Review: Along Came Jones

This book was received in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My opinions, however, remain my own. Thanks for the chance to read this book!

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Title: Along Came Jones

Author: Victoria Bernadine

Summary: Benjamin Ferrin Macon-Jones has it all: a luxurious lifestyle in Toronto and the love of an intelligent, ambitious woman…until that same woman refuses his marriage proposal, tells him he’s a detriment to her career, and leaves him. Unable to deal with his cantankerous family trying to be supportive, he quietly slips away into the Canadian countryside.

Lou Upjohn has problems of her own. She’s a recluse and agoraphobic, staying safely within the walls of her ancestral home in small town Saskatchewan and depending on Ike, her best and only friend, to deal with the outside world.

Only Ike’s just married another woman and now he’s moving to Vancouver. Before he leaves, he hires the new guy in town, Ferrin Jones, to run her errands and do her yard work. Lou isn’t happy, but even she has to admit the stranger looks mildly interesting.

Both their lives could be changed forever if she only has the courage to open the door. 

My thoughts:

I don’t read much contemporary romance, like, at all, so I was a little surprised to be approached to review this story. However, I am pretty open about my mental health issues, and I found that angle intriguing enough that I said yes. I’m so glad I did!

I am really not a fan of the insta-love that substitutes for a real relationship in so many new books. Maybe that’s because it’s primarily YA, but I *so* don’t want to read about a couple who meet, fall in love, and fall into bed. I’m not into those books. If you are, hey, good for you, but I want real people who have time to get to know one another before they fall.

So this book was a breath of fresh air for me. I loved the MCs – Ferrin was just so appealing, with his crazy family and optimistic attitude. I can see why Lou fell for him – he’s just a great guy. And Lou, she’s so real and so much stronger than she has given herself credit for being. I liked that she didn’t magically overcome her panic attacks. The pacing felt pretty realistic. The bad guy is just human garbage and I was glad to see them get what they deserved.

If you are looking for a good romance with a great small town setting, I would definitely recommend this one. The author says she’s been writing for a long time, and it shows. Recommended.

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Review: The Lost Spy

36264356 I was give a copy of this book by the writer in exchange for an honest review. My opinions remain my own.

Title: The Lost Spy, Slim Moran #1

Author: Kate Moira Ryan

Synopsis:

It is Paris, 1949. 27-year-old American detective and heiress, Slim Moran, is hired by a British spymistress to find Marie-Claire, a spy long presumed dead. Slim soon realizes that scores from the last war have not been settled. She races to find out what happened to this deeply troubled lost spy because if Marie-Claire is not dead, she will be soon.

My review:

World War II is over. Slim Moran isn’t ready to return to the US or to England. She’s happy to stay with her lover in Paris, and opens an agency to find displaced persons. She hasn’t had many cases when she is contacted by someone from the SOE looking for a missing radio operator, believed to be captured and killed by the Nazis. But there’s just a possibility that she might be alive. Will Slim be able to get to the truth of what happened to Marie-Claire?

I wasn’t really crazy about this book. It started off with an interesting premise, a good strong setting, but then I got turned off by the number of times people would just sit around and talk and Slim would do nothing at all to verify their stories, to press them, to look for clues. There was a whole lot of nothing happening. I feel like maybe that’s not fair, but something about the actual detection part of mystery just didn’t work. There were too many times Slim just accepted things at face value.

The tangled relationships made it difficult to care about these characters as well. I liked the introduction of Edith Piaf as a performer and Marlene Dietrich – little touches like that really helped with the setting. But it honestly wasn’t enough to save the book for me. I would say if you are interested in the setting, to give it a try. It might also be that it’s just suffering from first book blues.

Thanks for the chance to read this one.

Monsters I Have Known: Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

35534791 Title: Monsters I Have Known: A Collection of Short Stories

Author: Jess Hartley

Genre: paranormal, thriller, and horror short stories

Synopsis:

Come take a walk in the shadows alongside award-winning writer/editor/novelist, Jess Hartley, as she leads you through 13 intriguing tales of monstrous beings – supernatural or otherwise. In this, Hartley’s first solo anthology, readers will find a broad offering of genres – horror, romance, steampunk, fantasy and more – including her never-before-published murder mystery novella – Love Never Dies. Monsters I Have Known collects both well-loved favorites from previously published anthologies and never-before-seen fiction, presenting them with insightful introductions to share with readers some of the circumstances surrounding each story’s creation. A must-have introduction for those new to Hartley’s work.

My review:

Wow, what a great collection of stories. I’m not normally a fan of horror, but I love a good spooky ghost story. When I was approached to review this book, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I’m glad I took a chance.

It’s hard to pick which story I liked best, but the first one, Love Never Dies, was the longest. In this one, the main character finds herself walking up the beach to her house. Nothing feels right, but it’s only her and her husband. What could be wrong?

My favorite story was Immaterial Witness. Liz gives tours in Bisbee, Arizona, the most haunted town in America. She gets a chance to be on a podcast, but the slimy host has plans of his own. He wants all the dirt, but Liz has a big secret. She can see ghosts, and she’s not about to expose them to a third-rate journalist looking to exploit the dead. Really good story.

This month is a perfect time for this collection. You should totally check this one out. It’s available on Amazon.

Afterdeath: Review

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

35274633Title: Afterdeath

Author: Benoit Chartier

Synopsis:

Death is a country we see through the tiny keyhole of an immovable door.
Raised by their grandmother after their parents’ death, Chloe and Olivia Borders are now in mourning for Rose. The Alzheimer’s that forced them to be split into separate foster homes has taken their last living family member. As a way to rekindle their friendship, the twins commit to a road trip— which spells their demise. Now the question is: What comes after, and how will they get back to life?

Review:

Twin sisters Chloe and Olivia have drifted apart since their parents’ deaths. Now that their grandma is dead, the two decide to become reacquainted with a sister road trip. They both die. That sounds like a spoiler, but it happens early in the book, and the real story is about what happens AFTER Death. Hence the title, get it? Right.

So what does happen next? Let’s just say it’s NOTHING like you might expect. Olivia is a serious Christian, Chloe an agnostic, and both of them are in for a shock when they get to the other side. First of all, there’s still plenty to do and no sign of the Pearly Gates. Instead they meet some dubious new folks who claim to be there to help, but it’s hard to know who you can trust and who wants to kill you. Again.

It all gets a little confusing and kind of depressing, TBH. I had to push myself to keep reading. It doesn’t help that Angelica, their new companion, flips back and forth between seeming like a good gal and then a bitch. I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to like her or hate her, but she just confused me instead.

In the end, this one was quite original, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. I think it was a case of a bad fit. It sounded like something I would like, but I guess I was in the mood for something lighter.

Confusing Sci – Fi

I received this book free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Title: Trust in Axion

Author: Bruce Meyer

Aidan Scelestus never meant to change reality. But when he, together with his girlfriend Emma Drommel, focused too much energy on too small a physical space, that’s what they did. Together, they hijacked the stellar laboratory of Atraville College for a glimpse of another dimension. In this science fantasy novella, the multiple containment walls and magnetic protection of the lab can’t contain the damage to the fabric of space. The worst wasn’t what it did to themselves. The worst wasn’t even that it spread and nobody knew how to stop it; or that it affected people and buildings and landscaping alike. No, the worst was the fix devised by the professor of physics, Aubrey Probo. ”

Aidan and Emma are alone together in the high tech science lab on their college campus, when they unlock dark matter. (I don’t really understand the science here, so I can’t explain it further.) This causes a major shift in reality and distorts them into monsters. Physics professor Aubrey Probo seems to think that subatomic particles called axions are behind it all, that they have consciousness, and that they are speaking to her.

At least, I think that’s what’s going on. To be honest, I found this novella very confusing. I’m not sure what was going on most of the time. There are a lot of characters introduced, as the dark matter expands and affects lots of people, and most of them come to a tragic end. There wasn’t any back story to explain what was going on, and the science was over my head. I really just found myself confused. I didn’t care about any of the characters either. This one was just not for me.

Review: Darkwater

I was given this book free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are still my own.

Title: Darkwater: The Xenkur Chronicles Book 1

Author: D W Johnson

War is hovering over Xenkur. A war so large it will engulf the continent. Three factions lust for a never ending struggle for power and land. One small group caught up in the whirlwind that sweeps across the continent has what everyone seeks.

One mage, young and unaware, carries the secret everyone searches for and she has no idea she holds it. The magic of the ancients has power beyond measure. But can just one young mage harness that potential and even more will she wield that power for good or evil? ”

I was asked to review this book. It seemed like a perfect fit for me. I like fantasy/adventure, I like Dungeons and Dragons, and the reviews were solid. But it just didn’t work for me. The writing needs work, and I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I can definitely see the D&D influence, but that wasn’t enough to overcome the problems. I was really disappointed. I hate giving a bad review, but maybe someone else would enjoy this more than I did.

