Saturday, December 31, 2016

ARC Review: Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

Release Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Format: Kindle
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Paperback | Kindle 


The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now.

What could cause a man, when all the stars of fortune are shining upon him, to suddenly snap and destroy everything he has built? This is the question that haunts Sergeant Ryan DeMarco after the wife and children of beloved college professor and bestselling author Thomas Huston are found slaughtered in their home. Huston himself has disappeared and so is immediately cast as the prime suspect.

DeMarco knows-or thinks he knows-that Huston couldn't have been capable of murdering his family. But if Huston is innocent, why is he on the run? And does the half-finished manuscript he left behind contain clues to the mystery of his family's killer?


This is a book that keeps you guessing, just when you think you have it figured out you find out more information that leads you down a different path.  I can usually always figure out movies or books but this one had me guessing.  This is a dark book but the ending left me satisfied.

This book is told by Ryan DeMarco the cop trying to find his friend and discover if he was the one who killed his entire family and Thomas Huston the author and professor whose wonderful life has been destroyed in one night.  His wife and children brutally murdered.  Huston is missing, did he kill his family or is he searching for his familys killer? DeMarco can relate to Huston's sense of despair since he lost his young son in a car accident DeMarco's life has been put on hold.  He hasn't done anything to finish the projects he was working on, he is still tracking his grieving wife and is really stuck in place even years later.

Both of these broken men take us on a very dark and brilliantly written path toward answers, though the answers for each may be different they both find their own sense of peace in the end.

Wonderfully done, and apparently the beginning of a new series.

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family & Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Harper
Format: Hardcover
Pages:272 pages
Genre: memoir
Buy: Hardcover | Kindle 


The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.


I fell in love with Vance's Mamaw from the first time she was introduced.  She was the backbone of the family, foul mouthed, no nonsense with a heart of gold and a 45 tucked in her waistband. This book is truly a testament to her love of family and her hope that she could help change her family's fortune. She may not have known what she was doing some of the time but the wisdom she shared with her grandson and granddaughter really changed their lives.

Vance's inside view of the poor white working class is invaluable.  He is able to share with us an unflinching look at this subsection of America, and how they are slowing failing without glossing over facts or making it too judgmental.  These are his people, his family and most of them he cares a great deal about which can be seen through the way he talks about them.  I think it hurts him to see what laziness, fear of outsiders, rampant alcoholism, and lack of responsibility is doing to people. You can see how these things effected him as he grew up and how he still carries the lasting effects of much of it around his neck.  If his Mamaw hadn't been the woman she was he may very well have fallen into the same trap as so many of the people he grew up with.  Her strength and encouragement carried him through.

This book is incredibly timely given the results of our most recent presidential election. I believe Trump really spoke to this failing culture, he is not a politician and while elite he does not appear polished and well spoken like many other political figures. He speaks their language of fear and conspiracy, after all Trump lead the fight in the Birther movement (those who believe Obama wasn't born in the US). I think this is a brilliantly written book not only for its examination of a struggling culture so often forgotten but also for its message of hope for those that can find the strength to not only survive but thrive.

Monday, December 12, 2016

ARC Review: How Will I Know You by Jessica Treadway

Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: Kindle
Pages: 416
Genre: Mystery / Crime
Buy: Hardcover | Kindle


On a cold December day in northern upstate New York, the body of high school senior Joy Enright is discovered in the woods at the edge of a pond. She had been presumed drowned, but an autopsy shows that she was, in fact, strangled. As the investigation unfolds, four characters tell the story from widely divergent perspectives: Susanne, Joy's mother and a professor at the local art college; Martin, a black graduate student suspected of the murder; Harper, Joy's best friend and a potential eyewitness; and Tom, a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town's police chief. As a web of small-town secrets comes to light, a dramatic conclusion reveals the truth about Joy's death.


This book is told from 4 different perspectives, and from a time before the murder and the time after the murder.  It was interesting reading from different points of view, showing how different people's realities can be regarding the same situations.

The Chief of Police is trying to make his position permanent and desperately wants a conviction on this case but instead of actually investigating he interviews a few people and then has his man. Martin a black graduate student in a predominately white town seems talented but way too trusting.  Even after he is arrested he still seems to be swimming in a delusional bubble of everything will work out.

And that is just the tip of these flawed characters who hide secrets at every turn.  The two best characters were Tom, the rescue diver who is also the son-in-law of the Chief of Police and Joy who is definitely going through some difficult stuff but seems smart and savvy in her own way. The rest of the characters were almost caricatures, there wasn't much depth to them.  They wove around Tom and Joy who really carried the story along for me.  Wanting to know who killed Joy and what she was doing that may have lead to her death and Tom who is really caught between a rock and a hard place within his marriage and his family.

The ending was a bit of a let down.  I had figured out who I thought killed Joy but I also had some other theories floating in my head about the killer that didn't pan out. As for the police force I felt that they were just lazy, it was a bit of a leap for me to think that they would just jump on the first suspect to cross their desk no matter how desperately someone wants the case solved.  In fact I would think that they would be pretty diligent to make sure that the case sticks.

