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review 2017-01-18 19:51
Twilight at Blueberry Barrens (Sunset Cove #3) by Colleen Coble
Twilight at Blueberry Barrens (A Sunset Cove Novel) - Colleen Coble

Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.

Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family. The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance. Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last. Set on the beautiful coast of Maine, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens brings together suspense, romance, and the hope that one day new life will come again.

Amazon.com

 

 

For years now, Kate Mason has grown accustomed to running her family's blueberry farm in Maine but recently the farm just hasn't been producing a profitable amount of fruit. As finances become increasingly tight, Kate is forced to look to other means of income. She gets the idea to renovate a small cottage on her family's property and make it available for summer rentals. During this renovation process, in walks Drake Newham. Drake, with his two nieces in tow, is a visitor to Sunset Cove, looking for a place to stay for awhile. What he doesn't reveal is that he fears there's someone trying to hunt him down, set on hurting him and / or his nieces, so the casual "place to stay" inquiry is really a desperate need for a spot to lay low until he figures out what's going on. 

 

Needing someone to look after his nieces while he investigates, Drake also asks about available nannies. Kate, seeing a potential (much needed) double dose of income, volunteers herself for the job. Over the course of the story, Drake and Kate have a lot of page time together so they reveal quite a bit about their respective backstories. Drake explains that he is the legal guardian of the girls now, as his brother and sister-in-law are dead, a suspected murder-suicide. With the constant sense of being hunted down himself, Drake has his doubts about that. Kate meanwhile has been in recovery from chemo treatments after a diagnosis of aplastic anemia. To make matters even more stressful, her convicted murder uncle has escaped from prison, there's a Peeping Tom / possible stalker of Kate's roaming the island creeping everyone out, and bodies are washing up on the beach just a little too regularly for Kate and her sister Claire, who have already been put through the ringer throughout the course of this series. 

 

I struggle with this series. I am drawn to the setting --- who doesn't love a good mystery set along a New England coastline, right? And the plot ideas are not bad, they definitely stir my curiosity each time, but each time so far whenever I dig into the story, there's something that always seems to land just off the mark for me. In this installment, I think the biggest culprit was the way the plot unfolded --- Drake's brother has ties to a Chinese drug lord?! Kate's uncle in prison because he killed the mother of Claire's (Kate's sister) fiancee ... strenuous tie there btw... because said mother saw him moving a body?! That scene where Kate and Claire are talking out in the yard and Claire just gets nailed by a crossbow bolt outta the blue ... and all this before you're even 85 pages in! -- A lot of ideas flying around, but a noticeable lack of cohesiveness to bring it all together. There was also a sense of a good idea being taken too far (see examples mentioned above) or not fleshed out enough. 

 

The writing here was not Coble's best, IMO. I personally found the characters and the mystery from Sunset Cove #2 a little more engaging. Here, the dialogue often came off a little too scripted, especially with Kate's, making her feel a bit wooden at times to me. But we gotta work in a romance so of course Drake looks past what seems like a pretty cardboard personality to me and comes at her with "no woman has ever intrigued me like this." Poor guy. Kate's tendency to overstep her bounds when it came to caring for the girls got on my nerves as well. I get you're the nanny but you shouldn't get to basically tell the legal guardian "you should shut it and do it my way" multiple times. In real life, you'd likely be fired, not have your employer fall in love with you! But I guess Drake likes himself a dominant kind of lady friend. 

 

As far as the writing itself, I struggled with a few passages that apparently escaped an editing eye (check out pages 71, 111) where the wording / grammar was off juuuust enough to make for a harsh silent reading experience. There were also way too many people involved in that ending.

 

Nice to see another cross-over appearance of Gwen Marcey, the investigator from Carrie Stuart Parks' Gwen Marcey mystery series!

 

Note: This is the third installment of Coble's Sunset Cove series. I have not read the first in the series (Inn at Ocean's Edge), but have read / reviewed the second book. This third book brings back some of the characters from the first book (I checked the synopsis of the first book) -- Claire, Luke (Claire's now fiancee) and Kate -- but can easily be read as an independent story.

 

FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.

