Category Archives: Suspense

Book Review: Wilde at Heart (Wilde Security #3) by Tonya Burrows

4.5 gems

wilde at heart

I was so happy to receive an early copy of this book, ’cause since the day I finished Wilde for Her,  I was looking forward to Reece and Shelby’s story. And Tonya Burrows didn’t disappoint.Wilde at Heart was by far my favorite book in the series.

Though Cam and Jude were the most fun Wilde brothers and they are, except, Reece is better. He is adorable, sweet and sexy as hell. Reece and Shelby together were amazing together. Tonya Burrows had me laughing from the very first page. And considering that the heroine was Shelby, this book was guaranteed fun.

Shelby as usual spoke her mind and was fun as always. She is an independent young woman who knew her strengths and weakness. People never gave her a chance to be anything other than the flighty, reckless girl that she was. She tried so hard to be the responsible adult, but people’s views including that of her sister Eva and the Wilde brothers, including to some extent Reece, never changed.

While I loved Eva for the kick-ass woman that she was in Wilde For Her, I strongly disliked her in this book. She never really understood Shelby and she didn’t try to. She was always the first one to point out Shelby’s shortcomings and reprimand her. She was also the very last person to believe Shelby could make a sane, responsible decision. True Shelby was impulsive, but even behind her impulse she had good reason.

While I loved Reece for the kind-hearted, geeky nerd that he was, I was sometimes disappointed with him for his behavior with Shelby. He too never saw behind the mask of Shelby’s impulsiveness. He tried to change her from what she is to what he thinks she should be. But on the other hand he also didn’t want Shelby to change. His complexity and duality made for an intriguing read.

This book was suspenseful, fun and mostly unpredictable. There were two tracks working parallel in the story- one was Reece’s blackmail and the other was Shelby’s. While it was easy enough to guess who had a bone to grind with Reece, I honestly couldn’t predict who the villain in Shelby’s life was till the end. The sex as usual in Tonya Burrows style was hot has hell. Burrows has made sure to pave a footpath for both Vaughn and Greer Wilde. Tonya Burrows made sure to throw us crumbs about the upcoming books. I can already feel the fun and intensity in Lark and Vaughn’s book.

The surprise element in this book for me was Reece. In the previous books he came across as uptight and snobbish. But in this book Reece truly shined. He was just a lot more shy and reserved than his brothers. Trying to shoulder the weight of his brothers took a toll on him. Shelby was the perfect woman for him. She brought out the fun, geeky, artistic guy that he was. But what really threw me was the fact that Reece was a virgin!! I NEVER and I mean NEVER expected that. Thank you Ms. Burrows for surprising me!

Wilde at Heart truly encompassed what both Reece and Shelby were, and they were incredibly wild. This book is undoubtedly my favorite book in the series. Can’t wait for Vaughn and Greer’s story to come out.

This review first appeared on The Ever Romantic Arts.

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Book Review: City in Embers (Collectors #1) by Stacey Marie Brown

4.5 gems

city in embers

One thing I’ve learned about Stacey Marie Brown? She never disappoints. I loved her Darkness series and now I’m in love with the Collector series too.

If you’ve read the Darkness series, you’ll know that City in Embers takes place right before and after the Electrical Storm caused at the end of Darkness of Light.

Zoey Daniels has been tossed around from one foster home to the other for most of her life. And she has seen some unimaginable horrors that no girl should. She was used to having no home and no family, but all that changes when she is put in the same foster home as Lexi, a crippled, wheelchair bound girl. Zoey finds a sister and best friend in Lexi. Lexi is what inspires her to turn her life around and make something of herself. Soon after high school, Zoey is recruited by a super secret government agency called Department of Molecular Genetics (DMG).

Zoey is a powerful Seer, a person gifted with the Sight. She can see the true form of the fae, she can see behind the disguise they put for the sake of the humans. She is a collector for DMG. What does it mean you ask! She apprehends fae and takes them back to the lab so that they could be researched, tested, and used to save human lives. She has no sympathy whatsoever for any of the fae. She has been taught that they are monstrous beats and are to be despised. It is here that she meets the love of her life, Daniel. Another reason to become a better person and live a better life.

