After The Storm (Kate Burkholder #7) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 14, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a tornado tears through Painters Mill and unearths human remains, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder finds herself tasked with the responsibility of identifying the bones–and notifying the family. Evidence quickly emerges that the death was no accident and Kate finds herself plunged into a thirty year old case that takes her deep into the Amish community to which she once belonged.

Meanwhile, turmoil of an emotional and personal nature strikes at the very heart of Kate’s budding relationship with state agent John Tomasetti. A reality that strains their fragile new love to the breaking point and threatens the refuge they’ve built for themselves–and their future.

Under siege from an unknown assailant–and her own personal demons–Kate digs deep into the case only to discover proof of an unimaginable atrocity, a plethora of family secrets and the lengths to which people will go to protect their own.

Review –

This was, by far, the best of the Kate Burkholder novels to date.

Besides hunting for the identity of the bones found in the crawl space of an old barn, Kate discovers that she’s pregnant. She’s on the pill but sometimes is lax about routinely taking them so she feels guilty.  Add to this that Tomasetti isn’t thrilled about it and admits that he doesn’t even think he wants kids again. Of course, later, when heads are clearer he comes to want the child and even buys Kate an Amish made cradle.

The tension between Kate and John was so strong you could feel it. Linda Castillo is a great creator of angst.

I had my fingers crossed that the author would let it work out but because of all the falls and rough blows she took subduing the murderer, Kate loses the baby. I cried and cried and cried. I guess it just wasn’t the right time for them but I have my fingers crossed that soon their happily ever after will happen.

Five stars !!!!!

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward

Book Description:

Published: July 28, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

Review –

It took me longer than usual to listen to this book because I had purchased it through Audible and therefore I own it and could take my time. At the same time I was listening to this book several books became available through OverDrive and I had to listen to them first because you only have them for a limited time. That being said, every time I went back to The Bourbon Kings, I was immediately back in the world of the very rich and privileged and all the problems that goes along.

The family dynamic of the of the Baldwin family(pronounced Baldwine) is dysfunctional to say the least. The Father has embezzled millions from his own company and his wife’s account, the Mother, is on drugs most of the time and stays in her suite of rooms, the oldest son, Edward, is a shell of the man he used to be due to being kidnapped and tortured for ransom, which his father did not pay, Max, another son is MIA, Lane has been in New York for the last two years playing poker and keeping his distance from the rest of the family and finally Gin, the daughter who can not live without the lifestyle she has been accustomed and therefore agrees to marry a sexual sadist and controlling man because he is very very rich.

I have not read a J.R. Ward book before but I know he’s famous for his paranormal books. This one is like a Southern soap opera with a bunch of horrible people making horrible choices.

There is a cliffhanger ending, but I expected that. Too bad there are seven people ahead of me on OverDrive for the net in the series, The Angel’s Share, but while I wait I’ll find other books to read or listen to, I always do.

Five stars *****

Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder #2) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 22, 2010

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The Plank family moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to join the small Amish community of Painters Mill less than a year ago and seemed the model of the Plain Life—until on a cold October night, the entire family of seven was found slaughtered on their farm. Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive, and no suspect. Formerly Amish herself, Kate is no stranger to the secrets the Amish keep from the English—and each other—but this crime is horribly out of the ordinary.

State agent John Tomasetti arrives on the scene to assist. He and Kate worked together on a previous case during which they began a volatile relationship. They soon realize the disturbing details of this case will test their emotional limits and force them to face demons from their own troubled pasts—and for Kate, a personal connection that is particularly hard to bear.

When she discovers a diary that belonged to one of the teenaged daughters, Kate is shocked to learn the girl kept some very dark secrets and may have been living a lurid double life. Who is the charismatic stranger who stole the young Amish girl’s heart? Could the brother—a man with a violent past, rejected and shunned by his family and the Amish community, have come to seek out revenge? As Kate’s outrage grows so does her resolve to find the killer and bring him to justice—even if it means putting herself in the line of fire.

Review –

Another great read/listen in the Kate Burkholder series. In this one, the second in the series, we learn more about Kate’s background and her demons and also the baggage John Tomasetti carries within him. They have a strong chemistry but also act like opposing magnets. Neither wants to “need” another person in their life, when in reality it is exactly what they need.

The murders in this book were very gruesome and some were described in detail so if blood and guts bother you steer clear of this one. If you’re not the squeamish type give this book a try. 

 

Road to Nowhere (Road to Nowhere #1) by M. Robinson

Book Description:

Published: December 6, 2016

Format: E-Book

I once read that every warrior hoped an honorable death would find him. I always went looking for mine, but not even the Reaper wanted me.
I was trained to kill. I was trained to not ask why. To take orders and just march in line. Hooah motherfucker.
Life or death.
Ride or die.
And I’m not only talking about the military. I’m talking about the life that led me on the road to nowhere.
My life.
I fought for my brothers.
I fought for my family.
I fought for my country.
And I fought for her…

Never realizing I might die for them too.

