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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 Confession

The Confession: A Novel - Jo Spain

I walked away with mixed feelings on this one. The bare bones of the story is absolutely brilliant. In the very beginning, Harry McNamara is attacked in his home. It's brutal, grisly, and chilling. His wife witnesses the whole thing, and her reactions during and after are suspect at best. We also know from the beginning that JP Carney committed the crime. The question is why. At this point, the story had me in its clutches. Unfortunately, it started to lose me rather soon after that. The story starts to move back and forth between the days following the attack and the backstories of the characters. Some of that back info is important to the plot and reasons for everything happening, and some is not. A lot is not. We do finally get to the why of it all, but the book takes the scenic route to get there. Granted, there were things in the past that the reader needs to know for it to all make sense, but I really did not need every detail of every time Julie doubted Harry or every time she looked the other way, nor did I need to know every job that JP had during the years leading up to the crime. Fair warning, be prepared not to like anyone in this one. By the time I trudged through the considerable history of Julie and Harry's marriage and JP's troubled life, I couldn't drum up much empathy for any of them, except for the real victim in this deadly game. In the end, I would give a solid five stars for the beginning and conclusion, but the middle was way too drawn out and had too much downtime for me. So, I ended up somewhere in the middle on The Confession.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton

Think Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day with the body hopping of Quantum Leap and you have the gist of this one. The story has a Gothic feel and for every question our protagonist finds an answer to, there's another question or predicament to deal with. We aren't given much information about the main character in the beginning, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. His confusion is conveyed quite well, but since we don't know any more than he does, it doesn't give the reader much in the way of a connection with Aiden. I was curious about why he was stuck bouncing around and becoming other people, but without anything personal, it's hard to find much empathy for him. The story is a little like being told about the events of one day from several points of view, but some characters were more distinctive than others so at times, the jumps from one person to another led to some confusion. For me, this one had its ups and downs, but it did keep me reading, trying to figure things out - sometimes trying to solve the puzzle and sometimes just trying to figure out what was going on. The author certainly has a way with words, and the book is loaded with some absolutely brilliant prose, so I would certainly read other works by him. 

Lies

Lies: The Gripping Psychological Thriller That Will Take Your Breath Away - T.M. Logan

Lies. They're everywhere, especially in the life of Joe Lynch. Joe is truly one of the good guys. He loves his wife, dotes on his son, is perfectly happy in his teaching position - as far as he's concerned, everything is as it should be. Then one afternoon changes everything and Joe is on the wrong end of a twisted game of cat and mouse.
Poor Joe can't catch a break and every time he thinks he's making some headway, he's hit with something else, and there's no one he can trust. In fact, the story is filled with unreliable characters and no one is beyond suspicion. I did figure out the ending, in part, but I certainly didn't piece together the other part of it. There's also another interesting little tidbit that adds to the edge of your seat conclusion.
The story is fast paced and the twists keep coming for our unwilling hero. There are some things that stretch the believability scale, but this is fiction, so some leeway can be given and it's not completely over the top. All in all, Lies is a solid debut from the author and I'll be interested to see what he comes up with next.

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating - Christina Lauren

The awesome pairing that is Christina Lauren has done it again with this friends to lovers romance. The story is a wonderful combo of silly, sweet, sexy, and laugh out loud hilarity. Everyone should have a Hazel in their life. That one friend who's full of spunk, completely inappropriate, absolutely lacks a filter, and loves those close to her with all her heart. She's a hot mess all the way around and such a fun character. Broken down, this one is typical of most friends to lovers romances. Josh and Hazel are just friends, free to be exactly who they are and just have fun together until something changes. But the way the story is delivered kept me turning pages for the next bit of crazy this pair would get up to. The attraction is obvious, at least to the reader, and the chemistry between them is off the charts even when neither of them realize it. On the surface, the off-the-wall Hazel and oh, so sweet Josh seem like complete opposites, but inside, where it counts, they are absolutely perfect together. With a few fun twists and even a little bit of angst, this one is another must read from these authors. 

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace - Mindy Mejia

Leave No Trace is an interesting enough story and maybe my definition of a thriller is different than the author's, but I didn't find one here. There is suspense and quite a lot of dangling carrots throughout that hint at answers, but the pacing is very slow and those answers take their sweet time coming. I realize this is fiction and certain allowances can be made, but this one requires more suspension of disbelief than what I would consider reasonable. To make matters worse, I didn't find Maya particularly interesting. She's rather bland as far as a protagonist goes, other than the sheer number of times she manages to be hurt by Lucas in his many attempts to escape. And that's just one  thing that stretched the imagination. I can't imagine a speech therapist being left alone with a dangerous or violent patient even once, let alone repeatedly. The only saving grace in this one for me was Josiah. His chapters are very well done and are quite compelling, but about halfway through, I realized I was just plunging through hoping for another of his chapters. The author does have talent, but this one missed the mark for me. 

