Monday, July 25, 2016

ARC Review: Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews

Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Format: Kindle
Pages: 362 pages
Genre: Fiction 
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


When twenty-year-old Anna Carlson travels from America to a Korean orphanage to locate her birth mother, she’s devastated to learn the woman is already dead. But just when it seems her search is over, a stranger hands her a parcel containing an antique comb—and an address.

That scrap of paper leads Anna to the Seoul apartment of the poor yet elegant Hong Jae-hee. Jae-hee recounts an epic tale that begins with the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during World War II, when more than two hundred thousand Korean women were forced to serve the soldiers as “comfort women.” Jae-hee knows the story well—she was one of them.

As Jae-hee’s narrative unfolds, Anna discovers that the precious tortoiseshell comb, with its two-headed ivory dragon, has survived against all odds through generations of her family’s women. And as its origins become clearer, Anna realizes that along with the comb, she inherits a legacy—of resilience and courage, love and redemption—beyond her wildest imagination.


This is a riveting tale of courage and triumph.  After Anna's mother dies she decides to return to the place of her birth and try to locate her birth family.  This trip takes Anna to a run down apartment in Seoul where she learns of a tragic and resilient history, meets her biological grandmother and discovers her legacy.

Beautiful and well written this story tells the tragic history of Korea and what happened there. It is sad, hopeful, beautiful and full of life.  I couldn't put it down and was sucked in from the beginning. William Andrews captures feel of this tale and really makes you believe it.  I almost forgot I was reading a book of fiction.  The characters jumped off the page and I could see the dust and feel the pain, courage and spirit to survive.

You don't have to be adopted to relate to this story.  Its about learning your history.  Whether you don't know it due to adoption or if you are learning it from a distant relative this story is more about the strength of the women in this family and their will to live.  Very well done.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

ARC Review: Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp

Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Center Street
Format: Kindle
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: womens fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Catriona Sinclair has always had a well-developed sense of independence--in fact the one sore point in her otherwise happy marriage is her husband James's desire to take care of her. As she's often tried to explain to him, she took care of herself before she met him, and did a good job of it. But James has been especially attentive lately as they struggle to have a baby. They succeed at last through in vitro fertilization, but unwilling to risk the heartbreak of another miscarriage, they decide to make their "spare" frozen embryo available to another family.

Diana and Liam Simmons are desperate for a child. Unable to conceive, they are overjoyed to learn that as the closest genetic match to the Sinclairs they are the recipients of the embryo donation. Diana's only concern is her mother's disapproval of IVF, but any doubts raised are quickly eclipsed by Diana's joy of being pregnant.

As Diana is finding delight in every aspect of motherhood, Catriona keeps waiting for the rush of adoration she knows she is supposed to feel, but instead slips into a deep depression. Just as Catriona begins to find her way back to normalcy, one of the babies is kidnapped. Suddenly, all of their lives begin to unravel and intertwine, and none of them will ever be the same.


Two couples both desperately wanting a child, but the actions of one father changes the lives of both couples forever. To complicate matters even further the child these couples find themselves battling over is the biological child of Cat and her husband, but was born and raised by Diana and Liam. Through Embryo donation Diana and her husband got pregnant and gave birth to Noah and raised him until the day he disappeared.

This is a complicated story that reminds me of the Baby M case from many years ago.  Although that case was a surrogacy case and the mother of baby M was the surrogate.  Who has more rights to Noah? His biological parents or his "adoptive" parents? This is a difficult story that leaves you struggling to figure out what is right and what is just. The ending was completely satisfying and believable.

This is a quick read, I read it in a day. Its an emotional roller coaster that is worth the ride.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ARC Review: Roots of Murder by R. Jean Reid

Release Date: July 8, 2016
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Kindle
Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


With a flash of blinding headlights and the scream of metal on metal, Nell McGraw's husband Thom is killed and her life is shattered. Now she's alone in Thom's Mississippi hometown, trying to care for her grieving children while returning to work as the publisher of the Pelican Bay Crier, the newspaper Thom's grandfather founded.

When Nell is called to a site where human bones have been found, she's determined to see the guilty parties receive the justice they deserve. But in Pelican Bay, the stories of the past may be too dangerous to be told. Threatened by the men who want their secrets to stay buried and the family of the drunk driver who killed Thom, Nell finds that if justice is to be served, it will come with a deadly price.


What a timely book this is, in the midst of #blacklivesmatter rallies and such racial division in this country this book felt like I was reading the current news instead of a book.  Don't get me wrong it was engaging and entertaining as well but it just seems so strangely timely for me to read it right now.

I could go on a whole tirade about how racism is so systemic in our society today but I won't. I will just say that this book could have taken place today, yesterday or sadly even a few years from now. The injustice Nell uncovers is a story that has actually played out across the country - the difference is that this one only lasts 480 pages instead of the years and heartbreak that something like this would actually have caused and when you are done you can either closed the cover and put it behind you or really think about it and help create change.

This is a brilliant book with a timely subject, well researched, well written and a sad look at America's past and present when it comes to race relations.

Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, July 18, 2016

ARC Review: Tag You're Dead by J C Lane

Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Poison Pen Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 328 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover


Six young people play a dangerous Game of Tag in public, chasing through the crowds, streets, and buildings of Chicago. This secret, one-of-a-kind, wildly expensive Game offers a macabre twist to the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead. Three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game. Surgically enhanced Brandy is obsessed with destroying a naturally beautiful girl. Untalented Robert covets his target's position as superstar of the basketball team. Brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal. Given their elite social status, they reject any possible downside to the contest. Each expects the satisfaction of killing their prey, then walking away. Hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; celebrated athlete Tyrese; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. Alone, hunted by their adversary, each feels a single hope…to survive. Technological wizardry controls the Game. As soon as Runners receive the “Go” signal on smartwatches locked to their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest. Every thirty minutes the Runner’s location is transmitted to the It, which steadily diminishes the Runner’s chance of ever reaching Home Base alive. The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play. Will they accept death? Murder their Its? Or find a way to use individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?


Twisted game of tag for the rich and bored.  Two pissed off entitled brats try to get their revenge on the people they think are holding them down.  Another is just bored and looking for a challenge. So what do the rich and morally damaged people in this book do? They turn to a twisted genius who has created a game of tag so that people like them can get their revenge or die trying.  In this game of tag either the target dies or "it" goes to prison.

Laura, Tyrese and Amanda are all picked to be runners in this deadly game that doesn't seem to have any rules for "it" but plenty for the runners.  This is a fast paced read that drives you forward needing to know what happens to these innocent people and these entitled brats. Its a fun, story with characters you can't help but hope lose and others you are routing for.  If your looking for an adrenaline filled ride this is a good choice.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review.
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