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MommaSaysToRead

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.

The Rumor

The Rumor - Lesley Kara

The Rumor ended up being a middle of the road read for me. There were things I liked and others, well, not so much. I think part of my meh feeling can be chalked up to the fact that I went into this one expecting a thriller, and to say it fell short would be an understatement. It is a tension filled story, and I suppose if you don't figure out who Sally is, there's suspense. I did figure that part out, as well as what I assume is supposed to be a big twist at the end, and despite a few red herrings and way too many disposable characters, my 'guess' didn't waver. I did enjoy the tense atmosphere of the story, and the idea behind this one is spectacular, which is what drew me to the book in the first place. So, while I wouldn't consider this one a thriller, I think it fits nicely into the women's fiction genre as well as small town drama. The author does have a compelling writing style, and I'll be interested to see her growth in future books. 

The Suffering of Strangers

The Suffering of Strangers - Caro Ramsay

To be fair, I didn't know this was the ninth book of a series when I started reading. In fact, I didn't know until I noticed a significant lack of backstory that I wondered about but wasn't getting any answers. There are also quite a few characters that I assume have been introduced throughout the series - at least I hope so because I wasn't really given enough on them here to get a good feel for them. That said, the writing is good and the case was interesting, not overly shocking on the twists but interesting. In the end, this one was an enjoyable enough read on its own, but I didn't find anything to compel me to check out the previous eight books in the series. 

28 Dates

28 Dates - Stacey  Lynn

28 Dates was a middle of the road read for me. That said, it did have its moments. For me, it's not so much a friends-to-lovers or friends with benefits romance as a don't know what you've got till it's gone story. At least where Caitlin is concerned. The question is whether or not she's waited too long and let that chance slip through her fingers. That would've been okay, and it could've made for an interesting romance except it turns into a lot of nobody telling anyone how they really feel, which then dragged on for most of the book. More often that not, I wanted to shake one or both of these characters, and when I couldn't, I just grew more frustrated with them. What I did like was a few of Caitlin's dates through the app, especially the first handful, and the banter between Caitlin and 'Michael' was amusing. In the end, the romance didn't really do it for me, but parts of the story did make me laugh, and that's always welcome. 

Those People

Those People - Louise Candlish

We've all experienced, either directly or indirectly, those neighbors. The ones who don't fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. Maybe they throw too many loud parties, or don't take care of their lawns, or take up too many parking spaces on the street - whatever the reason, they are a source of hostility to their neighbors. Those People throws in all and sundry to the new residents on Lowland Way to create plenty of hostility for the rest of the street - something that went over the top for me. Darren and Jodie were everything quiet little streets don't want in a neighbor and then some, so much so that they were almost caricature-like. But that's okay, we aren't really supposed to like them. In fact, I'm not sure that we're meant to like any of this story's characters. I certainly didn't. In the end, I wasn't sure if anyone was really meant to be the good guy. However, I could've been okay with that, and here I'll add that I did like the format for this one. It bounces between characters as we get what's going on now along with what led up to it. The problem is that the story is way too slow and the twists just aren't that twisty. I felt like the author was so focused on showing all the flaws in these characters that she forgot to leave any surprises when it was time for those twists. Most people would never consider going to the extreme lengths that these did, but considering what we're told about them from the beginning, I wasn't at all surprised with the way it played out in the end. Maybe it's just me, or maybe I expected too much, but I spent most of this book wanting someone, any one of these characters, to really surprise me and it just didn't happen.

We Were Killers Once

We Were Killers Once - Becky Masterman

We Were Killers Once drew me in with the In Cold Blood angle, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. The slow beginning made it hard to get into, so much so that I set it aside several times for something that would hold my interest. To be fair, I haven't read the earlier books in the series, so I was completely unfamiliar with these characters. That said, the author does give enough back story to get a decent feel for the characters and their relationships. As the story progresses it relies on coincidence more than I cared for and it does require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. In the end, the cons outweighed the pros, and I liked the idea of this book more than the reality of it.

Just One Bite

Hunter  - Jack Heath

This one must've gone through changes to cover and title. By the time it made it into my hands, it was titled Just One Bite. The blutb is the same though, and GR has both covers under the same post. 

 

Timothy Blake is back and if you've read Hangman, you know his tastes run toward the macabre. In fact, this follow up is even more grisly than its predecessor. This one has quite the case for Blake to solve, and things seem to get dangerously close to convoluted for a while. In addition to that, Blake's quick wit and sharp intellect aren't on par with what I found in the first book, which was sorely missed this time around. That said, Heath does bring things together for a crazy, can't catch your breath conclusion that has me hoping Just One Bite is more than a sequel. That aside, we get more of Blake on a personal level as things heat up with Thistle and for me, that's where some of the real fun began. It's not easy to humanize a monster, particularly one like Timothy Blake, but Jack Heath not only managed it, he did it so well that I even found myself feeling sorry for Timothy. Not enough to ever want to be in his vicinity, but sorry for him nonetheless. Having read both Timothy Blake books, I would say that Just One Bite can be read as a standalone, but I would recommend reading Hangman first to get the full picture of this wonderfully twisted character. 

