Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Audio Book: Rule: A Marked Man Novel (book 1) by Jay Crownover

Release Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 10 hours 19 minutes
Narrator: Sophie Eastlake & Michael Rahhal
Genre: Fiction / Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Sometimes opposites don’t just attract – they catch fire and burn the city down

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want – and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess – and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw – even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love…or each other.

Review: 


Romance for the tattooed and body pierced.  Rule Archer is gorgeous and cocky.  He has a slew of tattoo bunnies following his every move hoping to be the next in his bed.  Shaw is a family friend, almost a sister who has put up with his antics to appease his mother and in honor of Rule's twin brother Remi who was her best friend and because she has been in love with Rule since she was in 6th grade.

Rule hates going home his mother blames him for his twins death and doesn't try to hide her contempt for Rule and his tattoos and purple hair. Shaw come from money and has a family that is all about appearance.  She despises them and the guy they keep forcing on her despite her not wanting anything to do with him.

Rule and Shaw explode when they finally give in to their feelings but can this playboy stay a one woman man and be everything Shaw needs?

Well written, fun romance - can't wait to read the others in this series.



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Monday, January 29, 2018

ARC Review: The Hush by John Hart

Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 432 pages
Genre:  Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Synopsis:

It’s been ten years since the events that changed Johnny Merrimon’s life and rocked his hometown to the core. Since then, Johnny has fought to maintain his privacy, but books have been written of his exploits; the fascination remains. Living alone on six thousand acres of once-sacred land, Johnny’s only connection to normal life is his old friend, Jack. They’re not boys anymore, but the bonds remain. What they shared. What they lost.

But Jack sees danger in the wild places Johnny calls home; he senses darkness and hunger, an intractable intent. Johnny will discuss none of it, but there are the things he knows, the things he can do. A lesser friend might accept such abilities as a gift, but Jack has felt what moves in the swamp: the cold of it, the unspeakable fear.

Review: 

I don't remember The Last Child but this book held up as a stand alone as well.  Johnny lives in the Hush, its a strange and powerful place where people have been going missing for years and there is a strange presence that allows Johnny to feel connected to the earth, and heal from wounds almost instantly.

There is mystery and history to this land that goes back to when Johnny's ancestors owned it and slaves. The land was transferred to a slave family and has since reverted back to Johnny when the last male heir to that family died and he is fighting to keep it with the help of his best friend Jack.

After an important person goes missing the sheriff, whose had a beef with Johnny ever since he was a child decides Johnny is to blame.  Things get heated and out of control and more and more strange things start happening.

Interesting story line that follows Johnny and a young African-American woman who have similar dreams.  Their pasts intertwine and everything leads back to the Hush.  Characters are well developed and while most of John Harts stories aren't supernatural in nature this one seems to fit.  Very well done.


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

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Audio Book Review: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Release Date: September 12, 2007
Publisher: Recorded Books
Format: Audio
Length: 10 hours 58 minutes
Narrator: Kim Staunton
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Review: 

Octavia Butler's most famous novel, The Kindred is amazing book.  Dana, a young African American woman, married to a white man, who has just started a career as a writer in California, is suddenly and inexplicably yanked back in time to Maryland in 1815, where she must save a white boy named Rufus from drowning. This is just the first in many trips back in time for Dana.

Only moments have passed in the 1970's each time Dana returns but when she returns to the past  months even years may had passed.  Dana watches Rufus grow from a little boy, to a teenager, then to an adult slave owner.

She tries her best to influence Rufus’ development, trying to get him to understand the slave perspective but, understandably he has a difficult time of it.  Dana even brings her husband back with her one time and trying to get him to understand the time is a prime example of white privilege.

Smartly written characters and well researched details of slavery and life during that time period.
This is a brilliantly written novel that is just as timely today as it was when written in 1979.





Monday, January 22, 2018

ARC Review: The One by John Marrs

Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Hanover Square
Format: ebook
Pages: 416 pages
Genre:  Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Synopsis: 

How far would you go to find The One?

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

 Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

Review:

This is an interesting concept.  Does everyone have one perfect genetic match to another person? What happens if you are already in a relationship and find out that your match is someone else? What if they aren't who you are expecting.  What if you get matched with someone of the same gender but think you are straight? What if that person is dead or dying? These are just some of the questions that make this book intriguing.

