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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Review – Lost and Found – Amy Shojai

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Author: Amy Shojai

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
AN AUNT searches for her lost nephew—and dooms her sister.
A MOM gambles a miracle will cure—and not kill—her child.
A DOG finds his true purpose—when he disobeys.

Animal behaviorist September Day has lost everything—husband murdered, career in ruins, confidence shot—and flees to Texas to recover. She’s forced out of hibernation when her nephew Steven and his autism service dog Shadow disappear in a freak blizzard. When her sister trusts a maverick researcher’s promise to help Steven, September has 24 hours to rescue them from a devastating medical experiment impacting millions of children, a deadly secret others will kill to protect. As September races the clock, the body count swells. Shadow does his good-dog duty but can’t protect his boy. Finally September and Shadow forge a stormy partnership to rescue the missing and stop the nightmare cure. But can they also find the lost parts of themselves?

Review:
I have to admit that at first I was skeptical about how much I was going to enjoy the book – because I felt upon reading the jacket copy that too much of the plot had been disclosed (don’t worry, I was partially wrong). And the first few chapters were a bit rough, for lack of a better word – it took me a little while to get into the feel of her writing which is very stark (for lack of a better word) as well as the one POV being from Shadow, the German Shepherd puppy (who I loved as a character BTW – reminds me very much of my big goofy baby). To say that the plot resembled a roller-coaster would be correct – it was a continual up and down through the entire thing – the last author I read who did such an on the go type plot was James Rollins (although Matt Reilly is a close second). The medical mystery plot was intriguing, but it wasn’t like it was new to me – maybe because I read a book not long ago that had a similar theme, but I guess it is hard at times to come up with something truly unique.

I think the one thing that I didn’t like was that throughout the entire book, the author alluded to something that had happened with the main characters husband/dog, but never really came out and said specifically what it is. That drove me nuts – I wanted to know – maybe we’ll find out in another book who knows. Also, the names of the main character and her sister just seemed a bit cheesy to me – named after the month they were born in and then their last name just happens to be Day…lol! There was also a bit of a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming that I felt just overdid the whole thing – it wasn’t needed (at least in my honest opinion) – it almost ruined the tension that was in the book for me…

Either way, I enjoyed the read, I would probably give it 3.5 stars overall, but would recommend it for people who like mysterys/suspense/thrillers, especially with a medical twist, and those who like books with animals).

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Merciless – Lori Armstrong

mercilessMerciless
Author: Lori Armstrong
Series: #3 in the Mercy Gunderson series

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:

Torn between her duties to the FBI and her need to keep her loved ones safe, former black-ops army sniper Mercy Gunderson must unleash the cold, dark, merciless killer inside her and become the predator . . . rather than the prey.

Newly minted agent Mercy Gunderson is back and ready for action— unfortunately, she’s stuck doing paperwork in an overheated government office building. But she gets more than she bargained for when she’s thrown into her first FBI murder case, working with the tribal police on the Eagle River Reservation, where the victim is the teenage niece of the recently elected tribal president. When another gruesome killing occurs during the early stages of the investigation, Mercy and fellow FBI agent Shay Turnbull are at odds about whether the crimes are connected.

Due to job confidentiality, Mercy can’t discuss her misgivings about the baffling cases with her boyfriend, Eagle River County sheriff Mason Dawson, and the couple’s home on the ranch descends into chaos when Dawson’s eleven-year-old son Lex is sent to live with them. While Mercy struggles to find a balance, hidden political agendas and old family vendettas turn ugly, masking motives and causing a rift among the tribal police, the tribal council, and the FBI. Soon, however, Mercy realizes that the deranged killer is still at large—and is playing a dangerous game with his sights set on Mercy as his next victim.

