Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ARC Review: The Dream Keepers Daughter by Emily Colin

Release Date: July 25, 2017Publisher: Ballantine BooksFormat: KindlePages: 480 PagesGenre: Romance/Time TravelBuy: Kindle | Paperback 


Isabel Griffin has done her best to move on since her boyfriend, Max Adair, vanished without a trace eight years ago, leaving her heartbroken—and pregnant. Eerily enough, this isn’t the first time someone Isabel loves has gone missing. When she was sixteen, her mother disappeared, and her father became obsessed with finding his long-lost wife—at the expense of parenting Isabel.

Determined not to repeat her father’s mistakes, Isabel works hard to become a respected archaeologist and a loving mother to her daughter, Finn, a little girl with very unusual abilities. But while Isabel is on a dig in Barbados, she receives a disturbing phone call. The hauntingly familiar voice on the other end speaks just four words—“Isabel. Keep her safe.”—before they’re disconnected.

Isabel tries to convince herself that the caller can’t possibly be Max. But what if it is, and Finn is in danger? As one mysterious event after another occurs, she can’t shake the feeling that, despite what everyone else believes, Finn’s father is alive—and he’s desperately trying to reach her.


I'm not sure why this book didn't get better reviews but I really enjoyed it.  I loved the time slip and the star crossed lovers aspect of the book but instead of being your usual romance this one had a bit of a twist that was more realistic and I like that.  While I understand some people feeling let down with where the author took this book (I too felt that for a fleeting moment) I then realized why.  It makes more sense! In a book that has things that suspend your disbelief I was happy to see she grounded it.

This is a book of tragedy, loss, coping and how people handle the shitty and sometimes strange hands they are dealt.  Max didn't want to travel back in time but he did the best he could in the time and place he was in and made a difference.  Isabel studies the past and has dealt with the loss of her mother and her boyfriend to strange circumstances. Finn is a shining beam of light through the story the thread that ties everyone together. I wanted more of her and wanted to explore her gift a little more but that wasn't the point of this story.

This was a good mystery, a good romance and an interesting glimpse into a little known piece of history.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Audio Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Release Date: August 16, 2011
Publisher: Random House Audio
Length: 15 hours 46 minutes
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Format: Audio
Genre: Science Fiction/ Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Audio 


It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


I just saw the movie preview for this book the other day and I have to say I wasn't impressed.  I hope that its better than the preview makes it out to be.  This was an amazing book.  I wasn't sure what to expect although I heard good things about it.  Wade lives most of his life inside a virtual word called the Oasis.  The maker of the Oasis, Halliday built an easter egg into it for anyone to find but the winner takes all...meaning his money, the Oasis everything.  Its been a race for the egg since Halliday died and while most people have given up a select few have continued the quest.

This book was like Willy Wonka set in the 80's. For me it was a trip down memory lane of video games, pop culture, and 80's music.  Cline brilliantly combined all of this in an action packed search for the key to the ultimate prize.  While others want it in order to control the Oasis, and thus the world, Wade just wants to get out of his crappy life.  Winning the ultimate prize is a like a pipe dream that keeps him going.

Wade lives through his avatar instead of living in the real world. Sort of like people do now who hide behind their facebook persona's or gaming avatars. It seems our world is not so far from from Wades. Where school is virtual, kids hang out in virtual dens and spend most of their time online instead of in the real world.

Wil Wheaton's narration is brilliant and takes you deep inside the Oasis.  Listening to this book through headphones made me feel like I was living inside my own made up world, an Oasis of my own. Brilliantly done. So glad I decided to listen instead of read it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

ARC Review: Snow by Mike Bond

Release Date: October 1, 2017
Publisher: Mandevilla press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 253 Pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Two hunters and their guide find a crashed plane full of cocaine in the Montana wilderness. Each has a reason to steal the cocaine – who will? Two take it, and soon the Mexican drug cartel, the DEA, Las Vegas killers, and the police of several states are hunting them down.
Zack, a former NFL star now a TV sports icon, has nasty friends in Vegas to whom he owes two million dollars. Steve, a Wall Street broker, has just lost all of his and Zack’s investments in a banking securities crash. Curt, their guide, a half-Cheyenne mountain man, is trying to save his ranch from an energy company takeover.
Zack is in love with two women, one from his days of cocaine and the NFL, the other a doctor who wants to save him from his past. Steve has wife and two kids he loves in Manhattan, a house full of debts and no way out. Curt guides them to make money, but wants to get back to his wife and save his ranch.
Diego is an executioner for the cocaine cartel. María Christina, a Harvard grad and Yale MBA, runs the cartel. Whitney Castro is a black girl from the Denver slums, now a brilliant DEA agent. Kenny Stauffenberg is an easy-going Montana sheriff who never gives up a hunt.


