Review: The Ghostwriter (Alessandra Torre)

The Ghostwriter
Author: Alessandra Torre
Publication Date: October 2, 2017
Publisher: DCA
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. And all of them believed me.

I wasn’t surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.

Now, I have one last story to write. It’ll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.

They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.


The Ghostwriter is one of those books I’m kicking myself for not reading sooner. It has been on my Kindle since it was released, but I kept putting it off. I shouldn’t have. Honestly, I was impressed with everything about this book. It was my kind of thriller.

I have read one other book by Alessandra Torre (Moonshot). I was impressed with her writing in that book, but the writing in The Ghostwriter blew me away. It was so freaking addictive! The tone was so perfect. There was this air of mystery and darkness. I couldn’t get enough of how it pulled me deeper and deeper into the story. As far as thrillers go, this one can be a little sleepy and uneventful at times. That didn’t bug me because the writing kept me interested in those moments as the story built. And what a story it was! I can honestly say I didn’t see any of the twists coming. There weren’t a ton of twists, just a couple, but they had a major impact. I was so impressed with them.

I know I haven’t said much about the actual plot and characters of The Ghostwriter, but it’s one of those books you have to read for yourself. You don’t want any little thing to be spoiled for you. If you’re a fan of Tarryn Fisher’s books or Colleen Hoover’s Verity, I’m 99.9% sure you would appreciate The Ghostwriter.

Review: What the Wind Knows (Amy Harmon)

What the Wind Knows
Author: Amy Harmon
Publication Date: February 1, 2019 (Hardback), March 1, 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?


I feel the need to come clean a bit before I get into my review because I think my thoughts will help some readers decide if What the Wind Knows is for them. I’m a big fan of Amy Harmon’s writing, but I was on the fence about reading this book. I am not a huge historical fiction or fantasy fan. I read both only occasionally. I might not have read it if I hadn’t received an ARC. In a way, that forced me to read What the Wind Knows and I’m extremely glad it did.

What the Wind Knows had my attention from the very beginning. I thought it might take me a bit to get into the story, but it didn’t at all. I became addicted from the first chapter. I loved Anne’s connection with her grandfather, Eion, and how the story was built around the things he shared with her. I was actually more drawn to this relationship than to the love story. There was just something so sweet and pure about their relationship and the closeness they shared. I treasured the moments they had together.

Not that I didn’t enjoy the love story. Anne and Thomas’ connection literally transcended time. I loved how their relationship took time to develop and for their love to blossom. Normally, a time travel relationship would leave me with all sorts of questions. This one did that as well, but not so much that I fixated on them or couldn’t believe in their love. Anne and Thomas’ love story was epic for sure.

Besides the relationships in What the Wind Knows, there were so many fascinating historical gems. I know Amy Harmon took liberty with some things, but I still felt like I learnt a great deal. I really had no idea of what Ireland had gone through in the early 1900s. It was fascinating. I did get a tad bogged down with some of the details, but they all fit so well into this story.

Oh! I really, really need to stop and applaud Amy Harmon for a moment. Not only did she add historical events, she took on some every day activities in the past and showed Anne’s wonderment of them. These little things are always the things I am intrigued by. Or rather I should say they are the things that make me happy I live in the present day. I loved that those little mundane things were talked about.

Overall, What the Wind Knows is a fascinating read. Amy Harmon has once again convinced me that she can write any genre and I will want to read it.

Purchase links:

Available Now:

➜ Hardcover: https://amzn.to/2QoYmYi

Pre-order Now:

➜ Kindle: https://amzn.to/2NyJsQq
➜ Paperback: https://amzn.to/2CCbA0I
➜ Audio: https://amzn.to/2N2SfuG

About the author:

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in eighteen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels – the USA Today Bestsellers The Smallest Part, The Bird and The Sword, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as the #1 Amazon bestselling historical From Sand and Ash, The Queen and The Cure, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her novels The Bird and the Sword and From Sand and Ash were Goodreads Best Books of 2016 and 2017 finalists.

Find Amy online:

Website: www.authoramyharmon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramyharmon
Facebook fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amyharmon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aharmon_author
Instagram: https://instagram.com/amy.harmon2/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Harmon/e/B007V3HXUY
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5829056.Amy_Harmon
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-harmon
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/P5AJP
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authoramyharmon/

Review: Deal with the Devil (Meghan March)

Deal with the Devil
Series: Forge Trilogy, #1
Author: Meghan March
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Red Dress Press
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“You can put that man in a suit, but he’ll never be tame.”
One look at Jericho Forge and I knew the rumors were true. He was a predator, and he had set his sights on me.
I knew better than to bet more than I could afford to lose that night. I knew better than to bet myself. But desperation leads to bad decisions, and I thought there was no way I could lose.
I was wrong.
Now I have no choice but to make a deal with the devil.


The review for this book is going to be kind of lame. I’m truly sorry about that, BUT I CANNOT TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT THIS STORY OR I WILL RUIN IT FOR YOU! Can you tell how frustrated I am by that? Because all I want to do is TELL YOU ALL THE THINGS! It’s so unfair, but completely necessary.

What can I tell you then? I wasn’t expecting the setting or the nature of the story or the characters or anything. (I loved all of those things!!!) The only thing I was expecting was Jericho Forge to be some rich alpha male. He was totally that, but of course there is more to him than those two details (which I can’t tell you anything about…). His life is fascinating  and so is the woman who steals his heart. Their story is fabulous and I cannot wait to find out what’s next for them because Ms. March left us with what might just be her most shocking cliffhanger yet! (I’m still not over it.)

Meghan March upped her game with Deal with the Devil — just like she does with each book she releases. She made me fall in love with a fascinating and exciting world of new characters. I’m so frustrated that I have to wait a month to find of what’s next for Jericho Forge.

BOOK LINKS

Book 1 FB Spoiler Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/790140534687700/

Book 1 Buy Links:

 

Official Trilogy Landing Pages:

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Giveaway Details: Enter for your chance to win one of five signed copies of Deal with the Devil!

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ABOUT MEGHAN MARCH

Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

You can find her online at: MeghanMarch.com, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Review: Two Can Keep a Secret (Karen M. McManus)

Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.


Two Can Keep a Secret was one of the 2019 releases that I was most excited to get my hands on. I absolutely loved Karen M. McManus’ debut novel, One of Us is Lying. I was excited to see what her second book had in store.

Karen M. McManus’ writing is utterly addictive. I was sucked into the story from the minute I started reading. I loved the characters and the plot kept me guessing. I had my (correct) suspicions as to who the murderer was, but twists and turns had me all over the place. I truly had no clue where the story was headed half the time. It was so engrossing that I didn’t want to put Two Can Keep a Secret down. I needed to know what was going to happen next!

I’m so happy that I loved this book. It had the same exciting mysterious feel that One of Us is Lying had, but was completely different. Karen M. McManus has now cemented her spot in my mind as one of my go-to mystery authors. This book just came out, but I can’t wait to see what’s next from her.

Review: Weightless (Kandi Steiner)

Weightless
Author: Kandi Steiner
Publication Date: June 16, 2016
Publisher: Kandi Steiner
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I remember the lights.

I remember I wanted to photograph them, the way the red and blue splashed across his cold, emotionless face. But I knew even if my feet could move from the place where they had cemented themselves to the ground and I could run for my camera, I wouldn’t be able to capture that moment.

I had trusted him, I had loved him, and even though my body had changed that summer, he’d made sure to help me hold on to who I was inside, regardless of how the exterior altered.

But then everything changed.

He stole my innocence. He scarred my heart. He took everything I thought I knew about my life and fast-pitched it out the window, shattering the glass that held my world together in the process.

I remember the lights.

The passionate, desperate, hot strikes of red. The harsh, cruel, icy bolts of blue.

They symbolized everything I endured that summer.

And everything I would never face again.


Kandi Steiner is an author who is newer to me. I’ve read and liked a couple of her books and have wanted to read more. I decided to give Weightless a try because I was intrigued by the blurb. I liked it, but there were several things that bugged me.

Let me start with what I liked. Natalie was a character that reminded me a bit of myself in/at the end of high school. She saw herself as imperfect and not worthy of the people she loved. Natalie was overweight and bigger than the other girls. She had just been dumped and saw losing weight as the way to win back her man. Natalie put in the effort to be a healthier version of herself for someone else. I wish I could say I haven’t been in those shoes, but I have. While I didn’t love every decision she made, I loved how much she grew and became more comfortable in her own skin. That was the best part of this book — her journey.

Now, I’m going to rant a little bit. I wasn’t a big fan of most of the other characters. Mason and Shay made me pretty mad. Mason because I’ve had ex-boyfriends like him. He didn’t want to be with Natalie, but he kept her hanging on by a thread. He made her feel like she wasn’t someone to love the way she was, and that sucked. He sucked. I hated him. Shay was just an insecure mean girl. I wish Natalie could have seen that from the beginning.

Rhodes I was a little wishy washy over. The dude was good for Natalie’s self esteem, but he had some major issues. I couldn’t get past his extracurricular jobs and how Natalie was able to kind of look past it. That part of the story was a big turn off for me. It made me not want to keep reading. I did end up liking him in the end, though.

I did like the mystery surrounding Rhodes’ twin sister, but I felt it could have been more of a focus and a little more fleshed out. Her being missing was mentioned here and there, but it didn’t become a big focus until right before the end.

Basically, there was a lot of good stuff in this book. I just didn’t love it all.

Review: Verity (Colleen Hoover)

Verity BT Banner.jpg

Verity, an all-new romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, is available now!

Verity_Amazon_iBooks.jpg

Verity
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication Date: December 7, 2018
Publisher: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity likely didn’t intend for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night their family was forever altered.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.


I’m not sure what switched Colleen Hoover to the dark side, but I am worried that Tarryn Fisher might have figured out how to invade her brain or use mind control or some other magical junk. That’s the only thing I can come up with for how someone who writes romances so emotionally touching could write something this twisted. Okay, maybe that’s stretching things. Colleen Hoover is a talented writer, so there’s no reason she couldn’t go to the dark side on her own. (Still…)

Verity was a deeply disturbing, but extremely addictive psychological thriller. I had no idea who I could trust throughout the entire novel. All the twists surprised me, and made me question what I thought the moment before. The ending shocked me and kept me wishing for just another page. Verity was everything I like in a thriller. I hope Colleen Hoover will grace us with another book like this in the future.

VERITY AN TWO

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Tv0cZg

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/Verity

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2zksQUq

VERITY TEASER THREE.jpg

Excerpt:

“What are you wearing?” Corey is staring down at my shirt, perplexed, just now noticing it despite having spent the last fifteen minutes with me.  

I look down at my oversized shirt.For a moment, I forgot how ridiculous I look. “I spilled coffee on my other shirt this morning and had to change.”

“Whose shirt is that?”

I shrug. “Probably yours. It was in my closet.”

“You left your house in that? There wasn’t something else you could have worn?”

“It doesn’t look high fashion?” I’m being sarcastic, but he doesn’t catch it.

He makes a face. “No. Is it supposed to?”

Such an ass. But he’s good in bed, like most assholes.

I’m actually relieved when the conference room door opens and a woman walks in. She’s followed, almost comically, by an older man walking so closely behind her, he bumps into the back of her when she stops.

“Goddammit, Barron,” I hear her mumble.

I almost smile at the idea of Goddammit Barron actually being his name.

Jeremy enters last. He gives me a small nod that goes unnoticed by everyone else.

The woman is dressed more appropriately than I am on my best day, with short black hair and lipstick so red, it’s a little jarring at nine thirty in the morning. She seems to be the one in charge as she reaches for Corey’s hand, and then mine, while Goddammit Barron looks on. “Amanda Thomas,” she says. “I’m an editor with Pantem Press.This is Barron Stephens, our lawyer, and Jeremy Crawford, our client.”

 Jeremy and I shake hands, and he does a good job of pretending we didn’t share an extremely bizarre morning. He quietly takes the seat across from me. I try not to look at him, but it’s the only place my eyes seem to want to travel. I have no idea why I’m more curious about him than I am about this meeting.

Amanda pulls folders out of her briefcase and slides them in front of Corey and me.

“Thank you for meeting with us,” she says. “We don’t want to waste your time, so I’ll cut right to the chase. One of our authors is unable to fulfill a contract due to medical reasons, and we’re in search of a writer with experience in the same genre who may be interested in completing the three remaining books in her series.”

I glance at Jeremy, but his stoic expression doesn’t hint at his role in this meeting.

“Who is the author?” Corey asks.

“We’re happy to go over the details and terms with you, but we do ask that you sign the non-disclosure agreement.We would like to keep our author’s current situation out of the media.”

“Of course,” Corey says.

I acquiesce, but I say nothing as we both look over the forms and then sign them. Corey slides them back to Amanda.

“Her name is Verity Crawford,” she says. “I’m sure you’re familiar with her work.”

Corey stiffens as soon as they mention Verity’s name. Of course we’re familiar with her work. Everyone is. I hazard a glance in Jeremy’s direction. Is Verity his wife? They share a last name. He said downstairs that his wife is a writer. But why would he be in a meeting about her? A meeting she isn’t even here for?

“We’re familiar with the name,” Corey says, holding his cards close.“Verity has a very successful series we would hate to see go unfinished,” Amanda continues. “Our goal is to bring in a writer who is willing to step in, finish the series, complete the book tours, press releases,and whatever else is normally required of Verity. We plan to put out a press release introducing the new co-writer while also preserving as much of Verity’s privacy as possible.”

About Colleen Hoover

ColleenHoover.jpg

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author of thirteen novels and multiple novellas. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas.

Connect with Colleen

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2FZ7GAI

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2L1LuoI

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Email: https://www.colleenhoover.com


Mini Reviews: Books on My Kindle Backlist

I have been all about reading books off my Kindle backlist lately. I’ve spent a lot of time sifting through all my downloads deciding which ones to read and which ones to delete forever. Here are reviews for some of the books I chose to read off that list.

The Trouble with Love
Series: Sex, Love & Stiletto, #4
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

As Lauren Layne’s salacious Sex, Love & Stiletto series returns, a jaded columnist discovers a steamy way to get over an old flame: falling for him all over again.

As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.

After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.

My review:

Why oh why did I wait so long to read The Trouble with Love? This book has been on my Kindle FOREVER — probably as long as I have been a Lauren Layne fan. I’m so happy I finally stopped being stupid and read it. The Trouble with Love is now one of my favorite all time second change romance books. Emma and Cassidy’s story was everything I could have wanted it to be. They had such a cool, mysterious past. I loved how the story unraveled and how they rebuilt their relationship. This is my favorite book in the series.


Anti-Stepbrother
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: August 22, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He told me to ‘settle, girl.’
He asked if ‘something was wrong with me?’
He said I was an ‘easy target.’
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

My review:

I love Tijan’s books, but I admit I have been putting off reading Anti-Stepbrother because of the title. I should have read the blurb more closely. This wasn’t a step-brother romance like I feared it was. There was a stepbrother in the book, but Caden was not him. Summer and Caden’s relationship was a fun one. It started out with a friendship that turned to more. It wasn’t quite as dramatic as some of Tijan’s other books, and the romance between Summer and Caden was surprisingly sweet. I’m so happy I finally read this one! I loved Anti-Stepbrother!


The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Publication Date: April 5, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In the south, everyone has a secret–and murder is served with sweet tea.

The word’s out: Ethan Wilder’s coming back to town, and the people of Bowie, Georgia are in a southern tizzy. Everyone knows the story. He shot and killed his sister four years ago, and people say his father, Jim Wilder, the biggest holy roller this side of the Mississippi, sent him packing for just that reason. Even if her death was unofficially ruled a suicide, Ethan’s return has everybody talking.

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Doherty can’t go anywhere without hearing his name. Born and raised in Bowie, Delilah knows firsthand about the gossipmongers and how they love a good scandal. The daughter of a wild child and niece of the local psychic, she’s also the only one who doubts Ethan’s guilt.

After Ethan saves her life, the two start a slow and steady burn neither can deny. But when Bowie’s spiritual leader is nearly murdered, it rocks the small southern town to its core. Delilah and Ethan are caught in the crossfire, their relationship threatened before it’s even begun. Someone has it out for Ethan’s family. With everyone convinced of Ethan’s guilt, it’s up to Delilah to unravel the mystery before someone else gets hurt or worse…dead.

My review:

One of the things I love about Cookie O’Gorman’s books is that they’re all different. This one had more of a mystery than her first two books. That mystery kept me guessing. I totally wasn’t expecting it to end how it did. I really liked all of the characters in this book. I was especially fond of Delilah’s family. The only thing I wanted more of from this book was actually more about Delilah’s family history. It’s talked about a lot by secondary characters, but I would have liked to have gotten the real story from Delilah or her family members. Overall, this was a fun YA read.

Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

The Butterfly Garden
Series: The Collector, #1
Author: Dot Hutchinson
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…


The Butterfly Garden is the tale of a deranged serial killer called “The Gardener” keeping the young women he hold captives in his butterfly garden until it’s time for them to meet their fates. It is told in the alternating view points of a FBI agent and the victim of a serial killer. Maya had not been murdered (yet), but she faced a horrifying ordeal. As Maya delivers her story of being held captive and the events surrounding it to Agent Hanoverian, he has to trust that she will give him the details he needs to solve his case. He knows she is keeping something from him, something big, but he’s not sure what.

If I had to sum up The Butterfly Garden in four words they would be creepy, disturbing, horrifying, and unsettling. Those four words pretty much say it all. I could barely stomach the events poor Maya and the other victims had to endure. It hurt my head and my heart. It made me feel disgusted and uncomfortable. I hated reading it, but I couldn’t stop. There was something so addictive to the tale. I had to know Maya’s story.

The weird thing about this thriller was that the story was told straight to the reader. There were twists and turns, but they didn’t really pop out at you unsuspectingly. They were delivered in the order you would expect. The biggest surprise was one that left me unsatisfied. I didn’t see it coming, but I think that’s because it didn’t make sense to me. It was too much of a coincidence. I actually felt that it ruined things a bit for me. That being said, it was probably a twist some readers would love.

The Butterfly Garden was a dark, horrifying story. If you like dark thrillers, this could be the book for you. It was on the verge of being too dark for me — even with how addicting it was. I had to read it during the day and then read a romance later that night so I wouldn’t have messed up dreams.

Review: Always Been You by Sadie Allen

Always Been You  
by Sadie Allen
Cedar Lake Series, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Design: Oh So Novel
Release Date: July 19, 2018
Synopsis
Emma Taylor ran away from home in a cloud of dust, taking the pieces of her broken heart with her. Fifteen years later, she is back to care for her grieving father and to face the boy who once broke her heart. 
Brazos Huntswell was dealt a bad hand. Life hasn’t turned out the way he envisioned it in high school. He’s a single father to a moody teenage girl and trying to make a go of the cattle ranch his father left him.
Trouble is brewing in the town of Cedar Lake, and people are turning up dead. Will Braz and Emma be able to weather the coming storm and take a chance on forever? Or will a ghost from the past destroy that chance… permanently?
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Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

My thoughts are a little jumbled for Always Been You. I really enjoyed Sadie Allen’s writing, but there was something that didn’t work for me. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I’ll do my best.

I would categorize Always Been You as a romantic suspense novel. There was a second chance love story between the main characters, Emma and Braz. There was also a murder mystery happening in their small town of Cedar Creek. I liked both aspects, but they also distracted from each other.

Emma and Braz were great characters. I liked them individually. They each had a lot going on in their own lives. Emma was a teacher and was encouraging her father to live again after losing her mother. Braz was a rancher and single father. I loved their relationships with their families. It was the best part of the book. I especially loved Braz’s relationship with sky.

As for Emma and Braz together… I didn’t connect with their relationship. I have a hard time believing second chance love stories where the characters pined for each other for years and years without seeing each other. It doesn’t feel natural to me. I understand having that regret or person in the back of the mind at times, but I don’t get not moving on. Emma more so in this aspect than Braz. What made it even harder for me was their reconnection felt like instant love. I didn’t feel like I ever really got to see them get to know each other as adults with the amount of time they spent together. I wasn’t sold on their love. I think I could have been if their relationship was the main focus of the book.

As for the murder mystery, I liked that. I am not always a big fan of romantic suspense, but the suspense part worked for me. I could kind of see what was coming, but it was still exciting. My only complaint with this part was that there wasn’t a complete conclusion — probably because there is already a book two in the works.

I hate that this review sounds negative. I actually did enjoy reading Always Been You. I wanted to know what was going on with the murders and how things would work out for Emma and Braz. I still do. I will definitely read the second book to find out what else is to come in Cedar Creek.

 
About the Author
 
 
Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her husband and three young children. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, catching up on her favorite shows, or chasing her family around the house.
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Review: Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner

Dead Certain
Author: Adam Mitzner
Publication Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?


Dead Certain is a hard book for me to review. There were several things I really liked about it, but there were some I didn’t. Rather than write out a lengthy review about it all, I’m going to break this review down to what I liked and what I didn’t care for.

What I liked:

  • The mystery behind Charlotte’s disappearance.
  • The chapters of Charlotte’s book. They were the heart of the story for me, and the most interesting clues to her disappearance.
  • The unexpected narrator in the second half.
  • How the mystery of Charlotte’s disappearance wrapped up.
  • Ella’s double life. I wanted more of it. It wasn’t as big a factor as I expected.

What I didn’t care for:

  • Ella. Her character wasn’t one I easily connected to. There was something about her personality that annoyed me.
  • The amount of legal detail overwhelmed me at times.
  • The first half of the book was a bit boring, to be honest. The second half was so good. I don’t know how the author could have made the beginning more like the second half, but it would have made the book more entertaining.
  • The plot was somewhat predictable. I knew who did it early on.

Overall thoughts:

Despite not enjoying the first half of this book, the second half totally redeemed Dead Certain in my eyes. Even though I didn’t enjoy that first half, I can now appreciate that part. It made the surprises that were coming in the second half even better.

Would I recommend Dead Certain? Yes. I did end up really liking how things played out, and I think others would, too.