"Shameful Beings" by January Joyce

Shameful Beings by [Joyce, January]

Twenty-four hours from now, I'm slated to be executed. I guess that’s the way it has to be to make them happy. I’m guilty, okay. There you have it, my big confession. I haven’t always been a good person. I’ve made mistakes, done bad things, and made wrong decisions. I wasn’t a good daughter. I was a terrible sister and the worst possible wife. I’ve betrayed all of the people who trusted me. I’ve deceived my friends, my family, and my coworkers. But what I did to get here, now that’s a different story. I broke the law and am guilty of doing a lot of dumb things, shady things even. But if you knew anything about me, you’d know that everything I did that got me here, I did for a righteous reason. I did it for her. So if you've got a little time, why don’t you sit back and let me tell you a story. Let me tell you how a nice naive girl from Bakersfield, California ended up in a crazy little place like this.

This book had so much action and good intentions skidding sideways that it completely held my interest; I read it within a 24-hour period. There was a lot of violent descriptions, and I personally don't care for that but was able to skim over those pieces and not lose any of the story. Right to the very last second, I still wondered if there was a happily-ever-after in store for Ronnie. I felt sorry for her because it seemed she didn't have much control over anything in her life. When she did have control, she made bad choices, but in her final moments, she felt the ends justified the means, and she made peace with her actions. I guess in a way, that was her happily-ever-after. I enjoyed this book and recommend it.


"The Button" by D.L. Finn


Lynn Hill left a difficult childhood behind when she turned eighteen. The 1980s were going to be the beginning of a great life. Then what started as an ordinary evening out with her best friend, Stacy, turns into a nightmare. Lynn hears warnings: “Go!” “Leave!” Believing she is hearing things after partying too much, she goes back for one more drink before going home. That decision sets off a chain of events that nothing could have prepared her for. While humans and not-so-human beings are attempting to either help or harm her, Lynn risks everything to find the only person she trusts, Stacy. Who can help her? The stepbrother who shows up right when she needs him or the attractive, helpful bartender who gives her his phone number? Lynn must learn to trust again. Her survival depends on it in this paranormal thriller.

Lynn has quite an adventure in this story, along with her best friend, Stacy. She wakes up next to a dead body after a night of liberal drinking and drug use; she can't find Stacy, and she doesn't know whom to trust. Her building a tolerance to drugs played a role in the results of her situation on more than one occasion. There are several complicated relationships, visible and hidden, between the characters of the book that you may question when all is revealed. There are also good and evil forces in play. Angels who look over the girls try to help them make good decisions and positively change their outcome. I would have liked it if the story had begun with Lynn waking up in bed next to the dead guy, the beginning felt slow and a little muddled for me when the angels are discussing what has happened and what will happen. The evil entity that used the villain as a host also confused me because they were a character and had thoughts or dialogue. It's presence alone was sufficient, but I believe it began that way to conceal the identity of the villain. The significance of the title, the button involved in the book (which I won't post the phrase here:) I recall seeing those buttons as a teenager. Movie quotes and other descriptions also fit within the year of the story. Once Stacy and Lynn are reunited, they are in for a fight of their lives.

"Beckon the Ravens" by Bradon Nave

Beckon the Ravens by [Nave, Bradon]


Born and raised in a patriarchal farming community infused with bent religion, nineteen-year-old Meyrick has spent the majority of her life encased in snow-dusted hills and trees. Stanch regulation leaves little room for teenage antics and Meyrick finds herself dreaming of a future far from the grasp of rural Alberta. As plans to leave for America are coming to fruition, an unearthed secret leaves Meyrick no choice but to rescue the man she loves and embark on their adventure prematurely.

Destined for Idaho, a series of tragedies leaves Meyrick without her companion, alone in rural America and tossed into the clutches of a sadistic crop-farmer, Leroy Ellis. One morning while walking she is perplexed to witness a gentleman in a truck disperse two farmhands on the lawn before driving away. Initially cross, she soon takes a liking to the young couple and stashes the man and woman away from Leroy’s cruelty in a small barn on the property. Their bond grows, as does Meyrick’s hatred for Leroy. She is bewildered by an inability to depart from the deranged man. She isn’t a prisoner, yet something within her anchors her to him. Her mind begins to crumble. Meyrick finds it difficult to distinguish reality from illusion, past from present and often suffers cruel flashbacks. Spiraling to a state of disrepair, Meyrick is saddled with an additional challenge: Her guests aren’t the fragile and defenseless wanderers she’d initially assumed. The two have amassed their own secrets during their visit which may result in deadly consequences for the three of them.

Meyrick's story begins with promise for her and Kaleb's future, and immediately, we are rooting for their success, but the universe has more suffering in store for these characters. It isn't long before one oppressor is in place of another, and the two happy lovers are separated. So much pain, loss, and mistreatment are bound to drive a person mad... right? The author dives into Meyrick's mind. A dark, macabre, and psychologically thrilling tale leaves you wondering what is real and what is not, and when it ends, you wonder if it is truly over or if there is more horror awaiting those surrounding Meyrick.


