Book Corner

Book Review: Trust No One

Buy the book on Amazon

A double homicide and a missing woman lead a detective to unearth disturbing secrets in this gripping thriller from USA Today bestselling author Debra Webb.

It’s the worst possible time for Detective Kerri Devlin to be involved in an all-consuming double-homicide case. She’s locked in a bitter struggle with her ex-husband and teenage daughter, and her reckless new partner is anything but trustworthy.

Still, she has a job to do: there’s a killer at large, and a pregnant woman has gone missing. Once Devlin and her partner get to work, they quickly unearth secrets involving Birmingham’s most esteemed citizens. Each new layer of the investigation brings Devlin closer to the killer and the missing woman, who starts looking more like a suspect than a victim.

But just as answers come into view, the case twists, expands, and slithers into Devlin’s personal life. There’s a much more sinister game at work, one she doesn’t even know she’s playing—and she must unravel the truth once and for all to stop the killer before she loses everything.

 

 

 

The title says it all. I remember thinking this very thing when I was reading it – wow, I have no idea who the murderer is, all of the characters are shady and hiding a secret. It really could be anyone.

So Kerri, our main protagonist, is a detective who is married to her job. This obsession forced her self-centered husband away and he had an affair. Kerri found out about it and divorced him. Kerri has a 13-year old daughter who is bitter about the divorce and seeks her father’s love and attention, only dad is busy with his new family to pay her much attention. As a result, the daughter lashes out and causes Kerri grief and anxiety which only adds to her difficult job.

I was glad the author didn’t spend much time on this dynamic. I feel like she spent just enough time to give the reader a glimpse into her history thereby giving the reader a chance to get to know Kerri outside her job. It served to show the reader that Kerri was human after all and that she has to do what so many of us do on a daily basis – deal with home struggles while maintaining our professional lives as well.

Falco, her new partner, is a mystery. He’s portrayed as a bad boy who was undercover for a while and his experiences while he was undercover somewhat “broke” him. Kerri is “saddled” with him and she’s not sure how to feel about him, she certainly doesn’t trust him. I liked the dynamic between Kerri and Falco – sparks didn’t immediately fly. Instead, they seem to be slowly building a relationship, a professional relationship, though by the end of the book, Kerri is starting to trust him and she’s allowing a few of her defenses down so that it’s implied that something more for the two of them could potentially be coming down the road. I do wish Webb had written Falco a bit more brash. I liked the mysterious aspect of him but he’s almost too nice too soon. Though it was nice to see her partnered with someone who had her back, I wish he had been a bit more rough around the edges thereby giving Kerri an opportunity to smooth those edges.

I really enjoyed the mysterious bitchy Cross character. I hope she makes more appearances in future stories. I liked that Falco uses her as a resource to help them solve the mysteries (because there is more than one, more on that later), and how he keeps saying “he owes her.” I would like to see Cross cash in those favors in future stories perhaps placing Falco in a difficult moral dilemma later. I would actually liked to see a story about Cross – why is she the way she is? What sort of experiences made her into this character that we see now? Ms. Webb, if you’re reading this … *smile*

And speaking of characters, there were A LOT of characters in this story. Almost too many and I confess, I got lost a few times. I had to pause and think, “now who is this again?” However, I do feel like each character played a role and I didn’t feel like Webb was inserting characters willy-nilly just to muddy the waters. Though I was frustrated by the sheer amount of characters, I will say that Webb did a nice job of interweaving all of these characters later in the story and by the end, their functions were all justified and I could forgive that aspect of the story. She introduced a lot of characters because there were several threads to this story: the main murder of Abbott and his mother-in-law, Sela’s past, discovering Sela had a sister and wondering what happened to her sister, Sela’s mother’s mysterious illness, Amelia’s disappearance, Kerri’s best friend’s affair and Kerri’s sister’s husband’s secrets. All of these seemingly unconnected issues were actually all connected in various ways and I appreciated the way Webb kept me guessing and masterfully made all of these mysteries come together in the end. That’s mainly the reason I bumped my rating from four stars to five stars because I could appreciate the complexity of the story and I admired the way she brought all of these storylines together in the end. Bravo. That couldn’t have been easy to do.

I also liked the way Webb put Sela’s perspective into the story as well. You know she’s heavily involved in the murder of her husband and mother but you’re just not sure what role she played in the murders. I thought that added a richness to the story and definitely gave the reader a peek at Sela’s motivation behind the events. Sela ends up being a master manipulator and very clever and I would like to see Kerri cross paths with Sela again in future stories – perhaps Sela becomes a master criminal as predicted by her college professor. *cough-hint-cough*.

