Sunday, August 13, 2017

Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors
by B.A. Paris

Genre: Thriller

Synopsis:  Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance.  He's a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she's a flawless homemaker and a masterful gardener and cook, and she dotes on her disabled younger sister.  Though they're still newlyweds, they seem to have it all.  You might not want to like them, but you do.  You're hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw.  You'd like to get to know Grace better.

But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.

Some might call this true love.  Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn't work.  How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim.   Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen.  Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.

Some might wonder what's really going on once the dinner parties are over and the front door has closed.
from the book jacket

Review:  I'm going to be honest...I could not put this book down and read it all in one day!  At first I was a little put off by the first chapter because there was something off about Jack and Grace but we didn't know what and they seemed too perfect.  But that was all part of the ruse.  We quickly learn that all is not what it seems and Grace is being held prisoner by Jack.  It takes a while to figure out exactly what happens but we are kept in suspense to find out if/when/how Grace is going to free herself and her sister Millie, who has Down Syndrome, from Jack's clutches.  The book alternates between present and past so we can get a glimpse as to how Grace and Jack met and what happened in their relationship and marriage early on.  Towards the end I was a little thrown off by how the past and present seemed to catch up to one another and the present jumped ahead in time so that the past was just a few days prior.  That transition seemed to come out of nowhere.  I also thought that the ending wasn't dramatic enough.  I was waiting for this really suspenseful moment and it didn't come. a little anticlimactic.  Thrillers are generally not my genre but this one I liked because I could see inside the people to see what motivated them and this was more psychological rather than action.  Jack was unlikable but Grace was likable albeit a little weak.  Overall this was a good thriller, not action packed, but one that will keep you reading all day and night.

Rating: 4 stars (although I really wanted to give it 3.75 stars)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Close Enough to Touch

Close Enough to Touch
by Colleen Oakley

Genre: Fiction, Romance

Synopsis:  Love has no boundaries...

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she's allergic to human touch.  After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years.  But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world-and the people in it-that she's been hiding from.

Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job.  It's there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son.  Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad-and man-he wants to desperately to be.  Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can't understand why she keeps him at arm's length.  So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.
from the book jecket

Review:  This book had such an interesting premise that I had to put it on my to read list!  I loved Before I Go by Colleen Oakley that I had high expectations for this book due to the author's ease of writing and ability to make the reader feel for the characters.  Unfortunately this book did not grab me and tie me in with the emotional connection I wanted to have.  I found Jubilee's condition absolutely fascinating and was intrigued by how she dealt with it by becoming a hermit but I was not as interested in Eric's story.  The chapters alternated between Jubilee's and Eric's points of view.  I spent the early chapters of Eric's story skimming through trying to get back to Jubilee's life.  Eric really seemed to struggle connecting to people whether it be Aja, his adopted son, Ellie, his biological daughter, or Jubilee (once they met).  As the story moved along I became more invested in Eric's story because he connected with Jubilee.  I really started enjoying the story more and wanted to see Eric and Jubilee get together.  The ending was not satisfactory in my mind and was much too rushed. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Light We Lost

The Light We Lost
by Jill Santopolo

Genre: Romance

Synopsis:  Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice.  But before she can make her decision, she must start her story-their story-at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes them forever.  Together they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter.  When they meet again a year later, it seems fated-perhaps they'll find life's meaning in each other.  But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York City.

What follows is a thirteen-year odyssey of dreams, jealousies, and ultimately, of love.  Lucy will begin a new life with handsome and reliable Darren, while Gabe will travel the world.  Their journey will take Lucy and Gabe continents apart but never out of each other's hearts. And Lucy will find herself asking: Was it fate that brought them together?  Is it choice that has kept them away.

Lucy's powerful voice brings to life the universal truth of first love, of being completely understood for the first
from the book jacket

Review:  This is a love story between Lucy and Gabe that spans over many years and across countries.  Lucy and Gabe first met in college but didn't start dating until a year later.  They really only dated for a few months before life took them in different directions but somehow they continued to love each other while being with other people and being far apart from each other.  While I enjoyed their love story and the passion they felt for each other I had trouble liking Lucy because of how she treated Darren, her husband.   I felt that Lucy wasn't being fair to Darren who truly was a great guy who loved her.  Lucy clearly couldn't get over loving Gabe even though she knew she needed to and Darren was her fall back and not her true love.  I felt bad for Darren the whole book.  I also wondered the whole time of how much Lucy and Gabe really loved each other if they weren't willing to sacrifice anything for each other.  If their love was truly all consuming and burned like a wildfire (a metaphor that the author uses), then why wouldn't they have given up careers for each other?  All that aside the story captured my attention and I needed to know why Lucy was writing this whole story to Gabe.  We know something happened but we don't know yet until the very end.  I'm going to be honest, half way through I almost skipped to the end to find out what happened but I restrained myself!  This story definitely pulls at your heart.

Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Compound Series

The Compound Series (#2-4)
Mother Before Wife, Just Keep Sweet and Prophet Take All
by Melissa Brown

Genre: Fiction, Suspense

Mother Before WifeSecrets. 
So many secrets. Nothing but secrets.

I started another life with a new husband, thirteen new sister wives and a new place to call home.
But the secrets weigh on me, on all of us.
And every secret leads back to the Prophet the, self-proclaimed, mouthpiece of God.
The man I’ve worshiped since childhood, the man we obey without question.
And he’s the man who will destroy us all.

I must reveal his secrets. 
Prove his betrayal, his lies and his deceit.
I will not be silenced, no matter how hard he tries.

And I will never give up. Ever.  

Just Keep Sweet: Obstacles.
So many obstacles. Nothing but obstacles.

Months ago, I agreed to help Aspen Black take down the Prophet of the FLDS—to prevent her daughter from being married at an early age, and to save innocent lives from systemic abuse on the compound.

The obstacles in this case are mounting, as are my feelings for Aspen. The tension between us is palpable and I know there’s more to our connection than the increasingly difficult case at hand. But, she’s not only married to the Prophet’s brother, she’s equally devoted to her faith. Two obstacles that just may be insurmountable.

But, no matter what happens, I will close this case. 
Even if it kills me.

Prophet Takes All: Fools.
So many fools. Nothing but fools.

That worm of a detective, my mother, Paul. Fools—all of them. But Aspen, oh Aspen…she was the biggest fool of all.

Aspen Black, a seemingly ordinary woman of the compound, transformed into the utter bane of my existence in just a matter of months. She had the gall to question me, to seek the counsel of an outsider, and to disobey my word.

To add to her list of transgressions, Aspen recruited my own brother in the crusade against me. For this, they must both be punished. And their daughter, Ruthie, is the key to their retribution.

Aspen and Paul will pay for their crimes against the one true prophet. If it’s the very last thing I do.
from GoodReads

Review: First of all I just need to point out that I'm rating these three books with 1 rating and reviewing them as one because I read them back to back and even though there is an end to each of the books that doesn't mean that the story is over.  The story isn't finished until the end of Prophet Takes All.  If you don't have all of them in your hands, you'll be left in suspense.  Don't say I didn't warn you!  I could have seen these three books compiled into one longer book as the story flowed directly from one book to the next.

These three books are so much more than the first book in this series, Wife Number Seven.  They are not romance novels although there is a sex scene or two scattered in the books, the most being in Wife Before Mother.  There is drama, suspense, mystery, conflict and more.  I was so drawn to these stories and needed to know how the situation would be resolved.  I was sickened by what was revealed in Just Keep Sweet and became increasingly angry with the prophet.  Each book has a different narrator with a different voice, Aspen in Mother Before Wife, Jonathan, a police detective, and Paul, Aspen's husband, in Just Keep Sweet, and Clarence, the prophet, in Prophet Takes It All.  It was hard to read a story from the prophet's perspective as he was such a unlikable man.  My blood boiled by the end and I was so disappointed by the turn of events.  Thankfully the story finished as I wanted it to!

The writing style remained the same from Wife Number Seven to these three books so the same issues I had with the writing were present in the next three books.  There were chapters that were third person narratives scattered in between the first person narratives which were disruptive.  I do feel that the writing improved by the end (there were no flashbacks with ellipses!) which kept me engaged in the books.

Overall this is a good series and you could skip the first in the Compound series if you are not a fan of steamy romance novels.  Brinley and Porter do appear in future books and we do realize why Porter had the issues that he had but if you haven't read Wife Number Seven there is enough explanation that you would be fine.

Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wife Number Seven

Wife Number Seven
by Melissa Brown

Genre: Romance

Synopsis:  Lipstick. Bright, red lipstick. Nothing but lipstick. 
Even though it’s against our faith to wear a color that screams of sexual promiscuity and deviant behavior, I’m not allowed to protest. 
But, I want to. 
So badly. 

You see, there’s more to me than the braid that spills down my back. 
More to me than the layers of heavy fabric that maintain my modesty. 
And so much more than the oppressive wedding band that adorns my finger--the same band that each of my sister wives wear. 
So much more. 
To protest would be sinful. 
I must keep sweet, that is my duty. 

So I’ll wear the lipstick. I’ll do as I’m told. 
And I’ll do my best to silence the resistance within me, to push him from my mind. 
If only my heart would do the same.
from GoodReads

Review:  First off I have to start by saying that this is not my typical genre although I do rarely read light sexy romances.  My review and rating will be based on my limited knowledge of this genre.  I found this book because I recently became friends with someone and discovered that she is an author.  I was curious to see what she writes so I purchased this whole series.  To be honest, stories about polygamous sects in the FLDS church really intrigue me and I am drawn to reading them.  I read this book throughout the course of a day so clearly it was engaging!  

This is the story of Brinley who is in her very early 20s and is the seventh wife to a much older man.  She lives a submissive life in an FLDS compound with an occasional trip to the outside world.  At the beginning she is somewhat accepting of her lot in life, except for one rebellion, but then changes happen in her family and she starts to think about what more there is in life.  She comes across a man who used to be part of her church but is now a drug addict and things escalate from there.  The relationship between Brinley and Porter seems to come out of nowhere but romance novels work that way!  I got caught up in the story of Brinley trying to figure out what she wanted to do.  This book is full of drama, passion, sex, and romance.  The story leaves you wanting to know more about some characters and hoping that they are the subjects of the next books in the series (which I will be reading but not sure if I will be reviewing or not)!

Based on the storyline, I would rate this book a 4 but there were some quirks with the writing style that made me lower my rating.  These were things that bothered me as a reader but may not bother other readers.  This book was written from the first person point of view of Brinley but there were a couple chapters that were from a third person point of view and were about side characters.  The information that was presented was necessary to the book but having chapters that changed perspectives was distracting.  There were also times where there were flashbacks and we knew they were coming because of the ellipses.  Those could have been left out!  There was a fair amount of swearing from one character which I don't like but other people may not mind.  Overall this was a good read for a sexy romance novel.  There were steamy moments but not too many where the book was only about that.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Orphan's Tale

The Orphan's Tale
by Pam Jenoff

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:  Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. 

Noah finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid.  At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond.  But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another-or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.
from GoodReads

Review:  This was a good book but not a great one.  I'm having a hard time pinpointing what didn't work for me though.  I liked the premise of the story how people who were Jewish were taken in by the circus but Astrid's and Noa's relationship didn't work.  Astrid was clearly resentful of Noa but I couldn't figure out why she was so mean and unwilling to help.  Noa was such a meek girl who somehow changed to being a strong woman willing to stand up to people.  I felt like this transition and growth in Noa was unrealistic and came out of nowhere as was the development in the relationship between Astrid an Noa.  At times this book was slow moving.  I appreciated the look at WWII from a different perspective but the book fell a little flat for me.

Rating: 3 stars

The Ebb Tide

The Ebb Tide
by Beverly Lewis

Genre: Christian Fiction

Synopsis:  Sallie Riehl has dreamed of traveling at least once before settling down to join church, so she is thrilled at an unexpected summer opportunity to nanny in Cape May for a well-to-do family.  However, saying even a temporary good-bye to Paradise Township means forgoing baptism another year, as well as leaving behind a wood-be beau.  Yet the weeks in Cape May soon prove unforgettable as Sallie meets a Mennonite young man whose friendship she quickly begins to cherish.  Has she been too hasty with her promises, or will she only find what her heart is longing for back home?
from the back of the book

Review:  I thoroughly enjoyed this light fiction book about Sallie discovering what life is like outside of her Amish village and what the world has to offer her.  All the characters in this book were so sweet and caring that it made the book so heartwarming.  I felt like the book was a bit predictable but it was still enjoyable nonetheless.  I've read some Christian fiction books where the religious aspects of the book don't fit in but this book was so well pieced together and flowed so well.  There's not much more to say than this is a nice, quick and easy read!

Rating: 4 stars