Review: The Collector by Nora Roberts

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Oh my goodness I have read so many mediocre books the past two weeks that I ended up in a book slump. Thankfully a beautiful friend lifted me out of it when she gifted me The Collector.

This romantic suspense was the perfect combination of sweet, thrilling, corrupt, and amateur sleuthing. Right up my alley.

Writer Lila and artist Ashton befriend each other after a horrific murder. While they work together to solve the mystery and get the bad guy, they fall in love. But Lila is independent, a free spirit. Ashton comes from a large, interdependent family and pushes his “helpfulness” onto Lila.

While the romantic tension puts a cramp in their relationship, it doesn’t stop Lila and Ash from exacting revenge on the murderer. Their perseverance is a little implausible at times, but very exciting!

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was Ash’s bossiness. It came off as mean, even though he really cared about Lila. I ended up not liking Ash at all. And that’s sad for me, because an alpha hero is often the best part of a novel!

All in all, The Collector was a welcome addition to my December reading. Great writing, an exciting plot, luxurious descriptions, and international travel all created the perfect base for this romantic suspense.

-Calliope

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Review: The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

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What a fun caper!

The Job is about FBI Agent Kate O’Hare’s plan to catch a criminal – using criminal/informant/love interest Nick Fox and a slew of other assistants, including Kate’s dad.

The whole thing has an Ocean’s Eleven feel to it, which I love. You’ve got good guys and bad guys and really smart guys all working together to con the baddest, meanest son of a gun criminal. There are inside jokes, flirting, clever one-liners, loads of pretense, and witty conversations.

Yes, the plot is light and somewhat predictable. Yes, you must suspend your disbelief a few times. But really, it’s all so worth the fun of joining O’Hare and Fox on a smart mission to take one more bad guy off the streets.

This was number 3 in a series. Sign me up for number 4.

-calliope

buy THE JOB

Review: The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith

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I loved The Cuckoo’s Calling (book 1 in the series), and although The Silkworm is GOOD, it isn’t AS good.

What I liked: tiny snippets of Cormoran and Robin navigating a professional relationship that turns platonically personal once in a while; a complex crime; über-developed characters; and the Hercule-Poirot-esque resolution.

What I didn’t like: too much emphasis on Cormoran’s prosthesis and pain; Strike’s character eliciting pity instead of sympathy; maybe a little too much convolution of the crime and criminals– I was confused at some parts; and the gruesomeness of the actual crime.

Galbraith (JKRowling) is an excellent writer with an extensive vocabulary. The masterful character and setting development created a movie in my mind. Impressive.

All in all, I liked it enough to want to read number 3 in the series, whenever it comes out. But I’ll admit it’s a little bit because I want to see if a love story will develop. I’ve seen the bare beginnings… And I’m a sucker for romance.

-Calliope

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Review: The Shadow of Death (Psalm 23 Mysteries #9) by Debbie Viguie

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If you’ve been reading the Psalm 23 Mysteries, you’ve got to read The Shadow of Death. Right. Now. It’s fast-paced, international, truth-revealing, and the most dangerous book in the series yet. I love when a plot is written so well that you feel like you’re on a thrill ride… no effort, just excitement and fun!

If you haven’t picked up the Psalm 23 Mysteries, I implore you to. Despite the name, they aren’t preachy or hokey or Bible-pushing. They feature a church secretary and a Jewish rabbi who keep tripping over dead bodies. Some of the time it’s coincidental, and some of the time it’s due to Rabbi Jeremiah’s sordid past.

In The Shadow of Death, Jeremiah’s secrets are revealed, he comes clean about his true feelings for Cindy, and he faces his biggest fear.

Read it. Love it. Wait for the next one. Amazing writing and a really fun ride.

-Calliope

It’s on sale today. $7.95 for kindle. Worth every penny.
buy THE SHADOW OF DEATH

Review: Fast Track by Julie Garwood

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When you’re already laughing and crying in the first quarter of a book, you know it’s a good one. Once I got through my tears, Garwood had me on the edge of my seat. Fast Track was fast-moving through to the end, I’ll tell ya.

The complex plot included terrific friendships, happy couples, an impending romance, secret agents (well, two special agents and one guy who couldn’t be pigeonholed) and a family driven so deeply by greed that it colored black the relationships with their own blood! I loved every minute of the suspense.

The friendship among the women was good – they were real with each other. The guys related to each other pretty realistically, too. I didn’t love the hero… he had some personality quirks that just weren’t for me… but in the end his redeeming qualities shone through. The heroine was a strong woman who became a bit submissive when interacting with the love of her life – an annoying but understandable part of the story.

I struggled a bit with a few rambly parts … wordy pages here and there and some lengthy descriptions that I glossed over. I also noticed quite a bit of telling instead of showing. Besides that, the beautifully thought-out plot overwhelmed any shortcomings in the writing.

-calliope

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Review: Mud Vein, by Tarryn Fisher

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“It’s your darkness that pulls me in. Your mud vein. But sometimes having a mud vein will kill you.”

This is not a book I can put in just one category. It’s not a mere thriller, mystery or suspense, or even a romance. This story can’t be simplified into any of those. It is an experience that will leave you speechless.

I am having a hard time putting into words all these crazy feelings that are running through me. Very few books have left me with this feeling of sadness, over the ending. But sadness isn’t the correct word. I’m not sad. I may be crying, but I’m not really sad. I’m more numb, than anything. See?? I need someone to reach down and pull the correct words out of my head and through them down here. I’m all a wreck.

If I could just write a review saying “Go and read it.” I totally would. Tarryn Fisher has a very unique writing style and it sucks you right in. This review will NOT do it justice. I’ll tell you that right now. You might as well just click on the buy link, at the bottom, and get started on reading it.

Senna wakes up in a cabin, in the middle of nowhere, and the only way out is to take good hard look at her past. But looking at her past may very well destroy her future. She must try and put the pieces together, or her life might not be the only one in danger.

Her past has completely shaped her. She is a broken soul with no way to be fixed. Or maybe, she doesn’t have the will to be fixed. She broke my heart. I was drawn into her and could totally feel everything she felt. I was breathless at a few parts. How one person could experience so much, was beyond me. I could feel her brokenness through these pages.

Isaac, was her savior, but she never really noticed that. He was there when she was at her worst, and he helped her when no one else did. He saved her from herself. He kept her alive. He was also with her in the cabin.

“Maybe lifting someone else’s weight makes yours a little more bearable.”

Every time I saw a glimpse of Isaac, from her past, I fell more in love with him. He never left her, when he thought she needed him. And she most definitely needed him, way more than she thought. He cared for her and never backed down no matter how hard she pushed. And boy did she push.

“Why are you here?”
“Because you are.”

But this wasn’t a love story really. It was a story about people and their darkness, and how even those with darkness in them they can still be loved. But it really wasn’t about love!! I still can’t put my finger on it.

My heart was racing almost this entire book. Watching Isaac and Senna try and put the pieces together, had my heart racing. It was a matter of their life or death. This is definitely not my usual type of story. I’m a fluff reader. Happy happy joy joy, with occasional heartbreak mixed in. This book terrified me, made me nervous, and of course, still broke my heart. The love shone, throughout this story, was beautiful, if not devastating. To have love like that would make anyone deliriously happy, but to Senna, it was unfathomable, until the very end.

“What you wrap around your soul determines your outcome.”

Tie yourself to those you truly love you.

~Melpomene

Buy Mud Vein

Review — The Fall of Saints by Wanjiku Wa Ngugi

18144135Wanjiku Wa Ngugi’s debut novel entices the reader with an interesting premise that has the potential to be different, and yet remain in the comfort zone of the “don’t trust your spouse” sub-genre that has dominated 2013/2014. In reality however, it falls a little short.
As an expat myself, I am always interested in stories told from the point of view of a person who is not on home turf. That element, added to the fact that it had potential to explore modern African culture, is what initially attracted me. The novel has all of these aforementioned elements, but the exploration of each one is rather lackluster. It is almost like an imposter, a fake, trying to emulate these experiences, has written the story, and that is really disappointing. Disappointment is the main feeling I experienced when reading this novel.
The suspense element was fine; it wasn’t particularly nail-biting, but it kept you on your toes for a few chapters. However, some of the dialogue and the situations that the characters faced, felt very trite and forced, resulting in a lot of eye rolling and mutters of “really?”.
However, in amongst the negative points, there were a few positive aspects. The scenes in Kenya were interesting and descriptive. They felt organic and genuine for the majority of the time. Also, as previously stated, the main protagonist, Magure, did have some potential moments that manage to escape from the disappointing moments.
It really wasn’t a bad read, but I think I set myself up to expect a lot more than I received. I definitely recommend you try it; after all, there are far worse books out there, and the author will hopefully produce a stronger novel in the future.

Pegasus.
(ARC provided for an honest review)

The Fall of Saints: A Novel

Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison

16171291 Jodi and Todd are a co-habitating couple of 20 years that seem to be in love and to have a lot going for them on the surface. They have a beautiful home, a dog they love and careers they both enjoy. However, Todd is a cheater and Jodi is aware of it but neither acknowledge this. Both choose to let the affairs be below the surface and continue on with their beautiful life. Until one of his affairs has long reaching consequences for all of them.

This book has been compared to Gone Girl in articles that I’ve read so I was intrigued and wanted to read it as I really love suspenseful novels like that. However this seemed much less like a chilling psychological thriller and more of an exploration of a relationship and what it devolves into after 20 years together.

This book has alternating points of view in each chapter – one from “his” and one from “hers”. The POV’s didn’t bother me at all and I enjoyed parts of it but there was very little dialogue which made some of the chapters seem very boring and dry to read. The story lacked emotion to me – while emotions should be running high in parts of the book, I just wan’t feeling it. I didn’t love or hate any of the characters, they just seemed a little too flat for me to care that much about.

3 stars

~Clio

Buy it Now The Silent Wife: A Novel

Review: Our Picnics in the Sun by Morag Joss

20131129-122346.jpgA man trapped both physically and mentally after a debilitating stroke. His wife resentful and overwhelmed by his needs. A distant son who refuses to return to the home he worked so hard to escape. A harsh, unforgiving landscape. And two strangers who mysteriously appear at their doorstep one night. Morag Joss has given us a cast of characters worthy of a fulfilling, suspenseful story.

Howard and his wife, Deborah, are simple, eccentric country people who insist on living off the land and shun many modern conveniences. Their son Adam escaped his sheltered upbringing to become a successful businessman. Howard loves nothing more than making pottery and practicing yoga while Deborah spends her time weaving and tending to her home and garden. They also run a not-so-successful bed and breakfast. When Howard suffers a stroke and becomes completely dependent on Deborah for his most basic needs, feelings begin to change and long buried resentments rise to the surface. Both Howard and Deborah are desperate for the attention and affection of Adam. But time and again they are disappointed by his unfulfilled promises of a long past due visit. Complicating matters is a lingering guest, Theo. As Deborah’s relationship with Theo begins to grow, she starts to view him as a replacement for her absent son. However, dark thoughts soon start to cloud her judgment as she begins to question everything she thought her life has stood for up to this point.

This book was described to me as a psychological thriller, and it definitely had me on the edge of my seat waiting for “it” to happen. The author wove a story full of such secret and suspense that I just knew at any moment the bottom was going to fall out. Although I caught on to one of the cliffhangers at about three quarters of the way through the book, her writing is so beautifully lyrical and descriptive that I wanted to keep reading just for the pleasure of the journey. The ending did not disappoint me and all of my questions were answered, although I would describe this book as more of a suspenseful drama than a psychological thriller. A good read!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: Our Picnics in the Sun: A Novel

Review – King and Maxwell, by David Baldacci.

17333431I’ve been a fan of David Baldacci for about the last 10 years or so, so when I received this ARC to review, I jumped in reading straight away. As you can probably start to tell by now, my taste in genres is pretty varied. Baldacci is my go-to author for my ‘fluff’ reading; he is like James Patterson, only twice as good and actually writes his own books (allegedly!).

This book is the latest in the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series – a buddy cop type series, but with two former Secret Service agents. I really like this series because these two characters have some genuine chemistry and seem half believable. It’s not too late to start this series as there are only 5 other books before this one.

The plot is your standard ‘two agents must save the day against juggernaut government factions that kill at will’ etc, etc… However, this plot has a contemporary edge to it, which makes it seem like it could potentially happen in today’s age. The pace of the writing is fast and exciting – before you know it, you’ve read ¾ of the book!

I won’t for one second say that this book will invoke any kind of emotional tidal wave, make you ponder the meaning of life and being, challenge your inner self, or anything like that. It will however, serve as an entertaining and quick read, one that doesn’t disappoint because you know what you are getting, and it doesn’t fail to deliver. I highly recommended this for fans of Baldacci’s King and Maxwell series.

Book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

~ Pegasus.

Buy It Here: King and Maxwell (King & Maxwell)<