Monday, August 22, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Time and Regret by M.K. Tod

Time and Regret
by M.K. Tod
Release Date: August 16th 2016
2016 Lake Union Publishing
Ebook Edition; 353 Pages
ISBN: 978-1503938403
ASIN: B01CGBC7CE
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HF Virtual Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.


My Thoughts
Time and Regret is the author's third novel and it definitely doesn't disappoint.  A huge fan of Great War literature, I was pleasantly surprised by the Canadian content in this one and was thrilled by the Canadian focus given in the journals as the main character was from Toronto.  Although I enjoyed Grace's discovery of the diaries and her trip to France, it was definitely the journal pages and the subsequent trips back to the Great War through Martin's POV that was the highlight for me.

War diaries and journals are nothing new in the world of war literature, nor is a quest or search for something that grandpa may have kept hidden from the rest of his family; in fact, these types of stories are quite rich in literature.  Tracing Martin's life through his journals gave us a unique insight into his personality and allowed the author to make those POV changes without too much disruption to the story.  As a history teacher, especially one who teaches Canadian history and the two world wars, I couldn't wait to go back to Martin's story.  What I especially liked was the focus; it was on the human side of the war, the cost of life, and the effect it had on the men day in and day out as they continued to fight what they saw as a useless war.  There was a lot of anger towards the politicians and the higher-ups for their poor decisions and the resulting cost of life. And reading again the effect The Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele had on these men is mind-blowing. No matter how many times I see the stats and read the different accounts, it will always blow me away.  The author's research was meticulous in this area, and I have to commend her for this.

I was also impressed by Grace.  Coming off a difficult divorce, she was quite insecure and unsure about herself and what she was going to do with her life.  I really loved this about her as it made her seem real and approachable; the author chose a main character to whom you could really relate, and understand her insecurities as it made you want to root for her to succeed.  Maybe because I have children close in age to Grace's, I could appreciate her life and the struggles she might be having. I was also jealous of her trip, having been to many of those places, wanting to be there again. I enjoyed the many descriptions of France and the different monuments as I could picture them in my head and see myself there.  

I did have a difficult time relating to Grace's grandmother, Cynthia, however.  I found her to be quite stubborn and manipulative and cold although I admired the way Grace treated her.  The Cynthia in the journals seemed to be a very different person, and I wondered what trials in life would have made a person this way.  I do wish we had learned more about her and her life as I'm sure it was quite interesting.

Verdict
Time and Regret is a very satisfying novel.  Accompanied by short chapters, a sweet romance in the form of a sexy curator, a charming mystery, and diaries of the Great War, this novel is very rich in detail and quite interesting.  My only complaint would be about the ending as it felt rushed, allowing the emotional factor to drop quite a bit and it was the emotional factor that gave this novel its edge.  The mystery was quite easy to solve for those of you who are mystery readers, but that wasn't why I liked the novel; I liked the intensity of the emotions.  That being said, I really enjoyed this novel, including the ending, and would definitely recommend it to my fellow readers.  

Time and Regret Blog Tour
Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Giveaway: A Mighty Fortress by S.D. Thames

A Mighty Fortress

by S.D. Thames

August 2nd, 2016 BOOK BLAST

Synopsis:

A Mighty Fortress by S.D. ThamesIn Tampa, the only thing more crooked than the mob is the police…
Milo Porter leads a happy life in Tampa, Florida. The Iraq war veteran runs routine private investigations by day and coaches powerlifting at night. When Chad Scalzo, the grandson of a rumored mob boss, goes missing, Milo takes the seemingly easy case. After Chad turns up dead, Milo goes from investigator to suspect.

As he seeks to clear his own name, Milo finds himself at the crossroads of two crooked investigations -- one by the mob and the other by the police. With the body count climbing, Milo discovers the key to the case in the last known person to see Chad alive.

But can Milo get to her before someone else does?

A Mighty Fortress is the first book in the Milo Porter mystery series, a set of gritty crime thrillers that will remind you of the characters from Robert B. Parker and Robert Crais. If you like gripping suspense, hardboiled crime-solvers, and heart-stopping action, then you’ll love the powerful series starter from S.D. Thames.

Buy A Mighty Fortress to get caught up in the mystery today!

