Resistant (Dr. Lou Welcome #3) by Michael Palmer

Book Description:

Published: May 20, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

They fight without conscience or remorse. Their only job is to kill.
They are the most ruthless enemy we have ever faced.
And they are one millionth our size.

When Dr. Lou Welcome fills in last minute for his boss at a national conference in Atlanta he brings along his best friend, Cap Duncan. But an accident turns tragic when Cap injures his leg while running. Surgeons manage to save the leg, but the open wound is the perfect breeding ground for a deadly microbial invader committed to eating Cap alive from the inside out.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, a teenaged girl is fighting for her life against the same bacteria. The germ is resistant to any known antibiotic and the government scientist tasked with finding a cure has been kidnapped. Turning to the Centers for Disease Control for help, Lou Welcome uncovers a link to a shadowy group known as One Hundred Neighbors that has infiltrated our society and is using our health institutions as hostages. Like the deadly germs they can unleash, One Hundred Neighbors will stop at nothing to further their agenda. From the hospital corridors where anything you touch can mean your end, to the top corridors of power in this race against time, Lou must stop an epidemic, save his best friend, and face even his own most terrifying demons.

From the New York Times bestselling author comes another heart stopping thriller that will make you look at the world around you in a new and frightening way.

“When you open the pages of a Michael Palmer novel, you know you are in the hands of a pro.” –The Huffington Post

Review –

“A physician races the clock and a ferocious disease to save a friend’s life.

Lou Welcome, a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, is a part-time emergency room doctor and the assistant director of the Physician Wellness Office, an institution that helps doctors with psychological and substance abuse problems. When Lou’s boss at PWO sends him to Georgia to give a speech, Lou invites his friend and sponsor Hank “Cap” Duncan, a former wrestler, to come along and enjoy the outdoors. While they’re out trail running, Cap slips and takes a terrible fall. Lou’s determined rescue gets Cap to the hospital in time, and his friend seems to be healing nicely until he contracts a hospital-borne infection that starts eating up his flesh. The new strain, which the press calls the Doomsday Germ, is resistant to antibiotics. As Lou learns from Humphrey Miller, whose brilliant scientific mind is trapped in a disabled body, the germ is the work of a fringe organization called the Society of One Hundred Neighbors.

To force the government to end entitlement programs, the Neighbors have cultivated the Doomsday Germ, which has now mutated beyond their ability to control it, and they’ve kidnapped a top government scientist to come up with an antidote. Frantic to save Cap’s life, Lou agrees to work with Miller in a secret underground lab, only to be pulled even more deeply into a fanatical plan that tests his physical strength and moral courage in this fast-paced but sometimes far-fetched medical thriller.

Palmer (Political Suicide, 2012, etc.) doesn’t spend much time developing female characters. But in the doctor hero’s latest adventure, he’s tender as well as tough, and you have to cheer him on in his fight to save the friend who helped save him.”

This is an excellent read and very timely and when I went to check for more books in the Dr. Lou Welcome series  I discovered that this book was published after the death of author, Michael Palmer. So sad that he didn’t live to really flesh out the life and time of Dr. Lou Welcome. I have read one other in there series but now plan to read the others.

 

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Book Description:

Published: June 16, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Review –

Touching tale of girl with OCD finding love through poetry.

Everyone has something they want to hide, even from their closest friends, and I empathized with her desire to keep her secret from her glittery, popular clique. She also just wants to feel “normal,” something that I think everyone  struggles with in high school. 

I loved her new-found friends in Poet’s Corner. Every one was so unique and yet they all shared these secret poetry sessions that made them into a family. Poet’s Corner is an escape, but it’s also where you find your true self, and I wish we had had something similar in my school. Hell, even now I would want to join a secret poetry club!

