Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ARC Review: The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Fiction 
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate's skirt with a mirror. While they've been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can't help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah's heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it's Kate's turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah's surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart.


This story really pulls you in from the start. As someone who has worked with women and having friends go through infertility I thought the descriptions and feelings were dead on.  I wasn't too psyched about her description of adoption but I guess you can't have everything.

Karma Brown has written a very powerful, emotional book about friendship, love, and motherhood. Hannah and Kate have been friends forever. Kate has watched Hannah struggle to get pregnant for years and is almost as devastated as Hannah when she finds out it didn't work. Desperate to help her friend Kate decides that she would make the perfect surrogate.

All is going well until a tragedy leads them to make hard choices that could irreparably harm the future relationships of these two families. This was a fast well written read, but grab your tissues because I was a mess at the end of this book. Very well done.

Disclaimer: I received this e-galley directly from the publisher through in 
exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

ARC Review: Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

ARC Review: Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ARC Review: Roots of Murder by R. Jean Reid

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Monday, July 18, 2016

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

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


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


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

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

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

ARC Review: The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman: A Novel by Brady G. Stefani

Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: SparkPress
Format: Kindle
Pages: 328 pages
Genre: Sci Fi/ Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her―and it’s not just the mysterious tattoo her conspiracy-obsessed grandfather marked her with when she was a child. “Mental illness is a slippery slope,” her mother warns her. And the last thing Courtney wants to do is end up crazy and dead like her grandfather did.

But what about the tattoo? And the alien scouts who visit Courtney in her bedroom at night claiming to have shared an alliance with her grandfather? And her new friend Agatha’s apocalyptic visions? They have to be connected. Courtney has a mission: untangle her past, discover the truth, and stop the apocalypse before anyone from school finds out she’s missing.


Courtney doesn't know if she is going crazy or if the things she is seeing and experiencing are real.  When she meets the girl who has been showing up in her visions she thinks she has definitely lost her mind.  Through a series of missteps and teenage bravado Courtney and her new friend Agatha try to save the world.

I don't know how Stefani did it but he nailed Courtney's character right down to her teenage angsty speech. From the battle with parents and siblings to worrying about her social life Courtney comes to life. (Interesting how most of the "bad guys" in this book are adults.) Courtneys mother is by far the nastiest woman, I'm not even sure I could completely believe her character there were so many times I wanted to shake her while reading this book. Overall this was a fun, interesting, page turning read.  It has the potential to turn into a fun series as well.  I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fun, teen x-files adventure.

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ARC Review: The Girls: A novel by Emma Cline

Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Format: Kindle
Pages: 368 pages
Genre: fiction
Buy: Paperback | Kindle| Hardcover


Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.


This book is being marketed heavily in magazine and online.  I'm not sure what I expected but I guess I wanted more.  The book flips back and forth between modern time and the end of the 1960's when Evie becomes enamored with a Manson Family type cult.  I felt like the book didn't really know where to go sometimes and I felt a bit jerked around and back and forth.  I wasn't sure if Evie is gay and Suzanne was her first crush, or if she was truly drawn in by their leader. It didn't seem like Evie was really taken by the cult just Suzanne.

I couldn't figure out why as an adult  Evie was living in someone elses run down house or even what became of her life as she grew up. While it was interesting to see how she became involved in the cult I had no inkling of what happened to her after she narrowly escaped being part of its destruction. It seems like she just stopped evolving at 14.

I found the book strange and forced and that I would have been better off reading a Manson biography.

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

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