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strong female character

Review: Proving Ground by Stanalei Fletcher #RomanticSuspense

Proving GroundCaitlin Malone is one tough cookie. Oh, she doesn’t realize it yet. Not when her first assignment as a Northstar Security agent winds up getting her partner shot. Just a simply tracking job, but Caitlin’s inability to follow orders, and her impulsiveness, nearly gets Sloan dead. Disgraced, she is sent back to Oregon by her boss to talk to her father, a former Northstar partner, and to get her head on straight. But arriving at her father’s house in Oregon she finds he isn’t there. When her old flame and long-time friend, John MacAlistair, walks in the door she meets him with a shotgun, while he greets her with the news that her father is in the hospital. The bullet in his back that was too dangerous to remove when he was shot has moved.

Shocked, Caitlin is forced to accept that she may lose her father. Their strained relationship over the years after she lost her mother at seven years old, and her father lost his wife, was exacerbated by her father’s inability to understand his young daughter resulting in him dropping her in a small town in Oregon and extending his business trips over longer and longer periods until she saw him only rarely. It finally reached the breaking point when they fought, two years ago, over her taking a job at Northstar and moving to DC. Harsh words flowed, and Caitlin walked out the door. Of course, it was all made worse when John’s grandmother, who had been like a mother to Caitlin, dies and John took her to bed for her first time the night of the funeral – and then walked out the door and didn’t return.

Betrayals. First from an icy and distant father who taught her to be a hardass then pitched a fit when she followed in his footsteps, cutting her out of his life. And then her best friend John takes her and then leaves her. What else was she to do?

When a bike rally leads to Caitlin’s attempted murder and a massive forest fire set as a distraction so terrorists could rob a biotech lab for deadly pathogens, Caitlin has to drag her badly injured body across the mountains to reach safety. When John, a forest ranger, hears from his uncle that Caitlin is missing in the fire he has himself dropped into the fire zone to find her. What follows shows that, while Caitlin may not always be centered and focused, she is, as previously stated, one tough cookie.

Terrorists, a fire that has blown up out of control, and a mad rush across rugged territory makes this a fast moving, exciting tale. The characters are well written and believable. Besides the high-tension suspense we also watch as Caitlin learns to tear down the walls around herself and push back at a father who she wants desperately to love, but simply doesn’t know how. I can’t say that I completely agreed with the author’s take on the relationship and how the blame for the relationship issues between her and her father and her and John were handled, but I am sure there are those out there who don’t have such a brittle relationship with the concepts of love and family who will find it quite rewarding. Caitlin is immature in certain ways, but that immaturity is understandable and made me like her more.

I received “Proving Ground” from Reading Alley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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Review: Becoming Alpha By Aileen Erin

18242939Normally, I don’t really pay attention to Young Adult novels. Hey, I have been a young adult – didn’t like it back then, don’t really want to read about the angst, you feel me? But the fourth or fifth time it caught my attention, and having an evening which really called for something light, I went ahead and picked it up.

Huh. The heroine is 17, and a touch telepath, which is interesting to me. Can you imagine touching some boy in your high school and knowing everything he is thinking about? Actually seeing what is on his grubby little hormone-crazed mind? Euuu. Just. EUUU!!!! Gross. And yes, I sound like a high schooler!

Anyway. The good part is the heroine. She has her stuff together. She has been switched from school to school as the bullies and weirdos glory in someone even weirder than them. Being different amongst one’s peers is pretty much like being chum thrown in amongst the sharks. But I liked her. Life is tough, but she handles it, though it hurts.

After being ‘outed’ at yet another school, and left with pretty much no place to turn, her famous father/attorney to the stars in Hollywood is moving them to Texas. Texas?!?????! Well, at least there won’t be as many people around to touch, right? But things are not all what they seem at the new school her father will be working for. And before Tess knows it, her life takes a hard left and roars off into a new, and even more painful direction. Like Really. REALLY. Painful.

The storyline is good. The characters are interesting. Overall, it should have been a pleasant evening read. But then, the whole thing goes off the tracks. Why WHY do authors not invest in Editors?!?! Come ON PEOPLE!!! Most of the book was well done, editorially, but then the whole train ran off the tracks and plot holes you could drive a freight train through reached up and slapped me in the face, ripping through Discontinuity Land with no brakes. Totally ruined the whole thing for me. Ugh. I was right there on the whole “recommended for people who get a kick out of paranormal for the YA audience”. Now? Not so much. Sigh.

If you aren’t upset by discontinuity issues, the book is OK for its audience. Otherwise, I would give it a pass. And I hate that. It had such potential!

