Tag Archive | mystery

Review: Shattered Identity by Sandra Robbins

Series: Ocracoke Island #2

shattered identity -sandra robbinsSomeone—with a very personal motive—has it out for Lisa Wade, Ocracoke Island’s sheriff’s dispatcher.

She was viciously attacked, her home was ransacked and one very precious possession was stolen. Deputy Scott Michaels plans to stay close until the culprit is caught …but that means involving Lisa in the investigation. And her assistance may cause more trouble for Lisa when she finds clues in a journal to a deadly mystery.

As Lisa and Scott cross dangerous territory, they inch closer to the truth— and to each other.

But lurking in the shadows is a killer determined to keep some secrets buried forever.

3 Drink Me Potions

After reading the first Ocracoke Island book, I fell in love with the island and the Michaels family. I just had to gobble down the next book in the series.

This story focused on the new big brother in the family, the events which introduce him to us occurring in Dangerous Reunion. However, a little different from the previous book, the mystery felt a little more flat to me.

First, the culprit was slightly predictable (in my opinion, which may be biased considering I read a ton of mysteries), which is never good sign when it comes to who-dunnit mysteries. It still took a while to get to that point where I could 100% say I’m positive on the identity, but it definitely occurred before the climax of the story.

Second, Lisa’s character was a little more reckless and defensive when it came to her mother. Granted, it was warranted considering the small town didn’t always have the nicest things to say to her. But always fighting with Scott’s protective concern for her was a little tiresome. She honestly could’ve been killed so many times during the course of the book, if not for the fact that it couldn’t happen since she’s one of the protagonists.

And lastly, the romance was just harder to swallow. Both Lisa and Scott have emotional scars from their past. I understand this was the connecting point that brought them to each other, but also the point from which the healing powers that only come from Jesus can work its way through the story. I did like that. Peace that transcends all understanding comes only from Him. And in a beautiful setting such as this island? I can imagine what it would feel like if I were to bask in His glory there.

I will end with saying that this novel didn’t stick out all too much from the pack of Love Inspired Suspense books and its formula, but it still was an enjoyable enough read. My favourite point was the real-life story of how a lamb sacrificed itself to save several soldiers from being killed by an IED. That is the best story I’ve heard in a long time.

Review: Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

blue smoke -nora robertsReena Hale grew up with an intimate knowledge of the destructive power of fire. When she was a child, her family’s restaurant was burned to the ground, and the man responsible was sent to jail. The Hale family banded together to rebuild, and Reena found her life’s calling.She trained as a firefighter and then as a cop, always with the end goal in sight: to become an arson investigator.

Now, as part of the arson unit, she is called in on a series of suspicious fires that seem to be connected-not just to each other, but to her. And as danger ignites all around her, Reena must rely on experience and instinct to catch a dangerous madman who will not stop until everything she loves has gone up in smoke.

1 Drink Me Potion

DNF’d at ~25%

I was itching for a good mystery with a sprinkling of romance, and I thought, Hey I really adored some of Nora Robert’s mysteries before. Let’s give another one a try. Unfortunately, Blue Smoke may have sounded interesting in the synopsis but it’s really such a bore to get through.

The synopsis states in a concise manner how our protagonist Reena first encountered a fire and thus, set her on the path in becoming an arson investigator. But oh no! The prologue in this novel isn’t like, one chapter long like you may think. It stays in the good ol’ past for several chapters when Reena was 11. And then, when there’s finally a flash forward (thank heavens!), it only moves 7 years to when she’s 18 and in college and experimenting with things.

The pacing is way too slow in my opinion. Yes, the mystery and the fires revolving around her start in her past but I swear Roberts could have written it in a more concise manner. Descriptions of everything , from the food laid out (’cause they’re Italian so there’s gotta be a lot of food) to wedding decorations and planning, it just gets overwhelming. Not to mention, the names of different people coming in and out of the story in just the first several chapters.

Honestly, I think this plot had a lot going for it, but I just can’t make myself go through 20 more years of Reena’s life in this slow cadence of things. I hate giving up on books, but this one really deserves my DNF shelf.

And by the way, I could already tell who the culprit of all these mysterious fires was even from where I stopped.

