Her Last Breath (Kate Burkholder #5) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A rainy night, an Amish father returning home with his three children, a speeding car hurtling toward them out of nowhere.

What at first seems like a tragic, but routine car accident suddenly takes on a more sinister cast as evidence emerges that nothing about the crash is accidental. But who would want to kill an Amish deacon and two of his children? He leaves behind a grieving widow and a young boy who clings to life in the intensive care wing of a hospital, unable to communicate. He may be the only one who knows what happened that night. Desperate to find out who killed her best friend’s husband and why, Kate begins to suspect she is not looking for a reckless drunk, but instead is on the trail of a cold blooded killer amid the residents of Painter’s Mill. It is a search that takes her on a chilling journey into the darkest reaches of the human heart and makes her question everything she has ever believed about the Amish culture into which she was born.

Review –

The story opens with a horrible accident. An Amish father and his children, returning home in their horse-drawn buggy, are demolished by a speeding car that flees into the night. A scene that is so harrowingly rendered it’s as if the reader is an eyewitness.

But was it an accident? Or was it a murder of horrific proportions? If so, why? What’s the payoff for killing off a father and his children?  Nothing is apparent and as Kate digs deeper into the family and the community, a community that still resents her departure from the fold, she uncovers dark deeds and motives that defy understanding. She was best friends, as children, with the wife of the murdered family, but did she really know her at all?

Kate’s continuing and growing relationship with FBI agent John Tomasetti only complicates her life (John has bought a farmhouse about 20 minutes from Painter’s Mill and has asked Kate to move in with him) and skews her choices. Choices that could end her career. John’s too.

Excellent story.

Gone Missing (Kate Burkholder #4)by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.

A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for the presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.

Kate and state agent, John Tomasetti, delve into the lives of the missing teen and discover links to cold cases that may go back years. But will Kate piece together all the parts of this sinister puzzle in time to save the missing teen and the Amish community from a devastating fate? Or will she find herself locked in a fight to the death with a merciless killer?

Review –

Another fantastic book in the Kate Burkholder series. 

This book continues the slow evolution of the Kate Burkholder character as she begins to feel a little more confident not just in her job, but as a woman who can have a real and positive relationship with a man.  John Tomasetti seems to have come to terms with his past and is ready to move on and hopes Kate can do the same. But can she?

The bottom line is GONE MISSING is a complex, often very dark and extremely graphic mystery, that pulls no punches and will mess with your mind long after the last page.

 

Loved it!

 

 

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Book Description:

Published: February 2, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London.

It’s 1939 and Mary, a young socialite, is determined to shock her blue blood political family by volunteering for the war effort. She is assigned as a teacher to children who were evacuated from London and have been rejected by the countryside because they are infirm, mentally disabled, or—like Mary’s favorite student, Zachary—have colored skin.

Tom, an education administrator, is distraught when his best friend, Alastair, enlists. Alastair, an art restorer, has always seemed far removed from the violent life to which he has now condemned himself. But Tom finds distraction in Mary, first as her employer and then as their relationship quickly develops in the emotionally charged times. When Mary meets Alastair, the three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and—while war escalates and bombs begin falling around them—further into a new world unlike any they’ve ever known.

A sweeping epic with the kind of unforgettable characters, cultural insights, and indelible scenes that made Little Bee so incredible, Chris Cleave’s latest novel explores the disenfranchised, the bereaved, the elite, the embattled. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, and incredible courage.

Review –

This is a historical novel set in London and Malta during the second world war. The story is, Cleave discloses in an author’s note, inspired by the lives of his grandparents: his maternal grandfather served in Malta, and his paternal grandmother drove ambulances during the blitz. But below the surface of this novel, the author explores the ways that external events beyond the individual’s control influence the private lives of the characters, with either devastating or transformative consequences.

Generally, I’m not a fan of novels about war or set in periods of war, but once I started this one I was hard pressed to hit the pause button.  The characters were diverse, complex, but a bit flat. I wish the author would have spent more time fleshing them out, especially Tom and Hilda.

