Book Review Tuesday: Sunset Beach, The Player, Watching Glass Shatter @JacqBiggar @jamescudney4

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHappy almost June and welcome to summer! Yeah, I get that summer doesn’t “officially” happen until June 21st, but Memorial Day has always been the threshold to summer fun, including the key opening of east coast beaches and amusement parks. Since I live in a tourist town, I think of Memorial Day as being the gateway to summer. Even though COVID-19 has put a damper on festivities, I still feel the change.

Let it be known that I FREAKING LOVE SUMMER!

Yes, I appreciate all of the seasons, but give me my pool, my Kindle (or a fat paperback), a grill, and swimming weather, and I will pass each day in sheer bliss.

And speaking of Kindles, I have several reviews to share. I read these books in March and April during shelter-in-place time. My county is finally moving to yellow phase this Friday, but I am already back at work. I won’t be able to share all the books I read while sheltering, but I would like to share some standouts. As Jackie Gleason was fond of saying, and away we go . . .


Book cover for sunset beach by Jacquie Biggar shows young couple embrace in front of ocean at sunsetSunset Beach
by Jacquie Biggar

Trace and Mona are both single parents with teenage daughters and history that goes back to their dating years in high school. Trace made the mistake of cheating on Mona with Sally, now his ex-wife. In a small town, paths cross and gossip flies. When Mona decides to run for Mayor against Trace, life becomes even more complicated, especially as these two struggle to navigate underlying feelings for each other.

This is a sweet romance with engaging characters set in a charming town. Of special mention, Trace and Mona’s daughters, Bailey and Amber, provide a secondary plot line that shines every bit as brightly as the first. The ending is superb, providing the perfect HEA you’d expect from a story like this. A winner all the way around.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Romance > Parenting Teenagers  


Book cover for The Player b Jacquie Biggar shows orange tabby cat and man and woman on opposing sides, from feet to knees, hockey skates in foregroundThe Player
by Jacquie Biggar

The tables get turned in this tale of a superstar male hockey player plagued by a female stalker. Roy Donaldson has everything going for him, except an ex-girlfriend who doesn’t know how to let go. When she does everything she can to cast him in a bad light, a public relations representative steps in to repair the unjust damage to his image.

Enter Patience Kennedy, the single daughter in a family with four brothers who knows zilch about sports, but plenty about people. When the two retreat to Roy’s home in the woods to work on strategy, sparks fly. Actually, sparks fly from the first meeting between these two, and it’s fun to watch their attraction run from frustration to simmer to bloom. Toss in a stray orange tabby and you’ve got a feel-good formula destined to bring an HEA. But reaching that point presents a path twined with danger and suspense.

Jacquie Biggar mixes all the right ingredients, even touching on mental illness and family relations both good and bad. The author’s breezy writing, witty observations, and dialogue are a pleasure to read. Many times, I stopped to marvel at a particular turn of phrase or reread a section for sheer enjoyment. I’ve enjoyed everything Ms. Biggar has written. She is a skilled author who knows her craft, but The Player may just be my favorite to date. What a feel-good gem!

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries > Hockey


Book cover for Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney shows broken glass with large hole in center, shatter lines forking outward from holeWatching Glass Shatter
by James J. Cudney

Olivia Glass has the ideal life with five wonderful grown sons, grandchildren, and a successful husband. It all begins to crumble when her husband, Ben, dies in an automobile accident. Worse than facing life without him, is the letter he left behind, explaining that one of their children isn’t really hers. When her baby was born dead, Ben switched the infant with a different child the birth mother wanted to adopt out. But which of her five sons?

Determined to unearth the truth before sharing it with her children, Olivia decides to visit each son in their home. This is where Cudney weaves a tangled web, family drama at its best. As the book progresses, Olivia is confronted by shock after shock, realizing each son has kept a personal secret from her and others. Five brothers, five secrets.

Each brother is thoroughly fleshed out with his own particular strengths and weakness. Olivia’s character becomes clear through her actions and how others see and interact with her. There are explosive moments, heart wrenching moments, touching moments, splashes of humor. As a reader, you’ll feel frustration, melancholy, joy and contentment. The author deftly pulls multiple heartstrings in this tale of a family imploding, only to come out stronger in the end. And let’s not forget, that among these five men, one is not really Olivia’s son.

A thoroughly satisfying read.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre:  Fiction > Family Drama


Hopefully, I’ve sparked your interest with one of these reviews. I’ve got plenty more to share, but in the meantime, I wish you happy reading!

Book Review Tuesday: The Body in the Apartment, The Trophy Wife, Subject A36 #CozyMystery #PsychologicalThriller #YADystopian

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageIt’s been ages since I did a book review Tuesday, and I have a LOT of reviews I haven’t shared. I’m going to work in my five star reads as I continue to add new ones. I did read one or two not-the-best of books during my absence, and I’ll skip those. For now, take a gander at these!


Cute pug dog looking into the open door of an apartmentThe Body in the Apartment
by Judi Lynn

House flippers, Jazzi, Ansel, their families and friends are back in the fourth Jazzi Zanders mystery novel. This time around the stakes are higher as Jazzi finds herself immersed in two separate murders.

The book starts with a bang—literally. Ansel’s brother Radley is in River Bluff when their older brother Bain arrives to try to get Radley to return to the family farm. After an argument between Radley and Bain, Radley’s boss is shot and killed. Bain becomes the prime suspect when it’s discovered his gun is missing from his truck. Murder #1, but things are far from over. It isn’t long before another killing occurs.

As Jazzi and her detective friend Gaff begin to fit the pieces together, it becomes apparent the two murders are related. Getting there—unraveling multiple threads, false leads, numerous suspects and motives makes this the most intricate Jazzi mystery to date. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, each with plenty of motive. If you like your cozies complex, while maintaining a wonderfully breezy feel, you’ll love this series and this book.

As with most mystery readers, I always like trying to “finger” the murderer before the reveal, but I love the family and friends element in this series every bit as much. This time around there is a wedding to prepare for, the arrival of a new baby, Easter celebrations, and the flush of new romance for new friends. Twine all of that up with a great mystery, adorable pets, two fabulous lead characters, plus lots of home cooking, and you’ve got the winning combination that makes this series a sheer delight!

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery > Amateur Sleuth Mysteries


Book cover for the trophy wife shows blue background with wisps of long blonde hair fanning from left spineThe Trophy Wife
by Sunday Tomassetti

Wow! This book amazed me with its many twists and turns. Cate Cabot works at an exclusive boutique in Palm Shores, Florida. She doesn’t do friends, preferring to keep people at a distance—even the boyfriend who loves her. Then Odessa DuVernay walks into the boutique. From the start, Odessa is different than most of the trophy-wife clientele Cate is accustomed to dealing with. She’s pleasant and friendly and takes a sincere interest in Cate—inviting her to lunch, engaging her in girl talk, going to a movie matinee.

It’s an adjustment for Cate. Then just when she finds herself opening up, Odessa mysteriously disappears. Not long afterward, Cate gets a panicked voicemail from Odessa asking to meet. When Cate arrives at the designated place, Odessa ghosts her. Concerned, Cate begins a search of her new friend, only to hit obstacle after obstacle. It’s like Odessa DuVernay never existed.

This is where things get VERY weird. Not just one unexpected turn, but several surprises that are cleverly unraveled a bit at a time by the author. When the final revelation arrives, it’s a jaw-dropper, and SOOOOO GOOOD! A thread I never expected, but one I love when it is handled deftly and Tomassetti definitely did that. If you enjoy psychological fiction, this is an inventive and highly riveting take on the genre. Superb!

