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Search tags: By-the-River
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review 2018-04-24 20:57
Wicked River - Jenny Milchman

Wow, wow, wow!!! You can bet your bippy that I will not be going camping, canoeing or hiking anywhere in the near future or let's just emphatically say NEVER!

Thirty minutes after finishing this book, my heart was still racing, as it had been for about the last one and half hours of the book.

I have been a fan of Jenny Milchman ever since I met her on her first cross country tour with her first book and her whole family at my local independent, MBTB here in Houston. I was mesmerized by her stamina and gumption to undertake this journey. And, of course, I loved her first book "Cover of Snow".

This book also did not disappoint. I was enthralled at the very beginning and sped right through. A couple spending their honeymoon canoeing and camping in the Adirondacks? Seriously? What's wrong with a beach? My utter distaste for Doug, the groom, and Natalie's husband began very early and held fast throughout much of the book. Especially when his true colors and agenda came to light.

Their journey was doomed from the beginning. Natalie being an amateur and Doug, not that much better, took on these thousands of acres as if there were little or no huge dangers at all in those mountains. Silly people and Doug was a dumba$$ for even setting it up. However, the real reason why he did so is brought about early in the book which only added to my dislike of this man.

The perils they faced were horrendous and if it wasn't for bad luck, this couple would have none, none at all.

However, at the end, Doug was proven to be only human with an self established ego that was quickly rendered not true and he realized it.

An excellent read that I sped through, enjoyed and one that my heart was glad that it was over. The double duty that it was handling and with my age, could have been disastrous. Ha!!

Definitely one to not be missed if you love action, adventure and constant suspense set in the wilderness of the Adirondacks where anything can happen.

Kudos to the author, Jenny Milchman, and thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2018-04-21 03:17
ARC Review: Somewhere Over Lorain Road by Bud Gundy
Somewhere Over Lorain Road - Bud Gundy
Please don't let the cover confuse you into thinking this is purely an M/M romance. It's not. While there is a love story inside, this book is at its core a mystery with gay characters. It's a book about secrets, and unsolved murders, and old wounds, and family pain. It's about coming home to help your aging mother take care of your father in his last days, it's about giving an old man his dying wish. It's about terrible, horrible secrets kept for 40 years, and confronting the ghosts of your past.

Don Esker has come home to North Homestead, Ohio, where his father lies dying, and his mother and older brothers need help with the palliative care. Don has done well for himself in San Francisco, working in marketing, and is in a position where he can work from anywhere. Coming home isn't easy, as the family name is still talked about in hushed voices in connection to an unsolved crime that happened 40 years ago in 1975, when a little boy, the neighbor's and Sheriff's son, mysteriously disappeared, and two other little boys were found brutally murdered. Don's father was a suspect in the disappearance of the first boy, if only for one evening, and while he was never charged with anything, his good name has never been fully cleared. The suspicion alone shattered Don's family, and when he came out as gay, staying in town became impossible for him. Small towns and small-minded people will not forgive and not forget, and the townsfolk certainly wouldn't accept a gay man. 

In a lucid moment, Don's father asks for just one thing before he dies - to have his name cleared once and for all. Don, obliging son, begins a journey that not only brings him to Bruce, the love interest, but also face to face with his childhood friend, the brother of the missing boy, who still lives with his father, the ex-Sheriff across the street from the Esker home. It forces him to confront things of his past. Thick as thieves when they were young, Don and his friend haven't spoken in many years, longer than Don has been gone from North Homestead. There is history there. And hurt, anger, and hate. 

As the story unfolds, we are given pieces of the past, set in the 70s and 80s. There's an incident with an old fridge. There's the moment in which Mr. Esker is hauled from his home to answer questions about the disappearance of the neighbor's son. There's the moment in which Don's brother... no, I won't spoil this for you. Just do yourself a favor and read this book.

There is a moment when I knew, just KNEW, who the culprit was, thought I knew who had committed these crimes. 

And there is a moment when the truth comes out, and I was proven wrong. Except, not entirely. 

The romance between Don and Bruce doesn't really begin until the 2nd half of this book, and it's never in the forefront of the tale. There are no explicit scenes, and there didn't need to be any. It unfolds quietly, organically, and peacefully, just as it should have. These are grown, mature men, and there are no games to be played. No contrived misunderstandings. A love story. Simple. Quiet. 

Obviously, Don is not a skilled investigator, and it's often just sheer luck that he is able to find a piece he needs to solve the decades-old crime. He fumbles more often than not, which is to be expected, but he does persevere. 

The mystery is eventually solved. The truth comes out, as it always will, no matter how much time passes. I wasn't prepared for this truth. I wasn't expecting this truth. Though, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to go that route, and I must applaud the author for taking this road. It humanized the perpetrator, and though it doesn't offer forgiveness, it offers a believable motive. It does also shine a bright light on deep dysfunction within a family, on emotional and psychological and physical abuse. Facades crumble under such light. Cracks appear. Truth will out.

This book, with its tight narration and unexpected turn of events, kept me glued to its pages until the very last one. It's riveting - a page turner, and masterfully written. 

Give this a try, I beg you. This isn't a romance. It's a mystery with a gay MC. It's a story about family. But it is also a love story. Absolutely worth your time.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 
 

 

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review 2018-04-20 00:49
Black River Falls
Black River Falls - Jeff Hirsch

The town has become a place where groups roam trying to get dominance, the one kid who is uninfected and a group of other children who were infected are all hiding up at a camp, to be away from the predatory adults. The government came in to try and help but turned over everything to another group. 

