Tuesday, October 28, 2014

REVIEW: I'll Be Watching You by Andrea Kane

Title: I’ll Be Watching You
Author: Andrea Kane
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: January, 2005
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Description: "I'll be watching you ... " the cryptic e-mail read.

Taylor Halstead, psychologist and successful radio personality, is terrified that she'll never be safe again. Coming on the heels of a series of tragic and terrible events, the e-mail sends chills racing up her spine. Her safe, secure world has already been violated by her cousin Stephanie's boyfriend, Gordon Mallory, in her own apartment. Only the door buzzer and Stephanie's intervening voice rescue her, but not before Gordon promises to return. Soon after, he is killed along with Stephanie in an inexplicable explosion aboard his yacht. Or is he?

The e-mail is just the beginning. The terror campaign escalates when an electronically disguised voice on Taylor's telephone threatens to kill her, and her life becomes a nightmare. It seems the only one she can turn to is attorney Reed Weston, her confidant, protector, and, ultimately, lover. But is Reed's determination to protect her enough to avert disaster? And can Taylor trust Gordon's identical twin, Jonathan, who always seems to show up when she least expects him?

Grief and dread unravel Taylor's sanity, playing tricks with her mind and heart. Someone out there wants her dead -- a crazed fan or the troubled teenage boy she's been counseling or, impossibly, Gordon himself. His vow to return and those final menacing words -- "I'll be watching you" -- haunt her day and night. Whoever is out there is coming closer, and Taylor Halstead has nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

My Thoughts: An OK story about a woman who survives an assault by her cousin’s boyfriend only to find herself the object of a stalker’s attention. The story had a lot of promise but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. It wasn’t hard to figure out that Gordon was the stalker, but after he was declared dead early on in the story kept me trying to figure out how he was stalking her while keeping his identity a secret.

Most of the story revolves around Taylor living in fear. Fear over Gordon’s assault, fear of his promise to come back and finish what he started, fear over the emails and the new stalker, fear over meeting Gordon’s identical twin brother. The majority of this story is predictable, but what interested me is finding out about Gordon’s background and why he became the person he did. Though I didn’t feel a connection to them, I liked Taylor and Reed. I just never felt their reactions and responses came to life.

My Final Verdict: Overall, this book had a lot of potential but never seemed to get off the ground.


Monday, October 20, 2014

REVIEW: Manic Mondays by Michaela Weaver

Title: Manic Mondays
Author: Michaela Weaver
Publisher: Candy Jar Books
Publication Date: July, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit

Description: Catherine has everything a modern girl needs – a successful business, idyllic family life and even an Aga in the kitchen! But this all changes one Monday, after her husband decides to leave her for the cleaner. All of a sudden Catherine's life is turned upside down. She is left to raise her baby daughter alone, rebuild a tattered career, while trying to avoid the attentions of Mike, who is ‘Mr Lovely’ until Catherine notices his wedding ring...

Having lost everything, Catherine is determined to prove that she can make it on her own as a single mother. Manic Mondays follows Catherine over a year of Mondays, as she tries to put her life back together.

An uplifting, inspirational and honest take on ‘starting all over again’, Manic Mondays is a must read for anyone who’s ever found life, well, a little manic.

My Thoughts: In her old life, Catherine thought she was doing everything right, happily married, raising a daughter and the owner of a very successful marketing business. After her husband announces he wants out and wants to be with someone else, she is devastated. She walks away from her home and the business and she and her daughter start over in a new town. In her new life, she meets new friends and pursues new career options while trying to steer clear of Mike, a man she realizes she is attracted to, but is holding at arm’s length because of the wedding ring on his finger.

I really enjoyed this story. I admired Catherine for picking up the pieces of her life and finding the strength to move forward after having her life crash down around her ears. I really liked supporting characters Grace, Steve and Mike. They brought their own stories and personalities to the book without pulling me out of the main story. I felt a lot of empathy for Catherine for the way her husband treated her and applauded her strength of character and the determination she shows to start over. There weren’t any laugh out loud moments for me in this book, but the struggles Catherine experienced with facing her husband once again, finding a new career path and opening herself up to love again made this book thoroughly enjoyable.

Michaela Weaver pens a very good story that flows smoothly, keeping the reader engaged with characters that are easy to relate to and connect with. This is my first book by this author and look forward to reading more of her work.

