Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review: The Killing Game by Nancy Bush

Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Zebra (June 28, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: 

The Rules Are Simple:
It's the ultimate test of strategy and skill. The killer chooses each opponent carefully, learning each one's weaknesses. Every meticulously planned move is leading to a devastating checkmate. Because in this game, all the pretty pawns must die. 

First You Play
Andi Wren is fighting to keep her late husband's company safe from vindictive competitors. When she receives an ominous note, Little birds must fly, she turns to P.I. Luke Denton. But though Luke has personal reasons for wanting to take down Wren Development's opponents, his investigation suggests this is deeper and far more dangerous than a business grudge. 

Then You Die. . .
In a basement on the outskirts of town, police detectives unearth piles of skeletons. As they learn the shocking truth about each victim's identity, their case collides with Andi's, revealing a killer's ruthless plot and a chilling, lethal endgame.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

There were some points to this story that I really liked. I enjoyed the ending - the identity of the killer was such a surprise that it was honestly probably the best part of the entire story. It was definitely someone that I did not expect, but once they were outed as such, a lot more of the story made sense. I also enjoyed the uniqueness to the murders - having them all linked by last name was a different way of doing things and that made the story stand out from some of the others I have read. 

However, with the good in the case of this story, there was also the bad. Or rather the things I didn't enjoy. To start, I found it rather unfathomable that one character was able to fool numerous people so thoroughly. It seemed as though with their face on TV that someone somewhere along the line would have recognized them - even if they wore a minimal disguise. Also, I don't understand how these people were so easily able to twart the system getting away with all sorts of crimes and somehow leaving no evidence behind. Its not exactly impossible - but it is rather improbable. 

Finally, the two completely separate story-lines that are featured in this story were often more confusing than helpful. I understand why the author perhaps chose to write the story that way, however even that could have been overlooked if it wasn't for the sudden ending of the second story-line. There was no warning given, it was like crashing into a brick wall - one moment you're wondering what is going to happen and the next there is no more left to read. 

Overall, I am sure there are others that will enjoy this story. It did have its moments, it just wasn't enough 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.

The Killing Game is available from Amazon.com

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review: Miss Watson’s First Scandal by Heather Boyd

Print Length: 99 pages
Publisher: LLD Press (March 11, 2012)

From Goodreads.com: Overworked London banker David Hawke has two goals for his week in the seaside town of Brighton: one, demand repayment of a debt without losing a valued friendship and two, relax for the remaining holiday without further distractions—except he encounters his friend’s newly confident younger sister. Abigail Watson is flirty, bold, and determined David will agree to her bargain and save her brother from debtor’s prison. But is her game to prevent him from calling in the debt, or are her sweet kisses a sign she is after a much greater prize instead?


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

There were a few aspects of this novella that (for me) did not feel the time period. These characters supposedly live in close proximity to each other, and yet no one noticed Abigail coming in, or going out of David's house unchaperoned? Granted, the reader knows that nothing happened between them (most of the time), but I have seen characters in the same time period forced into marriage over less. 

However - even with the fast pace of the story and the suddenness in which these characters find themselves together - I still enjoyed watching them navigate the tricky path to romance. 

I will say that the ending of this particular novella was very underwhelming. I was expecting to see the two main characters either at their wedding, or at some point in the future - so what we got left me wanting. 

Overall, I think this was a nice set up for future novels (and hopefully in those we get to see more of David and Abigial), and I believe that those who enjoy a decently written regency novel (even if it includes some premarital relations)  will also enjoy this one.

Miss Watson’s First Scandal is available from Amazon.com

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Bound by Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1) by Cora Reilly

Print Length: 
Publisher:  (May 31, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: Born into one of the leading Mob families in Chicago, Aria Scuderi struggles to find her own path in a world where no choices are given. Aria was only fifteen when her parents betrothed her to Luca – The Vice – Vitiello, the oldest son of the head of the New York Cosa Nostra to ensure peace between the two families. 

Now at eighteen, the day Aria has been dreading for years is looming dangerously: her wedding to Luca. 

Aria is terrified of marrying a man she hardly knows, especially someone like Luca who got his nickname ‘the Vice’ for crushing a man’s throat with his bare hands. Luca might be one of the most sought after men in New York thanks to his good looks, wealth and predator-like charisma that radiates power, but the society girls throwing themselves at him don’t know what Aria does: that the bad boy aura isn’t just a game; blood and death lurk beneath Luca’s striking gray eyes and arrogant smile.

In her world a handsome exterior often hides the monster within; a monster who can just as easily kill as kiss you.

The only way to escape the marriage to Luca would be to run away and leave everything she’s ever known behind but Aria can’t bear the thought of never seeing her family again.

Despite her fear, she decides to go through with the marriage; Aria has grown up among predators like Luca and knows that even most cold-hearted bastards have a heart and she has every intention of working her way into Luca’s.

My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
When I first found this as a freebie on Amazon, I will fully admit - I choose it because it said "mafia" and I was going through Eagle Elite withdraws (and if you liked this story than I HIGHLY recommend checking out the Eagle Elite series by Rachel van Dyken ALTHOUGH I must warn you that the Eagle Elite series DOES NOT have the explicit sexual content that this novel does).

At first.. I wasn't too sure how I would feel about this story. For example I felt there were some parallels between this story and the aforementioned Eagle Elite series. And Luca seemed like such a raging jerk that I didn't think I would ever find myself liking him. And then the wedding night happened. And I found myself with a new-found respect for him. And then Aria catches him (literally) in bed with someone else - and I found myself hating him. That seemed to be the ongoing theme through out this story. Just when Luca redeemed himself, something happened that made me hate him all over again. 

I did enjoy seeing the more romantic moments between the pairs (although this story does include scenes of a graphic sexual nature), and I also enjoyed seeing how events played out not only between the main characters, but with the feuds between rival mafia families as well. This was just book one in a series, however it was a standalone (meaning a journey of characters with a beginning, a middle and an ending). 

Overall, I was intrigued enough by this story to continue on with the series. However, I will admit that these books are not for everyone. If you are unsure as to whether or not it is for you - then see if you can catch it as I did (a freebie) and give it a chance. If not - read the other reviews and make your own judgement call. 

Bound by Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1) is available from Amazon.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review: The Christmas Knot by Barbara Monajem

Print Length: 110 pages
Published: November 11, 2015

From Goodreads.com: Widowed and destitute, Edwina White takes a position as governess in a remote village in the north of England—in a haunted house. She’s so desperate that she’ll take anything, and besides, she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Little does she know that her new employer is the seducer who lied and deceived her many years ago. 

Sir Richard Ballister inherited an estate with a ghost and a curse, and every governess he hires leaves within a week. Finally, a woman desperate enough to stay arrives on his doorstep—but she’s the seductress who dropped him many years earlier for a richer man. 

The last thing Richard and Edwina want is to work together, but they have no choice. Can they overcome the bitterness of the past in time to unravel a centuries-old knot and end the Christmas curse? 

This novella was originally published in the boxed set, Captivated By His Kiss. 

My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was my first attempt at reading anything by Barbara Monajem, however it will certainly not be my last! I thoroughly enjoyed this story - everything seemed very well thought-out and executed. From the main characters, to the "ghost" herself - this story was told in such a way that it was easy to believe in the curse. I loved seeing how the characters interacted with each other (especially Richard and Edwina who were almost married at one point, but due to a misunderstanding did not - and subsequently held a grudge against the other). 

Throughout this entire novel I was right there with the characters trying to figure out the clues, and where what they sought was hidden. And I - just like the characters - had that moment of "OF COURSE" when at last the truth was revealed. The author had managed to skillfully place the clues right into the story without making them so obvious that the reader got ahead of the characters. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend this novella to anyone who enjoys a good regency romance with a dash of the paranormal thrown in.

The Christmas Knot is available from Amazon.com

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Review: Colony of the Lost by Derik Cavignano

Print Length: 314 pages
Published: January 25, 2015


Nestled in the heart of the Berkshires lies Glenwood, Massachusetts--the perfect picture of suburbia. But when the children of this affluent town begin vanishing one by one, baffling local and federal authorities alike, Glenwood becomes anything but a utopia.

Built upon the ruins of a lost colony, Glenwood is home to a long-forgotten secret, and when three strangers are lured into the midnight woods by the phantom of a Puritan boy, they discover the truth of the town's dark past and must face a vision of its bloody future.

Together, this unlikely trio--Jay, an alcoholic school teacher, Tim, a wise-cracking new kid in town, and Sarah, a nine-year-old with a host of imaginary friends--must somehow find a way to rescue the town from an ancient demon and its legion of human slaves. But in order for them to succeed, Jay must first conquer his own inner demons.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This novel was.... interesting. While its not exactly what I was expecting based on the synopsis, it was still a decent read nonetheless. In fact, I finished it within one day - partly because I wanted to see how closely it continued to remind me of other "old school" horror novels I have read, and partly because I wanted to see how it would end. 

Without a doubt, there are several things in this story that boarder on the unbelievable. And while I won't go into detail on the things that could be considered "spoilers" what I can say is that I find it hard to believe that the main character could be featured on the news well outside of Glenwood as a "person of interest" and still manage to move freely about without attracting attention from anyone. I also find it hard to believe that gunshots were able to go off in such small quarters without anyone being alerted and therefore alerting the authorities. 