 

This book was assigned to my girls for their book club and at first, it seemed interesting, but as the time went on, I just couldn't get into and stay in the book. 

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review 2018-04-17 21:04
River Rising
River Rising - John A. Heldt

The five Carson siblings have been in turmoil since the disappearance of their parents several months earlier. When oldest sibling, Adam receives a packet from his parent's lawyer, the pieces begin to come together. However, the packet reveals a secret website set up by their parents telling of their discovery of time travel portals and the subsequent adventures in different time periods. After Adam reviews the evidence and reads through how the portals work, he gets his siblings together and they unanimously vote to travel through time in order to reach their parents. They plan to go through a portal near their hometown in Arizona, taking them back to the 1880's; however when they step through the portal they end up near Johnstown, Pennsylvania in December 1888. The siblings quickly try to acclimate themselves into the time and begin the search for their parents. For twin siblings, Cody and Caitlin, this means enrolling in school. For middle brother, Greg, an adventure into the truly wild west to track a lead in Arizona territory and California. For Natalie, using her journalism skills to follow leads while Adam manages information and holds down the fort from the temporary home at the Colbert Boarding House. Even though the sibling's main objective is to find their parents and return home, the extended stay in Johnstown has led to romantic entanglements for four of the five siblings and their parents keep slipping through their fingers. On May 31st, 1889, the Johnstown flood devastates the town and the inhabitants leaving the Carson siblings in disarray.

River Rising is an epic time travel adventure. This is a story you will want to take your time with and sink into. From the moment the five siblings walk through the time portal and into 1880's Pennsylvania, ‚ÄčI knew I was in for an exciting ride. Amazingly, all five siblings: Adam, Greg, Natalie, Cody and Caitlin are very well developed and individual characters. They each take turns at telling their part of the story through their point of view while continuing a cohesive story line. Pennsylvania 1888-89 was a wonderful year to travel back to; much like the Carson siblings I was amazed at the time period where Benjamin Harrison had just been elected President, Mark Twain was in his prime, the West was still wild and Punxsutawney Phil has made his first appearance. Through the sibling's eyes, I was able to see many of these events first hand. Unlike the characters in Heldt's other time travel series, the Carson siblings did not travel through time thinking about the possibility of altered timelines. I am very interested in how their very involved actions in 1888 may have altered things in the present. I am also very interested in how the time portals work; it is know that they appear on solstices and seem to appear in areas that are known to be sacred or have paranormal activity. I would love to figure out more about them and where else they seem to pop up. Near the end of the Carson sibling's grand adventure, the game of cat and mouse that they have been playing with their parents seems to be no closer to the end and the intensity increases when tragedy strikes with Johnstown flood; I had a hard time putting the book down. Ending, with a huge cliffhanger, I can not wait to see what happens with the Carson family next. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
 

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review 2018-04-16 02:08
Book Review: No More Hiding by Renee Stevens
No More Hiding - Renee Stevens

If my husband came out to me and told me he was gay, the one thing I would NEVER do is deprive him of our kids. Parents - don't do that shit. Kids are not bargaining tools. If your relationship with your spouse ends, they don't stop being a parent. Don't kidnap your kids. Don't withhold your kids from your ex-spouse. If you're like Phillip's ex-wife from this here book - FUCK YOU!

Now that we have that out of the way - this was only my 2nd book by this author, and I enjoyed reading it, when I wasn't ranting at Phil's ex-wife, that horrible woman. 

Phillip (and by extension, his twin brother) has been desperately looking for his two kids ever since his ex-wife didn't turn up for visitation and ran away with them. It's been six long years, and Phillip is barely living. His despair and heartache, his fears and guilt just poured off the pages as soon as we met him. When his brother Robert tells him to join the new gym, Phillip meets Vance. 

Vance is immediately enamored with Phillip, and their relationship takes off relatively fast, considering that we don't really see a whole lot of their interactions other than at the gym and a weekend they spend together. Phillip seems a bit more reticent at first, plagued by guilt over having feelings for Vance when he should be looking for his children. Then Vance and Phillip are in a serious accident that ends up with Vance breaking his leg and ending up in the hospital, which clarifies Phillip's feelings for Vance, even more so when he takes Vance home to look after him.

And then Phillip gets a long-awaited phone call.

I had some doubts about Samantha and Jacob adjusting so quickly to living with their father and Vance, and re-forging the relationships. I would have liked to find out a bit more about what happened to them in the past six years, and also about the man who helped their mother kidnap them and hide them from their father. Even with the relative ease with which Sam and Jacob adjust, this is the point of the book where it all becomes a roller coaster ride, and you can only hope you're strapped in tightly. I experienced a myriad of emotions, sitting on the edge of my seat, hoping that all the ups and downs would end up in a happy ever after.

Which, of course, it did.

The author created a well-rounded supporting cast, including Phillip's twin and his wife, who were supportive and helped Sam and Jacob find their stride again. 

This is definitely an emotional read, which is totally my thing, so it really worked for me. Phillip and Vance aren't perfect, but they're perfect for each other, and it was a joy to watch them both grow into their relationship, as well as become a family. 

Well done, Ms. Stevens. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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