Review: “Seeing Red” by Sandra Brown

Seeing Red
A review by Vanessa

This book was purchased and suggested by my mother, an avid mystery reader.

Sleeping off a hangover, and staying out of the spotlight, are John Trapper’s top priorities in life when news reporter Kerra comes walking through the door of his P.I. office. But if the bombshell of information she just dropped on his desk is any indication, he won’t be achieving either of those. Kerra wants Trapper’s help to get in contact with his famous, and now reclusive, hero father so she can reveal a secret of her own to the world; a secret about the infamous Pegasus hotel bombing that happened to make Major Trapper a hero 25 years prior. But Trapper knows there is more to the bombing than anyone else thinks from his time investigating it while at the ATF. His obsession with the tragedy that shaped his father’s, and by extension his, life got him fired 3 years ago, and left him estranged from his father. But the appearance of Kerra might just be the one thing that breaks the whole mystery wide open. Kerra won’t give up until she gets an interview with the man who saved her life all those years ago. She’s prepared do what she has to. What she isn’t prepared for are her feelings for Trapper. She can see the wounds he tries to hide, and she knows together they can find the answers to the questions he has. Especially when finding those answers may be the only thing that saves her life this time.
This book is a good read and the prose itself is as flawless as it can be. The dialogue is engaging, and scenes playing out between the characters were filled with tension and interesting twists. Last minute changes in direction during the action keep the reader engaged and propel the story line forward. The love interest is scorching and not easily to be forgotten. The hero is the very definition of smoldering; your classic brooding sex-god with a difficult past that you can’t help but fall in love with and want to “save.” The heroine is no exception to this of course. On the whole Kerra stands on her own ground for most of the story; holding on to her determination, displaying her strength of character and stubbornness without shame, and generally giving the hero a run for his money.
The only mildly disappointing thing is that after meeting Trapper, each time Kerra makes a move within the story line so much of her motivation is linked directly to him. Yes, her initial determination is for herself at the beginning and that makes her an interesting catalyst for the beginning of the story line. But thereafter her personal journey takes a back seat to his. Kerra has such an interesting backstory, but her background doesn’t seem to inform her current behavior at all after it has been established. With Trapper, you can see the personal torture that comes with it every decision he makes, and it makes him a very engaging character even when he is being a jerk. But for Kerra there are so many moments throughout the book where she seems to be there more as a prop for the hero rather than as a driving factor in the plot line of the book, even though her life is literally on the line. Although she fades in later chapters she isn’t an entirely gray character, and the story as a whole keeps the dynamic between the characters, including Kerra, interesting and engaging. Good read.

4 out of 5 stars

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

Advertisements

Review: “In a Dark, Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware

A review by Emily

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a New York Times Bestseller and is soon to be adapted to the big screen by Reese Witherspoon. This novel is a mystery thriller about a 26-year-old introverted, mystery writer (though this profession doesn’t seem to make sense to assign to a character described as having little life experience and naivete) named Nora who receives an invitation to a Bachelorette party weekend of a friend she hasn’t seen in 10 years. She is puzzled by the invite and hesitant to attend but gets roped into going by another friend of hers from high school with whom she has also lost touch.

Nora has tried for the last 10 years to put and keep her ex-best friend Clare and her ex-boyfriend in the past and she struggles with moving forward with her life and having to deal with past insecurities. We don’t learn of the deep connection between she and her ex-boyfriend until half-way through the novel, which could have been introduced earlier and been developed more to make the reader care more about her lost relationship and the events that follow. We never do learn about how Nora and Clare broke off their friendship; there had been a lead up to it the entire novel as if it were a big conflict that ended their friendship, which would have explained a lot of tension between the characters but this is not explored as thoroughly as I would have liked.

Throughout the novel, a lot of the characters motivations do not seem to add up or do not seem completely authentic. One character whom could have been implicated as the guilty party, is never explored as a suspect although there could have been a large, gleaming motive for murder that is never mentioned, which could have added more mystery and suspense to the story. The main stage of the whole novel is a mysterious large glass house in the middle of the woods. The author keeps alluding to its lack of privacy and the feeling of vulnerability of staying in it but it disappointingly doesn’t play as large of a part as you would expect it to besides adding an air of creepiness to the story. The development of the character of Clare, Nora’s best friend, leaves out certain key aspects that come out late in the novel. This novel is a quick read and a suspenseful page turner. It has a lot of twists that are unexpected and some that were kind of predictable. This novel is entertaining, however, and will leave you with chills.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

Review: “One for the Money” (Stephanie Plum #1) by Janet Evanovich

A review by Vanessa

This book is from my own personal library; this review takes a look at the popular novel through the lens of the major motion picture it became.

Stephanie Plum is no stranger to desperation. It’s not like she hasn’t been through the ringer before, but when she loses her job as a lingerie buyer and is forced to go to work for her perverted cousin Vinnie at his bail bonds office, she knows she has hit a new low. But when a big FTA (failure to appear) hits Vinnie’s desk, Stephanie thinks things might just be looking up. The FTA is the man who took Stephanie’s virginity, Joe Morelli, and she’s got a big score to settle with him. Tracking him down and dragging his ass back to jail is the perfect opportunity to do just that, and make some big cash as a bounty hunter. Of course she has no skill-set, no training, no tools, and no cash to get what she needs to get started. Blackmailing her cousin into letting her take the case is just the first step. If she wants to make a real go of this new career, she’ll have to get serious. Enter Ranger. The guy is big and scary to the max, with attitude, gorgeous eyes, and muscles for days; but he’s the real deal, and he’s willing to mentor Stephanie so she has a chance at catching Morelli. Now all she has to do is survive telling her traditional Italian family that she’s about the take on a job where she has to start carrying a gun.
Things get crazy, hilarious, and terrifying quickly when the case surrounding Morelli’s arrest turns out to be far more complicated than Stephanie thought. Luck is on her side when she finds Morelli fast, but doesn’t have the clout to bring him in. Her only option is to follow the evidence, and the trail of criminal activity that Morrelli is tracking to try and clear his name. Maybe she can catch him unaware and force him to bring himself in. But getting more involved means getting into the line of fire of a psychotic murderer, some big time drug runners, and her crazy grandmother who is unnaturally fascinated with Stephanie’s new line of work. She has got to get Morrelli to come in before someone gets really hurt. She just hopes it isn’t her. But maybe with a whole lot of dumb luck, a little strangely accurate intuition, and the right timing, she’ll get her man in the end.
This book is the first in a long series that got its start back in the mid 90’s, and was made into a movie in 2012. For a book series that now spans multiple decades, it’s no secret why it’s still going: Evanovich is a master of character writing. She weaves the story together in sometimes interestingly haphazard ways, but always the characters that drive the action are multi-layered, unfailing entertaining, and admirably lovable or the kind you love to hate. Stephanie Plum is the perfectly inept heroine of her own story; brassy, bold, unpredictable, totally independent, and completely unprepared for everything she gets herself into. And boy, does she get herself into some crazy stuff, often with her hilarious Grandma Mazur in tow. This book made me fall in love with Stephanie and all her wacky hi-jinks, so I was of course ecstatic to learn that it was being made into a movie. But as always when a favorite novel goes Hollywood, there is bound to be some disappointment.
Overall, I have to say I was impressed with how the movie was able to modernize so many aspects of the story, without ruining the essence of what made the original story so great. Throwing cell phones, modern technology, and an update to Stephanie’s iconic fashion habits into the mix could have played out of tune with a story that was written in the 90’s, but they did a good job. What was lacking was the backbone of what made Evanovich’s writing so great; the strength of the characters. Katherine Heigl is no slouch in the acting business, and I certainly appreciated the independence, determination, and attitude that she tried to bring to the Stephanie Plum character. But there is a certain element to Stephanie, an untenable unpredictable ability to bullshit her way through almost anything, that was lacking in her movie persona. Morelli, played by Jason O,Mara, was a bit more satisfying with his passionate anger, and lust filled attitude, but even he was bit too much fiery Irish-man and not enough smooth-and-simmering Italian.
But I was most let-down by Grandma Mazur. The lovely Debbie Reynolds is a wonderful actress, and her brashness on screen was entertaining, but her liveliness was no match for the Grandma Mazur of my imagination; the one who sports spandex shorts to match Stephanie’s coolness factor and somehow pulls it off better than she does; is innocently fascinated with Stephanie’s gun right up to and including when she shoots the gumpy off the chicken at family dinner; and is fiercely loved and protected by Stephanie who feels they are kindred spirits. I still enjoyed seeing the personification of my favorite characters on screen, but I do hope one day they bring it back as a TV series, and spend a lot of time picking out the perfect people to capture the fantastic essence of the characters.