I think it’s so important that stories like Sam’s are given a bigger place in mainstream media. Every Last Word is a story about living with a mental illness. Sam has a therapist, she takes medication, and her parents are trained on how to handle situations when Sam feels overwhelmed or out of control. She has a set treatment plan that works (and that she and her therapist worked on together and continue to develop as Sam grows), and a therapist who is portrayed in a positive light and I think that all of that is so important. Sam struggles throughout the book with the idea of “normal.” She wants to feel that way and doesn’t see herself as such. But by the end, she realizes that there are all kinds of “normal.”

The most unique aspect of Every Last Word is how Stone weaves poetry into the storyline. The poetry opens the windows to the characters’ hearts and gives a depth to characters that you just can’t get with simple characterization. I felt every emotion with this book!

There is a pivotal point in the book (no spoilers) that changes the trajectory of Sam’s life. It gave me goose bumps and I cried ugly tears.

Though this is a young adult book, I highly recommend it to everyone!

 

 

Unexpected Reality(Unexpected Arrivals #1) by Kaylee Ryan

Book Description:

Published: July 12, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Expect the unexpected. That’s what they say, but it’s easier said than done.

How do you expect a change so huge it rocks you to your core?

How do you prepare yourself for an event that will alter your life forever?

One breath
One second
One minute
One hour
One day at a time, you learn to live with your unexpected reality.

Review –

This book is really special because it captures Ridge and Kendall building a friendship to eventually falling head over heels for one another. I loved the humor and I really felt the connection between not just Ridge and Kendall but also Ridge and Melissa (NOT a love triangle!!).

The story is heartwarming, and heartbreaking in equal measures. I was completely immersed in Ridge and Kendall’s struggle to overcome the past and make a life for themselves. Ridge is a gorgeous, single dad. He may be a complete player but his son is his number one priority. Ridge finds out the hard way that life can always be unexpected and sometimes heartbreak is in the shadows. Ridge and Kendall’s relationship slowly starts to build and I love how it played out. I love that they did not just jump into bed with each other from the beginning. There are some ups and downs throughout but it builds to the story as well.

The storyline is well thought out and unique and the cover is beyond words. This is an incredibly beautiful character building romance that will grab you from the beginning and not let go until you finish the last page. I highly recommend this to everyone!

The Vanishing Season (The Collector #4) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published: May 21, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

A recent abduction becomes an unexpected link to a decades-long spree of unspeakable crimes.

Eight-year-old Brooklyn Mercer has gone missing. And as accustomed as FBI agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison are to such harrowing cases, this one has struck a nerve. It marks the anniversary of the disappearance of Eddison’s own little sister. Disturbing, too, is the girl’s resemblance to Eliza—so uncanny they could be mother and daughter.

With Eddison’s unsettled past rising again with rage and pain, Eliza is determined to solve this case at any cost. But the closer she looks, the more reluctant she is to divulge to her increasingly shaken partner what she finds. Brooklyn isn’t the only girl of her exact description to go missing. She’s just the latest in a frightening pattern going back decades in cities throughout the entire country.

In a race against time, Eliza’s determined to bring Brooklyn home and somehow find the link to the cold case that has haunted Eddison—and the entire Crimes Against Children team—since its inception.

Review –

This is the fourth book in The Collector series by Dot Hutchison, which began with The Butterfly Garden.

The Vanishing Season starts when eight year old Brooklyn goes missing on her way home from school. The familiar FBI team (they appear in the other books as well) is put on the case, and soon it becomes clear that one of the agents is connected to the disappearance. Agent Eddison’s eight  year old sister went missing years ago and has yet to be found. Similarities between the cases start to unravel. 
The team starts piecing together the mystery of missing girls and disappearances of other girls with similar looks starts to unfold. In the meantime we are taken on a journey of backstories involving Eddison and other team members. It was a lot to keep track of but I didn’t think it took away  from the current case.
As always, the Butterfly girls and Priya make their appearances and visit the team to help support them through hard times. The author always makes them part of the background story line and this time they are there to tie all four  books together. 
This is really an emotional journey of the intertwining relationships of the FBI agents. If you are looking for shock value and unbelievable thrilling moments like in the previous books, you will not find it in this one. If you haven’t yet read the three previous books, don’t bother with this, as you will be so lost in a huge wave of keeping track of characters.
All in all, it was a fantastic ending to the  series. It was great to see where the characters I have come to love end up.
Not as much suspense and action in this installment but the emotional rescue and ending well made up for it!

