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The Rancher's Surprise Baby (Blue Falls, Texas)
The Rancher's Surprise Baby (Blue Falls, Texas)
Author: Trish Milburn
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
reviewed on + 903 more book reviews


Very good book, with a sweet but emotion driven romance and some laugh out loud humor. Ben and Mandy had grown up in the same town and gone to school together, but really only had a nodding acquaintance with each other. That all changed thanks to an encounter with a pigeon. In a hilarious opening scene, Ben crashes his truck into Mandy's parked car when a pigeon ends up flying in his open window and hitting him in the head as he's driving. After stumbling out of his truck, the ensuing moments establish an unexpected connection between Ben and Mandy.

I loved Ben and Mandy. Ben is the second oldest of the Hartley siblings, all adopted from unpleasant home lives. He is good-looking, fun, kind and protective. He is also scarred, mentally and physically from his early childhood with abusive parents. He is determined to avoid commitments, fearing that he could become the same kind of parents his had been. Mandy is the daughter of a single mother, sweet, kind, and has a terrific relationship with her mom. She looks forward to having a family of her own someday, with a husband and lots of kids.

There's a spark of attraction between Ben and Mandy that is obvious from the start. Ben isn't sure what to do about it, because he knows that Mandy is a forever kind of woman, and he generally avoids that type. But he can't stay away from her. At the same time, Mandy has accepted that Ben isn't what she's looking for, but resisting her attraction to him just isn't happening. As they start spending time together, they discover that they share a similar sense of fun (loved the scene with Greg's pickup truck) and admire what each other has made of their lives. The chemistry between them continues to build until they can no longer resist it. The depth of the experience scares Ben because he realizes he wants more, but his fears won't let him believe that it's possible. Mandy realizes that's she's fallen for a man who won't give her what she needs, then discovers that she's pregnant. I ached for them both, as Mandy faces single motherhood, without the man she loves, and Ben is afraid to believe in his own ability to overcome his past. The scene in front of the baby display brought me to tears as I read it. I loved Mandy's strength and determination as she prepared to move ahead without him. Ben's misery was well-earned, and I loved seeing him get advice from his brother Neil and from his mom. Ben's big moment at the end was awesome, especially since he was brave enough to do it in front of an audience. I especially loved that he admitted having help with it so that he didn't mess it up.

Family is a big part of this book. Mandy's family is small, just her and her mom, but their love for each other is huge. I loved seeing how Mandy looks out for her mom and how she tries to get her to slow down. The Hartleys are awesome. I love how the parents adopted five kids who needed to escape troubled homes and made them into such a close family. There's lots of teasing, but the love and support is always there. I especially loved the mom, who has absolutely no problem getting involved in her kids' lives, providing advice whether they want it or not. I can't wait to see who is next to fall in love.


Live to Tell (Live to Tell, Bk 1)
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Secrets can scandalize . . . â In a lovely suburban town just north of New York City, the gossip mill runs more efficiently than the commuter-train line. And in every impeccably decorated house, they're talking about Lauren Walsh. They say that nothing could be worse than being abandoned by your husband for another woman. They're wrong . . .

Secrets can shock . . .

All Lauren wants is to protect her children from the pain of her messy divorce. But when their father goes missing, a case of mistaken identity puts all their lives in danger, and a stealthy predator lurks in the shadows, watching . . . waiting . . .

Secrets can kill . . .

Lauren is about to uncover an unfathomable truth -- a truth this cold-blooded mastermind would never let her live to tell . .


You'll Never Know, Dear: A Novel of Suspense
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This is an author that is a hit or miss for me and mostly 'miss'

I'll give this only 3 stars because the storyline is not anything new and has been done a lot over the years

I didn't find anything 'special' or 'great' about it, it will probably keep your interest but you might reach a point that you know where it's going and then do some skimming, it's a story done many many times.


The Child
The Child
Author: Fiona Barton
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 1436 more book reviews


Fiona Barton's The Child is a story that rapidly draws you in and won't let you go until everyone's secrets have been revealed. The style of this book is reminiscent of Kate Atkinson in the manner in which the story unfolds. Told in alternating chapters by Kate and the three women involved-- Angela, Emma, and Jude-- the voices may not be particularly distinctive, but their stories kept me guessing clear through to the end.

Barton definitely has a knack for creating memorable characters and strong storylines. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.


Booked 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery)
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You definitely get a feel for life in a retirement community from reading Booked 4 Murder. I haven't been over on that side of the valley for a while, so it's good to know that you still have to watch out for golf carts. There's a lot to like about this debut mystery even though it has one or two small things I'd rather do without. I've obviously been spoiled by my own family's behavior because pushy, interfering, "colorful" mothers like Harriet Plunkett drive me nuts. Harriet also makes a big production of her rescue dog she's named Streetman, but I found Streetman to be very much underutilized throughout the book-- other than showing that Harriet cares more about the dog's needs than she does her own daughter's. Ah well. If nothing else, I have a greater appreciation for my own mother!

But as I said, there's a lot to like. Phee may not have many police/investigative smarts, but she does have a friend in the Mankato PD whom she can call for advice. And she does need advice. The writing team of J.C. Eaton has created a mystery with many layers, and I had fun watching Phee piece all her clues together. I have to admit that I found the reason for the whole "cursed book" scenario rather disappointing-- probably because it's easy to see it actually happening. Read it for yourself and see if you agree. Phee's mother may have worked my last nerve, but I still found Booked 4 Murder to be a very enjoyable read.


A Highly Irregular Footman
A Highly Irregular Footman
Author: Sarah Westleigh
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 371 more book reviews


Thalia Marsh as housekeeper to Mr. Tope, a wealthy merchant who has bought Stonar Hall, hires Jack Hamilton as a foothman; Mr. Tope has lost the use of his legs in a riding accident and needs a strengthy young man to help him about as his valet is too old for that. Thalia and Jack are attracted, but each has a backstory and secrets to keep.

Light, fast read with credible characters. I enjoyed it.


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
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For the non-hiker, this book could get a bit repetitive and boring in parts, but if you're a hiker, you will want to devour every moment. I'm not a hiker, but found the concept of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail an interesting, occasionally fun, and all at the same time...miserable idea. Cheryl Strayed, in her 20's, seems to find herself along this trail after years of promiscuity, drug use, her mother's death, a divorce, and the scattering of what had once been a close family. She has a wanderlust that seems to only be cured by pain and at times agony. She doesn't seem to have any boundaries with her own body, and comes across reckless and immature. I guess we all were in our 20's. This is a great coming-of-age story for every young woman.


Never Less Than A Lady (Lost Lords, Bk 2)
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I really enjoyed this story, have enjoyed all of the Lost Lords so far. I have read them out of order but still could follow everything.
Like the strong main characters and how they were honest with each other so there were no wacky misunderstandings making things worse.
Good storyline, moves at a great pace and lots of intrigue to keep you turning the pages.


The Pictures
The Pictures
Author: Guy Bolton
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Book Type: Hardcover
reviewed on + 520 more book reviews


This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an excellent debut by Guy Bolton as he captured Los Angeles, 1939 and the Golden Age of Hollywood Motion Pictures. Jonathan Craine is an LAPD detective who has helped cover up crimes committed by the movie stars by closing cases quickly before their names can appear in the newspapers. When a producer of The Wizard of Oz is found dead from a suspicious suicide and there is another murder of a prostitute across town, Detectives O'Neill and Craine question if there is a connection to these murders. When a conspiracy involving blackmail, prostitution, drugs and a Chicago crime syndicate is unraveled, many lives are endangered until the mystery is solved.
I found this book to be very well-written and researched. Bolton had a great sense of place and time and the plot was fast-paced with twists and turns that kept the story interesting. I enjoyed the characters of Craine and O'Neill and thought that they made a great team. I loved reading about the movie stars and their debuts and parties they attended. I look forward to reading more from Guy Bolton in the future. I would highly recommend this book to those who love noir thrillers.


One Perfect Lie
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It starts with Chris Brennan getting a job as a high school teacher in Government and as Assistant Coach for their Varsity Baseball Team. Chris is looking for one of his students to be his perfect accomplice for a job he has in mind. It's easy to empathize and embrace the boys in the team. They got under my skin and I felt I needed to protect them from harm.

Everything is not as it seems, as you discover early on. The many characters in this story are likeable and believable, as they try to deal with their secrets, lies, frustrations.

The ending was a nail biting, edge of seat, can't put down thriller, and I loved every minute of it. It left me with a smile.


Alphabet City
Alphabet City
Author: Stephen T. Johnson
Genre: Children's Books
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 5379 more book reviews


This is great. No words, mostly pictures of things that look like letters.


The Assassins of Isis: A Story of Ambition, Politics and Murder Set in Ancient Egypt
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Perhaps the 'darkest' in this series so far. There is real evil at work here.


Miss Don't Touch Me
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In technical terms, this book is excellent. The story draws the reader in from the first few pages, introducing interesting, colourful, believable characters, and showing us a worrying mystery that we will want to see solved. The artwork is engaging and attractive, and tells the story well, with easy-to-distinguish characters, detailed interiors, and effective facial expressions. If you want to know how to write a compelling graphic novel, check this one out.

Spoilers below.

I have some problems with the treatment of the subject matter, though. This book treats as normal the horrific experiences that prostituted women go through. Overall the book simply feels like a snapshot of real life from the point of view of someone ignorant of the emotional and physical toll repeated sexual abuse wreaks on a human being. Prostitution, in this book, is treated as basically acceptable and inevitable, rather than the hate crime against women that it actually is, and I find that extremely objectionable.

One positive thing about all of this is purely accidental: the book depicts a member of a royal family abusing prostitutes, which is of course, what royalty have historically done and continue to do, but which has not been talked about due to class privilege. However, the only reason this was done is because the writer is French and the royalty he depicted was British, so it's only a manifestation of the continuing petty feud between these peoples.

To be fair, the writer also depicts a French policeman and government ministers frequenting a house of prostitution, but again, this is depicted as normal and inevitable, and somehow "different" from the violent psychopathic beatings unleashed by the British monarch, when, in actual fact, buying a prostitute is always rape.

I was also irritated by the insinuation that Josephine Baker was actually male and that she ever worked as a prostitute. She was female and an entertainer. There is also a racist joke tossed in at the Josephine character, aimed at "him" by a white character. It's left in a vague grey area, where we can't tell which side the author takes - is he a racist himself, or not? This is a serious problem. Josephine Baker was a civil rights activist and this depiction of her is insulting.

Adding yet another annoyance to this long list, the female characters are clearly lesbian or bisexual in some cases, but the only remotely healthy and good lesbian relationship is thrown away when the author kills off one of the women in question (the woman who is treated the worst throughout the book, no less). I very much want a fix-it fanfic for this story that allows the lesbians to live and be happy.

The lack of a firm moral stance, blase misogyny and racism, and lack of any real empathy for the female characters is the outstanding issue with this book. 2.5 stars.


Monstress Volume 1: Awakening
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Much of the art in this book is very pretty, but I judge comic artists by how well they draw horses, and the horses in this book are, at times, embarrassingly bad. The artist obviously never referred to photo references, instead relying on his imagination, and the results are predictably cringe-worthy. This is a good indicator that the artist didn't care much about what he was doing, and I prefer not to waste time on lazy art.

All the characters in this book either look like perfect magazine models, or they are grotesque caricatures. The female characters are consistently objectified for the male gaze, and there is profuse and extreme violence throughout the book. This book could also really use trigger warnings for child abuse and rape, and lacks any, which is why I stopped reading partway through.

Sloppy, stereotypical, promotes violence as entertainment, and is not worth my time. 1.5 stars.


Expecting to Die (Alvarez & Pescoli, Bk 7)
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Deputy Regan Pescoli and her daughter, Bianca, get involved in a murder investigation when Bianca stumbles over a corpse in the woods. But this won't be the only body. Regan is pregnant and close to going out on maternity leave. Emotional, exhausted, and still dealing with her ex-husband, the last thing she wants is to have to face another serial killer.

And when media advances on the small town with a reality show, things only get worse.

And someone ...or something ... is watching it all.

Although part of a series, this one does okay as a stand alone. The plot seems complex and a bit hard to follow at times. There are so many characters, it's not always easy to see who they are and how they relate to the story. I spent some time backtracking on pages I'd already read.

Being a huge Lisa Jackson fan, I was somewhat disappointed with this one, but not enough to put the book down and not finish. I'm accepting of the fact that any particular author may not be able to hit it out of the ballpark every time.

Many thanks to the author / Kensington Books - Zebra / Netgalley for the digital copy. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.


The Shoemaker's Wife Low Price CD
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I absolutely loved this story. The characters were so real-like, I hated for the story to end. It was a delightful way to spend a couple of days, listening to Adriana Trigiani's incredible story.


The Return of the Raven Mocker (Alafair Tucker Mysteries)
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Set in Oklahoma in the early 1900s, this is the ninth in the series featuring Alafair Tucker. I like it for its sense of place and time - Casey does a great job delineating what it might have been like to farm near a small town a hundred years ago. Alafair tends her house and her ten kids, her husband farms and tends his family. In this book, it's 1918; the Tucker boys are fighting overseas in WWI. The town is doing what it can to prepare for the flu epidemic, but when it hits it's very bad. Alafair moves into town to care for her stricken daughter. When death occurs next door, Alafair goes to render what aid she can...but she is pretty sure these deaths were not from the flu.

This book felt so real to me. The fear of infection, the lack of medical personnel, the folk remedies, and the depiction of what must have been just exhausting battles every day to keep death at bay. I loved Alafair's competence in taking care of people and her absolute determination to never give up. The mystery element here isn't the main theme of the book, and maybe the mystery isn't the strongest one in the series, but it is still interesting. Casey provides us several suspects before we get to the end.

New readers could start here as there is a helpful list of characters and their relationships in the front. But I'd recommend starting from the beginning of the series, it's well worth it.


And the Mountains Echoed
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Loved it!


Hiroshima
Hiroshima
Author: John Hersey
Genre: History
Book Type: Paperback
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Having been to the Peace Park in Hiroshima recently, I wanted to read about this momentous and horrible event. Hersey's book is a classic: factual, not emotional, full of details that make one realize that we must never as a world drop an atomic bomb on anyone. Hersey wrote this in 1946 and followed the people whose lives he chronicles forty years later in 1986. Highest recommendation.


Leaving (Bailey Flanigan, Bk 1)
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Karen Kingsbury is a Christian fiction author who has numerous series to her name. Leaving is the first in the Bailey Flanigan series, which is a spin-off of her Baxter series. I was a newcomer to these family, but had little trouble following along.

I am not a Christian, and I don't care for romance, so at first I didn't remember what caught my eye. Then I remembered -- Bailey dreamed of a life on Broadway. Unfortunately, there wasn't much talk of Broadway. There was a lot of back and forth between Cody (her high school friend whom she loved and who pushed her away and left without explaining why) and Brandon (a Hollywood star who acted with Bailey in an upcoming movie). Both men are very Godly and extremely good at everything they do, much like every other character in the book.

I felt this book was fairly preachy. While I do read some other Christian fiction, this sort of pushed me over the edge. What bothered me the most was when Bailey lumped all of Hollywood together as "needing Jesus" -- equating those who practice Kaballah and a girl who was bragging about making out with numerous people at a party. I get the latter -- but assuming that practicing Kaballah was not religious enough because it did not involve Jesus bothered me.

I finished this book because, despite everything, I cared enough about the characters to find out what happened. I did not, however, care enough to look into the additional three books in the series. 2.5 stars.


Rogue Male: Crime Masterworks
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Originally published 1939. An Englishman tries to assassinate a European dictator....


Norby: Robot For Hire (Omnibus, Norby, Bk 3 / Bk 4)
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Good read for boys and girls. Norby is a fictional robot created by Janet Asimov and Isaac Asimov who stars in his own series of children's science fiction books, The Norby Chronicles. Fun and entertaining for all.


Mischling
Mischling
Author: Affinity Konar
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Hardcover
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I bought the book because it was on a list somewhere. I found it difficult to read, such harrowing experiences. In the beginning I had a tough time liking either of the two main characters, maybe because they were so caught up in each other. I did enjoy finding out more about what happened after the camps were decommissioned. I found the ending implausible too, not realistic for the events.


Can You See What I See?: Trucks and Cars
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Great book to keep my three young boys busy. Lots of fun searching for items with colorful pictures to keep you interested.


February
February
Author: Lisa Moore
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
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February is an unflinching look at grief. Helen O'Mara is pregnant with her fourth child when her husband, Cal, dies in an oil rig accident. This is the story of Helen's long, arduous grief journey that spans over 25 years. Lisa Moore's description of the shock and, disbelief, followed by a pain that pierces her very core is unsentimental, which makes it all the more powerful and poignant. Life does go on for Helen, punctuated by memories of her life with Cal. She raises her children with all the attendant joys and challenges alone, and her grief is a constant, unwelcome companion as the years pass. The ending of this book brings a promise of unexpected happiness for Helen.


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