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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review of His & Hers by Ashley Ludwig

5 Stars ~ This was absolutely delightful! I loved everything about it. Truly a love story more than a romance, there is very little (to no) angst, beautifully developed characters, and a storyline that played off of and mirrored the old classic movies of Hollywood's Golden Age. 

What does that even mean? It means I felt like I was watching two dear friends fall in love, and it didn't need to have angst or suspense or much in the way of drama to keep me involved and turning pages. (Not saying there isn't a tiny amount of suspense, and a wee bit of drama, but for me, those elements were secondary to the love story.)

I loved Cain. A guy like him could sweep me off my feet any time. And Misty felt very real, with her insecurities - though not your typical romance insecurities. There were also some genuinely funny moments, and sweet moments, too. 

The secondary plot involving Misty's grandmother was especially sweet - but I'll say no more than that, to avoid spoilers. 

This is a true clean read - no profanity, and nothing hotter than a few kisses that were truly steamy. I just thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend to anyone who likes a sweet love story reminiscent of an old, classic movie. Nothing deep, but it still felt substantial enough to leave me satisfied. Again, like watching dear friends falling in love. I cared about and felt I knew the main characters well enough to call them friends.

What else can I say? The only critical thing I can say is that the author's style included what I consider to be incomplete sentences. Not too distracting, especially once I adapted to the style - and it was definitely style, not errors. 

Overall, very well written, enchanting characters, sweet love story on multiple levels. Definitely worth reading!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review of Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors by H L Burke

5 Stars all the way.

29340787This was every bit as delightful as I had hoped and expected. A light read, despite some tense happenings. A bit on the predictable side, but there were a still a couple twists, and I certainly couldn't predict the pitfalls in the house of mirrors, or the fun inventions - the kinds of elements that draw me to the steampunk genre. 

I liked Nyssa as a resourceful, smart, and compassionate heroine. I very much look forward to reading more books about her - in fact I have already purchased the next two books, and will be reading them soon. 

I'd say more about the secondary characters, but I don't want to let any spoilers slip, so let's just say that they were all well drawn and delightful, too. 

Content rating would be PG-13, for some intense situations and a bit of violence, though it's not too graphic.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Review of Fear is Louder than Words by Linda S. Glaz

Fear Is Louder Than WordsThis was certainly a fast paced read. I'm not sure what all to say about it that won't result in spoilers, but I'll give it a shot.

There are three almost completely distinct storylines running through this book, the only element really tying them together is Rochelle. So the reader is watching Rochelle dealing with the terror her attacker has generated in her, while she is fighting her attraction to the man who saved her, and we're watching Kyle as he progresses and escalates his hatred for Rochelle - for unknown reasons until nearly the end - and then there is Maggie and Erik and the PhD clinic.

The threads are woven together well, and kept me interested and guessing what was going to happen next. I'm happy to say there were a few things I didn't see coming, but after the fact I thought, "well of course..." Which means they were set up well, but not made out to be blatantly obvious gimmies. 

The main characters were for the most part complex and very well developed. I could totally picture Kyle as played by Giovanni Ribisi, particularly the character Gio played in The Postman. I couldn't find a good picture of that character, but this one is close. 

I worried for a little bit that his reasoning for hating Rochelle so much wouldn't be sound, but it was totally compelling. Yes, he creeped me out, but I appreciated having his perspective in the book.

I loved Ed. He felt quite human and had his flaws, so he wasn't "too good to be true" but he was very much a stand up guy and someone to love having on your side in a pinch. He might have been a bit too much of a super-hero toward the end, for reasons I can't say without dropping a spoiler, but that is dramatic license and I'd lump most of it under "things you can do when fueled by adrenaline" and call it good. The only thing that bugged me about Ed was the way his falling in love with Rochelle was portrayed. It just seemed a bit weak. Perhaps because the "I don't know why I'm attracted to her" card has been played out so often in books. I do think it's a real thing - often people don't know what draws them toward others, but he didn't seem to know what it was about her for much of the book, and I guess I like a hero to know his own heart a little better, and be able to pinpoint what it is a little sooner.

Rochelle. Rochelle, Rochelle, Rochelle. I don't know what to say about her. On the one hand, she was strong. Strong in her beliefs, strong in her will to fight against her fear, strong in her faith and convictions. The fact that she spent much of the book afraid didn't detract from her strength to me. It takes a lot of strength to continue living life despite that kind of fear. 

But there was a lot of things I didn't "get" about her. I did several eye-rolls at her when she fled over misperceptions of Ed and Alicia. It's understandable and a common element in romance stories - common and overdone. It is a pet peeve of mine when people run away instead of confronting a situation more than once. I get that we can't all be strong enough to stand there and hash a thing out in the moment every time one comes up, but for me, I much prefer to see that kind of growth sooner rather than later. The more times a character runs rather than faces a confrontation, the less I like them as my heroine. It has become a weakness I despise. A personal bugaboo of mine. Does that make this book terrible? No, but I think it accounted for half of that missing star. 

The whole thing with Danny perplexed me. I didn't know where he fit into her timeline, how long they were together, (I'm sure it was listed, but I didn't get a feel for what that time meant to her other than "he treated her horribly" which didn't give me the sense of why she stayed with him, or why he did a particular thing that I don't want to spoil.) It felt like a plot element that had been forced into the story, and it didn't really fit.

The rest of the star loss comes from the secondary characters, who were a bit like cardboard cutouts to me. Again, treading lighting to avoid spoilers, there was the drunk, scorned wife, the over the top doctor with secrets to hide, the wanton woman - two of them, actually - and the best friend with the seemingly perfect life. I didn't feel connection with any of them most of the time, and it just left me wanting to see them more clearly, for how they affect the main characters.

The final element I want to address is the presence of religion: faith and conviction. I'm not someone who likes being preached at, and this book definitely did not push me off with overt "bible-thumping" or a holier-than-thou-attitude. Believe me, I wouldn't have finished if I'd felt put upon. No, the threads of Rochelle's faith and how she lived it, and her dreams for a life steeped in it, were very present but not overwhelming. The way her faith affected her relationship with Ed was touching and one especially beautiful moment even got a tear in the corner of my eye. So in short regarding the religious aspect, I think people who like a strong element of faith in the books they read won't be disappointed, but neither will the casual reader be turned off by it.

Overall, I recommend this as a clean read that retains plenty of suspense and excitement. The rating would be PG-13 - with an added caveat for violence. Any survivor of sexual violence and (mild spoiler) those who have lost babies may be triggered by scenes in this book. 

I purchased an e-copy of this book, and then won the paperback in a contest. I will be sharing the paperback with my mom, because I think she would enjoy it. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Review of Heavy Weather by Normandie Fischer

25117500Wow, this was a great book. I wouldn't classify it as a romance, per se, because we don't really get to see the romance building between Annie Mac and Clay. They do fall in love, but that is not the focus of the book. It is so much more than a romance. The core group of friends rally behind Annie Mac and help her and her children recover from an abusive father/ex-husband's brutal attack, and we get to spy in on the affects one family's drama has on a small town community.

So much happens and I don't want to let any spoilers slip, so I won't do a recap. But I loved reading as Hannah and Matt's story unfolded. I loved catching up with Tadie and Will, Rita and Martin, and meeting Clay. What a standup guy! I loved watching his transformation from a man content with his solo life to his becoming a family man. (I totally got him as a 'leave me alone with my solo existence' person, since I am very much that way. He was very well drawn.)

Annie Mac gets her own paragraph. She felt very real to me. How does a woman end up in an abusive relationship? And once there, how does she have the courage to leave? Annie Mac has made more than one mistake in her life, and my how she has paid for it. Yet she worked to pull herself up out of a horrible situation, and continued to fight against all odds to improve her life and the lives of her children. She is the picture of a strong woman who doesn't let life beat her down, even when a key person in her life has. Her story is a tough one, and may trigger survivors of abuse, but she is inspiring to watch as she grows and learns to heal and live again. 

And as with other Normandie Fischer books I've read, she does a fantastic job bringing the children to life. I fell in love with Katie, and the little man, Ty, melted my heart with his determination to help his mama. I'm a grouchy old woman when it comes to kids - I can take 'em or leave 'em, generally. (Excepting my own grandkids - and I married into them, I have none of my own.) That these youngsters found their way into my heart says a lot for how masterfully they were portrayed. And revisiting Jilly from Becalmed was an added bonus, as she was another young character I very much loved.

I will say that this story is brutally honest. It pulls no punches and for me, personally, I felt deeply and profoundly as the characters moved through tragedy and triumph, and everything in between. In life, I'm not much of a crier. I will confess good fiction has the ability to make me cry faster than real life - and this certainly qualifies as good fiction. I cried more than once, both happy tears and tears of sadness and outrage. 

Oh, and let me not forget how much I appreciated getting in the head of the bad guy. Roy was a real piece of work, and had we not been privy to the workings of his mind, I think the story would have been more bewildering and not nearly as tense. Getting in his head was not pretty, but I think it was necessary to build tension and really understand the depth of danger Annie Mac and those who were helping her were in.

Very well done story. If you haven't yet read it, you won't be sorry.
Content Rating: PG-13 for scenes of abuse and dramatic (though not overtly graphic) violence - but language and romantic content are "clean" and flinch free.