August 20, 2016

Review: Outside the Lines by Sheila Lowe




Product Description: 
What should have been a routine afternoon on the witness stand for Forensic Handwriting Expert Claudia Rose turns into a shocking assault that leaves her bruised and bloodied. Following on the heels of a series of other traumatic events, the attack sends Claudia to the brink of a breakdown. 

Her fiancĂ©, L.A.P.D. Homicide Detective Joel Jovanic, learns of the attack while leading a homicide investigation into a mailbox bomb. An innocent housekeeper in the tony Venice neighborhood is dead and the homeowner is the CEO of a major pesticide-producing corporation that has been targeted in the past. When a notebook found in a geocache near the crime scene leads to the protest group People for Safe Food, Jovanic needs Claudia to identify the handwriting of a suspected eco-terrorist. 

Though she may have recovered physically from the assault, weeks later Claudia’s fears continue to plague her. Desperate to get away, she accepts an invitation to lecture in the UK, but her trip turns into a nightmare when she runs afoul of both the FBI and New Scotland Yard. Jovanic’s homicide case has followed her to London where she finds herself unexpectedly allied with the chief suspect. 


My Thoughts:
Outside the Lines is the 6th book in the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries but it definitely stands alone. There are references to incidents in the earlier books but nothing that makes a difference in this story line.  

Forensic Handwriting Expert Claudia Rose can easily analyze a person by their handwriting. She sees what people work hard to hide. With this skill she's become a valuable part of her fiancĂ© Joel's success as a homicide detective. 

In this case, an incident that starts out as a harmless scare tactic by a group of people protesting a pesticide corporation, turns deadly when someone is accidentally killed. Now the leader of the group is on the run and asking Claudia for help. As the lead suspect he's being chased down by Joel who warns Claudia away from him but she can't help getting involved. Now tension strains Claudia and Joel's relationship as she works on figuring a way to make things work for everyone.

My Recommendation:
I really love how Sheila builds the story. Different scenarios have you thinking you can guess at what's coming next but as you read on you realize you were wrong. Through the twists, the suspense builds up to the gratifying end. I highly recommend this book, and series, to anyone who loves a good mystery with a surprise ending.    

June 23, 2016

Review: Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

Product Description:
Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the "time-travel professor," and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, INDIANA BELLE follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

My Thoughts:
Indiana Belle is book three in the American Journey Series but also stands alone if you haven't read the previous two books. The American Journey Series is also the second time travel series by the author whose previous Northwest Passage series was also about time travel.

In Indiana Belle I felt that the circumstances leading to how Cameron was able to time travel were a little far-fetched. He kind of bullied the professor into sending him back in time because of a photograph and I feel that the professor didn't handle the situation well.

Once I got past that, the story comes alive and I could clearly imagine what life was like back in 1925. That is what I love most about all of Heldt's works. I can always vividly imagine life back in the day.

I also felt a bit of suspense throughout the book because from the beginning the professor warns about messing with history. In this instance changes would actually threaten the professor's own existence.  As a result I felt a growing sense of unease because clearly Cameron was changing history and I was kept in suspense until the very end. There was also a quick peek at the future which makes me hope a future time travel book is coming soon.

Overall this was another great time travel book from an author I've come to look forward reading.

My Recommendation: 
I recommend this for anyone who loves time travel romance.


February 29, 2016

Review: The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton


Product Description:
In need of a good adventure, Delaney Nichols takes the leap and moves to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine. She doesn't know much about what she's gotten herself into, other than that the work sounds exciting, and that her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime. Edwin has promised that she'll be working with "a desk that has seen the likes of kings and queens, paupers and princes," and Delaney can't wait to get started.
When she arrives, she meets her new Scottish family; also working at the Cracked Spine are Rosie, perpetually wrapped in scarves, and who always has tiny dog Hector in tow; Hamlet, a nineteen-year-old thespian with a colored past and bright future; and Edwin, who is just as enigmatic and mysterious as Delaney expected. An unexpected bonus is Tom the bartender from across the street, with his piercing eyes, and a rolling brogue -- and it doesn't hurt that he looks awfully good in a kilt.
But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact -- a previously undiscovered First Folio of Shakespeare's plays -- goes missing, and Edwin's sister is murdered, seemingly in connection to the missing folio. Delaney decides to do some sleuthing of her own, to find out just what the real story is behind the priceless folio, and how it's connected to the tragic death, all without getting harmed herself.

My Thoughts:
From the cover, I was expecting a typical cozy mystery with an amateur sleuth chasing down the clues and eventually solving the crime. What I got was an amateur sleuth finding pretty much only one clue, asking a few questions and miraculously solving the crime. Nothing really flowed right. 

I don't buy the motivation behind Delaney leaving the US for Scotland, the club Edwin is a part of seems like it should be a bigger part of the story but doesn't amount to much, Rosie witnessing an accident and then ending up flirting with the victim doesn't tie into anything, Delaney hearing voices from the books around her is an interesting side plot but nothing is made of it and I could go on and on but it's all more of the same. 