With Everyone Brave Is Forgiven Cleave cements his reputation as a skillful storyteller, and a sensitive chronicler of the interplay between the political and the personal. As one character observes: “Who knows what takes more courage – to die in battle, or to live in vain? It cuts all of us in two, I suppose.”

I gave it four out of five stars.

The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski

Book Description:

Published: March 29, 2016

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Review –

Format:
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I love how the author, Marie Rutkoski, starts off the final book exactly where the second one ended. No wasted time rehashing the past happenings. It’s like READY, SET GO!

As with the  other two books in the trilogy, I had the audio version and the narrator, Justine Eyre, does a magnificent job with the voices of all the characters and makes it a very pleasant listening event.

Besides the descriptions of the battles of  war, the author, gave us more in depth development of several secondary characters which made the book richer and gave us a better insight into their actions.

I am fiercely in love with all things Kestrel and Arin. Their relationship struggle in the novel was so real. Finally a YA book where it’s not the fantasy world keeping them apart, but actual real relationship bumps that plagues us all: break down of communication, acknowledgements of individual changes and growth, trust issues, accepting faults along with strengths, understanding personal struggles, guilt of hurting the one you love the most, forgiveness, and above all, mutual respect.

Our protagonists, Kestrel and Arin, experience a lot of growth as previous choices finally reach shocking, climatic consequences, many of which I was unsure how they’d move past. I definitely didn’t expect the changes Kestrel underwent; she is both the same and vastly different, exploring physical and mental strength of female characters.

THE WINNER’S TRILOGY is one of my favorites. I love the way the whole series comes  together as a whole and this last installment is fantastic and I’m really satisfied with how everything came about.

I HIGHLY recommend this series.

Five stars *****

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Fueled (Driven #2) by K. Bromberg

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2013

What happens when the one person you never expected suddenly happens to be the one you’ll fight the hardest to keep?

Colton stole my heart. He wasn’t supposed to, and I sure as hell didn’t want him to, but he crashed into my life, ignited feelings within me that I thought had died forever, and fueled a passion that I never knew could exist.

Rylee fell out of that damn storage closet and into my life. Now I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. She’s seen glimpses of the darkness within me, and yet she’s still here. Still fighting for me. She is without a doubt the saint, and I am most definitely the sinner.

How is it the one thing neither of us wanted—neither of us anticipated that fateful night—has us fighting so hard to keep?

He steals my breath, stops my heart, and brings me back to life again all in a split second of time. But how can I love a man who won’t let me in? Who continually pushes me away to prevent me from seeing the damaged secrets in his past? My heart has fallen, but patience and forgiveness can only go so far.

How can I desire a woman who unnerves me, defies me, and forces me to see that in the deep, black abyss of my soul there’s someone worthy of her love? A place and person I swore I’d never be again. Her selfless heart and sexy body deserve so much more than I’ll ever be capable of giving her. I know I can’t be what she needs, so why can’t I just let her go?

We are driven by need and fueled with desire, but is that enough for us to crash into love?

Review –

After book one, Driven, I had hopped that Rylee would have more of a back bone in this installment of the series, but alas, it was not to be.

She knows that Colton had something horrible happen to him as a child, more than being mistreated by his mother, but he won’t talk about it.If she pushes him too hard he just becomes sullen  and treats her like dirt.

We, as readers, know that Colton was sexually abused by his mother’s “boyfriend” and was forced to say the words I LOVE YOU to his abuser during the act. That is why when Rylee says those words to him he bolts. It’s a trigger for him and takes him back to that horrible time in his life. He sincerely believes that Rylee will want no part of him because of what he did as a child, even though he was forced into it by the one person who was supposed to love him most of all, his mother.  He wants and needs Rylee desperately but does things to sabotage their relationship.