Review:
Its been nearly two years since there was an installment in Armstrong’s Mercy Gunderson series. I have been stalking her website since finishing up the previous book, hoping for some word – and it finally materialized. Although, I’ll have to admit, I wish that I had time to go back and read the previous book in the series, because I don’t remember anything about Mercy becoming an FBI agent, and yet, that is where the story opens upon her return to South Dakota following her training…but I digress

Merciless has the suspense that I have come to expect in Armstrong’s books, and was balanced just right with the romance. It was fun seeing Mercy and Dawson (because typing Mason just seems weird, since even she calls him Dawson) trying to figure out their lives and merge them together. It seemed real – it wasn’t perfect like stuff so often is portrayed – I felt like I was getting to know them on a higher level. The mystery was intriguing – I will have to admit that the who done it didn’t reveal itself to me until right before everything went down and looking back, I think that Armstrong did a good job of integrating clues without it being completely obvious. There was also a certain amount of angst, which I am personally, not a fan of and which is why ultimately, I ended up giving it 3.5 stars, but rounding up to 4.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Sanctum – Sarah Fine

sanctumSanctum
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: #1 in the Guards of the Shadowlands series

Description:
“My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple.”

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

Review:
Its times like this, that I am thankful for recommendations from friends on Goodreads – because I can say for certain that I would never have found this book, let alone read it, without their recommendation. I am still conflicted over my final star-rating, but it has the potential to be one of my first 5-star reads for the year (and yes, I know its already 3 months into the year…) At first I was skeptical how the theme of youth suicide would be handled, especially when mixed with a fantasy type world – but I felt that the author managed to walk the fine line pretty well. It wasn’t until I looked at her biography and realized that she was a child psychologist that I realized why she did it so well – it (youth suicide) is obviously a topic that she is passionate about and has done research about/likely worked with children who have been affected by it.

It did raise a lot of thought-provoking ideas – most religions, if not all, have a form of heaven – but how many of them address whether people who commit suicide end up there – are they buried on un-consecrated ground (like the Catholic church) or what happened? And is there anyway for them to move from where they end up to heaven for real. I know that I had never really considered any of it until reading Sanctum – which to me is a sign of a great book.

However, about 2/3 of the way through, it did start to hit a bit on the teenage angst that was fustrating – I think the book would have automatically been a 5 star without that, and from how it ended, I have to admit that I am a bit concerned about where book 2 in the series is going to go…hopefully it will stay clear of the total teen angst/love triangle that seems to be so prevalent in a vast majority of YA books recently…Right now, I think I am going to give it 4.5, but rounding down to 4 on the Goodreads scale.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Scorched – Laura Griffin

scorchedScorched
Author: Laura Griffin
Series: #6 in the Tracers series (although could be read partially as stand-alone)

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Kelsey Quinn set out to trace a murder victim. Now she may become one. The dead don’t speak, but Kelsey knows their secrets. As a forensic anthropologist at the Delphi Center crime lab, Kelsey makes it her mission to identify bodies using no more than shards of bone, and her find at a remote Philippines dig hints at a sinister story. When Kelsey’s search for answers puts her at the scene of her exfiancé’s murder, only one man can help her. The same man who broke her heart just months before, and who is also a prime suspect. Faced with an ultimatum— Kelsey or his job—Gage Brewer did the only thing a Navy SEAL could . . . but that doesn’t mean he stopped wanting Kelsey. Now Kelsey is running for her life and Gage is her last line of defense. As the threats escalate, Kelsey realizes this conspiracy goes deeper and higher than they could have guessed. With the clock ticking down on a madman’s plot, the slightest misstep will have unthinkable consequences. . . .

Review:
So I’m sitting here, trying to write my review of Scorched and explain how it fits into the series and struggling a bit. Not because I didn’t like it, but I didn’t love it as much as I have loved the last couple in the series. This addition to the Tracer’s series could pretty much function as a stand-alone, as long as you read Novella, Unstoppable (which is 2.5 in the series) – this is where you meet Kelsey and Gage in a short adventure. Scorched picks up about 2 years later (roughly) and things have changed for the both of them. I say that this would work well as a stand-alone because there are only minute mentions of the other characters who have appeared in the series, and only one of them plays more than a minor role (and even then, that character has been a backseat rider in the other books).

Anyways, back to the book – I liked the terrorism theme that was used in this one, since it was something that many of us in the U.S. have faced in the past – from 9/11 to the anthrax attacks to threats to the various Metro systems (New York etc). There is, for many people, a definite fear of something happening. The way that the story unfolded seemed mostly realistic and on-par with some of the attempts that have occurred in the past. What I like the most about the secondary characters is that they seem as real as the main ones – they are very well developed and you find yourself either rooting for, or hating them. One minor (very) gripe that I have is that al-Qaeda should be spelt al-Qaida – according to many unclassified documents – but that’s just me…and many people likely wouldn’t pick up on that, because the e is the common spelling in the media.