The plot moved forward slowly and I was as frustrated by Kerri’s lack of progress as she was. However, with that said, I also appreciated the fact that every time Kerri made progress with the mystery, it only served to raise more questions. It was a frustrating process but also piqued my interest. I confess, I had no idea who the murderer was and by the time it was revealed it made sense on a level that I didn’t see coming. Again, bravo.

As the mystery is slowly solved, the answers become more personal for Kerri. Quite a few characters, close to Kerri, are actually heavily involved in the mystery and I appreciated that personal aspect. It made solving the mystery that much more important for Kerri, and the reader. I felt invested in Kerri’s journey.

The ending was very satisfying and the key characters deserved what they got.

Let’s address a few one-star comments on Goodreads:

Abandoned! First the narration of the audio book was awful – whiny, everyone sounds the same and she sounds like a whiny teenager. Then the story: bunch of rich, entitled a-holes for the most part, the lead character who is undecided about most everything in her life (how could she get to be a lead detective?) and most everyone else unlikeable. I tried for 9 chapters and then sent the book back for refund. Not recommended for anyone.

This is why I don’t listen to audio books. First of all, I get too distracted and lose my place whenever I listen to a book. I want to give the book my full attention and when I’m doing something else while listening to a book, I can’t and that frustrates me. Kudos to those of you that can do that, I can’t, apparently. Secondly, I don’t want whomever is reading the book to sway my opinion as this commenter states. She couldn’t get past the voice of the narrator and that automatically puts the story in a negative category for her – which is unfair to the story. She mentions she can’t get past the rich a-holes in the story. Fine. To each his own. But that’s precisely why I liked the story – because rich powerful people get away with crap the rest of us poor saps would never get away with. Unfortunately, these types of people exist today (Politicians) and it’s so satisfying when these rich a-holes get what they deserve. Unfortunately, these types of characters DO exist – why exclude them from stories?

I will say, I do agree with the commenter on how Kerri seems undecided about most everything in her life. I got that vibe too and I too wondered how she got a reputation for such being such an outstanding detective when it seemed she was anything but confident most of the time.

The other one-star reviews basically complained of the story being too slow and I can’t say I disagree with those observation. But overall, I really liked how Webb starts with one mystery and by the end of the book, Kerri and Falco end solving a 15-year old mystery as well as bringing rich, powerful a-holes to justice.

Books Read - Podcast/Transcript

Five-Star Books from 2020

Here are the books I rated five stars from 2020.

I read 90 books in all in 2020.

Most of the books I read were four stars, a few three stars and I think I gave one two stars.

I don’t give books five stars very often – there has to be a good twist, something that takes me by surprise or I just loved the characters for me to rate it five stars.

If you’re looking for something to read in 2020, I can recommend the below books. These are all on Kindle Unlimited if you’re a member. If you’re not, I HIGHLY recommend joining, if you have a Kindle, of course. I’m a huge e-book reader. I haven’t bought a real book in … wow, several years, in fact. I simply don’t have the room for them. And quite honestly, I absolutely love my Kindle – I can’t imagine my life without it.

(Looks like some of these are no longer on Kindle Unlimited. Bummer).

These are too small to see, but you can tell that the majority of books I read were four star books. I probably could have rated a few of them five stars but I felt I was a little harsher in my ratings this year. I think my expectations were higher since I had over 30 five-star books in 2019 and only 20 five-star books this year.

The four two-star books are: Everything My Mother Taught Me, Daughters of the Lake, Virgin River #1, Scorned, which might surprise some people but the reason I didn’t like Scorned is because a scorned woman had very little to do with the story so I felt deceived by the title cover and the title. You can see my stats in more detail here, if you’re interested.

My 2021 reading goal is 55. I lowered the number because I plan on devoting more of my time to writing this year. Again, you can always see what I’m currently reading in the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

Stay tuned for some reading vlogs!

Book Corner

Book Review: Games We Played (ARC)

Buy the book on Amazon

When actress Rachel Goldberg shares her personal views on a local radio show, she becomes a target for online harassment. Things go too far when someone paints a swastika on her front door, not only terrifying her but also dredging up some painful childhood memories. Rachel escapes to her hometown of Carlsbad. To avoid upsetting her parents, she tells them she’s there to visit her Orthodox Jewish grandmother, even though that’s the last thing she wants to do. But trouble may have followed her.

