Wednesday, March 18, 2020

review: the shape of family by shilpi somaya gowda

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Wow, The Shape of Family took some turns I was not expecting! The novel follows the Olander family as they make their lives in California. I expected a portrait of a family with typical struggles, especially as the story starts in 2007 and the father is a banker, but The Shape of Family takes a much more tragic turn. As the Olanders drift apart, oldest daughter Karina suffers terribly. And just when everything seems to be getting back on track, there are more blows for the Olanders. This is a deeply emotional novel that illustrates the importance of sharing feelings and truths about difficult situations before there's no turning back.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, William Morrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

review: home truths by susan lewis

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Home Truths by Susan Lewis begins with a shocking crime—a devoted family man is brutally murdered by a gang his oldest son has become involved with. Lewis then jumps forward two years to his wife and two younger children still struggling. Finances have become a big issue. All the problems have become far worse than they should've been because, as Angie puts it, "I buried my head in the sand and told myself it work out somehow." This is one of my big problems with Home Truths. The problems the family faces wouldn't have been so catastrophic had Angie simply faced reality and sought help earlier. My next huge problem is the unrealistic way it all gets solved. Home Truths turns from a portrait of a struggling family to a stereotypical "knight in shining armor comes to the rescue" story. There's also some unnecessary subplots just to make the family's issues all the more melodramatic.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, William Morrow.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

review: the secret keeper by kate morton

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The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton opens in the 1960s with a teenaged Laurel witnessing her mother kill a man. The police deem it self-defense and Kate Morton moves the story along to 2011 when Laurel's mother is living her last days. The story then shifts to when Laurel's mother was a young woman during World War II. It becomes quite clear that the murder is somehow connected to what happened during the war, but Morton drags out the story by constantly having the characters have a revelation or experience that is kept secret from the reader. Once revealed, the secrets were quite shocking and made for a very interesting plot retrospectively, but The Secret Keeper would have been more powerful had Morton shifted back to 2011 a bit less.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Washington Square Press.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

review: burning ridge by margaret mizushima

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The fourth Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge, gets off to a quick start when Deputy Mattie Cobb helps break up a bar fight and then her potential love interest finds a burned body. The plot then slows a bit as a number of secondary characters and subplots are introduced. There are some new people in town and a lot of time is spent setting up red herrings before the primary plot kicks into gear again. Once Burning Ridge gets going, it's a whirlwind of drama drawing on Mattie's backstory which has been unknown even to her. Although Burning Ridge is the fourth in the series, there's enough background information dropped in seamlessly to make it work as a standalone.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, MM Book Publicity.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

review: the duchess in his bed by lorraine heath

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When Selena's husband died, they'd yet to have a child which means Selena won't receive much of an inheritance. With her parents deceased and her brother not exactly reliable, Selena worries about her sisters' futures. That's why Selena and her less than scrupulous brother hatch a plan for Selena to quickly conceive and pass the baby off as her husband's. It was a great plan until Selena actually started to fall for Aiden Trewlove who runs the club that indulges the desired of wealthy women.

The fourth Sins for All Seasons novel proves just as sexy as the previous books, but also shows the many downsides of the societal rules of the time. Although those rules are the reason Selena acts as she does, there are times when Selena is just a little too in league with her disgraceful brother which makes it hard to root for her and Aiden. Aiden has some pretty great moments though, especially when he's with his family.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Avon.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

review: the crazy school by cornelia read

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The Crazy School is the second of the Madeline Dare series, but can be read as a standalone as much of Madeline’s backstory is filled in. This mystery is very slow to get going with the first half of the novel setting up what’s been happening at the boarding school where Madeline is now a teacher. Even without the mystery, the setup is interesting as Madeline struggles with her new job. The students are difficult to say the least and her boss makes the teachers attend group therapy and follow the same restrictions as the students. Once the mystery finally gets going, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster with Madeline being framed but also poisoned and a very dark turn for the true culprit.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Grand Central Publishing.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

review: mine by courtney cole

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As a hurricane approaches, a different sort of storm is about to hit Tessa Taylor's house. It all begins when Tessa has to use her husband's iPad because their teenage daughter took Tessa's to her grandparents' house. If not for that simple act of a teenager, Tessa may have never seen the nude pictures of a woman her husband is clearly having an affair with. With the rest of the family out of town, Tessa seizes the opportunity to meet the other woman. From that moment, there is danger at every turn the hurricane traps the two clearly unhinged women in Tessa's home. Mine by Courtney Cole is a wild ride filled with twists as the dual storms rage and revenge is sought. Every chapter reveals another shock.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery.