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Brew or Die: A Java Jive Mystery by Caroline Fardig

  • Posted on April 23, 2017 at 10:15 am

Brew or Die: A Java Jive MysteryBrew or Die: A Java Jive Mystery by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will admit that jumping into the middle of a multi-novel series doesn’t always yield the best results. While authors aim to write each book in such a way that anyone can drop in at any time and still get the gist of things (and this book is no different), I feel that there is a richness to the characters that is lacking by not having the full background.

Overall, I liked this book, but I did find it slow in parts. The middle of the book is where authors tend to not be able to hold my attention, as was the case here. The story line was quite complex, with multiple mysteries at once and the interleaving of many relationships, so it became mired in a too much detail in some spots. I suspect a broader brush could have been used to fill in the investigations and kept a faster pace. The problem may well have been that there were too many mysteries happening in one book to really be effective in the storytelling of all of them.

I would consider going back and reading earlier books in the series to learn more about the main characters. I would definitely recommend starting at the top with this one.

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Sleep Tight by Anne Frasier

  • Posted on April 23, 2017 at 10:02 am

Sleep TightSleep Tight by Anne Frasier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sleep Tight is the story of an FBI profiler whose life was drastically altered when, as a teenager, her best friend was murdered. Years later, a case brings her back to her hometown and face to face with everything that she’s worked so hard to bury.

As with all of Anne’s books, this one is well written, with an intricate, tightly woven and appropriately paced plot. You really are left guessing until the very end what role everyone plays, who killed whom and who is not the person you thought they were, proving that even the most experienced agents can be wrong and why working on a case that hits too close to home is never advisable.

Anne has a masterful grip on the suspense thriller. If you pick this one up, you’ll be glad that you did.

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Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery by Melinda Mullet

  • Posted on March 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business MysterySingle Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery by Melinda Mullet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First a shout-out to NetGalley and Alibi/Random House for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! The story arc was quite satisfying, the murderer was a surprise, but not a total surprise (I just had a tiny inkling that maybe…), and I loved the protagonist. She has a spirit that is both strong and fragile at the same time, showing credible vulnerability at the appropriate times and a robust backbone that is completely in keeping with her background and career choice. All rounded out with a dash of romance for fun. Truly a well thought out and well crafted book of surprising quality for a first time author. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

  • Posted on March 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm

The Marriage PactThe Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The view was not worth the climb.

First of all, let me be clear – I received an advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I may never receive a free copy again after this…

In all seriousness, I wanted to like this book. I really did. I saw that the author was a New York Times Bestseller with a major publishing company and I expected a really polished read. This was not that. I can only hope, for the sake of everyone involved, that what I read was either an unedited or unproofed copy of the manuscript because it was very rough. I counted four mistakes in one sentence. Four. That alone is normally enough to turn me off, but I was determined to get through it because I felt an obligation to do so.

Initially, I was drawn into the book. The premise of a signed contract with an organization whose objective is to help support and protect the institution of marriage is an interesting one. But at some point near the middle, the pace of the book slows down and I found myself repeatedly checking the count at the bottom of my Kindle to see how much farther I had to go before the plot started wrapping up. Again, a good edit to cut some of the fat would likely go a long way to resolving that issue.

My biggest issue is that after I had waded through the murky middle bits of the book and my trusty Kindle led me to believe that I was nearing the finish line, the ending was somewhat predictable, brief, abrupt and unsatisfying. There is a very long windup for how few pages are actually dedicated to the conclusion of this story. I’m not a gal who needs a happy ever after ending, but I do prefer some sort of clearly defined ending. Complete cliffhangers, especially when it’s not written to be part of a series, leave me feeling like I wasted my time. For as emotionally invested as I became in the characters and their story, not having a concrete ending just frustrated and annoyed me.

Bottom line: This one was not a good use of my time.

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Grim by Thea Atkinson

  • Posted on March 15, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Grim (Reaper's Redemption Series Book 1)Grim by Thea Atkinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Not having read any of Thea’s work before, I didn’t know what to expect, so I kept my expectations fairly low. Imagine my surprise when I could not put this book down! There are some minor plot flaws in there (and a fair number of typos; I read an advance copy and assume that most have been corrected), but it happens and is something I can easily overlook if the overall work is good. And this is. From the beginning, nothing goes as you might expect. The primary character starts out to help a friend and finds her life irrevocably changed in the process. Quite an interesting set of twists and turns that will keep you feeling off-balance. And a great setup for future books in the series. There are so many avenues and characters to explore, even the ones that you are going to love to hate. Definitely worth picking up if you want a quick read with a good pace. If you like the supernatural without gratuitous sex and violence, with a touch of darkness, give this a read!