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Women’s Psychological Fiction > Women’s Crime Fiction

NOTE: The ebook seems to have disappeared from Amazon so the link above is for the audio book. I couldn’t even find the ebook on B&N. Very strange.


Book cover for Subject A36 by Teri Polen shows title text over watermark of old building, plus small figure a man in silhouetteSubject A36
by Teri Polen

Set in a dystopian future, Asher and his team live in a world where children with desirable traits (specific hair or eye color, physical strength, agility, etc), are captured and harvested for “gene stripping” so the wealthy can purchase coveted qualities like selecting from an a la carte menu. After seeing the destruction of his family, seventeen-year-old Asher has found a new family with his team, including, Brynn, who he has come to love and Noah, who is like a brother. But doing what they do comes with excessive risk and plenty of danger.

From the start, there is barely time to catch your breath. The reader is given detailed insight into Asher’s character as well as multiple members of his team. Each are unique and fully fleshed out individuals, the good and the bad.

The Colony—which orchestrates gene stripping—is set on finding and capturing Subject A36, a genetically altered individual designed as the perfect killing machine.

This novel is packed with non-stop action, and shocking revelation piled upon revelation. The writing is smooth and snappy, scenes plunging like a roller coaster from one into the next. I devoured this book in two sittings and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, great YA characters, and pulse-pounding action.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Teen and Young Adult Dystopian 


More reviews to come next week. I don’t want to post too many at once, but hopefully I’ve piqued your interest with a few of these titles. Happy reading!

Book Review Tuesday: For the Love of Money @KimCoxAuthor

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHi, friends. Thanks for joining me for Book Review Tuesday. I’ve cut back on my blogging temporarily, trying to stay on top of things in the current environment of insanity related to Covid-19. If you don’t see me online as regularly as I normally am, rest assured I fully intend to get back to my regular schedule including posts of Wednesday Weirdness. For the immediate future, I intend to keep sharing Book Review Tuesday posts and other sporadic posts here and there. I’m hoping all of you stay healthy and well. We will get through this mess, together!

And now, enough of that! 🙂

I have a great book to share with you. If you like romantic suspense twined up with mystery, you’re sure to love this five-star read:


Book cover for Love of Money by Kim Cox shows young couple facing away with arms around each other, German shepherd in foregroundFor the Love of Money is a book that will appeal to both fans of mystery and romantic suspense. When his best friend, Daniel, dies in a car crash, Alan Pearce heads to the small town of Bears Hollow in North Carolina. Reports say Daniel’s car plummeted off the side of the mountain, but Alan refuses to believe his friend could make such a tragic mistake on roads he knew so well.

Once in Bears Hollow, Alan crosses paths with Police Chief Jessie Kendall, who suspects foul play. At the top of the list is Daniel’s superficial wife Leta, who had been begging her husband to relocate to California so she could pursue an acting career. But it isn’t long before other suspects crawl out of the woodwork. Jessie even briefly considers Alan a suspect, until the two start to work together to get to the bottom of the tragedy.

Cox creates enjoyable characters. Both Jessie and Alan are strong, but (for me) Alan really took center stage. His interactions with both Leta and Jessie are deftly handled. Leta comes across spoiled and shallow but with a few glimmers of humanity underneath. When the killer and motive are unmasked, both come as a surprise.

I liked the gradual growth in the relationship between Alan and Jessie as attraction builds between them. And Jessie’s German shepherd is a scene stealer! The writing is polished and the story flows at a steady pace as suspects and clues are addressed. If you like books that include both a murder mystery and a sweet romance, you’re sure to enjoy For the Love of Money. 5 Stars!

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Romantic Suspense > Mystery Romance


Although I am working full days remotely from home, I know many people are stuck indoors. It’s the perfect time to catch up on your TBR and add new books like For the Love of Money. I wish you happy reading!

