Tag Archives: book review

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Books Up for Awards

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We have a local-ish writing conference that hosts the Whitney Awards.

Since I write YA speculative and adult sweet romance I’ve been reading the finalists in both of those categories.

I just finished this one. I’m not normally into creepy ghosts stories involving dolls, but I LOVED it!

Seriously, one of the best “What the heck?” bombs dropped near the 30% mark, and a great ending.

Was it creepy? A few times, yes. But looking through the character’s eyes and knowing why she’s more curious than afraid (I’ll let you read it to figure out why) kept me glued to the pages.

The writing is vivid and haunting.

If you’re into awesome YA books, ghost stories, and amazing writing check it out!

A haunted doll museum.
An unsolved murder.
A girl with nothing left to lose.

Six months ago Aunt Victoria bought herself doll museum—a sprawling 25-room Victorian mansion filled with toys and playthings from every period of history. Now I’m going to live out the rest of my probably short life in a place listed as unlucky number thirteen in the official guide to the most haunted places in America.

I keep telling myself it’s all just a bunch of old stories. That I don’t believe in ghosts. That the noises I hear coming from the walls are just mice or rats. But I’m not so sure anymore. The dolls are everywhere. I can feel their glass eyes watching me from every corner.

They say a murder was once committed in this house.

I think the person who did it— their ghost—is still here.​

When tragedy strikes sixteen-year-old Wren’s family, she can’t see the point in starting over again, especially when her future seems so uncertain and her heart so heavy.

After she is sent to stay with her favorite aunt, who lives in a doll museum, Wren quickly discovers two creepily lifelike dolls hidden inside the walls of the old house. Dolls that were created to look like two very real people—a dangerously handsome young man and his mysteriously beautiful fiancée—a young woman he supposedly murdered a few weeks before their wedding day.

As Wren attempts to solve what really happened all those years ago—she begins to realize that not only are the dolls haunted—but one of them is dead set on making sure the truth will never be revealed. No matter the cost…

Fall in love with a haunting story of a murder set in the past, a thirst for revenge that just won’t die, and a sweet first love that transcends time.

Click HERE to go to Amazon

If you want to see the other Whitney Award Finalists, click HERE!

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Book Reviews: Attractive Nuisance and Under a Graveyard Sky

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Book Reviews Week Nine!

Also the final week of this round of reviews.

Romance book of the week: Attractive Nuisance: A Courtroom Mystery Romance by Jennifer Griffiths. I’ve known Jennifer for a long time, but haven’t read any of her newer romances, so I thought I would!

Science Fiction book of the week: Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo. This one is post apocalyptic, which I haven’t been focusing on, but a friend recommended it, so I thought I would try it.

Attractive Nuisance: A Courtroom Mystery Romance

The book I read in week 1 was a cozy mystery. I like those. I didn’t love the courtroom + romance aspect of this book. It felt like too much for this particular story.

I see now that I should have picked another book in this series, because this one has the worst reviews, and the book kind of deserves it.

Before I say what I didn’t like about it, I do have to admit that this book is a clean romance with some good dialogue and it did make me chuckle a few times.

Now the other end of the stick. Camilla, our main girl, is a seasoned attorney…and gets completely tongue tied and messes up a closing statement because a good-looking man walks into the courtroom. Ugh. The guy is annoying in a stalker sort of way, (maybe he was supposed to be charming?) and waits until the last few chapters of the book to show Camilla who he is. She annoyed me. He needed to be smacked. I did not enjoy anything about their relationship…mostly because there wasn’t one.

If that wasn’t enough, Camilla’s entire “hang up” is that she’s too old to start a family, which he wants. The entire book I thought she was in her late 30s. I mean, how many seasoned attorneys are…get this…27?

27? If this book hadn’t been on my Kindle I probably would have thrown it across the room. The guy does the math for her, and suddenly she sees the light? “I won’t die before the kids are 20!” Nope and nope.

There were also some serious plot holes.

Two and a Half Stars.

Rival attorneys Zane and Camilla fight for the same job—and attraction to each other in this enemies to lovers romance.

Prosecutor Camilla Sweeten desperately needs the promotion to Chief Deputy to pay bills. She’s meticulously prepared for every case, and she’s been picking up all the pieces where the last chief deputy blanked out. She deserves this, and she’s working like crazy to prove it.

Except, she’s plagued by a dream she had where she was kissing a hot attorney in the basement of the courthouse. And in the middle of closing arguments in an important trial—she sees someone in the courtroom whose face matches the guy’s from her dream.

