in some real directions, you are suddenly tossed in a completely unrelated direction for the killer, leaving all those threads dangling and unresolved. When you finally get the bad guy reveal, you are never actually given that why or shown those links as to why those victims. All that had been brought up before? Apparently a bunch of nothing burgers dangled in front of the reader’s nose, not even important enough to close up to round out the story. The bad guy? Made no sense.

There were so many dangling threads that never got explained or resolved and the lack of tie in between the victims and the bad guy made the ending feel as though the reader had been cheated. It felt like the bait and switch of expecting a luxury sedan and you got a flashy, but cheap economy car instead.

The story concept was actually really good, but I didn’t like the character portrayal and I really didn’t like the ending, so… just okay on this one.

This Bright Beauty: Emily Cavanagh

This Bright Beauty
This Bright Beauty

Author:  Emily Cavanagh
Book Name: This Bright Beauty
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Family Drama/Literature
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

Blurb:

A long-buried secret changes everything two sisters thought they knew about each other.

Franci and Lottie may be identical twins, but that’s where the similarities end. Franci has always been the stable one, while Lottie has bipolar disorder, constantly battling depression and mania. After years of taking care of her sister, Franci moves across the country to build a life for herself. Now, all the two share is distance.

But when Lottie gets in an accident, Franci reluctantly steps back into her familiar role as protector. She returns to find her sister’s life in complete disarray and makes a shocking discovery: Lottie has an infant daughter she never told Franci about. Although Franci swore she wouldn’t get sucked back in, she can’t leave the baby alone in Lottie’s care.

As Lottie further unravels, a secret is revealed that she has kept since childhood—one that has the power to reframe the sisters’ entire relationship, forcing Franci to ask herself if the secret was too much for Lottie to bear. Was the accident really an accident, and who has been protecting whom all these years?

I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. For one, it was so tediously slow to get through. I was doing pretty good and enjoying what I was reading for a while when I started wondering where we’d hit that secret reveal moment promised in the blurb. I look down and I’m only at 35% or so when I expected to be so much farther into the book. From there, everything just really started to drag.

Nearly the entire book is done in memories of each character. I don’t mind that so much, but that is part of why this felt so slow. You are waiting and waiting for the promised build up that takes forever to get to and are constantly dropped into yet another memory with nothing ever really coming out of those other than background. When you do finally get to it, way farther into the story than I expected, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already expected and when it is all said and done, it doesn’t actually change a thing. Not really.

I had a hard time connecting or getting invested in either of the main characters as I felt that they were both petty and spiteful to each other which made them not very likable. Sure, there are some potential reasons, but those reasons didn’t change their likability.

All the wait and plowing through to get to the end and, again, it wasn’t anything that I didn’t already think was going to happen and I kind of felt like I was left with a “That’s it?” kind of a feeling which is pretty irritating as a reader.

When I’m Gone: Emily Bleeker

When I'm Gone
When I’m Gone

Author: Emily Bleeker
Book Name: When I’m Gone
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature/Family Drama
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.

Once again, I’m struggling to write a review because a book has left me torn between good writing and a story I just wasn’t fond of.

I expected more of this story to focus on how Luke deals with his loss, raising his kids alone and moving on. Instead you get what starts as a kind of endearing story that moves as expected and slowly turns into this weird, crazy blend of going too far with too many unbelievable twists and kind of ridiculous secrets. Top that off with what amounts to really a non-ending and you kind of have a mess.

This wasn’t horrible, but it was only okay because it just became too much and didn’t offer anything to balance that out in the end. I find that sad because I really thought I was going to like this one.

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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