Book Review Tuesday: Crooked River by Preston and Child

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Happy Tuesday! If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a huge Preston and Child fan. I become giddy whenever they release a book and have waited a year for the newest Pendergast novel, Crooked River. My PenderPal, Marcia Meara, even convinced me to order an autographed copy of the hardcover, and I am so glad I did! Thank you, Marcia!

Of course, I also ordered the Kindle version to read. The other is for admiring. 🙂

And although I’m already in mourning that I’m going to have to wait another year for the next in the series, at least I can share my review of this fabulous book.


Preston and Child deliver another outstanding Pendergast tale, this time involving detached feet that wash up on a beach in Sanibel Island. Based on actual occurrences of this strange phenomenon happening in the Pacific Northwest, P&C have spun their own twisted explanation and moved the location to southern Florida. Pendergast, a special agent with the FBI, is unlike any other fictional detective I’ve encountered, which is why, nineteen books in, this series continues to deliver. He’s unbelievably brilliant, obscenely wealthy, and cool as ice, even in the worst of circumstances. The fact that he consistently ignores established procedure and can verbally vivisect someone without batting an eye only adds to his appeal. Watching him piece together and solve a crime is entertainment of the nth degree. Preston and Child have also given him an excellent cast of supporting characters, who filter in and out of the series through various books. Pendergast’s “ward,” Constance Greene gets to shine in Crooked River. Most of the time, Constance is prim and proper, but when needed, she becomes a skilled and lethal assailant as she proves in this book. I also love Agent Coldmoon, a Native American FBI agent Pendergast worked with in the last book. The contrasts between these two and how they interact is always fun. The book keeps you flipping pages with several divergent plot threads that converge for an explosive ending. Over the top, yes, but for sheer entertainment value, you can’t beat Preston and Child, and especially not Pendergast. Loved it!Crooked River
by Preston and Child

Preston and Child deliver another outstanding Pendergast tale, this time involving detached feet that wash up on a beach in Sanibel Island. Based on actual occurrences of this strange phenomenon happening in the Pacific Northwest, P&C have spun their own twisted explanation and moved the location to southern Florida.

Pendergast, a special agent with the FBI, is unlike any other fictional detective I’ve encountered, which is why, nineteen books in, this series continues to deliver. He’s unbelievably brilliant, obscenely wealthy, and cool as ice, even in the worst of circumstances. The fact that he consistently ignores established procedure and can verbally vivisect someone without batting an eye only adds to his appeal. Watching him piece together and solve a crime is entertainment of the nth degree. Preston and Child have also given him an excellent cast of supporting characters, who filter in and out of the series through various books. Pendergast’s “ward,” Constance Greene gets to shine in Crooked River. Most of the time, Constance is prim and proper, but when needed, she becomes a skilled and lethal assailant as she proves in this book.

I also love Agent Coldmoon, a Native American FBI agent Pendergast worked with in the last book. The contrasts between these two and how they interact is always fun. The book keeps you flipping pages with several divergent plot threads that converge for an explosive ending. Over the top, yes, but for sheer entertainment value, you can’t beat Preston and Child, and especially not Pendergast. 5 big, glittery stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Thriller > Suspense > Crime Fiction
(Once again Amazon has some bizarre tags listed that don’t apply, so I listed my own above)


 

Book Review Tuesday: Dark Hollows @stevefrech

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It’s Book Review Tuesday time! Thanks for joining me today with my latest reviews. I spent a good deal of time formatting In Search of McDoogal, (my upcoming short story) last week, so my reading was minimal.

I had hoped to release McDoogal in February but with my publisher doing a big splash for my Hode’s Hill Series (Cusp of Night FREE from 2/20 through 2/25 and End of Day and  Eventide at .99c all month), I felt it was better to devote time to promotion for the series.

That means McDoogal will be releasing in March.There may even be a cover reveal in store before the month is out 😉

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy today’s review!


Book cover for Dark Hollows by Steve Frech shows a cottage backed by trees on edge of lake at night, all windows in cottage lit with yellow glowDark Hollows
by Steve Frech

I’m not sure if I liked Jacob, the MC in this book. He made horrible decisions when he was younger, causing his past to catch up with him in an unexpected way. What I do know is that I disliked the person who turned on him a helluva lot more—and that made for interesting reading.

Jacob owns a quaint coffee shop called Groundworks in the small town of Dark Hollows. His workers, and the people who populate the town, are wonderful characters although their roles are relatively small (the Halloween costume contest is a fun extra).

In addition to Groundworks, Jacob also rents a cottage behind his home for weekend getaways. When a woman who bears an eerie resemblance to his dead girlfriend, Laura, books a stay, Jacob’s world is thrown into turmoil. It’s hard to say more without giving away spoilers.

What makes Jacob semi-likable and redeemable is his devotion to his dog, Murphy, a lovable golden retriever who likes to play fetch with a red tennis ball. Murphy is a scene stealer, and I adored Jacob’s loyalty to him. Despite the skeletons in his closet, you can’t help cheering for Jacob as he recklessly tracks down the person who upends his world. The extremes he goes to, and the ending confrontation, all make for entertaining reading. Although the ending is rather abrupt, I found it satisfying. 5 Stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Horror/Suspense > Noir Crime
Note: Although this is tagged on Amazon as horror/suspense, I viewed it as  mystery/suspense without horror elements. I’m not sure why that tag is on there!


 

Book Review Tuesday: The Sister Pact @JacqBiggar, The Good Neighbors @kmodglinauthor

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Welcome to another Tuesday Book Reviews! I have two books to share today, both of which kept me glued to the pages.


Book cover for The Sister Pact by Jacquie Biggar shows pretty blonde woman with sunglasses and headscarf sitting in profile in a convertible, hand on steering wheelThe Sister Pact: Home is Where the Heart is
by Jacquie Biggar

Holly Tremaine returns home when illness forces her to step back from her career as a concert violinist. The holidays are approaching, and home seems the place be—only there are several untidy messes in Holly’s past. Her sister, Susan, married Steven, the man Holly was once in love with, and Holly had a drunken one-night stand with Steven’s brother, Levi.

Sound a bit complicated? It is, in a wonderfully flawed and heart wrenching way. This is a blend of chick lit and romance with neither overshadowing the other. The story is not only about the buried feelings Holly and Levi have carried for each other, but also the emotional scars and bonds between sisters. When Susan’s marriage falters, it’s Holly who rushes in to try to hold it together, and when Holly’s illness gets the better of her, Susan’s eyes are opened to the distance they’ve allowed to grow between them.

This is a beautiful story about family, siblings, sisters, emotional healing, and true loves. Jacquie Biggar writes with perfection and infuses every story with warmth to touch a reader’s heart. The Sister Pact is another perfect gem. 5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre:  Contemporary Romance > Family Life Fiction 


Book over for The Good Neighbors shows a rural home at night with oppressing cloudy skyThe Good Neighbors
by Kiersten Modglin

Harper and Bryant are a young couple who move from Chicago to a quaint southern town where Bryant has accepted a job as a teacher. Their next-door neighbors are slightly older, extremely wealthy, and model perfect.

The Good
I read this book in one day. I was home with a cold and got sucked in from page one. From the get-go, the reader can’t but help being pulled along in the twisted tale of neighbors Harper and Bryant and Tori and Jason. Like a soap opera, there are a plenty of juicy secrets and over the top encounters.

The Bad
Like a train wreck, it’s hard to look away even when the characters make horrendous decisions, and there were plenty of them in this story. Even so, the writing and story keeps you flipping pages wanting to know what’s going to happen next, despite mounting frustration over the actions of all involved. Harper and Bryant are average, everyday people, where Tori and Jason seem as though they stepped off the screen from a 1980’s prime time soap.

