#BookReview: Secrets In The Mirror by Leslie Kain

Come For The Twin / Mental Illness / Addiction / Mob Story. Stay For The Badass Twin Tattoo. This story is some interesting/ weird melding of a twin study and most any mob-based story. The driving focus is a pair of mirror twins and one of the twins’ mental illness and descent into addiction, and this slow burn story – taking place over roughly a decade of their lives – does a great job of showing the havoc it can wreak. And yet, the story never actually feels preachy, and Kain even manages to convey just how giving the one twin is and how menacing the other twin can be. Along the way we even get elements of The Hundred Foot Journey, which was an interesting addition to the overall tale. A strong work for a promising debut author, and very much recommended.

This review of Secrets In The Mirror by Leslie Kain was originally written on September 10, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

This week we’re looking at a book that burns slowly and has a long fuse… but then has quite the bang at the end as well. This week, we’re looking at Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan.

Slow Burn With A Bang. This is one of those slow burn mysteries that doesn’t seem like the stakes are *overly* high… until you find yourself in a situation with guns drawn in broad daylight in the streets of Boston. (Yes, a touch of a spoiler, but a very minor one given the lack of other details. :D) Overall you’ve got three primary perspectives, two in third person and one in first, and everyone is hiding things from everyone for varying reasons and no one really knows who to trust at all, including some of the non-perspective characters. So on that point, this tale works well – if, again, a bit slow and seemingly low-stake. But it is compelling enough to have you want to follow along and see what exactly happens, particularly once we begin to get the third perspective (which doesn’t happen until around the 25-33% of the book, IIRC). Overall an inventive tale that plays with some well worn tropes and spins them a bit in a new-ish way, and for this it is very much recommended.

#BookReview: The Keeper Of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis

Blend Of Historical And Women’s Fiction That Leaves The Room Dusty Through Its Final Quarter. This was an excellent blend of historical fiction on one end and a “current” (mid-80s) timeline women’s fiction tale on the other. Not quite an either/ or thing, but both play well with each other (and most of the historical stuff is done by the 2/3 point or so). Just be prepared for a VERY dusty read through the back quarter of the book, where Davis does an excellent job of revealing things but then letting them play out in a more natural setting and timeframe than other authors may have done. The book starts off with a lot of The Giver type vibes before becoming something so much more than that work ever intended to be – but the fact that it even feels similar to that award winning book speaks to just how well Davis crafts her story here. Very much recommended.

This review of The Keeper Of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis was originally written on August 27, 2021.

#BookReview: The Stranger In The Mirror

W O W. You think you know what you’re getting into here. Standard amnesia plot. Person with no memory makes new ones, person from their past finds them and reveals their former life, conflict ensues. Right?

Well, yes.

And then… We go back 4 years. And we get tossed into a mind so sick, so twisted, so utterly narcissitic, that it is a massive shock even as the sisters Constantine play it pretty straight in the actual narrative.

It was a solid book before the trip back in time. More character drama than true mystery/ thriller, but it worked for what it was. Several compelling storylines and conflicts through this section really drove the reader to want to know more. And then we travel back in time and begin the race to the finish. 😀

Very much recommended.

This review of The Stranger In The Mirror by Liv Constantine was originally written on July 24, 2021.

Featured New Release of the Week: Against the Rules by Laura Heffernan

This week, we’re looking at the second book in an excellent new series about geeky girls and the boys who love them. This week, we’re looking at Against the Rules by Laura Heffernan.

This was an interesting arc for Holly, one of the three best friends we were introduced to in She’s Got Game, Book 1 of this series. We pick up not long after that book leaves off, though other than spoiling that book this one can in theory be read standalone. (But read She’s Got Game first.) Holly has been left utterly devastated by the events of She’s Got Game, and Against the Rules is the story of Holly rebuilding her life and discovering what – and who – she wants… and having the courage to go after it, no matter the consequences.

In a bit of weird coincidence, Holly’s story even mirrors my own, to a point. As she is searching for her next programming job, she winds up interviewing in both Albany and Phoenix despite a nascent relationship she would like to explore, but knows will have to end if she moves to Phoenix (and even Albany is a stretch). My own story is that I had moved to the Southern Albany (the Georgia one, rather than the New York one Holly interviews in), where I had begun a relationship literally within days of quitting my teaching job and actively looking for my first programming job. The weekend before Valentine’s Day 2007 – when I had been dating this girl for less than a month – a company flew me out to Phoenix for a weekend long interview, similar to Holly’s experience. While hindsight would show the Phoenix interview to be an utter disaster, at Valentine’s Day I’m sitting in a Longhorn in Albany (Ga) having interviewed in both Phoenix and a town about 100 miles away called Macon, GA, and at the time I thought either equally likely. If I got Macon, I could make this nascent relationship work. If Phoenix offered me the job, I couldn’t ask this woman that barely knew me to leave her life and family and travel 1000 miles to live with a relative stranger.

In my own life, Phoenix basically told me to go to Hell… and Macon offered me the job. Moving to my nearby apartment was when I realized I loved this woman, and less than 2 months later she had the first ring from me. Within about 6 months of that move (give or take a couple of weeks), I had moved into her house in Albany and we exchanged a pair of rings there in the church she had grown up in. We had met less than 9 months earlier.

What happens in Holly’s life? Well, you’re just going to have to read this book to find out. 😉

As always, we end with the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: Against the Rules by Laura Heffernan”

#BookReview: Dead Wrong by Pandora Pine

Ronan Expects A Friend… And Gets A Father. This was my first book of Pine’s long running Cold Case Pychic books after having read both of the spinoff series Ghost Detective books so far. And despite being book 11, a reader truly can come into this series and not be lost – said reader will just know how several things turn out over the previous 10 books that will be spoilers to those tales, but with this being a romance series to begin with most of them are fairly obvious anyway.

In this particular tale, series original Ronan O’Mara answers the door as he heads back to his first day at work in several months expecting a friend… and finds his father there, asking for his help. The mystery here is fairly typical of Pine in my experience, with mostly detective based questioning people and finding evidence of things with a few tense moments of confrontation in semi-dangerous situations.

Great read, and a solid entry point into the series if you don’t mind the mild spoilers. Very much looking forward to more.

This review of Dead Wrong by Pandora Pine was originally published on April 10, 2019.