Smitten by the Brit

Smitten by the Brit - Melonie Johnson

Smitten by the Brit is a sweet as sugar story with likable characters and some absolutely hilarious scenes. However, I still came away with mixed feelings. There's some repetition with certain words and phrases that stood out, but most of all, I had a hard time with the romance. And seeing as this is a romance, that can be a problem. Bonnie and Theo are cute together, and they have decent chemistry, but I felt like the story was more about them as individuals than as a couple, and at times it was almost like emotions weren't the most important thing for this pair. In the end, this one was just okay for me. I enjoyed some parts more than others, but it's not something that I'll be remembering in the long term. All in all, it's a cute enough story that would work well for a lazy weekend or beach read.

The Right Sort of Man

The Right Sort of Man - Allison Montclair

Admittedly, I don't read a lot of historical fiction, and this one is more cozy mystery than gripping thriller, so it's a little out of my wheelhouse. That said, it's well-written, and the atmosphere of the story kept me turning pages as much as the mystery if not more so. This is the start of the series, so we have a lot introduction to characters, and the story is very dialogue driven, which isn't something I normally care for, but I did enjoy the back and forth between Gwen and Iris. All in all, The Right Sort of Man is a good start to a promising series, and I've enjoyed my little trip outside the box of what I normally read.

Keep You Close

Keep You Close - Karen Cleveland

What would you do and how far would go to protect your child? Keep You Close starts with that question, then it bends and twists it until I'm not sure what the right answer should be. The book is very action driven, which does keep the pages turning, but I found it hard to connect with the characters. I was hoping to warm up to Stephanie as more and more of her past was revealed, but I never quite got there. I could certainly empathize with her, but the character was a bit flat, as were all of the characters in this one. As the story progressed, the conspiracies got more complicated and convoluted, and it felt like character development was put on a back burner to make room for twist after crazy twist. All of that may have been okay if not for the lack of conclusion. I kept reading to see which way things would go and granted, there is a big twist, but it felt like the story stopped before it was meant to. I thoroughly enjoyed Cleveland's first novel, so maybe my disappointment comes from high expectations, but this one didn't come close for me. Nevertheless, the author is talented, and I'll be interested to see what she does next. 

Confessions of an Innocent Man

Confessions of an Innocent Man - David R. Dow

While I wouldn't necessarily classify this one as a thriller, it certainly grabbed hold and held me in its clutches. I'll admit that I was a bit confused about the shape of the story when I started, but the more I read, the more I wanted to read. We've all heard the stories about a person serving years on death row or even being executed when new evidence is found to refute their guilt. Confessions of an Innocent Man takes that a step further - okay, maybe a mile further with a revenge plot that is nothing short of meticulous in its detail. But first, we get Rafael's story, what brought him to death row and the revenge he so desperately needed. Now, here's where my earlier mentioned confusion came in. Rafael is an interesting character, but I kept wondering where it was all going. Nevertheless, even if I had never gotten to what I thought was coming from reading the blurb, I still enjoyed Rafael's story, his early days with the love of his life, his anguish over losing her, his bitter fury when he's found guilty, and finally, his coming to grips with his circumstances as he tries to figure out the world of death row for an inmate. In the end, I felt like the point to this story, the place it was all leading up to, was the man Rafael became after his release and how he decided to exact his revenge. Of course, the recipients of that revenge also make for some intriguing food for thought. The writing is compelling and the pacing is steady for most of the book. The story does lag somewhat in the second half, which is the only real criticism from me. So, while I didn't find the thriller I was looking for, I did find suspense and a gripping story. An excellent debut from David R Dow, and one that has put him on my radar. 

The Scent Keeper

The Scent Keeper - Erica Bauermeister
The Scent Keeper was way out of my wheelhouse, and I'll admit that I was a little confused at first as to what it was about and where it was going. In the beginning, it felt a little like fantasy, but not quite, although there are elements that certainly stretched my ability to suspend disbelief. As the story progressed, it became more a coming of age tale than anything else. Regardless of genre and wheelhouses, the story did hold my attention, and it definitely had me posing a number of questions. Questions that I wanted answers to. Some of those were answered and some weren't, which brings me to the only real drawback in this book, at least for me. I wanted closure or at least some semblance of where everyone was going to end up. I know Emmaline's intentions, but this one has a rather open-ended conclusion - not something that leads me to believe there will be a second book, more like an ambiguous ending to let the reader decide what they'd like for these characters. That can work in some cases, but I felt like this one deserved more. Nevertheless, the book was definitely worth reading, and I would recommend it to those who enjoy the genre.