"Mail Order Bride" by Debbie Macomber

Mail-Order Bride (Kindle Single): A Novel (Debbie Macomber Classics) by [Macomber, Debbie]


After Caroline Myers gets her heart broken, her beloved great-aunts send her on a spur-of-the-moment northern adventure, equipped with little more than a batch of their special spiked tea. But soon after hopping a plane to Gold River, Alaska, a still loopy Caroline takes part in an odd ceremony that ends with a kiss from her personal tour guide. The next thing she knows, she wakes up with a ring on her finger.

Paul Trevor has always wanted a family, but his long work hours and remote location make dating impossible, so he takes an unconventional first step: sending away for a wife. He falls hard for Caroline’s photograph and letter, but after the wedding, it’s clear they’ve both been duped by his new bride’s well-meaning aunts. Caroline’s afraid this trip has been a mistake. Now Paul just needs to convince her it’s the best mistake she’ll ever make.

I am a fan of the Cedar Cove series, so when I came across this novel and found the description interesting, I decided to read it. Caroline's great aunts were quite sweet and funny, but their well-meaning plot was disastrous. I could bypass the idea that Caroline didn't know what the vacation was truly about until she got to the wedding ceremony. But, if you can close your eyes to how completely drunk or pea-brained she would have had to have been not to understand the nuptials she entered into, you could buy the rest of the story. Their fights were a bit juvenile, and I found it challenging to like Paul. It read quickly, though, and the Alaskan setting was new. I liked how Caroline connected with their community. I also found a scene where Caroline was forced to entertain some male locals a bit funny. All in all, not the worst book I've read, but indeed not this author's best work.


"Feverish Rainfall: A Romantic Short Story" by N. Annette Knight

Feverish Rainfall: A Romantic Short Story by [Knight, N. Annette]


Stranded in a foreign country, Quinne struggles to earn enough money to return home. Taking a job as a flutist with a local band, Quinne encounters distant, distractingly sexy, and out-of-reach Farrell. When an unexpected incident forces them to share a living space for a night, true feelings, and long-held assumptions rise to the surface. Will Farrell learn the truth about Quinne, and will Quinne finally act on her desires?

Elaborate descriptions of settings and emotions place you in the center of a moment between would-be lovers as they discover truths behind their circumstances and surrender to their attraction, a brief but alluring story. There were a few noticeable typos that I feel could be corrected when the book is only twenty-two pages long.


"The Wind Dancer" by Iris Johansen

The Wind Dancer by [Johansen, Iris]


A hidden killer . . .

A conspiracy of treachery. . .

And two people caught in the most desperate game of all . . .

In Renaissance Italy, intrigue is as intricate as carved cathedral doors, but none is so captivating as that surrounding the prized Wind Dancer, the lost treasure of a family—and of the man who will stop at nothing to reclaim it. Lionello Andreas is bound by his vow to guard the exquisite statue. But to recover what is rightfully his, he will need the help of a thief—one he can control body and soul. He finds his answer on the treacherous backstreets of Florence, in a sharp-witted young woman whose poverty leaves her no choice. But in the end, the allure of the Wind Dancer, and the ruthlessness of those who would possess her, will catapult them both into a terrifying realm where death may be the most merciful escape.

I started reading with great hope. The idea that Lion needed a thief for a very complicated, delicate, and essential theft got my mind moving. However, once Sanchia completed the heist, things got a little strange for me. Lion decided he would keep her as a slave, even though he didn't believe in slavery, and he intended to keep her in his bed. The intimate scenes between the two of them made me uncomfortable. At points, the story would stop, so Lion could drag her to a corner and have very rough sex, because he's admittedly animalistic when it comes to his sexual appetites, and then the plot would pick up again. The book contained so much death; so many people close to the main characters died that it depressed me. I had to put the book down and go back later. I did go back, so I wanted to know how it ended. That's a plus. I also highly enjoyed the supporting character of Lorenzo. I found him much more interesting than the main character of Lion. His wit and sarcasm, and his loyalty to Caterina and Lion endeared him to me.


"Whatever It Takes" by Suzanne Burke


James Kincaid had it all.
He’d made it to the ‘A’ list in Hollywood, a town that prized and idolized winners above all else. Three golden statuettes currently graced the mantle of his Los Angeles mansion. Next year’s Oscars held the sweet promise of more.
Then life began exacting a price that no man could be expected to pay as the people he cared about began dying and dying badly.
He couldn’t move on with his life or the dream without knowing why.
Andi O’Connor is the woman he’d hired to do ‘whatever it takes’ to find him the answers.
Could this disenchanted, street-hardened, ex-homicide cop uncover the truth without adding to the growing list of those already sacrificed on the altar of one besotted human’s insanity?
From Hollywood to New York, the body count continues to rise. Time is not on their side.

I began reading this book, and I was sucked into the story, flying through the pages and returning to it as often as I could until I'd finished it. That says a lot to me. The author painted visual settings without excess boring descriptions. The writing flowed smoothly, building and unveiling evidence- clues that made me suspicious about the identity of the villain but left me wondering how the pieces fit together. Characters proved relatable and believably interacted with each other. The depth of depravity, with all revealed, is shocking and evil. I strongly recommend this book. Well done, Ms. Burke.

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