Review: Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor #4) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from GoodReads:

Private Investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving Luke Gallagher after he disappeared. Now he’s back, and together they must unravel a twisting thread of secrets, lies, and betrayal while on the brink of a biological disaster that will shake America to its core. Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist’s next target?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

I’ve really enjoyed Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series and I thought Dead Drift was a great conclusion.

While I initially didn’t really love the terrorism plot line that first appeared in book two of the series, I thought it worked really well here. It really takes center stage and I was invested it. The secondary mystery circled back to an on-going investigation from the first book and the killer of Griffin’s little sister was finally revealed. I thought the mixture of the urgency and the emotional were balanced much better here than in the previous book, which was probably my least favorite of the series.

I really liked Luke. I was excited for him to finally take a central role and he didn’t disappoint. I would’ve loved to hear a little more of his time away, but I thought the reasons for his disappearance and silence for seven years was well explained, as well as how he felt about it. I liked Kate more than I thought I would, but she’s definitely not my favorite female lead of the series. I loved seeing the whole gang all together. They are a very likable group and I will miss reading about them.

I only have two real complaints. I didn’t like that we didn’t get very much time with Parker and Avery at all. All the other characters got a good amount of page time, but I didn’t feel like they were very present which disappointed me because they’re my favorite couple of the series. I also didn’t like that there’s a really big moment in the conclusion of the terrorism plot line that was just mentioned after the fact instead of being able to experience it with the characters. I thought Pettrey did a really good job with the all the action scenes up to that point and would have liked to have seen that important moment.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dead Drift. I thought the mysteries were intriguing and I really liked getting Luke’s POV. As always, I thought Pettrey did a good job with the Christian elements of the story. It’s never preachy, but just an organic part of the characters’ lives. I’m really going to miss these characters and look forward to the author’s next series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach (This can also serve as your summer TBR). I’m very much a mood reader so I find it hard to stick to a set TBR list, but these are all books I’m hoping to read soon.

36301023My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows). My Lady Jane was such a surprise hit for me and has become one of my favorite books and I have been looking forward to this one ever since reading it.36347470Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor #4) by Dani Pettrey. This is the last book in this series and I’m really excited for it.35924499Our House by Louise Candlish. I got approved for this on NetGalley, but I also won a physical copy from a Goodreads Giveaway and I’m really looking forward to it.36502041Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter. Slaughter is one of my favorite authors and I’m sure I will enjoy this just as much as I have her other books. I’m over 100 people on the wait list for this at the library, though, so I don’t know if I’ll even get it this summer, but fingers crossed!36620943Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins. I FINALLY got approved for a Kristan Higgins book on NetGalley, but I still haven’t read this yet. I’m really looking forward to starting it soon, though.35410511Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and I’m a little concerned it’s been over-hyped for me, but I’m still looking forward to it. It sounds super creepy – in a fun way.37793086Girl’s Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. I’ve never read anything by these authors and this one sounds really interesting. Plus, I love that cover!36461789A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay. Barclay is one of my favorite authors and I’m so excited for this one. I am also planning on seeing him when he’s in the area in July with my book buddy, Amanda!33413128Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman. I hear such amazing things about Backman, but I was never really sure of his books. However, Brandie from Running on Words and Wine recently read and loved this one and she let me borrow it, so I’m looking forward to finally giving him a try!36547961Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. I’ve seen some really great reviews on this one and I am next in line for it at the library!

What books are on your Summer TBR? Do we have any in common?

Review: Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor #3) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that “the wrath is coming,” Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She’s sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can’t deny, and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell–and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Blind Spot will be available October 3, 2017.

I’m a fan of Dani Pettrey and have really enjoyed the Chesapeake Valor series. I’m disappointed to say that this installment, while still a good read, did not live up to my expectations.

It took me a really long time to get into the story. In the previous book, Still Life, there is a subplot with Declan and a potential terrorist attack that I didn’t really like. That subplot becomes the main focus of this book, along with Declan and his romantic interest Tanner, so I think I started off the book a little biased. It took me until over half way through to really start enjoying it. There were a few well done suspenseful moments thrown in, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the book that I really felt the urgency.

It also took me a little while to get on board the Declan and Tanner ship. I did like Declan pretty early on, but I thought Tanner could be a little condescending. There’s also a reveal about Tanner’s big secret, shameful past that greatly annoyed me. There was absolutely nothing for her to be ashamed of and I thought it was kind of disrespectful to the real life people in that position. Tanner did eventually grow on me, though, and I was happy when her relationship with Declan finally progressed. I also liked how their faith was effortlessly written into the story. I didn’t think there was any “big lesson” they had to learn, but their Christian faith was evident in who they were and I liked that.

We also get Griffin’s POV with the second major storyline, the murder of a friend/mentor of the group. I have to say that I was incredibly bored with this storyline. With the terrorism plot, this one just didn’t really seem to matter. I thought that the answers came way too easily, too. And as with the previous book, I don’t understand how all these people are able to share details of official investigations. And how does Griffin have any jurisdiction to pursue someone out of the country? I also thought it was odd that Tanner, who is a crisis counselor, gets to be Declan’s partner once they’re done with her connection to a potential witness. I feel like you have to overlook a lot when it comes to the crime solving in this series.

We get one other person’s POV and it was the one I most enjoyed. We finally get some answers (though vague) on the missing Luke. I had some issues with the way different members of the group reacted to his reappearance, but I guess I can kind of see where they’re coming from. I just hope they get over it quickly in the next book.

Overall, I thought Blind Spot was Pettrey’s most ambitious book yet. I can appreciate the effort to elevate the central mystery to a national threat and not just something that affects someone in the group of friends, but it just fell a little short for me. I had a hard time getting into the story and while I did like Declan and Tanner eventually, I did not enjoy them as much as I did the central couples of the previous books. I did really like the appearance of Luke, though, and am really looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List.

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1.  There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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2. Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor #3) by Dani Pettrey

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3. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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4. Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe my Melissa De La Cruz

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5. If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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6. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

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7. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

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8. Killing Kate by Alex Lake

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9. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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10. Shoot the Moon (Seeking Mansfield #2) by Kate Watson

What books are on your Fall TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017.

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1.  Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. Publication Date: 12/26/17

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2. Renegades by Marissa Meyer. Publication Date: 11/7/17

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3. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. Publication Date: 10/10/17.

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4. Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor #3) by Dani Pettrey. Publication Date: 10/3/17.

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5. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Publication Date: 9/26/17.

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6. Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton. Publication Date: 9/5/17.

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7. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. Publication Date 8/29/17.

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8. Ready to Run by Laren Layne. Publication Date 8/22/17.

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9. Lucky in Love by Kasie West. Publication Date 7/25/17.

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10. Down a Dark Road (Kate Burkholder #9) by Linda Castillo. Publication Date 7/11/17.

What books are you looking forward to?

Review: Still Life (Chesapeake Valor #2) by Dani Pettrey

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Official Synopsis:

Blacklisted in the photography business when one of her shots causes a scandal, but desperate to somehow continue in the profession, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She fully expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–taking time to teach her the trade. Now she’s half in love with the man, half terrified to even acknowledge her feelings, and completely hooked on the job–until the next crime hits too close to home.

Avery attends the gallery opening of a new photography exhibit to support her best friend who modeled for the show. The only image of her, though, is a chilling photo of her posing dead. Only the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot, and Avery’s friend can’t be found.

As Avery and Parker, along with Parker’s brilliant friends, begin to dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a dangerous, relentless, and deadly threat which could endanger them all.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Still Life will be available January 31, 2017.

*Fun Fact: The cover model is Ken from the Millennials Vs Gen X season of Survivor!

What I Liked:

-I like the characters in this series. It’s been a little while since I read the first book so it took me some time to get a handle on how all the characters relate to each other, but once I did I really enjoyed them.

-I really liked both Parker and Avery and shipped them pretty hard. I thought they were both pretty well developed and both really likable. I enjoyed getting both of their POVs and pretty much every scene they were both in. I also liked how well they worked together on a professional level.

-Though the focus of the book was on Parker and Avery, we get several other POVs. Most notable was Declan, who I believe will be the focus of the next book.

-I thought the main message of the book was really well done. Avery struggles a lot with the things she’s done in her past and throughout the book she is reminded that when she came to Christ she has been forgiven and is a new creation. As someone who lives with a lot of anxiety, I spend a great deal of time worrying about the stupid or embarrassing or wrong things I’ve done in my past (whether it was yesterday or decades ago) and I felt like this was a great reminder that God is bigger than my mistakes.

-The main mystery was really interesting. There were a lot of elements to Skylar’s disappearance that I thought Pettrey weaved together really well. While I did figure out who the murderer was, it was only shortly before it was revealed.

What I didn’t Like:

-There was a secondary terrorist plotline that just didn’t really work for me. It worked as a connection to the missing member of the group and while it was interesting enough, all it did was set things up for future books in the series. Which is fine, but I wish it would’ve been a smaller portion of this story.

-Half of the people working Skylar’s case were doing so without any official credentials and I think things were just a little too easy for them. Parker and Avery don’t really have any right to question anybody, but they go through several leads who don’t ask for identification or warrants or anything and it’s not until towards the end of the book before anyone lawyers up. It just seemed a little odd to me that an FBI agent and a police officer could share case information with a bunch of random people.

-There was a lot of build up to Avery’s past and while I mentioned before that I thought the message of God’s forgiveness was really well done, there is a very short section where Avery shares with Parker the worst of the worst and it’s not something she did, so much as something that was done to her. She has obvious victim’s guilt and there was not nearly enough time devoted to that. For such an important, heavy topic I felt like it should have been handled with more care or just left out entirely.

