Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

Kaz Brekker is known as Dirtyhands because he’s not afraid to do what’s necessary to achieve his goal. When he’s offered a job that will make him wealthy beyond his dreams, he can’t turn down the chance, especially if in the process he can settle an old vendetta. But the job just might be a suicide mission. His team is made up of other misfits like himself, each bringing a particular strength to the table, but they all have plenty to lose.

Six of Crows is not the kind of book I normally would choose for myself, but based on a friend’s suggestion, I gave it a shot. I’ll admit it took me a little while to get into the story as there is a lot to learn about the world Kaz and his team live in. But once I got to the meat of the story, I absolutely couldn’t put it down. It’s the kind of book that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

All of the characters were well thought out, and I enjoyed the way the author gave us little peeks into their lives, unveiling a new layer to a character yet leaving the reader yearning for more. I was so attached to each of the characters on the team; I couldn’t stand any one of them being in peril. They each had their own demons to face, adding even more depth to the plot.

I enjoyed this so much I immediately checked out the next book in the series from my library.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Hinged (Soul Mate Rescued Book 2) by Char Sharp

Hinged (Soul Mate Rescued Book 2) by Char Sharp

Hinged Cover

3 out of 5 Stars

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

Seven years ago, Cooper Baron lost the love of his life. Robin Finch disappeared, and no matter how hard Coop tried to find her, it was like she no longer existed. But he didn’t give up, and he won’t until his soul mate is back in his arms.

Robin Finch has no memory of her life prior to seven years ago. She’s been living with Dr. Ramsey Gunn, as his wife, but deep down she knows he’s not the love of her life. Robin and Ram have been on the run, hiding in the shadows with Ram erasing any electronic evidence of their existence before it can be found by those hunting them. Until the day Robin runs into Cooper Baron, and something in her mind—and her heart—is unlocked.

What should be a sweet reunion is in actuality confusing and life-threatening. Cooper will need to bring down the person who is trying to kill Robin before they can move on with their lives.

Hinged is book two in the Soul Mate Rescued series and can comfortably be read as a standalone book. It is a romantic suspense story with technology thriller aspects. The author’s style brings out a nice amount of emotion between the characters, and it’s easy to feel their love and despair right along with them. The idea of soul mates physically feeling the presence of their other half, though slightly farfetched for my taste, transferred well in this story. Robin’s amnesia and the subsequent recovery of her memory was handled in what seemed to be a realistic fashion.

The plot of the story focused more on the romance than the suspense or thriller aspects. It seemed to be missing vital pieces of information regarding the investigation into the threat against Robin, focusing instead on Robin’s life once she was rescued. Since it was told from both Robin and Cooper’s point of view, I would have liked to see what Cooper was doing behind the scenes to locate and take down the threat. Even after the climax, I wanted to know more about how the climax occurred since the reader wasn’t provided the information prior to that.

Overall, this was a good romance story, and if you enjoy reading a straight romance it could be worth your while. I would have liked to see it a little more rounded with the information that was brought into the plot, but I would probably still try another book by this author.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Closer by Emerald O’Brien

Closer by Emerald O’Brien

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3 out of 5 Stars

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

Just when life should be perfect for Chloe Forrester, everything begins to unravel. Her new fiancé is accused of cheating on her with another woman, and to make matters worse, the woman in question winds up dead. Paxton Potter won’t rest until he gets to the bottom of his ex-girlfriend’s death. He may have broken up with her for cheating on him, but that doesn’t mean he can stand to let her killer go free.

Pax makes Chloe question everything she’s ever known. As the two begin to look closer at the events surrounding Pax’s ex-girlfriend’s death, an attraction is formed. Chloe will need to find the courage to make her own decisions when Pax becomes the prime suspect in the murder.

Closer is a romantic suspense story with lots of twists and turns. The suspense was intriguing, keeping me guessing about the murderer right along with the main characters. The relationship between Chloe and Pax was set at a good pace, especially considering they had both just come out of relationships with someone they thought they’d be with forever.

The main drawback to the story was the relationship between Chloe and Harrison. The story opens with Harrison being accused of cheating on Chloe, so I never felt invested in their relationship. Yet Chloe continually considered going back to him, which made her character appear weak and wishy-washy. While the opening drama was meant to draw the reader into the story, some more building of Chloe and Harrison’s relationship would have made her indecision more believable. Conversely, she could have stood her ground in deciding she was done with Harrison, which would have made her a stronger character.

