Tag Archives: thriller

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Book Review: Harrowing Roses, by Barbara Cooper

I accepted a review copy of Barbara Cooper‘s Harrowing Roses from Lola’s Blog Tours. The book was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. You can hop over there for author information and contact details.

Harrowing Roses

Can our heroine save the missing girl’s life … and her own?

Dana feels the atmosphere of the marsh seeping into her skin with each day she spends in the cold unwelcoming mansion of her father’s estranged family.

When her young cousin, Debra Lee, mysteriously vanishes, Dana turns to Henry – an attractive neighbor in the isolated cabin nearby, to help her search for her.

Is her cousin dead? What are these strange visions and dreams that her new friend is having … could they be connected to the missing girl?

Despite the hint of something unnatural and strange, Dana is inexplicably drawn to the surrounding woods and to Henry himself.

Does he know more about Debra Lee’s disappearance than he’s revealing… and is it the right time for Dana to start being afraid?

my review
I’m going to state up front that this book starts out very rough. The narrative is rambly— very stream-of-consciousness that repeats and contradicts itself regularly.  I found it hard to follow and there are some obvious grammar mistakes that yanked me even farther out of the narrative. But the book does eventually manage to reign it in (to an extent) and becomes readable.

What’s more, many (not all, but many) of the grammar mistakes are double negatives so common as to practically be regional colloquialisms (or actual colloquialisms, things people commonly say but aren’t correct). Page two, for example, has this one: “…she would leave, and he wouldn’t see her no more…” Had these speech patterns been used consistently enough to feel purposeful, I would have believed the author did it to provide color and depth to the character’s internal thoughts. And this would have added subsequent depth and character to the book itself. But they aren’t and, when combined with the other more pedestrian editing errors—to vs too, then vs than, odd punctuation, super inconsistent tenses, etc—it’s clear this wasn’t authorial choice. It’s lack of external editing.

I took several sentences to make that point. But please don’t take it to mean the book is an editorial disaster. It really isn’t. The book is quite readable. I mention it mostly because I feel it was so close to being something meatier than it turned out to be. But there’s just an informality to it that I don’t think was intended and this often results in lack of clarity, which kept me from really being able to sink into this story.

If this is where I stopped the review I can’t imagine I’d rate the book very well. But for all of the quirks in the writing (that I think a competent editor could clean up and make a stronger story) there is something in the book that appeals…or there is if you stick with it long enough. It has a gothic…dare I say, harrowing quality to it. It reminded me a lot of The Ocean at the End of the Lane and/or We Have Always Lived In the Castle, not in plot but in atmosphere and tone. By the end I had largely forgotten the rough start.

harrowing roses photo

Other Reviews:

Book Review: Harrowing Roses by Barbara Cooper


Barbara Cooper has informed me (over on Goodreads) that I am wrong and the book is considered to be without grammatical errors…

barbara cooper comment

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Book Review: A Sense of Danger, by Jennifer Estep

Late last year, Jennifer Estep‘s A Sense of Danger was featured on Sadie’s Spotlight’s Insta page and I ended up with a bonus copy of the book.

A SPY . . .

My name is Charlotte Locke, and I’m an analyst for Section 47, a secret government agency that tracks terrorists, criminals, and other paramortal bad guys who want to unleash their abilities on an unsuspecting mortal world. I have a magical form of synesthesia that senses danger and uncovers lies—making me a stealthy operative.

I’m trudging through another day when one of Section’s cleaners—assassins—takes an interest in me. I don’t need my synesthesia to realize that he is extremely dangerous and that he will do anything to achieve his goals—even if it means putting me in the line of fire.


I’m Desmond Percy, one of Section 47’s most lethal cleaners. I’m also a man on a mission, and I need Charlotte Locke’s skills to help me keep a promise, settle a score, and kill some extremely bad people.

Charlotte might not like me, but we’re stuck together until my mission is over. Still, the more time we spend together, the more I’m drawn to her. But at Section 47, you never know who you can trust—or who might want you dead.my review
There was nothing wrong with this. The writing is perfectly readable. The editing is pretty clean. It’s not full of plot-holes. I liked the characters well enough. But it’s also kinda bland. The heroine is a Mary Sue and the hero is exactly what you expect him to be and nothing more (a bit of a Marty Stew too). Section 47—the para-mortal version a governmental alphabet organization— isn’t anything more interesting than any other paranormal alphabet agency we’ve all read about. The plot is pretty easy to fallow and the villains easy to figure out. All of it was fine to read, enjoyable even. But also utterly forgettable.

I did appreciate that, being assassins, the characters have a little grey to them. But it’s all lip service, the reader doesn’t actually feel any of it. The romance is pretty light, culminating in one mostly fade-to-black sex scene toward the end of the book and a HFN conclusion. All of it is fine. But it’s also all kind of ‘meh’ too.

a sense of danger cover

Other Review:

A SENSE OF DANGER by Jennifer Estep-Dual Review & Giveaway



Book Review – Fury: The Awakening, by R.E. Sargent

I picked up a freebie code for a copy of Fury: The Awakening (The Scorned, #1), by R.E. Sargent. I’m considering this a bonus Awakening. It doesn’t actually meet the specifications of my Awakening Challenge, since the name isn’t simply Awakening. But I had chores to do today and wanted to listen to an audio book, so I figured I might as well stay on theme.

Fury- The Awakening

Stephanie Duran hoped for the American dream – a husband, a family, a house with a white-picket fence – but every man she ever trusted betrayed her. Forsaken by her last lover, Stephanie finally understands that the American dream will never be her reality. Devastated and emotionally destroyed, she pours all her anger-fueled energy into remodeling her new house – the one part of her dream she could control – when an unexplained phenomenon bestows upon her the mysterious power to right wrongs before they happen. Suddenly empowered and in control of fate, Stephanie finds herself immersed in a world of strange events and discovers too late that she has unwittingly unleashed pure evil.

my review

Fury: The Awakening….or Fury: Birth Of a Failed Vigilante as I would rename it. Good lord, I was pretty much bored for the entirety of this audio book. By the end, I was listening to it at 1.5x normal speed, something that pretty much destroys the listening experience (which would have been fine otherwise) and also something I generally never do. But I just wanted to be done.

The book started strongly, with the main character finding out her fiance is cheating on her and responding appropriately. But after that it took a sharp left into blands-ville. She buys the house and the reader sits through chapter after chapter of her fixing everything up. *Yawn*

Then the Quantum-Leap style time/space hops start and the reader sits through the endless tedious details of her figuring everything else, going on hops, learning to shoot, fight, etc, and then going on one last big hop before everything comes to an end. There’s no over-arcing story line to make this interesting. It’s just a progression of this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened until the end.

And the reader never even learns the story behind the original owner of the house or how the house because the gateway (or whatever) it apparently is. It’s all just dropped. All in all, the writing is fine (though the author sucks at writing female-female dialogue) but I was, as I said, bored by the story.

fury sargent