The book is broken up by the different people who have found their match.  One is in a relationship and does the test reluctantly to please his partner only to be blindsided by the results, the others all have their own stories to tell and each is interesting in its own right. I wasnt' sure if I was going to like this book but I can see what the hype is all about.  The end of each persons story is not at all what I was expecting which I really appreciate.

This is not a book of all sunshine and roses and not everything is what it seems. I think its more the concept than the actual book,  that is fascinating although the book definitely keeps you interested.  I mean who would have thought a serial killer and a cop would be matched? Its interesting to see how each of their stories plays out.



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



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Friday, January 19, 2018

ARC Book Review: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennet

Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: ebook
Pages:  304 pages
Genre: YA Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 

Synopsis: 

One deadly weekend.

At St. Aidan the Great School, or STAGS, new things--and new people--are to be avoided. The grandeur of the boarding school and the prestige of the students' bloodlines seem surreal to Greer MacDonald. A scholarship student who recently transferred to STAGS, Greer is ignored at best and mocked at worst by the school's most admired circle of friends, the Medievals.

Greer is taken by surprise when the Medievals send her an invitation to an exclusive weekend retreat at the private family estate of their unofficial leader, Henry de Warlencourt. It's billed as a weekend of "huntin' shootin' fishin'."

As the weekend begins to take shape, it becomes apparent that beyond the luxurious trappings, predators are lurking, and they're out for blood.

Review:

Greer is attending STAGS through a scholarship.  Her father produces wildlife films and her mother left when she was a young girl.  STAGS is filled with rich entitled kids who follow the rules set by a group of 6 kids known to everyone as the Medievals.  Feeling like an outcast Greer jumps at the opportunity to attend a weekend with the Medievals, hoping that she will make friends with the elite trend setters.

Unfortunately the weekend is not all that it seems...the Medievals are hiding a deadly secret and it seems its been going on for generations. Can they stop them from continuing their deadly games or is it much bigger than any of them even imagine?

This debut YA psychological thriller is sure to entertain readers well beyond its YA target audience.  Peer pressure is a difficult thing and the Medievals do it with finesse, from turning their noses up at technology, and the air of secrecy surrounding them they make everyone want to be them. Well developed characters and lots of plot twists and turns keep you engaged. The ending was superb.






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



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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Audio Book Review: The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Release Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours 29 minutes
Narrator: Tiffany Haddish
Genre: Humor/ Memoir
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.
None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

Review:


This is a funny book and to hear it read by Tiffany is like listening to her stand up. This book isn't all comedy though, there are serious parts to this book as well. Stories of abuse, neglect and everything that has made Tiffany who she is but the main thing I loved about this book is how upbeat Tiffany is.  Her life was hard but she found a way to turn her pain into triumph. She learned from each success story and each failure.  She doesn't look back on the past in pity she uses it to press forward and succeed.

Some of this book is raw and raunch, but thats Tiffany.  I'm glad that the editors didn't try to change who she is and squash her personality.  As raunchy as some parts are there is also brutal honesty that makes you want to cringe.  This is a no holds barred type of book.  The book is broken down into sections, so its not a fluid flow of story, more like a collection of different stories regarding different topics but it works.

I didn't know much about Tiffany before reading this book.  I saw her on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and was laughing so hard I knew I had to grab this book.  When I found out she read the audio version I made it a point to get that one.  No one can narrate a memoir like the author especially when she's a comedian.




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Monday, January 15, 2018

ARC Review: Peach by Emma Glass

Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Format: ebook
Pages:  112 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 

Synopsis: 

Something has happened to Peach. Staggering around the town streets in the aftermath of an assault, Peach feels a trickle of blood down her legs, a lingering smell of her anonymous attacker on her skin. It hurts to walk, but she manages to make her way to her home, where she stumbles into another oddly nightmarish reality: Her parents can't seem to comprehend that anything has happened to their daughter.

The next morning, Peach tries to return to the routines of her ordinary life, going to classes, spending time with her boyfriend, Green, trying to find comfort in the thought of her upcoming departure for college. And yet, as Peach struggles through the next few days, she is stalked by the memories of her unacknowledged trauma. Sleeping is hard when she is haunted by the glimpses of that stranger's gaping mouth. Working is hard when her assailant's rancid smell still fills her nostrils. Eating is impossible when her stomach is swollen tight as a drum. Though she tries to close her eyes to what has happened, Peach at last begins to understand the drastic, gruesome action she must take.

Review: 


The synopsis of this book is much better than the actual book.  Filled with surreal and disjointed prose this is like a runaway poem that wasn't quite sure of its direction. I spent half of the book trying to figure out what the hell I was reading and why.

Babies made of Jelly, teachers made from pudding, the world has people who don't have skin, and Peach is stumbling through the dark trying to recover from what I'm assuming was a rape, although the description was difficult to figure out. Her parents are very odd and the whole book just left me wanting to shower and wash my brain.

There are graphic scenes that may turn a lot of people away (I'm not that squeamish) but I was left confused and not grasping the praise this book has received.  I may be in the minority but I found this book to be truly terrible. There are so many other books out there about rape and the turmoil and trauma it causes that this was just not a necessary read.


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



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Friday, January 12, 2018

Book Review: Run Fast, Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes by Shalane Flannagan & Else Kopecky

Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Rodale Books
Format: Hardcover
Pages:  256 pages
Genre: Cookbook
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover |

Synopsis:

Packed with more than 100 recipes for every part of your day, mind-blowing nutritional wisdom, and inspiring stories from two fitness-crazed women that became fast friends more than 15 years ago, Run Fast. Eat Slow. has all the bases covered. You'll find no shortage of delicious meals, satisfying snacks, thirst-quenching drinks, and wholesome treats--all made without refined sugar and flour.

Review: 


I made a deal with myself toward the end of the year to eat healthier.  I started seeking out cookbooks that are healthy and anti-inflammation.  This book has a lot of really good information on nutrition. I have made many recipes from this book and all of them have been really good and are good for you.   The portions are bigger than you imagine and even recipes I was a little leery of like the Omega Sardine Salad turned out to be good and something I would definitely eat again. So dig in and get cooking!


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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Audio Book Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

Release Date: November 14, 2017
Publisher: Audible Studios
Format: Audio
Length: 8 hours 59 minutes
Narrator: Rosario Dawson
Genre: Sci/fi
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself - and that now her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Review:

I had mixed feelings about The Martian (I like the movie better) and I feel the same way about this book.  Weir had a real opportunity having his main character be a Muslim woman but instead he basically turns her into a criminal terrorist...not the best idea in this day and age.  I liked that the Moon is ruled by Kenyan's and that the welders are mostly Arab etc...at least the characters were other than your average white people. So this book's makeup really gave it a different twist and while I don't want to give away too much lets just say there is some redemption but Weir really could have though that through a bit better.

Jazz is interesting and at first seemed one dimensional but she does have some depth.  Her humor is more in line with a 17 year old boy than a 26 year old woman which can get annoying but the story carried me along past it although I did have a hard time remembering she was 26. The supporting characters were interesting and there was a lot more to this story than what I first thought.  The twists really left me listening more and more.

Weir likes his science and will take any moment to go into detail of many different things that flew over my head and seemed to drag on a bit too long (I don't think I will be welding on the moon anytime soon but now I know how).

Overall this is a pretty interesting book.  While Jazz's personality needed some work I think the story was well done and the world Weir built is interesting.  Rosario Dawson was a great choice as a narrator.  Her reading really brought Jazz to life and helped me connect to her despite her juvenile personality.




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Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: The Hideaway by Laura K. Denton

Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: ebook
Pages:  352 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback |

Synopsis: 

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering her grandmother’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

Review:

Family secrets, missed opportunities, a love of the South and a beautiful setting all serve to create a nice story with interesting characters, a few plot twists and a B & B you will wish is real. This book was a great way to start the year! Denton has written a beautifully atmospheric book that makes you want to rock on a big porch with a glass of sweet tea and watch the Spanish moss swaying from the trees.

Mags was an eccentric woman who wore outlandish clothes and lived in a big run down B & B called the Hideaway with a few other senior citizens and her granddaughter, Sara. When Sara grows up she moves to New Orleans, starts a business restoring antique furniture and other vintage odds and ends. She rarely ever goes back to Sweet Bay which holds too many painful memories. When her grandmother, Mags dies Sara is forced back to Sweet Bay where she learns to see the beauty of the small town, and learns more about her grandmother and what made her the woman she came to be. It also allows her to forgive, heal and find a life that she had been running  from for so long.







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