Zack a former NFL player, and his buddy Steve a stockbroker are off on their yearly hunt in the Montana.  While trudging through the snow they find a crashed plane full of cocaine.  Both are in serious debt and don't see a way out other than this plane and its promise of millions, like the answer to a dream fallen from the sky.  The problem is that these two are the worst thieves, leaving a trail of evidence and bread crumbs as they travel back and forth from Denver, Vegas, and New York with the DEA, and a hit man for the Mexican cartel whose drugs were stolen following them.

The book centers around Zack, Steve, hit man Diego, and the Cheyenne guide, Curt, whose truck Zack and Steve steal to move the coke. Their stories weave in and out as they make one stupid decision after the other. Zack is reckless, Steve seems devoted to his family but seems more in love with the almighty dollar. Diego is in love with his boss and hopes that one day she will be his. Curt is losing his farm if he can't come up with the money for his loan.

This book is fast paced and jumps the shark at many a turn but it is entertaining with an underlying theme of "money isn't everything." All the players in this book have a lesson to learn but can they learn them before its too late? This book is pure adrenaline, everyone is one step away from getting caught, cashing out or dying. Easily devoured in one sitting this is a thrill ride from moment one.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: The Beginners Guide to Lyme Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment Made Simple by Nicola McFadzean, ND

Release Date: October 10, 2012
Publisher: Biomed publishing group
Format: paperback
Pages: 362 Pages
Genre: Health/Diseases/Medical
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


CNN has reported that the number of Lyme disease cases in the United States has doubled since 1991. Caused by spiral-shaped bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The disease is also typically accompanied by many related problems, including co-infections by other kinds of microorganisms, hormonal dysfunction, immune system dysregulation, and other related issues.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recognize Lyme disease as the fastest spreading vector-borne disease in the country, yet most practitioners of mainstream medicine are decades behind in recognizing and addressing this emerging health crisis. This comprehensive book is the first book of its kind to approach Lyme disease from the perspective of "beginners"—those doctors, patients and caregivers who are new to the topic of diagnosing and treating Lyme disease


I was just recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease and picked this book up immediately to try to familiarize myself with the disease, symptoms, co-infections and treatments.  What I found was a comprehensive, easy to read and follow book that is a great place to start for anyone who is newly diagnosed. 

Unfortunately being diagnosed with Lyme is not the final diagnosis, in most cases if you have tested positive for Lyme you should then be tested for the co-infections that are often found in people who have Lyme. Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia and Rickettsia all come with their own symptoms and struggles making Lyme a multi-faceted disease to try to treat. 

There is a lot of technical jargon in certain chapters that I skimmed through but its good to have as a reference such as the different tests that are given to verify lyme, which are not all created equal. There is a lot of information on treatment protocols including holistic protocols. 

This is a great place to start but I'm not stopping here. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

ARC Review: Hide and Seek (a Detective Helen Grace Thriller) by MJ Arlidge

Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Format: Kindle
Pages: 368 Pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Framed for a murder she didn’t commit...

As one of HM Prison Holloway’s most high-profile new inmates, Helen Grace has a target on her back and nowhere to hide. She has made a long list of enemies over the course of her career—some are incarcerated within these very walls. When one of Helen’s fellow prisoners is found mutilated and murdered in her own locked cell, it’s clear that the killer is someone on the inside.

But time is running out for Helen as she races to expose the person who framed her, and the body count in the prison starts to climb. Helen will need to draw on all her investigative skills and instincts to catch the serial killer behind these murders and discover the truth—unless the killer finds her first.


I really enjoy these books and the characters.  If you didn't read the book prior to this you will definitely find yourself lost when trying to read this one.  Helen was framed for murder and is now in prison awaiting trial.  Being a police officer in prison is not an easy road and Helen finds herself a target of inmates and guards alike.  Helen's partner Charlie has never given up on her and knows she has been framed and who did it, the struggle is to find him and prove it despite what her superiors want.

While in prison women start being murdered and Helen can't help her detective instincts and need to investigate and solve this crime.  Walking a thin line between inmate and detective Helen is desperate to find the killer before they can strike again.

