One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton #BookReview

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Milly loves her sisters more than anything – they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix …

Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke …. Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn’t about Luke at all … is it?

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star three and a half

Three sisters and their mother are going on vacation.. a happy occasion, a wedding, in the land of ‘amore’, Italy. This sounds like the perfect light summer reading and it is, the atmosphere, the people in Italy, the food, the sights, the Trevi fountain.. it was all easily imaginable and what’s more, it made me want to be there!

There’s only one thing that’s obvious right from the start of this novel, this family is dealing with the grief of losing someone. They all deal with it in their own way. I was happy to see that it didn’t weigh the story down at all though, it wasn’t written in a depressing way but more through the sharing of funny stories and reminiscing about their father. Even when hearing about the good and joyous things, you can feel how someone is missed so much. He seemed such a nice man and a good father. He was the life of any party, he listened to his daughters, he was the jokey dad, he wasn’t there anymore but through everything that was said it was easy to feel the emptiness he left behind.

Dad was sunshine and music and laughter.

I really liked this little family, the three sisters looking out for each other. I felt Leonie was sometimes more mature than Milly even though she was the youngest. I liked Luke as well, allthough I didn’t feel like I really got to know him. But he’s a good guy and someone who doesn’t go running from someone else’s grief. He knows what to say, he knows how to listen.

Maybe this wedding won’t be such a horrible event after all?

One Italian Summer was a very enjoyable and perfect summery read. There was room for much more than just the romance part and it was just as much about all the other family dynamics and relationships.

I received a free copy of this novel from my great blogger friend Nicki from the blog SecretLibrary. This is my honest opinion.

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Close to Home by Robert Dugoni #BookReview

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What’s it about?

While investigating the hit-and-run death of a young boy, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite makes a startling discovery: the suspect is an active-duty serviceman at a local naval base. After a key piece of case evidence goes missing, he is cleared of charges in a military court. But Tracy knows she can’t turn her back on this kind of injustice.

When she uncovers the driver’s ties to a rash of recent heroin overdoses in the city, she realizes that this isn’t just a case of the military protecting its own. It runs much deeper than that, and the accused wasn’t acting alone. For Tracy, it’s all hitting very close to home.

As Tracy moves closer to uncovering the truth behind this insidious conspiracy, she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

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Review

star three and a half

I’m a big fan of detective Tracy Crosswhite and the three other members of her team (Faz, Del and Kins) working as one of the Seattle homicide teams and I was super happy to see this fifth new novel coming out!

The Trapped Girl, the fourth installment in the Tracy Crosswhite series was such a cracking read, I knew in advance it would be a hard one to match. Close To Home was definitely a strong novel and an enjoyable read but I have to admit, it didn’t have the same waw-factor. Probably part of the reason I didn’t feel the the same thrill was that I expected it to be more alike and Mr. Dugoni took quite a different approach with his new novel. Close To Home was much more police procedural than thriller, taking everything from fighting over jurisdiction to interviewing people on the witness stand in the court room and processing evidence. Even though this change took some getting used to, his writing still was as detailed and sharp as ever.

There are two plotlines in this novel that pretty much alternate, one involving an investigation into a hit and run which finds its way into the navy and the other plotline focuses on one of the team members, it is a rather personal one for Del. His niece of 15 years old died of a heroin overdose and he wants to find whoever provided her with the drugs. Mr. Dugoni delved into the many problems involving this addiction. He’s really going deeply into the issue, explaining why it became so epidemic and he even makes a plea for a safe location to use. It’s something that Del is very much opposed to, seeing what it did to his niece but then a friend who lost her son as well says she probably wouldn’t have lost him if he could have done it in a controlled environment and he starts to feel slightly differently. It’s controversial and it definitely makes you want to think about it and come to your own conclusions.

