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review 2017-10-14 17:21
Audio Book Review: Laced in Lies
Laced In Lies: A Shelby Nichols Adventur... Laced In Lies: A Shelby Nichols Adventure (Shelby Nichols Adventure Series Book 10) - Colleen Helme

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Shelby's life is always full with the kids and her work as a consultant for Uncle Joey and the police. Her clients cross when she takes a job to follow a friends husband, and ends up in a bar of a gang that's got an amicable deal with Uncle Joey. She calls for help from Ramos, and afterward finds out Ramos has something going on he doesn't want her involved in, but ultimately needs her skills to help him. Uncle Joey meets her family and wants Shelby to go with his son, Miguel, to New York for his audition in a Broadway musical.

Wow. Wendy is one amazing voice actor. She gives Shelby the full feel of a person. I love the lightness to Shelby yet the complete package that she's well aware of what's happening around her is not good (when in trouble). When Wendy slips into Shelby's persona I feel like I'm watching Shelby as she goes through her day and stumbles into troubles. A wonderful combination of Colleen's writing and Wendy's voice makes me giggle in the right moments and feel the excitement in Shelby. Wonderful job.

Shelby is amazing at getting into trouble. But the best part is, even through she's nervous, she works her way out with quick thoughts. She does have a small consulting business of her own and helps with the cops on special cases, and these sometimes cross into the life that's including Uncle Joey. But if Shelby ever gets in trouble she can call on Ramos for help, and she does.

Goodness! Ramos. He's amazing. If you love dark, sexy men you'll love Ramos. I love the time Shelby and him spend together. They tease each other so well, and mean some of what they say. lol. Harmless flirting...maybe? Sometimes I wonder if Ramos doesn't have his own dose of reading minds ability. He's great at knowing and reading people, and finding them in a crowd. He even makes me smile when that all is focused on Shelby. Oh, Shelby is amazing with her husband too. He's different from Ramos, yet just as sexy. I really love both men when Shelby is with them.

Being part of the family with Uncle Joey is growing to a new level for Shelby with her husband and kids. All starting with the family barbecue that they agreed to when at Miguel's musical. Things have really grown with Uncle Joey personally. This leads us to get to spend time with Miguel, which is really nice. The family feel really comes through strong. There are ties that are reconnected and ties that grow to bring a big family feel to the whole story.

Colleen is amazing at writing the characters so I love them and I'm drawn into every moment with them. There is something with each scene that keeps me listening to the words. Shelby has amazing chemistry with everyone she meets. Awesome job!

I absolutely love these books and will continue with Shelby and all the characters as long as there are books written!

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review 2017-10-05 02:12
The Book of Lies/Teri Terry
Book of Lies - Teri Terry

In this suspenseful, gripping novel, teen twin girls raised separately meet for the first time at their mother’s funeral. Quinn has been trained to never tell a lie. Piper is a practiced liar. Narrated in both voices, the story of their quest to learn truths that have been concealed from them is shadowed by a dark spell that beckons them to run at night with a pack of murdering ghost hounds. Suspense, menace, mystery, witchcraft, family secrets, mistaken identity, and romance are interwoven in a brilliantly written page-turner that will grab and thrill teen readers.

 

I wish the concept behind this book had been revealed a little bit earlier on because it was such a fascinating premise but I think it could have been taken further than it was.

 

This book could almost be considered magical realism, but it's kind of iffy as to whether it leans to the fantasy side or not. I think I would have liked it to be a little more realistic after it all.

 

Quinn and Piper alternate their points of views and sometimes these transitions are abrupt. Having the narrator's name in the corner of the page is a stylistic choice that helps greatly, but I still found it hard to truly distinguish between their voices, partially because Piper evolved over the book and Quinn did not. Their quick changes does make the story move quickly, but it can be challenging at points to follow.

 

I wish there had been more imagery of the area Quinn was from--it takes an hour's hike to get up to where she lives and the first time they make this trek, it's a huge deal, but later it becomes casual. I felt like the moors had so much potential but while some scenes with dogs were well written I didn't get a true sense of the scenery.

 

This does have some interesting commentary on what good and evil are but I wasn't a fan of the way that it ultimately played out and with some scenes before. I found it hard to respect certain characters for their actions. The interplay between the two sides of the spectrum was intriguing though, especially as the backstories developed.

 

Slated was a whole league ahead of this book, but Terry's writing style still makes for a fast-flowing fantasy novel.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2017-09-28 01:50
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Short Book Rambles at Mid-game
Garden of Lies - Amanda Quick
Every Secret Thing - Susanna Kearsley,Emma Cole,Katherine Kellgren
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

 


 


It's closing in on the end of September and our Bingo game is at it's midmark!

For the sake of my own sanity, I've come to a compromise with myself.  I would like to write a review for every book I read for bingo... but we know that sometimes that just doesn't happen.  So I've settled for a short compilation of all the books I didn't get around to formatting a review for.

Instead, you get some random ramblings... which, if we know me by now, always end up becoming short reviews anyway.  But I had this vision of wanting to throw a few books together in one post, make it Halloween Bingo specific, had it all formatted and ready to fill in my opinions for each book I come across that I don't know how to review... and I'm not changing my mind.

