Posted in September Book Reviews 2017

When You Disappeared by John Marrs

WhenYouDisappeared

When You Disappeared by John Marrs

All she wanted was the truth, but she’ll wish she never found out.

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing—except him.

Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth—about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.

And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

Revised edition: Previously published as The Wronged Sons, this edition of When You Disappeared includes editorial revisions.

This book is something else. I mean, within the first couple chapters, I was ready to kill one of the main characters. So it starts off with a real bang.

The story is set in England, but also goes worldwide as Simon hops around the globe. I point this out because sometimes, books set with different slang and jargon can be hard to grasp. This book did not have that issue at all. A few stores or names are different but I was able to easily follow what the characters meant.

This book alternates between the past and present. The author presents this in an easy to understand way. You’re never confused as to what point in time you’re at or anything of that nature. We see Catherine and Simon’s lives, after he disappeared, and then subsequently, reappears. You don’t realize it at first, but parts of the past that you read, are actually Catherine and Simon telling each other what happened after he disappeared.

This book will take you on a rollercoaster ride of thoughts and emotions. Very early in the story, Simon alludes to hating Catherine, and how she did something to him. So while I found myself empathizing with Catherine and admiring her for all she did to keep the family going, I was always cautious.

Simon, on the other hand, I really only grew to hate him more and more. I kept wanting to understand him but my loathing of him stayed steady. He is just so selfish, and really conniving. You don’t realize it at first. I thought he was just under a lot of stress and sort of snapped. But as the story continues, Simon is much more than you think.

This book is definitely one you’ll enjoy if you like a lot of suspense while watching the characters unravel their past, and current, messes. This book is unique in that we get to see our characters together, apart, and everything in between. It’s a unique perspective that I don’t often see, and it was a nice change of pace.

 

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Posted in September Book Reviews 2017

Pitch Dark by Alex Grayson & A.M. Wilson

Pitch Dark

Pitch Dark by Alex Grayson & A.M. Wilson

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

*This book contains dark triggers.*

This book is one that will stay with me for awhile. I don’t normally go for dark romance, and I would honestly consider this book to be more of a suspense, than romance. But there is definitely dark, very graphic content. The reason this book worked for me is because it isn’t all darkness the entire time. The chapters alternate back and forth between past and present, and different viewpoints. I think that’s essential for this story because otherwise, the pitch darkness would be all-consuming.

I was reading a few other reviews about this book because I love seeing how other bloggers and readers interpret something. One thing I read a lot was that Niko needs anger management. He might, but for whatever reason, I aligned with his character and his anger. I did find the scenes where he was so angry to be a little repetitive, but at the same time, he deserved to be angry. I could see where every time he thought of Aislin, he would get riled up again.

This book has a lot of heartbreak, despair, and hopelessness in it. But at the same time, we see the characters showing their strength and perseverance. One scene that really stuck out to me was one of the darker ones. Our victim, while being tortured, has miraculously found ways to cope. Not cope with what’s happening, but just a way to get through it. It’s not pretty, it’s not sugar-coated. But in this terrible circumstance, she’s found a way to get herself through it.

The authors should be proud of the work they did on this story. It pulled at my emotions, and while I didn’t want to put it down, I also felt like I needed a break from it. This story was one of those that I would read a bit, stop and digest, and then go back in. If you enjoy dark romance, or suspense in general, I think you would enjoy this story from Alex Grayson and A.M. Wilson.

 

 

Posted in September Book Reviews 2017

Tropical Ice by Kat Mizera

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Tropical Ice by Kat Mizera

Garrett “Hawk” Hawkins may be a bad boy in the rink but he doesn’t know what to do when he’s wrongly accused of on-ice misconduct. Given a five-game suspension by the NHL, he heads down to Mimosa Key to lay on the beach for a few days and get his head on straight—until he runs into a troubled beauty who happens to be the sister of his ex-teammate.

Madison Teller is struggling to get past the trauma of her brother’s brutal attack, but her much-needed vacation is turning into a nightmare. The sexy tattooed stranger who saves the day is just the distraction she’s looking for, but she isn’t prepared for the way he makes her feel.

When his present collides with her past, they’ll have to learn to trust each other before both their hearts end up on ice.

I must confess that Kat Mizera is a new author to me. I recently bought one of her box sets and I know that I’ll be devouring it quickly, based on how much I enjoyed this novella.

I swear that novellas are the drug of the book world. You can just stay reading them, never stopping. Then you add in the fun that is Kindle Worlds and it only gets better.

Tropical Ice is sweet, sexy, and it helped remind me why I love the romance genre. Madison and Garrett first meet when both end up at a super crummy dive hotel. It’s in a seriously bad neighborhood and Madison is having one nightmare after another happen to her. Garrett steps in and their friendship is born.

One thing I really enjoyed with this love story is that Madison and Garrett do have things in common, in particular their love of sports and the need to push themselves. Both characters are competitive and are truly athletic. It was fun watching Madison swim circles around Garrett. I think I loved this so much because I feel like we rarely see the woman outperform the man. Yes, Garrett was better at other things, but to see Madison be able to push him to work harder was enjoyable.

If you enjoy fast love, sports romance, and everything that happens in between, you will enjoy this book. Madison and Garrett have a whirlwind romance that is sexy, endearing, and enjoyable to experience.

Posted in Release Blitz

Sugar by Mandi Beck is out NOW

Title: Sugar
Author: Mandi Beck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 7, 2017
Blurb

Country’s hottest bad boy.
That’s what they call me. My label ate it up
until I became “too bad” for the good folks of country music. That’s when Hard
Candy Records picked me up and took a chance on me. Probably not their smartest
move, but I won’t tell them that. Especially when they’ve assigned me a
babysitter to try and keep my ass out of trouble. One smart-mouthed,
unimpressed, sexy as homegrown sin, Addy Mae Masterson.
She likes to pretend that she doesn’t like me
and I like to let her.
I may have a past that haunts me and she may
have a habit of getting attached, but damn if I don’t want to show her just how
good this bad boy can be.

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited

Author Bio

Mandi Beck has been an avid reader all of her life. A deep
love for books always had her jotting down little stories on napkins,
notebooks, and her hand. As an adult she was further submerged into the book
world through book clubs and the epicness of social media. It was then that she
graduated to writing her stories on her phone and then finally on a proper
computer.
A wife, mother to two rambunctious and somewhat rotten boys,
and stepmom to two great girls away at college, she shares her time with her
husband and boys in Chicago where she was born and raised. Mandi is a diehard
hockey fan and blames the Blackhawks when her deadlines are not met. 

Author Links

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
WEBSITE
YOUTUBE CHANNEL
INSTAGRAM
FACEBOOK GROUP

Posted in September Book Reviews 2017

Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake

Contracted Defense

Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake

Time is running out and the enemy is at the gate. 

Adam Hicks may be the rookie at Safeguard, but he’s no novice in the field. Retired from active duty after multiple tours and back fresh from a brief rest in New Zealand, he’s itching to return to action. But the challenge he hoped for arrives in an unexpected form: his sexy yet stern new partner.

The last thing Victoria Ash wants is to work with the new guy—especially one as gorgeous as Adam. His relaxed attitude about their first “easy” assignment together—setting up a private home defense network for a reclusive client—doesn’t impress her. Easy usually means trouble. She’s proved right when Adam discovers that the multiple incursions on the physical and cyber security systems aren’t just glitches. They’re under attack…and there’s a traitor in their midst.

As tension mounts, so does the attraction between Victoria and Adam. They must protect their client and the research he’s desperately trying to keep secret. Working together, they have to find the mole before their defense measures, in the fortress and online, are compromised and the deadly secrets they’ve sworn to protect are revealed.

Piper J. Drake has quickly become one of my “go-to” authors, and in her latest release, “Contracted Defense”, she continues to remind me why.

We first meet Victoria Ash in an upscale bar in Seattle. She’s just trying to enjoy a nice scotch and take a breather. But nothing ever goes easy for our crew working at Safeguard and tonight is no different. Even though the night ends wonderfully for Victoria, and Adam, the next day changes everything.

