February Book Reviews

It’s the end of February, and due to a productive month of writing, I only have 4 books to share. But all are 5-star reads including a psychological thriller, a romance/thriller mash-up, a madcap time travel romance, and a cozy mystery.

I’ve started something new, and at the end of each review noting it a book is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Means to Deceive by Alex Craigie

I’ve enjoyed Cragie’s other thrillers and snatched this one up as soon as I saw it. Gwen has moved back to her hometown to care for her grandmother who can no longer live alone. Granny’s advancing dementia leaves her irritable, and to Gwen, their relationship has always felt strained. But that’s the least of her problems as two men, for different reasons, have bones to pick with her. The harassment starts small and grows increasingly concerning. She doesn’t know who the culprit is and the police aren’t helpful. Her brother Gethin comes to help her despite his own problems at home, and Ben, a new neighbor, takes a romantic interest in her, but can she trust him?

The pace is a slow burn, a steady escalation of tension that doesn’t let up, and it kept me turning the pages. I found the characters completely authentic and their relationships and choices believable. I could relate well to Gwen’s interactions with her difficult grandmother and appreciated the realistic support system, which made sure Granny’s care was covered while the plot played out.

This read is full of red herrings, and I suspected a number of different characters at different times, sometimes two of them at once. I had no idea until the reveal who the main culprit was in the increasingly dangerous and disturbing harassment. A secondary plot regarding Gwen’s past resolves simultaneously and wraps up all elements of the story well. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a tense psychological thriller. (Kindle Unlimited)

*****

Twilight’s Encore by Jacquie Biggar

In Book 3 of the Tidal Falls series, the story switches to another set of characters connected to the retired seal team that binds the books together. Katy returns to her hometown to make sure her wedding plans are progressing well, and that includes the renovation of her family’s rundown theater. Her ex-boyfriend Ty and his construction company are doing the work, and the old flame between them ignites almost immediately. But this book (and series) isn’t limited to romance. Someone is sabotaging the theater, someone is stalking Katy, and that someone doesn’t care if people get hurt.

One of the fun things about the story is that it occurs in the same timeline as Book 2, so there are details connecting the two. To me, that added depth to everything that was going on. I had information unknown to the protagonists because I was there for the previous book in a different POV. Very clever.

Biggar’s characterization is always well-rounded and rich with emotion. There’s plenty of steamy romance in addition to danger and action. The plot moves quickly, and the last quarter of the read is pure thrills as the final showdown unfolds. I whipped through this book in two sittings and look forward to seeing what happens in Book 4. Highly recommend to fans of romance/thriller mash-ups. (Kindle Unlimited)

*****

The Viking and the Courtesan by Shehanne Moore

Moore’s witty prose and exceptional characters pervade another delightful romance. In 19th century London, Malice is an independent woman whose profession is breaking up marriages. When her husband’s mistress unwittingly hires her, she intends to engage in the marriage-wrecking scandal herself. But her plans go awry as a kiss transports her over 900 years into the Viking past and into the clutches of Sin, a man in love with Snotra and wishing to make her jealous enough to marry him. Romance of any sort doesn’t seem to have a chance between the time travel complications and a madcap clash of cultures.

The narrative unfolds primarily through Malice’s point of view, though Sin (Sinaar) has some scenes of his own. One thing I love about Moore’s writing is the extremely tight POVs, the ever-present humor, and the fast pace. Malice is witty and snarky while being true to her era. She’s also clever and possesses a good heart despite her name and profession. Secondary characters are delightful, the Vikings reminiscent of pirates, and the nuns eager to be Sin’s bed slaves. The names are hysterical.

The book includes plenty of action in both time periods, particularly when Malice is trying to survive among the Vikings. The romance is fairly clean. Partly because, for Snotra’s sake, Malice and Sin are “pretending” romance for the first half of the book. When the true romance begins to bloom, the sex is primarily off stage. I enjoyed the evolution of the romantic relationship. It rings with authenticity and depth despite all the humor. This is a fun book that I recommend to romance readers who love witty characters and a madcap plot.

*****

Alibaster Alibi by S. D. Brown

When her uncle Jasper is murdered, Allie inherits half-ownership of his rock shop in Sedona, Arizona. As a condition of the inheritance, she has to live on site and share ownership with Collin, a young playboy with questionable ethics and a temper. When Collin ends up dead, Allie’s the prime suspect.

This is a cozy mystery with a strong female protagonist who once worked in criminal justice and isn’t about to be bullied by the local sheriff. She wants to find the killer and starts chasing down clues. There are several red herrings as the backstory comes to light, and I didn’t know the identity of the killer until the action-packed end.

The plot isn’t complicated, but it’s cohesive and comes together well. That said, the characters were my favorite part of the read, especially Allie. She’s high energy, smart, determined, and worth rooting for. She speaks her mind but also has a kind heart. Secondary characters are well rounded, distinct, and memorable, which is good since there are a number of them with small roles. The pace whipped along and I easily read the book in two sittings.

Highly recommended to murder mystery readers who enjoy a snappy pace, great characters, and a strong female protagonist. (Kindle Unlimited)

*****

Happy Reading!

