Friday, December 30, 2022

Amy Lea: Set on You

In the her debut novel, Amy Lea shows the pros and cons of having a gym enemy:

Trolls are some of the most harmful people on the internet, but curvy fitness instructor and influencer Crystal Chen has built her career shattering gym stereotypes and encouraging people to love themselves no matter what. When there is a new guy at the gym who seems intent on always taking her space and machines, sparks fly and a gym competition begins. What they did not expect is to run into each other outside of the gym in a most awkward situation, and they decide to have a truce. Bonding over family fitness, DM chats and pick up lines, Crystal thinks she has found her soulmate. But there is always the niggling in the back of her mind that Scott is too good for her and when a photo of them goes viral, the Trolls are out in full force and it will test the strength of not only themselves but their relationship too.

First off the only reason I picked up this book was due to the fact that the main male lead was based upon Chris Evans (and I am not really sure I see it other than that is how he described as looking like). So now you know my motivation going in. This is a cute book, but almost too cute at times for me. I just wanted more to the story than just a relationship.

I wasn’t really able to connect with the main character for some reason. This is not to say I did not feel for her, some of the trolls that are highlighted in the book are just awful but I just could not relate. Also some of the drama that occurred I did not understand what the overall big deal was and I do not think that Lea did a good enough job explaining it. I have never had to deal with trolls but I can imagine the hurt you could feel if you got it everyday especially in relation to your life and your life choices. I will say it was great to see Crystal grow as a character in the book and change her opinion on the whole body positive idea, as it truly is a struggle to love yourself (inside and out) all the time.

I did like how the relationship started between Crystal and Scott and I was invested in it from the beginning with them being gym enemies to that steamy locker room scene, I just wanted something more to happen in the book other than their relationship. Yes, I know that this is a contemporary romance book but I have read others in this genre and the plot/stories just seemed more robust. I felt that a lot of Crystal's influencer life and her getting the bigger and new contracts was pushed to the side in the story just to highlight the romance. I was also expecting more sex in the book as well, and I think people will be shocked that there will be less than you think as I said the book is cute.

I love the message that is presented throughout especially at the end that we don’t have to love ourselves all the time but things will get better. 

I don’t think I will read the next book in the series it was just a bit too cute and romance based for me but I know there are many people out there that loved this book but if you don't constantly read in this genre then this one may not be for you too.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Friday, December 23, 2022

Simone St. James: The Book of Cold Cases

Simone St. James shows that secrets in a small town will always haunt you:

1977, the town of Claire Lake, Oregon, is shaken by the murder of two random men and the only clue is a witness sees a women fleeing the scene. The murderer is coined the Lady Killer. In 1977, Beth Greer not only fit the description of the suspect but was an eccentric and rich 23 old women, and the community was shocked when she was acquitted. Beth became a recluse after that. Now in 2017 Shae Collins is a receptionist by day and the authors of The Book of a old Cases by night, her true passion. On a chance meeting Shae asks Beth if she can interview her about the Lady Killer case and shockingly Beth agrees. Shae thinks this is a chance of a lifetime but there is something off about Beth and the house she lives in and Shae cannot help feel if she is being manipulated by a master and that darkness is coming. 

I enjoyed this book and really like St. Jame’s writing style and format but I think I would have enjoyed it more if the paranormal/ghost aspect would have been intilized more. I actually did not realize that this book was going to have a paranormal aspect till I was reading it. 

The serial killer aspect and overall mystery aspect was interesting and well done but I was able to figure the big twist about halfway through the book and there weren’t a lot of twists and turns along the way to change my mind. But I still enjoyed how it all played out. Plus this book takes place in a small town, rich family with secrets, I’m a sucker for this setting.

I like the overal concept of the book, with our main character Shae having a crime blog (The Book of Cold Cases) where she delves into crimes that Have remained cold finding as much information as she can as well as having debates with people who follow her site. I feel like this is very Now, with the amount of pod casts and sites dedicated to this very concept and this is not the first book I have read that has used this concept. There is something about the armchair investigators that is appearing more and more in books.

I found that Beth was the more interesting of the two characters, this is not to say Shae was interesting (her past is very tragic) just Beth’s POV was more dynamic and St. James really used her POV to show the crimes of the past as well as what everyone thought of her then and now.

This was a good book and the first I have read by St. James and I look forward to reading her other works as I do like her style.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Monday, December 19, 2022

Kerri Maniscalco: Stalking Jack the Ripper

In the first in a series, Kerri Maniscalco takes you back to the times of Jack the Ripper with a new detective set on discovering and stopping the killer:

Society has never held but interest for Lady Audrey Wadsworth, she prefers to spend in time in her uncle's laboratory watching him dissect the dead for a living and the birth of forensic medicine. When there are a string of murders occurring in the white chapel area, each more gruesome that the last, Audrey is determine to figure out who the killer is before they are able to strike again. Her uncle's apprentice also wants to find who is responsible for the murders, but he may also have an alterative motive for wanting to help. The more Audrey searches the more that is revealed that the truth may be very close to her, very close indeed.

This was a good book and fairly well paced but there were times when I thought that the romance aspect was featured a bit too much or Thomas was "teasing" Audrey a bit too much but that is just a personal preference. And honestly I think the book would have been better without the romance and the attempt a love triangle but at the same time I understand why Maniscalco decided to have these included in the book as this it the 17th century and it was hard enough for Audrey to sneak out of the house.