There were also a lot of editing issues in the book, like incorrect dialogue punctuation and comma splices. The number of dialogue interruptions was distracting as well, forcing me to reread the dialogue to make sense of it.

A little more believability and some good editing would have increased my enjoyment of this story. The base was there with a good plot and well thought-out suspense, but it needed a better execution.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Life’s Hope (Life’s Series Book 2) by Rebekah Raymond

Life’s Hope (Life’s Series Book 2) by Rebekah Raymond

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5 out of 5 Stars

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

Twelve years after Rochester’s demise, Seleah works as a vigilante delivering justice where it is needed. She has assumed a new identity to hide from those who continue to target her, but some parts of Seleah refuse to remain hidden. She still struggles with who she is—a killing machine or a woman with needs and feelings.

A call from her former lover, Tomlin, brings Seleah back to where she spent her formative years for the funeral of her mentor and father figure, StPatrick. Seleah’s personal struggle heightens as she’s reunited with Tomlin, and just when life becomes bearable again, a new enemy arises. Seleah and Tomlin must go up against a man with goals similar to Rochester, but this new enemy may also have the power to tear them apart.

Life’s Hope is book two in the Life’s series and can be read as a standalone, although it is best read in order as part of the series. The important pieces of information from book one are supplied in book two without rehashing or boring readers who have already read the first book.

The story was action-packed from start to finish, and it kept me on my toes and turning pages throughout. We finally learned the name of the soldier we came to love in the first book, but she’d had to assume a new name to keep her fellow vigilantes safe once she realized she was a constant target. A new identity didn’t change Seleah’s struggle though. She constantly battled against the killing machine hidden inside her that Rochester created and her desire to be a normal woman who loved a man. Seleah struggled with this throughout the story, and this internal battle threatened her relationship with Tomlin.

Similar to book one, this story had lots of descriptive fight scenes, but they fit the theme of the plot and provided the reader with the true scenarios Seleah and Tomlin had to deal with. This was an impressive addition to the series, and with this only being Ms. Raymond’s second book, I anticipate more great works from her in the future and look forward to reading them.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Heckled by Valarie Savage Kinney

Heckled by Valarie Savage Kinney

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5 out of 5 Stars

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

Exxel Jensen has spent his entire life finding ways to cope with his mental illness. Although his family and friends know he’s depressed, they really don’t know the true extent of it. Exxel lives with another person in his world, a person no one else can see or hear—the Heckler. Drinking, drugs, and cutting help Exxel banish the Heckler, but only temporarily. Exxel has a loving and supportive wife who would do anything to help him, and he also has a baby on the way. He should be happy, but happiness is the one thing Exxel can’t feel.

Heckled is a dark drama that draws you in to the main character’s world from the start. The descriptions of what’s going on inside Exxel’s head leave you feeling the pain, uncertainty, and depression right along with him. While it’s easy to ask how anyone could be unhappy in Exxel’s situation, especially with a beautiful wife and new baby coming, this book drops the reader right into the midst of Exxel’s suffering and provides a deep understanding of what he’s going through.

But the story does even more than that, allowing the reader to see how the people around Exxel feel as well. Depression doesn’t only affect the person who suffers from it. Friends and family are just as involved, and this story does a wonderful job of bringing that to light. Helena is a devoted wife. All she wants is to help Exxel, but how can you help someone who doesn’t even feel worthy of getting help? His mother, brother, and best friend also try in their own way to do what they can for Exxel because they love him.

This book is very real and brings out a lot of emotion. I found myself in tears on several occasions as the characters all struggled through the day to day issues surrounding depression. It’s a very different type of story, and while I wholeheartedly recommend it, it’s definitely not for everyone due to the dark theme.

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Rach

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

Life’s Defeat (Life’s Series Book 1) by Rebekah Raymond

Life’s Defeat (Life’s Series Book 1) by Rebekah Raymond

Life’s Defeat Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

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

Upon her parents’ death, a young girl is taken in by StPatrick, the headmaster of a private school. The inside of the school’s walls is all she’s ever known, so when she is recruited to become a soldier for her school at a young age, she agrees. On one particular mission, the soldier comes face to face with Rochester, whose evil knows no bounds.

The soldier gets a small taste of freedom before being sucked back into military life and ultimately captured. She learns just how different she is from others while in Rochester’s captivity, and while most would say her abilities are a blessing, she views them as a curse. Once saved by her friend and a band of soldiers from her former school, the soldier finally has a purpose in life: seeking revenge on Rochester. But in the end, that revenge could prove her ultimate demise.

Life’s Defeat is an intriguing thriller. This is the author’s first novel, and I have to say I’m impressed. This story is completely different from anything else I’ve read. To start with, we never learn the main character’s name, even though the story is told in first person point of view by her. I kept thinking I missed something, but the author purposely did not give us her name. She was a soldier, and that pretty much defined her throughout the book.

The soldier had a genetic anomaly that kept her from dying, but she was unaware of this mutation until she was captured by Rochester. One would typically think this would be a good thing, but Rochester used this against her. Not only was he searching for the secret to this mutation so he could build his own army of undefeatable soldiers, but he also tortured the soldier to her breaking point, hoping she would become part of his team. The soldier’s inner thoughts were fascinating as we watched her personality essentially split into two throughout her captivity, and to see how she processed events and reacted to them was remarkable.

The book was also unique in that it focused solely on the soldier. There was a romantic interest, a father-figure, a villain, and a few other characters who played parts in the story, but they were secondary to everything the soldier was going through. Even the villain, the mastermind behind the soldier’s torture and repeated deaths, felt like a minor character compared to the soldier’s reaction to each of the events.

Although fascinating and well-written, the story did drag in a few places. I didn’t mind the gruesome nature of the soldier’s repeated deaths—be warned if that’s not your thing—but at times I felt as if we saw too many of them and the story could have moved forward without them. There were some minor editing errors, though they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. There were also some inconsistencies in the timeline of when she became a soldier and rose through the ranks.

Overall, this was a wonderful debut novel, and I look forward to reading more by this author.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Leverage (The Mistaken Series Book 2) by Nancy S. Thompson

Leverage (The Mistaken Series Book 2) by Nancy S. Thompson

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4 out of 5 Stars

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

Tyler Karras is ready to live his new life now that the Russian mafia, the Bratva, has been disbanded. He has a new wife, a stepson, and a baby on the way. But old demons aren’t ready to release him from their clutches. In fact, the Bratva, which Ty thought he’d left buried four years ago, now wants to pull him in deeper than before. They have the perfect leverage over Ty—his new family.

In order to save his stepson Connor and his wife Hannah, Ty will have to do exactly what he swore to never do again. He’ll have to kill. And once he allows himself to do something so despicable, he’ll never be the same man again.

Leverage is book two in The Mistaken Series, and it picks up four years after the end of The Mistaken. It can be read as a standalone, as all the pertinent history is given to the reader, but it would be easier to understand after having read book one first. It is a suspenseful thriller with tons of action, and it will keep you guessing who is on what side right up until the end.

The story picks up with Hannah and Ty happily married and expecting their first child while Hannah’s son Connor begins a downward slide in college after witnessing the death of his best friend. But not everything is as it seems, and Connor’s problems lead him into a mess of trouble, landing him on the doorstep of the Russian mafia. The whole family gets pulled back into the mafia’s world without knowing why they’re being targeted.

Once again, Ty is a standup character. He only wants to do right by his family and protect those he loves. But circumstances outside his control drag him into the very life he was trying to escape. I enjoyed reading about his internal struggle to do the right thing versus doing what had to be done to save his family. Ty recognized that deaths would be on his conscience no matter what choice he made, and he didn’t want to subject his family to the man he would become once that happened.

This book brought Hannah’s son—Ty’s stepson—into the forefront. Connor seemingly fell into trouble with the mafia, not realizing he was specifically targeted. And hiding his troubles from his mother and stepfather only made matters worse. The inclusion of Connor in this book added another layer of intricacy to the plot, twisting and turning things around until you couldn’t be sure who to trust. It kept me constantly wondering who was on which side.

Told in first person point of view, one of the drawbacks of this book was the multiple points of view. Like The Mistaken, Leverage gave us three different perspectives. While the change of perspective was clearly labeled and separated by chapter, there was no rhyme or reason to the order. Something with so many changes would have been better told in third person, as it limits the confusion of who the “I” refers to and tends to feel smoother.

