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review 2017-09-25 05:05
Review: I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
I Am Watching You - Teresa O'Driscoll

Published by: Thomas & Mercer (1st October  2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1542046596

 

Source: Author provided review copy

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis: 

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

 

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

 

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

 

Review:

Oh WOW! It's almost 4.30 in the morning and I've just finished reading I Am Watching You.  I've got no idea where the last few hours have gone - I've been utterly engrossed. Gripped. I'm in shock. What an ending! Teresa Driscoll you are a sorceress! 

 

Each character in this book is so integral in their own way, and they are all so brilliantly written. I could waffle on for ages about each of them, but that would make such a long (and boring) review...I'll just mention that I adore Ella, she's so beautifully written.

 

I really like how the story unfolds throughout the book, and how we learn more about each of the character's involvement. There are some real surprises along the way, the story is intelligently written and you just have to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

 

Hands down, I Am Watching You  is the best book I've read so far this year. It's utterly compelling. I urge all my fellow crime fans to read it!  Special thanks to Teresa Driscoll for providing the review copy. 

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review 2017-09-25 00:56
ARC Review: Pins And Needles by A.J. Thomas
Pins and Needles - A.J. Thomas

This is only my 2nd book by this author. The title is apt - I was on pins and needles for most of the time while reading this excellent story of suspense, intrigue, and romance among the ruins. 

Okay, so that latter part is a bit hyperbole - there are no actual ruins, per se. What is in ruins however is a promising career, a father/son relationship, and an invention that could revolutionize a part of the oil industry.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

This is a complex story, and it would behoove the reader to read slowly and carefully, much in line with the slow progression of the story. As it is so often the case, all is not what it seems, and it takes some time to untangle the many threads that make up this particular plot.

The book begins by introducing us to Nate Delany, a young lawyer working for his father's well-known company, who is basically the do-boy for another lawyer, and whose briefs, as eloquent and well-researched as they are, are not getting credited to him, but the "supervising" attorney. Nate is frustrated, especially as his father doesn't seem to realize that the brilliant briefs "written by" the supervising attorney are actually his son's work and believes that Nate is just a slacker, unable to run the company himself. At the end of his rope, Nate quits. 

On his way out, his assistant gives him the name and number of a man who had an appointment with the supervising attorney, but who was apparently deemed too rough, with too many tattoos, to warrant the jerk's time. 

Nate makes a call. Nate makes a visit to the hospital where he meets Sean Wilkinson, whose former foster father Hawk was the man rejected by Nate's father's lawyer. As Nate hears what happened to Sean, he can't help but be intrigued by the young man who after a terrible accident lost not only his leg, but also his livelihood and his career as a petroleum engineer.

Hounded by his employer's lawyers to agree to a ridiculous settlement after the accident, Sean needs someone in his corner to help him navigate these new rough waters. And Nate is just the guy to do that.

Both MCs have their own personal struggles and rather different personality-wise. 

Sean, with his difficult early life and rough upbringing, isn't quick to trust anyone and plays his cards rather close to his chest. He's not only a brilliant engineer, but also a fantastic tattoo artist, who learned the craft in his foster father's shop. Hawk is perhaps the closest thing to a real father Sean has, and their relationship is very close and supportive. He doesn't have any close friends; in fact even the people with whom he spent months at sea don't really know him at all, including his boss, with whom Sean has had an affair since he interned with the company at 19. 

Nate, on the other hand, had a rather normal, if affluent, childhood and appears to most people as someone who had everything handed to him - with his last name being so well-known and the assumptions which come with that. His personal struggles aren't as obvious, but they're just as real. Nate has to prove himself repeatedly at his father's company, more so really than any other newly minted attorney would have to, because he's his father's son. In addition, his parents have more or less forsaken him because their older son is a bigot and doesn't want his children or his wife anywhere near Nate. Since, you know, homosexuality clearly rubs off and we must think of the children. For years, Nate hasn't been able to spend holidayrs or any quality time with his family; it's as if he's been erased. No photographs of Nate are displayed at their house - it's as if he doesn't even exist. His name isn't ever mentioned around the older son, and his brother's kids have zero relationship with him. 

Taking on Sean as his first client after quitting his father's firm seems like a great idea at the time, even if it's just fighting for Sean to get the biggest possible settlement for the accident that cost him one of his legs, but there's a lot more to their case than just that. See, Sean invented something that's been used on the ship, and the case now also involves intellectual property rights. 

And someone may be out to kill Sean to silence him.

The romance that develops between Nate and Sean is by design a super slow burn. Not only is Sean seriously injured and still recovering from the accident, but he's also Nate's client, and there are a bunch of ethical issues to consider before the two of them can be together. As an added detriment, when Nate tries to find another law firm to represent Sean and remove the ethics issue, he finds that many firms will not even consider taking him on, because of who Nate's father is. No matter how brightly the attraction burns between them, Nate must first and foremost consider that any romantic relationship they might have could adversely impact Sean's day in court. 

Underneath all the suspense and intrigue, the point this book drives home time and again is that of family. Not necessarily the one you're born into, but the one you choose, the one you make for yourself. And for that, Sean had a great example in Hawk, his mother's ex-boyfriend, who took him in, no questions asked, when Sean was kicked out at home for being gay. A man who never asked for anything but was there time and again when Sean needed him. A man who not only gave him a home but also a way of paying the bills, when he taught him the fine art of tattooing. Nate has an example too, really - that of how NOT to treat your family. While I believe his parents loved him, they never even considered how hurtful their behavior was when they excluded Nate to appease their older son's homophobia and bigotry. 

