Review: Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

Posted July 13, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne BrockmannReviewer: Rowena
Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
Series: Troubleshooters Series #17
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: July 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, Romance
Pages: 448
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Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.

Still, working alongside Pete has its own perils—like letting the heat between them rise out of control. Intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps . . . or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Troubleshooters book by Suzanne Brockmann so I was pretty excited to jump back into this world. I was hoping to catch up with all of the previous couples and there are quite a few of them around in Some Kind of Hero but to be honest, I miss the guys from the beginning of the series.

I miss Sam Starrett and Johnny Nilsson, though I don’t miss Nilsson’s wife Meg. I also miss Wildcard and Cosmo and just…those guys. They’ve all moved on from the Navy but for me, they were the guys that I loved so much that I kept coming back for more. I like the new guys fine but they just don’t compare to the older guys. My guys.

Anyway, on with the review…

Some Kind of Hero follows Lietenant Peter Greene and Shayla Whitman. Peter’s daughter has gone missing and Shayla gets roped into helping him by being at the right place when Peter needed a helping hand. Peter’s daughter Maddie gets herself wrapped up in some bad business and because she has no relationship with her Navy SEAL father, she doesn’t turn to him for help. She decides that she can handle taking on a drug lord all by her teenage self. sigh Too many times I wanted to punch Maddie in the throat for being so stupid.

Anyway, so Peter and Shayla are trying to track Maddie down because she’s missing and they’re piecing together what happened throughout the book with the help of Peter’s SEAL buddies Izzy Zanella, Mark Jenkins and a whole bunch of newbies that are all named John. It really takes a village to raise a child or in this case, find a missing child and the more I read, the more I got frustrated with a bunch of things.

  • Maddie. When the only person you have left in the world is your father, someone who has bent over backward trying to fix your broken relationship and is a Navy freaking SEAL, you turn to him for help when you’re framed for stealing money from a drug lord. You don’t lie and make things so much worse by running away and putting those that are trying to help you in danger by not being upfront about everything. I was also not cool with the way that she kept throwing her underage self at Dingo who was trying so hard to do the right thing by keeping his distance at the same time that he was trying to help protect her from the bad guys. Maddie annoyed the shit out of me at every turn in this book. I never quite warmed up to her and that sucked.
  • Shayla’s internal dialogue she had with Harry. It’s one thing to talk to yourself in your head or to even have conversations with your made up character in your head but the amount of times that Shayla shushed Harry out loud made me roll my eyes all over the damn place. I wanted to shake Shayla and tell her to stop acting like fucking weirdo, especially cause I thought she was too old to be acting the way that she was.
  • The earthquake. As someone who grew up in Southern California and is used to the earthquakes that we have down here, the whole earthquake scene just didn’t feel authentic to me. Peter did entirely too much and the earth shook for too long and I was reading that scene like, nope…that wouldn’t happen, there’s not enough time for all of this to happen. We’ve never had an earthquake that long and sure it’s all explained away but nope, I didn’t buy it.

There are more things that I was frustrated with but those were the main ones. I wasn’t a big fan of the romance between Peter and Shayla because they were too old to act the way they were acting. The whole “OMG, does he like me? I’m so stupid. Why did I say that?” Ugh, seriously? You guys aren’t 16 and in high school, so stop acting like you are. You’re a freaking Navy SEAL, Peter…open your mouth and tell Shayla how you feel about her. Same with Shayla. She wrote romance novels for a living for crying out loud. If you can write steamy love scenes and dialogue featuring a whole lot of “I love you’s” than you should be able to tell the man that you love how you feel and stop dodging what was really going on between you two.

I will say that even though there were things that annoyed me, I still enjoyed being in the Troubleshooters world again. It was good to see Izzy and Eden again and to hear about Lopez and Jenk and everybody else that was brought up in this book. Izzy is my favorite hero of the newer generation of SEALs so I loved, loved, loved seeing him again. I love his personality and he hasn’t changed a bit since his book. He’s still freaking awesome.

Overall, the romance kind of fell flat for me and the heroine got on my nerves with her inner dialogue crap and the earthquake didn’t feel right to me at all but I loved seeing the SEAL team come together and be there for one of their own. I loved how they juggled their jobs on the base with being there for Peter and helping out any way that they can. I loved hearing the Navy slang again and even though this isn’t my favorite book in the series, it’s still good.

Grade: 3 out of 5


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Retro Review: Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day

Posted July 12, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Retro Review: Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa DayReviewer: Casee
Atlantis Awakening (Warriors of Poseidon, #2) by Alyssa Day
Series: Warriors of Poseidon #2
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: November 6th 2007
Pages: 284
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four-stars

To rescue the world from an overwhelming evil, Poseidon's warriors have risen from Atlantis. Chief among them is Ven, serving as the King's Vengeance by birthright and by battle challenge. None can conquer him - except perhaps for one human female....

The Warrior...Ven's mind is filled with duty. He must serve as Atlantean liaison to the humans in a war waged against the vampires. A sword is his weapon - not diplomacy. But on a mission to recover the Nereid's heart - a ruby of immense power - it will take every ounce of strength he possesses to resist the sexual allure of the beautiful witch chosen to work with him.

And the Witch...Erin's heart is filled with vengeance. She lives only for the chance at revenge against those who murdered her family. Now she must partner with a legendary Atlantean warrior whose dark desire threatens to crash through the barriers built around her emotions - and her heart. Caught in the trap of shifting alliances, how long can Ven and Erin resist their awakening passion?

Dark forces beware: Atlantis is awakening.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.
Holly: This review prompted me to buy the first two books in this series…where they’ve been languishing for ten years. I think it’s about time I pulled them out.
This review was originally published 11/20/2007
It was this book that prompted me to blog about this. Though I did (and still do) have the series blahs, I still read this book. I even liked it. Because it’s been a few weeks since I’ve read it, I’m going to do a quick review.
Ven and Erin must work together to retrieve Nereid’s heart, which will save the life of Riley and her unborn child. Riley is mated to Conlan, Ven’s brother (Atlantis Rising). Ven finds himself torn between putting Erin in danger thus saving Riley’s life and refusing to let Erin retrieve the heart which would kill Riley and her baby. Of course it doesn’t take Ven long to realize that Erin won’t stand aside. Not only will she not let Riley die, she has waited years to face the vampire that killed her family. She also gets another shock when she finds out that her sister, Deidre, was not killed that night but actually turned vampire against her will.
I enjoyed this book once I really let myself get into it. There were several glimpses into the relationship between Alaric and Quinn. Both have major baggage and I’m highly curious to see how that will play out. Day also set the stage for Justice’s book, which will be the next full-length novel. I’m really anticipating Justice after how she left it. She introduced more shapeshifters, gave us more of a look into Drakos/Daniel, and showed more of Jack (tiger shapeshifter).
Alyssa Day has created a fascinating world here and I look forward to reading more about it in the future.

4 out of 5.

four-stars


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Review: The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young

Posted July 12, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha YoungReviewer: Rowena
The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young
Published by Harlequin, Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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four-stars

I know how to watch my back. I’m the only one that ever has.

India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful, and big enough to change them forever…

The Impossible Vastness of Us is the first contemporary YA that Samantha Young has written and at first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to read it. Any of her younger stories gives me pause because of my rage after reading Out of the Shallows. I’m scared to try any other NA books by Young because of my experience with Jake and Charlie.

I’m still not quite sure why I picked this book up, other than it’s a Samantha Young and I enjoy most of her books so I caved and boy am I glad that I did because I enjoyed getting to know India, Finn and even Eloise.

India Maxwell is moving across the country, away from her friends and everything she’s ever known because her mother met someone and got engaged. She moved away from her California suburban home to the upper crust of Boston society. She went from being the popular poor girl to a rich newbie that nobody knew and then thanks to her soon to be step-sister, the rich newbie that nobody wanted to get to know. India hasn’t had an easy life. She’s dealing with a bunch of stuff from her past and having to build defenses against a new school and a new life isn’t easy for her. Her mother is happy with her new love and he’s got a daughter that is India’s age but she’s made it very clear that they won’t be besties. So India does what any normal person would do. She keeps her head down and gets on with life.

She has no interest in becoming a part of the family that her Mom is trying to blend. She’s got issues with male figures of authority and her step-sister isn’t an easy person to be around, especially since she’s got a boyfriend that India is way attracted to.

Against India’s better judgement, she becomes entangled in a friendship that can’t go anywhere and she’s put in a situation that she can’t get out of and there’s so much going on in her new life that she starts to flounder a bit and the reader is treated to some real character growth in India. I thought Samantha Young did a great job of showing us just how much India, Finn and Eloise grew from the beginning of the book to the end. They became a unit that I wasn’t prepared for and the secrets they kept were some pretty big secrets.

I came to learn that not everything is as it seems and pain hits everyone, no matter how poor or rich you are. India had her issues that she was working through and so did Finn and Eloise. I thought Samantha Young did a great job of portraying India’s mothers struggles to fix her relationship with India. I loved seeing India really come into her own and accept her new life and deal with her issues with Theo and separating him from her past. India was a great protagonist that wasn’t perfect but was relatable.

Finn and Eloise were great characters in their own right. Sure, they frustrated me from time to time, especially Finn’s hot and cold attitude but once everything is out in the open and they warm up to India (who never deserved their scorn), my attitude toward them changed. Eloise’s situation was a hard one to read about because I just wanted to hug her close and keep her safe from everything but I was really glad with the way that her story wrapped up.

Overall, this was great addition to Samantha Young’s backlist. I really connected with all of the characters, even bitch ass Bryce and I was cheering them all on to get their happy endings. This was an entertaining read from beginning to end and I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a fun contemporary YA with characters that are put through the wringer and come out on top in the end. It’s good, I promise!

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Posted July 11, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Atria Books
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 400
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four-half-stars

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

While this story is definitely not in my usual wheelhouse, someone whose opinion I admire raved about this book, and the premise reminded me of another book I really enjoyed, The Thirteenth Tale, where a famous elderly woman selects a seeming nobody to write the story of her life. I decided to take a chance on it, and I am so very glad I did. 

At the beginning of the book, journalist Monique Grant is getting divorced, is going nowhere in her career, and is not terribly happy with anything in her life. When reclusive, aging movie star Evelyn Hugo asks for Monique, and only Monique, to write a piece about her, she’s shocked but excited. Evelyn promises complete and total honesty, and as her tale unfolds, Monique learns that Evelyn, and indeed all human beings, are more complex and messy than they at first appear.

One of the first questions Monique asks Evelyn is “Who was the love of your life?” While Evelyn doesn’t answer immediately, the question sets the stage for their conversation, and you get a sense that answering that question is one of Evelyn’s primary reasons (but not the only one!) for telling her story in the first place. This isn’t a romance, though there is a love story (several, really). More importantly, the underlying theme of Evelyn’s story is love, which is why I think this book may appeal to readers of this site–who you love, why you love them, how you can love different people differently, what you will do for love, and when love sometimes isn’t enough. We see how Evelyn came from a background with little love and eventually fashioned a life for herself and created a family of people who loved her immensely. It was touching to read about.

Evelyn is a fascinating and richly drawn character. She had a desperately poor and unhappy childhood, but she’s determined to be a star, and she makes it happen through a combination of looks, natural (if unpolished) talent, and no small amount of pure determination. Some parts of her story are downright painful to read about, as she does what she has to do to get ahead, but the most poignant parts of the book are when she does things to protect the people she loves. (The chapter where she talks about her marriage to her third husband is particularly heartbreaking.) Even when she’s protecting others, though, she’s also protecting herself. Evelyn is clear with Monique that she isn’t the “good guy” in her story, that she can be self serving, vain, and cruel. The trick of Taylor Jenkins Reid, though, is that for the most part, you’re on Evelyn’s side through most of the book. You see the reasons for her choices, and it’s hard not to admire her determination and her fierce loyalty for those she loved. Then, she reveals a big secret near the end, and suddenly you’re left questioning, and some of the consequences of Evelyn’s choices become a bit less abstract that they were before. It’s nuanced and complex and fascinating to read.

While Evelyn’s stories vividly bring other characters to life, Monique is not as finely drawn. Her story isn’t fleshed out as fully as I would have liked. Her dissolving marriage was never quite explored and seemed more like a vehicle for showing how much Evelyn inspired Monique than an integral part of Monique’s own story. Monique’s mom is similarly shallowly portrayed and just added a hint of the “flavor” of Monique’s life without much substance. The ending was also rushed. Evelyn finally reveals her biggest secret, and I didn’t feel like there was enough time or interaction afterwards for Monique to process it all.

I found this book both captivating and beautifully written. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was a great book for stepping out of my usual genre.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-half-stars


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Review: Second Chance Season by Liora Blake

Posted July 10, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Second Chance Season by Liora BlakeReviewer: Rowena
Second Chance Season by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #2
Also in this series: First Step Forward, First Step Forward
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 20th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
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four-stars

Return to Liora Blake’s Grand Valley series with Second Chance Season, in which an avowed country boy with a family duty meets an ambitious city girl with even bigger goals and who shows him just what he’s been missing.

Garrett Strickland is unapologetically country, fiercely loyal, and perfectly happy with his job at the Hotchkiss Co-op. Garrett is all about living in the present and not dwelling in the past—even if he was once on his way to a lofty agricultural sciences degree that would guarantee the brightest of futures, only to end up back home when his old man died, leaving behind a debt-ridden family farm that was impossible to keep afloat. After that, it was easy to see why dreaming big wasn’t worth the heartache. And until he crosses paths with a city girl who’s hell-bent on kick-starting her own future, he’s sure that good enough is just that.

Cara Cavanaugh is ready for more from life, even if that means changing everything; including dumping her boyfriend of ten years, turning down a lucrative job at a major newspaper, and leaving behind the upscale suburbs of Chicago where she grew up. Now, she just has to pray that temporarily relocating to the middle of nowhere in Colorado will be the first step in building a career as a freelance journalist—all she has to do is prove she’s got what it takes to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, her tony country day school is as close to “country” as she’s ever been. But when a goodhearted guy who looks like he just stumbled out of a country music video offers to help, she ends up falling hard…and discovering that the perfect story is a love story. And it’s theirs.

Second Chance Season, book two in the Grand Valley series, is a charming, feel-good romance, perfect for fans of Jennifer Probst and Kristan Higgins.

Second Chance Season is the second book in Liora Blake’s Grand Valley series and it follows the cutie patootie that works at the Co-Op, Garrett Strickland. In First Step Forward, we learn that Garrett was going to college to earn a degree and learn all he can before he took over his family’s farm. He had plans for his future and he was hoping to learn all he can to make his family business a profitable one but all of his plans went to crap when his father died and he ended up losing the farm because he couldn’t come out of the mountain of debt his father was in to save it.

Garrett’s world was rocked after his father died. He not only lost his father but he also lost his childhood home and his plans he made for his future. He never went back to college, he got a job at the town Co-Op and has been working there ever since. He doesn’t live the most glamorous life but he’s okay with his lot in life. He’s okay with living alone in a trailer. He’s okay with not knowing what the future holds and all of that stays true until he meets Cara Cavanaugh.

Cara Cavanaugh is making some changes in her life. She dumped her boyfriend and moves from Chicago to Hotchkiss, Colorado to write her first freelance writing article on the AG scene in Hotchkiss. She’s not sure how to go about interviewing the locals for her story but when she meets Garrett Strickland, hometown boy, things take a turn for the better. He knows everything and everyone around town and decides to help her any way that he can. He starts by introducing her around and getting her in the door with the local farmers, setting her up to interview people and he takes her out with him to help his neighbors on their farms so that she can see how everything works and he’s a real knight in shining armor even though things have to be weird for him since she’s staying in the only home he’d ever known growing up. The home that he lost after his father died.

Second Chance Season is a slow simmering romance that really worked for me. I adored getting to know Garrett and seeing him come into his own after his world was rocked upside down. I loved seeing him come to grips with the past, making peace with it and then finally making plans for his future. It was a long time coming and I really liked that Cara was able to help Garrett just as much as Garrett was able to help Cara when she got into town. It wasn’t a one-way thing and their attraction that blossomed into that love was a journey that I loved being a part of.

This book was rich with charming characters that I couldn’t get enough of and I’m super excited to continue the series with Braden’s book. Both Garrett and Cara were characters that really came alive with each passing page. They were normal and they were fun to get to know and even when they were both being boneheads, I adored them. Liora Blake did a great job of weaving a compelling romance with characters that readers will connect with and I’m happy with the story she wrote here. It was fun and it was sweet and I’m definitely in for more.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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