08 June 2024

Review: Novel "Death By Betrayal" by Abigail Keam


 Compelling and bold, this 'Dark and Bloody Ground' won't let go until you're done!

I scored myself an advance copy of Abigail Keam's latest, Death By Betrayal, the next in A Josiah Reynolds Mystery series. I settled down in my recliner with a hot cup of cocoa and took to reading. And trust me when I tell you, it was mesmerizing. Instantly unable to stop reading until I'd gotten to the very last word in the novel, I was hooked.

You remember that line from A Few Good Men -- and a common saying -- "And the hits just keep on coming"? Welcome to Death By Betrayal.

It's Josiah -- of course it starts with a dead body. Finding it in the back of an old barn/shed where she's never set foot in the entire time she's lived there and owned the place. But that's just the beginning. Old haunts, old hurts rapidly rise around her. Nothing seems to go right, and Josiah stands to lose everything she holds dear.

Betrayal is darker than the others with is complex plot and characters with a vendetta. You feel Josiah's helplessness as she is surrounded by it. She comes off darker, herself -- and with good reason. A cascading series of one bad thing after enough begins to color her already pessimistic view of the world. A fiercely proud woman who will do it on her own two feet or not at all. And I had to know how she was going to do it. 

Ms. Keam has crafted a multi-layered plot that won't lose you in the telling. There are so many twists and turns that it might be easy to get lost in them, but the details are never so complex that the telling is complicated. The pacing gives you the time to understand, the story keeps along adding another layer but never losing the previous ones. 

The characters help with that. Matt, Franklin, Eunice, and Lady Elsmere act as our surrogates to help us understand by asking the right questions, eliciting the right answers. They keep us grounded in Josiah's reality and act as her sounding boards to keep her grounded as well. 

Death by Betrayal is currently in preorder status -- at the time of this writing -- but will be out for release on June 24th, 2004. You don't have to read the others to be able to enjoy this book, but I definitely recommend the series as a first rate murder cozy series that even Agatha Christie would recommend. And wish she'd written. A must have, a can't put down type of read.

Five out of five stars!!!


Death by Betrayal can be found at all online booksellers and your local bookseller as well. You can preorder at the following:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo/Rakuten



05 June 2024

Review: Novel -- 'Things We Left Behind' by Lucy Score

 Lucian and Sloane make for a dark and bumpy ride, but so worth it!!

I made it my goal to finish this trilogy that began with Things We Never Got Over and followed up with Things We Hide From the Light. I fell in love with the band of brothers, Knox, Nash, and Lucian. Following their rocky roads to romance was a wild ride. Especially the first two. The third, Things We Left Behind was even rockier. And darker than the previous two. But then, so is Lucian. 

Lucian and Sloane had been close friends once upon a time until something happened to destroy that. They won't talk about it and no one else knows, but as the saying goes, hate is just the flipside of the love coin. Things We Left Behind finally tells us the story of what happened and if these two can finally find a way to the romance they've always dreamed of and the love they've always felt. 

Lucy Score writes a tight story of frenemies who always seem to set each other off, rub each other the wrong way. The action gets really intense as it flows through the narrative -- and I'm not talk sexually. The kind of action that keeps you riveted to the page, making this book completely unputdownable!!

The romance is hot and steamy when it finally happens and you just know these two are a match made in...well, somewhere. 

It's been a joy to read this trilogy, something I found by accident. And I want to read more by this author. She's truly amazing. 

Five out of five stars for Things We Left Behind.

You can purchase Things We Left Behind (and the whole trilogy) from:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble


27 May 2024

Review: Novel -- 'Let's Pretend This Will Work' by Maddie Dawson

 


This book actually convinced me that there truly is magic in this world. And a skirt beats out a wand any day of the week and twice on Sundays. 

Mimi Perkins has met the man of her dreams and has a wonderful job. Said man--Ren--even proposes to her.  And then it all falls to crap, pretty much immediately afterward. Ren's ex-wife has been in a car accident because she had a severe stroke while driving. A week later, Mimi gets fired from her teaching job. She ends up following Ren to New Haven in a show of support but he doesn't have time for his fiancée because he's taking care of the ex. He's paying her rent in the shabby rundown apartment she's managed to sublet and shows up for amazing sex. When he can. So now, Mimi has no life, no friends, no job, and a fiancé who shows up every once in a blue moon. WTF???

