Friday, August 18, 2017

New People by Danzy Senna

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 239 Pages
Genre: dystopian fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Synopsis: 

As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows. As fantasy escalates to fixation, it dredges up secrets from the past and threatens to unravel not only Maria's perfect new life but her very persona.

Review: 


Did you every feel like you were reading an entirely different book than the rest of the people who have reviewed it? That's how I feel about this book.  I had a really hard time getting into this book and then about a hundred pages in I just didn't care.  I didn't like Maria, there were parts that just weren't believable and I just found myself wanting it to end.  I haven't read any of Senna's other books but they have all gotten rave reviews from different news publications.  I felt the same way about Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides I hated it but the reviews were stellar and the praise non-stop I almost felt like I had to like it. I feel the same way about this book.

Maria was just not likeable and while some of the talk about race and multi-racial identity was on point the overall feel of the book was just dreary.  I found my mind wandering, and had a really hard time relating to any of the characters.  Other than Maria I found the characters one dimensional and Maria was just not very likeable.

When I read the synopsis of this book I was excited to read it but the story just fell flat and left me wanting.




Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ARC Review: Bring Her Home by David Bell

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Kindle
Pages: 464 Pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family...

Review:

There is a whole lot going on in this book. Two girls are found in the park both badly beaten and almost unrecognizable.  One is barely alive.  Who could have done this? There are a few suspects but none of them seem to be panning out and Bill is frantic for answers.  With a bad temper Bill starts lashing out at everyone, his daughters friends, his neighbor, his sister.  Someone in this small town knows something they just need to find one thread to help them start to unravel the mystery.

There are many twists and turns some you see coming others not so much.  I had a few issues with this book.  There were several major plot lines like the big reveal before Part 2 that I felt jumped the shark.  I felt like I was watching a bad made for TV movie.  I also had a difficult time with Bill.  He was too volatile.  For a character that was as broken as he was in the beginning of this book he flew off in too many directions that seemed out of character.  This is a man who was still deep in mourning for his wife who had died a year ago and now he gets the call every parent dreads that his daughter is in the hospital.  His life just goes downhill from there and I just had a hard time wrapping my head around his actions coming from this same broken character.  Sitting in his daughters room half comatose would seem more in line with the man who hadn't bothered to move any of his wife's clothing, kept her cell phone turned on and charged and replayed her voicemails on the computer all the time, not running around town threatening people.

I really wanted to like this book.  The synopsis made me eager to read it, the cover is beautiful but there were parts of the story that just fell flat for me, that left me wanting. I kept waiting for it to get better and there were times that it did but I think that the main character just ruined it for me.  I had a hard time liking him or feeling connected to him in any way.

I've heard Bell's other books were spectacular.  I'm bummed this wasn't one of them.


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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Audio Book: Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Release Date: June 19, 2014
Publisher: Hatchette Audio
Format: Audible
Length: 17 hrs 22 min
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Buy: Audible | Paperback | Kindle

Synopsis:

Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the number-one international best seller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives - meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

Review:


This is a good detective series written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. I listened to The Cuckoo's Calling before realizing that these were written by the Harry Potter author and I loved it.  I like Silkworm as well although not quite as much as the first one.  I felt that this book was a little harder to follow with too many characters and suspects that I tended to get a little lost.

The first half of the book was a little slow in building but once Cormoran gets ahold of Quine's unpublished book Bombex Moray, things really start to move along.  Dissecting the different characters in the book and where Quine could be.

The tension between Robin and Strike grows in this book.  Robin wants Cormoran to teach her to be a private detective despite her Fiances objections. Cormoran wants to help Robin but is hesitant to get between Robin and her Fiance.  Cormoran is also suffering with prosthetic which got a little annoying.  It seemed like every 10 minutes he was bellowing about the pain.

Silkworm is filled with odd characters in the publishing world whose only goal seems to be, to see their words in print. They are all very eclectic, volatile, and almost all had reason to "help" Quine disappear.

