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review 2017-05-25 08:13
Allie and Bea
Allie and Bea - Catherine Ryan Hyde

By:  Catherine Ryan Hyde 

ISBN:  978-1477819715

Publisher:  Lake Union 

Publication Date: 5/23/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Master storyteller, Catherine Ryan Hyde returns following Say Good-Bye for Now landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 with another emotional thought-provoking saga ALLIE AND BEA – two protagonists from different generations caught up an unfair system find they may learn something from one another.

The best and worst of humanity.

Bea a senior barely making it on her small social security check. Her husband is deceased and she resides in a mobile home with her cat Phyllis. Her savings is nearly depleted trying to make ends meet.

Then a phone scammer saying he is from the IRS to collect back taxes. Quickly her money is gone. Wiped out. She has nowhere to turn and nowhere to live. Even her rent check will bounce since someone wiped out her bank account.

Feeling stupid and helpless, she has to change her direct deposit bank account and decides she has no choice but to live in her old van with her cat; and leaves her things with a friend. She barely has enough money for gas and food for another month until she receives her next social security check.

Then she is faced with the impossible and begins doing things she never thought she would do in order to survive. Bea does not have any knowledge of cell phones, nor the internet. She never had the opportunity to do much traveling nor see the world. She is rough around the edges, and over the years she has learned not to let others in or get too close. She does not trust easily, cynical, and now a loner. How will she continue to survive sleeping in her van and too old for a job?

Told from two points of view, we meet Allie. Allie is a teen and wise beyond her years. She is smart and has strong principals and integrity. She is a devout vegan and very strict with her food and lifestyle.

She has just discovered her mom and dad are being arrested for tax fraud and being sent to jail. She is left with a social worker, and has to leave her home, friends, school, and all her possessions -
taken to a group home. Allie has no clue of the evil of this world.

All this is foreign to Allie. She soon learns people in this world are not so nice. Some of the girls are very dangerous at the group home and things get out of hand. She has nowhere to turn and no money. Then her only hope is a friend who helps her escape and soon finds herself in another nightmare even worse than what she left. Human trafficking.

She has one shot in order to escape a madman. Soon an unlikely old woman and a runaway teen connect. Two lives both desperate. They soon discover they may learn some hard life lessons together.

As always, Hyde takes readers on a thought-provoking adventure. It may not be an easy road; however, her characters always find a way to connect with someone on a different path to change their lives. Fate intersects. They may not know the reason for the encounter, but you can be assured they were meant to take the journey.

Even though I could relate to Bea being a senior, had to think of my recent experience with my dad, age 86 yrs old with this crazy healthcare system and a recent phone scam. Luckily he did not get sucked into this and lose his money.

 

I also related to Allie in so many ways. She is wise beyond her years. She has integrity. I am also a vegan and some of the reactions are ones I face daily. I had to laugh when I went to a shelter during our last Florida hurricane evacuation. I could eat nothing they had. It was good I packed some healthy snacks and was able to go home the following day. Being a vegan is foreign to many in our world. Lots of laughs between the two.

I admired Allie for her strong principals; however, it also demonstrated how when faced with survival, how people get desperate enough to cross moral and ethical lines. A heartwarming story of the kindness of others. She taught Bea so much about herself.

No one can take you on a better road trip adventure than Catherine Ryan Hyde— mixed with life messiness, emotion, heart, and lots of humor. I think we have all been close to living in our car at one time or another, in our lives when things have looked hopeless.

A good look at our broken system and how it fails the young and the old in different and similar ways. When this happens, we may not always have a family; however, there may be a guardian angel where we least expect through the kindness of a stranger.

The highs and loves of life! The cracks in life let the light through. After reading a CRH book you want to rush out and do something good for someone, or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Help someone less fortunate. You want to give back. Life changing moments. Inspiring.

In addition to the reading copy, also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Lauren Ezzo and Janet Metzger with an engaging performance for both voices. Loved the journey along the Pacific Coast. One of my favorite cities: Santa Barbara, CA! I was curious to see how these two souls from different walks of life would connect - fans will enjoy this one.

From an online interview with the author we get a glimpse into what’s coming next:

“After Allie and Bea will come a novel called The Wake-Up, about a former cattle rancher who becomes so sensitive to the emotions of others that his entire life is turned upside-down. And all this just as he’s trying to find his way with a seriously abused new stepson who can’t be trusted around his animals.” Read more

Ironically, have read many of CRH books ; however, realized this evening I have never watched or read, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s international sensation, Pay It Forward, the moving story of Trevor McKinney, a 12-year-old boy who accepts his social studies teacher’s challenge to come up with a plan to change the world. Rented it tonight on Amazon Kindle- highly recommend if you have not read the book or watched the movie. (have some Kleenex handy).

