Sunday, July 27, 2014

Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Posted first to Blog Critics As Book Review:'Under A Silent Moon' by Elizabeth Haynes.

Things are not always what they seem. Even the most obvious of answers can be the wrong one. Digging a little deeper will bring the truth to light, often a truth more complicated than expected.
In under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes, we are introduced to DCI Louisa Smith and her team of officers. Called in to investigate two deaths on neighboring farms, she is immediately intrigued. The death of the young woman in her cottage is obviously murder. That is where she determines most of her skills will play. The other death appears to be a suicide. A car with a woman’s body is found at the bottom of a quarry. As Smith and her team dive into the investigation a thin line appears, seeming to link the two deaths. Suddenly the answer is no longer the one imagined.
Haynes has given us an investigator full of intelligence and spice. She is gritty and witty as well as well versed in the art of investigation. As she and her team begin to unravel the clues you will be drawn to many of the characters, yet appalled at the others. There is an amazing amount of realism making the story seem real.
Haynes uses her experience as a police analyst to give us fiction at its best. The evidentiary elements as well as the dip into the darker side of life are a part of the parcel of interesting sidelines that engender a realistic and brutal scene with red herrings at every turn.
 Smith must use her smarts to get to the very depth of depravity and at the same time weather the challenges of being a woman in her field.  Can she find the real killer and hold them responsible for the horrific deed?
If you enjoy mystery and investigation as well as the secret lives of those around you, you will find this to be a great summer read. The story is fantastic and the mystery keeps you guessing to the very end. This would be a great book for a reading group as well as just a great read for those lazy days of summer.
Rating 3\5
This book was received free from the publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Free To Fall by Lauren Miller

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Free To Fall' by Lauren Miller.

Every year new discoveries continue to improve the electronics we are beginning to rely on. In particular, cell phones are one of those items that are becoming more difficult to do without. From keeping in touch, entertainment, business, emergencies and directions, many are looking for apps to help enhance their full enjoyment and further enhance the capabilities of this phenom.
Lauren Miller has taken us one step further to reliance in her novel Free To Fall. She has taken liberty and introduced an app that helps to make sure you never need to make decisions on your own, and never make a wrong choice. This is a world where technology does the unthinkable. Everyone is using the app called LUX.  They no longer need to be worried about decisions and the aftermath. They only have to find entertainment and go out and enjoy their lives, no more problems. LUX does it all, and life is for enjoyment.
Yet Rory Vaughn does not feel so comfortable. She is smart but very introverted. She feels out of place but cannot figure out why. When Rory (who loves using LUX) is accepted into Theden, her dream school, she is shocked to find out that her mother who died at her birth had also been selected as a student there in the past. But for some reason she dropped out just before graduation.
This school only selects the best and brightest stars among students. The students are strong willed and highly gifted. Rory begins to settle in, but still struggles a bit with her differences. When she meets a kindred soul at the local coffee shop her life begins to careen out of control. Suddenly things become strangely mysterious and deadly. She is falling for a guy that may be part of the problem or part of the secret of the school. Something is happening, and she is beginning to find out more about her mother as she tries to lock into the issues. Someone seems determined to help her find the answers anonymously, and yet the answers seem to drum up danger and madness. She must find the secret to her mother’s past before it is too late.
Miller has given us a technological marvel. The app is a wonderful idea and has taken the world by storm. Everyone’s life seems just a bit better. But is it really? There is something just a bit creepy about the users, an almost Stepford wives sort of reaction. Everything and everyone is so much the same, and yet there is still that depth of will that makes them who they are, either nice or evil.
The characters are amazing and Miller takes the time to develop them fully. But be prepared because just when you begin to understand what is going on, you are taken in a different direction. Not everything or everyone is as they seem, and as the plot develops you are taken on a journey.
If you enjoy technology, nerds, and adventure with a dose of mystery and danger you will find this to be just the work. It would make a great addition to your young adult’s library.   
Rating 4/5

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Heiresses' by Sara Shepard.
When money is no object one has to wonder about the lives beneath the wealth. Are those with money anything like the rest of us, or is all golden.

In The Heiresses by Sara Shepard, you may find a few of those thoughts and questions answered. Problems plague all classes of individuals, and at times the money just makes it worse.  The Saybrooks are well known on their scene, in the papers, with the gossip columnists and throughout the diamond industry. To own a Saybrook Diamond is a dream for many. Yet there is also a curse that comes with the name. Many seem to die in mysterious fashion, creating a strange aura of tragedy that seems to hover with them.

The rumor only gains more credibility when Poppy, one of the most popular and understanding of them seems to throw herself from her window.  Her family members wonder what could be so terrible to cause such a wonderful woman to make such a decision. That is until her cousins receive an incredulous threat: ‘One Heiress down, four to go.’