4.5 out of 5 stars for the book
3 out of 5 stars for the movie

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

Review: “Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)” by Rachel Caine

Review- Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

A review by Amanda.

I read this book for free as part of the Prime First program, offered to those with Amazon Prime memberships.

Gwen Proctor, new resident of Norton, Tennessee, used to be Gina Royal. Gwen’s former life ended the day she, and the rest of the world, discovered that her husband was a serial killer. An accident revealed the truth about Melvin Royal and everything turned upside down for Gwen and her two children. Not everyone was satisfied with the outcome of his trial; many people believe that Gwen knew about her husband’s heinous activities, or that she was his accomplice. Vile threats against Gwen and her children prompted her to run and hide with them, changing identities as needed.

In the four years since the discovery, Gwen has trusted no one. She has taken precautions against potential threats and only accepts help when absolutely necessary. Her first and only priority is making sure her children are safe even when it causes friction. When she realizes that her paranoia is causing more problems than it solves, Gwen considers putting down roots and trusting a few people. But then a woman is murdered in a fashion eerily similar to her ex-husband’s M.O., she discovers that she can’t protect them from everything, and that sometimes it pays to stay vigilant.

This book was thrilling in the truest sense of the word. The author offered a unique twist in a classic thriller trope, and raised several excellent questions that aren’t typically considered in the mystery genre. The perspective from the family of a serial killer is a complex one full of horror, rage, betrayal, guilt, and plenty of doubt. The story is told exclusively from Gwen’s point of view in present tense. This added a sense of urgency that complemented the fast pace and made it impossible to stop turning pages. The story is character-driven, with the mystery acting as a catalyst rather than the main focus. Readers will be immediately drawn into Gwen’s life. She is intelligent, fierce, driven, and very human. She doubts her decisions, questions her parenting abilities, and makes mistakes. She appears cold at times but doesn’t apologize for it. Her kids, Lanny and Connor, are balanced precariously between childlike and adult attitudes tipping back and forth throughout the book. The other supporting characters are richly developed. Even those who appear sparingly give a feeling of being actual people with histories that extend beyond the pages of the book.

There are several fairly graphic descriptions of violence and death throughout the book, as well as mentions of torture and rape, but nothing that seems gratuitous.

Rachel Caine is also the author of the young adult series The Morganville Vampires, as well as The Great Library series, the Weather Warden series, and several others. Stillhouse Lake will be released on July 1st, 2017.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

BOOK TOUR Review: “Unforgiving” by Alisic Adnan

BOOK TOUR Review- "Unforgiving" by Alisic Adnan

A review by Domoni.

Meho is a teenage boy with teenage problems. He lives at home with his family, goes to school every day, can’t figure out how to talk to his crush, and has problems with a bully. Meho also has problems a typical teenage boy doesn’t have. Meho is from Sarajevo. His village destroyed, he was adopted by an American family; a mother and father who give him everything he needs and a brother, Bucky, who worships him.  Meho is haunted by what he has done to survive and what he will do to those who destroyed his home and family.

This was a dark but interesting story. In a lot of ways, it was easy to relate to the way Meho behaved. His early life was harsh and cold. Killing meant survival, and who wouldn’t want to off the people who have taken so much from them? Many of the things in this story were just too farfetched though. Meho and Bucky are incredible hackers, who were able to hack into the biggest banks and siphon off millions and not get caught.  They also were trained in biochemistry by their grandfather, enough to work in a lab alone apparently. The calculated way a teen can plan and execute professional killers was a bit of a stretch.  Looking past that, Meho is not an average boy and the story has some twists and turns I did not expect.

The author is a good writer and does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters and keeping the reader on their toes. The world is full and vibrant so the story is easy to read. I think it would have been easier for me if the characters were a little bit older as some things wouldn’t feel as implausible. Overall, it is a good read and I would read more by this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

Unforgiving
Alisic Adnan
Publication date: January 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

12 years after surviving horrific massacre, 15-year- old Meho commits ruthless murders and sets in motion the event which could change the world order.

The murders are followed by the trial of the century, where media vilifies Meho as a psychopath, mass murderer, and a monster — all under the influence of FBI, who are trying to conceal the identity of the victims and protect the National Security.

The only person who believes that Meho is innocent is his 10-year-old brother Bucky, who will turn heavens and earth to free Meho. After learning the truth, Bucky is devastated, but not all things are as they seem, and the truth will be revealed at the very end.

Add to Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

After witnessing terrible war atrocities, Adnan Alisić escaped from Bosnia and came to Phoenix, Arizona where he became a successful businessman. Entangled in a gambling addiction, he was forced to execute this sensational casino heist. He can be reached at Alisic.adnan6@gmail.com or http://www.AlisicAdnan.

Website / Goodreads

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

XBTBanner1

BOOK TOUR Review: “Fallen Star” by Allison Morse

Review:

A review by Domoni.

Kate Bloom wants to make movies. She doesn’t want to be in movies like her famous grandmother she so resembles, though. When she finds the missing footage from her grandmother’s lost film, she sets out to preserve it and try to expose who murdered her grandmother. She enlists the help of her great aunt and fellow film maker Dylan to help repair and protect the old film. Kate’s frequent nightmares seem to be telling her to leave, but are they nightmares or a message from beyond?

This book opens with a 13 year old Kate dressing up as her famous grandmother to impress a director who tried to rape the child. The story then continues nine years later and though Kate is affected by that event, she has grown to be a strong woman. This story does a good job of capturing the portrayed eras of Hollywood. Kate is a stubborn woman and the type of feminist that bristles at a man holding the door open for her. She is determined to be who she wants to be and has no interest in being who other people want her to be.

I struggled to like this book as many of the characters just bothered me. They were hardly likable and each had an ulterior motive of their own. I felt like the story couldn’t decide between being a supernatural mystery and a sort of noir mystery. Though the writing style was good and the author can create a clear picture easy to imagine, the story did not capture my attention easily and I struggled through it. I did manage to connect enough to enjoy it in the end.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

review_tourbanner_fallenstar

Fallen Star

by Allison Morse

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE:  Psychological Mystery with Strong Gothic Elements

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who killed 1940s screen goddess Gloria Reardon? Her unsolved murder hypnotized the public with its scandalous details and shocked two generations. 

In this coming of age gothic tale, avid feminist and aspiring filmmaker Kate Bloom discovers long lost footage that holds the key to who murdered her grandmother. Legendary movie star, Gloria Reardon, may be dead, but friends and lovers from the Golden Age of Hollywood’s heyday are still very much on the scene, and it seems everyone has something to gain or lose from Kate’s discovery. Enlisting the youthful and brash film restorer Dylan Nichols as her closest ally, Kate becomes haunted by Gloria’s glittering past. Caught between glamorous Old Hollywood and the gritty, exciting New Hollywood of the 1970s, Kate is determined to find out what really happened to her grandmother and in the process, becomes the killer’s new target.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Two hours later, she sat in Dylan’s rumbling Mustang, heading toward her childhood home. The companionable silence of the drive was made all the more soothing by the summer sun dappling through the shade of the elm trees lining blocks of Claremont Village. That was, until he parked in front of her house.

She felt the now familiar lap of moist heat brushing her skin.

She gritted her teeth. Weren’t ghosts supposed to be cold! This feeling was too warm, too seductive to be ethereal.

Ghosts? No. That’s crazy talk.

Yet, maybe gothic castles and windswept moors weren’t the only places where spirits lingered. Here, at her celery green home with its single car attached garage, small lawn, and one lonely palm tree, she sensed her mother’s anger at a world that had taken so much from her. And she felt Gloria as if she sat right beside her.