Cowboy, Cross My Heart

Cowboy, Cross My Heart - Donna Grant

Cowboy, Cross My Heart is the second book in the Heart of Texas series, but it works as a standalone. There are several years between the events in the two books, and we're given plenty of backstory. This one is loaded with sexy cowboys, instant attraction, some suspense, corruption, danger, steam, and romance. All of these combined should've made for a riveting story, but it ended up being just an okay read for me. I liked most of the characters, and I enjoyed Brice and Naomi's romance. There's also some witty dialogue and general silliness among the Harper family. Then, we have our bad guys, and that's where my problems started with this book. The suspense and danger covers some serious subject matter, but the people involved came across feeling more like caricatures. There just wasn't much depth to that part of the story, which was sad because it could've made this one a gripping story. In the end, the story was okay, but I wasn't left with a need to continue with the series. 

The Other Woman

The Other Woman - Sandie Jones

This one had me in its clutches the whole way. Right up until the ending. The storyline isn't anything I haven't seen before, but Jones kept it interesting. Emily is in a relationship with Adam, who appears to be a momma's boy. Adam's mother, Pammie, is controlling and conniving to the extreme and Emily gets the brunt of it. While I did feel for Emily's circumstances, I didn't care much for our heroine. Granted, Emily has never been in this type of situation, so she struggles to deal with it all, but she comes across as whiny a lot of the time. The more I read, the more I wanted to shake some sense into her and tell her to stand up for herself. That aside, the author does an excellent job with building the tension and it is a compelling read. Some things stretch the believability scale, but I kept turning those pages to see what devious thing Pammie would do next and waiting for her to get caught up in her mess. In fact, the story was riveting and I was prepared to sing its praises, until the big twist at the end. I expected part of it - a small part of it, but I have to say I was pretty disappointed with the conclusion. I love twisty stories, but this twist made little sense to me. Too many things just didn't add up. To give details would also give spoilers, so I'll just sum it up with this was a well-plotted and gripping story that let me down in the end.

Not Her Daughter

Not Her Daughter - Rea Frey

Not Her Daughter is well-written and the story has a building tension that keeps the pages turning. The story is written in dual points of view, alternating between our kidnapper, Sarah, and Emma's mother, Amy. We also get before, during, and after chapters to give some perspective into the characters and their frame of mind. All of this should've added up to a high-praise review. However, there were a few things throughout the story that niggled at me. Amy is unlikable from the start, which is kind of the point, and Sarah makes a rash decision to kidnap Emma, thus freeing her from a bad home life. Why Sarah chose kidnapping over calling authorities is explained, but suffice it to say that her emotions and mental state weren't exactly where they should be. Okay, I can get with that. My problems started from there. I don't want to give spoilers, so I'll just sum it up with either Sarah is extremely lucky or everyone involved is completely inept at their jobs because her name is never brought up. Not once. The ending, while unexpected, was unsatisfactory at best. I understand that this one is in the works for the big screen and maybe it will work better in that format, but for me, there were just too many things that required a suspension of disbelief. On the whole, the story had great potential, but fell a bit short of that wow factor.

The Devil's Lieutenant

The Devil's Lieutenant - Shervin Jamali

The Devil's Lieutenant is a fast-paced, quick read, coming in at about an hour's read time. The story is pretty straight-forward and nothing that hasn't been done before, which didn't leave much in the way of surprises. There are a couple of interesting twists, but again, it's almost impossible not to see them coming. The chapters hop back and forth through roughly fifteen years of Michael's life. That time jumps wouldn't be a big deal, but given the length of the book, that style was more a disservice to the story than any benefit in my opinion. The biggest drawback for me was the lack of depth. Taken at face value, the book is an entertaining read and a decent way to while away an hour or so, but I came away wishing there were more to it. Be forewarned: the story is graphic and there are parts that hard to take. 

Down With Love

Down With Love - Kate Meader

Down With Love is everything a good romantic comedy should be and then some! We have lovable characters, and engaging and witty story, and lots of reasons to smile, chuckle, and even laugh out loud. When you pair up a divorce lawyer and a wedding planner, sparks are bound to fly. In Max and Charlie's case, those sparks are not just of the fiery, you make me furious kind. They've both been burned by love in the past, and while those issues are addressed, that part isn't the focus here. We do get a bit of angst, but it's low key, keeping this romance lighthearted and sexy. To sum it up, this is a wonderfully written combo of sweet, sexy, and downright hilarious. 

Desperate Girls

Desperate Girls - Laura Griffin

Desperate Girls is a bit of a mixed bag. We have some courtroom drama, a bit of action and suspense by way of an escaped murderer set on getting revenge, some hot and steamy romance, and a little more suspense with an interesting twist. This is my first read by Laura Griffin, and I have to say I was impressed. The story moves at a good pace, there are no big lags, and the flow is good. Brynn is a strong female lead, which I always enjoy, and Erik is the very definition of a protector. They have great chemistry and just fit so well together that you can't help but want to see them together. The big bad in this one is about as bad as they get, and the tension builds as he tries to get to Brynn. I would've liked to have seen a bit more from Corby given his intelligence level, but it was still an entertaining read. We do get an intriguing twist at the end - one that I didn't see coming until it was right there. All in all, I enjoyed the book and will certainly be watching for whatever comes next in this new series. 

Our House

Our House - Louise Candlish

Our House grabbed me from the opening paragraph and held on tight - up until around the 30% mark. From there, it started losing me and try as I might, I just couldn't get back into it. Light domestic suspense, yes, but I failed to find anything that I would consider a thriller, psychological or otherwise. This one is a whole lot of talk, talk, talking and a lot of it was repetitive as we get both sides of the story. There are a couple of twists thrown in, but when you've reached the point of skimming to find something to keep the story moving, they don't have much impact. I do prefer a faster pace in the genre, so maybe my disappointment can be chalked up to me expecting one thing and getting another, but this one clearly was not for me. 

Bad Man

Bad Man - Dathan Auerbach

Always on the hunt for something creepy, I took one look at the blurb for Bad Man and knew I had to read it. I suppose it did deliver on the creepy, but those parts were few and far between, mixed in with confusing conversations that went nowhere, lots of details about working nights in a grocery store, and a ton of confusion. More than once, I found myself rereading passages to see if I missed something, anything to show me where that passage was leading. In most cases, I didn't find that elusive something. There is some suspense surrounding the grocery store and some of the characters, but suspense only works if the story holds the reader's interest. This one didn't. To put it bluntly, I was bored out of my mind for most of this book. Ben's twisted dreams did provide some moments of possible creepiness, at least until he woke up. Ben is the epitome of unreliable, but again, that only works if his tale is interesting. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I kept reading, hoping for something exciting to happen. The ending did pick up and was certainly weird, but I wouldn't necessarily say it was scary enough to classify it as horror. What I ended up with was a five-star blurb and promising story with a one-star delivery and several hours of reading time that I can never get back.

Going Rogue

Going Rogue - Chantal Fernando

Every time I think Chantal Fernando has written my favorite book boyfriend, she outdoes herself with another swoon-worthy guy. Rogue is oh, so swoon-worthy and all alpha male, yet still manages to know how to reel Zoe in without pushing too hard. I love the contrast between the family feel of this MC mixed with a bit of darker dealings and danger that the life entails. That darker part isn't the focus and it isn't overdone with the primary focus being on the romance between Rogue and Zoe. They have great chemistry and Zoe fits in well with the other women of the MC. As I've come to expect from this author, we also get some witty dialogue and humor along with some steamy fun and super sweet romance. This one is a great blend of love, loss, danger, tragedy, loyalty, and family. I don't know if there's another book planned for this series, but I would love to see everyone's favorite Prez find his true love. (Not that I'm hinting or anything

She Was the Quiet One

She Was the Quiet One - Michele Campbell

The blurb for this one promises twists, turns, and dark secrets. It is an interesting story, and there are plenty of dark secrets, but I didn't find much in the way of twists and turns. Instead, most of it was rather predictable, especially the killer's identity in spite of a few decent red herrings. A few things were a stretch on the believability scale, but a lot were necessary for flow and plot so could be easily overlooked. The exception to that came toward the end - first, with the twins' grandmother and her change in personality. I just didn't buy it. The other was the epilogue, and while I can understand wanting to wrap everything up with a neat little bow, it was just over the top. Sadly, it was also the only real twist in the book. As the setting for the story is a boarding school, quite a bit of it revolves around teenage angst, primarily that of Rose and Bel, but that was expected given the storyline. At the end of the day, it did hold my interest, but I was disappointed in the complete predictability of it all. 

The General Theory of Haunting

The General Theory of Haunting - Richard Easter

This one started off a bit slow with an introduction to the characters and Marryman Hall, but it had a gothic feel to it and the characters were interesting enough to keep me turning pages. The pacing stayed rather slow for a good part of the book with something creepy happening here and there as we get to know the characters and their flaws, personal problems, vices, etc. We also get some rather detailed talk of quantum physics, which I'll admit had me zoning out, but that's just me. Finally, things pick up and really start moving as this group figures out what is really going on with Marryman Hall and it's history. While I did guess a lot of it before we got the explanation, I did enjoy the reveal, so this one ended up being a mixed bag for me in terms of reading pleasure.