Friday, June 30, 2017

Dark Deception~Nancy Mehl | Review

Title: Dark Deception (Defenders of Justice #2)
Author: Nancy Mehl
Genre: Thriller
Length: 320 Pages
Release: June 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Once you turn that first page you will begin a ride with your heart in your throat, from beginning to end.

Brilliant storyteller, Nancy Mehl, has once again crafted a dramatic, spine-tingling suspense—guaranteed to keep you holding on to the edge of your seat with bated breath! My thoughts were all over the place as I took a chilling roller coaster ride into the mastermind behind numerous serial killings and his intended victim, Kate O'Brien. Kate has been living a quiet life in small-town, Shelter Cove, under an assumed name, after a horrendous attack four years prior by a notorious serial killer who took the life of her twin sister. Kate appears strong and whole, but much to her chagrin, handsome Deputy U.S. Marshall Tony DeLuca draws attention to the fact that she is in denial about that horrific night and needs inner healing. Tony has his own denial issues when it comes to his feelings about Kate, and protecting her is definitely in the forefront. He accepts an assignment to escort her back to St. Louis, but a new development in the case forces them to stay in Shelter Cove. However, has something sinister taken hold in sleepy little Shelter Cove...and will Tony be able stop any more killings before it is too late? 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pursued~Lisa Harris | Review

Title: Pursued (Nikki Boyd Files #3)
Author: Lisa Harris
Genre: Suspense
Length: 315 Pages
Release: April 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lisa Harris’ latest installment in The Nikki Boyd Files gives new meaning to the words thrill ride. Non-stop action filled with twists and turns is the order of the day. Neither Nikki nor the reader knows from one moment to the next what will happen, making Pursued a late night page turner.

Special Agent Nikki Boyd is on her way home to Tennessee. She is flying on a plane when they encounter some turbulence. The woman in the seat next to Nikki strikes up a conversation and tells Nikki she is afraid. Before they can continue their conversation, more turbulence strikes and it is discovered that the man next to this woman is dead, then the plane takes a nose dive. After getting off the plane, Nikki notices that the woman has accidentally left her watch in her seat. Nikki tries to find her to return it, but doesn’t see her. She asks for her name of a flight attendant and told that no one was sitting in that seat. There is no record of the woman being on the plane. A mystery begins that will take Nikki on a harrowing journey in the next 24-48 hours.

In addition to this, Nikki is to meet Tyler at the airport. He has returned from overseas just a few days ago after a 3-month contract job. He has a new job offer in Tennessee, but he and Nikki haven’t had a chance to talk about a relationship or the future. With this new case of a missing person, Nikki is whisked out of the airport and taken directly to her office to begin the search for the missing woman as Nikki discovers she was supposed to testify at a trial that would have resulted in a famous philanthropist going to jail. With the search on, Nikki is under pressure to find the woman as well as deal with a personal health issue that might affect her future relationship with Tyler. How will she survive the next couple of days? You will have to read this exciting tale to find out!

Pursued was a great book. The characters were all very likable. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sandpiper Cove~Irene Hannon | Review

Title: Sandpiper Cove (Hope Harbor #3)
Author: Irene Hannon
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Length: 352 Pages
Release: April 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I absolutely loved Sandpiper Cove! When I read the summary, and discovered Police Chief Lexie Graham and ex-con Adam Stone were the main characters I was intrigued. What an original story line. This type of relationship falls outside social norms, so I couldn't wait to see how author Irene Hannon would handle this unique and tricky connection. She did a fantastic job of presenting both the attraction and the challenges to be dealt with between them, but what an amazing payoff in the end.

There's a wonderful cast of secondary characters in Lexie's son Matt, her mom Annette, co-worker Luis, Charley the taco-maker, and Reverend Baker, to name a few. The story wouldn't have been complete without Clyde the rescue dog, he tied the whole story together. They all added a rich layer of dialogue and understanding as to what it means to live as community in a small charming seaside town. An at-risk teen name Brian and the struggles he faced while trying to navigate high school and find acceptance as the new kid on the block was especially poignant and touching.