My only niggle came toward the end of the book, during the big reveal as to who was behind all the bad things that happened. It felt a little over the top, and the villain really came out of left field, to be honest. Sure, the explanation made sense, but the way it all went down was a little... too much, I guess. 

Still, this was definitely an enjoyable read, with a satisfying HFN, and I would recommend you give this book a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


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

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review 2017-09-24 13:57
Letdown of an ending.
The Immortal Heights (Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

So, here we are at the end of another adventure. Iolanthe and Titus are now joined by friends and allies for one Final Battle vs. the Bane with lives at stake, a prophecy to fulfill and the fate of the world resting in the balance. But the Bane has a twist. Titus must give up Iolanthe to the Bane or it is the end of the world as we know it. You know, as is standard with these epic YA fantasy trilogies. 

 

Anyway, I had hoped that after book 2 this book might pick up a bit more and in a way it does. Thankfully the strange split perspective was not repeated and this is more in the vein of the storytelling style of book one. And we are plunged right into the action but unfortunately a lot doesn't really "happen" until the closer to the climax of the book. We've got a few twists and turns, bits and pieces of plot twists, info dump on the Bane and how he came to exist, etc. 

 

In some ways the book felt like it was a bit too rushed and yet not that much happened. Thomas's books tend to be slow in build-up and sometimes are slow overall but I just couldn't help but feel that there wasn't enough material for three books (hence what is basically rehashing of the love story in book 2) and yet there was too much saved for this last book (sacrifices, information revealing motives, origins, etc.). This might have made for a better duology than stretched out as trilogy. I also wanted more elemental magic. I was also partially right in how they managed to fulfill one of the prophecies while not actually doing so. It was a bit disappointing that I was on the right track for the device used, even if it didn't quite happen the way I thought it would.

 

But I will say I was glad Thomas didn't force a love triangle. Too many YA books use that as a crutch or plot device and I'm glad we didn't have any nonsense with these Iolanthe and Titus. Arguably this device was transferred to some of the secondary characters but it wasn't a major plot point to take up much space. There was also a bit of throw-ins mentioning some LGBT relationships that just felt a bit tacked-on for no reason whatsoever.

 

Overall a mixed bag and I'll probably make it a point to borrow her books from now on instead of buying. But this was something a little different and I enjoyed the ride.

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review 2017-09-23 14:19
Slow to get going and strange format.
The Perilous Sea - Sherry Thomas

Here we are in book 2 of the Elemental trilogy. After the triumph of killing off the Bane in book one our protagonists (Titus and Iolanthe) return to Eton to once again continue training, navigate being school and try to untangle what could be a kink. Titus believed that Iolanthe was the one who would help in his mission and had invested a lot of time, effort and emotion in that goal. If Iolanthe is not, how does this change things for him? For her? For their mission?

 

Once again Thomas's text is very slow to get going and it took me awhile to settle into it. I suppose I had forgotten this style from her other books I've read plus that as part of a trilogy I had thought that we'd be right in the middle of things (it IS the middle entry, after all!). Not quite. The book takes a bizarre format where we are viewing events in both the past and the present. Initially I had a few different theories as to what we were seeing (that forgot we're viewing events at different times) and initially really liked the scenes in the desert. But once it became clearer what it was (a sloppy device to give the love story some juice) it grew to bore me. This was entirely unnecessary as a device and really ended up just taking up space. It made me wonder if the author didn't have enough material for the middle section.

 

At while at first I wasn't as excited by the events in the present, it became more interesting once we had a few plot twists/developments and the story really started coming together. There is a bit of info-dumping that could have been better spread out or handled (in retrospect it would have been better to delete the desert scenes entirely and set everything at Eton) but I was willing to go along with this and see where exactly the author is taking us.

 

I also wish there had been more elemental magic along the lines of Jim Dresden's 'Codex Alera' series or the 'Avatar'/'Korra' cartoons. That was whole reason why I picked up this trilogy and so I was a bit disappointed that this entry (first book as well) really didn't have that much. Here's to hoping Book 3 has more.

 

Overall it wasn't as good as the first one but I'm still interested in the series overall and appreciate how Thomas has written a variety of works. I bought this with a coupon and didn't mind, although perhaps a library borrow would have been better instead.

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review 2017-09-21 22:38
The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce
The Afterlives: A Novel - Thomas Pierce

Another one that won't come out until January, sorry! but these are just the ones that are exciting me right now!

 

Jim Byrd died of heart failure. He was revived in time and being a young man suffered no lasting damage. After the installation of a new device to monitor his heart he makes a full recovery. What gnaws at him is the fact that he has no memories of his experience. He saw no light at the end of the tunnel and he realizes he needs to know what, if anything, happens after death.

A routine task at work leads him to a haunted house and leads him to reconnect with an old girlfriend. Following a whim he comes into contact with a haunted house and, coincidentally, an old girlfriend. Him, his father, and his girlfriend are all pulled into the mystery of this house and the larger question of life after death. Religion, technology, philosophy, love and fear intersect in The Afterlives as we follow Jim's quest for understanding. The stories of those who lived in and visited the haunted house periodically break up the story and deepen the mystery.

Thomas Pierce's writing was a pleasure to read. He tackles enormous issues with respect and genuine insight. His characters often deliver their lines and thoughts with a wry sense of humor. Once I picked the book up, I could hardly put it down. I haven't read anything like it in a long time.

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