Overall this was a decent read, with a few really well done characters that carried the book along.

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Audio Book: Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Release Date: August 6, 2016
Publisher: Random House Audio
Format: Audible
Length: 10 hours 11 minutes
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback 


Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

 In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.


This is a very detailed book of the depravity, inhumane treatment and atrocities that were done to the African people who were stolen from their homes in Africa brought to the United States like cattle and bought and sold as possessions. How their children were ripped from their families and sold to pay off their Masters debts.  This book is brutally honest and may come as a shock and surprise to some who may have only learned whitewashed history in school.

While I really wanted to love this book from the start I did find the beginning a bit slow.  I wandered off a bit here and there but I'm not sure if that was due to the writing or the droning voice of the narrator. When Cora and Caesar ran away the book picked up.

The description of the hunters sent out to find runaway slaves, the different stations along the underground railroad etc were well done and interesting.  The medical experiments and mass sterilization projects on free men and women of color acting as if they were helping humanity, is despicable.  They may have been free but they were just as much in bondage. Terrifying and sad.

Well researched and full of the terrible truths of how people of color were treated in the United States. The sad thing is that many of these terrible practices didn't stop when slavery ended, they continued. As White people desperately tried to hold onto the idea that people of color were not equal to White people.

Bahni's narration was okay.  It was a bit droning and I did find myself drifting off a time or two but I wonder if it was the narration or the actual writing. Before Cora runs away I felt there were a lot of details that could really have been left out.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Audio Book: Winter (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Format: Audio
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 23 hours 30 minutes
Genre: Fantasy
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback 


Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?


This was an amazing ending to the Lunar Chronicles.  All of the story lines get wrapped up in a satisfactory way and yet the story kept you on the edge of your seat.  Meyer has an uncanny way of featuring the main character yet also giving all the other characters satisfactory time in which to evolve their story.

I am utterly enamored by these reinvented fairy tales. While many may see Winter as weak I saw her as a very strong character.  She denied her Lunar gift realizing that it would slowly drive her insane. She holds on to her sanity with the help of her guard Jacin. Despite her insanity Winter is very likeable and has a knack for getting people to like and trust her.  Maybe its because of her insanity that some feel sorry for her, or her beauty which is unmatched but I think it is more that they recognize the inner strength within her, the strength to survive being the Queen's step daughter, the strength to be kind to all despite that she grew up in the palace and the strength to not use her gift for even the littlest of glamours.

Being able to "see" Luna was also a big plus of this book.  All the other books take place on earth and finally we get to see Luna.  It was helpful to see the outside sectors and what Levana had done to her people to understand how much Cinder needed to win the rebellion.

Scarlet, Cress, Wolf,  Kai, Thorne, Iko and Cinder all have their own struggles in this book but they all come together, this band of misfits into some kind of family.  They look out for each other despite their differences.

This is a great book to listen to, Rebecca Soler does a great job of changing her voice to make each character unique.  She brings you into the story so you get lost in the narrative. Very well done.

Monday, December 5, 2016

ARC Review: Cover Me In Darkness by Eileen Rendahl

Release Date: December 8, 2016
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Kindle
Pages: 288 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Amanda Sinclair has to fight harder than most for everything she has after fleeing the cult that left her brother dead at her mother’s hand. Amanda works a quiet job in quality control for a small cosmetics company, trying to leave her past behind her—until she learns that her mother has committed suicide in the mental ward where she’s been locked away for the past ten years.

At first, Amanda believes that her mother killed herself, but when she looks through the personal belongings left behind, it seems her death may be related to the upcoming parole hearing for cult leader Patrick Collier. Teaming up with her mother’s psychologist, Amanda starts to peel away the layers of secrets that she’s built between herself and her own past, and what she finds is a truth that’s almost too big to believe.


Amanda still struggles with the death of her baby brother at her mothers hands.  She sees him in dreams, blames herself for not saving him.  She has built a wall around herself to protect herself from the outside world, finding it hard to trust anyone after what her mother did.  She also blames the cult her mother was a part of, COGG, and now their leader is being paroled.

Just as Amanda starts to try to breach her walls and interact with people outside of work she gets a call that her mother committed suicide.  After that a series of weird events start leading her down a path of mystery.  Who would want to hurt her, how can she get them to believe her? The bodies start piling up and the lines between what is in her head and what is happened start to blur.

This is a frustrating mystery, where everyone seems like a suspect.  Who can you trust? Just when you think you have it pegged a new twist emerges.  This was a quick read because I couldn't put it down.  I needed to figure it out.  I really liked this book right up to the end when I felt like the conclusion was rushed. Had there been a little more substance to the ending I think it would have earned another star from me.

The writing is simplistic making it an easy read and one that even younger readers may enjoy.

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: Caged by Onaiza Khan

Release Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 146 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


"Keep your mind right, put your body in action and let your spirit guide you.”

