Boundary: The Other Horizons Trilogy (Book 1) by Mary Victoria Johnson

Boundary: The Other Horizons Trilogy (Book 1) by Mary Victoria Johnson

Boundary Cover

4 out of 4 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Boundary by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

To an outside observer, Penny and her five friends live a life of luxury. They have everything they need provided for them, they live in a mansion, and they can do almost whatever they want within the boundary of that space. But it’s that boundary that makes Penny question everything around her. Touching the invisible wall surrounding the property will fry someone to a crisp, and Penny and her friends are essentially being held hostage inside it. They’re not exactly being held against their will, at least not until Penny begins questioning how they got there and why they can’t leave.

Penny’s curiosity not only angers their already sinister master, but it also begins a series of trials that pit friend against friend because the winner will get to leave the boundary. Alliances are formed and help is provided from unexpected sources, but not everything is as it seems. As the trials become more and more dangerous, it will be every man for him or herself.

Boundary is book one of the young adult The Other Horizons Trilogy, and although it is a standalone book, it does set the stage for the next book in the series. It is full of action and adventure, mystery, and fantasy, as well as being historical. This made for quite an interesting combination.

Although the story felt slow-moving at first, there was always the feeling that something more was under the surface. I immediately wanted to read on to find out why Penny and her friends were not able to leave the boundary. Even the somewhat mundane parts showing everyday life at the manor kept me involved and turning pages. The author did a good job of including small details that played into the plot in a larger way.

Overall this was a great book that I enjoyed reading, however I was left confused by some issues at the end. I’d be giving away too much of the story to go into detail, so suffice it to say these were not the type of issues that will be resolved in the next book; rather, they were the type that were resolved within this book but either done too quickly or without enough explanation for me. Still, I appreciated the journey and would be likely to read more by this author.

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Happy reading!

Rach

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Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Ashley Bell through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Twenty-two-year-old Bibi Blair is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, but she’s determined to beat it. Two days later, she wakes up miraculously cured. What starts out as a celebratory gift from Bibi’s parents turns into a dangerous game when Bibi finds out her life was spared in order to save another—the life of Ashley Bell.

But things aren’t always as they seem, and Bibi will need to navigate a twisted web of clues in order to find Ashley Bell in time to save the girl. She’ll also need to remember things from her childhood—things she purposely forgot. Bibi has a new lease on life, but she just might lose it while facing down the enemy.

Ashley Bell is a mysterious psychological thriller that will have you turning page after page to delve deeper into the mind of the main character, Bibi Blair. It kept me guessing how it would all come together right up until the end, and I was fully invested in the lives of the characters.

At first glance, Bibi seems like she could be any other young woman. She’s an author and her parents are laid-back surfers, but Bibi’s a well-adjusted woman engaged to a Navy SEAL. At the same time, it’s clear there’s something different about her, something enthralling that pulls you into her life and makes you want to know more.

When Bibi is declared cancer-free, the story really begins to boggle the mind. Without a moment of reprieve, Bibi begins a quest to save the life of Ashley Bell, whom she’s never met and knows nothing about. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll only tell you the story is full of action and intrigue. Bibi has to get inside her own mind to save the girl and save herself. She’s a strong heroine, which is something I loved about the book. Bibi doesn’t back down from any of the challenges she faces.

The short chapters in this book sometimes gave the story a choppy feel, jumping from one scene to the next without much advancement. It certainly kept me turning the pages, but I would have preferred longer chapters where more is accomplished to keep me invested in the plot. As is typical for Mr. Koontz’s work, it was well-written and flowed enough to make up for the short chapters. By keeping them short, the events take on a real-time feel.

Overall, this book had me riveted from start to finish, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Ashley Bell is currently available for pre-order and will be released on December 8, 2015.

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Happy reading!

Rach

The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam by Marilee Brothers – Review and Blog Tour

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  Review

 5 out of 5 Stars

*I received a copy of The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Allegra Thome teaches a band of misfits in high school, so she’s no stranger to foul language and danger. This comes in handy when one of her students goes missing and she’s thrown into the middle of the search for the young girl.

DEA Agent Sloan isn’t necessarily searching for the girl, but his attraction to Allegra forces him to help her out when she gets into trouble. Some of the information Allegra stumbles on to leads to the girl’s father, a criminal Sloan is interested in until the man turns up dead.

Allegra and her nephew employ all of their sleuthing skills and the help of family and friends to find the girl when the police write her off as a runaway teen. But they’ll need to act fast before they end up like several other people involved with the missing girl—dead.

The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam sucked me in early and kept me captivated right until the end with its outrageous mix of humor and mystery. Right off the bat, Allegra gets herself mixed up in things better left alone just by trying to talk to the parent of one of her students. She meets DEA Agent Sloan when she thinks he’s kidnapping her, but really he’s saving her from a drug bust. From there, things only get crazier. The mystery of the missing student begins, and we meet Allegra’s eccentric family, who keep the laughs coming throughout the story.

I loved the way Sloan and Allegra annoyed each other in their flirtations. These two characters couldn’t have a boring relationship if they tried. The mixture of comedy and heat between them made every interaction memorable. I particularly enjoyed the way Allegra described Sloan:

“Listen, Bud. This man is not my boyfriend. He follows me around for no reason. I think he has one of those tracking thingies on my car.”

Sloan is a sexy mystery every reader will want to unravel. He shows up at the oddest times and inserts himself into Allegra’s family with hilarity and intrigue. We don’t get a whole lot of information on him, but the attraction is still there and the heat between Sloan and Allegra is off the charts.

The story is actually more mystery and suspense than romance, but the mix with humor makes it a perfect light read. Although there are plenty of darker themes—kidnapping, drugs, corruption, spousal abuse—the wittiness of Allegra, Sloan, and the cast of secondary characters will keep you amused from start to finish. Even the intimate scenes have a dash of absurdity, with one set in the basement of a nursing home and one in the back of a hearse.

I truly enjoyed everything about The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, and I would definitely read more by this author.

Happy reading!
Rach
Trash-talking, soft-hearted teacher Allegra Thome won’t let anything get in the way of her search for her missing student, least of all her attraction to Sloan, a rough-around-the-edges but totally irresistible DEA agent with an agenda entirely his own. 


 
BABY, COME AND GET IT 



Meet Allegra Thome. A teacher for behavior-disordered teens by day and a karaoke singer by night, this leggy blonde knows just where to find trouble—like Sloan, a tough, sexy DEA agent, in the middle of a drug bust. He clears her of all charges, but their intense chemistry leads to some passionate encounters in…unusual locations.
 
Their unorthodox romance is put on hold when one of Allegra’s students, Sara Stepanek, goes missing. Through cryptic messages and bizarre codes in a journal the girl hints at psychological manipulation and foul play, and suddenly Allegra doesn’t know who to trust. Even Sloan has his own reasons for wanting to find Sara. Time is running out in the frantic search, and Allegra will learn the answers she seeks are more shocking—and deadly—than she could ever imagine.
KEYNOTE
Leggy, karaoke-signing Allegra Thome spends her days teaching dysfunctional teens and her nights with wealthy new boyfriend, Michael. The rough patch following Allegra’s divorce is over, and life is grand. But when Allegra lands in the middle of a drug bust and meets Sloan, a rough-around-the-edges DEA agent and, later that day, a kid from her class disappears, things quickly head south. Sloan, who has the tact of a roadside bomb, is attracted to Allegra and alienates Michael. To make matters worse, nobody seems to care that Allegra’s student, Sara Stepanek, is missing. Allegra’s search for Sara becomes a race against time with dead bodies piling up and her own life in peril.
 
Short Excerpt
 
“Panty hose are a tool of the devil. On a tall woman, the crotch hangs at knee level, so she’s forced to crouch and shuffle like Quasimodo. If a woman’s vertically challenged, the things slither downward, pooling around her ankles like a reptilian second skin. My troubles began with panty hose.”
 
 
am a life long resident of Washington state and the author of a young adult urban fantasy series (Unbidden Magic) as well as two adult novels, Castle Ladyslipper and the Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam. My husband and I spend five months a year in southern California, not far from Los Angeles and San Diego. I spent a number of years as a teacher and school counsellor. Those years gave me a wonderful array of characters to write about. In addition to writing, I love to read, spend time with my family and hack my way around the golf course. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and love hearing from readers. I have a blog called Book Blather and welcome all those who love book. http://bookblatherblog.blogspot.com. Please visit my website, www.marileebrothers.com. If you send me a comment, I promise I will answer.

Fatal Reaction by Belinda Frisch

Fatal Reaction by Belinda Frisch

Fatal Reaction Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Fatal Reaction through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Paramedic Ana Ashmore happens upon a crime scene and figures she’ll lend a hand, even though she wasn’t called to the scene. What she finds is beyond belief. Her sister Sydney has died of an apparent suicide. But Ana doesn’t believe that’s really what happened since Sydney had everything to live for after recently beating cancer. A little digging around uncovers some interesting facts. Not only was Sydney fighting with her soon-to-be ex-husband, but she was also in touch with another doctor—one Ana knew nothing about.

With help from family friend and police officer Mike and Dr. Jared Monroe, Ana pieces together what was going on in Sydney’s life leading up to her murder and finds some startling information. The killer is still on the loose, and they strike again, killing one person and kidnapping another. When Ana puts all the pieces together, she ends up in danger of suffering the same fate as her sister. Jared and Mike have to figure out where the killer has taken her and get there in time to save her life.

Fatal Reaction is a well written, fast paced mystery where nothing is as it seems. The plot is intricate, with plenty of characters and lots of twists. It is an enjoyable story that will keep you enthralled right up until the end. Even though I figured out who the killer was early on, there was still plenty to hold my attention. The “how” was just as important as the “who” and the “why.”

There are a few drawbacks to this story though. The number of players makes it difficult to remember who’s who and what their relationship is to everyone else. Short chapters jump from one scene to the next quickly, making it hard to figure out the timeline of what’s going on. And with so many people involved, there isn’t much depth to any of the characters or their relationships to each other. For example, we are told Ana is in love with a man she can’t have, who turns out to be Jared. Jared has been married for close to twenty years and is on the verge of divorce. Other than that, there is no background information on how Ana and Jared met or how long they’ve known each other. We are just supposed to believe the interest exists between them.

Overall, this is a good mystery with a lot of action that will keep you involved in the story. I enjoyed reading it and would likely read more by this author. Note: this is a revised edition of Fatal Reaction that will be published on June 9, 2015.

Happy reading!

Rach

Creatures of Appetite by Todd Travis

Creatures of Appetite by Todd Travis

Creatures of Appetite Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

Special Agent Emma Kane is a new FBI profiler assigned to work the Heartland Child Murders case. Her partner, Jacob Thorne, has been pulled out of retirement to help catch the serial killer known as the Iceman, who is able to get in and out of locked houses to kidnap and murder little girls. Kane is known for her high close rate when she was a detective for the DC police, but her last case pushed her a bit too far. Thorne is arrogant, erratic, and brilliant, but anyone who gets in his way better watch out.

The pair gets a lot more than they bargained for when they fly to Nebraska to investigate. With more girls being snatched and snow storms bogging everything down, Kane and Thorne need to put a stop to the Iceman quickly. Lots of twists and turns and a surprising ending keep you on your toes!

Creatures of Appetite sucked me in from the first chapter. I love a good mystery, and this one didn’t disappoint. There was plenty of action and it certainly made for an interesting read. This wasn’t the kind of mystery that could be easily figured out until near the end, yet at the same time it wasn’t frustrating with a lack of clues. It just had enough twists to keep me turning page after page, right up to the end. Saying much more would give away too much of the story, and trust me, you’ll want to figure it out for yourself.

This easily could have been a five star story, but there were too many editing and formatting issues for me. The amount of run-on sentences was staggering. Caps were used for emphasis instead of italics. Internal thoughts were not italicized, which made them difficult to distinguish from narrative. There was a general lack of dialogue tags making the back and forth banter difficult to follow.

I read several reviews before purchasing the book that complained about the amount of cursing, but I didn’t find that to be problematic or unrealistic. It seemed on par with the typical portrayal of law enforcement.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would read more by this author, though I think he could use some better editing.

Happy reading!

Rach

The Copy by Grant Boshoff

The Copy by Grant Boshoff

The Copy Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

Geoffrey Bartell is under too much pressure between legal and political troubles at his genetics company and his home life. In order to handle it all, he creates a clone of himself. It’s the perfect solution for him to be able to pick up the pieces of his marriage while still dedicating all of his time to his company … until his clone has an anomaly and begins to deviate from his plan. Now Geoffrey is fighting for his life in another manner. He’s on trial for murder and needs to prove he’s innocent of the charge.

I’ll admit I didn’t know what to expect from this novella when I started it. I didn’t have much interest in the cloning aspect, but I’m glad I read it anyway because the story was about more than that. It’s told in mostly alternating chapters between the current courtroom drama and several months prior when the clone first came into being. It drew me in right from the start trying to put the pieces together to figure out what happened. The glimpses the reader is given of the past weave perfectly in with what’s going on in Geoffrey’s trial.

Although some of the details were a little scientific, the author did a nice job of dumbing it down for the reader. In fact, the majority of the information on cloning wasn’t even necessary to understand. The author made you believe it was possible with the focus being on what happened once the clone was created.

I was pretty sure I figured out the “who dunnit” early on, but in no way was I tempted to abandon the story. It wasn’t just a question of who committed the crime, but also what the crime was.

If there was anything about this novella I didn’t like, it was that entire chapters were printed in italics. It was used to clearly distinguish what happened in the past from the current courtroom scenes, but it wasn’t really necessary. That’s just a pet peeve of mine though, and I’m sure other readers won’t be bothered by it. There were some minor formatting issues, but they didn’t bother me too much.

I would definitely recommend this novella and read more by this author.

Happy reading!

Rach

Cold Fear by Rick Mofina

Cold Fear Cover

3 out of 5 Stars

Cold Fear is a mystery/thriller surrounding the disappearance of ten-year-old Paige Baker and her beagle Kobee in the dangerous Glacier National Park. Paige’s parents, Doug and Emily, take Paige on a family trip to reconnect and allow Emily to bury her past, a past which comes to light in pieces throughout the story. When Paige disappears from their campsite, it is hours before either parent realizes she is gone and nearly twenty-four hours before they are able to get help in the search.

A search team is assembled, and a team of law enforcement and FBI also meets to ensure all angles of the disappearance are explored. Doug and Emily come under suspicion as their past is revealed along with recent events that paint them in a bad light. At the same time, death row inmate Isaiah Hood is facing down his execution date, and a link between him and Emily Baker is discovered.

Although the story is well written and interesting, with small bits of information planted throughout, it has some major drawbacks. The number of characters the reader has to follow is astounding. It feels like the reader is meeting new players right up until the very end, and each is given a detailed history. At times, it is difficult to follow each person’s position on the search team, with law enforcement, news agencies, and legal teams.

The major drawback is the information given about Paige. The opening scene of the book confused me for the entire story. The reader is shown exactly what happened with Paige, so throughout the entire book I questioned the reasoning for law enforcement’s involvement. Certainly there is reasonable suspicion of the parents, but given what we know of the actual disappearance, the reader knows in the end they are innocent regardless of any information that may suggest otherwise. Basically, as I read, I continually wondered what the point was.

The story also has quite a few errors, which are distracting. I expect much more in e-books these days. A good editor goes a long way.

At the end of the day, I did read the whole story and enjoy the plot. However I think it would have been a lot more effective if all of Paige’s scenes had been cut out and the reader was actually left wondering what happened right along with law enforcement and the journalists.

Happy reading!
Rach