Camilla’s brain gets on Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and flies far, far away.

If that’s not enough to lose her the job, her boss has just hired a hot, hotshot attorney from another county—the son of his college frat buddy. Marvelous. Camilla’s chances at the promotion are shot.

Attorney Zane Holyoak is a swaggering prosecutor who’s earned the nickname The Jury Whisperer. Against logic, he has followed his gut back to Yucca County, after swearing never to return. If he can get the promotion to Chief Deputy, Zane can finally prove to his dad he’s not a disappointment.

However, one majorly attractive obstacle stands in Zane’s way: the uber-capable Camilla.

When they’re assigned to tag-team prosecute an impossible case, these opposites-attract rivals must follow their heads and their hearts to uncover the truth.

Can they put aside their differences and also find love?

Under a Graveyard Sky

If a friend of mine hadn’t recommended this book, I never would have listened to it. The cover is somewhat awful, in my opinion, and doesn’t tell much about the story. The blurb doesn’t catch my attention either, but when someone says they’ve listened to a book multiple times, that gets my attention.

I listen to books while I walk in the mornings, and this book had me stretching for thirty minutes instead of ten after said walk.

The style is a bit strange. It’s almost like a movie—jumping from one thing and person to another, but I was rarely confused, and honestly the pacing kept me interested.

I admit, as a reader you have to suspend some disbelief when the 13 year old is too stupid for words. More than once. However, I went into this for an entertaining zombie apocalypse story, and I got it.

The story shifts tones when the Smith family decides instead of finding an island to live on, they want to rescue the survivors on the ocean around them. I loved this decision, and will likely read the next book. Which doesn’t happen very often.

Four Stars

(I’d give it five, but the two daughters are a bit unbelievable…but I still liked them!)

Zombies are real. And we made them. Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? The Smith family is, with the help of a few marines.

When an airborne “zombie” plague is released, bringing civilization to a grinding halt, the Smith family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia and Faith, take to the Atlantic to avoid the chaos. The plan is to find a safe haven from the anarchy of infected humanity. What they discover, instead, is a sea composed of the tears of survivors and a passion for bringing hope.

For it is up to the Smiths and a small band of Marines to somehow create the refuge that survivors seek in a world of darkness and terror. Now with every continent a holocaust and every ship an abattoir, life is lived under a graveyard sky.

That concludes Book Reviews Week 9!
I can’t believe I read or listened to 18 books in the last two months!

Book Reviews will now go to every-other week, unless I get really excited about something.

Thanks for playing!

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Book Reviews: A Marriage of Anything But Convenience and War INC

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Book Reviews Week Eight!

Romance book of the week: A Marriage of Anything But Convenience by Victorine E. Lieske. I’m trying to put more of a romantic comedy spin on some of my own romance books, and since this one was actually clean, I thought I would check it out.

Science Fiction book of the week: War INC by Toby Neighbors. Once again I was looking for a fun story with mechs in it, which is what this one promised.

A Marriage of Anything But Convenience

I didn’t love the premise of this book. It felt thinner than most romance books, and the girl is so annoying for the first half of the book that I almost stopped reading. However, the end was well thought out and redeemed it a bit.

Our hero Derek, is just about as nice and love-struck as they come. If not for him, Nara’s insistence for being annoying and whiny would have made me hate her through the first half of the book.

I also expected more humor. I did find it in the romantic comedy section, after all. I only chuckled out loud a few times, but others might like it more.

This is a mid-line book for me. Not stellar, but not terrible. A fun read, if you’re looking for an easy escape.

Three and a half stars.

It was a simple marriage of convenience. Just two years. What could possibly go wrong?

All Nara wanted was to become a fashion designer. That, and an IV full of Diet Coke to feed her favorite addiction. She never thought her father would force her into a marriage of convenience. And who did he choose for her wedded bliss? None other than Derek Marshall, Mr. Stuffy himself.

Derek’s been in love with Nara since they were kids, but he’s always become so tongue-tied around her. He wasn’t like the guys she dated, smooth and confident. No, he was too awkward and nervous. So, when Nara’s father decided it was best if they marry, he readily agreed.

Maybe being forced together for two years would make her see him differently.


I’ve never read anything by this author before, but he has a lot of fans who love his books.

I wanted to like this book, but the character voices were flat and bland. The entire first section reads more like a bullet point of things that happened to someone else rather than the character on the page, and the rest of the writing is only marginally better.