Overall:

Overall, I really enjoyed Still Life. I really liked the characters and the relationship between Parker and Avery. I thought the mystery was pretty well done, as was the message of God’s forgiveness and being a new creation in Christ. I’ve been reading Pettrey’s work since her first book and I really think that she gets better with each new installment. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Marry Me at Christmas (Fool’s Gold #19) by Susan Mallery. Read November 28-December 1. 3.5 Stars.

This was pretty cute. I liked both Madeline and Johnny – especially Johnny. He had such a great sense of humor. Definitely a good addition to my holiday romance book binge.

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Mistletoe Between Friends / The Snowflake Inn by Samantha Chase. Read December 3-5. 3.5 Stars.

4 stars for Mistletoe Between Friends and 3 Stars for The Snowflake Inn so 3.5 Stars overall.

I liked Lily and Cameron a lot in Mistletoe Between Friends. It was a friendship-to-love / Fake Relationship story so of course I enjoyed it.

The Snowflake Inn had it’s cute and sweet moments, but I thought Grace and Riley’s relationship happened WAY too fast. I was more interested in the relationship between Corrine (Riley’s mom) and Ben.

Overall, though, both were cute holiday romances.

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What Light by Jay Asher. Read December 11-12. 3 Stars.

I’ve been really into holiday themed reads this year and I was really excited when my hold for this came in at the library in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, What Light did not come close to living up to the hype for me. It was ok. There were some good things – mostly Caleb and how he’s grown up and learned from past mistakes. And how sweet he was. And how he went to church and wasn’t portrayed as a religious nutcase. But I never really became invested in the romance between him and Sierra. I really disliked all of Sierra’s friends and while I felt like her relationship with her parents was better than in a lot of YA books, there was something about it that just seemed a little off. I was bored for big portions of the book. But the writing wasn’t bad and there were some cute moments, so I can justify giving it 3 stars and not something a little lower.

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Summer of Sloane by Erin. L Schneider. Read December 13-14. 2.5 Stars.

This is one of those trainwrecks that you can’t look away from. It was drama, drama, drama and after the initial shock value (Sloane’s best friend is pregnant – by Sloane’s boyfriend! *Not a spoiler because you find this out within the first 2 pages of the book*) and the broken nose/hand incident it stopped being fun. There’s a wealth of cheaters and poor communication. There are completely absent parents except for the very occasional times they had some life lesson to impart to Sloane. I think this would have made more sense as an NA novel than YA, like if Sloane was a junior in college instead of a junior in high school then things would have seemed a little less desperate? It’s mentioned repeatedly how Sloane needs to make decisions for herself and not let other people control her moods, but the whole book is about whatever relationship she’s in or who she’s fighting with.

I will say the one thing I really liked about it was how Sloane’s relationships with Mick (the best friend) and Tyler (the boyfriend) turned out. ****THIS IS SLIGHTLY SPOILERISH**** I thought that by the end they’d be all best friends again, but that doesn’t happen. She makes peace with one and has an even bigger fall out with the other – for reasons that go beyond the cheating/pregnancy incident. I liked that there was a focus on the need for forgiveness, but also that just because you can forgive somebody, that doesn’t mean things can go back to the way they used to be.

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Just a Kiss (Summer Harbor #3) by Denise Hunter. Read December 15-18. 3 Stars.

After really hating the previous book in this series, I am so glad I went back to enjoying this author in this book. My biggest complaint with Hunter’s writing is that the female lead is almost always awful, but I actually liked Paige in this one. She was a little oblivious at times, but overall she was kind and thoughtful and was there for Riley even when he didn’t appreciate it. I liked Riley and thought the struggles he went through were probably pretty accurate to someone living through the changes he was. Though I thought the end was almost a little abrupt and would have really appreciated an epilogue, I did think this was an overall good ending to the series.

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Still Life (Chesapeake Valor #2) by Dani Pettrey. Read December 18-19. 4 Stars.

I enjoyed this one! I think Pettrey gets better with each new book. I really liked the characters, the mystery, the message, and definitely shipped the romance. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. Read December 20-23. 3.5 Stars.

I think I went into The Perfect Stranger with the wrong expectations. I thought it was going to be really suspenseful and have a big twist. I spent my time trying to figure out what the big twist would be and I think in the process the smaller twists and turns of the story were not fully appreciated. This was a good mystery, but I still find myself slightly disappointed at the lack of thrill and suspense. Full review to come closer to release date. 

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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My True Love Gave to Me. I think that I will probably never finish this. This is the third time I got this from the library and the first ever at the right time of year. This time I read the first two stories. I just don’t think short stories are my thing. Each one is like one really long chapter and we all know how much I hate long chapters.

****************DNF****************

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Anatomy of a Player by Cindi Madsen. Officially DNF-ed at about 23%. I really didn’t like either of the characters and I was not remotely invested in how the story was going. I’ve read and liked several other books by this author, but this one is just not for me. (And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate that cover).