“Dear Summer” by Santana Blair

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2017.

Dear SummerAfter almost failing 11th grade, Parker’s mother is at a loss over what to do with him. She decides to send him to live with his father for the summer in the small town of Concord. Parker is mad at her for ditching him, at his dad for not being there while he was growing up, and is mad at his life in general. Nothing seems to be going his way until he meets Summer – the beautiful girl next door.

Though only 16 years old, Summer has spent most of her life having multiple operations, due to her bad heart. Now that she’s on the mend, she’s created a bucket list of things she’s always wanted to do. Parker volunteers to help, feeling as if it will help his summer to be less boring. Their friendship grows, until it changes over to love. Parker can’t believe he’s finally met someone who understands him, and who motivates him to do better. As the summer progresses, both of their lives will change in ways they could never have imagined.

I really enjoyed this book. As soon as I finished it, I turned around and reread it. Most people who follow my blog know I don’t like to read self-published books because of the grammatical errors, and incorrect sentence structures. Yes this book had a lot of those issues, along with far too many instances of Parker calling Summer “sweetheart.” (I have yet to meet a teen boy who calls his girlfriend “sweetheart.”) However, despite these negatives, Parker and Summer’s Great Adventure drew me into the story.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

 

“Trinity” by Luke Romyn

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. Published by Luke Romyn. 2016.

TrinityChance Ripley can’t recall anything about his past, but dreams about women in the act of being murdered. In his dreams he becomes the women, feeling their pain and seeing their killers, but is unable to stop the crimes. The dreams are extremely realistic but, because he’s a patient in a mental institution, his doctor is convinced he’s psychotic – until he names a victim who really was murdered, which gets a member of the FBI involved in the case.

As the episodes continue they leave Chance straddling the line between reality and fantasy, teetering on the edge of total insanity.  He knows he has to find out why he’s having these visions and suss out the identity of the three murderers before he truly goes insane, but how is he supposed to escape a mental institution for the criminally insane? In time Chance discovers shocking information that will turn his world upside down.

The author had a very good imagination to come up with a storyline about murderers with psychic abilities and their impact on those with similar abilities. Though I wasn’t a fan of the ending, and thought Chance’s constant flitting about was a little too much, I will still recommend this book for its originality.

Recommended for Adults.

 

“Amid the shadows” Michael C. Grumley

Rated 2 stars ** Ebook. 2013.

AmidTheShadowsA six-year-old who sees people’s souls is chased by “bad men” after they murder her mother. Churches are blown up across the country. A teen hacker plans the release of a virus so powerful it will bring China to its knees and cause the release of nuclear warheads from the United States and Russia. Police are kidnapped and murdered. Someone plots the demise of the planet through nuclear warfare – but only on the Northern Hemisphere. Through it all, faith in God will pull you through.

Yes, ALL of these play out on the pages of this book. Though filled with too many details about things not relevant to the plot, the book shows some promise and managed to keep my interest for a little while. It was frustrating that Grumley left so many unanswered questions. Some of my questions for him are: If Zahn was Ryan’s guardian, why did he act so menacing towards him and his father? Who was bleeding in the hallway when Sarah’s mother was killed? Will the detectives ever be found? Why did Rand have a black shadow? Why did it consume Zahn? How did Sarah know about Zahn’s history and how God felt about him? I have many more, but these are a start.

Normally I don’t review self-published books, as too many authors don’t use the basics of spell check, and have bad writing skills. However this book had some promise. I suggest Grumley get a good editor who can help him whittle through his ideas and decide on a main theme. This will allow him to focus on fleshing out specific ideas so as not to get caught up in too many plot twists that will cause the main storyline to get lost. Ultimately readers will not be left scratching their heads wondering what just happened.

Not recommended due to many unanswered questions.

“Breaking Twig” Deborah Epperson

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. 2011. CreateSpace. (Includes Discussion Questions).

BreakingTwigWe first meet Becky in 1963 Georgia when’s she’s 13 years old and suffering through yet another beating by her Momma, who the town believes to be the picture of beauty and grace. The only bright spot in her life is Johnny, the son of her housekeeper. They’ve known each other their whole lives but, because he’s Mexican, her mother hates him and forbids them to see each other.

With Johnny gone, her stepfather Frank becomes her only friend. He believes in her and loves her and, with his help, Becky slowly learns to accept herself. It takes time, but she learns to listen to her heart for the lessons it’s been trying to teach her about her life.