Overall Recommendation:
With plenty of intrigue that has become one of Nora Roberts’ signatures, Blue Smoke seemed to have a lot of potential. However, with the slow progression in plot, moving in increments by the years through Reena’s life since she was a child, I just couldn’t make myself follow along with the intensity I wanted. It just became so boring, especially with the ridiculously in-depth descriptions of the tiniest details. I’m a little disappointed as I’ve loved some of her mysteries in the past, but if you’re okay with a slow pace and detailed paragraphs, then this might be an okay book for you. As for me? Hasta la vista.

Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

Series: The Leveller #1

the leveller -julia durangoNixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?


3.5 Drink Me Potions

The Leveller is a nice combination of gaming fun that doesn’t get too tech-y to annoy non-gamers but also revels in an imaginative gamer’s world. Its well-paced action and unique gaming checkpoints to complete was most definitely entertaining.

I myself am not much of a huge gamer. I play some but I’m definitely not hardcore by any means. So to enter a genre of science fiction dealing with gaming technology would be a hit or miss for me. The Leveller surprisingly bypassed my expectations of mediocrity.

The most surprising element (and probably the most enjoyable) was the varying levels of horror that our fierce protagonist, Nixy, had to face in order to reach Wyn in his custom world within the game. From fighting off giant centipedes to sharks underwater and anacondas, the suspense of getting through each level without dying and restarting had me on the edge of my seat. The unknown challenges she had to face was just as entertaining, although I wish the overall maze component of the story took up a bigger portion of the plot.

The characters were mostly fresh and original. Nixy, otherwise known as Phoenix, was spunky. She didn’t let others get her down for being a leveller. Her two best buds, Chang and Moose, also had character (if the interesting names they go by don’t already suggest that). Together, it was like watching a gaming trio do its magic on a gaming world they knew so well.

However, what stuck out even more was the gaming world building. It’s uncertain how far in the future this is set, but I’m assuming it’s to be reminiscent of the potential NEAR future. Durango really developed and described this gaming platform, the MEEP, to the minute details. It must be due to her experience as a gamer to go to such fine workings of this program. It’s interesting whether or not the idea of a virtual reality gaming experience is completely original or not. I appreciated the details because it gave me the sense of what was truly going on for Wyn and Nixy in this complex trap they found themselves in.

What could be improved for me was the abrupt ending and the romance. The twist was nice, although not necessarily unpredictable. It brought about more questions than answers which even the characters voiced out. I’m glad to see there’s a second book, but for such a short and easy read, it could’ve maybe left it at a nicer point.

As for the romance, I just didn’t feel it with Wyn and Nixy. 6 days trapped in the MEEP together can cause a lot of stressful bonding, but there just didn’t seem to be a lot connecting them. They’re attractive people? They’re under high stress? That doesn’t make it any less strange to see them kissing all of a sudden. I hope it gets a little better in the next one, but at least romance isn’t truly a strong contender in this novel.

For a book that I picked randomly to read, The Leveller overall surprised me in a good way and I look forward to seeing what comes next for Nixy and Wyn.

Overall Recommendation:
The Leveller is full of action and smartly written challenges for Nixy Bauer, our protagonist, to face as she tries to rescue some millionaire’s son. With checkpoint levels to pass in a virtual world holding Wyn captive, this story is both exciting and suspenseful as we race to get to the bottom of this crazy scheme and escape the MEEP. There’s not too much gamer-talk or references to annoy, but I’d say it would still satisfy those who enjoy this genre. Overall, it was a surprisingly easy read albeit ending abruptly with the most hideous cliffhanger. Romance lovers, this story isn’t for you, although I think you may still find some enjoyment from other areas.

Review: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

the-accident-season-moira-fowley-doyleEvery October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

2.5 Drink Me Potions

This book is deliciously eerie. There’s no other way of describing it. And the chaos that occurs to this little family is erratic and a bit dark, like there’s something otherworldly following their accidents. The strange coincidences that happen every October. I don’t know how to describe it. It makes you wanna peel it back layer by layer, slowly unravelling the craziness.

The imagery portrayed in the ghostly figures Cara sees and the other strange things this one particular “girl” keeps leaving behind for her to find. It’s a mysterious story with a plot that sometimes confuses you and makes you wonder what the heck is going on.

Amidst the scarier intrigue, there’s a bit of a forbidden romance going on. I personally have nothing against Cara falling for her ex-stepbrother but it is a little weird if you focus hard enough on it. However, I find their little piece of romance like a small island to float in and bask in its blissfulness amidst the hushed tones of the rest of the novel. It’s like this story’s version of comic relief, except more cute.

