2017 Book #32 – Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt

51bRO8XaIOLTitle: Hannah’s Moon
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 4/12/17
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 8, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: #5 in American Journey series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel. Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival. Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

My rating: 3.5 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. This book tells the story of Claire Rasmussen, who along with her husband, Ron, and brother, David, travel back in time to 1945 in order to adopt a baby. Claire and David’s uncle, Geoffrey Bell, guides them through the process and then, with his wife Jeanette, leaves them to their mission in 1945 while they go off to South America. Ron and Claire easily find a daughter available for adoption but they have to wait 3 months for the adoption to be final. During that time they befriend the woman living across the street, Margaret. David develops a particular attachment to her even though she is engaged to a Navy man. The plan is for Claire, Ron, their daughter Hannah, and David to head back through the portal as soon as the adoption goes through. But unfortunately fate is not that kind and there are not one but three major kinks thrown into their plans, all of which could keep them from returning at all.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was really interesting for this one and had multiple things going on at once, which I liked. There were many points in this book that were moving and I thought the author did a great job of capturing the characters’ strength of emotions in those moments. Especially the pieces about Ron towards the end, there was a lot of tension and emotion in those moments that jumped out at me. The ending was interesting too because although it is the “finale” of the series I feel like it opens the door for a related series for future time travelers.

The bottom line: Overall I have enjoyed this series, and the time travel aspect in general is very interesting. There was some really good tension in this plot line, and there were some very emotionally touching parts as well. I would recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed the other books in the series.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #27 – The Bridge of the Golden Wood by Karl Beckstrand

61sHHHPZy5L._SX260_Title: The Bridge of the Golden Wood
Author: Karl Beckstrand
Date finished: 3/27/17
Genre: Fiction, children’s fiction
Publisher: Premio Publishing
Publication Date: January 25, 2017
Pages in book: 26
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

A child with a knack for solving problems helps some hungry fish and finds a treasure. Illustrated folk tale teaches how to spot opportunities to help others and make money; comes with ideas for businesses; money-making activities; and online resources on finding customers, managing money, job ideas and moving up in an organization (for ages 5 and up). Young children will be captivated by the story; older ones will want to apply the things they learn. Teach someone to fish: a how-to book on careers, small business, and learning how to serve/earn money.

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. This book is a children’s book that teaches a lesson about earning money. More than that though, it really is about teaching children to take a step back and think creatively about how situations they are presented with could not only benefit themselves but also allow them to help other people. I thought the illustrations in this book were beautifully done and I think it would be an interesting addition to a child’s library.

 

The bottom line: This was a cute book and an interesting approach to teaching kids a particular lesson. Obviously not my usual type of read. I really loved the illustrations.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #26 – If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

51jEpw+Dl0L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Title: If We Were Villains
Author: M.L. Rio
Date finished: 3/26/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 354
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.
As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.
Intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed, If We Were Villains is a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.

My rating:  4.5 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. This book tells the story of a group of fourth year theater students attending Dellecher Classical Conservatory, an elite college for the arts that has a slightly unorthodox approach to advancement. Each year only certain students are allowed to advance to the next year’s level, which for this particular story resulted in a group of 7 unusually close senior year theater students. In this particular group, the line between friend and enemy is continually blurred and tensions reach new heights. The story is narrated by one of these seven students, Oliver Marks, who when we first meet him is at the end of his 10 year prison sentence. We meet him as he begins to tell the story of what actually happened a decade ago to Detective Colborne, his arresting officer. Colborne has been haunted by this case the past ten years because he never believed that Oliver was actually the killer. And as the story of that year unfolds, there are many layers to be peeled back before the truth can be uncovered. There are heroes and damsels, tragedy and comedy, lovers and friends. And in the end, there is more than one villain.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. I thought it was so different and so interesting. As the theater student’s curriculum centers mostly around Shakespeare, there were many different passages from his various works woven into the story line and the conversations, and I just loved it. You could feel how young the group of them were, even though they were dealing with such intense adult problems. And Oliver was perhaps the most innocent of them all, and seeing the story through his eyes added that extra layer of naivete. After the murder Oliver and his remaining friends fall to pieces, each of them dealing with their own feelings of guilt and responsibility in different ways. Centered within Oliver’s story is his best friend, James, and his love interest, Meredith. The roles here even are oftentimes blurred, as Oliver’s feelings for James are not so easily categorized into the label of “friends.” That was one of the things I loved most about this book was how well it portrayed that love and hate are on the same spectrum of emotion, and if you feel one it is very easily turned to the other side of the spectrum when a person is pushed to their limit. I also thought the character development in this novel was really well done, I could feel everything that Oliver felt with such strength that I felt sucked into the story itself. The story was heart-warming and heart-breaking all in one and while I was a little surprised at the ending I really just enjoyed this book so much. I would most definitely recommend and I can’t wait to see more from this author in the future!

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This is the coat of arms for Dellecher Classical Conservatory mentioned in the novel. I found this picture on the author’s website and thought it was a neat addition!!

The bottom line: I really liked this book a lot. I loved that quotes from Shakespeare’s plays were interwoven so skillfully throughout the text and I loved the strength of emotions portrayed by all the characters in the book.

Link to author website

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

2017 Books #18-25 – Tough Justice series

51xOPnG8JdLTitle: Tough Justice series: Exposed (1), Watched (2), Burned (3), Trapped (4), Twisted (5), Ambushed (6), Betrayed (7), and Hunted (8)
Author: Carla Cassidy, Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson, Gail Barrett
Date finished: 3/23/17
Genre: Fiction, crime, detective
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages in book: 649
Stand alone or series: Series, 8 books in the set
Where I got the book from: Harlequin Romance Insiders NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin 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:

Special Agent Lara Grant has finally put her life as an undercover agent in the Moretti gang behind her and started a new assignment in New York City. Until a dramatic sniper attack leaves Lara’s face — and real name — all over the media. In the blink of an eye, her cover is blown, her identity exposed.
Then a woman’s body is found, branded with the ritual Moretti tattoo. Someone knows who Lara is…and exactly how to make her pay…

My rating:  3.75 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. This is an 8 part series about FBI Special Agent Laura Grant. Laura recently went undercover within the Moretti crime syndicate and was able to make it all the way to the top, arresting Moretti and cutting the head off this particular snake. The undercover operation took a lot out of her though, more than she can really admit to anyone, especially her new team with the FBI. Her new partner Nick Delano doesn’t realize how badly scarred Lara is after this last assignment, but his sexy good looks bring her aroung to trusting him in the end. And when Moretti starts coordinating attacks on/near Lara from inside prison, Lara’s whole team must come together to put a stop to it.
Overall I liked this series. The plot line for this series was so interesting and there were some great plot twists. Some of the plot twists I kind of saw coming but they were still really good. I also thought it was really great that even though the series was written by 4 different authors it was still a cohesive story line and the plot line flowed well in between the books. That being said there were some things I didn’t love about the books. There were some holes in the story line and things that were introduced with the other characters that I’m not sure if they’re supposed to lead to another series or if they were just not followed up on. Also, similar to my issue with Rizzoli from The Surgeon series, I didn’t like that Lara was so insecure but also thought she was the coolest thing at the same time. And she broke some rules along the way which I also didn’t like. And her life was just so sad, the last book especially was heart-breaking. I still really liked the series overall though, it was an easy read (the books were shorter than a normal size book and the chapters were nice and short) and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this series, though the conclusion of it wasn’t my favorite. The series itself though was very interesting and had some great plot twists. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #17 – The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

510KMAZR9FL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Surgeon
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Date finished: 3/15/17
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 21, 2001
Pages in book: 356
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Rizzoli & Isles series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

In her most masterful novel of medical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen creates a villain of unforgettable evil–and the one woman who can catch him before he kills again.
He slips into their homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, unaware of the horrors they soon will endure. The precision of the killer’s methods suggests he is a deranged man of medicine, propelling the Boston newspapers and the frightened public to name him “The Surgeon.”
The cops’ only clue rests with another surgeon, the victim of a nearly identical crime. Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed her attacker before he could complete his assault. Now she hides her fears of intimacy behind a cool and elegant exterior and a well-earned reputation as a top trauma surgeon.
Cordell’s careful facade is about to crack as this new killer recreates, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s own ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. Her only comfort comes from Thomas Moore, the detective assigned to the case. But even Moore cannot protect Cordell from a brilliant hunter who somehow understands–and savors–the secret fears of every woman he kills.
Filled with the authentic detail that is the trademark of this doctor turned author . . . and peopled with rich and complex characters–from the ER to the squad room to the city morgue–here is a thriller of unprecedented depth and suspense. Exposing the shocking link between those who kill and cure, punish and protect, The Surgeon is Tess Gerritsen’s most exciting accomplishment yet.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (March). This book tells the story of a homicide case under investigation in Boston, MA. Some crazy person is running around murdering women and cutting out their uteruses, and Detective Moore and Rizzoli is one of the people assigned to the case. Through their research, Moore and his team come to discover that this exact MO was also unique to a string of murders in Savannah, GA. And the only person to survive that murderer is now living in Boston. Rizzoli feels outnumbered as a woman on the force and feel like she has a lot to prove, so she’s determined to solve this case and put a win in her column, whatever it takes.
Overall I didn’t especially like this book. I thought Rizzoli was a total jerk and didn’t like her character at all. I felt like she was just whining the whole book and her surliness was way past tolerable. I’m all for the underdog but she put herself and her whole team in danger repeatedly. She kept complaining how she was better than everyone else but didn’t get the recognition because she was a woman but to be honest she didn’t seem all that better than everyone else to me. I didn’t understand how one character could be so insecure and so full of themselves at the same time. Also the conversations and other interactions between the characters seemed stilted and forced to me. The tension in this book, which I would have expected to be high due to the sick and twisted nature of the killer, just wasn’t there for me and I found it hard to work up any kind of emotion towards the plot. The mystery itself was good, if somewhat predictable. I enjoyed the plot twists though and found myself somewhat engaged in that piece of the story at least. If you like detective shows or novels then this book might work for you but it just feel flat for me.

The bottom line: I didn’t care for this book very much. The mystery plot line was alright but I hated Rizzoli as a character and the conversations and interaction between the characters was pretty stilted. I have heard this is a popular series but I personally didn’t enjoy this one.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #16 – The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

61ZHJ5oDCfLTitle: The River at Night
Author: Erica Ferencik
Date finished: 3/10/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 304
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:

A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.
Winifred Allen needs a vacation.
Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.
What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.
With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.

My rating:  3.75 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. This book tells the story of four girl-friends who decide to go on a white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Wini, Pia, Rachel and Sandra get together one week every year to spend time together and catch up over lost time. Pia, ever the adventurer, is always looking for more reckless ways to test her meddle. She convinces her girl-friends to try out a rafting experience where they will get to fight their way along a river that has before then been untouched by man. But along the way, their guide Rory is killed and their raft is lost, leaving the women susceptible to the unflinching wilderness of Maine. While trying to find refuge, they come across an unexpected discovery that puts them in more danger than ever.
Overall I liked this book a lot. It was sad but also really interesting and scary. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I didn’t want to put it down. The author did such an amazing job of making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on edge, putting you in the Maine wilderness and making you wonder if you’ll survive this trip. And I love the author’s view of the relationships in this novel. These women are pushed to the brink of their humanity and are left to make some hard decisions. This was a good read and I would definitely recommend.

The bottom line: I really liked this book a lot. It was interesting and kept the reader on the edge of their seat throughout the book. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #14 – The Hidden Man by David Ellis

41mczwmlkl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Hidden Man
Author: David Ellis
Date finished: 3/1/17
Genre: Fiction, crime/mystery
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: September 3, 2009
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Series, Jason Kolarich #1
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Jason Kolarich is a midwestern Everyman with a lineman’s build and an easy smart-ass remark. He’s a young, intelligent maverick, but he’s also struggling with an overwhelming emotional burden—one that threatens to unravel his own life, and possibly the lives of those around him.
Twenty-seven years ago, two-year-old Audrey Cutler disappeared from her home in the middle of the night. She was never found. All the detectives had to go on were vague eyewitness accounts of a man running down the Cutlers’ street, apparently carrying someone. Without enough evidence to suggest otherwise, Griffin Perlini—a neighbor with prior offenses against minors—was arrested, but never convicted.
The case is long closed when Perlini is murdered nearly thirty years later. Now a man named Mr. Smith appears in Jason Kolarich’s office, saying only that he represents a third party who wants the man charged with murder off the hook and that Kolarich is perfect for the job. The new client: Audrey Cutler’s older brother, Sammy—Kolarich’s estranged childhood best friend—a man he hasn’t seen in nearly twenty years.
But when Kolarich starts receiving violent threats from Mr. Smith’s enigmatic employer, he figures out that the secrecy behind this nameless third party—and the key to winning Sammy’s case—is entangled with the mystery of Audrey’s disappearance. With his own life and Sammy’s in the balance, Kolarich has to put aside not only the mounting anxiety of the job but also a heart-wrenching personal tragedy in order to find out what really happened to Audrey all those years ago.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (February). This book tells the story of Jason Kolarich, a lawyer who is still reeling from a recent personal tragedy. In the previous few months, Jason had helped to win a high-profile case against the feds, making him somewhat of a local celebrity. But that’s not why a stranger named “Smith” shows up in his office one day demanding legal services. Turns out Jason’s best friend from childhood, Sammy Cutler, has been arrested for the murder of Griffin Perlini, the man suspected of abducting and killing Sammy’s baby sister, Audrey, 20 years ago. Jason doesn’t understand what Smith’s part in all this is but he owes a lot to Sammy, so he takes the case. But when Smith starts dictating how Jason needs to try the case, Jason wonders what the story is beneath the surface. And as Jason defies the rules and tries the case his own way, he learns there are consequences for disagreeing with the people he’s now working for. And when they start trying to use his brother as leverage, Jason decides its time to figure out what’s really going on, even if he has to do it on his own.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was pretty engaging and I loved how kick ass the plot twists were. I ended up enjoying this one more than I expected to, I would probably even read another from the series if I had time. The ending was a little too neat and tidy for me, everything just kind of worked out ok and the bad guys didn’t fight back much in the end. I would have liked it a lot better if Jason had gone through with his threat to cut off a couple of Smith’s fingers, he definitely deserved it. But other than that, I thought the plot was pretty good. It was engaging and was set at a good pace with lots of plot twists, some of which I didn’t see coming at all. This was a good read and I would recommend it, especially if you like a good mystery novel!

The bottom line: I liked this book ok. It isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own but it was interesting. I would recommend it if you’re into crime/mystery novels.

Link to author website

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