"My GRL" by John W. Howell

My GRL by [John W. Howell]


John J. Cannon, a successful San Francisco lawyer, needs some well-deserved time off. He takes a leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. His short-term plan is to become a charter fishing boat captain. John is unaware his craft has been targeted by a terrorist group to be used to destroy a class of Annapolis Midshipmen on their summer cruise. John’s first inkling of trouble is when he wakes up in the hospital and learns he was unconscious next to the body of the young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. To further complicate the situation, he was lying on the gun that killed her

John now has a more critical plan than charter fishing. He needs to convince law enforcement that he is innocent of the woman’s murder and to figure out why he was in the position of taking the fall.

John’s quest for answers takes him from the small fishing village of Port Aransas to eventually confront those who are holding him prisoner on the cargo ship carrying My GRL in the hold. The answers come fast and not to John’s liking. The chief terrorist has decided to lash John to the wheel of My GRL which is packed with C4 explosives and by remote control steer them to certain death at the Port of New York. The plan is to destroy the Midshipmen and the Intrepid museum. All this to satisfy the terrorists need for revenge on perceived grievances against America and the leader’s hatred for John.

If you like your heroes’ to be regular people and you want your thrillers to be exciting with plenty of twists and turns this is the book for you. It is the first in the John Cannon Trilogy.

My GRL's main character, John Cannon made an impression; likable, funny, and obsessive at points, I could relate to him. I'm glad the author explained a lot of the technical aspects of the yacht because I'm unfamiliar with boats and sailing terms. In one of my favorites scenes, John drove his FJ across the beach fleeing from the terrorists and thought he'd succeeded, but things aren't always what they seem. Sometimes the pace slowed too much, for example, the many pages devoted to the cotter pin and if it could be helpful, but for the most part, the story held my interest and kept me turning the pages. While John planned to escape and save the day, the story came alive again and I didn't want to stop reading until I discovered the outcome of his plight. The motivation for the terrorist attack seemed strange to me, but these kinds of things often seem crazy or mindless when they happen in real life. I would like to read the next book in the series.


"Verity's Sunset" by Brett Galen

Verity's Sunset by [Brett Galen]


John Tyson is the yearbook photographer at his school, but he continues to wonder if anyone sees the guy behind the camera. Signing up for an environmental workshop during Spring Break, he meets a girl named Verity with a zest for life and a mission to find the perfect sunset. As their friendship deepens, a dark secret is revealed. Will her secret be enough to keep them apart or will they be strong enough together to find Verity's Sunset?

The author crafted a sweet, endearing read that brought forth tears and imparted an important message. I liked the main character, John. His familiar high school plight - secretly adoring Donna, a girl he didn't think would ever date him - had a unique twist. Although he worried that no one saw him beyond his camera and his photographs, he learned to view himself and life through Verity's eyes; she, and her circumstances, helped him come out of his shell. The book had very few typos or mechanical issues, but the story could have been more impactful by removing "was" as a repetitive verb choice and replacing it with a powerful verb.


"Murders on the Ridge: Mystery in Briar County" by Andrea Smith

Murders on the Ridge: Mystery in Briar County by [Andrea Smith]


Eight bodies were found in less than four hours in Briar County, Ohio . Every significant member of the Hatfield family of Briarton, their ages ranging from 16 to 44, were shot execution-style inside of four different homes not far apart.

Local, Federal and State law enforcement officers have swarmed the community, interviewing more than 50 people and combing the wooded areas surrounding the crime scenes. Sheriff Charles Ridley called the investigation one of the largest in Briar County history.

Ohio Attorney General Nick Devlin said the massacre was “pre-planned” and “sophisticated.”

A wealthy Ohio businessman out of Cincinnati, Ohio offered a $25,000 reward to anyone with answers.

But when the answers started to come, they only raised more questions.
Fingers began to point, family conflicts grew, and before this crime was solved, one more local would be found dead.

This book was based on an intriguing true story. The author did a pretty good job weaving it into fiction. It could use a little editing. When two people converse, they don't generally address each other by name each time they speak. It's cumbersome. The small town dripping with political conspiracies, corrupt law enforcement, and drug activity made for a compelling read. 


