Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Gone Too Far- Book Review

Gone Too Far by Debra Webb

Devlin & Falco, Book 2 (Standalone)
Publication Date: 27 Apr 2021

Genre: Mystery/ Thrillers
4.1 Stars

The book, second in the series, has Devlin and Falco teaming up with Sadie Cross again. The DDA (deputy district attorney) is found dead along with another famous businessman. The double homicide has links deeper than anyone would have expected. These lead the detectives straight to Sadie and her past (which she cannot remember except in bits and pieces).

To add to the pressure, there has been an incident at Tori’s school. Tori is the teenage daughter of Kate Devlin and is facing issues of her own. The more they dig around, the more the cases merge, complicating things from all sides.

There are powerful people who do not want their roles exposed. Orders are bypassed, and people are double-crossed. Can the trio solve the cases before more lives are lost?

I haven’t read book 1, but that didn’t make any difference. There are references to the previous case, but those are used to highlight the personalities of the characters rather than alter the current cases.

The writing is easy to read, and the story flows at a steady pace. Something or the other happens in every chapter and scene. I was never once bored with the book or wanted to skim through. The chapters are marked with the location, date, time, and character so that we know who will play a prominent role.

One of the reviewers said that the blurb doesn’t do justice to the book. I agree. This book needs a better blurb. The story is gripping, even though some of it is predictable. The emotions of the characters are neither overwhelming nor bland. They strike the right note to keep the focus on the story.

The ending isn’t rushed or abrupt. The threads are knotted one after another just as leisurely as they were unraveled. The relationship of the trio is being explored one step at a time to build the series. That works well for the book.

Even though there are quite a lot of characters to remember, it’s not a big deal once we get into the book. There isn’t a lot of intense action or violence. That’s another plus. Though I have no issues with violence in books, it wasn’t needed in this one. The author maintained that restraint rather well.

One of the tropes wasn’t that effective or gripping, but that’s fine. There are only so many tropes to try, after all.

To conclude, this is a fast-paced thriller that starts and ends well. 

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer. 

#GoneTooFar #NetGalley

Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Light at Wyndcliff- Book Review

The Light at Wyndcliff by Sarah E. Ladd

Cornwall Series #3 (Standalone)
Genre: Historical Fiction, European Lit, Clean Romance

3.9 stars

The story is set in Cornwall in the 1820s, with its rugged coastline and open moorlands. The book starts with a focus on Evelyn Bray’s life and how it changes with the entry of Liam Twethewey, the new owner of the Wyndcliff Hall.

The duo has to struggle through the shipwrecks that seem to have a sinister cause than the raging waves of the sea. Evelyn’s grandfather, Rupert Bray, the steward of Wyndcliff, appears to be one man to his granddaughter and another to others, especially Liam.

When shipwreck survivors (a child and her mother) are housed in the estate, Evelyn naturally takes the responsibility of caring for them.

Evelyn is uncovering, rather, overhearing conversations that make her doubt many things. She is troubled and pained by her mother’s attitude. Her attraction for Liam is another burden on her fragile shoulders.

Liam realizes the sad state of the estate and knows he needs to get started on the clay pits to start earning. He doesn’t know whom to trust, except Evelyn. His feelings for her grow stronger, but many things come in the way.

The book goes at a steady pace. It is neither too mysterious nor exactly romantic. Both genres have been touched with a light hand. The mystery part is more, but it’s easy to guess what’s going on and what will happen.

For his age, he is quite matured and capable. Evelyn is sensible and yet vulnerable. The other characters were interesting. But I wish some of them had more meat. Even Rupert Bray needed more scenes to do justice to the intricacies of his characters. Probably because the book had to fit into the clean historical genre, the author didn’t explore the flaws and gray shades in depth.

Overall, it is an engaging book with a mild mystery and a teeny bit of romance with a happy-ever-after at the end. It’s not too deep or complicated. You can just go with the flow.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Thomas Nelson. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#TheLightatWyndcliff #NetGalley

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Lost Village- Book Review

 The Lost Village by Daniela Sacerdoti

Publication Date: 16th Nov 2020
Genre: Historical fiction, Women’s fiction

3.9 Stars

“An emotional World War Two historical romance set in Italy”- this is the tagline of the book.

The story deals with Luce (pronounced Lu- Chay), a 43-year-old woman, who goes to Bosconero, a small village in Italy, to trace her roots. With her mother refusing to answer her questions, her 19-year-old son away at Photography School. Separated from her husband for three years, Luce is determined to know why her mother has erased her past.

She meets Matilde on the internet and flies to Italy (from Seattle) to meet her and connect with her Nonna and Uncle. A disastrous earthquake destroys most of the village and the nearby hamlets. There are tragedies and trauma everywhere. Luce is fighting her instincts (and her family) to not run away to safety. Ethan’s sudden entry surprises her in many ways. She needs to know what happened.

What she uncovers has a much bigger effect than she realizes, but can there possibly be a happy ending, even if it bittersweet? What about her future with Ethan? Is there one?

The cover, the blurb, and the setting made the decision for me. I had to read this book. To a great extent, I’m glad I did. The descriptions, the imagery, and details of the setting were vivid and wonderful. Watching David Rocco’s shows explore Italy, I’ve been fascinated by its countryside. I could picturize the villages, the houses, the people, and streets as I read the book.

Some of the characters are well-etched, especially Luce (she is also the narrator), Matilde, Massimo, Angelina (Luce’s mom), and Nonna. Nonna takes the cake for the number of layers she has. Until the end, we are surprised by the turns in her character. She is the core of the plot. She holds it all together, and in a strange way (no spoilers).

Other characters like Carlo and Ethan had more scope, but being women’s fiction, I suppose the focus was more on the ladies. The story goes into flashbacks in between (easy to follow) and gives us more information.

What I liked was the portrayal of Luce after the earthquake. It’s realistic without being dramatic and overwhelming. She simply doesn’t decide she wants to stay. That doesn’t happen, does it? Her internal conflict, her confusion, her anguish, and her desperation are human and true.

The story is paced well but became a bit too rushed towards the end. The actual reveal was immediately followed by another incident that soon flows into the conclusion and an epilogue. I wish this was paced better. As a reader, I’ve been invested in their lives (the writing is very good and flows beautifully) and wanted to let each incident sink into my memory.

A little more breathing space at that place, and I’d have happily given the story a 4.2 or maybe even more. I had high hopes by then. This is the first book by the author I’ve read, but I’ll be reading more for sure. I like the writing style. Luce has a lot of thoughts; she does express them but doesn’t ramble on and on.

There isn’t much about WW II, though it does play its role in the story. The story focuses on the characters, and the effects of war are just one aspect. It’s the humans who make decisions, and that’s the basis of the story.

Being an uncorrected copy, it had a few typos. Nothing that hindered my reading.

Overall, this is a beautiful book, one that touches various topics and ultimately leaves us with a soft smile.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bookouture.

#TheLostVillage #NetGalley

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Open House- Book Review

The Open House by Sam Carrington

Publication Date: 10th Dec 2020
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

3.5 stars

The blurb talks about the open house event (an attempt by the heroine, Amber) to sell the house our heroine, Amber, and her two kids live in. She is separating from Nick, her husband, and plans to relocate to another city to live with her boyfriend, Richard.

So thirteen people enter the house during the event, and only 12 go out. What happens to the 13th person? Are they responsible for the strange occurrences in the house? Are they the same person who will do anything to make sure that the house doesn’t get sold?

Isn’t that an interesting premise? Coupled with the cover picture, I requested the ARC of the book immediately.

Three people narrate the story, with Amber having the maximum share. The other is Barb, her MIL, and the third person is a stranger/ killer(?).

What I Like:

The character development is good. Even if I don’t relate to any of them, I can visualize the characters enact their roles. The author sets up layer after layer of suspense, building it high and high. The narration is steady (even if not seems to be happening at times). There are too many characters. But somehow, all of them contribute in one way or another. I could deduce some and was surprised by others, so that’s balanced.

The chapters are short, which made it a relatively easy read. It’s 384 pages, after all (and no, I wasn’t aware of the page count until later). For me, to touch 100 pages in 70-80 minutes means that the book is a fast-read.

What I Felt Lacking:

The climax wasn’t as impactful as it should be. It ended up more as an info-dump about the past rather than create any lasting effect on the reader. Too much was withheld until the last 20%, where it was unleashed on the reader in rapid succession.

