Review: “Bring Her Home” by David Bell

Review: "Bring Her Home" by David Bell

A review by Amanda.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tragedy has struck the small town of Jakesville. Fifteen-year-old Summer and her best friend Haley, who has been missing for two days, were found in a local park. Both girls had been severely beaten beyond recognition and only Summer is still clinging to life. Summer’s mother died a year and a half before and her father, Bill, has been struggling to raise his only child on his own. Relief that she has been found alive is mixed with anger at whoever has done this horrible crime, and guilt over mistakes he has made as a parent. The investigation into the girls’ disappearance has uncovered some surprising and troubling details about things that shake Bill to his core, and lead to more questions than answers.

Bill Price appears to be an average middle-aged man who has been thrown into some extraordinary and tragic circumstances. He is overcome with grief, shock, and occasional bouts of rage, and has some secrets of his own that he’d prefer to keep buried. His sister Paige is his only real confidante as he tries to find the truth about what happened to Summer on his own. The beleaguered lead detective, Detective Hawkins, has his work cut out for him with Bill’s attempts to find the person responsible alternately hindering and helping the investigation.

The story is told exclusively from Bill’s perspective, so readers only know what he knows as the investigation unfolds. Bill is not the most sympathetic of characters; at times he is downright unlikeable in spite of the circumstances. Readers will be drawn in through the mystery and the unexpected twists and supporting characters will keep them engaged. Getting to know Summer, Paige, and Bill’s late wife Julia, albeit through Bill’s eyes, gives the book depth and warmth and gives readers characters to connect with and root for. Aside from the unlikeability of the main character, the story is well written and intriguing. The unpredictable plot twists are a pleasant surprise amidst the oversaturated mystery genre. Violence and strong allusions to sexual assault are mentioned but not graphically described.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Nightshades” by Melissa F. Olson

A review by Amanda.

Vampires, more commonly known as shades, are terrorizing Chicago. Teenagers have gone missing and bodies are turning up, and Chicago’s newly formed Bureau of Preternatural Investigations has been tasked with hunting down the shades responsible. The recently promoted Special Agent-In-Charge, Alex McKenna, and his team will have to think outside of the box to catch these bad guys. Alex goes farther beyond the box than any other agent has by adding a shade to the team, hoping to use her wealth of inside information to gain the advantage. Perhaps, in extreme cases, only a shade can catch a shade.

Lindy Frederick has gone “mainstream” for the last several decades, forgoing her kind’s habit of living off the grid. She’s worked hard to blend in and put the past behind her, using her knowledge of languages to work as a translator. Working for the BPI puts her human pretense at risk, but the shades who have been taking the teens are risking exposing everyone and Lindy has to decide for herself which risk is greater. She agrees to join Alex’s team under the condition that her human cover stays intact. Can they put their prejudices aside to solve this case, before anyone else goes missing?

Nightshades reads as a police procedural with a supernatural bend. It is quick-paced and a bit dry, but definitely not boring. The twist on the overused vampire mythology is different enough to be entertaining rather than predictable. The characters do not have a ton of depth. There is definitely room for growth and further development for each of main characters but they are all interesting people. I found myself wanting to keep reading so I could get to know them better. The author has set the stage beautifully for a sequel, which I will read without hesitation.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “A Criminal Magic” by Lee Kelly

BOOK TOUR Review, "A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly

A review by Domoni.

Joan is desperate to take care of her family. Since the awful day her mother died, her main concern is caring for her young sister Ruby and making sure to keep a roof over the heads of her sister, cousin, and even the uncle she despises. Their family barely survives off the money they make selling her uncle’s shine. In Prohibition times, the bottled magic gives a high that can’t be beat. But that magic is illegal and since her uncle drinks as much as he makes, the money doesn’t come in as much as it is needed. Joan hid her own magic abilities from everyone in her life. Until the day that Gunn came offering her uncle an opportunity to turn their fortunes around.  When her uncle Jeb’s wasted form doesn’t impress the gangster, Joan steps up and confesses her abilities. Now she is caught up in a job that could save her family, or ruin her.