I was hoping for a whole lot more from the book but at the end of it all I enjoyed the characters so much, I just might read the next book in the series. If it wasn't for side characters like Elias, Tom and even little Hector I wouldn't bother. I hope the storyline flows much better in the next book of the series. If the subplot isn't going to be fully flushed out, I hope Shelton leaves it out so it doesn't distract from what is enjoyable in the storyline. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend this to anyone who likes cozy mysteries with more emphasis on good characters rather than a believable plot. 

February 20, 2016

Review: The Exorcist Who Loved Me by Jennifer Savalli



Product Description:
Hiring an exorcist is not something widowed single mom Holly Archer ever thought she’d do. But the blackouts she’s been having mean someone—or something—is hijacking her body and she wants it stopped, like yesterday.
The hottie who shows up at her door is the first man who’s sparked her interest since her awful marriage. It’s no hardship to give herself over to his skills, and in short order the spirit is ejected—and Holly comes face to face with Celia, the ghost of her dead husband’s mistress.
Lawe Callahan figured this would be an easy case, and by morning he’d be headed for another town, leaving Holly and her witchy amber eyes behind. Until she agrees to help the ghost, who refuses to budge until her killer is brought to justice.
As the investigation heats up, so does Lawe and Holly’s attraction. But their differences not only threaten any chance of something real, their quest for the truth could drive a killer to tie up all loose ends—permanently.

My Thoughts:
Cheesy title aside, The Exorcist Who Loved Me was a great book. Being released by Samhain Publishing I also thought it would be a very spicy read but the romance was actually on the tamer side. My beef with romance books is how fast the main characters fall in love and jump into bed and this one is no exception but the story most definitely makes up for it.  
Being haunted by your dead husband's mistress is like the ultimate slap in the face but Holly handles it well and with Lawe's help they uncover the truth of what was thought to be Celia and Holly's husband's accidental death. The way the mystery is solved is very believable and the story flows naturally around it.
This is Book 2 in the Must Love Ghosts series but is also a stand alone as I have not read the 1st book in the series and didn't feel like anything was missing. I enjoyed this one so much, I'll most likely be going back to read book 1, Must Love Ghosts.

Product Description:I highly recommend this one for anyone who loves paranormal romance with a well balanced storyline.  

February 7, 2016

Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald



Product Description:
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor―there's not much else to do in a dying small town that's almost beyond repair.
You certainly wouldn't open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You'd need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy's house is full of them), and...customers.
The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel's own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.

A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.

My Thoughts:
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a sugary sweet story that was a little too predictable for me. I didn't connect with any of the characters nor was I rooting for them in any way throughout the story.... but it was a cute story. 

I like the idea of a complete stranger from another country pulling together the small town and helping the residents who were quickly losing hope. I just wish there were a little more twists and turns so I didn't see every plot line coming from a mile away. 

I especially love all the talk of books and how Sara shares books with the town. I think that's what saved the book from being a total dud for me. Overall it was an enjoyable read, I just feel it had potential to be a much better story. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend this one for anyone who loves light and fluffy chic-lit.

January 20, 2016

Review: The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton



Product Description:
The gripping, moving story of a mother and daughter's quest to uncover a dark secret in the Alaskan wilderness, from the New York Times bestselling author of Sister and Afterwards.

Thrillingly suspenseful and atmospheric, The Quality of Silence is the story of Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist, and her precocious deaf daughter, Ruby, who arrive in a remote part of Alaska to be told that Ruby's father, Matt, has been the victim of a catastrophic accident. Unable to accept his death as truth, Yasmin and Ruby set out into the hostile winter of the Alaskan tundra in search of answers. But as a storm closes in, Yasmin realizes that a very human danger may be keeping pace with them. And with no one else on the road to help, they must keep moving, alone and terrified, through an endless Alaskan night.


My Thoughts:
Instead of a satisfying suspense thriller, I found myself aggravated by The Quality of Silence. It's really not believable that Yasmin would drag Ruby through all the horrors they faced because her husband kissed another woman and she didn't want to face the fact that her may now be dead. Really? You're going to "borrow" an extra large rig that is fully loaded and trek down one of the most dangerous roads ever, with a bad guy on your heels? Nope, I don't believe it. Although I finished the book, I found myself skimming through most of the 2nd half and found the ending so disappointing it was almost rage inducing. 

My Recommendation:
Pass on this one.

January 19, 2016

Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon



Product Description:
Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found unconscious after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Amy Stevenson, who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.
 
Soon Alex’s routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter’s story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from her attempt to uncover the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she’s not just chasing a story—she’s seeking salvation.
 
Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.


My Thoughts:
Wow, Try Not to Breathe really pulled on my heart strings. What a sad, sad character Alex was. I felt so much empathy for her and was genuinely invested in how everything would turn out, hoping for a happy ending. She had a great life until her alcoholism ruined everything then she struggled to pick up the pieces and somehow get through her tragic days. 

Then you have Amy. Her young life cut short, trapped in a coma for 15 years yet she still has some semblance of consciousness leaving her internally and forever bewildered. Sob!

Although nothing about the story ends in a happily ever after, both Alex and Amy make major strides in improving their lives. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend this one for anyone who loves a suspense thriller full of emotion. 