The ending is also wonderfully ambiguous. In a good way. Whether or not you believe in magic, ghosts or mere coincidences, this does teach the idea that secrets kept hidden in closets all eventually find a way to explode itself out.

Overall Recommendation:
The Accident Season is unlike any book I’ve read. It stands out with its mysterious airs and strange happenings to this little family. With accidents that aren’t always just small mishaps, the intrigue and excitement ramps up when Cara thinks she’s seeing things, or people more like it. It’s an interesting read, albeit a bit strange for my general tastes, but I’d say it’s worth a flip through.

Review: Shade Me by Jennifer Brown

Series: Nikki Kill #1

shade me -jennifer brownNikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.


2.5 Drink Me Potions

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Shade Me comes out January 19, 2016**

It took me a long time to persuade myself to read Shade Me after seeing the drastic negative ratings from reviewers. Now that I’ve actually read it for myself, I can see why it may not have sat well with everyone.

Here’s the background context of the story.

Nikki Kill (cool last name, right?) is a synesthete who associated colours with numbers and letters. Oh boy, I can only imagine how distracting that would be to do math or chemistry with colours floating in the air around it.

Anyway, she likes to be alone for the most part. She has no real friends. This all stems back from her mother’s murder when she was a kid that was never solved. Add into the equation that not everyone believed she had synesthesia, which I find astounding considering it isn’t some unheard of disorder that affects nearly no one, she’s apt to want to stick to herself. Trust and trusting her heart to someone is a huge issue with her. So getting dragged into a whole mess with a super powerful family, the Hollises, was the very opposite of what her life was normally like. Now people were paying attention to her and spreading rumours when her biggest worry previously was to just be able to graduate high school.

So let me break it simply down into what was likeable and what- well – wasn’t. Continue reading

Review: Safe in His Arms by Colleen Coble

Series: Under Texas Stars #2

safe in his arms -colleen cobleSometimes it takes a stranger to see you as you really are.

Born and raised on sprawling Texas land, Margaret O’Brien prides herself on her competence as a rancher. But her father believes she’s made for more than just dawn-to-dusk work. He wants her to have the love of a good man, to raise children, to build a life. But Margaret gave up such dreams years ago. She’s convinced no man would have her, that the ranch is her life now.

So when Margaret’s father hires Daniel Cutler as a new foreman, she’s frustrated and suspicious. Then an overheard conversation links him with a gang of bank robbers, and she’s downright worried. Daniel swears he’s not involved, but Margaret’s not convinced. She knows the man still has secrets. But would a criminal be so kind and talk so convincingly of his faith? As a series of tragic “accidents” threatens all she holds dear, Margaret must decide what to trust: her own ears, her best judgment . . . or what her heart keeps telling her.


4 Drink Me Potions

Stuck on a bus for 12+ hours, Safe in His Arms quickly turned from a wondrous distraction to a novel that I just couldn’t put down even when I should have used the time to sleep a little.

Following Margaret as our protagonist was initially hard to swallow as she wasn’t portrayed as the nicest gals in the previous novel, Blue Moon Promise. However, under that tall and strong skin was a woman who thought she was unloveable, even to God, and only wished to gain others’ approval, in particular her father’s.

As a teenage girl once myself, I understood and immediately bonded with her over her insecurities, especially with her feminine attractiveness. She just couldn’t believe that any man would ever want her, and the only guy she thought would even consider marriage to her had fallen in love with a beautiful, dainty girl whom Margaret now called a best friend.

In came Daniel. It was hard to determine what he was up to in the beginning. The way Coble described his secretive plans for being in the town of Larson made him seem very sketchy indeed. I wasn’t certain if he was fully a good guy or not, or if his past was truly catching up to him.

Their attraction to each other felt natural. It may have started off as admiring the others’ outlook, but it became over time a product of mutual respect and reliance on one another. I loved the way Daniel got under Margaret’s defenses and tried to show her that she was a beautiful woman, inside and out. At the same time, the string of robberies around Larson and the secretive nature of Daniel’s ties to them were brewing and had me on the edge of my bus seat to determine how it could possibly end well for all of them.

