Book Reviews

Book Review: The Nine Minutes Series by Beth Flynn

I know nothing about motorcycles or bikers and have never been interested in books about motorcycle clubs/gangs. That’s why it took so long for me to get around to reading Nine Minutes, despite the fact that everyone I know who’s read it has loved it. Plus, I know I shouldn’t, but I do judge books by their covers. So based on the cover (with the motorcycle and the tattooed biker), I assumed I might not love it as much as others did. Well, I stand corrected.

NINE MINUTES IS PHENOMENAL!

I was sucked in from the very first page, and I could not stop thinking about it when other things prevented me from reading. All of the characters are so well developed that they felt real to me, as if the story was a diary about true events. In fact, Beth Flynn did such a great job developing these characters that I actually miss them. And I have absolutely no idea how she did it, but she made me fall in love with a big, burly biker! #TeamGrizz ❤

Immediately after I finished Nine Minutes, I one-clicked Out of Time (The Nine Minutes Trilogy Book 2) and LOVED it. Then immediately after I finished part two, I one-clicked A Gift of Time (The Nine Minutes Trilogy Book 3). Loved that one too. Thanks for the amazing ride, Ms. Flynn!

Rating (Nine Minutes): 5 STARS

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Rating (Out of Time): 5 STARS

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Rating (A Gift of Time): 5 STARS

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Nineteen by E.S. Carter

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Nineteen by E.S Carter introduces us to playboy Jake Fox and plain-Jane Emma Campbell. There’s obvious chemistry when the two first meet, but then something tragic occurs, temporarily halting any chance of a relationship yet bonding them emotionally at the same time.

This is a great ‘opposites attract’ love story. Carter’s writing style is smooth and easy to take in, and her characters say, think and do realistic things. Jake is a total womanizer, so I didn’t care for him at first. But what he does for Emma and the personal growth he experiences throughout the story (as a result of his feelings for her) changed my opinion of him. By the end, I was really rooting for them to be together. And then . . . BOOM! . . . I swiped left on my Kindle expecting some sort of resolution to what seemed like a benign situation at the end of the book, and my heart dropped. After a few moments of pure shock and sadness, I smiled because what’s on the last page is unexpected and quite clever.

This is just the beginning of Jake and Emma’s story, so yes, it ends with a cliffhanger. But it’s a cliffhanger that will likely leave you stunned and wanting more.

Rating: 5 STARS

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Emancipation by Jo Michaels

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I’m a big fan of books about serial killers, whether they’re fiction or not. There’s just something about the mind of a psychopath that intrigues me… Anyway, Emancipation is a must-read for anyone like me who enjoys reading about the more gruesome side of the human psyche.

In this book, Michaels not only takes readers into the mind of a serial killer, but she also provides an up close and personal look at prison life. It was all absolutely fascinating. She also accomplished something quite difficult; she fleshed out Tobias’s character so well that I actually felt drawn to him and bad for him at times, making it completely believable that Jess (the pretty, young lawyer who’s trying to get him out of prison) is enamored by him. Now, that’s messed up, yet really cool at the same time.

A few things that occurred might seem a bit far-fetched as far as what would be allowed in a prison, but truth really is often stranger than fiction, and it all made sense in the end. Speaking of the end…WOW. What a twist! I suspected there had to be a twist and wondered a time or two if it would involve a certain something, but even so, I loved it!

This is the third book by Jo Michaels that I’ve read and definitely not the last. The cool thing about her (besides the fact that she’s a great writer) is her versatility. Historical fiction. Fantasy. Horror. Thrillers. ZOMBIES! And no matter what she writes, she writes it well. So if you haven’t read a book by Ms. Michaels yet, I highly recommend you do so.

RATING: 5 STARS

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn

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Sucked in from the very first page, I had a hard time putting this one down until I finished it.

Convicted cult leader locked up in a maximum security prison (for murdering two and convincing eight others to take their own lives) wants to tell his side of the story to a true crime writer? Yes, please. Tell me everything! Unfortunately, things don’t go as crime writer Lucas Graham expects them to.

