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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.

Millennials off the grid

We Went to the Woods - Caite Dolan-Leach

Remember the 60's communes with their off the grid lifestyle, free love, nights around the campfire, etc, etc? We Went to the Woods is kind of like that except we're dealing with millennials. The story opens with a bit of a mystery, and does a fair job of pulling you in. It's also somewhat misleading. From that beginning, I expected something a little creepy, not quite a thriller, but with at least some tension. Unfortunately, I spent the rest of the book waiting for something to happen. Maybe it's just me, but reading about a group of people trying to grow a garden, turn compost, repair a cabin, and get used to less than sanitary facilities just wasn't that interesting. The free love is there, but it's more like a guessing game of which bed is that guy in tonight, at least for Mack. There are secrets, everyone in this group has them, but they really aren't that earth shattering, and the characters aren't all that likable. Things do eventually start to happen, but it wasn't anything to cause me to sit up and take notice. Some of it was tragic, yes, but given the circumstances, it was expected. In the end, I think this one was just a bit too slow for my tastes and can be chalked up to not the the book for me. 

Lock Every Door

Lock Every Door - Riley Sager

Lock Every Door felt a little like a trip inside a Hitchcock story. It has a haunting atmosphere and a steadily rising tension that kept me turning those pages to see where it would all go. It's a slow burn story, and so many seemingly innocuous things happen that it's easy to slip into a comfortable, easy feeling. Then, we go back to present day and Jules' circumstances snap us back into that feeling of unease, of guessing what led to those circumstances. Now, here's where I tell you that I'm hard to get. I usually see the big reveal coming at least in part. Not this time. Not even an inkling. And I hate to admit it, but there were hints. It's one of those hindsight things. It was all crystal clear once I knew the secret. There were so many way this one could have gone, and I thought I had guessed all of them. Nope, that reveal sneaked right up on me. I love it when that happens! All in all, this one is another great read from Riley Sager. It's atmospheric, filled with creepy characters, and the more you read, the faster you want to read. 

A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family - M.T. Edvardsson

Normal is subjective, right? It would seem so in this drama that's bursting at the seams with family dysfunction. There has been a lot of hype surrounding A Nearly Normal Family, so maybe I had it built up a little too high before I even started reading. Whatever the reason, this one just didn't do it for me. There is some pretty good courtroom drama, which is something I like, but the book is drawn out at times, making it a bit too easy to set aside. Parts of the story are choppy and awkward, but that may be due to the translation, and that's something I can overlook. The deal breaker for me is that this one just didn't hold my interest. In the end, it didn't live up to the hype for me and was much easier to set aside than to pick back up.

The Perfect Plan

The Perfect Plan - Bryan Reardon

The cover for The Perfect Plan is what caught my eye, and the blurb sounded interesting, familiar but still interesting. In reality, the story wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I had a hard time connecting with the characters, which could be because none of them are likable. Granted, I don't think they were really meant to be likable, and that's not necessarily a deal breaker, especially in a thriller setting. However, I wouldn't consider this one a thriller. It's certainly family drama, there's more family drama than you can shake a stick at. There are a few scenes that hint and even almost touch on thriller elements, but this one just doesn't quite get there. My biggest issue with The Perfect Plan was its complete predictability. There are twists, but not a single one surprised me. The story does have a decent mystery aspect with the disappearance of Liam and Drew's father, but it wasn't too hard to guess at least the gist of that too. No two people read the same book, so take my thoughts for what they're worth. If it sounds good, give it a shot. For me, there were just more cons than pros with this one. 

Raze

Raze - Roan Parrish

Ratings aside, I truly liked Raze, and as I've come to expect from Parrish, the writing is great with those terrific lines that jump out at you. Raze gives us a May/December romance, which is one of my favorite tropes, and we get those wonderfully flawed characters that Roan Parrish does so well. That said, I just couldn't help but feel like something was missing in this one. Maybe it's because the author has set the bar so high with this series, but I didn't feel like Huey and Felix's story sucked me in the way the first two in the series did. Part of that could be my feelings about Huey for a lot of this one. I waffled back and forth with him from the beginning. He would do something so completely sweet one minute, and check out of the relationship the next. I get the reasons why, but Felix is just so darn lovable that I couldn't help but want to shake the stuffing out of Huey at times - no matter his size. I also feel like he's a little too closed off, so much so that I had a hard time getting to know Huey. Whatever the reasons for my feelings about this third book in the series, I would still recommend it. The whole series is full of fantastic writing and wonderful characters with real problems. The romances bring out all the feels and while they are angsty, it's angst that we can understand and empathize with.