I will say I found the "internal battle" between Jay and his alcoholism could possibly have been the most interesting story-line. The author depicted this struggle in such a way that you could find yourself sympathizing with Jay as well as shaking your head as he continued to justify his behavior. 

Overall, I do believe this story will appeal to a variety of readers. I enjoyed it, but its not something I would read over. 

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.

Colony of the Lost is available from Amazon.com

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Empire (Eagle Elite #7) by Rachel Van Dyken

Print Length: 
Publisher:  (May 31, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: I have lost everything. 
My purpose.
My love.
My soul.
Death knocks on my door, I want to answer, but every time I reach for the handle--the promise I made her, brings me back.
So I breathe.
I live.
I hate.
And I allow the anger to boil beneath the surface of a perfectly indifferent facade.
I am broken, I dont want to be fixed.
One last trip to New York, one last chance to redeem a lost part of the mafia family. The Empire is crumbling and it's my job to fix it, my job to mend the pieces that were scattered over thirty years ago.
The only issue is, the only way to fix, is to do something I swore I'd never do again.
An arranged marriage.
Only this time.
I won't fall.
Or so help me God, I'll kill her myself.
My name is Sergio Abandanoto, you think you know my pain, my suffering, my anger, my hate--you have no idea.
I am the mafia.
I am the darkness.
Blood in. No out.


My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

To begin with - I usually tell my readers that all of the Eagle Elite books are stand-alone (meaning there is a beginning, a middle and an end), and while this is still true, I would have to HIGHLY recommend that you read Elude (Eagle Elite #6) prior to reading this one. Its not necessary per-say (in that you can still understand what is going on in this book without reading it), however - there is just so much of a story in Elude that if you don't read it prior you will be missing out on one hell of a story. And one that well help make this one a bit easier to understand (at least in so far as why certain characters act and react the way that they do). 

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, lets more on to the review. 
  As someone who has read this series from the beginning, I felt as though I already knew everything there was to know about Sergio. Hell, I was even witness to what I thought was his redemption (in Elude). However - none of that prepared me for Empire. This was one of those stories that captured your attention from the beginning, and forced you to hold on while you were sent on the grueling (and sometimes heart-breaking) world of the Mafia. 

Sergio is still very much reeling from the loss of his first wife Andi - however he does what is expected of him and marries Val anyway. And while he's not over his wife by any means, this story is more of a study in grief and how does one really let go and live the life they know their spouse would have wanted for them? How does one allow their heart to love again knowing the pain that could come with such a gift? Especially when Val is the exact opposite of Andi in every way? Val grew up knowing nothing of her heritage or the "family business" where Andi knew from the get-go what would be expected of her. 

This story had everything that makes for a best-seller. It has characters who are flawed, it has moments that rip your heart out and leave you teary eyed and asking why. Then it flips the script and gives you something that is so wonderfully witty that you find yourself laughing out loud. There are struggles to overcome (both internal and external), and at the end of it you are left feeling like you were taken on one amazing journey. 

The downside to such an amazing story? The next in the series isn't scheduled for release until the summer of 2017. That in itself is a torture only the Eagle Elite men can bestow. 
As always, I would highly recommend this novel to not only fans of Ms.Van Dyken, but also to those who enjoy a good, complex novel that will grip you tight and take you  on a well-written and engaging ride. Although if you are new to Eagle Elite - you really need to start at the beginning). 

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.

Empire (Eagle Elite #7) is available from Amazon.com

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: Stranger in My House by Mari Manning

Print Length: 
Publisher: Entangled Select Suspense (June 13, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: When Kirby Swallow assumes her half sister’s identity to help figure out who's threatening her, she finds herself in way over her head. On the remote Texas ranch her sister calls home, she confronts a growing list of suspects and a rising body count—all while wearing her sister's 4-inch heels. The only problem is the sexy ranch manager, Seth Maguire, is starting to catch on to the charade. The attraction between them is undeniable—and soon, what starts out as just a one-night stand, turns into something much deeper. But someone on the ranch is out for blood…and Kirby's next.


My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

On the plus side I felt that this was one of those rare stories that manages to perfectly walk the balance between romance and mystery. I was kept guessing who the culprit was, while still attracted to the romance between Kirby and Seth. 

On the flip side of things - there were some reactions of other characters that weren't quite believable. I felt as though once all of the information was given to the reader (information the characters previously held), it didn't make sense for certain characters to behave in the ways that they did. 

Overall however, I was very pleased with this novel. I felt that everything came together to give the reader a well planned story. The ending had a twist that I did not see coming (for a couple of different reasons).

That being said, I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good suspenseful romance.

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.

                          Stranger in My House is available from Amazon.com