Until she gets a job working downstairs at the daycare. She makes friends with the parents who do their weekly co-op thing at the daycare. And meets Jamie, a lonely widower trying to improve his lot in life with overbearing former in-laws and a four-year-old daughter named Alice who is also grieving the loss of her Mommy. Life just got a whole lot more of a journey that Mimi isn't sure she wanted but the spirit guides her psychic La Starla says she needs. A world of wounded people who need Mimi more.

I started this book thinking, geez, the pacing is taking forever. And then started talking back to the prose and Mimi about getting her head out of her butt and growing up and stop being a doormat. And then another character told her the same thing. And what is it about psychics that can never just come out and say something? Why does it always have to be couched in general terms and talking around things when they could just say it!!!  Which is when I realized the pacing is just fine. It was me wanting instant gratification. 

The story develops in a wonderful way, letting the reader feel every moment of Mimi's pain and alienation. Finding her way in a new world with her own friends and the kind of life she realizes she always wanted. Healing her own hurts along the way.

Maddie Dawson has written a very understated story about finding life and love. The characters are multi-dimensional with all the realities of real people showing. You take them as you find them and love them despite their faults. We are who we are and you don't try to fix us. The story weaves these people into a larger family and that's what makes it so glorious when you get to the Happily Ever After, even when it's not the one everyone expected. I got so lost in this book that I woke up this morning and had to finish it. Because I wasn't going to survive if I didn't. That is the mark of a great story to me. I might have gotten a bit irritated with Mimi and Ren and Jamie and Jerome and Mandy and Judith, but I never got bored with them. I never got tired of their story. And I never stopped liking them.

Absolutely brilliant story and another author that I see great things coming from in the future. A must read and another five out of five star read.


Let's Pretend This Will Work will be released on Friday, June 1st 2024 through all bookstores and online sellers, especially:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Target




25 May 2024

Review: Novel - Things We Hide from the Light by author Lucy Score

 


Book two in the series, Things We Hide From the Light is an amazing follow up to Things We Never Got Over.  

Nash Morgan is trying to recover from his shooting at someone's hands. Oh, his body might be healing but his memory and his heart haven't. He is lost in the darkness of his depression and find his way out is next to impossible. That is, until Knox's ex-girlfriend, Angelina Solavita, shows up. She might be hiding a wealth of secrets but she's a love 'em and leave 'em kinda gal with a hard candy shell covering her soft chocolate soul. Nash needs a reason to feel something, and Lina is the perfect reason. But he has someone trying to kill him, a rogue cop trying to take over and too many people thinking he needs someone to watch over him. Lina included. 

Hell of a story. More twists and turns than a country road in the mountains. Vivid characters that make me wish I lived in Knockemout for real. A plot that just sucks you in and keeps you reading long past the point you need to put it down. Not *want* to put it down, thank you. And I didn't want to put this down until I'd read the last word. And just like the first book, I was cheering loud for these two to find their Happily Ever After and doing a little ugly crying along the way. 

I can't wait to read Lucian's story. And I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.


Find all three novels in the Knockemout Series on

Amazon
Barnes & Noble



18 May 2024

Review: YA novel, XOXO by Axie Oh


 It's been a while since I've picked up a YA novel. I think, the last series of YA books I read was the Twilight series. This one caught my eye because of the synopsis---"an Asian American high school student meets an up and coming K-Pop star".  That's all I needed to pique my interest. I love K-Pop (and before you ask, yes, I'm proudly ARMY and a STAY). 

I also want to add that it's been a very long time since a novel has made me cry. That's an honor that's usually reserved for the visual media. But here I am, having just finished XOXO by Axie Oh and still wiping at my eyes and blowing my nose. 

XOXO is the story of Jenny Oh, that Korean American high school student who meets an enigmatic young Korean boy in her Uncle's Karaoke bar. It's an experience that leaves a lasting impression on her. She doesn't know it then but she'll know soon enough that Bae Jaewoo is in the US with his group to film a music video for their first hit. And yes, he is an up and coming K-Pop star. But since they're never destined to meet again, she thinks, who cares. 

Until her Mom tells her that her grandmother is very ill and needs an operation. And because it's her family, they need to go to be with her. Happily Jenny wants to go too and manages to transfer for period to a local high school. And wouldn't you know it. The first day of class, guess who happens to show up in that class. Two members of the group, XOXO, and one of them is that very same young man, Bae Jaewoo. 

Now what?

