Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: Light of Hope

Light of Hope Light of Hope by S.T. Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was excited to read this book. I am a domestic abuse survivor. I have worked in social services, starting out like Vicki in this book. My first job in social services was with a Welfare to Work program. Like the story, I recognized that domestic violence was a huge factor in being able to complete the program and maintain employment. Things were changing a lot back then. Welfare was changing. Domestic violence laws were changing. I was able to take a 40 hour domestic violence training and domestic violence in the workplace training that led to me being the domestic violence liaison. I worked very hard. Everyone else in the agency I worked at worked very hard. When I read the synopsis for this book I hoped it would be bringing to light many of the obstacles those on welfare looking to work, domestic violence survivors and minimum wage earners continue to face. I hoped that perhaps it would offer ideas on how to help clients. At the very least, I was hoping for a book I could recommend to someone with an interest in social services. Unfortunately, there is no way I can do that. I was insulted by the story which was more about a narcissist social worker and all the ways she jeopardized clients along with the agency she worked for.
It took me awhile to get through this book. I kept trying to give it a chance, hoping somewhere towards the end it would redeem itself. Occasionally the author wrote something brilliant that gave me false hope she was going somewhere. I know we all make mistakes and that workplace romances do happen. I went into this book thinking that perhaps Vikki and her boss Robert did develop a relationship and the author was going to show how they were able to balance work and love. Instead we were fed a boss who took every possible moment to initiate sex with a new employee. Sex in a restaurant parking lot. Sex in a meeting room. Sex in the office. Neither one of them truly worried about helping their clients. They mouthed it. We were told Robert wanted results. (Anyone in social work wants results but they recognize they are working in this field because they care about helping the clients.) Vikki always thought about the clients but then blew them off as easily as Robert blew off her panties. Neither one cared about returning to work on time or attending meetings on time. There was barely even any interactions with any clients except one. A battered woman and her children that Vikki took home and basically abandoned there so she could meet with her boss for a little one on one. I am at a loss as to why they weren't placed in a shelter where professionals could assist them. I am at a loss as to why the woman wasn't attending any type of therapy or receiving legal assistance. I am at a loss as to why the children weren't in counseling to help them sort their feelings with what they witnessed. I am at a loss as to why, for months, this woman did not receive any services from the agency Vikki worked for. Perhaps Vikki needed a housekeeper and cook more than the woman and children needed help.
I did not care for or connect with a single character in this story. As a domestic violence survivor I did not connect at all with the domestic violence story line. As a social worker I was appalled and insulted repeatedly. I realize this is a work of fiction, (I certainly hope it was not based on real life), and perhaps the goal was not to bring to light any of the issues faced in social work or to provide a light of hope. Maybe I find nothing in this book to recommend it because my expectations were too high. In reality, though, I wasn't the least bit entertained by the story. I read erotica and steamy romances sometimes. The sexual escapades were not developed enough to give me room to recommend it to readers of those genres.
I do think the author was trying to write a strong female character and that she was trying to show how domestic violence is still a huge obstacle for many. I think she was trying to show it not only with Nikoleta but also with Vikki and her sister, Lily. I even think she has a story in there that has the potential to be awesome. I would suggest she research domestic violence and options available, read some steamy romance or erotica books with sex in the workplace as a theme, let her female lead have a strong voice and write more showing what was happening rather than telling us everything. Let the characters show us.
Please keep in mind this is only my opinion. I believe every book has an audience. If you are interested in this book, then I invite you to try it.
Thank you to BookTasters and to the author for offering this book for review purposes. All reviews done by me are based on my honest thoughts while reading it and what I thought afterward. I was given an arc ecopy for review purposes. It was not the finished version so I cannot address grammar or spelling issues as they may have changed by publication.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: The Hotel Marcel Dining Club: By Invitation Only

The Hotel Marcel Dining Club: By Invitation Only The Hotel Marcel Dining Club: By Invitation Only by Elizabeth Cooke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. This is my first time reading an Elizabeth Cooke book. It won't be the last. I enjoyed this book so much! It was like being transported to Paris for a vacation. We join Elizabeth for her stay at Hotel Marcel. This is not her first time there, (or the first book - I must read the others!), as she is greeted warmly by the staff. I loved getting to know the characters and feeling the charm of Paris. I have wanted to visit there since I was a child and had a pen pal from France. The story ends with a beautiful tribute to the spirit of Parisians; their resilience, their strength in the face of tragedy. I loved the line, " Paris Wakes Up and Smiles." I had to look up the song and listen to it. At the end of the book, recipes can be found. I love how they are connected to emotions. I love French cooking. I have tried making several French recipes but know they most likely fall short. The recipes included are not too difficult to follow though some may find them to be a bit of work. I think they are worth the work. I would recommend this book to lovers of France, especially Paris and to those with an interest in cooking.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: A Spoonful Of Spice

A Spoonful Of Spice A Spoonful Of Spice by Liwen Y. Ho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Romance is rarely my first choice in reading. It's not my last either. It is a genre that I need to be in the mood for unless something jumps out at me. I was in that stage of reading where I just finished a book I really enjoyed and had no idea what to read next. You know, when you aren't quite ready to leave the world you were in and you are convinced nothing is going to compare. I had gotten this book earlier today and I thought it's a short story. Maybe it will be enough to move me out of the last book. Well it did. The problem is that it was so good I am stuck in another book world! I have not read book one in this series so I have no idea exactly what it is about, (I'm guessing something with summer from the series title). This was a complete story. It was a cute story about a romance that begins in the totally unromantic world of IT. I know, hot guys can be found in the IT department. In my head though, there is some laughter going on about that. Most guys I know in IT are not exactly hot at first glance. Actually I don't even know if Josh is hot. He is smart though. I happen to like intelligence so I see him as a hot guy. I like Cin a lot. She is smart and funny. I was surprised by how well these characters were written because of this being a short story. Usually when I read a short story I don't get that invested with the characters. The plot was interesting and knowledgeable about the IT department without being boring. If you want to read something fun but are short on time, this book is a perfect choice. It leaves you feeling good.
This is a clean read with no sex, violence or language issues.

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Review: Bloodline: A Witch Cat Mystery Book One

Bloodline: A Witch Cat Mystery Book One Bloodline: A Witch Cat Mystery Book One by Vicki Vass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book! I haven't read any of the author's books. I am curious about them now. I definitely want to read more Witch Cat Mysteries so I hope this series continues.
The narrator is a cat. That was something unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable. I am looking forward to more adventures with Terra, the witch cat narrator. I absolutely adore her. I love the way the author mixed in bits of historical elements with spells and lore to create a genuinely fun fantasy tale. I loved reading about the Vanderbilts ties to Asheville. I really enjoy reading about people in history, events that happened and the history of buildings and towns. This book contains all of that in an interesting mystery.
For those who read cozy mysteries and prefer them to be about Christianity, you may want to select a different book. However if you don't mind reading about witches and spells this is definitely a book you don't want to miss. Time flew by every time I picked it up to read. I had a most enjoyable time with this book and intend to read it again, most likely in the fall.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Review: Remember to Recycle: Psychological Suspense

Remember to Recycle: Psychological Suspense Remember to Recycle: Psychological Suspense by Tantra Bensko
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy sh*t! I don't even know where to start. I'm still reeling from the ride and can't distinguish if I have been mind f*cked or had my mind blown. I would hazard a guess as both; first f*cked then blown.
First let me tell you this is part of a series. I did not know that. I was led to this book by BookTasters, (thank you), who were offering as a review consideration book. I prefer to go into those books with little to no information beside genres. So I read it as a standalone. I did suspect, after reading it a bit that I might have missed a book. I was, however, able to fully enjoy and follow this book on its own.
The genre I was given for this was suspense thriller with hashtags of political and conspiracy. I ride the fence on accepting these. I don't know about you but I am freaking tired of politics, lies, fake news along with general crying and whining from all parties as well as the public. But then psychological was thrown in the ring and I am huge on psychological thrillers. I am so happy that was tossed out there as I might have missed this gem.
So what is the book about? All those things and more that I am so freaking tired of! So how did I get sucked into not being able to stop reading? The author, (who I don't know anything really about), is a master at weaving current events, current theories, and fantasy into a magical mystery tour where the three are blurred so well you basically feel as though you lost your mind. Of course you must find it so you have to keep reading. Can you trust anything or anybody in it? I waffled on who could be trusted, who should be trusted, throughout the book only to be blown up at the end. I don't know; maybe I would have known who to trust if I had read the books in order. My personal feeling about this book...stop reading reviews. Go in with what you know and let the story unfold for you. Decide for yourself if you will read them in order or not. I will be reading the other parts to this but at this moment, I can't recommend which way to go on that. What I can tell you is to read this book even if you are tired of what is going on in this country. Maybe I should have used especially instead of even there.
Thank you to the author who provided an ebook for review consideration. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts, (jumbled as my mind still is from reading this).

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: The Stranger Inside

The Stranger Inside The Stranger Inside by Jennifer Jaynes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have loved Jennifer Jaynes books since I read Never Smile At Strangers. I devoured that series. When I saw this book was coming out I instantly pre-ordered it. Then I waited. I don't think I was ever so impatient for a book to be released! Was it worth the wait? Oh yes!

