Archive (page 1 of 6)

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora RobertsThe Next Always by Nora Roberts
Published by Berkley on November 1, 2011
Genres: Romance
Pages: 353
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
dnf

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next . . .

I would feel bad about this if I wasn’t prepared for this exact outcome. I was initially going to read this trilogy along with a friend who bought all three books. She’s also the friend who always prods me to keep reading the In Death series that Roberts writes under JD Robb as well. I was worried this book would not work for me (it didn’t) but since I do love reading HGTV Magazine and other magazines dealing with decorating I didn’t think it would be too bad. I was wrong.

I had to stop reading at the 20 percent point when I realized that the majority of this book was just a plug for real life businesses that Roberts own. She owns an inn at Boonsboro and it also sounds like the pizza place and bookstore are also owned by her as well. Which just makes the book a weird brochure to stay at this inn and go to this town to eat at this place and also buy books there. I honestly think this could have worked if Roberts had included pictures of the inn and the pizza shop and bookstore in this book. Or did something like have a character designing a website and talking about setting it up for the inn and then readers could click on it and it would take you to the site. I did like the first page which showed a diagram of the town and the locations of the other places (pizza shop and book store) so I think something like that could have made the book more fun. I guess I am just used to looking at graphic novels and comics on my Kindle Fire now that I am in love with anything that has illustrations these days.

The hero and heroine in this one (Beckett Montgomery and Clare Brewster) were dull as dishwasher. I don’t even know why Beckett was attracted to Clare since there didn’t seem to be anything about her that stood out to me. Roberts depicts Clare as a widow with three young boys and honestly the first thing that stood out for me is that she made her a younger version of the character in Black Rose (In the Garden #2) Rosalind Harper. Rosalind was also a widow with three sons. I also saw mixes of Zoe McCourt from Key of Valor (Key Trilogy #3) as well. I maybe rolled my eyes at Clare being widowed after her husband was killed by a sniper in Iraq. I honestly had to stop reading some of Macomber’s books for a while since every heroine was a widow and her husband died while working for special forces in Afghanistan. My friend who got further than I did let me know that some random dude appears and starts to stalk Clare so I guess that was what Roberts threw in between the long descriptions of rooms, decorations, and how people smelled.

Most of the men in these books fit one of three archetypes (nerdy guy who is deep down a very sexual being though you wouldn’t know it, the guy who is uptight who also may be afraid to commit/is ready to commit, and the bad boy). Sometimes the male characters are all three at once, but not usually. I guess that Beckett (the name alone people) is going to fit archetype #1. I honestly thought he was interested in the owner of the pizza shop first since he had more to say to her and noticed her changing the color of her hair. But when Clare was introduced, I had to go back and double-check she wasn’t the pizza shop owner.

There really wasn’t enough that I read for me to comment on other characters. Beckett is one of three boys so his other brothers Owen and Ryder. Based on the names alone, who do you think is what archetype? Owen seemed humorless to me and Ryder was a smartass. That’s all I got.

The writing was just one big love letter to the inn. Once the ghost entered the picture I was out. Once again, I saw shades of In the Garden and felt too annoyed to go on after that piece. The flow was hampered too since we would just randomly have one character talking about furniture or decorations and my eyes would glaze over.

I have to say though, that starting this book and DNFing it made me think about the In the Garden trilogy which honestly was the last trilogy I really enjoyed. I think I am going to go and re-read that soon.

dnf

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCourWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour
on February 14th 2017
Genres: YA, Glbt
Pages: 240
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

"You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother."

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

So I fell in love with the cover of this book and decide that was it I was getting this book. I have to remember that a great cover does not always equal a fantastic book. I think I am getting a little burned out by YA books about grief. This book reminded me of all the worse parts of The Square Root of Summer. I get that people respond differently to grief. But I had a hard time with the main character (Marin) shutting everyone away similar to how her grandfather did when she finds out about things he has kept hidden from her all her life. And honestly the flow of this book was pretty bad. I was bored for about a good 3/4 of it. I just felt like the majority of the book was too angsty for me to really get into. I also had a hard time with Marin being able to just quit her life so to speak. I think if we had more developed secondary characters it would have come together to me. But Mabel felt like an archetype and her parents were too perfect to be real. Heck even Marin’s grandparents friends’ were too perfect in their reactions to Marin just ignoring all of them for months. I wanted someone to yell, scream, to call her selfish, to suggest you get counseling, etc.

“We Are Okay” has Marin at her first semester of college. She is nervous because her best friend (Mabel) who she has not seen since the summer is going to come visit her at her dorms in New York (Marin’s dorms). We don’t know why at first that Marin is staying in New York and not going home, but eventually the story starts to unfold and we find out that her mother died when she was 3 and her grandfather died fairly recently.

I guess my main thought is that I don’t think I could have done what Marin did. I don’t think I could run out on my whole life and abandon friends and especially a best friend and just ignore everyone for months. Heck, I wish we had gotten the perspective of Mabel in this one since I don’t get how she was able to persevere and still make sure that Marin saw her after months of silence. I don’t think I could have been that forgiving. I would want to be, but God knows I am not perfect so I would have held a grudge. That said though, I did end up feeling nothing but pity for Marin from the beginning of this book til the end. It is a long meandering story, but eventually you get to see the real grandfather that she had and you realize that she has been cheated of a life where she could have grown up listening to stories about her mother, looking at pictures of her mother, even getting her mother’s hand me downs. A character tells Marin late in the book that she has been betrayed, and honestly she was. There was a scene earlier in the book that I felt was off based on her grandfather’s reaction (he is angry that a nun dares to talk about grief with him over losing his wife and then his daughter) and of course later I get to the reveals and realize why it read as off to me.

