The Travel Mate by J.A. Kalis

Summary:

A young woman goes missing while trekking in a remote mountain region.

As days pass without any sign of life from her, her family’s concerns grow. What has happened? What does her sudden silence mean? Is she in danger? Does she need help?

Her father and sister realize that passive waiting – waiting for answers that may never come – won’t get them anywhere. Time is pressing and they must act. A single wasted moment could make all the difference between finding the missing woman dead or alive. So they embark on a frantic search, a wild journey through Georgia and the South West of France that before long turns into a desperate life-and-death struggle as they cross paths with a ruthless killer on the lookout for his next prey.

Characters

Patrick and Carol, father and sister of the young woman who goes “missing,” are the main characters. They are main characters along side the ‘bad’ characters. It was nice to get in to the head of the killer. A big problem with this book was it didn’t stay in each person’s POV well. I would get confused on who exactly the chapter was for because the narrator (Patrick/Carol/etc) would know things that only the other character would know.

Plot

The book is intense! It was nail biting and for sure shocking. I guessed a few items but I was wrong on a few minor ones which was kind of awesome. I did feel like there were too many coincidences and I felt like one character was there just to die and add that effect. Probably because the author made this character so useless and easy to dislike – I thought it was a cop out in a few ways. I don’t want to give too much away but it was an excellent thriller.

Overall

The writing was easy to follow. The book wasn’t excessive – except in Patrick’s thoughts perhaps felt repetitive but they were realistic given the circumstances. The author didn’t go for a happily ever after which was very refreshing. The setting was well constructed and once they arrived in France I could picture much of the scenes in my head due to the descriptive language.

The convenience plot points and some of the predictable plot points were easy to overlook because they were built up to. The POV switching could be easily fixed. What really stuck was the ending. It was wrapped up in a perfect little bow and felt really rushed. The hasty ending didn’t bother me too much except what the ‘wrap up’ ending was. It was such a let down. Those two items is the biggest reasons I lowered my rating.

Rating

4 Stars

Fantastic nail biting thriller with a rushed ending. I’d highly recommend this for people who love a good suspenseful thriller.

I downloaded a copy when it was free.

Judge by the Cover (Hafu Sans Halo #1) by Melissa Abigail

Summary:

Haruna Mitsukai is an overachiever with dreams of attending the University of British Columbia.

Ryu Debiru is a bad boy whose only desire is to escape this ridiculous prison called “life.”

Both attend Shady Glenn Academy and despite their similar “hafu” identity, they couldn’t despise each other more.

Years of avoidance come to an end when a major assignment on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice pairs them together.

Just as everything reaches a breaking point, revelations about an old East Side mansion called “Heaven” causes Haruna to question everything she thought she knew about him.

As for Ryu? Well, all that glitters is most certainly not gold.

Characters

Haruna is a very annoying character. I felt like the author tried too hard to make her unlikable. She doesn’t really improve with the book either until right near the end. Ryu is a different story. He is very complex and well thought out. He had all the character depth that Haruna lacked. He was a shining star in this otherwise bland cast of characters.

Plot

This book tried way too hard to be mysterious. The problem is the first half of the book is so boring. I was actually not enjoying the whole high school plot with Haruna and her friends. It was rather repetitive at times and I felt like the first half of the book could have been cut in half with the second half being expanded.

Also I get that Haruna and Ryu went to school together but sometimes I felt like Haruna and Ryu being thrown together too often. Like they were two bouncy balls tied together by a string that kept contracting and pulling them together. I believe this was worse because it felt forced at times.

That being said the plot after about the 60% point really picks up! I after that I rushed to finish it because the main POV switched from Haruna to Ryu and his POV was much more interesting. There were some aspects of his chapters that fell short, but they were much more lively. I wondered if the contrast between Haruna and Ryu was purposeful to show the gab between them even more, but it felt too wide.