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review 2017-01-16 06:24
Siren's Song (Siren Trilogy - #3) by Mary Weber
Siren's Song (The Storm Siren Trilogy) - Mary Weber

After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only . . . the dark power is still inside her. Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter’s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf’s final attack. From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world. This time, will the Siren’s Song have the power to save it?

Amazon.com

 

 

 

**** WARNING: DISCUSSING BK 3 OF A TRILOGY... SPOILERS AHEAD *********

 

 

 

So here we are in the third installment of Mary Weber’s Storm Siren Trilogy and our protagonist Nym is still trying to defeat that evil Draewulf. Siren’s Song picks up pretty much right where Siren’s Fury left off. Nym is en route to rescue the captured Princess Rasha. Nym and her posse try to warn Rasha’s mother, Queen Laiha, of the dangers headed her way but the meeting doesn’t go as well as hoped. 

 

If you’ve worked your way through the first two books, you might remember Nym losing her Elemental powers. To compensate, she made a visit to a witch and picked up some powers more dark in nature. It proved to be a decent quick fix to get her Eogan back but now she has to figure out how to keep those dark powers from overtaking the good, light part of her soul. It was always funny to see how the bouts of foul weather would give away Nym’s rough mood days. X-D

 

“Never destroy what simply needs taming, Nymia. Mercy grows hearts more than bitterness.”

 

And how did I not pick up til now that Eogan is only 22?! Seemed so much older! And the “Skinny Love” reference... did Mary Weber slip in a Bon Iver reference in there?! :-)

 

Much of the same drama you’ve seen from earlier in the series continues here, only with the ramped up intensity that you’d expect of a series closer book. Some of my interest in the plot waned here and there whenever the battle scenes declined -- there are some wonderfully LARPy battles near the end! -- and talk of court politics increased. A little intrigue here and there I’m all for but some of it went on a little long. I do really enjoy this cast of characters though, so the humorous banter often pulled me through the drier parts. I also liked the tension that was built around the character Myles as his powers grew. It was fun to keep guessing if he would turn good or bad in the end. There’s also the adorable little boy Kel who brings some sweet levity to otherwise intense scenes. 

 

I remember noticing that Weber got a little heavy-handed with the fake swearing in the second book -- this book is put out by a Christian publishing house so when characters needed to swear, she had them using made up curses like “litches”, “hulls”, “bolcrane” (bolcrane doubles, also the name of a feared, deadly lizard-like creature within the Storm Siren world). Though the presence of that pseudo-swearing felt rather ever-present in Siren’s Fury, here in the third book it seems to fall off to nearly non-existent. 

I would’ve loved to see a few more scenes within the Valley Of Origin, but otherwise I thought this was a strong finish to this whirlwind nature-inspired fantasy series. Definitely an improvement from the somewhat lackluster plot of Siren’s Fury. This closing book features a strong ending with one pretty epic final battle. Those scenes in the final pages are seriously LOL adorable! 

 

YA fans, check out the shout-out to author Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) in the acknowledgements! It was neat to learn that he helped write the few chapters written from Eogan’s POV. 

 

POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: Because Nym using cutting as a way to process her internal pain throughout part of this series, author Mary Weber recommends that readers who might be triggered visit the website To Write Love On Her Arms (twloha.com) for information and help. 

 

FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-01-05 14:31
Siren's Fury (Siren Trilogy - #2) by Mary Weber
Siren's Fury (The Storm Siren Trilogy) - Mary Weber

Nym risked her life to save Faelen, her homeland, from a losing war, only to discover that the shapeshifter Draewulf has stolen everything she holds dear. But when the repulsive monster robs Nym of her storm-summoning abilities as well, the beautiful Elemental realizes her war is only just beginning. Now powerless to control the elements that once emboldened her, Nym stows away on an airship traveling to the metallic kingdom of Bron. She must stop Draewulf. But the horrors he’s brought to life and the secrets of Bron are more than Nym bargained for. Then the disturbing Lord Myles tempts her with new powers that could destroy the monster, and Nym must decide whether she can compromise in the name of good even if it costs her very soul. As she navigates the stark industrial cityscape of Bron, Nym is faced with an impossible choice: change the future with one slice of a blade . . . or sacrifice the entire kingdom for the one thing her heart just can’t let go.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

*** Warning: We're discussing Book 2 of a series here, so heads up there's likely to be some spoilers below

 

 

Going into Siren's Fury, we find that Nym has lost much of her Elemental powers just as she was beginning to make them work in her favor. Now the people of Faelen are counting on her to defeat the evil Draewolf that caused so much trouble in the first book, but she's not sure how she's supposed to pull that off without her powers to guide her. Still, she doesn't want to cause any further fear or unrest, so she's choosing to hide the fact that her powers are gone until she can figure out how to either get them back or defeat Draewolf without them. Her search for answers will take her down one seriously dark path of choices.

Though Nym put a significant dent in Draewolf's army at the close of Book 1, he's now hard at work building his forces back up, all while having commandeered the body of Eogan (in the form of possession).

 

(spoiler show)

 

Even though her newly learned battlefield strategies went a long way to bring the war to a close, the Five Kingdoms are still struggling to maintain peace when it comes to border and trade agreements. Though Nym has been freed from the bonds of slavery, she is still being used as a pawn in a power struggle between the kingdoms of Bron and Faelen. Bron suffered a great loss in the last battle and now the people of Bron have built up quite a bit of bitterness against Nym. 

 

Nym's sort-of adversary, Myles, returns in this second installment. Here he offers her a way to save Eogan but Nym's friend, the Luminescent Rasha, warns that it's probably best if Nym doesn't trust him too far. Sure he has moments of being personable, but he also still puts off that air of maybe having ulterior motives to any gift or offer of help. But has Nym proven herself to be stellar at following directions or heeding warnings so far? Nah, not so much. 

 

Siren's Fury was something of a letdown after how much I became invested in Storm Siren. Not that it was terrible. Not at all. I'm still having fun with the series to be sure, something just fell flat here. If I'm being completely honest, a lot of the time I found myself just waiting for Eogan to get some scene time again! 

 

Nym's powers didn't seem as well-described -- it was tough for me to get a clear picture of what all happened with the "vortex" -- the plot felt less intense, just a lot of cold stares and threats thrown around. There was this sense of a lot of build up for virtually nothing happening (when compared to the first book)... other than a lot of sneaking around on airships and then getting caught. Multiple times. Seriously, why was everyone so bad at sneaking around in this book?

 

Characters are talking about how terrifying Lady Isobel (Draewolf's daughter) is but honestly I found Lady Adora from the first book way more chillingly evil than Isobel ever was. Isobel just sounded like a bratty kid trying to sound scary but never getting much steam beyond "Just wait til my dad gets here!". But I was caught off guard by her blip of a moment where she let down her guard and was what? Almost helpful to Nym?!

 

Weber continues to weave inspirational / motivational themes into her fantasy, which I love. Through her characters readers are delivered the message to not let their inner demons control them; no matter how dire the situation, there is always a choice to turn away from or fight against the darkness. Weber's characters also learn to fight evil with compassion and empathy... a lesson all the world could currently benefit from! 

 

Check out the acknowledgements page of this book and you'll spot some familiar names: Jay Asher, CJ Redwine, Marissa Meyer, Colleen Coble.

 

Have to say though, Mary Weber... not sure this arachnophobe can entirely forgive you for those two SUPER creepy spider scenes! Yes, I get that the spider was the symbol for the center of dark power but dang, you described those creepy crawlies TOO well! Blech. 

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review 2016-11-08 20:01
When Death Draws Near (Gwen Marcey #3) by Carrie Stuart Parks
When Death Draws Near (A Gwen Marcey Novel) - Carrie Stuart Parks

Gwen Marcey takes death in stride. Until she’s faced with her own mortality.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others. Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself? In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey returns once again, this time in Pineville, Kentucky, to work on a case involving a serial rapist. Yet unidentified, the perp has only been dubbed "the Hillbilly Rapist" by the media. Women are kidnapped, raped and tortured for days on end and then left for dead. Survivors and their families quietly leave town, leaving virtually no trace of ever being a resident of Pineville. When bodies start cropping up around town, the investigation starts to point back to a group of Pentecostal snake worshippers. Gwen Marcey is called in to look over one of the much-mutilated corpses but is surprised to find she's getting quite the cold shoulder (as far as assistance) from the police department claiming to need her skills. Marcey suspects her presence on the case may only be as a token figure to make the police department look good, as in covering all the bases, to the media. The officers come to the conclusion that someone needs to infiltrate the serpent handling congregation to gather information, but are concerned about the risk. Marcey, baited with the promise of a large sum of money -- that she desperately needs --  if she agrees to the assignment, is asked to go undercover to investigate. What she uncovers has her questioning who the real threat in this case may be... the people being pointed out... or the people pointing the finger?

