AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, Nina Reilly, O, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, SERIES

2013.20 REVIEW – Motion to Suppress by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Motion to Suppress
by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Copyright: 1995
Pages: 450
Read: April 23-29, 2013
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge
Yearly count: 20
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb:Misty Patterson only remembered the fight, the polar bear statue she used as a bludgeon, a trail of blood, and the comatose sleep that followed. When she awoke, her husband and the statue were missing. Only the blood was left. She had come to attorney Nina Reilly’s office seeking a divorce. But when Anthony Patterson was found on the bottom of the frigid lake, Misty needed a miracle.

Barely a week before, Nina Reilly had been a happily married San Francisco lawyer. Suddenly she’s a single parent, opening a shoestring practice in Lake Tahoe. And now Nina finds herself embroiled in a case that’s going to change everything she believes about the law. It’s going to rock everything Misty Patterson believes about herself. And it’s going to give both women a look at the damning piece of evidence that will challenge their faith in each other. Or give them their one and only chance to win…


Review: This is the first in the Nina Reilly series. It’s also been a series that has been on my “to start” list for ages. Recently I started acquiring the first few in this series and since I needed a break from review books, I figured now was as good a time as any to start another series (ha!)

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book. There’s just something about Nina Reilly that really hit home for me. I don’t know quite how to explain it, but I just really enjoyed her character. She felt so real to me. She wasn’t perfect, but she was doing the best she could with what she had. And that husband of hers … ex-husband, now … what a sleaze bag. He rubbed me the wrong way. But it will be interesting to see what happens between her and Paul!

The characters, even the secondary ones, are so well-developed in my opinion. I know sometimes it’s hard to make secondary characters seem important, but the O’Shaughnessy ladies (they are two sisters), definitely make it happen.

I have to say that I wasn’t exactly surprised by the ending. I kind of had an inkling of where things were going, but I didn’t have it completely figured out until it was revealed. It wasn’t hard to figure out who was behind the threats on Nina and Misty. But what happened to Anthony, well that one was a little more surprising.

I felt as if the book went along at a nice pace, it never slowed down for me. And I really felt that Nina was amazing in the courtroom – those scenes were some of the best in the book, in my opinion.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this first book and look forward to reading more in the series soon!

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Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, April 29, 2013

Mailbox Monday time again! And April’s host is Mari at MariReads

Wow, what a crazy week for my mailbox! I got lots of cool ARCs and I also made a trip to the used bookstore (bad, Tara, bad!)

ARCs:

A Man of Indeterminate Value In a world plagued by corrupt corporations and sinister forces that prowl the global landscape, Jack Madson needs to escape his own demons. Trapped in a hate-filled marriage, a job he despises, and a mountain of debt, he’s crafted a plan. He’ll fake his own death – simultaneously winning a large insurance payout for his family and paving the way for his getaway to Mexico. There, he’ll create a new life with the money he has been amassing from illegally selling intellectual property to criminal interests in China.

But Madson’s plan goes dangerously wrong in this new thriller. The $2.5 million that he socks away in a secret Mexican bank account becomes Madson’s escape route from all that has come to symbolize his miserable life. But when he finally arrives south-of-the-border, he learns that he’s been double-crossed by his partner in crime – and his bank account is empty. Madson has no choice but to return to the States and make a last ditch effort to double his ill-begotten payoff. The hitch? He must break into the computer system at NuGen to retrieve highly valuable bio-tech secrets. As bodies pile up, Madson struggles to stay one step ahead of the laser-focused insurance claims investigator who is determined to prove that his “accidental death” is anything but.


Always Watching Psychiatrist Nadine Lavoie’s passion is to help people put their demons to rest, but she has demons of her own. Her mother was a wildly unpredictable manic depressive, her father an alcoholic, and there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes.

When Nadine is assigned a new patient who has recently attempted suicide, she quickly learns of some troubling parallels to her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her own history and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a commune on Vancouver Island. What happened to Nadine? Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn bring feelings of terror to Nadine – even today?

Buried secrets, lost family memories, and murder collide in Chevy Stevens’s latest spellbinding novel of psychological suspense.


Deadly Harvest A young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge.

As the trail grows cold, Samantha – a new detective (and the only woman) with the Botswana police force – is reminded of a childhood friend who had gone missing, and she devotes herself to keeping the first case open. She suspects that the girl was killed for muti, the traditional African medicine usually derived from plants and sometimes animals. But recent evidence shows that human parts are being incorporated into certain potions to conjure up a supposedly more potent formula. Detective Kubu joins forces with Samantha to take the investigation to the next level.

Meanwhile, Witness is convinced that his daughter, too, was murdered for muti – for a potion to ensure an election victory for opposition leader Marumo. On the night of Marumo’s win, Witness waits outside the politician’s home and murders him before fleeing town. Now Kubu and Samantha have yet another murder investigation on their hands, and the search of Marumo’s home yields a sample of muti that confirms their worst fears: the formula includes traces of human DNA and remains.

Kubu and Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop a serial killer or killers – and those who would pay for their special, lethal muti.


Domestic Affairs When twenty-something political fund-raiser Olivia Greenley gets tapped to work on the presidential campaign of Georgia governor Landon Taylor, it’s her dream job. Her best friend in the world is the campaign manager, and Taylor is a decent, charismatic idealist, with a real chance to be a great leader. Sacrificing her sleep, comfort, friends, family, and income for a year to make the world a better place is the right call, but what happens when both Campaign Lesson #2, No Kissing the Boss, and Lesson #2, Loyalty Above All, go down in flames before the first primary?

Bridget Siegel, veteran of the John Edwards and Obama campaigns, vividly captures the idealism and chaos, as well as the emotional heat and corruption, of the candidate’s bubble. What becomes of Olivia’s best friends when she must keep from them the biggest secret of her life? Is the candidate a true romantic or a political hypocrite? How far can she go to justify her happiness? Told with savvy, humor, and delicious inside-the-Beltway detail, Domestic Affairs is a page-turning tale of love on the campaign trail – and it’s consequences – from a consummate Beltway insider.


From LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program:
The Last Victim

A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Dr. Charlotte Stone regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. At the age of sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath. Because of the information she gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground, but Charlie kept her postmortem visions of the victims to herself. Years later, to protect her credibility as a psychological expert, she tells no one about these apparitions. Now a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. The Boardwalk Killer – or a sick copycat with his M.O. – is back. This is the one case Charlie knows she shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer, especially when she receives help from an unexpected source: the fiery spirit of a seductive bad boy who refuses to be ignored.


From the used book store:

The Emperor's Tomb

Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone has received an anonymous note carrying an unfamiliar Web address. Logging on, he’s shocked to see Cassiopeia Vitt, a woman who’s saved his life more than once, being tortured at the hands of a mysterious man who has a single demand: Bring me the artifact she’s asked you to keep safe. The only problem is, Malone doesn’t have a clue what the man is talking about, since Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. So begins Malone’s most harrowing adventure to date—one that offers up astounding historical revelations, pits him against a ruthless ancient brotherhood, and sends him from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world: the tomb of China’s First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra-cotta warriors, which has inexplicably remained sealed for more than two thousand years—its mysteries about to be revealed.


The Night Season

He captured the Beauty Killer, one of the most deranged serial killers in the country. Now, Portland police detective Archie Sheridan faces a different kind of killer—a brutal rain season that has flooded the Willamette River, claiming several lives. As water levels rise, so does the fear. Because some of the victims didn’t drown—they were murdered.

The first body contains a rare poison. Three others prove to be murders as well. And with each gruesome discovery the medical examiner uncovers, Archie begins to realize he has not escaped his nightmares—even with his deadliest enemy behind bars. The flood has washed up old skeletons from the past. And a ruthless new serial killer rules the night…


Baltimore Blues

In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz’s death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer’s notoriety—and his taste for illicit midday trysts—make the case front-page news in every local paper except the Star, which crashed and burned before Abramowitz did. A former Star reporter who knows every inch of this town—from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill—now unemployed journalist Tess Monaghan also knows the guy the cops like for the killing: cuckolded fiancé Darryl “Rock” Paxton. The time is ripe for a career move, so when rowing buddy Rock wants to hire her to do some unorthodox snooping to help clear his name, Tess agrees. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows. And Tess’ own name could end up on that ever-expanding list of Baltimore dead.


