Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla

Usually I wouldn’t post a book review on a Thursday, but since this book takes place onThanksgiving and it is Thanksgiving, I thought it would be perfect.

Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla (Sunset Reads #2) by D.C. Triana

            In Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla, by D.C. Triana, we return to the publishing company, prospering under the blissfully married Cristina and Will. But in this volume the focus is shifted from them to their friends: Cristiana’s friend from childhood, Layla; and Will’s Special Forces colleague. Layla has fallen for Damian, and he shares her feelings; but instead of creating a relationship Damian abruptly leaves, breaking Layla’s heart.

Years have passed and FBI Agent Damian has returned as a new threat has risen against Will and Cristina. Gus Schwartz, a computer genius, and his company Skyline Enterprises has been revolutionizing industries, along with ransacking their financial accounts. They need compelling evidence to prove that he and his employees are purposefully committing these crimes and Damian will be going undercover to infiltrate the crew at their latest job, Sunset Reads. Damian is eager to help out his friend, but surprised to discover Layla has just been appointed Public Relations Director. He is as equally surprised to discover that he still has feelings for Layla and that she in return wants nothing to do with him.

Layla had hoped to never see or spend another minute thinking about Damian, but finds that will be an unrealistic goal, as he will be working in her department. To make matters worse, she becomes the center of this ring of intrigue; finding herself dodging bullets, becoming a Mata Hari, and forced into having constant FBI protection. With all of this happening, the question isn’t will they save the company: but will they survive?

Thoughts After Reading:

I really didn’t enjoy this novel as I felt it paled in comparison to its predecessor. In Sunset Reads: Will & Cristina; there was a lot of development into the lives of the characters, along with the “life” of the company. We became attached to the characters and the company as we followed their stories, growth, and how the company and publishing world affected them. Cristina was a writer who went through many difficulties, finding a home with Sunset Reads and with Will’s mother. For Will, he had to contend with an abusive stepfather, his drive in Sunset Reads being a way to protect his mother and preserve her legacy. We see how he has to woo Cristina to win her favor; along with having to woo the public in order to have the company prosper. Because of this direct connection, the threat to them and Sunset Reads is felt as acutely with the reader as it is with the characters.

This was not the case with Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla. We are not given a lot of background into who these characters are or their paths that made them the people they are today. They fail to be relatable, so when their situation gets suspenseful or stressful it isn’t as evoking of emotions in the reader.

Damian and Layla also have no direct connection to Sunset Reads, so the level of urgency isn’t the same and their attention isn’t as focused in protecting it. For Layla, she has barely begun working at Sunset Reads, we never see her actually doing her job, or see what threat these hackers and grifters pose against her directly. The same applies to Damian who is supposed to be investigating as ordered by the FBI and in order to aid his friend; but hardly even focuses on the situation; choosing to spend his time investigating Layla’s body. The “threat” against the company is hardly present in the story, mostly being a tool to throw Layla and Damian together or to incite their feelings.

This book doesn’t really build a relationship between Layla and Damian as they go from dislike, Layla of Damian, speedily to desire and then “love”. There isn’t a lot of growth in them or why the relationship will work now when previously Damian stalled it. The emotional relationship is not really seen, the emphasis being on the physical relationship instead.

As a companion in the series Sunset Reads I found it to be lacking. I expected a more rounded tale of characters and plot, giving this one out of five stars.

For more on Sunset Reads, go to Sunset Reads: William & Cristina

For more espionage, go to The Manchurian Candidate

For more FBI, go to Triple Six

For more going undercover, go to Secrets Can Kill

For more book reviews, go to Everybody Wanted Room 623

Secrets Can Kill

Where I live, school starts tomorrow, so I thought what better way to get “back to school” than with a school centered mystery.

Secrets Can Kill (The Nancy Drew Files #1) by Carolyn Keene

So I know most people started with the original Nancy Drew books, but I never grew up reading those. My first introduction to Nancy Drew was The Nancy Drew Files. And of course, the TV show.

