TLC Book Tours: Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin

208698684 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review!

Woman With a Gun starts with the story of Stacey Kim, a talented writer, who is having trouble with ideas for her first novel. She dropped everything to move to New York and become successful, only she hasn’t been able to do that yet. One day, on her lunch break she goes to the Museum of Modern Art and stumbles upon the photo, “Woman with a Gun” by famous photographer Kathy Moran. Stacey is immediately intrigued and inspired to write a novel loosely based on the story behind the photo – the only problem is that no one knows the story. Stacey eventually finds out that the photo is of Megan Cahill, the wife of Raymond Cahill who was brutally murdered in their home on the night of their wedding. So begins her journey to learn more – Stacey interviews the lead detective on the Cahill murder, Jack Booth, and the story quickly jumps back to the Kilbride case, which happened several years before the Cahill murder, and explains Kathy Moran’s background and Jack’s connection to her. As Stacey is uncovering the truth about these cases, she begins to put the puzzle together that no one has been able to before and ends up finding herself in danger also.

So we have three main plots: the present where Stacey is investigating the photo, the Cahill case, and the Kilbride case. However, unlike a lot of books with subplots in different timelines, Woman with a Gun does not jump back and forth incessantly. For this reason, I loved it. The fact that each story is told almost independently adds a lot of suspense and keeps you guessing who the Cahill killer is until the end.

I’ve seen other reviews that say this book was difficult to get into and that it didn’t keep the reviewers attention since it is difficult to see how the different crimes are connected until the very end. Yes, the connections are not there in the beginning, but the stories are written without fluff, almost like a detective is presenting you the facts. So, in my opinion, the writing style is perfect for this story.

Throughout the entire book, I was prepared to give a 5-star rating – The premise of the story being based on a photo is amazing; the story keeps your attention; the characters are developed just enough to make you interested in all of their outcomes but not too much to detract from the actual whodunit plot. I did slightly lower my rating at the end though because I’m a snob when it comes to mystery and I don’t like when I am able to guess who the killer is. Although, I only guessed in the last couple of chapters.

If you want a quick mystery (this book literally took me less than one day to read), then I highly recommend Woman with a Gun. This was my first time to read Phillip Margolin, and I was definitely not disappointed.

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TLC Book Tours: Beyond Coincidence by Jacquie Underdown

I have a confession… I’ve always been somewhat anti-romance – not necessarily a romance basher, but just someone who always passed by the romance section in search of better books. I’ve only read a couple in my life, and I thought they were poorly written and super cliché/cheesy. I, therefore, assumed that the entire romance genre is not for me. So when Lisa from TLC Books Tours asked me to join the tour for Beyond Coincidence, I was hesitant but eventually decided that I should maybe give romance another try. And well… I learned that I should take it a little easier on the romance genre. So thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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4 of 5 stars

Beyond Coincidence is the story of Lucy who takes a solo trip to France after being heart broken by the man that she thought was the love of her life. While there she discovers that she is the only person who can see Freddy, a dead soldier whose remains have recently been dug up and who needs help having his remains identified so he can finally be laid to rest and have peace. He says to Lucy that he doesn’t quite know why but he feels like she was meant to be the one to help him. Freddy goes back to Australia with Lucy and begins the journey of learning about the life he never got to have. Lucy is able to track down Freddy’s last remaining relative, Nate – his great grandson, who has recently had some heartbreak of his own. They are immediately drawn to each other and up being inspirations to each other and to Freddy.

From the summary on the back of this book, I was somewhat scared that Lucy was going to fall in love with a ghost and then end up with a tragic, cheesy love story that would just make me gag. But it’s apparent after the first couple of pages that that is not the case. Also, after the first chapter, it’s pretty easy to guess what’s going to happen, but then again… that’s what I’m looking for in romance – a feel-good story, but one that’s real life without the romantic scenes being forced. Jacquie Underdown does a wonderful job of focusing on plot development while still delivering the romance. She also does a fantastic job with the magical realism of Freddy’s ghost – I completely believed that Lucy speaking with Freddy was something that was absolutely normal.

What really kept me interested in the entire story was the slight suspense of what Freddy and Lucy’s actual connection would end up being and if Freddy would find the rest that he was seeking. And everything connected beautifully in the end. This is definitely a cozy story of different types of relationships that make us who we are and enrich our lives. The only reason I give this book 4 instead of 5 stars is that the dialogue seems a little bit forced at times, but not so much that the story still didn’t feel sincere.

I will definitely be giving Jacquie Underdown’s other books a shot whenever I need to take a break from all my long fantasy series and read something a little lighter. I would recommend this book to anyone who is overwhelmed with a longer series that you’re in the middle of like I was or needs a quick genre switch to break up the monotony.

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TLC Book Tours: GI Brides

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4 of 5 stars

Hi everyone!! There has been a very severe and sad decline in the amount of time I have had to read lately because of my new job, but I did have time to read this one after being accepted to join TLC Book Tours. I otherwise would not have even known about this new release, and I’m so glad that I did find out about it. So thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

GI Brides is the true and personal story of four very different brides of WWII veterans – Sylvia who was excited to serve the “Yanks” as a Red Cross volunteer, Margaret whose family was extremely suspicious of the yanks, Rae who was a tomboy and herself served in the English army, and Lyn who was a shy and naïve younger woman as the war began. All of these women fell in love with men who were stationed in England during the war and eventually followed them to America when the US government transported upwards of 60,000 GI Brides. The chapters switch back and forth between their stories of how their marriages and lives changed after moving to America. Ultimately, this nonfiction story ends up reading like fiction because of the details and dialogue included in each woman’s story.

I’m not normally a person who picks up non-fiction unless it is labeled as a memoir, and the only reason I chose to be on the tour for GI Brides is because I am a military spouse and thought I would be able to identify with it. I did not expect this book to be so narrative based and to draw me in the way that it did. By the end, I was so invested in these women’s lives and cried with them in the happy moments and the sad. This definitely is my kind of non-fiction!

I love how the authors took the time to seek out some of the GI Brides who had different experiences, who led very different paths after they left England, and chose to tell their stories in a way that a lot of women can identify with and can enjoy reading about. I’ve read several historical romance fiction novels written in the WWII era, and I think this book rates right there with some of the best of those. It’s insightful and afterwards heartwarming and inspiring because you know that you have read about real people’s lives. I actually learned a thing or two that I didn’t already know about WWII, how the Americans reacted to the influx of GI Brides, and the difficultly that some of the women had with transitioning cultures.

I would recommend this book to any of you who like to read about love stories, especially those set in wartime, and to anyone would also like to be surprised by a non-fiction story.

Check out the GI Brides website for more info on the brides in this story and some new brides featured in upcoming short stories, author bios on Nuala Calvi and Duncan Barrett, and pictures and blog posts from the GI Brides.

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