Disgrace by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: June 28, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again.

After fifteen years together, he walked away from me, and into the arms of another.

I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know how to exist without him by my side.

All I wanted was for him to come back to me.

Then, Jackson Emery appeared.

He was supposed to be a distraction for my mind. A summer fling. A confidence boost to my bruised heart.

We were perfect for one another, because we both knew we wouldn’t last. Jackson didn’t believe in commitment, and I no longer believed in love. He was too closed-off for me, and I was too damaged for him.

Everything was fine, until one night my heart skipped a beat.

I didn’t expect him to make me laugh. To make me think. To make my sadness somewhat disappear.

When our time was up, my heart didn’t know how to walk away.

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again, yet slowly my prayers began to shift toward the man who wasn’t right for me.

I prayed for one more smile, one more kiss, one more laugh, one more touch…

I prayed for him to be mine.

Even though I knew his heart wasn’t destined to love.

Review –

First and foremost, Disgrace is the story of a woman who has suffered horribly in her marriage – going home to find herself. After multiple (seven, to be exact) miscarriages, gut-wrenching betrayal, and an impending divorce, the heroine, Grace, doesn’t really know who she is anymore. She’s lived her life as the perfect daughter, the perfect community member, the perfect wife, and where has it gotten her? Going through a divorce at 30 with nothing to show for her marriage but damaged self-esteem and a douchebag ex.

What I loved most about Grace was that even though she was struggling to find herself and still kind of wanted to be the people-pleaser she’d been raised to be, she wasn’t ever weak. Confused, sure. But not weak. She never turned her back on Jackson, the hero, or his family, even though doing so would’ve made her life considerably easier. She was broken, but not beaten, and when push came to shove, she was a good person and a solid friend to Jackson. Her strength of character was nothing short of inspirational.  

And Jackson…oh, honey. My heart just broke for him. He’d lost his mother, his dad was the town drunk, everyone called him a monster, and he was stuck in a town where charity and kindness seemed available to everyone but him. And worst of all, he couldn’t leave because he’d promised his mom (on her deathbed, no less), that he’d take care of his father.

The ‘Prologue’ is where we first meet ten year old ‘Jackson Emery’ as he learns one of life’s heartbreaking lessons when he sees his mother walking out the door proclaiming that she’s not in love with his father any more. Life from that point onwards forever changes him and his father. 

So, here’s this (inwardly) sweet, gentle man stuck living a miserable lonely life in an awful town and pretending to be a complete asshole so that no one would ever know just how much their cruel nicknames and petty gossip really hurt him. He’s exactly what Grace says he is: a gentle monster. I loved every single word written from this gentle monster’s point of view. He was FLAWLESS.

Did he treat Grace badly in the beginning? Yes, he said some awful things to her. But his actions contradict his words, and it didn’t take long for Grace (and me as a reader) to see what a good man Jackson really is. Jackson is officially on my list of all-time favorite book boyfriends. (His former manwhore ways are completely forgiven)

There are so many other things I could say but I don’t post spoilers. There is sadness, frustration, a huge surprise twist and redemption.

So, long-story-short, if you love an emotional, deeply touching romance that’ll make you cry a little because it’s all so beautiful and so REAL, give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed.                   

 

 

Second Skin by Christian White

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Listening Length: 4 hours and 28 minutes

Stan Weir is mourning a tragic loss when he meets a mysterious nine-year-old girl, who claims to be the reincarnated spirit of his late wife. Marcy Keef is a single mother trying to make ends meet, when her daughter Erin starts describing “past life memories.” Neither wants to believe Erin, but as violent secrets are revealed, the truth becomes harder to deny.

With echoes of Stephen King, Second Skin is a propulsive thriller about grief, guilt, and truths better left unknown.

