Unmasked, Volume One (Unmasked #1) by Cassia Leo

Book Description:

Published: June 10, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

I was born into this world unwanted.

I spent the first hours of my life unloved.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life with the parents who tried to shelter me from the harsh reality of my existence.

But you can’t un-write a sad story if the ending is literally written all over your face.

So I moved out and now I hide. I have a night job that pays the bills. Every night, I put on my mask and walk to work.

Then one night, I hear and see something that will change my purpose in life… forever: a murder that will bring him to me.

He says he wants to protect me. And, through a series of events I can’t fully make sense of, I find myself believing him.

But our nightly visits are always cloaked in darkness. I don’t know his face and he will never know mine.

I was born into this world unwanted. I will leave this world unmasked.

Review –

WTH !!!

This has to be the strangest book that I have listened/read in a very long time, I mean my mouth was agape at the end. I couldn’t believe it!  Still can’t.

This series has three parts or volumes and this first installment explores Alex’s past, the notion of beauty, the necessity of hiding, the consequences of secrets and betrayals. You can easily devour this first volume in one sitting  Enlivened by the author’s expert writing, you’ll be lured in by this sinister tale and fascinated by this 19-year-old girl whose actions are so unexpected that it keeps you guessing at what will surprise you next. Certainly the end was shocking in more ways than one!

A chilling mystery where desire, deception, secrets and betrayal mix in a deadly combination that leaves you wanting more.

Five stars.

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Unattainable (Undeniable #3) by Madeline Sheehan

Book Description:

Published: September 20, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Warning: This is not a virtuous and tender love story. It’s chaotic, ruthless, and tragic. This story takes love and kills its innocence, steals away the pure moments, and crushes the hearts of the broken. A story born in childhood, tying one girl to one boy, leads to a destructive path—that hurts more than it doesn’t, that shatters more than it heals—testing the love that binds the two through a lifetime.

Tegen Matthews is the daughter of Dorothy Kelley, a club whore in the Hell’s Horsemen. A plain little girl, Tegen falls into the gritty world of the motorcycle club. When she meets a sweet, caring boy, she embraces the warmth and affection he shows her. Cage West is the son of the president of the Hell’s Horsemen. Tall and blond with deep brown eyes, as he grows up Cage realizes the power of his dimpled smile and smooth drawl. With one chance encounter, Tegen becomes forever tied to Cage. Following is a wayward journey that is filled with regrets, mistakes, and heartache, pulling at the threads that hold them together. Cage and Tegen fight hard but love harder, and in the end, what matters is where the journey takes one girl and one boy, who have been twined with one another since the beginning.

This is Tegen and Cage’s story.

Love doesn’t erase a broken heart, and it sure doesn’t change people. But no matter how old, how flimsy, how frayed the rope of love is, it keeps you tethered to the people you love.

Review –

This series is not an easy one and it’s not for everyone. There’s rape, death, killing but there’s also love and laughter.  The Hell’s Horsemen are not good guys only to the eyes of the ones they know and love. We get the past, present and a glimpse into the future. How will the future go? Who knows and I’m not guessing cause I’d be wrong. Again.

A little insight to the characters…

Cage. We all know him as Deuce’s son and a man whore. You think you know him but you don’t. Changes are coming for him whether he’s ready or not.
Tegan. She’s a fire-breathing dragon who has huge balls. She lives in the past when the future is right in front of her.
Dirty. BE PREPARED. His story is NOT pretty. We get into his past and it’s brutal and ugly. He is the way he is because of it. You have to have an open mind with him. The way he thinks will gut you. His actions will slay you. His future…
Ellie. A beautiful flower that will show her beauty to the one who needs it most.
Deuce. G*d damn the man.

All the characters in the alphabet  are in the story. I’m not here to tell you when and where they pop up. You will be surprised and shocked. You will feel elation and sorrow. You will just FEEL. This is what an author should do. Make a reader step out of their comfort zone, put you in another persons shoe and make you think would you do anything different.

This is the best one yet. I found no fault in nothing and no one. The storyline was not what I expected. The characters are not what I thought them to be.The author takes us into a darker side of the Hell’s Horsemen but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. You will shed happy and sad tears so have tissues in handy. Keep an open mind with everything and everyone and you won’t be disappointed.