A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/01/Allie-and-Bea
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review 2017-05-25 03:52
Starting over
The Friar - Samantha A. Cole

 Adam is starting over and trying to figure out what that mean for him.  He has had a rough past with a lot of pain.  He only knows he has to keep going to find where he belongs.

 

Sage has had a painful past as well.  She has to raise her kids without their dad.  She has to save her farm.  She also has to figure out why she is so attracted to a stranger.

 

This book was full of surprises.  There was honestly something inside for everyone between the pages.  I had said earlier that it had "heart, reverence, joy, respect, friendship, family, and sexy!"  Imagine all that with suspense thrown in.  Yes, I know, really makes it a must read.  I give this story a 5/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-24 19:30
Just another day in the city of Nis...
Fraud Twice Felt - J.T. Hall

'Fraud Twice Felt' is the second installment in J.T. Hall's 'Oddities' series and basically picks up where 'Murder Once Seen' leaves off. Derwin and Elliot are living together as a new couple and working on making their lives mesh.

 

They're happy and for the most part things are good...or as good as they can be with two men who both have oddities they're trying to keep secret from the rest of the world, are rebuilding their home after having it blown to bits by a killer as well as rebuilding Elliot's life so he can leave his rentboy days behind which would be easier said than done if he didn't have to avoid a former client who nearly killed him and still wants to 'own' him and just happens to be the leader of one of the most dangerous gangs in the city...but hey, let's not stop there why not have a friends son and his girlfriend go missing only to find out that not only are they missing but they've placed everyone in the middle of a power struggle between two of the most powerful gangs in the city.

 

Like the first book 'Fraud Twice Felt' is a bit stronger on the mystery/thriller part than the romance but for me that works. I cut my reading teeth on authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Phillip Margolin so mysteries are part of my staple reading diet add in that this one also has a touch of urban fantasy to it...Jim Butcher and Rachel Caine anyone? Needless to say this is all golden for me...mystery/thriller/urban fantasy with a touch of a m/m romance blended in and I'm happy, happy girl.

 

I really enjoyed the mystery here, it was solid and held a couple of surprises that added a nice little twist to events. What I really enjoyed was the growth that we saw in Elliot as he regained some of his confidence and stepped up to show his man that he's not going to stay anyone's damsel in distress, he wants to be self sufficient and able to protect himself and have Derwin's back when he needs to but more than that he wants to take his life in a different direction from his rentboy days...one that will clearly establish him as Derwin's partner and an equal in the relationship.

 

Watching Elliot struggle to regain the confidence that he lost as a result of the events that transpired in 'Murder Once Seen' is hard for Derwin. He's a good partner loving and supportive but he's already lost one man that he loved and he knows that losing Elliot to the dangers they face would be more than he could handle but he's smart enough to know that for both their sakes Elliot needs to be able to protect himself so he's determined to help make this happen. I really loved this about Derwin because as a  wife and a parent I understand that feeling that need to protect those we love. I also understand that whether it's a child or a partner the best thing we can do for them if we truly love them is to give then the tools to be able to protect themselves.  Sometimes doing what's best for those we love is the hardest thing we have to do, but it's also the most important. 

 

While this story doesn't end on a cliffhanger we are given a hint of what's coming next and I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment in this series and the chance to see how Derwin and Elliot grow as a couple and as individuals. J. T. Hall has definitely found a fan in me with this series and I'm looking forward to my next visit to the city of Nis.

 

********************

 

An ARC of 'Fraud Twice Felt' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-24 18:24
Another L. A. Witt success...
The Master Will Appear - L.A. Witt

‘The Master Will Appear’ is L.A. Witt’s newest release. It’s BDSM with an age gap and a sub who has no idea what he wants or who he really is and some scorching hot sex.

 

Ryan appears in Mikhail’s life as an arrogant young fencer who in Mikhail’s eyes needs to be taught a lesson in humility. It’s only after delivering that humility in the form of a sparring match that Ryan approaches Mikhail and with his new-found humility ask the older, more experienced fencer to mentor him that Mikhail truly looks at him and sees his potential surprising himself as much as Ryan with his agreement.

 

As Ryan’s lessons in fencing proceed the attraction between the two men grows. Initially Mikhail is somewhat resistant feeling that the age gap between them is too much. But as Ryan’s need to submit becomes apparent the two strike another bargain and Mikhail agrees to teach Ryan what it means to be a submissive.