Nineteen Minutes

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five…. In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.


The Six Sacred Stones

Unlocking the secret of the Seven Ancient Wonders was only the beginning…

After their thrilling exploits in Matthew Reilly’s rampaging New York Times bestseller, 7 Deadly Wonders, supersoldier Jack West Jr. and his loyal team of adventurers are back, and now they face an all-but-impossible challenge.

A mysterious ceremony in an unknown location has unraveled their work and triggered a catastrophic countdown that will climax in no less than the end of all life on Earth.

But there is one last hope.

If Jack and his team can find and rebuild a legendary ancient device known only as the “Machine,” they might be able to ward off the coming armageddon. The only clues to locating this Machine, however, are held within the fabled Six Sacred Stones, long lost in the fog of history.

And so the hunt begins for the Six Sacred Stones and the all-important knowledge they possess, but in the course of this wild adventure Jack and his team will discover that they are not the only ones seeking the Stones and that there might just be other players out there who don’t want to see the world saved at all.

From Stonehenge in England to the deserts of Egypt to the spectacular Three Gorges region of China, The 6 Sacred Stones will take you on a nonstop roller-coaster ride through ancient history, modern military hardware, and some of the fastest and most mind-blowing action you will ever read.

A, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Edelweiss, Fiction, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.19 REVIEW – The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

The Boleyn King
by Laura Andersen

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 368
Read: April 15-22, 2013
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 19
Format: E-Book
Source: Edelweiss

Blurb: Laura Andersen brings us the first book in an enthralling trilogy set in the dramatic, turbulent, world-altering years of Tudor England. What if Anne did not miscarry her son in January 1536, but instead gave birth to a healthy royal boy? Perfect for fans of Philipa Gregory and Allison Weir.
The Boleyn King
Henry IX, known as William, is a 17-year-old king struggling at the restraints of the regency and anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics plotting at home, Will trusts only three people: his older sister, Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by Anne Boleyn. Against an undercurrent of secret documents, conflicting intelligence operations, and private murder, William fights a foreign war and domestic rebellion with equal resolve. But when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession menaces a new generation of Tudors. Battlefields and council chambers, trials and executions, the blindness of first love and the betrayal of true friendship…How far will William go to get what he wants? Who will pay the price for a king’s revenge? And what twists of fate will set Elizabeth on the path to her destiny as England’s queen?


Review: Oh. My. Goodness. I almost don’t know where to start with this review. I can’t begin to tell you how much I truly enjoyed this book. And how much I hate that it’s a trilogy and I can’t hardly wait to get my hands on the second book.

Personally I liked the premise of this book – what if? What if Anne Boleyn hadn’t miscarried? What if she had given birth to a healthy baby boy? That’s where this book really starts. Then it skips forward to when William is 17 and is about to become a “full” king – not having to have his councillors.

While William would obviously be the main character, most of the book is written in Minuette’s perspective. As Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting and a close childhood friend to both Elizabeth and William, she really has a nice place for herself within the court. But it’s really amazing to see just how things change when these childhood friends grow up and become young adults. Add into it the fact that royalty is involved, it really makes for some interesting ideas.

Overall I found this book to be really good. But that’s not to say that it was perfect. There were a few issues that I had with it. First, I sometimes had a hard time keeping the characters straight. Not the main characters, but the ones who were William’s councillors. I guess that’s probably because they were secondary characters and popped in and out throughout the book. I’m not sure why I struggled with that. I also had a slight issue with how the transitions to different characters were done. Or I really should say, lack thereof. I felt like this was the weakest part of the book.  The reader would be going along with Minuette’s character and then we would be immediately thrown into the battlefield with Dominic. I found it a little difficult to keep track of at times. However, it didn’t really make me like the book any less, but it was something that I noticed throughout the novel.

I must warn you, dear readers – this book ends with one heck of a cliffhanger. I almost couldn’t believe it! I kept hitting the forward button on my Nook hoping that the book wouldn’t end how it did. It is what it is, but it will definitely leave you wanting more immediately!

I think I’ve read more historical fiction this year than I have in the past 5 years combined, but for some reason it’s really caught my interest. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to finishing the trilogy – I can’t wait to find out what happens!! (That cliffhanger … !!)

Highly recommended.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, E-Book, Fiction, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, Review Book

2013.5 REVIEW – A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate
by Susanna Calkins

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 349
Rating: 5/5
Read: Jan. 18 – 22, 2013
Challenge: 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge
Yearly count: 5
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley

A Murder at Rosamund's GateBlurb:  For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and Lucy’s brother is wrongly arrested for the crime. In a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers aren’t permitted to defend their clients, and—if the plague doesn’t kill them first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never see her brother alive again. Unless, that is, she can identify the true murderer.

Determined to do just that, Lucy finds herself venturing out of her expected station and into raucous printers’ shops, secretive gypsy camps, the foul streets of London, and even the bowels of Newgate prison on a trail that might lead her straight into the arms of the killer.


Review: I received this book via NetGalley. It was an impulse request, but I knew that it was a book that I really wanted to read.

I actually finished this book a few days ago, but for some reason I couldn’t immediately put my thoughts together on how to approach the review. But I’ve now gathered my thoughts and I hope that I am able to convey to my readers just how much I really did enjoy this book.

However, that’s not to say that it wasn’t without its faults. First of all, this is most definitely a historical mystery. But I was a little frustrated that it took 100 pages until we really got to the “mystery” part of it. The only reason I kept reading the book through all that was because Ms. Calkins really set the stage beautifully in my opinion. There was just something about the writing and the introduction to all the characters that really drew me farther into the story.

I really enjoyed Lucy’s character. She seemed so real to me. And I liked how Ms. Calkins made her more than just a servant – she was a young woman with thoughts and opinions of her own. It also helped that her household master was quite receptive to hearing the chambermaid’s opinions. I’m absolutely positive that this would have been almost unheard of during the time this book was set (London during the plague years).

The mystery part of the book was quite interesting to me. I will admit that I had no idea who the killer really was until he was revealed. That’s always something that I really appreciate out of a good book.

When the book reaches its conclusion the reader is left wondering where Lucy will go from there. I will admit that I was a little frustrated that it seemed to end so abruptly. I was left with a lot of questions that I wanted answers to immediately. Hopefully I will be able to meet Lucy again in another book in the future.

Either way, this is definitely a historical mystery not to be missed. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but when I do this is exactly the type of book that I’m looking for. I know this book will make a big splash in the book world – and it definitely deserves to. Highly recommended.

AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, R, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.18 REVIEW – Blood Money by Doug Richardson

Blood Money
by Doug Richardson

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 280
Read: April 4-11, 2013
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 18
Format: E-Book
Source: Author for review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00037]Blurb: The disillusioned Marine’s plan seems simple enough: steal a refrigerated tractor trailer loaded with frozen blood product; drive the pirated cargo from Reno, Nevada to the Port of Long Beach; collect a million dollars. Yet even the most deliberate plans can go sideways. On his campaign south, the Marine’s “inner idiot” takes charge, leaving a smattering of dead bodies in his wake.

In the dark before dawn, a telephone rings. Kern County Sheriff’s detective Lucas “Lucky” Dey, no stranger to being awakened with bad news, answers the call. But this time, the voice on the phone tells Lucky that his ill-fated younger brother has been gunned down on a blackened desolate highway.

As Lucky chases the former Marine and his black semi-rig into the bowels of Los Angeles, he’s thrust into a landscape of competing agendas. Conrad Ellis, the multi-millionaire entertainment mogul, demands justice for the murder of his starlet daughter. Ambitious federal attorney Lilly Zoller is determined to turn any opportunity into her personal spotlight. Rey Palomino, the morally challenged contractor, colludes with the former Marine hoping to crawl out from under a crushing debt. LAPD detective and dedicated single mom Lydia “Gonzo” Gonzales, reluctantly accepts her assignment to “babysit” the unrestrained Kern County detective hell-bent on avenging his brother’s death at any cost.

A knee-breaking private detective, some unwitting feds, and a coterie of gang-busting L.A. Sheriff’s deputies further complicate the scenario and round out the cast of characters in this explosive and unpredictable thrill ride.


