Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review: Where I Lost Her by T Greenwood

Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Kensington Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback |
Audio

Synopsis: 

Eight years ago, Tess and Jake were considered a power couple of the New York publishing world--happy, in love, planning a family. Failed fertility treatments and a heartbreaking attempt at adoption have fractured their marriage and left Tess edgy and adrift. A visit to friends in rural Vermont throws Tess's world into further chaos when she sees a young, half-dressed child in the middle of the road, who then runs into the woods like a frightened deer.

The entire town begins searching for the little girl. But there are no sightings, no other witnesses, no reports of missing children. As local police and Jake point out, Tess's imagination has played her false before. And yet Tess is compelled to keep looking, not only to save the little girl she can't forget but to salvage her broken heart as well.

Review:

The longing for a child can take its toll.  Tess has tried everything to become a mother, infertility treatments, and adoption, but she watched as her hopes and dreams drifted away.  Now out visiting her best friend since childhood, Tess happens upon a young girl on the road, half naked, bleeding and all alone.  Before she can catch her the girl runs off.  Was she real? You start to wonder.

This book flips back and forth between present day and what happened in Guatemala when Tess and Jake tried to adopt a young girl.  Whatever happened overseas has effected Tess dramatically, and her relationship to Jake.  Now back in her hometown where she is now considered an outsider can she get anyone to believe her? Can she prove she wasn't imagining things? Or was she?

T. Greenwood has tapped into the heartache of infertility, the pain of being so close to having the dream of a child fulfilled only to have it ripped away again and again.  The mystery unfolds slowly and not in ways I expected it to. Well written with good character development.  Very suspenseful and keeps pulling you along.





Disclaimer: This book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ARC Review: The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin
Format: Kindle
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Fiction, Suspense
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


Synopsis:

Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she's felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she's determined to make it work—if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who's about to enter high school.

Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can't be trusted. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can't help but find sophisticated Kelsey's interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.

But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz's relationships with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it's not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control…

Review:

The entire time I was reading this book I felt like I had read it before, but thats not possible.  So what was it.  I guess perhaps because I've seen movies just like it.  New family moves in, young beautiful unhinged Lolita takes and interest and befriends the daughter and things go downhill from there.  

The Palms are a ritzy upper class community where everyone knows everything and if you don't fit in you are fodder for the rich and bored. Phil has just become the new community relations person for this community.  His family moves into a huge house on the property and try to fit in.

Strange things have been happening in The Palms, houses vandalized, bathrooms destroyed, but no one believes it could be one of their own who is involved.  It has to be an outsider.

I found the book to be a bit predicable with no real ending.  The rich and bored were cliche and Phil, Liz and Danielle a bit too naive. I could see how this would make good summer reading, but it just didn't do it for me. I wanted the characters a little more developed and a little less stupid. The character that seemed the most developed was really just the pawn to move the story but you didn't get to really interact with her a lot.  The chapters were divided between Liz and Phil who were just not that interesting.






Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 25, 2016

ARC Review: I Let You Go by Clare MacKintosh

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Format: ebook
Pages: 352 pages
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

Synopsis: 

On a rainy afternoon, a mother's life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .
 

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.

Review: 

Clare Mackintosh has written one hell of a book.  Vivid descriptions of events, scenery and small time life.  I can honestly say I was shocked about 3/4 of the way through the book and I actually found myself going backward trying to figure out what I missed.  The rest of the book was a fast paced wicked ride.

Jenna Gray is haunted by her past and flees to wales to try to escape, unfortunately you can't escape your own mind.  Unfortunately its also hard to disappear in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and gossip is the only thing entertaining in town.

Ray is having problems at home.  His son is sullen and skipping classes, his wife seems upset and off, and he is never home because he is always working. His co-worker Kate is reminding him of why he loves being a DI but she is also stirring other desires in him.

What seems like a simple story is not so simple.  I really loved this book.  





Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: The Witch Hunter: Red Shadow by Zoltán Pósfai

Release Date: March 28, 2015
Publisher: Create Space
Format: Kindle
Pages: 246 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Conley Theron had been a lone witch hunter for centuries. Some events, he mostly erased from his memory, fuel his relentless hatred toward the witches that most of the world considers old tales. His mysterious longevity and immunity to witchcraft allowed him to become a prime predator. During his hunts, he finds traces of a witch who apparently slipped away from him for a long time. While investigating and pursuing her, the hunt takes a twist unexpected to both. The witch home world is threatened for the first time while the hunters motives and past start to crack.

Review:

I had a hard time connecting with this book.  Conley Theron relentlessly tracks down and kills witches regardless of whether or not they are fighting back or hurting others.  I couldn't pin down his motivation for this and perhaps if I had this earlier on I would have some connection to him but instead I found myself not really caring what happened to him until I was almost finished.  He was an unrepentant killer who had a single minded pursuit.

When Conley gets transported to another world while in pursuit of his prey, a red headed witch. He finds himself in uncharted territory but yet still possessed a narrow minded focused on killing the witch.  I don't know about you but if I found myself transported to another world I may have other objectives in mind, going home, surviving, things like that other than tracking her down and killing her.  Conley finds the inhabitants of this word strange and their Shaman seems to know way too much about his past and possibly even his future. While there he starts to remember more about his past and how he became to be what he is.

I think if the first half of this book had been shortened and we had gotten transported to the other world sooner it would have been better.  In the beginning I found myself connected to meaningless characters more than the main one. Somewhere in the last third of the book I found myself really invested in learning more about Conley because he seemed to be learning and changing. The ending got muddy again and I'm not really sure what happened.  I think this book has potential that was just never fully realized.





Disclaimer: Book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Audio Book: Raging Sea by Michael Buckley

Audio Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Recorded Books
Format: Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Grace
Length: 11 hours 8 minutes
Genre: Fantasy YA
Buy: Kindle | Paperback |
Hardcover | Audio


Synopsis: 

In the first book of Michael Buckley’s Undertow trilogy, the Alpha arrived and the world was never the same. At the start of the second book, most of south Brooklyn is in ruins and the nation is terrified. Nearly everyone that Lyric Walker loves is either missing or presumed dead, including the mesmerizing prince Fathom. It’s up to Lyric to unite the Alpha before the second wave of a cataclysmic invasion wipes out mankind for good.

Review:

This book picks up immediately after the first book ends.  There is no coddling or rehashing of book 1 so if you haven't read it you won't understand this one.  While many middle trilogy books often feel just like filler this one really had its own story.  It started out slowly and picked up like a wave on the ocean.

Lyric, and her friends are running - trying to find where Lyric's parents are being held. People keep telling Lyric that she is important. She doesn't quite understand but she starts to listen to the voices in her head. Fathom telling her to fight, her mother telling her she is more powerful than she imagines. That the glove isn't her only power.

I love Lyric and Bex.  Best friends who fight and keep each other from losing themselves in the chaos of what life has turned into.  Lyric has often succumbed to the glamour of using her new found power until Bex helps her find balance.

I found this book even better than Undertow, vivid imagery and great fast paced action.  Lyric is a wonderful, brave, strong female character.  She didn't want to be a hero, but she finds the role suits her.

Once again the narrator is brilliant in her telling, changing her voice for the different characters really engaging you in the story. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Book Review: Every Shade of Blue by Linzi Drew-Honey

Release Date: January 28, 2016
Publisher: Troubadour Publishing
Format: Kindle
Pages: 252 pages
Genre: Erotic Romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

“I’ve met someone. I’ll be moving out on Sunday.”
When Suzanne Perry-Jackson is ditched by her husband of almost twenty years, her comfortable, uncomplicated world is turned upside down and inside out. Two months after the traumatic break-up, the sophisticated blonde meets Angelo Azzurro, a captivating stranger who takes full advantage of her vulnerability and introduces her to the decadent world of sadomasochistic sex. As much as she enjoys the amazing, liberating encounter, she is adamant that this needs to remain a moment of madness – never to be repeated.

Then a chance meeting with orthopaedic surgeon Sebastian Black rocks Suzanne’s world all over again. It’s love at first sight as she senses a deep physical and mental connection with the breathtakingly beautiful, blue-eyed doctor. After meeting in a professional capacity, Sebastian orchestrates a chance meeting with Suzanne. It is obvious that something extraordinary is unfolding between them. But things aren’t as simple as they seem: control freak Angelo, still angered by Suzanne leaving him, can’t help wanting to teach her a lesson she will never forget...

When Suzanne vanishes, Sebastian is frantic with worry. He has no doubt that her disappearance has everything to do with Angelo. Will he find Suzanne? And will he be able once and for all to move on with the woman he has fallen head over heels in love with?

Review:

I had a lot of issues with this book.  I know a lot of romance and erotica books can jump the shark but this one took it to a whole new level.  Angelo doesn't introduce Suzanne to the decadent world of S&M he introduces her to sex with a dominate jerk.  S&M involves consent, safety and trust.  There was none of that with Angelo who was a brutal domineering pimp.

This story would have been much better if the author had just stuck with Suzanne and Sebastian. There was fire and there was a whole lot of potential for some D&s fun between these two.  Instead we are subjected to sex scenes with Suzanne's ex husband and his young tart, and his young tart and various other men around town.  While some of the sex scenes were steamy the S&M aspect of it went from potential fun to scary in the blink of an eye.  I wanted to like this book but the author crossed the line from consensual and sensual to violence and brutality.

I'm giving this one two book worms since the interaction between Suzanne and Sebastian was steamy and erotic. I could have done without Angelo.




Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review: Give it Back By Danielle Esplin

Release Date: April 15, 2016
Publisher: amazon
Format: Kindle
Pages: 246 pages
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Buy: Kindle


Synopsis:

Lorraine

Not long ago, Lorraine lost her husband to another woman. She thought that's the worst thing that could happen to her, but soon she realizes it's only the beginning of an everlasting nightmare.

Lexy

The au pair, Lexy, moves to Seattle to help Lorraine with her infant son. But she didn't come for the kids, she came for something else.

Ella

When Ella receives a call from her sister, Lorraine, who begs her to leave San Diego to spend time with her in Seattle, she thinks she will take a few days off from work. Frightened to see how her sister weakened since her diagnoses, she packs her small bag with a foreboding that this might be the last time she sees her.


But on her way to the airport she learns that something shocking had happened between the day she last spoke with Lorraine and the morning of the flight. Lorraine’s testimony changes, making Ella question how unreliable her sister really is.


Soon Ella is entangled in a mysterious investigation, and more so, in the lives of everyone involved. Not only will she realize that she won’t go home soon, but she will never look at others the way she did before.

Review

Talk about edge of your seat! Esplin builds the suspense where you are feeling as desperate as the characters to find out what is really happening. Chapters are broken up by characters as we flip back and forth between modern day and the past to try to figure out what lead up to the big mystery.  Who is responsible? What happened?

Lorraine is battling cancer that traveled to her brain, we are unsure how much we can trust anything she says or does - is it her imagination or is it really happening.  I couldn't figure out if people were just setting her up or if she really was losing her mind.

Lexy, is an Au Pair from London who has no experience with children but is in the US for an entirely different reason.  However she finds that she likes helping Lorraine, Sam and Logan, or does she? Maybe its really just a set up.  The mind games in this book rival those in Gone Girl only these characters are likeable, well most of them anyway.

Ella is Lorraines sister and there is something weird about her.  She doesn't really want to come to Seattle to help her sister, she doesn't want to see her sick but once she does she finds herself not really knowing who to trust.  The police don't seem to be telling her everything, she isn't sure if her sister is in her right mind, Logan's father has a bit of a cloud hanging over him and your perception of his new wife flips back and forth between vindictive bitch to maybe she really does have some feelings.  I had a hard time grasping it.

With all these characters mixing around each other and a edge of your seat mystery I couldn't put this book down. When I realized I was only halfway through I wanted to cry, I needed to know what was really happening, the suspense was killing me. The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, I'm not sure if there is going to be a sequel or if we are just going to be left with questions about what is going to happen.


Book Review: Night Walker (Undeadly Secrets Book 1) by Aaron L. Speer

Release Date: September 3, 2014
Publisher: Create Space
Format: Kindle
Pages: 374 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis: 

It was supposed to be a night out, that's all. Yet when Alexandra "Alex" Hensley, heads out to meet her best friends crush, Dante, begins a direction that will change her life forever. Alex discovers the city of Sydney is hiding a terrible secret. A revelation that challenges all she has ever known and all she has ever loved. Sinister forces, charged with keeping the truth hidden for over two hundred years, emerge to ensure the secret remains intact. The truth will not set you free.