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


Saturday, October 18, 2014

REVIEW: S Is For Silence by Sue Grafton

Title: S Is For Silence (Kinsey Millhone #19)
Author: Sue Grafton
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November, 2006
Genre: Mystery

Description: The nineteenth novel in Sue Grafton's ever popular 'alphabet' series featuring PI Kinsey Millhone.

Just after Independence Day in July 1953 Violet Sullivan, a local good time girl living in Serena Station Southern California, drives off in her brand new Chevy and is never seen again. Left behind is her young daughter, Daisy, and Violet's impetuous husband, Foley, who had been persuaded to buy his errant wife the car only days before . . .

Now, thirty-five years later, Daisy wants closure.

Reluctant to open such an old cold case Kinsey Millhone agrees to spend five days investigating, believing at first that Violet simply moved on to pastures new. But very soon it becomes clear that a lot of people shared a past with Violet, a past that some are still desperate to keep hidden. And in a town as close-knit as Serena there aren't many places to hide when things turn vicious . . .

My Thoughts: Not a lot of major surprises but I still enjoyed this story. I thought revisiting the past in flashback would pull me out of the story, but I quite enjoyed learning the backstory of the characters. As usual, I was way off base on the identity of Violet’s murderer and wish there had been more of an explanation behind the why. I thought the how was a little morbid and creepy and Kinsey’s final showdown with the villain proved to be a little intense.

My Final Verdict: Overall, this is a s solid and enjoyable series though some of the books are much better than the others. As the series begins to wind down to the end of the alphabet, I am very curious to see Kinsey gets into and look forward to finding out.


Friday, October 03, 2014

REVIEW: The Broken by Shelley Coriell

Title: The Broken (The Apostles #1)
Author: Shelley Coriell
Publisher: Grand Central Forever
Publication Date: April, 2014
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Description: He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim—and only survivor—of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it's her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .

My Thoughts: I enjoyed The Broken by new to me author Shelley Coriell. This book is the first installment of a series centering on a crack shot team of FBI agents tasked with hunting down the big bad evil in the world. This first book introduces us to Kate Johnson and Hayden Reed. Kate was the first victim and only survivor of a vicious serial killer and has been in hiding, intent on keeping her trail untraceable, knowing the killer is still out there and anxious to finish the job. Hayden is an FBI profiler looking for the serial killer with personal demons of his own, committed to catching the killer and keeping Kate safe. I really liked that Hayden wasn’t the typical knight in shining armor hero. He’s deeply flawed with painful scars and carrying immense personal baggage and that makes him perfect for Kate. They are kindred spirits and I enjoyed watching them connect and learn to let their guard down and trust one another. Kate’s entire life has been a complete nightmare. Raised by a mentally ill mother and abandoned by her father, Kate worked hard to make her life successful until the night she nearly died. Since then she has been on the run staying with a cantankerous Vietnam vet as his caretaker and making jewelry. She is on high alert always and ready to hit the road at a moment’s notice. When the killer strikes again, she realizes she is going to have to come out of hiding and work with the FBI before another victim is claimed.

This book takes the reader into Kate’s past and we discover the Broadcast Butcher wasn’t the only dark moment in Kate’s life. I was hoping to find out more about her father and what happened with him and why he never came back and my heart went out to the child Kate was and what she endured. I was angry at her grandparents for never being there and wished Kate told them how their absence in her life affected her. Their assistance to the FBI seemed a little too late for me. Perhaps there will be more closure here as the series progresses. I really enjoyed the characters, especially Smokey Joe. He was an amazing character and the perfect surrogate father that Kate needed in her life.

My only problem with this story is that there was such a huge build-up to the end which fell flat for me. I had high anticipation to learn who the killer was but the big reveal was a big letdown. I felt it was it was a random afterthought and the reasons behind why he targeted Kate in the first place felt hollow to me.

My Final Verdict: Overall, this was a good story with interesting and well-written characters that will appeal to fans of mysteries, thrillers and romantic suspense. I am curious about the other agents introduced in this book so I will be looking for the rest of the series to find out their story.

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


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

New Additions To The TBR Pile In September

September saw 14 new review requests added to my TBR pile but happily I have completed 95% of my reading goal. These new arrivals look really good...which one should I tackle first?

Title: A Christmas To Remember by Jenny Hale
Description: A beautiful story about the magic of childhood Christmas memories, the strength of family and falling in love when you least expect it.

Everyone loves Christmas – don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing , the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss… single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

Title: A Pretty Mess by Carla Caruso
Description: Sometimes, to come clean, you've got to get your hands dirty ...

Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people's homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale. But things get messy at Natalia's mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there's Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste's usually organised brain.

When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed?

This is the first in the Astonvale series.

Title: Dead Romantic by Ruth Saberton
Description: What do you do if you come face to face with a ghost?

Put it down to a bump on the head and work stress if you’re a respected academic like Cleo Carpenter. With Christmas approaching, professional rivalry afoot and a best friend determined to interfere in her love life the strain is clearly starting to get to her.

Guilt-stricken and deceased, Alex Thorne is desperate to make amends with his brother, Rafe, a tortured musician trapped in a spiral of destruction. When an encounter with Cleo forges a link between them she becomes his only hope. So what if the only person who can see him is a sceptic?

As Cleo starts to doubt her sanity, the safe world she takes for granted crumbles around her. Setting out to regain control and prove once and for all ghosts don’t exist, she embarks on a journey of self discovery and surprise, learning that love really does defy science, logic and maybe even death itself…

Title: Etiquette And Espionage by Gail Carriger
Description: Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

Title: Fat Chance by Nick Spalding
Description: Meet Zoe and Greg Milton, a married couple who have let themselves go a bit.

Zoe was a stunner in her college days, but the intervening decades have added five stone, and removed most of her self-esteem. Greg's rugby-playing days are well and truly behind him, thanks to countless pints of beer and chicken curry.

When Elise, a radio DJ and Zoe's best friend, tells them about a new competition, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn their lives around. Fat Chance will pit six hefty couples against one another to see who can collectively lose the most weight and walk away with a $50,000 prize.

So begins six months of abject misery, tears, and frustration that just might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them in another laugh-out-loud look at the way we live now from bestselling author Nick Spalding.

Title: Flawless by Jan Moran
Description: "There's always a hostile side to beauty." - Jan Moran

Verena Valent is at the helm of her family's legendary Swiss skincare company, which caters to a glamorous clientele in the heart of Beverly Hills. After her parents are killed in an automobile accident, she becomes the sole provider for her younger twin sisters and her grandmother. Instead of attending college with her friends as planned, she rises to the challenge to guide and expand her family's business. She is in the midst of a critical international expansion into Asia when her carefully organized life begins to unravel.

Verena is shaken to discover that her fiance, Derrick, who is a venture capitalist, might be behind a scheme to take over her growing company. While she struggles to save the business that means everything to her, she meets Lance, an executive chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She encounters this intriguing man again while on a business trip to Paris, and soon gains a new perspective on relationships.

When the unthinkable occurs and Verena's world collapses, her friends rally around her, among them Scarlett Sandoval, a top intellectual property attorney; Dahlia DuBois, a perfumer from an esteemed line of French perfumers; and Fianna Fitzgerald, a fashion designer with her own trendy boutique.

Ultimately, Verena learns that truth, family, friendship, and love are the unshakable pillars of life. But will she get a second chance in business, or in love?

Flawless is the first book in the Hostile Beauty Series. Follow a group of smart, stylish, entrepreneurial friends as they navigate the turbulences of modern life in the business of beauty. Set in Beverly Hills with action flung across the globe, the Hostile Beauty Series is an engaging series that features gutsy, determined best friends, and how they manage to live the lives of their dreams.

Title: Hello From The Gillespies by Monica McInerney
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....

Title: Hopelessly Devoted To You by Jill Steeples
Description: Meet Ruby’s fiancĂ©, Finn. He’s gorgeous, thoughtful, successful and adoring – pretty much everything anyone could ever want in a man. In fact, he’s perfect. The catch? He’s just not perfect for her. But when Ruby finally plucks up the courage to come clean, Finn’s so furious that he misses his footing as he runs down the stairs – and suddenly, it’s not just his heart that’s broken!

When Finn wakes up, he can’t remember a thing. Not that Ruby dumped him – not even that they were ever engaged! It’s on the tip of Ruby’s tongue to come clean, but somehow, it never seems to be the right time... And as the weeks pass, she sees a new side to Finn. Arrogant and a shameless flirt, he’s irresistibly bad, and the chemistry between them is explosive!

It’s not that Ruby’s lying… she’s just withholding the truth. And seeing as things are going so well, perhaps there’s no need for Finn to have his memory jogged… The trouble is, there’s every chance that Finn might remember for himself!

Title: Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman
Description: Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all.

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the "W" in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humor and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man's world.

Title: S Is For Silence by Sue Grafton
Description: The nineteenth novel in Sue Grafton's ever popular 'alphabet' series featuring PI Kinsey Millhone.

Just after Independence Day in July 1953 Violet Sullivan, a local good time girl living in Serena Station Southern California, drives off in her brand new Chevy and is never seen again. Left behind is her young daughter, Daisy, and Violet's impetuous husband, Foley, who had been persuaded to buy his errant wife the car only days before . . .

Now, thirty-five years later, Daisy wants closure.

Reluctant to open such an old cold case Kinsey Millhone agrees to spend five days investigating, believing at first that Violet simply moved on to pastures new. But very soon it becomes clear that a lot of people shared a past with Violet, a past that some are still desperate to keep hidden. And in a town as close-knit as Serena there aren't many places to hide when things turn vicious . . .

Title: The Bargain by Deb Stover
Description: A man out of time. A woman out of options. Natchez detective Mike Faricy will do anything to undo his brother-in-law's murder. A man named Slick offers him a deal he can't refuse-go back to June 19th, the day before the killing. Mike strikes the Bargain and wakes up on June 19th gazing down the barrel of an antique gun held by Abigail Kingsley, who confirms it is June 19th, but the year is 1865. Now Mike must prevent the murder from over a century in the past, while being taunted by a shape-shifting Slick. The devil may own his soul, but it's Abigail who stakes a powerful claim on his aching heart. Will her darkest secrets be his ultimate undoing...? "Dirty Harry" meets "Scarlett O'Hara" and there's Hell to pay....

Title: The Love List by Eve Devon
Description: Falling in love is just not on Nora King’s To Do List…

Neither is accidentally super-gluing her shoe to her hand right before the biggest presentation of her life!

With all the hard work she’d put into securing the family business after her father’s death, Nora has no choice but to accept help from a knight in shining armour.

Disaster relief worker Ethan Love is still haunted by his last deployment, and desperate for distraction. He’s in town to ask Nora for a major favour, and swooping in to save her presentation is a sure way to get her on side.

As Ethan sticks around and helps Nora through her grief, her barriers tumble down…but will she dare to swap her To Do lists for a How to Fall in Love list?

Title: Twitter Girl by Nic Tatano
Description: Meet America’s Tweet-Heart.

She’s network reporter Cassidy Shea, better known as @TwitterGirl, with more than a million followers thanks to her sarcastic tweets. One hundred forty characters that can take anyone down a notch.

But while brevity may be the soul of wit, it can also get you fired.

When a controversial tweet goes viral the snarky redhead finds herself locked out of the career she loves… and watches her boyfriend take a hike.

Alas, no industry values sarcasm more than politics, and Cassidy becomes a marketable commodity for Presidential candidate Will Becker, a squeaky-clean, stone cold lock to be the next occupant of the White House. This candidate is unlike any other; he’s the country’s most eligible bachelor. He’s also looking for a running mate, and we’re not talking about a Vice President.

Twitter Girl has caught his eye.

Cassidy finds herself swept up in a whirlwind romance that turns her into the next Jackie Kennedy and becomes the favorite to be the next First Lady. The country can’t get enough of America’s First Couple… will Cassidy and Will Becker bring back Camelot?

But an anonymous tip triggers her journalistic curiosity. Is Will Becker all that he seems? The search for the answer teaches Cassidy the meaning of love.

Title: What A Lady Demands by Ashley Macnamara
Description: Readers of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries will love Ashlyn Macnamara’s novel about a smoldering new love that is threatened by past betrayals.

Viscount Lindenhurst cannot seem to find a governess who meets his impossible standards—until Cecelia Sanford becomes the first woman to interrupt the widower’s brooding in years. Lind had returned home from the Napoleonic wars, broken in body and soul and longing for his wife’s embrace, only to find her changed. Before they could reconcile, an accident struck their son and claimed her life. Now enter Cecelia, with her soft curves and sharp tongue—a tempting distraction, it is true, but not a welcome one.

Past the usual marrying age and haunted by a scandal of her own, Cecelia soon finds herself caring for both the child and the man. The viscount is brittle and even abrupt at times, yet she cannot deny the attraction that stirs her body in his presence. Moved by the deep sense of abandonment that tortures his soul, Cecelia aches to fully awaken Lind’s heart from its rancorous slumber—if she can just keep their pasts from destroying a second chance at love.

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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)