Everything we left behind (Everything #2)

2From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Everything We Keep comes the highly anticipated sequel. Told from one man’s two perspectives, Everything We Left Behind effortlessly blends suspense, mystery, and romance in an exploration of loss, resilience, and the compelling need to protect the ones we love at all cost.

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

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This is book two in the series and should be read in order. You can read my review of the first novel here.

Everything we left behind was a great book, an interesting follow-up the original story. Most books in a series like this tend to follow the same characters throughout, so when I started reading the first, I expected all three books to be told from Aimee’s point of view. However, the second story takes place in two different time periods and from dual perspectives: Carlos’ POV, picking up immediately after Aimee’s visit to Oaxaca, and James’ POV, in the “present day”, in a post-fugue state.

This is a family drama, a who-dun-it. There is mystery, a little bit of romance, and single parent shenanigans.

My favourite part of Kerry Lonsdale’s writing is that she creates flawed characters, flawed people. There is no one in her story that is wholly good or wholly bad, and each person struggles to find their way through such impossible situations.

I am very excited to read the final book in this series, and will start listening to it soon, although at this point, I have no idea whose POV it will cover as James’ story seems to be completed. I am guessing it will be about Phil, or possibly Thomas?

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Timothy Andrés Pabon, who had a lovely accent. I enjoyed listening him and plan to listen to the last in the series as well.

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Overboard (1987)

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From IMDB

Snobbish and wealthy Joanna Stayton (Goldie Hawn) is living a life of leisure with her husband, Grant (Edward Herrmann), when she falls off their yacht and suffers amnesia. Grant takes the opportunity to rid himself of the demanding Joanna — but Dean (Kurt Russell), a widowed carpenter with four kids who once worked for Joanna, arrives and claims she’s his wife. Joanna can’t remember her past identity, but has trouble believing that she was ever meant to be a working-class mother of four.

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Overboard is a movie that stands the test of time. I watched it with my family as a child and recently watched it with a friend who had never seen it before. We were both laughing uproariously throughout the film, turning a lacklustre night into a great girl’s night. After all, who doesn’t want to see Edward Herrmann (who also played Richard Gilmore, of Gilmore Girls) shake it like it’s hot, with a couple of hot babes in each arm!

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Goldie Hawn portrays snobby Joanna so perfectly that we couldn’t stop imitating her and throwing popcorn at the tv. Add in a younger Kurt Russel flexing in his 1980s muscle shirt, and the movie should be pure cheese, except that it’s totally not!

There is good acting through the emotional scenes, and a real connection between all the characters on screen.

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This is the scene that Joanna walks into after leaving the hospital, learning that she is a mother to four wild boys and their equally wild father. She cannot believe that this is her life, as she morosely tells anyone who will listen. And while she is technically right, Joanna learns a few good lessons that stay with her longer than the amnesia.

One of the most remarkable things about watching this film modern-day, is how closely Kate Hudson resembles her mother (Goldie) back in the day.

There is a surprise little feminist twist at the end of the film that I didn’t remember and it was a great ending to the story. I have heard that they are remaking Overboard with a new cast in the next couple of years, but I highly doubt it will be able to match the entertainment value in the 1987 version.

Overboard is a fun family-friendly movie that would be great to watch for your next family movie night!

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The Darkest Hour – a review

I love the first few books in Maya Banks’ KGI series. They feature a post-military career family of 6 boys who start their own consulting business together, covering everything from outsourced government jobs, to private hostage rescues and corporate security.

What sets these books apart from other contemporary military/LEO series is the strong sense of family and the supporting cast that shows up in every book. Because the author starts with such a large family and immediately introduces supporting characters, you don’t get the sense that she is merely adding characters to pair up, in order to continue the series. They are a part of the story from the beginning.

I also love how the heroes are sensitive and gentle to the woman in their lives, without losing any of that badassery. You get to see characters like Rachel experience meaningful relationships outside of the romantic lead in novel, which is something many romances lack.

Speaking of Rachel … here’s the blurb and cover to book 1.

KGI 1

Blurb:

It’s been one year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly last saw his wife Rachel alive. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt over his failures as a husband, Ethan shuts himself off from everything and everyone.

His brothers have tried to bring Ethan into the KGI fold, tried to break through the barriers he’s built around himself, but Ethan refuses to respond… until he receives anonymous information claiming Rachel is alive.

To save her, Ethan will have to dodge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise. And even if he succeeds, he’ll have to force Rachel to recover memories she can’t and doesn’t want to relive—the minute by minute terror of her darkest hour—for their love, and their lives, may depend on it.

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The Darkest Hour is a stand-out first book in the KGI series. I love Ethan and Rachel together and how the whole Kelly clan came together to support them and help Rachel reintegrate back into her old life. If you are looking for a book full of action and explosions, some of the later books in the series might be more to your taste. While The Darkest Hours definitely has action, more of the book is dedicated to Rachel’s overcoming of the abuse she suffered during her year as a captive, and the journey she and Ethan have to take to find their ways back to each other.

The KGI books have less sex and steamy scenes in them than many of the author’s other books, if you are familiar with her writing. There are no bdsm or kinky scenes, making it a good choice for someone who prefers “sweet romance”.

The relationship that Ethan’s brother Garret and Rachel share is incredibly special, and one I’m a little jealous of. The second and third KGI books are about Sam and Garret and I look forward to reviewing them shortly.

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Edit: I just noticed that the first 1.5 chapters are on the book’s amazon page if you want to try this book out before purchasing.

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Songbird by AJ Adams – a review

Songbird is the second novel in the Zetas series that I have reviewed. They are about young women emerging from the hardest of lives imaginable, and men who are the ultimate baddies. Songbird is the sequel  to The Bonus.

Gorgeous model held captive behind bars

Blurb:

When cartel boss Arturo Vazquez discovers his girlfriend Gina is a DEA rat and his deputy Escamilla is staging a take-over, Arturo fixes his problems by killing everyone – except for Solitaire, Escamilla’s unwilling mistress. Solitaire is intelligent, tough, and shares Arturo’s interest in BDSM. Arturo falls head over heels but someone is leaking information – and the evidence point at Solitaire.

Songbird is a complete and self standing novel. Warning: This book contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence and sex.

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I am impressed with how Adams was able to redeem Arturo after his actions in the first book. Talking so cavalierly about the murder of a four year old child to further business, and his ordering of Chloe’s torture at the beginning of The Bonus, made me feel like there was no way Arturo could possibly be a protagonist in his own novel.

I was wrong.

I liked how he took a chance on Solitaire. He could have easily killed her or ordered Kyle to, and not dealt with the hassle and risk of letting her out of that house alive. I think Kyle’s (admittedly limited) morals have rubbed off on good old Arturo a bit!

This book was great because it wasn’t just a repeat of the first novel. Although Solitaire and Chloe both have some serious mental issues to deal with following their pasts, they have very different personalities and coping mechanisms, which keeps the material interesting.

There was a lot more mystery and subterfuge in Songbird, compared to the first book where it felt like the reader just watched events unfold.

One thing that I didn’t like though, is that it was obvious (to me at least) who “Songbird” was from the get-go. The mystery sections of the novel should definitely have been written better.

I also would have preferred to see Solitaire have some problems adapting to her new life in Mexico! She just seemed to soar into this whole new world like it was nothing new, and that is unrealistic. She doesn’t have to struggle pathetically the whole way through, but it just seemed all a little too easy.

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My favourite scene by far was Kyle’s interrogation of Solitaire in the hotel. Going into that scene, knowing his usual methods of interrogation, I had chills! I wish that the book had of stayed like that all the way through.

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T.M. Frazier’s King – a review

This is the first time I have read a book by this author, and am excited that it turned out to be an author I’m following from now on. I am already a “friend” or “fan” of many authors on facebook, and one posted about this book on its release day, with the note that she had been counting down the days and couldn’t wait to read it. I was looking for a new book and that was as good of a recommendation as any, so I picked up a copy and I’m so thankful I did!

King is the name of this book, and the series. The first and second book are about the romantic couple, King and Doe, but there are rumours online that Frazier is thinking about turning it into an actual series, with a third book where an already-introduced secondary character becomes a lead.

This series is young adult romance. So far, the sex has been explicit enough for me to bump it up into an erotica novel. It contains some elements of dubious consent, but it doesn’t push the envelope nearly so far as some of the other books I have reviewed. I would suggest this is a middling on the range of what I review. Here’s the bones of the book.

kingBlurb:

Homeless. Hungry. Desperate.

Doe has no memories of who she is or where she comes from.

A notorious career criminal just released from prison, King is someone you don’t want to cross unless you’re prepared to pay him back in blood, sweat, pussy, or a combination of all three.

King’s future hangs in the balance. Doe’s is written in her past. When they come crashing together, they will have to learn that sometimes in order to hold on, you have to first let go.

Warning: This book contains graphic violence, consensual and nonconsensual sex, drug use, abuse, and other taboo subjects and adult subject matter. Although originally slated to be a standalone, KING is now a two part series.

I really liked King. It had enough surprises and a twist ending that I didn’t see coming. I liked that the protagonists had people that they were loyal to but were otherwise bad a’s. Doe’s fragility and desperation at the beginning of the novel was unique. I have read a lot of novels with bad boy protagonists and this was different from the crowds of others on bookstore shelves.

I am excitedly anticipating the next installment, due out in August.

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