It doesn't happen often that all aspects of a story come together so well, but they did in Sandpiper Cove. Loyalty, commitment, friendship, encouragement, faith and love, the things of value that make life memorable, they're all there in this book.
"Any damaged board can be smoothed out and made new with work and patience."

Is Adam Stone a "damaged board"? Starting life over as an ex-convict, in a small town, is not an easy thing to do, but Adam Stone has managed to live a simple life as a responsible citizen, out of the limelight in his solitary cabin by the Oregon coastline. Until one day, the beautiful police chief shows up at his doorstep, tipped off by a local, about the recent vandalism on Stone's property and "a tiny ember of hope for a future that included more than a loyal, lovable dog for a companion began to glow in a long-dark corner of his heart".

Lexie Graham has hardly noticed Adam Stone since he arrived in Hope Harbor, and she would have remembered it if she had. Ruggedly handsome, coupled with a humble spirit, is a hard thing to forget. Acting on a hunch, Chief Graham commandeers Adam's help with one of the troubled youths proven to be a part of the local pranks, and in the process, discovers a part of herself that has lain dormant since the death of her husband. "Was she ready to let go of the past and take a chance on a future that could be fraught with challenges - and change?"

This addition to Irene Hannon's "Hope Harbor" series is all about trusting God to open the door to second chances. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Threads of Suspicion~Dee Henderson | Review

Title: Threads of Suspicion (Evie Blackwell Cold Case #2)
Author: Dee Henderson
Genre: Suspense
Length: 432 Pages
Release: May 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

In Threads of Suspicion, Evie is part of the newly formed Missing Persons Task Force. She chooses to pursue the case of a college student who went missing without a trace in 2007. Her colleague, David, is researching the case of a missing Private Investigator who likewise vanished without a trace. While the two cases are dissimilar in time, they share a general locale which is why the two investigators are working at the same office location. As they separately pursue their cases, they bounce ideas and thoughts off one another.

There is something very relatable in all of Henderson's characters, and Evie is no different. Her personal internal debate as she is trying desperately to find the balance between career and relationships is very real to life. Dee manages to make police investigations about more than details (though her writing research gets all those details right!) but also about the people involved.

Detective Evie Blackwell is good at what she does; really good, so good in fact, that she has just been appointed by the governor to serve on an elite "Missing Persons Task Force" for the state of Illinois. Working within a team of highly talented investigators, she and her partner, David Marshal, head to Chicago to work on cases that don't seem to have anything in common except geographic location, until "threads of suspicion" begin to unravel in all directions and the two top cops feel a sense of urgency to find their killer.

This second novel in Dee Henderson's "Evie Blackwell Cold Case" series reads like an investigative textbook; full of swirling data, and confusing innuendos, but thankfully letting its readers tip-toe into the hearts and minds of two very focused detectives, whose personal lives hold just as many challenges as the facts of this case.

As the investigations continue, the cases begin to intertwine and even cross over into the personal lives of the two investigators. The resources of others are called in as the potential crimes take on even more ominous tones.

In addition to the mystery, the personal lives of the investigators are progressing. Evie has commitment issues and is trying to get to the bottom of why she is afraid of marriage. David's fiancee, Maggie, has commitment issues of her own with regards to faith.
Once again (at least for me) Dee Henderson has hit one out of the ballpark. This second in the Evie Blackwell series has a great mix of new and previous characters from other books. The intricacies of working a cold case and the intuitiveness of the requirements the law officers need to pull these cases together Dee relates in a very compelling and interesting manner. This book, though different from other books by Dee, is well worth the read.

Reading Dee Henderson's books is becoming part of the story. You love her characters, you hurt when they hurt, you smile when they smile and you wish you knew people like that in real life. When the story is over you look forward to the next one. Will it be about someone you met in this story? You hope so, because you don't want to let go of the people you met this time.