The navy setting was a completely new scene for me and although I’m not attracted to these kind of scenes in books or movies per se, he wrote about it in such a way that it did get me interested and I have a better picture now of some of its inner workings than before. There isn’t much to say about Leah Battles, who works there, though. The idea was to throw suspicion her way and cause doubt about the fact that she tampered with evidence or not but I strongly felt she didn’t. I’ll leave it in the middle if she did or didn’t do it ;-).

I’ve come to love Tracy’s tenaciousness and in this novel it’s no different, even when the case was in peril of being lost to her, she didn’t give up trying to find the person responsible, even if it gets quite dangerous for herself. As usual, this series has delicious banter and digs among the team members, which I’ve come to love about this series, and I was relieved it wasn’t any different in this novel.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Here’s also the link to my previous reviews of The Trapped Girl and My Sister’s Grave.

 

The Hooker and the Hermit by L.S. Cosway and Penny Reid #BookReview

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What’s it about?

New York’s Finest – Blogging as *The Socialmedialite* – April 22

LADIES AND GENTS! I have an announcement!
You know that guy I featured on my blog a few months ago? The really, really hot Irish rugby player who plays the position of ‘hooker’ in the RLI (Rugby League International)? The one with the anger management issues, the body of a gladiator and the face of a movie star? The one with the questionable fashion choices leading me to ask whether he was the lovechild of a leprechaun and a hobbit? Ronan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, that guy. Well, I have a confession to make…

THE HERMIT
Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.

THE HOOKER
Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…

THE PLAN
When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.
What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?

The Hooker and the Hermit is a collaboration between authors L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid, is a full length 110k word novel, and is a standalone

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Review

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I adored Six of Hearts by L.S. Cosway and that novel even made it into my top 10 reads of last year because of how original and hot it was so I really wanted to read another novel by L.H. Cosway and I went back to read the first one, The Hooker and the Hermit, which she’s co-written with Penny Reid. Of course I’ve had it on my e-reader for so long that I didn’t remember what it was about and it seems I had a bit of a misconception about the title there.. It’s not often but this time it would have been a good idea to read the blurb :-), just saying.

I absolutely loved the first half of the novel but then I got the feeling the second part wasn’t exactly in line with the first one. At first it was so incredibly witty and really funny as hell and I recognized myself even a little bit in the hermit that Annie Catrel was. What’s more, nobody knows she blogs (don’t I know it) as The Socialmedialite where she spouts her unabashed opinion about popular celebrities. This is what she likes to do most, this is where she can be herself. She doesn’t hold back in her comments on clothing styles and only days after she featured a Colin Farell lookalike on the blog and made fun of his lycra shorts and toe-shoes (really, who wears that ?!) she meets him in real life and HE sets his sights on her.

This novel is filled with quite a few clichés, like shy girl who falls for a famous guy and he of course finds a way to get her to come out of her shell. There’s the crappy childhood and the inevitable commitment issues. It was kind of predictable but even that didn’t bother me all that much. I also really liked their budding romance.. Ronan is deliciously foul-mouthed and he’s not afraid to push her bounderies and make her blush again and again, going further by being very suggestive every time they meet and have to talk business.

All was well, it was definitely getting hotter by the minute.. and then the story takes on some sort of 50 shades of grey shape (complete with safe words although they were funnier than in the original version, luckily there wasn’t a contract, at least in that sense) and the cute feel of the novel was stumped immediately. Gone were the jokes and the tension. I didn’t know what I was expecting but this wasn’t it. Annie didn’t feel like the Annie I got to know anymore and I’m not only talking about her nympho tendencies but also because she seemed so composed in the beginning and suddenly she’s anything but collected.

What started out as a really funny read didn’t end in the same way for me but if you like it funny but you don’t mind some bdsm later on, you should definitely read this one. I’m still happy I read one of her later novels and I think it’s wise to leave the earlier work and pick up again with the sequel to Six of Hearts (Macabre Magic #Hearts 1.5 and Hearts of Fire #Hearts 2).

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis #BookReview

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There’s trouble in paradise . . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy.

It should be paradise. But it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes.

After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

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Blimey! Let’s skip to the best part right away and let me tell you, this one sure packs a punch in the end. I can’t get over it, I’m still thinking about it! I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone who can figure out how this story will unfold on her own :-).

I can’t say much about the plot, only that Jemma, the main character, wanted to get married for a long time and when it’s finally happened, she doesn’t feel very happy at all. What’s more, the newlyweds have a massive blow-up in front of another couple who are honeymooning in the Maldives too and Jemma doesn’t even remember the rest of the evening, she was so drunk. Her spouse goes missing that same night. Queue the perfect unreliable narrator. What did she say to her new female friend after he stormed off, what did she do? She’s kind of worried about that and that made me edgy too. Suspicion soon falls upon her, from other couples, from the staff in this dreamy resort, from the media who have caught on very quickly and sense a great story to sell.

What struck me as well was that Jemma was so much aware of how she looked and how she had to act in front of other people. I can understand you don’t want the police to scrutinize you but still, it felt strange and it sure added to my doubts if she was to be trusted.

So why did I like this novel but am I not using a thousand superlatives? Well Jemma was a little too erratic in behaviour for me sometimes. She misses her husband, but in other parts of the story she detests him, can’t stand him, hates him even. I had high expectations about what happened to make her very suddenly feel so strongly but honestly I still don’t completely understand. Something did happen but I still don’t feel it should translate to these overly negative feelings towards her hubby.

There are a few twists and turns in this novel and one of them came quite early in the novel which made me almost squeak from surprise because I wasn’t expecting anything to happen so soon in the story. Unfortunately there’s nothing of exitement following this first thrill and there isn’t happening very much at all on the island, it’s pretty much status quo all the time regarding the investigation so even though I still had the burning question that I wanted to know if her husband was dead or alive and if she had anything to do with it, I had nothing but the past and the lead up to their honeymoon to read about. There sure is a lot of drama to be found there. The story unfolds much more in the past than in the present which was intriguing and interesting but I felt the storyline about his disappearance was a bit slow-going and I kind of wanted more intrigue there. You’ll have to wait for it, you’ll probably fervently check how many pages there are left in the novel like I did and then – finally – all will be revealed in an astonishing and gripping ending. My overall conclusion is that The Honeymoon had a really very strong beginning and a truly astonishing ending :-).

One word of advise to those engaged.. I wouldn’t go to The Maldives and plan on reading this novel, it might give you ideas!

If anyone wants to do a bookswap for this one, let me know 😉

Zodiac by Sam Wilson #BookReview

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What’s it about?

In a society divided along Zodiac lines, status is cast at birth – and binding for life.

When seemingly random murders plague the city, is it a rebellion against the system or the work of a twisted serial killer? Zodiac is an imaginative and gripping thriller from debut author Sam Wilson.

Even for the most experienced detectives, every once in a while a murder can shake them to the core. Like when the Chief of Police is killed in his own home.

For Detective Jerome Burton, catching the killer will change his life forever.

Because this murder is only the first piece of a vast and twisted puzzle made of secrets, lies and tragedy.

The signs are everywhere. But is the truth written in the stars or hiding in the shadows?

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Review

star three and a half

I really wanted to read this novel when I saw the stunning cover with that caption line. Those who know me won’t be surprised though if I tell that I really never read dystopian books. The first and last one I read was years ago and didn’t really appeal to me in the end. So it might be even more suprising if I say that I actually enjoyed Zodiac.

A lot of it of course is the merit of this really interesting concept of a society based on different signs and the idea that you can’t treat people of different signs the same way because people of different signs behave differently. Sounds plausible right ;-)? Right, until of course there’s a whole hierarchy based upon this principle and some signs are regarded more highly than others. This novel focuses mainly on 2, 3 signs: being a Capricorn or a Taurus brings you a good status, but the lowest sign of all is Aries. They are prone to violence, they live in bad neighbourhoods, they are the most unemployed and the biggest population in prison are Aries too. But then of course they get caught most because – according to some – they are sought out, a stop and search for them is the new norm. One of them who raises his voice against the oppression of his sign is Solomon Mahout, leader of Aries Rising. On the other side there’s also the RAM Squad, a special unit set up to control the Aries population.

