Book Review: The Forgotten Girls

review-cover-the forgotten girlsTitle: The Forgotten Girls [Stevens & Windmere 6]

Author: Owen Laukkanen

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

She was a forgotten girl, a runaway found murdered on the High Line train through the northern Rocky Mountains and, with little local interest, put into a dead file. But she was not alone. When Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force stumble upon the case, they discover a horror far greater than anyone expected—a string of murders on the High Line, all of them young women drifters whom no one would notice.

But someone has noticed now. Through the bleak midwinter and a frontier land of forbidding geography, Stevens and Windermere follow a frustratingly light trail of clues—and where it ends, even they will be shocked.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen more than I did, but honestly, I’m not sure I was the right audience. The cover was gorgeous, the description sounded interesting—the plot kept me involved with the story… but I tend to prefer character-driven fiction, and even though I do enjoy thrillers and mysteries, I had a hard time connecting to the characters in this story.

The first part of the story was built around Mila, a girl who’s best friend has gone missing, and then part way through the book, the majority of the story switches to the killer. It was a strange dynamic to get so involved with one character and then switch to another. That aside, there wasn’t a lot of time put into getting to know any of the characters deeply, and because of this, I found them rather interchangeable. I didn’t feel upset over any of the deaths, I was only mildly irritated with the killer, and by 70% into the book, I’d completely lost interest. I did finish the book, but it was a slog to get through the ending, because I just didn’t care about the characters, and the murders were so briefly touched upon that I didn’t have a macabre fascination to keep me interested in what was happening.

Was it a bad book, though? No. It was well edited and well written. I didn’t get hung up on the sentence structure, vocabulary, or any other sort of technical error. The story moved smoothly and cleanly from one event to another, and I never got confused or lost—but there was a lack of tension that I felt should have been present, and because of that and my lack of interest in the characters, I found it hard to push through the slow pace of the story.

I think if you like mystery books that aren’t too complicated and don’t have too much gore, you may enjoy this book quite a bit—like I said, it was well written, but if you’re like me and prefer character driven fiction or gripping thrillers, this may be a little bit off the mark for you. I gave this book 3 stars because it was a bit of a “meh…” read for me. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either, it just didn’t interest me as much as I’d hoped.

Free Fiction Friday #76

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #76! For those of you who are new to this blog, or may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting, and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum-so that you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our them is: Science Fiction!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo

review-cover-cloud cuckooTitle: Cloud Cuckoo [The Never Dawn 2]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following their shock discovery, Noah and Rebekah reluctantly return to the lower levels of The Ark. Isolated and apart once more, Noah struggles to remember what happened at the surface and suspects Mother has altered his memory.

But Noah’s attempts to unite the workers to rebel are halted when Mother begins The Purge. Her cruel, relentless trials bring Noah to breaking point as he fights to survive when faced by his worst fears. Forced to accept Mother’s terms after a month in Re-Education, Noah finally learns the truth about his people’s past that leave him determined to defeat her once and for all.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Cloud Cuckoo by R. E. Palmer was a great addition to the Never Dawn trilogy. Often after a good book, subsequent books in the series don’t always live up to the quality or the hype of the first book, but in this case, that definitely wasn’t true. My daughter and I read this book together and often found ourselves reading for several hours at a time, often into the wee hours of the morning. We were sucked into Noah’s world.

Technically speaking, much like the first book, I was given a copy that had quite a few typos/errors in it, but again, these didn’t bother me. None of the errors were jarring or subtracted from the story in any way. The writing was clean, concise, and easy to follow, and the story moved at a good pace. It was constructed in such a way that by the end of every chapter, I couldn’t keep myself from continuing on into the next chapter. I was drawn in.

Much like the previous book, the characters were a delight and the world building was expansive and well constructed. One of my favorite parts of this particular book, however, was the change in scenery for Noah. We got to see new parts of the ship. We got to spend more time with characters we hadn’t previously gotten to. There were the same old mysteries, but also a lot of new ones as Noah found out more and more about his world and the people in it.

Overall, I loved this book. I love this series, and my daughter would easily say the same. R.E. Palmer has become one of my new favorite authors. If you enjoy YA or dystopian stories, I would highly recommend you pick up this series and give it a try. You will not regret it. I am so excited to see what the third book has in store for us when it’s released!