I really enjoyed Robert Glenister's reading of this book.  I often felt that there were actually more than one actor reading instead of just the one I got so lost in his voices and ability to switch his accents and voice.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Scholarship by Jaime Maddox

Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 291 Pages
Genre: Mystery / LGBT / Romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis:

Looking to find harmony, Ella Townes leaves a big Philadelphia college and returns to the mountains where she spent her youth. She quickly makes a friend—Cassidy Ryan, a woman with Down syndrome who is the neighborhood busybody and sister of a very attractive ER doctor whom Ella finds equally charming. Under the watchful eye of Cass, Ella and Reese begin a promising friendship. Then Ella writes a scholarship in memory of a childhood friend who was murdered, and things begin to unravel. The scholarship stirs interest in the cold case, and soon the murderer is maneuvering to protect his secret. After Cass is brutally attacked, Ella and Reese question her. The killer’s identity becomes clear, but after twenty years, is there enough evidence to bring him to justice?

Review:

Ella returns to the town where she spent her summers with her grandparents.  Hoping to reconnect with some of the people she knew from the past Ella discovers that her best friend, Steph was murdered right before she graduated high school.

Ella finds a great housing situation, house sitting for a woman who is going out of town for a few months.  She befriends the neighbors next door one of whom is a woman with downs syndrome, Cassidy, who loves to help with the dog she is supposed to watch.  Cassidy's sister Reese is a doctor and soon the sparks are flying between Reese and Ella.

Reese also knew Ella's friend Steph and they bond over the telling of stories and sharing the past.

Well written Maddox does a great job of keeping your interest in the mystery while also spinning a sweet romance.  The murderer is kept secret with hints but not ever identifying him until the end. This was a well written book with a mystery that keeps you guessing and characters that hold your interest.



Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com


Monday, August 7, 2017

ARC Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Kindle
Pages:432 pages
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 
            
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
            
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
          
And then one of them breaks the rules.
          
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.

Review:

This book has lots of twists and turns with a huge creep factor.  Jake and Alice receive a gift on their wedding day to join something called the Pact, its supposed to help couples maintain a healthy and stable relationship.  There are no divorces in The Pact, marriage comes first above all.

Soon this newlywed couple learns that being a part of The Pact is not like joining a club but more like joining a cult.  If you don't follow the rules the punishments are severe.  How do they know when a couple isn't following all the rules? It seems there are eyes everywhere and infractions are not tolerated.

I had a really hard time following Alice's motivations for joining The Pact as an attorney she breezed through the contract and while her personality was spontaneous it just seemed out of character. Jake seemed very weak in the beginning but seemed to grow stronger as the book went on. I wasn't really sure where the book would lead but I was a little surprised by the ending.  Not exactly what I was expecting at all.

If you like suspenseful creepy books that explore cults this is a good one - it definitely kept my attention and kept me turning pages.


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

Friday, July 21, 2017

ARC Book Review: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Format: Kindle
Pages: 368 pages
Genre: Fiction/ Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Review:


There are a lot of layers to this book.

Billie Flanagan disappeared a year ago, only her boot was found leaving her husband and her 16 year old daughter to heal and grow. But just as they are about to declare Billie dead her daughter Olive starts having visions of her mother or are they just delusions from a seizure?. Her father Jonathan decides to humor his daughter and look into some of her claims and what he finds leaves him reeling.  Who was Billie? She certainly wasn't the woman he thought he knew is she really dead or did she really just leave them to start over again.

The answers to all these questions are answered as the layers are slowly peeled back even until the last page.  I usually whip through books like this but this one while interesting seemed to take me longer to read.  I think there was a lot of filler that could be paired down to get us where the author wanted us to be.

This book seems to be about family and what holds them together.  The lies that create small tears in the fabric as it is woven together into a family and if you tell enough lies the fabric becomes weak and starts to tear and break down. The question is what to do next.

Olive seems like a typical teenager, angsty and upset that her mother is gone and troubled by these vision of her mother still being alive. Jonathan fell in love with a wild and adventurous woman who he is so afraid of losing he doesn't see the warning signs that something is very wrong. All the other characters orbit around these 2 in a messy way that sometimes seems forced and other times just seems out of place.

Overall this book was interesting and kept my attention.  The ending was a bit of a surprise....but was it really? What did you think?


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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ARC Book Review: Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Buy:  Hardcover | Paperback

Synopsis:

Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct. . . .

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing.

But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found?