Stephen Drescher is home from Iraq, but his dishonorable discharge contaminates his transition back to civilian life. His old skinhead friends, the ones who urged him to enlist so he could learn to make better bombs, have disappeared, and he can’t even afford to adopt a dog. Thinking to reconnect with his childhood friend, he googles Rachel’s name and is stunned to see the comments on her Facebook page. He summons the courage to contact her.

Rachel and Stephen, who have vastly different feelings about the games they played and what might come of their reunion, must come to terms with their pasts before they can work toward their futures.

 

 

 

Wow. There is so much to unpack here, I’m not really sure where to begin.

I initially gave this book three stars, then changed it to four stars. Here’s why: The subject matter is disturbing and the character is gay.

There, I said it. It bothered me. This is not something I usually pick up and read, nor have any desire to read, but I wanted to challenge myself. I based my rating on my personal beliefs and views and that’s not fair to the story, nor the author, so I changed it to four stars because the writing was well done, the story, though uncomfortable, was handled carefully and it’s a subject that should be talked about and analyzed, not swept under the rug.

Again. It’s about being fair, not about my personal beliefs concerning how the character lives her life nor the subject matter.

Rachel is an up-and-coming actress and though not famous, she is well-known enough in the area to be doing fairly well for herself. In an attempt to promote herself, her girlfriend makes a Facebook page and a Twitter account to promote her. Rachel’s best friend (whose name escapes me right now), writes a lot of the plays she stars in and they are controversial, her latest being about abortion. When Rachel participates in a radio interview she dares to offer her real opinions on the matter which stirs up the crazies and she effectively puts a target on her back. When these haters learn that she’s Jewish, that brings in the Antisemitism people and before long, they find out where she lives and puts that information on Facebook, maybe even Twitter.

They “doxy” her. Meaning, they publicize her personal information thereby making it easy for the haters to find her and terrorize her. This part bothered me because she could have reported the incident to Facebook and/or Twitter and they would have removed the post and most likely penalized the user as that goes against the terms of service. So Rachel’s argument of not deleting her accounts, only the posts, because she didn’t want them to win was a bit lame, in my opinion. Not reporting them only encouraged the haters to become more bold and obnoxious. And I got very impatient with Rachel for not deleting her accounts and instead, choosing to keep them and then torture herself by continuing to read the comments which only served to push her further down into her dark hole of self doubt and insecurities. You can’t have it both ways, either delete your accounts if it bothers you that much and/or, report the jerks and delete/block commenters. I realize haters multiple like weeds, but if you choose to put yourself online, you have to expect there will be people who don’t like you – it’s inevitable. So make a decision, don’t choose to continue to torture yourself and then feel sorry for yourself – I can’t stand characters that choose to wallow in a cesspool of their own making.

Number one rule if you have an online presences, don’t feed the trolls.

I actually couldn’t stand Rachel. Not because she was a Jew, and not because she was gay but because she was a whiner. Everything was about her, about the way she felt, about everything going wrong in her life. She is stuck in a relationship with Liz, who is married to a man and has two children that require a lot of her time. Rachel is stuck because she knows that Liz is stringing her along but she can’t cut her loose. Liz’s confusion is not Rachel’s problem. Cut. Her. Loose. The fact that Rachel wasn’t strong enough to accept the fact that Liz was using her and continued to use her, really grated on me. I know it easier said than done to tell someone to cut someone out of his/her life but if that person brings more grief than joy, then it’s best for everyone in the relationship to make the tough decision and get out.

And I lost a bit of respect for Rachel as well because she was, in essence, doing the same thing to Jo. Jo is a cop who drops everything to support Rachel when the threats against Rachel escalate. And Rachel takes advantage of that using Jo whenever she can because she can’t rely on Liz to be there for her.

So, Rachel’s clingy, insecure personality really turned me off.

As far as the Antisemitism aspect of the story, that was the most uncomfortable aspect of the story for me. I didn’t really care that Rachel was gay, though the way she handled her relationships really frustrated me, but the Antisemitism attacks was another story.

She has a complicated relationship with her faith, or lack thereof. That dissatisfaction stems largely from her grandmother who was a devout Jew and was militant in ensuring that Rachel grew up practicing Judaism. She was also made to be ashamed of her heritage because the boy who lived next to her continually called her “Jew girl” and they played games where he was a Nazi and she was his prisoner. The games they played soon turned sexual in nature and that further served to shake Rachel’s belief in her religion, and her sexuality.