Some of the main factors I enjoyed in this book:

  1. I love how this author has so many different cultures in her stories. Not just one character or something. It’s many characters, the cuisine, the lifestyles. It’s always seamlessly integrated. One of my favorite components in every story she puts out.
  2. Victoria’s character is assertive, but never arrogant. One thing I loved about her was her confidence. At one point, she’s annoyed with Adam and she’s explaining her rational. Then we learn that she isn’t someone who will bring up a problem without a solution in mind. That aligns with my own personality a lot and so I naturally had a lot of respect for her on that particular point.
  3. Adam is probably as close to the perfect man as anyone will ever find. He’s handsome, intelligent, and just enough alpha male to be sexy, but not overbearing. He does respect Victoria and her preferences on things. He knows his role at Safeguard, and has no problem letting Victoria, and her tenure with the company, take the lead.
  4. This isn’t necessarily just the story, but more generalized to the author. Sometimes, I read a book in the “military” category and I end up a bit lost. This author manages to keep the story moving, while introducing new information, but yet never overwhelms the reader.  I never get lost in jargon or too many characters. I really appreciate this.

This book is definitely great for readers who enjoy books in the military or suspense categories. Adam and Victoria have an amazing chemistry, and you find yourself rooting for both characters throughout their story.

Posted in September Book Reviews 2017

Sugar by Mandi Beck

Sugar

Sugar by Mandi Beck

***SUGAR IS A FULL LENGTH STANDALONE ROMANCE***

Country’s hottest bad boy.

That’s what they call me. My label ate it up until I became “too bad” for the good folks of country music. That’s when Hard Candy Records picked me up and took a chance on me. Probably not their smartest move, but I won’t tell them that. Especially when they’ve assigned me a babysitter to try and keep my ass out of trouble. One smart-mouthed, unimpressed, sexy as homegrown sin, Addy Mae Masterson.

She likes to pretend that she doesn’t like me and I like to let her.

I may have a past that haunts me and she may have a habit of getting attached, but damn if I don’t want to show her just how good this bad boy can be.

Oh my god. Go buy this book. It’s in KU, so you can read it that way too. I’ll wait until you get back. Done? Great.

I freaking LOVED this book! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. I can’t even with how much I enjoyed this book. I kept wanting to put it down, because I wanted to drag it out. But then I wanted more so I kept picking it back up.

Beau McCrae is walking sex, with a side of country bad boy. Addy Mae Masterson is a southern sweetheart who isn’t afraid to put Beau in his place. Their chemistry is off-the-charts. If it were possible to actually FEEL sexual tension, I felt it with this couple. *grabs fan*

The way the author approached this story was really phenomenal. I feel like we’ve read about the rockstar falling for the average girl before. But when we see Addy works for Hard Candy Records, and how intelligent and familiar with the industry she is, it changes the dynamic. Seeing these two have to work in the same industry together was fascinating, especially because Addy has to deal with the many (and I do mean MANY) females that clamor all over Beau. Beau, on the other hand, starts to see things through new eyes. One reason I enjoyed that was because it’s not like this change is necessarily forced on him. It happens gradually.

Addy’s character is someone who I’d love to be friends with. One aspect I loved about her was that she gets attached and she owns that. It was sort of used against her in the past, but I think it’s a sign of how big her heart is. I think so many times, we read a story about the heroine trying to hide her faults until it slowly sneaks out. Addy owns right up to it. Her friends know it, she knows it. She’s even very open with Beau about it.

Beau has his own demons to deal with. It was really interesting because as the layers peel back, things aren’t always what they seem. I don’t want to say more because I’ll end up going too much into it and it’ll spoil it for you.

If you’ve read “Stoned” by Mandi Beck, you get small glimpses of Stone, Willow, and the rest of the crew. With that said, if you haven’t read “Stoned”, you’ll still understand everything happening in this story. So still a true standalone.

If you love Sam Hunt, country music, rockstars falling in love, or just a good old Southern love story, you will enjoy this book. I found myself trying to keep a smile off my face the entire time.

Posted in September Book Reviews 2017

Lucky Number Eleven by Adriana Locke

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Lucky Number Eleven by Adriana Locke

People say not to believe the things you read in magazines, but you know what? Most things you’ve heard about me are probably true.

I totally banged the reporter in the locker room after the championship game last year.

Those pictures in Expose from last summer? Those were not modified.

I’m also not really six-foot tall. (But let’s keep that between us.)

Now, I know you’re wondering about that last Expose headline—the one about me and my teammate (and ex-best friend) Finn Miller’s sister, Layla James. That one is a little more complicated.

Here’s the thing: I’ve played football my whole life. If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to adjust when the game changes. And if there’s one thing I always do, it’s find a way to win.

