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About Dee

I'm one of those people that no matter how many books I have, I can't turn down a sale or a trip to the bookstore. There are no limits to what I'll read and I hope you enjoy my reviews.

Review – In Doubt – Drusilla Campbell

in doubt In Doubt
Author: Drusilla Campbell
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
EVERYONE WANTS THE BOY TO PAY FOR HIS CRIME.

ONLY ONE WOMAN WANTS TO SAVE HIM.

Defense Attorney Sophie Giraudo is about to open a new legal practice in her hometown of San Sebastian, California, when the beloved governer is shot and seriously wounded during a celebration in the town park. The only thing more shocking than the crime itself is the identity of the would-be assassin: a seemingly gentle teenager named Donny. Driven by her desire to understand what could make a person with no history of violence suddenly commit such a terrible act, Sophie reluctantly agrees to take him on as a client, knowing that, at least, it will bring her some income. But soon she realizes that she also has personal motivations for taking the case: a desire to prove to her overbearing mother that she is not the reckless and self-destructive tennager she used to be, to prove to her ex-husband, who happens to be the prosecuting attorney, that she can win her case, and to prove to herself that the traumatic events of her adolescence no longer define her.

As she digs deeper into Donny’s past, Sophie begins to suspect that he might not be the cold-blooded killer everyone thinks he is. Does Donny’s narcissistic mother really have her son’s best interest in mind? Is Donny’s mentor who runs Boys Into Men, a program for disadvantaged youths, the altruistic man he claims to be? Is Donny a deranged murderer, or a victim of his circumstances acting out of desperation? As Sophie races to uncover the truth, she is forced to come to terms with her past and to fight for what she knows is right…even if it means risking her reputation and possibly her life.

Review:
I’ve quite often come across Ms Campbell’s books in my library, but have never actually picked one up – in fact, I’ve even borrowed them at least once – but for some reason they kept getting shuffled to the bottom of the pile and then being returned unread. However, when I saw In Doubt in the automatic approval list at NetGalley, I was intrigued enough by the description that I took a chance and downloaded it. I will say that if I had seen the descriptor of Jodi Picoult meets John Grisham prior, I likely wouldn’t have downloaded it because neither of those authors are favorites of mine (in fact, I’m not a fan of the marketing method that compares one author to others, mostly because to me, they never seem to live up to the recommendation – or they far exceed it).

This book seemed to be particularly apt with the amount of public shootings that have gone on the last few years, in particular, the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords in Arizona – but what if you looked at the shooter – quite often, we the public are so quick to judge the shooter, never really knowing what may have been gonig on in their background. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying, anything excuses the shooting and death of people, but there may be external reasons that affected the individuals behavior (and not just mental health ones, like is automatically assumed). In Doubt attempts to do just that.

What happens when a defense lawyer decides to take on the case of a young man who shot and grievously wounded the governor. He never even denies doing it – but he also doesn’t know why. Without getting too much into a spoiler realm, Ms Campbell wove a story that was believable and made me feel sorry for Donny.

I will say that I felt some of the storyline towards the end started to bordering a bit on the over angsty side – it went a bit too far for me – but that was only enough for me to drop my original rating from 4 stars, down to 3.5.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Searching for Grace – Juliann Rich

searching for graceSearching for Grace
Author: Juliann Rich
Series: #2 in the Crossfire Trilogy
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
Camp is over and Jonathan Cooper returns home—to life with his mother whose silence is worse than anything she could say, to his varsity soccer teammates at East Bay Christian Academy, to the growing rumors about what he did with a boy last summer at Bible camp.

All the important lines blur. Between truth and lies. Between friends and enemies. Between reality and illusion.

Just when Jonathan feels the most alone, help arrives from the unlikeliest of sources: Frances “Sketch” Mallory, the weird girl from his art class, and her equally eccentric friend, Mason. For a short while, thanks to Sketch and Mason, life is almost survivable. Then Ian McGuire comes to town on the night of the homecoming dance and tensions explode. Fists fly, blood flows, and Jonathan—powerless to stop it—does the only thing he believes might save them all: he prays for God’s grace.

Review:
When I finished Caught in the Crossfire a couple of months ago, I was intrigued to see how Ms Rich was going to continue Jonathan’s story and with Searching for Grace, she didn’t disappoint. Searching for Grace picks up almost immediately following the conclusion of Caught in the Crossfire, when Jonathan returns home from summer camp, away from Ian and struggling with thoughts and feelings in direct conflict with how he was raised in his chuch (as a note, I’m not acknowledging that it is right or wrong, but that is how it is presented).

I will admit that I was a little bit confused at the beginning with how the story was being told because it appeared to be in a flashback format but it wasn’t easy to identify. And it was weird/ hard for me in trying to figure out who Grace was, but about halfway through, it clicked for me and I liked how the author continued to address the conflict between religion and feelings/love.