Book Details:
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Independent
Publication Date: July 2016
Number of Pages: 458
ASIN: B01FMWET52
Series: Milo Porter Mystery Series, #1
 Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle Unlimited Goodreads

Author Bio:

S.D. ThamesS.D. Thames is the author of Foreclosure: A Novel, A Mighty Fortress, and other works of crime fiction exploring the dark side of the Sunshine State. Born in Dayton, Ohio while Jimmy Carter was president, S.D. grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati (with intermittent stints in the bayous of Louisiana and on the riverbanks of Indiana). In 1992, his family relocated to Florida’s gulf coast, about an hour north of Tampa, where he blossomed as a rock guitarist and all around miscreant. While trudging his way through school, he held various odd jobs, including, in no particular order, working as a pizza cook and deliveryman (though never concurrently), dishwasher, newspaper salesman, custodian, carpenter, bookstore clerk, guitar instructor, and manual laborer.

After meeting the love of his life in 1995, he matured five years in one semester and eventually enrolled at the University of Florida, where he majored in English and studied about everything from Chaucer to the Twentieth-Century novel, along with a healthy dose of literary theory. After graduating, he spent a school year teaching German in high school. His life would forever change when he returned to the University of Florida to attend law school, the traditional fallback for despondent English majors. After completing his J.D., he went to work as a litigation associate at a Tampa law firm.

The ensuing seven years are a bit of a blur, but suffice it to say that, unlike the protagonist of Foreclosure, S.D. made partner the first year he was eligible, and did so without having to lie, cheat or otherwise bend the professional rules of conduct. Most days he enjoys the practice of law. He’s had the pleasure of working for a diverse array of clients, including Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, real estate developers, venture capitalists, non-profit organizations, parents in Central America seeking the return of their abducted children, and death-row inmates.

He still lives in Tampa, Florida, where he’s married to the love of his life (yes, the same one he met in 1995). They have one daughter, who is 8 years old and a more prolific writer than her dad.

Catch Up: author's website author's twitter author's facebook

 


Don't Miss Your Chance to Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for S.D. Thames. There will be TWO (2) winners for this tour. Each winner will receive one $10 Amazon.com (US) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on August 1st and runs through August 5th, 2016.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


 


Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: The Hidden by Heather Graham

The Hidden (Krewe of Hunters, Book #17)
by Heather Graham
Release Date: September 29th 2015
2015 Mira
Ebook Edition; 301 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778318583
ASIN: B00TXDO22C
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Summary

Estes Park, Colorado, is a place of serenity. But it wasn't always so serene. Shortly after the Civil War, Nathan Kendall and his wife were murdered there, leaving behind a young son. The crime was never solved.

Now…historian Scarlet Barlow is working at a small museum attached to a B and B, the same building where that murder occurred. She recently came to Colorado, reeling after her divorce from FBI agent Diego McCullough. Diego—who's just been asked to join the Krewe of Hunters, a unit dealing with "unusual" situations…

When Scarlet unwittingly takes pictures of people who've been murdered—just like the Kendalls a hundred and fifty years before—the police look at her with suspicion. Then the museum's statues of historic people, including Nathan Kendall, begin to talk to her, and she knows it's time to call her ex-husband. Diego heads to Estes Park, determined to solve the bizarre case that threatens Scarlet's life—and to reunite with the woman he never stopped loving.

My Thoughts
The Hidden is the next book in the Krewe of Hunters series, a series that I have enjoyed quite a bit.  Reading these books is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I tend to indulge in between the heavy hitters as a way to relax and get my mind off those deeper novels as let's face it, these novels tend to be light, beach-worthy material, but they can also be a lot of fun too.  I do have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in this one though as it felt like Graham's usual magic wasn't there; too many cliched moments, too many coincidences, a lack of Graham's trademark paranormal skill, and a missing chemistry between the characters just didn't make me like this one as much as the others.

First of all, I couldn't wait to find out Scarlet and Diego's story having met Diego in a previous novel. While I definitely understood their issues which are common in a lot of marriages, I didn't quite get their reunion and how quick they were to jump into bed without resolving any of the issues; and the resulting internal monologues were actually a distraction from the story.  Do I or don't I?  How about the characters sitting down and discussing the issues that tore them apart in the first place?  Don't get me wrong, I love the romance in Graham's books, but here it seemed forced and phony and I wasn't too keen on the way it was done and resolved.

