2018 Book #40 – A Harmless Little (series) by Meli Raine

Title: A Harmless Little Game / Ruse / Plan
Author: Meli Raine
Date finished: 5/14/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller, romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: October 18, November 18, and December 13, 2016
Pages in book: 227 / 179  197
Stand alone or series: A Harmless Little series (3 books)
Where I got the book from: The first book was advertised on Facebook and was free, the next two I purchased from Amazon

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: We went away for the weekend last weekend with my family and Sunday morning I was tooling around on Facebook and just scrolling through whatever when I saw the first book in the series advertised. I was in the middle of another book already, and to be perfectly honest I never start a new book when I’m the middle of one already but I decided to just read like the first chapter of this to see if it was something that’d interest me and I was HOOKED. I read all three books within like 36 hours, I couldn’t put them down. The emotions and anger and passions in these novels were just so raw and intense it was hard to get my head out of the story even when I wasn’t reading them. The books all had pretty good plot lines too, there were twists and turns around every corner. And there was like some crazy conspiracies going on. I would be interested to read more by this author in the future when I have free time (HA). My only issue with the books were how mushy and flowery the characters got with their lovey dovey crap. It got to be way too much, especially considering the other stuff that was going on in the novels were pretty dark. There was some gruesome stuff going on, I would definitely say these books are not for the faint of heart. I’d recommend checking them out though, I really liked the story lines.

Link to author website

 

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2018 Book #39 – The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

51ehe9xFg0LTitle: The Favorite Sister
Author: Jessica Knoll
Date finished: 5/19/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read another of Knoll’s novels a couple of years ago, Luckiest Girl Alive, and I liked it ok. Do when I saw this new release coming out I wanted to check it out. This wasn’t my favorite book. The plot line was pretty interesting and there were a lot of great plot twists, especially towards the end of the novel, but the pace of the novel was frustratingly slow for me and I felt like there was a lot of really dry sections. I also found it kind of frustrating that there was so much vague referencing in the beginning of the book. I know that was kind of the point, to give the reader a tease about the consequence of the action and then later reveal what the action was. But I was frustrated and somewhat confused in the beginning by the flow of events and trying to keep up with who went where when and who wasn’t talking to whom when. The reality show this centers around too just ended up being about catty, bitchy women who for the most part couldn’t stand each other. I definitely wouldn’t call it a feel good novel. It was an interesting plot though, everyone on the show has their secrets but the real question is – whose secrets will be revealed in the end? Read to find out!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #38 – The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

51rU25aJ4XLTitle: The Other Lady Vanishes
Author: Amanda Quick
Date finished: 5/7/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Seems like its connected to another of her recent books, The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Knew Too Much sweeps readers back to 1930s California–where the most dazzling of illusions can’t hide the darkest secrets…

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they’ll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they’ll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be–and uncover the specter of a killer who’s been real all along…

My rating:  2.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have always been a big fan of this author under all her pseudonyms, and I’ve read a lot of her books. I haven’t read in a couple years, so I was excited to read this one when I was approved for it. There were some things that I did enjoy about the book but unfortunately there was also a lot that I didn’t care for. The conversations between characters felt stilted and awkward, and there was a distinct lack of tension between the characters. I didn’t feel much emotion between the characters. And the plot was pretty convoluted and drawn out, every time I thought the ending was wrapped up there was another plot twist. And everyone kept dying. I thought the plot line had a lot of potential and the scenery and location that was built up was perfect. Overall this wasn’t my favorite of her books but there was a lot of potential to it so I’d still say give it a try!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #37 – A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

51zwYAwGydLTitle: A Duke Like No Other
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 5/3/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #9 in the Playful Brides series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the otherway around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book!

I’ve read a few of the previous books in this series and enjoyed them, as I enjoyed this one. My main issue with this book is an issue that I end up having with a good amount of romance novels, lack of communication. It frustrates me to no end when the hero and heroine in a novel waste (usually) years of their lives without their loved ones because of stubbornness and lack of proper communication. I realize it can be scary to make yourself vulnerable, but that whole “no risk, no reward” cliche definitely applies to love. It makes me want to jump into the book and scream at both of them to stop being so stubborn and melodramatic. Other than that piece of frustration I liked this book a good amount. Nicole was funny and very fierce, which is one of the reasons I was so surprised by her lack of courage with expressing her feelings to Mark. Mark was alright I guess, not necessarily my ideal hero but that’s ok. Overall good read though and a good addition to the story – I hope we get to read about Regina and Oakleaf in a future novel!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #36 – Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne Enoch

51JiE9P+iLL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 4/30/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Pages in book: 343
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Scandalous Highlanders series
Where I got the book from: Book Outlet

Blurb from the cover:

She used to be mad about him.

In Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Enoch, high-spirited Rowena MacLawry has come to the Highlands after a spectacularly successful debut Season in London, and has made it painfully clear that she’s outgrown her girlhood obsession with Lachlan MacTier. That’s just fine with him, as he never had any intention of marrying the lass anyway! Yet how can he ignore the fact that the once rough and tumble Winnie has become a very fashionable-and incredibly desirable-young woman…
And now he’s got it bad
Brawny, rugged Lachlan is nothing like the aristocratic English gentlemen who pursued Winnie-with a passion-in London. Three months away was more than enough to show her a world infinitely more glamorous than the untamed Scottish Highlands-and her beloved childhood crush. But now that she’s decided to find a prospective husband with a bit more polish, could Lachlan finally appreciate her charms? And is it remotely possible to ignore the wild attraction she feels for him?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I had read the fourth book in this series, Some Like It Scot, a few years ago and I enjoyed it, so when I saw this book discounted and for sale on Book Outlet I grabbed it. Luckily this past weekend I forgot my kindle at my Mom’s house so I got to read a couple books from my stash. The plot for this book was ok, look back at my review for the other book in the series I think it was probably pretty similar to this one. Ran (oldest brother) is kind of a jerk and all the people can’t communicate with each other well and it causes all kinds of misunderstanding. That was ok though, it all turned out alright in the end! The main characters for this book, Rowena and Lachlan, were sweet and very much in love, although they were kind of immature to start. Also the beginning of Rowena’s story really starts when she flees to London, but due to the fact that those pieces also are involved in the first two books in the series, we don’t hear much about what happens during the three months between her leaving the Highlands and then subsequently returning. As this information is referenced a good amount in the story line, it was a little confusing at first and I was kind of lost as to what had already happened and who it had happened to. Other than that though this was a sweet story and a pretty good book and I would be interested to read more in the series.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #35 – The Last Move by Mary Burton

51YpIzdnQeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Last Move
Author: Mary Burton
Date finished: 4/29/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Pages in book: 326
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: My friend Alex

Blurb from the cover:

In this gripping stand-alone from bestselling author Mary Burton, an FBI agent must catch a copycat killer. The only difference this time: she’s the final victim.

Catching monsters helps FBI agent Kate Hayden keep her nightmares at bay. Now an urgent call brings her back to San Antonio, the scene of her violent past. A brutal new murder shows hallmarks of a serial killer nicknamed the Samaritan. Tricky part is, Kate already caught him.

Either Kate made a deadly error, or she’s got a copycat on her hands. Paired with homicide detective Theo Mazur, she quickly realizes this murder is more twisted than it first appeared. Then a second body is found, the mode of death identical to a different case that Kate thought she’d put behind her.

Now Kate and Detective Mazur aren’t just working a homicide; the investigative pair is facing a formidable enemy who knows Kate intimately. While Mazur is personally trying to protect Kate, the closer they are drawn to the killer, the clearer it becomes that in this terrifying game, there is only one rule: don’t believe everything you see…

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

My friend Alex had recently read this novel and asked me to read it also to see if it was appropriate for our office lending library (I believe it is appropriate so I’ve already added it to the library). I like a good suspense/thriller so I gave it a try, started it while on vacation this past weekend. This was a pretty good thriller, the plot line was definitely scary/creepy. The writing really gets into the mind of the killer at certain points and it made me feel kind of icky after reading those parts. And the murders are pretty gruesome but add a good layer of fear to the story. The characters themselves did feel a little 2-dimensional to me and I wouldn’t say that the tension between the two main characters lept off the page but overall it was a good book and I’d recommend reading it. It did make for a great vacation read, would’ve been an even better read for the beach!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #34 – All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

61NMINqPepLTitle: All the Ever Afters
Author: Danielle Teller
Date finished: 4/26/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Pages in book: 373
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss and Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have recently enjoyed the influx of fairy-tale retellings and the tales that are told from a different point of view. I loved the movie that came out a few years ago, Maleficient, and of course one of my all time favorites in this vein was the musical, Wicked. From these stories we learn that evil is not born but made, and truthfully is decided by the story-teller. Tales are exaggerated and told to paint the story teller in a sympathetic tone so that the reader will empathize with their plight. Agnes as a character was much easier to empathize with than I expected, especially considering how well the Cinderella story was ingrained in my mind prior to reading this book. Agnes as a character though was so strong-willed and determined to find a better life both for herself and for her daughters that it was easy to root for her success. And while many things in her life could be defined as “unfair,” her logical approach never let that fact weigh her down and instead she persevered in spite of the unfairness of her circumstances. At first I found the narration to be a tad overly wordy but after a little bit of adjustment it was easy to read, and the words painted such a vivid portrait that infused the text with emotions and feeling. I enjoyed this book immensely and I love that by reading it the reader is made to re-think the truths of good and evil. This was truly an enjoyable novel and I would definitely recommend it, especially for fans of the Cinderella story.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page