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Book Review: Empath (Flawed Series #1)

Empath

Ever since she was a child, Jade has had to deal with an empathetic power so strong that her first day of school started with convulsions. Since then she has been protected by her family and her own fear of herself, but all that changed when her college didn’t offer an online version of a course she needed. Thanks to that, she met Cam Schuyler and his welcoming siblings but at the same time something dangerous is hiding around the corner.

I really liked this book! I was hooked right away, not just by Jade but by the mystery of the sadistic serial killer whose story was told right alongside hers. I was really interested to see how the two of them would end up in each other’s worlds, especially since she had such heightened empathetic power and he was just plain terrifying. But whereas Jade’s story was told pretty much right away, Ethan’s took a little longer to tease out.

The supporting characters were fun people, from Jade’s friends from home to the Schuylers that kind of become her family, and though I’m not sure I could handle hanging around with them too often they really did make a good counterpoint to Jade’s reclusiveness due to her “handicap,” as she puts it.

I really liked Logan, one of the love interests, right from the start, which was why I was disappointed that after a couple of chapters that heavily featured him, he sort of disappeared for a third of the book and apart from Jade talking about him he was just kind of gone. It made me wonder if he was going to be the subject of another book in the series and not explored further.

I’m not going to give anything away, but the ending was really exciting once the serial killer and the friends’ worlds finally collided! Once I got there I couldn’t put my reader down, and though the ending was satisfying I was dying to find out where one of the characters was headed. Literally.

Empath is a fun, quick read and I think it is the beginning of what promises to be a great series of books. You should definitely check it out on Amazon!

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Book Review: Hesitation Wounds

Hesitation WoundsDr. Susanna Seliger is a renowned psychiatrist who specializes in treatment-resistant depression. The most difficult cases come through her door, and Susa is always ready to discuss treatment options, medication, and symptom management but draws the line at engaging with feelings. A strict adherence to protocol keeps her from falling apart but she is haunted by  feelings that she could have helped the people closest to her.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is beautifully written and intensely sad. Not surprising, considering it’s a story about a doctor who works with treatment-resistant depression and ECT, but Hesitation Wounds is more about the emptiness inside the doctor than the sadness of her patients.

The first person perspective plus her writing style made me feel like I was reading a very long series of blog posts. This is not to say it was a bad thing, just that it felt less like a story than a confessional. I found myself wondering if there were parts that weren’t strictly fictional, because it felt so deep and personal.

At first I thought we would be spending more time with Jim, the young man introduced early in the story as one of Susa’s patients. He seemed to be very important to her and I was certain that he was going to be the thing that helped her resolve her own lingering guilt and depression, so I was a little surprised things went the way they did.

Her history with her family unfolded slowly, with only hints of the incident with her brother given that sent me off into a completely different direction than what actually happened. It was satisfying because it gave me time to get comfortable with the characters and feel for them before I fully knew their stories. It also made certain aspects of her youth more heartbreaking, especially where her brother’s friend Ray is concerned.

The second half of the book felt more hopeful, and I felt my spirits lift with hers when Susa met her daughter and said goodbye to her cheating ex. It wasn’t long before the heaviness of the first half crept back in, but it couldn’t cover the happiness she felt when she talked about her little girl. The ending continued on in this way and brought tears to my eyes, seeing her come full circle as she did.

I really enjoyed this book on a lot of levels, but I do have to warn people that the subject matter might be a trigger for someone with depression or anxiety, and there are frank discussions of suicide. It’s not an easy book to read at times but I’m glad I have it in my collection. There are times you just want something a little deeper, and Hesitation Wounds delivers with a punch.

Pick it up at Amazon!

Book Review: Plan Bea

Plan Bea

Beatrice Buchanan may not be the world’s worst grandmother, but she’s quite possibly in the top ten. She has no relationship with her grandchildren and the only time she speaks to her daughter is for fifteen minutes on the way to the nail salon. You can imagine her daughter Annabel’s surprise when she suddenly calls her up to tell her she’s getting married and she wants Annabel to help with the arrangements. It may seem impossible, but they might just end up healing their fractured relationship in the bargain.

I couldn’t put this book down! Every time I thought I’d take a break I’d find myself saying “just another chapter” and when I had to go back to work after my lunch break I kept thinking about it. The characters were believable and I was able to really get into their lives. There were so many times I just wanted to grab Bea and shake her, but it really made her come alive for me. There’s nothing quite like a good villain, especially in a women’s fiction novel where so many of the villains are bosses or catty “friends.” I definitely sympathized with Annabel wanting her mother’s affection at any cost, and was on a rollercoaster through the whole book wondering if they’d fix their relationship or make it worse.

There is a bit of a twist at the end, which I already knew was coming – I generally don’t like it when people tell me ahead of time that there’s a twist, I like to get there for myself – but I was pleasantly surprised and couldn’t stop grinning as I read it.

I was a little disappointed at the end when a little history was hinted at between two of the side characters but never fleshed out, but instantly pacified when I went straight into a preview of the sequel that deals with those two characters. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Plan Cee when it comes out. They did an excellent job teasing it at the end of the book and I’m already hooked.

There were two minor things about it that I have to nitpick. First, there were a lot of places where a contraction would have sounded more natural. Some of the dialogue felt a little stilted because of it, though it was still enjoyable so I was able to overlook it in most cases. Second, there were a few instances where it switched from past tense to present and it really pulled me out of the story. Those were the only things, though, and they weren’t bothersome enough to make me give up.

All in all I found this to be a good book. I recommend it to everyone, not just fans of women’s fiction.

Book Review: Dragonfly Dreams

Dragonfly DreamsIn 1880 Topaz Woo dies in childbirth in Fresno, California. She will be allowed to watch over and “raise” her child for ten years in exchange for making sure she lives by the Ten Commandments, but she has no idea what that means, or that everything she knows about love, revenge, and honor will be changed forever.

I absolutely loved this book. The characters were easy to identify with and as I got to know them I felt like they were part of my own family. They were all believable and felt true to life, and as the book went on they changed and grew in different ways. Topaz was flawed, but nothing more than you might expect of a seventeen year old robbed of raising her child, leaving her family to try and do it for her. Her love for her daughter and wishes to take care of her were heartbreaking at times, and I found myself loving her more and more through the whole book.

To he honest, I was expecting something a little different when the blurb referenced the Ten Commandments – maybe something a bit more religious – but I really liked the way the author worked them in. Topaz, who had no experience with religion, was allowed to set the meaning and boundaries of the rules, and the twists and unexpected outcomes of some of them reminded me of The Monkey’s Paw. It did leave me wondering whether or not those rules were still in effect at the end of the book, something that was never really discussed.

I am a big fan of historical novels and I was completely immersed in the culture and setting, making me a little sad when I finished. My “speciality” is Texas in the late 1880s so I was drawn to this one immediately and ended up learning quite a bit about Fresno.

This is a relatively short book, so I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try out Ms. Chow’s work. It’s a joy and one I plan to read again for sure. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hunt down her other books!

Available on Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble.