Sealed by Naomi Booth

SealedI didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. I thought since the main character was a mother, I might enjoy it more, but this is unfortunately a book I only made it a few chapters into. So, with that being revealed, I don’t feel like I can give it a full review. I will tell you what I can about it, though.

It’s available for purchase through most retailers, Amazon being one of them. I believe both kindle and paperback are available right now.

I genuinely dislike having been given a book I can’t write  a fair review for, but sometimes it does happen. Not all books are always going to interest me, but in the spirit of fairness, I will read and review a book I’m not interested in if I feel like one of my readers may also enjoy it–that way I can give an objective point of view in my reviews and others will know exactly what they’re getting if they buy the book. I can’t even do that with this particular book and I feel a bit odd about it.

BUT, moving right along, I’ll explain why I couldn’t get into it. First, I could NOT connect with the characters. AT. ALL. Second, I couldn’t connect the story to the characters. I could remove the author’s characters and plop any other woman in there and the story would be the same. I guess you could say the characters had no character.

In the event you all think I’m wrong and that I’m just being mean (I assure you, that is not the case), here is the blurb. If you’ve read and enjoyed anything else by this author, I’d love to hear your feedback and maybe you’ll enjoy this book, too.

In the meantime, hang in there. More romance novels, mystery novels, science fiction novels, and some horror novels are on their way to my little blog and we will dissect them all!

Here is the blurb:
Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Alice is haunted by rumors of a skin-sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. She hopes their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger. With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.

Timely and suspenseful, Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them.

A Bloody Business by Dylan Struzan

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Fun Fact: Dylan Struzan’s husband, Drew Struzan illustrated the cover art for this book. Drew Struzan is also the creator of art for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back To the Future, Harry Potter, and many other film posters. ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF PROHIBITION, LEARN WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

**Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher for the intent of an honest review. Sending me a novel will, under no circumstances, win the author a glowing review. It WILL win an honest one IF I like the novel enough to finish it, which sometimes doesn’t happen. **

In 1919, the National Prohibition Act was passed, making it illegal across America to produce, distribute, or sell liquor. With this act, the U.S. Congress also created organized crime as we know it. Italian, Jewish, and Irish mobs sprang up to supply the suddenly illegal commodity to the millions of people still eager to drink it. Men like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel, Al Capone in Chicago and Nucky Johnson in Atlantic City, waged a brutal war for power in the streets and on the waterfronts. But if you think you already know this story…think again, since you’ve never seen it through the eyes of one of the mobsters who lived it.

Called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” by the U.S. District Attorney, Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo was just 15 years old when Prohibition became law. Over the next decade, Alo would work side by side with Lansky and Luciano as they navigated the brutal underworld of bootlegging, thievery and murder. Alo’s later career included prison time and the ultimate Mob tribute: being immortalized as “Johnny Ola” in The Godfather, Part II.

Introduced to the 91-year-old Alo living in retirement in Florida, Dylan Struzan based this book on more than 50 hours of recorded testimony–stories Alo had never shared, and that he forbid her to publish until “after I’m gone.” Alo died, peacefully, two months short of his 97th birthday. And now his stories–bracing and violent, full of intrigue and betrayal, hunger and hubris–can finally be told.

As far as I’m concerned, the years directly before and after prohibition and the events leading up to and following prohibition are the most interesting in American history. There’s no mystery why there are so many books and movies written to take place in that time period. Obviously, those were hard times. But, no matter how much I learn about those years and the people who lived them, I am always more than willing to learn more and experience more–even through the mediums of fiction and art.

I can only imagine the things Struzan learned while researching for A Bloody Business. And, what a telling title, too! Being released 100 years after the National Prohibition Act  was passed was a happy coincidence, right? But, getting down to the grit of this review, I feel like I should warn you–the book is not what you might expect. It is less story, more historical account, but it isn’t as seamless as most would like it to be.

First, as most readers of historical novels would expect, there is language used within the text in both speech and expression that is unique to that era. There are lines like “Old Bill Rockafeller was a flimflammer,” tucked in here and there, which really made me think my granddad may have been telling me the story. I don’t mean that to be a negative, either, but it does take some getting used to at first if you don’t read a lot of stories from this time period.

I’m not sure if I should even mention characterization since Dylan Struzan actually met with a man who was called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” and listened to more than 50 hours of recorded testimony (see blurb above). I think she knocked it right out of the park. I think Dylan Struzan knew, probably within a week or two of research, exactly how her characters operated, what drove them to be the way they were, and got everything perfect, from mannerisms to thoughts, within the first few pages of a rough draft. I could be wrong, but I suspect I’m not.

There were bits of story here and there I feel could have been cut out during her first few rounds of edits and revisions, but those pieces are iffy, meaning they could have stayed or gone and nobody would have been the wiser. Usually in that case, a writer would cut those bits, but sometimes they get left and it doesn’t really change anything. It just takes a reader longer to read the story. Obviously, that can sometimes lead a reader to get bored and walk away and, because of this, I would urge the author to think about this next time she sits down to revise a novel. It’s not a deal breaker–but, it’s a slippery slope leading toward boredom.

I feel it worth noting, however, that the plot itself is little more than prohibition and organized crime itself. As a historical account, I feel like the story was delivered in an informal way (obviously), but an effective delivery was certainly given. After a few pages, you can imagine how Dylan Struzan may have felt whilst giving her interview of Alo. Maybe he said something like, “Well, ya see, what happened was…” and she began her notes. Probably not, but it’s very easy to imagine the story having formed that way. It certainly isn’t what I might call a campfire tale, but it bridges the gap between today’s more technologically advanced generations and the generation that our great grandparents grew up in. There are themes expressed that we can all relate to.

****

If you feel like this novel is for you, you can find it in most formats at Amazon.com.

If you’d like to learn more about Dylan Struzan at Titan Books, find out about previous releases, or just nose around, you should do that, too. 

 

 

 

 

After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott

**Disclaimer– I was sent a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This is my honest review.**

after eclipseSixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie – who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother – suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.

Available Now.

If you’re searching for books to read over the summer, buy this one. It’s available in most formats and I can honestly say that I will likely recommend it to everyone I know who comes to me in search of a good mystery. And, it’s apparently the author’s debut novel. Way to go, Fran Dorricott.

I don’t like to give out a lot of spoilers in my reviews, so I won’t because there is a lot I could tell you that would ruin the entire thing.

Fran Dorricott wrote her characters to be lifelike, enjoyable to get to know, and hard to forget once the book is over and done with. That is a quality I, personally, look for in an author I intend to keep reading. The elements of mystery and danger were ever present, whilst managing to tap dance all over the fine line between emotions.

I feel I should warn readers that the story goes from past to present quite a bit and sometimes that can feel a bit daunting to a reader. If that’s something you’re not into, maybe read something else, but why? The author handles this jumping quite well. There is no difficulty discerning which time frame you’re reading in (as some novels present).

Four stars, highly recommended.

You can buy this novel from Amazon in most formats. Links above.

*****

COMING SOON

Tomorrow’s Review is…

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Brothers Keepers by Donald E. Westlake

 

 

Brothers Keepers
AVAILABLE NOW!
What will a group of monks do when their two-century-old monastery in New York City is threatened with demolition to make room for a new high-rise? Anything they have to. “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is only the first of the Commandments to be broken as the saintly face off against the unscrupulous over that most sacred of relics, a Park Avenue address.
Returning to bookstores for the first time in three decades, BROTHERS KEEPERS offers not only a master class in comedy from one of the most beloved mystery writers of all time but also a surprisingly heartfelt meditation on loss, temptation, and how we treat our fellow man.

Release date: February 5, 2019 
**Note– This book was first published in 1975 and is a re-release!**

If you keep up with my blog and my reading lists, you will note that I’ve read one of Donald E. Westlake’s books and reviewed it here before.  If you’re interested in hard case crime novels, as I sometimes am, you should check him out.

But, being that this novel was written quite some time ago, a reader must understand that the language and the story itself is very much a product of its time. For example, in the second chapter of Brothers Keepers, there is a small section where a monk is writing a letter to Miss Ada Louise Huxtable of The New York Times. There are many starts and stops to the letter, but the letter itself is set up in a style in which not many younger people today might recognize with a name and address in the left corner, date in the right, and a formal letter following. I was taught how to write a business letter in high school, but a lot of schools aren’t teaching this skill today and it’s becoming lost in translation with email writing as a preferred method of conveyance and text messaging coming in a close second. Obviously, it takes on a second to figure out what’s going on, but the difference in the times might come as somewhat of an amusement to some and makes this story even more fun to read.

A world without cell phones and internet in every device? How novel.

Mostly,  Brothers Keepers is a timeless story. The monks themselves are all very well written and their attitudes toward their home being scheduled for destruction in order to make way for modern growth within their city are well portrayed. Westlake’s writing–and the humor within–is absolutely delightful as usual. Whatever feelings and anxieties over a dire situation the monastery went through in the story can easily be translated into the issues and goings on of today. The story and characters will resonate well with a newer generation and likely generations to come.

Brothers Keepers is available from Amazon.com in Kindle ($6.15) or Paperback ($ 8.14) form. 

 

A Demon In Silver by R.S. Ford

20180619_192455.jpgReleased June 12, 2018
Titan Books

In a world where magic has vanished, rival nations vie for power in a continent devastated by war. When a young farm girl, Livia, demonstrates magical powers for the first time in a century there are many across the land that will kill to obtain her power. The Duke of Gothelm’s tallymen, the blood-soaked Qeltine Brotherhood, and cynical mercenary Josten Cade; all are searching for Livia and the power she wields.

But, Livia finds that guardians can come from the most unlikely places… and that the old gods are returning to a world they abandoned.

I thought this book was incredible. It lacked very little and the premise is captivating. This is the first in a series, if I’ve understood correctly. I certainly hope I manage to get the next book on pre-order so that I don’t have to wait for it. I dislike waiting and this is one story I would like to hang with until the very end.

I don’t want to go into too many details of my thoughts, though. I feel like in doing so I will be giving my blog readers too many spoilers. I can divulge that there are a few surprises that remain surprising, twists that remain twisty, and turns that lead places incredibly fun to imagine.

Four stars.

**********

REVIEWS COMING SOON!

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Review to post 6.21.18
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Review to post 6.20.18

Weekly Update–June 3, 2018

This is a new thing, but I feel like maybe it’s necessary. There will be times I can’t blog every single day, so I thought a weekly update post on Sundays would be beneficial.

Wolf MoonTHIS WEEK IN BOOKS– This week, I’ve reviewed several books. Most of these reviews you won’t even see until later this summer. BUT, there is a definite winner this month and that is Wolf Moon by Patricia Rosemoor. I gave it three stars, but I really did enjoy it and I will read other books by this author in the future.

THIS WEEK IN KETO/LOW CARB EATING– Well, I’m back in ketosis, so that’s a plus, right? I’ve lost four pounds, but most of that was weight I gained back after I quit. Here’s to being back on track! I’m learning more and more everyday about how to cook for a lower carb diet. So far, I still haven’t found a replacement for cereal, but there is definitely hope for a low-carb Poptart! I’m working on it.

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Low carb stir-fry.

THIS WEEK IN MOM STUFF– The kids are out of school for summer! And, I have discovered that my kids think I’m weird. I don’t know what on earth would have ever made them feel that way (sarcasm).

COMING NEXT WEEK– Next week, look forward to a review for The Earl, the Vow, and the Plain Jane by Cheryl Bolen. Also, keep your eye out for some vampires and kilt-clad highlanders. I’m also going to work on scheduling some guest bloggers. Stay tuned for more awesome stuff!

❤ Rhiannon XOXO

Killing Town by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

killing townAvailable NOW from Amazon.com
Review date: Soon

Mike Hammer steals a ride on a train upstate to Killington. But he is welcomed by a nasty surprise: he is accused by police of raping and murdering a young woman near the freight yards. Roughed up by the cops and facing a murder charge, Hammer’s future looks bleak. Only a beautiful blonde, Melba Charles–daughter of powerful Senator Charles–might possibly save him… if he pays the price.

But why would Melba help save a man she has never met? And, more to the point, where is the real murderer?

From a brittle, brown manuscript, the first Mike Hammer novel–begun by Mickey Spillane in the mid-forties and completed seventy years later by Max Allan Collins–is a gift to mystery fans on the occasion of the noir master’s 100th birthday.

*****

I’ve read from this series before, and I wasn’t blown away then, nor was I blown away now. I didn’t hate the story, but I just felt like it was more of the same old stuff. There was nothing in this book to stand out from what was in the last. That isn’t to say that someone who has been following these books wouldn’t like them–they’re really just not for me.

I will point out, however, that the writing is strong and the voice behind the book is definitely pronounced. Those who have been following the books will certainly enjoy them. Where hard case crime goes, I’m generally a  hit or miss kinda reader. Unfortunately, I believe the Mickey Spillane/Max Allan Collins books are a miss for me–but only by a hair. I feel like something is missing.

Summer Goals–Books and Otherwise

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Currently reading…

Today has started a little bit slowly, but as it is the last day of school (for my kids), I feel like the pace was perfect. It’s an introduction to a slow summer, the season I look forward to the most. Yes, even more than my favorite season, fall.