But since most of the book is Marin hiding the truth about her life for most of the book until the very end you may get bored and quit before the revelations are brought forth.

Then I think that LaCour made a mistake with her ending. I think since most of the book was in a deep/dark place, to have it change pretty suddenly the way it did, didn’t feel realistic. For me, I wanted someone somewhere to sit down and have a conversation with Marin about her options and how maybe going out of state and spending a crap ton of money on school was not the smartest thing.

I can see how for Marin it may have been easier for her to just go off and pretend to be some other girl, but honestly it strained credibility with me that she would be able to just go off an hide and no one from the police, insurance company, mortgage company for their home/car, etc. would just quietly went away. I mean a freaking bill collector called me the day of my mother’s funeral and did not give two craps about the fact that I was about to head to the Church. Also, Discover, this is why I loathe you to this day.

Anyway, we hear through the whole book about her roommate Hannah and of course Mabel. And I wish that LaCour had added in more information about Hannah. Cause for me, Hannah was the unsung hero in this book. She realized that something awful had occurred with Marin and drew her back into the world. And I smiled at the scene we get of Marin finally decorating her side of the room and texting a picture of it to Hannah who sends back two high fives with a heart in between the high fives. So when Mabel asks Marin about someone else maybe being there that Marin is interested in, my first thought was honestly of Hannah.

I was already guessing where things were going with Mabel, but reading about Marin angsting about it through the majority of the book just left me bored. I will say though that LaCour does a great job of showing that just because Marin wanted to pretend the world stopped that other people had to go on.

The writing I found to be too descriptive though. There’s a lot of commentary about loneliness, ghosts, Jane Eyre, etc. I know as a reader I am supposed to be thinking about how Marin has lived with her mother’s ghost all her life and how she doesn’t even know much about her due to her grandfather not discussing her with him. But by the end of the book we definitely get clued in how a person’s ghost can leave some people gutted past healing.

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LaCour keys you into timelines though cause at the very bottom of a chapter ending in text she will show you the month you are reading about. If there is nothing there though (date wise) just know yo you are back in the present with Marin (December).

The flow was up and down through the whole book and I found some of the chapters choppy.

The setting of New York felt cold, dark, and lonely. I can’t imagine just sitting in a dorm over the holiday break for about a month. Also, am I just too old now, but I recall when I was in school no one was allowed to be in the dorms during the holiday breaks and over the summer.

The ending I know was supposed to leave me warm and happy, but instead my first thought was that someone needs to hog tie Marin and take her back to California.

three-stars

Divine Evil by Nora Roberts

Divine Evil by Nora RobertsDivine Evil by Nora Roberts
Published by Bantam on 1992
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 568
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

A decade ago, sculptor Clare Kimball fled Emmitsboro, Maryland, to take the art world by storm. Now she’s celebrated as the artist of her generation. But no amount of success can eclipse the nightmares that haunt her—or the memories of her father’s suicide. Just as her star is shining brighter than ever, Clare leaves it all behind to face her demons.

Emmitsboro sheriff Cameron Rafferty loved Clare from afar all through high school. Now that she’s back, they form a bond that grows stronger each day—fueled by an attraction that’s been simmering for years. But Clare’s past soon rises up with a vengeance, rocking the town with a sinister murder that is clearly linked to her return. As an investigation gets under way, Clare and Cameron will learn that evil can linger anywhere—even in those you love and trust the most. But it’s a discovery that may come too late to save them.…

This was so long and tedious. Also there’s barely any romance and what there is you quickly forget about it when it comes to reading about the group sex, rapes, murders, and animals being killed. Heck we even get a scene of a man being beaten to death which actually turned my stomach. I don’t think the main characters or secondary characters were very developed. And there’s a topic of racism introduced and dropped quickly which was odd. The ending was a total nonstarter. I can see if Roberts had wrote a sequel to this, but since she didn’t, this book has an odd and menacing ending.

Clare Kimball is a sculptor living in New York. Even though she is on the cusp of making a name for herself she still feels unsettled by her father’s death years earlier. Coming home she found him dead of what looked to be an apparent suicide. And a dream she had as a child which comes back to her now and again haunts her. When her mother remarries and goes on her honeymoon, Clare decides to return to her former home in Emmitsboro, Maryland. She thinks she can stay there and work on new pieces and maybe come to terms other her father’s death and her anger towards her mother for moving on.

So Clare sucks. She has a best friend named Angie, who runs an art gallery with her husband Jean-Paul. Apparently she has no other friends though her twin brother Blair makes random appearances. She also is divorced though you don’t hear much about her first marriage. You quickly find out that Clare is angry/upset about her mother and her moving on. She feels stuck and thinks returning to a town she hasn’t lived in in about a decade is definitely the answer. When she returns she runs into Cameron (Cam) Rafferty. Can has also returned to the hometown after being a cop in DC. He’s now the new sheriff and is dealing with a lot of bad memoires due to his mother and his stepfather.