New Reviews: The Bite Back Series by Mark Henwick – INCREDIBLE!!!!

There is always something special about a new book in a favorite series coming out. I get to read the previous editions before reading the newest. It draws me back into the story, reminding me of things I may have forgotten, and building the characters back up in my mind.

Wild_Card_Cover_04_WithTitles
Wild Card – Book Three – Bite Back Series

I just finished re-reading the first two books of The Amber Farrell Series, and then had the pure and distinct privilege of reading the newest Wild Card. Siiiiiggghhhhh…… OK, Mark, ready for the next!

Re-reading Slight of Hand and Hidden Trump was actually even more enjoyable this time than the first time(s) I read them. Maybe because I am always so unutterably thrilled every time one comes out that I literally inhale the books, cover to cover, without taking time to really slow down and enjoy. It feels much like being lost in the desert for days, and then being offered a cool, clean drink of water. The tendency is to gulp the water down, no matter how good it tastes.

This time, I did things differently. I drank slowly, in small sip, holding the cool inside my mouth, tasting and enjoying. And this time? The excellence of the vintage truly overwhelmed me. I’m not kidding. Not exaggerating. Mark really is that good. His stories are urban fantasy that is true. However, they are so much more than that. Mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, and a literary world of endless wonder. And that is just the stories. The technical excellence, the prose itself, is beautifully done, drawing you into a new and slightly different world than our own. A world where wonder and pain blend into a new and deeply touching reality.

Amber Farrell is unlike the ‘typical’ UF heroine. She was an Army grunt, specializing in the type of dirty ops that no one wants to do, but everyone needs done. And she is a patriot, doing her duty without complaint, following the rules, leading her team, morning the loss of any of her team who doesn’t make it. She is strong, vital, and in charge.

And then things go horribly, horribly wrong.

sleight of hand
Book One – Bite Back Series
Click to Order!

Betrayed by the government, by her team and her leaders, Amber is pushed out of the fold, spied upon and mistrusted for reasons beyond her control. For Amber is something different – a survivor of a hideous attack in the jungles of South America that left her team dead and her own throat torn out. Damage that healed within five days, and left Amber something more than human.

The Amber Farrell story is amazing. Broad in scope, fast paced, and as I said before, extremely well written. It doesn’t really matter what genre you prefer – as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter what you like, because you are really going to love these books. In Sleight of Hand we meet Amber as she is a private investigator in Denver, scraping along in her job and reporting occasionally to Colonel Laine, her old boss, to undergo blood tests – blood tests to decide if it is time for Amber to go back to be locked into a windowless cell, far below the earth, to be studied and dissected by secret government medical teams. The story starts out with a bang, and continues at a breathless pace, much like the works of James Rollins, where the actions pile up upon one another. However, unlike the uberfast pace of Rollins or Cussler, the story is the thing with Henwick. Ambers character starts out well and continues to develop through all three books. And she has a lot of development that she must handle. For she is even more than was once thought. She is becoming Athanate, the truth of the vampire tales, after her attack in South America. But there is more, a great deal more, for her to face. And to survive.

hidden trump
Book Two – Bite Back Series
Click to Order!

Book Two, Hidden Trump picks up the story with a bang, as Amber slips away from a horrendous battle, filled with death and destruction, sliding away before the FBI, and other, more unknown and even more deadly agencies, manage to capture her. For things are getting more and more dangerous for Amber, as well as for her friends. Her life is changing, sometimes violently, into something she no longer understands. And there are those out there who would capture her and turn her to their own needs – no matter what it does to Amber or her friends and family. War is coming – War beyond anything the world has ever seen.

Now, we are blessed with Book Three, Wild Card. Things were rough for Amber in Book Two, as her physical and mental changes, her lifestyle and the mysterious powers and peoples around her threaten her mind, body, and soul. Who can she trust? Or can she truly trust anyone at all? Again, the action is fast and furious, but the character development and story continue to grow and expand in an exceptional manner.  You are drawn breathlessly and with deep excitement into a story that is one of the most well written and creative available today. Layers and layers of story, character development and world building makes this a must not miss tale. Pamper yourself – read the books. You will not be disappointed!!!!!!

raw deal
Raw Deal – The Prequel to The Bite Back Series
Click to Order, and read first!

Oh, and don’t forget – Raw Deal. This prequel to the Bite Back series introduces you to Amber, and tells the story of her first contact with The Athanate in Denver. Just as exciting as the rest of the series, I would recommend that you start with the prequel, though it was printed later than the first two. It is simply amazing, just as the rest of the books are!

 

 

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