Thursday, February 25, 2016

review: karma's a killer by tracy weber

The third book in a mystery series centering on the owner of a Seattle yoga studio begins with an animal rights group disrupting an event to support an animal shelter. Shortly after the protest, one of the members of Humans for Ethical Animal Treatment is found murdered. Kate should probably just go on with her life, but the woman arrested for the murder is Kate’s estranged mother, Dharma, who Kate feels compelled to help. Bringing in Dharma allows Tracy Weber to organically incorporate much of Kate’s backstory while also creating a reason for Kate to become involved in yet another mystery. Weber infuses this cozy mystery with bits of humor (especially involving Kate’s rescue dog) that make the plot all the more entertaining.
Review copy provided by the publicist, MM Book Publicity.

Monday, February 22, 2016

review: the way i used to be by amber smith

Powerful—that’s the one word summary of The Way I Used to Be. This debut from Amber Smith begins with one night of Eden’s freshman year of high school. Her brother’s best friend, who she has a bit of a crush on, comes into her room and rapes her. From the horrifying scene of the opening page, Smith eloquently describes Eden’s life as she progresses through high school. Eden tries a few different ways to deal with the trauma forced upon her, but few of those expressions are good. Smith lays it all out with grit and sensitivity. The characters are excellently drawn so that all are immediately familiar with those who should evoke sympathy doing just that.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

review: the care and feeding of stray vampires by molly harper

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires is such a fun, yet sexy paranormal romance! The first in a new Half Moon Bay series from Molly Harper kicks off Iris Scanlon, a vampire concierge (meaning she’s a human who helps vampires with tasks they can’t take care of during the day), finding her new client poisoned on his floor. Despite her better judgment, Iris brings Cal home when he offers to pay a substantial sum which will help pay for college for Iris’s sister (their parents have died). Of course things heat up between Iris and Cal, but they also are faced with a very serious threat from whoever poisoned Cal in the first place. As is the norm for a Molly Harper book, the female characters are delightfully witty and snarky while the romance seems wholly appropriate despite the life or death situations the leads sometimes find themselves in.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.

Friday, February 19, 2016

review: tell me three things by julie buxbaum

With her first foray in young adult literature, Julie Buxbaum creates an incredibly touching story of loss, love, and friendship. The last few years of Jessie’s life have been filled with tragedy and upheaval. After the death of her mother, Jessie and her father struggled through on their own until her father met someone through an online grief community. When he decided to marry the woman he met, Jessie and her father also had to leave their Chicago home for a wealthy area of Los Angeles. Jessie is absolutely a fish out of water and her new stepbrother has little interest in showing her the ropes. She’s completely lost until someone sends an anonymous email offering guidance. As Jessie begins a relationship with the anonymous Somebody/Nobody as he calls himself, Jessie uses his help to find her way in Los Angeles.

Buxbaum brilliantly has Jessie travel back to Chicago thinking her problem is location, has Jessie isolate herself from her father, and do all sorts of other perfectly teenage things as her character grows throughout Tell Me Three Things. The character development in this novel is amazing. The ones who should be multi-faceted are developed as such while others remain the epitome of teenage selfishness. The mystery surrounding Somebody/Nobody is compelling and urges the reader on while also developing the possibility of a love triangle. Tell Me Three Things is absolute perfection.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

review: if i run by terri blackstock

When Casey’s friend is murdered, she knows she’s a suspect. Instead of trying to explain why her DNA is all over the crime scene, Casey flees. Meanwhile, the dead man’s parents hire a friend of his to locate Casey. Dylan just got out of the military and is having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life, so he’s willing to keep working this job despite some hurdles thrown at him. The cops investigating the case just don’t seem to want him looking into any details other than Casey’s whereabouts.

Terri Blackstock wisely holds back details of the murder to allow readers to align themselves with Dylan who questions whether Casey is guilty. The main plot is excellently developed, but a distracting tangential plot Casey becomes involved in fails to meet the expectations set worth by the initial chapters. As that other plot takes over If I Run, it unfortunately seems to prevent Blackstock from fully diving into the backstory of the primary plot which is otherwise an incredible story.
Review copy provided by the publicist, FSB Associates.

Monday, February 15, 2016

review: amish christmas at north star by katie ganshert, et al

This post contains affiliate links.

As the subtitle states, Amish Christmas at North Star is four stories of love and family. Each of the four stories is written by a different author with one of those authors also writing a prologue and epilogue to bring the four separate stories together. It all begins with four babies being born in an Amish community near North Star, PA. As adults, all but one no longer live there, but all end up being drawn home in these touching stories.

Despite each story being written by a different author, Amish Christmas at North Star has a very cohesive feeling. The themes of love, misunderstandings, and forgiveness tie the four stories together well. I found the first story written by Katie Ganshert to be the most interesting as it centers on the baby who was adopted by an Englischer family. Not only was the plot of that story amazing, the premise also created the opportunity to explain some of the Amish way of life for any readers unfamiliar with the religion and culture. Overall, this collection is excellent with all four stories providing plenty of well-written drama and, of course, romance.
Review copy provided by Blogging for Books.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

review: kingdom come by jane jensen

Following her husband’s murder, Elizabeth Harris leaves the NYPD to be a detective for a much smaller department in Lancaster County, PA where there a few homicides each year. But Elizabeth immediately is assigned to a difficult case of a teenage girl found dead in a barn of an Amish family. Others in Lancaster County feel there’s no way any member of the Amish community could be responsible for the murder, but Elizabeth isn’t so sure and pursues that line of the investigation anyway.

Jane Jensen weaves a very intricate plot in Kingdom Come with plenty of suspects, but enough hints throughout for those paying attention to be able to piece things together. Jensen also incorporates a good deal of detail in the setting and characterizations to make everything come alive as Elizabeth doggedly pursues her very few leads. The tension builds nicely, especially as Elizabeth becomes involved with a man she probably shouldn’t be involved with.

About the audiobook: Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen is read by Rachel Fulginiti whose voice is pleasing to listen to and makes use of different tones to make it easy to distinguish between characters and the narration. Kingdom Come was released by Blackstone Audio in January 2016. The audio version runs 7.5 hours.
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

review: sage's eyes by v.c. andrews

For a while the books written by the ghostwriter commissioned by the family of V.C. Andrews to “finish” her works simply rehashed many of the same formulaic plots; the newest book, Sage’s Eyes, is one that branches out while also keeping true to the themes of family and isolation in the originals. This time around an adopted child, whose only knowledge of her birth mother is that she wanted her child named Sage, has visions that seem to be upset her parents. Sage cannot help but share her visions even though her parents reprimand her and the predictions freak out her classmates. Eventually it comes out that Sage’s parents had good reason to watch Sage so closely, but keeping that reason a secret has put Sage in danger. Sage’s Eyes ends up taking a paranormal turn not expected of a V.C. Andrews novel, but it works.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.