I was sweeping floors and doing laundry when it struck me that I have no real plan for summer. Other than choosing books to read, I have no idea what we’re doing. No vacations planned, no real goals set. But, wait one second–there is a million projects around the house I feel we can finish. And, I can probably make most of them fun and interesting.

For a start, I think I know a couple of teenage girls who would do a really good job at re-staining kitchen cabinets and painting a few rooms. And, I have two boys and a nephew or ten who are perfect little weed eaters. I think I’m also going to dive into making my own popsicles this summer. Last summer I bought a mold that makes six pops of whatever you want and I did really well with making my sugar free treats, but I was still buying the kids their own to have. This year, I think we’ll make an effort at freezing about 75% of the frozen treats we eat ourselves. If we make it to 100%, that’s even better.

As far as reading goes, I’m looking into some educational sites for kids. We might even buy a few books (print, that is) online. For myself, I’d like to keep working on my reading schedule and try to finish August and September’s lineup while I read through the books I’ve penciled in. I’m pretty excited about it, really. Summer can be a lot of things, but to us, it’s the season of books, yard stuff, and frozen things. All the frozen things!

 

 

Tall, Dark, and Deadly by Kharma Kelley

deadly

Well, this book is a big NO from me.

I was excited to read this book. The premise is solid and interesting, but I couldn’t make it to the fourth chapter. I would suggest the book be pulled for editing and re-released after some edits and revisions. Two stars because had it not been for the glaring errors and editorial issues, I could have really loved this book.

Example: Somewhere in the second or third chapter, author uses the word “just” three times in one sentence.

Unlike the majority of my reviews, this was not an advance copy. It’s been out for a few years now so I really see no sense in this sort of issue. Most books will have errors, but not one right after the other within the span of three or four pages.

I know that there are some really good reviews on Amazon for this book already, but it does make me wonder if those readers actually read with their eyes open because I seriously had a hard time getting through the beginning. Maybe I’m just an asshole.

**shrugs innocently**

But, the editorial issues were not the only ones.

I felt like the main character, Chloe, was an absolute brat. I didn’t like her, not even a little bit. She was immature and, at times, I wanted to smack her teeth out. Ethan was a little bit more likable, but given what I know of Chloe, I found it unbelievable that he would ever want anything to do with her romantically–but, keep in mind, I didn’t make it far enough to see how that all happened. I’m assuming she must have had a drastic personality change somewhere in the middle of the book.

I really do hate it when things like this happen. I don’t think anyone downloads a book to their e-reader and actually wants to dislike it. Some of the reviews on Amazon come from some notable reviewers, so I’m going to investigate further–this is NOT the author’s only book and I do like the premise, so I’d like to give her another chance to entertain me. After all, vampire books seem to be disappearing these days. Or, not showing up anywhere at all.

Wolf Moon (The McKenna Legacy Book 7) by Patricia Rosemoor

Release Date: Available NOW
**I was given an ARC copy of Wolf Moon by Patricia Rosemoor, but I got my copy only a day or two before the release, so while this is a new release, this review will post after the actual release date. Apologies!**

Wolf Moon

Aileen McKenna came to the remote town of Wolf Creek to study wolves in the wild and ran into Rhys Lindgren, an enigmatic man with dark secrets and a connection to the local wolf pack. Frightened townspeople were convinced a predatory wolf was on the loose after three men were found dead in the woods. Rhys didn’t believe it any more than Aileen, and she intended to prove the wolves’ innocence. But would Rhys take her into the snow-covered forest to do just that? She’d have to be alone with him and trust him to draw out a killer…

For the sake of being honest, I really couldn’t get into this book at first. It doesn’t have a very strong beginning and I had to push through the first few chapters in order to become engrossed in the story. That being said, once I got through the first stretch, I was happy I kept reading because the book (after chapter three or so) is great. Keep in mind that this is book 7 of a series (so the title says), so maybe if I’d read books 1-6, the beginning of book 7 wouldn’t have felt as though it was dragging.

The story has everything a wolfy romance should. The mystery is mysterious, the suspense is suspenseful, and the pages almost turn themselves. The only thing that really bothered me is that I didn’t find anything in the story that would make me really want to stand in line for book 8 (if there is one). I’ll still read more by Patricia Rosemoor, but I really feel like I should see how many books are ahead in the series before I read out of order again.

I really wish I could have loved this book, I just really didn’t. It entertained, but with no pizazz. I’m actually really bummed about it. I’m still giving the book three stars because I feel like it does deserve that many for entertainment value alone.