Sunday, February 10, 2019

Slaughtered by K.A. Lugo

Title: Slaughtered (Jack Slaughter #1)
Author: K.A. Lugo
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Publication Date: October, 2018
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN

Description: The Texter

Fallen homicide detective, Jack Slaughter, closes the door on the home where his perfect family has been brutally snatched from him. Moving across the city, he works as a private investigator to fund his own investigation into what happened to his family—who killed his little girl, ZoĆ«, and where is his wife, Leah?

Every three month for the last three years, Jack receives a simple text telling him where he can find his missing wife. There’s a body at each location, but none of them are Leah.

Jack hates missing person’s cases, but they’re his bread and butter. He only takes the case to find Carl Boyd's missing wife because the details of her disappearance closely match Leah’s. He hopes by finding Bonnie Boyd, he'll find his own wife.

The Butcher

Following the leads in the Bonnie Boyd case, Jack discovers someone has been killing women all over the city for the last three years, a fact Jack’s ex-partner and still best friend, Ray Navarro, has neglected to tell him. The city has a serial killer and officials haven’t been able to find a single lead on the person they’ve dubbed The Butcher.

Could Bonnie Boyd’s disappearance be linked to The Butcher? More important, was Leah one of The Butcher’s victims? Could he have gone so far as to murder a child? With every clue Jack weaves together, his own life unravels even more.

My Thoughts: K.A. Lugo hits a homerun with the first book in her debut series about a police detective who has turned his back on his badge and the justice system when his young daughter and family dog are found murdered and his wife has vanished without a trace. For the next three years, Jack receives texts from someone toying with him, telling him where his wife’s body is, only for Jack to discover that its someone else’s body, murdered in the most heinous way.

Jack takes on missing persons cases as a private investigator but still holds onto the hope that one day Leah will be found and he can finally get the answers he so desperately seeks and the peace that having closure will bring.

This story grabs the reader from the start and its one fast and intense ride, so hold on tight! Jack is a character you can’t help but empathize with and root for. His grief comes across sharp and painful. His reminisces about Leah make his pain all the more vivid.

This story held a lot of surprises for me and the unmasking of the killer leaves more questions than answers that I predict will be made clear in future installments. I really enjoyed the side plot of the missing person case Jack is working on, which was really interesting, as well. Jack’s quest for justice is far from over, but with the support of his former partner and best friend, he is on the right path.

My Final Verdict: There are some gruesome and graphic descriptions of murder scenes that the weak kneed reader may struggle with, but it’s relevant to the story. I highly recommend this to all readers and fans of thrillers, suspense and police procedural plots will enjoy the hard-edged and sordid backdrop of this story. The characters are realistic and believable. The plot and dialogue flow smoothly and fit the characters and their personalities.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Slaughtered from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

REVIEW: Swimsuit by James Patterson

Title: Swimsuit
Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: June, 2009
Genre: Thriller / Mystery
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: THE BEACH...
A breathtakingly beautiful supermodel disappears from a swimsuit photo shoot at the most glamorous hotel in Hawaii. Only hours after she goes missing, Kim McDaniels's parents receive a terrifying phone call. Fearing the worst, they board the first flight to Maui and begin the hunt for their daughter.

...WILL NEVER BE...
Ex-cop Ben Hawkins, now a reporter for the L.A. Times, gets the McDaniels assignment. The ineptitude of the local police force defies belief--Ben has to start his own investigation for Kim McDaniels to have a prayer. And for Ben to have the story of his life.

...THE SAME FOR YOU AGAIN.
All the while, the killer sets the stage for his next production. His audience expects the best--and they won't be disappointed. Swimsuit is a heart-pounding story of fear and desire, transporting you to a place where beauty and murder collide and unspeakable horrors are hidden within paradise.

My Thoughts: For the first time, in probably ever, I have to start a review with a warning. This book was extremely graphic and violent and it took me a couple of attempts to get through it. I love this author and have read other titles of his that have been graphic, but this one really got to me. I’m glad it didn’t stop me or I would have missed a really intriguing and interesting story. This book doesn’t pull any punches. It starts right off with the abduction, rape and gruesome murder of a young model. If you can hold your cookies through that bit, then you are made of stronger stuff than I was. Where this story really pulled me in was the way the killer plays an apparent cat and mouse game with everyone, how brazen he is in selecting his victims and ending their lives without regard, be they young models, elderly people or even children.

If that’s all this story was, then I would say, don’t waste your time. You’ve read one serial killer gruesome slice and dice, you’ve read them all. No, this story goes beyond that when the killer forces our hero, Ben, to write his tell-all memoir. Yes, you got that right. Forced…Ben has no choice, if he wants to live. Ben has to find a way to keep ahead of Mr. Psycho and figure out who he is so he can bring him down, all while letting Mr. Psycho believe he’s writing the book. Psycho dude is a master of disguise, so this whack job shows up anywhere and anytime he wants taking Ben completely by surprise. I felt like Ben doesn’t have a clear grasp of who he is dealing with and the danger he is putting himself and his girlfriend in by poking that bear. But, it makes for intense reading moments. What will happen next? How does the killer seem to know Ben’s every move?

My Final Verdict: This was definitely not my favorite by this author. There were a lot of holes in the story and the ending was very weak for me after the rollercoaster ride the book put me through. If you are seeking an intense and graphically violent story and mindless hours of entertainment, lock your doors and give this one a go.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

REVIEW: Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks

Title: Bah, Humbug! (Christmas Street #1)
Author: Heather Horrocks
Publisher: Word Garden Press
Publication Date: September, 2011
Genre: Chick-Lit / Christmas-Holiday
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller.

For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer's block - until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes this is the perfect place for his villain to hide the weapon. He digs into the snowman to discover two things: the weapon fits into he body just under the head, and the snowman was supposed to be the back drop for Lexi's next show.

From this improbable beginning comes friendship. Can there be more for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood?

Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this charming Christmas story that brings two people together for the holiday. I enjoyed how Lexi and Kyle meet and at first glance, I wondered if they would get along. Destroying your neighbor’s snowman isn’t a good way to begin, but happily, Lexi doesn’t hold a grudge and a friendship begins to blossom. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that her kids absolutely love Kyle and are two of his biggest fans.

Where Lexi is all about Christmas and the spirit of the holiday, Kyle is the complete opposite. No decorations, no cheer, no spirit. He’s on deadline and struggling with writer’s block. Who has time for any of that nonsense? He even puts off his family when they ask him to host a family Christmas gathering. Soon, Kyle finds more reasons to participate in the festivities and by letting go of his anxiety gives him the boost he needs to overcome his writer’s block.

I had a little difficulty accepting how quickly Lexi and Kyle jump from friendship to love and how a little Christmas decorating and hosting a gathering cures Kyle of the grief he has carried his whole life and why he avoided Christmas. But I’m a sucker for a happy ending, so it was all good.

My Final Verdict: Excellent choice for readers who want a little Christmas cheer and whimsy in their reading, but don’t have the time to sit down and read a full-length novel.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

REVIEW: Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich

Title: Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22)
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: November, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Something big is brewing in Trenton, N.J., and it could blow at any minute.

Stephanie Plum might not be the world's greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she's being played. Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), hailed as the Supreme Exalted Zookeeper of the animal house known as Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College. Gobbles has missed his court date and gone into hiding. People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk. Things just aren't adding up, and Stephanie can't shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college - and it's not just Zeta fraternity pranks.

As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug Linken. When Linken is gunned down in his backyard it's good riddance, and the list of possible murder suspects is long. The only people who care about finding Linken's killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Linken, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve.

My Thoughts: I enjoy this series for the most part, though there are times that I find myself rolling my eyes…hard at the antics going on in Trenton. Lula never fails to surprise me and I always enjoy any time Ranger is on the scene. I think the eye-rolling stems more from the sense of the same old song and dance that seems to be going on with Stephanie. No money, no car, no life and still torn between Joe and Ranger. After 22 books, why can’t she keep a dang car in one piece through the whole book? Why do all the bad guys on the East Coast seem determined to force Stephanie into public transit or relying on Old Blue? How come nobody blows up Old Blue? When is Ranger going to get sick of giving Stephanie a loaner, only for it to get blown to smithereens? I shudder at what his vehicle insurance premiums are…yikes! Luckily for Stephanie, Ranger doesn’t seem to mind.

This story has a little bit of a twist with Joe sorta kinda maybe breaking up with Stephanie. Of course, we all know Joe and that isn’t how it actually translates, but still. I thought the moment I had long been awaiting was finally here! Stephanie is free to be with Ranger! Cue the happy-dance music, people! Wait, what? Why isn’t she grabbing Rex and beating feet to Ranger’s door? If I didn’t genuinely like Stephanie, I probably would have been beating my head against the wall and washing my hands of her. This series has characters that the reader can really relate to and like. You care about them so you share in their joys and successes and empathize with them in their setbacks and losses. This author does an amazing job of breathing life into these characters, so it’s easy for the reader to get pulled in on an emotional level. I really want to see Stephanie with Ranger…at least for longer than a chapter or two, but I also know her heart belongs to Joe and will probably always will. I guess I am OK with that. But hey, Joe broke up with her! Yes, it was stupid and he’s an idiot, but HE BROKE UP WITH HER! Girlfriend, what are you waiting for!!! Even your Grandma thinks Ranger is “totally hot.”

My Final Verdict: This story has a lot of interesting moments and I always enjoy the scenes Grandma Masur is in. Lula and Connie also bring a lot of entertainment to the mix and Stephanie is a lucky girl to have them in her corner. This series isn’t your hard-edged nail-biting edge of your seat suspense thrillers, but it’s wonderful for a few hours of fluff reading that can and often do entertain.


REVIEW: Christmas In Transylvania by Sandra Hill

Title: Christmas in Transylvania (Deadly Angels #4.5)
Author: Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: October, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Description: For the first time ever, the leader of the Viking Vampire Angels, Vikar Sigurdsson, has been talked into celebrating a traditional Christmas! The tree has been decorated, the gifts have been wrapped, and the stockings have been hung. And that's mistletoe, not cobwebs, hanging from the ceiling of the creepy castle full of vangels … really!

The icing on the vampire cookie comes when vangel Karl Mortensen rescues Faith Larson, a battered young waitress, from her abusive boyfriend and hides her in the castle amidst the Christmas chaos. But what Karl thought was a frail young teenager is actually a very tempting woman. And she thinks his fangs are sexy!

But a strange "Christmas visitor" at the castle and demon vampires up to their old tricks could threaten the budding romance between Karl and Faith. It's an impossible match—a human and a vangel—but Christmas is a time for magic.

Karl and Faith don't stand a chance …

My Thoughts: Meh…it had some cute moments. There were some humorous moments, but the book didn’t grab me like I hoped. I’m going to chalk it up to not having read any of the Deadly Angels series and not knowing anything about any of the characters who made an appearance in this story or why they are vampire angels (how is that even possible?). I will say I liked Karl and Faith but I didn’t really buy in to how quickly they fell for each other. Didn’t feel genuine to me. Let’s face it. He rescues her from a bad situation at home with the douchebag boyfriend, so naturally, she feels gratitude and that can evolve into something, but I just wasn’t convinced. They don’t know each other and don’t know anything about each other. I thought Faith’s reaction when she discovers what Karl is was a little downplayed.