I highly recommend "Threads of Suspicion" by Dee Henderson. Evie Blackwell is a top investigator, with her partner, David Marshall. Trying to solve cases in Chicago area. They are trying to solve issuing person, but a cold case. As usual Dee Henderson has written a hard to put down mystery. A great book!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Moving Target~Lynette Eason | Review

Title: Moving Target (Elite Guardians #3)
Author: Lynette Eason
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Length: 331 Pages
Release: January 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for review.

If you are searching for a spine-tingling, suspenseful thriller that will keep you peering over your shoulder, then look no further! Moving Target is a chilling who-dun-it that will keep you guessing until the deliciously creepy conclusion. Maddy McKay is one tough cookie who has an Achilles' heel where a certain tenacious detective, Quinn Holcombe, is concerned. However, a romantic relationship can't even be considered until they find the psychotic madman who is bent on exacting revenge by hunting them down like prey.

I love Quinn and Maddy. They both were dealing with family drama, and on top of that a mad man wanted them dead. This book has kidnapping, attempted murder, murder, bomb threat, embezzlement, suicide, and a whole lot more. Quinn blamed himself for what happened to his sister. He felt his family had turned their backs on him. Maddy's FBI unit had been set up and everyone blamed her for what happened, including her father. 

The story follows Maddy and Quinn as they face an enemy with an unknown agenda bent on causing destruction. The two friends draw closer together as they learn to rely on each other for protection. 

The book was completely high impact and not one slow moment from page one to the last page. You will be on the edge of your seat. You find yourself sucked in and you just can't put the book down.

I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for great suspense with a little romance thrown in for good measure!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Silent Corner~Dean Koontz | Review

Title: The Silent Corner (Jane Hawk #1)
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Length: 464 Pages
Release: June 2017

I was provided a review copy of this novel by the publisher through Netgalley

Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors, so I was very excited to hear about this upcoming series. After nearly six years of reading his books, I'm still hooked. And The Silent Corner is no exception. 

The story follows Jane Hawk an FBI agent gone rogue when sinister forces threaten her life--and the world in general. Living off the grid, alone, Jane is searching for the reason behind the rise in suicides the world over. Because things don't add up and it has finally touched too close to home. 

Koontz has an absolutely beautiful style of writing and I fall in love with his sentences. Really, there are some that are too beautiful to be ignored. And while his subject matter can be somewhat dark at times, there is always hope. Hope can not be killed. That is evident throughout this novel as Jane fights evil, having to push her own moral boundaries in the process. It's similar to any superhero/vigilante story out there in that respect. The law is not always on her side, but does that mean that what she does is wrong? I guess that's something you have to decide for yourself. 

The concepts in this novel are plausible enough to have you questioning what if scenarios. I won't delve too deeply into that, because it's the meat of Jane's story, but it's so spine tingle disturbing that I almost expected to read about it in the news myself. That's where the power of this novel comes in for me. That big what if question that this inspires in my mind. 

Some readers fault Koontz for his slow pacing, but for me that's a plus. His beautiful writing keep the story engaging no matter how it's paced. And the slowness is generally due to the internal struggles and understanding that is happening within our characters, and a character driven story is always a plus. 

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone with interest in suspense, mystery, or even science fiction. There is action, evil, and above all hope for a new and brighter future. Because Jane Hawk is on our side, and what more could we ask for?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Once and for All~Sarah Dessen | Review

Title: Once and for All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 358 Pages
Release: June 2017

The description created this really nice picture in my head. Unfortunately this did not live up to that image. There are things I liked, but a lot bothered me in this one. 

Going into this I expected a YA romance with a someone cynical main character who had been hurt from some previous relationship. That, however, is not really what this was. There was romance, in an odd way. To avoid spoilers I am not going into the previous relationship that left Louna feeling unsure about love, but I was rather disappointed with it. The story was sad, yes, but there was far too much instalove and that sapped it of any real emotional connection for me. 