I think that Maniscalco did a good job with her characters, you feel for Audrey who wants to break societies rules against her and use her brain power for something more thank dinner parties and Thomas who infuriates her with his comments but at the same time affording her respect that no other man would (other than her uncle) with that Audrey is interested in. I like the duo of them working together, but wish that is all that they were, working together without the need for romance between them. Too many time Audrey was distracted from the task at hand by Thomas' advances making her heart race or her mind muddled with his closeness. I mean it plays into the stereotype that women cannot think when a man is paying her some attention.

I was able to figure it out but not what the Ripper was trying to achieve, which was pretty interesting take by Manscalco and it fit the story really well as well as the hints along the way. I also liked that this book was dealing with the birth of what could be achieved not only in science but forensic science as well. I think that Manscalco did a good job of portraying what Audrey and Thomas could do from crimes scene information, to autopsy to psychological theories throughout the book.

In the author's note she states that she wanted to stay true to who the women were, but they are referred to multiple time in the book as prostitutes, so I questions this fact. If one want to know about the women who were murdered by Jack the Ripper then check out The Five by Hallie Rubenhold who disproves much of what was thought about these women.

Overall, I did enjoy this book as the mystery was well thought out and planned. I think that I will continue on in the series to see what creative ways that Maniscalco inserts Audrey into actual events and works of fiction of the time, I'm just hopeful the that relationship part gets downplayed a bit.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Monday, December 12, 2022

Stacy Willingham: A Flicker in the Dark

In her debut novel, Stacy Willingham shows that one can never escape their past:

When Chloe was a almost a teenager there was a serial killer ravaging her town, little did she know that it was her father committing the murders, and that she would be the one to find the key piece of evidence that would put him away forever. Now 20 years later, even though Chloe had struggled to put her family name and past behind her, she has become a specialized psychologist focusing on teen trauma patients as well as getting ready for her up coming wedding. Very much ready to shed her maiden name. When a local girl goes missing and then another one, she cannot help but look into them as the resemble so much what occurred in her past. But is she seeing parallels where there are none? Is there a killer still on the loose all these years later? Is there a copy cat killer looking to use her family name for their own fame? For the second time in her life Chloe becomes determined to unmask a killer.

I'm a big fan of reading debut novels, especially in the psychological thriller genre as I like to read what new voices bring to the genre and I can say that Willingham did an amazing job with her debut. This is how you do a debut novel; This book was fast paced (really picks up in the second half) but you do not feel overwhelmed it kept me guessing till the end as you are never really sure of who Chloe can trust throughout the book as it seems like so many people have hidden agendas. Plus Chloe is a self medicated character which also makes her unreliable at times as well.

I think my favourite aspect in this book was there were so many possibilities of what could have happened and how everything could interconnect and while I was able to figure out the big twist, this does not mean there were other ones along the way that I did not see coming. Just when you think that you have it figured about Willingham did a brilliant just of adding something in that made you question everything.

I like Chloe as a main character and the fact that she has turned what happened to her family in the past, one that she cannot escape with her maiden name, into something more positive as psychologist and helping those around her. I also appreciate that Chloe cannot get away from the past, her n3eed for medication in order to get through some days, I cannot say how a daughters of a serial killer would cope (plus you were the one to turn him in), but I don't think that everything would be all right. I also appreciate her tenacity in trying to get the police to take the case seriously and that they all are connected and she just wants to help.

This book was a great psychological thriller book that will keep you guessing till the end. Willingham does a great job executing the plot of this book and I look forward to reading the next book by Willingham.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Eve Langlais: Earth's Daughter

In the first in a new series, Eve Langlais shows what happens when zombies invade a Baking loving Earth Witch's town.

Mindy owns a popular bakery in town, weaving some of her magic into the creations that she bakes, to help those who come into her shop. She used to have a homeless man that lived in the alleyway behind her store, but he disappeared and she had not seen him for awhile, until tonight where he tried to some bites out of Mindy's flesh. Barely escaping with her life (and dignity) intact she discovers that strange occurrences are happening in her hometown. More talks about zombies than anyone wants to hear about. Now there is a strange man who is coming into her life as well, and he seems to think that she can help him, but she's not sure her pumpkin spice muffins are going to be enough.

This was a cute read and it had me laughing at a few points in the book, but I just wasn't the biggest fan of the main character with her constant need to talk/banter, I'm not really sure just didn't connect with her as a character. I also was not a fan of the insta-love/lust that occurred (it really is a troupe that I am just not a fan of).

I enjoyed that this was a zombie book that utilized a necromancer in order to create a zombie army in order to take over the world. Yep their reason for doing things is world domination, who doesn't like the idea of world domination. How the necromancer goes about it is fairly straight forward but still entertaining.

I really liked Langlais' use of Mindy's power and abilities as I can say I have never read a book that had an Earth Witch as the lead in the way that she can talk to plants around her. She also has the ability to bake hexes and such into her baked goods that I am here for aw well. I just found Mindy an annoying character, and for a lot of the book she just seems overly clueless and just wanting to help out the guy that has suddenly appeared in her life. I did like the banter between Mindy and Annie. but outside of that is seemed like Mindy could never tone done her external monologed and just rambled a lot.

Also I will add a that the cute but not cute Goblin side kick was a plus.

So while I was entertained in parts of this book, I was also annoyed with it as well. I did do the audiobook version of this book and I wasn't the biggest fan of the narrator at times. Maybe overplayed the role at bit. So I debate if I would continue on with this series, as there were elements that I liked but I'm not sure if there are enough to continue on. If you're looking for a cozy, easy magic read that has romance in it this might be more for you than it was for me.

Instead of This,
Check These Out: