Tuesday, April 16, 2019

REVIEW: Hello From The Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Title: Hello From the Gillespies
Author: Monica McInerney
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publication Date: November, 2014
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth....

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when a bump on the head leaves Angela with temporary amnesia, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways....

My Thoughts: Ah, yes the annual Christmas letter that we have all sent and/or received. Filled with news of how lovely our year has been, focusing and, often, exaggerating on the positive bits. For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has done just that. Until this year, after a conversation with her best friend, Joan, Angela unloads her thoughts and feelings about her family, marriage, life, everything into this letter. The good, the bad, and the ugly all go in, like an episode of Jerry Springer. Angela has no intention of sending it, but it feels so good to get it off her chest. In a way, it’s therapeutic. Without judgment, Angela can vent her fears and frustrations. Angela doesn’t count on her son having an accident and rushing him to the hospital, where she forgets about the letter sitting on her computer. Her husband, trying to be helpful and thinking he is doing a good thing, clicks send for her and Angela’s moment of truth goes out to over 150 recipients.

What ensues is a story of a family trying to come to terms with what has been revealed about them and the fallout they fear will happen as a result. It’s also a story about forgiveness and healing, making mistakes and being human and living life the best way we can with what we know and how we feel.

I really enjoyed this story. Ms. McInerney writes a story that flows smoothly with characters that are vibrant in their different personalities and lives. I was very curious for what would happen next and hoping for a happily ever after for all of them. Every single member of this family experiences a loss and I enjoyed how they each overcome it and grow from it.

My Final Verdict: I highly recommend this book to readers who like stories of imperfect people living their best lives, the best they can, holding on to love and hope.

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

REVIEW: Apprentice In Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Apprentice In Death (In Death #43)
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Buy The Book: Amazon | Audible | BN

Description: Lieutenant Eve Dallas returns in a fast-paced new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J. D. Robb.

Nature versus nurture...

The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice skating rink. The victims: a talented young skater, a doctor, and a teacher. As random as random can be.

Eve Dallas has seen a lot of killers during her time with the NYPSD, but never one like this. After reviewing security videos, it becomes clear that the victims were killed by a sniper firing a tactical laser rifle, who could have been miles away when the trigger was pulled. And though the locations where the shooter could have set up seem endless, the list of people with that particular skill set is finite: police, military, professional killer.

Eve’s husband, Roarke, has unlimited resources—and genius—at his disposal. And when his computer program leads Eve to the location of the sniper, she learns a shocking fact: There were two; one older, one younger. Someone is being trained by an expert in the science of killing, and they have an agenda. Central Park was just a warm-up. And as another sniper attack shakes the city to its core, Eve realizes that though we’re all shaped by the people around us, there are those who are just born evil...

My Thoughts: As a reader, I am reaping the rewards of the imagination J.D. Robb has, though dark and twisted it might be. Her ability to take one moment and weave a complex and edgy story around it takes serious talent and skill. For me an active shooter case always fills me with terror and dread. It can happen anywhere to anyone with no warning. The only thing separating society from the monsters is our ability to use rational thought to problem solve our differences and make informed choices.

Unfortunately, not everyone follows this logic and reverts to monstrous behavior. When an active shooter incident happens in Central Park, Eve and her gang begin their investigation, having no idea just how heinous this crime is and how much worse it will get. Eve learns that not all the victims were random; some were deliberate and definitely connected. I was shocked to learn not only who the killer was but horrified at who the apprentice is and the reason behind the killings. Random or deliberate, it sent a chill down my spine thinking about how fleeting life is and how important it is to make every moment count. Tomorrow is certainly not guaranteed to anyone.

My Final Verdict: There isn’t a whole lot more that I can say about this series that hasn’t already been said. Each story packs a punch, but this one really hits hard. I love the methodical way Eve tackles the case. She is excellent at organizing her board and compartmentalizing the details for easier recall later on. Her team works together perfectly like peanut butter and jelly. The storylines ring true and relevant, the characters are realistic and it’s so easy for me to relate to them all.