The remaining heiresses, Corinne, Rowan, Aster and Natasha are all suddenly plagued with sadness and loss tempered with fear.  Who is ready to destroy this illustrious family?  Each of these women is not sure who to trust in their circle of friends, including each other. What has created this threat and how can they counter in an effort to save their lives. Is money and diamonds at the root, or are there hidden jealousies within the family itself.

Shepard has given us a stark look at the lives of a group of woman of means. Yet their money cannot protect them, and may actually be their undoing. Each character has traits that you find yourself relating too, yet each is also a bit shallow. Even with danger and mystery, there is humor and fun, but the danger threads throughout the backstory bringing that burning question. What is causing the deaths of so many, and how can they fight an imaginary foe. Is the curse truly the answer, or is there a deeper and darker mystery at work. Shepard takes us there while giving us characters that revel in the controversy and gossip surrounding them.

If you enjoyed Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game you will find this to be another book of worth. This is a wonderful mystery with and the ups and downs of being in the center of attention. This will find a place on the shelves next to the other works by this author, and if you are new to her writing you will find yourself looking for more.
Rating 4/5

The Ring & The Crown by Melissa De La Cruz

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Ring & The Crown' by Melissa De La Cruz.

Strength of and courage often come at the least expected times. Even the most timid of personalities carries that banner when truth and right asserts itself.
In The Ring & The Crown by Melissa De La Cruz, we are introduced to Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the crown of the mightiest empire in the world. She is gentle and quiet, and not very interested in the politics and ambitions of her mother. For her mother, Queen Eleanor, magic hold her fortress and keeps them all safe. With magic in such short supply, she holds the only source and they are faithful to the crown.
Aelwyn Myrddyn has now returned from her exile from the court. She is the strong and brazen daughter of Merlin. She also grew up with the princess and they are fast friends. As the London Season begins, the families of the rich and famous make their way to find succor with the royals and other families of the times.  
The princess is hopelessly in love, yet she must shirk her love and enter into a loveless union in order to strengthen the position of the crown. Unable to face such a dark future she seeks the assistance of her friend Aelwyn. Both yearn to be what they are not, and after many pranks of using magic glamor as they were growing up to pretend they were the other, Marie is ready to step down and trade places for good allowing the strong and determined Aelwyn to step into her shoes.
Yet even as the worries of the crown fade away, there is danger. There is a nefarious scheme to take the crown, and only Marie can save the family. But can she, her life has always been that of love and peace. The man she loves is waiting for her, and she is sure Aelwyn has everything under control. She must go back to be sure.
De La Cruz has an amazing grasp of characters and you alternately love and hate them. She has taken a time of legends and done a unique spin and blend of fiction twisting them into a riveting story of courage and love. There are many kinds of both and the experience is rich with emotion. The mystery that surrounds the Crown and the magic is intriguing. You find yourself strongly rooting for both the Princess and Aelwyn.
De La Cruz also introduces a young American socialite as well as a spurned love of the soon to be husband to keep the palace buzzing. . Matters seem to careen in directions much like the spokes of a wheel. Who will end up on top, and will the Crown and family maintain their rule and the might of their empire.
If you enjoy legends and magic sprinkled with mystery, adventure and romance you will find this to be the book of the season. This would be a great summer read and a wonderful addition to your library.  This is a story that fairytales are made of.
Rating 4/5

Monday, June 30, 2014

Iron Shinto by Tricia Stewart Shiu

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Iron Shinto' by Tricia Stewart Shiu.

When life changes and you find things are out of control, how do you rewind and settle the dust. Or can you?  Once you have begun a new journey in both your mind and your soul the difficulty lies in the fact that once you believe and have seen the proof of your beliefs, everything transforms.   ‘You can’t un-ring the bell.’
In The Iron Shinto by Tricia Stewart Shiu, you will follow the lives of Hillary House, her sister Molly and niece Heidi as the journey of discovery moves them into the inferno of the war over control of the portal of the guardians.  
In Moa  by Tricia Stewart Shiu, Hillary and her family were instrumental in saving the Hawaiian Islands as well as Moa the guardian of the gate.  This then moved them forward to the story of the God Ku, and his missing essence.
In The Statue of Ku by Tricia Stewart Shiu, we follow the young women into Egypt where we learn of the God Ku, and how he came to be, as well as the history of Hillary and her family, and how they come to be the ones chosen to put their history to rights. 
The Iron Shinto furthers the story as having found the abilities of astral travel, transporting and protection with the help of Moa, the young women now appear to have lost themselves.  An evil force has found and separated them from their bodies.  They must now find a way to heal the rift that set them asunder and find their physical bodies before time runs out.  Can they decipher the clues that have torn them apart and find the integral beings where they have been hidden?  Moa comes back for the challenge but it is already too late.  
This family is so beset with complexities that the depth is like looking through a bottomless pool.  The story is interesting and Hillary, Molly and Heidi are great personalities, with flaws that make them altogether human.  The beginning of each chapter assigns blessings and chants to help clear chakras and issues to move into a better experience. This adds a dose of spiritualism that enhances the work. This is the third book in the series, with the others listed above.  A final coup de  grace of emotional turmoil.
This would be a great book for the young adult or anyone who really enjoys a good mystery with a dose of spirituality and the paranormal thrown in.  If you are intrigued with the story and the characters you will find that the first two books of the series will give you that extra dose of richness.  Each story can stand alone, but when combined with each other there is a fullness of heart.  
You may find yourself memorizing the chants and rooting for the characters to win and for life to right itself. This is an amazing series, and Shiu has given up a series with teeth.  These are a great addition to your library or that of your young reader.   
Rating 4/5
Each book of the series is an amazing part to the puzzle and receive the same rating.
This book was received from the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based on my reading and understanding of the material.

Eyes On You by Kate White

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Eyes On You' by Kate White.

When someone is manufacturing gossip and lies about you behind your back in an effort to discredit you, how do you fight back? What if you don’t know who is garnering the damage, and yet your life is changing because of it?

In Eyes on You by Kate White, we follow the life of Robin Trainer, a television host, who has fought her way to the top. She has a best-selling book and her show is one of the hottest in the biz. When things begin to go wrong she initially is unsure of what is going on. She quickly catches on though when the more harmless innuendo and gossip turn into more dangerous and possibly deadly games. When the clues point to someone that has to know her well, she no longer knows who to trust.

As she tries to put together the pieces before everything she holds dear is lost, she finds that even her life is at stake. Can she find the answers before it is too late?

Robin is both beautiful and smart. She is not afraid to walk the talk, but that is exactly what gets her in trouble. White has developed that dreadful darkness that leaves you feeling hollow when you have no idea who to fight against. The challenges and damages that continue to occur put Robin off her stride, and you begin to feel that lost feeling right along with her. How do you stop the constant trickle of trouble that begins to eat away at not just your confidence, but the confidence of those around you?

If you enjoy mystery and romance you will find this to be a satisfying read. The darkness is just enough to keep you enthralled and the mystery keeps you guessing to the end.

This would be a great book for a reading group, a veritable plethora of information on gossip and its damages. This is a must have summer read and an enjoyable who-dun-it. 

Rating 3/5

This book was received through the authors publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Closed Doors' by Lisa O'Donnell.

Never underestimate the hearing or imagination of a child. The understanding of what they do hear and perceive is often based off television, movies and gossip among other children. When the information they overhear is outside their experience, they often will just fill in the blanks as they see fit, sometimes underestimating the situation, but just as often making it even more scary and bizarre.
In Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell, we meet eleven-year-old Michael Murray. There are many things going on in his life, both at school and at home.  Hi nemesis at school is Dirty Alice as he likes to refer to her. She is always bothering him. He also has to prepare himself for the upcoming talent show. Yet it is his home life that has taken an appalling turn.  He often listens at doors for information because his parents feel he is too young to know about grownup things.
When his mother comes home upset and crying with bruises on her face, he suddenly hears a secret he is not ready for. He doesn’t really understand the words, but he knows that the very worst has happened.  What exactly does that mean though?
When the whispers begin both at home and elsewhere, he wonders if there is more going on than he has already heard.  The problem is who does he ask what the words mean?  His life is no longer what he remembers.  People seem to think that his father is a bad guy, and suddenly Alice, his one true enemy has changed.  How does he get his life back?
O’Donnell has taken the unimaginable and brought it to the forefront of everyday life.  To take the terrible things that happen to people and create such an atmosphere of disarray in the life of a family, who is only struggling to cope, brings starkness to the challenges of crimes against women. To confront the situation is often overwhelming for the victim, but through the eyes of a child you see a whole different view.  Without an understanding of the nature of the occurrence, the fear and concern can careen out of control. Yet life on the outside does not slow down and abate, it just mixes in with the fear, making the lives of those involved spiral out of control.
The characters are so real and the town so much like were we all live, the author has given us a story very close to home.
If you enjoy the interaction of small towns, mysteries, romance and secrets you will enjoy this work. It would be a great book for a reading group with so many directions to create dialogue. The phrase “little pitchers have big ears,” is only the tip of the iceberg in this heartfelt story.  
Rating 4/5
This book was received free through the authors publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.