While I enjoyed it, I also can’t pin-point exactly why I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other books in the series (which I have read all in the past month). Maybe it was because Kelsey and Gage have that prior relationship, which is normally a storyline plot that drives me nuts – I like my heroes and heroines to be getting together originally in their book, so a novella, or a previous book where you know that they get together just drives me nuts. That being said, it wasn’t as bad as all that – I liked the pacing of the action and I think it survived much more on the suspense realm, than the romance realm, which was good. Overall, I gave it 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Don’t Cry for Me – Sharon Sala

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don't cry for meDon’t Cry For Me
Author: Sharon Sala
Series: #2 in the Rebel Ridge series

Narrator: Kathe Mazur
Run Time: 11hrs and 17 minutes
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises

Description:
Mariah Conrad has come home. Badly wounded on active duty in Afghanistan and finally released stateside, she has no family to call on and nowhere to go—until Quinn Walker arrives at her bedside. Quinn, …her brother-in-arms, ex-lover and now maybe her future.

Quinn brings Mariah to his log cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky to rest and recuperate, both physically and emotionally. While she’s incredibly grateful, Mariah is also confused and frustrated. She’s always stood on her own two feet, but now even that can literally be torture. She’s having flashbacks and blackouts, hearing helicopter noises in the night. She wants to push Quinn away—and hold him closer than ever.

But will she get the chance? Those helicopters are more than just post-traumatic stress; they’re real—and dangerous. Bad things are happening on the mountain. Suddenly there’s a battle to be fought on the home front, and no guarantee of survival.

Review:
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin on this review…while Kathe Mazur is normally a narrator that I really enjoy, even her performance couldn’t improve on the mess that was this book. This is going to be a spoilerific, rant-tastic review – so you have been warned in advance.

If this had been the first book that I listened to for my audie experience, I might have been wondering what crack the judges were smoking because it was bad. There were just so many things with the plot that irked the ever-loving bejeebers out of me – from the what could have easily been a mis-identification of Conrad (I honestly thought that it was going to be a case of mistaken identity), to the overbearingness that is Quinn Walker (how dare he make decisions about taking her out of the hospital without even talking to her and how dare the hospital even let that happen – I mean seriously, WTF!!!). To the use of PTSD – I know that it is real and valid, but how it was handled here just pissed me off – both of them are isolated, getting no help and the author doesn’t even touch on the work that stuff like the Wounded Warrior Project does to help veterans…to her being able to shoot a bear that is charging at 75 yards (ok, so maybe she could have, but it just didn’t mesh)…and all of this happened in the first 5 chapters…I didn’t think that it could go downhill from there, but it did…we even got to the TSTL heroine who decided even though she is recovering from a major injury to go searching for her partner/boyfriend in an area that she doesn’t know, going up against drug dealers…it was like she wanted to be killed (but of course, it all worked out)…

But on to the narration – like I said in my first sentence – even Kathe Mazur’s narration which I typically enjoy wasn’t enough to overcome the other issues that I had with this book. I was too distracted by yelling at them as they did one dumb/idiotic thing after another, to truely be able to enjoy it. Which is kind of fustrating. I don’t know if I have had a book that drove me this nuts while listening to it in a long time…but from what I can remember (as I tried to block parts of it out of memory), I liked her range of voices – especially Mariah and Quinn – you could tell that they were the most well-developed obviously. I also think, while I am not from Kentucky, that she did a good job of trying to capture the regional dialect (but then, I don’t really know what it is supposed to sound like, so maybe I am completely off base). Since I have enjoyed narrations by her in the past, I will be seeking out more by her, but I don’t foresee myself reading/listening to anything by the author again (I gave her 2 tries as is my rule – books 1 and 2 in this series and neither of them worked for me). Overall, I gave the story 1 star and the narration 3 stars, which gives it an average of 2.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Pandora’s Bottle – Joanne Sydney Lessner

Layout 1Pandora’s Bottle
Author: Joanne Sydney Lessner

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
When financier Sy Hampton purchases this legendary bottle—which, through a quirk of preservation, may yet be drinkable—he shocks the wine community by choosing to uncork it privately with a female companion, rather than share it at a special public event. Sy intends the evening to be a quiet reassertion of his virility in the throes of middle age, but for ambitious restaurateur Annette Lecocq, the event offers an irresistible opportunity for much-needed publicity. Their competing agendas are not the only things to collide on the fateful night. Caught in the crossfire are Tripp Macgregor, a waiter on the verge of his long-awaited Broadway debut, and Valentina D’Ambrosio, the beautiful but unworldly working girl from Brooklyn Sy hopes to impress.