My favorite thing about this book is the way Ahlborn set up the chapters, alternating between past and present and throwing in newspaper articles, police reports, and paranormal investigative reports. It could not have been an easy feat for her to keep all of the details straight and tie everything together, but she pulled it off brilliantly. Up until around 80%, this book was a solid 5-star read for me. Without spoilers, I can’t explain why the ending didn’t satisfy me the way the rest of the book did, so let’s just say the turn it took wasn’t for me. Even so, the final chapter was pretty darn clever, and I love Ahlborn’s style.

I highly recommend this one to those of you who are looking for a great suspense thriller with a paranormal slant and are intrigued by stories about cults. Just keep in mind that you might have a difficult time pulling yourself away to do other things. (Like eat or shower, for example.)

RATING: 4 STARS

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Book Review: Author Anonymous by E.K. Blair

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Since there was a lot of buzz about this book leading up to its release, I added it to my to-read shelf. After all, I’m drawn to stories that involve scandal, betrayal, and morally bankrupt characters. I had no plans to read it right away, but then it was released, and there was even more buzz about it. So I made a mental note to read it sooner than later. THEN the standard buzz (which typically surrounds new releases by best-selling authors) became infused with drama and gossip, catapulting Author Anonymous to the top of my to-read list.

For the first 21% of the book (up to chapter seven), I started to wonder what all the negative hype was about. I found Tori to be relatable and couldn’t imagine her doing anything to make so many readers so angry. I began to wonder if maybe I just have a higher tolerance for seriously flawed individuals who make bad decisions. But then, Tori crosses a line with one particular character, and that’s when the story really sucked me in. I felt a combination of shocked, irritated, sad, and nervous for the rest of the story.

The roller coaster of emotions I experienced was not solely because of Anonymous’ story either. It was also due to E.K.’s amazing ability to elicit those emotions. Instead of despising Tori for her betrayals and selfish, illogical excuses, E.K. somehow made me sympathize with her at times. That’s not to say I agree with the things she did, but I was made to understand her thought process. As for the other key players in this story? Oh my God, I felt so terrible for both of them! The displays of honesty in certain scenes just broke my heart.

Author Anonymous contains so much depth and emotion, and it’s one of those books that makes you wonder how well you really know those closest to you. It might also make you wonder how far you’d be willing to go if you abandoned loyalty and obligation to follow your heart. I couldn’t care less if this book is based on a true story or not. What matters is that it’s one hell of a read!

RATING: 4 1/2 STARS

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*In my opinion, this book contains a lot of explicit sex scenes. Some readers have even categorized it as erotic romance.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Make Me Believe by Karen Ferry

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How is it possible to love someone you haven’t even kissed yet?

Make Me Believe is a realistic, well-written romance novel. Emma and Daniel (who are very different, almost polar opposites) are attracted to each other from the start. While they have occasional naughty thoughts about one another, there is no instalove in this story. Emma and Daniel’s emotional relationship grows at a steady pace, and I found myself pulling for them to become a couple from the start.

In addition to their differences, Emma and Daniel both have issues that have prevented them from being in serious relationships. Classic romance novel setup, right? Not exactly. Ferry did a nice job of revealing bits and pieces of each character’s issues as they get to know each other, and none of the issues are too over the top. (Sad and a bit disturbing, but not over the top.) Also, I like that once they become a couple, the issues don’t drive them apart. Instead, Emma and Daniel become sources of support for one another.

While I love the way Emma and Daniel’s friendship/relationship progresses, there was a lot of sex in this book. I know that two twenty-something adults engaging in lots of sex when they first start dating is quite normal, but I opted to skim certain scenes simply because there were pressing issues I was itching to learn more about!

One last thing…thoughts on Tom’s note: NOT the way I wanted it to go! But I do love the suspense. If you’ve read this book, tell me how you felt about it!

Oh, and I’ll definitely be reading Fool For Love, part two in Ferry’s Believe Series.

RATING: 4 STARS

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

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A friend recommended this one to me. When I asked her what it was about, she didn’t want to give anything away but said something about the family and situation being messed up. Now that I’ve read it, I concur. Extremely. Messed. Up. But I didn’t want to put it down, and it’s one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

The Light of the Fireflies is well-crafted with elements of mystery and suspense. At first, it reminded me of ROOM by Emma Donoghue because much of the book is told from the perspective of a young boy who’s lived his entire life in a confined space without contact from the outside world. He’s oblivious to the lies he’s been told by family members and about what exists beyond the walls of their residence, but he eventually begins questioning the way they live and trying to piece things together. Unfortunately, certain members of his family are not what they seem, which impedes his road to discovery.