It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons—because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

Review:


Not sure if Reichs has an intention of turning this into a series but if so, this is a good start.  I like Sunday she reminds me a bit of Lisbeth from the Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.  Lots of baggage, loner but kick ass.  I loved watching her trying to piece together what was happening.  I also liked seeing her evolve.  By the end of the book she is slightly different than when it began, leaving so much room for more.

Sunday and her brother August escape a cult where no one has names, they are named after the month or day they are born, there is nothing special about their names.  The whole cult killed themselves, including their mother before they were able to alert the police and this haunts Sunday. She feels somehow she let people down by not saving them from themselves.

This book is different than the Brennan series, so if that is what you are looking for you will be disappointed.  Aside from the obvious lack of scientific stuff I think having Sunday as more of an outsider instead of someone looking at crimes from the inside gives the character that much more latitude and also that much more to do to get to the answers.  She doesn't have to stay within the lines and can color outside the box, but she is smart and still has some in's with the law so she is outside but not too outside not to make it work.

I liked that she Reichs gave us some back story on her as well I only wish she had given us more about her brother who wasn't as deeply developed of a character.  There is definitely more there to be explored.

Overall I really liked this book, it kept my attention and I found the characters intriguing.


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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

ARC Book Review: Wired (Buchanan/FBI) by Julie Garwood

Release Date: July 4, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 Pages
Genre: Romance Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat.

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line...

Review:


I haven't read a Garwood novel in a long time so when I saw this on netgalley I was excited to revisit her. Contrary to other reviews I actually enjoyed the book. There were a few things that could have been done better but this followed your typical romance novel formula and was entertaining.  I always preferred her historical romances better than her contemporary ones. I guess I was just in the mood for the mind candy that these romance novels provide.

I liked that Allison was a strong smart character who didn't want to rely on Liam to fight her battles for her and was a modern day Robin Hood. The chemistry between Liam and Allison was great and I loved the way he just showed up for her, and how after a while she stopped even questioning it. The story flowed nicely and while it may have been a bit predictable it was still an entertaining read.


Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com 





Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ARC Book Review: What the F#@k is Enlightenment by Kamaria G. Powell

Release Date: June 7, 2017
Publisher: JKS Communications
Format: Kindle
Pages:
Genre: Religion/Spirituality
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

Sitting between the saint and the sinner at church, Kamaria Powell began asking life's most thought provoking questions and to her surprise, she started receiving answers. What The F#@k is Enlightenment? takes you on her unconventional journey past self-judgment into an awareness of the Divine within. Let's face it, life is messy and there are often many detours but the message is clear: You are not forgotten and no matter how many times you've messed up. God is not mad at you. Kamaria encourages you to embrace your own spiritual identity no matter how unorthodox it may seem. It is by transforming ourselves that we in turn transform our world.

Review:

This is a really great book, particularly for people who come from Church going families and backgrounds.  Kamira really gets to the heart of enlightenment using real life situations, examples and her journey.  Her advice is clear, and accessible and her writing fluid and very readable.  The whole book is broken down like a conversation with a friend trying to explain her journey to you. Each chapter is fairly short and you can breeze through this book or take your time and absorb each chapter, up to you.

This is a great starter book for anyone whose current path just isn't working or just looking for more information on all us weirdos who follow a different path than organized religion.



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

Monday, June 26, 2017

ARC Book Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher:Ballantine Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aitken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancĂ©, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.


Review:


This was a really interesting story based on America's most notorious and scandalous woman Georgia Tann who kidnapped children from poor families and sold them to wealthy families all over the country.  She had politicians, judges and attorneys in her corner but her and her cohorts actually terrorized, molested, and murdered an unbelievable number of children. Her unfortunate legacy still holds precedent over adoption legislation today such as closed adoption records.

Wingate tells Tann's story from the point of view of some of the kids who were stolen and the impact her blackmail, lies and kidnapping had on families.  With alternating chapters you learn the story of Rill and her siblings and parents from their point of view and from the view of one of the granddaughters who is desperately trying to uncover what her grandmother has tried so hard to hide.

Your heart will break for Rill, her siblings and her parents Briny and Queenie whose whole world was destroyed by Tann. Avery Stafford is a granddaughter of one of the stolen children, raised in privilege her father is a senator and she is being groomed to take his seat when he vacates it. But she isn't sure she wants it.  There are really 2 stories here..with a common theme of lives that are decided for them instead.

I really enjoyed this book although I did find it a bit difficult to figure out who the modern characters were compared to the ones from the past.  Tann liked to change the children's names making it harder for their biological families to find them and it was difficult to figure out who each character was from the past. Eventually I figured it out and there was an aha moment when I figured out how Avery's grandmother fit.

If you want to read more about Tann try The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 



Monday, June 19, 2017

ARC Book Review: Lockdown by Laurie R. King

Release Date; June 13, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Kindle
Pages: 400
Genre:  Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Synopsis:

Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: A day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.

A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school’s reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day—bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald’s bright vision.

A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother’s history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns.

Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal.

But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an explosive confrontation.

Review:


I've read several of Laurie R. King's other books so I was happy to pick her up again.  I liked how a few of the characters from one of her other series made a guest appearance in this book.

Everyone has secrets.  From the Principal to the Janitor, from the cool kid to the awkward everyone has something they hide.  Learning pieces of everyone's back story in alternating chapters really developed all the characters and made me start questioning what was going to happen.  I was pleasantly surprised it was not at all what I expected but good none the less.

This is not a fast paced book but rather a slow burning build up to its climax.  While I really enjoyed it I can see why others may not have been as engaged.  There are a lot of characters and a lot of things going on in this school. This is a school riddled with crime and now a missing girl. The new Principal comes in to try to clean it up and improve the situation even holding a career day for the kids so they can see the some of their options other than sports.  I think if there were a few less plot lines this may have been a better book.  It wasn't confusing to me but I started to get invested and wanted to know more about certain characters only to have to move on to another before I was really satisfied.  While some may think of this as a good thing I think it held the book back a bit.


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



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ARC Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

The only thing more dangerous than a lie...is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

Review:


If you haven't listened to Serial or any of the other popular crime podcasts that delve into different crimes you are about to get a first hand look into what they can do. Josie and her twin sister don't speak anymore but after a podcast starts delving into her fathers murder her life gets turned upside down.

This is an interesting mystery with passages from the podcast thrown in here and there.  Poppy Parnell's podcast is a bit more tabloid than the real crime podcasts I've listened to but it worked for the book.  As the issues between Josie and her twin Lanie unfold you start to wonder what happened to Lanie that she took such a different turn.  All of the characters are really well developed with the exception of Poppy who seemed more of a caricature than an actual person.  Every horrible tabloid reporter was rolled into her character leaving her too unrealistic.  I found that I wanted to know more about Josie and Lanies mother who seemed crazy even before all this madness went down.  So I'm sure there would be a good backstory there.

This is Kathleen Barber's first book and it is a hit.  The premise is refreshing and the writing simple and fast paced but the characters well developed.  Overall a very well done read.  I can't wait to see what else comes from this author.



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

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Release Date: April 11, 2011
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: Paperback
Pages: 177 pages
Genre: Self Help/ Spiritual
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Orange Beach, Alabama is a simple town filled with simple people.  But like all humans on the planet, the good folks of Orange Beach have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, as well as the many other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses.
Fortunately, when things look the darkest – a mysterious man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up.  An elderly man with white hair, of indiscriminate age and race, wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt and leather flip flops carrying a battered old suitcase, Jones is a unique soul.  Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss.  “Your time on this earth is a gift to be used wisely,” he says.  “Don’t squander your words or your thoughts. Consider even the simplest action you take, for your lives matter beyond measure…and they matter forever.”
Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what we can do about it.

Review:

Sometimes the best advice is simple. The Noticer is filled with that type of advice.  Be conscious of what you say, what you think and what you do.  Your thoughts become reality.  Plant the seeds of compassion, love and caring in your heart and nurture them, share them and help others in need and live in gratitude.

Andrews has written a book that is very readable and yet filled with simple yet very important wisdom.  The subtitle, sometimes all a person needs is a little perspective is so true.  Often when we step back and look at things from a different angle we realize that things aren't as difficult as they seem.