Most of the characters were likeable, but again, nothing really stood out for me in this one.  While I can clearly remember the first few books in this series, I doubt the same thing will happen for me here.  While I like Diego, I think I actually preferred him in the previous novel as I thought he was more interesting.  My biggest character issue had to do with one of the local police officers; he had a total change of personality part-way through the book and I still can't figure out why.  I actually thought he was more interesting when he was questioning Scarlet or questioning the people at the B and B rather than completely caving in and agreeing with everything.  At least it shows he was thinking events through rather than just aimlessly following the FBI agents along like a puppy.  I've never minded tough or strong characters as long as it's justified and makes sense and not just thrown in the novel to create tension.

Verdict
The Hidden is definitely not the strongest entry in this series. Overall I thought the writing was not on the same level as the previous entries and the mystery left me questioning a lot of things at the end; you tend to leave a certain level of believability behind when you read paranormal novels but Graham has usually been pretty good at tying up loose ends and making things sound pretty credible. I don't think she really succeeded with this one, and I don't think the ending helped.  There was definitely an intriguing premise though, and it's too bad the novel didn't quite live up to it.  Will I read another one by this author?  Of course.  I've read quite a few that I've enjoyed tremendously, and I'm hoping the next one will be up to her usual standards. 

 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, Book #14)
by Laurie R. King
Release Date: April 5th 2016
2016 Bantam
Kindle Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-0804177900
ASIN: B00UEL0KV4
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Summary
Mary Russell is used to dark secrets—her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond.

And what of the other person to whom Mary Russell has opened her heart: the couple’s longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson? Russell’s faith and affection are suddenly shattered when a man arrives on the doorstep claiming to be Mrs. Hudson’s son.

What Samuel Hudson tells Russell cannot possibly be true, yet she believes him—as surely as she believes the threat of the gun in his hand. In a devastating instant, everything changes. And when the scene is discovered—a pool of blood on the floor, the smell of gunpowder in the air—the most shocking revelation of all is that the grim clues point directly to Clara Hudson.

Or rather to Clarissa, the woman she was before Baker Street.

The key to Russell’s sacrifice lies in Mrs. Hudson’s past. To uncover the truth, a frantic Sherlock Holmes must put aside his anguish and push deep into his housekeeper’s secrets—to a time before her disguise was assumed, before her crimes were buried away.


My Thoughts
The Murder of Mary Russell is the fourteenth book in a very delightful series, and one which I somewhat enjoyed although it is very different than some of the previous Mary Russell novels. I do have to admit that I thought the mystery in this one was not up to par, and I do think the title is very misleading. 

Although I love the escapades of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, it was nice to read about Mrs. Hudson's background and how she got involved with Holmes; and it was not quite what I would have expected either. I mean, Mrs. Hudson has always just been there, whenever she was needed, and to be honest, I never really gave it much thought as to how she ended up there, but I should have known it would be something interesting. Most of the story is Mrs. Hudson's backstory, and while I did find it quite interesting, it didn't really draw me in like the previous novels in this series; there were times when I started flipping forward to see when we would get to the parts that involved Holmes and Russell, and I hate doing that.  I also thought the author tried too hard to make Holmes and Mrs. Hudson seem too naive and young during the earlier years, and it didn't come across the way I think it was meant.  I think the author was trying to show that Holmes was not always the cool, calculated person he was now, but in his youth was somewhat inexperienced and tended to panic, but somehow it didn't quite come out the way it was meant, and I found myself shaking my head a few times over some of the scenes.  

I normally love the Mary Russell mysteries and have enjoyed all of them, but sadly, this one was not for me.  Every author can have one of those books in a series that doesn't hit the mark, and this one is it for me; the mystery, the pacing, the clever dialogue, everything felt off.   I thought the mystery was poorly plotted, at least compared to the previous ones, and while Mrs. Hudson's relationship with Holmes is full of secrets, the mystery of Mary Russell is also one full of secrets, both of which kind of left a bad feeling in my mouth. I was a little disappointed in how Holmes and Mrs. Hudson's relationship was perceived by the author; Mrs. Hudson's value actually rose in my eyes after learning more about her and I'm not quite sure what to think about Holmes after this.

Verdict
The Murder of Mary Russell is definitely not up to the quality we are used to seeing in a Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes novel; in fact, I was kind of disappointed.  While the writing was up to par, the clever repartee between the characters was missing, and I wasn't a big fan of the mystery.  And while I never really thought too much about Mrs. Hudson's background, I would have hoped for something a bit better than threats would have kept her at Holmes' side through the years, so I was a bit disappointed in her story line.  Because I have been a fan for such a long time, I am hoping the next book in the series will encapsulate what we all love about the Holmes and Russell series, and that this one was just a misstep, but one that I would definitely not recommend to others.    
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Blast & Giveaway: As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber

02_As Death Draws NearAs Death Draws Near (Lady Darby Mystery #5) by Anna Lee Huber

 

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Berkley Harcover & eBook; 336 Pages
Series: Lady Darby Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery      

The latest mystery from the national bestselling author of A Study in Death tangles Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage in a dangerous web of religious and political intrigue.

 July 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.

Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.

Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end...

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | IndieBound

Praise for the Lady Darby Mysteries

“Riveting…Huber deftly weaves together an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting for a book you won’t want to put down.”—Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author “[A] history mystery in fine Victorian style!”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author “[A] fascinating heroine…A thoroughly enjoyable read!”—Victoria Thompson, national bestselling author “[A] clever heroine with a shocking past and a talent for detection.”—Carol K. Carr, national bestselling author

03_Anna Lee HuberAbout the Author

Anna Lee Huber is the Award-Winning and National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mystery Series. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana, and when not working on her next book she enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family.

For more information please visit www.annaleehuber.com. Connect with Anna Lee Huber on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, July 5

100 Pages a Day
Passages to the Past
Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, July 6
Layered Pages
Buried Under Books
CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, July 7
The Lit Bitch
The Book Junkie Reads
A Dream within a Dream
To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, July 8
History Undressed
Diana's Book Reviews

Saturday, July 9
A Chick Who Reads
Reading Is My SuperPower

Sunday, July 10
Book Drunkard

Monday, July 11
It's a Mad Mad World
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 12
The Reading Queen
Curling up by the Fire

Wednesday, July 13
Brooke Blogs
Queen of All She Reads
History From a Woman's Perspective  

Thursday, July 14
Book Nerd
A Literary Vacation

Friday, July 15
A Holland Reads
Beth's Book Nook Blog

Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber, please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 15th.
-  You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

As Death Draws Near Book Blast


 
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by William Anderson (Editor)
Release Date: March 8th 2016
2016 Harper
Ebook ARC Edition; 395 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062419682
ASIN: B00ZP5WMTW
Genre: Nonfiction / Historical / Memoir
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
This is a fresh look at the adult life of the author in her own words. Gathered from museums and archives and personal collections, the letters span over sixty years of Wilder’s life, from 1894–1956 and shed new light on Wilder’s day-to-day life. Here we see her as a businesswoman and author—including her beloved Little House books, her legendary editor, Ursula Nordstrom, and her readers—as a wife, and as a friend. In her letters, Wilder shares her philosophies, political opinions, and reminiscences of life as a frontier child. Also included are letters to her daughter, writer Rose Wilder Lane, who filled a silent role as editor and collaborator while the famous Little House books were being written.

Wilder biographer William Anderson collected and researched references throughout these letters and the result is an invaluable historical collection, tracing Wilder’s life through the final days of covered wagon travel, her life as a farm woman, a country journalist, Depression-era author, and years of fame as the writer of the Little House books. This collection is a sequel to her beloved books, and a snapshot into twentieth-century living.


My Thoughts
The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder was an interesting and absorbing collection of her personal letters to fans, family, friends, colleagues, and so on.  I will admit to being fascinated by the details they gave us about her later life, and couldn't get enough information about family and friends mentioned from the Little House books.  Having grown up on these books, to the point where they were so dog-eared I had to buy another set for my own children, I have always been fascinated by Laura's life.  I even got a chance to visit some of Carrie's old haunts while visiting Keystone several years ago, and often regret not stopping in De Smet while driving through South Dakota to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes Tour.  

What was nice about reading this collection was reconciling Laura as a child with Laura as a mother and author. You definitely got a much better understanding of the relationship between Laura and Rose as well as what Laura thought about a myriad of things, including simply the weather.  It was also nice, as an adult, to learn more about Laura's family and friends, and I definitely looked for those names I recognized from the novels, hoping for more information.  Unfortunately, as in a lot of families, including my own, so many things get thrown out over the years, including correspondence, and I am frankly amazed that so much was left from Laura's papers.  Although it was a shame that so much was destroyed, it is a reality; I didn't really take much interest in my own grandparents' letters and things although now I wish I had, especially as my grandmother tended to keep a lot of things.  In her letters, Laura seemed to live quite frugally and often commented on the materialism of young people, which I found quite interesting, and she found disturbing, often echoing the same thoughts going around today.

I thought Anderson did quite a good job putting together these letters and I imagine it wasn't very easy to do.  For the average person with little knowledge of Laura Ingalls, I don't think the collection will be very interesting, and some of the letters to fans were a bit repetitive, but to someone like me who adored the Little House books, I loved reading this collection.  It definitely gave you a new understanding of the adult Laura, some of her political and religious viewpoints, as well as what she thought of friends and neighbours. What I really liked was the writing process between Laura and Rose as she edited her books; I also liked learning about how the drawings were developed for the books as well, quite interesting. My only disappointment with the letters had to do with how little new information we learn about Almanzo, but it is possible many of those letters were lost over the years.  You do however, get a real appreciation for how attached she was to Manly and how much she adored him. 

Verdict
The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder gives us a more in-depth understanding to Laura as an adult through letters written by her own hand.  I liked how Anderson laid out the book and gave little snippets of information in order to help understand the letters.  For anyone with an interest in the adult life of Laura Ingalls, I highly recommend this book; she was just as charming as the little girl we grew up with in her famous books.
Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: Girls' Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg

Girls' Weekend
by Cara Sue Achterberg
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
2016 Story Plant
Paperback; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1611882285
ASIN: B01BI5LT8W
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from Pump Up Your Book

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they escape for a girls weekend away, they can t bring themselves to return to lives that don t seem to fit anymore.Harried Dani can t explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.

Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.

Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.

All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they d be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they re headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining.


My Thoughts
Girls' Weekend is one of those books with which you settle down with a glass of wine on a beach somewhere and enjoy the read.  While I don't think it went into as much depth as it really could have, it did make you think about your own life and how much you do for others and whether you really do have time for yourself.  I think it's great that these women were able to take the time to relax and think about what they want from life, but personally, I don't know too many women who can take weeks to themselves in order to sort themselves out and decide what to do.  

It all begins when Dani, Charlotte, and Meg decide to go away for a weekend.  Tired with their lives, wishing for something more, once the weekend is over they don't want to return to their husbands and their daily chores, so they decide to stay. To be honest, I did have a problem with the decision as, again, I am not sure how someone could leave for weeks without explaining to their spouse what is going on. I'm sure most women have fantasized about leaving for a month of two, a secluded beach with a casket of wine and a suitcase full of books being absolute heaven.  It's definitely very easy to get caught up in one's life as you cart the children all over the place, help them with their homework, make their lunches, take them shopping to get that last-minute art project piece that was due yesterday, to sew the rip in the shirt your daughter needed last week, and so on.  But re-connecting with your spouse takes time and energy and this I thought was lacking in this book.  The story was about the women coming to terms with themselves, and their growth, but the disconnect in their lives would have involved their spouses too, and I don't think there was any resolution and very little development to this at all. It was more about the men learning to live without their spouses, hoping they will notice everything the women do in their lives, and hoping something will change when they get back. But taking off for weeks doesn't really solve the problem, in my estimation, and old habits don't die out that easily. I definitely wasn't looking for a perfect ending, would have been kind of disappointed if there was, but would have liked a bit more resolution for these ladies instead of just go back to your lives and hope everyone likes the new you that was discovered in a couple of weeks.  If I sound sarcastic, it's because I am. 

I really enjoyed Meg and Dani as characters and liked their story lines, but I was not a bit fan of Charlotte's.  There was something about her that rubbed me the wrong way, and I'm sorry to say, but I was on her husband's Brett side the whole time things went sour.  Charlotte is very high-maintenance and her attitude drove me nuts.  I felt much more sympathetic towards Dani and Meg as I found them more likeable, and looked forward to when the POVs changed back to them, away from Charlotte.  I did enjoy all of their conversations, even if I disagreed with their choices, as I pictured my own girls' evening full of fun, laughter, wine, and conversation.  The author definitely understands the strength of women's bonds and friendships, as well as how fragile and emotional they can be.  

