Object Lessons

Author: Stephanie Kane

Publisher: Cold Hard Press

Release Date: October 15, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Readers who love murder mysteries that are linked to other crimes will love this!

Adam and Eve Castle have a business where they create dioramas to train police officers on different crime scenes.  To some, it is just a scene of a crime with no real effect. But to art conservator Lily Sparks, she sees connections that others don’t and is able to quickly come to conclusions that even the Castles sometimes miss.  When murders start to happen that mimic the dioramas, Lily quickly puts the two together and must work to convince others of the connections, even if it means she must stop them herself.

Initially, I thought this book was going to be based on true crime events, but after diving in, I quickly realized it was true crime based on the dioramas.  My biggest drawback on this was reading it as a standalone.  It is written as a continuation of characters that have been developed previously and as a reader, I missed some back story that I felt was important.  The scenes were written so that they were pretty interesting, but sometimes it was a little disjointed between scenes.  I think I would have enjoyed it more had I started from the beginning, especially to understand Lily and Paul’s relationship better.

There is quite a bit of foul language and some implied sex throughout, but nothing graphic.  Even so, I still recommend this for mature audiences.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Lost Island

Author: MarcyKate Connolly

Series: Hollow Dolls #2

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The follow up to Hollow Dolls picks up where the story left off and takes readers on a magical adventure full of surprises complete with all the magical adventures kids love in books.

After learning the truth about her mother, Simone is in a frenzy trying to keep her friends safe from Maeve and her powers. Now, Simone is in search for others with power to keep her Mother from taking their powers and using them for evil. An old legend leads her on a hunt for the Island she used to call home. Together with Sebastian and help from the librarians they set off to save others before it is too late. The closer they get to the island the more Simone sees that Maeve will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

MarcyKate Connolly has crafted a fun and magical adventure for young readers. With lots of suspense, action, drama, and adventure, readers will fly through the pages of this book. Most of the characters from the first book are back and we see a deeper depth with Simone and several of the characters. I really connected with Simone and the way she cares for her friends and wants to do all that she can to keep them safe. Her attitude and the way she was written really kept the story moving forward at a great pace for me. My only complaint would be the end and the last few chapters. Things were wrapped up a little too conveniently and felt rushed to me. I wish there would have been more development instead of it all ending so abruptly. Overall, it was still a good story that I enjoyed reading and would recommend to young readers that want a fantasy adventure.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the author.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Hollow Dolls

Author: MarcyKate Connolly

Series: Hollow Dolls #1

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An intriguing tale of magic, powers, and the lengths some will go to get the powers others have.

Simone is one of the few with powers, she is a mind-reader. With her power she knows many things, but the one thing she can’t remember is her own past. She is on a mission to find her family and the home she was taken from. Helping her search is Sebastian, another child taken with powers, the ability to take memories from people and was used against her while they were held captive. They come across a man that has been taken over by a body walker; Simone wants nothing more than to leave the life of magic behind her. But the more she looks into the history of where she came from and how to get back home, the more evil she sees around her. Before it is too late, Simone must dig deep into herself and find the courage to stop the evil around her before those she cares about get hurt.

Hollow Dolls is a fun, entertaining magical story that will keep young readers engaged with the characters and following along on their journey. Simone is a very real protagonist, even though she has magical powers, it is easy to connect with her and the passion she has to find her family and get back all that was taken from her. The dynamic between her and Sebastian moves the story forward during their scenes and all they have had to work through together. Several points throughout the story I started to feel as if I knew what was going on and what would happen next, some of my thoughts proved true and some not so much. The story wraps up with a solid cliff-hanger ending that will leave readers aching to find out the rest of the story in the follow up. While I didn’t enjoy this book as much as others I have read by Connolly, it was still an enjoyable read that I would recommend to other young readers looking for a magical adventure.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the author.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Wolf Soldier

Author: James R. Hannibal

Series: Lightraider Academy Volume 1

Publisher: Enclave Escape Publishing

Release Date: October 26, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A perfect fantasy for young adults to read that will send them on a fantastical adventure full of magic, dragons, and an all-knowing Rescuer.

It’s been nearly two generations since the Knights of the Lightraider order disappeared and now the Keledan have gone behind the barriers and the Dragon Lands are taken over with darkness. The Rescuer freed them long ago, but the people forgot what the Rescuer did for them and turned their backs on him. Connor Enarian works on his family’s farm as a shepherd until he and three other young initiates are called to the Lightraider Order to cross mountains into Tanelethar and stop the dark invasion. Connor and his friends make it into the Dragon Lands and find a missing Lightraider and a talking silver wolf that is the key to saving them all.

James Hannibal has crafted a fabulous journey full of magic, adventure, dragons and so much more. A lot of fantasy novels can be hard to follow because of the world building that happens to make the story the way it needs to be set up. Hannibal did a fantastic job of creating this world, but not bogging down the pages with information that isn’t needed. I must admit, I’m not usually a fan of fantasy, (I’ve never read any of the Lord of the Rings books and have no desire to). But something about this book and the way James Hannibal writes appealed to me. Hannibal has a way with words and crafts a story that is entertaining and engaging all while being unique to others out there. This isn’t the type of story that can be read quickly or not paying attention to all the little details, if you do, there will probably have to be some rereading. I encourage other readers to give him a try if you are looking for something new, either this new fantasy series or even his suspense novels, you won’t be disappointed.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Wolf Point

Author: Ian K. Smith

Series: Ashe Cayne #2

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fantastic thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat and reading far past my bedtime!

When the body of Walter Griffin, a prominent Black Chicagoan, is found at a watery grave in Wolf Point and ruled a suicide, the case ends up in the hands of Ashe Cayne, who knows there is more to the story. Griffin’s children come to the detective and ask him to look deeper into the case than the rest of law enforcement to find what might have been missed. They know their dad never would have done such a thing, even if it means uncovering dark secrets, they want to know the truth. Everyone is a suspect and Ashe must watch his own back in order to not end up like Griffin.

When I read this, I didn’t realize it was the second in a series and am now itching to get my hands on the first Ashe Cayne novel. The writing was smooth and the story entertaining. Even though this was the second in a series, I didn’t feel that I was missing out on a lot; readers can easily pick this up as a stand-alone and enjoy without feeling lost. Smith did a great job of crafting a mystery while keeping readers turning the pages. A few points in the story went a little slow for me but not enough to slow the entire story. It was a fun and in-depth look into Chicago that really made me feel like I was in the city and following right along with Cayne as he went about solving the crime. Lots of great secondary characters that filled the pages with little bits of humor and enough tension that kept a great pace throughout the entire story. There is a bit of language, so it is not appropriate for a younger audience but great for the intended audience. I recommend this book for readers that love a great thriller with a protagonist they will want to read more and more about.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Falling Girls

Author: Hayley Krischer

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A story about the hardships of growing up as a female and trying to fit in and survive in the ever-changing world!

Shade and Jadis are closer than any two best friends could ever be. They share everything, clothes, toothbrushes and more. One day Shade decides to join the cheerleading team. She has always been into gymnastics and now wants to become part of the “in” crowd. Jadis sees her friend slipping further and further away the more time she spends with the cheer girls. When one of the cheerleaders dies under suspicious circumstances, Shade takes it upon herself to discover what really happened. She is afraid Jadis might have had something to do with it, and if it’s true, Shade feels she will somehow be responsible as well.

The Falling Girls had a great premise but fell a little flat for me. I know it has been a while since I was a teenage gir,l but the vapid shallowness of the characters running throughout the story really annoyed me. I grew up in a small West Texas town, sports were a big deal, which meant cheerleading was a big deal. But I never remember any of it being remotely close to this. Shade and Jadis were both very annoying, almost as annoying as the three Chloe’s on the cheer squad. Which also became very confusing having three characters with the same name.

I know this book is classified as a young adult, but I have a hard time recommending it to young readers because of the language and other mature content. There is plenty of high school drama, cliques and the power of friendship shown throughout the pages. There is also too much drama, irritation, annoying characters, and an overall flat storyline that just didn’t connect with me. If you are into high school drama in an exaggerated setting with lots of toxicity then this is the book for you, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Raising Dragons

Author: Bryan Davis

Series: Dragons in our Midst #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: October 5, 2021 (Rerelease)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in The Dragon in Our Midst Series is a fun fantasy novel I can’t wait to let my son read. Clean, entertaining, and magical; a great combination for young readers!

Billy is called Dragon Breathe by kids at school after a science experiment gone wrong. He’s been dealing with abnormally hot breath as he has gotten older and when his breath accidentally sets off the fire sprinklers, his parents finally tell him the secret they have kept all his life, he is half dragon. Once he knows the truth, a lot of things make more sense about his life. When a new girl at school arrives hiding her own secret, Billy becomes the only one she can trust. Bonnie and Billy discover they are part of a legend leading back to Arthur and Excalibur. Together they find more faith and courage they didn’t know they had to deal with an evil slayer determined to exterminate the dragons forever.

I took this book with me to the hospital while my mom had a procedure and ended up reading the entire thing in one day. It was a fun, exciting, entertaining, and clean read. I love finding a great book that I can recommend to my son to read without any worry that the material will not be appropriate. Books on dragons and mythology aren’t my normal go-to reads but I am so happy I gave this one a try. As the start of a series, this book brings all the right stuff, magical legends, drama, tension, evil and so much more. Bonnie and Billy make a great team to move the story along and keep readers entranced in the story. The writing is perfect for young readers and their parents. I wanted to read it and see if my son would like it and if it would be appropriate for him. Even though it is a story about dragons and legends of Arthur, it still has an element of faith. I recommend this to readers that enjoy mythical, magical, and fun stories.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Labyrinth of Lies

Author: Irene Hannon

Series: Triple Threat #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fabulous romantic suspense by Irene Hannon, her best yet!!!

After the disappearance of a young girl attending an exclusive boarding school and some shady drug dealings in the area, Detective Cate Reilly is asked to go undercover. As she gets to the school and does some digging, she discovers that not everything is as it seems from the outside at the prestigious Ivy Hill Academy. What she never dreamed of is that the one man she fell in love with and broke her heart years ago is also undercover at the school. Zeke Sloan is working for the DEA to uncover the source of a drug ring close to the school. The second he sees Cate his heart stops, he never forgot the woman who stole his heart, and this is the last place he expected to run into her. Together, they work to solve their two cases that become more intertwined as the investigation heats up.

I have read a lot of Irene Hannon books over the years, but I have to say this is going to take the top spot out of all her books for me. The premise hooked me right away. I loved the idea of a female detective that is always mistaken for someone much younger than they are and able to use that to their advantage to go undercover like this. Right away, I was able to connect with Cate and everything she was trying to do. I believed in her mission and her ability to pull it off, I was invested! Zeke took me a little longer to connect with, not much though, his feelings for Cate jumped off the page at me and made me want to see them together. It was difficult to identify the villain and I was pleasantly surprised with how it all played out in the end.

With romantic suspense I usually have a pretty good idea how it is all going to play out, which can cause me to lose my interest partway through, but with this book, I was invested and had trouble putting it down. By far this is my favorite Irene Hannon book and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! I recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense, even though it is the second in a series you don’t have to read the first to enjoy this one.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Blood from a Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #5

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The next installment in the Rembrandt Stone series will leave readers on the edge of their seats and pulling their hair out waiting for the next in the series!

Detective Rembrandt Stone finds himself in trouble once again when everything he loves is in danger of being taken away. He has been across four different timelines trying to stop a killer. Rembrandt still has thirty-eight lives hanging in the balance and if he doesn’t play the hand he is dealt just right, he will lose the little he has left. All he wants is to get back to his time to find his wife and daughter safe and alive to grow old with him.

The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone is the kind of series you want to read one book right after another. The cliffhanger endings kill me!! I am so glad this is written and released in a way we don’t have to wait long for the next installment. Each time I think the tag team of David James Warren can’t get any better, I am proven wrong. The story is fast paced and tight, no fluff, just a good story. It is complex enough that requires readers to pay close attention to follow Stone as he goes back and forth between the timelines.

Rembrandt, Evie, and all the rest of the characters from this series make it one of the best I have read in a long time. With each time jump, Rem finds himself in a more complicated situation to unravel the threads that hold together his life making it easy to root for him to succeed. My heart breaks for him each time he gets bad news that shows his attempt to fix his future hasn’t worked out as well as he was hoping it would. With only one more book in the series, there is a lot to wrap up and I am dying to see how David James Warren will do it. I have no doubt it will all come together; this powerhouse team of writers is up to the challenge.

I recommend this book to readers that love a great time travel mystery with an intricate plot and characters you are going to fall in love with.  It is a series that needs to be read in order and not just pick one to pick up at random.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Stalker Stalked

Author: Lee Mathew Goldberg

Publisher: All Due Respect Publishing

Release Date: September 16, 2021

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Dark and twisted with a definite creepy vibe throughout.

Reality TV has become all that Lexi Mazur wants to do along with drinking and popping pills. Her boyfriend dumped her and now she spends her time fantasizing about becoming part of that inner circle of Reality TV stars. Her newest obsession is a show called Socialites and the star, Magnolia Artois, who she starts following on social media and showing up at the same places as the star. This isn’t the first time Lexi has ventured into stalking; both of her ex’s didn’t know she stalked them and manipulated them before dating. She works as a pharmaceutical rep and sneaking pills for her own use has become a daily habit. Lately though, Lexi fells as if she is being watched and wonders if the tables have turned and she is now the one being stalked. She must use what she has learned over the years stalking others to beat her own stalker.

I wanted to like Stalker Stalked, I really did, unfortunately I didn’t like any of the characters and the use of foul language was absolutely ridiculous. I know this is a mainstream book and as such isn’t expected to be clean but the over-the-top use of such crass language really bothered me. It doesn’t matter if you are writing for a Christian market or mainstream, you can write a fabulous book without that kind of language. To me it feels as if the author just didn’t want to put forth the effort to write without including that. I have also read many books with language that doesn’t bother me because it is written so well, I am engrossed in the story and the characters have connected with me. The only character I even remotely connected with was Pria, she was abused by her friend and kept trying to help anyway. All the other characters were over the top annoying and irritating. I did read this book in a single day but mainly to be done with it, so I don’t have to be annoyed or wasting time just by reading the words on the page. This is a very harsh review for me, but I was expecting something better and different and was disappointed the whole way through. If you are into Reality TV and following those on social media this might be a great one for you, if not skip it.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.