In fact, I was first introduced to Nancy Drew by accident. I was looking for a Sweet Valley High book to read and someone had mis-shelved a Nancy Drew Files. 

I first was interested in Nancy Drew when I picked up a copy on accident, as it was mis-shelved with Sweet Valley High. 

Why not try it out?

I read it and loved it and immediately wanted to read the whole series.

Unfortunately, when I started reading them, they were out of print and the library only had a few books in the series. It then became a treasure hunt as I tried to find copies in thrift stores and library book sales.

Background Information:

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high school, amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate.

She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Yes that is Rick Springfield. He played Ned in the Christmas episode which you can check out on Netflix or youtube.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Hmm…

Another thing this book series does, is that since it is a “case file” there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodoneit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

ASSIGNMENT:To pose as a student, go undercover, and investigate a series of thefts at Bedford High.

CONTACT: Daryl Gray, a gorgeous senior with sexy, blueberry colored eyes and an instant attraction to Nancy.

 SUSPECTS: 

  • Jake Webb, a genuine creep who seems to have something on half the kids at school.
  • Walt “Hunk” Hogan, the tough football captain who’s acting strangely paranoid.
  • Carla Dalton, who hates Nancy on sight. Mere jealousy–or something more sinister?
  • Hal Morgan, the class “brain” who Nancy catches cheating on a test.

COMPLICATIONS: There’s more going on at this school than meets the eye. Much more. If Nancy isn’t careful, she could get herself into serious trouble…She could get herself killed.

Nancy thinks this will be a simple job, a few rooms at the school have been broken into, one or two things were stolen. The police can’t do anything as the fingerprints don’t match any of the adults, and the offenses are so minor.

The principal turned to Nancy to pretend to be a student and search who did it, as it is most likely a student. She bought new clothes, will take some easy classes, etc. However, things take a dark turn quickly.

After her shopping trip with Bess she discovers a VHS on her porch. When she puts it in to watch, she sees HERSELF!

What?!

Someone videotaped her, which means whoever she is out to investigate, knows who she is.

The next day, Nancy gets into a race with a handsome guy. When she goes to see the principal and report for her job, it turns out that her contact to know who she really is, is the guy she was racing!

He’s cute!

Daryl Gray is cool, handsome, rich the student body president, and drives a porsche. He and Nancy spend a LOT of time together, and things start heating up between them…

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Nancy starts investigating and discovers that they call the strange happenings in the school “the ghost”.

As she searches further she discovers this case involves a kleptomaniac, hidden injuries, false test scores, blackmail, cut brake lines, and espionage!

Nancy figures out who the is responsible for the break ins, but when she goes to confront them the next day-they turn out to be dead! Will Nancy solve the mystery or turn out to be next?

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This book doesn’t have as many as later ones do. There is one that caught my eye, when Nancy goes to the dance near the end of the novel. I always imagine her in something like this:

And let’s not forget the cover, I love the purple leather jacket and would totally wear that of I could find one.

Thoughts After Reading:

Loved it! From beginning to end. It had a great twist I didn’t see coming as well.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

When she investigates a rock star’s mysterious disappearance, Nancy once again finds herself probing perilous secrets! Her only lead takes her straight to Bess’ new boyfriend. What is he hiding? Finding out my kill her friendship with Bess. But not finding out may kill the kidnapped rock star–with Nancy and her friends next on the hit list.

Can Nancy survive the dark side of the rock scene? Find out in DEADLY INTENT–Case #2 in The Nancy Drew Files,™ available now!

For more Nancy Drew, go to Betty and Veronica: Stranger Than Fiction

For more private investigators, go to Sam the Cat: Detective

For more female private investigators, go to B is for Burglar

For more ’80s mysteries, go to C is for Corpse

For more undercover mysteries, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more espionage, go to The Manchurian Candidate

The Hyde Park Murder

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

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Typically I post a recipe, but as I stumbled upon a book that not only takes place on the 4th of July but features a president, I thought I would post on this instead.

