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Momma Says to Read

Avid reader/reviewer and editor. I don't pull punches when I review, love it or hate it, you get what I think.

Rebekka Franck Book 4

Seven, Eight ... Gonna stay up late: Rebekka Franck #4 (Volume 4) - Willow Rose

Rebekka Franck finds herself in the thick of things, once again, and this one is as disturbing as it gets. The author seemed to be going for shock value this time, but I think she may have gone a little over the top with that. I have to add that I've noticed a tendency to use both first and last names repeatedly. It jumped out at me in the second book in the series, but considering the villain we were dealing with, it kind of made sense. But, that same tendency has jumped out in subsequent books, including this one, and it becomes a bit tedious, especially when it's done over and over within a few paragraphs. I have to say that I've liked our heroine thus far in the series, but a couple of things in this installment were bothersome to me. I won't give spoilers, but toward the end of the story, Rebekka came off as self-centered and having little regard for the feelings of others, including how some of her actions would impact those around her. The conclusion here is a bit open-ended with some unanswered questions, and that story sounds intriguing enough to check out the next book.

Rebekka Franck - Book 2

Three, Four ... Better lock your door: Rebekka Franck #2 (Volume 1) - Willow Rose

This second book in the Rebekka Franck series starts with what appears to be a stalking scene that turns deadly. I finished that part with a huge eye roll - taking it at face value, it seems rather implausible. In spite of that, I kept reading to see how it would be explained. As the body count rises, there seems to be a missing piece with each murder. I did figure out those missing pieces pretty quickly, including the identity of the killer; a fact that would usually have me struggling through the rest of the book. However, in this case, Rebekka's story held my interest in spite of a predictable outcome. There is a bit of a twist at the end that I didn't see coming, at least not completely. The story is chilling and be forewarned, the murders are gruesome and disturbing. In the end, the book did keep me turning pages and I'm interested enough in these characters to see where it goes from here.

Lie With Me

Lie With Me: the gripping Richard & Judy bestseller - a perfect summer read - Sabine Durrant

O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive! - Walter Scott. A great quote that sums up a not so great story. Paul, the main character and narrator of this tale, has to be one of the most unlikable characters that I've ever come across. He's arrogant, womanizing, lazy, manipulative, and deceitful. I came to the conclusion pretty quickly that we aren't actually supposed to like Paul, and that's okay, but there needs to be something that pulls a reader in and gives them a reason to want to know what happens to a character like that. Not only was that key element missing, but I didn't find a single character in this book to be remotely likable. The story crawls along at a snail's pace until the very end. Then, we get a big twist and an almost conclusion. Sadly, I couldn't find it in me by that point to care one way or another what might happen to our hapless narrator. The subtitle on this one claims " the gripping bestseller and suspense read of the year," which rather suits the general theme of this tale. In fact, the only thing that kept me reading was my own OCD-like penchant for being unable to leave a book unfinished. 

The Innocent Wife

The Innocent Wife: A Novel - Amy Lloyd

When I finished The Innocent Wife, I found myself wishing that I could rate it in sections. If that were the case, it would be rated in thirds with the first part earning a strong four-stars, two and a half for the middle, and three for the final third of the story. To explain, the beginning is quite gripping and pulled me in, especially with the letters and early visits between Samantha and Dennis. However, once Dennis is released from prison, the story slows to almost a crawl at times. There are some moments when the creep factor rises and I hoped the pace would pick up, but it didn't. Then, what could have been a truly heart-pounding conclusion is rushed to the point that it loses that thing that makes you hold your breath in anticipation. I didn't find any of the characters particularly likable, but for this story, it works. The author does have talent and this could easily have been a four or even five star read had she found a balance in the pacing. 