 

The Hanging Girl (Department Q #6) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 8, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the middle of his usual hard-won morning nap in the basement of police headquarters, Carl Mørck, head of Department Q, receives a call from a colleague working on the Danish island of Bornholm. Carl is dismissive when he realizes that a new case is being foisted on him, but a few hours later, he receives some shocking news that leaves his headstrong assistant Rose more furious than usual. Carl has no choice but to lead Department Q into the tragic cold case of a vivacious seventeen-year-old girl who vanished from school, only to be found dead hanging high up in a tree. The investigation will take them from the remote island of Bornholm to a strange sun worshipping cult, where Carl, Assad, Rose, and newcomer Gordon attempt to stop a string of new murders and a skilled manipulator who refuses to let anything—or anyone—get in the way.

Review –

This is by far my least favorite book of the Department Q series and I hoping it’s just a problem with the translation because I really do enjoy this series.

Presumably Carl Mørck, head of the Q Department, is the protagonist, but he comes across as lazy and disagreeable. Perhaps that is how he is supposed to be portrayed, but there is very little reason to cheer for him. Adler-Olsen’s other characters have little, if any, dimension; visualizing them is difficult, (not usual for this series).

There is some description given of Mørck’s assistants Assad and Rose and she has some job responsibilities with her computer knowledge and organizational skills. Assad appears to be the comic sidekick who can’t seem to get the words right: strawstack instead of haystack. Considering that both of these characters have appeared in previous Department Q stories, it must be assumed that the author’s fans are already familiar with them and details are not needed. The other characters in the story all seem to be angry or manipulative—it’s hard to find anyone likable.

The premise of the story—a cold case file that has driven a police officer to suicide, but not until he has left clues for Mørck and his assistants to find in order to keep the cold case alive—would be workable if the story followed that line with fewer diversions.

The Department Q gathering of the mountain of information from the deceased police officer’s home is a little hard to fathom. With the information described as boxes and boxes of papers, magazines, books, letters, photos, etc., all neatly organized by Rose in an extremely short time span, it’s hard to believe that any organization could suddenly reveal the small clues and evidence needed to solve this crime.

Initially, the story does little to encourage the reader to continue listening. The storyline jumps forward and backward in time, and it almost seems that at the beginning of the story there is another storyline with no connection. This is a side story that starts at an earlier time and involves an alternative religious (cult) group. The scenes around this group are more interesting than those about the cold case file, and one must trudge through half of the book before the two issues begin to knit together in the story.

Although Adler-Olsen does a satisfactory job of tying up loose ends, the whole purpose of the story remains elusive. It’s hard to understand why a policeman would gather this large amount of information and leave it behind for others to explore, when the reality is that the police officer already knew the sad answer.

One interesting turn that is difficult to understand is what the author  does with Mørck’s assistant Rose at the end of the book. She has appeared in previous Department Q books, and if his purpose was to write her out of the series, presumably he has succeeded, and she may not be returning in any subsequent Q Department tales. Of course, fiction being what it is, she might come around again. . . . and I hope she does, because I don’t know what Carl and Assad will do without her.

Considering Adler-Olsen is a popular crime writer in Denmark one can only hope that with The Hanging Girl the translation to English is faulty, and in his own language he has painted a much more interesting and vivid picture.

 

 

Connection (Submission #3) by CD Reiss

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

This is not a pat little ending about me and Jonathan riding off into the sunset. I knew I was never destined for that, but no one warned me about the pain. No one told me about the hurt. No one told me what I’d risk for him.
I’ll do anything to make it right. Anything. You think I won’t kill for him? You’re wrong.
I have to earn my happily ever after, and we have to survive it.

Review –

Wow, what can I say other than the author really knows how to go for the gut punch in her books and this one was no exception.

