I received One Night by Deanna Cabinian from the author. At first a bit reluctant to read something described as a “coming of age” novel, I am glad I did. I have a category I like to call a “comfort read.” Nothing in it should give offense to anyone (IMHO). It borders on fantasy in that the characters are almost too perfect and, in several cases, too mature in behavior and opinion for their chronological age. In the first few pages, I worried the story would spiral down into sappy, syrupy, sentimental storytelling in a nostalgic search for an imagined perfect past. That did not happen. The tightly controlled crisp writing moved the story along at almost page-turner speed. There are nicely woven reflections on quality of life, the inevitability of death, different perceptions of love (requited and unrequited) and the values of a strong family life. What could have been sappy was rescued by the writers skill into something really good. On an Amazon scale, I gave this a five-star rating, something I have never done with a “comfort read.” I highly recommend this for the YA crowd and will nag my son until he reads at least parts of it.
In the preface to his book Forbidden Beginnings: Jacqueline’s Tragedy, author William Rubin explains that this stand-alone novel delivers the back story of Chris Ravello, a trauma surgeon who will serve as a protagonist in the already published Forbidden Birth, also published in 2017. This is not a prequel in the way many prequels are, short novels ending with a cliffhanger that entices the reader to buy the next book in the series. This 191-page novel stands on its own and delivers a story with a conclusion. It is not a conclusion I enjoyed. I am not a fan of rainbows appearing over the good ship lollipop while ethereal happy music plays in the background but there is an audience for feel good endings. I am not trying to reveal the ending but I feel comfortable with setting the scene for what is to come.
Snowed In With Death by Ruby Loren is described as a Holly Winter mystery. I received it from Instafreebie through an author mailing list but it also available for the purchase price of FREE from Amazon. Seven detectives are scheduled to be at a resort for a detective convention. Holly is not one of the detectives but she is a detective groupie and she has won a contest by which she was invited as a guest observer at the convention. Struggling to get to the convention through a blinding snowstorm and arriving at the resort to face immediate isolation from the outside world gave Holly a feeling of uneasiness. Given that all the detectives would in turn experience either death or near death, Holly will probably rethink further convention invitations.
Wicked Secret by Valerie Keogh really contains a wicked secret. There is the main murder mystery. Who did it? That is not the wicked secret. There is a secondary and much more entertaining secondary murder mystery. Who did it? That is not the wicked secret either. The perpetrators of the two murders hoped their identities were secret, but those identities were not wicked secrets. Nicola, an abrasive almost psychic, a person who had helped the police solve gruesome crimes in the past, had a really wicked secret. My challenge will be to present an idea of what the book is about without revealing the secret. It is an interesting secret and should support reader interest in this novel as well as follow up novels.
I received Chase & Chloe by Simone Elise as an Advance Read Copy (ARC) and was asked to read and review it by 12 July 2017. With about four days to read it, I thought this would be easy but not so. It took me four days because it was a unique reading experience for me. I haven’t previously read a novel I both liked and disliked so much. The parts I liked, I liked a lot. The parts I disliked grated on all kinds of sensibilities. This would be a good novel for a book club discussion but might require a referee when discussions became heated. There was a disclaimer that is probably standard on ARC that there might be typos or grammar errors that would be corrected before final printing. I only found one error, a typo, in which the word “one” was used when the word “own” was needed. I was impressed with the mechanical accuracy of my copy. I divided the content into three parts as far as my interest. These divisions are mine, not the authors. Part I sets parameters, introduces characters, and hints at overall plot. Part II bored and sometimes offended me. Once I started Part III this turned into an I-can’t-put-it-down story and continued until the final two chapters. Then it returned to its Part II style but at that point, I didn’t care. I was happy with what I had read
Billy and Darla by Jay Lemming is a short story about teenage angst associated with growing up. The angst seems to come from three high-school-age students who have no external sources of inspiration and guidance although each of them has a family base that should be working.
Billy had a girlfriend, Darla, until Billy had a fight with Lane the Linebacker. Billy lost and Darla dumped him. Darla only went with winners. Billy never got over Darla but that didn’t stop him from dating Jessie, a good friend of Darla’s. Unlike his relationship with Darla, Billie’s relationship with Jessie was mostly platonic. Mostly. Except for that one time. Billy had an OK family life. The loss of a brother left a persistent gloom over the family but the family remained stable. Billy was just more ignored. Just like at school where teachers either ignored him or dismissed him. He was also not in the popular crowd.
Oklahoma Exile by Norma Jean Lutz is the story of a City Girl forced by events to adapt to the life of a Country Girl. The larger conflict is whether she will succeed in doing this while at the same time retaining the identity of Serena. The reader knows immediately that Serena City Girl has a disdain for a country lifestyle. Serena is polite about this and the larger conflict is expressed and takes place largely within Serena herself. Only a very perceptive relative or friend could detect this conflict.