Alex despises magic and its allure. He used to help his father bottle shine before his father’s arrest. Then he hid his abilities and even began training to become a Prohibition agent. He claims to hate magic, but really he just hates the life he lost with his father’s arrest. When he is brought before some top Prohibition agents and unmasked as a sorcerer, he can either go undercover as a sorcerer to the mob, or face prosecution of his own. Maybe he can get back the life he wants, but trying to take down this gang could take all he has left.

This book takes place in an alternate reality. The time of Prohibition and gangs ruling the streets are alive and well, but magic is the center, not alcohol. The world the author created was a shadow to the story though. I found myself often forgetting the era that was supposed to be portrayed. It could literally be anytime or place. So if you are looking for a story that embraces the mob culture, this is not it.  That does not make this a bad story though. I did enjoy the tale.

Joan and Alex are well developed characters with personalities and conflicts that evolve and grow through the story. With their evolution, my enjoyment and opinions of the characters also changed. I found myself becoming more invested in Alex as time passed and more disappointed in Joan. The smaller characters were not as fleshed out and I do wish there was a bit more about them included in the story. In the end, the idea of the story itself held me more than the events taking place in the pages of this book.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: "A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly

A Criminal Magic
Lee Kelly
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult

THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new crossover fantasy novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

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Lee Kelly

Author Bio:

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and children in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker. She is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages. Visit her at http://www.NewWriteCity.com.

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Fangirl Book Club Pick of the Month: “First Grave On The Right (Charley Davidson #1)” by Darynda Jones

Every month, our club votes on the book that we will read for that month. August’s winning book was First Grave On The Right by Darynda Jones. The following review is based on a verbal discussion at August’s meeting.

Spoiler-­free Synopsis:

Charley Davidson is a private detective with a unique edge on her competition – she can see and speak with ghosts. Working alongside her assistant Cookie, and her police detective Uncle Bob (also known as Ubie), Charley has a reputation for closing difficult cases. She also has a reputation for talking to people that no one else can see, and for being a snarky, strange lady who gives nicknames to body parts and inanimate objects, but that’s beside the point. Life is business as usual until the case that she’s on takes an unexpected turn, bringing a mysterious savior from her past back into her world. Cue the sexy dreams and sexual frustration…

What We Liked:

We had quite the discussion about this book at August’s meeting. A few members had read this series before and enjoyed the chance to start it over. Most of those who read it for the first time were hooked and immediately hunted down book two, Second Grave On The Left, to continue the series. Fans loved Charley and her unfiltered snark, Cookie’s unflinching loyalty in the face of extreme weirdness, and the sexy times starring Reyes Farrow. The chapter headings were a huge hit, featuring hilarious quotes from t-shirts, bumper stickers, and Charley herself. The plot kept us interested by switching between the main case that Charley worked with the police, one of her own PI cases, and her personal dramas, sometimes intertwining in unexpected ways. Charley was engaging, charismatic, and someone that we wanted to be BFFs with. She was oddly relatable, with her humor, flaws, and coffee addiction. Her friendship with Cookie gave us definite Squad Goals. Several members reported reading parts of the book out loud to family members and laughing aloud frequently. The story went by faster than expected; once we began reading it was difficult to put it down again.

What We Didn’t Like:

As for the downsides, there were only a couple of issues that came up in the discussion. First, as it’s the first book in a series, there was a lot of information given to set the world up and some members felt like parts were rushed. There appeared to be some gaps in information as well, although those are likely cleared up in future books. The interactions between Reyes and Charley bothered a few because they felt forced and one-sided. Perhaps because so many members related to her on a personal level, we felt somewhat protective of Charley and concern was expressed at Reyes’ callous behavior. Our collective hope is that this changes in future books, and we are eager to keep reading to make sure that Charley gets a happy ending, no matter who she ends up with!

Fangirl Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: “Fight Club 2” by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

"Fight Club 2" by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

A review by Domoni.

Fight Club 2 picks up 10 years after the original ended. Sebastian, the nameless narrator from the first book, is now married to Marla and they have a son. Living a basic 9 to 5 lifestyle, full of work, family and psychiatric medications, his fight club days are long past. Marla however feels like their love life has gotten a little boring, so she has been switching out some of his meds for placebos. A little bit of Tyler Durden in the night keeps her happy. But crazy slips easily through the cracks. Tyler is back and up to no good.

Many people in the world, not just Marla, were out to bring Tyler back from Sebastian’s subconscious. Tyler Durden is a genetic mental illness that can spread apparently. He is still plotting the end of the world and can control not just Sebastian, but Sebastian and Marla’s son as well. When he kidnaps the boy the parents go separate ways to find him.

Sebastian returns to the club. He infiltrates the group to find out where Tyler is holding his son and what his plans are. Marla goes back to a support group. She connects with a group of kids with Progeria and manipulates them into becoming her own tiny aged army. When the boy is located and Tyler’s plan to create his own sort of Noah’s ark comes out, will they save the planet?

So this sequel is in graphic novel form, which I was excited about. Reading it in the serials will probably be more difficult than the full omnibus edition though, because this book is kind of a mess. I was very let down by the chaos and the poor storyline. The writer injecting himself in such an odd way and addressing his readers dislike of the series was even more odd.

Even discussing the book is difficult as it was all over the place and chaotic to read. I did not enjoy it and doubt I will return for the proposed fight club 3. The last portion of the omnibus edition contains some interesting art and bits from the original as well as conversations about the planning of the books and was somewhat interesting to read through.

The art style was very impressive and my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed the line work and the watercolor dividers. I wish the story had held up as well as the graphics.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “Chasing Evil” by Kylie Brant

Chasing Evil by Kylie Brant A review by Amanda.

When Ed Loebig’s puppy Digger lives up to his name by digging at a freshly turned grave, Ed feels embarrassed at first. The embarrassment turns to horror once he realizes that there’s a body in the grave that doesn’t belong there. Ed calls the local sheriff, who puts the word out and brings in agents from Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation – and the hunt for a serial killer begins. Six more bodies are found across several counties, buried in the same fashion. All of the victims are female, and all with signs of being raped and tortured before death by strangulation. None of the women have ID or identifying marks and it’s up to Agent Cam Prescott and his team to find out who they are, what links them together, and who is committing these atrocious acts, before another victim is taken. Doctor Sophia Channing works closely with multiple law enforcement agencies to analyze and profile offenders. Her expertise makes her invaluable to the task force, led by Cam, formed to find this killer. Cam and Sophia’s romantic history makes things complicated, as does the case when the killer decides to targets Sophia…

First of all, anyone who has experienced sexual trauma may want to avoid this book. It wasn’t as graphic as some books and shows, but it gave enough detail to warrant caution. The story was paced very well. It moved quickly with lots of action and changed perspective often enough to keep the reader’s attention. While some of the plot points were predictable, there were a few twists that kept me guessing and intrigued. I did not like Cam much in the beginning. He came across as stereotypically “macho” and sexist. He has a difficult time reconciling the cool and “regal” doctor with her job of interviewing and profiling some of the worst, most gruesome criminals out there. He even compared her to a fairy princess at one point. Cam also appeared to dislike another female character, also a doctor, because her propensity for swearing was at odds with her looks and stature. I got the impression that he viewed her as unladylike and that this was a bad thing, even though she is quite competent at her job. That being said, there is potential for him to grow as the series continues.

I very much enjoyed Sophia. She was intelligent, witty, resourceful, and defiantly chose her own path. She was not a damsel-in-distress; she was a complex woman who did not sit around and depend on others for rescuing, although that didn’t stop her from doing what she could to help them help her. The format of the chapters was also appealing. Each chapter began with a flashback to Cam and Sophia’s prior relationship, which provided more insight into both characters.