I had the audio version and it was over eleven hours long but the first five were about Jonathan’s life and death situation and finding out he needed a heart transplant and then finding the right one. I thought five hours was a bit overkill. The the story jumps two years after Jonathan’s heart transplant, however, both of them are still trying to find their way back to the normalcy they once had. Monica goes back and forth with doubts about whether Jonathan wants to stay married to her seeing as he proposed and they got married while he was in the hospital possibly on his death-bed. Another hurdle they have to overcome involves their sex life. Both parties feel things have become duller but they won’t open up to each other to voice that they basically have the same fear that any sort of strenuous activity could kill Jonathan. Eventually Jonathan gets Monica to open up and they both get the opportunity to express their fears to one another and things go back to normal so to speak. Throughout the course of their marriage, Jonathan has expressed to Monica multiple times that he wants to start a family however, she is reluctant because she does not want to bring a child into a world where he or she may be left without a father if Jonathan’s heart were to give out. Jonathan almost gets his wish of being a father but then Monica has a miscarriage which is devastating to say the least. After the miscarriage, Monica realizes that she does want to have a child with Jonathan and we then fast forward 18 months later to Monica and Jonathan having a real wedding that all their friends and family can be part of and then we get a wonderful surprise when Monica is pregnant again! This baby sticks and the story has a beautiful ending of Jonathan and Monica settling into their family life.

I highly recommend this series because it is not a perfect love story, it is a story of two people being in a relationship and not always knowing what to do half the time. One thing that they can both agree on is that they will love each other till the end of time AND there is a LOT of hot sex!

 

Domination (Submission #2) by CD Reiss

Book Description

Published: November 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I want to just clarify a couple of things.
Submission is not abdication. Submission is not resignation. It’s not weak or fragile. It doesn’t mean I break at the first sign of trouble.
Well, I broke for a few weeks. When I realized I was falling in love with Jonathan and that I’d never be the same if I allowed it to continue, I broke into a million sharp little pieces. I think I damaged him in the process.
But what could I do?
Stay with him and untangle the mess of his life? Commit to his rules, his secrets, his troubles?
No. Just, no.
If we’re doing this, we’re doing it. If I’m committing, it’s to a man, not a lie. I’ll strip away everything between us, even if it ends us.

Review –

In this book we learn more about Jonathan’s past and drama.. his ex-wife constantly wanting to ruin him and get his money.. his crazy family and secrets. Monica still fighting to get a place on the music industry.. she wants to be herself not to be attached to any men last name and power. She wants to show that she is strong and doesn’t need any money or a man to hold her back.. even thou she keeps failing to achieve that when it comes to Jonathan.There’s a lot of twists and turns in Domination, people keeps trying to break them apart. lies, secrets and a past that keeps trying to come between them.The love between Jonathan and Monica is so surreal and very strong and in this book their relationship evolves even more, it get deeper and closer.. their feelings are more palpable, their love overflows the pages of the book.. is like you get to feel how strong their feelings are for each other, is just breathtaking to read about these two.

The sex between  Jonathan and Monica is darker and fiercer  and very very explicit. Jonathan is a sexual sadist and poor Monica takes anything he can dish out. I feel she is too submissive  in these cases.

This installment of the Submission series ends in a surprising cliffhanger that I didn’t see coming. Can’t wait to start the third and last book in the series, Connection, but first I have another book to read from Overdrive.

 

Submission (Submission #1) by CD Reiss

Book Description:

Published: November 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

****GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AND ADULT SITUATIONS****

Jonathan Drazen. Gorgeous. Charming. Smart. Rich.
All the ingredients for a few nights of mind-blowing pleasure are right there. He’s made it perfectly clear he can’t love me, and I’m not out to fall in love either.
But I can’t stay away from him. He’s got this bossy way about him in bed. The word “Sir,” falls from my lips, and when he tells me to get on my knees…well, my knees have a mind of their own.
I got this. I can be his slave for a few nights and walk away unscathed.
We get in. Get it on. Get the hell out. Done.
He knows the line between love and lust. It’s right between my legs.
Now, let’s see if that line blurs for me.

Review –

Jonathan Drazen tops my list of favorite book boyfriends, favorite sadists, and all-time favorite men. I want him all to myself. Rich, witty, brilliant, gorgeous, and a demon in the bedroom – oh yes, Jonathan Drazen is the ultimate hero. Monica Faulkner could not be any more kick ass if she tried. Her attraction to Drazen, her voice, her honesty, her looks, her morals, her self-preservation all contribute to a neatly yet chaotic wrapped package of beauty in a heroine. Add to these brilliant characters the non-stop, intriguing plots of the story, secondary characters who make their tale even better, and scorching, sizzling, smoking sex scenes made unable to put these books down. The writing of CD Reiss pulls you in from the very first sentence and she continually gives more and more to the reader as the story moves forward. Her books are addicting, smart, brilliantly written, and a gift to readers. I’m so happy I’ve discovered this series, and this unforgettable couple.