This was definitely an interesting mystery and I followed Helen down the same paths of thought which was fun since I'm usually several steps ahead. Fast paced and a great addition to this fantastic series that just seems to get better.

Disclaimer: I receive this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

ARC Review: The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 386 Pages
Genre: fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 


The Woodburys cherish life in the affluent, bucolic suburb of Avalon Hills, Connecticut. George is a beloved science teacher at the local prep school, a hero who once thwarted a gunman, and his wife, Joan, is a hardworking ER nurse. They have brought up their children in this thriving town of wooded yards and sprawling lakes.

Then one night a police car pulls up to the Woodbury home and George is charged with sexual misconduct—with students from his daughter’s school. As he sits in prison awaiting trial and claiming innocence— is it possible?—Joan vaults between denial and rage as friends and neighbors turn cold. Their daughter, seventeen-year-old Sadie, is a popular high school senior who becomes a social outcast—and finds refuge in an unexpected place. Her brother, Andrew, a lawyer in New York, returns home to support the family, only to confront unhappy memories from his past. A writer tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist group attempts to recruit Sadie for their cause.


I'm really not sure if I liked this book or not.  George Woodbury, the hero of the town is arrested and charged with sexual misconduct with a few female students at his daughters school. But this isn't a book about George its a book about the rest of the Woodbury family and how they deal with what is happening in their world.

I really struggled with a lot of the characters actions. I would think that the family of a man who has always shown up as an upstanding guy would aggressively defend him unless faced with actual evidence of wrong doing. But Sadie and Joan seem to not really believe him but also flip flop on it, while a lot of the town is behind him. I understand that there would be some flip flopping but I would think that at least in the very beginning they would all pull together and fight this but instead its like things just happen to them.  They seem to take on that victim role and not ever really leave it. I saw some backbone growing midway through the book when one of the characters starts to get angry and take a stand but it quickly dwindled.  This is the kind of case that pits people against each other, they take sides but it seemed like no one wanted to take a stand in this case, the only angry people seemed to be Andrew and the few townspeople that weren't backing George.

Sadies brother, Andrew lives in NYC with his partner, has a love hate relationship with his home town where being a gay teen was not always easy.  When he was in high school he had an affair with one of his teachers but no one in the book seems to think this is wrong which I just don't understand. In fact I think that would cause even more chaos in this town then what is going on with George. A homophobic town learning that a male teacher and male student were sleeping together? The town would have blown up. the school would have been under major scrutiny with two teachers being accused of misconduct but no it doesn't seem to be a big deal. 

Andrew, who is an attorney does try to help his father I never really got a sense of their relationship. Andrew just seems lost and adrift, his family torn apart but ultimately I wonder if what happened when he was a teen isn't still effecting him into adulthood just as Whittall alludes to what happened to another young girl and an older man effecting her life as an adult.

So while there were a lot of interesting pieces to this book I just didn't feel it had the energy or the passion I see surrounding these cases. There were loose ends and pieces that didn't fit.  It sort of fell flat for me and the epilogue while it tied things up, it was a little too neat.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

ARC Review: The Visitors by Catherine Burns

Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 304 Pages
Genre: Mystery/thriller/suspense
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 


Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door...and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible.


It took me a few days before I was ready to write this review.  What a twisted and creepy tale.  I had so many feelings after I read this book.  I wasn't sure whether to cheer or cry instead I think I was just stuck somewhere in between.

Burns has written a truly riveting mystery.  I breezed through this book feeling sorry for Marion who is in her 50's overweight and lives with her overbearing brother.  They live in their crumbling family home which has become a hoarders paradise. John spends most of his time in the basement, entertaining their "visitors" which Marion turns a blind eye to. We don't really learn much about this until the end other than Marion is troubled by them and is scared to go to the basement.  In fact she lives in constant fear of John. It isn't until a tragedy strikes John that Marion seems to get some strength to change her life.

It was fascinating watching events unfold from the point of view of Marion, who has an almost child-like quality.  Her mother and John have convinced her she is stupid and useless and so she believes it. Its amazing what you can deny but do we really know everything there is to know about Marion? Burns peels back the layers in this creepy character study ending in a stunning conclusion.

This is not a faced paced, kill or be killed race to the finish it is a methodical study of a woman who has been controlled and manipulated her whole life but those around her and then finally finding her strength to break free.  This family is twisted and nuts and thats what makes it all so fascinating.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

ARC Book Review: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Format: Kindle
Pages: 386 Pages
Genre: Sci/fi fantasy YA
Buy: Kindle Hardcover 


Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.


