Bring Your Own Baker

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. This is the second book in the Death by Cupcake series (Disclaimer: This is the only book in the series that I’ve read). Bring Your Own Baker follows the exploits of Anna, a baker who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation. I liked the concept, but dare I say it, the ingredients amounted to a flat product. It doesn’t help much that I found little in Anna to like. Sure, she’s pink-haired, with a pixie-like petite body, but beyond the surface level, she comes across as brattish and irrationally stubborn. When one of her old acquaintances is brutally murdered, she takes it upon herself to track down the mystery assailant. Despite resistance from her law enforcement friend, Anna stalks blindly into danger again and again. To complicate matters, there’s a romance thrown in here between Anna and a dangerous bad boy type character. Sadly, for me, there was no spark to find. Other than raw lust, there’s not much going on between these two. The author didn’t make me believe it. I felt that the chapter headings were clever, and some of the dialogue was snappy. However, dialogue exchanges were often bogged down by the character explaining her thought processes to the reader. This book makes for light digesting, but I would have preferred that the author scale back on all of the icing and sugar, and give us something with some real depth in its base. I think the author definitely has it in her. The writing style was pleasant to read with few typographical errors. Bring Your Own Baker...

Till The Rivers All Run Dry

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. A captivating historical fiction set in 1941, before America’s involvement in World War II. Ricky Parker, thirteen-years-old, travels with his parents to Venezuela; his father has been sent to help in the search for precious oil to fuel the war in Europe. But in the South American heat, just north of the equator, Ricky and his family are thrown into a melting pot of cultures, with the threat of disgruntled natives on one side, and, perhaps more unnerving for some of the Americans, German workers and families living in close proximity on the other side of the camp. This serves to create a tentative feeling around the site and a sense of foreboding that keeps the drama ticking along. But Ricky wants for nothing more than to sink into his comic books, or to swing his bat on the baseball field. The war, oil, his father’s engineering brain – none of these things concern him. To complicate matters, he falls for a young German girl, Hannah, and begins to understand a broader picture, of both love and life. They grow closer, knowing that one day, due to the growing animosity between their two governments, they will be forced to part. But when someone turns up dead in the camp, fingers start pointing, people become anxious and things begin to escalate. With time ticking down until America will be hurtled into the war, it’s only a matter of time until matters implode inside the camp. This is a well-written work that bottles the fear and tension of that era while serving up a...

The Memory Closet

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. Anne Mitchell’s boogeyman is far more complex than any two-dimensional supernatural entity. It’s a house, a place, a feeling, a painful memory—an understanding that something terrible occurred there— that she’s managed to bury away. It’s on this pretense that she returns, as an adult, to the realm of her childhood to confront the nightmare head-on. The Memory Closet is about confronting the past, and waiting in the kingdom of her childhood is her charming, quirky and utterly odd grandmother, Bobo. This supporting character steals the show with her unforgettable flare, colorful dialogue and hilarious mannerisms. Bobo is a crucial element for Anne in piecing the puzzle back together. Much of the novel is set in the grand house seen on the book’s cover; the setting never failed to keep this reader on edge, as if something could just appear from any dark corner at any moment. But, as it transpires, evil is greater than any dreamed-up horror. Evil is in people, in everyday goings on, and Anne is forced to rethink the foundations of her very being, and those who had a hand in raising her. At times, the book bordered on uncomfortable; several scenes involving fecal matter were particularly disgusting and challenged my inner-desire to discover how the story would conclude. However, this novel tackles abuse and its darkest corners, so there is some justification for the places to which it goes. The story’s climax feels honest and probable, but not particularly captivating. What matters more than whatever danger Anne faces is her journey, her progression to overcoming the demons...

The Breaks

Download eBook This review contains some spoilers. The author’s greatest triumph is in creating a female lead who does not need to validate herself to others; she’s unattached, but does not need a man to tame her into a loving, stable relationship. To lend from the character’s thought process, she knows her own mind. Angela McGlynn is a tough-as-nails private investigator who finds herself paired with Knox, a veteran plagued by PTSD. They are a winning combination, but the story never managed to capture my attention as much as their partnership did. The Breaks is the first book in a planned series by author Eden Sharp, who certainly demonstrates a deep understanding of the thriller and suspense genres, while employing a considerable degree of tech-savvy. Although the exchanges between McGlynn and Knox kept me interested, the story never felt quite as engaging. There’s nothing particularly new or fresh here, but the author does stretch the legs when exploring cyber crime. I found McGlynn’s early exploits into the deep and dark belly of the internet far more entertaining than her numerous run-ins with weapon wielding thugs. Sure, it’s good to see characters break loose and kick some ass, but I felt that she was at her best while taking on the cyber world. When the story was focused on aspects of this I found it infinitely more engaging. We follow McGlynn via a first person point of view, whereas Knox takes on a third person point of view. I usually find the technique to be a little confusing at times, but, largely, the author makes it work. There were moments...

Clarity

Download eBook This review contains some spoilers. Clarity is a suspense/romance that is largely well written; a work that is mostly character driven but is supported by an intriguing set-up, solid long and short term goals, and a surprising cliff-hanger ending. At 150 pages approximately, you will find this a quick read, especially with the volume of dialogue at hand. And, some may take umbrage at the fact that the novel comes to a sudden, albeit surprising, ending, paving the way for the reader to purchase book two in the series. The plot is thin; a blind author named Helen has retreated to self-imposed isolation after she was raped. Three years later, she is visited by a pair of doctors who promise to restore her vision using breakthrough science. After initially refusing the offer, she agrees, requesting that the doctors get her back home in time to attend her older sister’s wedding. That’s the long and short of it. At times it felt as though the novel was constructed like a play. Aside from the prologue, there are three set pieces: Helen’s house, the car ride to New York, and lastly, her family home. The vast majority of the story takes place within these parameters. The most interesting dynamic is Helen’s relationship with the two doctors, who of course are driving her on this adventure home. The back and forth between the three is funny, and a welcome reprieve from the dark opening to the story. However, there is not nearly enough conflict in the story, and not nearly enough transpiring. As the pages hurtled past towards the conclusion,...

Pictures of You

Download eBook This review contains some spoilers. Read the blurb and Pictures of You appears to be a typical supernatural young adult suspense, but you don’t have to dig for long to discover a real heart and soul that helps carry this work high above many of its contemporaries. This novel – presented in diary format – is written with a kind of brevity and care that you’ll go a long way to find again. Despite its dark overtones – and at times I was genuinely surprised at the themes this book explored – every time I returned to reading, I felt as though I was receiving a nice warm hug, in spite of the wrath the story threw at me. Author T.J. Alexian says that the novel is about learning to accept the ghosts of our past, and for Ashes, our 16-year-old main character, she’ll be forced to face an onslaught before this story is through. Her older brother Daniel passed away some years before this story begins, and both Ashes and her mother are going through the motions of life. How can you ever recover from the loss of a young life? But her world is rocked when videos filmed on Daniel’s camcorder some years before suddenly begin surfacing on YouTube. The footage is filmed by her brother, but Ashes has never seen these videos before. As the videos increase in number, the mystery deepens. Who is behind this? And, more importantly, why? In any suspense novel, there is that dreaded line between entertaining your reader, and allowing them room to uncover the mystery for themselves. Pictures...