Monthly Archives: August 2015

Review: Mireille by Molly Cochran

4 Enthusiastic Stars for Mireille

This book popped up as one of my Kindle Daily Deals.  I read the synopsis and knew I had to give this one a try.  Anyone who is a fan of a sweeping epic about how people somehow find a way to survive the unimaginable will want to pick up this book.

Mireille de Jouarre is 17 years old in 1945 and living in German occupied France with her nasty stepmother and her German sympathizer stepfather.  A life-threatening event drives her from her childhood home into the countryside where she has a chance meeting with her childhood friend Stefan.  They fall in love but the ending of the war has not yet come and these are still dangerous times.  Stefan doesn’t come home and Mireille is forced to flee for her life to Paris.

Once in Paris, Mireille finds out that she is pregnant and now she’s alone.  Through another series of unfortunate events, she finds herself in the employ of one of the most elite escort services in Paris.  She becomes l’Ange, the Angel, the most celebrated courtesan since Madame Pompadour.  In this new life, she meets an American producer, Oliver Jordan.  She then transitions into the mysterious starlet, Mireille.  Her past is her secret and is one that is held over her head by the person who discovered her and made her a star.  Through this poisoned relationship the life of her daughter is threatened and Mireille must make a very deadly decision, one that will impact her life and the lives of those she holds dearest to her.

This really is an epic novel spanning nearly 50 years.  You meet Mireille in 1945 as a trapped 17 year old and last see her in 1993.  In that time she makes several transformations and goes through unimaginable hardships.  She was once named Fortune’s Child by her lover Stefan.  But you fail to find any fortune in most of her life.  If the story wasn’t so well written and so full fantastic imagery, it would be depressing!  But it wasn’t hard to put aside the “what else can happen to this poor woman?!” and just continue reading.  I was completely immersed from start to finish.

The characters were amazingly put together and you found yourself being both drawn to and repelled by them.  Mireille was a very sympathetic figure, even though you found yourself wanting to scream at her in frustration.  But how many women are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship that simply can’t see it?  This happens to Mireille more than once and you find yourself rooting for her.  Oliver Jordan…in a word…smarmy!  The quintessential Hollywood bad-boy and then some!  I think I spent half the book coming up with ways I’d like to get rid of him!  Even the secondary characters came to life.  Barbara, the red-headed spitfire who Mireille both lives and works with while she is in Paris fairly leaps off the page, you love her attitude and her no nonsense style.  She becomes one of Mireille’s very few friends.

There is quite a bit of sexual content in this book, but it’s done tastefully and is never overdone.  There are a few fairly graphic scenes, but they fit with the story.  There is some harsh language and some fairly violent situations.

Epic love story that spans 5 decades, women who pick themselves up and move on after horrific circumstances, characters that you can almost reach out and touch.  All of these things bring me to give Mireille 4 stars.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical, Romance

Review: The Teller by Jonathan Stone

3 Reluctant Stars

Elaine Kelly is a young, attractive bank teller for a large corporate bank.  She’s kind, helpful, good Catholic girl.  She takes care of her dying mother and some of her customers wait specifically for her.  Meet Antonio Desirio, elderly man who comes in weekly and waits for Elaine so he can make his deposit.  This meek little old man has an account with over a million dollars.  One day, right after making a deposit, he walks out of the bank and is struck by a truck and killed instantly.  In that moment, Elaine makes a decision.  With a few keystrokes, the money goes from Mr. Desirio’s account into her own.  You would think this was a story about a meek bank teller who finally gets fed up and steals the money.  But it’s not even close.  Apparently Mr. Desirio has been dealing with some very bad people, who want very badly to have their money returned to them.  They are not above murder and soon these very unsavory people are after Elaine, they want that money back.

There are quite a few twists in this book, and it was easy to get a little lost in some of them.  I did find myself having to read a few passages over again just to make sure I understood exactly what was going on.  The pace is nearly frenetic, and it does suit the story, but it was just a little too fast for me.  There wasn’t enough time to develop most of the characters and even to get a good idea of who the bad guys really were.  Some parts of the story were a little far-fetched for me and I think the story could have progressed just as well without them.  But I understand the need for drama and the need for a little blackmail.

For me this was a quick read though I wish the pace had been backed off a bit and more time spent on drawing out and developing the characters and the story.  But it was ultimately an okay read.  Definitely for someone who wants a very fast paced story with twists and turns.  There is some violence and sexual content.  Not too graphic by today’s standards, but if you’re not warned about it, can be a little shocking.  I will say that it was not over-done and that impressed me.  It could have quickly become very graphic and I was gratified to not have it delve into those depths.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Review: Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

4 stars

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  I went into it very skeptical because the premise seemed completely outlandish.  Science teacher on summer vacation, August, breaks down along the route to Yellowstone and is towed to a repair shop where the owner presents him with a very unique deal.  He will fix the motor home for free if August will take his two young sons, Seth and Henry, with him for the summer.  Why?  Because he’s going to jail for 90 days and there is no one else, other than the County, to take care of his boys.

Right away I was intrigued by the plot.  What kind of parent willingly gives his sons into the hands of a stranger and lets them go halfway across the country?  What kind of person willingly takes on the responsibility of two young boys that he’s just met?  What drives a person to have to make that decision in the first place?  Who are these people and what happens to them?  That’s why I picked up this book and started reading.  And I will say, once I started, I was unable to stop.

I found myself completely immersed in this summer vacation with August, Seth and Henry.  Each one of them came out of their shells and changed one another during their three months together.  They were real.  They were vivid.  They leapt off the page and became real people.  People I recognized from my own life.

Not only do you get to follow through their summer together, you also get to watch as they grow months and then years afterward.  How their summer together changed the entire trajectory of the lives of Seth and Henry.  How a chance encounter one day can change forever change a life.  How many times has that happened to any one of us?

Leave a comment

Filed under General Fiction

Review: Pop Sonnets by Didriksen

A very enthusiastic 5 stars for Pop Sonnets.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from Net Galley.

I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into when I sat down to read this book.  Pop music turned into Shakespearian sonnets?  This was either going to be really bad or it was going to be utterly amazing.  And I’m definitely going with the utterly amazing description.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book.

I will have a lot of fun using this book in parties and in gatherings with friends and family.  It will be a blast to read these sonnets and try to have people guess what song it’s talking about.  No genre is safe.  Pop, rock, metal and even rap make an appearance here.  In many cases, the sonnet is SO MUCH BETTER than the original lyric that I wish we could have the artist go back and record it again and use the sonnet in place of their original lyrics.

I think one of the best experiences was being Rick-Rolled.  That was a nice touch!  I laughed and found myself going back and reading many of them again.  This will definitely be a book that comes out on a regular basis.  This will be awesome for trivia nights and get-togethers.  There aren’t many books that I would readily pick up and read again, but this book will definitely go onto that list.  I think I’ll read it again right now!

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical, Humor

Review: The Forbidden Billionaire by J. S. Scott

3 Stars…maybe…

Caveat:  This is Book 2 in the Sinclairs.  I have read, but did not review the first book in the series No Ordinary Billionaire.  In order to really get the whole picture, you’ll want to read the books in order.  You can almost read this book as a stand alone, but there are pieces to the backstory that are only made clear by reading the first book.

Review: I grudgingly gave this book 3 stars.  It wasn’t terrible, but it really wasn’t that good either.  But I also couldn’t put it down, so I felt I had to put that extra star in there just for keeping me sucked into the story.  What really surprised me though was the fact that a supporting character drew me in far more than the two lead characters and I’m really looking forward to getting to know Evan better.  Even as a supporting character, he really stands out.

This book focuses on Jared Sinclair and Mara Ross.  He is part of the incredibly wealthy and, as chance would have it, sinfully good looking Sinclair clan.  He is an architect by trade, he has a love of old homes and architecture in general.  He gave up the dream of restoring old homes due to a long ago betrayal and went into the real estate business and added to his riches.  It’s not what he wants to do, but he feels like it’s what he has to do.  It hurts too much to look at the past and the misplaced guilt of what happened after he was betrayed by the people who he should have been able to trust most.  He’s back home in small town Amesport for his brother’s wedding and this is where he meets Mara, the local doll-shop owner.

Mara is not your typical femme fatale.  She’s a little too curvy and has absolutely no self-esteem.  She meets Jared during a particularly low time in her life.  She’s a small shop owner who lives above her shop in a very old home.  That home is being sold by the owner and she’s being evicted.  Her doll shop has been passed down from her grandmother to her mother and now to her.  She’s not making any money and what money she does make by selling jam, sauces and taffy at the local farmer’s market, goes right back into keeping herself alive.

Jared arrives with a business plan and a way to keep everyone happy.  He will put up the capital to get her up and running and selling her consumables full-time.  Mixing business and pleasure.  They feel an instant and overwhelming attraction to one another.  They try to keep business and personal life separate, but that doesn’t exactly work out as well as they’d like.