Well that what is a beautiful romance between these two characters and the cast of friends that join them. All wrapped within that plot of music. Jenny is a typical teenage girl, but she has a future ahead of her in her classical cello. Jaewoo is a typical teenage boy but with the added responsibilities of the group and family and success in the pop world. Both of them handle things with all the angst of a teenager but with a bit more of the adult sentiments than we associate with the teens.

The plot is wonderful, with an emphasis on wonder. The characters are diverse and packed with the drama one has with the foibles of high school. The drama of it all. The gossip. Even in a Korean high school there's plenty of drama and gossip. Seeing our main characters in their own elements, the family. I was so caught up in all of it that I forgot I was reading a YA novel. And when we got to the conclusion--all I'm gonna tell you is that it's a happy ending. You'll have to read it to find out what kind of a happy ending, because it's not exactly what you think.

Ms. Oh has written a wonderful book. I didn't really expect to like it. I'm a lot too old to be reading YA fiction, but it didn't matter. I was still caught up in it. Her details in the story make it. I could imagine being in the thick of it. Brought back a lot of memories of my own high school years. I hope there's more from Ms. Axie Oh. She's got a bright future ahead of her.

Another five out of five stars.

Find this book at

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo/Rakutan










17 May 2024

Review: STARZ series, Mary & George, starring Julianne Moore, Nicholas Galitzine, and Tony Curran


 So, watched the last episode of Mary & George on Starz. Considering that James Stuart (James the VI of Scotland, the I of England, the man who fucked up the Bible) was one of my least favorite English kings, my only reasons to watch this were Nicholas Galitzine and Julianne Moore.


What little I know of the history of the Villiers family leads me to believe this was pretty damn historically accurate. Were James and George lovers? Kinda depends on whom you ask. There was just enough gossip and innuendo to suggest they were but just as many say they had a close but not physical relationship as says they were doing the nasty. But George was definitely James' favorite for the last years of his life and James lavished him with titles and lands and favors. Did George actually murder James? Again, rumor. George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, might have been favored by James I and his son Charles I, but George was truly hated by the populace. The show portrays it as fact, but again, rumor only.

George outlived James by three years and was assassinated in 1628. Mary outlived him by 5 more years and her favor at court was pretty much erased when George died.

Brilliant casting. Julianne Moore serves as one of the producers and her Mary Villiers is one of a strong woman who could be devious when required but was simply a woman in a male dominated world who was trying to take care of her family and herself. Someone like that will also make enemies along the way.

Nicholas Galitzine is a star on the rise for all the work he's done. And he doesn't disappoint here either. He and Juliane have a great chemistry as mother and son. His character has a definite arc as George ages in the series. He goes from whiny spoiled/ignored brat to a confident man who has his own streak of deviousness.

The story is intricate, filled with the machinations of life with the royals. So much drama, so much angst. The plot is tight and a different kind of action than most of us are used to. Yeah, there's a lot of sex. And then, there's Tony Curran as James. Wow.

If you have STARZ, it's definitely binge worthy. Period piece/Costume drama for sure but the actors make it worth your while and I'm quite sure you'll find something that will mirror a modern society in how things play out. Seven episodes/Seven hours. A good day's binge.

Five out of five stars.

08 May 2024

Review: Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score


 I'm here to admit that Lucy Score is my new favorite author.  And this was a book I could not put down. When I begrudge any moment that my nose is not buried in that book, it's a definitely keeper. 

Poor Naomi has to deal with a bad twin sister, a 11 year old niece that's half wild, an ex-fiancé who suddenly decides to get possessive, a small town with an off the beaten path sensibility, and a boss who pushes her away but won't let her go. Recipe for disaster, right? 

Nope. Recipe for a fantastic read with ups and downs and plot twists, romance, great sex, and a spark or two of danger. The characters were amazingly real and fascinating to me. The relationships were deep and complicated. So was the romance. The pacing of this story is right on the mark -- holds your interest, keeps you reading along, never gets slow or boring. Author loses one point for a slightly cliched denouement but, I figure one point out of a hundred still counts as a five star success in my book. 

I love this book. Enough that I'm off to read 2 and 3 because I loved those two characters in this story too. I can't wait. 

Five out of five stars!!! Available through bookstores everyone, even online. 

05 May 2024

Review: The Idea of You - the Movie

 

So, I watched The Idea of You, the movie. Well. It's not great but it's not bad either. It's actually rather good.

Speaking as one who read the book first, I can understand what the director was going for. And after reading other reviews, especially about the changes made to make the movie a true Rom-Com, I really wanted to hate this movie. I'm a bit of a purist, you see. But I couldn't. And can't. I may not be madly in love with the movie, but I do know that it was enjoyable and faithful to the book in spirit, anyway.

