Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for August 2013

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August banner with pencils

August 2013 Review and Blog Summary:

5 Star Rating:

Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #4) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wicked Incarcerations (Wicked’s Way #3) by Havan Fellows contemporarysummer images with book

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1) by Lee Brazil (4.5 stars) contemporary
Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr (4.75 stars) fantasy
Demolished by Astrid Amara (4 stars), contemporary
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) by T.A. Chase, (4.5 stars) contemporary
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2) by Lee Brazil
The Beast Without by Christian Baines (4.75 stars) supernatural
Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5) by Erica Pike (4 stars) contemporary
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Ways #2) by Havan Fellows
Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Ways #1) by Havan Fellows

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burden by Annmarie McKenna (3.5 stars) contemporary
Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbon (3.75 stars) fantasy
Fall For Me (Rock Gods #1) by Ann Lister, contemporary
Handle With Care by Josephine Myles (3.5 stars) contemporary
Mixed Tapes, Vol. 2 by Kris Jacen editor (3.5 stars) contemporary
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots #9) by Bailey Bradford (3.75 stars) supernatural
Subtle Innuendos (Mixed Tape series) by Z. Allora (3 stars) contemporary
The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B.G. Thomas ((3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Queen’s Librarian by Carole Cummings (2.75 stars) fantasy

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

Aching For It (Dominican Heat #1) by Stanley Bennett Clay (1 star) contemporary

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows    
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil
Wait? That Was The Ending? A Writing Mini rant From Scattered Thoughts

Review: Burden by Annmarie McKenna

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Burden coverIt’s Detective Keegan Monroe’s first day off after a long undercover assignment and all he wants to do is relax and enjoy his coffee.  But his day is shattered when a  man dives in front of him throwing them both to the ground.  Then a gunshot goes past them as a murder attempt fails.  The man laying on top of him is stuttering that he couldn’t let him kill Keegan.  Suspicious of his savior, Keegan takes the man into custody for questioning.  But at the precinct some astonishing facts are revealed. The suspect is a former I.A . police detective.

Detective Brennan McGuire has been struggling to adjust to the brain damage he incurred when his car went over a cliff during an investigation.  Along with stuttering and the massive physical scarring caused by the accident, Brennan also has long and short term memory problems which make it almost impossible to cope with the requirements of every day life.  Brennan can’t remember the accident or much else about his life as a police officer.  But something sparked in the depths of his traumatized memory when he saw someone aiming a gun at the man at the table and he reacted.

During the investigation into the shooting, Keegan and Brennan find themselves falling first into bed and then into a relationship.  But their romance triggers Brennan’s repressed memories of his accident with startling results.  Now Keegan and Brennan find themselves with not one mystery but two to solve and some very determined people who want to make sure that Brennan never remember.  Can Keegan and Brennan find love while keeping each other alive?

I think Annmarie McKenna has the makings of a terrific story here but several issues, including the ending, leave it at that – just the ingredients and nothing more.  I loved the idea of a brain injured detective whose traumatized brain holds the key to his injury and much more.  It’s a great plot tactic because it pulls in those readers who love the hurt/comfort element while upping the tension and anticipation in the story for the moment when the character remembers the past and pulls it all together in a satisfying denouement.   And it works for most of the story. Right up until the author throws it all away.

Detective Brennan McGuire’s life’s a mess.  He can barely remember the social niceties that get people through the day, let alone  pay for a cup of coffee. As created by McKenna, he is an object of sympathy and engages our affections immediately.  I liked her treatment of his brain trauma.  He is still touchy and snarky even if he can’t remember the simplest thing like a pepperoni pizza or to shake the hand offered to him.   His is a beautifully layered portrait of a man coping with brain trauma and not always succeeding.

Keegan Monroe is a somewhat less effective character.  As a detective who immediately gets sexually involved with a suspect, and a brain damaged suspect at that, Keegan appears to have a less than solid grasp on police ethics, not to mention the appearances of taking advantage of someone in recovery.  I got that the sparks flew between them.  McKenna does a more than credible job making us believe the men can’t keep their hands off each other.  But the facts about their relationship and Brennan’s physical and mental state kept me from throughly investing myself in their affair.

