Book Reviews! Nolan and McKenzie, and more Never Have I Ever


Just two of the books I've read over the past month or so.

Watch Over Me by Kait Nolan

"The only thing Rowan Beale ever wanted was to be a cop. But in the wake of her partner's death, she still hasn't been cleared to return to duty. Amid rumors of PTSD and struggling under the weight of survivor's guilt, she's starting to believe she never will be. Already at loose ends, when her Uncle Robert has a heart attack, she doesn't hesitate to go to Wishful to take care of him.

Reserve officer Nash Brewer is a born care-taker, so of course he pitches in after his neighbor and mentor has heart surgery. But it's not just the former Wishful police chief who needs his help. Robert's strong, gutsy niece is hurting and haunted -- and someone's been targeting her. Nash can't help but fall as he and Rowan investigate, while keeping the secret from her fragile, but sharp-eyed uncle.

When evidence points to Rowan herself as the perpetrator, the former Navy pilot knows in his gut there's something more going on. But how can he ignore the facts of the case? And how can Rowan stand for one more person to believe she's unstable, especially the man she wants to trust with her heart?"

I love dropping in on Wishful. The small town is peaceful and yet full of action at the same time. This time around it was fun to see it from outsider Rowan's point of view, even while worried about the evidence piling up against Rowan.

Nolan is great at setting up the stakes and the characters' backgrounds right away, so that the reader is invested from the first page. And the romance is delicious -- just enough spice to draw you in, but enough mystery left for you to daydream about the characters on your own after reading.

The Good Liar by Catherine Mckenzie

"Can you hide a secret with the whole world watching?

When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.

A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won't catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.

Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?"

It's always thrilling to read a story told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, and in this case there are two, Cecily and Kate. How are they connected to Franny? What is Kate hiding? How much of her past will Cecily reveal? And was the explosion really an accident? This was one of those books that kept me up way too late, as I tried to guess who was hiding what, and kept reading to find out how all the secrets were connected. A riveting read!

Hope I'm not too late to post my Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections post!

I managed to cover every letter, even if I didn't quite post all the images I'd planned to share. And I'm still visiting other participants, so I'm looking forward to the Road Trip that's coming up, where everyone shares their favourite posts.

I still think having a theme is one of the most helpful ways to keep ahead of the challenge. If I can figure out a theme for next year, and start scheduling posts even earlier than February or so (which is when I usually start pulling photos and links together), then maybe I won't miss out next year!

As for ROW80 goals, I'm hoping to get some more editing done next week. In the meantime, I've written over 21,500 words for the monthly exercise on the Forum, many of which have led me to deeper character motivations and even a bit of plotting, and will hopefully come in very handy when I draft the next novel during NaNoWriMo this year. And there are still two weeks left to go this month!

Here are the official Never Have I Ever questions we've all had to answer so far:

Never have I ever injured myself trying to impress someone.
Never have I ever left my home country.
Never have I ever kissed someone with abandon in public.
Never have I ever been so drunk that I forgot what happened the next day.
Never have I ever cried in public.
Never have I ever seen a ghost or had a paranormal experience.
Never have I ever been star struck.
Never have I ever had to work with someone I hated.
Never have I ever witnessed a death.
Never have I ever been skinny-dipping.
Never have I ever unintentionally ruined someone else's day.
Never have I ever felt angry and powerless at the same time.
Never have I ever held someone's heart in my hands.

There have also been over 100 unofficial questions asked and answered!

Here's one of my more recent snips:

They all went back and forth on the first question: Never have I ever unintentionally ruined someone else's day.
Amelie couldn't come up with anything Angus had done. "You've never ruined a whole day, at any rate," she said. "Maybe an hour here, a moment there."
He slapped a hand to his chest, wounded, and fell back against a cushion.
"Shall I list the ways?" she pressed.
"I cannae believe there's even one," he said in mock outrage, twisting his hand, as if she were skewering the arrow deeper in. Then he sobered, and sat up. "I'm sorry for all of them."
"Only teasing," she said. "We haven't really ruined full days, ever."
"Er, well..."
"Excuse me?"
The others suddenly seemed to take a greater interest. Austin cast a wary glance at her and Angus, as if bracing to prevent an argument.
"Unintentional, aye?" Angus said, and covered her hand with his where it rested between them. "But as we have to tell the truth in here, I'd better say. It was long ago now."
"And what did I do?" He'd never said anything before. What day could he possibly be referring to? And what other slights was he hiding?
"Don't look so worried," he said. "It really isn't --"
"Just tell me."
His gaze stayed locked on hers. She appreciated that about him, that he was never shifty or nervy. Always direct.
"The first day I came down to Oxford, that first time I visited you, after we'd -- after that Christmas we got together. You'd planned a hundred different things for us to do. All involving crowds of folk. And I'd been hoping to have you to myself," he ended sheepishly.
"It ruined your day?" She'd wanted him to meet all her friends, to see him interact with them and how he fit in with her groups. He'd seemed even more attractive, as she'd gotten chances to watch him at a slight remove, while he chatted with others, told stories to the table at large. "You didn't say anything."
"No, because it didn't ruin my day. And I didn't want to change your plans. It just dashed my hopes a little. I thought we'd be alone, together." He squeezed her hand. "I've never even thought of it since." He glanced around. "Something about this place. Dredges up these odd feelings."
"So what shall I drink?" she asked. "What's appropriate for sort-of but not never?"

Which can't-put-it-down books have you read lately?
Can you think of a good Never Have I Ever question?


But you finished the Challenge, which is great! I think a theme is key.
Congratulations Deniz on being a part of the Challenge ... and I do love your Scottish-Oxford clip ... very realistic ... good luck with all your writing et al - cheers Hilary
Denise D. Young said…
Kait's book sounds great. Everything I've read by her has been amazing. I don't read many contemporary romances, but I might just have to read this one.

I'm currently reading The Gypsy Chronicles series by Ellen Dugan and am in love with it. There are only two books out so far, and I'm reading the second book in the series, Gypsy Spirit. I really hope Dugan writes more because I love the writing, the characters, and the magic.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks, Alex, Hilary, and Denise!
I just started reading Connie Willis' The Doomsday Book, and I can't put it down!

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