Monday, December 31, 2018

Review: Alive: Shadows of a Living Past



Florence Sterling should be perfectly happy. She’s been given a second chance at life with her beloved husband. But all is not well. She yearns for more children, even though Alex is reluctant. Memories of the day she and her baby were murdered still haunt her. And she can’t shake the feeling she will be separated from Alex again. 

As if in confirmation of her premonition, Alex is called on a dangerous mission to enlist America’s aid in WWII. Trying to distract herself, Florence investigates what really happened when her son died. As she searches, she becomes convinced her son is alive, although witnesses say otherwise. And with each clue she discovers, she unwittingly draws closer to her old enemy—the deranged woman who will stop at nothing to destroy her. 

When Alex goes missing in action, Florence must reach deeply into her faith as she faces her greatest fears. If Alex is lost to the war, will she allow herself to love another man and fulfill her desire to have a family? Or will she remain alone the rest of her life?


Review

I was curious to come into this series in Book 2.  Book 1 refers to a forgotten past, while this title promises to refer to that which is still very much alive.

In a story where there are a million things we should be aware of,, it would be very easy to start this review by saying "I wish I had the information I needed to enjoy this book more."  But Marcia writes in a style that I love, in which you are given necessary information without it being a clunky infodump.

The story with its twists and turns is a fascinating and often portentous one, which an effective suspense-building style.  We are clued into dangers without feeling that the author is trying to hold things back.  And the world-building is clever enough that the reader is drawn in as much  by curiosity about what else we'll find there as driven to follow the story.

Perhaps I am at a disadvantage because of not having read the first book, so I am not sure if the character introductions are handled the same way in each installment.  While I enjoyed so much about the book, the beginning feels slightly ponderous because of hammering in the initial importance of the circumstances in which the story opens.  We are reminded again and again in the first act of the book why we should feel strongly about these characters.  I feel as though it would be more powerful to spread out these reminders.

I will not divulge too much in the interest of letting you explore this storyline, but I highly recommend diving into the world of Florence and Alex and the narrative brilliance that comes along with the way the story goes.





Character Casting

Alexander Sterling: Richard Armitage\


 / Florence Contini: Emma Watson

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Book 1 Amazon link: http://geni.us/5AI5Cqo


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: Duck, Duck, Moose

I admit two things.  1)  I overslept and had to post this after work.  2)  I picked up this title just because the play on the children's game made me laugh.

Synopsis:
Duck’s best friend Goose is gone for winter and Duck is lonely. The animals try to cheer Duck, but Duck, Duck, Pig is too messy, and Duck, Duck, Moose is too scary. Will Duck be alone until Goose gets back? Or can Duck come up with a game they all can play?

Review:

I really enjoy books in which friendship is built by working through a problem.  It's a common thing in everything from Lord of the Rings to Okay For Now.  And it's a great way to get children to understand deeper meanings without hitting them over the head with it.

I think that Joy did a great job creating a situation in which we could relate to these animamorphic characters on a very human level, which is something that is an absolute must if I can connect to a book or movie about woodland creatures.  It was sweet, but also something that didn't felt dumbed-down for the enjoyment of little ones.  The illustrations are definitely appropriate to the story.

This would be a good story to read multiple times over years in order to get a child to understand it in a different way as they grow up with the book.


Joy Heyer lives in Virginia with her loving husband and three of her four crazy children. Her oldest child now has a child of her own, making Joy a grandma. 

Her family recently convinced her to get a dog. What was she thinking? The dog now follows Joy everywhere, waits loyally at the front window every time she leaves the house, and goes berserk when she comes back, even if she was only gone for 10 seconds to get the mail. 

In her spare time….wait, what spare time? Whenever her children and dog permit, she loves to read, write, paint, and dream up home improvement projects.

To follow the rest of the tour and get more on this book check out the official page! Loving the Book Book Tour

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Review: Sweet Indulgence

Welcome to today's review of Sweet Indulgence by Debbie White.  It was a refreshing romance to start off the new year and I hope you check it out.
 Debbie is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She currently lives in northern California where the hills are dotted with vineyards and the jagged coastline is nearby. Many of her books describe the beautiful area she calls home. She avidly supports animal rescue by donating a percentage of all book sales to rescue groups nationwide! Now here are a few more interesting tidbits of information about her!

1. Her spouse served in the U.S. Air Force for over 20 years. She uses some of her experiences as a military wife in some of her stories.

2. She has two granddaughters and a grandson.

3. She received her degree in Sociology in 2011 and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

4. She hasn't always dreamed of writing, but she's always loved reading and decided she'd give it a try. Her fans love her so much, she's still putting out books three years later.
Real Men Eat Cupcakes

Annie McPherson has had it with all the blind dates her grandmother and auntie set her up with. She just wants to be left alone to run the Sweet Indulgence cupcake bakery – even if it means she’ll remain single forever.
Jack’s just been through a gut-wrenching break-up, and women are the last thing on his mind. Now he’s on a mission to pick up cupcakes for his niece’s birthday party—not a mission to fall in love. Pulled in by Annie’s good looks and witty charm, though, temptation proves too sweet.
But will Annie’s pesky grandmother and auntie welcome Jack as Annie’s choice or will they have him jumping through hoops to prove he’s the one?
Fans of Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, and Susan Wiggs are sure to love Sweet Indulgence, the first sweet romance novel in the Charleston Harbor series.
This book is too sweet to pass up! Scroll up to one click and begin your indulgence today!

Review:

The stand-out element of this book is that not a single one of the characters is a caricature.  Annie and Jack meet in a normal business setting while he is helping a family member with something perfectly reasonable.  (Though I will never understand this current obsession with lovelorn women opening cupcakeries, it's much more palatable than the billionaire romance to me.)  The grandmother and auntie have ritual and order in their lives.  Class dynamics arise and much of the book is occupied with keeping the business that is at the heart of the book running to the best of its potential.

That said, the romance escalates a bit quickly.  Not 50 Shades of Grey quickly and not as slowly as the four-book Twilight build to the honeymoon, but they go from casually hanging out on a boat to French-kissing their brains out in a kind of condensed middle section of the book.  It would have been more effective for the pacing if it were spread out more.  And the ending just made me laugh because of the unexpected twist she throws in.  I won't ruin it for you.

In general, the book made me want to make a pitcher of sweet tea and read this somewhere surrounded by people who say y'all a lot.  And that is a compliment.

Buy here

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: Christmas Secrets



"A charming rogue-turned-vicar, Will wants to prove that he left his rakish days behind him, but an accidental kiss changes all his plans. His secret could bring them together...or divide them forever.

Holly has two Christmas wishes this year; finally earn her mother's approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and learn the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss...even if that stranger is the resident Christmas ghost."


I am very particular about certain things, if you can't tell by my reviews.  I largely avoid Christmas tales, because they so often miss the mark, and I sometimes avoid historical tales because I spend too much time picking out anachronisms when the tale fails to enthrall me.

Fortunately, neither of these things was an issue with Donna Hatch's Christmas Secrets.  It felt like a combination of Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, not for the time period, but because we were dropped into a world with mannerisms and expectations and knew that every character had a rich history that we would work through by the end in one form or another.

It's a story in which people find adventure in the ordinary and stolen kisses do not turn out as intended.  The story itself is an enjoyable comedy of errors at time, but a heart-warming approach to finding happiness in others.  That really is how most of my favorite Christmas tales go (Miracle on 34th Street and It's A Wonderul Life), so I found myself forgetting genre and fact-checking to go along for the ride.  (Though I did check out some of the things I was unfamiliar with because they fascinated me.)

Biography


Donna Hatch is the award-winning author of over a dozen books including the best-selling
"Rogue Hearts Series.” A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She is a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review: Dating the It Guy

 Genre:  Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Clean Reads
Publication date: March 21, 2017
Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.
YOUTUBE AMAZON | WEBSITE


Review
I have to say that I enjoy it when an author manages to write high school without turning it into an episode of Gossip Girl.  (I have almost no problems if they want it to resemble Buffy: The Vampire-Slayer, but that's a subject for another post.)  I read a lot of YA books wherein high school bears no resemblance to how life worked at my alma mater and sometimes, that's hilariously refreshing and sometimes it just annoys me that the author can't seem to grasp how teenagers think.

This book does not have that problem.  Whether talking about a flaky group project partner, stains that won't come out of your Homecoming dress, or someone complaining about having bombed their French quiz, it felt like a very natural environment.  The main characters meet in a summer school class that Emme is taking because the local newspaper rescinded her internship when they forgot to mention that she needed to be 16 and have her own car.  On her birthday, she gets an awesome present that costs a ton (she's dating an It Guy after all), but he stops and makes them compare class schedules for the upcoming school year.  All of the characters dress like normal teenagers and go to their parents for help paying for a special occasion.

The twist comes with the interactions with the eponymous It Guy, who doesn't seem to understand that he needs to have a better balance between having a good college application and having a good relationship with the girl he's dating.  He skips an event that's very important to her to host a charity auction, which would annoy me, too.  He's grown up as the son of a prominent politician, so is used to being a people-pleaser who doesn't always know when to have quality time one-on-one.  It was a source of frustration to me that he kept missing this point, so I'm glad that there was character development talking about not only his response to the concern, but how Emme felt about the dynamic. 

This is definitely a clean read overall, but the characters make frequent references to who is probably sleeping around and gold-digging and there is public intoxication involving high school students at one point.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review: Dark Days of Promise by Shaunna Gonzalez

I was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book covers the coming together of two very interesting characters.  One is a SAH(single)M with the usual three rambunctious kids.  The other is a cold-blooded killer who yearns to be gentle now that he's back from the war.

When Vicki receives news of her ex-husband's death, she has to move forward with life and help her two boys and a girl cope with life without Dad.  She knows that her unofficial Grandma Janine is related to a military friend of her ex-husband, Kelly.  Kelly has returned from the war with an injury and a history in Special Ops.  He struggles with having killer instincts and feeling like he no longer is capable of a normal life.  You can probably see where this is going.  Kelly is the real man her ex-husband and current boyfriend failed to be for Vicki.  Vicki teaches him gentleness again.  It's not hard to work out where the book ends up.

The book was ambitious in focusing on Kelly's PTSD.  I admired that the author had the children be intelligent enough to perceive that there was  something different  about Kelly and they didn't just let it slide.  The were protective of their family and that worked well.  I also liked that she wove in the children's different ways of coping badly with the loss in the family. 

The main characters had strong personalities behind them and the link between them through her ex-husband.  The book sells itself short, literally, though.  It's 154 pages and makes a very fast transition from "My kids just lost their Dad.  How will I help them?" to "My kids need a dad ASAP."  Vicki has been raising them for three years while her husband was deployed at times and home at others, yet she keeps underscoring the fact that she needs someone who can teach her boys to be real men.  The PTSD that led me to read this in the first place is addressed, but Kelly admits that he refuses to get treatment because his is not that bad.  That gave me some pause.

I'm sure that she spent many days in those three years as a single mom wondering if she was doing a good job, but I feel as though the author wrote a character perfectly capable of teaching her children correct behaviors and attitudes on her own.  And the character should have respected herself for it.

Buy Here


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book Blitz: A Killer Retreat

Sorry, just found this on my drafts section.  I meant it to go up last night.






Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel. The third book in her series, Karma's a Killer, will released January, 2016 by Midnight Ink.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. 

Yogi Kate must clear her name of murder in this charming yoga mystery
When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes to wedding guests at the
Elysian Springs resort, she jumps at the opportunity, even though it means being forced to endure the wedding ceremony of the center's two caretakers.


Avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate's problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort's hot tub, shortly after a loud, public
(and somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate.

The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she's forced to team up with boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they'll have to solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime--behind bars."

Official Facebook Event page:
Book Buy Links:
Audible:
https://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/A-Killer-Retreat-A-Downward-Dog-Mystery-2-Audiobook/B071FV8D8S

Author Social Media Links:
Subscribe to my newsletter and be entered to win a Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug!  http://tracyweberauthor.com/newsletter.html

Top Ten List
o   Top 10 vacation spots

§  Cannon Beach, OR—site of my 5th book!
§  Doe Bay, Orcas Island, WA –site of my 2nd book!
§  Whidbey Island, WA
§  Paia, Maui —Where I took yoga training
§  Cancun, Mexico
§  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Do you see the beach theme?)
§  Assisi, Italy
§  San Diego, CA – my honeymoon spot!
§  Africa (someday!)
§  Home on the couch with my pup and a Margarita