One Lakeside Summer (Bluegill, Michigan Book 3) by Amie Denman

One Lakeside Summer (Bluegill, Michigan Book 3) by [Amie Denman]


When Olivia Cleveland buys a historic building in Bluegill, Michigan, to follow her dream of opening The True Love Yarn Shop, she discovers it comes with an unexpected guest. A handsome man is borrowing her dock so he can restore his wooden sailboat and launch a long voyage to fulfill a dream. Olivia’s previous experience with dreamers has proven that yarn is the safest place for her heart, but Max England charms her enough to keep his boat at her dock. With each summer day, Max weaves himself more into Olivia’s heart until they both wish he didn’t have to sail away. When the summer ends, will true love be waiting at the end of his journey?

Max and his dog, Captain steal Olivia's heart. Olivia and Max's connection builds slowly, behind the scenes. This is a sweet, clean romance. The couple eventually shares a kiss, and they know they love each other. I like that Olivia is a strong female lead. She's okay without Max, even when they're separated, but somehow they're better together. An easy read where a happily ever after awaits. When trying to describe the feeling the book evokes, it reminds me of a Hallmark movie.

"Who's at the Door?" by JC Bratton

Who's at the Door? by [JC Bratton]


Due to an unfortunate accident, 17-year old Jamie Patterson had to decline a Hawaiian cruise with her family and stay at home. To protect the home while they were away, Jamie's father installed a video-monitored doorbell. Little did Jamie know that the device that was supposed to guard her would ultimately become her biggest nightmare. At 3:33 PM, Jamie received a notification on her phone that the doorbell rang; however, there was no one at the door…With the aid of her estranged boyfriend, Jamie unravels a mystery more dangerous than she could possibly imagine in order to answer one simple question: "Who's at the door?"

Too much telling and not enough showing. Anticlimactic and sometimes confusing. The premise and some of the ideas were very promising. I think attempting a 'Carriesque' theme - as a character mentioned in the story- fell flat. Could be so much better if the book was longer and the reader got to watch things happen and not hear about what happened.

'Think Murder (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Book 1)' by Cassidy Salem

Think Murder (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Book 1) by [Cassidy Salem]


Good friends, wine and conversation… Great fun – until somebody turns up dead.
Adina Donati came to Washington D.C. to find excitement, not a dead body. When a friend is murdered, Adina is drawn into the middle of the police investigation. Tensions rise as the suspect list expands to include Adina, her friends, and colleagues at the prestigious think tank where she works. But every cloud has a silver lining. Between the nice detective, the hot new volunteer at the dog rescue center, and the newly available preppy ex-boyfriend, Adina’s dating dry spell appears near its end. That is, if she doesn’t become the next victim.

I read this book rather quickly. I don't regularly read mysteries of the cozy variety. Although all the points of a thrilling story were present, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed when I'd finished it. Wait, That's it? I suppose the even keel of emotions throughout the book may be typical for the genre? Adina didn't seem quite upset enough over finding her murdered best friend. It appeared her lukewarm romantic interest in two different men mitigated her distress pretty quickly. When she uncovered political secrets that could have triggered the killing, I thought, 'here we go; this is an interesting angle,' but again, even with attempted kidnapping, the tension didn't seem to rise. The drama appears at the office amongst coworkers and the jealousy between volunteers at the animal shelter. Alternate suspects were hinted at with little to no reason behind the suggestions - and those spins didn't take root, they could have been played out to the benefit of the mystery. So many times, I thought scenes were building to an event, 'maybe this will happen,' I thought, 'or maybe that,' but really, nothing happened. Even though Adina uncovered the clues that led to the case being solved, once those details were known, the investigator figured it all out and then just dumped the info into Adina's - and the reader's - lap. Boom; done. All we're left with going into the next book is wondering which man Adina will choose. If you enjoy a book with a realistic setting and clean romance that entails murder, kidnapping, and political intrigue but reads quickly and easily without making your emotions reel and doesn't keep you awake at night, perhaps you'll enjoy this book. 


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