Obviously theses two are romantically interested in each other. But Roberts breaks that up with allowing readers POV of a young woman being raped and murdered and then a young teen boy who is apparently into Satanism and is obsessed with Clare.

Clare hides what she starts to discover about her father’s interest in the occult. And Cam gets into it with his stepfather and locks him up. When the man is found naked and beaten to death more things come to light in the supposed sleepy rural town.

I honestly felt like this was two stories meshed into one. Either Roberts should have had Clare investigating once she realized some truths about her father. Or Cam should have been the focus with him trying to reconcile with his mother. Instead neither characters center stage in this book. I felt more for Cam especially when there’s a reveal about how his father died and I hated that I don’t think he was told during the course of the story. I did want him and his mother reconciled but sadly that doesn’t happen.

Either way Clare does her sculptures and then all of a sudden gets emeshed in a case when a young woman she accidentally hits with her car that was running from men in the woods. Though she still wants to hide any thoughts about her father. Her brother and then Angie and Jean-Paul are in Emmitsboro trying to keep and eye on Clare. It honestly doesn’t make any sense why anyone is afraid of Clare’s return. She doesn’t go around asking questions or anything related to her father. Whatever.

Can I say that these Satanists are stupid? Who goes around abducting and murdering people thinking they will get away with it? And these seem like 80s TV movie versions of Satanists. I wish Roberts had introduced more information on how these dumb men were even lured to do things like this. Roberts tries to with the ending, but it was so out of left field I rolled my eyes.

The setting of this small town didn’t feel like Maryland to me. It felt more Midwest to me. With the talk of the smallness of the town and barely any stores or shops and small farms I had a hard time with that.

As I said above, the ending left things open ended and was a weird note to end this book on. I don’t recommend this.

one-star

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silveria

More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveriaMore Happy Than Not Published by Soho Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: YA, Glbt
Pages: 304
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

This was recommended to me since I loved “Everyone We’ve Been.” This book has a similar setup teen gets to a tough moment in life and wants to go an institute and get his memoires suppressed. However, there’s a twist and then even more after that. I felt for the character of Aaron Soto. However, I found the teen to at times be selfish when the truth comes out and he demands that other people who are not ready are weaker than him which made me uncomfortable. Some of the other characters motivations in this book felt off to me and the ending didn’t work.

Aaron Soto is a typical teenager who is in love with his girlfriend. He is nervous about losing his virginity to her and that he will be terrible. He is also still recovering from the fact that his father committed suicide. We don’t get a lot of details until the middle of the book to find out what caused Aaron’s father to commit suicide. Aaron’s mother and brother are distant from him and he only feels connected to his neighborhood friends. When Aaron meets newcomer Thomas, all of a sudden Aaron starts to feel different and finds himself leaning on Thomas when his girlfriend goes away to art camp. When Aaron comes to a realization that he is gay and in love with Thomas he seeks out the Leteo Institute in order to have his memory of bring gay removed.

I give insta-love crap no matter the setup, and the insta-love in this book between Thomas and Aaron didn’t work. I think they hung out for two weeks or so and it seems weird to me that Aaron would all of a sudden go from I am in love with this boy I just met. Speaking of Thomas, he felt like a blank slate. I didn’t get his character period. Aaron constantly asserts that Thomas had to be scared of coming out and implies that Thomas is in love with him. Everytime we “see” Thomas he looks bad and like he’s slowly being drained of life. Due to an attack that happens to Aaron, I got the worry, but everything after that felt like an over reaction. Maybe Silvia was just showing us that Aaron’s perspective was skewed, when it came to Thomas, I don’t know.

I really can’t say much about anyone else in this book without spoilers, so I’ll skip over them. I will say that Aaron’s father’s suicide doesn’t make sense to me when we find out why he did it. I guess I just don’t see it as something believable. I don’t know. Also there were so many vague details concerning Aaron’s father I was once again wondering what was going on until pretty much the end.

The writing was okay and I think since I read “Everyone We’ve Been” the twist was expected. Everything after the twists though felt rushed. The flow was up and down and too and I still scratched my head a bit about some of the narrative choices Silvia takes.

The setting of the Bronx in this type of futuristic setting seems poorer and more brutal than what I think it is like in real life. What I thought was odd was this world feels pretty mundane even with the idea of the institute.

The ending was sad and I think a bit of a cheat.

three-stars

Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher #2) by Kerry Greenwood

Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher #2) by Kerry GreenwoodFlying Too High by Kerry Greenwood
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on 1990
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 167
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

Phryne Fisher has her hands full in this, her second adventure. And just when we think she’s merely a brilliant, daring, sexy woman, Phyrne demonstrates other skills, including flying an airplane and doing her own stunts! Phryne takes on a fresh case at the pleading of a hysterical woman who fears her hot-headed son is about to murder his equally hot-headed father. Phryne, bold as we love her to be, first upstages the son in his own airplane at his Sky-High Flying School, then promptly confronts him about his mother’s alarm. To her dismay, however, the father is soon killed and the son taken off to jail. Then a young girl is kidnapped, and Phryne—who will never leave anyone in danger, let alone a child—goes off to the rescue. Engaging the help of Bert and Cec, the always cooperative Detective-Inspector Robinson, and her old flying chum Bunji Ross, Phryne comes up with a scheme too clever to be anyone else’s, and in her typical fashion saves the day, with plenty of good food and hot tea all around. Meanwhile, Phryne moves into her new home at 221B, The Esplanade, firmly establishes Dot as her “Watson,” and adds two more of our favorite characters, Mr. and Mrs. Butler, to the cast.

I think this book is firmly a three star read. We get introduced to Mr. Butler, though in the book series he has a wife. We have Phryne once again being led by her libido. At least she has good deductive reasoning though. Though I will say that whole last act was unnecessary with Phryne and I found myself bored senseless reading about her clothes and how much food she had eaten. She also makes an agreement with one of the culprits in this book that I found to be gross and offf-putting. I am still going to read the next book in the series though.

“Flying Too High” is the second book in the Phryne Fisher series. I fell in love with the tv show and then decided to start reading the books afterwards.

Image result for miss fisher gifs

 

Image result for miss fisher gifs

In the second book we have Phryne investigating two cases. One involving a kidnapped child and another a murder of a man who was detestable in every single way.

The two cases do not relate to one another at all so you are going to have to follow two plot lines.

I can honestly say I don’t care that much for book Phryne at all. She is smart, but I find her ability to sleep with anyone and not care if they are in a relationship or not, not something to be admired.

Book Dot is a bit judgmental of Phryne, but loyal. I did like the parts of the book showing how Dot was so happy to have a room of her own with a door she can lock.

We get reappearances of Detective-Inspector Jack Robinson who has learned to not underestimate Miss Fisher. And we also get Bert and Cec.

The kidnapping case was okay, but I still feel dirty about the deal that Miss Fisher makes with one of the kidnappers. And we find out that Miss Fisher’s grand scheme was unnecessary in the end so I was annoyed about reading it. It didn’t make much sense honestly.

The murder case was a bit too much to swallow for me. I did like the characters in that one, it be nice to see what happens to Amelia and her brother Bill.

The writing was okay, but at times I found myself bored with the endless description of Miss Fisher’s clothes, shoes, and hats. Also I don’t really care what she eats for dinner or tea. There were long soliloquies about tea and I found myself yawning.

The setting of Australia does make this series appealing to me and I do like trying to get a sense of the country from this time period (pre-WWII).

The ending was a little odd though both cases are wrapped up rather neatly.

three-stars

Roadside Crossed (Kathryn Dance #2) by Jeffrey Deaver

Roadside Crossed (Kathryn Dance #2) by Jeffrey DeaverRoadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver
Published by Simon & Schuster on June 9th 2009
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 397
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

The Monterey Peninsula is rocked when a killer begins to leave roadside crosses beside local highways -- not in memoriam, but as announcements of his intention to kill. And to kill in particularly horrific and efficient ways: using the personal details about the victims that they've carelessly posted in blogs and on social networking websites.

The case lands on the desk of Kathryn Dance, the California Bureau of Investigation's foremost kinesics -- body language-expert. She and Deputy Michael O'Neil follow the leads to Travis Brigham, a troubled teenager whose role in a fatal car accident has inspired vicious attacks against him on a popular blog, The Chilton Report.

As the investigation progresses, Travis vanishes. Using techniques he learned as a brilliant participant in MMORPGs, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, he easily eludes his pursuers and continues to track his victims, some of whom Kathryn is able to save, some not. Among the obstacles Kathryn must hurdle are politicians from Sacramento, paranoid parents and the blogger himself, James Chilton, whose belief in the importance of blogging and the new media threatens to derail the case and potentially Dance's career. It is this threat that causes Dance to take desperate and risky measures...

The only reason why I gave this book two stars is honestly because I was kind of fascinated by how Deaver looks at internet blogs, comments on those blogs, and how you can start to see how something that he looked back at when this book was published has morphed into what it is today with a lot of people on the internet claiming to be experts on something or how easy it is to spread a rumor about somebody with no factual basis and how it could be picked up and be counted as real news. Other than that the book lost me on multiple levels.

In book two “Roadside Crosses” we have Kathryn Dance still dealing with the fallout from the events of book number one. It appears that this book takes place a couple weeks after those events. Dance and her colleague and friend, Mike O’Neill or off to give a deposition about what transpired in book number one.  He and Dance are determined to make an agent who they believed murdered people pay. They are called back from an oddly arranged romantic interlude and are brought in on an abduction of a young girl who was placed in a trunk of a car. Dance and O’Neil find themselves trying to use a local blogger for clues to what could be behind this abduction and what appears to be planned murders of people.

Dance and her skills definitely take a backseat in this one. I think that there were only two times that she got to use her skills as a body language expert and the rest of the time was just her flailing around and listening to men give her lectures on what the internet is and gaming. I found myself really bored by her character and she doesn’t seem like the strong smart woman that she was in “Cold Moon.” And I don’t know what Deaver’s deal is with having every man that comes across Dance be a potential love interest, but I really hope that stops in the next book. I thought it was a little bit weird and odd that she seems to be developing friends feelings for her married colleague but also was attracted to a professor that they just met who was called in to help out on this case. And I maybe I wouldn’t say anything except the last guy that she liked turned out to be a murderer so maybe her sense of who’s a good person to date is just flawed.

A really big problem with what I think pushed me away from Dance this time though was the fact she’s in her late thirties and has two kids, one of who is 12 and she seemed completely baffled by the internet. She did not seem to understand how to use it, what blogs were, etc. I mean I don’t work with computers for a living but even I know about all that stuff so I thought that was very far-fetched. Especially since Dance has her own website. We find out in this book and I think that’s it in the last one as well that Dance and a friend of hers go about recording what’s considered folk music songs and record it and sell it on her website. So if she does that she has to be able to use a computer.

I can’t really speak about any other characters. Everyone else was very paper-thin and we didn’t really get a chance to get into other characters mindset.

Dance’s partner O’Neill was missing in action for half of the book but every time he and Dance are in the same room together it was awkward.

There was also something involving Dance’s mother that I had a hard time with and I don’t know why it was even introduced in this book. I think Deaver was going for some intrigue but it totally totally lost me. If you read the first book you know that a colleague of Dance’s died after being injured on the first case. We find out in this book that somebody did a mercy killing because he would not have lived long. Dance’s mother is accused of this. There doesn’t seem to be any real evidence why she would have did this and I thought it was a big stretch. But I think that that really got me there was that  Dance is completely oblivious to the problems and trouble her mother is in and even has a dinner party to have people come over and insist that her mother and father come over after she’s (the mom) been arrested for murder.  I kind of scratched my head at that one.

I also rolled my eyes at Dance and her mother questioning O’Neill’s wife parenting cause she dared to travel.

Say something nice. It was interesting how Deaver tied the book into the internet with actual links that a reservation could go to and read. I think he wanted to make it as immersive as possible. Unfortunately I don’t think he thought about what happened a if you’re not reading on an e-reader or computer though. I assume hardback or paperback readers just were out of luck.

I do think that Deaver’s description of gamers was off the mark though.

The flow was pretty awful in this one. Every chapter seemed to hang on a mini cliffhanger and we get some twists thrown our way that don’t work. Ot of nowhere we have the solution to who is behind these abductions, but wait, here’s a twist. And the twist didn’t even make any sense. Same goes for Dance’s mother’s arrest.

The book ends on an odd note with it looking like Dance may be torn between two men.

two-stars

The Sleeping Doll (Kathryn Dance #1) by Jeffrey Deaver

The Sleeping Doll (Kathryn Dance #1) by Jeffrey DeaverThe Sleeping Doll by Jeffrey Deaver
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on July 26th 2007
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 448
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

When Special Agent Kathryn Dance -- a brilliant interrogator and kinesics expert with the California Bureau of Investigation -- is sent to question the convicted killer Daniel "Son of Manson" Pell as a suspect in a newly unearthed crime, she feels both trepidation and electrifying intrigue. Pell is serving a life sentence for the brutal murders of the wealthy Croyton family in Carmel years earlier -- a crime mirroring those perpetrated by Charles Manson in the 1960s. But Pell and his cult members were sloppy: Not only were they apprehended, they even left behind a survivor -- the youngest of the Croyton daughters, who, because she was in bed hidden by her toys that terrible night, was dubbed the Sleeping Doll.

But the girl never spoke about that night, nor did the crime's mastermind. Indeed, Pell has long been both reticent and unrepentant about the crime. And so with the murderer transported from the Capitola superprison to an interrogation room in the Monterey County Courthouse, Dance sees an opportunity to pry a confession from him for the recent murder -- and to learn more about the depraved mind of this career criminal who considers himself a master of control, a dark Svengali, forcing people to do what they otherwise would never conceive of doing. In an electrifying psychological jousting match, Dance calls up all her skills as an interrogator and kinesics -- body language -- expert to get to the truth behind Daniel Pell.

But when Dance's plan goes terribly wrong and Pell escapes, leaving behind a trail of dead and injured, she finds herself in charge of her first-ever manhunt. But far from simply fleeing, Pell turns on his pursuers --and other innocents -- for reasons Dance and her colleagues can't discern. As the idyllic Monterey Peninsula is paralyzed by the elusive killer, Dance turns to the past to find the truth about what Daniel Pell is really up to. She tracks down the now teenage Sleeping Doll to learn what really happened that night, and she arranges a reunion of three women who were in his cult at the time of the killings. The lies of the past and the evasions of the present boil up under the relentless probing of Kathryn Dance, but will the truth about Daniel Pell emerge in time to stop him from killing again?

I was really intrigued by the character of Kathryn Dance in “Cold Moon.” Having a character that uses kinesics in order to get witnesses and suspects to open up and or confess.

In “The Sleeping Doll” we get more information on the character of Kathryn Dance. She works at the California Bureau of Investigation (think of a state office set up like the FBI) and is about to interrogate a man who murdered a family decades earlier (Daniel Pell). Pell is seen as similar to Charles Manson due to having his own family (teenage girls) who he commanded to steal from stores and homes in order to support the family. When new information comes up linking Pell to a murder Dance is set in to break him and get him to confess. Too late Dance realizes that Pell is up to something and then he escapes. This books follows Dance’s efforts to track down and stop Pell as well as following Pell as he continues to wreck havoc.