Review: 

Vampires roam the streets of Sydney but no one knows and no mortal is supposed to know unless they are owned by a vampire or if they are a vampire.  Any mortal finding out about vampires must either be turned or killed, thus says Vincent the King of Sydney vamps.  Dante does not adhere to Vincent's disdain of humans or his rules.  He lives on his own away from the pack. He runs a very successful nightclub and has an unusual interest in Alex one of the patrons that frequents his bar.

The vampire lore in this book is a bit different than in many others.  Their history is explored as are the ways in which they die, love, eat and turn.  I really enjoyed this version of vampires.  Its always nice to read something different instead of the same old myths.  Speer created his own world with its own rules and I appreciate that.

The story itself was interesting and while some of it was a bit predictable there are still many mysteries yet to be uncovered.  I was a little underwhelmed by the ending wishing there was more of a conclusion but I guess thats why there are sequels.  I just hope in the next installment we still get to learn more about Dante and Alex and how their relationship evolves.  Alex left me a little puzzled at the end, is there something different about her or am I just reading too much into it? I don't know but I'm eager to find out.  Nice start to a new otherworldly series.



Disclaimer: Book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Book Review: A Course in Miracles Made Easy: Mastering the Journey From Fear to Love by Alan Cohen

Release Date: October 27, 2016
Publisher: Hay House
Format: Kindle
Pages: 232 pages
Genre: Religion, Spirituality
Buy:  Paperback | Kindle


Synopsis:

The self-study spiritual-thought system that teaches the way to love and forgiveness – has captivated the minds and captured the hearts of millions of people. Delivering inner peace where fear and pain once prevailed, its universal message is unsurpassed in its power to heal. Yet many students report that they have difficulty grasping the principles or keeping up with the lessons. So even while they yearn for the spiritual freedom the Course offers, they put the book aside, hoping to get to it one day


Review: 

I tried to read a Course in Miracles several years ago and really had a tough time.  Since I wasn't raised Christian the Father, son and Holy Ghost thing sort of gave me some problems and I really struggled with it.  I was hoping that this book would give me a better grasp on it and I was pleasantly surprised.  The beginning didn't grab me at first but it peaked my interest and kept me reading, by about halfway through I was highlighting passages and finding "aha" moments.  The epilogue is supreme and titled: "Everything you always wanted to know about A Course in Miracles but didn't want to have to read the whole course to find out" and it truly is a 14 point breakdown of the whole course.

Mastering ACIM would take a lifetime but studying it and revisiting it is a good way to move past fear and live more in the moment.  It is a way to reduce fear, anxiety and unhappiness and live the life we were all meant to live. I am extremely happy I stumbled upon this book, it makes me want to take another stab at ACIM and it gave me good tips to maybe go further than I have before.

Wonderful food for thought that I will probably be returning to again and again.




Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 8, 2016

ARC Review: The Visitor (Graveyard Queen Book 4) by Amanda Stevens

Release Date: March 29, 1016
Publisher: Harlequin
Format: Kindle
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Ghosts
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

My name is Amelia Gray. I'm the Graveyard Queen. 

Restoring lost and abandoned cemeteries is my profession, but I'm starting to believe that my true calling is deciphering the riddles of the dead. Legend has it that Kroll Cemetery is a puzzle no one has ever been able to solve. For over half a century, the answer has remained hidden within the strange headstone inscriptions and intricate engravings. Because uncovering the mystery of that tiny, remote graveyard may come at a terrible price.

Years after their mass death, Ezra Kroll's disciples lie unquiet, their tormented souls trapped within the walls of Kroll Cemetery, waiting to be released by someone strong and clever enough to solve the puzzle. For whatever reason, I'm being summoned to that graveyard by both the living and the dead. Every lead I follow, every clue I unravel brings me closer to an unlikely killer and to a destiny that will threaten my sanity and a future with my love, John Devlin.

Review:

This was a dark chapter in this series.  As Amanda learns more about her origins she finds that she is changing.  Her powers are growing and there may be more to her ghost seeing than she first thought. John Devlin also has some secrets in his family and they are starting to come to light.  Will this be the end of Amanda and John or can they stand together and fight the powers that are trying to pull them apart.

This book was unsettling. There were so many pieces of it that just gave me the creeps and while all of these books have a creep factor this one really is at the top.  If you haven't read the other books in this series you may not enjoy this one as much because the story really does build in each book.  I love how we are slowly unraveling Amanda's origins and now it seems we are starting to get a glimpse into John Devlin's family tree.  Both are equally unsettling but Amanda seems to be finding peace with her powers as they evolve even though they scare her. I'm not really sure what is going on in Johns family but there is something sinister lying in the wings. This book left you on a bit of a dark and foreboding cliff hanger which already makes me anxious for the next book in this series.  I hope it doesn't take as long for the next installment as it did for this one.



Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ARC Review: The Faces of Strangers by Pia Pudukone

Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


Synopsis:

When native New Yorker Nicholas Grand applies for an international student exchange program, he thinks it's an opportunity to broaden his horizons and meet some interesting people. He never imagines that a single year would have repercussions that would follow him throughout his lifetime.

Nicholas is sent to Estonia, where he meets shy, sensitive Paavo, his beautiful sister, Mari, and their gruff father, Leo—a family grappling with the challenges of life in a small country struggling to assert its post-Soviet identity. Nicholas sets off on an unforgettable journey through a foreign landscape that ultimately teaches him that some bonds can never be broken.

Review:

There was so much to this book I'm not sure where to start a review.  The characters are all really well developed through different chapters.  While the characters may not all live in the same city their lives are all intertwined.  Through a student exchange program they learn so much about different cultures and themselves.  They see their strengths and weaknesses and that even weaknesses can be strengths in some instances.  Beautifully written, you grow up with Nico and Paavo as they move through adolescents and into adulthood.

The weakest points to the book were that the ending was told at the beginning so the end while still good was not as strong as it could have been.  I think not knowing what the answer to Paavo's riddle was at the beginning or even having been presented with his riddle at the beginning would have made for a stronger book.

Overall it is a good read and would make for great summer beach reading.





Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

ARC Review: Invest Your Heartbeats Wisely by Theo Etzel

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Greenleaf Bookgroup Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 145 pages
Genre: Business/investing/leadership
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover |


Synopsis:

Invest Your Heartbeats Wisely offers guidelines, based on biblical principles, to help you lead in business and live as an ethical person. Etzel discusses how to effectively lead an organization, how to create a corporate culture of accountability, and the importance of mentoring, along with advice on every aspect of running a company, from getting started and hiring and motivating employees to letting go and redirecting when you are ready to exit the business.

Review:

Somehow I missed the part about biblical principles when I requested this book but I'm glad I wasn't deterred.  While I'm not big on the bible I agree with a lot of the advice Theo Etzel gives. Easy to read and based on a lot of common sense principles this book is a nice starter for new leaders.

While there are biblical references throughout the book they don't take away from the message for those not religious.  This book gives great tips on how to lead and not "manage" staff.  I liked the personal examples and easy way of sharing with us the leadership strategies that have made his business successful.

Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

Monday, April 4, 2016

Audio Book: Undertow by Michael Buckley


Audio Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Recorded Books
Format: Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Grace
Length: 12 hours 4 minutes
Genre: Fantasy YA
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | HardcoverAudio


Synopsis: 

First, we feared them. Then we fought them. Now they might be our only hope.

Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s best chance for survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

 Review:

This is a great set up for this semi-new trilogy.  The Alpha come to shore in Coney Island dividing this small community. There are those who don't want anything to do with the "Fish Heads" and an armed and violent group of "red shirts" forms. If you ever wondered how the US got away with interning the Japanese during WWII just read this book.  The us vs. them mentality is scary.

The Alpha culture is very interesting and very well developed.  The American's are either tolerant and welcoming or afraid and join the red shirts who want the Alpha to go back to the sea.  However, the Alpha aren't the only "fish" in the sea.

I thought this was a fun listen, not sure how reading it would be but I definitely attribute a lot of the flow to the narrator Jennifer Grace whose reading really brought the story to life.  I think this would make a great beach listen.  Looking out across the ocean wondering if an alien race is going to come walking out of the surf at any time.

The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger and I'm anxious to see how the 2nd book picks up the story.



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