The author does a good job in plotting out the mystery for the readers.  She slowly gears up the anxiety over the safety of the men as more and more facts about  Brennan are revealed. But all the suspense and anticipation is demolished in an ending that is rushed and incomplete in terms of motives and facts.  I was, in fact, astonished when I came to the end.  All that build up and the reader gets nothing for their time and effort spent on this story.  It pretty much just stops with no real explanation, no satisfactory reveal of  all the criminals, and certainly no resolution to the relationship of a detective and a still brain damaged individual.

And that is a shame because this book could have been so much more.  With a longer, more fully developed ending and perhaps even an epilogue, this could have been one of my “must read” recommendations.  But as it is, I will say that if you are a fan of Annmarie McKenna, then pick this up.  But if you are looking for romance, a terrific mystery and an ending that will leave you satisfied, then head elsewhere.

Cover by Angela Waters.  This is just a generic cover that has nothing really to do with the story.  Grade C for effort.

Book Details:

ebook, 117 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 1619218291 (ISBN13: 9781619218291)
edition language English

Its Official, Area 51 Exists! Plus The Week Ahead in Reviews

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alien efaniroswell_e0 wavingIts official,  The government has finally stated that Area 51 exists after all!  The Washington Post reported yesterday that after all these years of speculation and wild reports, Area 51 is a real place.  What a stunning piece of stating the obvious!  Now the government isn’t admitting that those buildings are full of  aliens or spaceships of any kind.  Nope, just saying that hey, those really were the droids you were looking for inside those miles of barbed wire, high security fencing and soldiers.  No one fake Area 51 signknows what prompted this admission after all these years of denial but it is sure to make those believers of UFO’s, conspiracy theorists, and other diehard visionaries of the unknown to press for more information,  a fuller disclosure of exactly what is contained within those buildings the government has hidden away for such a long time.

I hope it’s aliens or spaceships or something wonderful.  Wouldn’t it be great for all those movies from Independence Day to 51 to be right?  Can the X Files Mulder and Scully be finally allowed that the truth really is out there? Can you imagine the pressure to finally let people inside the gates of that most hallowed UFO ground?  I would love to be there just to people watch.  It would be fantastic!

Of course, there is also a more serious downside to this article too.  That of the soldiers and workers stationed  within Area 51 who have been reporting for years that the place has made them ill, most of them tragically so.  And all the while they have been getting sick, they have  also been unable to tell Green alien perplexedpeople where they worked or what they were working on.  Still can’t.  What happens to them?  Government is not addressing that matter either.

I have to admit part of me never wants to see those gates opened to the public.  I love the mystery of it, the imaginations that have been set loose over the years by just the thought of the enigma that Area 51 represents.  I fear the actuality is far more mundane…like weapons from the Cold War or something similar.   I want there always to exist something unknown, something to pull us in, make us think or dream or even fear.  Something that pulls us out of ourselves and into the bigger picture.  Is that so bad?tiny alien

For now the question is moot.  The government has no intension of saying anything further about the matter.  While Area 51 finally exists (duh), as far as the government is concerned that’s it.  Just a sign, folks, ignore the men with the guns beside it.  These are not the droids you are looking for.  Well, you know what they say…..once the alien is out of the spaceship, its hard to cram them back in.  Just ask Orson Wells…..

Now on to the week ahead in reviews.  It is quite the mixed bag.  I am starting the week off with a book that by all accounts should be a must read for all writing classes and workshops as an example of how not to write a story.  From schizophrenic writing styles (more than one actually in one book) to awful characterizations, dialog that makes one cringe and an ending that just stops, well it has it all, just not in a good way.  Read the review just for the excerpts. Remarkable actually when I think about it. Then I am starting on the second group of stories from the Pulp Friction authors, this time Lee Brazil and the Chances Are series,  They are really good, I think you will love them.  I am also working on another mini rant, this time called The Case of the Missing Aha Moment.  I hope to have that one for you by Saturday.  If not, it will slide into next week and I will substitute a review on Saturday instead.

Monday,  Aug. 19:                 Aching For It by Stanley Bennett Clay

Tuesday, Aug. 20:                  Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Wednesday, Aug. 21:           Second Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Thursday, Aug. 22:                Subtle Innuendos by Z. Allora

Friday, Aug. 23:                      Burden by Annmarie McKenna

Saturday, Aug. 24:                The Case of the Missing Aha Moment – a Scattered Thoughts mini rant on writing postponed

The Queen’s Librarian by Carole Cummings