Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Forbidden Places Book Review

Forbidden Places by Penny Vincenzi


Forbidden Places is about love and marriage, families and secrets, and about wartime and what it does to every accepted social value. It is a story of three women and one family.

One is married and widowed within five years. She is free to start again. Or is she? The second has a perfect husband she thinks she loves. He becomes a grotesque parody of what he once was. Is that real love? The third becomes trapped in a nightmare marriage. Can the war free her?

Review by Brittany:

I'm a huge fan of Vincenzi, and this one didn't disappoint.

As is the author's trademark, this novel focuses primarily on one family, the Bennetts, an upper class British family into which Grace marries. Grace is of a lower class, a situation that causes her some issues throughout the marriage. Florence, Grace's sister-in-law, and Clarissa, a good friend of the Bennetts, serve as the other two main characters in this novel. I love how Vincenzi takes many different characters and puts the focus on all of them, making the reader get emotionally attached to them all. I was drawn in to each woman's life and had genuine feelings about what would happen to them.

This book takes place primarily during World War II, a time period that I love to read about. With the men gone, the women work toward learning how to run the world on their own. They also all struggle with wanting to serve a purpose and play a part in the war effort, sometimes in opposition of what their husbands want. Vincenzi does well with illustrating how complex of a time that must have been.

While there are definite traits of Vincenzi's that are clear in this book, I was surprised by how hoard some it was to read. There is domestic violence, miscarriages, adultery, and a near rape sprinkled throughout the book. Some parts were incredibly difficult to read about, more so than in previous novels I've read. This book also seemed to be a bit more sexually graphic than other novels by this author. That being said, I didn't feel that any of this took away from the novel.

Overall, this is another fantastic novel by this author. I was pulled into the story and emotionally attached to all of the characters that Vincenzi wrote about. If you like this time period or are already a fan of Vincenzi, definitely pick this one up.

Notable quotes:

Her nervousness, her anxiety had vanished in the sunshine, in the carefree extravagance of her day; she wished she could stay for longer, safe from reality.

"...I don't like this," and she meant not just the parting from one another, but the way their lives had parted too, and he understood while pretending he did not...

It was all very well at the moment, everyone being matey - or pretending to be - with everyone else, but it was a false situation, a false premise.

...thinking even as she spoke how horribly easy it was to sort other people's lives out, to find simple answers, how impossible to do that to your own.

The changes in her over the past few years had been profound. She really hardly knew who she was at all any more. And certainly not who she was supposed to be.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Girl with No Past Book Review

The Girl with No Past by Kathryn Croft

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble product page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million product page.


Twenty years running from your past. Today it catches up.

Leah Mills lives the life of a fugitive - kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until - longing for a connection - she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.

Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won't stop until they've destroyed the life Leah has created.

But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?

Review by Brittany:

I requested a copy of this book through NetGalley because the description of the book sounded interesting to me.

One of my favorite things about this book is how it keeps the reader in suspense. Throughout the story, the reader is aware that Leah, the main character, has a past she wants to hide from. She alludes to it constantly, using her past and the things she’s done as a way to explain why she has a low key job, a small, empty flat, and no friends or significant other. When she starts getting harassed by someone who is aware of what she’s done, the intrigue goes up a notch. I did like how Croft switched between the present and the past to eventually lead the reader to the events of Leah’s past that she’s trying to stop thinking about.

I also really loved the ending, the very last chapter. It was an interesting twist to the story and explained more of Leah’s personality than any other single chapter in the book. It also explained more of why Leah was carrying quite so much guilt.

I did think the writing was a bit choppy and the “villain” of the book was a little disappointing, but this doesn’t take away from the suspense or the enjoyment of the book as a whole.

Overall, I thought this was a really good book. The plot was suspenseful and interesting, and the author threw in enough twists to keep it from being predictable.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Gold Club Book Review

The Gold Club by David Haskell

Click here for the Amazon product page.


Ted Ward has had enough. He's sick of getting passed over by the Sahara corporation, tired of being Mr. Nice Guy all the time, and fed up with a life of endless drudgery. Determined to line his own pockets for once, Ted doles out preferential treatment to select Sahara clients and turns his cubicle into a lucrative, members-only gold club.

Ted's club launches members out of obscurity and into the limelight. But when Sahara's CEO Dennis Hamm schemes to disrupt Ted's VP club and make off with the profits, can Ted escape financial devastation and achieve his dream?

Review by Brittany:

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

The first thing I noticed about this novel is that it has some humor in it that caught me off guard. Ted is a bit of a funny character, and this author throws in little stabs of humor throughout the book.

This book also delves deeply into the Gold Club that Ted is building. It outlines his plan on how to make money and the ways he abuses the system to give clients certain privileges. As his operation grows, he needs to incorporate more people, and this author did well with breaking down what type of people would be needed to hold up each end of the operation. The knowledge displayed seemed right on point and continued that way throughout the entire novel. There was also good suspense and some action at the end to appease those looking for a thrilling crime novel.

