Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Bound by Hatred (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #3) by Cora Reilly


Print Length: 196 pages
Published: April 28, 2015

From Goodreads.com: When Gianna watched her sister Aria getting married to a man she barely knew, she promised herself she wouldn’t let the same thing happen to her. 

Matteo – The Blade – Vitiello set his eyes on Gianna the moment he saw her on his brother Luca’s wedding, and Rocco Scuderi is more than willing to give his daughter to him, but Gianna has no intention of marrying for any other reason than love. A few months before the wedding, Gianna escapes her bodyguards and runs away. She has enough money to flee to Europe and begin a new life. But staying undetected when the mob is searching for her is a challenge that takes everything, especially as one of their best hunters and assassins is after her: Matteo Vitiello. 

After six months on the run, Gianna finally settles into a tentative routine in Munich, but then Matteo and a couple of her father’s soldiers find her with another man. 

Despite her pleads they kill her boyfriend, and Gianna is forced to marry Matteo. Her emotions alternating between guilt over having dragged an innocent into her world and hatred toward Matteo, Gianna is determined to make life hell for her husband. But Matteo is a master at mind games and their struggle for power soon turns into hate-fueled nights of passion. 



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My Rating: 1 star out of 5

I still have one more book to go in this series - and they have already gone from 3 stars to 2 and now they are down to 1 star. Honestly - I'm scared to read book 4. You can't really get lower than 1 star and I keep hoping that these books will fulfill the promise that book one held. 

The one redeeming quality to this story was the ending. That was the moment when the characters were defined for me. Up until then I didn't really care about any of them. Gianna came across as very whiny and not someone who could care about anyone else. And Matteo? He showed some promise in the way he was still willing to marry her - but even that came across more as "for spite" than anything else. There didn't seem to be any real feelings between these characters, and even the sex became overkill. 

I still have at least one more (published) story in this series to go. Lets hope for the best. 

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Bound by Hatred is available from Amazon.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: Someone Must Die by Sharon Potts


Print Length: 340 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (June 28, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: When her six-year-old nephew vanishes from a neighborhood carnival, Aubrey Lynd’s safe, snow-globe world fractures; it shatters when the FBI’s investigation raises questions about her own family that Aubrey can’t answer.

Aubrey picks apart the inconsistencies to expose the first of many lies: a ransom note—concealed from the FBI—with a terrifying and impossible ultimatum. Aubrey doesn’t know what to believe or whom to trust. The abduction is clearly personal—but why would someone play a high-stakes game with the life of a child? The more she presses for answers, the more Aubrey is convinced that her mother is hiding something.

Desperate to save her young nephew, Aubrey must face harsh truths and choose between loyalty to her family and doing the right thing. And she’d better hurry, because vengeance sets its own schedule, and time is running out.


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This book was not one of my favorites. There were several times during this story that I found myself becoming bored as the story suddenly began to get repetitive. I get it, you are worried about Ethan, and you're parents are lying to you. I don't need this repeated several times. I also found the ending to simply drag on when there was no reason for it. The ending was wrapped nicely for me once the truth came out at last. There was no need for the addition of the extra chapters. 

Aside from those few things, I found this book to be a decent read that I am sure many people will enjoy. For the most part it was an engaging read - and the mystery surrounding who took Ethan and why coupled with was the events of the past were exciting. There were times when I thought I had it figured out, only to be thoroughly surprised by the ending. 

Overall, I would be willing to give this author another chance, and I do think this story will apply to a variety of people. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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Someone Must Die is available from Amazon.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review: Once a Soldier (Rogues Redeemed #1) by Mary Jo Putney


Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Zebra (June 28, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: As heir to a title and great wealth, Will Masterson should have stayed home and tended his responsibilities. Instead he went to war. Now, after perilous years fighting the French, he intends his current mission to be his last. But all his plans are forgotten when he arrives in the small mountain stronghold of San Gabriel and meets her. 

Knowing herself to be too tall, strong, and unconventional to appeal to a man, Athena Markham has always gloried in her independence. But for the first time in her life, she finds a man who might be her match. 

Two of a kind, too brave for their own good, Athena and Will vow to do whatever it takes to vanquish San Gabriel's enemies. For neither will back down from death, and only together can they find happiness and a love deeper than any they'd dared imagine...



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

One of my favorite things about this author (and this novel) is the attention to detail that the author pays to the overall setting of her story. In fact, while reading this particular story, I actually had to stop and make sure that San Gabriel wasn't exactly a real place. 

That being said, I often felt that the trials of this fictional place overshadowed the romances that she was trying to build. Yes, there was a lot of "if only" and some tension between the characters, but I felt as though it didn't do the overall story justice. I would have liked there to have been more of a balance between the characters finding themselves falling in love while dealing with the dangers presented to San Gabriel instead of one taking precedence over the other.

And since I pride myself on honest reviews - I have to put it out there that the romance involving the Princess... it was easy to see from almost the start of it how it would end up. I couldn't invest myself in her "lost love" as I was fairly certain I knew how her story-line would end. Even though I was right, I wouldn't say that that fact reflects poorly on the author - just that this particular story-line may be becoming a tad overdone throughout the genre as a whole. 

Overall - I do feel that this novel is intriguing enough for the reader to continue on with the series, if for no other reason than to see how the other soldiers mentioned in the beginning make out. I, personally, will continue on as I am also a fan of Ms.Putney's overall ability to tell a good story. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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Once a Soldier is available from Amazon.com

Monday, July 18, 2016

Review: Time Heals No Wounds by Hendrik Falkenberg


Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Amazon Crossing (June 1, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: Freshly trained detective Johannes “Hannes” Niehaus is brand-new to the Criminal Investigation Department. And his partner, unconventional veteran detective Fritz Janssen, isn’t the least bit thrilled to train a rookie.
When a woman’s body washes up on the nearby shores of the Baltic Sea, Hannes gets his first taste of real crime—and a chance to prove himself. Quickly the investigation pulls him and Fritz into a whirlpool of dangerous, decades-old cover-ups. As the death count rises, the clues begin to lead them back to the Third Reich—and to harrowing crimes some people will do anything to keep hidden.
With the dead woman’s beautiful assistant to protect and a missing girl to find, Hannes navigates an ever-twisting maze of concealed horrors and enduring vendettas. Will he be able to catch the murderer before another innocent life gets caught in the killer’s dark plan?
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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This book certainly managed to catch my attention. 

Seriously, I was hooked from the first few chapters, and found myself reading well past my bed-time just to see what happened. I felt that this was a pretty accurate representation of homicide work - there was a lot of leg work, a lot of chasing false trails, and a lot of luck. I very much enjoyed the scenes that had nothing to do with the actual crime (such as Hannes meeting people in the random way that he did). I felt that these little scenes added a lot to the character, and therefore added to the overall story. 

This story also had the unique ability to take horrific events of the past and weave them into a story that not only took place in modern day, but seemed to make sense when doing so. 

On the flip side of things, this novel was originally published in the author's native tongue (German), and translated to English. I firmly believe that some things were "lost in translation" as there are some scenes that come across as a bit awkward in their phrasing, however, I kept the translation fact in mind and I was easily able to overlook these instances. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a well-written police story. I will definitely read more from this author!  

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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Time Heals No Wounds is available from Amazon.com

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison


Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (June 1, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: 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...


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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I finished this book today - and I'm still having a variety of conflicting emotions about it. 

On one hand I really enjoyed this novel. I finished it in just under two days being that I was unable to put it down. I enjoyed the way the story was written (going from present time to events that had unfolded previously). The author's style of writing gave the reader a break from the more horrific parts of the story in her choice to alternate between Maya's current situation where she is being interviewed by the FBI, and her story as she tells it to the detectives. You can see her life as it unfolds in the garden - in fact I think this would make a good movie. 

Yes, I will admit that this story was disturbing in that girls were able to be kidnapped, used and murdered and no one found them when these events took place over 30 years (not all those years are covered in this story). I think what I found most disturbing about this story wasn't the kidnapping, imprisonment or rape of these girls. In a twisted sort of way "The Gardner" seemed to love these girls, and could rationalize what he was doing. What I found most disturbing is when people in a position to help - who know what is happening - choose to look the other way and do nothing instead. 

It was obvious that the author put a lot of time and effort into these characters, as I not only felt as though I got to know the different "butterflies", but the other characters as well.  Each one that we are introduced to has a reason for acting the way that they do, and each one brings something unique to the overall story. 