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Book Review: Dead Lemons by Finn Bell

  • Posted on February 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Dead LemonsDead Lemons by Finn Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer #1: I am a freelance editor. Typos, grammatical errors, tense inconsistencies and the like drive me nuts. So there are sections of this book that annoyed me greatly from that standpoint. No offense to Mr. Bell, but he needs an editor. All writers do, no matter how good they are.

Disclaimer #2: I was offered this book to read for free in exchange for my review. I hope you’ll see that the price of the book doesn’t affect my reviews.

That said, let’s get into the meat of my review. I initially found the flash-forwards disjointed and confusing. As the book progressed, it made more sense, but initially it’s very jarring and hard to get your footing in the timeline of the book. I know that jumping around is a common tool in an author’s toolbelt, but it takes a deft touch to make it work well. This book didn’t elevate to that level for me. Personally, I think it would have been less confusing if the chapters were only marked when the time changed significantly (jumping backwards or forwards).

Once I got past the confusion of the timeline jumps, I was really able to settle into the story. The main character’s background is slowly revealed throughout the book, so you start out with very little idea of who he is and where he came from. (And I am still confused by the fact that his country of origin is just blithely thrown in at the end so that I’m not sure if it really matters or if I even care.) Sections of the book are quite slow. I didn’t get truly sucked in until the last quarter or so of the book and then I could barely put it down because I wanted to know who did the dastardly deeds.

However, the ending hit me as flat.

For a whodunnit, there was no story arc to the real villain. A reader wants to know a character’s motivation, how they became who they are, why they did what they did. Background. Details. None of that is provided here. I feel like the character was completely glossed over, undeveloped, shallow. It made for a boring ending, quite frankly. A twist, for sure, but one that didn’t make sense. A skilled writer will leave breadcrumbs throughout the story so that the ending is a bit of a surprise at first, but then makes sense in hindsight. There’s none of that here. The author tries to explain how it comes together, but there was never enough information to make it fit.

In summary, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed because I had no idea what to expect from this author. But by the time I neared the finish line, I wanted far more satisfaction than I ultimately derived from the ending. There was a lot of build-up but no pay off. Do I feel like it was a complete waste of my time? No. Would my precious little bit of reading time been better served by a better book? Yes.

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

  • Posted on February 28, 2017 at 10:15 am

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having never read this book before, it was highly recommended to me by several female friends on the heels of the 2016 election. It is a stark portrayal of the stripping of women’s rights that is chilling and ominous. A fascinating read for anyone who believes in human rights and wonders just how wrong this world really could go. The frightening part is that this is not an inconceivable future, where women are stripped of power and rights and pigeon-holed into specific areas of usefulness (or sent away if they fail to be useful). There are some small sections of the book that are a bit muddled and unclear, but it’s a good read overall.

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Book Review: The Body Reader by Anne Frasier

  • Posted on June 28, 2016 at 11:32 am

The Body ReaderThe Body Reader by Anne Frasier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simply put, my definition of a great book is one that I cannot put down until I have read it from cover to cover. This book fits that definition and then some. I’ve long been a fan of Anne Frasier, but this book elevates her work to a whole new level, in my mind. She artfully uses flashbacks to add details and context at just the right time. The number of twists is enough to catch you by surprise, but not excessive. The depravity of man is highlighted, as is our inherent suspicion. She also explores the darkness that can overwhelm the soul with despair and yet how a glimmer of light can remain to awaken the spirit and motivate the body to take action. I don’t want to give away any details, but if you enjoy psychological thrillers, this book is for you!

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Book Review: Kiss Me Hello by L.K. Rigel

  • Posted on March 2, 2013 at 3:41 am

Kiss Me HelloKiss Me Hello by L.K. Rigel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning (with a horrendous cold, no less) to finish this book in one sitting because I just could not put it down! I absolutely devoured it and wanted more once I had finished, even though L.K. completed the story lines in a wonderfully satisfactory manner. In my mind, this is the ultimate romance story – just a little bit of steaminess, with plenty of intrigue, a touch of history and a ghost! I’m a fan of L.K.’s work overall, but I think that this is truly her best work to date. It’s a quick, beautiful and seamless read. Brava, L.K.! You have outdone yourself!

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Book Review: Bride of Fae by L.K. Rigel

  • Posted on August 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Bride of Fae (Tethers #2)Bride of Fae by L.K. Rigel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even better than Give Me (the first book in the Tethers series), Bride of Fae includes such wonderful, detailed descriptions of the scenery. The changes in timeline are easier to follow than in Give Me. The costumes are vivid and colorful, beautifully suited to the world of the fae. There is more sex than in any of L.K.’s books to date, but the amount is just right and fits the circumstances. After all, this is faeworld!

Over all, L.K.’s writing just gets better and better. If you like Give Me, you will LOVE Bride of Fae.

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