Monday, August 29, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of DON'T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown

I love a good mystery, so when a William Morrow publicist asked if I’d like to read a copy of an upcoming new suspense release by a debut author—not romance by the way—with the following blurb, I quickly agreed. I didn’t expect it to get lost in the mail and take two years to find me, but it was rather worth the wait. DON’T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown was released July 2014 but like I always say, it’s never too late to read any book.

***print copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unscripted review

Blurb for DON’T TRY TO FIND ME:

When a 14-year-old runs away, her parents turn to social media to find her-launching a public campaign that will expose their darkest secrets and change their family forever, in this suspenseful and gripping debut for fans of Reconstructing Amelia and Gone Girl.

Don't try to find me. Though the message on the kitchen white board is written in Marley's hand, her mother Rachel knows there has to be some other explanation. Marley would never run away.

As the days pass and it sinks in that the impossible has occurred, Rachel and her husband Paul are informed that the police have "limited resources." If they want their 14-year-old daughter back, they will have to find her themselves. Desperation becomes determination when Paul turns to Facebook and Twitter, and launches FindMarley.com.

But Marley isn't the only one with secrets.

With public exposure comes scrutiny, and when Rachel blows a television interview, the dirty speculation begins. Now, the blogosphere is convinced Rachel is hiding something. It's not what they think; Rachel would never hurt Marley. Not intentionally, anyway. But when it's discovered that she's lied, even to the police, the devoted mother becomes a suspect in Marley's disappearance.

Is Marley out there somewhere, watching it all happen, or is the truth something far worse?

~*~            ~*~            ~*~             ~*~

Fourteen-year-old Marley Willits has disappeared. She was dropped off at school like usual but when her mother arrives home later, she finds a note on the fridge – Don’t try to find me. I’ll be okay. I’ll be better. I love you.

A parent’s worst nightmare as Rachel, Marley’s mother tries to figure out why her daughter has gone missing and if she is somehow responsible for pushing her to run away. Whereas Rachel is nearly hysterical, her husband Paul is much more sensible. When the police tell them they can only do so much, he springs into action using social media and starting up a website to do everything he can think of to find his daughter and convince her to come home. Meanwhile, young Marley is very aware of what she is doing, and is doing her best to cover her tracks so she will never be found.

Let me start by saying that I truly enjoyed this book, even when Rachel's self-absorption began to grate on my last nerve. DON’T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown is a roller coaster of emotion. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare in this age of the Internet, social media, and technology which allow a child to reach out further into the world than ever before, but which also might open up everyone’s lives to danger, and scrutiny, more extensively than ever as well. While Rachel and Paul are searching for Marley, their lives, marriage, and secrets slowly begin to unravel. Their marriage, not very stable to begin with, slowly begins to crumble as the cracks in their marital foundation fall victim to the weight of scrutiny by bloggers and social media trolls. When the reasons for Marley’s attempt to vanish with a college student she meets online finally surface, those cracks threaten to become irreparable.

DON’T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown is a gripping, emotional, eye opening look to the world of dangers, which our young adults are facing in today's world. It is a far more dangerous world for them to maneuver than it was for us in the pre-world wide web society in which we grew up. Stranger danger has always existed but predators have so many new tricks up their sleeves than just would you like a piece of candy, little girl? Yes, all turns out well for this family and the reasons fall to a young girl’s anxieties, feelings of isolation, and wanting some control over her life but what young girl hasn't felt all of those things as she begins to grow into an adult? The only thing about this book that I would change is not being inside Rachel’s head. Her narrative, whereas it assisted us in learning how she felt about her parents, her mother in particular, and the young man she thought she knew from her exchanges online, was too young for me, too disjointed at times. It was the YA—young adult—aspect of what could have truly been an incredible emotional and suspenseful read that kept me from loving this book.

However, I do highly recommend reading DON’T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown…especially if you’re raising kids in this modern world or thinking about doing so. It’s an amazing lesson is parenting in the 21st century.

Happy Reading Everyone!

DON’T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown, William Morrow Publishing, available now in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of SHADOW FALLING, a Scorpius Syndrome novel by Rebecca Zanetti

After reading MERCURY STRIKING, book one in the Scorpius Syndrome series by Rebecca Zanetti, I was hooked but worried that as good as the first book was could she keep me hooked with this desolate, dangerous post-apocalyptic world. Oh yes, she could and has with SHADOW FALLING, book two…in fact, I think it’s getting better.

***eGalley provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unscripted review

Blurb for SHADOW FALLING:

Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Kennedy was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her skills as a hunter of men had gone from merely brilliant to full-on uncanny. Her mysterious rescuer wants her to put them to the test. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.

If the FBI were still around, they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk.

And the way his arms wrap around Vinnie tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . . .


~*~                  ~*~                  ~*~                  ~*~


Vivienne Kennedy has managed to survive Scorpius, the deadly plague bacteria working its way through what is left of the human race, and having been kidnapped, drugged, and tortured by the most vicious of Scorpius human turned Ripper—the President of the United Statesbut now she must survive the enigmatic, sexy, and possibly the most dangerous man, Raze Shadow. With her brain somewhat fried from whatever drugs Bret Atherton used on her as well as the after effects of Scorpius, her filters seem to be malfunctioning and she’s incredibly attracted to Raze, the man who rescued her from her torture. The only thing keeping her away from him is that Raze is one of the uninfected and being who she is as well as a doctor, she doesn’t want to be responsible for bringing harm to him through infecting him with Scorpius. But then it happens, he’s infected by a Ripper attack…now she’s free to jump the gorgeous man’s bones but should she, and does he want the same or is she just going mad?

Raze Shadow is usually a loner, a man with a conscience but he knows that sometimes the wrong choices have to be made for the right reasons. What he has to do in regards to Vinnie is necessary if he’s to get his sister back from the Mercs. He doesn’t want to trade her but he has no other choice. He also knows that Jax Mercury will probably kill him if he gets the chance but it’s a risk he has to take or so he thought. All hell starts to break loose for Raze. His heart begins to soften toward the somewhat crazy but beautiful head doctor, and then Jax does the impossible to save his life after a Ripper infects him. He begins to see that being a loner in this new and dangerous world no longer works well…trust becomes the new order of life after Scorpius.

The survivors of Vanguard are incredible characters, their hearts are huge, their bravery intense, and they continue to surprise me with their open caring for strangers and once trust is gained, they’d lay down their life for everyone around them. Rebecca Zanetti has conjured an incredible cast of characters, a dangerous and somewhat terrifying post-apocalyptic world akin to other plague driven themed stories such as Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND and television’s The Walking Dead, but with an intensity that keeps me glued to the pages and wishing the next book was ready as soon as I finished the current.

SHADOW FALLING, book two in the Scorpius Syndrome series pulls us deeper into the characters, the atmosphere, the craziness, and need to survive that would most likely exist after an apocalyptic event such as Rebecca Zanetti has created. Life isn't easy, danger exists around every corner and trust is hard to come by, but those under the charge of Jax Mercury become more than just good soldiers, they become family. This is something that Vinnie is seeking, but that Raze had never expected to find. It’s wonderful to see how both these characters, who want opposite things, journey to the point where they find the same thing and it satisfies them in a way neither expected.

I highly, highly recommend SHADOW FALLING by Rebecca Zanetti if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead. I’m not, by the way, but I am of this amazing series…it is way better!

SHADOW FALLING is an action-packed, character-driven, emotional adventure that will have you turning the pages late into the night and hanging on the edge of your seat so many times that you wonder if you’ll survive along with the characters. Although this is a series where it’s somewhat necessary to read them in order, it’s not impossible to pick up along the way but I wouldn’t advise it. SHADOW FALLING hooked me, took me hostage, infected me with the adventure and relationships, and then delivered me to the end of this book still wanting more. January is a long way off to get Tace and Sami’s story in JUSTICE ASCENDING…I hope I survive the wait.

Happy Reading Everyone!