There are multiple POVs in this book per usual for a Deaver book. We get Dance, Pell, and some of the teens (now older women) who came under Pell’s spell decades earlier. We also get a POV from a writer who is going to write about the family that was murdered and the lone survivor of that murder (the so called Sleeping Doll). Deaver manages to do a good job shifting from each POV. I was honestly surprised since I thought it be too much.

I can say I wanted more of Dance though. Deaver was slow to reveal details about Dance, but at least I had questions answered about her from “Cold Moon.” Due to Dance being a widow she has a lot of trouble trying to establish a new relationship without dealing with her kids disapproval. And because of Dance’s special abilities she does a lot of analysis of her friends and family. It’s kind of like being around a human version of a Vulcan.

Deaver gets a bit too in depth at times when explaining Dance’s methods when interrogating cooperative and uncooperative witnesses. We also get to see how Pell manipulates people around him. And we definitely focus more on people’s motivations, thought processes, and even body movements. I found this whole thing pretty fascinating.

The flow worked nicely in this one and of course we get typical Deaver twists, though they work in this one. Unlike with the Rhyme books I didn’t feel like these were meant to shock. If you’re paying attention you realize that Deaver was giving clues all along the way.

The setting of this one takes place in California. What I wish we had gotten more details about is the areas near Dance. Deaver provides details on Dance’s home and her deck (which features prominently in this book) but I would have liked the same attention of detail regarding the history of the state and town they are in like he does in the Rhyme books.

The ending left me with some questions regarding Dance, her romantic relationships, and her family. I can’t wait for the next one.

five-stars

Echoes in Death (In Death #44) by JD Robb

Echoes in Death (In Death #44) by JD RobbEchoes in Death by JD Robb
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 7, 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”...

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

Well I don’t know what to really say except that I found this whole book except for a couple places to be extremely disappointing. I really do think that it would be better if this series either ends soon or does a jump forward in time or we follow another person to take up the “In Death” mantle like Nikki Swisher from the “Survivor in Death” book which was# 24.

That gets me on another topic can you believe it’s been a year since the timeline from that book to this book which is #44 in the “In Death series”. I sometimes just want to grab my hair and despair because besides the continuity issues long time readers have noted, it’s unreal to have Eve investigating this many serial murders and rapists in a year.

I don’t know what else can be done at this point to make the series at least for me more gripping. I still read these (I try to always borrow from the library now these are no longer auto buys for me) and I know that you’re probably all wondering why do I still read these books and my answer is because I have such affection and love of the first couple of books (I was really happy with the series until around Thankless in Death) and I keep hoping for a return to what made these books an always buy for me.

One of my really good friends loves to read the series still and she’s another reason that I still keep reading cause she loves having somebody to discuss it with. However, even she’s now starting to see problems with things based on the last few books and she really disliked this book as well.

“Echoes in Death” deals with a serial rapist one of many that appears to live in New York City. Eve and Roarke are back from a couple days away to one of the private islands that Roarke owns and she’s feeling rejuvenated after the last couple of cases that occurred over Christmas and New Years (see other reviews). As they’re driving home a naked woman who is bloody and beaten wanders into their path and just like that Eve now has another case to investigate.

I really wish that this book had just stayed away from Eve and the need to check up on her every 5 seconds looking at you Dr. Mira and Rourke. At this point I don’t know why anybody let’s Eve out of the house since she only seems to drink a lot of coffee, get headaches, feel stressed and forgets to eat or is too sick to eat unless Roarke is there to force food on her. At this point I loathe reading any cases dealing with rape because it’s a paint by numbers for Robb at this point. The only time that I saw the older version of Eve I would have to say is when she’s interviewing. Robb can still when she wants to develop characters we are never going to see again but I found myself more interested in the victims in this one than any of our main and recurring characters.

Roarke barely has anything to do in this one, not that I mind because it still irks me to this day that he’s even involved with many of these cases. I don’t really get the whole he’s an expert consultant thing. I’m still wondering why no defendant has ever in trial accused her husband of planting evidence due to his money and wealth. That would be if an interesting “In Death” book if Roarke’s ties end up compromising a case. That be an interesting dynamic to bring to the relationship. But we don’t get that here. We have Roarke helping run lists, pick out Eve’s clothes, feed her, and they have I recall three romantic scenes. Other than that, not much here.

Peabody irked the life out of me in this book. I found the whole trajectory of her character in the last couple of books to become seriously ridiculous and more unprofessional by the day. Due to Eve being really dressed up for a night out with Rourke where they decide to go to the victim’s home instead of Eve calling it in and going home to change, she instead has Peabody bring her a change of clothes. Peabody then keep talking forever about sexy and hot Eve looks dressed up and loses it over her shoes. Don’t even get me started on her talking about trying to protect Eve’s shoes with maybe stealing a shoe bag from the victim’s home. And by the way Peabody’s talking about this while a dead body is sitting right next to them and has the nerve to say well it’s not like he’s going to care. And at this point she realizes that the victim’s wife, the same one who Eve and Roarke almost ran into earlier is beaten and raped in the hospital. I’m starting to think Peabody is a sociopath or just clueless, I’ll go with either one of those guesses. And then it even hurts me more when they go to interview people later on and Peabody sits down and gets her face made up. I just I don’t even know why Eve puts up with her at this point because I don’t see Peabody bring anything to their partnership. She goes between acting like an even more useless Watson, to just being a comic foil at times and she’s not even funny. She’s merely there to heap praise upon Eve and soak up the fact that Eve gets special treatment every place that they go because she’s Roarke’s wife. Old Eve would have slapped the taste out of Peabody’s mouth for even going around being happy about them having VIP access. This Eve ignores it.

I’m also very disappointed with the fact that unless Dr. Mira is taking front and center in the story she’s pretty much become useless. She is now Eve’s Greek chorus merely telling Eve things that she already figured out for herself. At this point I don’t even know why she goes and talks to Dr. Mira except for Dr Mira to sit there and cluck and coo over Eve and wonder how the case is affecting her emotions.

Everybody else puts in a minor cameo appearance (McNabb, Feeney, True heart, and Baxter) we either hear about them (such as Mavis and Nadine) or they’re not mentioned at all (Louise and Charles). And some other readers even pointed out the fact that Robb made a huge boo boo in this one and she does and I won’t spoil it too much for you but when you read about the serial killer and how he was able to pick his victims there’s no way that Louise and Charles would not have been on this great list that Eva’s talking about. Eve once again is frantic and scared that something could happen to Dr. Mira or Mavis and I rolled my eyes.

The writing in this one was very repetitive. I think that you can just take pieces or prior books and you’re going to get the same interaction and dialogue among Eve and other characters that we’re used to. You know you’re going to get Eve saying something that’s a cliché or phrase wrong and somebody’s going to correct her. You know that Galahad’s going to come and probably pass out or rub up against her as she falls asleep bonelessly into bed. You know that she’s going to say something like got it in one to someone or someone will say it to her. You know Eve is going to talk about baseball and give some amazing stat to Roarke. You know that Eve and Roarke will have a fight (they almost had a fight in this one thank God we were spared having to read about it). You know Roarke is going to talk about the button that he got off of Eve’s jacket. You know that Peabody is going to go on and on about how heavy and fat she is. One new thing and I hope to God we don’t read about it anymore is that Eve and Roarke’s bedroom has been redecorated as well as Eve’s office. So I hope you have fun reading about that because I was seriously annoyed. You know that somehow Eve going to compare herself to a really hot woman and talk about how Roarke made a bad choice. At this point it’s like you know what’s going to happen so it’s just better to borrow these books from the library if you really feel the need to continue just to see if anything interesting happens.

The flow was really bad on this one and I do think it’s because honestly I even clued in to the fact that there seem to be two cases happening here at once. With the initial statement from the victim and the crime there are a lot of holes there. And I have to also say I totally clued to who the killer was because you literally only meet one person this whole book that could actually fit who did this and it doesn’t even make sense because the guy seems to be pretty well-known and or has a recognizable face and when you find out about his attempts to harass the women that he’s potentially going to rape later I don’t understand how nobody recognized him. Don’t even get me started on this whole back story dealing with why this guy became a serial rapist and murderer there were too many flags for me and I just found myself getting more and more annoyed. To see how he is in public and in all of a sudden he’s in an interrogation room and turns into a woman hating man and women are just whores just totally threw me for a loop. I think at this point Rob just wanted to end the book and get to the next scene where she I think thought she was going for a little twist, but once again like I said I saw that one coming and I called crap on it because I don’t think Eve has the authority to do what she did it all.

The setting in this one of course is in New York City but it’s in New York City during a blizzard. Robb has a really good opportunity to showcase how technology fits into this new world and they even have you talking about having hologram interviews and then of course that gets thrown out the window with Eve deciding to go into work and driving an all-terrain vehicle. I felt really disappointed with that and other dropped threads in this book, like with Eve not talking to one of the victim’s first wife, with Eve not talking to the victim’s parents, with Eve not even checking in to make sure that after she asked Roarke to look into the Mira’s at home security to see if and what he would recommend that they have upgraded to fix. Also can I say that I got really bored with the fact that we were just reading for pages and pages about how Roarke, Peabody, and Eve just going through list of potential victims and how apparently this was so draining to have to do this and move them to potential victims. I still don’t understand what they were doing and I was at a loss. It feels like it’s just filler at this point.

And of course “Echoes in Death” is pretty much linking Eve’s rape by her father as a child and her subsequent killing of him to these cases was a huge reach. This case is not at all what happened to Eve and I just hate as I said earlier anything that deals with rape it ends up being traumatic for Eve and she thinks about everything that happened to her. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t think about it or not have any emotions about it or still need to talk about it but either she needs to get into one-on-one therapy with Dr. Mira and not investigate anymore.

one-star

The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt

The Shivering Sands by Victoria HoltThe Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt
Published by Fontana on 1969
Genres: Gothic romance
Pages: 320
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

The new novel by the modern mistress of romantic suspense is set on the coast of Kent, at a great estate overlooking the infamous "shivering sands" - quicksands that have swallowed entire ships unfortunate enough to sail into them. Caroline Verlaine, a young widow, comes to work at the estate hoping to discover the cause of the mysterious disappearance of her sister, who had been studying the nearby Roman ruins. Caroline found her employers a strange family, haunted by tragedies of the past, scarred by distrust. Yet she found herself irresistibly attracted to them - especially to the family's dark, moody young scion. But not until she had retraced her sister's fatal last steps could she answer the crucial questions about the family's past - and her own future.