On to Book Two.

 

 

Us Against You (BearTown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Review –

Shockwaves from the incidents in Beartown, the first book, shake an economically depressed hockey town in this latest from the author of A Man Called Ove.

“Swedish novelist Backman loves an aphorism and is very good at them; evident in all his novels is an apparent ability to state a truth about humanity with breathtaking elegance. Often, he uses this same elegance to slyly misdirect his readers. Sometimes he overreaches and words that sound pretty together don’t hold up to scrutiny. This novel has a plethora of all three. Grim in tone, it features an overstocked cast of characters, all of whom are struggling for self-definition. Each has previously been shaped by the local hockey club, but that club is now being defunded and resources reallocated to the club of a rival town. Some Beartown athletes follow, some don’t. Lines are drawn in the sand. Several characters get played by a Machiavellian local politician who gets the club reinstated. Nearly all make poor decisions, rolling the town closer and closer to tragedy. Backman wants readers to know that things are complicated. Sure, many of Beartown’s residents are bigots and bullies. But some are generous and selfless. Actually, the bigots and bullies are also generous and selfless, in certain circumstances. And Lord knows they’ve all had a rough time of it. The important thing to remember is that hockey is pure. Except when it inspires violence. This is an interesting tactic for a novel in our cultural moment of sensitivity, and it can feel cumbersome. “When guys are scared of the dark they’re scared of ghosts and monsters,” he writes. “But when girls are scared of the dark they’re scared of guys.” Margaret Atwood said it better and with more authority decades ago.

Backman plays the story for both cynicism and hope, and his skill makes both hard, but not impossible, to resist.” Kirkus Reviews

The author gave us feelings of the highest highs and then dashed us back down to earth with the lowest lows. I was a nervous wreck for the entire book.  You will have to read the book (and why wouldn’t you) to know what I mean when I say that Fredrik Backman is a master storyteller and has a genius brain to keep everything straight when he wrote the accident scene near the very end of the book. I am in awe!

Five stars !!!!!

The purity of Vengeance (Department Q #4) by Jussi Alder-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: December 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In 1987, Nete Hermansen plans revenge on those who abused her in her youth, including Curt Wad, a charismatic surgeon who was part of a movement to sterilize wayward girls in 1950s Denmark.

More than twenty years later, Detective Carl Mørck already has plenty on his mind when he is presented with the case of a brothel owner, a woman named Rita, who went missing in the eighties: New evidence has emerged in the case that destroyed the lives of his two partners—the case that sent Carl to Department Q.

But when Carl’s assistants, Assad and Rose, learn that numerous other people disappeared around the same weekend as Rita, Carl takes notice. As they sift through the disappearances, they get closer and closer to Curt Wad, who is more determined than ever to see the vision of his youth take hold and whose brutal treatment of Nete and others like her is only one small part of his capacity for evil.

With The Purity of Vengeance, Jussi Adler-Olsen delivers a thrilling and shocking addition to his bestselling Department Q series.

Review –

Another cold case for the odd team of Copenhagen’s Department Q, together with two more incomplete blasts from the past for Detective Carl Mørck.

Except for the prostitute who reported her missing, no one much cared when brothel keeper Rita Nielsen vanished back in 1987, and it’s no wonder the case languished. Now, however, the mystery assumes new urgency with the news that she wasn’t the only one to disappear. The very same day, attorney Philip Nørvig, fisherman Viggo Mogensen, womens asylum guard Gitte Charles and do-nothing Tage Hermansen also went AWOL. Furthermore—though it takes Carl, his assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his secretary, Rose Knudsen, quite a while to work this out—they all had links to Tage’s cousin Nete Hermansen, long immured in a Sprogø home for fallen women, whose second chance at a respectable life was dashed when Dr. Curt Wad, a stalwart of the Purity Party, confronted her and her businessman husband publicly with some sordid details of her past. The author cuts back and forth between the fatal day in 1987 when Nete decided to avenge herself on the people who had ruined her life and the present day, when Carl’s investigation of both Nete and Wad is complicated by rumors that Carl helped his cousin Ronny kill Ronny’s father many years ago and further hints of the horrific fatality that first sent Carl to Department Q. Fans of this series can rest assured that neither of these lesser subplots comes anywhere near closure.