The mystery wasn’t a huge highlight in the novel, and it did take a drastic turn that became predictable right before the end. However, I have to say that Colleen Coble’s done it again with amazing me with her amazing storytelling skills. I don’t really enjoy historical novels all that much, but with her? I absolutely adore them. That in itself already says a lot about this book.

Overall Recommendation:
Margaret was immediately a well-rounded character that I could easily connect with on her insecurities and wish to be loved and respected by the predominantly male characters in her life. Daniel was the perfect mix of a gentleman and mystery, with a dangerous past linked to his reasons for being at Margaret’s ranch. I loved the setting of Safe in His Arms and the overall lessons that Margaret had to learn about herself. The romance was absolutely a delight, and well-loved characters from the previous novel definitely make an appearance here too. I would most definitely recommend this cute duo series.

Review: Bluebonnet Bride by Colleen Coble

Series: Butterfly Palace #1.5

bluebonnet bride -colleen cobleAt the turn of the 20th century, Elli Korpela boards The Baltic with hundreds of eager women, all seeking new beginnings and brighter futures in America . . . as mail order brides.

Escaping a forced engagement, Elli seeks refuge in a faraway marriage, desperately needing her new life with a Texan named Nathan White to be safer than the one she left behind in Finland. And as she glimpses her future husband and his darling niece at the train station, she instantly knows her risk will prove the best decision she’s ever made.

Until he became the guardian of four-year-old Hannah, Nathan White never took an interest in marriage, arranging a mail order wife to simply love and care for his orphaned niece. That is, he never took an interest until he laid eyes on the beautiful Elli Korpela.

After a fairytale ceremony in the gardens of the grandest estate Elli’s ever seen, a place called Butterfly Palace, their peaceful beginning takes a disquieting turn as an intruder brutally attacks Elli in the middle of the night. Nathan intervenes, but the devil escapes unidentified, leaving Elli to face two chilling possibilities: either the attack was arranged by strike workers in Nathan’s employ or her shadowy past followed her into the present – and across the sea.

As the danger mounts, Elli and Nathan must face their enemy together, fighting to stay alive – and fighting to stay man and wife. 


2.5 Drink Me Potions

After gobbling up the previous novel, Butterfly Palace, I was desperate for more of these characters and in that time period. So frankly, I went out in a crazed search for the next book.

Bluebonnet Bride was mediocre at best. I had wanted to like this novella, but it was so short and the romance between Nathan and Elli was so fast and quick. I knew that it was gonna be fast since this was an extremely short story but I had wanted more.

Coble took on too much by trying to make it into a little mystery as well surrounding Elli’s past that may have come across the seas with her. It just didn’t bode well when the “attacks” on Elli happened so shortly after she just got settled in with Nathan and his little girl.

I loved the glimpses I got to see of the characters from Butterfly Palace but it wasn’t completely worth it. This book may have focused on a secondary character from that novel, Nathan White, but really, I feel Coble could’ve made it into a full novel quite easily if she fleshed out the “mystery” more.

Or you know, write one based on another of my favourite characters from that book. *crosses fingers tightly*

There’s not much more to say considering the story itself had little substance. Nathan and Elli made for a cute enough couple, but I didn’t have enough time to care for either of them deeply in that way. It was just another romp through a familiar setting that I wasn’t quite willing to say goodbye to yet.

Overall Recommendation:
After the glorious finish to its predecessor, Bluebonnet Bride lacked in so many ways, most probably due to its very short length. Coble could’ve extended the mystery and romance in this novella into a very full length novel and I may be able to push up my rating a little bit. But as it stands with how short it was, the mystery and its resolution felt harried due to its shortness, and the romance built too quickly for me to feel anything beyond a small contentment that all is well with this time period I’ve come to love.

Review: Butterfly Palace by Colleen Coble

Series: Butterfly Palace #1

butterfly palace -colleen cobleWhen Lilly Donnelly arrives at the Cutlers’ famed Butterfly Mansion in 1899, the massive house and unfamiliar duties threaten to overwhelm her. Victorian Austin is lavish, highly political, and intimidating, but with the help of the other servants, Lilly resolves to prove herself to her new employers.

Then, while serving at an elegant dinner party, Lilly recognizes one distinguished guest as Andrew, the love of her life, who abandoned her without a word back home. He seems to have assumed a new identity and refuses to acknowledge her, leaving her confused and reeling.