Review –

This book is one released only on Audible and free for members in April 2020. Audible usually provides 5-7 free books at the first of every month and in April I chose four. In May, I didn’t;t choose any-none of them were “my cup of tea”, but I love that they do that for their members.

At four and a half hours of audio it is not a long book, but I thought the author packed quite a lot of story, characterizations and twists in that short period. It was an easy listen and I did not see the ending coming until a large twist was revealed.

Second Skin was a good mystery with a paranormal angle to it and some unexpected twists along the way. Can’t reveal too much as it would be a spoiler. The narration by Ellen Archer in all voices was especially outstanding.

The cover image seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, unless I blinked and missed it. I hate this! I wish I had the job of choosing book covers, but a girl can only dream!

If this book comes out later this year in print or e-book form you should really give it a try. You will not be disappointed .

Loved it!

Reign of Brayshaw (Brayshaw #3) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

“Trust only those who earn it.”

A sentiment I follow without direction but holds more consequence than ever before.

One decision, five lives, three futures.
This is what’s at stake.

One night, one choice, four broken Brayshaws.
That is where we’re headed.

Unless I stop it.
I 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 to stop it.

I have to remind him of what he’s chosen to forget.

My town. My choice. 𝘔𝘺 ending.

Review –

Reign of Brayshaw picked up exactly where Trouble at Brayshaw left off. Thank god because that ending was freaking crazy as hell to try to get over.  Once I started this novel, I had zero power when it came to putting it down. I sat on the couch and lounged in my bed the entire day while I binged this bad boy. So let that be a lesson for you, if you have a long fulfilling day planned to the max of stuff you absolutely have to get done….. I highly recommend you hold off on reading this book until a day when you have nothing on the schedule. Because this book will consume your every thought and you’re going to want to know what happens next, and what happens after that. It’s a continuous ‘just one more chapter’ broken promise on an endless loop.

This book is full of twists and turns, you truly never know what waits around the corner. The shocking moments are just as brutal as the angst. My heart was in hyper overdrive thinking the best but expecting the worst possible outcomes.

My heart broke for Raven  repeatedly because all she wanted in life was to find acceptance and love. Given her past history though, letting people in wasn’t an easy task for her to accomplish. So it was great to watch her find that acceptance and love she’s been searching for her entire life.

Maddoc lies down when he needed to stand up but  I still loved him.  And, you can understand the helplessness he’s feeling and the extreme jealously anyone in his position would be dealing with.

The story wrapped up with a bang and I was left an emotional mess. I love stories like this that make me just FEEL SO MUCH!

This will go down as one of my favorite NA series. It’s sexy, angst filled drama that also had sweet, emotional, heartfelt moments. I absolutely recommend!

OMG…. I completely forgot why I rated Reign of Brayshaw a four instead of a full 5 stars rating. I dropped a star because some of the moments seemed a bit far fetched and really  unreal. I understand this is fiction, but I like a little realism mixed into the romances I read. I like to walk away thinking, damn that could really happen in someone’s life. But I unfortunately didn’t walk away with that notion. A bit of the content was extremely far fetched.

Love the cover, too!

Trouble at Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #2) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Review –

Picking up right after the events of the first book, The Boys of Brayshaw High,  Raven has put her pride and happiness on the line to protect her Boys, and is at the mercy of the Gravens, who are making their move to take the Brayshaws down. The Boys know that there is something deeper happening, something that Raven is keeping a secret, and don’t want to believe that she betrayed them. Raven’s name has been run through the dirt, but her Boys know better than to believe gossip. They will get her back, no matter the cost.

Their ties will continue to be tested as the head of the Brayshaw name, the boys’ father, pulls major strings from behind bars. But if its up to him, he won’t be in jail much longer, and his Boys will be fighting a war that doesn’t have Raven on the winning end.

In this book the heartwarming relationships between the Boys and Raven grow even stronger, through trials that have them second-guessing everything they thought they knew. They may have to be strong in order to survive the betrayals headed their way, but they will have to stand together to overcome the revelations that threaten to shatter their kingdom.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting after the first installment.  I knew that I was going to be pissed after that cliffhanger with the Gravens, and I was right. The first 15% of this book was so angsty, but I’m not going to lie: I had to shut down my listening device so I could decompress for a couple of hours. We really got to see Raven and the Boy’s relationship tested during this time, in a way we never seen before. We got to see how they truly feel when they are knocked down and hurt, when they think they were blindsided by one of their own. And they still wanted to love and trust each other, no matter what. 

I could probably gush about their relationships all day, and how I love the way they just mesh together so perfectly, despite their awful histories and inner darkness. But I have to move on, cause lets be real: the first 15% held NO FIGHT to how the rest of the book attacked them. I can’t rant too much, cause I’m awful for spoilers when I rant. But I’ll say this: rethink everything, trust no one, and fucking be ready to fight in book 3 because  by the end of this book our King and Queen are going to have to play one hell of a game to come out on top. But I know they can do it.

Other than the mind-blowing, secrets that were revealed, I loved this book for it’s honesty on the characters. We all know that no one in Brayshaw is perfect, and that the author  knows how to make diverse characters who are full of motive and angst and sass and grit. Part of why people love the books is because of the completely imperfect harsh reality our characters live in, much like our own, but they stand up and fight their problems head on with so much bad-assery. This world made our characters who they are, and this book dug even deeper into their pasts in ways I never imagined. There are so many triggers due to this, so much sadness and hate and anger, but we see our characters more vulnerable and even more deeply connected than in book 1 because of it.

There’s not much more I can say without going into a rant,  but for now, I’ll leave you with this. If you love dark romances, if you love high school contemporaries, if you need a love story with more than just happy endings, a book with so many levels of secrets and lies, where the characters are thrown into situations you wouldn’t wish on anybody, Brayshaw is for you. I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I wish I could go back and be surprised by this series all over again. Of course I can’t, but you can. 

As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one ten times more, even though it almost gave me a heart attack!

 

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: July 17, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Colleen Hoover delivers a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

Review –

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend.

A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

I double-dog dare you to read a Colleen Hoover book and NOT cry. This one was a tearjerker deluxe,(at least for me). The highs and lows of Quinn and Graham’s relationship were emotional and jarring. There is love, happiness, frustration, sadness, loneliness  and despair, but finally after a horrible tragedy they open their  hearts and feelings to each other and there is an HEA.  

You need to read this book!!!!!!

 

 

A Dark Lure (Dark Lure#1) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2015

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.

Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?

As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.

Review –

First, be aware that there may be triggers so some. Included in the book are kidnapping,rape,torture of women,multilation, biting, etc.

Wow, what a ride! This was probably the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in the last few months.

Basically, it’s a story about survival: Olivia West, sole survivor of the “Watt Lake Killer” who died in prison, works anonymously on Broken Bar Ranch as its manager when a body is discovered. The victim’s remains have been put on display in the same way the dead killer used to do and weird things – coincidences? – begin to happen on Broken Bar Ranch.

A cop who worked on the side-lines of the original Watt Lake case – now dying from cancer – never believed the real killer had been apprehended and, thus, he’s out with his young daughter, Tori, to catch the right guy this time…

It’s hard to find fault with a book that’s as engaging and exciting as this one. Of course, it’s not high literature but it’s nearly perfect for what it is. Frequent switches of perspectives and places take place but I always knew exactly what was going on which is a big plus for me. The backstory of the Watt Lake killer is told by means of a book written by Tori’s late mother and makes for chilling interludes.

The world was natural, beautiful and rugged. The details were lush in description (the Canadian Northwest). Many of the characters and certainly the main characters were all grappling with their pasts, not always sure they wanted the future. Character growth and strength provide the base for a great story.

I loved the personal growth and how hard they fought for life. There were various twists of things, and a few I guessed.  What a pace of terrifying events with the weather to complicate matters. there was the ultimate battle for survival.

I highly recommend this heart-breaking, smart and uplifting tale!