A Fool and His Monet by Sandra Orchard

A Fool and His Monet (Serena Jones Mystery, #1)A Fool and His Monet by Sandra Orchard

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Review by Sarah “I usually jump at the chance to read these types of books but this one really let me down. I didn’t like the drops of action and constant immature actions and remarks. It was like reading a dumbed down book for much younger readers, perhaps teenagers. More than once it was like the writer forgot what they were doing and just moved on without finishing their previous train of thought. Other than that it was ok but not something that makes me want to read another by this writer.” We received an ARC in exchange for an honest review with no requirements for it to be positive.

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Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

Murder Comes by Mail (Hidden Springs Mystery #2)Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this is the second book in the series it can be read as a standalone. I’d still recommend picking up the first book since it’s well worth the read and gives a bit of background for the primary character and voice of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this lighthearted mystery. I liked the switch to a male viewpoint as opposed to the typical female and I feel it worked really well. The characters feel warm and well fleshed out and have good development across the novel. I especially like that they have authentic flaws and are unique which adds to their believability and reader connection. The mystery itself is a fun one to follow without taking over the whole plot. I received an ARC through the publisher in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Without Warning (Elite Guardians, #2)Without Warning by Lynette Eason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one was difficult to put down when other responsibilities were calling for my attention. The first book in the Elite Guardians series, Always Watching, was equally exciting and difficult to put down. Eason easily transitions to the second book without leaving the reader feeling like they have missed something or repeating everything from the first book. The plot thread is well constructed and weaved expertly through the book. Characters seem to step from reality into the novel making them easy to connect with and root for. Overall, this read is well crafted and is an enjoyable read you’ll end up losing sleep to finish. I received an ARC through the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I was not required to give a positive review nor was I offered anything beyond a single free copy of the book to read.

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

The Magnolia Duchess (Gulf Coast Chronicles, #3)The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 3rd book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles. The writing is solid and well edited. That said, the content did not provide an exciting, or even thrilling, read. It sorta feels flat and tends to allow the mind to wander to other, more interesting, topics. It took several starts and restarts to get through the book, not to say it wasn’t a good read, it just didn’t provide that hook to pull me in. The characters were unique and well-constructed, even with character development along the way, but they lacked that special something that makes you want to get to know them better. I did like the historical aspect and felt that part received more attention and research. Overall it’s a decent read to pass the time, perfect for a beach read. I received an ARC through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander

Where She Belongs (Misty Willow, #1)Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where She Belongs starts out smoothly and takes the reader on a journey not typical of romance novels. The change works well and fits the main plot thread of the novel, although at times it’s not 100% clear if the primary plot thread is the historical one or the romantic one. This does not detract too much from the overall read and may add something for some readers. I found the characters to be believable although for me it feels as though some received more thought and fleshing out than others. Character development is nicely handled and feels authentic to the initial foundation. Overall, this is an enjoyable read with a good message and well constructed plot. I received an ARC through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every PresidencyThe Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable read and a fountain of information. While I didn’t take the hours to research the facts, some of them I was was already familiar with so I feel that overall it is well researched and factual. For a non-fiction read, this was one of my favorites this year. I found myself intellectually stimulated and absorbing information due to the excellent format and tone of the book. I’m not a huge non-fiction fan but this one I can easily recommend. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The review was not required, nor was it implied to be positive. Nothing else was or will be received for the review, which is my own opinion and belongs to me.

When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner

When God Made YouWhen God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a mother of three, one of whom is special needs, I love coming across children’s books with such a positive message that is delivered in a way that will actually reach the child reading it. My son (9) and I read through the book together. He was drawn to the bright colors and remarked that it was rare to see a book with a child who wasn’t white, and he liked that a lot. He helps me review children’s books when they come in but rarely requests to look at/read them on his own at a later time. He has asked if we can donate this book to the school library instead of the local public library so more kids might see it. We agree that at times the writing seems to lack a bit of polish but we don’t think it’s enough to detract too much from the overall experience of the book. We love the artistry and message! I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review with no requirement of the review being public or positive.

The Port-Wine Stain by Norman Lock

The Port-Wine StainThe Port-Wine Stain by Norman Lock

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wasn’t able to read the entire book, but based on what I did read it’s not exciting or exceptional. I looked over the odd punctuation in places even though it stood out to me. The book feels like you’re reading a recording of someone rambling on about their past. It gets confusing sometimes just who is supposed to be speaking as part of the book has quotations around speech. There are parts where it’s just one side of the conversation which muddles the read a bit. It’s not that I dislike first-person POV, it’s just difficult to do well and I don’t feel this book did that well. I’m a Poe fan but I didn’t begin this read expecting anything Poe-like since I don’t believe anyone can write like Poe except Poe. Overall, it’s not a terrible read but I didn’t like it enough to read the entire 217 pages. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Dodgers by Bill Beverly

DodgersDodgers by Bill Beverly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Open your mind and let go of any preconceived notions of how a crime novel is supposed to read. Let your mind soak in a fresh approach and just enjoy the read. That is how you’ll come to enjoy this one and want more. I didn’t love it or “really liked it”, but I did like it. It deserves 3.5 stars, not 3 or 4, but alas that is all I can do at this time. The book has interesting characters who develop as the book moves along. My only complaint is that at times, especially the latter portion, the book tends to feel like it’s dragging it’s feet in the mud. It’s not a fast mover, but I feel that plays towards the strengths of the book and the author. I received a copy of this book through blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Second Twin by Jaime Lee Mann

Second Twin (Legend of Rhyme, #4)Second Twin by Jaime Lee Mann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book, in case you didn’t already realize that, and a prime example of an author that continues to grow. Jaime’s first book was a little bit rough around the edges, but this 4th installment really shines. I’m impressed with her continued growth and ability to accept and apply constructive criticism from her readers. I’m also very impressed with the growth her characters have had through the four books. It’s one thing to have children in a series, but to have them grow and develop as these have isn’t an easy task. If you haven’t taken a trip down her imaginative lane, you might take that path less traveled and discover a piece of enchantment. Overall the series is well-constructed and an easy read. I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This isn’t your typical fantasy read. It’s neither lighthearted nor is it an easy read. It’s going to take a bit more effort to read and digest, but if you can take the time to do this you’re in for an enjoyable ride. If you can’t, then avoid even trying to read this and instead pick up Theft of Swords. The writing style in Nevernight takes a little more effort to get used to, but that’s not to say that it’s poorly written. It’s just different. Did I love it? Not after the first read, but somehow I feel that by coming back and reading it again I’ll enjoy it even more than I did the first time around. What was it that I didn’t like? Well, by now most of my followers know that I’m a bit of a grammar nerd and that I’ve knocked down a rating due to poor writing skills. I really didn’t like the halting, grammatically incorrect sentences, however, I can see why it was written that way. Not that I agree with the style, just that I can understand on some level the reasoning behind it. That said, the story is quite good. I enjoyed the characters and the setting and feel that overall, this is a good read.

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1)Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished this book while enduring multiple surgeries and hospital stays to save my kidney. While I wouldn’t want to go through that experience again, I would read this book again. In fact, I got the audio-book so my son (12) and I could listen to it as we traveled to his practice and meets. He loved every minute of it and asked for book #2. I introduced him, and my 23 yr old son, to Riyria when the books first came out and they have loved them. Sullivan definitely has a way with words and the ability to craft a believable, enjoyable, authentic fantasy experience. Not only is the world unique, it is easy to visualize and fits the characters nicely. Each character has a unique personality and experiences development as things happen to them and around them. In the audio-book, the reader does a fantastic job. My son (23) received an signed copy of this book for Christmas and was elated when he saw who the author was. We are all eagerly awaiting the next books, #2 of Legends series and #3 in Riyria Chronicles.
This was a purchased book, not a book submitted for review.

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I agree that this book can be a valuable asset to a writer either starting out or finding themselves in the midst of a brain freeze. There are several points Cron makes that are logical and worth investing some time in. I agree that more work needs to be done with character development. I’ve read too many books where the characters are undeveloped or just lack any personality. What I don’t agree with is that a story shouldn’t start with an outline, or plotting. I believe you need both elements in order to create a great novel. You need character development, which this book can be extremely helpful with, and you need to have a solid plot outline; a developed plot thread. I also believe that most writers could do with a bit of grammar study. Having just one piece of the novel puzzle won’t gift you with a magical outcome. You need all of the pieces. Overall I feel this is a book worth reading and referring to but I don’t feel it’s the only reference an author should refer to. I received an ARC through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Strong Foundation and Adjusting to Married Life by Marcus & Ashley Kusi

First Year of Marriage: The Newlywed's Guide to Building a Strong Foundation and Adjusting to Married LifeFirst Year of Marriage: The Newlywed’s Guide to Building a Strong Foundation and Adjusting to Married Life by Marcus Kusi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you look for a book to give you advice about marriage you will have thousands to choose from. Expand that search to the Internet and you’ll add thousands of sites. Some claim to have all the answers or to know the perfect steps towards a happy marriage. So how do you know which book, or which site, you should turn to? Which steps should you adopt? My suggestion is to read whatever appeals to you and try out the various steps with your spouse while keeping your communication lines open. There isn’t a single book or site that fits every relationship but many of them have similar suggestions. This particular book is brief and written in a way to be easily understood. It has a blog feel to it which seems to be the next great way to get a book published. I like the outline style and bullet points to help separate each part. I like the quotations by other people and the long list of questions to open up discussions with your spouse. Overall this is a decent book for those looking to marry, recently married, or even those who have hit a rough patch and have no idea how to move forward. I wouldn’t recommend only reading this one book as I feel there are a great number of books out there with valuable information. Also, if your marriage is deteriorating it may be wise to seek counseling such as couples therapy. I received an ARC through the author in exchange for an honest review.

Miles Away by C.W.J. Henderson

Miles Away (Time Crisis Saga #1)Miles Away by C.W.J. Henderson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There are aspects of this book that I enjoyed and just as much that I didn’t enjoy. The writing is good without multiple grammatical issues which is a huge plus in my book. That said, the writing didn’t help with connections and at times made me want to either skip to the next chapter or pick a different book to read. Having raised two teenagers of my own and worked with troubled teens I found the constant negativity from Miles to be over the top. This negativity began to grate on my nerves about half way through the read. Parts of the book felt well thought through, even well researched, while other parts felt as though they were lacking any solid foundation. This is especially noticeable when referencing dated aspects, with some dating issues being more obvious to me and pulling me out of the read. I have mixed feelings about the science fiction explanations for time travel and how it supposedly would work. I don’t feel this will be a huge deterrent for YA readers, however I wouldn’t recommend this to YA readers due to the language usage by Miles. I don’t believe foul language does anything to add to a book and I certainly wouldn’t want my son reading this. Overall the plot is intriguing and with some minor fixes would fit well among other YA books. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.