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.

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review_tourbanner_fallenstar

Fallen Star

by Allison Morse

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GENRE:  Psychological Mystery with Strong Gothic Elements

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

Review: “The Assassin Game” by Kirsty McKay

The Assassin Game by Jesse McKay

A review by Amanda.

At Umfraville Hall, an isolated Welsh school for gifted and genius teens, The Game is everything and sixteen year old Cate is ecstatic when she is invited to play. Cate isn’t particularly gifted, nor is she a genius. She attends Umfraville because her parents own the island that it was built on. Being initiated into The Assassins Guild is her dream come true because it means the she has been accepted by the in-crowd. It also means that she and her two closest friends, also members of the Guild, get to have some extra fun this school year. The Game is known by many names in other parts of the world – Assassin, Murder, etc. One player is secretly chosen to be the “Killer”; they have to “kill” their fellow players one by one without getting caught. There are rules, of course. The kills are actually harmless pranks meant to simulate gruesome deaths. No one should ever actually be injured while playing The Game. They must also be discreet enough to not disrupt school life and annoy the staff. The Killer must eliminate everyone in entertaining ways while the rest of the players have to do their best to figure out who the Killer is before being taken out and removed from play. Whoever is left standing at the end is the winner.

The Game begins as it always does, with a disgusting initiation for the newest members. Then, chaos happens. Rules are bent to allow a new student to play, a boy from Cate’s past whose appearance rattles her in more ways than one. Awkwardness abounds as Cate has to deal with the emotions of two boys that she kissed and then jilted, as well as some threatening notes that may or may not be part of The Game. Her focus is torn when people start getting hurt, for real. Is someone taking The Game a little too seriously, or is there a wannabe serial killer at Umfraville?

The Assassin Game had plenty of intrigue and thrills to keep my attention. Cate narrated as though she was confiding in a friend; she even addressed the reader directly once or twice. The mystery was a good one and the author did a great job of concealing the culprit until the very end. I definitely enjoyed the thriller aspects, as well as the descriptions of the setting. Emotionally, however, I felt like I was in the mind of a sociopath – Cate reacted to various situations appropriately but it felt as though she was simply going through the motions. I knew what emotions Cate was supposed to be feeling, according to the writing, but I could not connect those emotions to her character. It was a struggle to care about what she was experiencing. The other characters had even less depth, which made the story feel oddly lacking.

Ultimately, I liked this book but did not love it.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review: “The Axe Factor” by Colin Cotterill

The Axe Factor by Colin CotterillA review by Hannah.

Jimm Juree was a crime reporter in the big city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, until her family moves to a rural village in southern Thailand.  Now, she splits her time between running the family resort, editing the English signs in the area, freelancing for the local paper, and stumbling upon mysteries.  She is assigned to interview a farang (European) author who writes award winning murder mysteries.  At the same time several local women have left town abruptly, leaving their possessions behind.  Among these women is the author’s young Thai wife and a local doctor.  With a severe storm coming in, can Jimm Juree solve the mystery and save the day?

Jimm is an excellent guide to Southern Thailand.  Even though Maprao, the small village she now lives in, is a fairly backward place, there is a wry fondness in the way Jimm sees her new home.   The joy of riding her bike in the rain, the frustration of trying to find a solid internet connection, and the nosiness of her neighbors all add up to a charmingly rural fishing village.

Jimm loves her country, but she is very aware of its shortcomings.  From the English signs so badly translated that they’re comical, to the blatant corruption of the local authorities, Jimm doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is.  The author’s depiction of Thailand is done in such a way that the foreign is familiar.  As a reader, you get to experience a new country without feeling like a tourist.

Jimm is lead to believe one thing while the reader is lead to believe another.  Both the Jimm and the reader are wrong in the best way possible.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Seven Ways We Lie” by Riley Redgate

Review of "Seven Ways We Lie” by Riley Redgate A review by Amanda.

Seven Ways We Lie tells the story of seven high school students, whose lives are rocked when a scandal erupts at their school. An anonymous email claims that a student is having an affair with a teacher. No names are given so the school administration must open an investigation. Meanwhile, life unravels in different ways for Olivia, Juniper, and Claire – best friends since the sixth grade; Olivia’s twin sister Kat; Claire’s ex-boyfriend Lucas; quiet stoner Matt; and social outcast Valentine. Rumors abound, lies are told, secrets are spilled, and relationships develop and change as everyone tries to figure out who the illicit lovers are, while trying to juggle the usual high school issues on top of everything else.