Before Lilly can absorb this unwelcome news, she’s attacked. Could it be the sinister Servant Girl Killer who has been terrorizing Austin? Or is it someone after something more personal–someone from her past?

Does she dare trust Andrew to help or is he part of the danger threatening to draw Lilly into its vortex?

4 Drink Me Potions

For some reason, I’ve been on a historical fiction binge and I’m absolutely adoring it. Butterfly Palace not only lived up to its time period, but it was steeped in intrigue and a lovely romance of second chances.

Lilly was my kind of heroine. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and become a maid in order to survive. Finding her old beau (is that what they called them back then?) who had up and vanished on her was totally unexpected. And awesome.

Drew (or Andy as he was known to Lily back then), I had initially wanted to despise for leaving a girl like that without a word. He had a lot of explaining to do . But I wanted so badly to have their old spark kick up again.

That was definitely no disappointment.

Aside from the rekindled romance, the mystery was delicious. Sometimes Coble’s writings don’t focus on the mystery aspect as much, but this novel was heavy in that department. A killer after maids fitting Lily’s description was on the loose. At the same time, someone (or could it be a group of people?) were plotting the demise of the man who owns the Butterfly Palace. Mystery upon mystery.

And what was all that fascination with butterflies? I used to find such creatures lovely, but imagining myself surrounded by a bunch of them fluttering in the air just gives me the heeby-jeebies.

I loved that the perspective of this novel wasn’t only on the two main protagonists. Belle, the spoiled niece of the household at the Butterfly Palace, also had her own POV. She started off as a princess used to the riches given her, but she has a keen, intelligent mind that was later put to work and truly flowered under the opportunity to help catch a potential killer. It was a refreshing change to see someone else’s view of things beyond the two characters who were falling in love.

Overall, it was a delectable story. The identity of the killer(s) wasn’t immediately obvious, but for a lover of mysteries, I may not be the best example but I could guess it out before the identity was revealed. The only thing I found myself wishing for at the end was a sequel with Belle as the protagonist. She deserves a story all of her own, and a happy ending tagged to it. Maybe Coble will listen to my wish one of these days.

Overall Recommendation:
Butterfly Palace was a beautiful standalone story set in a gorgeous time period in the Victorian era. Both Lilly and Drew were strong characters in their own way, with a rekindled love blooming for both of them. It was a cute romance to watch re-bloom. But, hands down, the refreshing take on the story came from a 3rd POV in the form of Belle, a spoiled heiress, who learns there’s more to life than just finding a wealthy husband. Steeped in not one, but two, mysteries, this novel is bound to make your heart leap as it takes you for a ride.

Review: Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

Series: Under Texas Stars #1

blue moon promise -colleen cobleLucy Marsh’s worldly resources are running out, but she’s fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father’s recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.

Nate Stanton always hoped he’d marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh–a city girl–on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he’d give anything to protect Lucy and the children he’s grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.

Blue Moon Promise is a story of hope, romance, and suspense . . . immersing the reader in a rich historical tale set under Texas stars.


3.5 Drink Me Potions

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read a Colleen Coble novel. I’ve forgotten just how much I love her mysteries. Blue Moon Promise has not let me down in any way. I haven’t read a historical novel in a while, but I instantly fell in love with the characters here. Lucy, right off the bat, was a protagonist that I could root for. She had so much heart and yearned to be the one who could take care of everyone. Her family situation wasn’t ideal. She had to care for her baby brother and sister while trying to escape a dangerous person who may have had something to do with their father’s death.

Enter the less-than-ideal marriage agreement with Nate. He wanted nothing to do with a wife, and Lucy tried so hard to be the typical rancher’s wife that he could at least imagine being with. Things weren’t easy for her, but she did her best.

There were silly moments, like finding a pet tarantula in the pantry, and there were heartfelt moments like Nate beginning to fall for his new already-made family. The mystery wasn’t very integral in this novel, which surprised me as that is what Coble’s really good at. However, it was still an amazing story of finding the best in any situation, and realizing in hindsight that this was exactly where everyone was meant to be.

All in all, I couldn’t put this book down and I do believe I will be browsing through many more of Coble’s novels very soon.