The writing is very simple, almost childish but sometimes in order to get an important message across we need to use the simplest language.  Some may find that this book has some Christian undertones but was not explicitly any religion and I think that depending on your religion you could put one of your prophets in there as Jones and find that the advice would be the same.

I didn't need a lot of character development since this book is really just a vehicle to plant seeds of a different way to see things in life to help you improve your outlook and your life.


Monday, May 29, 2017

ARC Book Review: The Party by Robyn Harding

Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Scout Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 352 pages
Genre: Psychological / Suspense / Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

Review:

Teenagers always seem to get themselves into things they have no idea how to get out of.  That being said I thought the plot of this book was very realistic and I could totally see this happening. For decades teenagers have been sneaking booze into parties, boys and getting into situations that could be potentially dangerous.

The relationship between the teenagers and the drive to be part of the "in" crowd was never my thing or my kids thing so its hard for me to relate to it but I have seen it and seen how intimidating it can be for kids who strive to "fit in". So while these relationships seemed superficial and mean I also found them to be realistic.

I hated Kim, her controlling, greedy and superficial holier than thou attitude reminded me of so many of the women in my area.  This need to be perfect and appear to have the perfect life makes me sick. Her judgement of everyone around her and her inability to see her daughter growing up and need to be treated differently made her shallow and aggravating to me. Jeff just seemed like a beaten puppy desperate to be liked.  His wife is overly controlling and the "incident" that ruined her trust in him was not ideal but it wasn't like she caught him in an affair.  I felt she really dragged out the disappointment in him to extremes and it was really based on a whole lot more than just the "incident".

Lisa the mother of one of the girls at the party is another character that was hard to like. She started out as likable and quickly deteriorated into greed and pettiness.  It was another example of taking things to the extreme with no acknowledgement that her daughters behavior contributed to what happened.

Overall this book is worth reading and was well written.


Monday, May 22, 2017

ARC Review: Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

Release Date: April 2, 2017
Publisher: Fiction with Meaning LLC
Format: Kindle
Pages: 504 pages
Genre: Horror/Mystery/Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Seven year old Tony has two choices: to live or to die.

Tony Bruno just wants to fit in, but the bullies at his school are cruel and relentless. At home, he leans on his mother Teresa for strength and comfort, but she’s no match for his father, Carmen. His father, a fighter and bully himself, hates Tony. He is embarrassed by the child for not fighting back and wishes that Tony was never born.
Then as a teen, in one act of blind courage, Tony fights back shifting the balance of power with his peers. Even after Tony sets things straight with the neighborhood boys, his father continues to terrorize him.

At school, Tony is now respected by his classmates. One day he stands up for a bullied kid named, Salvatore, and the boys become friends. One night, Salvatore commits a horrific crime and Tony suffers the consequences of his friends’ actions. Tony’s punishment changes the course of his life.

All alone and nowhere to call home, Tony sets out to find the life he longs for, one filled with love and acceptance. But nothing comes easily for him, and he is forced to draw upon strength from deep within to survive.

From the dark world he lives in, Tony does unimaginable things to leave his unwanted life behind.

Review:


This is a dark book.  Tony is bullied at school, bullied at home by his father, winds up in Juvie where horrible things happen to him, lives on the streets and pretty much raises himself. Just when you think things are in an upswing you get the rug pulled out from under you.  It is an emotional roller coaster of a book.

Paige Dearth really takes you on a ride of survival and pain.  Well written this book sucks you in and keeps your attention as you keep routing for Tony to win at this game of life.  Tony's life is violent, from almost getting lynched by a group of bullies to being kicked out of his house, joining a gang and then ultimately finding a home in the mob. As a Philly girl I loved the setting and Dearth really brings South Philly to life, North Philadelphia has changed a bit from the time this book is set but I remember when it was the gang ridden hell hole she describes.

Its been a few days since I finished this book and its still sitting with me.  Tony is one of those characters who will stay with me for a long time.




Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ARC Review: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Disney - Hyperion
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: YA Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Enter to win a kindle copy of this book! 