I get that Holt is writing Gothic romances, but she always seems to take the worst parts of Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) and Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and uses that to make the male heroes in these stories. I think Heathcliff was terrible by the way for anyone that is ready to jump at me in the comments. I think due to the last book and this one I am going to pass on Holt for a second even though most of her books are available to borrow at my library right now.

Besides the above mentioned issues I had with the hero, “Shivering Sands” has one of the most nonsensical plots I have read this year. And don’t forget, I read “Holly” by Jude Deveraux so that’s saying something.

We follow the character of Caroline Verlaine as she goes about investigating (poorly) at Lovat Stacy to find out more about her older sister’s Roma’s disappearance. Though for most of the book she just blunders along and runs around defending Napier Stacy (sorry getting ahead of myself here.

The book starts off a bit off (at least to me) when we find out that Caroline is a widow. Caroline we find is a bit of an odd duck. She comes from a family of archaeologists, but she has a natural aptitude for the piano. Her family is not very rich, but they manage to send her off to Paris to get lessons. There she falls in love with a self absorbed man who she says repeatedly was a genius (Pietro). Due to Pietro being a genius she is told by a teacher and even by her husband in his actions and words that she is there to merely prop him up and tell him how great he is. He does not want her playing the piano since that would in some way take away from his awesomeness. I was really happy when Pietro died.

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Recovering from Pietro’s death then has Caroline going off to see her sister who is near Lovat Stacy looking into some Roman ruins that are nearby. The action does not get going until after we have Caroline finding out about her sister’s disappearance. She then through a ridiculous circumstance is given the opportunity to teach the piano at Lovat Stacy for three young women who live there and the nearby vicarage.

Caroline feels something is off at Lovat Stacy after finding about the the estranged son of the Stacy household (Napier) is finally back, ready to marry a ward of the Stacy household, Edith. Even though Caroline is told countless stories about Napier and how he caused his older brother’s Beau’s death, she feels angry anytime tells her about what a bad guy he is. There interactions are also short and often leave her angry. He has a way about him that is reminiscent of her dead husband’s. I honestly didn’t get the romance here at all. We eventually get an explanation regarding Napier that I had a hard time believing, it didn’t even make sense.

We get additional characters in this one that may be hard to follow. Besides Caroline and Edith, we also get Sylvia, Allegra, and Alice. After a while my brain just started getting overloaded to switching between them and the other characters (like the Stacy housekeeper) and I think Mr. Stacy’s sister who was off as well.

The writing was okay, it definitely made me think of books like Jane Eyre. I just wish I cared more about anything that was happening.

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The flow was not good in this one though. If you are waiting for anything to happen, just skip to the end (honestly I did to see who was behind things and then went back to reading again) and read the ridiculous explanations that follow.

The setting of Stacy Lovat could have been something with the so-called “Shivering Sands” but I felt blah towards it. I just got down reading “Murder is Easy” and the village of Wychwood under Ashe felt more mysterious and dark.

As I said above, I booed the ending since for me I wish that Holt had her heroine realize that running off with a facsimile of her dead husband maybe wasn’t a hot idea.

two-stars

Crooked House by Agatha Christie

Crooked House by Agatha ChristieCrooked House by Agatha Christie
Published by Minotaur Books on March 1949
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 259
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

The Leonides are one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That is until the head of the household, Aristide, is murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection.

Suspicion naturally falls on the old man’s young widow, fifty years his junior. But the murderer has reckoned without the tenacity of Charles Hayward, fiancé of the late millionaire’s granddaughter

Honestly I don’t have that much to say here besides the fact that I really really love this book.

This was one of Agatha Christie’s favorite books and I can see why.

There are a lot of twists and turns and I thought I figured out the perpetrator, but per usual, I was wrong.

“Crooked House” follows the character of Charles Hayward, as he goes about investigating who could have murdered his potential fiance’s (Sophia) grandfather, Mr. Aristide Leonides.

Christie sets up the book so readers get to read about Charles and Sophia and their time together before the war (WWII) before the book transitions over to post war England with both of them back dealing with the aftermath of Sophia’s grandfather’s death.

Due to Charles’s father having a high position at Scotland Yard he is called upon to go down and determine if he can figure out just by watching and listening who killed Sophia’s grandfather. Sophia smartly realizes they cannot have a future until it is determined who murdered Mr. Leonides.

We do get some interesting characters in this book such as Sophia’s younger sister Josephine, and her younger brother as well. Also Sophia’s father is kind of a cold fish and her mother is an actress which apparently means drama drama drama. There’s also an interesting uncle and aunt as well as the great aunt of Sophia’s grandmother that still lives with the family. I like that Christie does a very good job in just a few short scenes of showing who all these characters are and what ultimately moves them by the end of the book.

Christie’s quite smartly lays out a couple of clues that if you’re paying attention you could figure out who the murderer is, but honestly I didn’t notice any of this till the very end. One thing that I did like though is that you get to see Charles hypocrisy in a couple scenes with him feeling bad for Sophie’s step-grandmother and just kind of ignoring the signs of what type of woman that she really is.

The writing is top-notch Christie. I know this is no “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” but I can definitely see myself re-reading this again and again in the future.

five-stars
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