I was so excited after reading this book.  Finally publishing has caught on to the concept of diversity. There are characters of all different races and the main character is an African American boy named Emmett.

Reintgen has written a fabulous book.  I was drawn in immediately. This book starts out strong and gets stronger and stronger.  I couldn't put it down and the ending! Omg. When Emmett and the others are recruited by Babel Corp to go to Eden they had no idea what they were in for.  Babel Corp is not all that it seems and is definitely hiding things.

Emmett and the others are pitted against each other in a form of the Hunger Games and the strangeness of Nyxia.  They are trained to fight, to mine and control Nyxia. They learn about Eden and the people who live there but all for what purpose? The unknown motives of Babel corp remind me of the movie Avatar. Is Nyxia special to the people of Eden?  What is Babel really doing on Eden? What are the people of Eden like? So many questions! I hope book 2 doesn't take too long to come out.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

ARC Review: Murder Under the Fig Tree: A Palestine Mystery by Kate Jessica Raphael

Release Date: September 19 2017
Publisher: She Writes Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 Pages
Genre: mystery/lgbt
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Hamas has taken power in Palestine, and the Israeli government is rounding up threats. When Palestinian policewoman Rania Bakara finds herself thrown in prison, though she has never been part of Hamas, her friend Chloe flies in from San Francisco to get her out. Chloe begs an Israeli policeman named Benny for help—and Benny offers Rania a way out: investigate the death of a young man in a village near her own. The young man’s neighbors believe the Israeli army killed him; Benny believes his death might not have been so honorable.

Initially, Rania refuses; she has no interest in helping the Israelis. But she is released anyway, and returns home to find herself without a job and suspected of being a traitor. Searching for redemption, she launches an investigation into the young man’s death that draws her into a Palestinian gay scene she never knew existed.

With Chloe and her Palestinian Australian lover as guides, Rania explores a Jerusalem gay bar, meets with a lesbian support group, and plunges deep into the victim’s world, forcing her to question her beliefs about love, justice, and cultural identity.


This is the second book in the Palestine Mystery series but the first one I read.  I definitely felt like I had missed something by not reading the first.  At the beginning Rania is imprisoned by Israel for something that happened in book 1 - we never quite figure out what that is.  Once she is released she is manipulated into solving the murder of a young gay Palestinian man who was said to be killed by an Israeli soldier.

This book is very political on many levels and a little difficult to follow if you aren't very familiar with the politics of this area.  Raphael's political views are very clear in her writing and she doesn't hold back her contempt for the Israeli government or military. I wish she had focused a little more on the Palestinian LGBT advocates and gay culture in a place where being gay is a death sentence, instead of the settlements and checkpoints although I know writing a book set in this part of the world can't eliminate this all together.  It almost felt like the mystery got lost in the politics.

There are many layers to the mystery due to the secretive and hidden nature of most lgbt people in Palestine.  I almost missed the big reveal of who murdered Daoud. It seemed almost anticlimactic and more of a side note.

This is a good mystery but too heavily bogged down with Palestine vs Israel politics. The author did an admirable job on touching on the Palestinian lgbt ignorance and intolerance but it still could have been more.  I really wanted to like this book.  I loved Rania the tough, female detective trying to balance her family and career in a very patriarchal society and culture but even with that it had a hard time keeping my interest.

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

ARC Review: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Kindle
Pages: 369 Pages
Genre: mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


As morning dawns in a sleepy Colorado suburb, a dusting of snow covers high school freshman Lucinda Hayes’s dead body on a playground carousel. As accusations quickly spread, Lucinda’s tragic death draws three outsiders from the shadows.

Oddball Cameron Whitley loved—still loves—Lucinda. Though they’ve hardly ever spoken, and any sensible onlooker would call him Lucinda’s stalker, Cameron is convinced that he knows her better than anyone. Completely untethered by the news of her death, Cameron’s erratic behavior provides the town ample reason to suspect that he’s the killer.

Jade Dixon-Burns hates Lucinda. Lucinda took everything from Jade: her babysitting job, and her best friend. The worst part was Lucinda’s blissful ignorance to the damage she’d wrought.

Officer Russ Fletcher doesn’t know Lucinda, but he knows the kid everyone is talking about, the boy who may have killed her. Cameron Whitley is his ex-partner’s son. Now Russ must take a painful journey through the past to solve Lucinda’s murder and keep a promise he made long ago.


This book is a slow character study along with a mystery.  Cameron is a bit of an odd kid, I feel that he may have Asperger but it is never stated.  He doesn't look people in the eye, and just seems off. Jade is abused by her mom, has bad skin and very angry, but she seems to understand Cameron. Russ is a cop who was Cameron's dad's partner before his dad was charged in a crime and fled the area (which took forever to find out and doesn't matter much). Russ doesn't really seem to like his job and although he seemed in love with his wife I got the feeling he didn't love her culture.

Well written this story slowly unfolds through 3 different perspectives and while the writing was really beautiful it dragged a little for me.  I read some reviews that they felt that the reveal of who killed Lucinda was too quick and there was no reason but I found that there was compelling reason and liked the twist of who committed the crime.  I also really appreciated the several chapters after the killer is revealed which helped tie things up with the characters and show what happens after mystery is solved which is something most crime stories leave out.

This is a really well written, interesting mystery by a new author who I am looking forward to reading in the future.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

New People by Danzy Senna

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 239 Pages
Genre: dystopian fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows. As fantasy escalates to fixation, it dredges up secrets from the past and threatens to unravel not only Maria's perfect new life but her very persona.


Did you every feel like you were reading an entirely different book than the rest of the people who have reviewed it? That's how I feel about this book.  I had a really hard time getting into this book and then about a hundred pages in I just didn't care.  I didn't like Maria, there were parts that just weren't believable and I just found myself wanting it to end.  I haven't read any of Senna's other books but they have all gotten rave reviews from different news publications.  I felt the same way about Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides I hated it but the reviews were stellar and the praise non-stop I almost felt like I had to like it. I feel the same way about this book.

Maria was just not likeable and while some of the talk about race and multi-racial identity was on point the overall feel of the book was just dreary.  I found my mind wandering, and had a really hard time relating to any of the characters.  Other than Maria I found the characters one dimensional and Maria was just not very likeable.

When I read the synopsis of this book I was excited to read it but the story just fell flat and left me wanting.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book through in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ARC Review: Bring Her Home by David Bell

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Kindle
Pages: 464 Pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family...


There is a whole lot going on in this book. Two girls are found in the park both badly beaten and almost unrecognizable.  One is barely alive.  Who could have done this? There are a few suspects but none of them seem to be panning out and Bill is frantic for answers.  With a bad temper Bill starts lashing out at everyone, his daughters friends, his neighbor, his sister.  Someone in this small town knows something they just need to find one thread to help them start to unravel the mystery.

There are many twists and turns some you see coming others not so much.  I had a few issues with this book.  There were several major plot lines like the big reveal before Part 2 that I felt jumped the shark.  I felt like I was watching a bad made for TV movie.  I also had a difficult time with Bill.  He was too volatile.  For a character that was as broken as he was in the beginning of this book he flew off in too many directions that seemed out of character.  This is a man who was still deep in mourning for his wife who had died a year ago and now he gets the call every parent dreads that his daughter is in the hospital.  His life just goes downhill from there and I just had a hard time wrapping my head around his actions coming from this same broken character.  Sitting in his daughters room half comatose would seem more in line with the man who hadn't bothered to move any of his wife's clothing, kept her cell phone turned on and charged and replayed her voicemails on the computer all the time, not running around town threatening people.

I really wanted to like this book.  The synopsis made me eager to read it, the cover is beautiful but there were parts of the story that just fell flat for me, that left me wanting. I kept waiting for it to get better and there were times that it did but I think that the main character just ruined it for me.  I had a hard time liking him or feeling connected to him in any way.

I've heard Bell's other books were spectacular.  I'm bummed this wasn't one of them.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Audio Book: Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Release Date: June 19, 2014
Publisher: Hatchette Audio
Format: Audible
Length: 17 hrs 22 min
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Buy: Audible | Paperback | Kindle


Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the number-one international best seller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives - meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...


This is a good detective series written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. I listened to The Cuckoo's Calling before realizing that these were written by the Harry Potter author and I loved it.  I like Silkworm as well although not quite as much as the first one.  I felt that this book was a little harder to follow with too many characters and suspects that I tended to get a little lost.

The first half of the book was a little slow in building but once Cormoran gets ahold of Quine's unpublished book Bombex Moray, things really start to move along.  Dissecting the different characters in the book and where Quine could be.