Granted, the stakes are higher. The playbook has changed. There’s more on the line than (another) MVP title. But guess what hasn’t changed? Me. I’m still Branch “Lucky” Best and I’m not about to fumble this one.

Grab a seat and a subscription to Expose. I’m about to make some headlines. (Again.)

LN11 - MORE

When I started reading this book, it reminded me, immediately, why I love reading sports romance. Adriana Locke has this uncanny ability to let the characters connect while also making you laugh and grin and smirk as you read. Within the first few chapters, I was giggling and felt like I was right in the story. That feeling is one of the reasons I love to read.

Layla and Branch meet one weekend, when Layla and her friend, Poppy, show up to a family cabin in Illinois. Unbeknownst to them, Finn, Layla’s brother, and Branch also went to the cabin for a weekend break. Finn and Poppy have an off and on again thing happening. But Finn tells Branch that his sister is strictly off limits. But the chemistry between Branch and Layla is undeniable.

Layla is really spectacular and I loved the way her character was written. As a reader, it was easy for me to see why Branch was attracted to her. I don’t mean that just through looks, but from her actual personality. She’s funny, intelligent, and isn’t afraid to push Branch back a bit. But I also loved seeing the side of her that was serious, that had stresses. I feel like in a lot of sports romances, the heroine can be a bit sharp, in terms of fighting the relationship or thinking the guy is just a playboy athlete. I felt like the author kept a really good balance going, where we see Layla’s caution but we also see her still being carefree and letting herself fall for Branch.

Branch’s character was just…I don’t even know. I loved him so much. Again, you can see why people fell in love with him. He’s hilariously funny, charismatic, but yet when his serious side comes out, he really shines. Branch has been a star for awhile, and he knows immediately what people see when they look at him, especially women. He might seem like a jerk in some instances, but he’s incredibly self-aware and thoughtful.

I’ve been a big fan of this author for awhile now. One of my favorite parts of this book are the little nuggets from her other books. They are really subtle and thrown in inconspicuously. If you just opened this book and had never read anything from the author, you’d be none the wiser. But if you’ve been a longtime fan, you get treats from a past character popping in, or a sports team showing up. I appreciate the way this author does this for a few reasons. First, I love seeing past characters. When you really love a book, you start to miss those characters. But I like that the author brings them in so subtly. Do you ever read a book and there are so many characters swirling around and you can’t keep track of them, and then you start to feel like you’re missing something? This doesn’t happen here. The author keeps it casual and the longtime reader is delighted to see their favorite characters pop in, but it never ends up being a big production where you’re trying to keep track of a zillion people.

If you love sports romance, you should definitely read this book. If you’re also looking to laugh, and maybe cry, and feel like you’ve never felt, then you should pick this book up.

Posted in September Book Reviews 2017

The Last Weekend by Laura DiSilverio

TheLastWeekend

The Last Weekend by Laura DiSilverio

A terrible accident. A killer among friends.

A woman risking everything for answers.

Every year for a decade, five college friends spent a weekend together at the atmospheric Chateau du Cygne Noir. Then, tragedy struck.

Ten years later, Laurel Muir returns to the castle for the first time since the accident, hoping to reconnect with her friends and lay the past to rest. When a murderer attacks, it rips open old wounds and forces the women to admit there’s a killer in their midst. The remaining friends make a pact to unearth the truth, but suspicion, doubt, and old secrets threaten to tear them apart. Unsure who to trust, Laurel puts herself in harm’s way, risking it all for friendship and long-delayed justice.

This cover is one of my favorites that I’ve seen recently. In all honesty, when I saw this cover, it made me look into the book further and I was hooked. There is something intriguing and also spooky about it; it kept me wondering what was happening behind those dark windows. Once you start reading, the author doesn’t disappoint as she continues to bring the beautiful imagery to life.

Our story starts with each of the girls getting a mysterious, tangerine envelope in the mail. Laurel, Geneva, Ellie, and Dawn haven’t returned to Chateau du Cygne Noir since they were there last, when a terrible accident changed everything. But as soon as they seen the bright invitation, everything from the past comes rushing forward. Past hurts and betrayals run deep for this group.

Evangeline is the character that sort of connects everything, and everyone, together. The last weekend at the inn, someone pushed her over her balcony, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. But no one knows who. Now, as the women reconnect, wounds that should be healed are ripped open.

The author brings her reader a diverse cast in this story and it was appreciated. Laurel has just become a judge in Colorado, Geneva is expecting her first child in Chicago, Ellie has just sent her boys off to college, and Dawn is a struggling artist. Each person has their quirks, their secret insecurities and desires.

Then we have Evangeline, who I never really knew how to feel about. When I first met her character, I admit she reminded me of someone I knew. That was a weird feeling for me but at the same time, it made the story come alive. I could align with the women and their distrust and disdain for Evangeline. I knew exactly how they felt when she would poke them, trying to provoke a reaction. She was nice, but there always seemed to an underlying maliciousness to it.

Even though we get a mystery in this story, we also see aspects of growth, and even a slight love story mixed in. There were times when the story seemed to slow down a bit and I think having the growth and love gently mix in really kept things interesting. I was invested not only in the mystery; I wanted to know what happened and how everyone resolved their issues.

If you enjoy books about friendships and the ways they can weave in and out of our lives, you’ll enjoy this book. Of course, if you love a good mystery, this book will also appeal to you. Overall, a fantastic read that I would definitely recommend.

 

Posted in August Book Reviews, Thrillers

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

GirlInSnow

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.

Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

This is easily one of the most interesting, and also somewhat disturbing, books I’ve read in a long time. The start of our story is raw and honest, and it chilled me immediately.

This story follows Cameron, the boy who loved Lucinda too much; Jade, the girl who wanted her life; and Russ, an officer assigned to investigate the murder. The first thing I will say is that this author impressed me with how she took what is considered a thriller, and flipped it all around. While Lucinda’s murder is the glue binding everything together, you almost start to forget about her at points. You get so engrossed with the characters, what’s happening, their secrets, their thoughts. It was a unique take on the idea of a thriller and I enjoyed that.

I read this book in about six hours. I only put it down the first night to sleep and immediately started in again the next day. The way this story is laid out worked well. Each chapter focuses on one particular character and even with a large cast of characters, it was easy to follow, and not lose anyone in the story.

Cameron’s character swung from scary to timid. You weren’t sure if you wanted to help him or hide from him. Jade…I felt for her character. As we learn more about her as the story continues on, you feel your heart break for this teenage girl who is trying to figure things out while also protecting herself. Russ’s character is unique, and yet almost what you’d expect at the same time. He’s lost. Even though he’s a police officer and middle-age, he’s lost. All of our characters are. I think that’s what makes this story captivating; everyone is lost in their own way.

If you’re looking for a thriller that brings a fresh perspective to what we normally think of as a thriller, this is the book for you. The story is painful, visceral, and almost feels a little too raw in parts. But those are the aspects that I enjoyed the most. The characters are extremely flawed, but also not unlike most of us. A fantastic debut for the author.

 

Posted in August Book Reviews 2017

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

watch me disappear

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

I finished this book last week. I needed a day to process it all and here I am, a week later, still obsessed with this twitchy tale. I can’t stop thinking about it, and have already debated re-reading it. It’s THAT good.

This story follows Olive and Jonathan, dealing with life about a year after Billie’s disappearance. Olive is having visions of her mother and Jonathan is trying to make sense of everything. His marriage, his wife’s past, who his wife, and her friends, might really be, and then worrying about his daughter, Olive, on top of that. One thing that really struck me with this book was how the characters, even if they did something unscrupulous, managed to keep you on their side.

You want to hate Jonathan as he starts having doubts over his presumed dead wife. You find yourself angry at him for being naive, but then you also feel heartbreaking compassion for him. Olive is trying to find herself. Others see things in her that she herself has yet to discover. You find yourself annoyed at her chasing these visions, but at the same time, you can’t blame her for running headfirst into this mystery.

This is the first book that I can say I actually popped in a post-it note. There were so many pieces that I wanted to remember and hold onto myself.

Billie’s character is exceptional. I don’t know if I mean that in a good or bad way yet. Her character is one that has stayed with me and I can say I’m still thinking about her. When we start to get a deeper look at her life, it makes you question how you feel about her. Is she cruel or was she doing the best she could? Should we love her, hate her?

Anyone who loves a good thriller will love this book. Moreover, anyone who enjoys a good mystery, while also on a search for self-discovery, would adore this novel. I really cannot say enough amazing things about this story.