Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DEAD BETWEEN THE LINES by Denise Swanson



Publisher:     New American Library
Published:     March 4, 2014
ISBN:        978-0451418883
Genre:      Cozy Mystery, Chik Lit, Contemporary Romance
Format:     Print  
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com

THREE HEARTS
 

Deveraux Sinclair has a decision to make.  She’s made tough ones before—when she gave up her lucrative position at Stramp Investments to come home and take care of her grandmother among them.  Now she’s faced with choosing between two men—her lifelong friend Noah Underwood and new to town U.S. Marshal Jake Del Vecchio.  She’s doing her best to keep a balance between the two while she ponders her decision and tries to keep up with her “regular” life which includes running Deveraux’s Dime Store.  To help keep the store afloat Dev has created some rather charming meeting spaces for several of the town’s clubs including the knitting, sewing and book clubs.  But after the book club’s initial meeting things quickly go south when the guest speaker is found dead.  Not only is he found dead—his body is discovered behind Dev’s dime store.  Determined to stay out of the investigation Dev tries to focus on her romantic dilemma.  But circumstances have something else in mind for our intrepid heroine…and she discovers she really does need to be involved in solving this crime.

I’ve said before I’m a fan of Denise Swanson’s Scumble River cozy mystery series.  I had high hopes for her Deveraux Dime Store series—as a cozy mystery series.  The Deveraux series is billed as a cozy but so far the first three books are more chik lit than mystery and the latest, DEAD BETWEEN THE LINES is more a cross between women’s fiction, chik lit and contemporary romance than a mystery.  The murder is more of a backdrop so Jake and Noah can continue their suits to win Dev and she spends more time ruminating about what to do with them than solving the mystery.  It’s not badly written but it is very disappointing when you expect a mystery and get a kitschy romance. 

As I’ve said before, Swanson tells a good story.  This one just fell short for me.


This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.





Monday, April 25, 2016

NICKLED AND DIMED TO DEATH by Denise Swanson



Publisher:     New American Library
Published:     March 5, 2013
ISBN:        978-0451239426
Genre:      Cozy Mystery       
Format:     Print  
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com

THREE -1/2 HEARTS
 

Just as she’s about to close and lock the doors to her Deveraux’s Dime Story a woman hurries through the door with some wonderful antique chocolate bunny molds.  Discovering they are worth much more than the woman, Elsie Whitmore, is asking for them Dev quickly concludes the sale.  In a strange twist of fate, one of Dev’s best friends, Boone, is soon arrested for the Elsie’s murder. 

Boone has never forgiven Dev’s ex-boyfriend, Noah, for abandoning her when her father was arrested for embezzlement almost two decades ago.  Thing is, Noah might have some clues that will help clear Bonne’s name.  Since Dev already found herself in the middle of one investigation when she herself was the person of interest she’s already cut her teeth detecting.  Not about to let her friend take the fall for something he didn’t do, Dev soon finds herself on the trail of the real killer.

I’m a fan of Denise Swanson’s Scumble River series and while there were a couple of books recently in that series that had me wondering where the author was going, she was back on her very entertaining and well written stride.  Book 2 of her Deveraux Dime Store series, NICKELED AND DIMED TO DEATH is well written with some fun twists to the plot.  It was a particularly good choice for me this week because of the bunny molds and the story taking place shortly before Easter.  There are a few trends in cozy mysteries that started about the time this book came out, trends I whole heartedly came from either agents or the publishers because that many authors wouldn’t be doing down those roads en masse unless someone was directing them to.  It doesn’t make for a better read but takes away from the mystery.

That said, Swanson tells a good story.  NICKELED AND DIMED TO DEATH has interesting, likeable characters, just the right amount of red herrings, her special brand of humor and an ending I didn’t see coming. 


This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

THE JUDGMENT by D.J. Niko




Publisher:     Medallion
Published:     May 10, 2016
ISBN:        978-1942546221
Genre:      Historical Fiction
Format:     Print  
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com

THREE -1/2 HEARTS
 

Solomon’s daughter, Basemath, finds herself in the middle of a battle unlike any other on the heels of her father’s death.  Adored by her father, as much as she adored him political intrigues swirl around her—intrigues she has no idea about.  At the root of these machinations is her mother, Nicaule, a minor daughter of Pharaoh Psauennes II.  Some 40 years ago as a young king Solomon journeyed to Egypt to negotiate for both Israel and Egypt’s mutual futures.  In the midst of the negotiations Solomon first lays eyes on Nicaule and in an instant he knows he must have her. Nicaule, however, is not flattered by the Israeli King’s attraction—she is in love with another.  One she has promised herself to.  And so begins forty years of subversion to the goals set by Solomon, subversion that will ultimately pull apart his family and perhaps destroy the future of his beloved country.

I’m such a huge fan of D.J. Niko that the moment I saw her newest book, THE JUDGMENT, I requested it for review.  I was anticipating another addition to her fantastic Sarah Weston Chronicles which, if you haven’t’ read them, you really need to check them out.  THE JUDGMENT is a new venture for Niko and she does not disappoint.  Admittedly I’m a fan of well written and particularly well researched historical fiction.  Niko relates her historical facts with an intriguing story, one that draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. 

Once I realized this was not a Sarah Weston book it was easy to fall into Basemath and Nicaule’s story.   There were points when I had a little problem following and some of the religious-based dialogue did not appeal to me.  I felt at times it was almost like reading a religious tract or the Bible which is no problem if that’s what you are looking for. The well-known wisdom of Solomon isn’t seen the pages of the story but because of his place in history it isn’t necessary.  What Niko does really well is showing how love or infatuation can color our ability to see reality or follow what is really the best path.  Given what we mostly hear about Solomon his weakness when it came to his first wife was an eye opener.


Parts seemed to drag a points but always picked up.  THE JUDGMENT isn’t a bible story per se but it does factor in, but the story wouldn’t be the story it is without that aspect.  It is historical fiction and while the elements of betrayal in love and intrigue in relationships is part of the story it could not really be told in any other time period.

What would be very cool is for Niko to tie this story into one of her Sarah Weston books….now THAT would be a story to tell and read!


This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

THE BEAST by J.R. Ward



Black Dagger Brotherhood #14
NAL Books, April 2016
Hardcover
Obtained via:  publisher
ISBN:  045147516X
ISBN13: 9780451475169
Paranormal Romance
****



The latest offering from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series of paranormal romances, THE BEAST, marks the 10th anniversary of Lover Eternal, where we were first introduced to vampire warrior Rhage and his shellan Mary, as they return for a second story is this popular vampire series.

As with all the stories in Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books, this group of vampire warriors is back once again defending their race against the Lessening Society of evil determined to destroy all vampire-kind.  Rhage and Mary have overcome many obstacles to their happiness and now must push through their biggest obstacles, controlling the dragon that lives inside Rhage and Mary’s inability to have children.

J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series is full of dark, sexy, and deeply troubled vampire protectors.  The stories are action packed with story threads that span across the books in the series while showcasing a different set of lovers and their problems in each new installment.  So while readers have seen glimpses into Rhage and Mary’s life over the years in prior books, it is nice to see how they have grown as a couple and how they work through their latest life obstacles.  Of course, Ward makes sure that all her most beloved characters from prior books make an appearance in THE BEAST and while it is difficult to keep track of who everyone is from time to time, it is the totality of all these characters helping each other in each book that makes this series so entertaining.

Fans of J.R. Ward’s books are sure to be pleased with Rhage and Mary’s latest story, THE BEAST.  THE BEAST is a touching and heartwarming story taking place in a world of confusion and violence that has turned out to be a wonderful 10th anniversary present to Ward’s diehard fans.


Reviewed by T. Barringer
tammyLRM@gmail.com

"This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book."


Thursday, April 21, 2016

LOVE ME NEVER by Sara Wolf



Lovely Vicious #1
Entangled Teen Books, April 2016
paperback
Obtained via:  publisher
ISBN:  1633752291
ISBN13: 9781633752290
Young Adult
*****

 

Sara Wolf’s LOVE ME NEVER is a young adult story full of angst, discovery and personal growth that will surprise, intrigue and leave readers yearning.

After surviving an emotionally crippling teenage dating experience, seventeen year-old Isis Blake is is starting her life over in Ohio.  She is now almost ninety pounds lighter with dyed purple streaks in her hair and now she has put her supposed first love behind her, she is ready to get on with her life in her new school when she meets the Ice Prince of East Summit High School, Jack Hunter.  Despite his incredible popularity with the female population of the school, Jack has no interest in high school girls, until Isis winds up and punches him straight in the face.  Now his attention is squarely fixated on Isis.

This reader chose this book initially because the blurb described it as a light romantic coming of age comedy that seemed like a nice alternative to all the more mature books in my to be read pile.  It turns out that Sara Wolf’s LOVE ME NEVER was definitely not light or funny.  This was a serious story of a teenager’s journey through a terrible time in her life and how she recovers with the help of a boy she fully expects to despise but ultimately comes to love.  As expected, LOVE ME NEVER was full of teen angst, heartache and emotional highs and lows.  The main characters are definitely multifaceted and the storyline emotional.  Isis is an angry, socially awkward teenager full of sarcasm and a dislike for the male sex.  Jack is standoffish and cold.  He is the perfect foil for Isis.  If he wasn’t off doing good deeds so often, he would sure be easy to hate.  Although the blurb describing the book was really quite misleading, the story turned out to be so much more than expected.  But it was the ending that made this story so interesting.  Though now that it appears to be the first in a series, this reader can only hope the next book isn’t a huge letdown.  Of course, I will have to read it to find out.  And I will.

For those readers who enjoy some solid teen angst, Sara Wolf’s LOVE ME NEVER is sure to be a pleasant and intriguing surprise.

Reviewed by T. Barringer
tammyLRM@gmail.com

"This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book."