Overall

The writing could be sharpened but was find for a Young Adult read and had limited errors. The setting was flat. Although the characters weren’t all interesting, but some of the characters were fantastic. They could be given some work to polish them up and make them more realistic. Haruna was complex but she also felt fake to me – again this could have been on purpose but to me it was distracting and annoying.

I had a hard time marrying up the first half of the book with the second half of the book. Where the first half of the book was dull and difficult to get through, the second half of the book was gripping and interesting. The pacing of this book could be greatly improved. It was a decent Young Adult novel and for those who like high school based novels with a twist, this is a good read.

Rating

3 stars

I didn’t love or hate this book. If you like books that develop slowly, this book is for sure for you, it just wasn’t for me. It earns 3 stars because I like the root premise of this book: Don’t judge a person by how they look.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Life II by Scott Spotson

Summary:

Upon discovering a 1958 book titled “Account of Time Travel on Earth Using Wave Theory,” 42-year-old Max Thorning’s life is thrown into chaos. Seeking answers to the book’s cryptic clues, he discovers Dr. Time, a seemingly benign alien who has control of the Time Weaver, a remarkable device that can command any scene from the Earth’s past. Dr. Time offers him a choice to go back into Time, to any point in his lifespan that he can vividly recall. The catch: he can only bring his memories, and can only live the future one day at a time. Follow Max’s dilemma as he goes back to his 16-year-old self and tries to forge his destiny into a new one called Life II.

Characters

Max is the main character and most of the novel is told from his point of view. The author does a great job of creating very flawed but hopeful character. There are some jarring point of view changes that I think were distracting, but they were luckily few and far between. I don’t want to give too much but I was very impressed with the cast of characters.

Plot*

I’d like to start by saying I HATE TIME TRAVEL BOOKS. They are usually poorly executed and poorly thought out. That is not the case here. This book thoroughly explores the decision to ‘time travel’ and the consequences for doing so. If you love time travel books more for the science aspect, you have to pick this up.

Max decides to travel back to when he was 16 and change his future. He isn’t happy in his current life – particularly his marriage – and he wants to change it. So he does. He agrees to re-write his life.

Overall

It was a captivating prospect. The writing was mostly easy to follow and filled with Max’s emotions. The overall book was lengthy – almost excessively so. Although I did appreciate the level of detail in which Max’s life was explored, I also found myself going cross-eyed during the more mundane portions.  I was really captivated by the last 15% or so. It is important to know that some threads of plot are left unresolved and although Max’s story has a general resolution, it seems to me that the author isn’t done and could pick up one of those incomplete threads.

What really was the deciding factor was the deeply seeded philosophical effects of Max’s choice to travel back. That is what really struck a cord with me. I both pitied and hated Max, while still finding a middle ground to accept his decisions. It was quite an emotional roller-coaster ride!

Rating

3.5 Stars (rounded up)

Despite my hatred for time travel books – this was expertly done. If you like time travel books – this is a must read! Especially if you like more of the human aspects of time travel.

*I received this as a Science Fiction novel and agree with that. However, in my opinion, this is not for teens and is a stretch even for the New Adults genre.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Albedo by R. Leib

Summary

Ranner’s done a lot of things in his life, defended planets in the HSG, shot it out with pirates, and muscled for smugglers. Now he’s settled down into being a bodyguard so that his adopted daughter can have a normal life. Offered the chance of a lifetime for just doing his job seemed too good to be true. He would have to see what the albedo deflected to know for certain.

Overall

This is a like a hardboiled detective novel but with a science fiction feel. Actually it reminded me of those old noir movies but a futuristic version. For such a short snapshot it had the pieces necessary for a mystery. Ranner is both clever and reformed…as best as he can be from his old ways. The plot was both interesting and horrifying, but I don’t want to say more in case I’ll ruin the mystery. I felt like it was wrapped up a little too easily but may have just been a nod to Ranner’s ability.

Rating

4 stars

A great little detective short story that is a great read for a short lunch break. If you like a grim science fiction with a mystery, this is a great read for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

The Murder of Manny Grimes by Angela Kay

Summary

When three young boys stumble into Lieutenant Jim DeLong’s life one night during a winter storm, they claim they’ve seen a dead body by the swing sets of the Columbia County Elementary School. After he investigates, DeLong sees no evidence, not even a body. But were the boys telling the truth?

With the help of his oldest friend and mentor, former Naval investigator Russ Calhoun, DeLong sets out to find whether Manny Grimes is alive or dead. The further away he gets to the bottom of the mystery, the closer he comes to realize that his own life is falling apart.

Delving deeper into the murder of Manny Grimes, Lieutenant DeLong begins to unravel, losing his sense of control, falling into old temptations he spent years to overcome. Will he be able to move past his own demons and untangle the web of lies before it’s too late?

Characters

This book is filled with deeply flawed characters. There are no white knights in this dark detective noir. Chock full of moral ambiguity on right and wrong, Lieutenant DeLong does one thing right – solving murders. Calhoun is just as flawed. A womanizer with questionable friendship choices, he at least wants to make everything right by solving murders and fixing past mistakes. These are complex characters.

Plot

I absolutely love to be surprised. In the beginning of this plot I thought the author was going to play it safe. I am happy to report that is not the case! This book edges on reality that anything can happen to anyone at anytime. I was well over halfway before I begin the suspect the killer, even though their motives became clear to me earlier on, I still wasn’t sure who the actual killer was. That is the hallmark of a good murder mystery!

This book also explores DeLong’s personal life. Although it enjoyed parts of it, some of it felt long and drawn out. I’d have to stop myself from skipping forward to the next part that involved the mystery aspect. I’m wondering if DeLong’s paranormal encounter will continue into the second book – I sure hope so!

Overall

Part of it reminded me of an old hardboiled detective movies/books brought into the modern age. The only difference being that DeLong is actually a detective. The writing could be stilted at times but also felt very hard detective story. There were some errors, but most of it was punctuation. The author did an excellent job of building suspense, but I felt that the ‘personal drama’ aspects sometimes distracted from the growing tension.

The setting was consistent and added another eerie aspect of being deep winter. The author played this up well. At the end of the day the plot and flawed characters won out. It almost felt like a movie you’d watch on Netflix on a cold winter day. I don’t see why this couldn’t also be read on a cold winter day as well!

Rating

4 stars

If you like complex murder mysteries with a touch of drama, this is perfect for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

 

Fool Me Twice by Philippa Jane Keyworth

Summary

In the gaming hells of eighteenth century London, orphan Caro Worth is leading a double life. By day she plays a proper gentlewoman on the lookout for a wealthy husband. By night she plays the infamous Angelica, her fictional half-sister with a talent for cards and an ability to finance the life her respectable self has built. An introduction to a rich Marquis brings marriage and security within Caro’s grasp…until the arrival of the unpredictable and totally ineligible Mr. Tobias Felton.

Dismayed by Felton’s persistent appearances, shocking frankness, and enigmatic green eyes, Caro watches helplessly as he comes closer than anyone to guessing her secret, but when complete and utter ruin threatens, she finds that Felton’s suspicions just might become her salvation. As the walls she has built to protect herself crumble down around her, Caro learns that no matter how careful your plans, life and love have a habit of falling quite spectacularly out of control!

Characters

Caro is a feisty but desperate woman. She doesn’t want to abandon all home so instead she assumes the persona of another. Angelica has some freedoms that Caro does not – like speaking her mind. Tobias is a bloody mess. Being the youngest he hasn’t found anything worth while to invest his time or energy in so he just drifts. Rebecca is adorable – I loved her more than Caro most of the time.

Despite the fact that in the end and over all I like Caro, she could be down right wishy washy and irritating. Actually I didn’t like her very much for the second half of the book. Especially after her secret gets out. Instead of rising up – she had to be saved by the men around her. That was the most frustrating thing about this entire book. I thought it would be more about her saving herself but no. So fair warning there.

Plot

Caro’s double life as Angelica catches up with her. There wasn’t a lot of lead in to the bad guy being a bad guy but it was believable. Entitled and malicious. Surprisingly the romance is as important as the rest of the plot. I believe that even some men would enjoy this book due to its duel plot nature. The romantic aspect was really secondary for most of the book – only the last 25% really felt like a historical romance. Which was the worst part of the book in my opinion.

Overall

Absolutely gripping read. The writing flowed well and was at a fast paced tempo. It did a good job of sticking with the era and its colorful vernacular. At times the author overshadowed that something (mostly bad) was about to happen, which took me out of the book. There were a few POV shifts as well but also minimal. Not to mention that the grammatical errors were almost non-existent.

The characters were alright, Rebecca being my favorite and frankly Caro being my least favorite. At least the ‘bad guy’ (don’t want to give away who it is) is consistent – Caro isn’t throughout the book. She is all over the map. The only consistency is her inconsistency. The setting was well done, although more than once breaking the rules of proper society. Which may or may not be a good thing! The scenes between Caro and Tobias are very sweet though and by the end I went from not really liking to Tobias to loving him.

Rating

4 stars

The duel plot and fluid writing that is gripping and interesting is the reason for this rating. Fantastic read for any vacation!

I received a free copy in exchange of an honest review.

 

Rise by Jayelle Morgan

Summary

He gave her a night she would never forget…And a child too.

A year ago, Emory met the handsome, mysterious Ajax and threw her good-girl nature aside for one night of passion. She was fine accepting the consequences for her actions, and loves her son more than life itself. She never thought she’d see Ajax again, but now she desperately needs to find him. There’s something wrong with their baby…

She’s the only woman who’s ever taken his breath away.

Ajax never forgot Emory after their one night of passion. But he couldn’t keep her, because she is perfectly, completely human. And he’s not. But when she walks back into his life, it’s for the last reason he expects. Emory says the baby is his, but there’s just one problem: He’s sterile. All elite Elemental Warriors are. Which means she’s playing some kind of dangerous game, and he needs to know what it is.

When Chaos rears its ugly head, he’ll have to choose between protecting his new family and protecting his secret. One choice will take away everything that is important to him as a Warrior. The other could take away everything that is important to him as a man. Can Emory find something meaningful with the extraordinary father of her child? Or will he sacrifice them in his mission to save the world?

Characters

Ajax is a jerk. A likable jerk, but a smug womanizer. He is intolerable…until Emory. Emory is a no-nonsense kind of person. She doesn’t do one night stands: Except once. With Ajax. They are disgustingly cute together. Emory is a little wishy washy at times about what she wants but the woman it tough! I love their family dynamic with Jackson, their baby, is adorable.

I was happy to see Levi and Brooke back. Plus Walker and Micah. All great supporting characters. I was surprised that Emory didn’t have some sort of friend to give me some perspective on her though.

Plot

Much like the last book there is a threat from Chaos. They want Jackson because he is a very powerful Erratic. Furthermore he is very out of control, making mini cyclones every time he gets upset. No wonder Emory was half out of her mind with worry about her very special baby!

Ajax realizes what could happen if his commander finds out. Walker would have to take him back, which means no more playing family with Emory and Jackson. So now he is torn between protecting his family and losing them when he is forced to return home. Will he be able to keep them safe or will he decide to sacrifice himself?

Overall

Great writing. There were some errors but most of them were minor and easily overlooked, but some of the flow was off. Also it was a little repetitive at times, mostly Emory’s lamenting and trying to deny her lust, but overall still very enjoyable. The paranormal world and its sexy elementals were as flawless and wonderful as last time. The romance was great and the steamy scenes undeniably sexy. This author always delivers those!

My biggest rub was the ending was anti-climatic. There was all this build up and then it was just over. I felt as though the author took the easy way out. I don’t want to give anything away but after the threat to Emory, it sort of just winds down. The big threat just seemed to be overcome easily.

Rating

4.5 Stars (rounded down)

Fantastic read! If you love paranormal romances this is a must read. A fantastic follow up to Burn!

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.