These are the words keeping her sane after her husband kidnaps her, tearing her away from her life in India and keeping her captive in Northern Canada.

But after three months with only a servant, a television and the screams of another captive keeping her company, she begins to lose touch with reality - even forgetting her own name.

In her struggle to escape, she discovers an inner strength and powers previously unknown realigning her past, present and future.


This was a really interesting read.  Noor is a newlywed and is being held hostage by her husband.  He seems to really like her and doesn't seem cruel so why he is holding her against her will is a mystery.  Like the main character I wasn't sure what was going on at first then details started evolving and the mystery only deepened.

There were moments in this book that left me really confused, others that didn't seem to work and ones that were totally on point.  I think that Khan has a great premise and a great start to this story but this story would benefit from a re-write.  The ending felt very rushed and disjointed.  It didn't flow like the rest of the book, characters were introduced that I had no idea where they came from and other little things that seemed to happen out of the blue.

Overall the premise is very good, the writing could use some work but it was not a bad read.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Esper Files by Egan Brass

Release Date: October 16, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 224 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


They came after The Great Storm, the Espers. Feared and hunted by society, there are those who use their powers for good, and those who use them for evil.

When an experiment goes wrong in Victorian London, Espers, people with supernatural abilities are created. In order to counter this new potential threat, the Institute is set up to teach Espers how to use their abilities for good and how to hunt down those who want to use their powers for evil.

Gifted with a formidable but self-destructive ability, Nathan is one of the Institute’s top agents. When the evil Baron executes his plan to control the minds of London’s political leaders, peace is dependent on Nathan and his team.

Will he learn to control his powers in time to save the world? Or will he succumb to their self-destructive nature?


This book is like a combination of X-men and the Flash.  Espers are humans who have obtained supernatural powers when an energy conductor blew apart.  The Professor responsible for creating the Espers has been ostracized and is now running the Institute where other Espers go to learn about their powers and also police those who use them for evil.

Nathan is a smart ass with an amazing ability (think Wolverine with the powers of Rogue).  He seems to be the only one who can help the young Esper who just discovered her powers and help her stop another the Baron from completing his evil task.

This world seems like a distant past and recent future combined so I'm going to say this had a very steam punk feel to it.  This was an entertaining book with lots of suspense and a bit of a cliffhanger of an ending.  The sequel to this book Esper Files: Sky Cult comes out January 25, 2016.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Review: Fall (Archer/Bennet #3) by Candice Fox

Release Date: December 1, 2016 in Australia (no date for USA yet)
Publisher: Random House Australia
Format: Paperback
Pages: 252 pages
Genre: Thriller, crime
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


If Detective Frank Bennett tries hard enough, he can sometimes forget that Eden Archer, his partner in the Homicide Department, is also a moonlighting serial killer . . .

Thankfully their latest case is proving a good distraction. Someone is angry at Sydney's beautiful people - and the results are anything but pretty. On the rain-soaked running tracks of Sydney's parks, a predator is lurking, and it's not long before night-time jogs become a race to stay alive.

While Frank and Eden chase shadows, a different kind of danger grows closer to home. Frank's new girlfriend Imogen Stone is fascinated by cold cases, and her latest project – the disappearance of the two Tanner children more than twenty years ago – is leading her straight to Eden's door.

And, as Frank knows all too well, asking too many questions about Eden Archer can get you buried as deep as her past …


I was so excited when I saw there was a third book in the Archer/Bennet Series but my excitement was dashed when I found it wasn't available in the USA right now.  I wrote to a family member in Australia to send me a copy and I'm glad I did.

Eden and Frank's relationship is strained due to his growing knowledge of what Eden likes to do when she isn't working as his partner detective. Eden is struggling to recover from her near fatal injuries and fighting off growing suspicions that Frank's girlfriend is putting her nose where it shouldn't be. This book also introduces us to Hooky, a computer genius whose family was killed by her sister. Hooky is only 17 but helps the police investigate pedophiles on the internet.  She also has a almost fatherly relationship with Frank and his girlfriend isn't too pleased with it.

So while Frank navigates all these females in his life he is also on the hunt for a killer who is drugging and killing runners in the park in a very personal way.  How are they connected, who could be doing it?

Fox's characters are dark, dangerous and fantastic.  There are so many layers to them. Just when you think you have one pegged something else happens to realize you may be giving them too much credit for being human and the funny thing is the most ruthless character of them all Eden's father, Hades, seems to be the most human.

This book leaves us with a doozy of an ending that leaves me really wondering what comes next for these characters.  I know that the author is set to publish the first in a new series early this year, but I hope she doesn't let us stew too long waiting for answers on what becomes of our warped but fascinating friends in this series.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: Dragonfish by Vu Tran

Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, shadowed by Sonny's sadistic son, "Junior," and assisted by unexpected and reluctant allies, Robert learns more about his ex-wife than he ever did during their marriage. He finds himself chasing the ghosts of her past, one that reaches back to a refugee camp in Malaysia after the fall of Saigon, as his investigation soon uncovers the existence of an elusive packet of her secret letters to someone she left behind long ago. Although Robert starts illuminating the dark corners of Suzy’s life, the legacy of her sins threatens to immolate them all.


There is no doubt that Vu Tran has a promising career ahead of him.  He can write vivid beautiful scenes and dark and dangerous ones. However I was left a little lost in this book.  Written with alternating chapters, one by Robert the cop pushing boundaries to find his ex-wife and one from someone writing in a diary.  At first I thought this diary entry was from Suzy's mother but then I realized it was actually Suzy herself who was writing her story of fleeing Vietnam, surviving the boat ride, and ultimately ending up in America.

I think my problem with the book is the motivation behind everyone to find Suzy, she is emotionally unstable, aggressive, and elusive.  She creates turmoil and tension in those around her. I understand that is what probably draws people to her initially but I think it would be a sigh of relief when she finally left.

This is definitely a very noir novel, from the cop who finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into the dark underworld to the missing woman and Suzy's violent husband who is blackmailing Robert into helping to find her. I guess I just expected a bit more and the ending was unsatisfying and left things still shrouded in mystery.  There was a lot to like about the writing but I just wasn't a huge fan of the story.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner: A novel by Jenny Colgan

Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.


This was a charming read.  I loved how Nina went from a mousy unsure woman to a confident entrepreneur. The shy bookworm, Nina preferred books to people until she moved to Scotland to start her own bookshop inside a van she can barely drive.  Now she finds herself putting down the book and building a life in this small friendly town.

This book really shows what you can do with a dream and desire. Everyone thought Nina was crazy when she decided to move to a remote village in Scotland where she knew no one and try to start her own business, but she showed that sometimes risks pay off.

This was a great book to lose yourself in and I'm sure almost every avid reader will find themselves in these pages.  Makes me want to grab my passport and run off to Scotland and live on a farm. Beautifully written and fun well developed characters Colgan really takes you on a journey.  I may have to find another one of her books!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New Reading App

On November 16, 2016 Inkitt is launching an app for ipad and iphones which looks really great.  I don't often read on my tablet because I have a kindle but my kids use their Ipads and phones and this app looks promising. Nothing like being able to access FREE books at your fingertips that were hand selected to your reading style. Download it here

“As more people read digitally we want to make it easier and faster for people to access great literature wherever they are, whether on the go or relaxing at home,” says Inkitt’s Founder and CEO, Ali Albazaz. “Inkitt’s iOS app will better enable emerging authors to share their work with test readership groups and give readers globally the opportunity to turn the page on one of the world’s next best sellers.”

Key features include:

  • Access to 80,000 stories in every genre: fantasy, sci-fi, romance, thriller, horror, adventure, action and more
  • Personalized suggestions: hand-picked novels based on reader’s preferences
  • App customization according to user preferences (e.g. font size, colors)
  • Online/Offline: readers can save novels to their offline library to access them without an internet connection

Beyond being a platform connecting authors and readers, Inkitt has developed an in-house algorithm that analyzes reading behavior to determine if a novel has the potential to become a bestseller. Using this unique data-driven approach, Inkitt aims to help emerging writers achieve their dreams of getting published by becoming a point of reference for publishers looking to uncover the world’s next best sellers.  I've read some of the Inkitt books and I really enjoyed them, this algorithm thing may actually work! 

App Preview - Inkitt app for iPad - 1 Nov from Inkitt - The Hipster's Library on Vimeo.

About Inkitt

On the surface, Inkitt is a platform where budding writers can share their novels and inquisitive readers can unearth fresh content. But under the hood, we are democratizing publishing: Inkitt is built on an algorithm which analyzes reading patterns to predict future bestsellers. Using this unique data- and readers-driven approach to uncover highly addictive stories, Inkitt’s goal is to remove the middle person so that a blockbuster book is never rejected by a publishing house again. In other words, if readers love it, Inkitt publishes it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

Release Date: October 25, 2016 (reprint)
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother's bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She takes their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is that the entertainment—two scared young women brought there by force—will kill their captors and drive off into the night.

With their house now a crime scene, Kristin's and Richard’s life spirals into nightmare. Kristin is unable to forgive her husband for his lapses in judgement, or for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But for the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, the danger is just beginning.


Talk about a bachelor party gone wrong...this is The Hangover times 10.  Alternating chapters between Richard whose life is forever altered by this fateful night and Alexandra the Armenian orphan who was taken into slavery at the age of 14. Its a well written story with a lot of depth and characters you really start to care for.  You see different points of view on what happened, how the media portrays what happened and how each persons lives are effected.

It was fascinating to see how different people interpret what happened and how it changes their view of Richard. This incident truly brings out the worst in some people and the good in others.  Its an interesting read.

This book is very graphic and has solid information on the sex trafficking industry.  How they break the girls, keep them and string them along.  Its a sad horrible life with not a lot of hope.  You learn about Alexandra's hopes and dreams and how she has coped with what she has become.

I love Chris Bohjalian's books, they are well researched and really speak to you.  The characters seem very real and very flawed like us all.  Well done, quick, interesting read.

Friday, November 11, 2016

ARC Review: By the Dark of her Eyes by Cameron MacElvee

Release Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Boldstroke Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 288 pages
Genre: LGBT, supernatural romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


The evil lies dormant, waiting to be awakened.

Brenna Taylor relocates to Arizona to nurse her grief and takes possession of a decrepit century-old home sitting among two hundred acres of dead citrus trees. But she unknowingly rouses an evil and stirs the darkness inside herself, a curse she’s carried since childhood. With the help of Alejandra Santana, the charismatic contractor to whom she is drawn, Brenna uncovers the violent history of the land she’s inherited.

As the tormented spirits of massacred migrant workers call out for revenge, the malevolent force that imprisons their souls begins to lure Brenna into its hell. But Alex’s love may not be enough to stand between Brenna and death.


Tortured by the death of her husband and child Brenna flees to land that her husband had purchased in Arizona in the hopes of fixing up the old farmhouse and creating a new life.  What she finds is an evil that feeds on her anger, and guilt.  This evil may consume her if she isn't careful.

This was a great ghost mystery that spans generations of one family, filled with many cultural references to migrant workers, the Hispanic culture and Arizona politics.  Fast paced and well developed characters really speed this story along. The heat and attractions between Brenna and Alex is well written and builds nicely.  I highly recommend.

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

ARC Review: Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Kindle
Pages: 288 pages
Genre: YA Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Victoria Zell doesn't fit in, not that she cares what anyone thinks. She and her homeschooled boyfriend, Andrew, are inseparable. All they need is each other. That is, until Zachary Zimmerman joins her homeroom. Within an hour of meeting, he convinces good-girl Vic to cut class. And she can't get enough of that rush.

Despite Vic's loyalty to Andrew, she finds her life slowly entwining with Z's. Soon she's lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel Z's secrets. Except Z's not the only one with a past. Victoria's hiding her own secrets, secrets that will come back to haunt her...and destroy everything in her path.


Wow what a disturbing story of obsession and mental illness. There isn't much I can say about this book without giving away parts that I don't want to give away. This is a well written book with mysterious characters and a disturbing ending.  You may think you know whats going on but I was pretty shocked by the ending.

Vic keeps to herself and doesn't interact with anyone at school, she has horrible anxiety and seems to be afraid of her own shadow but all that changes after she meets Z. Z pulls Vic out of her shell, but their relationship is mysterious and a little off.  As Vic gets sucked into Z's orbit she finds herself doing things she never thought she would do, skipping classes, trying out for the school play and going out with friends. Vic's relationship with her boyfriend Andrew also starts to suffer.  She is torn between Andrew and her new feelings for Z and not sure what to do about it.

I really enjoyed this book, I knew there was more to it than meets the eye but I couldn't put my finger on it.  The story is told by Vic but alternating chapters are interviews from the police over something that has happened.  I was hooked from the beginning breezing through to find out what happens in the end.

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

ARC Review: The Amateurs (book 1) by Sara Shepard

Release Date: Nov 1, 2016
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion/Freeform
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: YA/mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she's hooked. Helena's high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It's the reason she's a member of the site in the first place. So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena's sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation. But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they've been keeping quiet. As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer's trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.


You know what sucks about getting advanced copies of books? Having to wait longer for sequels! This book was great with a heart dropping doozey of an ending.  Sara Shepard hit this one out of the park for me.  Great characters with well developed backgrounds, and they are teenagers so they are grumpy, take things way too personally and get mad at the stupidest things.

Seneca and Maddy meet online in a amateur crime solving message board and Seneca agrees to help Maddy look into a case that Seneca has been obsessed with.  Turns out Seneca had a completely different vision of who Maddy was and is a little disturbed when they actually meet.  Joining them is Madison, Maddy's step-sister, Aerin, the sister of the dead girl and Brett another amateur sleuth from the message boards.  Together this band of kids piece together the last days of Aerin's sister and in the process put themselves right in the crosshairs of a killer and other people who don't want Helene's secrets revealed.

As Seneca unravels clues you start to wonder how you missed some of them along the way.  This book really draws you in and leads you down twists and turns that bring you joy then drop you like a roller coaster.  There is no lag time in this book but the pacing is not quick enough to give you pause as to how these kids were able to unearth all this new information.  Each of them plays a pivotal role in discovering the clues and unearthing major leads but Seneca seems to be the leader.

Something about this book brought me back to the books that helped me fall in love with mystery novels to begin with, the Encyclopedia Brown series, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, something about a group of teens solving crime just makes me happy.

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

ARC Review: Highway Thirteen to Manhattan by Kourtney Heintz

Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Aurea Blue Publishing
Format: Kindle
Pages: 351 pages
Genre: Romance, Mystery
Buy: Kindle 


His secrets almost killed her. Her secrets may destroy them both.