I never read any of the blurbs about it. In all honesty, given the title, I assumed it was going to be another book in the series. I was surprised when I began it and knew it wasn't. I was not surprised or disappointed at all though by the writing. This author is amazing. You definitely want to carve out enough time to read it non stop. The story will hold you captive. Don't worry though, it moves at a fast pace. I figured it out. Then doubted myself. Figured it out again. Changed my mind. Kept questioning myself and the clues almost to the reveal! Then after the reveal, I was asking myself a new set of questions. I am still playing the question game. I imagine I will be for awhile.

Jennifer Jaynes books tend to stay with me. I find myself recommending them long after I read them. This book will join the others on my favorites shelf. It will be a book I return to in the winter when I love to read a good thriller cuddled up with my dog, (who gives this book two paws up - four paws up being reserved for belly rubs), hot chocolate and snow outside. I am already eagerly waiting for the next book. If you are thinking of getting this book, like a fast pace, enjoy true crime, (this is not a true crime book though), stop thinking. Go get this thriller.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: Death in Advertising

Death in Advertising Death in Advertising by Laura Bradford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laura Bradford is a new author for me. I learned of her when this book was selected for one of the book clubs I am in. I didn't have expectations when I began reading. I had hope for a fun book. I am happy to say that hope was realized. I'm not going to go into how slowly or quickly I solved the mystery. One: I hate spoilers and try to avoid them. Two: We are all different in our sleuthing skills, reading speed and comprehension. I don't want to look at a review as a contest to see who was faster or smarter. I read these types of books for enjoyment. So if that is what you want to know, you can skip to the next review. No hard feelings. No judgments.
What did I like about this book? The characters, for starters. I connected with Tobi. I absolutely adore Grandpa Stu. Their relationship brought me thoughts of my grandpas and how much I miss them. Sam. Oh how I love this character! For once we have a teenager who acts like a teen without all the narcissist, petty or angry behavior I find in many books, (tv, movies, music and, sadly, real life), now. Sam loves his mom, is understanding of animals, is loyal to friends, is respectful, responsible and works. I know there are many, many Sams in real life but it is always the other teens who get noticed. I was thrilled to see such a caring teen included as a possibly returning character. And then the birds! They were awesome. This is my second book where birds played a part in the plot. I am a dog lover. My Shih Tzu, Zoey, is my reading partner. We tend to choose a lot of books with dogs in them, followed by ones with cats. We have been surprised by how fun birds can be. I hope Rudder continues to make appearances in the series. Beyond the characters, I really enjoyed the plot. It was interesting, fast paced and had us laughing together in a few parts. Aside from the murder to be solved there was also a possibility of romance, (or two, if Grandpa Stu hangs around). I had a good time reading this book. I was drawn in quickly and easily. Actually the only thing I missed was an update on Baboo. Zoey thinks that may come in the next book. I hope she is right.
There wasn't any graphic sex, violence, gore or language. No typos or editing issues that jumped out at us. I know some people are interested in knowing that before they choose a book. Zoey gives it two paws up and I give 5 stars.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bad Boys for Hire: Ryker (Bad Boys for Hire Series, #1)Bad Boys for Hire: Ryker by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wowza! I woke up way early and couldn't get back to sleep so I decided to give this a listen. Almost four hours passed by without me noticing. I listened, enthralled. The ups and downs, twists and turns had me feeling like I was on a roller coaster. The spicy parts kept me warm on this chilly Alaska morning. This was the first audio book of Rachelle Ayala's that I have listened to. At the end of it I laid there thinking about it versus a print, (or kindle), version. I came to the conclusion that I really enjoyed listening to this one. Normally I pick print. The narrator did a good job. He didn't put me to sleep even though I was laying in my bed. I would definitely listen to him again.

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Review: A Father for Christmas

A Father for Christmas A Father for Christmas by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story deals with PTSD. The love interest is a homeless veteran, Tyler. The other part of the romance is Bree and her mother, Kelly. The book is the first book in a trilogy. I actually read the last book first, (that book was my discovery of this author, if I am remembering correctly). In my opinion you should read this in the order it was written. The author has other series where it doesn't matter, (some in which Bree makes an appearance), this trilogy is better read in order.
I have to confess that Kelly is not my favorite character. In real life she would be the friend I keep because I like her family. She is very judgmental but that is her personality and I am happy that the author lets that trait be. None of are perfect. Sometimes, in books, or movies, the character traits are sugar coated when they are negative. I appreciate the author holding true to Kelly even though it makes it difficult to like her. Bree is adorable! She is who falls in love first and she is who you are really rooting for in this story. Tyler, has some very real issues going on. My son was sent to Iraq during the beginning of the war. He now suffers from PTSD along with some physical issues. It is a rough road filled with sadness. We have not done enough for our returning heroes, though we are improving. I was pleased that the author portrayed this accurately. My son is not homeless but he has a lot of support in his life. Without his wife, daughters and the rest of us, he could easily be Tyler. In listening to this story I thought a lot about my son and his family and did make comparisons. I think we all do when we read a story that is close to our real lives. I don't like Kelly that much but she is a strong woman and it takes a strong personality to handle everything that goes with loving someone with PTSD. Please keep that in mind when you read this story. You will probably want to slap Kelly at time, Tyler too to be honest, and may become frustrated with her. I don't want you to get so frustrated you give up the story. The story is a touching one. Both adults have issues and a past. I don't want to give away the story so I'm not going into details. You will discover them as you read. It does make for conflicts and a need for understanding and forgiveness.
I thought the narrator was good. I have heard better ones but she did a good job. I didn't go to sleep on her. Lol. This was the first time I heard her read. I would listen to her again. She does vary her tone and did well with Bree.

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Review: Sun Kisses

Sun Kisses Sun Kisses by Lynda Beaver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a delightful book! I have a few freckles myself but I have cousins who have many more. As I was reading this book, my thoughts turned to them. I thought about how much this book could have contributed to their happiness as children. I wish it came out when we were children. I would have been gifting it madly! Like Emily, they had been teased about their freckles. They would have loved a book about how they came to receive so many freckles.

Emily comes home crying over what a school mate has told her. In ancient times, (haha), she would have been told, "sticks and stones." Recent times she might be told to ignore the mate. But now she has a wonderful fable to help her.

We are all unique. We are all beautiful. I would recommend this book. It is a lovely way to explain freckles.

I enjoyed the illustrations. I wish there were more of them included.

Thank you to BookTasters and the author for bringing this book to my attention for review consideration. It is a book I will be sharing.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

The Long Road HomeThe Long Road Home by Carolyn Bowen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked the story. It held my interest even though I had a couple of problems with it. I liked a lot of the characters. The ones I didn't I wasn't suppose to. The story moved along at a fast pace and was filled with intrigue. Which brings me to my problems with it. Point of view changed a few times during the story. I can handle that when the author keeps me in the know. With this story, they changed with no real warning or break. Several times I was jarred out of the story by the abrupt change in POV. In all honesty, when I find this in a book the storyline has to have gotten my attention. It is one of the things can can cause me to shelf a book as, "did not finish". The other problem I had was with the character Ken. I felt that there really wasn't any closure with him and I was left hanging. I don't want to go totally into who and why because it would be a spoiler. I would rather you read the book and judge yourself. I mention for the authors benefit. Despite those issues that I had with it, I really enjoyed the book. I kept turning pages to see how things would turn out.
Thank you to BookTasters and the author for bring the book to my attention for review consideration.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Review: The Haunting of Ashburn House

The Haunting of Ashburn House The Haunting of Ashburn House by Darcy Coates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I selected this book during the final hours of a 24 hour readathon. I had the hope it would keep me reading during my hardest hours of the 24. The creepiness of the story certainly did just that. It actually became hard to put down once the readathon ended. However as I needed the sleep, I put it down. When I picked it back up to finish it, (or so I intended), a hilarious thing happened.
I woke in the early morning hours and could not get back to sleep. I decided I would read a bit in bed. The house was completely dark except for my Kindle. My dog was sleeping next to my bed. Now, you need to understand this book is very atmospheric. For me, the creep factor is high. The writing had totally drawn me in and I was transported to Ashburn House. At a part that involved a lone neglected grave and a dead looking body, (I don't want to tell you if they were or were not dead - sorry), I felt my bed suddenly start violently shaking! Being completely disorientated, I was wildly trying to figure out where I was and what was happening. The shaking stopped but my heart was racing. The shaking began again along with the doors loudly rattling and my dog freaking out at nothing I could see. Being fully awake now, I realized we were having an earthquake and the haunt of Ashburn House was not in my room. The earthquake was a 6.3 one so you can imagine how it felt. We are fine but I thought I would share that with you. I know I am not the only one who gets so drawn into a story.
I really enjoyed the story. In my opinion the build up was well timed. We were given a chance to experience Addy getting to know an old house she inherited. We became aware of something being wrong the same as she did. This is what allows us to fall so deeply into the story that we are lost in Ashburn with Addy. I do wish we had a bit more information on Marion. It would have been interesting to know her character better. The gore level was a surprise. In my experience you either get a ton of gore or none with an atmospheric book. I felt the author put the right amount of it in the story.
There is no sex in this book, the violence/gore level was appropriate for the story and there is some mild adult language for those who are interested. I would absolutely recommend this book for teens and up. I am looking forward to reading more work by Darcy Coates.

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Review: Inheriting Murder: A Bobwhite Mountain Cozy Mystery

Inheriting Murder: A Bobwhite Mountain Cozy Mystery by Jamie Rutland Gillespie My rating: 5 of 5 stars ...