There were a few turn-offs for me in this book.  The language was overly vulgar.  I’m in no way a prude, trust me on this.  But there really is such a think as using the “F” word too much.  There were many times where I thought to myself “if a guy actually talked to me like this, I’d probably slap him across the face and walk away.” but all it does is make Mara hot.  And that’s another thing.  Mara has absolutely NO self-esteem.  She has nothing good to say about herself, ever.  She’s about as interesting as a wet noodle.  She gets a little better as the book goes on, but she really is annoying.  Give the girl a backbone!

I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it.  But if you’re looking for a feel-good story with animal attraction, some sex and a glimpse into the ridiculously wealthy…give this one a try.  Be warned, there is quite a bit of vulgar language and the sex scenes are fairly graphic, but not obscenely so.

Leave a comment

Filed under Romance

Review: The Christos Mosaic by Vincent Czyz

4 Stars

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of this book through NetGalley.

Originally I had given this book 3 1/2 stars, but I’ve since changed a bit and upped it to 4 stars. I definitely think that it’s worth that extra half star. It’s extremely well written, well researched and the subject matter is provocative. Fans of Dan Brown will definitely have an interest in The Christos Mosaic. I will issue a caution to anyone who does not want to have their foundation of faith rocked even a little bit, this may not be the book for you. If you can keep an open mind…proceed!

We meet Drew, an American ex-pat living in Turkey and mourning the end of his marriage, having no direction in his life as he works as an English teacher and loses himself in books. And it’s that love of books that begins the adventure of a lifetime. His adventure begins with a chance encounter with a dwarf bookseller, Kadir, who asks him for a favor.

An ancient scroll was discovered and chance places that scroll with Drew along with clues to another scroll and these scrolls have the ability to rock the very foundations of Christianity. People will kill to make sure that these scrolls never see the light of day and all Drew wants to do is get them into the hands of scholars so that they can be studied and in doing so, redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-wife and everyone else who has doubted him in his life. But he has to work with Kadir, who just wants to get as much money as he can from the black market by selling the scroll to the highest bidder.

Full of twists and turns, packed with action and even a little romance. Ancient enemies are hunting for the same scrolls. This book has a lot to offer, especially if you can keep an open mind. There are a lot of Bible references and there is a lot of time spent going over inconsistencies in the Gospels. It’s easy to get a little lost in these places, especially for anyone not familiar. I did get lost several times and found myself having to go back and re-read areas again so I could have a better understanding. But this is more my fault than the fault of the author, I really can’t fault him for this, because without the information, the story would not have been complete.

Leave a comment

Filed under General Fiction, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Review: Blueblood by Matthew Iden

3 Stars

Caveat: This is book 2 in the Marty Singer series.  I have read the first book in the series, A Reason to Live.  While you can read this book as a stand alone novel, it would give you more insight into the characters if you read the first book in the series.  I couldn’t dig up my review for A Reason to Live, but it was another 3 star book in my opinion.

Review: Someone is killing cops.  Four seemingly unrelated murders, except for one thing that ties them all together.  They were all cops.  And Washington DC bureaucracy being what it is, none of the departments seem to want to work with one another to solve these cases.  A concerned police lieutenant approaches retired homicide detective Marty Singer and asks him to help put the pieces together that will help get these cases solved and get a cop killer off the street.

Not a bad formula, right?  I know it’s been done before and in some cases it’s been done better.  But there’s something just very likeable and approachable about Marty Singer.  He’s a grizzled old homicide detective who isn’t going comfortably into his retirement.  He still has a few friends, a few tricks up his sleeves and need to find out what happened to these cops.  I like that he is a little old fashioned and really follows the “devil is in the details” mentality.  I think the best part of the book is Marty, he’s just someone you really come to like.  Being the main character, you expect him to be well developed, and the author really did deliver on this.

The story suffered a bit though.  The mystery wasn’t really much of a mystery once Marty started his interviews and started piecing together the lives and jobs of the murdered officers.  I knew why the cops were killed pretty quickly, I don’t know if this was meant to be more of a surprise, but it was pretty easy to figure out the why.  The who was a complete surprise.  I didn’t see it until just before the big reveal, I have to say that was really well done.  I wish some of the background into the why was a little more detailed and a little more fleshed out.  The whole book kind of had a one dimensional feel.  In a city as vibrant as Washington DC and especially when dealing with the gang culture, it was missing a lot of visualization that could have easily taken this from a 3 star to a 5 star book.

I’m still unresolved as to whether I’m going to continue this series, but I probably will because I’m stubborn and I really do want to see what happens to Marty next.  If you like a decent story about a really good old cop, I think you will find yourself liking these books.  If you’re wanting a story with more in-depth character development and more attention to the smaller details, you may want to give this book a pass.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller