Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne Review

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Synopsis: On a hike during a white-hot summer break on the Greek island of Hydra, Naomi and Samantha make a startling discovery: a man named Faoud, sleeping heavily, exposed to the elements, but still alive. Naomi, the daughter of a wealthy British art collector who has owned a villa in the exclusive hills for decades, convinces Sam, a younger American woman on vacation with her family, to help this stranger. As the two women learn more about the man, a migrant from Syria and a casualty of the crisis raging across the Aegean sea, their own burgeoning friendship intensifies, and when a simple plan of revenge goes horrifically wrong, Faoud must go on the run while the women come to terms with the terrible consequences they have set in motion.

My Thoughts: The premise of this story was great but it just wasn’t executed the way that I prefer. The pacing was slow and the writing, although beautiful, had too much of a literary quality for my liking.

The book deals with current issues and dilemmas that people are faced with today in an interesting way, which I found interesting. I also liked the characters, they were very well fleshed out and developed.

If you like a slow burning story with some drama, then this would be the book for you.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble Review

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Synopsis: Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

My Thoughts: This book kept me guessing. The story was fast paced and intense. It follows Dana, who has just left an abusive relationship and returns to her hometown for refuge. A series of murders of women are occurring that are all similar in nature and the suspense continues throughout the book until the final boiling point at the end.

I enjoy Colleen Coble’s writing style, it’s very descriptive and always keeps me turning the pages. The twist of the story was slightly unexpected and surprising but a bit far-fetched. I enjoyed the character of Bree, who trains search and rescue dogs. I also loved the small town feel of the setting. The author did a good job at building suspense throughout the story.

Unfortunately, it felt very over-dramatic at times. These characters had experienced a lot of drama in their lives (so much so that it gave me a soap opera feel at times). It made the book feel a bit unrealistic to read all the things one character had experienced. I also felt that the way murders were handled didn’t seem accurate, given the fact that they were possibly committed by a serial killer (the small town sheriff probably wouldn’t be the one in charge of these murders).

Overall, I was very entertained by this book but I wasn’t extremely impressed with it. I would recommend it for anyone who likes a fun murder mystery with a little bit of grit and some twists.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

 

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck Review

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Synopsis: Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

My Thoughts: This book reminded me of a movie called Breakdown, starring Kurt Russell. The plots of the book and the movie are similar and both were successful in creating a lot of tension and suspense. This story is every mother’s worst nightmare…to have your children taken away and the blame put on you.

The writing style was very reader friendly but it read like a movie adaptation…there was a lot of telling instead of showing. The pacing was good, the story moved along with every page. The characters were decent but none of them stood out to me.

Overall, this was a good thriller but not one that will be memorable…there was nothing “special” about it.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis Review

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Synopsis: ELKA BARELY REMEMBERS a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.
But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.
Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind–and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she’s been set on.
The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape–told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.

My Thoughts: This book took me much longer to read than most…it never really grabbed me. The plot sounded interesting, a girl living in a  post-apocalyptic world who is searching for her parents after discovering the man she thought of as her father was a murderer.

Unfortunately, I never got into the story. I found the main character Elka to be very unlikable and the pacing to be very slow. There were a lot of scenes with Elka in the woods alone with very little action.

I came to the conclusion that my main problem with this book is that it is a character-driven story and I prefer plot-driven stories. I can understand why many people who appreciate rich characters would love this story as Elka, although unlikable, is very developed and “real”.

The only thing I found interesting was the ending, although I had guessed the twist, but it was very clever.

If I hadn’t received this book for review, I would have DNF’d it but I always read review books to the end in order to give a full and honest review.

My Rating: 1.5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Invitation: Harbingers Cycle One by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky Review

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Synopsis: Four Bestselling Authors Team Up for Thrilling Supernatural Suspense – Gathering four stories from four bestselling author friends, Invitation is the first collection in the ongoing Harbingers series.

In “The Call” by Bill Myers, four strangers are drawn together to help a student at the mysterious Institute for Advanced Psychic Studies. His gifts are supposedly being honed to assist world leaders . . . but there are some very disturbing strings attached.

Frank Peretti’s “The Haunted” confronts a supernatural mystery, a case of murder, and an exploration into the darkness of the human heart, all centering around a mysterious house.

In Angela Hunt’s “The Sentinels,” animals around the world are mysteriously dying. What could it mean? When the tragedy begins to touch Andi’s dreams, she discovers a terrifying theory.

“The Girl” by Alton Gansky is a gripping tale of a young barefoot girl found holding a scroll in the snowy Oregon mountains. She is sweet, innocent–apparently not of this world–and something wants to kill her.

My Thoughts: This is an interesting bind up of 4 novellas, each written by a different author but in stories that are connected to each other (each author narrating one of the 4 main characters in the book). It is presented like a television series with new “episodes” and at this point, there have been 18 novellas written for the series. Because of this, each story is left open-ended, which I don’t like. I’m not a fan of long book series’ so I’m not sure if I’ll continue.

Each story was enjoyable but I think my favorite was The Call by Bill Myers, told by Brenda, a tattoo artist. Each character has a special gift and they are brought together in each story to solve a problem.

The characters all had their own voice (a benefit of having 4 different authors writing each character). They were all different and well-rounded, they also had interesting background stories.

I found the overall story line of spiritual warfare interesting but struggled with the theology of some of the things that happened. When this occurred, I reminded myself that it was fictional, but I do tend to hold Christian Fiction at a higher standard than secular fiction when it comes to the lesson that is learned. Throughout the book, there weren’t really any lessons learned, which I didn’t care for.

Overall, this book was enjoyable but not something that I would read again.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron Review

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Synopsis: Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

My Thoughts: This book contains a lot of things that I love…Vaudeville, mystery, illusionists, and a surprising twist. The story revolves around Wren Lockhart, a famous illusionist who was an apprentice for Harry Houdini. After a magician performs an illusion that results in the death of a man, the FBI gets the help of Wren to decipher what really happened on that day.

I am gaining more and more appreciation for historical fiction and I love the time period of the 1920s.  As I was reading this book, I felt like I was transported to the 20s…I could picture the theaters and flappers and glamorous parties that were vividly described in the story.

The characters were well developed, although I didn’t care for Wren at first but she grew on me as the story progressed.

I absolutely loved the scenes from Wren’s performances…I always loved watching illusionists and felt like an audience member watching her perform her amazing feats. I love Kristy Cambron’s writing style…it is very fluid and descriptive. She is very gifted at pulling the reader into the story.

The mystery seemed too weak to carry through the entire book. I found the resolution to be a bit rushed. I also didn’t care for the romance…it was very predictable and had an insta-love feel that seemed very unrealistic based on the personalities of the characters.

Overall, the story was a lot of fun and a great escape. I would highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction and the world of illusions.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart Review

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Synopsis: Young Maggie Greene may be trespassing in the old, empty Victorian mansion on a quiet street in Hidden Springs, but all she wants is some private time in the magnificent tower room to write her stories. Certain she’ll be in trouble if caught, she hides when a realtor shows up. But someone else is in the house too, someone even more worried about getting caught. When Maggie finds the realtor’s body at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the other person gone, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. He assumes the realtor’s death is a tragic accident–until a second person is found dead in the house. When Maggie is threatened, Michael must catch the murderer before anyone else dies.

Cozy mystery fans will love this third installment in The Hidden Springs Mysteries series from an author who knows how to make small-town America sweet, sentimental–and a little sinister.

My Thoughts: Up until now, I had only attempted to read one other cozy mystery and I dnf’d it because I found it boring. I wanted to give the genre another chance so I requested this book to review. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that cozy mysteries are too tame for me.

The book started out great, with a death of a realtor in a large Victorian mansion. I love the setting and the characters…it takes place in a small town called Hidden Springs and everyone knows everyone. I also enjoyed the author’s descriptions of people and places, I was able to picture everything very easily.

Unfortunately, it dragged a lot in the middle and by the end I didn’t even really care who the culprit was.

I also found the procedures used by the police in this book ridiculous. I’m not an expert at crime scene investigation but I’ve watched enough crime shows to know that there are certain procedures that need to be followed (regardless of the size of the town). The romance in the story also felt as though it was just put in to satisfy those who want some romance in a story….it didn’t fit well with the plot and almost felt like an afterthought.

To be fair, if I liked cozy mysteries, I probably would have really enjoyed this book but I like a bit more grit and action in my stories. I would absolutely recommend this if you are a fan of cozy mysteries or stories about small towns.

My Rating: 2 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.