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The Hyde Park Murder (Eleanor Roosevelt Investigates #2) by Elliot Roosevelt

Neighbor Adriana van der Meer comes to Eleanor Roosevelt for help. She was engaged to Bob Hannah, but her parents no longer want her to see him. His father, Alfred Doolittle Hannah, has just been accused of a multi-million dollar stock swindle.

But before the case can go to court, Bob’s father dies by suicide.

Not only are the upcoming nuptials on hold, but Bob is convinced that not only did his father not participate in the scam, but that he did not die by suicide but:

Bob sets out to investigate, going undercover as a lowly employee in his father’s former company. He also gets assistance from a call girl, Miss Moira Lasky.

On the case!

Eleanor decides to assist, bringing in the Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Joseph P. Kennedy, Mayor Fiorella La Guardia, Supreme Justice Brandies, and congressman Sam Rayburn.

It turns out that what they stumbled on is more than just a con, but masking who is really behind it all; the growing German Nazi Party.

Seriously?

Will they be able to stop them before they take America’s money to fund their war?

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Thoughts After Reading:

It was okay.

I didn’t think it was as bad as the first one, but it was pretty boring and bland.

They go on and on about stock information I really did not care to know about.

 The only interesting character was Moira but she wasn’t in the book enough.

So pretty much:

For more Eleanor Investigates, go to Murder and the First Lady

For more 4th of July posts, go to Happy 4th of July Triple Berry Salad

For more holiday posts, go to Crazy Cantina Chili

For more books based on real people, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more on mysteries with embezzlement, go to Murder Well Done

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Happy 4th of July!

Murder and the First Lady

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Murder and the First Lady (Eleanor Roosevelt Investigates #1) by Elliot Roosevelt

When one of Mrs. Roosevelt’s employees is suspected of murdering her boyfriend, Mrs. Roosevelt decides to investigate in order to clear her aide’s name.

The murdered boyfriend is the son of a congressman and he does not care for the First Lady’s involvement, especially as she starts to unearth some unsavory things about his son.

Mrs. Roosevelt will not give up, going from gambling dens to brothels in order to find the truth.

Thoughts After Reading:

I hated it.

It was so dumb. How could the President’s wife go undercover as a prostitute and no one notice?

Yeah, thought this was dumb and boring. Definitely a skip.

For more mysteries based on real people, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more historical fiction, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more on going undercover as a prostitute, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For more mystery reviews, go to The Sign of the Four

The Shadow Hunter

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The Shadow Hunter (Abby Sinclair and Tess McCallum Series) by Michael Prescott

So I was first introduced to this series when I picked up a copy of Next Victim at a library book sale.

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It’s been a while since I read and before I look at it again I decided it was time that I started the series from the beginning.

Read it today!

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So the first thing that surprised me about this book is that it is all about freelance security consultant, Abby Sinclair.

What?

There is no FBI Agent Tess McCallum, the protagonist from Next Victim.

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Looking at Goodreads, it looks as if the two meet up in later books so maybe the first two are introductory novels to the characters? Or two books that were combined to create a series. I guess I’ll have to do some research.

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So the book starts out with a flashback. Abby’s firm has a different way of going about protecting their client from stalkers and other potential threats. Instead of being around the client, she instead places herself in the perpetrator’s world: befriending the stalker/threat, living next to them, discovering their secrets, and judging whether they are actually going to act on their fantasy or whether it is just bluster.

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Abby has been assisting a case on a case of a famous rock singer. To her chagrin, he won’t listen and remain in seclusion, but insists on going to a club.

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Of course his stalker followed and were she goes Abby does too.

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After many drinks, Abby leaves to conduct standard protocol and notify her team that they should come in, the stalker is nearing red light warning status. But as she is making the call, the stalker kills the client.

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It’s been a year later and that incident has caused trouble for many. Abby left the firm, and the firm has suffered from bad press. The once flourishing company has been culled back to the barest of bones.

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But Paul Travis, head of the company, is a forgiving guy and calls Abby back in to help with a new case. Abby is eager to help as she feels horrible and guilty for not only being unable to save the rock star, but for damaging her boss/”boyfriend”‘s business.

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The new client is the beautiful news anchor, Kris Barwood. Kris was the only one to not blame the company for the death of the rock star, so Travis and Abby are in some real pressure to do right on this. If they succeed in stopping her stalker, it could set everything right. But if they fail, completely demolish them both.

I wonder...

Kris’ husband doesn’t believe in Travis’ company and thinks they should finds someone else to assist them. Kris, however, chooses to ignore him as she no longer trusts her husband, knowing that he is out cheating on her with younger women.

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Kris has been stalked by Raymond Hickle. Everyday he grows more and more intent on reaching Kris and killing her. While he starts planning, a new neighbor moves in: Abby Sinclair.

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Abby begins working on Raymond and his apartment, getting closer and closer to him. Just as she has made incredible progress, Raymond receives a note from his partner. Yes, it seems that someone anonymous wants Kris dead and is using Hickle to get rid of her.

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This partner has just let Raymond know the truth about Abby, and put her life in danger.

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Who is this mysterious person? Which of the people in Kris’ life are trying to kill her? And will Abby make it out?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this book was pretty good.

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It was a tough crime novel that gave an interesting perspective into stalkers’ minds.

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I liked the character of Abby, although at times she was a little dense at judging people. Choosing to trust the untrusty over the worthy, but then again that’s is pretty realistic.

MeanGirls I know right!

I thought the the twist ending of who Hickle’s partner was, was done excellently.

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It is obvious who it is, but Prescott did a wonderful job at smoke screening it so that you thought it was another or doubted you judgement.

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I give it three out of five stars

***Spoiler Warning***

 

The only thing I really didn’t like was how Abby could not see that Paul was the bad guy. The way he acted so closed off, his emotions/personality; how could she not tell that he hated her and wanted him gone.

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I knew it was him.

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I didn’t put the pieces together why he wanted Kris dead and thought that was a great twist. And the way he set the husband up? Excellently planned for his character.

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For more stalkers, go to The Postman Always Purls Twice

For more undercover tales, go to A Change of Fortune

For more mysteries, go to Bake Until Golden

 

A Change of Fortune

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A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction #1) by Jen Turano

We were first introduced to Lady Eliza Sumner in Gentlemen of Her Dreams as she attends a dinner banquet. This book, however, is her story.

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When Lady Eliza Sumner lost her father, fiancé, fortune, and faith; she decided she would track down the criminal who stole her wealth and make him pay.

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Pretending to be a governess, and hiding what she looks like with a disguise, she prepares to use this to infiltrate high society and catch the thief.

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Mr. Hamilton Beckett is a widower with two children, and also the “catch of the season”. He doesn’t wish to be constantly paraded in front of single women as they all hope to catch his fortune.

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However, he and Eliza cross paths when she is asked to participate in a banquet when a guest is unable to.

Hamilton finds himself going along with Eliza as he is after the same guy. Eliza doesn’t enjoy this as she doesn’t want his help, nor her employer’s daughter, Agatha. Agatha wants to be a newspaper reporter and is insistent on using her investigative skills to catch this thief.

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At first Eliza is intent on not trusting anyone, but when all try to help her and show their care for her; she starts wondering if maybe her plans aren’t the ones she needs to follow after all, maybe God has something better in mind.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So I had read Gentlemen of Her Dreams and was not impressed. It was mostly the storyline of Gidget, just in historical fiction.

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However, I really enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were a lot of fun and interesting.

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There were some really funny scenes when the girls are trying to break into the thief’s house, only to discover that the Beckett brothers are doing the same thing.

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It was a great read, I highly recommend it.

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For more historical fiction, go to The Italian Wife

For more investigative reporters, go to The Saint Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre

For more reviews, go to No Limits