 

I've been really enjoying this series to date, so when I found that the new Gwen Marcey novel was set in Appalachian country (my "neck of the woods" as far as general area of the country, though I don't currently live in KY), I was that much more excited to dig into this one and see where her investigations take her. A bit to my dismay, I ended up not quite loving this one as much as the previous adventures -- if you could call them that, given what she gets into lol. While I've heard some reviewers say they were a little turned off by the subject of serpent handlers, that part didn't bother me so much as the way some of the characters themselves were crafted here.

 

The KY police officers struck me as somewhat cartoonish in the way they were written, and I'm sorry but their mountain sayings as far as those "busier than __" and what not, the ones written here were just BAD. I even read them to my husband who grew up near the hollers and he shook his head, laughed and said, "Yeah, I don't know anyone who would use that one." Granted though, some of his favorites lean more towards the dirty, profane or risque ... so maybe given that Parks is published through a Christian Fic publisher, she might have had to keep 'em clean. :-P 

 

There was also a part near the end that bothered me a bit where Marcey makes a comment where she's basically spitting out a medical diagnosis of one of the characters. Yes, given her work, she likely does have a grasp on some medical knowledge in general, but not being an actual doctor character, I felt the character should have started the statement with "I SUSPECT this person has ____" instead of saying it as fact. 

 

Oh, and if you've read all the Marcey books up to this point, Robert, the ex-husband makes another appearance ... and he's still a toolbag ;-)

 

The overall plot in this Gwen Marcey novel seemed to have a much slower burn / build-up than the previous novels in the series, a little more predictable in the way things unfold, and in the end I felt this one lacked some of the fine intricacies of the previous investigations. I was expecting something a little more with the ending as well. That being said, I still thought this one quite interesting and fun in subject matter and still very much love reading about the work of Gwen Marcey. Think I possibly spotted a hint in this book that a future book might take place in Maine, maybe? :-) I look forward to reading of her future cases (if there are to be any). I especially love when she gets into how she picks apart people's "tells", through speech or body language, that alert her to liars. I look forward to reading about her sassy self once again... and hopefully something more of Blake! 

 

FTC Disclaimer: BookLookBloggers.com kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book with a request that I might check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

_____________

 

My reviews for the previous books in the series:

 

A Cry From The Dust (Gwen Marcey #1)

 

The Bones Will Speak (Gwen Marcey #2)

 

and although not directly related to this series, the Gwen Marcey character also makes a brief appearance in Colleen Coble's novel, Mermaid Moon

 

 

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review 2016-09-30 21:26
Recruited (Rayna Tan Action Thrillers) by Wesley Robert Lowe
Recruited (Rayna Tan Action Thrillers) - Wesley Robert Lowe

Recruited (Rayna Tan Action Thrillers) by Wesley Robert Lowe is an exciting action-filled book. The action is relentless. I gave it four stars.

 

"Recruited is the story of why twenty-six-year-old Rayna Tan chose to leave the secretive world of the elite Canadian Forces Special Operations counter-terrorism unit (JTF2) to join an even more shadowy operation, Fidelitas."

She is an attractive, smart & motivated member of Canada's counterterrorism called Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2). The operators are a highly respected special ops force, with extensive combat experience.

 

She was on a mission with Seal Captain Jonathan Rogers. After it ended abruptly, she met with his father Barry Rogers who was going to have her investigated.

 

She flew to New York where Tanner proposed. That's when her life changed drastically.

I received a complimentary copy from Amazon. That did not change my opinion for this review.

 

Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Recruited-Rayna-Tan-Action-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B01AO5Q2MA

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