The whole book felt rushed—skipping over most of the character building moments to go into exposition on some facet of the story that while interesting, didn’t carry it for me.

This book felt more like a prequel and set up than it did an actual novel. The background plot of the company is somewhat interesting, and the battle mechs are almost interesting. I guessed the big surprise at the end, which isn’t a problem if it’s well told, which it wasn’t.

Considering the flat characters and shallow writing, I didn’t love it. It’s readable, but not if you’re looking for actual story. The author claims that this series is suitable for all ages, and he’s right about that. It lacks the swearing, gory violence, and sex of a lot of other sci-fi series. So there’s that.

Three stars.

When Alex sees a Defender Class battle mech shot down just meters from where he’s hiding, he knows he has to do something.

   Getting into a mechanized battle suit isn’t easy, and controlling the powerful war machine shouldn’t be possible without Ahzco’s secret Implanted Neural Control (INC) chip, but Alex is about to do something no one on a hundred worlds has ever done.  And his life is never going to be the same.

   In the future, mega corporations control entire star systems and are even more powerful than the government.  Competition isn’t just big business — it’s war!

   Join Alex Evans as he gets fast-tracked into Ahzco’s Corporate Defense Force and the world of mechanized warfare.  There are secrets that people will kill to keep, and dangers that can’t be avoided.  The company opens the entire galaxy to a young man from a colony planet, but Alex must determine if he can trust that Ahzco has his best interests in mind.  Or if he’s just another pawn in their corporate games.

That concludes Book Reviews Week 8

Tune in next Wednesday for my last week of reviews!

After that I’ll go to every other week. Probably.

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Book Reviews: The Ghost Groom and Station Eleven

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Book Reviews Week 7!

Romance book of the week: The Ghost Groom by Jennifer Youngblood. My Karly Stratford readers generally like Jennifer’s books, so I thought I would try one out! I actually picked up one of her box sets a few weeks ago for like 99 cents, and the hubby said I should read this one because he liked the title best.

Science Fiction book of the week: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This one popped up on my audible feed, and because I love post-apocalyptic stories, I picked it up.

The Ghost Groom

To be totally honest, I flew through this book, and not just because it’s a short read. The characters grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Kudos to the author for that.

The plot, while fun, was fairly predictable (I’m talking about the unromantic bits). However, I did like both reasons for Rennen’s nickname being The Ghost. His plight due to his past was interesting and engaging. I called the end halfway through the book, but still enjoyed reading it.

Four Stars

A tough football player, a devoted sister, and the most difficult choice of all …

After a long, painful search that involved legions of duds, Ariana Sanchez, fitness guru and gym owner, finally meets the perfect guy when she least expects it. Not only can Rennen tear up the dance floor, but he has these adorable blonde curls and compelling green eyes, specked with gold. When Ariana’s around him she feels oh, so alive! And the best part is that he’s a perfect gentleman and easy to talk to. Their first encounter leaves Ariana floating on air, thinking there’s hope for her love life after all … until she learns that Rennen is the celebrated rookie who’s taking her brother’s position as starting running back for the Titans. Too bad she’s totally loyal to her brother and has to hate him now!

Rennen Bradley, the Ghost, has worked long and hard to get the opportunity to shine as the starting running back. Sure, he feels bad that Ace Sanchez was injured and that he’s taking his place on the team, but that’s how the game rolls.

Rennen never expects to fall for Ariana, and it throws him for a loop when he realizes she’s Ace’s sister. But Rennen’s not going to let a simple complication like that come between him and the woman of his dreams. He understands Ariana’s reservations—heck, even admires her loyalty to her brother. But Rennen’s used to waging uphill battles. Abandoned as a child, Rennen learned a long time ago that you have to fight tooth and nail for anything you want in this life. And he wants Ariana, heart, body, and soul!

Caught between loyalty and love, will Ariana choose her family or her heart?

Station Eleven

Normally I prefer my post-apocalyptic fiction to have a lot more fighting. All I knew about this book going in is that it’s about a troupe of actors and musicians going from town to town twenty years after the world ended.

This is a literary book. Beautiful prose. Written in a sort of circle covering the events of forty years that finally closes at the end of the story. The main character—the person who ties all the others together—dies in the first chapter.

I wasn’t sure I’d like it at first, but in the end I really loved it. I did listen on audible, and the narrator was fantastic, which always helps.

Considering there isn’t much action, and for a post-apocalyptic book it’s basically perky, I really enjoyed this on.

Five Stars

Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

That concludes book Reviews Week 7!

Tune in next week for more reviews!

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