Need to Know - Suspense, Thriller

Need to Know - Karen Cleveland

While I do love thrillers and suspense, I don't read a lot of CIA/Spy type stories, but the blurb for this one intrigued me. I started reading and I have to say that for most of the book, I wasn't sure how I would rate this one. I went back and forth between rolling my eyes at Vivian's decisions and being so aggravated with her that I wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled, especially a memory from the past would feature a big red flag. At the same time, I couldn't stop turning the pages. I had to see how it all came out. Then, I thought about her situation. It's easy to sit back with a bird's eye view and say what we would do in her shoes, but when faced with extreme circumstances, when everything we hold dear is on the line, what would we really do? In the end, I realized that this is not just a story about spies, it's also a tale of a seemingly good life disrupted by betrayal and deceit. The book is wonderfully written and any time that an author can keep me turning pages, stir up that much emotion, and leave me with gasp, she's done her job and done it well. 

Procedural and Courtroom drama

A Cold Day in Hell (A Cold Case Investigation) - Lissa Marie Redmond

Redmond does weave an interesting tale, and there is some suspense, but the story is more procedural and courtroom drama than anything else. I do have to say that the writing style and flow kept the courtroom scenes engaging and dramatic. Our main character, Lauren Riley, has quite the reputation as a detective, but she certainly is not without flaws, particularly in her personal life. In many cases, that can make for the most intriguing characters, and I have to say that it does work for this one. Some scene descriptions get a bit tedious, but there is some great dialogue. I especially enjoyed the banter between Lauren and Frank, who are so used to being on opposite sides of a case that they can't let it go. While the primary focus of the story is the murder trial, there is a bit of side story by way of a 28 year old murder case. All in all, the story did hold my interest, but it felt like the cold case was solved a little too quickly, and the suspense aspect surrounding the murder trial was cut short by a "mystery" that was just too easy to figure out. The story does get chilling at the very end and even hints at a promising thriller, so I'll be interested to see if there's a next book addressing that part of the tale.

Less than thrilling

The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

After reading the blurb for The Chalk Man, I was hoping for a creepy and engrossing read. The prologue does have that element, but it quickly went downhill from there. The story is rather dry and the pacing is extremely slow, to the point that it almost drags much of the time. So much of the book is dedicated to character and location descriptions that I found myself quite a ways in and still wondering when the suspense would actually start. I could have been okay with some character description had there been any characters that were likable enough to make me want to know more about them, but that wasn’t the case. By the time Eddie and company finally found the body, there wasn’t much in the way of suspense as the conclusion was way too easy to guess. The biggest issue for this reader is the complete suspension of belief required for this tale. One example is our narrator, Eddie, telling the story by going back and forth between 2016 and 1986. The changes in tense were a minor irritation, but the thing that had this reader’s eyes rolling was the sheer number of details that Eddie was able to recall after thirty years. Major events are one thing, but to remember lengthy conversations and even what people were wearing on any given day is a big stretch. Then, as the story slowly progresses, it isn’t just about the murder of one girl. There are several little side mysteries to be solved, each with their own little twist. Sadly, as these revelations trickled in, they really weren’t all that surprising and made the conclusion more convoluted than anything else. I actually set this one aside several times, but I did finally finish the book, more out of a mild curiosity to see if I was right than anything else.  In the end, I found myself disappointed in this not so thrilling thriller, and I can’t say that it’s one I would recommend. 

A Willa Pennington Mystery - a one and done for me

What Doesn't Kill You (A Willa Pennington, PI Mystery) - Aimee Hix

I'm always on the lookout for a good mystery or thriller and the blurb for this one sounded quite promising. Unfortunately, the reality didn't quite live up to that promise. The story starts out mysterious enough with our main character finding a dead body, but it quickly becomes more about Willa and Seth's relationship than anything else. I like romance and may have been okay with that part had I cared enough about these characters to want to see them together. Willa turned me off from the beginning when she views finding the body as more inconvenience than anything else and seemed to only use the I'm sorry, this is my first time finding a dead body and I'm upset reasoning when it suited her. I can appreciate sarcasm and even gallows humor. In fact, I often like it in a story, but it just didn't work here. Willa comes off more crass and uncaring than anything else. I also realize that this is fiction and a certain amount of leeway can be given, but the idea that an ex-police officer would be allowed to walk through a crime scene and be that involved in an active investigation was a bit much for me. We do get a decent bit of action toward the end, but it just wasn't enough to save this one for me. The author does show some potential, but in the end, this character and story just wasn't for me and I don't think I'll explore the series further.

Two Girls Down - Mystery

Two Girls Down: A Novel - Louisa Luna
When I picked this one up, I expected a gritty, and possibly dark, mystery and the story does start out with that potential. The beginning drew me in with the interactions between Jamie Brandt and her girls on the day that they were taken. From that point on, the story quickly fizzled for me as it became more a procedural type story of Alice and Cap following clues. This in itself wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing, but the number of characters brought in and the heavy dialogue made this tale quite cumbersome and at times, convoluted. It may also have helped if the main characters had been more likable. Cap is a likable enough character, but Alice, who is supposed to be this tough, "enigmatic" bounty hunter, is just a hot mess. She's seems almost without emotion and then turns to violence in the blink of an eye. I was also left a bit confused by the dangling carrot of a possible romance between these two. That angle either needed to be better developed or left out entirely. As it stands, it just felt like filler which this one certainly did not need. The biggest drawback for this reader was that the story drags on for so long and the number of people questioned and re-questioned begins to run together.  There is a decent action sequence toward the end along with an interesting twist to the story, but by that time, it was just too little, too late. 
After seeing the number of four and five-star ratings for Two Girls Down, I realize that I'm in the minority, but it is what it is. The author clearly has talent and this book had great potential, but I prefer a much faster pace over getting bogged down in procedure.

St Cross Book 1

Won't Feel a Thing (St. Cross Book 1) - C F White

Won't Feel a Thing is quite the charming tale. While it is a bit more angsty than I normally like, Ollie is such a likable character that I was quickly caught up in his story. Determined not to be taken advantage of any longer, Ollie makes a New Year's Resolution. Of course that resolution is tested when he meets Jacob. Both Jacob and Ollie were so back and forth about things that I didn't really feel a strong connection between them. The attraction was obvious, but I would've liked to have seen more from Jacob where the relationship was concerned. That aside, Ollie's story was compelling enough to keep me turning pages. He has his fair share of troubles including an emotionally unavailable doctor. For me, this tale was more about Ollie and his own personal growth as he figured things out and came into his own. So, while the story does have more than its fair share of angst, it is an engaging read with some steamy fun and chuckle-worthy wit to keep things from getting too heavy. I didn't realize that this was the beginning of a series when I picked it up, but I'll be interested to see what's next for St Cross.

Rebekka Franck - Book 1

One, Two ... He is Coming for you: Rebekka Franck #1 - Willow Rose
From the title, I expected this one to be creepy and I certainly got that. While this first book in the Rebekka Franck series is a murder mystery, it also serves as an introduction to the world of our main character. Rebekka has her own turmoil going on with a crumbling marriage and getting settled back in her home town. Her new job as a reporter for her small town newspaper takes off rather quickly with a gruesome murder and soon, she's on the hunt for a serial killer. Rebekka's personal life made for an interesting side story, although I did feel like the possible new romance was a bit fast.
All-in-all, I found the characters to be interesting and the story was engaging and fast-paced. The glimpses inside the mind of the killer were chilling, to say the least, and even with the clues building up little by little, I didn't see the twist coming. Looking back, I can see that there were things pointing to the identity of person behind it all, but it's a sneaky kind of thing that keeps a reader guessing.
This first book is a solid introduction to the series and I'm sufficiently interested to check out the next book in Rebekka Franck's story.
**It should be noted that, like most avid readers, I checked out the reviews for this one before reading it. While I noted a number of critical reviews citing poor editing and possible translation issues, I noticed that most of those were from quite some time ago. I read the updated, edited version and found none of that.