Review: This is a book that starts out with a bang and never lets up until you’ve hit the final page. When I was originally pitched this book and first found out that Mr. Richardson had actually written some pretty famous movies, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to read his book. I’m very happy that I got this opportunity.

Overall the book is quite good. As I stated above, this is a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride of a read. The pages kept flying as I was anxious to get see how things ended up.

As most of my faithful readers know, I am huge on character development. Personally, I felt that Mr. Richardson did a great job in creating the characters, but I felt a little disconnected with them. I guess you could really say that I never really “liked” any of the characters. However, for some reason, it works for this book. I can’t really explain it, but it just felt right for the situation.

I felt as if the writing was very good, it never lagged, but most importantly it felt real. Nothing was forced, everything felt like you were right in the conversation with the characters.

I would definitely recommend this book. I have to say that there is quite a bit of violence in this book, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it.


About the Author:

DougRichardsonHiResDoug  Richardson  was  born  in  Arcadia,  California.  The  son  of  a  career  politician,  Doug  grew  up  outside  Sacramento  and  inside  the  state  Capitol.  He  used  to  talk  his  way  into  then-‐Governor  Ronald  Reagan’s  office,  just  to  get  a  handful  of  jellybeans.    Doug  left  Northern  California  for  Los  Angeles  to  attend  the  University  of  Southern  California’s  School  of  Cinema.  For  as  long  as  he  could  remember,  Doug  had  wanted  to  be  a  movie  director.  But  in  pursuing  his  goal  he  discovered  how  movies  are  really  made:  in  the  writing.    After  finishing  college,  Doug  signed  a  two-‐year  contract  with  Warner  Brothers.  In  1989  he  garnered  national  attention  when  his  spec  screenplay  was  the  first  in  Hollywood  to  sell  for  a  million  dollars.  Doug’s  first  feature  film,  the  sequel  to  Die  Hard,  Die  Harder,  was  produced  in  1990.  He  has  since  written  and  produced  feature  films  including  the  box  office  smash  Bad  Boys  and,  most  recently,  Hostage.  To  date,  Doug’s  features  have  grossed  over  800  million  dollars  worldwide.    Blood  Money  is  Doug’s  fourth  novel,  preceded  by  Dark  Horse,  True  Believers,  and  The  Safety  Expert.      Doug  continues  to  write  and  develop  for  feature  films  and  television.  He  lives  in  Southern  California  with  his  wife,  two  children  and  four  mutts.

Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: Touching Melody

TouchingMelody_CVR_LRG


About the book:

Touching Melody by RaShelle Workman
Series: Forever First #1
Publication date:  June 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Synopsis:

Maddie Martin’s first weekend at college is nothing like she’s used to. It’s wild, like the wilderness on which the University of Bellam Springs sits. Roped into going to a frat party, she literally runs into Kyle Hadley. The boy she’s loved since she was nine. The boy she promised all of her firsts to. But that was before his father killed her parents.

Determined to stay away from him, she throws herself into her music. Practicing piano eases her heavy heart, calms the sadness, and pushes away images of Kyle’s face.

Until it doesn’t.

Her music professor asks her to play a duet for their annual Graduation Gala. Doing so means she’ll be assured another full ride scholarship. It’s an opportunity she can’t pass up.

But Kyle is the other half of the duet. And that means hours and hours of practicing.

Days and months of seclusion – just the two of them. And it’s more than just music. It’s passion like Maddie never believed was possible.

The inevitable happens. She falls in love with him all over again.

But, will loving him be enough to erase all the hate in her heart for his father? Can she look at him, and not see the evil in his family tree?

And maybe it’s all a set up. Maybe Kyle is only pretending to care so he can finish what his father started, and kill her too.

 


amazonprofileAbout the author:

RASHELLE WORKMAN lives on a mountain with her husband, three children, and three dogs. From her back porch she can see the city lights and imagine… She’s the bestselling author of the Dead Roses series (Sleeping Roses is being translated into Turkish, and will be available in print wherever Turkish books are sold in 2014), the Immortal Essence series, and the Blood and Snow series.
Author links:

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Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, April 15, 2013

Mailbox Monday time again! And April’s host is Mari at MariReads

Just one book this past week. Something a little out of my comfort zone, but it sounded intriguing when I spotted it on Shelf Awareness.