Kai is recovering from a near-death experience when she realizes something isn’t right. Her body is healing, but her mind no longer feels quite like her own. Her telepathic powers are changing, too. She can’t trust herself. The darkness growing inside of her pushes her to use her telepathy as a weapon.

Oliver clings to the hope that he can save their marriage, even though he was the one who put her life in jeopardy. As his wife slips further and further away from him, he becomes increasingly obsessed with bringing the man who ruined his life to justice.


Kai survived her abduction and Lukas is safe but her marriage with Oliver is imploding and the Fuch family is front and center. Lukas' mom, Mickey still pines for Oliver, and Oliver is either too stupid or clueless to get the hint that she is dangerous for his marriage.  Mickey's big brother Alex is gorgeous and is just the ticket for Kai to make Oliver jealous or is it something more?

This book sucked me in right away, Kai's telepathy is on the fritz and she fears that when she came out of that cave she took something else with her.  She knows something isn't right and her powers are becoming dangerous to those who cross her.  Oliver is struggling to reconnect with Kai.  But his lies are making it hard for Kai to trust him.  Not to mention that Oliver seems to be the target for everything that is happening to her family.

Good story, well written with lots of twists turns and supernatural fun.  Nice light reading.

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

Monday, October 31, 2016

ARC Review: Bluewater Walkabout - Into Africa, Finding Healing Through Travel by Tina Dreffin

Release Date: September 10, 2016
Publisher: Tina Carlson Dreffin
Format: Kindle
 266 pagesGenre: MemoirBuy: Paperback | Kindle


Bluewater Walkabout: Into Africa is a memoir about a much-anticipated sailing adventure that the author, Tina, and her family embark upon. But when her sons bring along two friends who upset the family balance, rogue waves and large sharks threaten the family’s safety, and Tina begins to deal with mysterious and health problems, the perils of life at sea become very real. The book begins with an adventurous safari through Africa, during which Tina reflects on the challenges that a life lived differently can bring. Half running from an early adulthood fraught with sexual trauma, and half running towards a dream, Tina met her husband and the two of them decided to live a life at sea. This story is candid, moving, heartfelt and beautifully written. What sets it aside from other sailing memoirs is that it is about so much more than the journey. Tina writes about topics such as mental illness, sexual assault, the loss of a child, and the challenges of motherhood in such a way that they are naturally woven into the narrative and add a layer of complexity and strength to the story that makes it universal and enjoyable to those who have been to sea and those who haven’t.


I really wanted to like this book.  I loved the description but I just found it a little flat.  If you like sailing, know anything about sailing then this book will definitely speak to you. Because there is a lot of sailing jargon. The sailing portions flew a bit above my head but I was fascinated by the safari, and could feel Tina's anguish at letting her boys surf crazy waves and be as adventurous as her and her husband. I didn't quite catch the whole healing through travel subtitle to this book.  There was plenty of trauma that happened to Tina but I'm not sure how the travel helped to transform her or help her work through her issues.  There is mention of mental illness but again not sure how travel helped that.
It was an okay read and I'm sure Tina and her family live fantastic and adventurous lives but the best thing I found about the book was the safari which was about 10 pages long. Maybe a sailing buff would get into this more, the danger of sailing on blue water instead of a lake or a river but it just left me a little wanting and ended very abruptly and kinda left me hanging about Tina's mysterious illness.

For such a full and amazing life I found that the stories were rather bland and filled with Tina's constant worry about her boys, her boys friends, sharks or some other danger, real or perceived.  I didn't feel uplifted after reading this book and I had a hard time getting through the 266 pages, it just never drew me in.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

ARC Review: IQ by Joe Ide

Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: crime fiction
Buy: kindle | hardcover


East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch.

They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay.

This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.


Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) has poor social skills but a great mind.  When his brother is killed he finds himself adrift not knowing what to do. Trying to make it on his own Isaiah meets Dodson and the two form a fragile friendship.  It isn't until tragedy strikes that Isaiah decides he needs to find another path.  He sort of falls into being an investigator, helping people in the neighborhood, mostly for whatever they can afford but sometimes he takes on special clients who can pay well so he can pay his rent.

Chapters alternate between the past and the present you see how Dodson and Isaiah meet, and the twists and turns their lives take.  Isaiah helps out a local rapper for a big payoff so he can afford to help a young orphan boy with a traumatic brain injury.  The case proves to be more difficult that expected and soon the killer that was after the rapper is targeting IQ.

Characters come to life in this great urban mystery.  Dodson and IQ make a comical team each with their own strengths.  The capers they find themselves in swing from ridiculous to scary but they have each others backs even if they pretend not to like each other.

This is a great debut and I hope I see more from Ides and IQ.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Book Review: Her Winged Viking (Elemental Viking Book 3) by AJ Tipton

Release Date: October 26, 2014
Publisher: Create Space
Format: Kindle
Pages: 136 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Buy: Kindle


An outcast hiding from the world. A leprechaun ashamed of being different. When outside forces threaten what they most cherish, will their magic be enough to save the day? 

Over a thousand years ago, Erik and his Viking brothers were cursed. With useless, immense wings sprouting from his back, Erik is forced to flee from town to town from angry mobs. Tired of running, Eric hides out at a theme park where he can stay close to the one person in the world he cares about: his best friend, Siobhan.

Sarcastic, efficient, and beautiful, Siobhan is an immortal leprechaun who works as the Chief Financial Officer of a small theme park, the Winter Wondernasium. She would do anything for her oldest friend, Erik, including hiding her feelings to protect him from the forces who hunt her.

When an illicit scandal at the park threatens Erik and Siobhan’s secrets, they have to decide what’s most important: freedom or love?


I didn't like this one as much as the other two I've read in this series.  The whole leprechaun and horns thing vs. wings was just a bit over the top.  Also while I like these short snippet romances I feel like all of them have the potential to be much more interesting and fun if they were longer.  There is story there it just isn't fleshed out.

Not sure if I will continue with this series but if you only have a short time and want something hot and steamy these little novella's are just the ticket.

Monday, October 17, 2016

ARC Review: And Then She Was Gone (A Detective Jack Stratton Novel) by Christopher Greyson

Release Date: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Greyson Media Associates
Format: Kindle
Pages: 260 pages
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


What's done in the dark will be brought to the light...

The silhouette stood at the edge of the woods like a spider watching a fly enter its carefully crafted web. Only a few more steps and she'd be within its grasp.

Stacy Shaw has her whole life ahead of her. New job, new house and now a baby on the way—everything she's ever hoped for is finally coming true. But on a warm summer night on the way home from work, she vanishes. The police race to find her, but the clues don't add up. Conflicting facts emerge as her story twists and turns, sending the trail spiraling in all directions.

A hometown hero with a heart of gold, Jack Stratton was raised in a whorehouse by his prostitute mother. Jack seemed destined to become another statistic, but now his life has taken a turn for the better. Determined to escape his past, he's headed for a career in law enforcement. When his foster mother asks him to look into the girl's disappearance, Jack quickly gets drawn into a baffling mystery. As Jack digs deeper, everyone becomes a suspect—including himself. Caught between the criminals and the cops, can Jack discover the truth in time to save the girl? Or will he become the next victim?


This book is a prequel to the Jack Stratton novels.  Focusing on Jack as a teenager as he seeks to find the killer of a young pregnant woman. Jack is constantly is putting himself and his friend/foster brother Chandler at risk of danger and also of being arrested.  Both Jack and Chandler are planning to go into the army and anything negative could screw up their chances but Jack just can't seem to help himself.  This is a great start to this series because it really gives you a feel for who Jack is and where he came from.  I haven't read the other books in this series but I just downloaded all 5 I was so intrigued by Jack and his family.

There is enough action to keep you interested, but also just the right amount of reality to keep the story grounded.  Jack isn't superman, he makes mistakes, he jumps to conclusions, he puts himself in situations that could prove dangerous but his motivation to help those who can't help themselves seems routed in his past.  

I love Aunt Hattie, Jack's foster mother and also Jacks parents who took him in at the age of 11. The characters are so well written I had no problem seeing them in my head and watching them interact.
Really great start.  I'm looking forward to the other books in this series.

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: Indecent Proposal by Jodie Manhattan

Release Date: September 23, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 216 pages
Genre: Romance
Buy: Paperback


Evelyn thought that the smaller jobs were always just enough to fill her pockets, but with each robbery successfully ticked off, she had created quite a long list of pleased clients - and these things didn't go unnoticed by some.

A growing list of clientele lead to extra responsibilities, and extra responsibilities meant that there is no backing down when being presented with the chance of becoming a millionaire. In Jodie Manhattans irresistible debut contemporary romance novel, Indecent Proposal, Evelyn runs headlong into the night on a true make-it or break-it mission to retrieve the Dragon's Heart from notorious billionaire Armand Bronson's chateau in The Drives.

However after falling into an ambivalent bond with Armand, in which she cannot understand how she landed, someone from his past arrives.


Evelyn is a modern day Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to help out the poor neighborhood she grew up in.  Her main goal is to make enough money to move her family out of the projects and help her sister go to a better school. When she is hired to do a job that would pay her more than she ever dreamed and would be her final criminal endeavor she starts to cut corners and winds up caught.
Caught by billionaire Armand Bronson who seems like the party playboy but deep down just wants to be loved for more than his money.

This book was good, I really like Evelyn but I would have like to see her and Armands romance grow instead it just seemed to happen outside of all the other action. Even the ending seemed a bit rushed. There were some interesting characters, and there could be more to explore in this world, which with some work could morph into something akin to the _____ in death books by JD Robb.  I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a stand alone book or the introduction to a series but the ending left you dangling a bit and I could see Evelyn and Armand as a good team, him with the technology and money and her skills at breaking and entering.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 7, 2016

ARC Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 


Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.


Timely and powerful I found this book really distressing to read but also fabulous and informative. Tackling the issues of privilege, racism, race bias, etc in a way that I think will open many eyes and lead to some really great discussions.  While people may think that the story line is not something that would actually happen in America unfortunately it does happen in real life.

Turk's story reminds me a little of the movie American History X with Edward Norton in that you get to see through the eyes of a white supremacist.  Its scary how people can be taught to hate so much, that history can be twisted in such a way, but its not a problem of yesterday, this is something that continues, and is systemic in the American culture and seems to be growing again.

Picoult's book couldn't have come at a better time and hopefully will get people talking and really thinking about racism, white privilege, and unconscious bias. Was Ruth guilty? Was she just following orders? What would you have done? And why did the hospital put her in this situation? Like all Picoult's books there is no easy answer, but maybe thats the point, there is no easy answer and fixing this is not going to be easy or comfortable for many.

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

Sunday, October 2, 2016

ARC Review: No Place To Pray by James Carpenter

Release Date: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Twisted Road Publications
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Two young men, one bi-racial and the other white, meet in an overnight lockup and begin their shared twenty-year downward spiral into alcoholism and homelessness. LeRoy and Harmon work together, drink together, brawl together, and as Harmon suffers from his final illness, they both bed Edna, a wealthy widow who, out of pity, curiosity, and loneliness, takes them into her vacation home by the river. Through episodes rendered from shifting, multiple points of view, a series of flashbacks, and LeRoy's adventure stories this very smart but uneducated man's attempts at fantasy writing we learn of the people and tragedies that shaped their lives and those whose lives unravel along with theirs at the seams of race, class, and religion, and where no one ever quite tells the truth.


In my opinion this was more about about class and friendship than race.  No matter their color both men are struggling to survive and often wind up in dangerous predicaments. We don't know much about Harmon's past but LeRoy came from a poor family, his mother was a whore and he didn't know his father. Harmon and LeRoy meet when they both wind up in the same cell one night.  That night forged a friendship that lasts the rest of their lives.

I actually had a hard time remembering that Harmon was supposed to be white and LeRoy black.  I often thought of them and their friends all being the same race until someone else brought it up and then I had to go back and think about how it would have been difficult given the time period. I'm not even sure that there was any mention of what race anyone was with the exception of LeRoy and his stepfather Whiskey.

The shifting time periods were interesting and really helped build a strong idea of who the men were and what was going on during that time. However because they were in a very rural setting it didn't even seem that many of the racial tensions of the time were as prevalent, it seemed that day to day survival was the biggest concern.

Well written book about friendship and class.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

ARC Review: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: LGBT, Mystery
Buy: KindleHardcover


Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking question he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn―as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.


Flynn's girlfriend is missing and Flynn is determined to figure out what happened.  By interviewing her new friends and co-workers Flynn discovers that he might not have known as much about his girlfriend as he had thought.  In addition Flynn comes to terms with a secret that has been plaguing him for a while.

This is not only a coming of age book but also a good mystery with an interesting take on how perception is not always what it seems.  There is also an underlying message of be happy with what you have, because money is not always the answer.

The writing is superb, and the characters very believable to a point. January still remains an enigma to me and I'm not sure where all the cops were while Flynn was running around putting all the pieces together.  While I get that teenagers might be more willing to talk to Flynn I have a hard time understanding why he didn't run into the cops while doing his investigation.

Putting that aside though I have to say this story held my attention and kept you guessing all the way to the end. Flynn's big secret is handled well and felt very honest.  I really liked this book.

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

Monday, September 26, 2016

ARC Review: Little Boy Blue (A Helen Grace Thriller) by MJ Arlidge

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Berkely Publishing Group
Format: Kindle
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover


In the darkest corners of the city, there is a thriving nightlife where people can let loose and cross the lines of work and play, of pleasure and pain. But now that sanctuary has been breached. A killer has struck and a man is dead.

In a world where disguises and discretion are the norm, one admission could unravel a life. No one wants to come forward to say what they saw or what they know—including the woman heading the investigation: Detective Helen Grace.

Helen knew the victim. And the victim knew her—better than anyone else. And when the murderer strikes again, Helen must decide how many more lines she’s willing to cross to bring in a devious and elusive serial killer...


This series is definitely growing on me.  I am intrigued by Helen, her past and her extracurricular activities.  This installment finds Helen once again investigating murders that seem to have ties to her and her past.  This time the murderer is a little more cunning and the motive and outcome are not apparent until almost the very end.  As this series goes on Arlidge is really finding her rhythm with these characters.

I was slightly disappointed with Charlie in this installment.  She didn't seem as strong in this one, very uncertain in not only her work but in her relationship with Helen. I'm hoping that this changes in the next book.  She is usually such a strong character and I found her very weak in this one.

As usual Helen's nemesis, reporter Emilia has her sites set on taking Helen down. With the help on someone on the inside she may just do it this time.

Faced paced, well written thriller.

Disclaimer: I was provided an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...