Once Upon a Bad Boy

Once Upon a Bad Boy - Melonie Johnson

I love a second chance romance and this one gives us childhood sweethearts from opposite social classes. The story starts off strong as we get to know Sadie and Bo, and they meet and start to circle each other. Unfortunately, that was the best of it for me because it lost its momentum. The story slowed down to the point that I began to wonder if we were ever going to get there. We finally do, but it was a bit lackluster after the meandering stroll we're taken on to get to this couple's happy ever after. I don't mind a lengthy story if it's needed and it holds my interest. This one was a little too easy to set aside once the pace stalled, and there were some things that were brought up but not concluded or properly fleshed out even after all that time. I think this one could do with a bit of tightening up, but as it stands, it was just an okay read for me.

Twisted Family Values

Twisted Family Values - V.C. Chickering

The cover for Twisted Family Values is quite eye-catching, and the blurb with its hints at secrets to be revealed appealed to the mystery lover in me. Unfortunately, that was the best of it for me. As a child of the 70's, I would've thought that I would be able to relate to some of the characters better, but the story goes a little too far over the top for me, and other than a few pop culture references, neither the people nor their actions rang true.There are secrets, this family is packed full of them, but without a connection to the characters, I couldn't find much curiosity for the revelations of those secrets. I don't read a lot of women's fiction, but I think it's safe to say that this wasn't the book for me.

Jackson

Jackson - Emily March

Jackson is well-written and Emily March certainly knows her stuff when it comes to creating atmosphere and setting up a scene. Everything is described wonderfully and at times, I felt like I was right there seeing it all. That said, I wouldn't exactly call this a romance. It's more like women's fiction with a side of romance. The story was a little slow, but it does have it's moments. There is quite a lot of conversation, and some of it - especially between the cousins - is witty and fun. As far as romance, we know Jackson and Caroline are attracted to each other, but other than a stolen kiss or two, the romance doesn't really start until around seventy percent into the book - and then we have the required angst for the couple to overcome. Being deliberately vague so as not to give spoilers, I wasn't a fan of some of that angst. I felt like it went too far, and had I been in one person's shoes, I don't think I could've been that understanding. Even so, the characters are likable, and while I found the story to be too slow for me, it was certainly worth the read. 

The First Mistake

The First Mistake - Sandie Jones

The more I read of The First Mistake, the more my feelings about it waffled. In the end, it was in the fair to midland range for me. Sandie Jones writes a fast-paced and entertaining story with interesting characters. However, this one was totally predictable. I can even point out the exact moment I had most of it figured out. I even bookmarked it because when I read it, I thought 'surely not, it can't be that simple.' Turns out it can be and was. The problem was that point I bookmarked was pretty early in the story, and from there, it was easy to see why certain other things led to the same conclusion. I think we're given a little too much information too soon and the only thing left is to either finish the book to see if we're right or skim the rest of it. Either way would lead to the same thing. For me, the characters and writing did hold my interest enough to finish, but it was a little disappointing to find the book so thoroughly predictable.

Bone Deep

Bone Deep  - Sandra Ireland

If the cover for Bone Deep caught my attention, the blurb grabbed me by the collar and shouted at me. This one had me from the very first glance. Unfortunately, that didn't last long. It does have its moments and I liked the Gothic feel, but the story moves too slowly for my taste, and the writing is choppy much of the time. We have two unreliable narrators in this one, and the point of view moves back and forth between them, plus we have a story within a story as Mac writes her book of sisters with deadly secrets. The only character I liked was Arthur, and I began to question his judgment as the story progressed. Unreliable narrators and unlikable characters aside, my biggest problem with this psychological thriller is I failed to find the thriller part of this story, psychological or otherwise. There is murder and what are supposed to be twists, but I guessed those before we got there with one exception concerning Lucie, and I found it to be completely unbelievable, like eye-rolling unbelievable. I realize that my opinion is in the minority here, and that's okay. This is just one person's opinion, so take it for what it's worth. In the end, I think I liked the idea of this one more than the reality of it. 

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.