Wednesday, October 10, 2018

review: ghost town by jason hawes and grant wilson

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After writing a book about his own paranormal experience, ghost tracker Trevor is one of the authors participating in a conference during the Dead Days festival in "the most haunted town in America." Amber and Drew (now a couple) are scheduled to present as well. Shortly after they arrive in town, a woman is killed in what appears to be a paranormal event. Soon the trio are investigating a number of deaths related to the Dark Lady.

Ghost Town is substantially better than Ghost Trackers, but it does suffer from too many characters sharing their perspective. The numerous perspectives from secondary characters made the narrative disjointed. And while the hunt for the Dark Lady was interesting, Ghost Town did not pay off in the end.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Friday, October 5, 2018

review: born scared by kevin brooks

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Elliot has been scared his entire life. The only people who don't absolutely terrify him are his mother, her sister, and his doctor. His doctor prescribed pills, but Elliot is still housebound. Even though the pills don't seem to do him much good, Elliot is obsessed with them so it makes sense that the pills would be the catalyst for everything that happens to Elliot on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, Kevin Brooks doesn't quite create an understandable sense of Elliot's fear. There's a lot of Elliot worrying about things and conversing with his imaginary friend/twin sister who died at birth, but the anxiety he's experiencing never creates tension. Although he does eventually face something horrible (as Brooks weaves in the alternating plot which was a bit of a distraction), the ending leaves much to be desired with no real explanation as to what happened.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Candlewick.

Friday, September 28, 2018

review: the other woman by sandie jones

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Emily and Adam get together in a whirlwind. She adores him, but his mother is a different story. Although everyone else seems to love Adam's mother Pammie, Emily sees right through her manipulations. The woman seems absolutely determined to stop Emily and Adam from marrying. Emily will not be deterred, but then comes the promised twist from Sandie Jones in her incredible debut novel. The Other Woman is a slow build with Jones lulling the reader into believing the plot is moving right along in the expected manner. Each reveal seems like it's the twist right up until the horrible truth all comes spilling out in an excellently written scene.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Minotaur Books.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

review: when a duke loves a woman by lorraine heath

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The second book in Lorraine Heath's Sins for All Seasons series follows the quite unladylike for her time Gillie Trewlove, bar owner and sister of Mick from Beyond Scandal and Desire. Gillie's life takes a dramatic turn when she interrupts the brutal robbery of a duke outside her bar. Expecting nothing, she immediately brings him inside and nurses him to health. As one might expect, their different stations in life make their romance nearly impossible, but the attraction is undeniable. The romance of the novel is excellent, but Heath also makes this one fun by having Gillie's adoptive brothers attempt to protect and rescue a woman who can makes it very clear she can stand on her own. There's also a great scene during Gillie's first experience at a ball hosted by nobility.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Avon.

Friday, August 24, 2018

review: the secret of the irish castle by santa montefiore

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Santa Montefiore's fantastic Deverill trilogy concludes with The Secret of the Irish Castle which starts off with the twins born of Bridie and Bertie growing their relationship not knowing they are siblings. The Deverill curse is very much in play and spectacular heartache abounds for many of the main characters. As the years go on, Montefiore incorporates real world events just as she did with the previous two novels, but not to the same extent; other than JP, the characters are barely affected by World War II. This time there's also quite a bit of explaining previous events, such as how Bridie came to own the Deverill castle and why Kitty hates Michael. That backstory incorporation felt a little clunky as it slowed down some of the dramatic moments. In all though, the final book provides a satisfying conclusion with most of the characters getting a happy ending even if it's not quite the one readers may have expected.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, William Morrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

review: crux by jean guerrero

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With her father as the framework, journalist Jean Guerrero explores the dynamics of her family in a memoir called Crux. It is clear that Guerrero considers her father, Marco, the crux as he disappears from her life only to return with rampant drug abuse and outrageous claims. Everyone says he has schizophrenia (and Guerrero worries about genetics), but Marco claims he's the victim of a CIA experiment. Being a journalist, Guerrero investigates the claim, but the CIA and other federal agencies refuse her Freedom of Information Act requests. That combined with her research on MKUltra causes Guerrero to wonder if there isn't some merit to the wild story about being stopped by a soldier while other men planted something in Marco's vehicle. But Crux isn't all paranoia and conspiracy theories. Guerrero relates her father's past which begins with the tragedy around his birth and abusive early years that don't get any better when a violent stepfather comes into the picture. The stories are powerful and haunting, especially as Guerrero also shares her own story of growing up as a "gringa" at a Catholic school in San Diego despite her Puerto Rican/Mexican heritage.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, One World.

Friday, August 3, 2018

review: bring me back by b.a. paris

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Twelve years ago Finn's girlfriend disappeared after they had a fight. She was never found, but he was cleared of suspicion. Now Finn is set to marry the sister of that girlfriend. Life was good until Russian dolls started appearing at the house Finn and Ellen share. The dolls are significant because each sister had a set and Ellen had accused Layla of taking the smallest from her set when they were kids. It's also the only thing Layla left behind when she disappeared from the rest stop. It's a great premise, but the plot of Bring Me Back moves quite slowly. The big twist was also obvious early on. When that "twist" is finally revealed it comes with a big information dump to explain everything that happened in the last decade.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Press.