Slapshot Novel #6

Trainwrecks & Back Checks: A Slapshot Novel (Slapshot Series Book 6) - Heather C. Myers

This sixth book in the Slapshot series is a fake romance, but it's a bit different than most. Art and Chloe aren't in it for money, fame, or any of the other selfish reasons for this type of romance. We've seen abuse before in this series, but this one gets a bit more up close and personal. Chloe's fear and worry from the moment she realizes that her abusive ex has found her so well done that it's almost palpable. Of course, the sexy Art comes to the rescue and their fake romance quickly starts to become something more. In spite of her fear and the dark elements of the story, Chloe has quite the bubbly personality and the stoic and protective Art is absolutely perfect for her. There are some parts of the story that are shocking and hard to read, but at the end of the darkness, there is hope and love.
While this one is part of a series, it works well as a standalone, but there are so many great characters in the Slapshot novels, that I can easily recommend the whole series. Art and Chloe's romance is a solid addition to the series and is a compelling and entertaining read.

Her Final Watch - Book 2 in the Detective Blanchette Mysteries

Her Final Watch (A Detective Blanchette Mystery Book 2) - Marguerite Ashton

Her Final Watch a well-written, fast-paced crime thriller. The story picks up where book one left off, and while it can be read as a standalone, there are things mentioned from the first book and I would recommend reading them in order. Like the first Detective Blanchette book, this one has loads of twists and it seems everyone has a secret. The story's heroine, Lily, is a likable, strong woman. I love that we see that along with her vulnerable side and her fears. It's refreshing to see such a strong female character that doesn't fall back on sarcasm to hide her insecurities. All-in-all, another solid addition to the Detective Blanchette Mysteries.

Promised Lies - Mystery, Thriller

Promised Lies (A Detective Blanchette Mystery Book 1) - Marguerite Ashton

Promised Lies is wonderfully written, fast-paced, and everything a good thriller should be. The story drew me in quickly and the more I read, the more I wanted to know about these characters. Main character, Lily, had her hands full with the search for a serial killer, dealing with the loss of her sister, and plenty of family drama. It seemed everyone had secrets and they're slowly revealed in a twisty-turny roller coaster ride of a tale. When you think you have it solved, think again, because this one will keep you guessing right up until the dramatic and action packed conclusion. It's refreshing to find a strong heroine who also has a vulnerable side that makes her even more interesting and endearing. This is my first read by this author, but it certainly won't be my last.

This Burning World - #2 in The Champion Saga

This Burning World (The Champion Saga Book 2) - Jeff Lane

This Burning World is the second in The Champion Saga and picks up where This Paper World left off. It's a rare occasion that I like the second in a series better than the first, but this impossible to put down tale had me from the very beginning. Jim Hunt has accepted his role as a Champion, but there's still so much he doesn't know or understand. Of course, as with any good adventure, tragedy strikes before he has time to learn everything he needs to know and he's off and running. This one has everything that a great action/adventure should have - heart pounding action, tragedy, a race for justice, secrets, a hint at possible romance, a lovable hero who makes a reader want to shake some sense into him and hug him (sometimes simultaneously), and a mind-blowing ending that left me wanting more. It does end with a bit of a cliffy and we all know how frustrating those can be, but I still loved the book and will certainly be anxiously awaiting the next part of Jim's story.


This Paper World - Jeff Lane

After reading two other books from this author, I fully expected a suck you in story with this first book The Champion Saga and I certainly wasn't disappointed. This action/adventure tale is classic good vs evil with all the fight for your life scenes that one would expect from such a story. We have a bit of a reluctant hero in Jim as he struggles with the choice of being the fun-loving college student and moving forward with what he thought would be his future or accepting everything that fate has in store for him. Jeff Lane has done a spectacular job of painting a picture of the Champion's world and the character development is quite good. This reader couldn't help but get caught up in Jim's story, especially with such wonderfully descriptive, edge of your seat action scenes. The only drawback for me was the number of grammatical errors in this one. They didn't keep me from enjoying the story, but they were enough that I noticed. The story is still a well-thought out and hard to put down tale that left me anxious to read what's next in the saga.