But when the Electrical Storm hits Seattle, her life is completely tossed around. She lost the only people she cared about. I didn’t much care about Daniel’s death as he wasn’t the guy for Zoey. She was a complex girl with hidden dark tendencies. She only presented to Daniel the kind of woman he wanted to see. He never would have been able to accept Zoey exactly as she is. I was sad about Lexie’s death though. She was a free-spirited, fun girl. Despite her disability, she tried to live her life to the fullest. And for a 12-year-old she really had a dirty mouth on her.

The devastation that hits Seattle, completely turns her life around, as Zoey finds herself joined at the hip with a Wanderer, Ryker and a monkey-sprite, Sprig. With Ryker comes a hoard of other problems. What ensues a hate-hate and then a love-hate relationship between Ryker and Zoey and an uneasy, awkward acquaintance. Now that Zoey is on the other end of the knife, with the hunter becoming the hunted, Zoey has to run from not only the DMG but also from the men out to hurt Ryker.

Zoey was a strong woman. She was dealt too many bad hands, but she came out a survivor through it all. It is hard not to respect her and even admire her. Every time she fell, she got back up and fought back.

Right now, while writing this review and listening to music, it suddenly hit me that these few lines from Katy Perry’s Roar explains who and what Zoey is perfectly.:

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion

Another favorite character was Sprig, the monkey-sprite. He was just so adorable. He provided the much-needed respite from all the sadness and heavy-duty stuff going on in the book. I think he was also the reason why Zoey and Ryker didn’t kill each other. Sprig and his love for honey was just plain adorable. And for some unexplainable reason he knew a lot about blue balls. Makes you wonder. Huhh!

Ryker. What should I say about Ryker? Well he certainly was a big pain in the behind, but he grows on you. He treated Zoey like dirt calling her human, as if that was an insult. To him it was. But that’s okay. Soon he gets his head out of his lovely tush, at least halfway out. Once you find out more about his past who understand why he is the way he is. Ryker, like Zoey, is a complex character and Stacey has a knack for writing complex characters. Her characters are never easy. They are never black and white. They are always, always complex and with shades of grey. And why shouldn’t they be, real life can be a bitch and people are not always about rainbows and unicorns. She has proved this point all through City in Embers. The dichotomy of life is there for you to see. The ugly truth is staring you in the face and you can’t walk away from it. In fact, in this book you see more of the ugly side of life than the pretty one.

The action, the buildup, the emotions, the characters. Nothing about this book was a disappointment or predictable. At no point in the book could I guess the turn of events. Stacey reels you in through her masterful storytelling. Her world building is perfect. She doesn’t dump info on you and neither does she give you too little. With her kind of writing, it’s hard to keep the book down. In fact as soon as I finished it, I wanted the second book right then. If you haven’t read it, go read it. You won’t be disappointed.

I also enjoyed enjoyed the bonus material on West, a fellow Dark Dweller from the Darkness series. It was just a small sneak-peek and I’m looking forward to more of West’s story.


Book Review: The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

3gem

the naturals

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

The Naturals is a teenage version of the TV show Criminal Minds. However, a great suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy and believe it. Having done that, the book is interesting enough. It’s fast-paced with occasionally good sections, but moves too quickly after the second half. Another first person POV, it started well and though I wasn’t bothered by the narration, I didn’t feel anything either. On the one hand Cassie is a good narrator, on the other, there’s a severe lack of emotions and feelings in the entire book, from everyone. She never mentions how she feels and what she thinks with regard to emotions (other than the brief sections on kissing of course), and this makes you get a sense of detachment from her.

I don’t like love triangles and this book, and the rest of the series from the looks of it, has one. There are the two hot, intriguing boys who are instantly attractive and return the interest. As usual even the broody, silent, stay-away, mysterious one happens to be drawn to Cassie as soon as she enters. It’s a short book and the triangle took up too much space. Not Fun.

There is a lack of character development – flat, stereotypical characters despite the potential back-stories yet to come. And even though Michael and Lia are careful to keep Cassie guessing with changes in wardrobe and carriage, they still manage to be cliché.

Considering the content and length of the book, it could have done with more flesh – more activity and more interactions with substance than the surface level ones. It was apparent there are going to be more books in the future, but that doesn’t mean you give nothing.

Also, the supposed team does nothing team-like in the entire book. Even towards the end, there wasn’t enough involvement and use of abilities as there should’ve been. They don’t use all their gifts just to survive.

The most ridiculous part was who the killer turned out to be (I will admit to being surprised). That NOBODY over all those YEARS managed to suspect anything, especially when you consider that the whole team consists of Naturals. Yes, even they can be wrong, but FIVE of them? Undermines the entire premise of the book and series. And the killer’s sudden escalation in behaviour was confusing and disappointing.

Overall, the characters were the weakest part of the book which isn’t good for its health. Other than the premise, the book, though predictable, had potential. It wasn’t boring, it was underwhelming. With some more work, it could’ve been much better.

 


Movie Review: Gone Girl

4gem

Gone-Girl-Poster

Gone Girl is a 2014 mystery thriller based on a 2012 novel of the same name, written by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay. The film is directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and stars Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Carrie Coon.

On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behaviour have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Not having read the book, I cannot judge how well this movie has been adapted to the screen, but, having seen it and knowing that the author herself wrote the screenplay, I found it to be one hell of a film.

Gone Girl is a dark, abstract, psychological thriller. It deals with issues like how we perceive the people we love, and how much we understand them, media frenzy, the economy and its effect on marriages. It’s a film exploring the dysfunctionality of the modern world. It’s a well-paced film that maintains its quite suspense as you journey through the investigation of Amy’s disappearance, and the flashbacks of Nick and Amy’s relationship.

The sharp dialogues and the affected, highbrow exchanges keep you focused, and yet, for me, also managed to keep the characters at a distance, so you never invest in one emotionally. However, it’s this affected distance that makes the twists and reveals that much more powerful. The beauty of the story lies in the fact that, despite having predicted some plot advancements and turns, the way they happen still manages to surprise you.

The actors do a wonderful job with a unique pair of unlikable main characters. Ben Affleck successfully portrays the ambiguous husband. You don’t know whether to sympathise with him or be suspicious of him; as in the movie, he swings from being hated, to not, repeatedly. Rosamund Pike gives a strong, powerful performance which packs a punch. Her apathetic expressions contrast with the emotive, candid narration and, generate intrigue and anticipation. She stole the show.

The film is strong, well constructed and the direction detailed. And despite the sinister mood it manages to be quite funny. The weakest part was the ending which could’ve been shorter and seemed wanting. Like the rest of the movie it was too, a surprise, however, it was somewhat unsatisfying.

Gone Girl is a twisted tale of a haunting character. A story that will linger with you. It’s best suited for those who enjoy dark thrillers.

Even though I wanted to read the book before the film came, I couldn’t manage it. But after watching this movie, I’m definitely going to read it and update this review with that of the book (I hope).

 


Blog Tour: Blood Beyond Darkness by Stacey Marie Brown (Review and Giveaway)

Title: Blood Beyond Darkness

Author: Stacey Marie Brown

Series:Darkness #4

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal Romance

Publication: August 28th, 2014

After months of searching, Ember and her friends have finally located the Sword of Light, the only weapon capable of destroying Queen Aneira and ending her rule. This is Ember’s destiny. Or so she thought. Now a pact to save the man she loves changes everything.

In this final installment in the Darkness Series, when the truth comes to light, Ember will learn some things are better left in the dark as her world is ripped even further apart. It is no longer a rabbit hole, but a never-ending black void full of endless lies, betrayals, and secrets.

The fight for Earth has begun, and Ember will have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save millions of innocent lives and those she loves.

But this price may be too high—even for her.

Purchase:
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4 gems
Stacey Marie Brown does it again. Blood Beyond Darkness is another amazing addition to the fantabulous series that is Darkness. Like the rest of the series, Blood Beyond Darkness is gripping, gritty and keeps you on your toes. So many secrets come to light and Ember’s life takes a 360 degree. But through it all she perseveres and fights till the end.Ember and Eli have been captured by the Seelie Queen. Aneira will stop at nothing to destroy Ember and to make the worlds one. The only weapon that can kill Aneira is in her own hands and Ember has made a deal with the devil to save the man she loves. Secrets about her past and her identity come to light, destroying her belief in everyone she loved.

Ember needs to get out of the self-pity hole she has immersed herself and come out and fight. The fight is more dangerous and more gritty than ever before and the losses will be a lot more. I loved the way Ember handled herself after all the lies and betrayals come out. Sure she did wallow in self-pity, but then she came back with a bang too.

I fell in love with Eli all over again in this book. We see for just a microsecond a sweeter, softer side of him, then he is his own sarcastic, bad boy self. I particularly love the scene where he won’t let Ember go before listening to him. He wanted to talk to her and he made sure she would listen. That man is just delicious. All that temptation wrapped in a bow was just hard to resist, not just for Ember, but for me too.

