Monday, August 19, 2019

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Title: Well Met
Author: Jen DeLuca 
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 3, 2019

All's faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon's family legacy and from the start, he makes clear he doesn't have time for Emily's lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds, he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she's in her revealing wench's costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they're portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can't seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

One of my favorite debut romance novels this year!

Well Met by Jean Deluca surprised me with its originality and charm. I was taken by the characters early on. I was invested in their relationship and my wish was for a happy ending.

Things I enjoyed: 

Enemies to lovers story: ✔
A love between a Pirate and a Wench: ✔
Good secondary characters: ✔
A Renaissance Faire: ✔
Hot guys fighting: ✔
A Kilt and Leather Pants: ✔

Emily moves to Willow Creek, a small town in Maryland to help her sister and her niece. Emily's sister, April was involved in a car accident and she's still recuperating. Emily is taking care of all the chores and driving her niece, Caitlin to school and April to the doctor's appointments and physical therapy. 

Emily was able to be there for April because her own life had imploded. Her boyfriend of many years, Jake, had dumped her without a second thought. Without a home or a relationship, Emily takes the opportunity to forget about her problems by helping others, and hopefully, come up with a plan for her future too.

When Emily takes Caitlin to sign up to play a part in the Renaissance Faire, the last thing she thought was that she needed to sign up herself or Caitlin couldn't join it. Next thing she knows, Emily is going to be playing one of the tavern wenches.

"That was what I was there for. Be the cool aunt. Do the fun stuff. Distract her."

Emily likes the small-town people feel. Emily is enjoying making new friendships and the feeling of being accepted by everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. The English teacher is not too keen on her. Simon never appears happy to see her and he keeps on looking at her with disapproval. He's the Renaissance Faire organizer and wants everything done to perfection.

"I knew which of these two guys I was looking forward to getting to know better this summer, and it wasn’t the Ren Faire Killjoy."

However, when Emily turns into Emma, the local tavern wench and Simon Graham turns into a pirate, Captain Blackthorne, everything is different. Simon becomes flirtations, easy-going, and has a smile on his face. A smile that makes Emily forget about her first impressions of him.

“Well, love. I’d be fighting for you.” 

Well Met was sweet, charming and left me with a smile on my face. I would love to read another book by Jen DeLuca set in the same town. Maybe one with Mitch and April.

"But then you came along, Emily, and you weren’t a should. You were a want."

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker

Title: The Sixth Wicked Child
Series: 4MK Thriller #3
Author: J.D. Barker 
Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Release Date: August 27, 2019

In the riveting conclusion of the 4MK trilogy, Barker takes the thriller to an entirely new level. Don't miss a single word of the series James Patterson called "ingenious."

Hear No Evil

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten; a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth concealed for decades.

See No Evil

Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer—discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina—clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos—a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious 4MK serial murders turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

This series has ended with a BANG!

The ending was priceless and memorable.

I can tell you, I think this author is a master of deceit. I was sure who the bad guy was and then poof, I was wrong and then the guy I thought was a good one, was not. Or wait, maybe the bad guy was the bad guy after all or u see my point. A complete mind play.

J. D. Baker does such a fantastic job in this series.  The suspense and the writing were phenomenal. At some point, he had me rooting for Anson. A total psychopath but whom I wanted some type of happiness after everything he had to endure. It helps that we get glimpses of Anson as a teenager and the crush he had on Libby helped humanize him for me. 

Sam Porter, what can I say? He was a very interesting character. I liked him from the very beginning of the 4MK series. Smart, likable, a nice boss with great powers of deduction. He was still mourning the loss of the only woman he had ever loved. In the Sixth Wicked Child, he gets himself into a corner. He's in deep trouble and I wasn’t sure I could or should trust him.

The secondary characters like Clair, Nash, Agent Poole and Kloz were all very well-developed. They complemented Anson and Sam's in every way possible. 

I don't think I want to say anything else because a lot of it could be spoilers.

Thank you so much Hampton Creek Press for my free digital copy of The Sixth Wicked Child.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: May 9, 2017 

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . 

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

Eleanor Oliphant is nothing further from being fine!

I finally got a chance to read Eleanor Oliphant. I was worried about all the hype surrounding this novel and I kinda dreaded starting it because I didn't know if I was going to like it. 
I know now that all the hype is worth it. Eleanor is unique. She's different than anyone else I have ever read about. At first, it was hard to get into the story. I found Eleanor to be cold and unlikable. That changed quite fast. By the middle of the book, Eleanor had made me laugh and tear up too. 

So who's Eleanor?

Eleanor is a lonely woman living a very lonely existence. When she was a kid something happened which left Eleanor to grow up in the foster care system. As an adult, Eleanor is living in Glasgow.  She has been working for the same company for nine years. She doesn't have any friends or any family to speak off except for mommy whom she talks to every Wednesday. On her weekends, her routine includes staying in, eating frozen pizza, and drinking two bottles of Vodka. Her only company is a plant and her books. Then, a fortuitous event brings her close to a co-worker, Raymond, the IT guy. 

Raymond is very different from Eleanor.  He's jovial, friendly, dresses comfortably and the best part he doesn't seem to mind Eleanor's lack of social skills. If anything, he actually smooths things over when necessary but he doesn't think of her as weird or someone who needs to change. He accepts her the way she is. If anything, he just wants to support her as a friend. 

I can't believe this book was a debut novel for Gail Honeyman. Eleanor is an unforgettable character. Her bluntness, her grammar, her dry sense of humor made her so distinctive. 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a witty, funny, poignant and hopeful novel.
Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Title: Things You Save in a Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: August 13, 2019

From the New York Times, bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds. 

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she's seen her fair share of them, and she's excellent at dealing with other people's tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it's an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie's old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren't exactly thrilled to have a "lady" on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn't seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can't think about that. Because she doesn't fall in love. And because of the advice, her old captain gave her: don't date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping...but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she's worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center's Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

"The best revenge is forgetting."

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center is what I call - from beginning to end - a beautifully crafted novel.

I love every single thing about this book. It has an amazing heroine, a great storyline, and a fantastic ending. Yes, these are my opinions and I can stand behind them 100%.

Why haven't I read any of Katherine Center's books before? How in the world is this possible? Don't worry about it, I'll correct this huge oversight very quickly.

Let's get to the story.

Our heroine, Cassie Hanwell (who's freaking amazing!) is fantastic at her job. She's a firefighter and a paramedic. She has worked hard to be where she's at. She doesn't date and she doesn't fall in love. Love makes you weak and she can't let anyone hurt her again. Her mother abandoned Cassie and her father on her sixteen's birthday. She has never forgiven her mother and she doesn't think she ever will. For Cassie, there's nothing else but her job and her firefighter family.

When Things You Save in a Fire begins, Cassie is about to receive the Valor Award for her bravery after saving children trapped in a bus. Her engine family (B-shift from Station Eleven) is with her, supporting her. Then, the absolute worst happens. The next day, her captain is telling her she has 2 choices. The first choice, she either apologizes or she gets fired. The second choice, if there are no charges filed against her, she can be transferred out. Cassie has no choice but to accept her second choice. She will have to leave Austin, the job she loves and her friends and move to Massachusetts with her mother whom she has barely spoken to in ten years and start a new job in a new town where only men are supposed to be firefighters.

As a farewell, her captain gives her advise in the form of a list of rules to follow with her new squad.

“My best advice to you? Find one person you can count on. Just one.”

Cassie knows she's up to the challenge until her first day when she meets the new rookie.

“Firefighter Hanwell, are you proposing that we snuggle?”

Things You Save in a Fire is so much more than a romance. It's about forgiveness, self-respect,  family relationships and believing in doing the right thing above all. The narrative was superb, the characters were fantastic. I fell in love with Cassie. She's my new girl crush. She didn't apologize for knowing she was good at something. She fought for her job and she recognized that loving the right someone can you give strength and not weakness.

The answer wasn’t to never love anyone.
It was to love like crazy whenever you could.

5/5 Fangs

Cliffhanger: No

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Girl on the Porch by Richard Chizmar

Title: The Girl on the Porch
Author: Richard Chizmar
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Release Date: August 2019

From New York Times bestseller Richard Chizmar, author of Gwendy's Button Box (with Stephen King) and The Long Way Home, comes a thriller that will forever change the way you look at your neighbors and best friends...

When the Tuckers’ next door neighbor mentions someone rang their doorbell late the previous night, Sarah and Kenny Tucker check their home’s security camera and discover something shocking: the doorbell ringer also visited their house and it wasn’t a teenager playing a prank, but instead a terrified young woman with a shackle hanging from her right wrist. She anxiously pressed the doorbell again and again, glancing over her shoulder as if someone was coming for her, before giving up and taking off into the dark. 

Almost overnight, she becomes known as The Girl on the Porch—and she’s everywhere. There are updates on all the local networks, national coverage on CNN and Fox News, and the video goes viral on social media. Before long, everyone has seen the harrowing security camera footage. 

Kenny and Sarah figure it’s only a matter of time before someone recognizes the woman, but as the days pass and no one comes forward, odd things begin to transpire around the Tucker family: a man intensely watches them at a restaurant and then vanishes, fresh footprints appear in the garden next to their house where no one should have been, a neighbor’s pet is viciously killed and mutilated, and a mysterious man has started following their daughter Natalie...

What a great beginning this novella had!

Imagine reviewing your outside front door camera footage (not uncommon in the age of the Ring and the Nest) the morning after hearing your next-door neighbor's dog barking in the middle of the night and seeing an almost naked woman with a shackle hanging from her wrist banging on your door trying to get someone to help her. This is exactly what happened to Sarah and Kenny Tucker.

After the shock, the couple calls the police. Of course, the police immediately wants to know if Kenny knows the woman. Kenny denies it. Soon the news gets ahold of the story and the video goes viral. Everyone wants to know who this woman is and where is she. For the police, anyone in the neighborhood is a suspect including Kenny.

Like I said earlier, great beginning. The novella has a fast-paced and suspenseful narrative. It was hard to pinpoint who had taken this woman. Despite Sarah and Kenny having a good marriage, Sarah couldn't be sure Kenny didn't have something to do with her appearance and for that matter, her disappearance. 

The Girl on the Porch was intriguing with good characters but the end failed to woo me. It was disappointing. It was choppy and incongruent with the rest of the book. Everything happened so fast. I felt like there could've been a whole chapter cluing us in and leading us into that ending. Otherwise, it made no sense. Quite a shame because it had a great promise.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Subterranean Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Eyes of Prey by John Sandford

Title: Eyes of Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #3
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons

Two killers. 
One hideously scarred. 
The other strikingly handsome. 
And Lucas Davenport must find them both in a case that could push him over the edge.

Lucas Davenport has not been the same since his last few cases. His head hasn't been right since then. He has lost his relationship with his girlfriend, Jennifer and he barely sees his kid. He went into a major depression but maybe getting back on the job is the one thing that can help him.

When Dell, another cop, asks Lucas to look into the murder of one of his cousin's, Lucas decides to put his personal problems aside and help Dell. Dell thinks the husband, Michael Bekker did it. Bekker is a doctor, a well-known pathologist, but he's a strange bird. Everyone who Lucas approaches about Bekker thinks Bekker is the responsible party but he has a great alibi. Bekker was in a different state when his wife was murdered.

One look at Michael Bekker and Lucas know there's more to the story. Then a theater manager is murdered and her eyes are gouged just like Bekker's wife. The plot thickens when Lucas believes there is a second killer involved. Lucas wishes for "Loverboy", the sole witness to Bekker's wife murder, to come forward.

Lucas will have his hands full trying to piece together these murders.

Carlo Druze and Michael Bekker were a weird couple of psychopaths. Michael was obsessed with death and what comes after. He was hooked on all types of drugs which at times made me doubt his capacity for him having any logical thought process and fooling the police. Carlo had no qualms with killing but it was kind of strange for him to befriend Bekker. He knew Bekker was crazy but he did everything Bekker wanted him to do despite knowing it could bring trouble to his doorstep.

When I started the series, I didn't like Lucas but he was able to bring out plenty of emotions from me. He made me angry with his philandering ways. He made me upset when he didn't blink an eye when he was breaking the law. Yes, his purpose was all about catching a criminal but I was expecting him to do it by the book. He also made me laugh many times and he made me feel bad for him at certain times too. In this book, John Sandford has made him more likable. Not that he didn't use violence and still broke the law, but for me, he has finally realized his actions have consequences.

I'm guessing, Lucas will continue to grow on me since I've many more books to get to.

Eyes of Prey ends with an amazing twist. One, I never saw coming until the very end. I wonder if this will come back out on a future book.

As a side note, this book has a lot of violence and gory details, so if you're squeamish, this might not be the book to start this series with.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

Title: Low Pressure
Author: Sandra Brown
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: September 18, 2012

Bellamy Lyston Price was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy's fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene as well as her memory of one vital fact that still eludes her... 

Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a novel based on Susan's murder. It's her first book, and it's an instant sensation. But because the novel is based on the most traumatic event of her life, she's published it under a pseudonym to protect herself and her family.

But when a sleazy reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers that the book is based on a real crime, Bellamy's identity - and dark family secrets -- are exposed. Suddenly, she finds herself embroiled in a personal conflict and at the mercy of her sister's killer, who for almost two decades has gotten away with murder...and will stop at nothing to keep it that way.

As a huge, Sandra Brown's fan, I'm committed to trying to read all of her books. Every time I have downtime, or I had read a few books that didn't cut it for me, I revert back to something I know I'm going to enjoy. 

Low Pressure is full of suspense, romance, intrigue and great plot twists which is not unusual for Mrs. Brown's arsenal of amazing books. 

From the first chapter, I knew it was going to be a good one.

Bellamy Lyston Price has written a novel about a murder. She has based her book, Low Pressure on a real-life event, her sister Susan's murder. When Bellany was twelve, during a Memorial day festivity, a tornado hit their party and soon after, her sister was found murdered. 

Susan's boyfriend at the time, Denton Carter was the prime suspect. Yet, Dent denied ever being around the park and he had a firm alibi. He was flying a plane with his soon to be boss, Gall Hathaway.

Susan's family, her father, Howard (who is dying of cancer), her step-mother, Olivia and her step-brother, Steven are very unhappy about the book. Susan's murder affected all of them eighteen years ago and having the wound opened again is hurting them now. It doesn't help that Rocky Van Durbin, a sensationalist reporter won't let the matter go. Furthermore, there are many others who are unhappy with what Low Pressure has stirred, Dale Moody was the cop who investigated the murder, Rupe Collier was the DA at the time and Ray Strickland is obsessed with hurting Bellamy and Dent since his brother was the one who paid for Susan's murder when Ray is sure his brother was innocent.

Low Pressure is another winner. I loved the audio as much as the Kindle. As always, the characters are well-developed and the storyline is an interesting one. I didn't love Denton as much as I've loved the other male characters. I did like Bellamy a lot. 

I can't wait to read another book by this great author.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A Highlander Walks into a Bar by Laura Trentham

Title: A Highlander Walks into a Bar
Series: Highland, Georgia #1
Author: Laura Trentham
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: July 30, 2019

The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same… 

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

“Laura Trentham creates a romance that is both extremely sensual and phenomenal.”

As soon I saw the word Highlander, my finger was requesting this book. 

What is not to love about the Scottish men I ask you?

Anyway, A Highlander Walks into a Bar is my first novel by Laura Trentham. 

In this novel, our main character, Isabel "Izzy" Buchanan is preparing for the yearly Highland Games her father started many years ago. This for her is a way to keep the memory of her father alive. She usually has her mother, Rose to help her with it but this year, her mother has taken a trip to Scotland.

When Izzy goes to the airport to pick up her mother, she finds herself getting the surprise of her life. Her mother is not alone. She has a brought with her a Scottish man by the name of Gareth. Izzy is wary about his motives but she can't say no to inviting them to their home, Stonehaven after seeing her mother so happy and acting younger in spirit while around him.

Then, another Scottman comes to ring their doorbell. His name is Alasdair Blackmoor and he's here to see his "friend" Gareth. Alasdair works in London for an investment company. His real motive to come down to Highland, Georgia is to make sure his uncle Gareth is not been taking advantage of. Alasdair is not happy with his current life but he's not sure what can he do to change it. His vision becomes crystal clear once he meets Izzy and he realizes he needs to make major changes in his life if he wants to be happy.

I wish I had enjoyed this book more than I did. Here are some of the things which prevented me from loving it: The beginning was too slow for me. Most of the time, I couldn't connect with the two main characters. Their insta-love was a big turn off for me.

This is just my opinion. Hopefully, it doesn't deter you from reading it and enjoying it.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.