January 3, 2016

Review: The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield




Product Description:
Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now.

Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right.

In the spirit of Empire Falls and A League of Their Own, with the caustic wit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure, Richard Fifield’s hilarious and heartwarming debut will have you laughing through tears.


My Thoughts:
I really didn't start liking this book until about halfway in. If I hadn't committed to an honest review, I may not have even finished the book but thankfully I did because at the end of it all, The Flood Girls was a fantastic book. 

What made me not like it initially was how over the top the characters were. I honestly couldn't believe anyone acted this way in real life and didn't feel attachments to any of the main characters. But little by little they started to grow on me (with the exception of the silver miners...them bitches be crazy!) and bit by bit I got suckered into caring about what happened.  

The book wrapped up with a shocking ending but it fit the storyline so in the end I didn't mind so much. 

Recommendation:
I recommend this one for anyone who loves over the top characters in small town settings. 

Books I Didn't Finish in 2016

Updated September 17, 2016

Below will be any books I started and didn't finish and the reason why.

August 2016,   Playing with Fire by Derek Landy. I absolutely loved the first book in this series but I guess I waited too long in between the two. This one just didn't hold my interest and I quickly decided to pass on it. 

September 2016, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I just couldn't get into the book flipping back and forth between the different lives of  Ursula. Put it down less than a third of the way in which disappointed me because I heard this was a great book.







Top 5 Books I've Read in 2016

Updated January 3, 2016
  1. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
  2. Closer Home by Kerry Anne King
  3. The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister
  4. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
  5.  The Silent Sister by Diane Chamerlain
2015 Top 5
2014 Top 5


Books I've Read in 2016

Books
January

  1. The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
  2. Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon
  3. The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
February
  1. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
  2. The Exorcist Who Loved Me by Jennifer Savalli
March
  1. Nomad by Matthew Mather
  2. The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig
  3. Dead Girl's Don't Dance by MaryJanice Davidson
April
  1. Foundation by Ann Aguirre
  2. Closer Home by Kerry Anne King
  3. The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone
May
  1. Rescue From Planet Pleasure by Mario Acevedo
June
  1. The Time Traveler's Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa
  2. Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt
  3. A Good-Looking Corpse by Jeff Klima
  4. The House of Secrets by Brad Meltzer & Tod Goldberg
July
  1. Two for the Show by Jonathan Stone
August
  1. Outside the Lines by Sheila Lowe
  2. The Chocolate Frog Frame Up by Joanna Carl
September
  1. Resonance by A.J. Scudiere
October
  1. Class of '59 by John A. Heldt
  2. Unwanted by Jennifer Estep
November
  1. When by Victoria Laurie
Audiobooks
January

  1. The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith
  2. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
  3. X by Sue Grafton
  4. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  5. Winter by Marissa Meyer
  6. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
February

  1. White Trash Zombie Gone Wild by Diana Rowland
  2. Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep
  3. Devoted in Death by J. D. Robb
  4. No Ghouls Allowed by Victoria Laurie
  5. The Target by David Baldacci
March
  1. Time Flies by Claire Cook
  2. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  3. Wonderment in Death by J.D. Robb
  4. Trouble in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon
  5. Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep
  6. Road Kill by Kevin J. Anderson
  7. Kiss and Spell by Shanna Swendson
  8. To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn
  9. Undead and Underwater by MaryJanice Davidson
April
  1. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun
  2. Iced by Karen Marie Moning
  3. Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep
  4. Unintended Consequences by Stuart Woods
May
  1. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
  2. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
  3. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
  4. The Helena Diaries by Jana DeLeon
  5. Brotherhood in Death by JD Robb
June
  1. The Guilty by David Baldacci
  2. Armada by Ernest Cline
  3. Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep
  4. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  5. The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister
  6. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
July
  1. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
  2. The Widow by Fiona Barton
  3. Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace
  4. The Fat Man by Ken Harmon
  5. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
August
  1. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  2. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
  3. Doing Hard Time by Stewart Woods
  4. Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep
  5. End of Watch by Stephen King
  6. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadry
  7. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
  8. Deja Demon by Julie Kenner
September
  1. Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
  2. Accidentally Demonic by Dakota Cassidy
  3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  4. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  5. Accidentally Catty by Dakota Cassidy
  6. The 14th Colony by Steve Berry
  7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
October
  1. Stand Up Guy by Stuart Woods
  2. Undead and Unsure by MaryJanice Davidson
  3. Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb
  4. Home by Harlen Coben
  5. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
November
  1. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  2. A Ghoul's Guide to Love and Murder by Victoria Laurie
  3. Found by Harlan Coben
  4. Unraveled by Jennifer Estep
  5. Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods
  6. Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich
December
  1. Burned by Karen Marie Moning
  2. No Man's Land by David Baldacci
  3. Cut and Thrust by Stuart Woods
  4. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  5. The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly
  6. The Last Mile by David Baldacci
Grand Total: 95

Here's what I read in previous years:
    2015
    2014
    2013
    2012
    2011
    2010
    2009
    2008