What I did not like about this book was Kennedy. In the earlier books I loved her, but not in this book. She grew more confidant, more strong. She could stand up for herself and fight her own battles. But in this quest to find herself and transformation she hurt the guy who loved her the most, Jared. Which despite all her good qualities was unacceptable to me.

This book was full of action and strategies. It made me laugh and cry and then laugh some more. Every death in this book hit harder than the first one. And so many good guys are lost. But Ember has to make the ultimate sacrifice. She must chose between the man she loves and the thousands of people on this Earth.

Stacey Marie Brown never disappoints and she did a tremendous job with this book too. The ultimate finale to the well loved series, Blood Beyond Darkness is heart-wrenching and will make you hold tighter to your book/kindle. You’ll never want it to end. Kudos to Stacey Marie Brown for weaving her web of magic once again so artfully and masterfully.

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Other books in the Darkness series:
 
Darkness of Light (book #1)
 
Fire in the Darkness (book #2)
 
Dwellers of Darkness (book #3)
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About Stacey

Stacey Marie Brown is a lover of hot fictional bad boys and sarcastic heroines who kick butt. She also enjoys books, travel, TV shows, hiking, writing, design, and archery. Stacey swears she is part gypsy, being lucky enough to live and travel all over the world.

She grew up in Northern California, where she ran around on her family’s farm, raising animals, riding horses, playing flashlight tag, and turning hay bales into cool forts. She volunteers helping animals and is Eco-friendly. She feels all animals, people, and environment should be treated kindly.

Facebook: (Author PageBook Page) | Twitter | Website | Google+ | Pinterest | Instagram

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Book Review: Shadow Music (Highlands’ Lairds #3) by Julie Garwood

3.5

Shadow Music

Shadow Music can easily be read as a standalone novel. It begins with a story about a small country with a patron saint St. Biel (The country is named after the saint). The story is a simple and clever piece of work by the author.

The people of St. Biel want to get their hands on the last of the royal bloodline – Princess Gabrielle, who they believe knows the location of the mythical treasure of St.Biel. Her father is Lord Geoffrey, an important man in the English Court. And that is the only reason that Gabrielle, who also happens to be a stunning beauty, is left alone.

The English King decides that a marriage between Gabrielle and one of the Highland’s Laird will be beneficial to him. He feels threatened from the Scots and therefore sweetens the marriage deal by announcing that Gabrielle’s dowry would include Finney’s Flat (an important piece of land much coveted by the Scots).

***SPOILER ALERT***

On her way to the abbey where her marriage was to take place, Gabrielle saves a man’s life. However, her good deed doesn’t go unpunished. A while later, she suffers through a sinister and cruel plot which leaves her reputation in tatters. Her cousin (by marriage) Laird Buchanan asks his friend MacHugh to save Gabrielle’s reputation by taking her for his wife. MacHugh is obligated to agree.

***SPOILER ENDS***

It is intriguing to notice that the hero and heroine don’t actually meet each other for at least the first quarter of the story. There are some stereotypes though. The heroine is so pretty that people can never ignore her. The hero is so brave and mysterious that he is feared as a legend.

What helps in overcoming the stereotype is the romance. It is not insta-love. It is not just lust. Colm is drawn to Gabrielle’s loving and giving nature. And Gabrielle is attracted to his protective and caring self. There is definite sexual attraction, but it is mixed with action, suspense and a developing understanding.

I thoroughly enjoyed the romance and found the narrative amusing. Gabrielle challenged Colm constantly and made him notice her. She gave him a lot to think about. In fact, I found both of them a little modern in their views.

I admired Gabrielle for her opinions and sense of humour. She is very much an innocent but does not flinch from taking a life to save another. She knows right from wrong. And though she is constantly protected, she does not become subservient or timid. She shows remarkable intelligence and grace while facing trouble. I admired Colm as well. He was protective, but not so much that Gabrielle feels bound.

Since I have read other works by Julie Garwood I cannot say this book is great. But I did find it to be a good balance of historical elements, mystery, wit, and romance. The book has a vivid plot with four folds – the mythical treasure of St.Biel, the danger in Highlands, the traitorous politics of the English, and the romance that brews between Gabrielle and Colm MacHugh. No part of it overwhelms the other, and that is its beauty. Shadow Music has spoonfuls of brilliance, pinches of angst and punches of amusement that in my opinion, contribute in making it a good read.