I read it all with a lot of interest and really didn’t think I could get lost in this world as much as I did. There is an overview about each sign before the novel kicks-off. I was apprehensive about what I would find further on in the novel because the mention of a sci-fi and fantasy culture didn’t seem like it was talking about me as a Virgo. In the novel itself I did find one reference to my own sign that sounds more like it though ;-):

Virgos […] were smart and interesting and independent, but they were often so socially blunt that talking to them was like boxing.

Anyway, onto the story itself. The first murder victim they find was working at the police force in one of the highest ranks. Detective Jerome Burton is assigned to the investigation and gets help from astrologer Lindi Childs. She’s going to see if the murderer’s profile fits based on his birth charts. Riiiight. Queue my sigh ;-). Thankfully the weight of this approach wasn’t hanging over the novel at all :-). Burton has his own personal struggles too, about his sign and about the sign his unborn child will be born into. Children will be born sooner to get the right sign but that might have consequences for its health too of course. Of course there’s also fraud with birth certificates and there’s even a school, The True Signs Academy, for children who have to learn the necessary code of behaviour to fit into their sign then. There was obviously put a lot of thought in all of this and it’s strange but I was completely loving this!

At the same time there’s a guy (capricorn) Daniel who stumbled upon a secret his father kept from him and is following his own investigation with the help of some Aries kid he ran into. Until suddenly someone Burton interviews leads them to the same place. The thing that confused me a little were these two plotlines and it took me quite a while to realise that they don’t start out at the same time.. the plotline with Daniel starts much earlier than the other one but that wasn’t made clear, it’s actually years ago in the past and it’s only towards the ending that they are both coming together gloriously in the present.

The last part of the novel held threats, danger and quite a bit of battle and action. Unfortunately, I still didn’t grasp all that well what the murders were about in the end and I found that the motive for the murders wasn’t explained thoroughly enough. Personally, I found the world-building and everything in it a little more interesting than some people’s fantastical ideas but then it might be just me, so don’t let that put you off.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen #BookReview

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What’s it about?

She knows there’s a killer on the loose.
But no-one believes her.
Will she be next?

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking.

Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying.

Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?

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Review

star three and a half

Hannah is staying in a private pschychatric clinic and it seems it wasn’t entirely out of her own volition. The reason for her stay is carefully dodged but I’m great at making lists of possibilities in my head and cross-referencing them with details I find so I thought I had her backstory figured out quite soon. I was pleasantly surprised my nose was pointed in the right direction and that I didn’t have to wait for the reveal of her reasons to stay until the end of the novel, which was what I kind of expected. It was a pretty little bomb dropped at the exact moment that you’ve got that feeling that you really just have to know now ‘what exactly is going on’ and I can only say that it’s very much in line with what I was expecting from Ms. Cohen. If you’ve read other books by this author, you know that there’s no limit to what she can write and in my books she’s known for her great plot twists and plotlines that are running very deep and are intricately crafted. A great start of this novel because Hannah suddenly becomes a very unreliable narrator, there’s no denying that you’ll have her backstory in your mind all the way through now. I’m still impressed with how cleverly she made Hannah to be doubted now at all times. A woman who did ‘that’ is surely not to be trusted?

Hannah’s convinced two of the patients there – one of them happened to be one of her best friends – didn’t kill themself.

“I’m frightened. I’m frightened that I’m right and I’ll be next. I’m even more frightened that I’m wrong, in which case I’m as crazy as they all think I am.”