With a sense of panic, Kate double checked what she was wearing. No swan pin, no revealing bathing attire, only her wonderfully large tee shirt, scuffed jeans and boots.

Yeah! She was still herself!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Allison is the author of two novels: The Sweetheart Deal and Fallen Star. She lives with her husband in a house in the hills that’s filled with books.

For book club resources and to learn more about Allison and her new fiction, please visit her Website at http://www.allisonmorseauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allison.morse.16

Twitter ID:  AllisonMorseLA

Buy links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2fyc7Vq

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/2bnsv8Q

KOBO – http://bit.ly/2bntdDm

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Allison Morse will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BOOK TOUR Review: “A Lady Never Lies” by Stephanie Burkhart

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

A Lady Never Lies is the third story in The Windsor Diaries series. I have not read the previous stories, this did not seem to be a problem in following this tale. The Windsor family are the adult children of the modern day British Royal family. With the permission of the government they use a time machine to travel back to Victorian England. This story centers on a young woman from the Victorian time period named Jocelyn Dunkirk. She is a noble lady of unconventional character who is more interested in tinkering and inventing with her father and trying to help clean the air of coal dust and smoke, than with sticking with expected protocol and gender roles. Richard Windsor is the modern day Prince of Wales and next in line to the throne. During his travels through time, he fell hard for Jocelyn but duty required he leave her, and now he is returning to her time to capture her heart.

The story opens on the night of the wedding of Edmund Windsor, Richards brother, and his new bride Keira, a woman from the Victorian time. Like Richard, Edmund fell for a woman out of his time. He chose to stay with her in her time and marry her. While at the wedding, the ring Richard left Jocelyn with to prove his affection, began acting strange and heating up. When she removed it from her fingers, her father noticed it sparking. As he leaned over the ring to inspect it, ash from his cigar fell on the ring and it causes a massive explosion. The ballroom is rocked and Jocelyn is thrown backwards, injuring her ankle. When she recovers her wits, she finds her father badly injured and burned. Festivities are halted as the Lord Ridgecroft, Jocelyn’s father, is carried from the room. At this moment Richard Windsor returns in time to see the woman he loves, terrified and angry that the ring he gave her caused this event, rushing out after her father.

The Lord Ridgecroft’s injuries are severe, but there is no time to dwell. The coal miners of England are on strike and the country is quickly starting to suffer. Parliament assigns Jocelyn to help convince the miners and the bosses to settle and she must be off to handle this business in her father’s place. What she did not expect to learn is that an unknown male cousin will be set to inherit her father’s title and lands if he were to succumb to his injuries. Due to a condition in her grandfather’s will, only males may inherit. So now Jocelyn must meet this cousin and take his measure while he accompanies her on the mission to settle the coal miners strike. During all of this stress, Jocelyn must decide where her heart lies. Can she be with Richard? He cannot stay in her time, but she cannot leave her father behind.

This book was described as steampunk, though I don’t find it to be so. Yes Jocelyn tinkers with a couple of items, which don’t get much description, and there seem to be steam engines, it is more like a time travel story with a small nod to steampunk. I was hoping for more on that front.

The bones of the story were good. Though I felt it lacked the support to be great. It was a quick read with little atmosphere or description. The love scenes were short and lacked description or heat. The personalities of the characters were not developed, nor were the relationships. To me it felt very rushed and I could have used much more detail to get me invested. I was never able to latch onto a character’s motivation for why they behaved the way they did and in the case of the main character, was conflicted in her behavior. She repeatedly said nothing mattered but being with her father, but didn’t argue or second guess the trip to deal with the strike. I suppose duty to country is important, but without enough insight to understand the characters, it made little sense.

I loved the idea of the story, but I just wanted more from it. It does end with a tie-in to bring the reader back for the next story and I may start from the first and read the series to see if the characters get more fleshed out with time.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

TOUR GIVEAWAY!

Stephanie will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour! 

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour here—the more you comment, the higher your chances of winning!

This page contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.