The book is very powerful in the story it tells. And the movie retains a flavor of it but the truth is, aging up the daughter to 16, aging up Hayes, other changes in the story watered the story down. Supposedly to make Solene more likable. She was already pretty darn likable. A recently divorced woman finding her way in the world and refusing to be an old fuddy duddy at 40. A sexual reawakening and if life begins at 40, then a definitely coming of age story. I didn't miss the big fight over Hayes having an affair with Oliver's sister. Some of those changes weren't a bad thing. But some things should have been left alone and if the writer couldn't find away to make that happen and show that Solene was a good, honest, decent woman, that's on the writer.

But there is a lot good in this film. The chemistry between Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Diaries) and Nicholas Galitzine (Red White & Royal Blue, Mary & George) is electric. Seeing them onscreen together made this film come alive. The story they played was, in turn, vibrant, romantic, erotic, heart-breaking. It was so easy to get lost in the story, fall for the characters. I really wanted to hate this film and yet I couldn't. I've watched it a time or two now. And might even watch it a few more times.

Definitely a 4 out of 5 stars and a darn good watch. 

29 April 2024

Review: 'The Idea of You' by Robinne Lee -- the book

 

Yes, another book and movie combination. And yes, another one with actor Nicholas Galitzine starring. I found out there was a book and I glommed onto that sucker like no one's business. I figured if it was as good as Red White & Royal Blue, the movie had a lot going for it. And I suppose we'll see - it opens this weekend on Amazon Prime Video. But for now... The book.

We all find someone talented, in the public eye, who is fetching to look at and everything we could ever want in a love. We fantasize about our perceived romance, dream of life with someone that talented, that charismatic. That beautiful to behold. Wanting to hold on to that one moment of artistic expression filled with vulnerability and sensitivity. Life lived within the bubble of perfection. Spending forever wrapped within each others arms. And in most contemporary romances, everything always works out. And then came The Idea Of You.

This book is brilliantly written. The kind of story that sucks you in and makes you want to keep reading long past the point where you had to go to work. Or go to bed for the night. Or have dinner. Or mend your dress, darn your socks, or some other errand that required your attention. There's always some excuse to keep reading. Just one more chapter. One more page. Just one more! This book is that book. Well written and packed with plot and amazing characters. I fell in love with all of them, especially Hayes and Solene. I was caught up, I was enraptured. The two of them together were amazing.

Ms. Lee captures the exhilarating feel of romance while dealing with the uglier side of fame and fortune. And how things might not always work out as we want them to. The pain and the torture. The brilliant highs and the debilitating lows. All of this makes for a wonderful story, well told, and one I could re-read without a qualm. But if I were you, I'd have at least one box of kleenex to hand. Because the road to bliss is filled with the potholes of how our joy is someone else's hurt.

Now. Bring on the movie. 

Five out of five stars for The Idea of You

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition (June 13, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250125901
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250125903

    Purchase from 

    Amazon
    Barnes & Noble
    Kobo




20 February 2024

Review: 'Murder Under A Honey Moon' by Abigail Keam


Marriage and Murder and Pirates -- Oh My!!!

New Mona Moon is always a cause for celebration. And a great excuse to tuck up with cookies and hot tea and a great read. Murder under a Honey Moon is yet another exciting book by Abigail Keam. 

Mona and Robert have tied the knot and, after an emergency trip to the Moon copper mine to sort that out, they're finally on the boat for their honeymoon. FINALLY!!! But, after all, the course of true love never ran smooth, as Shakespeare once noted. On the ship, they meet a few unsavory characters, have their cabin ransacked and Mona's jewels stolen, and then come across a very dead body investigating the theft. And what cruise on the high seas is ever complete without the threat of pirates? Poor Mona. Just can't catch a break.

It's been a while since I've been this glued to a novel. I came very close to reading straight through the night. Definitely hard to put down once you've started. Keam's ability to interweave historical figures into her narrative makes it all so real. Mona is a strong female character in a time when women knew their place and men ruled the world. But with her beloved Lord Farley at her side, the two make a dynamic power couple and the rules don't interfere. Once they get started investigating, they are unstoppable until the truth comes out. And believe me, it does. 

This is an excellent read. And as long as Ms. Keam keeps writing them, I'll keep reading them. So worth the time!  

Five out of Five stars for Murder Under A Honey Moon! Now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and any online bookseller.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble