Review: The Ladies of Ivy Cottage

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here's a really nice Regency romance novel with a bit of romantic intrigue. The only trouble with it is that it's Book 2 and there are a lot of references to what happened in Book 1. Those references made me feel like an outsider, rather than in the story. I continually felt like I'd missed something until I finally realized it was a Book 2 rather than a stand alone or Book 1.

That said, the characters are quite likeable and developed quite well. Interesting storyline. A little different than any other Regency I've read. We've got n0t-a-book-worm inheriting all these books from her father. She opens a library that sells subscriptions so people can read the book. What a neat set up for this story.

If you haven't read the first in this series, I suggest you purchase it before you read this one. You'll enjoy this one much better. Also, if the first one is written as well as this one then you are in for treat. Well-written, good story, no plot contrivances (Yea!), and solid story telling.

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Review: T-H-B

T-H-B T-H-B by Randy C. Dockens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I love indie published books! I love science-fiction! I praise all writers with the gumption to indie publish! So congrats to Randy Dockens. The premise of this book is really good.

First, this book was professionally proofread. Kudos for that!

Second, this novel was not professionally developmentally edited--that's when an editor dives deep into the story to help the author streamline and pull the story together tightly to make a fast-paced page turner.

Third, Dockens does a good job of developing the main character who is believable and 3-D. The POV is written very well. However, the love interest/physician is a bit flat. Transitions from one scene to another are non-existent, and the number of characters is very large... not that it is a huge problem, it's that developing a lot of characters so they fit perfectly in the story to move the story along is very difficult to do. A developmental editor could do this for Dockens and make this story zing with some much needed zest.

The premise is very good, but the execution of it still needs a lot of work to make this a really good book. That said, the story is good enough to keep your attention, except when more characters without much development are added to the mix. When that happens, keep reading, it'll become clear.

Thanks to Netgalley and the author for a copy of this book to honestly review.

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Review: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor

12 Days at Bleakly Manor 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rated PG because of subject matter

A superb read. Romance, mystery, intrigue, and some snow, ice, cold rooms and weird cuisine.

Although you've got tones of Bleak House (Dickens) and a plot reminiscent of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, you don't have to read those stories to get full enjoyment of this book.

I just love howMichelle Griep delicately develops the characters. Clara is the main character and was left at the altar by Benjamin who is also invited to spend Christmas at the manor along with some rather fun, weird characters who are all promised some fabulous something if they are the last one at the manor on the 12th day of Christmas. Ben was wrongfully imprisoned and thought Clara had betrayed him. Clara thought Ben had betrayed her family and impoverished her by stealing their fortune. The other characters some tangles to unweave as well.

You get a wonderful character study of each one as their stories unfold.

I enjoyed every word of this story. It's a keeper and worthy of 5 of 5 stars.

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Review: Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light Let There Be Light by Dan Gordon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rated PG because of subject matter.

I have the highest respect for Sean Hannity, Kevin Sorbo, and the movies that the Christian actor has made. I believe strongly there just are not enough Christian movies that have a good Faith message.

That said, I don't highly recommend this book. I can definitely see how this story makes a terrific movie. While Dan Gordon has written some amazing scripts for movies, his forte is not novel writing. Somewhere in the beginning of the book in all that "boring" pre-novel information you find out that Dan made a deal with Sam Sorbo (Kevin Sorbo's wife) that he would collaborate with her only if she would write the book and give it to him for rewriting and she wouldn't complain or insist on any changes. How sad--and arrogant.

I would love to have read Sam's story before Dan rewrote it.

The premise of this story is absolutely wonderful! Character development is quite good for the main character, Sol, but leaves a lot to be desired in his wife and children. Although, the other characters are developed fairly well.

You find yourself tisk-tisking when Sol does some very stupid things. But novels are not like movies. Plot development is different. Character development is different. There are some words and phrases used over and over that give this narrative a hollow tone. I think too much time is spent on the stupid things Sol does before the big event happens that turns the plot corner. It's a bit heavy handed because it stands out like a sore thumb. Gordon may as well have put a neon sign at the top of the page that says "Here is the beginning of Sol's turnaround." Okay, maybe that is going a tad too far.

You are rooting for Sol to turn his life around. After all, it's Kevin Sorbo, so you know he will turn it around as soon as he sees the Light (by the way, there are way too many books with this title).The plot depends upon Sol not seeing the light right away. Perhaps this journey in his darkness goes on a bit long. Readers get that he's off the deep end after the first couple of incidents.

Then Sol has a near-death experience, and you find out (not a spoiler) the reason why Sol is so desperately trying to fill the hole in his soul with drugs and alcohol and all manner of worldly things. But you have to go through a lot with Sol to get to that point. Don't give up, it does get better.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.

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Review: The Girl Who Lived

The Girl Who Lived The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rated PG-15 because of subject matter.

Christopher Greyson pours out an amazing story from the POV of a young woman, traumatized as a little girl that causes her to tread a dark path because she has surviver's guilt and was further traumatized by the best-selling book her psychiatrist mother wrote about the tragedy.

This is a wonderful psychological thriller/mystery with all the tingling questions and as the spine chilling answers unfold, you just have to wonder how the girl survived without a mental breakdown. Oh, wait. She did have one of those as well.

Never fear, the premise may sound very depressing, but the book is not. The character development is superb not just in the main character, but in most of the supporting cast as well. There are several subplots, too, but they are not distracting as the answers to the subplot questions pertain to the mystery. So pay attention, the ride is bumpy, and quite creepy especially when you find out certain things about the killer.

The plot is very good. Greyson weaves a complicated plot masterfully into a page-turning-staying-up-till-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning novel.

This one is a keeper, and gets 5 of 5 stars.

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Review: The After War: The Complete Novel

The After War: The Complete Novel The After War: The Complete Novel by Brandon Zenner
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Rated R for the language. There are some F-bombs and some foul language, and taking God's name in vain.

Let me first say that I am a dedicated supporter of indie publishing. I know that it is challenging, and I try to support anyone brave enough to do it, so kudos to Brandon Zenner for doing it.

The premise of this book is a bit formulaic so you expect certain things to happen, and they do. I have to say that I am not a fan of dual POVs. In this book one is in Canada and the other is in the heartland of America and it takes forever to bring them together. Every great book has a character that has good motivations--wants something desperately and is willing to do just about anything to get it. These characters don't have that. They act like they do, but they really don't. Survival isn't enough. They already survived some major war and plague. So survival doesn't cut it.

There just isn't any reason why the world is as it is, and really no motivations for the characters to start a trek across the country after the two years is up. Why two years? How did anyone know that at the end of two years it would be safe to come out?

So when reading, those questions come to the back of your mind, don't fret, they won't be answered. That's frustrating.

The characters are flat because there is no development for Steve and Brian. I can't remember the name of the fellow that was the outdoorsy guy who weathered the Whatever War and Plague in Canada, and he was one-dimensional as well.

However, if you are looking for a dystopian story that has such great narrative that you are living and breathing the atmosphere: the narrative and description in this book are top-notch. You are literally in their world.

The trouble is, if you don't know the characters and their motivations, then you don't care about them. The switching POVs with cliffhanger chapters is not my cuppa tea. Transitions from one POV to the other are non-existent. I've never found a writer who could do this well except Mary Stewart.

I would love to recommend this book, but I just can't.

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