SHADOW FALLING, a Scorpius Syndrome novel by Rebecca Zanetti, Zebra Books at Kensington Publishing, release date – August 30, 2016. It will be available in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of OBSESSION, an Arum novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I’m going to be honest up front and say that before now, I had not read anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I had meant to because I’d heard such good things about her stories but hadn’t gotten around to it. I’ve actually had the first Lux book, OBSIDIAN, on my reader since November 2015 when Entangled brought it to my attention but it was OBSESSION that caught my attention better in May, because it was adult rather than YA. I’ll get around to the Lux book later.  All of these books have been available for years actually…yes…I’m still trying to catch up.

***purchased for my own personal reading but sharing my honest and unscripted review

This is a stand-alone novel that is an adult spin-off of the Lux Series—You do not need to read a Lux book to read OBSESSION and vice versa.

He’s arrogant, domineering, and... To. Die. For.

Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something... unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life… or is it Hunter?

~*~                  ~*~                   ~*~                 ~*~

When a man, who glowed with bright light and shot electricity from his hands, murders Serena Cross’s best friend Mel in a parking garage she doesn’t know what to believe anymore. When the same man shows up at her apartment and tries to kill her, a man who claims to be with the Department of Defense turns into smoke, and then something dark and even more unusual, saving her life but then seemingly sucks part of her life away. When she wakes up, she’s far from home and discovers it’s not a dream but that aliens are indeed real—very real.

Hunter is an Arum. Arum are a race of beings bred to kill Luxen, an alien species that nearly wiped out the Arum. Now both species are living among humans on Earth, only the humans don’t know it and if they find out, those in charge exterminate them. Now Hunter has been asked to babysit a human female until it can be determined exactly what she knows. His only problem is that she is unlike any human female he’s ever met before and he’s not sure what to do about the situation, or her. If he doesn’t protect her, she will die but it’s very possible that if she stays with him, he may kill her—and he doesn’t want her dead. He wants something he never thought capable of an Arum. He wants her.

OBSESSION by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a good story…not a great one…but I liked it. There were times I felt it stagnate a bit but then it would pick up with deadly action and so kept me hooked. I liked Hunter, he was hard with a soft center that he was only just beginning to recognize, but there were times I just couldn’t understand why he had such thoughts about killing her when he seemed to have so much control the rest of the time. Serena did get on my nerves a bit, but I appreciated her desire to find out the truth in regards to her best friend’s death even though her nearly immediate attraction to a very bizarre alien was a bit unrealistic. I can understand her attraction to the human Hunter but the alien one…yikes, he sounded anything but attractive even if still muscular.

Overall, it was an interesting read and since I’m all for aliens, government cover-ups, and science fiction, I will say that it was worth the visit. I’m still up in the air about reading the Lux series but I know that eventually, I will read my copy of OBSIDIAN—because I have it and I don’t like to let books go unloved and because I am curious about the Luxen side of the story now. Whereas, OBSESSION by Jennifer L. Armentrout isn’t the most intriguing or even the best-written story, I will say that if you’re into alien/government cover-up stories, it’s a good read so try it out. It might surprise you more than me. OBSESSION is promoted as a standalone, and it does work but perhaps it would have been received better had I read the Lux series first.

Happy Reading Everyone!

OBSESSION, an Arum novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Entangled Embrace, available in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne

When asked if I wanted to read and review THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne, I was a little hesitant because I thought the blurb teaser sounded a little bit blasé, but then my Avon Addict sisters started raving over how they couldn’t put it down. So I gave in, pushed back a read I’ve been waiting all summer for and gave into THE HATING GAME. I’m so very glad that I did.

***eARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unscripted review

Blurb for THE HATING GAME:

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

~*~                 ~*~                 ~*~                 ~*~

Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman work opposite each other for two different bosses. Every day, they act pretty much like a couple of fifth graders with their games—mirroring each other’s moves, making snarky remarks, and one-upmanship behavior. Only when they go up against each other for a promotion that might end up costing the other his or her job…that’s when the real competition begins. They begin to learn things about each other that might turn the Hating Game into something much different, and much more serious.

I love a debut novel because it’s an introduction to a fresh new voice and it’s always interesting to see where that new voice might take us as readers. Sally Thorne is a new voice with an extraordinary knack for creating truly fabulous banter between characters. My only real complaint was that there were times when I had trouble discerning which character was saying what. Otherwise, I loved the romantic comedy nature of this story, and Lucy and Josh are perfection albeit at times, a bit corny. The story started out a little slow for me but once we reached the elevator scene, the true nature of the relationship exploded within the pages and had me hooked to the point of choosing to keep reading rather than sleep. Normally, not a good move on my part but it was totally worth it.

I highly recommend THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne to anyone who is a fan of romantic comedies such as The Proposal or You’ve Got Mail…this is a love/hate relationship with enough sexual tension burning so hot beneath the surface that it could cause volcanic eruptions worldwide. I’m looking forward to reading more from Sally Thorne.

Happy Reading Everyone!

THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne, William Morrow Publishing, available now in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of TEMPTED BY FIRE, a Dragons of Bloodfire novel by Erin Kellison

Already a fan of Erin Kellison’s unique imagination and character building talents, dragons just sucked me in. I’m so glad I didn’t resist buying and reading, TEMPTED BY FIRE, book one in the Dragons of Bloodfire series.

***purchased for my own personal reading but sharing my honest and unscripted review

Blurb for TEMPTED BY FIRE:

Dragon shifter Thane Ealdian has waited six hundred years to avenge the loss of his family, and finally a clue has surfaced that implicates an old adversary. Thane will stop at nothing to seek his revenge, but to prevent violence between the clans, the Bloodkin Triad has forced a mediator on him. Some upstart named Emerson Clark...

Emerson is fed up with all Bloodkin and how they've managed to control every aspect of her life. While she doesn’t believe that Bloodkin can shift into dragons—because, really?—she has to admit, they are exceptionally nice to look at. But once the mediation is over, she wants nothing to do with them ever again.

When Thane discovers that the clever and beautiful Emerson is the key to uncovering the truth, he has no intention of letting her go. Although she wants to run, she can’t turn her back on Thane or her intense feelings for him. His quest pulls at her heart, just as his nearness sparks something dangerous inside her. With evil in hot pursuit, sooner or later everything will ignite—the mediation, the shifter within her... and their passions.

*TEMPTED BY FIRE was previously published in the anthology, DARK AND DAMAGED.

~*~             ~*~             ~*~             ~*~ 

Emerson does not believe that she has dragon blood and since becoming involved with the Bloodkin – a dragon society – she is definitely convinced she doesn’t and wants nothing more to do with them. She doesn’t even believe there are dragons much less her being one. When she is asked to mediate a dispute over the remains of a woman and baby, she begrudgingly goes but fully intends to quit and disappear as soon as it’s over. Things don’t go quite as planned, especially after she meets the reclusive and rather grumpy, Thane Ealdian. Even more shocking for Emerson is to discover that dragons do exist and then things get very interesting…very.

Thane is ready to accept his dragon and travel to Havyn, the isle where old dragons go to fly free, flame, and fall to ash but when the remains of his wife and son are recovered he must first discover who killed them. To complicate matters, he is unusually drawn to the beautiful young woman who has been sent by the Bloodkin Triad to act as mediator. His dragon seems to desire her dragon and so perhaps, it’s not quite time to let his dragon fly free.

Wow, and double wow! I loved everything about this book…the characters, the story line, the action – even when a bit gory – the premise of dragons living among us with their hoards and magic life-extending blood. Thane is grumpy, introverted, and possessive but actually a complete romantic. Emerson is everything strong and modern in a woman but her dragon knows what she wants, and I’m with her. Erin has conjured a modern world, which we all recognize but has layered within it, a mysterious and magical paranormal realm that fits like a glove. I can’t wait to read the next one, AWAKENED BY FIRE, which I’ve already bought. I want so much to read it next but it’s going to have to wait just a bit longer.

In the meantime, I highly recommend TEMPTED BY FIRE, the first book in this extraordinary Dragons of Bloodfire series by Erin Kellison – even if you’re not a fan of paranormal, it’s everything exciting  castles and fast cars, and intrigue driven by amazing characters and buried secrets.

Happy Reading Everyone!

TEMPTED BY FIRE, a Dragons of Bloodfire novel by Eric Kellison, Fire Flower Publishing, available now in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks.

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