The cast of secondary characters in Searching for Grace were much more well-developed to me than the ones in Caught in the Crossfire (not saying that they were bad but I just enjoyed the SfG ones more). I loved that the author worked Simon from CitC into this story because I felt like he was one of the stronger characters in the first one, along with Jonathan. But for me, the duo of Sketch and Mason were the top. They kind of reminded me of Janis and Damien from Mean Girls (if you haven’t seen it, they are the duo that take Cady under their collective wing before she becomes entangled with the mean girls). I loved how they lived their lives and didn’t really seem to care how they were the odd-balls (for lack of a better word).

There was much more conflict within this book than the previous one, but I don’t feel like it was overly done – it felt like it would feel, if this went down in a small town – the people talking behind backs, the rumors, the feeling that everyone is talking about you and that was just the beginning. That being said, I kind of felt the Ian storyline was bordering a bit too much on the angst storyline, I know why everything went how it did, but I don’t know – it just felt a bit too forced for me – but then as a character he just felt too different from how he appeared in the first book that it felt weird. I will be interested to see where the author goes in the last book in the trilogy as she ties up all the threads.

Overall I gave Searching for Grace 3.5 stars, although it was very nearly a 4 star read for me – there were just a few things that niggled me enough that I went down half a star. I’m looking forwarding to reading the third book when it comes out.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Husband Games – Jamie Farrell

the husband gamesThe Husband Games
Author: Jamie Farrell
Series: #1 of the Misfit Brides of Bliss series
Rating: ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
After Natalie Castellano’s marriage imploded on the field of the Husband Games in Bliss, Illinois, the Most Married-est Town on Earth, the last job she expected to inherit was planning the fiftieth anniversary of her hometown’s unique Games. But with her mother’s unexpected passing, that’s exactly what Natalie’s doing. And the position demands that she play nice with CJ Blue, the man who ultimately caused Natalie’s marital demise.

Winning Bliss’s Husband Games and being crowned Husband of the Year was the brightest spot in CJ’s short marriage. Since his wife’s untimely death, he’s taken himself around the world, hiding from his grief. But now, family obligations have him trapped in Bliss, where he’s been invited to participate in the Games and humiliate himself in the name of closure. The whole town wants him to play. The whole town, except one. And he can’t decide what bothers him more—that Natalie doesn’t think he belongs in the Games, or that she’s right.

These two would make great enemies. But all games aside, the more they find themselves in close quarters, the harder it is to deny their mutual attraction. She’s battled Bliss’s bridal brigade, and he’s jumped out of airplanes and soared over waterfalls, but now they’re both facing the biggest risk of all: taking another chance on love.

Review
So as a reader I love finding new authors to read and I thank my friend Jen every day for introducing me to Jamie Farrell. From reading her first book just over a year ago, I’ve been an avid fan (probably almost bordering on fan girl) – so when I got a special delivery in my email of my ARC of Husband Games, yeah, there was definately some happy dancing going on (figuratively, if not literally). I’d been lucky enough to see the cover long before it was released and I fell in love with it (I mean, look at it, who wouldn’t) – so I knew the book was going to be awesome. And thank god, Jamie delivered.

I will admit, I wasn’t sure about the whole weddings being a predominant role of the story – I mean, a town described as the most wedding-est town in the US, but juxtapose that with a main character who is divorced and well, there may be something there. I loved Natalie – from the first introduction of her until the end, she is probably one of my favorite female characters recently – although I will admit that she did have a few dumb moments where I wanted to shake her. But at the same time, I could see how much that was self-protection from the shenanigans from town-persons.

And then there is CJ – oh CJ, CJ, CJ – former winner of the Husband Games, now a widower and newly returned to town. Words can’t describe my thoughts on CJ – he is the perfect guy – I mean, down to his ability to distinguish his SO by the perfume she wears (or can he?). But Natalie and CJ have a history, one that she vividly remembers, but he has no idea about.

But even though the story was a romance, my favorite (and at the same time) most hated character was the Queen General – the woman who basically controlled Bliss – I know I was supposed to hate her, and I did truely – but oh my god, how she was developed as a character, I couldn’t help but also like her as well (yeah, I’m weird I know). Especially how it all came together in the end.

I loved the idea of the husband games – I mean, a competition based solely around the idea of which husband is the best at various tasks – doing laundry (ha); cooking a romantic dinner (anyone have the fire dept on auto-dial), or just all around-awesomeness. The secondary cast of characters (including CJ’s family – which consists of too many siblings for me to recount); Natalie’s sister who is going to get her own book in the future (if my RUMINT is to be believed), made the story all the more enjoyable.

