Wednesday, September 30, 2015

review: the flying circus by susan crandall

Set in the 1920s, Susan Crandall brings together three people of different backgrounds in The Flying Circus. There’s a young woman determined to make her own way after her family’s money is lost, a young man who is running from accusations of a terrible crime, and a World War I pilot who has left his wife since she’s really in love with his deceased best friend. The unlikely trio earns money by performing stunts as they travel around the Midwest.

As one might guess with a mixed gender trio all of similar age, there is sexual tension that finally comes to a head about the same time the law catches up to the group. The drama of it all plays out splendidly as Crandall uses facts of the time period (Prohibition, smuggling, and the rights of unmarried women) to make the plot more compelling.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

review: blood red by wendy corsi staub

Wendy Corsi Staub kicks off a new series with Blood Red which takes place in a small east coast town called Mundy’s Landing. The town has quite the history which will likely be developed more as the series continues. The first book centers on current events though that actually have little to do with Mundy’s Landing other than the fact that the target of serial killer lives there. As Rowan will soon learn, someone has been harboring a grudge for many years.

Although Blood Red begins with a murder, the plot develops slowly. Rowan is a frustrating character whose navel-gazing only makes the plot move even slower. The killer keeps things interesting though. Staub makes sure to hide the killer’s identity by using a gender neutral name and never using pronouns which allows for a number of possibilities for how the killer is connected to Rowan. Rowan’s secret though isn’t nearly as provocative as the killer’s motive for going after her and a number of other redheads (redheads abound begging the question, just how many people in the Mundy’s Landing area have red hair anyway?) which is unfortunate as Rowan’s secret could’ve made her a more multi-dimensional character. A more explosive secret could also have set up the future books in the series more the numerous subplots that further slowed the pacing did.
3/5
Review copy from Amazon vine.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

review: shadow fall by laura griffin

Tracers is back! Special Agent Tara Rushing is now on the scene to solve some serial murders in Texas. Much of the evidence points to a man whose security company had been employed by one of the victims, but Tara soon begins to think it’s one of Liam’s employees rather than Liam himself.

While the more recent Tracers novels don’t involve the Delphi Center as much as the early books, Shadow Fall mixes in the Delphi Center techs well. The strong, intelligent leads are easy to become invested in, especially once Tara’s life is threatened. Shadow Fall is filled with suspense and doesn’t try to force too much in the way of the romance. Another great element was the illustration of the tension between the local sheriff department and the federal agents.
5/5
Review copy provided by the author.

Friday, September 11, 2015

review: the westhampton leisure hour and supper club by samantha bruce-benjamin

Although set at the time of The Great Hurricane of 1938, the hurricane barely comes into play in The Westhampton Leisure Hour and Supper Club with only a few party guests mentioning the storm. The focus is instead on the lives of a wealthy set including the pair deemed The Host and The Hostess. The chapters rotate in perspective with The Host and The Hostess taking most of the intriguing tale, but others are included. As such, the story is somewhat hard to follow with the jumps in perspective also moving around in time. The writing is beautiful, but the minor characters are shallow and Serena makes for a weak lead even if her situation would have been typical for the era.
3/5
Review copy provided by the author.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

review: the good neighbor by a.j. banner

Author Sarah Phoenix and her doctor husband live in an idyllic neighborhood or so Sarah thinks. The image is shattered when the house next door catches fire killing two of the occupants and then spreads to Sarah’s house. Sarah makes it out and becomes a hero for saving the child next door, but the fire unravels many secrets.

A.J. Banner keeps The Good Neighbor moving at a quick pace which heightens the thrill, but that speed also seems to serve as cover for some holes. For example, Sarah finds a picture of her husband with a woman she doesn’t recognize, but it doesn’t make sense for Sarah not to recognize her. The characters are also lacking depth. While that may be intentional for the neighbors (after all, the heart of this novel is how well do you know your neighbors), Sarah needed more development than just being wounded by her father’s philandering.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, BookSparks PR.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

review: star craving mad by elise a. miller

Borrowing from Jane Eyre, Star Craving Mad features an elementary school teacher, a celebrity couple, and the couple’s daughter amongst others. When Maddy Braverman discovers the daughter of Nic and Shelby Seabolt is in her first grade class, she immediately begins fantasizing about NIc. Although Nic and Shelby are said to have a solid marriage, Maddy soon discovers Nic is more than willing to play. Because Maddy consistently makes bad choices and is more than a little sex-crazed, she hooks up with NIc, who has led her to believe his marriage to Shelby is rocky due to her drug use. There is one development which saves Star Craving Mad from being entirely predictable, but it’s hard to get past the banality of the rest of the plot.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, BookSparks PR.