Overall Recommendation:

Blue Moon Promise was a delight that I hadn’t expected. Set in a historical setting on a rancher’s farm, Lucy and her little brother and sister embark on a new life with her new husband that she’s agreed to marry for the sake of her family. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but Lucy’s strong-willed character and desire to be the best that she can be no matter how dire the situation had me really rooting for her success. A little lighter in the mystery department, this novel still had all the trademarks of Colleen Coble from what I remember in another piece of work I’ve read from her a long time ago. This was definitely worth the read.

Review: Legacy of Lies & Don’t Tell by Elizabeth Chandler

Series: Dark Secrets #1-2

dark secrets 1 -elizabeth chandlerTwo girls haunted by the past… and destined to relive it

In Legacy of Lies, Megan has to stay with the uptight grandmother she wants nothing to do with. She’s determined to get through the visit without any drama, but when she falls into a twisted love triangle with potentially fatal consequences, Megan may be caught up in her family’s legacy in more ways than she realizes.

In Don’t Tell, Lauren knows that by returning to the town where her mother drowned seven years ago, she’ll be reliving one of her most haunting memories. When she arrives, she is propelled into a series of mysterious events that mimic the days leading up to her mother’s death. Maybe her mother’s drowning wasn’t an accident after all…and maybe Lauren is next.

2 Drink Me Potions

It has been a long time since I’ve read Dark Secrets Volume 1, and can I just say? Time has NOT been nice to it.

As a younger person, such fast-paced attractions and supernatural occurrences would have been a fun and intriguing read at night. Now? Not so much. Let me explain why.

In Legacy of Lies, having our protagonist fall for her cousin (even though they’re NOT actually blood-related) was a little weird for my tastes. Did they have to be related? Was that TRULY necessary for the plot line to have worked out? I would say no, but I guess people can argue if they must.

As for the actual plot in that story – where the heck should I even begin? It had suspense, I will admit. And by suspense, I mean the feeling of what the hell is going on and why are such freaky dreams/sleep walks happening to Megan? It was entertaining in the paranormal sense. Obviously there’s something not quite logical or real occurring in this old house of her grandmother’s. That’s not what I’m bashing.

It was the absolute horrifying and confusing conclusion/rationale to all the craziness that was occurring. Even for a paranormal explanation, some things just never added up. The synopsis talks about a potentially fatal love triangle. Well, the grandmother was part of it (I know right? That’s just weird) in the past as a young girl, but now that she’s old and the love triangle is stirring again, WHERE THE HECK DOES SHE FIT INTO THIS PRESENT DAY TRIANGLE WITH HER GRANDDAUGHTER AND HER GRANDSON? I never quite understood the whole frenzy that was brought on Megan upon her arrival at the old house. And now that I re-read this again, the killer was surprising enough but the motive wasn’t fleshed out enough. The red herrings weren’t fully cleared either, in my opinion. So they might not have actually committed the final blow, but there was intent? Doesn’t that still make them a “bad guy”?

I’m just confused. Period. It left a very bitter after taste in my mouth.

As for Don’t Tell, don’t you worry. It’ll get its turn in bashing.

Likewise, there was suspense in it as well. And also similar to the previous story, the conclusion was just unsatisfying and too vague of an explanation . That’s me being generous. Actually, a villain disappears and no reader will ever know what’s to come of that person. The rest of the explanation for why the mother drowned made enough sense, but one of the girls just freaked the crap out of me. Of course, Chandler threw in the odd paranormal activity (HA, had to put that phrase into this review) that really was never fully fleshed out, and left only with the poor explanation of “oh, these things happen ’cause it’s a paranormal kinda world where people have such things occurring to them – big whoof”.

Anyway, time has most definitely not made it any better. Which leaves to me to wonder….


Overall Recommendation:
For a younger audience in the YA category, Dark Secrets 1 does have its merits (albeit very, VERY few). With a setting of suspense and dark secrets (of course – ’cause that’s the title) woven into either an old mystery/unsolved murder, it initially draws you in with intrigue. However, don’t be fooled, young ones! The conclusions, even coming from the perspective of a paranormal book, are hardly thought-out, riddled with holes and things that just don’t settle well. They were sloppy and could’ve been a whole lot better.
For a quick read ’cause there’s nothing better to do? Sure, go ahead and skim through it. But don’t expect it to be one of those masterful pieces with grand plots. They’re simply stories with dark pasts that ultimately come back to haunt the present, mixed in with a bunch of paranormal activities to “make sense” of the scary things that happen.