Rylee finds Colton at his Palisades house (his infamous f*ck pad) with Tawny in a very compromising situation but never allows him to explain. Things go from back to worse and over the course of three weeks their relationship has been torn to shreds by both of them.  Finally “Becks” tells them to figure it out or else because Colton has a race the next day and needs his head on straight. So, Colton convinces Rylee to listen and she finds out he did not sleep with Tawny but that she kissed him and he kissed her back and he gets very emotional with Rylee and tells her that he wants to try to continue their relationship and maybe make it into more. He even goes so far as to tell her “I race you” meaning that he loved her.

The next day the race starts off great but a crash occurs and there is so much smoke on the track that Colton is driving blind and his spotter can’t tell him what to do, so he ends up cartwheeling down the track and hitting a barricade and having his car disintegrate around him. He arrests twice on the way to the hospital and that’s THE END. (of course it is) 

I have now started book three in the series, Crashed, and will report on it later.

Great series with plenty of action, drama, love, confrontations  and an abundance of hot sex scenes. I highly recommend this series if you enjoy contemporary/erotic romances.

 

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Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Book Description:

Published: April 14, 2011

Format:
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“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

Review –

If I had been reading this as an e-book or hard back I would probably still be trying to get through it, but I had the audio version and listened to it in the car as I ran errands so I was able to get to the end.

I didn’t care for this book at all. I didn’t like that the emails were so long and mostly boring and I thought the character of Lincoln was creepy, not scary creepy, just on the edge of perversion creepy.

My daughter, an assistant professor at a university in Texas really likes this author so I sent her the audio book and I’m waiting to hear back from her as to how she liked it. I bet she’ll say it was great. Oh well, that’s why everyone is granted an opinion. 

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How to Tame Beasts and Other Wild Things by A. Wilding Wells

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2016

An artsy young woman, given the impossible task by her estranged father to score her widowed brother-in-law a wife, instead finds love, self-discovery and redemption.

“My name is Matilda Pearl. My life is a non-stop riddle I hope to one day solve.
I’ve learned to protect my heart; fate has dealt me more than a few shit cards in my twenty-two years. Invisibility tops my list, not to mention tragedy.
I was yanked out of a Paris-France life by my ass of a father, and thrown into a one year journey on a farm in Wisconsin. I’ve been assigned the impossible: Wife Catcher.
Simply put, until I replace myself I’m Mary Poppins, the beast tamer, ringmaster of the unruly, complete with twin toddlers and a beast of a man. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to my three-ring circus.
“The Beast – Balthazar Cox – is repulsive…as in that sexy, I-just-died-and-went-to-heaven sort of repulsive. He walks the earth like he owns it, with his tatted trunk of a body and chiseled-rough, blazing good looks. The beastly Brit – did I mention that he’s English? – also happens to be my widowed brother-in-law, a man haunted by betrayal and abandonment, and for whom I’m on task to find a wife. If I succeed I’ll be rewarded with my juicy trust fund. And, yes, it will happen. You can keep your diamonds and designer clothes…. With my bag of loot, I plan on becoming the Patron Saint of Lost and Found Animals.

“When the past resurfaces more than once for both of us, all hell breaks loose. Can you be lost and found at once? In other words, sometimes lies can be cathartic. Some people heal us; some of us heal others.
“This is mostly a love story, an unlikely sexy romance with whiplash twists, boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, and multiple risks of losing everything. It may have more heartache, and drama than some but in the end it’s about truth, discovery and forgiveness. Maybe it was wrong to fall for him. Or maybe the hole in his heart was always waiting for me to fill it. Now there’s a riddle for you.”

Review –

Fantastically quirky with humor for good measure, is how I would describe this book. I can’t tell a lie – I chose to read this book because of the cover and really had no idea what to expect. It made me feel emotion at every turn. I loved it!

Apart from an impossibly sweet and hot romance, there are also moments of absolute hilarity. House trained donkeys, horny bees, foul mouthed parrots, chandeliered chicken coops and a possessed staircase all play a part in this crazy ride. I laughed about as hard as I swooned and I shed a tear about as many times as I had to fan myself. What an absolutely charmingly odd little gem of a book.

Highly recommended!

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The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan Philipp Sendker

Book Description:

Published: January 21, 2012

A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

Review –

After more than 25-30 years of marriage, a man leaves his family and goes back to Burma to re-unite with his first love. Four years later, his wife finds a love letter he wrote long ago to his Burmese woman and gives it go her daughter and says she can do what she wants but that she, the wife, doesn’t want to know what she finds out.

The daughter travels to Burma and comes upon a man who tells her a long story which is about the life of her father and the woman her loved. As it turns out, her father is dead and so is the woman he loved but the man she has been talking to over a week or more is her brother.

It is a story that makes the reader feel sorry for the man one minute  and hate him the next. The book will pull at your heart-strings and makes a very good Summer read.

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Thrash (Bayonet Scars #2) by J.C. Emery

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2014

Loneliness suffocates the heart. Acceptance breaks down walls.

As a Lost Girl to the Forsaken Motorcycle Club, Nicole Whelan knows how to party. She’s not cut-out for relationships and her life is way too complicated for anything more than casual encounters. But one night when she falls into Duke’s bed at the clubhouse, he sees something in her that he can’t let go of—no matter how many times she tries to run.

Having been left to raise her teenage brother, Jeremy, she’s already got her hands full and isn’t looking for anymore complications. But Duke’s just watched his best friend fall for the only girl he couldn’t have, and then almost lose her so shortly after, shaking him to his core. Faced with his own loneliness, he’s more determined than ever to break down Nic’s walls and show her that he can be good for her; but he’s got a bad track record and she’s got a bad temper. Changing his ways isn’t easy when he’s not sure what he’s even changing for.

The violence and turmoil are at an all-time high, and Forsaken is in a vulnerable place when a twist of fate breathes new life into the club. It’s a much-needed beacon of hope for the embattled biker family, even if everyone’s not exactly on board. With Duke and Nic’s relationship already on shaky ground, and something even more important at stake, the Forsaken Motorcycle Club will fight like hell to keep their family together and whole.

Love is never more precious than when it’s new.

Review –

Each one of the books in the Bayonet Scars series could be considered a stand alone but they also finish off the previous one, if that makes sense.

In Thrash Ryan and Alex from Ride  get their HEA but the book primarily deals with Nicole (Nic) and Duke.

Nic and Duke have a past together and he hurt her badly so that’s why she has kept her distance but now she can’t and she gives in to her need and desire for him.  Likewise, Duke knows he has hurt Nic and knows he probably will again but that doesn’t stop him from claiming her as his own, no matter the cost.

A great steamy read with sizzling sex scenes.

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Deadline by Sandra Brown

Book Description:

Published: September 24, 2013

Dawson Scott is a well-respected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan. Haunted by everything he experienced, he’s privately suffering from battle fatigue which is a threat to every aspect of his life. But then he gets a call from a source within the FBI. A new development has come to light in a story that began 40 years ago. It could be the BIG story of Dawson’s career–one in which he has a vested interest.

Soon, Dawson is covering the disappearance and presumed murder of former Marine Jeremy Wesson, the biological son of the pair of terrorists who remain on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. As Dawson delves into the story, he finds himself developing feelings for Wesson’s ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons. But when Amelia’s nanny turns up dead, the case takes a stunning new turn, with Dawson himself becoming a suspect. Haunted by his own demons, Dawson takes up the chase for the notorious outlaws. . .and the secret, startling truth about himself.

Review –

I found it very hard to become invested in this book because after the prologue it was very slow in most parts and it bogged down. It does have two serious twists that I did not see coming and that made up for the slowness but on the whole I rated it three out of five stars. I listened to it driving back and forth to another town about 100 miles away for several days in a row,(husband had surgery)so I was stuck listening or I would have pulled my hair out.

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