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review 2017-06-19 17:22
Here and Gone/Haylen Beck
Here and Gone: A Novel - Haylen Beck

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they're gone than she must have done something with them... Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

 

This book was quite harrowing, and had my nerves all over the place as I read it and became invested in the lives of all involved.

 

From the very beginning, I was scared for this family--the opening scene has Audra driving through arid desert with few inhabitants, looking over her shoulder at every turn. Surely enough, as we know it will, the worst happens. I couldn't put this one down--it sickened me and I was desperately anxious to reach the end and have good things happen to these characters.

 

This wasn't particularly a mystery novel as we knew throughout what had happened, how it had happened, and why. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to race through this book to find out what would ultimately occur.

 

Underneath the ultimate plot of kids disappearing, there were some interesting tropes. Abuse was handled well in this book, and Audra's background with her husband was sickening. A lady who she stays with plays a role I did not expect and had a fascinating personality.

 

I felt like Danny, the man mentioned in the blurb, was kind of unnecessary. I wish he hadn't existed or that he'd been better worked into the plot. Though this is not at all a romance, it felt very much like a knight-in-shining-armour trope. His background was interesting to read about though, and I would have enjoyed more of him instead of less.

 

There were two children who I felt received the unfortunate end of the stick and I would have liked to have seen this resolved; however, this might have been out of the scope of the book so I can understand why their ultimate fates weren't included.

 

Overall, this was a really engaging read that I recommend quite highly

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

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review 2017-06-19 17:09
Single-Minded/Lisa Daily
Single-Minded: A Novel - Lisa Daily

Alex has planned and executed her life with laser focus since she first met her future husband at the play-doh table on the first day of kindergarten. They have a terrific life, a gorgeous house on the bay, and fantastic careers they love. There’s only one problem: Alex’s husband Michael is gay, a fact he neglected to mention in the 23 years since they first met.

Now, Alex’s perfectly planned life has completely fallen apart, her biological clock is starting to feel like the timer on a nuclear device, and she finds herself drooling over her completely-dreamy-but-definitely-off-limits client, a star chef opening a hot new restaurant. Armed with dating guidance from her oddball collection of advisers—including her gay ex-husband, a foul-mouthed political consultant, a perkily masochistic yogi, and a pot-smoking octogenarian—Alex navigates the booby-trapped world of modern dating, in her search for a second chance at love.

 

Daily is a splendid writer and my heart was in my throat through many of the scenes of this book. I think at heart this book stood out to me as a romance, though it did also address issues of self-worth and how one can view and value themselves as the world around them changes.

 

I can relate to Alex in how driven she is and in how she plans for things to go in a certain way so that she can meet success. I definitely would have liked to have seen more about her business--the scenes were she had events that could make or break it were really interesting and I was fascinated by her job as an environmental psychologist and wanted to learn more.

 

I loved seeing her entering the world of dating. I generally enjoy this, but it was especially great as she was a very put together character who just simply had never really been on a date in her life and because of that, there were many pitfalls that she had to work with throughout.

 

Her first "Tinder"-esque dates especially were intriguing, and I was curious about her friend's idea of needing to date a certain number of people of certain types before being able to marry. The "fish" especially resonated with me--that most people will have one person that is perfect in many ways, but there's something that just makes the relationship incompatible.

 

I felt like several scenes were sped through and could have used more detail to build up suspense and to really put me in the scene. I also wish there had been more resolution about a certain intriguing portrait.

 

This is a lovely women's fiction novel that I found to have quite a satisfying romance. I recommend it as a light read.

 

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

 

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review 2017-06-14 18:02
Crimes Against a Book Club/Kathy Cooperman
Crimes Against a Book Club - Kathy Cooperman

Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another.

 

Hilarious and a little bit absurd, I really loved this one!

 

The plot is so very strange but so very novel and engaging. I absolutely adored the way that it unraveled and how all of the elements introduced in the beginning came together quickly. The plot alone could have carried me easily through this book as I was immensely curious to see what would happen.

 

But the characters added another whole layer to it. They were all strangely lovable, even the ones that I simultaneously disliked. The manner in which everything came together was quite clever. At times, it reminded me of high school drama books but for adults and it definitely had the cliquey prestige that we all love to hate.

 

The morals of this book were questioning and questionable and immensely fascinating to me. I was highly entertained by the conflict between Annie and Sarah and how their friendship evolved and changed, as well as by the family dynamic that surprised me near the end.

 

For a light drama and a fun women's fiction read, I recommend this.

 

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

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review 2017-06-07 22:40
Bittersweet
Bittersweet (A Home Sweet Home Novel) - Shirlee McCoy

Title:  Bittersweet

Author:  Shirlee McCoy

Publisher:  Zebra

Series:  Home Sweet Home # 3

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Four

Review:

 

"Bittersweet" by Shirlee McCoy

 

My Viewpoint...

 

What will happen when Willow Lamont [ex prosecutor] returns to her hometown of Benevolence, Washington?  Well, after her grandfather requests her return she comes back only planning to spend several weeks to a place where she had a secret that she definitely did will not feel good about returning to 'Chocolate Haven' a place she had once truly loved.  Why was this?  It seems like being back at 'Chocolate Haven' Willow is even unable to even make the 'unique fudge' that she had once been able to do so well but after suffering from that 'secret trauma'  that just wouldn't let her go. Then it seems like something quite different comes into her life ... a abandoned baby and the meeting of a longtime school friend Deputy Sheriff Jax Gordon who had also gone through a lot in his life.  Now, I will say that the story will take another road as the story of 'Miracle' comes of life along with some very complexed characters from Willow's family members to others that will keep the story rolling along as you keep turning the pages.  For Willow being back in Benevolence will she be able to put her fear that she has held so dearly and not sharing with anyone to rest especially since it looks like she will become a foster parent of baby 'Miracle Doe?'  l liked how this author bring into focus as Jax who had  something horrible happen in his childhood bringing in the closeness to Willow.  Will they be able to except each other with all that has happened to both of them?  Will Jax be able to earn Willow's trust?  Will he be able to 'fill her life with rekindled joy and a forever of irresistible love? This story will really cause one to see the heartache that Willow and even Jax had felt.  It was so very hard for me to understand Willow's situation with her mom's relationship.  And I was glad to see in the end that these two seemed to have mended something that needed discussing so long ago. By the end of the novel will Willow and Jax find the happiness they so desire?  Well, you will have to pick up "Bittersweet" to answer all of the questions and find out how this author presents it to the readers.

 

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review 2017-06-07 22:27
Forever Is The Worst Long Time
Forever is the Worst Long Time: A Novel - Camille Pagán

Title:  Forever Is The Worst Long Time

Author:  Camille Pagan

Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Four

Review:

 

"Forever Is The Worst Long Time" by Camille Pagan

 

My Thoughts....

 

This was a read of emotions, love, friendship, betrayal, tragic, loss,regret, forgiveness with three main characters: James, Lou and Rob who were all far from perfect.  With their stupid mistakes they made, along with some crazy decisions will they ever be able to stop all of the hurting that is going on among these friends? This author gives the reader quite a complex plot that is well developed with surprises that goes in unexpected ways with surprises, celebrations as well as disappointments that will have you at some time shaking your head.  By the end  of this story the reader gets quite a heart breaking, wrenching story that will also be very thought provoking and also engaging read from 'lack of closeness in relations, ruined friendships, death and loss'.  What else can be said about this story is the choices that one makes in there life can turn out to be short and or long term consequences.  'Life is short and it is what you make of it... for one must make it count.'

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