 

Standalone Sunday – Trapped

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I  received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Title: The Scent of Rain ☔

Author: Anne Montgomery

Rose lives in a very strict home. Not like you might expect, but much, much worse. Every aspect of their lives is ruled by what the Prophet wants. He expects complete obedience. Rose didn’t question this when she was young, but she’s beginning to have doubts. Why haven’t they heard from her brothers? Why did the school close? Why do they have to take vitamins ever day? And why is it so bad to think for yourself?

Adan is on the run. His family is gone and he has no one but himself. Now he’s been taken in by a Good Samaritan. He’s got a few questions of his own. Like who can he trust? What’s the story with the weird town? And who is this girl he sees running?

This is a compelling story about a little town in Arizona and the local Flds church. I am Lds, but the difference between my church and this one, which is based on extensive research by the author, is truly sobering. I am free to leave my church at any time without consequences. But when Rose tries to leave, her life is in great danger. It’s a good thing she has a few allies.

Local handyman Trak has grown up next door to the church and he’s too used to it to even notice. Cps case worker Brooke is new and she’s appalled. As soon as she arrives, she’s treated like a pariah. But when Rose and Adan meet, everything in the quiet town is turned upside down.

I wasn’t sure about this book, but like the author said, in some ways, I’m well qualified to review this. I live next door, so to speak, to the Flds Church. I know all the news stories about them. And I do appreciate the careful distinction the author made between the Lds Church to which I belong and the Flds Church. I liked the book and I was really drawn into the story.

I do want to give a Trigger Warning for this book. There are hints of sexual abuse, so be prepared.

Space Mystery!

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
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Title: Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body: A Guerline Scarfe Investigation

Author: Simon Petrie

I’m a big nerd when it comes to space. I don’t know a lot, but I love stories set in space, science fiction stories, and stuff like that. I also love mysteries. When I got asked to review a book that had both, I couldn’t resist.

Guerline Scarfe – what a name – is the equivalent of a police officer sometime in the future. She’s been asked to investigate a suicide. It looks like a pretty straightforward case, but she is a thorough officer and figures that any death deserves an explanation.

Tanja Morgenstein was working on Jupiter’s moon Titan when she pulled off her helmet. Despite the doctors best efforts, she died. Now it’s up to Guerline to figure out why she did it.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the mystery aspect, I liked the characters, and I really enjoyed the setting. It’s a world enough like our own that I could identify with what was going on, but enough different that it was completely fresh. I recommend this one and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Apparently Petrie has other books out but none in this series yet, but who knows? 4/5 stars and thanks for the chance to read it.

Shattered Roses

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Title: Shattered Roses: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling

Author: E L Parfitt

Setting: Modern England

Megan needs to round out her CV (resume) if she wants to be a doctor, so she really wants to get this opportunity to be a volunteer at a nursing home. Anything, really. She just wants a chance. So when the director introduces her to a resident known only as Lady, Megan is happy.

Lady is one of the oldest residents there. In fact, she claims to know everything about the building and its original owner. She tells Megan amazing stories about the Duke, who was charming and mysterious and had secrets. Lady’s father was the duke’s doctor. She tells stories of their romance during Megan’s weekly visits. But to be honest, it was Megan’s story. the prejudice she faced as a West Indian, her hardworking mother, her precocious sister, and the sad story of her father that really kept me reading. When I finished the book, it was Megan that I wanted to know more about, and her story that I found unsatisfying in the end.

This is a very short read, but I would recommend it. It’s more like a puzzle than a straightforward book with a linear plot.

 

Fun Romance Romp

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Title: The Hidden Duchess

Author: Bree Verity

Celeste is about to be unjustly arrested for her husband’s murder. She needs a quiet place to hide out while her lawyers gets things sorted out. Marcel is her cousin. He has a little farm in the French countryside. It’s the perfect solution . . . If these two don’t kill each other first.

What a fun book! Like most romances, the question wasn’t whether these two would get together, but how. They had great chemistry. I have to say though I wasn’t so sure in the beginning. I liked Marcel right off, but Celeste was such a brat! So spoiled! But she gets better.

One caution – This book has some love scenes that were more explicit than I was comfortable with. If you like it steamy, you probably won’t mind, but I skipped ahead.

I’m recommending this one for fans of historical romance. Thanks for the chance to read it.