Pen is a fabulous writer. He pieced together every little detail of this story just right, so I never felt confused or lost. All I felt was intrigued, desperate for answers and emotionally invested in finding out what would happen to the boy.

If you are a fan of suspense and realistically flawed characters who make horrible mistakes, then I highly recommend The Light of the Fireflies.

RATING: 5 STARS

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Book Review: Her Dangerous Visions (The Boy and the Beast #1) by Brandon Barr

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I don’t normally read fantasy or sci-fi, but Her Dangerous Visions is a satisfying read that held my attention until the end. I honestly can’t even begin to elaborate on the description because there are so many moving pieces and made-up worlds and words and phrases.

The story is told through various POVs:

Aven – Farmer from Loam, brother of Winter

Winter – The girl with the visions (oracle/seer), sister of Aven

Melucia – Daughter of the ruler (Luminary) of the Blue Mountain Realm, hopes to take over for ailing father as Luminary but has villainous competition

Savarah – “Adopted” sister of Melucia, fierce warrior, wants to help Melucia in her quest to become Luminary (despite her initial plans)

In addition to the aforementioned characters, there are dozens more introduced throughout the story, so many that I sometimes had trouble keeping track of who’s who. I eventually got to know the key players (the four POV characters as well as a few others), but it took quite a lot of concentration and flipping back and forth. Melucia, who slightly reminds me of Daenerys Targaryen in the Game of Thrones series, is by far my favorite.

Even with all of the characters and story lines going on in this book, I must say the concept is extremely creative and unique. That, combined with Barr’s top-knotch writing, kept me turning the pages all the way into book two in the series.

RATING: 3 1/2 STARS

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*Thank you to the author for providing me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Honesty by Seth King

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Honesty by Seth King is a tragic yet beautiful story about love and loss. When I think about my first love, I remember the butterflies and longing that often consumed me. I also remember the angst and heartache. King conveyed all of these things perfectly in Coley and Nicky’s love story.

“He leaned in and kissed me hard, and the lights went out. I had never kissed a boy before, and it was…everything, really. His soft lips and coarse stubble felt like a poisoned daisy, just the wrong kind of right. Part of it felt so bad, worse than anything I’d ever done, but that badness felt beautiful, imperial even.” ❤

King’s writing is poignant and poetic. I found myself rereading certain lines multiple times either to ponder, reflect on how I could relate, or simply to enjoy again and again. How can I possibly relate to a story about love blossoming between two men? Because love is love. Every pulse-pounding moment, including the moments when Coley and Nicky were questioning their relationship or arguing, took me back.

Some reviewers have said they didn’t like the back and forth between the men. All the arguments and making up. All the I love yous and I hate yous. All the ‘we can never be together’ and the ‘let’s be together forever’ talk. Whatever. That’s what young love is often like. That’s real. And I commend King for keeping it real.

RATING: 4 STARS

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Power of Love (Book B!tches, #1) by Anne Conley

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Like other books I’ve read by Conley, I was thoroughly entertained by Power of Love. Certain consistencies with her writing style that I’ve grown fond of were all present in this book, only increasing my appreciation for her work.

One thing Conley always does is provide a clear story arc. Girl meets boy (or vice versa), sparks fly, and drama ensues. But it’s not annoying, unbelievable drama. It’s just your everyday drama that people deal with all the time when it comes to love and relationships. Her characters are normal, everyday people too. They have believable flaws and always remind me of people I know in real life. As with other Conley couples, I found myself really pulling for Vanessa and Linc.

Another consistency of Conley’s is that no matter how serious things get in her stories, there’s always a bit of humor. It might be the result of a quirky character or the banter between certain characters, but there’s always something that tickles my funny bone. In this story, I got such a kick out of the Book B!tches in the book club!

I mentioned believability earlier, so I should note that this particular series has a paranormal slant. Some may believe the spirit-related things that happen in this book are possible while others won’t. I personally don’t know what I believe when it comes to paranormal activity. At any rate, I found the spirit activity in this book to be intriguing, and I look forward to seeing what comes of it.

RATING: 4 STARS

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*Many thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.