The Ugly
I had a hard time swallowing the ending. Far too many puzzle pieces don’t align­—or at the very least—make sense. I think the author wanted to deliver a bombshell, but rather than feeling shocked, I was left with a sense of incredulity. It’s hard to say more without giving away spoilers, but too many things didn’t add up or were too extreme to swallow.

The Takeaway
I waffled on what rating to give this book given the problems with the plot. But in the end, it kept me glued to the pages and rapidly reading to reach the finish. The entertainment value warrants 5 stars, the plot 3. Therefore, I give The Good Neighbors 4 stars, and note that I would read this author again with that hopes that plot and entertainment meet in a solid middle.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Thrillers > Psychological Fiction


Until next Tuesday, I hope you enjoyed the reviews, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Book Review Tuesday: Tear Me Apart by J. T. Ellison, Vanished by @mbiermanauthor

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Happy Book Review Tuesday!  Thanks for dropping by to check out what I’ve been reading. As always, I love sharing books, and I have two to chat about today. Check ’em out below…

Book cover for Tear Me Apart by J. T. Ellison shows lighted window in dark house at nightTear Me Apart
by J. T. Ellison
I had expectations going into this book. After reading the blurb, I thought I had a good notion regarding how the bulk of the plot would play out. Um…yeah, that only went so far.
Mindy Wright is a teenage champion downhill skier with a shot at the U.S. Olympic team. She’s got the perfect home life, perfect mom and dad, the world is her oyster. Then a bad crash lands her in the hospital with a broken leg, and in the process, doctors discover she has leukemia and is in need of a stem cell transplant. When her parents are tested for a match, it’s discovered, she’s not their daughter.
You can see where this is headed, right?—wrong. I went into this book with a lot of expectations. But I didn’t plan on Mindy’s aunt working for a government agency, or two characters in the past sharing time and space in a mental hospital. And what about several far too coincidental murders, all of these things spiraling back to Mindy, her perfect parents and her perfect life?
I loved the author’s use of letters to address the past. The story is doled out in bits and pieces, past and present, slowly joining together for an explosive conclusion. The characters are wholly human and horribly flawed, several with agendas that develop as the book progresses. Favorites for me were Juliet, Vivian and Zac, along with Zac’s faithful dog, Kat.
Given the plot, this was a hard book to deliver a satisfying ending, but Elison exceeded expectations. A grand slam home run! If you like stories with complex characters and dark buried secrets with several twists along the way, don’t miss this engrossing book that takes a stark look at human nature. 5 Stars
Genre: Medical Thrillers > Kidnapping Crime Fiction

Book cover for Vanished by Mark Bierman shows a white hand print on a red backgroundVanished
by Mark Bierman

Although this is a work of fiction, it’s tragic to know the book is grounded in reality.  Tyler and John take a mission trip to Haiti. Tyler is grieving the loss of his wife to cancer—who was John’s daughter. Son-in-law and father-in-law have a strong relationship, readily apparent from the start. No sooner do we meet them, however, than a child goes missing, abducted by slave traders. Many of the locals are ready to write the little girl off as lost, as child abductions are commonplace. Tyler takes a different stance, and John is soon in all the way.

What follows is a riveting search to save a life, and a grim look at the ugliness of human trafficking. There were parts of the book that made me squirm, others that brought inspiration and hope. Bierman makes atrocities clear without being graphic, yet the scenes are raw and powerful, the delivery intense. All of the characters are well developed, including secondary roles. The reader becomes enmeshed in the lives of many, the threads that tie various plot points together, expertly handled. Well written and polished, the story moves at a breathless clip and delivers a satisfying ending. Undertaking such a difficult subject is not an easy feat, but Bierman delivered social commentary and an engrossing story in a seamless package.

Amazon Link
Genre: Literature and Fiction


Until next week, I wish you happy reading, and would love to hear your thoughts about the novels above. Let’s chat! 🙂