One area in which I felt the book was lacking was in character and relationship development. Aside from very shallow and basic characterization, the author does not give the reader much to go on. I didn't feel like I knew anything about the characters or the relationships they were building, so I didn't get attached to characters or care about them. This is something that I look for in books I read, so I would have liked to have seen more of this. There was a character death in the book that would have had more impact had the author done more development of his characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's not one that's going to make you love characters or draw you in emotionally, but it's an interesting take on what success can do to people and how corporations could manipulate that success.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Touching Evil Book Review

Touching Evil by Kylie Brant

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble product page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million product page.


Forensic psychologist Sophia Channing nearly lost her life to a serial killer. Fortunately, her own quick thinking - and Division of Criminal Investigation agent Cam Prescott's efforts - rescued her from a horrifying fate. Together, Sophia and Cam jailed the sadistic predator and closed the case on his reign of terror.

But when teenagers make a gruesome discovery in the Iowa woods, Sophia and Cam realize they've only scratched the surface of an evil that runs even deeper and deadlier than one madman's twisted desires. And they don't come more twisted than the killer known as the Zombie Lover: Vance's mystery accomplice, who's still at large and stacking up bodies. With the law snapping at his heels and private demons screaming in his head, the Zombie Lover is hell-bent on carrying out a desperate, double-edged mission. He's determined to terminate Sophia, then target medical examiner Lucy Benally, who he's vowed to make his own...dead or alive.

Review by Brittany:

I received a free copy of this novel on Net Galley per my request. After reading and reviewing the first book, I knew that I was going to thoroughly enjoy continuing this series. This is not a new series; however, the book is being re-released with editorial changes and updated Kindle covers.

This book picks up where the first one left off, so I do think it's important to read the first one before jumping into this one. While the author did not make that a necessity, I do think it will enhance the reading experience.

As with the first book, Brant creates a villain that gives me the heebies. He is appropriately scary and his fetish for corpses is enough to turn me off of him. His insane rants and the discovery of his permanent marker journal entries on his living room wall gave me insight into this monster, and it was enough to scare me. The idea of real people being like this is almost too much to contemplate, which is how I know that Brant did a fabulous job.

This book also develops the relationship between Cam and Sophia. While the first book revisited their previous dalliance, this book opens up the opportunity for something real to develop between them, and I found myself rooting for the success of a relationship for them. This book also gives more of an in-depth look at Lucy Benally, an ME that the reader was introduced to in the first book, and shows a flash of a personal relationship that might be developing for her as well. I love how this author takes the time to develop her characters and their lives outside of the case that they are working on.

The end of this book leaves a bit of a cliffhanger after delivering two major plot twists, setting up the third book in the trilogy. I enjoyed this one as much as the first one. Brant has done a fantastic job of creating creepy, believable villains, while also developing real characters to be the good guys. I'm looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy and getting some closure for all of these characters.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Given: Celestial Blues 3 Book Review

The Given: Celestial Blues 3 by Vicki Pettersson


After learning his wife survived the attack that killed him fifty years earlier, angel/PI Griffin Shaw is determined to find Evelyn Shaw, no matter the cost. Yet his obsession comes at a price. Grif has had to give up his burgeoning love for reporter Katherine "Kit" Craig, the woman who made life worth living again, and dedicate himself to finding one he no longer knows.

Yet when Grif is attacked again, it becomes clear that there are forces in both the mortal and heavenly realm who'd rather see him dead than unearth the well-buried secrets of his past. If he's to survive his second go-round on the Surface, Grif will have to convince Kit to reunite with him professionally, and help uncover decades of police corruption, risking both their lives...and testing the limits to what one angel is really willing to give for love.

Review by Brittany:

Love this cover! This entire series has beautiful covers, which is one of the reasons I was first attracted to the trilogy.

This installment rounds out this trilogy. In this one, Grif finally finds out what happened to him and solves the mysteries surrounding his past. This book does follow up on the twist at the end of the second one regarding Evie.

I was a bit disappointed by how this book made Evie into a villain. The events surrounding Grif's death were not as he thought they were, and this made Evie a bit of a bad guy. Grif's memories of her up to this point led me to believe she was wonderful and almost perfect, but the reality was different. Although I can appreciate that the author used this technique because isn't this true to life?

This book did have a bit of twist ending, part of which surprised me and part of which didn't. The ending does wrap up the mystery of Grif's death and leaves the reader with a satisfactory ending for Kit and Grif's relationship.

Overall, this book does a nice job of finishing the trilogy. While it isn't my favorite in the trilogy, I do recommend it to those who are already invested in these books.

Notable quotes:

Funny how the dearest memories could evoke the exact opposite reaction in people.

"...men are tough, but women have a ruthlessness to them that I don't think I'll ever understand."

"His whole life. Like a trench coat laid across a water puddle, he just put it out there for her to walk on."