The tension between Robin and Strike grows in this book.  Robin wants Cormoran to teach her to be a private detective despite her Fiances objections. Cormoran wants to help Robin but is hesitant to get between Robin and her Fiance.  Cormoran is also suffering with prosthetic which got a little annoying.  It seemed like every 10 minutes he was bellowing about the pain.

Silkworm is filled with odd characters in the publishing world whose only goal seems to be, to see their words in print. They are all very eclectic, volatile, and almost all had reason to "help" Quine disappear.

I really enjoyed Robert Glenister's reading of this book.  I often felt that there were actually more than one actor reading instead of just the one I got so lost in his voices and ability to switch his accents and voice.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Scholarship by Jaime Maddox

Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 291 Pages
Genre: Mystery / LGBT / Romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Looking to find harmony, Ella Townes leaves a big Philadelphia college and returns to the mountains where she spent her youth. She quickly makes a friend—Cassidy Ryan, a woman with Down syndrome who is the neighborhood busybody and sister of a very attractive ER doctor whom Ella finds equally charming. Under the watchful eye of Cass, Ella and Reese begin a promising friendship. Then Ella writes a scholarship in memory of a childhood friend who was murdered, and things begin to unravel. The scholarship stirs interest in the cold case, and soon the murderer is maneuvering to protect his secret. After Cass is brutally attacked, Ella and Reese question her. The killer’s identity becomes clear, but after twenty years, is there enough evidence to bring him to justice?


Ella returns to the town where she spent her summers with her grandparents.  Hoping to reconnect with some of the people she knew from the past Ella discovers that her best friend, Steph was murdered right before she graduated high school.

Ella finds a great housing situation, house sitting for a woman who is going out of town for a few months.  She befriends the neighbors next door one of whom is a woman with downs syndrome, Cassidy, who loves to help with the dog she is supposed to watch.  Cassidy's sister Reese is a doctor and soon the sparks are flying between Reese and Ella.

Reese also knew Ella's friend Steph and they bond over the telling of stories and sharing the past.

Well written Maddox does a great job of keeping your interest in the mystery while also spinning a sweet romance.  The murderer is kept secret with hints but not ever identifying him until the end. This was a well written book with a mystery that keeps you guessing and characters that hold your interest.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through

Monday, August 7, 2017

ARC Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Kindle
Pages:432 pages
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.


This book has lots of twists and turns with a huge creep factor.  Jake and Alice receive a gift on their wedding day to join something called the Pact, its supposed to help couples maintain a healthy and stable relationship.  There are no divorces in The Pact, marriage comes first above all.

Soon this newlywed couple learns that being a part of The Pact is not like joining a club but more like joining a cult.  If you don't follow the rules the punishments are severe.  How do they know when a couple isn't following all the rules? It seems there are eyes everywhere and infractions are not tolerated.

I had a really hard time following Alice's motivations for joining The Pact as an attorney she breezed through the contract and while her personality was spontaneous it just seemed out of character. Jake seemed very weak in the beginning but seemed to grow stronger as the book went on. I wasn't really sure where the book would lead but I was a little surprised by the ending.  Not exactly what I was expecting at all.

If you like suspenseful creepy books that explore cults this is a good one - it definitely kept my attention and kept me turning pages.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

ARC Book Review: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Format: Kindle
Pages: 368 pages
Genre: Fiction/ Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?


There are a lot of layers to this book.

Billie Flanagan disappeared a year ago, only her boot was found leaving her husband and her 16 year old daughter to heal and grow. But just as they are about to declare Billie dead her daughter Olive starts having visions of her mother or are they just delusions from a seizure?. Her father Jonathan decides to humor his daughter and look into some of her claims and what he finds leaves him reeling.  Who was Billie? She certainly wasn't the woman he thought he knew is she really dead or did she really just leave them to start over again.

The answers to all these questions are answered as the layers are slowly peeled back even until the last page.  I usually whip through books like this but this one while interesting seemed to take me longer to read.  I think there was a lot of filler that could be paired down to get us where the author wanted us to be.

This book seems to be about family and what holds them together.  The lies that create small tears in the fabric as it is woven together into a family and if you tell enough lies the fabric becomes weak and starts to tear and break down. The question is what to do next.

Olive seems like a typical teenager, angsty and upset that her mother is gone and troubled by these vision of her mother still being alive. Jonathan fell in love with a wild and adventurous woman who he is so afraid of losing he doesn't see the warning signs that something is very wrong. All the other characters orbit around these 2 in a messy way that sometimes seems forced and other times just seems out of place.

Overall this book was interesting and kept my attention.  The ending was a bit of a surprise....but was it really? What did you think?

Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ARC Book Review: Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Buy:  Hardcover | Paperback


Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct. . . .

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing.

But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found?

It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons—because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.


Not sure if Reichs has an intention of turning this into a series but if so, this is a good start.  I like Sunday she reminds me a bit of Lisbeth from the Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.  Lots of baggage, loner but kick ass.  I loved watching her trying to piece together what was happening.  I also liked seeing her evolve.  By the end of the book she is slightly different than when it began, leaving so much room for more.

Sunday and her brother August escape a cult where no one has names, they are named after the month or day they are born, there is nothing special about their names.  The whole cult killed themselves, including their mother before they were able to alert the police and this haunts Sunday. She feels somehow she let people down by not saving them from themselves.

This book is different than the Brennan series, so if that is what you are looking for you will be disappointed.  Aside from the obvious lack of scientific stuff I think having Sunday as more of an outsider instead of someone looking at crimes from the inside gives the character that much more latitude and also that much more to do to get to the answers.  She doesn't have to stay within the lines and can color outside the box, but she is smart and still has some in's with the law so she is outside but not too outside not to make it work.

I liked that she Reichs gave us some back story on her as well I only wish she had given us more about her brother who wasn't as deeply developed of a character.  There is definitely more there to be explored.

Overall I really liked this book, it kept my attention and I found the characters intriguing.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

ARC Book Review: Wired (Buchanan/FBI) by Julie Garwood

Release Date: July 4, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 Pages
Genre: Romance Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat.

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line...


I haven't read a Garwood novel in a long time so when I saw this on netgalley I was excited to revisit her. Contrary to other reviews I actually enjoyed the book. There were a few things that could have been done better but this followed your typical romance novel formula and was entertaining.  I always preferred her historical romances better than her contemporary ones. I guess I was just in the mood for the mind candy that these romance novels provide.

I liked that Allison was a strong smart character who didn't want to rely on Liam to fight her battles for her and was a modern day Robin Hood. The chemistry between Liam and Allison was great and I loved the way he just showed up for her, and how after a while she stopped even questioning it. The story flowed nicely and while it may have been a bit predictable it was still an entertaining read.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ARC Book Review: What the F#@k is Enlightenment by Kamaria G. Powell

Release Date: June 7, 2017
Publisher: JKS Communications
Format: Kindle
Genre: Religion/Spirituality
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Sitting between the saint and the sinner at church, Kamaria Powell began asking life's most thought provoking questions and to her surprise, she started receiving answers. What The F#@k is Enlightenment? takes you on her unconventional journey past self-judgment into an awareness of the Divine within. Let's face it, life is messy and there are often many detours but the message is clear: You are not forgotten and no matter how many times you've messed up. God is not mad at you. Kamaria encourages you to embrace your own spiritual identity no matter how unorthodox it may seem. It is by transforming ourselves that we in turn transform our world.


This is a really great book, particularly for people who come from Church going families and backgrounds.  Kamira really gets to the heart of enlightenment using real life situations, examples and her journey.  Her advice is clear, and accessible and her writing fluid and very readable.  The whole book is broken down like a conversation with a friend trying to explain her journey to you. Each chapter is fairly short and you can breeze through this book or take your time and absorb each chapter, up to you.

This is a great starter book for anyone whose current path just isn't working or just looking for more information on all us weirdos who follow a different path than organized religion.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

ARC Book Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher:Ballantine Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aitken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.


This was a really interesting story based on America's most notorious and scandalous woman Georgia Tann who kidnapped children from poor families and sold them to wealthy families all over the country.  She had politicians, judges and attorneys in her corner but her and her cohorts actually terrorized, molested, and murdered an unbelievable number of children. Her unfortunate legacy still holds precedent over adoption legislation today such as closed adoption records.

Wingate tells Tann's story from the point of view of some of the kids who were stolen and the impact her blackmail, lies and kidnapping had on families.  With alternating chapters you learn the story of Rill and her siblings and parents from their point of view and from the view of one of the granddaughters who is desperately trying to uncover what her grandmother has tried so hard to hide.