I thought one of the more interesting aspects of the story was that the author made Stephen part of the story so the reader had a chance to see why Stephen believed he was a Nazi – because his grandfather was a racist bigot and going along with that belief gave him an excuse to get closer to his grandfather, who was the only person in his life who really cared or paid attention to him. Stephen really didn’t know, nor understand what being a Nazi was, he just wanted a place where he belonged and since his grandfather was the only person who paid attention to him, immersing himself in that belief was what he needed to do.

This is also evident later in life when Stephen goes looking for his Antisemitism friends after being discharged from the military – because again, he needed to find someplace where he felt like he belonged. Where he was a part of something.

I really appreciated the author putting Stephen into the story because it serves to demonstrate that people that belong to hate groups are people too and there is usually a series of unfortunate events that molds them into thinking, and living, that way. I’m not excusing these people, but I think it’s important that we remember that these haters are people who have likely been misdirected and that there is a misguided reason for them being the way they are. They are human, too.

I ended up feeling sorry for Stephen as he tries very hard to be something he’s really not but because he’s never been taught to believe anything else, he sticks to what he knows. He’s just looking for someone to love him.

Gladys’ story was an interesting element. Gladys’ family was captured by the Nazis and killed, at least, it’s presumed they are killed as Gladys never sees them again. But she ends up confessing her past to Stephen because Stephen reminds her of a Nazi soldier that her sister got quite close to. This was a way for Gladys to confess her past and perhaps make sense of it. This closeness confuse Stephen even more as she’s a Jew and he’s been taught to hate Jews but she’s also one of the few people in his young life to pay attention to him so he has a sort of love/hate relationship with Gladys.

Honestly, I ended up liking Stephen more than Rachel as I felt like Stephen’s character grew and evolved where Rachel just continued to feel sorry for herself. Rachel did end up growing a spine at the end and getting rid of Liz, but then she jumped right into another relationship with Jo. So, she learned something about herself but I didn’t get the feeling her character actually grew into something better.

The author does a nice job of handling a difficult and sensitive subject. She was successful in playing fair to all parties and in showing the reader that life choices and our upbringing are often the reason we believe what we believe and the choices we make in life. I think it’s a good reminder to all of us that we need to not judge so quickly, because everyone has a story to tell and often that story is what molds us in the people we become.

TBR

January To Be Read Stack

Hello readers!

You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review on Goodreads – I’ve come to trust the reviews of Goodreads readers. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.

My goal for 2021 is to read 55 books. Yes. My goal in 2020 was to read 100 books and I would have accomplished that goal but I participated in NaNoWriMo and that put me behind about ten books. So I cut that goal down to 90 and though I made that goal, I know that I won’t make that goal this year if I do all of the things that I have planned for this blog and our podcasts. I think 55 books is realistic for me – that’s about one book per week. I plan on reviewing more ARCS (advanced reading copies) this year, too.

Moving on, here is my January TBR stack:

  1. Burden of Truth by Robin James (Showcased on Reading Vlog – coming soon!)
  2. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  3. Trust No One by Debra Webb
  4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  5. The Arrangement by Miranda Rijks

One ARC (Advanced Reading Copy from NetGalley – to be determined)

Happy Reading!
Book Corner

Book Review: The Price of Paradise by Susana López Rubio

The Price of Paradise by Susan López Rubio

 

 

 

Blurb: In a city as corrupt as it was luxurious, those who dared to dream were bound to pay the price.

Havana, Cuba, 1947. Young Patricio flees impoverished Spain and steps into the sultry island paradise of Havana with only the clothes on his back and half-baked dreams of a better life. Blessed with good looks and natural charm, he lands a job as a runner at El Encanto—one of the most luxurious department stores in the world.

Famous for its exquisite offerings from French haute couture to Arabian silks, El Encanto indulges the senses in opulent extravagance. It caters to visiting Hollywood stars, rising politicos, and prerevolutionary Cuba’s wealthiest power players, including the notorious mobster César Valdés.

Falling in love with the mobster’s young wife, Gloria, is suicide. But Patricio is irresistibly drawn to the beautiful girl with sad eyes, a razor-sharp intellect, and a penchant for both Christian Dior’s clothes and Einstein’s theories. Within the walls of El Encanto, anything seems possible, even a love that promises to heal them and a desire that thrums with the mambo beat of the city itself.

