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Review – Untraceable – Laura Griffin

untraceableUntraceable
Author: Laura Griffin
Series: #1 in the Tracer’s series

Description:
ALEX LOVELL MAKES PEOPLE DISAPPEAR. TURNS OUT, SHE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE.

Private investigator Alexandra Lovell uses computer skills and cunning to help clients drop off the radar and begin new lives in safety. Melanie Bess, desperate to escape her abusive cop husband, was one of those clients. But when Melanie vanishes for real, Alex fears the worst, and sets out to discover what happened. Using every resource she can get her hands on — including an elite team of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, and a jaded, sexy Austin PD detective — Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth.

As far as homicide cop Nathan Deveraux is concerned, no body means no case. But as much as he wants to believe that Alex’s hunch about Melanie’s murder is wrong, his instincts — and their visceral attraction — won’t let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, Nathan realizes this investigation runs deeper than they could ever have guessed. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear….

Review:
I’m conflicted over how to rate this book for a main reason, so I’m going to try and explain that before I get into the review itself…I originally picked up this book about a week and a half ago, knowing that it was #1 in a series, and not being able to find a noted prequel, figured I would be good to go. However, I quickly realized that I was missing something in the interaction between Alex and Nathan – you could tell that there was some kind of history, unfortunately, I didn’t know what. A quick tweet to the author and I discovered that they had met in a previous book in a different series (Whisper of Warning), and since I needed to make sense of their relationship before I could continue, I grabbed it. Which is where my conflict lies – once I factored in Whisper of Warning, I actually really enjoyed Untraceable and would probably give it 3.5-4 out of 5 stars. However, since I had to read another series (because I ended up reading both Whisper of Warning and the preceding book), I have to drop my rating to a 3. If i had known about the linkage ahead of time, it might not have been as big of a deal, so this is more frustration on my part. So I am saying very blatantly, I highly recommend you read the Glass sisters books (Thread of Fear and Whisper of Warning) before trying this series.

Now moving on, having gone through a variety of romance/suspense books (although leaning more towards the romance side), recently, i have to say that Alex was an improvement on many of the heroines. Yes, she had her dumb moments and there were a few times where I was like, seriously…but thankfully she didn’t exhibit the TSTL traits that many seem to have had recently…and then there is Nathan – overall I liked him as a character – he wasn’t the complete Alpha male than shows up so often in rom/sus, and seemed a bit more believable – I also liked that he was a bit older (late 30’s, vice early 30’s) – that gave him an air of experience that I find is often missing in books. Or rather, a more believable air of experience…sometimes I find it hard to believe the stuff that 28-30 years old have gone through in their lives prior to their book (maybe that is a bit jaded of me…).

The mystery aspect of it was ok – for the most part, you knew who did it prior to the reveal since it was discussed early in the book – but there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. The ending did get all tied in a pretty bow a bit too quickly for me however – I would have liked to see some carry over into another book in the series (although, who knows, maybe this will be the case)…

Overall, 3 stars because of the issue discussed in the first paragraph – but I’ll def. be checking out the rest of the series (especially since I have books #6 and #7 to review as ARC’s…)

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Brody – Emma Lang

BrodyBrody
Author: Emma Lang
Series: #2 in the Circle Eight series

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
A year after their family was brutally torn apart, the Graham siblings begin to put their lives back together at their ranch in East Texas. With their parents gone, their bonds will truly be tested…

Olivia Graham has worked hard to take care of her family at the Circle Eight Ranch. But their family circle was broken when their young brother Benjy disappeared. Liv can’t shake the feeling that he must be out there, somewhere.

Brody Armstrong, a handsome but rough-around-the-edges Texas Ranger, has been working on their case for months, and now he has a promising lead.

As Liv follows him across the rugged Texas landscape and into Mexico, she’ll begin to find the answers she needs—as Brody finds a passion he didn’t know he wanted…

Review:
So my biggest issue with this book stemmed from my extreme dislike of Olivia that started in Book 1. There was just something about her in Matthew’s book that rubbed me the wrong way – but I was hoping that the author would be able to redeem her as a character (I mean, I have seen it done successfully before – Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent from Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers series – as an example). Unfortunately, I spent probably 70% of the book, alternately wanting to either reach through the pages and strangle her, or slap her silly. It was an interesting position that I found myself in…

Normally, I would commend an author who made me so emotionally involved with a character that I wanted to harm them, but ultimately, Olivia was forgettable – I don’t care what happens to her in the future (although, I am sure she will make an appearance in later books) – which for me is significant when it comes to my reading experience. I can’t say anything bad about the writing style, my issues with the book are solely character based. While I did like Brody, the Texas Ranger, it just wasn’t enough to counter what I am terming the “Olivia Effect.”

Hopefully, I will enjoy the next book in the series a bit more. 2.5 stars, but rounding up to 3 because it wasn’t horrenous…

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Jacqueline Kelly

calpurnia tateThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Author: Jacqueline Kelly

Narrator: Natalie Ross
Run Time: 9hrs and 1 minute
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Description:
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Review:
I have to admit that I probably would have passed over this book, if it hadn’t show up on a random book list that I was browsing one day, and then that it was readily available via audiobook from the library – so I didn’t have to wait on it. I don’t know why it is, maybe because the name in the title just made me want to chuckle and not take it seriously. Either way, if I had, I would have missed out on a brilliant YA book – it was totally worth the listen and I can see why it was nominated for the Newbury Award, even if it didn’t win.

I was immediately sucked into Calpurnia Victoria Tate’s (or Cally V’s) story – she is kind of how I imagined I would be if I had grown up at the turn of the 20th century – not wanting to be what was expected of me (a housekeeper, enjoying sewing etc), but rather wanting to play outside, into science etc. I thought that the author did a job of portraying the world how it was then – the idea that as 1900 rolled around the world might end (does this sound familiar?), the introduction of coca-cola and even the invention of the automobile. Cally’s grandfather definitely made the book all the more enjoyable – in all seriousness, he was a comic relief when needed but could also be serious as well. I loved how he was so absorbed in his own world that he often forgot what was going on around him.

There wasn’t anything really earth-shattering about how the story concluded – in fact, it was a relatively logical progression through-out and you could see how it was unfolding. I did like how the use of evolution in the title could be applied in two different ways – the study of evolution as with the grasshoppers and use of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Spieces but also the evolution of Calpurnia as a woman and a person – how she changed over the course of the 7 months that the book covered.

I love Natalie Ross as a narrator of audiobooks, she is rapidly becoming a go-to person for me. But it was funny when I first started listening to the audiobook because I had just listened to another book narrated by her recently (less than 2 months ago) and I kept hearing the voice of Dani (from Iced) in my head, because they were both young female characters between the ages of 12 and 14. I hadn’t really noticed this previously and it didn’t really bother me, just intrigued me that I could hear similarities in voice patterns even though one was an urban fantasy and the other a historical fiction. I can’t say much more about the narration – I loved how Ms Ross was able to provide so many different inflections to bring the characters to life – especially with the minutia of sounds that are part of life, but don’t necessarily show up in dialogue – like hiccups (there is a relatively memorable scene featuring these), burps etc. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I read it, but listening added a whole new dimension. It would be a great audiobook to listen to with kids on a car trip because it would suck them in (hopefully).

Anyone who loves historical fiction and YA should read or listen to this book. I give it 4.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Matthew – Emma Lang

matthewMatthew
Author: Emma Lang
Series: #1 in the Circle Eight series

Review copy donated by author

Description:
A man learns to hold what is his

It is a vast spread in the eastern wilds of the newly independent Republic of Texas, the ranch their parents fought for … and died for. To the eight Graham siblings, no matter how much hard work or hard love it takes, life is unthinkable without family…

In the wake of his parents’ murder, Matthew Graham must take the reins at the Circle Eight. He also needs to find a wife in just thirty days, or risk losing it all. Plain but practical, Hannah Foley seems the perfect bride for him . . . until after the wedding night.

Their marriage may make all the sense in the world, but neither one anticipates the jealousies that will result, the treacherous danger they’re walking into, or the wildfire of attraction that will sweep over them, changing their lives forever

Review:
I’ve been a fan of Emma Lang’s writing since I discovered her stuff under her other name (Beth Williamson), but until now, I hadn’t actually picked up any of her books. So when she offered up ARCs of book 3 in the Circle Eight series on Twitter, I jumped on the opportunity. As a bonus, since I hadn’t read the previous 2 books in the series, she sent me signed copies. So while I was in bed this past weekend, feeling sick and sorry for myself, I dug into book 1.

It was to me the ultimately comfort read and by that I mean, it went down easy – there wasn’t a lot of conflict within (although some of the females, especially Olivia were major brats – or insert other expletive here) and there was a satisfactory conclusion – although, I do feel that everything was figured out early in the series – I had kind of hoped to see the mystery behind Matthew’s (et al’s) parents death continue through a couple of books, rather than being solved at the end of this one. However, the mystery behind the missing brother still needs to be solved, so maybe that will be the common plot through-out.

I liked the romance between Matt and Hannah – it was sweet with a mail-order/marriage of convenience theme that seemed common in the time period that the book was set in. Hannah’s grandmother was a hoot – I can’t wait to see her in future book (or at least, I hope she is in future books). The introduction of Brody (who it appears is going to be the hero in the next book was intriguing – I mean, you have to have the darkly handsome, stand-off-ish law enforcement type).

I would note, however, that in a few places that language and writing just felt a bit forced – like it didn’t really flow. But it is hard to place it. I don’t know – just something that I noticed – will be interested to see if I notice anything similar in the next book. Overall, I would give Matthew 3 stars with a recommendation to anyone who likes historical romances with a western theme.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Book Review

 

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