335 thoughts on “February Book Reviews

  1. Great reviews👍!
    I’ve seen my taste, thank you for recommending.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews and found something that interested you. I read a lot of indie books, so you’ll see a variety of genres. Sorry about the delayed response – I’ve been on vacation. Happy Reading!

      Like

  2. Lovely reviews, Diana. How I wish you could review mine 😂. I just published my first poetry book and I am dying to get feedback

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Keira Ball says:

    I really like the way you review it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. […] February Book Reviews […]

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  5. VeesDiary says:

    Beautiful reviews ❤️🤲 Interesting to share

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Linda Raha says:

    Great reviews! You make them all sound good! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I always enjoy your end-of-month reviews, Diana! Only 4 books? I’m lucky to read to a month. I’m glad you are a busy Bee getting some writing done. Always fun to see your reviews of books by fellow blogger Jacquie Biggar!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jacquie’s an awesome writer, isn’t she? I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews, Terri. Now with spring on the horizon, I suspect my reading will remain modest. But so fun. Have a wonderful week, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. […] February Book Reviews […]

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  9. Prior... says:

    Good reviews and I like how you engines a snappy pace for that last book! It seems like there are times when fast and snappy are just what we need and then other times when we don’t mind the slower (maybe not sludge like tho) reads!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Not sure I could be caught with a couple of those in my house. Lol, but they all sound good! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  11. mydangblog says:

    You always make everything sound so interesting!

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Resa says:

    All these books sound fab! However, I have read “The Viking and the Courtesan” by Shehanne Moore. I agree with everything you said, especially about the humour. When I reviewed “His Judas Bride”, I asked her about the humour. Shey said she doesn’t mean to do it, it just comes out.
    I’m a huge fan of Shehanne Moore!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Resa. I’ve read two of her books so far and they won’t be the last. I think humor must come naturally to her since she doesn’t need to work at it. It makes the stories that much more enjoyable. Have a wonderful Sunday, my friend.

      Like

  13. Marcia says:

    Late as usual, but so glad I stopped by. First, it’s great to see my friend Trish here, with a super review of her book, Means to Deceive. I’m SO eager to read this one, and really happy that you enjoyed her work. I’ve taken notes on the other books, too, because adding anything else to my Kindle before I drastically reduce the TBR folder could result in the entire device going up in smoke. Urk! But it’s always great to add more to my Amazon list, in the hopes that I’ll soon have room for them on my device, too! Thanks! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  14. […] February Book Reviews […]

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  15. Wow such great reviews Diana by such incredible writers. I love your descriptive narratives of each of the books. We have such an amazing community of great authors! 💖💖👏👏👏

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Great reviews 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Jeff Flesch says:

    Wonderful reviews as always, Diana. It’s so much fun to read these each month, especially when they add to my reading list like last month. I just received The South Tower. Excited. Wishing you a wondeful rest of your week! 😁

    Liked by 6 people

  18. Your insightful reviews always make me want to read those books, Diana! I love Jacquie’s book and I know of Alex. I’m new to S.D. Shehanne. Thank you for introducing them to me.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. And you read these four books on a ‘busy’ month? Hats off to you, Diana. I’m finding when I read your reviews that it spurs me on to write a new book. (1) These authors are awesome and obviously writing their hearts out in genres they really love; (2) you enjoyed each one for different ways, which you detail beautifully; (3) I want to write a new book and I want to write it well enough that you’ll review it sometime in the future. :-0 Well, there’s some honesty for you. Hooray to these four authors, to wonderfully different books (and covers), and to a blogger like you who takes the time to review so thoroughly.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Thanks for sharing another awesome post of reviews, Diana. Glad to hear you had a productive month of writing. Happy continued reading and writing.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I am writing, Mary. I’d like to be beta reader ready by the end of March. Oh boy. So reading will probably fall off some this month too. Thanks for stopping by to browse. I hope your month is full of great stories. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Ooooh! You started out with two of my favorites, Diana. I had not seen this one from Alex and I’m thrilled. Jacquie never fails to please.
    Plus you’ve given me two more that sound wonderful.
    Hmmm… there might need to be a follow-up on that TBR Pile challenge you did. LOL. Congrats to everyone. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 5 people

  22. Baydreamer says:

    Wonderful reviews, Diana. I’m intrigued with all of the books, so I’ll check them out. Congrats to the authors, as well.

    Liked by 5 people

  23. Joan Hall says:

    Great reviews, Diana. I’ve been seeing good things about Alex’s books. Going to have to check them out!

    Liked by 5 people

  24. acflory says:

    I was interested to see that many of this month’s books are on Kindle Unlimited. I’ve never subscribed so wondering if they’re also available just to buy?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh yes. All KU books are available for purchase by non-subscribers. Until last year, my books were all KU.
      I just wanted to include that note since KU ebooks are free to subscribers, and sometimes that makes a difference in the decision to add another book to the TBR pile. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Rebecca Budd says:

    You have the best reviews, Diana . You entice us to open the pages and dig into the story and find the treasures waiting for us. Many thanks!!!

    Liked by 10 people

    • Thanks, Rebecca. Since I only share the books that I enjoy, it’s easy to be enthusiastic and gush. Lol. Four excellent books here that I’m delighted to fan-girl over. I’m so glad you stopped by and thanks for the wonderful comment. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 4 people

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