After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Storyby Michael Hainey

after visiting friendsMichael Hainey had just turned six when his uncle knocked on his family’s back door early one morning with tragic news: Bob Hainey, Michael’s father, had been found dead in the night, alone on a dark Chicago street. The cause of death, a heart attack. Thirty-five years old, Bob was a bright and shining star in the hard-living brotherhood of the 1960s big-city newspapers, where booze-soaked nights bled into dawn. And then suddenly he was gone, leaving behind a young widow, two sons, a fractured family, and questions about the mysteries of his death that would obsess Michael long into adulthood.

Man years later, and now a seasoned reporter himself, Michael finally summons the courage to search out the truth of what happened that night – no matter the toll on his family. At the heart of his riveting quest is Michael’s mother, a woman of great courage and tenacity – and a steely determination not to look back. Prodding his relatives and tracking down a network of his father’s colleagues who abide by an honor code of silence, Michael sees  beyond the long-held myths and ultimately reconciles the father he had imagined with the man that he comes to discover. Perhaps most powerfully of all, his decade-long journey leads him to a moving rediscovery of his mother.

After Visiting Friends is a heartrending and beautifully written memoir of a family’s legacy of secrets, a universal story about how we find ourselves.

AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Read in 2013, Review Book, S

2013.17 REVIEW – Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel

Evidence of Life
by Barbara Taylor Sissel

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 304
Read: March 29 – April 4, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 17
Format: Print
Source: Publicist for blog tour

20130331-102247.jpgBlurb:

On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn’t last forever…

As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey’s hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.

When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to fine them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.

With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother’s love, a wife’s obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.


Review: I do believe that 2013 is going to go down in the record books as the year I read the most awesome books, ever! Seriously. I just keep reading winner after winner!

So where do I start in the love-fest that will be this review? How about with this – go buy a copy and move it to the top of your to-read pile, ASAP!

For me this book started off and never let up. I was constantly wanting to know exactly what happened to Nick and Lindsey. Were they dead? Did Nick run off and take Lindsey with him? Personally I couldn’t get through the pages quick enough to find out what happened to half of Abby’s family.

Abby … oh, dear Abby. My heart broke for her character. I wanted her to have closure so badly. I know that there are a lot of families out there that never get closure, but I was really hoping that she would get it in the end. You had to pity her a little bit. But at the same time I wanted to shake her out of the funk she got in. I don’t really want to say that her character really got obnoxious, because it’s hard to tell how anyone would react in that situation – everyone grieves differently – but, at the same time it was difficult to believe that she was as naive as she was acting.

But Nick is really the character I want to talk about. I had an issue that we never really got to “know” him. He disappeared within like the first 10 pages and then everything regarding him was from other people’s perspectives, whether it was Abby, Kate, Abby’s mother or Nick’s co-workers. I understood why Ms. Sissel set the book up in the manner she did, but I felt as if Nick really never got to have his own say into what happened in his and Abby’s marriage. It would have been nice to have his perspective on a few things – was Abby really that naive or did she look the other way because it was easiest? I think it would have been interesting to see that perspective of the story. But it didn’t hurt my overall opinion of the book itself, I just think it would have been an interesting direction to have gone in.

But Kate is really the one character I did. not. like. Period. She was shady. And yet she wanted to be Abby’s best friend. She betrayed her. And yet she expected Abby to just forgive her for everything. And Abby did just that. It just irritated me, because I felt as if Kate really took advantage of Abby. I don’t know, there was just something about her that rubbed me wrong I guess.

Overall, the storyline was interesting. While the outcome was somewhat predictable, there was definitely one wild character that came out of left field in my opinion. It definitely added the twist that really helped the book to its exciting finish. The writing was excellent.

I can’t say enough about this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone. It definitely makes me want to read Ms. Sissel’s previous books!

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**I received a copy of this book to be part of a blog tour. I received no monetary compensation and all opinions expressed are my own.

AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, L, Read in 2013, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

2013.16 REVIEW – Untold Damage by Robert K. Lewis

Untold Damage
by Robert K. Lewis

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 289
Read: March 25-29, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 16
Format: Print
Source: Author for TLC Book Tours

Untold DamageBlurb: Estranged from his wife and daughter, former undercover cop Mark Mallen has spent the last four years in a haze of heroin. When his best friend from the academy, Eric Russ, is murdered, all the evidence points to Mallen as the prime suspect.

Now Mallen’s former colleagues on the force are turning up the heat and Russ’s survivors are asking him to come up with some answers. But if he wants to serve justice to the real killer, Mallen knows he’ll have to get clean. Turning a life around is hard work for a junkie, especially when a gang of low-life thugs wants him dead. Bruised, battered, and written off by nearly everyone, can Mallen keep clean and catch a killer?


Review:

Sometimes the darkest moments of our life give us the brightest chance at our redemption.

Page 55 of ARC

When I was originally pitched this book I thought it sounded like a pretty decent read. I had no idea just how enjoyable I would find it. I was very pleasantly surprised by this debut book by Robert K. Lewis. I honestly feel like this is such a wonderful start to what can be a great new series.

I have to begin this review by talking about a couple of the characters. My faithful readers know that I am a huge stickler for some good character development. To me the characters will make or break a book, especially a series. Mark Mallen is such an interesting character. If I had to choose one word to describe him I would select flawed. And boy oh boy, is he ever flawed. I mean, he’s an ex-cop, who used to work undercover in narcotics. And why is he an ex-cop? Oh, you know, because he got hooked on heroin during his undercover stint and got kicked off the force. Can you get any more flawed than that? I don’t think so. But there’s just something about him that works. I think it’s the fact that he wants to be better. As the reader, we really get to see the transformation that so many junkies never get to experience: the want to get clean. And it’s a tough road. He detoxes cold turkey while in the drunk tank in jail. That’s tough. There are many times throughout the book that you think that he’s going to relapse. Personally I found myself rooting so hard for Mallen to get out of certain situations still clean. I wanted him to stay clean. I wanted him to succeed. His character is just so real. In my opinion, he’s a great main character. It’s hard to blend flawed and likeable at the same time … but Mr. Lewis certainly does so almost effortlessly.

In my opinion another character who must be discussed is Gato. Some would call his character more periphery than some of the other characters. But there was just something about Gato that didn’t really feel right. First, Mallen meets him while he’s in the drunk tank detoxing. Obviously that’s not the best time to meet your new best friend. But for some reason, Gato offers him friendship. And Mallen takes him up on it when he’s clean and back on the outside. But for some reason, something rubbed me the wrong way about his character. He was almost too helpful. He never questioned Mallen. Even when most guys would walk away from Mallen and the crazy things he was asking of Gato, he stayed. He just seemed too eager to help Mallen. I might be making more out of it than there is to it, but like I said, something felt off …. I have a feeling that Gato is going to ask Mallen for help in the next book, and I think it’s going to be something big (bad?) that he’s going to be requesting. Just a feeling I have, though.

The storyline itself is interesting. It was fast paced and kept me guessing until the end. The killer was predictable, but I found it fun to work “the case” with Mallen. I liked seeing him brush off the rust of the past four years and get back into his groove with investigating. It was definitely fun. I also liked that the reader gets Mallen’s history. It was definitely necessary to include this information. To me it only made Mallen that much more enjoyable – it was very easy to see how he ended up where he did. I didn’t necessarily feel sorry for him, or think it was excusable, but it really put things into perspective.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough. And I’m excited that Mr. Lewis is busy at work on the next Mallen book 🙂


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**This review is posted in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours blog tour. I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation and the opinions expressed here are my own.

tlc logoPlease be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

Monday, April 8th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, April 9th: Crime Fiction Lover
Wednesday, April 10th: Booksie’s Blog
Thursday, April 11th: Tales of a Book Addict
Wednesday, April 17th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Monday, April 22nd: Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, April 23rd: Must Read Faster
Wednesday, April 24th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, April 25th: she treads softly
Monday, April 29th: Crazy Shenanigans
Tuesday, April 30th: My Two Blessings