Here it is!

 

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick
audio book narrated by Louisa Jane Underwood
Rating:  3.5 Stars


I love Amanda Quick books, if only because they follow a specific formula, so you always know what you're going to get out of them.  Garden of Lies is the usual Amanda Quick historical mystery and romance, with great characters and fast-paced progression.  And I never have any idea how to review these books, because they are simply just as enjoyable as the last Amanda Quick book I read: witty, fun, entertaining... standard.

It's always a good bet I will enjoy them; though also a greater bet that the story line is the same as others by this author.  Garden of Lies was no different:  Feisty, non-standard, too-modern-for-her-own-good heroine; broody, intensely passionate alpha with some tragic history.  They meet for reasons, they fall in lust at first sight, they fight the lust whilst working together to uncover a mystery, sex happens, feelings happen, cue some kind of last minute danger scene... Happily Ever After™.

Though the overall details of the mystery weren't the usual, the main culprits were fairly predictable, as were a lot of events.  There might have been entirely too much going on in this book... but that's about it.

 Louisa Jane Underwood is a lovely narrator and gave the "reading" experience a nice boost!

I read this book for Halloween Bingo 2017, for the 'Darkest London' square, since the story is set in Victorian London.

This book could also count for:

  • Murder most foul
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

audio book narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Rating:  4.0 Stars


This is one of the books that, after beginning, I started having doubts whether or not it would fit the Halloween Bingo square I chose it for.  While there are several deaths, as well as the MC wandering around trying to investigate the chaos that suddenly befalls her life, Every Secret Thing ended up reading more like an espionage thriller than a murder mystery.  I could classify it as suspense, I suppose, and the entire ordeal DOES start with the mention of an old murder, one still deserving justice.

Every Secret Thing wasn't what I'd been expecting when I started listening to the audio, if only because maybe I'd been expecting something a bit darker, or grittier.  Instead, this book gave me an almost old-timey type of story, as we follow Kate Murray's investigations, while simultaneously following some snippets of the now deceased Andrew Deacon's espionage lifestyle.  It was... charming... the entire experience.  At first it felt a bit dragged out, but once you get into the rhythm of it, the flashbacks to Andrew Deacon's story lines aren't so strange, and in fact, kind of intriguing.

I can't say that I one hundred percent enjoyed this book, and the truth is, while I loved Katherine Kellgren's narration, I'm almost wondering if this story wouldn't have been better experienced as a print book.

One thing is for certain though:  Every Secret Thing is beautifully atmospheric, and I loved the descriptions of many of Kate's scenic travels, even as we were constantly moving forward at a rather fast paced stride.  There's an obligatory bittersweet ending when you come to the end of Andrew Deacon's tale, and even though we kind of already know how his life ended up playing out, it still plucks at the heart.

So the truth is, this was more a book about learning Andrew Deacon's story rather than following Kate Murray's investigations.

I may or may not swap this book out for another better suited book for the 'Murder Most Foul' square.  For now, this is just a tentative completion.  I'm seriously contemplating moving this book to either of the following squares:

 


This book could also count for:  Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  2.5 Stars


This is my first foray into Victoria Holt, and keeping in mind a few cautions from fellow readers, I read this book with a bit of trepidation.  Certainly, the story and the characters--especially our main heroine--is as I'd been warned.  But even as I became frustrated with the insta-love, the over-dramatics of our heroine, and the fact that none of the characters are very likable, On the Night of the Seventh Moon ended up being somehow addictively engrossing.  Even the frustratingly over-dramatic romance didn't put me off too badly.

For one reason or another, I just couldn't make myself put the book down.  It's got a nice mysterious twist to it that makes you want to keep reading to find out what's going on, even while the story was fairly predictable.  What happened to Helena?  Was it really just a dream, induced by drugs?  Was it real?  If it were real, then why all the theatrics by her cousins?  Why did Maximilian never come back for her?  And what of the baby?

It's hard to say what truly kept me hooked on this book--certainly it wasn't the characters, whom I disliked for many reasons, especially Frau Graben's blasé attitude towards the disgusting behavior exhibited by all the nobility.  She talks about how it's their given right, when either a count or a duke ravishes a girl and then tosses her aside; that the attempted murder or even the deaths were simply a matter of "state affair"; the deceptions of mock marriages, the lies, the betrayals--all simply part of their country's culture...

I get that it's probably part of the culture, which lends some authenticity to a more historical aspect of life... but I don't have to like it.

As I've already said, I didn't find any of the characters likable, except maybe the boy, Fritz.  Or Aunt Matilda--she was amusing, for sure.

It's also kind of irked me that the conclusion wrapped up too easily, in a very tidy, non-confrontational, and unrealistic way.  I like my HEA's, but we should at least follow through the world's logic.  All the concerns and the possible backlash and the possible war scenario that Maxi and Helena worried about if the two of them were to announce their relationship and marriage didn't even surface.  Everything just settled, all was forgiven, Happily Ever After™.

