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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.

Into the Black Nowhere

Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel - Meg Gardiner

This thriller opens with a chilling scene that is sure to suck a reader in. From there, it moves quickly to Caitlin and the FBI being called in to hopefully find the missing woman. Knowing a fair amount of Ted Bundy's story, some things in the book were predictable, so the element of surprise was lost. The characters were interesting, but having not read the first book, I was a bit in the dark about some things that were mentioned in this one, and from what I gathered, there were some unresolved issues still hanging in the air from that first book. Regardless, a good cat and mouse chase is always intriguing and I enjoyed this story and it's spine-tingling elements. Without going into details, I will add that the epilogue absolutely threw me for a loop - definitely wasn't expecting that.

Dark Kings book 12

Heat - Donna Grant

I'm usually all for a good dragon story, so when I received this one from NetGalley, I was anxious to dive in. That excitement quickly turned to confusion as I read when I kept trying to figure out what I was missing with these characters and their story. To be fair, the info on NetGalley didn't mention a series, let alone that it was book twelve in that series! I did keep at it, but with minimal world building and only snippets of info here and there, I was left with more questions than answers. I can only assume that many of my questions were answered in previous books, but after the struggle to get through this one, I don't feel a pressing need to explore this series any further. As far as the characters are concerned, Nikolai is interesting enough, but Esther became rather tedious with her angst and whining. Had I been familiar with the world of the Dragon Kings, this one may have been more enjoyable, but as it stands, it was just too easy to set aside.

Do Over - 2nd chance romance

Do Over - Serena Bell

I love a good second chance romance and Do Over has all the elements - the not so likable playboy who does redeem himself (finally), the woman who loves him but doesn't trust him, the child they share, and the circumstances to put them together. In spite of that, the result was rather mediocre. Maybe it was the constant denial of compatibility from both characters, the conversations between Jack and his buddies, the lack of real communication, the determination that they were just hooking up, or a combination of all those things, I never felt a romantic connection between Jack and Maddie. Sharing a child without any commitment certainly shows that there is lust between the couple, and maybe even friendship, but it felt more like they were playing house than building anything together. On the whole, the story is well-written, but there's really nothing to set it apart from any other second chance romance, making it a little too predictable. On a positive note, there were a few chuckle worthy moments and young Gabe was absolutely adorable, which did somewhat redeem the book for me. 

Sound of Silence

Sound of Silence - Mia Kerick, Raine O'Tierney

Young adult, coming of age, romance, and a bit of mystery all rolled into a beautifully written story that is absolutely impossible to put down. I don't read a lot of young adult, but the premise for this one intrigued me and once I started reading, the story was so compelling that I couldn't stop. There are parts of this one that are quite heartbreaking and even infuriating as Renzy's story unfolds. Then we have Morning, who is dealing with her own trauma, and her brother, Seven, who hides his problems behind a fixer attitude. The story is not just a search for answers about Renzy's selective mutism. It's an intense and emotional tale of friendship, love, healing, a bit of justice, and finally, hope. This is my first read from these authors, but it certainly won't be my last. 

Terrible title, okay book

Baby, I'm Howling For You (Alphaville) - Christine Warren

I waffled a bit on rating this one. The premise is really good and the story starts with a pull you in chase scene. My problem was that the story seemed to be almost suspended about halfway through, things were happening, but it wasn't really moving forward. Then, once it does gather some momentum and move forward, it's full speed ahead to the conclusion. What saved it for me was the wonderful cast of characters in this town. In fact, I found many of the secondary characters just as interesting, if not more so, than Renny and Mick. Make no mistake, Renny and Mick are good together and I enjoyed their banter. The dialogue overall was a big plus for me and the author's wit and sarcasm is great. The great characters and witty dialogue won me over and I will be interested to see what's next for this town of quirky shifters.

An Alphaville story

Something to Howl About - Christine Warren

This is my first read by Christine Warren and now I'm wondering how I've missed her. This well-written and fast-paced tale is easily read in one sitting and that's just what I did. I would've liked more of Annie's backstory, but the author does give enough to understand the character. I absolutely loved Jonas and his internal bickering with his bear as he struggles with the idea of a mate while trying to remain professional with Annie, and she was just as amusing with her scientific mind being thrown for a loop by the sexy bear. The storyline is intriguing and peppered with a bit of steam and some truly witty dialogue that kept me smiling and chuckling from start to finish. 

The Memory Detective

The Memory Detective: A Novel - T. S. Nichols

Admittedly, this isn't the type of thriller that I would normally pick up, and I was a little worried about the medical side of this tale getting too technical and bogged down in the details. Thankfully, that wasn't the case at all. The author gives just enough of the medical side for the reader to get what's going on and follow the story. The idea of going in for a procedure that gives you a dead person's memories was thoroughly chilling to this reader, especially when The Company's purpose is revealed. The story does drag at times, particularly when memories are being "remembered." While the way remembering worked for the recipient is an important part of the story, I felt that a complete play by play of every memory was a bit much. That aside, the story did keep me turning pages to see what would happen next, right up to the jaw-dropping conclusion. About 95% of the way through, I completely expected a cliffy - either that or the ending would have to be a rush job - but that didn't make it any less shocking when I got there. On the whole, this is a solid debut novel for Nichols and I'll be anxious to see what's next for the Memory Detective.

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.