Book Review: An Intriguing Proposition

review-book-an intriguing propositionAuthor: An Intriguing Proposition [The Defiant Hearts Series Prequel]

Title: Sydney Jane Baily

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following her father’s untimely death, eldest daughter Elise Malloy discovers that the family home is collateral for a mysterious loan. With no record of payments made from her father’s accounts, whoever was paying the bank has now stopped, and foreclosure is imminent.

Desperate to keep the news from her grieving, funds-starved family, Elise answers the bank summons and faces Michael Bradley, an old flame who still owns her heart. When Michael extends an unseemly dinner invitation, Elise invents a nameless suitor as an excuse.

Now, to save face, she must produce him.

Jonathan Amory, Esquire, seems the perfect choice, until her long-desired relationship with Michael unexpectedly catches fire, and Jonathan makes it clear he will stop at nothing to destroy her family and lock her into a loveless marriage.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I nearly didn’t make it through this book, which is an odd thing to say about something I ended up giving 4 stars to. The beginning was slow, the main female lead came across as weak and demure, and there was something about the opening sequence that just didn’t sit well with me. Maybe it was the contradictions in the way we were first introduced to the main characters, maybe it was the fact that my pet peeve over having a character commit actions out of sequence (reaction before action) that had me all riled up. Regardless, I never put the book down.

But I didn’t.

By the time the love interest and Elise’s situation came into play, I was engrossed in the story (though I admit, I was hoping for a twist to the romance plot that sadly didn’t happen). The romance between Elise and Michael was sweet and adorable. I do wish there had been a little more sexual tension or tension at all in their relationship… I think it could have been dragged out a little more, but overall it was lovely. The only thing that really bothered me about the plot is that the one gay character also happened to be the ‘bad guy’. Yes, I do understand that at that time it was generally frowned upon, but did he have to be gay to be the bad guy? No.

Other than that, the book was pretty well written. I only ran into one typo. The book flowed well, and it was easy to sink into. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet historical romance with a tiny bit of sultry spice to it.

Free Fiction Friday #75

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #75! For those of you who are new to this blog, or may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting, and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum-so that you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our them is: ALL THINGS ROMANCE!

P.S. Because Romance is one of my favorite genres, has so many subgenres, and it is nearly Valentine’s Day, I’m giving you an extra special Free Fiction Friday today! Enjoy all the extra books! (Both YA and Adult)

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THE BARGAINS

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Inkitt Publishing–Novel Writing Contest!

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Banner1Hey guys! Just a quick note! I’ve just heard from Inkitt Publishing that they’re running a new, FREE writing contest where the winner will win a publishing deal!

Entries must be a fiction work of at least 20k words, and the author can’t have previous works already on Inkitt. Entry must be in English, no Fanfiction, no short-story collections. All genres welcome.

I’ve had some interactions with Inkitt in the past, and I’ve got nothing but nice things to say about them. Everyone I’ve talked to from Inkitt has been so welcoming and genuinely lovely to talk to. They’ve gone out of their way to thank their reviewers (they even sent me a bag of Skittles in the mail on a whim!) So I encourage you to check them out.

I know a lot of budding authors pass by my blog, so if you’re interested, check it out by clicking the banner to the left!

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Ceruleans Anniversary Party & Giveaway!

FMN teaser 1Hey ladies and gentlemen of blogland! I have a treat for you today! This month, Charlotte Wilson (formerly writing under Megan Tayte) is holding an anniversary party & giveaway for her YA Fantasy series, Ceruleans—and I’m here to share it with you! I’ve been a fan of the Cerulean series since the first book came out and I was given an ARC to read and review. Since then, I’ve followed the series and the author, and she’s been generous enough to share her books with me. If you’d like to read my reviews of the series, check out the links below! (Note: I haven’t finished the fifth book, Darkly,Deeply,Beautifully yet).

A Little About The Author…

Charlotte Wilson

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess. ‘Write, Charlotte,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Charlotte is a professional writer. For authors and publishers, she writes and edits books as The Book Specialist. For herself, she writes soulful, coming-of-age romance for young adults.

Charlotte grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in a village of Greater Manchester with her husband and two children. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, baking up a storm, or embarking on a DIY project. She recently achieved a lifetime ambition of creating a library in her home to house her ever-increasing collection of books. She pretends not to notice that the shelves are rather wonky.

You can find Charlotte online at:

Interested in buying the books? Check them out here:

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Before we get to the giveaway, check out this exclusive short story, Anniversary:

The cake was homemade. Lopsided. Slathered in gloopy frosting. Judging by Adam’s previous attempts in the kitchen, it was safe to assume it would be inedible.

Estelle loved it.

‘You baked? For me?’

She reached over and pulled Adam into a hug, awkward with the massive baby bump wedged between them.

‘Happy anniversary!’ he said.

Estelle pulled back, frowning. ‘That’s tomorrow.’

A year since she had Become a Cerulean. A year since she had died.

‘I know,’ said Adam. ‘But I have a surprise for you. A… gift. And I wasn’t sure how you’d take it, so I thought: give it to you today, and if you… well, if it’s not what you want, then it hasn’t spoiled tomorrow.’ He smiled at her – nervously.

‘O-kay,’ said Estelle. She couldn’t fathom what gift she could potentially dislike that much. Unless he’d bought her something girlie. She didn’t do girlie.

‘Good,’ said Adam. He grabbed her hands. ‘Ready?’

She’d barely begun to nod when it happened… the picnic blanket, the beach, the ocean, all gone, replaced, in the bewildering blink of an eye, by a grimy urban alleyway.

What came next was not pretty. Estelle hadn’t been that sick since her first trimester.

‘Are you insane?’ she hissed eventually, when she was done and could get a word in edgeways between Adam’s apologies and panicked are-you-okay-is-the-baby-okays. ‘You Travelled us to…’ She looked about and recognition made her jaw drop. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Truro?’

White-faced, Adam nodded. He didn’t say anything; he just pointed at a shopfront visible at the top of the alley. The sign was so weathered it was unreadable. That didn’t matter; Estelle knew exactly what it said: Tattoo Tony’s.

Furious, she rounded on Adam. ‘You’d better start explaining right now.’

‘The nightmares you’ve been having about… him. I couldn’t do nothing. It’s not right, Estelle, that he’s living his life here. Unpunished. So…’ He held out his hands. Ethereal blue light lit the alley.

‘Quit it!’ Estelle slapped his hands, hard. ‘Adam…’ She stared at the one person she loved, who’d given her a home and a purpose – to whom she’d confided her deepest, most painful secret: that when she was nine, the year before her mother ODed, a man named Tattoo Tony had abused her.

Adam stared right back at her, and there was a spark in his eyes she’d never seen before. ‘What’s the point of having power over life and death,’ he said, ‘if you can’t use it to take out a bad guy? One touch, Estelle. That’s all it would take.’

No! she should have yelled. No, Adam, that’s sacrilegious, against everything the Ceruleans stand for. But the words wouldn’t come.

She looked up the alley again, at the shop. She lay a hand on her swollen belly. Then she reached out and took Adam’s hand, and they walked toward the street.

They would have looked an odd couple – he the picture boy for geek chic, her Gothed out from head to foot – had they been visible. They weren’t, though, thanks to Adam’s power. They could walk right across that street, into the tattoo parlour and kill a man, and no one would ever know it was them.

At the door to the shop, which was propped open, Estelle pulled Adam to a stop. She could see an old man inside. He was gaunt and stooped, and his breath was coming in wheezy pants.

‘Do you feel it?’ she murmured to Adam.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Lung cancer, I think.’

‘How long does he have?’

‘Months, if that.’

Estelle thought carefully before asking the next question: ‘Do you feel the pull? Are you meant to heal him?’

She saw Adam shake his head. No. This man was destined to die. Slowly. Painfully.

Suddenly, she realised that she could see Adam; he was no longer shielding them from view. That’s how well he knew her. There would be no wicked deed here today, no Falling from grace. Only justice of the karmic kind.

‘God I love you,’ she said, and she pressed her lips to his.

‘Er… can I help you?’ Tony had come to the door and was frowning at the couple kissing on his doorstep.

Estelle and Adam broke off, but they didn’t even look at the man beside them.

‘Take me home,’ Estelle told Adam… and he did.

They stayed on the beach for the rest of the day, lying in the sun, paddling in the surf. When the sun set there wasn’t a crumb left of that cake. It was dry. It was salty. It was crunchy with egg shell. But it was the most delicious thing either of them had ever eaten.

And now for the Giveaway!

>>>>> CLICK HERE FOR THE GIVEAWAY (because WordPress hates scripts). <<<<<