 

The relationship between these two men was more than a little complicated by several factors and I loved that this was not a case of insta-love. Sure, they were attracted to each other it was a physical attraction but that’s a real life thing that happens all the time. I think most of us have at one time or another have seen someone who at first glance catches our attention and makes our blood race a little and maybe even leaves us a little breathless.

 

It’s only as they spend time together and actually get to know each other that both of these men begin to feel like there could be more and it’s definitely up to Mikhail to take that first step given how cynical and relationship phobic Ryan is especially for someone his age…he’s young to be so cynical and sadly it’s thanks to a family that’s definitely the poster image for dysfunctional.

 

It’s this emotional connection that develops between Ryan and Mikhail that added so much intensity to their relationship for me. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book where I actually felt the connection between the MCs the way that I did here. For me it was strong…intense if you will. That first time that Mikhail told Ryan to kneel I didn’t wonder if he would, if this was the point at which their relationship would shift to another level. In my mind the instant Mikhail said ‘kneel’ Ryan was kneeling. It was a done deal.

 

As strongly as I felt Ryan’s desire to please Mikhail as his sub, I also felt Mikhail’s desire to care for Ryan to give and be what he needed to keep himself balanced and safe.

‘The Master Will Appear’ worked as a story for me because I need to believe in the unwavering level of trust that is needed to make a relationship work between a Dom and their sub, as well as feeling that being a Dom or a sub is a part of the character’s nature and I may be wrong here but I’ve always felt that being a Dom or a sub is a part of a persons nature the same as being gay, lesbian, bi or straight…it’s just something that’s there and part of that persons nature. It’s not about deciding or not deciding…it just is. The choice isn’t about whether you are or aren’t. It’s whether you act on it or not, whether your true to yourself or not. With this story I got those feelings…the unwavering trust and the feeling that Mikhail was what Ryan needed in order to finally be true to who he was to explore that hidden part of himself and feel safe.

 

Now comes the tricky part there was one particular scene in this book and if you’ve read the book…you know what I’m talking about and if not, I apologize for how vague I’m about to be but giving details would be way more spoilerish than I want to be. I’m just going to say that I’m a bit torn on this scene because honestly while it’s not something I would chose to have in a story I think in this case because of why it happened and everything that resulted afterwards it was relevant and necessary. Also, surprisingly I have to say it was well done and *fans self* definitely hot! So not my choice to have happen in a story but I tip my hat to Ms. Witt…she nailed it…I might have done a re-read on this part…but just once…honest.

 

At the end of it all no matter how it starts or what kind of a relationship it becomes I need to feel that it’s healthy and good for all parties involved and with Ryan and Mikhail it worked. These two men complimented each other beautifully not that they were perfect…just that they were perfect for each other and I was left feeling that what they had together as a couple made each of them better as individuals…for me that’s how a relationship should work.

 

********************

 

An ARC of ‘The Master Will Appear’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-24 07:41
Review 4/5 stars: Lord of Chance (Rogues to Riches, #1) by Erica Ridley
Lord of Chance (Rogues to Riches Book 1) - Erica Ridley

This is sort of a re-release since it first appeared in the Scandal’s Daughters Anthology, but fret not as this “is an expanded ‘Author Edition.’"

Charming and complex characters, well-told story, and not your usual rags to riches plot make this a delightful and engaging story. Anthony was a gambler down on his luck and up to his neck in debt when he met Charlotte. They were both fleeing from a dark past at the same time that they were looking for a different, brighter future. Unfortunately a play of words in a foreign place bound them together into marriage and their hopes at a brighter future just tumbled down.

The romance itself was emotive and believable. They grew to care for each other over a feasible amount of time to the point of willing to sacrifice their love for the sake of each other’s happiness. If anything, the only thing I didn’t find plausible is that they spent a lot of time together, alone, in a bedchamber, and there was no mention of any kind of sexual frustration. There were plenty of good reasons why the deed wasn’t done but I would have thought some tension would have been more palpable. Other than that, I loved their relationship because more than anything they were friends and they supported each other, even when they could become pariahs in society.

The settings were rich in detail and the story had that fluidity that I love because it keeps me engrossed in the story. I also loved that it dealt with deep themes such as addiction and prejudice yet it kept a light side and didn’t turn into a sob-inducing story. I do believe addiction is a tough subject and even harder to overcome however I’ve also witnessed that given the right circumstances and for the right reasons a person can actually beat it. That’s one of the reason I don’t think Anthony’s recovery was that far-fetched and it could very much have happened quickly indeed.

Twists and turns and the fact the story definitely did not have the ending I expected make this a most delightful and entertaining read and I definitely recommend it to those looking for a well-told, unique, romantic story.

*** I received this book from the author at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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