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Book Review: Burden of Proof

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Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills– Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder.

As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense

Published: October 9, 2018

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: #1 in FBI: Rapid Response series

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: The story starts off with a tense situation and never lets the foot off the gas pedal! There’s plenty of action, lots of mystery, and well developed characters. The suspense was intense, the romance was a bonus, and the Christian aspects added a whole other layer. You know from early on in the story who the bad guy is and he is awful! I spent the entire second half of the book waiting for him to get what was coming to him. I really enjoyed April as a character. She had a very stressful job and she still managed to be a caring, empathetic, and compassionate character. It took me a bit to warm up to Jason because of how he was introduced to the story but he grew on me once I got a good read on his character and what was driving his decisions. Definitely a solid read and I will absolutely continue the series. 



This Week New Releases: May 14

New releases for the week of May 14 that are on my wish lists!

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren- May 14- Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man. Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

The Night Before by Wendy Walker- May 14- Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site. Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date. When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him.

The Desert Sky Before Us by Anne Valente- May 14- When Billie is released from a correctional facility in Decatur, her sister Rhiannon is there to meet her, even though the two haven’t seen each other in months. Painful secrets and numerous unspoken betrayals linger between them—but most agonizing is the sudden passing of their mother, a renowned paleontologist. Rhiannon and Billie must overcome their differences as they set off on a road trip west, following the breadcrumb-trail of their late mother’s scavenger hunt, a sort of second funeral she planned in her final days. The sisters know the trail will end in Utah at the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry, where their mother spent her career researching dinosaur fossils. But the seemingly endless days on the road soon take their toll, forcing Rhiannon and Billie to confront their hostilities and revisit old memories—both good and bad. As they travel across the heart of America, and as a series of plane crashes in the news make their journey all the more urgent, the two sisters begin to rediscover each other and to uncover their late mother’s veiled second life, taking them on an unexpected emotional journey inward—and forcing them to come to terms with their own choices in life.

A Perfect Lie by Lisa Renee Jones- May 14- They say that you are not a product of the environment that you’ve grown up in, that you create your own story, tell it your way. That you get to pick your own future. They lied. If you’re honest with yourself, you believed that lie, too, like I used to, because I wanted to, and even needed to believe that I had some semblance of control over my own self. The truth is that control is part of the lie. The ability to become a person of our own making is the perfect lie. I concede that it might appear that some people control their destiny, but I assure you, if you gave me fifteen minutes, I could pull apart that façade. We are born into a destiny that we never have the chance to escape. That’s why I must tell my story. For those of you out there like me who were told that you have choices, when you never had one single choice that was your own. For those of you out there who were, who are, judged for decisions you’ve made that were directed by your destiny, not by the façade of choices. The irony of the story within this story is how one person’s predisposed destiny can impact, influence, and even change the lives of those around him or her. How one destiny ties to another destiny. I am Hailey Anne Monroe. I’m twenty-eight years old. An artist, who found her muse on the canvas because I wasn’t allowed to have friends or even keep a journal. And yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m that Hailey Anne Monroe, daughter to Thomas Frank Monroe, the man who was a half-percentage point from becoming President of the United States. If you were able to ask him, he’d probably tell you that I was the half point. But you can’t ask him, and he can’t tell you. He’s dead. They’re all dead and now I can speak.

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney- May 16- l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress. The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems. Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

On the Warpath by Catherine Gayle- May 16- Seth McCormick is handling his divorce and long-distance fathering pretty well—or as well as he can, playing hockey for the Tulsa Thunderbirds. Long hours on the road and in arenas mean not much dad time. So, when his best friend offers his daughter, Allie, concert tickets, Seth can’t say no… but he should have. Because then the unthinkable happens. When a drunken assault on Allie turns their world upside down, it puts Seth On the Warpath. He needs more than just parenting help. He and Allie need professional help to rebuild their lives, and Becca Walls seems the perfect fit. Abused as a teen, Becca now volunteers with troubled youths. As Becca and Seth work together, their attraction to each other grows. But it won’t be an easy relationship. Not only must Becca help Allie, but Seth has to deal with his anger and guilt over the attack before any healing can occur.



Book Review: Forget You Know Me

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Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser– Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child. What Liza sees next will change everything. Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw. Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own. And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either. But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: February 5, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: Standalone

My Rating: 3 Stars

My Thoughts: Honestly I’m not even sure how to start this review. I thought this was going to be a thriller. Instead it was a domestic drama full of marital strain and secrets between friends. I think I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if I had known from the beginning it was a domestic drama. My expectations were what killed this story for me. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters and I didn’t particularly like any of them either. The story started off with a bang, then veered off into the domestic drama and lost my attention for a good part of it, then the mystery from the first chapter was solved and that was it. The whole middle part of the story just dragged for me but again, I think it was my expectations that ruined it. I recommend this book for anyone who likes domestic dramas heavy on the drama of relationships. If you’re looking for a thriller you won’t find it here. 



Book Review: When You Read This

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When You Read This by Mary Adkins– For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.

Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.

Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: February 5, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: Standalone

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I’m a big fan of books written in epistolary form and this book was comprised solely of emails, texts, and blog posts. It feels very intimate and personal to be reading those things and appeals to the admittedly nosy side of my personality. I think my favorite character was Carl, the inept and strange assistant/intern to Smith. He added a layer of comedy to an otherwise heavy story which is full of love, loss, grief, and healing. Jane was probably my least favorite character- she was really a neurotic mess that made everything much harder than it needed to be. But the personalities of all the characters together came together in a really amazing way to form a story with a lot of depth. 



Book Review: Never Tell

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Never Tell by Lisa Gardner– A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman—Evie Carter—from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim—a hostage—and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder. But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Published: February 19, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: #10 in Detective D.D. Warren Series

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I’m a huge fan of the D.D. Warren and Flora Dane series. This is book 10 but I haven’t read them all. I didn’t read any of the books before Flora was introduced as a character in book 8. I love her character. She’s a street smart, emotionally distant, bad-ass vigilante who colors outside the lines. And she’s the perfect counterpart to D.D. Warren- who I always feel is alternating between feelings of exasperation and maternal instinct when she deals with Flora. The mystery in this book was great and I didn’t figure out who was the mastermind until it was revealed. I enjoyed the addition of Evie to the cast of characters and I hope we see her more books!