Tag Archives: book review

If She Dies- by Erik Therme – A Review

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The blurb for this story set me up for a certain kind of story and, surprisingly, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, there were twists and turns and some surprises, and it definitely held my attention despite not leading me where I thought it would. The beginning was not like a traditional thriller. It was a slow start that built through the first almost ¾ of the book. I liked it a lot and being surprised by a few things made it even more enjoyable. It didn’t take me long to read it, because it moved fast and held my interest.

There were a couple of places where I thought the protagonist, Tess, was a little naïve and slow on the uptake, but it served the plot, so I can get past that. She wasn’t one of those heroines that make the reader want to slap some sense into her and the naivety was somewhat understandable.

The minor characters like Tess’s brother and husband were well-drawn with good back stories and motivations for their actions. Her husband, Josh, was a bit OCD, but that showed the author put a lot of thought into how he would act as well as react to Tess. I did get a bit peeved at Josh a few times, but to me, that’s a sign of a good story since it means I am relating to the characters.

I have a friend who lost her child in similar circumstances to how Tess and Josh lost Lily and so much of how these characters dealt with their grief was familiar to me from what my friend and her husband went through, the scenes dealing with the sadness, loss and lack of communication really resonated with me. Well done to the author for being able to realistically write about such horrific loss as well as making the story suspenseful.

This one is a 4.5 star read for me. A hard subject handled skillfully. 

Penny Pinching Tips for the Morally Bankrupt by Libby Marshall– a Review

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Let me first say, I think I would love to spend a day with this author. She has a very vivid imagination, a clear love for Cold Stone Creamery, and a disturbing way of looking at many regular occurrences in all of our lives.  And I don’t say that in a bad way.  🙂

This book is a collection of short stories and some even shorter views of things we all experience, but certainly don’t think about in strange ways. At least not until they’re pointed out by Libby Marshall.  Then it’s so obvious that she observes events and normality in a different way than most of us.

Some of the stories are poignant and some are really funny in a twisted way. I won’t say which I felt was which lest I be judged for my giggles.  

I enjoyed these little tales and vignettes during my lunch hour and on small breaks from work. They are just short enough to fill in gaps in the day when you need a little smile….or a bit of melodrama. 🙂

Some of my favorites—by no means an exhaustive list—are “Witnesses of Historic Moments Who Missed the Point; 90 Day Fiancé: Dracula; A Man Goes on His First Date Since His Wife was Hanged for Witchcraft; Please Continue this Conversation as Normal or I’ll Be Forced to Assume it was About me; Yes, of Course I’m satisfied by just the Tip of this Piece of Cheesecake; and Yelp Reviews of the Chuck E. Cheese Haunted by the Spirit of Princess Diana.

There are so many more awesome little tales in this book. I recommend it highly for its sense of fun as well as the author’s sense of humor and her appreciation for the ridiculous. I really enjoyed this one.

Miss Graham’s Cold War Recipe Book- a Review

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This reader wanted to love this book. Alas, even though it had a number of good points and some parts were immersive and well done, the beginning was slow and the last chapters—excluding the epilogue-ish last chapter, were devastating and made this reader angry.

This story had a slow start with way too many characters thrown into the first chapter which slowed the story even more as I tried to get a handle on who was who.

Edith, the character who was the point of view character for most of the book, was naive and put her trust in people too easily. She was recruited as a spy, so this was not a good characteristic for her to have. I see how it was relevant to the story line though.

The plot picked up after the first 100 or so pages. It was a dense plot with a lot of moving parts which I like. I didn’t have any problem following along at all. I usually read fast but this one took me a number of days off and on. I became invested in Edith and her journey. Recruited as a spy, she had some skills and was able to make people feel safe to talk to her (thereby giving away some of their secrets), but the misplaced trust issue became problematic. She couldn’t keep a secret and talked to pretty much anyone in her inner circle about what she was doing. I liked the character and was rooting for her.

There was a lot of graphic detail about the Nazis and the atrocities they inflicted; including the acts perpetrated on children and the disabled. I read a lot of books set in the WWII era so that was expected. What was not expected was how it turned out. Completely disappointing. I was enraged at the time I spent invested in this book to have it utterly dissatisfy me. The very last chapter went a little way to make me less furious, but not a lot. I am still gutted by the ending.

I give this one three stars as I enjoyed the style of writing, the premise, the attention to detail and the parts in the middle where things were happening.  I downgraded it for the time it took to actually get into the story and for the way I felt betrayed as a reader invested in a story by the two big events near the end.

Highland Cove- A Book Review

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Highland Cove by Dylan J. Morgan

Five friends with ambitions to become documentarians travel from London to an abandoned asylum on a Scottish island. The doctor who ran the asylum died sixty years prior and the hospital was closed and is rumored to be haunted.

The author is excellent at evoking atmosphere. The descriptions—first of the pub where the friends met the man who was taking them to the island—then of the island itself—and, finally, the inside of the asylum. The descriptions were creepy and very well done. Dark clouds hanging over the island and the storm complete with lightning added to the exquisite sense of anticipation of meeting some supernatural beings in the corridors or hospital rooms in the abandoned building. Peeling paint, dead leaves and icy wind whirling through the scenes were particularly evocative.

This reader enjoyed the suspense of the book for most of the novel. Figuring out an essential plot point early on was interesting and upped the anticipation of what was ahead.

What was unexpected was the shock of what happened later in the story, and without any spoilers, it’s hard to say what that was, but it was almost too much for this reader. I confess, I glossed over some of that, swiping my e-reader pages faster until the tale moved past that part. I imagine many readers of this genre would revel in that section, but not this one. It didn’t ruin the story for me, but it was disturbing.

The flashes back to the past added to the overall creepiness of the novel. The author is definitely gifted with a talent for descriptiveness. I could see all the places in the story and some made my skin crawl.

If you’re a fan of horror, you shouldn’t pass on this one. The ending was particularly disturbing. Just don’t read before bed or you might wake up at 2 a.m, like I did thinking I heard someone calling my name…..

Madam Tulip- A book Review

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This book was a delightful read. It starts a bit slow and this reviewer wasn’t sure it would be enjoyable, but luckily, it picked up speed as well as the reader’s interest by the second chapter. Don’t give up on this one based merely on the first few pages. Keep going for a richly described tale with compelling and fully fleshed-out characters.

Derry O’Donnell is a financially strapped actor and, needing to earn some cash, with some help from her friend, recreates herself as Madam Tulip. She naturally has the gift of premonition and can read cards intuitively and accurately. What better way to try to make a living when her mother threatens to stop her financial assistance?

Little does Derry know she’s about to get herself in way more trouble than just her mother cutting off her funding.

When someone dies at an event where Madam Tulip is reading cards, Derry finds herself in the middle of the drama—certainly not like a stage drama—this is real. Life and death.

She gets by with some help from her gay former navy SEAL friend and her outrageous painter father.  She also stumbles upon an old love who is operating under cover. Friend or foe? That is something she can’t tell even with her psychic gifts.

The heroine is plucky and irreverent. Her internal dialogue is wonderful. The father and SEAL friend are both unique characters and so well-done personality-wise, this reader wanted to hang out in the pub with them all.

The author clearly has a wonderful sense of humor. There were a number of places that made this reviewer laugh out loud. I love a smart story and this one fits the bill. An adventure with serious moments as well as humor to lighten the mood. A perfect read- not great, heavy literature, but an amusing way to spend some time.

I was glad to learn there’s a whole series of these stories as I’m not ready to let them leave my life yet. This one is a keeper. Highly recommended for a fun read.

“The Killing Edge” A Book Review

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This book was written by Heather Graham. It’s a light paranormal with some ghostly elements.  The heroine survives a blood bath/massacre when she’s a teen. It’s now a decade later and things are heating up again. People are dying and she may be a target again herself. 

This is a great read and I highly recommend it. Ms. Graham is an excellent writer and she really brings her “A” game to this story. I figured it out pretty early on but that’s what I do. I love to try to solve the mystery along with the characters. This story occurs in Miami, the Keys and a snippet in New Orleans.  AND most importantly, the hero is another to die for kinda guy. Luckily for the heroine, that’s might not be necessary!

