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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-21 20:01
Broken Heart by Tammy Faith (2016 Review)
Broken Heart - Tammy Faith

Broken Heart by Tammy Faith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Phoebe Stephen's life drastically changes when she awakes from an attack - an attack she can't remember. Giving in to the fear, to the emotional insecurities, she strives to keep it hidden from all who care for her. But such brutal violence takes its toll and can't remain hidden for long, especially when love is at stake.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Tammy Faith for giving me the opportunity!

Upon being given the opportunity to read this debut novel, I admittedly had to mull over whether it would ultimately capture my interest. Romance as a genre can be a very extreme hit or miss with me, but I almost always prefer it involving paranormal aspects or erotic content as a focus point. Despite these factors however, I finally decided to give it a go even though the blurb didn't particularly appeal; which had nothing to do with the implied delicate subject matter, I might add, it simply struck me as rather flat, as Contemporary New Adult often does. I was happy I finished it though, as I detest having to leave a book before it concludes.

The story of Phoebe and Crisanto could've been considered a relationship fantasied about by the young and naive - it was mind-numbingly perfect and a little ridiculous. Sure, they battled through some serious issues, broke up and got back together more than once, but their connection was formed in childhood and they essentially needed each other to properly function. Over and over I was reminded how they were meant to be, how their souls were joined; mostly tedious ramblings that repeatedly played on my nerves. Phoebe's life often revolved around Cris and his rise to fame (she moved twice, following him as he succeeded in his sports career), as it appeared "his dream" was the only one that mattered. I foresaw the happy ending, thus the numerous occasions they appeared to be in jeopardy failed to cause uncertainty or concern. A lot of romance material shares this very trait, but I've found it can still be done whilst successfully creating sense of edge-of-your-seat excitement. Unfortunately, this one fell quite short.

It wasn't all bad however, as I found myself impressed with some of the dialogue and narrative that related to life's habit of being unfair and difficult; it was truly quote-worthy at times and I appreciated the good writing (even though as a whole it was rife with spelling errors). The sexual abuse was also handled well, and added a touch of mystery amongst the awfulness of the situation - yet in the end the identity of the rapist made little sense. She was friends with Cris for most of his life and never, even once, met his father? I believe such a glaringly questionable plot-hole should've probably been addressed, but I assume Faith wanted to shock her readers, therefore who better than the parent of the beloved boyfriend?

I can't say I came to care for the characters, nor the story to a large degree. It was a quick read, with the timeline regularly racing ahead and skimming over a lot of time. I became confused at a point when one of the scenes from the past didn't quite add up in the scheme of things, but that could've been my own oversight or just another problem on the list.

In conclusion - Whilst I definitely believe this book held potential, it needs revision and editing. Also, the lovey-dovey definitely became a bit much, as it seemed to me to be rather unhealthy. Not my thing, I can say that for sure!

Notable Quote:

I'm glad we didn't give up when things got ugly, because maybe love isn't supposed to be easy. Maybe it's supposed to be tough, to make you prove to yourself that this person is worth fighting for, to hold on tight when everything seems to want to tear you apart.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/21/broken-heart-by-tammy-faith-2016-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-21 19:02
The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen
The Nightmare Room - Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a personal tragedy strikes Peter and Hannah Larson, they find themselves picking up their lives and moving house. Said house isn't what it seems - something lurks within, seeming to originate from the dark and gloomy basement. As the presence continues to focus upon the two, its determination only grows, causing obvious and damaging rifts between husband and wife. It appears to already know Peter in some intimate way, and shocking, deeply hidden secrets soon come to light.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Chris Sorensen for giving me the opportunity!

This turned out to be an extremely difficult book for me to form a solid opinion on and subsequently rate. After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I didn't really consider this one an outright horror novel, at least in regards to my own personal taste. When I instead thought of it as a supernatural tale with some horror elements, it made better sense in my mind. You see, in no way did I at all feel that uncomfortable, yet riveting unease that comes with something that ticks all the right boxes in the scary department. The typical tropes were there; the ghostly encounters, the ominous house, but something also felt missing and I had one hell of a time trying to figure out what. It could've been the absence of a sufficient build up, where time is given to properly establish a sense of dread, or maybe the haunting scenes merely didn't offer anything frightful. Essentially, it wasn't my sort of horror, I'd even go so far to say it was relatively tame in the scheme of things, yet I did appreciate the storytelling - twists included.

Peter and Hannah Larson were the sort of married couple you'd roll your eyes at - they were sickeningly perfect for each other. Their chemistry jumped out from the page, and despite dealing with the anguish of great loss, they found strength. They, of course, had their faults, which became evident throughout, but that only made them more relatable as people. I liked them, and I especially liked what Sorensen did with Peter. What revolved around Peter were secrets heavily linked to his past, and whilst the revelations kept coming, I too shared in Peter's shock. The two other characters that had a significant presence - that being Riggs and Ellen Marx, added a pleasant sprinkle of entertainment. I notably enjoyed Ellen's legitimacy at being an expert; she was no quack. If I could, I'd read a book all about her.

Despite the cleverness of some aspects, I can't deny that I felt that the story dragged at times. For me, there's nothing worse than feeling the onset of boredom, and there were moments that came dangerously close to that. I felt that the first half in particular could've used more time with the couple in the house, and less time in the Blind Rock bar for instance, which is where my interest really waned. I understand such scenes were for the benefit of character development, but my engagement primarily lay with Peter.

Sorensen's imagination certainly took me by surprise as I reached the end of Peter and Hannah's ordeal. Granted, the conclusion was all rather complicated, perhaps a little too complicated to understand right away, but it surely had a distinctive quality. It's rare that I come across an ending that changes everything so drastically, to the point where I need to pause and ponder over what I just read. I applaud the bold approach to implement such a memorable outcome.

In conclusion - Whilst the horror elements didn't do it for me, I mostly liked the story and background. It definitely had its ups and downs, but Sorensen is one author I'll be keeping my eye on.

Notable Scene:

The woman rushed toward him, and for a second he thought she was going to strike him him. Instead, she took his head in both of her hands and pressed her mouth over his. Peter felt her inhale abruptly - a reverse resuscitation.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/21/the-nightmare-room-by-chris-sorensen
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review 2018-04-21 18:51
Annoyingly vague review
Closed Circles (Sandhamn Murders Book 2) - Viveca Sten,Laura A. Wideburg

Ya know what's frustrating? Like lips moving from Heaven to flapping at you frustrating? NOT BEING ABLE TO TELL YOU WHY THIS ISN'T A 4-STAR REVIEW. Because major, major spoilers would be required for me to do that.

 

Minor irks: Carina and Thomas are brought up and dropped in the space of a few sentences. I'd like more of that please. The partial resolution of Nora's marital woes is a good start, but this entry has next to no Nora-and-Thomas time and I missed it. The Eva subplot's resolution doesn't seem finished, somehow. It seems unlikely to be complete as it stands and it itches for that reason.

 

Something about these books and their lutefisk-and-cardamom atmosphere makes me crave a jalapeño cheeseburger. I guess that's an index of how very Swedish they are. And how cozy are they? So cozy I want to cruise the piers (I'd have to learn to time-travel, but that's just an added bonus) to recover from the wholesome.

 

So all in all, a good read and a series I can recommend to my smut-averse, violence-averse puzzle-solving friends.

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review 2018-04-21 15:18
The Scarecrow Queen - Melinda Salisbury

“In every fairy tale there is a kernel of truth, and that is the truth of this one. For him, I am poison. I am his death. And I will deliver.” 

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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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