My Final Verdict: If you are looking for paranormal Christmas cheer, you might like this. If you are a fan of this author’s Deadly Angel series and already are familiar with all the characters, then I expect this book will deliver what you are looking for.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

REVIEW: A Shoe Addict's Christmas by Beth Harbison

Title: A Shoe Addict’s Christmas (Shoe Addict #2.5)
Author: Beth Harbison
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: October, 2016
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: From the author of the beloved bestseller Shoe Addicts Anonymous, comes a heartwarming twist on a classic tale filled with holiday cheer.

Noelle is not a fan of the holidays and to make matters worse, she is at a crossroads in her life when it seems that love and adventure are no longer possible. When she stays late at her job in a department store on a snowy Christmas Eve she accidentally gets locked in after closing. She isn’t too concerned about the prospect of spending the night in the store…until a woman appears out of nowhere and tells Noelle that she’s her guardian angel. Soon Noelle finds herself camped out in the shoe department facing several “ghosts” of Christmases past, present, and future...Will visiting the holidays of yesterday and tomorrow help Noelle see the true spirit of Christmas? And will the love she has longed for all her life be the best surprise gift of all?

My Thoughts: A short and cute story about a girl gets the spirit of Christmas in a most interesting and unusual way. Noelle isn’t a Scrooge type person, but she isn’t a Buddy the Elf either. On Christmas Eve, she works late, oblivious to the time, and ends up getting locked in. The idea of camping out in an upscale department store sounds like an awesome idea until she runs across an elderly woman in the shoe department who claims to be Noelle’s guardian angel. So, we begin a journey into Noelle’s life to see how she has checked out of life by just existing instead of living. With the help of the gorgeous designer shoes, Noelle relives numerous memories of her life and the missed opportunities.

I enjoyed this story and was a little envious of Noelle. Getting stuck in this beautiful department store and being given access to anything she wants sounds like a dream come true, even with her boss showing up at the end of the story practically ordering her to go on vacation to Rome and feel free to take whatever you want from the store. Sign me up! Call me crazy, but if one of my friends offers me an all-expense paid trip to Rome, I am not going to balk at the chance. Noelle isn’t like that. She avoids opportunities or challenges to bring excitement, love, joy, or whatever to her life. It may take an act of God and her guardian angel to give Noelle the push she needs.

My Final Verdict: I recommend this story to readers looking for something short and sweet for their holiday reading pile that will satisfy their craving without adding calories.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Shoe Addict’s Christmas from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

REVIEW: A Vampire's Christmas Carol by Cynthia Eden

Title: A Vampire’s Christmas Carol
Author: Cynthia Eden
Publisher: Smashwords
Publication Date: November, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Christmas-Holiday
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN

Description: This holiday season has bite.

Ben Prescott hates Christmas—he’s a vampire, and to him, there’s certainly nothing jolly about the holiday season. While the humans are running around being merry, he’s hunting in the shadows. Ben plans to spend the holidays his way…by stalking deadly prey.

But fate has other plans for Ben.

Three visitors are coming Ben’s way…A demon who will force Ben to face his past, a ghost who will show Ben the present he could have, and a shifter who will reveal the darkness that waits in Ben’s future. Unless Ben can change his ways, he may just turn into a real monster, one who can’t be saved by anyone or anything.

’Tis the season…to be undead.

Ben’s redemption rests in the hands of the one woman he loved and lost—Simone Laurent. If Ben is going to have a chance at being more than just the beast in the darkness, he has to prove himself to the lovely Simone. A very hard task, considering that, once upon a Christmas Eve, Simone died in Ben’s arms…
_________________

Warning: This book features one very tortured vampire, a sexy ghost from his past, and hot scenes designed to melt the winter snow. Plenty of action, adult situations, and steamy times are ahead. Happy holidays!

My Thoughts: This book was my first holiday read for 2018. It’s super short, which can be a good thing or bad thing. Good because a finished book is great and if I can read it faster, then yay! Bad because it’s short and sometimes a reader just needs more, you know, especially when there are vampires, which is one of my weaknesses.

Meet Ben Prescott, vampire and hater of Christmas. What’s there to love when you are undead, not by choice, and the woman of your dreams is dead-dead? No hanging of stockings or sipping of the Christmas cheer for our Ben. Instead, he is out hunting human prey. The evil human variety are his choice of prey and ridding the world of evil people should be a good thing, but unfortunately for Ben, he is on a path of self-destruction which will turn him into a monster incapable of knowing or doing the right thing.

Ben is given the opportunity to choose a different path when he is visited by three paranormal beings that are on a mission to show Ben the light by showing him what awaits him if he stays on his present course.

I love tortured characters and vampires are my favorite. They hold all the trump cards when it comes to self-loathing, pain, misery and torturing themselves. I also love stories about redemption and when a tortured character finds redemption, it is so satisfying.

Ben is a great character. His mortality was taken from him against his will and he lost not only his life, but the love of his life. Can we say he’s a little bitter? Yes, we can. Who wouldn’t be? He shuts himself away from everyone and everything and focuses on hunting people who deserve to be hunted. This lifestyle has accomplished what he intended but now Ben needs a new path before he becomes the evil that he has been hunting.

Ben and Simone’s chemistry is white-hot and I felt so bad for these two that they have had to suffer so much heartbreak and anguish not of their choosing. I really wanted more time with Ben and Simone to learn about their beginning and stick around for the after to see how they grow and build their lives together.

I recommend this book to fans of paranormal romances and fans who enjoy Christmas themes and are looking for something a little different to add to their holiday cheer reading list. Christmas is the season for love and joy and nobody deserves love and joy more than Ben and Simone.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

REVIEW: Don't Mention The Rock Star by Bree Darcy

Title: Don’t Mention the Rock Star
Author: Bree Darcy
Publisher: Bree Darcy
Publication Date: January, 2015
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy the Book: Amazon

Description: They fell in love in an instant … so why have they spent a lifetime apart?

As a teenager Kellie dated an American boy but circumstances meant they went their separate ways. Now he’s back and she’s so tempted to see him again. But two decades have passed and they are both married with children.

And the last thing a celebrity reporter like her needs is the world finding out about her past relationship with a rock star. Especially as Kellie’s husband doesn’t even know she once dated AJ Dangerfield, lead singer of legendary band Danger Game. And she has no intention of him finding out. EVER.

As Kellie deals with a demanding boss, a bullied son, an infuriating mother-in-law and a best friend who won’t act her age, she finds herself playing a dangerous game. What will happen if her two worlds collide? And is it possible that first love never fades?

My Thoughts: Enjoyable story about first love and the path life leads us on based on our choices and decisions. I really liked Kellie and AJ together. They mesh so well and I enjoyed watching them mature as individuals and as a couple. Kellie is by AJ’s side and as his popularity and fame grow, they are pulled apart when AJ makes a choice that drives Kellie away. This book is told both in the past and present as the reader is given a birds-eye view into their lives as they grow from teenagers to adults with careers, marriages and children.

I felt a lot of empathy for Kellie as she struggles with her feelings for AJ and keeping that time of her life private from her present life. I admired Kellie for maintaining composure when her personal life and career as a celebrity reporter collide. She does a wonderful job keeping them separate. I liked the man AJ became and how he befriended Kellie’s son, who struggles with being bullied and having a domineering and critical father.

My Final Verdict: For a debut novel, the author does a fantastic job creating a story that flows smoothly from the past to the present and back to the past again. The dialogue is clear and realistic for the time period as well as the ages and personalities of the characters. The characters are easy to relate to and though I wasn’t cheering for all of them to get a happy ever after, I liked that some of them were redeemable in the end and earned some respect from me. I recommend this book to readers who like complex characters who don’t allow their emotional baggage from the past derail their journey in the present.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Don’t Mention the Rock Star from the author in exchange for an honest review.


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at sharalsbooks@yahoo.com Happy Reading! :o)