“Sinful Surrender”- A Book Review- A Valentine’s Day Recommended Read

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This weekend, I read Beverley Kendall’s book called Sinful Surrender. Can I just say, Oh. My. Gosh.  What a great read. This book was a perfectly executed work of romantic historical fiction. It had all the elements of romance as well as spot on historical data.  The heroine was feisty and funny. She was intelligent and strong. I liked that she was tall as well. Sometimes, I get tired of the tiny little heroines in these type books. A tall woman was a nice change.

The hero in  this story was ooh la la hot. His name is James and man, oh, man, would I like to meet this guy. He was fine looking and a very strong man. There were a few times I’d like to have been able to shake some sense into him, but that’s a sign of a well written book to me. And the sex scenes were very nicely done.

Ms. Kendall does an awesome job on making the reader feel she’s in the scene. I love that her descriptions were adequate but not overly done. There’s nothing I hate more than a long, dreary scene description- these were enough to give a sense of place but not to the point of a snooze-fest.

This was a great read and I’m planning to read her next one very soon. I already have it in my hot little hands.

“Unwilling Accomplice” – a Book Review

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Last night, I finished reading Unwilling Accomplice by Melanie Atkins. This was book five in a series called New Orleans Detectives.  I haven’t read any of the other four but I will be doing so now. You can read this one without knowing what happened in the other four. I’m sure some of the other detectives that are in this story as minor characters had their own story in the earlier books but it’s not necessary to have read them in order. 

I was attracted to this book because of the cover and the setting. Living here in Pensacola, I love to drive the 2.5 hours to New Orleans. It’s the most European city we have here in the USA and I love it.  The cover of this book is perfect- it shows some of the awesome architecture of the city.

Here is the blurb for this book:

Marcy Moretti believes that anyone can be redeemed, until she witnesses a murder at the hands of her ex-husband and is forced to go on the run with her young son in order to survive. The only person who can help her is Joe Riso, her former brother-in-law, a detective staggered by the loss of his wife and daughter. If he’s going to protect both Marcy and her boy, he must first find a way to unfreeze his icy heart — and along the way find his own redemption.

This story starts out fast paced and keeps the momentum going.  I found myself, in several places, holding my breath to see what would happen next. I read this on my kindle app on my I-Pod and couldn’t slide the page fast enough on some of the action scenes.  This. to me, is the sign of an excellent story. To want to race through to see how it turns out is the best kind of suspense book.

The love scenes were well done as well. I was glad the author explained how Joe could still have a great, hard body when he’d been drinking himself into oblivion for a while.  Seems he worked out a lot to ease some of his stress.  I liked the hero and  the heroine in this story a lot.  I don’t usually like a book with a kid in it but I enjoyed this one.

I recommend this book.  It can be ordered at the publisher http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-143/Melanie-Atkins-New-Orleans/Detail.bok     or Amazon among other places.

“I’m So Happy For You”- a Book Review

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I’m reluctant to review books that I really don’t enjoy but I wanted to talk a bit about this one. I read this book over a few days on my lunch break. I read the first two chapters with the thought that I really didn’t like any of the characters in the thing.  I hoped that somewhere along the line that would change. It did not. I never liked any of them.

The writer is an excellent writer. She does quite well with her prose and there were a few spots that amused me but the overall tenor of the book was just not my cup of tea. Both of the female main characters (I know one was supposed to be the protagonist, but I like to like the protagonist so I don’t want to call her that! LOL!) were unlikable in many respects. It was just not a fun read at all. 

In the author notes, she states, “One of my goals in writing…was to make both main characters simultaneously problematic and sympathetic. If you come away loathing one or both of them, I haven’t done my job.”  Well, I hate to say it, but for this reader, she didn’t do her job. I loathed them both.

I believe the book to be well written but it was sadly not for me. I did finish it with the hope that it would be more satisfying than it was.  Regrettably, I can’t recommend this one.

“THE COUNT’S LAIR”

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Just finished reading an advance reader copy of this book and I’ll be posting a review of it both on this blog and my alter-ego’s blog.  I thought I’d share the beautiful book trailer with you all before I get the review done- whet your appetite so to speak.  This book comes out in February from Desert Breeze Publishing http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/StoreFront.bok.  The book is by Stephanie Burkhart.  Enjoy the trailer!