Most importantly, the conversations Eve has with those around her are priceless. She comes across as impatient, bossy and grouchy, actually she isn’t coming across that way. She really is impatient, bossy and grouchy, for the most part and that’s what makes her such an amazing character. She has all of these flaws that should make the head-shrinkers at NYPSD recommend her removal from a position of authority, but instead the top dogs of NYPSD defer to her knowledge, experience and abilities to investigate the cases in a way nobody else can. She’s just getting started and we all can expect much more from our amazing cop.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

REVIEW: Eyes On You by Kate White

Title: Eyes On You
Author: Kate White
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: June, 2014
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Buy The Book: Amazon | Audible | BN

Description: From New York Times bestselling author Kate White, comes a riveting psychological suspense in which a media star must battle a malevolent enemy who may be disturbingly close to her.

After losing her on-air job two years ago, television host Robin Trainer has fought her way back and now she’s hotter than ever. With her new show climbing in the ratings and her first book a bestseller, she’s being dubbed a media double threat.

But suddenly, things begin to go wrong. Small incidents at first: a nasty note left in her purse; her photo shredded. But the obnoxious quickly becomes threatening when the foundation the makeup artist uses burns Robin’s face. It wasn’t an accident—someone had deliberately doctored with the product.

An adversary with a dark agenda wants to hurt Robin, and the clues point to someone she works with every day. While she frantically tries to put the pieces together and unmask this hidden foe, it becomes terrifyingly clear that the person responsible isn’t going to stop until Robin loses everything that matters to her . . . including her life.

My Thoughts: I first started reading Kate White’s books when I discovered the Bailey Weggins series. I found her stand-alone novels to be engaging, capturing my attention with the storylines and intriguing characters. Eyes On You doesn’t disappoint either.

We meet Robin Trainer after losing her job two years prior. She is at a party promoting her new book and her new TV show is gaining ratings and popularity. Strange and increasingly threatening events begin to happen to Robin, nasty notes, shredded photos, drugged food, even her makeup gets sabotaged, causing burns to Robin’s face.

This story leads the reader on a hunt for the perpetrator. Not just who, but why? Who hates Robin enough to scare her, terrorize her, hurt her and even want her dead? This story takes stalking to a whole different level as Robin realizes the person doing this is someone close by, someone she works with every day, someone she trusts.

My Final Verdict: This story is a very dark depiction of the lengths someone is willing to go to destroy another person, regardless of the reason. It was impossible for me to figure out who was behind the attacks and was surprised at the big reveal. The storyline kept me interested in the outcome and I found the characters to be realistic and relatable. Readers of suspenseful thrillers will enjoy this story.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

REVIEW: Dying For A Date by Cindy Sample

Title: Dying for a Date (Laurel McKay Mysteries #1)
Author: Cindy Sample
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: September, 2013
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible


Unsure if she is looking for Mr. Right, or Mr. Every Other Saturday Night, divorced mother of two, Laurel McKay reluctantly joins THE LOVE CLUB, a popular local dating service. Dressed to kill, she meets bachelor number one at a trendy restaurant. But the date is a bust, literally, when the guy decides Laurel is dessert, and she breaks his nose with her cell phone. It gets even worse when the man is found murdered the next morning, and Laurel has his blood on her clothes.

Despite her now being a person of interest to the police, Laurel bravely ventures out on date number two. When that unlucky bachelor disappears during dinner, Laurel’s only alibi is a bottle of Dom Perignon. The sexy investigating detective thinks she’s innocent and is worried she may be the next target. That’s more than enough motivation for Laurel to find a murderer determined to kill her social life––before dating becomes a dead end she can’t escape.

My Thoughts: Interesting story of single mom who goes on several dates ending with her dates being dead. Obviously, she is the prime suspect so she and a slew of interesting characters commit themselves to finding the real killer.