Chasing Evil is the first book in the trilogy; books two and three Touching Evil and Facing Evil also feature Cam and Sophia in a continuation of the story. All three books are available now.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Alice’s Portrait” by Juliette Harper

Alice’s Portrait by Juliette HarperA review by Maria.

I would like to thank author Juliette Harper for allowing me to read and review the first three novels in her Lockwood Legacy series. The following is a review of Alice’s Portrait, the third book in the series.

One year has passed since Kate, Jenny, and Mandy came back to The Rocking L ranch to investigate their father’s death and uncover the secrets he kept in life. They’ve been living together on the ranch as their inheritance and have had an eventful time learning to grow again as a family, but also in their lives. Each of the sisters has had to face personal demons inside and in the physical sense. Kate was shot and nearly killed by a hired gun. Jenny had to face an evil man from her past. Mandy had to become the protector of the family when they needed it most. There’s been love, death, and suffering for all three women. Now they’re trying to move on and adjust to their lives together and face what they’re hoping to be a peaceful future of romances, a wedding, and the excavation of Baxter’s Draw. But their troubles are far from over and their father still has a few more secrets buried.

I was very excited for this novel because I had assumed Mandy would be the primary characters as Jenny and Kate had been for the other two books. I wanted to get to know Mandy’s character a little better and also delve more into her romance with the mayor. However this novel essentially featured Kate and Jenny as the main characters, spending equal time with them both. Mandy was even more of a side character in this book and made only sporadic appearances.

I continued to enjoy both Kate’s and Jenny’s characters in this book. Both continued to flourish in strength, courage, and as sisters. Kate struggled with her injury and the hurt she carried from her father. Jenny had a lot of anger for her father and tried to come to terms with it by wanting to paint in his reclusive cave in Baxter’s Draw. Jenny’s love interest, Josh, developed a wonderful friendship with Kate and I really enjoyed their interactions together.

This book wasn’t nearly as dangerous as the other two and instead played out very much as a mystery with the danger and romance kept in the background. Kate and Jenny both try to uncover most about their father’s secrets and end up stumbling upon a network of secrets and the people keeping them.

Like the others in this series, this was a very fast enjoyable read, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book!I

My rating: 3 /5 stars.

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Alices-Portrait

Welcome to the tour for Alice’s Portrait by Juliette Harper! This is a sci-fantasy novel that is adult but clean and appropriate for young adult readers. 
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Alices-Portrait
Alice’s Portrait by Juliette Harper
A year after Kate, Jenny, and Mandy Lockwood inherit The Rocking L, the sisters try to concentrate on their collective and individual futures. In the previous book in The Lockwood Legacy series, Baxter’s Draw, the women made startling discoveries about their father’s secrets, but are mistaken in their belief that everything has now come to light. In Alice’s Portrait, the ghosts of Langston Lockwood’s past once again confront his daughters, forcing them to re-evaluate their understanding of their father and of what it means to be a Lockwood.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Compendium

 Juliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson. Like the characters of their debut series, The Lockwood Legacy, Juliette is a merging of their creative energies. Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan from a long line of hardheaded Scots, knows the world of the Lockwoods like the back of her hand.“We decided to write under a pen name because neither one of us by ourselves could have created Kate, Jenny, Mandy, and their world,” says Pauletti. “Juliette is a little bit of us both. We want to be her when we grow up.”“Patti teases me that I just don’t want to own up to writing a book with romance in it,” Williamson adds, “but that’s not true. I like the Lockwood women and the way they tackle everything life throws at them. And before we’re done, they’ll be ducking a lot. I imagine coming into the office every day and saying, ‘Okay Juliette, what’s going to happen now?’ She tells us, and we get it down on paper.”

AUTHOR ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Twitter
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GIVEAWAY
The author will be giving away $100 Amazon Gift Card (INT) to the winner of the below Rafflecopter.  The giveaway ends May 20th.

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This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.