Amber blabbers quite a lot. Yes, she is stressed and under a lot of pressure, but we could do with a little less rambling.

There are a lot of subplots. They are solved and interlinked, but not in a satisfactory manner. The biggest issue is, of course, the ending. It fell flat after all the high hopes. Talking more about it would reveal the story, so no more.

Overall, this is a decent thriller that could have been paced better (in terms of sharing information with the readers). A must-read? Nope.

I got an ARC from NetGalley and Avon Books UK.

#NetGalley #TheOpenHouse

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fatal Intent- Book Review

 Fatal Intent by Tammy Euliano

Publication Date: 02nd March 2021
Genre: Medical Thriller/ Suspense

3.9 Stars

Anesthesiologist, Dr. Kate Downey has enough issues to deal with. When the elderly patients who were under the care start to die, she worries how it would affect her already troubled career. As more deaths occur, and Christian, the son of one of the dead man wants to check if there was something sinister, Kate agrees to check the reports with him.

The incidents at the hospital, the hostility from the Chief of Staff, a surgeon, and a medical student begin to push her into a corner. Kate knows she needs to get to the bottom of the issue. Together with Christian, Aunt Erm, and a few others, she starts collecting information. 

She gets threats, has to take a leave of absence, and almost loses her life. With her husband, Greg, lying in a coma for a year with no signs of improvement, Kate has a lot to lose. How she gathers evidence, fights the killer, and finally comes to terms with some things in her life forms the story.

The book starts on a slow note, and with so many characters being introduced, it gets hard to keep track. But the story picks up speed, and it gets easier to remember the characters. Not all of them are important, so it’s easy once we get into the story.

The narration slows down and picks up at the appropriate places, making the story quite intriguing and engaging. While the readers know who the killer is and even probably why the way the climax was handled was very good. There is action, enough of it to keep us reading page after page without taking a break.

Some of the characters felt unidimensional as if that’s all they could do. It did bring down the interest a little. However, Aunt Irm gets our attention. The way her mind works, and how she expresses it makes her a strong and sensible character. While Kate is hesitant, cautious, and wondering, Aunt Irm doesn’t hesitate or stall. She is straightforward and better at connecting the dots.

The theme deals with Religion and God, but the author handled it deftly without overemphasizing, taking sides, or preaching. This balance works well for the book.

Overall, the story needs some patience and determination to read the first 20%. But stick around, and you’ll enjoy a good medical thriller (even if some of it is too complex for non-medics to understand).

I received an ARC copy from NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing. 

#FatalIntent #NetGalley

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Land Steward’s Daughter- Book Review

 The Land Steward’s Daughter by Becky Michaels

Publication Date: 10th Nov 2020
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency

3.7 Stars

Elaina is waiting for Will, her childhood sweetheart, to return from the Napoleon war. Letters keep them connected through the years as both feel love blooming between them.

But Elaina is the daughter of a land steward, and Will is the second son of a duke. It doesn’t help that Elaina feels grateful towards the duke and the duchess for caring for her from her childhood. With Elaina being pressurized to get married (she’s 25 years old already) and Will returning right on time, things seem anything but easy for these two lovebirds.

Thrown in Will’s elder brother and his already decided fiancé, a prospective suitor for Elaina, and a bunch of other characters and we have a decent story about their lives.

The writing is nice, and the flow is good. It took a while in the beginning, but I picked up the pace soon. None of the characters are perfect. They have emotions humans are expected to have. However, they do redeem themselves quite soon. We have no villains in the book. There is some drama, but nothing too complex.

In fact, there really isn’t anything complex or twisted in this book. It’s light and easy to read. If you are looking for a book where you don’t have to invest your emotions, this one should work well. It has various conflicts, all of which, get resolved quite easily.

I’m not sure if more books will follow this one (it says the book si snot a part of a series), but some characters just drifted in and out without much to do. Also, some characters probably need HEA someday. Either way, it wouldn’t make difference to this one. It ends well.

Overall, it’s a nice book, but not something that will stay with you for a while. It’s something you’d pick up one noon, read, smile, finish, and move on. Great for reading between two heavy books.

I received an advance review copy for free from BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.