Your heart will break for Rill, her siblings and her parents Briny and Queenie whose whole world was destroyed by Tann. Avery Stafford is a granddaughter of one of the stolen children, raised in privilege her father is a senator and she is being groomed to take his seat when he vacates it. But she isn't sure she wants it.  There are really 2 stories here..with a common theme of lives that are decided for them instead.

I really enjoyed this book although I did find it a bit difficult to figure out who the modern characters were compared to the ones from the past.  Tann liked to change the children's names making it harder for their biological families to find them and it was difficult to figure out who each character was from the past. Eventually I figured it out and there was an aha moment when I figured out how Avery's grandmother fit.

If you want to read more about Tann try The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

ARC Book Review: Lockdown by Laurie R. King

Release Date; June 13, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Kindle
Pages: 400
Genre:  Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: A day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.

A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school’s reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day—bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald’s bright vision.

A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother’s history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns.

Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal.

But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an explosive confrontation.


I've read several of Laurie R. King's other books so I was happy to pick her up again.  I liked how a few of the characters from one of her other series made a guest appearance in this book.

Everyone has secrets.  From the Principal to the Janitor, from the cool kid to the awkward everyone has something they hide.  Learning pieces of everyone's back story in alternating chapters really developed all the characters and made me start questioning what was going to happen.  I was pleasantly surprised it was not at all what I expected but good none the less.

This is not a fast paced book but rather a slow burning build up to its climax.  While I really enjoyed it I can see why others may not have been as engaged.  There are a lot of characters and a lot of things going on in this school. This is a school riddled with crime and now a missing girl. The new Principal comes in to try to clean it up and improve the situation even holding a career day for the kids so they can see the some of their options other than sports.  I think if there were a few less plot lines this may have been a better book.  It wasn't confusing to me but I started to get invested and wanted to know more about certain characters only to have to move on to another before I was really satisfied.  While some may think of this as a good thing I think it held the book back a bit.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ARC Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


The only thing more dangerous than a the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.


If you haven't listened to Serial or any of the other popular crime podcasts that delve into different crimes you are about to get a first hand look into what they can do. Josie and her twin sister don't speak anymore but after a podcast starts delving into her fathers murder her life gets turned upside down.

This is an interesting mystery with passages from the podcast thrown in here and there.  Poppy Parnell's podcast is a bit more tabloid than the real crime podcasts I've listened to but it worked for the book.  As the issues between Josie and her twin Lanie unfold you start to wonder what happened to Lanie that she took such a different turn.  All of the characters are really well developed with the exception of Poppy who seemed more of a caricature than an actual person.  Every horrible tabloid reporter was rolled into her character leaving her too unrealistic.  I found that I wanted to know more about Josie and Lanies mother who seemed crazy even before all this madness went down.  So I'm sure there would be a good backstory there.

This is Kathleen Barber's first book and it is a hit.  The premise is refreshing and the writing simple and fast paced but the characters well developed.  Overall a very well done read.  I can't wait to see what else comes from this author.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Release Date: April 11, 2011
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: Paperback
Pages: 177 pages
Genre: Self Help/ Spiritual
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Orange Beach, Alabama is a simple town filled with simple people.  But like all humans on the planet, the good folks of Orange Beach have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, as well as the many other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses.
Fortunately, when things look the darkest – a mysterious man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up.  An elderly man with white hair, of indiscriminate age and race, wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt and leather flip flops carrying a battered old suitcase, Jones is a unique soul.  Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss.  “Your time on this earth is a gift to be used wisely,” he says.  “Don’t squander your words or your thoughts. Consider even the simplest action you take, for your lives matter beyond measure…and they matter forever.”
Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what we can do about it.


Sometimes the best advice is simple. The Noticer is filled with that type of advice.  Be conscious of what you say, what you think and what you do.  Your thoughts become reality.  Plant the seeds of compassion, love and caring in your heart and nurture them, share them and help others in need and live in gratitude.

Andrews has written a book that is very readable and yet filled with simple yet very important wisdom.  The subtitle, sometimes all a person needs is a little perspective is so true.  Often when we step back and look at things from a different angle we realize that things aren't as difficult as they seem.

The writing is very simple, almost childish but sometimes in order to get an important message across we need to use the simplest language.  Some may find that this book has some Christian undertones but was not explicitly any religion and I think that depending on your religion you could put one of your prophets in there as Jones and find that the advice would be the same.

I didn't need a lot of character development since this book is really just a vehicle to plant seeds of a different way to see things in life to help you improve your outlook and your life.

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