Review –

This book had me feeling several emotions, anxiety, sadness, wariness, and kept me turning pages to the very end.

Creed is a member of a MC club and meets Mia, the kid sister of his best friend. He’s 19 and she’s 9 and she loves him from the minute they meet and over the years she wants him to see her as a “woman” and not a little girl. Creed becomes Vice President of the MC club and the girl he likes, Autumn is killed in the 9/11 bombing and because of that he enlists for four years. Mia grows up but still is too young but she tries to convince Creed whenever he is home on leave. Finally he knows he has to break her heart in order to get her to stay away from  him, for her sake.

Mia is not quite 16 when she goes to MC club party with a girlfriend of hers and meets “Rebel” and she gives him her virginity all the while wished it were Creed. Her first and one time to have sex and she gets pregnant and goes to tell Rebel and finds out he is Creed’s younger brother. Creed finds out and all hell breaks loose.

Everything in this book, it’s just so damn good. The overprotectiveness that Mia had to go through. Her father, a Good Ol’ Boy, not allowing her to truly grow up. The choices she made because of that – I truly felt her frustration, anger and her passion to live. I love how everyone is somehow intertwined in this book. Creed is friends with Mason who is the son another Good Ol’ Boy. It just makes the entire story even more interesting.
The ending. (I won’t say what happens but it’s bad) Holy shit. Seriously?!!? Killing me here! I know it’s with good intentions. But damn, I am dying here. I am seriously sucked into this whole story and I need the rest so badly. The second book in the series comes out later this year and I can’t wait.

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Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Book Description:

Published: March 22, 2011

Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

Review –

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This is a fantastic read/listen ( I had the audio version ) and although it is slow and repetitive in places it grabs your heart-strings and doesn’t let go.

It’s a book to be equally enjoyed by young adults as well as their parents because the issues are presented from both perspectives. The main characters are twins, Mia and Zack  and Jude, their adept but hovering mother and Lexi, a lonely teen living with her aunt.

Mothers will  relate to her parenting skills and worrying. Young adults and teens will relate to the push and pull of finding independence from one’s parents and the necessity of being accepted by peers. It’s layered with issues on family dynamics, teenage angst and romance, first loves, sibling rivalry, friendship, forgiveness, grief and motherhood making it an excellent read.

I felt so sorry for Lexi who just can’t catch a break and so angry at Zack for putting Lexi in a position that  endangered all three of them and ended Mia’s life.

The ending is a bit too much HALLMARK, but I’m glad everything worked out for everyone.

All in all a great book.

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Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2016

Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna’s new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can’t know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.

Review –

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This was the most depressing book that I think I have ever read or listened to but it is also very haunting.

In the “tell me again times”, Anna’s mom tells her the story of how she was alone and had always wanted a daughter. But Anna slowly learns the truth, having a daughter is not enough to fill the void inside her mother. So she watches as her mother marries, divorces, marries, divorces, and then spends a great deal of time dating man after man and leaving Anna in the house alone.
Anna often spends night after night alone in the lying house. It looks beautiful, but it is empty. She turns on the TV to fill it with noise. She wanders from room to room. And when nothing she can do fills that emptiness, she begins to try to fill it with boys in much the same way she sees her mother trying to fill her own emptiness with men.

Anna’s story is a series of relationships, very few of them real or fulfilling:
Her mother – absent, distant, unaware
The first boy – a boy who assaults her on the school bus, although she doesn’t realize at the time what it is.
Joey – For a while, he fills the void. But then just as her mother told her all men do, he leaves.
The rapist – he haunts her.
Toy – the best friend, lost herself, but Anna doesn’t recognize this until much later.
Josh – For a while, he too fills the void.
And then Sam – here she sees for the first time what a real family must look like, and it creates in her a longing so real, so palpable that the world around her shifts.

By the time Sam comes along Anna has gotten pregnant and had an abortion but he is a virgin and wants to WAIT for their first time together.  They do wait-for awhile but the temptation is too great and they have sex, whenever and where ever they can. One afternoon Anna goes over to Sam’s house because he is sick and one thing leads to another and they have sex and his mother walks in on them and tells her to leave.  

It’s during this time of depression and loneliness that Anna discovers that Toy is as broken as she is and has been lying about all her romantic boyfriends (none of whom exist). Anna  has been trying  fill the emptiness inside of her with boy after boy after boy until she sees something else and decides she is going to find a way to make it happen for herself, and it’s  important because Anna realizes this for herself and acts upon it for herself.

The book ends with Anna feeling hopeful and that’s something she has never felt before.

Very thought-provoking.

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A Field Guide to Catching Crickets by A. Wilding Wells

Book Description:

Published: June 7, 2016

FAIR WARNING!
If you are a sensitive reader please be aware that you may find topics in this book to be terribly offensive. I’d rather you not read it than receive a bad review because you have been offended. This is a fictional story but the hideousness of what happens is gut-wrenching. This book does have a gorgeous HEA that will move you to tears.

The soul is not where it lives, but where it loves.

A countryside ranch, naughty notes and a neighbor boy. Kissing in silos and skinny dipping under a full moon. Ten years gone. An ocean, a tragedy…secrets and buried things. Letting go and hanging on. Remembering to forget.

My reality became his nightmare, but then my nightmare became reality.

Hawke Slater was not only my brothers’ best friend, he was a tender, sweet country boy. I never wanted to leave, but there was no choice for me. Two things kept my soul alive, and I’m hanging onto hope that one might be an option for my future.

I wish none of it had been my fault, but it was.

Sloan Story McQueen has returned. Why would I hold out an ounce of hope that she’d want me once she finds out what I do for a living. Some call it obscene, but I’m just chasing storms and rainbows.

She’s holding onto something big. If only it were me.

This novel contains adult content and is not intended for sensitive readers.

Review –

Five stars *****

This is an adult contemporary romance and deals with a relationship between Hawke and Sloan (aka Cricket) and began as children, became shattered as teens and rose up again, phoenix like ten years later.  Some parts made my heart hurt and tears fall down my cheeks,while others made me smile and laugh.

Sloan went through so much alone (without Hawke) in a foreign country and against her will because of a deep love her had for her child, Hawke’s child. A child who died at seven. Hawke never stopped loving her but will her lies of omission bring the love affair to and end.   Read it to find out!

Truly a masterpiece of writing.

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Mate, Part One by Violet Haze

Book Description:

Published: January 14, 2015

Kidnapped.
Collared and kept as a slave for two months.
Set free and sent home, only for her whole life to completely fall apart.

Simone, a twenty-two year old single mother, has no reason to trust anyone ever again, especially the mysterious man who leaves her a generous tip after a brief conversation. Yet she can’t help being drawn to him, and soon discovers his identity, which makes her wonder what he wants with a woman like her.

Isaac is a man on a mission, and he’ll do whatever it takes to claim Simone as his own, forever.

Review –

This is part one of a four-part serial and the books are very short.

After two months of being kept in the dark and treated as a sex slave (Side note: it is during the first part of the story that we see the darkness of the “Master” and the brutal way he treats Cara. She never fought back and she’s always questioned that.) and called by the name of Cara, Simone is released and taken home only to find out that her husband paid to have her kidnapped and treated as a slave because it was one of her fantasies and finds him in bed with another woman. She cannot believe he would do such a thing especially not telling her. She divorcing him but finds herself pregnant by her kidnapper whose face she never saw and knew only by the name of “Master.”

Being a single mother with a young baby and having no real education Simone is working as a waitress at a diner and has caught the eye of a strange man who leaves her a $200 tip after seeing that she needed new shoes.

Time goes by and he doesn’t come back to the diner, then one night as Simone is leaving he steps out of the shadows and eventually walks her home.

Later he sends her a fancy blue dress and sends a driver to pick her up so they can have dinner at his penthouse. (Side note: Isaac is the man who kidnapped Simone and treated her as a sex slave for two months thinking she was in on the plan and had signed the appropriate forms. She did not and he feels terrible about it since it was rape ever time he made her have sex with him. He felt something for her then and wants her now for his own)

After the dinner, he says something  that reminds her of the man who held her captive and Isaac sensing something’s off sends her home and leaves an envelope with $2000 in it.  Needless to say, Simone is as a loss to understand his mood swings and is resentful of being left the money.

Dark Adult Erotica

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Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

Book Description:

Published: October 6, 2015

The two-time Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt delivers the shattering story of Joseph, a father at thirteen, who has never seen his daughter, Jupiter. After spending a harrowing time in a juvenile facility, Joesph, who is now fourteen, is placed with a foster family on a farm in rural Maine. Here Joseph, damaged and withdrawn, meets twelve-year-old Jack, who narrates the account of the troubled, passionate teen who wants to find his baby at any cost. When Joseph has begun to believe he’ll have a future, he is confronted by demons from his past that force a tragic sacrifice.

In this riveting novel, two boys discover the true meaning of family and the sacrifices it requires.

Review –

I won this book through a give-away on GoodReads and it arrived this past Monday. As soon as I opened to the first page I knew I HAD to finished it in one sitting.

Joseph’s mother is dead and his father is abusive and he gets into trouble through no real fault of his own. Just a moment of poor judgement and his life is changed forever. He has gotten a girl pregnant and she died in childbirth and the baby daughter,Jupiter, is given up for adoption.

He is sexually abused in a juvenile prison  and when he gets out he goes to stay with a foster family on a farm in Maine where he learns, among other things to milk cows and finds he really enjoys it.  No matter what any day brings finding Jupiter is always on his mind.

Jack, who is twelve, likes Joseph and feels protective of him and when kids at school bully him or give him trouble on the bus, Jack is there to “have his back”.

I won’t tell you if Joseph finds his daughter or how the book ends but it is a heart wrenching tear jerker and I dare anyone to read this book and NOT shed a tear. (It is a very short book and I HIGHLY recommend it)

It is a story that will stay with me forever.  

Five stars *****

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