As I read about the constant beatings and abuse Becky suffered over the years from her mother and stepbrother all I could think was “how could anyone not have noticed?” Unfortunately that was the reality of the times, but knowing this doesn’t make reading about it any easier.

I was upset about the abuse, but I was really upset that she seemed to sit back and accept it as the norm, even as an adult, because the years of abuse had rendered her pliant. It seemed as if the author wanted her stripped down to having nothing left to live for before she was allowed to make a decision of her own.

At the risk of giving out too many Spoilers, let me just say I think Becky should have been allowed to come to her senses long before she lost everything she held dear. She should have been allowed her time with Johnny, and not endured everything the author piled upon her, including the time she spent with Frank.

Recommended, with some misgivings, for Adults.

“When no one is watching” Joseph Hayes

Rated 4 stars **** Ebook. 2010. (Includes “Discussion Questions.”)

WhenNoOneIsWatchingBlair Van Howe and Danny Moran had been the best of friends since their days in law school. Both are rising stars in their prominent law firm, but one fateful evening everything came to a screeching halt for Danny. Though a great lawyer he had problems holding his liquor, and that particular night was too intoxicated to drive.

Blair was thrilled to drive Danny’s Porsche, but wound up causing an accident that killed an innocent driver. Afraid his budding political career would suffer if the truth came out Blair framed Danny, allowing him to take the fall for his own crime. Danny was too drunk to know he wasn’t at fault, while Blair believed he could make great changes in other’s lives if he stayed quiet about the accident and kept his political dreams alive.

Throughout the book, as Hayes tells Danny and Blair’s story and the truth struggles a bit too long to be revealed, readers are constantly brought back to the question of who had the better life. Was it the man one step away from becoming President who lived his life based on a lie, or was it the man who lost everything yet had everything in the end? What kind of life do you live when no one is watching?

Hayes ends his thought provoking novel with even more thought provoking Discussion Questions, sure to generate debate on these issues.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“The Picture Frame” Iain Rob Wright

Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. 2014. Salgad Publishing. (Includes two short stories by Matt Shaw.)

ThePictureFrameBlake Price sold his home and moved his family to the English countryside under mysterious circumstances. Eager to get away from the “bad things” found in city life, he is sure his wife and 10-year-old son Ricky will find a new, safer life in their cottage.

While wandering the countryside with a Geiger counter, he and Ricky unearth a strange looking, old picture frame that doesn’t appear to have suffered any of the ravages of time. Thrilled with the find Ricky places a picture of his dog Bailey into it and, within moments of doing so, Bailey is dead.

After replacing the photo with a family portrait, strange accidents begin to occur to everyone in the picture. It seems too bizarre to believe, but Blake soon learns that a man named Oscar Boruta has put a curse on his family. Oscar was killed in 1928 but seems to be calling out from the grave for revenge. With nowhere to turn, and with the curse gaining in strength, Blake will have to figure out how to save his family before it’s too late.

“The Picture Frame” is a quick read but was a little too predictable and had a few too many loose ends, along with some grammatical errors. I would have liked to learn more details about how/why the frame was cursed so, perhaps the author would consider writing a prequel in which the story of the picture frame is told from Oscar’s point of view.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“Love by Deception: A harrowing true story of love and betrayal” K.C. Barnard

Rated 2 stars ** Ebook. 2014.

LoveByDeceptionDevil Man, Cockroach, Tomcat and Floppy. What do these names have in common? They belong to a series of physically and mentally abusive men the author dated over a few years.

“Love by deception” is supposed to convince readers in abusive relationships that they can escape. Barnard lists tons of warning signs for them to look for in her quest to lead them away from the darkness of their sufferings. Instead of accomplishing this goal I felt like the author never listened to her own advice as she went from one abusive relationship to the other in 7 years.

Devil Man seemed so horrible, yet she went back to him THREE times! After she finally managed to set herself free from him, Barnard talked about how she needed to listen to the inner voice she’d kept ignoring about Devil Man, and went over all the ways she should have known he was a terrible person. On and on she went about how she was now a “stronger and more compassionate person” yet, after Devil Man, she still allowed herself to be manipulated by Tomcat and soon entered into another awful relationship with Cockroach followed by an abusive one with Floppy.

The takeaway for me was that she would continue not to listen to her inner voice, and would continue to date terrible men because of her habit of wanting to give these awful men in her life second chances. I would think by now that she’d realize those second and third and fourth chances were the sounds of shovels as she dug herself deeper and deeper into relationship problems.

I do not recommend this book because of its confusing message, but will leave it up to you to decide if You want to Read it or Not.