This book was also heavy on violence, so be warned if that’s not your thing. It was well written though, so while the reader got gory details, it certainly fit the theme of the book. The few minor editing issues didn’t disturb my enjoyment of the action-packed story. Overall, I enjoyed this, and I would definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

The Mistaken (The Mistaken Series Book 1) by Nancy S. Thompson

The Mistaken (The Mistaken Series Book 1) by Nancy S. Thompson

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4 out of 5 Stars

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

Tyler Karras is ready to live his life with his beautiful bride and their soon-to-be child, but his brother Nick keeps getting in the way. Nick finds himself in trouble with the Russian mafia time and again, and Ty continually bails him out. But Ty’s need to be an upstanding citizen blinds him to his wife’s suffering, resulting in the deaths of her and their child.

Lost and alone, Ty seeks retribution from the person he feels caused the spiral of events. Finally embracing Nick’s mafia connections, Ty hatches out a plan with his brother to make the woman responsible pay. Their search leads them to the wrong person, causing a new set of problems for Ty to solve. He’ll need to find a way to get an innocent woman out of the mafia’s line of sight while hatching a plan to save his brother.

The Mistaken is a mafia thriller with some romance that will keep you wondering how the hero will get out alive until the very end. There is plenty of action and good character development throughout. When we meet Ty, he’s an upstanding citizen with his whole life ahead of him. The author does a great job of showing his values and how he lives his life before it’s all ripped away from him. What I found interesting about this story was how Ty goes from good guy, to totally broken and capable of unthinkable crimes, and back to an honest man trying to make the best of a bad situation.

While I enjoyed the complete turn-around, it also made the book feel a bit drawn out at times. A whole lot was packed into the pages, starting back before Ty and Jillian were married. Told in first person point of view, the story switches between Ty, Jillian, and eventually Hannah, and the changes made it feel somewhat disjointed. Jillian’s point of view especially felt out of place. The story would have felt more cohesive if we only read what was happening to Jillian through Tyler’s eyes. Telling it in third person also may have better served a story where so many perspectives were necessary.

The plot contained a lot of action, which was enjoyable and kept me on my toes once the story really got moving. The romance between Ty and Hannah was interesting and believable even though it occurred in a short amount of time. The pressure on the two of them made for extenuating circumstances and allowed them to develop feelings for one another that otherwise would have taken much longer.

While I truly enjoyed the story, there were a few things detracting from it. The constant use of names in dialogue was unnatural. There was one event, which I won’t include a spoiler for, that felt out of character even though Ty had essentially hit rock bottom. And some of the actions between Ty and the mafia seemed unrealistic.

Overall, the book drew me in right from the start and I enjoyed the journey. I look forward to reading Leverage, which is book two in this series.

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Rach

Pros & Cons by Sydney Logan

Pros & Cons by Sydney Logan

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4 out of 5 Stars

*I was gifted a copy of Pros & Cons by the author. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Jenna York has made a good life for herself as a con artist and doesn’t understand why her partner wants to stop living the life and settle down—especially since her partner is in love with one of their rivals. The other half of the rival con artist team, Ethan Summers, pushes all of Jenna’s buttons every time they cross paths. With Jenna’s father pressuring her to get out of the business, she wants nothing more than to keep him out of the line of fire.

Ethan is attracted to Jenna; there’s no denying that. What he doesn’t realize is that his feelings may run deeper than he thought he was capable of. When tragedy strikes, Ethan and Jenna band together to fight their common enemy, but more surprises are in store for the conniving couple, and suddenly all their plans and dreams look different than before. With more at stake than ever, they’ll be in for the fight of their lives to save their family.

Pros & Cons is a contemporary romance with a little bit of thriller added in. I loved the idea of the main characters being involved in a life of crime, yet somehow they were still the “good guys” of the story. The tension between Jenna and Ethan as they pushed each other away was exciting without being overdone. I especially enjoyed the way they bickered back and forth while their feelings remained just under the surface.

The story included some secondary characters who were also easy to love. Ethan and Jenna were each partnered with their best friends, and their best friends fell in love with each other. The relationship between their partners was well-incorporated into Jenna and Ethan’s story, enough so I felt an attachment to this secondary relationship as well. We also got a peek into the lives of Ethan’s parents, Jenna’s father, and Ethan’s pilot who became an important part of the story.

Only a few things kept this from being a five-star book in my opinion. I would have liked to see a little more of the actual con jobs that Ethan and Jenna pulled, either separately with their original partners or together once they formed their own team. We got more detail of their home life than their adventures. I also felt the climax was a little lacking in action, although I still enjoyed the resolution of the plot very much. Thankfully the few minor editing issues didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, I was caught up in Ethan and Jenna’s lives and really liked this book. I will definitely read more by this author.

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Happy reading!

Rach