Synopsis: 

Before Verity . . . there was Julie.
When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she'd imagined won't be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather's estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family's employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences firsthand some of the prejudices they've grown used to-a stark contrast to her own upbringing-and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

Review:


Before she was Code Name Verity, she was just Julie, a young carefree girl just turning 16 and home for the summer to enjoy her grandfathers estate one last time before it turns into a school. She gets there a few days ahead of schedule and before letting anyone know she has arrived she decides to go on an adventure. She is attacked from behind and winds up in the hospital with no knowledge of what happened.  She befriends her saviors, two young tinkers whose family has been camping on her grandfathers land for a long time.

This book explores the prejudices surrounding gypsy's, the mystery of Julies attack, missing pearls and an ancient boat wreck that might hold more secrets than anyone knew and the coming of age of a truly adventurous woman. Julies new friends are constantly under suspicion from people around her other than her family.  If something goes missing or wrong they are the first ones people blame.  So when a body is found the police look to Julies new friends.

Wonderfully written, keeps you guessing with all the moving parts and different layers. I loved Julie from Code Name Verity and it is wonderful to connect with her again and see how she became a British Spy during WWII. I can't say enough about this book I was so thrilled to receive an advance copy and was bummed that I only got to it recently. Fabulous book.



Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-galley of this book from the publisher from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ARC Review: Rise & Shine Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick

Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: MIRA
Format: Kindle
Pages: 368 Pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover |


Synopsis:

Moonstone for empathy. Azurite for memories. Lapis lazuli for truth… In the quiet village of Noon Sun, Benedict Stone has settled into a complacent and predictable routine. Business at his jewelry shop has dried up; his marriage is on the rocks. His life is in desperate need of a jump start…

And then a surprise arrives at his door.

Gemma is Benedict's audacious teenage niece—the daughter of his estranged brother, Charlie. The two Stone brothers had a falling out and haven't spoken in almost two decades, since Charlie left for America. Reckless and stubborn, Gemma invites herself into Benedict's world and turns his orderly life upside down. But she might just be exactly what he needs to get his life back on track…

Review: 

This was a really sweet story about what it means to be a family, secrets and living in the moment. When Gemma shows up at Benedict's door his whole life changes and so does that of so many in the town.  This young girl shows them all how to live again, through gemstones and jewelry Gemma and Benedict change the lives around them including their own.

Well written, this book keeps you interested with an underlying mystery about why Gemma is there and if her father really knows she is there.  I found myself routing for Benedict and all the townspeople in their quests to be happy.  With just a little encouragement and maybe a magic gem or two the town springs back to life.

I couldn't put this book down it was infectious in its joy and I found the information on different gemstones fascinating.  A truly enjoyable book.


Friday, May 5, 2017

ARC Book Review: My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson

Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: LGBT/Fantasy/YA
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

Review:

Apparently I am on a Cinderella remake ride.  This modern version of the Cinderella story centers around Chris, whose family was down on their luck for a long time, his mother died when he was young and he helped out as his father tried to change their circumstances.  After making a fortune Chris's father meets a new woman and moves them into her brownstone along with her and her two children. After the market crashes taking all of their money and Chris's father, Chris tries to find a place in his new family with his step-mother and siblings.

The rest I'm sure you can guess but either way the addition of Coco Chanel makes this story worth reading.  There is nothing like a snarky drag queen to uplift a story and have you chuckling to yourself.  The dashing prince doesn't find his princesses but rather his prince this time helping bring this story into a modern retelling and makes it accessible to so many lgbt teens who are looking for their dashing prince or princess.

Well written and funny this book holds your attention and is another great retelling of a classic story.


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

Silver Dagger Book Tour Cover Reveal: Once a Charmer (Charmed in Texas #3) by Sharla Lovelace

Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy: Amazon | Apple | GooglePlay | Kobo | Nook

Synopsis:

Charmed, Texas, is a close-knit small town where people’s dreams of love can come true. That’s
not to say that some people aren’t still waiting, and dreaming . . .

By day, Allie Greene stays busy with her family diner, and keeping tabs on her teenage daughter.
What’s really exhausting Allie, however, are the nights. Not that she minds Bash Anderson unbuttoning her naughty desires—if only in her dreams. But what was he doing there at all? He’s her best friend, and a father figure to her girl. Talk about awkward. Talk about OMG-heat-and-fireworks that are flipping fifteen years of normal upside down. And now, when Allie needs him as a friend more than ever, logic doesn’t stand a chance against his lips and irresistible deep-blue
eyes . . .

Sure, Bash has fantasized about Allie, but there’s no way he’d act on it. She and her daughter are
the closest thing to family he’s ever known. With the exception of one drunken moment fifteen
years ago, he and Allie have stayed on this side of the line—until that impulsive kiss of hers
knocked him on his butt. That’s just one hurdle. Not only does Allie need Bash’s help to save her
diner, but his apiary is in trouble, too. To stir the pot further, they’ve been roped into vying for the
town’s Honey King and Queen contest—a sweet event that’s making them closer than ever.

Something’s bound to come undone. Bash just hopes it’s not the friendship he’s worked so hard
to hold on to.

About the Author

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sexy small-town love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs. She is the author of five stand-alone novels including the bestselling Don’t Let Go, the exciting Heart Of The Storm series, and the fun and sexy new Charmed in Texas series. For more about Sharla's books, visit sharlalovelace.com, and keep up with all her new book releases easily by subscribing to her newsletter. She loves keeping up with her readers, and you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @sharlalovelace.
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

Release Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Paperback
Pages: 514 pages
Genre: Fiction/Dystopian/sci fi
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


Synopsis:

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.


Review: 

It almost feels creepy writing a review on a blog about this book.  This is a scary peek into where we are heading if we don't get a handle on technology.  I could relate to so much of what was in this book and not all of it in a good way.  The need people have for immediate feedback, the strive to be in the top percent of bloggers, posters, reviewers... When does technology become a hindrance to life and not a positive enhancement?

Watching the visit to Philadelphia a few years ago by the Pope you could see the hundreds of clergy holding up their phones video taping the Pope walking into the cathedral to give a sermon - no one was actually fully participating.  Going out to dinner you see few young people talking they are sitting there playing on their phones (I am guilty of this occasionally too) We are starting to live our lives through our screens and not actually living our lives.  Everything is snapped, posted and shared with the world. We are forgetting how to interact.

This book read almost like a cautionary tale. The stress of keeping up with twitter feeds, tumblr, facebook, posts, instagram, snapchat, litsy, google+, blogs, podcasts, can be overwhelming and quite frankly I've given up trying. I catch up when I can but don't feel the pressure to keep up.  I'm interested to see how the movie turns out, if it follows the book or has its own agenda.

So read this book, then go out and enjoy the sunshine, or the snow, or the rain or whatever the weather happens to be doing at the moment. Put your phone down while you have dinner with your family and enjoy some screen free time. You are worth it.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

ARC Review: It Started with Goodbye by Christina Joy

Release Date: May 19, 2017
Publisher: Blink
Format: Kindle
Pages: 272 pages
Genre: YA / Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night, which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client. If Tatum is reading his emails right, her virtual Prince Charming is funny, smart, and talented—and he seems to think the same about her. Too bad he’s spending his summer across the ocean in Ireland…not that Tatum would be allowed to go on a date anyway.

But over the course of the summer, Tatum will learn that sometimes going after what you want means breaking all the rules. And when Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Review: 


This was a fun read. Its supposed to be a modern take on the Cinderella story but I didn't really catch that until I read it somewhere else.  Navigating family life and still trying to maintain a social life while being on house arrest isn't easy but Tatum seems to achieve it.  Tatum's character was spot on and very realistic, she isn't perfect and she discovers that no one really is, that everyone has flaws and baggage and it is sometimes necessary to look through someone else's eyes at a situation.

Joy really navigates the complexities of a blended family, changing friendships, and young love with ease and insight.  The characters had depth and you could really feel the emotions.  I enjoyed Tatum's stream of consciousness regarding closing valedictions, and the way her playful prince charming would come up with new ones to impress her.  By the end of the book I even had good feelings about Tatum's sister and Step-mother.  Overall this is a great retelling of a classic fairytale.


Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: Heels Over Head by Clay G Small

Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 246 pages
Genre: Suspense / fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Henry Lindon is playing a game of tit for tat that he’s about to lose.

​Successful, charming executive Henry Lindon was happily making high-dollar global deals and enjoying the good life in Dallas when his job mysteriously disappears—and with it, his identity. On top of that, he’s sure his beautiful wife is having an affair with some Romeo down in Argentina. While attempting to start a new life teaching law, Lindon is finding his paranoia has got him around the throat and won’t let go.