It was enjoyable and fans of the cozy mystery genre will enjoy it too, however I'm on the fence if I want to continue the series. I liked Laurel, but found her a little annoying at times and thought she put herself in harm's way too often for my liking.

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, Zoë, 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.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

REVIEW: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag

Title: Cold Cold Heart
Author: Tami Hoag
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January, 2015
Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims. Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep. Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together. But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school. Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past. Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies. Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…

My Thoughts: Really enjoyed this story about a woman who survives the unthinkable horror of being the next victim of a serial killer. Dana Nolan had a great life as a TV reporter living the dream. Then she is kidnapped and nearly killed by a notorious serial killer. Her will to survive and live enables her to overcome the horror but not without many scars on the outside and the inside.

She returns to her hometown to put her life back together but learns there are questions and dangers there as well. Dana’s best friend, Casey, disappeared right after high school graduation and has never been seen or heard from since. Dana realizes that in order to heal from her ordeal, she has to look to the past to find the answers to questions she cannot remember, which makes her also realize that she doesn’t know whom she trust.

The reader doesn’t meet Dana prior to her encounter with the serial killer so the Dana we know is one who is plagued with PTSD and nightmares. She isn’t the sweet and happy girl her friends and family remember. She speaks her mind, quite brutally at times and seems to have lost the ability to have feelings of empathy or compassion. So you can imagine the shock and dismay people feel when Dana starts asking blunt questions about Casey and her disappearance, unaware and probably not caring whose toes she steps on or who she offends.

I liked Dana, though I found her a little hard to relate to at times. I understood her anger and irritability, but it was still a little shocking at times. The author does an amazing job of weaving the past and present together, slowly peeling back layers into Dana’s past, without revealing too much too soon. When the killer is revealed, I can’t say I was too surprised, but more that Dana didn’t catch on sooner. The ending was typical nail-biting edge-of-your-seat intense that this author does so well.

My Final Verdict: Readers who enjoy intense storylines with a mystery to solve and a thrilling ride along the way will enjoy this offering. I also highly recommend it to everyone who enjoy a good story with damaged characters who survive against all odds to come out ahead.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

REVIEW: Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen

Title: Relatively Normal
Author: Whitney Dineen
Publisher: 33 Partners Publishing
Publication Date: October, 2018
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Catriona Masterton's fiancé, Ethan, is Normal. He plans trips six months in advance and arrives at the airport a minimum of three hours early. He purchases life insurance, luggage insurance, and always opts for the extended warranty. He's responsible, reliable, and would make any woman a wonderful life partner. In other words, he's the exact opposite of the Masterton clan. Cat's mother has a kitchen gadget fetish, a father whose best friends are taxidermied field mice, and a super stoner man-child brother who lives--where else?--in the basement. Then there's Nan, her proud Scottish grandmother with a proclivity for profanity and mischief. What on earth will Catriona's Normal fiancé think when he comes home with her to meet her parents? What will he think when he discovers his soon-to-be in-laws invited Cat's ex to join them for Thanksgiving dinner? Find out in a laugh-out-loud journey of self-discovery, familial pandemonium, and love. A must read for fans of a true romantic comedy!

My Thoughts: Fun story about a woman who finds herself in the middle between what she thinks is normal and what is right. Cat believes she has found the perfect mate in Ethan. He is uber organized, reliable, responsible and dependable. He won’t break her heart and he isn’t weird like her family. He is the complete opposite of Cat’s family and she has avoided introducing him to her family until now. A trip home for Thanksgiving reopens doors to the past and Cat finds herself struggling to come to terms with not only who her family is, but ultimately who she is and what she wants. This story takes on a real interesting angle when Cat finds out her parents invited her high school sweetheart to join them for Thanksgiving. Cat’s grandmother also adds a lot of humorous twists to the story with her feisty nature.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. The author does an excellent job of creating appealing characters in a story that entertains on many levels. The story moves forward at an enjoyable pace, it held my interest and kept me engaged. I recommend this story to readers who enjoy stories about families and coming home.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Relatively Normal 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)