Review:
For me, this book could easily be divided into 2 parts, before the wine and after the wine…and the second part was more interesting than the first. I will say up front that I’m not a huge wine drinker and when I do, I go for the cheap sweet wines – I’ve never been to a tasting class or anything like that. So some of the intricacies of it went over my head. I do think that someone who enjoys wine would probably enjoy the first part more than I did. But secondly, it seemed that the characters in the first part weren’t real – they seemed too stiff, too perfect – even while they were struggling, i had a hard time relating to them. That did, however, change in what I call P.W. (post-wine).

I found the second half of the book to be much more enjoyable than the first – I think because it was almost like the characters had come to life. Whereas before they were stiff and ehhh…they seemed more alive – I felt like I was getting to know them more, rather than just sitting and watching them from the sidelines. The story also got more intriguing in this half. Weird, I know. I will admit that about 1/3 of the way through, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue, because I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. But I am glad that I did. Overall, I would give the first part of the book 2 stars, and the second half 4 stars, so an average of 3 overall.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Book Review

 

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PROMO tour – Going Under – S. Walden

going under

Going Under

S. Walden

Synopsis:

Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

(This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains explicit language and descriptions of sexual violence.)

Excerpt:

“I’m totally excited!” Gretchen squealed as we walked, arms linked, up the sidewalk to Tanner’s house.

Yes, I felt guilty for lying to my dad. It wasn’t Olivia’s house. There’s no Olivia anyway. But I thought it would sound better if the party were being thrown by a girl and not an immature boy. Tanner was just that. An annoying, loud, overbearing football player from my old high school who insisted on being popular whether people wanted him to or not. I think he was only accepted into the club because he had parents who traveled a lot, thus opening his house to the most over-the-top, alcohol-infused, sex-crazed parties in the city. It amazed me that not one of them had ever been busted by the cops.

“What’s there to be excited about?” I asked. “These parties are obnoxious.”

“Whatever, Brooke. You loved them last year.”

“Yeah, that was last year,” I said. “God, I don’t want to run into anyone I know.”

We pushed through the front door and nearly toppled onto Stephanie.

“Oh my God!” she screamed, throwing her arms around my neck and choking me.

“Steph.” I know I sounded less than enthusiastic, but I just couldn’t pretend anymore.

“I was so hoping you’d come tonight!” she replied, pulling away and looking me up and down. “You look so pretty!”

I did look pretty. I wore dark blue skinny jeans with a gray sequins top and alligator pumps. My very first pair of closed-toe heels. I bought them immediately after Beth’s funeral, and I made sure there was nothing sad about them. Not a hint of black. They were purple instead. I wore my hair in a messy chignon at the nape of my neck to show off my mother’s wedding earrings—the diamond studs. I felt confident and sexy.

“Thanks. I love your dress,” I replied. “It’s really cute.”

Stephanie looked down at her outfit. “I know, right?!” She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the living room. “Look who’s here, everyone!”

“No no,” I said, shaking my head and tearing my hand out of hers. “No one needs to know.”

I smiled nervously and looked around. Thankfully no one heard Stephanie or they didn’t care. The music was turned up to the max, and half the partiers were already wasted. There was an uneasy energy bouncing about the room, like a huge fight would break out at any moment. I didn’t like it, or rather my spirit didn’t like it. I could tell because my heart fluttered and thumped, and not to the beat of the song.

I turned around assuming Gretchen had followed me into the living room. I assumed wrong.

Purchase Links:
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About S. Walden
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.

She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at swaldenauthor@hotmail.com and
follow her blog at http://swaldenauthor.blogspot.com where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.

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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Blog Tour