In class one day, the discussion goes off track from law and libel to tattoos. When a student appears in his office in pink shorts and a crop top and takes the subject of tattoos to a much-too-personal level, Lindon’s at a loss to explain why and worried about ramifications. Discovering he may have the Department of Justice on his back with phony felony charges, he’s reaching his breaking point and nothing’s making sense. Two tattoos, a murder, and an old rivalry are part of a distant game of revenge that’s about to come full circle.

Review: 

Henry and his brother Marvin grew up on a farm causing mischief in their small town along with one of their friends.  It seems that mischief is now coming back to haunt them.   They embarrassed one of the town rich kids and he still hasn't forgotten or forgiven.  Now he is out for revenge. This is an okay mystery as you try to figure out which side will win and if they will catch the perpetrator who seems hell bent on destroying lives.  A few twists and turns and a rather brutal death later Henry comes up with a plan to turn the tables.

This was an okay book, there were several pieces that I felt jumped the shark or were just out of character. Henry was a bit whiny for my taste and then all of a sudden grew a backbone.  There just seemed to be too many "coincidences" for someone to start putting things together. An unnecessary death, I think the author didn't know what to do with this character so it was easier to kill her off then to find a way to fit her into the final plan.

Overall it was an entertaining easy to read, fluff mystery.


Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Silver Dagger Book Tour Cover Reveal: Beginners Luck by Kate Clayborn

Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy: Amazon | Apple  | GooglePlay | Kobo | B&N 

Synopsis:

When three friends impulsively buy a lottery ticket, they never suspect the many ways their lives will change—or that for each of them, love will be the biggest win of all.

Kit Averin is anything but a gambler. A scientist with a quiet, steady job at a university, Kit’s focus has always been maintaining the acceptable status quo. Being a sudden millionaire doesn’t change that, with one exception: the fixer-upper she plans to buy, her first and only real home. It’s more than enough to keep her busy, until an unsettlingly handsome, charming, and determined corporate recruiter shows up in her lab—and manages to work his way into her heart . . .

Ben Tucker is surprised to find that the scientist he wants for Beaumont Materials is a young woman—and a beautiful, sharp-witted one at that. Talking her into a big-money position with his firm is harder than he expects, but he’s willing to put in the time, especially when sticking around for the summer gives him a chance to reconnect with his dad. But the longer he stays, the more questions he has about his own future—and who might be in it.

What begins as a chilly rebuff soon heats up into an attraction neither Kit nor Ben can deny—and finding themselves lucky in love might just be priceless

About the Author:

Kate Clayborn lives in Virginia, where she's lucky enough to spend her days reading and talking
about all kinds of great books. At home she's either writing, thinking about writing, or--during long
walks around her fabulous neighborhood—making her handsome husband and sweet-faced dog
listen to her talk about writing.

Website * Twitter * Facebook



Monday, April 17, 2017

Silver Dagger Book Tours Cover Reveal: Desperate Bride by AS Fenichel

Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Buy: Amazon * Apple * GooglePlay * Kobo * B&N

Synopsis: 

An unexpected promise . . . an everlasting passion.

An accomplished musician, Dorothea Flammel has refused more proposals than any London
debutante; her only true love is her music. Dory’s shimmering talent and beauty have long been
adored from afar by Thomas Wheel, an untitled gentleman who can only dream of asking for the
hand of a nobleman’s daughter. But when her father, the insolvent Lord Flammel, arranges for Dory to marry a lecherous Earl in order to pay off a debt, she runs to Thomas—and proposes marriage to him.

Eloping to Scotland saves Dory from a disastrous fate, but what is for her a mere marriage of convenience proves more passionate—and more complex—than either imagined as rumors, scandal, and buried emotions come to light. And when a vengeful challenge from a drunken and embittered Lord Flammel puts Thomas’s life on the line, will the fragile trust between husband and wife be enough to save them both?

About the Author:


A.S. Fenichel adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still
relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story. Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey. She now lives in the southwest with her real life hero, her wonderful
husband. When she is not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history and puttering in her garden.

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