I do think that the ending could have been "more" than what it was. Considering the buildup that this story had - and the incredible way that I was drawn in and made to care about these girls - the way the garden ended and the "surprise" twist thrown in - those things seemed rushed and honestly not fitting for the novel. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a well-written story (even if the subject matter is disturbing). I will definitely read more from this author!  

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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The Butterfly Garden is available from Amazon.com

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bound by Duty (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #2) by Cora Reilly


Print Length: 240 pages
Published: February 10, 2016

From Goodreads.com: Dante – The Boss – Cavallaro’s wife died four years ago. On the verge of becoming the youngest head in the history of the Chicago mafia, Dante needs a new wife and Valentina was chosen for the role. 
Valentina lost her husband, too, but her first marriage had always been for show. When she was eighteen, she agreed to marry Antonio in order to hide the truth: that he was gay and in love with an outsider. Even after his death, she kept his secret, not only to preserve the honor of a dead man, but also to protect herself. But now that she’s about to marry Dante, her castle of lies threatens to crash. Dante is only thirty-six but already feared and respected in the Familia, and he’s notorious for always getting what he wants. Valentina is terrified of the wedding night that might reveal her secret, but her worries prove unfounded when Dante shows her the cold shoulder. Soon her fear is replaced by confusion and indignation. Valentina is tired of being ignored. She’s determined to get Dante’s attention and desire, even if she can’t get his heart that still belongs to his dead wife. 


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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

The first in this series had me intrigued enough that I vowed to continue on with this series. And this book has me unfortunately second guessing that. 

Don't get me wrong - if you are reading this for the "mafia" part, then it is a decent story. There is betrayal, there is blood-shed and death. 

However - if you are reading it for the "romance", then you will be disappointed. Antonio very much loved his first wife, so much so that he treats Val pretty much like a prostitute. He barely speaks to her, and he will only have sex with her if its from behind. As the story progresses, there are moments when you think he begins to love her - but it never fully comes to fruition. Sure, they have sex more often - and she even calls him "affectionate", but it wasn't the evolving love story that I expected. Had the author spent more time building up the romance and less time having them act as strangers (or worse yet having him freak out over his dead wife), this book would have gotten a higher rating from me. As it stands now - I felt like these characters came off as pretty pathetic. Val so desperately wanted love that she was willing to take (and put up with) whatever scraps Antonio wanted to throw her way - and Antonio did not strike feel in me the way a "boss" should have.

Overall, I am sure there are people who will enjoy this book more than I did. And since I already have books three and four, I can only hope they get better. 


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Bound by Duty is available from Amazon.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: A Darker Sky by Mari Jungstedt & Ruben Eliassen


Print Length: 366 pages
Published: June 21, 2016

From Goodreads.com: Murder is killing the mood at a yoga tourist destination.
As dawn breaks on the Canary Islands, a fishing boat discovers a woman lying dead on the rocks nearby, her body arranged like a piece of art. To solve the case, Chief Inspector Diego Quintana gets unexpected help from Swedish journalist Sara Moberg, who runs the Scandinavian newspaper on the island, as well as from handsome former investigator Kristian Wede. But not even that can stop the killer from striking again.
As the death toll rises, the mood darkens, and Sara and Kristian race to find the killer before another tourist falls prey. But who is the culprit—an island local with a grudge against the tourists, a visitor on the run from trouble in her home country, the womanizing local yoga instructor, or the person they least suspect?


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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Before I begin my review let me first say that I am sure this novel will appeal to a variety of readers for reasons exactly opposite of the ones that made me not enjoy it as much as I was expecting to. 

Now - on to why it did not get a higher rating from me.

There was just too much going on in this story. There were a lot of characters, a lot of different points-of-view (seriously the point of view changed a lot when it came to this story - so much so that I often found it hard to follow). Then there was just so much going on that it made it hard to figure out just what was important. A lot of this story felt more like filler instead of plot considering I felt like we never got to know the characters on a deeper level. They all seemed very one dimensional - and I found it hard to stay interested. 

Added to that, I felt like we got to know the killer so early on that it spoiled any chance of a surprise (or a redeeming ending).

All things considered - as I stated above - this novel will appeal to some readers. It just wasn't for me. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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A Taste of Seduction is available from Amazon.com