Really, the only amazingly wonderful thing going for this book was the beautiful writing, the imagery, the description, and a lot of the lore and history laid within the book's world.  For this alone, I will definitely give Victoria Holt another read when I get the chance.

(Ahem.  So much for a short ramble, but I'm not changing this, and I regret nothing...)

This book could also count for:

  • Gothic
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  3.5 Stars


I felt like Halloween Bingo wouldn't be complete without reading something by Neil Gaiman--last year I read The Graveyard Book and Coraline, both of which were very enjoyable, and one of them ended up being one of my favorites of the year.  Initially, I didn't have a book of his chosen for any of my Bingo squares (Yes, yes, I did; I just forgot I did).  I had originally only chosen a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman for the 'Genre: Horror' square, which I've been putting off listening to the audio... well, because Horror.

And I was hesitant about starting The Ocean at the End of the Lane... well, because Horror.  But I'm glad I decided to give it a go--if only because you get to revel in Gaiman's wonderful, magical descriptions... and because I found a different book other than Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning for this particular bingo square, because I just wasn't feeling Amy Tan at the moment.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a little difficult for me to get into at first; and it is equally difficult for me to figure out how I feel about it.  Outside of that magical, whimsical feel you get from reading a particularly good child's fantasy/adventure, I really can't pinpoint exactly what to say about it.  I've got a sort of bittersweet, wistful void after completing the book, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I know what the book was really about.

Certainly, there were a lot of though provoking lines and dialogue.  In the end, it's one of those books  you found enjoyment in, and it stays with you for some time, even as you can't quite pinpoint why.

This book could also count towards:

  • Genre: Horror -- the book is tagged as 'horror' on GR, and certainly, there were a lot of horror elements involved
  • Modern Masters of Horror -- published in 2013
  • Supernatural -- which goes hand in hand with Magical Realism
  • Chilling Children (?) -- I don't think I saw this tagged as YA or MG, but the main time frame of the book takes place when the protagonist is only seven years old
  • Monsters

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/halloween-bingo-2017-short-book-rambles.html
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review 2017-09-28 00:00
Perfect Lies
Perfect Lies - Kiersten White Excellent series. This two book girls-with-powers thriller is a fast, twisty ride that sneaks some literary excellence into an emotional story of sisterhood, acceptance and friendship (with only a touch of kissing). Love the use of repetition in both.
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review 2017-09-27 16:23
Jefferson Lies by David Barton
The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson - David Barton,Glenn Beck

This book was challenging to listen to, and I can't imagine it is any easier on the eyes in its physical format. Although there are some great points made about how modern writers often misinterpret history, the writing style in general was repetitive to the point of being condescending. Even worse, some of the faults Barton (rightly) accuses other authors of, he is just as guilty of himself.

 

People who do not study history think that it is boring and simple. They are not aware of the heated debates that take place over motives and personalities. Thinking history is nothing more than a list of dates, they discount it as insignificant. If this book does nothing else, it disproves this thought regarding history.

 

Was Jefferson an atheist, racist, rapist, *add in the negative term you have heard applied to Jefferson here* - or was he a forward thinking, brilliant Christian man unfortunately limited by the world in which he lived? The answer, of course, would fully satisfy nobody at either extreme because Jefferson, like most everyone else, was a complex man not able to be fully defined by simplistic labels.

 

Barton gets a few things completely right. Modern writers do transpose their own worldviews onto historical figures and try to force them to fit into it. They do look at one written line or one spoken comment and draw drastic conclusions from them. They do try to use historical figures as props to hold up their modern ideas despite the fact that we have no idea how they would truly react to our current situation.

 

Unfortunately, Barton also gets a few things wrong. He tries to paint such an overwhelmingly positive portrait of Jefferson that he dismisses evidence contrary to his ideas just as much as those he speaks against. He states repeatedly that Jefferson was unable to free his slaves through his will due to Virginia law, which is easily disproved in about 30 seconds online. Yes, a law similar to what he describes existed, but it was not as restrictive as he makes it out to be. It was a painful exercise to listen to the author attempt to clear Jefferson's name as a 'racist' while admitting that he owned slaves his entire life.

 

This is the problem with trying to force our modern views upon historical figures. In truth, Jefferson really was forward thinking in his attitudes toward blacks, but he still lived during a time of legalized slavery. He did free some of his slaves, and he did hire free black men for various positions and held them in high esteem....but he also owned slaves. This is a way of thinking that we can't reconcile in our modern mind without trying harder to understand the 18/19th century way of thinking. Anyone calling Jefferson a racist or trying to exonerate him is not really trying to understand who he really was because it's just not that simple.

 

I did appreciate the section of this book explaining more detail about the so-called 'Jefferson Bible' and clarifying Jefferson's attitude toward faith & the church. The fact that freedom of religion has evolved into freedom from religion in the US leads to many misunderstandings of Jefferson's feelings and objectives in this arena.

 

This book unfortunately is not a good source on Jefferson due to the half-truths & exaggerations that are made. Some previous knowledge is required to be aware of where the author is taking liberties with the subject matter.

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