The description leads you to believe that Ambrose will leave behind his serial dating and actually try to win Louna over, but that's not the case at all. In fact, for most of the novel it didn't seem like he was any more interested in her than in any other girl there was. While they had their cute moments, their "romance" was seriously lacking. And they way they treated the other people they dated throughout the story was appalling. Honestly, that ending made me rather mad. 

I know that Dessen's novels tend to be strictly YA aged main characters, but I was still a little surprised that Louna turned out to be only seventeen. I think it would have worked better if she had been just a few years older. And it never says how old Ambrose is exactly, which left me a little confused at times. The characters, overall, were rather lackluster for me. Louna was hurt after what happened with her previous relationship, but I also felt like she hadn't really cared before that either. Ambrose had his moments, but was overall kind of a jerk. The rest of the side characters were ok and had some nice moments. 

The main thing that I did appreciate about this one was the relationship between Louna and her mother. It's the healthiest mother/daughter duo I think I've seen in a Dessen novel and it was nice to see that side of things. Neither of them was clueless about the others life and they genuinely cared about helping each other. William was also sweet with Louna and it was nice to see their interactions. 

I also really liked Ira, Ambrose's dog. This added a cute touch and is really what made Ambrose seem like a good guy, since there were no other great indications that he really cared about anything that much. This could have been a great book, I just don't think it was constructed properly for me to feel that way about it. I'm sure that there are many people who will love it and while it wasn't my favorite, it also wasn't my least favorite of Dessen's novels. Well, that's still up for debate. 

After thinking about this book for a few more days, I think I like it less than I initially thought. There was so much potential. Dessen is my go to for contemporary novels, but this was such a disappointment. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Writing | Tuesday Talks

Tuesday Talks is a goodreads group designed to foster discussion on various book related topics. You can join in or follow the discussions through the group.

Are you a writer?
Writing is probably the one thing that comes naturally to me. Am I perfect in my writing? No, not by any means. Am I a good writer? I like to think so. Do I enjoy writing? Yes. It's one of my greatest passions. So let's talk about this a little more. 

I have been creating stories for as long as I can remember. I loved drawing and art as a child (I still do, I just didn't develop the skill) and would carry around notebooks and drawing supplies everywhere I went. It was a long time before I was much of a reader, but I would write all the time using invented spelling and chronicling the adventures of my heroes and heroines. Some of the ideas weren't even that bad, they just need a lot of polish. 

In my teens I wrote a few novels but never edited them or did much with them after that first drafting stage. Since then, I've stared developing my skills more. I write regularly, have joined online writing communities (which can be really helpful), and completed NaNoWriMo once. The writing is the easy part for me; it's the editing that pulls me down. 

My writing journey continues and I finally released a story this year. I am hoping for many more to come. It's short, it's sweet (ish), and I had a blast writing it. Short stories and novellas have become a writing obsession for me, but I still enjoy poetry and novels. Writing is in my blood. 

If you're curious, my story is Worlds with Ruby

Are you a writer? I would love to hear about your writing journey. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Autumn Republic~Brian McClellan | Review

Title: The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3)
Author: Brian McClellan
Genre: Flintlock Fantasy
Length: 580 Pages
Release: February 2015

While this installment didn't quite live up to the standard set by The Crimson Campaign this was a solid conclusion to a series that I will likely revisit in the future. McClellan has the potential to climb the ranks in my list of favorite authors and I'm excited to see what he produces next.

My main drawback in this installment is really the character focus in the story. While it made sense in a lot of ways, there were a lot of characters I wanted to see more of--and, alternatively, so I could have handled with a little less page time. There were some nice father/son moments between Tamas and Taniel that I had been hoping for for a while, but then Taniel essentially disappears. He crops up occasionally, to let you know he's not completely out of the picture, but he is no longer as big of a focus and I missed that. He and Ka-poel are probably my two favorite characters and having them pushed aside so far was rather disappointing. For the story it may have made sense, but I think they could have been worked in a little better.

Through the series it was nice to see Tamas struggle with the things he has done and I really think he grew a lot as a character. He didn't let his mistakes slow him down, which was great, he just kept pushing forward, hoping that something he had done was right. And the back and forth between him and Olem was wonderful. I would have liked to see a little more of this there at the end of the book, but don't want to go into spoilers.

Nila and Bo both stepped to the forefront in this one and I think that's the main area that bothered me. I never found either of these characters particularly compelling and so their portions just kind of dragged for me. There isn't anything in particular that I don't like about them, they were just bland for me where the other characters were colorful. Vlora also had a bit more of a position in this one, though it still wasn't big. She's a character that I don't really know how to feel about. It was one of those cases where I felt like I was supposed  to like her and think she was strong and capable so instead I didn't. I don't know. She just frustrated me.

There is action from start to finish here and while I was not as into the fighting between the gods as I was the fighting between men (or even the men fighting the gods), the ending was still a solid conclusion. Things were wrapped up enough to be satisfying while leaving plenty of room open for further exploration. The characters weren't just ending on a page, they were continuing on afterward.

I definitely recommend this series and hope that McClellan can continue to improve and produce high quality fantasy adventures. His magic systems are fun and unique, his writing sharp, and his storytelling entertaining. Plus, the man can outline a battle. Now onto his new material and hoping that it's just as good as this. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Surprised by an Author | Tuesday Talks

Tuesday Talks is a book discussion group that you can find on goodreads. There is a new topic each Tuesday and it's always fun to jump in and have discussion with other book lovers.

What Authors Surprised You With Their Writing Skills?
One author that immediately comes to mind for this is Sara Ella. I knew Sara through booktube for quite a while before her first book was released, which was really the first time I had read her writing. I was really excited to read her book, but I never know what to expect from new authors, so I was pleasantly surprised by her skill. Her novel Unblemished is not a genre that I tend to love (I prefer high fantasy to urban), I found her writing very compelling and descriptive. I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, Unraveling, which releases July 11th.

What authors have surprised you? 

Friday, June 2, 2017

What Happened to Goodbye~Sarah Dessen | Review

Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Length: 402 Pages
Release: May 2011

I am now up to date with all of Dessen's published novels, which is crazy to me. It has been two years since I started, but still. Where does the time go?

Anyway, back to the book at hand. This was not my favorite of Dessen's novels, but I did really enjoy it. I think that Mclean's struggles through her parents divorce was very realistic and relatable. I have never been that close to a divorce and can only imagine what that would feel like for a young teen, knowing what she knew about the situation. So her identity crisis, while it made her somewhat difficult to connect with at times, was completely understandable.

The parents in this book, the mom in particular, were clueless. How they were so oblivious to their daughter's pain and conflict is beyond me. That said, I do think that there was a good amount of growth in these relationships. You were able to see Mclean come to terms with a lot where this was concerned.

The group of friends that Mclean makes in her new town is a lot of fun. Deb is by far my favorite. I like that she is misunderstood but extremely well rounded. She knows so much but because she is an overwhelming personality people don't react well to her. So much about her reminds me of myself. It was nice to see her being included in a group from which she had always been excluded, and them realizing that she was more than they thought. Dave was also a really nice addition. Dessen is great with slow burn romance and I think it worked well in this case. Mclean needed to come to terms with things in her life before she could really let someone else in, and Dave helped her along the way.

The restaurant side of things gave this one a nice flair. It wasn't the focus of the main story, but even the few glimpses into the workings of the business were fun. And Opal, the manager of Luna Blu, was a nice character to have around. In the beginning I wasn't sure what she would turn into, so I was happy that it turned into a good thing.

The last major thing I want to mention is Jason. He was a minor character here, a boy who worked in the kitchen of Luna Blu (and one of the few that was good at his job). This was the third novel he has appeared in after being a jerk in both The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride. But here he seems different, more mature. And now I want a novel that features him as our main guy. It would be nice to see one of the formerly rejected boys come back and be the star. So now I have my fingers crossed for that to happen.