There is a surprise twist at the very end that, I dare say, no one saw coming. (I love it when that happens!)

Fantastic read!

 

A Conspiracy of Faith (Department Q #3) by Jussi Alder-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Carl Mørck holds in his hands a bottle that contains old and decayed message, written in blood. It is a cry for help from two young brothers, tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. Could it be real? Who are these boys, and why weren’t they reported missing? Could they possibly still be alive?

Carl’s investigation will force him to cross paths with a woman stuck in a desperate marriage- her husband refuses to tell her where he goes, what he does, how long he will be away. For days on end she waits, and when he returns she must endure his wants, his moods, his threats. But enough is enough. She will find out the truth, no matter the cost to her husband—or to herself.

Carl and his colleagues Assad and Rose must use all of their resources to uncover the horrifying truth in this heart-pounding Nordic thriller from the #1 international bestselling author Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Review –

Inspector Carl Mørck and his raffish colleagues at Copenhagen’s Department Q  go up against a truly fiendish kidnapper.

A few days after he and his brother Tryggve were abducted, Poul Holt managed to scrawl a plea for help in his own blood, deposit it in a bottle and toss it into the sea. Hundreds of miles away, the bottle made landfall and was turned over to Scottish police Sgt. David Bell, who made no attempt to open his discovery. Years passed. Bell died. A computer expert in his station smashed the bottle and immediately contacted Department Q, the perfect venue for the case since “it’s old, it’s unsolved, and no one else could be bothered.”

The group’s assignment begins with trying to figure out, after all this time, what the message says, who wrote it and when. These tasks are made more difficult since no one reported any children missing at the time and place the message indicates. While Carl and his crew are working feverishly on the dead case, the kidnapper is at work bringing it very much back to life by targeting another pair of children, Magdalena Krogh and her big brother, Samuel. (The reason why he prefers to snatch two victims at a time is the story’s most cunning secret, and its most disturbing.) Even after Carl and his Syrian assistant Hafez el-Assad have surmounted the obstacles thrown up by Poul Holt’s parents, who insist that he’s still alive, they’ll have to overcome a much wider conspiracy of silence the kidnapper has been counting on to make accomplices of his victims’ families for all these years.

Fantastic story that will pull at your heart-strings.

I love this series!

 

Find Her (Det. D.D. Warren #8) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2016

Format: Audio

Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora Dane was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime–a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him–she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.

Review –

A kidnapping survivor–turned-vigilante tries to save another young woman while the police do everything they can to save them both.

Flora Dane might look unscathed but she’s permanently scarred from having been abducted while on spring break in Florida seven years earlier by Jacob Ness, a sadistic trucker who held her captive for 472 days, keeping her in a coffin for much of the time when he wasn’t forcing her to have sex with him. Now back in Boston and schooled in self-defense, Flora is obsessed with kidnapped girls and the nature of survival, a topic she touches on a bit more than necessary in the many flashbacks to her time in captivity. The author  must walk a fine line in accurately evoking the horrors of Flora’s past ordeals without slipping into excessive descriptions of violence; she is not entirely successful. When Flora thwarts another kidnapping attempt by killing Devon Goulding, her would-be abductor, Sgt. Detective D.D. Warren’s interest is piqued even though she’s meant to be on restricted duty. Then Flora disappears for real, and Warren, along with Dr. Samuel Keynes, the FBI victim specialist from Flora’s original kidnapping, fears it’s related to the kidnapping three months earlier of Stacey Summers, a case Flora followed closely. Gardner alternates between Warren’s investigation into Flora’s disappearance and Flora’s present-day hell at the hands of a new enemy.

The world of the FBI, the terror of abduction and victim advocates blend into this tense and sometimes hard thriller. The author knows how to invoke  strong emotions, and readers will be forced to deal with tough questions that don’t necessarily have answers.

Five stars !!!!!