The Night Before

The Night Before - Wendy   Walker

I did something with this book that I rarely do. I finished it and then sat with it, trying to decide how I felt about the story. First of all, I will say that I didn't find the riveting thriller that's promised in the blurb, although it does eventually get thriller-like toward the end. The story jumps back and forth between Laura and Rosie, one happening in the present and one happening the night before. Then, we get snippets of therapy sessions thrown in here and there. The jumps are frequent and at times served to pull me out of the story rather than the opposite. For a large chunk of this one, we're left to wonder whether Laura is out with a psycho or if she's the one who's unhinged, which is a decent enough plot device except Laura's waffling about her date grew tedious much too soon in the story. The writing is a little too dry for the amount of tension this type of book should have, and the big reveal didn't produce the shock I think the author was going for. Once you figure out the who, which is pretty easy, the why kind of falls into place. I did finish the book, and I suppose my feelings about it are somewhere in the mid range. I didn't hate it, but it's also not one that I'll think about down the road. 

The Killer in Me

The Killer in Me - Olivia Kiernan

This second book featuring DCS Frankie Sheehan has a solid mystery and reads very much like an episode of CSI with the details about the crime scenes. In fact, the story includes plenty of detail about almost everything except our characters. On that front, I was hoping for something more. As it stands, the characters, including Frankie, lack enough personality to really get a feel for them, much less relate to them. As with any group of people who work closely together, I would expect some personal conversation, maybe some banter between friends, but there is a distinct lack of that here that gives the story a very straightforward and dispassionate atmosphere. On a positive note, the suspense is good with a murder mystery that isn't too easy to figure out. So, while I did like the murder mystery, the impersonal feel left me with a lack of connection to any of the characters, including Frankie. 

Then Came You

Then Came You - Kate Meader

I've been waiting for Grant and Aubrey's story since the beginning of the series, and not so patiently waiting for their secrets about what lay behind the divorce. Boy, did they ever deliver! I felt like this pair had my heart in their hands and would alternately squeeze and stroke depending on where I was in their story. Dramatic much? Definitely, when it comes to these two, but it's hard not to be as they make their journey toward that second chance. I'm a sucker for second chance love stories anyway, so this one had me from the get-go. Add in Grant's Southern boy charm and I was a goner. I won't say that this one is more emotional than the others in the series, but it's a different type of emotion, and if you've ever been through what Grant and Aubrey have, you'll understand what I mean. With that said, I spent a good deal of this book wanting to hug Grant while itching to shake Aubrey til her teeth rattled. Not that she was solely at fault, but I so wanted her to see what was right in front of her, or better yet, to say so. In the end, both were to blame for the break-up and both had to come to grips with that to get the relationship back. In essence, some meeting in the middle was required, and when these two met, the chemistry would knock your socks off. In addition to the emotional storm of Then Came You, we also get loads of Kate Meader's wit and humor to temper the angst, plus a cranky feline who causes his own bit of trouble along the way. I've loved each couple in this terrific series, but Grant and Aubrey are my faves by far, and just one more reason this author is a must read for me. 

The Scent of Murder

The Scent of Murder - Kylie Logan

The Scent of Murder is well-written and despite the nature of the story, an easy read. I prefer something with more grit, so the story is a little bit too cozy mystery for my tastes, but the fast pace and whodunit did hold my interest. This one reminded me of Murder She Wrote with Jazz and her determination to solve the murder regardless of any warnings from police or any danger to herself. There is an almost romance between Jazz and her ex - a bit of push and pull between them and some flirting on his part, but I didn't really see them as a couple until the end. Nick's feelings come across clearly, but Jazz is closed off and comes across as more confused about a relationship than anything else. In the end, I did enjoy the mystery, and we're introduced to some interesting and quirky characters in Jazz's world, especially Sarah and Eileen. The story is certainly worth the read, and I'll be interested to see where things go for these characters. 

Perfect Crime

Perfect Crime - Helen Sarah Fields

When words like gripping and won't be able to put it down are used next to the title, it tends to inspire a certain expectation of what's inside the book. Don't get me wrong, Perfect Crime is a good enough crime thriller, but gripping? Not so much. There are two cases running side by side, and both are way too easy to figure out from pretty early in the story. That said, the book does run the usual formula for the genre, and there are plenty of tense situations to keep things moving along at a good pace. There's also some romance between our two main characters, and honestly, I'm still not sure how I feel about how that part played out. Nevertheless, the story is well-written, and it did hold my interest even after I had it figured out.