Verdict
Girls' Weekend was a fun, somewhat emotional, book about friendship and re-discovering your sense of self.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about friendship, love, and loss, and the characters seem very realistic, even if the premise isn't.  I think what it does do for women is it makes them realize that changes can be made at anytime if you really wish them to be made, it just has to start somewhere, and I'm pretty sure you don't have to rent an expensive cottage to be able to do so, as much fun as that would be.  
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: Dead is Dead by John Lansing

Dead is Dead (Jack Bertolino, Book #3)
by John Lansing
Release Date: May 30th 2016
2016 Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing
Ebook Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1501143564
ASIN: B0191YI6GA
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from Partners in Crime Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino gets his first taste of the erratic nature of Hollywood when A-list producer, George Litton, options one of Jack’s recent cases for a film.

Jack is engaged as the film’s technical advisor, which stars It Girl Susan Blake. But more importantly, he’s on hand to keep a protective eye on Susan, who’s being harassed by a disturbing cyber-stalker.

But that’s not all that starts to turn Jack’s world upside-down. When a five-year-old girl is shot dead in her family’s living room, just blocks from where the movie is being filmed, Jack realizes there are threads connecting the movie, the murder, a brutal gang of brothers, and a terrifying body count.

Will Jack be able to find justice for the young girl and keep Susan safe? Or will this be his last and fatal trip to Hollywood?


My Thoughts
Dead is Dead is the third book in the Jack Bertolino series and was just as interesting as the first two books.  This book is pretty much action from start to finish, yet the story is pretty darn good as well. 

The ironic part of this book is that Jack is a bodyguard and technical advisor on a film that is based on one of his old cases, and stars the new 'it' girl Susan. She's being harassed by an ex-stalked who has followed her from New York to Hollywood to continue his harassment.  I wasn't sure what to think about Susan from the get-go, and even as I learned her story, I'm still not sure what to think. I am glad however, the author did not go into too many details regarding her past, especially descriptive details, as it was pretty horrible, and there are some things I would rather not picture nor read about anywhere.  While learning her story made me more sympathetic towards her, I definitely did not want her in Jack's life as I have formed a kind of attachment to the idea of Jack and Leslie still getting together one day.  

We know who the killer is right from the beginning, and while that usually bothers me, this wasn't a murder / mystery novel, but a suspense novel, so the dual story lines worked rather well.  What did confuse me was Toby's motivation for the murders; yes, we got the rather mundane and predictable one about the girlfriend and the love triangle, but it didn't make sense to me that someone like Toby would risk the lives of his family to a drug cartel simply for revenge killings. I kept waiting for something more, something bigger, but I was to be disappointed.  But then again, sometimes the unexpected happens for a reason, and while the motive might have been simple, the result definitely escalated out of Toby's hand by a ricocheting bullet that killed a five-year-old girl, inflaming the city and setting the cops, and Jack, on his tail.  The result being a series of murders to cover up the initial crime reminding me of a kid who tells a little lie, only to have to keep lying to cover up the initial lie, until it all blows up in one's face.  The only problem in this scenario is the person doing the killing would get the death penalty if caught.  For whatever reason, I wasn't really sympathetic to Toby's plight as there was something cold and unlikable about him; I did like Terrence and Sean better but you also didn't get to read their POVs as often so that is probably why they seemed more likable. They seemed to know when to draw the line a bit better.

Verdict
Dead is Dead is a fast-paced, riveting story that draws the reader in very quickly and doesn't really let go until the last page.  Even though you know the killer's identity, the story still twists and turns as you follow Jack's footsteps behind the killer's as he tries to stop him before he hurts anyone else.  I love the characters in these books, and the humour definitely helps relieve the tension as it slowly builds to its end.  Sometimes though, the focus is too much on the action and not enough on character development; I think there is a fine balance and it would be too easy to get carried away with crazier and crazier action to the point where character development could suffer.  I definitely recommend this novel to anyone interested in fast-paced and exciting stories.  a Rafflecopter giveaway