Then her mother finds a picture of a woman on her daughter’s nightstand with the eyes pierced out. Who is she and why so much hatred? She starts investigating on her own and soon enough you can’t stop but wonder if the threat is actually coming from in- or outside the clinic.

People are lying and not everybody is who he or she claims they are and it’s up to Hannah and her mother to dig around and make people talk. Lots of deceit and lies to go round but are any of these people responsible for killing someone? I knew the who early on and the author didn’t really disguise it all that much, it’s not like it all really came out of the blue, so what really intrigued me the most was finding out why? What was the motive? And is Hannah in real danger?

As I was racing towards the end, I got really on edge how this was going to go down… I felt fearful but also relished that sense of danger lurking in the shadows. Ms. Cohen held out a long time and made me wait for it, keeping me on tenterhooks for the grand finale!

Maybe this isn’t my favorite novel by her, I still think When She Was Bad or Dying for Christmas proved to be just that little more exciting and sinister but it was still a good read with a couple of nice twists!

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

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What’s it about?

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania (population three thousand outside of tourist season).

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed date, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has rescued: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. There’s an immediate connection, and it’s more electric than the bond of two people who endured a traumatic event. It’s something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something she is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

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Atria Paperback | ISBN: 9781501133381 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $16.00
Atria eBook | ISBN: 9781501133398 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $7.99

Giveaway

K.A. Tucker and Simon & Schuster are giving away 5 signed paperback copies of this brand new novel! 

All you have to do is ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE

About the author

K.A. Tucker

 

K.A. Tucker is the author of He Will Be My Ruin and the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series. She currently resides outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.

 

Connect with the author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review

star three and a half

I read two novels by K.A. Tucker in the past, and still have fond memories of reading those to this day, so I didn’t have to think twice when I saw an opportunity to read her newest novel Until It Fades. Its promise of some swoonworthy romance was everything I wanted to hear. Her other novels also have plenty of romance but this one definitely is a little different and a bit of a lighter read, she says so herself in the acknowledgements.

The worlds of the two main characters couldn’t be further apart, one of them is constantly in the spotlight and the other tries to avoid all public attention. Catherine was the talk of town at the age of 17, a time she really doesn’t want to be reminded of and she’s quite happy that everyone has moved along and the attention has faded. Agreeing to one (bad) date changes everything though because on her way back home she becomes a witness to a car accident. When she gets home a media storm breaks out because the guy she helped out of the car is a famous hockey-star, Brett Madden. She tries to keep her identity a secret because she really doesn’t want any attention on her person but Brett is determined to find the woman who saved him. When he does, he finds more than he was looking for. But will this fairytale stay or will it fade?

I really liked Catherine, besides from being a heroine, she’s such a strong person in general and I enjoyed reading about her past, it was given a lot of attention and made me really get to know where she was was coming from. She’s not had an easy life but she’s positive and she made it all by herself. I really liked Brett as well, he’s rich, very rich but stays grounded and he’s considerate, caring and of course very yummy, but the person I liked perhaps most of all was Brenna. She’s a feisty 6-year old who always knows the right things to say and holds more wisdom in her little body than you could imagine.

This novel was definitely a slow-burn in the romance department but I wouldn’t necessary call it a bad thing that Catherine took her time. With all that she’s been through it would only be odd if she were to jump right in. She has learned to protect her heart and you can’t just let your guard down after someone’s giving you a few crooked smiles, right?

This novel is most of all about a girl who has learned a lot already in her young life and is trying to trust people again, it’s about how deep her family and friendship ties run in the end, it’s heart-warming and a fun read. Maybe, and this is just the smallest remark, I might have missed a little more drama and a few surprises along the way. There was one intended twist but I knew how that was going to play out right from the start really. I was really curious though what the consequences would be when this would have to be explained but as I said, there’s a lot of love and friendship to go round in this one.

This was a sweet and lovely story, maybe a tad less memorable than her other novels, but with the same easy and enjoyable writing and a cast of lovely characters that are her signature style.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.