I will admit that I was surprised by how hard this review was for me to write, considering how much I enjoyed the book. I don’t know what it was, maybe, that there is so much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t without going too far into spoiler territory. Either way, I loved Husband Games, a solid 4 stars and can’t wait to see what Jamie comes up with in the future.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Batter Up – Robyn Neeley

batter up

Batter Up
Author: Robyn Neeley
Rating: ✩ ✩ ✩ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author via RABT

Description:
She mixes more than flour and sugar into her cake batter, and he’s about to find out if a little bit of magic is to his taste…

Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret — a delicious, slightly unorthodox secret. Each Monday, she mixes up a premonition to share with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, and sets one lucky man on the path to true love.

When reporter Jason Levine finds himself mixed up in a Las Vegas bachelorette party, he hears the strangest rumour: the marriage is happening thanks to magic cake batter. Seriously sceptical, and sick of frauds, Jason journeys to the backwater town of Buttermilk Falls to expose the baker and release the townspeople from her evil clutches.

But when Jason meets Emma, tempers flare and sparks fly. Will Jason cling to his logic at the expense of a future, or will he let himself fall under Emma’s spell?

Review:
So when I first read the description for Batter Up, my mind flew to the movie with Sarah Michelle Geller (of Buffy fame) from a few years ago, where she is a Chef that infuses magic through her love of cooking in her dishes (yeah, I’m a sap, what can I say). And i was sucked into the story that Ms Neeley wrote from the get-go – in fact, I think I read the entire thing in a day and a half metro ride (so about an hour and a half or so) and nearly missed my metro stop because I was so busy reading (thankfully, the next stop also has the line I had to switch to).

I liked how the characters were developed, Emma made me both laugh and cry and i hurt for her because of the cruelty of some people. Jason was the tenacious reporter – wanting to get his story no matter the cost (at the beginning). In fact, character-wise – he kind of reminded me of Richard Gere in Runaway Bride when he goes to the small town to find out the story, and keeps showing up in weird and random places, establishing himself in the community. I loved the interactions between Jason and the townsfolk – how they basically took him under their collective wings. The secondary romances in the story were a nice bonus.

I’ll say that my one gripe was that everything seemed to end too quickly – there was the story, the conflict and then the resolution was kinda like a wham bam thank you ma’am – and I wanted a bit more. It almost felt like Emma and Jason were slightly cheated out of their HEA because of how quickly everything was tied up. Maybe an additional chapter, or even an epilogue would have worked but yeah – I just wanted a little bit more.

I look forward to reading more stuff by Ms Neely in the future, since I think she has potential to become well liked in the romance genre. Overall, I gave Batter Up 3.5 stars, a solid contemporary romance, with some magical realism.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Book Review

 

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In Memoriam – James ‘Jim’ Thompson (1964-2014)

james thompsonIt’s always a sad day when I have to write a post like this. This morning began like every other Monday, dragging myself out of bed, and getting ready to face the world, then I logged into facebook. The first thing I saw was a notification from Naomi Blackburn, a friend and fellow moderator of our Goodreads Nordic Noir group, with a link to an obituary written in Finnish about James death over the weekend.

It hit home for me, James was not only a genuinely good guy, but he would always talk to you about anything you wanted. It was like he had an insight into your world. A writer, born in Kentucky, but making Finland his home for the last decade, Jim was my first introduction to the genre, Nordic Noir when I randomly picked up his book at the library one day. My review of his book Snow Angels was also one of the first that I featured on my blog when I was launched over three years ago. Not only was Jim such a great guy, but, in a round about way, he introduced me to one of my favorite reading friends, Naomi Blackburn, when we both came across a review written about an ARC of one of his books that was chockful of spoilers. It was a match-made in reading heaven.

I’ll miss his books, I’ll miss his witty commentary in our group, on Facebook and on his twitter but most of all I’ll miss him. As bittersweet as it will be, I look forward to reading the final book in his Kari Vaara series. So everyone take some time today and raise a glass to Jim.

james thompson

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Review – Binding Agreement – Pam McKenna

binding agreementBinding Agreement
Author: Pam McKenna
Rating: ✩ ✩ ✩ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author via RABT

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Description:
A chance encounter on a moonlit beach draws sensible, cautious Kay Denehy into a night of anonymous passion and surrender with a ruthlessly dominant stranger. As John Randall introduces her to the exotic thrills of bondage and discipline, she discovers who she really is under the prim schoolteacher exterior—a sexual submissive who needs the strict and ardent guidance of a take-no-prisoners Dom like him. John carries more than his share of emotional baggage, the result of a tragedy for which he feels responsible. Though he cares for Kay, he refuses to pursue a relationship, certain he could only bring her pain. He pushes her away even as his unconscious dream self turns her into a sex slave to be punished and enjoyed ménage-style by two other zealous and demanding Doms. For the first time in her life, Kay knows what she needs, and who she needs, to be sexua lly and emotionally fulfilled. She knows, too, the path John must take to escape his dark places—if only he’ll trust her to lead the way.

Review:
This is a hard review for me to write, not because I didn’t enjoy the book, but because my opinion of it is split into two distinct trains of thought. Even now, 5 days after reading it, I’m confused on how I wanted to rate it or what to say. So I guess, i’m just going to go with the flow.

It has been a while since I’ve read a book like Binding Agreement – a few years ago, I was reading similar books frequently, but felt myself getting burnt out, so I took some time off. But when the call for reviews of Binding Agreement popped in my email, I was sufficiently intrigued to put my virtual hand up in the air to participate. I will admit that like usual, I did little to no research on the author or the book before hand (mostly because I don’t like others opinions affect my own). But the gorgeous cover caught my eye – I’m a sucker for these types of covers – but I will say after reading, that I don’t think this cover in general (as much as I love it) is a good representation of the story. So after I was done I went back and took a look and after finding out this was a re-release, and seeing the other cover (while cheesy), it fit the theme of the story much better to me.

This isn’t your mothers romance, that is for sure. I won’t argue that the author can write and write well. I was sucked into the story. Unfortunately, I felt that the length (only 111 pgs) was detrimental – there was so much detail packed in, that for me it seemed kind of choppy in places. I think this would have been a great story with another 10k or so words. Just a way to develop the storyline a bit more. It was too sparse in places, which led to some of the other issues that I had with the idea of consent (which seemed almost non-existant – there was no real “discussion” for lack of a better word) and how Kay/John’s relationship progressed. While the writing was hot, it also left me feeling a bit cold (not sure if that actually makes sense or not).

There were also some parts of the storyline that just seemed to be left hanging – I know why they were introducted – to help develop John more as a person and not just a Dom, but to me, there was just no resolution, which I kind of needed. I also wanted to see more of Eric after we were introduced to him, unfortunately, from the authors website, it doesn’t look like he has a story (as of yet).

But when all was said and done, I gave Binding Agreement 3.5 stars – because as I mentioned above, it was well written. I just needed more.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Review – The Changeup – Rhonda Shaw

the changeup The Changeup
Author: Rhonda Shaw
Series:#1 in the Men of the Show series

Description:
After nine years of striking out in the dating department, Maddie Hamlin is throwing in the towel. But just as this mom resolves to remain single, she meets sweet and sexy pitching phenom Chase Patton at a family dinner. He’s perfect for her–aside from the fact he’s only twenty-two.

Chase knows he should be focusing on his rookie year with the Detroit Rockets, but he can’t stop thinking about Maddie. He doesn’t care that the beautiful school counselor is twelve years older, and he’s already lost his heart to her adorable daughter. When an incredible date leads to an incredible night of passion, he knows he never wants to let her go.

But dating in the media spotlight is a whole new ball game. Maddie quickly discovers that not everyone accepts their unconventional relationship and that finding love may mean losing everything else.

Review:
So normally I’m a sucker for sports romances – I mean, hot sweaty guys (or girls) participating in feats of athletic prowess…I mean, who wouldn’t be. And to top it off, it was an older woman/younger man storyline which I am normally a fan of (it isn’t my favorite romance trope, but I often enjoy it). And while the Changeup worked for me on the level of a sports romance, it was how one of the main characters acted and the secondary characters that I had the biggest issue with. But I did love Chase until the very end…

Unfortunately, I don’t think Maddie deserved him – she was too weak-willed and a doormat – I swear, if I had to hear/read about her questioning him or his motives again, or doing her woe is me, my ex dumped me behavior, I was going to reach through my kindle and bitch-slap her. And then there were her daughter, who was supposed to be 9 if you read her description, but I don’t remember the last time I met a 9 year old who acted like her. In fact, the daughter acted much more like a 4/5 year old (grabbing Chase’s hand to go and play toys; wanting to be swung between Maddie and Chase when they were out) – I mean, its been a while since I was 9, or hung out with a 9 year old, but most I know are more likely to be in the pre-teen/sullen phase. Honestly, it just didn’t work for me

And then there were the antagonists – don’t worry, I won’t spoil the story for you by revealing how they are – I’ll just say that for me, it didn’t work – yes, I know this is fiction, but this forced me to suspend disbelief just a little bit too much on how everything played out and how it was just executed perfectly…ugh!

Overall, a disappointing read for a book that seemed intriguing and I could tell when it came to baseball, that the author had done her research because while I know little about baseball, what I did know seemed to show up in the book. A disappointing 2 stars.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Book Review

 

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