Book Review | Convergence by Ginny L. Yttrup

Book Description:

A psychologist paralyzed by fear.
 
A mother propelled by love.
 
A stalker bent on destruction.


Psychology professor Dr. Denilyn Rossi contends that the past is either a shadow that haunts us or a force that propels us. The choice is ours, she tells her students. What she doesn’t tell them is that her own past is a shadow she can’t seem to shake. Fear has immobilized her and is taking a costly toll.

Adelia Sanchez, however, has embraced Dr. Rossi’s teaching. She is ready to confront fear and render it powerless—using the trauma of her past to propel her to entrap the man who stalked and brutally attacked her.

As Denilyn’s past and Adelia’s present converge at the Kaweah River, a dangerous man bent on destruction threatens them both. Will he uncover the secret Deni and Adelia have fought so hard to protect?

This book started with a tandem jump from an airplane. And a sinister man watching as she jumped from the plane. As she began the freefall with her partner, one chute opened. But the next one didn’t…

And so begins a journey into the story of two women. One who has a lot of fear which has justified roots. And the other who wants to change the past.

This story is told in two perspectives and the title is fitting as you move into the twists and turns of the storyline. I really can’t say more than that, because each character’s journey will make sense once you reach the midway point. Wanting to know more, I couldn’t put the book down and the ending was better than expected! I highly recommend for those readers who love character buildup and loose ends up tied up nicely.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Promise by Teresa Driscoll

Book Description:

It was their darkest secret. Three schoolgirls made a promise – to take the horrible truth of what they did to the grave.

Thirty years later, Beth and Sally have tried to put the trauma behind them. Though Carol has distanced herself from her former friends, the three are adamant that the truth must never come to light, even if the memory still haunts them.

But when some shocking news threatens to unearth their dark secret, Beth enlists the help of private investigator Matthew Hill to help her and Sally reconnect with estranged Carol ­– before the terrible act they committed as teenagers is revealed.

Beth wishes she could take back the vow they made. But somebody is watching and will stop at nothing to ensure the secret stays buried. Now, with her beloved family in peril, can Beth still keep the promise?

This book was very well-written and left me feeling many emotions at the end. With much suspense and time travelling with the character perspective shifts, we learn about three young ladies who were in boarding school together. A notice that the school will be demolished and an urgent need to contact Carol, their estranged friend, Beth and Sally seek out to find her and get closure after some traumatic events they shared as teenagers.

Matthew Hill is a private detective with his own history and begins to date Sally while they search for Carol. The story begins with Beth and introduces us to her family and boring little life. But as the story unfolds, we travel back to 30 years earlier and see what life was like for young Beth, Sally and Carol. Many painful memories surface as they consider returning to the school before it is torn down, and their deadly sin begs to be found out. The guilt and the pain of that time affects each of them differently. One retreats from all of them, one seems to be in denial and one seems to be depressed and want to make things right so they can all move on.

I felt the story flowed rather well, I had questions throughout the read that were eventually answered in the last part of the book, and the big reveal of what the promise really is, is revealed within the first half of the book, so it’s not an entirely long time to find out what happened. How they respond becomes the focus of the book and also how they navigate some harassment issues when it appears someone knows what they’ve done and wants to bring it to light.

At the very end of the book, I became emotional, for the reveal of why Carol had pulled away and the truth of so many things that tend to end friendships, it was sad to read and also made complete sense to me. I felt all of it was believable and the characters well established. I appreciate Teresa’s writing and would read something else by her anytime.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The White City by Grace Hitchcock

Book Description:

Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair
Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim? 

This was my first historical fiction based on real life novel and I LOVED IT!

Henry Howard Holmes (among other aliases) was an actual serial killer believed to be running around the Chicago’s World Fair, establishing relationships with women and then murdering them in his “Murder Castle”. I ended up doing a little bit of research online before jumping into the book, which made it that much more interesting.

This book starts out with 19-year old Winnie Wylde witnessing a tall man holding a revolver to a woman’s side and rushing her through the crowd at the fair. Because she is the daughter of an investigator, she is intrigued and begins to follow this man to a building nearby. Against her father’s wishes, she gets his permission to investigate, but only as long as she will take an escort for protection. She is assigned a new detective, Jude Thorpe, who recently moved to Chicago to secretly investigate the death of his brother-in-law.

Winnie’s being raised in a well-off home, by her aunt, as her mother passed away when she was younger. Her aunt is intending to help her become a bride, so she is setting up men to “call” on Winnie. She is briefly courted by Percival who happens to be the author of the romance novels she loves to “escape in” and though he is handsome and charming, she also begins to have feelings for Jude.

Winnie also establishes a relationship with H. H. Holmes and obtains an interview, as well as a job at his building, where she does odd jobs and only goes through files he allows her access. When in the building, she explores and finds certain items that lead her to believe that there is indeed some nefarious happenings in the “castle”.

The element of faith in this novel was endearing. Jude is forbidden to have a relationship with Winnie, primarily because he is her escort and protection, but also because Winnie’s dad knows the pain he caused Winnie’s mother by being gone long hours as an investigator, and doesn’t want his daughter to endure the same loneliness and heartache. Jude demonstrates his faith, as does Winnie, by offering prayers up throughout the story. Their inner desire for each other, among the focus of the investigation and the danger they ultimately enter, tries their faith and boundaries of love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this light romance novel, with faith and plot twists. It was easy to read, a great pace, humor was peppered in, and also suspense and terror. I would definitely read another book by Grace Hitchcock and enjoyed this genre debut! I’ve got a few more TRUE COLORS novels on my TBR list with reviews coming soon, so stay tuned!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Stratagem by Robin Caroll

Book Description:

A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the Prime Suspect. . .for Murder
 
Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder.

Grayson Thibodeaux is a psychologist who created a business with his best friend, Colton York, a sociologist. They create virtual games for businesses that build trust and team build. He recently went through a divorce, and his wife Anna-Belle had unfortunately cheated on him with her boss. He tried to salvage the marriage, but she wanted out. At the onset of the book, they have a public argument in his office, and his staff witnesses her slap him when terms of their divorce agreement are discussed.

He and Colton create a game for her company, per the direction of her boss. Members of her office attend a team-building game to determine who will get a promotion. All office workers have to go to a certain location and follow certain rules. Only the CEU and board members know it’s a game. While attending meetings and accomplishing tasks, Anna-Belle falls ill because she has an allergy to cherries and passes away! Grayson immediately becomes the primary suspect, being the recently divorced husband.

Two investigators get assigned to his case, who know him pretty well, and have to overcome their bias to prove his innocence. Anna-Belle’s boss, his wife, other employees and Grayson all become suspects and one-by-one they get ruled out.

The pace of the book was fantastic. It was well-written with little things happening during the investigation that made me question a few people. I also loved the faith-based aspect attributed to Grayson as he tries to prove his innocence. It makes a strong character and was a great read! The outcome wasn’t predictable until the moment it was revealed, so it ended very well. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a fast-paced, faith-based, suspenseful novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Burglar by Thomas Perry

Thomas Perry The Burglar cover

Book Description: From the New York Times bestselling author Thomas Perry, who can be depended upon to deliver high-voltage shocks” (Stephen King), comes a new thriller about an unlikely burglar – a young woman in her 20s – who realizes she must solve a string of murders, or else become the next victim.

Elle Stowell is a young woman with an unconventional profession: burglary. But Elle is no petty thief – with just the right combination of smarts, looks, and skills, she can easily stroll through ritzy Bel Air neighborhoods and pick out the perfect home for plucking the most valuable items.

This is how Elle has always gotten by – she is good at it, and she thrives on the thrill. But after stumbling upon a grisly triple homicide while stealing from the home of a wealthy art dealer, Elle discovers that she is no longer the only one sneaking around. Somebody is searching for her.

As Elle realizes that her knowledge of the high-profile murder has made her a target, she races to solve the case before becoming the next casualty, using her breaking-and-entering skills to uncover the truth about exactly who the victims were and why someone might have wanted them dead. With high-stakes action and shocking revelations, The Burglar will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they barrel towards the heart-racing conclusion.”

The main character, Elle Stowell, is meticulous, investigative, and swift. She knows how to pick locks, enter residences quietly, scout out homes and locations, and obtain wares from homes without owner knowledge – for the most part.

One day, she enters a home she’s been casing for a while. Thinking she’ll make out with some amazing objects, she assumes the owner is gone, but unfortunately finds him and two other women in an uncompromising situation in the bedroom and they are deceased. Elle panics a bit, realizes there is a camera filming and she’s now part of the footage. She takes the camera, goes home to study it, and returns it to the homeowner’s residence for the police to find after she’s wiped any trail of her presence.

Where she thought she was doing a good deed, tides begin to turn. Someone is aware that she was there and now they are after her. As she begins to research and study people associated with the murder victims, the lens begins to narrow to her. She doesn’t know who to trust and she doesn’t know where she’s safe.

Who is after her and why? And will she be able to get herself out of the situation alive?

I enjoyed this book. I liked the fact that after a bit of a backstory of Elle, even though many may disagree with her life choice of being a burglar (vocation passed down for generations), you begin to identify with her and want her to “win”.  There are a few intense moments of car chases, foot chases, and an urgency that was well written. She is smart, determined, and willing to outsmart those chasing her, so justice can be done.

I loved the pace, the intrigue, the suspense building up to an event with someone she thought would become a love interest. That was better than the ending, in my opinion. But this was well written and hooked me. And I certainly learned a lot about burgling! 🙂

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Grove Atlantic Mysterious Press and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Paradox by Catherine Coulter (Book #22 in FBI Thriller Series)

paradox

Book Description:

Opening this book, it started off great! An attempted child abduction at the home of two FBI agents, a witness to a murderer who dumps a body in the body of Lake Massey, locating a man trapped in a closet who is left for dead…
And I’ll admit, I’ve not read the twenty-one books in this series beforehand. So I am not familiar with most of the characters or the plot lines leading up to this book. But I was sadly disappointed by this book.
I really felt like the action was missing. Certain events did happen where there should have been thrilling emotions and reactions, but nothing super chilling or worthy of grabbing my attention.  There was a lot of redundancy regarding a belt buckle found in the lake, and the perpetrator and his girlfriend, but even those events and details felt lacking. I wasn’t really gripped, nor did it make me want to read any of the other books in the series. Maybe I missed the boat on this one, but it ended up in my least favorite books.  However, I will give Catherine Coulter another try. She’s a NY Times Best Selling Author. We all deserve second chances.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Gallery Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Exes’ Revenge by Jo Jakeman

exes' revenge

Book Description: A wickedly dark debut thriller about three women who’ve all been involved with the same man and realize the one thing they have in common is that they all want revenge against him…

Divorces are often messy, and Imogen’s is no exception. Phillip Rochester is controlling, abusive, and determined to make things as difficult as possible. When he shows up without warning demanding that Imogen move out of their house by the end of the month or he’ll sue for sole custody of their young son, Imogen is ready to snap.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable–something that puts her in control for the first time in years. She’s desperate to protect her son and to claim authority over her own life.

But she wasn’t expecting both Phillip’s ex-wife and new girlfriend to get tangled up in her plans. These three very different women–and unlikely allies–reluctantly team up to take revenge against a man who has wronged them all.

The book opens with a funeral for Phillip Rochester. And among the attendees are Imogen, Phillip’s wife on paper, Ruby, Phillip’s first wife, and Naomi, Phillip’s newest girlfriend who caused Imogen and Phillip to split. The contrast between these women gets revealed as the story unravels. Phillip is a very well known decorated policeman, but has a very dark side of him. And in his controlling demeanor, he is physically and verbally abusive to these women. As more and more women seem to fall for him, the worse he becomes. Imogen is the only one of the three women to have a child with Phillip, so Allistair becomes her saving grace and focus of protection. Unfortunately, she is unable to go to the police, so she weathers much of what happens on her own.

Without revealing too much, the three of them end up in a situation where they all have to go up against Phillip in order to save their lives, and it’s absolutely insane! Slowly over the course of the book, manipulation and control seethes from Phillip, pinning these women down and taking away their confidence. It’s easy to dislike certain characters and then agree with others. And much of the dialogue was believable, especially in certain conversations where emotions could hinder full on thinking. I enjoyed the book and felt like it drew me in. I read it fairly quickly and there’s a wonderful feeling of satisfaction at the end. If physical or emotional abuse is a trigger for you, you may tread with caution or avoid. If you can skip over parts that may be uncomfortable, I say go for the ride…

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Berkley  Publishing Group and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

Beth Harbison Every time you go away cover

Book Description:

In New York Times bestselling author Beth Harbison’s most emotional novel ever, a fractured family must come together at a beach house haunted by the past.

Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son.

Every Time You Go Away is a heartfelt, emotional story about healing a tragic loss, letting go, and coming together as a family.

This book was beautiful. It definitely focused on grief in a way we’ve not seen in other books.  The story of Willa and Jamie takes a new turn as the two main characters go back to their summer home, three years after the death of their husband/father, to restore the place and sell it.  Willa begins to heal as she purges the house of items that were Ben’s and gives it a new makeover with fresh paint and furniture.  In the course of revisiting the location where Ben breathed his last, Willa begins to see him, after he’s passed.  She and he begin to have conversations and then late night rendezvous.  And they’re not tacky or inappropriate, they are sweet and realistic conversations that a widow might have, if she had the opportunity to reach out to her beloved, very much missed husband.

Jamie, Willa’s son, at the beginning of the book, has a dreadful girlfriend who is desperately in need of being let go.  It is just too much -it breaks my heart to read about a young woman who is so unstable and needy.  Mothers and fathers, spend time with your daughters, so they won’t turn into this hideous Roxy!  Her texts, phone calls and incessant pleas for Jamie were unnerving, but sadly realistic. Eventually, Jamie stands up to her and goes to visit his mother, which is so necessary to them both moving through grief.

Throughout the summer journey of revisiting and remembering, mother and son become closer, and healing begins, and it’s with the help of a wonderful friend, Kristin and her daughter, Kelsey.  And the direction that the kids take as a result of “fixing up the place” just opens doors for more romance.

I loved the pace of the book, the realistic parts that made sense regarding Willa wanting to reconnect and have some peace on moving on, and I really enjoyed the moments where the author recounted Willa’s memories for us.  Working through the death of a loved one is never easy.  And I felt her descriptions and imagery was believable.  It was a sad story that dealt much with healing, loss and grief.

Caution: If you have an event you are working through, this may trigger some feelings and heartache, but it was very well written and sweet.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Book Review | Bloody Sunday by Ben Coes

Book 8 in the Dewey Andreas series…

Ben Coes Bloody Sunday cover

Book Description:

North Korea, increasingly isolated from most of the rest of the world, is led by an absolute dictator and a madman with a major goal―he’s determined to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. While they have built, and continue to successfully test nuclear bombs, North Korea has yet to develop a ballistic missile with the range necessary to attack America. But their missiles are improving, reaching a point where the U.S. absolutely must respond.

What the U.S. doesn’t know is that North Korea has made a deal with Iran. In exchange for effective missiles from Iran, they will trade nuclear triggers and fissionable material. An exchange, if it goes through, that will create two new nuclear powers, both with dangerous plans.

Dewey Andreas, still reeling from recent revelations about his own past, is ready to retire from the CIA. But he’s the only available agent with the skills to carry out the CIA’s plan to stop North Korea. The plan is to inject a singular designer poison into the head of the North Korean military and in exchange for the nuclear plans, provide him with the one existing dose of the antidote. But it goes awry when Dewey manages to inject a small amount of the poison into himself. Now, to survive, Dewey must get into North Korea and access the antidote and, while there, thwart the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran. And he has less than 24 hours to do so―in the latest thriller from Ben Coes.

First of all, wow! I love political thrillers, especially from previous government employees who have intel we would never have! This author is very engaging, keeps the pace moving from the first page and never let me down.  Quite a feat! 5/5 for this book!

Ben Coes, the author, is a former member of the U.S. Special Forces Delta Force. Working for the Veterans Administration, I can concur that there are abbreviations and acronyms for everything we do, and reading this book, gave me a lesson in even more of them.  For instance, SOQ is statement of qualifications, THAAD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and DARPA is Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Felt like I was reading an email from a colleague with a va.gov address, but I digress…

The book has so much action, characters who are easy to follow who aren’t predictable or annoying, and a plot that could easily fit into today’s headlines. With Kim Jong Il found to be dying of pancreatic cancer that has spread, he’s determined to annihilate the western part of the US with nuclear warfare because he wants to go out strong. But what he doesn’t realize is that Dewey Andreas, though bordering on retirement, gets pulled back in to stop him.  And when the plan that’s in place goes off-course when one of Jong Il’s agents overpowers Dewey, the clock begins ticking and it’s a race to get him back to safety and to baseline.

If you like political thrillers packed with action starring a man who looks like Jason Statham (in my mind), these books are for you.  This book was a fast-paced read and since it was built on the previous seven in the series, it would most likely be wise to go back and read them in sequence just for fun.

Book One: Power Down, 2010

Book Two: Coup d’etat, 2011

Book Three: The Last Refuge, 2012

Book Four: Eye for an Eye, 2013

Book Five: Independence Day, 2015

Book Six: First Strike, 2016

Book Seven: Trap the Devil, 2017

Book Eight: Bloody Sunday, 2018

Thanks for reading! 😉

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

dream daughter

Book Description