This might be the best book that I have read in 2015. The narration switched between the seven students and each one had a distinct, natural style. Each character had pieces to the puzzle, and most didn’t even realize. They all had their own, separate dramas happening, with connections to others, that it was easy to set the bigger mystery aside for a bit. Every one of the seven main characters was a fully developed individual, and the writing reflected that when the narrator changed. No topic was off limits. These characters dealt with breakups, divorced parents, abandonment, sexuality and sexual preference, jealousy, drinking, pressure to do well in school, loneliness, bullying, gossip, basically everything that high school students go through in real life. There was a mix of happy endings and bittersweet ones; not everything worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. I enjoyed the candor with which the story was written. The difficult issues were not sugar-coated or glossed over. I believe that any teenager, or adult for that matter, could relate to some aspect of this story and I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary fiction.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss” by Max Wirestone

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone A review by Amanda.

Dahlia Moss is going through a tough time. Her boyfriend cheated and had the audacity to dump her when he got caught, instead of the other way around. She has been unemployed for almost a year, despite going on interviews for any job opening she can find. Her roommate Charice has been very understanding about the rent but Dahlia is determined to find a job and pay her own way. An opportunity that seems too good to be true, but also too good to pass up, falls in her lap when handsome jerk Jonah hires her as a private detective. It seems that something important has been stolen from him and he needs her help to track it down. This is no ordinary case, however, because the item is a spear – a digital spear, from an online MMORPG. Jonah claims to know who took it. All Dahlia has to do is meet with the suspected thief and convince him to return the spear. The meeting doesn’t go quite as planned, and then everything goes topsy-turvy when Jonah turns up dead. Dahlia might be in over her head, but she’s determined to find the truth.

This book was a fun, clever read. Dahlia’s inner monologue was immensely entertaining and reminiscent of Rory and Lorelai from the TV show Gilmore Girls. She was an intelligent, nerdy girl with a love of online computer games, which came in handy while she worked the case. She was also a bit flighty, easily distracted, and socially awkward. While I liked and identified with Dahlia, her over-the-top personality was also a detriment at times. She often overshadowed the mystery aspect of the plot with her humorous, but irrelevant, observations. Romance was present but very much in the background. As far as the case went, it was intriguing and kept me guessing until the end. I enjoyed this story and would like to read more about Dahlia, although I would prefer to see more of a balance between her personality and the plot.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review of “Size 12 Is Not Fat” by Meg Cabot

Review of "Size 12 Is Not Fat" by Meg Cabot A review by Vanessa.

Heather Wells “just has one of those faces.” Or at least that is what she keeps telling everyone who thinks they know her. Because they do know her, former teen pop sensation that she is, but Heather is just as happy remaining unknown. The reason she is not as recognizable may, or may not, have something to do with the weight she has gained in the last few years, or the break up with her still popular boy band sensation boyfriend, Jordan Cartwright. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t sing anymore, not in public, and instead she works as assistant director of the Fischer Hall residence hall, at New York College. After finding Jordan in flagrante with the new pop-sensation Tania Trace, Heather left her old life behind. Now Jordan’s super-hot, much more level headed, older brother Cooper has offered her a place to stay in return for keeping the books for his PI business. Cooper is just what Heather needs; except for the part where he is utterly clueless about her feelings.
That’s okay though, because Heather has other things to worry about. Two girls in her residence hall have apparently fallen to their deaths while elevator surfing, but Heather has some doubts. She knows the residents in her hall, and those girls were not the miscreant elevator surfing types. When she takes her suspicions to Cooper and the police, she is of course rebuffed as an overzealous amateur sleuth. While dodging the sudden unwanted return of her ex, Heather is just trying to make it through her probationary period at work so she can take advantage of the free tuition to get her degree. But she can’t just sit back and watch more of her students die. In a series of mishaps
and happenstance luck, Heather is hot on the trail of what she suspects is a murderer. But she may just be standing in the way of danger, and she’s the only one who can figure it all out.

Meg Cabot, as always, has created a funny, quirky, and likable set of characters and thrown them into an interesting mystery plot that is unendingly entertaining. Heather is sweet, and endearing, while managing to be slightly neurotic, admirably brave, and determined. Her one flaw might be the flaky nature of her desires and her tendency to obsess over her romantic entanglement with Cooper. However, she highlights the fascinating aspects of the capably incapable heroine. With a family history that could make anyone cringe, Heather as a character still manages to be plucky without being annoying. Her life is what it is, and though she wishes it were different, she’s not exactly one to sit around moping about it. She knows what she wants, even though it changes frequently, and she knows what she has to do, even when she doesn’t want to. But her determination makes her an utterly likable heroine, and her weight struggle is an all-too-relatable aspect of her story. Her interest in Cooper is understandable. He is handsome, mysterious in certain ways, and believably skeptical of Heather’s ideas. But when it comes to being there for her, he never fails. Accompanied by a cast of interesting and equally quirky characters, Heather and Cooper are an interesting dynamic in the story. Cooper has already figured his life out and knows who he is, and Heather just wants that same surety. And she doesn’t think it should have to include losing any weight to find herself again. This books is a terrific set up for the series, with a solution to the mystery but plenty of potential for the characters moving forward. I’m hooked.

My rating: 4.5/5 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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