• ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Zapata: a book review

    Synopsis: When engineer Avery McAndrews is offered a last-minute assignment to the rough and tumble border town of Zapata, Texas, she doesn’t think twice. Used to pushing past stereotypes, she’s sure this project will earn the long-awaited promotion. 

    Instead, she’s thrown in the crossfire between warring drug cartels and soon discovers that her captor, Javier Ramos, is more than just a power hungry drug lord. He’s crazy. 

    As lead attorney for the cartel, it’s Alejandro DeLeon’s job to manage Javier. But this time, Javier’s cruelty reaches epic proportions, and Alejandro finds himself wanting to risk everything to save Avery.

    Running for their lives with Mexico’s underworld at their heels, Avery and Alejandro discover unintended and intensifying emotions, feelings neither sought and neither seem prepared to control… 

    Review: Drug cartels, drug lords, a kidnapping, and a romance – that’s I where expected the story to get weird. But it never did. Avery is tough and there was never an unlikely scene created by her making a silly decision just so he could rescue her.

    Living in Texas, I was intrigued by this book but also curious about how accurate it would be. The short answer: the author did her research and nailed it. The setting and characters were believable, as well as their relationships.

    This was a quick and immersive read. I enjoyed watching Alejandro and Avery’s relationship unfold in a realistic manner.

    I am a bit of an El Chapo, Pablo Escobar, Narcos, etc junkie and this book filled the paperback void I have had. There was plenty of action but none of it was too disturbing or over the top – just real.

    I asked on Instagram if you’ve ever wanted to make up a new genre. This book is one of those and I would classify it as “realistic romance.” If that’s already a thing, please let me know because I would love to read more books where kisses are not shared while bullets are flying and bombs are exploding.

    The one thing I wished more for was more character development. But apparently this book is the first in a series (yay!) so I understand why an author would hold back and some details.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and promotion!

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Dead Girls Club: Blog Tour

    Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face…

    In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real–and she could prove it.

    That belief got Becca killed.

    It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night–that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.

    The night Heather killed her.

    Now, someone else knows what she did…and they’re determined to make Heather pay.

    Welcome to my stop on The Dead Girls blog tour!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was the perfect mix of creepy, scary, and with a supernatural twist – all without being gory or check all your doors three times scary.

    It felt like a trip down memory lane – slumber parties with friends full of scary stories that we tried to make each other believe were real. Fortunately for us, none of the stories came true and no one ended up dead.

    Told in a shifting timeline, it was an interesting way to unfold the story and the characters. I read this book in a day because I had to know what was next and what really happened to Becca.

    The writing was done well. The author wrote a suspenseful story without trying to add too many twists or leaving the reader confused with extra characters. The four main characters were as well developed as you would expect for a mystery. The only possible drawback would be the campy feel of the book. But if you knew that going into the story, it probably won’t be that big of an issue.

    All in all, this was a well-written thriller that was fun to read on a dreary fall afternoon.

    This book by Damien Angelica Walters is for sale on 12/10/19. Look for it in your local bookstores then!

    Thank you to Crooked Lane Books for a free advance readers copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Painted Castle: a blog tour & review

     

    Synopsis:

    A lost painting of Queen Victoria. A library bricked off from the world. Three women, separated by time, whose lives are irrevocably changed.

    When art historian Keira Foley is hired to authenticate a painting at a centuries-old East Suffolk manor, she hopes this is just the thing to get her career and life back on track. But from the time she arrives at Parham Hill Estate and begins working alongside rumored art thief Emory Scott, she’s left with far more questions than answers. Could this lost painting of Queen Victoria be a duplicate of the original Winterhalter masterpiece, and if so, who is the artist?

    As Keira begins to unravel the mystery behind the portrait of the queen, two women emerge from the estate’s forgotten past. In Victorian England, talented sketch artist Elizabeth Meade is engaged to Viscount Huxley, then owner of Parham Hill. While there, master portrait artist Franz Winterhalter takes her under his wing, but Elizabeth’s real motive for being at Parham Hill has nothing to do with art. She’s determined to avenge her father’s brutal murder—even if it means feigning an engagement to the very man she believes committed the crime.

    A century later, Amelia Woods—a WWII widow who has turned Parham Hill Estate and its beloved library into a boarding school for refugee children—receives military orders to house a troop of American pilots. She is determined that the children in her care remain untouched by the war, but it’s proving difficult with officers taking up every square inch of their world… and one in particular vying for a space in her long shut up heart.

    Set in three time periods—the rapid change of Victorian England, the peak of England’s home front tensions at the end of World War II, and modern day—The Painted Castle unfolds a story of heartache and hope and unlocks secrets lost for generations, just waiting to be found.

    The Painted Castle is a sweet romance, the third in the Lost Castle series. It can be read as a stand-alone but is better if read with The Lost Castle and Castle on the Rise.

    My Thoughts:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, the character development, and the scenery descriptions. I have not read the other two books in the series but it didn’t hurt my experience reading The Painted Castle. I think that says a lot about an author’s writing when a book in a series can stand alone.

    I loved that the story spanned centuries. Time-shifting stories are some of my favorites. And three heroines to root for? This added an extra layer of engagement for me. It’s not often that you are captivated by three strong female characters written so well.

    I read this book in one sitting and the other two books are already ordered and on their way. I can’t wait to read more by this talented author, Kristy Cambron.

    Purchase at your local bookstore or visit one of these online stores!

    Thomas Nelson | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    Connect with Kristy

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours, Thomas Nelson, and Kristy Cambron for a copy of this beautiful book in exchange for my honest opinion.

     

  • Book Reviews,  Writing

    One For The Blackbird One For The Crow

    Welcome to my stop on the One For The Blackbird One For The Crow blog tour!

    Four graves behind her. Four graves at four different farms, faded marks on the map of her life, tracing the route of her forced march out into this bleak wilderness. From Wisconsin to Minnesota to Nebraska, then to the eastern plains of Wyoming and finally here, under the merciless eye of the Bighorns. One Webber grave lay here already – the fifth monument to Nettie Mae’s losses. She never deigned to visit Substance’s final resting place, but she could feel its nearness.

    Wyoming, 1876. The Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other for as long as they have lived in this unforgiving wilderness. But when Cora is found with Substance – Nettie Mae’s husband – Ernest kills him, leaving two families without the men who ran their homesteads.

    This is a story of love, loss, betrayal, survival, and ultimately friendship. Told from multiple points of view, this thick book flies by. I appreciated the glimpse into each characters motives and thoughts – this is what drove the book forward and allowed the reader to connect with the characters.

    Beulah and Clyde are the teens left to help their mothers care for their farms. For a moment, I rolled my eyes over what was inevitably coming. But by the time it happened, I was so enmeshed with the characters, especially Beulah, that I was pleased to read about their budding relationship.

    The writing had a prose-like quality to it and the multiple POV story worked very well for this plot. The characters were richly developed and flawed as they were, I loved something about each one of them. Hawker does a fantastic job of balancing the utter desperation of the story with the story itself. She left plenty of room for connecting with the character while still understanding just how dire the needs of these two families were.

    If you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing, The Dovekeepers, or Inland (not my favorite), you will most likely love One For The Blackbird One For The Crow

    Available for purchase at your local bookstore or:

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

     

  • Book Reviews,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Evvie Drake Starts Over: a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    The tag on her chamomile teabag said, There is no trouble that a good cup of tea can’t solve. It sounded like what a gentleman on Downton Abbey would say right before his wife got an impacted tooth and elegantly perished in bed.

    Evvie Drake Starts Over – a book by Linda Holmes in which a large quantity of tea is consumed and is paired well with witty and sharp writing.

    Evvie’s husband and high school sweetheart, Tim, is a successfull and well-liked doctor in their Maine community. The book opens with Evvie packing up her car to leave him for a fresh start when she gets the call.

    Her husband has been killed and while it isn’t the fresh start she planned, Evvie is forced to start over in the town she grew up, surrounded by memories of her husband who unbeknownst to most others, wasn’t so nice to her.

    Evvie’s best friend Andy and Saturday morning standing bruch date is a single father after his wife left him and his two young girls.

    Andy has arguably done a better job of moving on while Evvie is gripped with guilt over her secret almost-decision. She spends many nights on the floor of her guest apartment room overwhelmed by anxiety and confused grief.

    So when Andy’s friend Dean, a professional baseball player needs a fresh start after forgetting how to pitch, Andy suggests that Dean rent Evvie’s spare room.

    On the surface this book sounded fairly predictable and quite honestly, outside my typical read. But referring back to the quote at the beginning of this review, you will get a sense of the author’s quick wit and fresh approach to writing about starting over and the grief and anxiety that accompanies life changes.

    I saw myself in the characters. I know a lot about loss, failure, starting over, anxiety, grief, guilt, and shame that almost keeps you from second chances. And like Evvie, I was even married to someone named Tim who wasn’t nice to me and nearly destroyed me – a side effect of what goes on behind closed doors.

    This book made me laugh, tear up, and root hard for the characters find their ways. The writing was poingant and never overly saccharine – the biggest reason I usually avoid these books. And the added sports element, written accurately, rounded this book out and made it a 5 ✂️ book for me.

    The characters were well developed and the other element the author did particularly well was in capturing the Maine coast with more than just words. You could taste, smell, and hear the coastal town in her writing.

    If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Things You Save in a Fire, or How Not to Die Alone you should enjoy Evvie Drake Starts Over.

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