2017 Book #52 – No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

519Jdw7vpALTitle: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan
Date finished: 6/12/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Pages in book: 352
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:

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Anna Graves, a mother who is confronted with a mother’s worst fear, a threat to the life of her child. Acting on instinct, she defends the lives of herself and her child, but unfortunately takes another life in the process. While at first people are supportive of her actions in protection of her daughter, as people dig more and more into the story they start to question whether or not they could really take someone’s life. And as every little secret in Anna’s closet is exposed, her actions are questioned as to whether they were really the product of instinctual protection or revenge. Then Anna starts receiving emails from the Ophelia Killer, a serial killer who hasn’t surface in the area in 20 years. She wonders why she’s being targeted by this madman, and the police don’t take the emails seriously, thinking instead that Anna’s behind it all. And so her only hope is to solve the mystery with the help of Jamie, the brother of the boys she murdered, and not only clear her name but hopefully stop the threat on her life.
Overall I really liked this book. It got a little repetitive, with how ostracized Anna became and how much everyone hated her. It got almost to the point where it was just so frustrating to hear about how badly Anna was still being treated. Other than that though, the plot line was pretty good. The whole book the author is leading you in one direction and making you think you know who the real killer is, but its not anyone you would have ever guessed. I thought I knew for who it was and I was wrong. This was a make you look over your shoulder kind of creepy read, which sounds bad but really was great. I was finishing it late last night and I had trouble going to sleep afterwards. I would definitely recommend this one, I think it will be a great summer read!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was creepy and thrilling for sure. I think this is a great summer read.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #50 – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

517zceaBMWLTitle: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Date finished: 6/6/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Pages in book: 352
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:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

This book tells the story of two women, separated by many decades but both affected by one same event in history. Avery Stafford is the daughter of a prominent politician, and she is being groom to take his place should the need arise due to his health. While at an event, Avery meats May Weathers, an elderly woman who just began her stay at a residential care facility. When Avery sees an old photograph of May’s with a woman who looks really similar to her grandmother, she can’t help but be curious. And when she asks her grandmother about it, her reaction is odd. Decades ago, when May Weathers was a young girl, something awful happened to her. At a dark time in Tennessee’s history, poor parents with young children had their families torn apart; their children kidnapped and sold off to the highest bidder like cattle. Organized by a woman who could only be described as truly evil, these “adoptions” were never overturned and these poor children were ripped from their families. Based on true events, this heart wrenching story is a fictionalized version of what most likely happened to many families in Tennessee’s history. And from Avery’s point of view the author depicts the ripple effect over the generations.

Overall I ended up really liking this book. Towards the middle it was starting to get hard to get through for me because the subject matter is just so overwhelmingly traumatic. Reading about how this young girl was ripped from a family, that while poor still loved her, to be placed in a home where she was abused and tormented and separated from her younger brothers and sisters was awful. I was starting to think that the book was going to be too emotionally traumatic for me. However I persevered and I am so glad that I did. While this was still an extremely difficult subject matter, I think it is definitely worth the read. Hearing about how May did everything she could do to protect her family, and the heartache and struggles that she went through in her young life was so inspiring. This is definitely a book that you should keep a box of Kleenex handy for because while May’s young life was overwhelmingly sad, her life didn’t end there. The author was able to turn the trauma into a hopeful and touching story that I just loved. And generations later as Avery finds out things she never knew about her family, the reader can see through both her struggles and May’s that there is still goodness in the world. Told between alternating chapters set in 1939 and the present day, this is a story that will truly reach in and twist you up inside, but you your heart real will feel full in the end. I would highly recommend reading this one.

The bottom line: This was a great book! It was so moving and while sad also somehow hopeful, I loved it. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #48 – Beyond Reason by Kat Martin

51rgLPburgLTitle: Beyond Reason
Author: Kat Martin
Date finished: 5/31/17
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: #1 in new Texas 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:

Five weeks ago Carly Drake stood at her grandfather’s grave. Now she’s burying Drake Trucking’s top driver, and the cops have no leads on the hijacking or murder. Faced with bankruptcy, phone threats and the fear of failure, Carly has to team up with the last man she wants to owe—Lincoln Cain.
Cain is magnetic, powerful, controlling—and hiding more than one secret. He promised Carly’s granddad he’d protect her. The old man took a chance on him when he was nothing but a kid with a record, and now he’s the multi-millionaire owner of a rival firm.
But Linc’s money can’t protect Carly from the men who’ll do anything to shut her down, or the secrets behind Drake Trucking. If she won’t sell out, the only way to keep her safe is to keep her close . . . and fight like hell.

My rating:  2.75 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 Carly Drake and Lincoln Cain.  Carly has recently inherited Drake Trucking Company from her grandfather, and she returns to Iron Springs, Texas to settle down and build her business.  After being a flight attendant for years, she’s had plenty of adventures and now wants to settle into somewhere she can call home.  Little does she know though that she is walking right into the path of a vicious drug lord. Linc promised Carly’s grandfather that he would look out for her after Joe’s death, and so he too finds himself drawn into a dangerous world of criminal activity.  And as Linc fights to protect Carly at all costs, they both discover a connection they never expected.
Overall this wasn’t my favorite book. Carly as a character was just way too insecure for me, I found it hard to connect with her character because she was so contradictory. She supposedly had such great backbone and that’s why Linc loved her, but I feel like someone with that much backbone would recognize their own self worth and not constantly feel that Linc couldn’t possibly actually care for her.  She spent most of the book convinced that Linc was way out of her league just because he was a millionaire and that they would never end up together. I get that she had been burned by men in the past but it just got a bit repetitive for me. And she kept trying to leave when she got scared of the depth of the feelings involved in their new relationship, completely ignoring the fact that a drug lord was trying to hunt her down. That part made me frustrated, like worry about your life first, feelings second. Other than that, the interactions between all of the characters felt somewhat stilted and forced, dramatic scenes that should have been full of tension fell flat and sometimes felt awkward. The plot was really busy too, it felt like there were so many different things going on all squished into one plot it felt like to much sometimes. The story line wasn’t awful it just didn’t grab at me. I wouldn’t say that I would recommend or not recommend it, give it a try if it sounds interesting to you.

The bottom line: This was not my favorite book. The plot line had potential but there was just a lot going on within the plot. And I couldn’t get connected to the characters at all, the plot and characters both fell a little flat for me.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #43 – The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

51MUPopm41LTitle: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 5/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 353
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:

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.
Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.
Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

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. This book tells the story of Leah Stevens, a journalist who has recently relocated from Boston to rural western Pennsylvania to escape the mess she’s made of her life. Starting over with a teaching position, she hopes to leave her failure behind her. Leah moves in with a friend that she’s recently reconnected with, Emmy. She and Emmy lived together for a few months right after Leah graduated from college, when she became a new person and began to form the structure of her adult life. After not seeing Emmy for eight years, she suddenly reappears just when Leah seemingly needs her most. But then a dead body is found by the lake and this small rural town in western Pennsylvania starts to feel a little less safe. And as the bodies, and the secrets, start piling up, with Emmy missing and Leah left to connect the dots, the truth unravels and Leah learns that the danger really is everywhere.
AHH Overall, my gosh, I loved this book. I was addicted, on the edge of my seat, didn’t want to put it down. I found myself continually looking around trying to “find the danger” when I wasn’t reading. Leah as a character was great. She’s on the edge of losing it and she gets so deep into this that the reader even starts to question if Emmy is real or not. I loved the mind-games that this book plays with the reader, the danger really is everywhere and Leah is in much more trouble than she could have ever imagined. The way that the author presents the different relationships within this book I found to be really interesting too. Leah realizes later on in the book and its true but relationships are all about perspective. Your specific perspective of that person and what they present to your relationship could only be one facet of them as a person and of their lives, which I found to be a thought-provoking aspect to this story. This was a great and interesting book with great plot twists and a constant threat of danger. This is going to be a must read for this summer, I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: I loved this book, I was on the edge of my seat and I just loved the twists and turns in the plot. This one is a must read for the summer, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #29 – Windswept by Sabrina Jeffries

51EBNNsn5ZLTitle: Windswept
Author: Sabrina Jeffries (Originally published under pen name Deborah Martin)
Date finished: 4/3/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 (Reprint, originally published April 1996)
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #2 in (Reworked) Wales 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:

Originally written under the pseudonym Deborah Martin, this unforgettable tale of mystery, treasure, and passion is back in print at last and newly revised for today’s audience—and available as an ebook!
Welsh widow Catrin Price is haunted by a family death curse. Any man whom she marries without first drinking from an ancient Druid chalice sold by her ancestor long ago is unquestionably doomed. But when she hunts it down to purchase it, the chalice’s former owner ends up dead. Who will believe her innocent with the man’s treasure in her hands? Now she lives in fear of discovery, afraid to trust, afraid to give away her heart…
Even Newcome, a scholar struggling to overcome a difficult past, travels to Wales to find the mysterious woman last seen with his murdered friend. So when the lady proves to be a beautiful yet shy creature who shares his love of Welsh mythology, he’s torn between believing her guilty and trusting the passion blazing between them. But as unscrupulous men seek the chalice for their own devious purposes, will Catrin and Evan let their wall of mistrust stand between them? Or will they defeat their enemies together and embrace the love intended for them since time immemorial?

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 Catrin Price, a widow who is a direct descendant of The Lady of the Mists and believed to be a witch. While having no supernatural powers, Catrin does believe that her family is under a curse from hundreds of years ago when The Lady of the Mist’s daughter wanted to marry an English merchant. Over the years Catrin’s family lost an important family heirloom, and when Catrin tries to get it back, Evan Newsome’s best friend is somehow murdered in the process. We met Evan in the last book, Stormswept, when he was a younger lad. Now Evan is all grown up and is determined to find out what happened to his friend that night. And so he hunts down The Lady of the Mists, only to discover that she is a beautiful and shy young woman. Determined to get answers without scaring her off, Evan decides to deceive her and gain her trust until he gets the truth out of her.
Overall I liked this book ok. Evan was kind of an ass in the first half of the book. And you can definitely tell that this book was from a different time period (it was originally printed in the mid-90’s) because Evan was not very good at respecting Catrin’s wishes when she said no. As the reader and knowing Catrin’s internal monologue as well its easy for the reader to see that she liked Evan and did actually want to, you know, kiss him and stuff but even still it got a little creepy at a couple points. Other than that though I liked the book a lot. The supernatural element always draws me in and the way the book ended was really great. This was a good book but it was a little outdated I think.

The bottom line: I liked this book. Catrin, like Julianna from book #1 in the series, was an immensely sweet, patient, and generous heroine. I liked Evan a lot, especially since we meet him as a young boy in book #1, Stormswept. You can tell this book is from a different era though, as Evan was a bit heavy-handed and heard “yes” a lot of the time when Catrin was saying “no.” Other than that issue, I found the book to be engaging and heartfelt. I would recommend it but with a caution that you will be annoyed by certain points in the book.

Link to author website

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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

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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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