In a reckless love affair that spans half a century, Patricio’s and Gloria’s lives entwine time and again, challenged by every twist of fate—for in a world of murder, betrayal, and revolution, those who dare to reach for paradise seldom survive unscathed.

After reading this story, I did a little research. The department store, a central venue in the story, was actually a real-life place. El Enchanto, a landmark department store in Cuba pre-Castro era, was a real place and I was intrigued that the author picked a real place to set her story. I have no idea if the reason for the fire matches what Rubio wrote but it inspires me to use a real-life event and weave a story around it. I liked the story that much more after discovering El Enchanto was a real place and that secured the five-star rating for me.

The story begins with Patricio getting off the boat and stepping foot in Havana, Cuba. He traveled from Spain where things were dire and he wanted a chance at a better life. Penniless and with the clothes on his back, he spent the first night in Havana on the beach. He walked to a store that was rumored to help refugees. There he meets a monster of a man that happens to be from the same part of Spain as himself and lo and behold, he used to date his sister. He makes the mistake of calling her a whore, not realizing until too late that was his sister and he nearly gets he gets a small beating. But after the man discovers Patricio is from his homeland he relents and they end up being best friends. Patricio then moves into the “bedbug” motel with his new best friend and his roommate and soon, the three are inseparable and are known as the three musketeers.

Patricio is a likeable character. He’s a smooth talker and can sell water to a duck. He has a talent for making people believe they need the product he’s selling and he soon proves his worthy and catches the attention of the owner of El Encanto. After proving to the owner that he can sell anything to anybody, he gets a job as a “cannonball”, or a runner, for the store. There he meets a pretty elevator operator who flirts with him and he is happy and content in his new life.

Until he meets Gloria. It’s love at first sight and he feels like he won the lottery.

And then he finds out Gloria is married. But not just married, but married to an infamous mobster. The very mobster who very nearly shot him in the head for very nearly ruining his shoes.

The story progresses and soon Gloria realizes she’s in love with Patricio and they gradually begin to find ways to be together without anyone finding out. Because if her mobster husband, César Valdés, finds out about them, he will surely kill them both.

Gloria has a very unfortunate story. She was coerced into marrying César Valdés and she found out too late how ruthless he was. Her marriage caused her father to have a heart attack and die which caused her mother to become so overwhelmed with grief she slipped into a zombie-like state to escape her inner hell. Gloria despised her husband but she didn’t dare leave. She is on the verge of killing herself when she finds out she’s pregnant and that seals her fate, she will never leave her daughter in the hands of her ruthless husband.

The story is rich and sweeps you into the late 40’s, early 50’s era. It’s a story of abuse and two people desperate to find happiness any way they can get it, even at the risk of their own lives. Just as the two loves birds agree to run away together, César Valdés’ sister finds out about Gloria’s lover and their plans and threatens to go to César Valdés who will surely hunt Patricio down and kill him. Gloria loves him too much for that to happen and she doesn’t show up at the rendezvous.

Patricio, heartbroken and thinking Gloria has played him and really loves César Valdés leaves Cuba and goes to Florida taking Nell, the elevator operator with him and they marry. The story continues, with Gloria and Patricio living separately but longing to be together.

It’s a story of bad timing – our two main characters are constantly being thwarted and not allowed to be together. And given the circumstance, it had to happen the way the author wrote it. I felt sorry for both Patricio and Gloria and I understood their reasoning for the things they did. It didn’t make any less frustrating, but I understood it. The author did a really good job of teasing the reader – giving the characters just enough rope to pull them out of the pit of despair before knocking them back over the edge again.

I definitely recommend.

Goodreads comments:

I thought I was going to read a good historical novel. It ended up being a dime store romance devoid of any substance. Great for 14 year old girls.

Wait, what?? “Devoid of substance?” How can you say this book, where it follows two characters who should be together but can not be because of circumstances beyond their control set in pre-Castro Cuba at a real-life department store that actually burned down “devoid of substance?” This story is about abusive relationships and finding love where you least expect it. It’s a story about respecting the one you love so much that you’re willing to sacrifice your own happiness so that the other one will continue to live and be free. I’m quite confident that a 14-year old girl would not fully appreciate the myriad of emotions this story exudes as these characters come up with ways to survive their crappy lives and the decisions made on their behalf by rich, powerful people. This story is about survival and cultivating a love so powerful few people actually experience it. And other than referencing the political climate at the time and a large part of the setting taking place at El Encanto, I’m not sure I would classify it as a historical novel. The author takes real-life aspects and weaves a beautiful, sad, powerful story of two people desperate to find a way to freely express their love for one another.

Goodreads comment:

This book was kind of annoying for me. The writing style was lush and descriptive, and I did enjoy the early parts. I just got so continually frustrated with Patricio though, that it really ruined my enjoyment of the story. All my sympathies went with Gloria, and frankly I thought she deserved way better than anything she got, including Patricio.

In particular, Patricio’s treatment of Nely, or really any woman that wasn’t Gloria was fairly appalling. And the fact that he KNEW it, really just made it worse, not better. Acting in ignorance is unfortunate but somewhat understandable, but when you know you’re hurting someone and you do it anyhow is inexcusable. Also it was really rash. Gloria had agreed to go away with him, shouldn’t the note have triggered something in his head? that maybe something had happened? Even seeing her kiss Ceasar is no excuse for running off to go be with Nely. How is that fair to her? “oh I couldn’t have my first choice so I guess you’ll do. Also I’m going to pull you out of your country and even knowing your’e a communist, take you to a dictatorship country and know terrible things could happen to you if you’re caught doing activist work” And then the second he finds out about Gabriel, brings her back, and knowingly involves himself back in Gloria’s life, even though he has a new life. And then tried to uproot her again, to go on the run as a fugitive? Frankly he deserved Nely calling the police on him and removing themselves from his life. And then while he might not have gotten married again, he still continued to have relationships with other women, while making no attempt to get over Gloria. How is that fair to any of them? Maybe if he kept it all to one night stands, but he admitted he lived with several for years. If you’re not actually ready to move on, stop getting involved with people who will think you are. I didn’t even care about the happy ending by the end, because I was fed up with all of his behavior

I agree, sort of. Though it wasn’t great the way Patricio treated Nely, it was also realistic, unfortunately. There are many people out there that choose their “second choice” in life. It doesn’t make it right, and it can be wrong on so many levels, but it’s also what happens to millions of people every day. If the love of our lives is unattainable, for whatever reason, do you really expect people to go through life without any love, affection or sex of any kind? To imply that Patricio was less of a human being because he moved on with his life when he realized the love of his life wasn’t going to be his is fundamentally human. It’s sad, but human. To me, it almost seems like the author of this comment is projecting and not really looking at Patricio’s character arc. To me, if the author had decided that Patricio needed to be a love sick hermit for the rest of his life, that would have disappointed me. It’s possible to settle in life and experience different types of loves in one’s life. Just because it’s not the “love of their life” doesn’t mean it’s any less impactful – life must go on. To stop one’s life and not live it because of one person is a truly sad and disappointing choice.

The ending was a bit of a surprise though I was secretly rooting for something like it to happen. It’s never too late to love truly and fully. And I’ll leave it at that.

Book Corner

Book Review: I See You by Mary Burton

Yes – I took this picture in front of our Christmas tree. I thought it would be fun to take pictures of the title page on my Kindle around my house. And yes, my kindle is in a rose gold sparkly case. Also, I took this on my phone – I love my new(ish) phone!

I See You” by Mary Burton

 

 

Blurb: FBI special agent Zoe Spencer uses skeletal remains to recreate the faces of murder victims through sculpture. Though highly scientific, the process is also sensitive and intimate; she becomes attached to the individuals she identifies, desperate to find justice for each.

As Zoe examines old remains, she sees a teenage girl looking back at her—the victim in a cold case from over a decade ago. Zoe wants nothing more than to tell this young woman’s story and to bring her killer to justice.

Zoe’s case leads her to the victim’s hometown and to homicide detective William Vaughan, Zoe’s on-again, off-again lover. As the two become more involved in the case, they quickly realize that it isn’t as cold as they first believed: someone’s still out there hunting women. And with more women gone missing, time’s running out. Can they work together and stop this madman before he kills again?

This is not my first Mary Burton book. In fact, I’ve read quite a few of her books so far. I See You is the fourth criminal profiler book in the series. I will absolutely continue reading Mary Burton as I’ve quite enjoyed her books.

The story opens with a prologue of Nikki McDonald acting on a tip left for her on her website. Nikki used to be a popular news anchor (?) but she pushed one of her stories too far and was fired. In response, she set up a Crime Connection set up for the purpose of cold/hot case tips into stories so that she could earn her another job in television.

Acting on the tip, Nikki goes to a storage unit to find a “gray trunk.” She finds the trunk and what she finds inside the trunk kickstarts the story into high gear.

The story then jumps to the killer. He is sitting on the bed in a motel room eating a piece of pizza and talking to the woman he just killed in the bed next to him.  It was a brutal killing and very personal. Not a lot is revealed about the killer, of course, it’s only chapter one, and you’re left wondering who is this guy and why did he just kill a random hooker?

And that’s it. We’re never inside the killer’s head again and it felt like unfinished business by putting that scene in the story. I would have like to see more of the killer as that would have helped me understand his/her motivation behind his/her actions. It felt out of place and forgotten.

Nikki calls the police about the contents of the trunk. Enter Zoe and Vaughan. Zoe is called in because of her expertise of reconstructing faces to make identifications and Vaughan is a local cop. They already have a history together as Vaughan attended one of Zoe’s seminars and they had a brief fling.  The contents of the trunk turns out to be a young woman that had been missing for a number of years and her case eventually turned cold. Zoe and Vaughan figure out who the young woman is and they go to see the girl’s sister to get some more information about the victim and her disappearance.

Haley is the victim’s sister and her reaction to the news of her sister’s remains being found seems odd. So Zoe and Vaughan start digging a little deeper and soon, we’re immersed in this family’s lies and secrets.

A few more chapters in and something big happens at Haley’s home and both her and her daughter, Skylar, go missing. As they work on solving the case, it’s soon apparent this is tied to the girls’ remains in the trunk and to the girl the killer murdered at the beginning of the story.

Here’s why I gave it three stars:

LIKES:

  • I like how I didn’t really see the killer coming until the very end.
  • I like that Zoe and Vaughan have become a couple. Sort of.
  • I think the sex scenes in the book were juust enough allowing some imagination on the reader’s part.
  • I like how we saw the case from different perspectives instead of one perspective.

DISLIKES:

  • I don’t feel like the killer was a logical choice, though I didn’t see it coming, it also didn’t feel plausible to me, at least, without some foreshadowing. I would have like to see more of the killer and his/her interaction and tendencies – I think I might have bought the killer a little more easily.
  • I didn’t care for Nikki McDonald’s character in the story. I understood why Burton put her in the story but the story opens with Nikki and then she is sprinkled throughout the story. I think I would have liked it better if she hadn’t been in the story at all. Or just played a very minor roll in the story. Instead, her parts felt forced and quite frankly, annoying and too much time was spent inside her head.
  • The rationale of the killer was weak. I get crazy, but usually crazy people have a reason for doing what they do, not just for the sake of crazy. Something put that person in a very dark place, I would have liked to see a bit more of the killer’s backstory, or at least a reason, for why he/she turned out the way he/she did.
  • The pacing of the story was all over the place. Though I liked different perspectives, I would have liked sticking to primarily one perspective as opposed to it jumping from character to character in this story.
  • The plot felt weak and this was not one of the better Burton stories, in my opinion.

GOODREAD COMMENT:

First of all, Zoe was a Mary Sue character. She was a dancer, FBI special agent, artist, sculptor and a profiler. All of these are full time profession by themselves, and our heroine was all of them. The next problem I had was, even after having capability for being all this, she was dumb. She didn’t follow the necessary leads, she barely stumbled onto the killer’s identity, she confronted a killer without backup, and basically, the book would have been no different if she had not been in it.

Secondly, this book had very visible lack of research. Even after just watching crime tv shows, I had better knowledge than what was portrayed in the book. Leads that should have been obviously followed were ignored, forensic procedures were a joke, procedures and laws ignored when convenient, protocols not followed, confessions thrown out the window by lawyers or confessions acquired in front of lawyers (I don’t know which one is worse) … basically, the book was a mess.

This commenter hit the nail on the head. This also bothered me about Zoe’s character. She was a dancer, FBI special agent, artist, sculptor and a profiler. It all seemed too much for one character. How did one go from being a dancer, or an artistic type, to an FBI special agent? I’m not saying it can’t happen but it seems to be a stretch. The next problem I had was, even after having capability for being all this, she was dumb. Again, I agree. I feel like some of Zoe’s choices were dumb and happenchance. There were a few times I rolled my eyes. Especially at the end when she confronts the killer with no backup.

Really? That’s like the girl running down into a dark basement in a horror movie.

I’m not sure about the research part of the story, I’m not an expert in procedures and protocols, but I agree with this commenter again – it felt disjointed and unrealistic how they treated Mark Prince, the prime suspect.

I gave this story three stars instead of two because I have liked Burton’s stories up to this point and I know she’s capable of doing more. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book as your first Burton read but just know, if you read this book, it’s less than satisfying when compared to her other work.

WARNING: if you read past this point, it contains spoilers.

Continue reading “Book Review: I See You by Mary Burton”

TBR

December To Be Read Stack

Hello readers!

You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review on Goodreads – I’ve come to trust the reviews of Goodreads readers. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.

My goal for 2020 is to read 90 books – I’m currently at 83 – I bumped my goal down to 90 because I participated in NaNoWriMo (and won, by the way!) but putting all of my focus into that challenge took a lot of time away from to be read stack. So. My list is not going to change month this year as I still want to read what was on my November TBR stack.

Moving on, here is my December 2020 TBR stack:

  1. The Price of Paradise by Susana López Rubio
  2. I See You by Mary Burton
  3. Winter’s Mourn by Mary Stone
  4. Burden of Truth by Robin James
  5. Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon
  6. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

One ARC (Advanced Reading Copy from NetGalley – to be determined)

Happy Reading!
TBR

November To Be Read Stack

Hello readers!

You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review on Goodreads – I’ve come to trust the reviews of Goodreads readers. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.

My goal for 2020 is to read 90 books – I’m currently at 80 – I bumped my goal down to 90 because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (sort of) and I want to concentrate more on my writing than I do on reading this month.

Oh, and feel free to friend me on Goodreads, too. 🙂

Moving on, here is my November 2020 TBR stack:

  1. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  2. The Price of Paradise by Susana López Rubio
  3. Sparrow by L.J. Shen
  4. I See You by Mary Burton
  5. Winter’s Mourn by Mary Stone
  6. Burden of Truth by Robin James
  7. Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon
Realistically, I’ll probably only get about four of this list read …
Happy Reading!
TBR

October To Be Read Stack

Hello readers!

You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review on Goodreads – I’ve come to trust the reviews of Goodreads readers. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.

My goal for 2020 is to read 100 books – I’m currently at ___ – I’m right on track but I like to give myself a little bit of wiggle room so I want to get at least two books ahead of schedule.

Oh, and feel free to friend me on Goodreads, too. 🙂

Moving on, here is my October 2020 TBR stack:

  1. Stories We Never Told by Sonja Yoerg
  2. Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott
  3. Scorned by Kerry Kaya
  4. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  5. Still Life by Louise Penny
  6. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  7. The Price of Paradise by Susana López Rubio
  8. Legacy of Lies by Robert Bailey
Happy reading!
TBR

September To Be Read Stack

Hello readers!

You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.


My goal for 2020 is to read 100 books – I’m currently at 68 – I’m right on track but I like to give myself a little bit of wiggle room so I want to get at least two books ahead of schedule. Also, I reserved a bookclub on Goodreads back in 2014 and have never done anything with it – I’d like to start doing something with it. So – if you’re interested in joining the book club, read more about it here and you can join here. The books we read are adult romance, mystery/thriller and literary fiction so you must be 18+ years old to participate. I’ve never done this before but have always wanted to so please be patient with me as I stumble through the process. I’d like to try and read/discuss two books every month, meaning you have two weeks to read a book and then post your thoughts about it. We’ll try and touch on theme, character development and of course, the overall story. The rules are on the group page. I’ll start by picking the books the first few months but I’m hoping when we have enough members to ask for suggestions for books and then randomly draw from that selection.

I’m a cheapskate and I ONLY read free books, meaning, Kindle Unlimited books. So if you’re not already a Kindle Unlimited member, I would encourage you to become one. (This is not sponsored by Kindle Unlimited – however – if anyone is reading this from Kindle Unlimited …hit me up!) I read from Kindle Unlimited for two reasons: one – I’m cheap, books are expensive and I can read $80 bucks worth of books per month for only $10 bucks per month, and two – I feel like authors on Kindle Unlimited are lesser-known authors and deserve a chance to be read and quite honestly, I’m more satisfied reading these books than I am reading “best sellers” so, win-win!

Oh, and feel free to friend me on Goodreads, too. 🙂

Moving on, here is my September 2020 TBR stack:

  1. The Murmur of Bees by Sofía Segovia
  2. By a Thread by Lucy Score
  3. Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
  4. The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham
  5. A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin
  6. The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal
  7. Find Me by Anne Frasier
  8. One Small Sacrifice by Hilary Davidson
Don’t forget about the Dear Reader bookclub on Goodreads!
Happy reading!