Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Book Giveaway!

For the last 6 years, I've used this blog exclusively for book reviews. I'm happy to announce that I'm finally branching out to book giveaways, yay!

I read many fabulous books this year and here are my top 5 (in no particular order):

  1. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
  2. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  3. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  4. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
  5. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Would you like a chance to read one of these awesome books? There will be 3 winners chosen by using a random number generator.  Leave a comment on this post to enter with your twitter handle or email so I can get in touch with you. Be sure to note which book you want!! Giveaway is for 
US only and you must be age 13+ to enter.

**You have until Sunday at 5pm CST to enter, so don’t miss out on your chance to win one of these amazing books!  Good Luck!**

Friday, December 19, 2014

The History of Love

Book: The History of Love
Author: Nicole Krauss

Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he s still alive. But it wasn t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. . . . Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of extraordinary depth and beauty (Newsday).-Goodreads

Review: It's official. My favorite (literary) elderly person is Leo Gursky. While my heart broke for young lovers Leo and Alma, I fell in love with Leo as a crotchety old man in the last years of his life. He was introspective, he was lonely and he just wanted people to notice him. He also had a lot of heart and was willing to make changes late in life, which I respect. He was also funny! 

This was a beautifully written tale of Leo and a young girl named Alma. Told in alternating narratives and timelines (random comment: I feel like over half the books I read are organized like this. I wonder if it was recommended at a large writing workshop a few years ago?) I loved Leo's sections. I was slightly annoyed by the use of "And yet." when he was thinking but Leo, as noted in the above paragraph, is fab. Krauss really nailed the psyche of a teenage girl for Alma and while her list style writing took a little getting used it, I enjoyed her journey to find her namesake.  Unfortunately, the one part of the book that was a challenge for me was the actual book Leo wrote, "The History of Love." I found those sections so tedious I just started skimming them toward the middle. 

Overall-I really enjoyed this, it's a beautiful, albeit sad book about love and loss. 

Grade: 4/5


Book: Hounded
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Author: Kevin Hearne

Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old--when in actuality, he's twenty-one "centuries" old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he's hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power--plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish--to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.-Goodreads

Review: Oh Hounded, I had such high hopes for you. An urban fantasy series focused on an ancient Druid. It sounds amazing, right? I couldn't wait to dive in. The main issue I had with this was the main character, Atticus O'Sullivan. He's an ancient Druid and almost too perfect. He's powerful (so powerful that I never once believed his life was in jeopardy), he's sex on a stick (I think he kissed 3 different goddesses in this book and slept with one of them) and he's always quick with a comeback (because everyone loves a sharp tongue and humor). Not in his favor: he pulls a weird prank on a paramedic at one point (I didn't find this funny). And just plain weird: he talks to his dog and his inner dialogue is that of a modern man, yet he's been alive for over 2k years. 

lieu of organic world building, there were a lot of information dumps. I was excited about the Celtic focus of this series and was surprised that everything goes in this book. As in everything. We have druids, vampires, werewolves, witches, Greek goddesses and Jesus. I was just a little much. Attitcus also has an elderly Irish neighbor that was cartoonish and ridiculous. 

Overall-didn't care for this. Poor world building, main character is too powerful, mythology needs to be more focused and the humor wasn't a fit for me. I am considering reading the next in the series, maybe Atticus will develop some flaws. 

Grade: 1/5

Failure to Navigate

Book: Failure to Navigate
Authors: Kris & Jessie Leavitt

"Before I begin, you have to understand something. What must be understood is that his evil was as apparent to me as his yearning to be angelic."

There is a difference between excuse and explanation. No one knows this better than Catherine Sellers as she recounts the story of her relationship with Thomas Christie to their child.

Failure to Navigate is a fictitious re-telling of a true story inspired by personal letters, authentic medical documents, and verbal accounts from those who have survived. With the late1960s and early 1970s as a backdrop, Catherine and Thomas's romance begins in a whirlwind of underground parties, fast cars, and drug-fueled nights. Things turn dark as Thomas sinks deeper and deeper into his mental illness and Catherine tries to navigate the emotion and violence that comes with it.

The pendulous back-and-forth nature of their relationship is as extreme as the thoughts in Thomas's mind, swinging between the sweetest, tenderest moments of young love to the erratic brutality of abuse. Though he yearns to be “a good, good man,” Thomas's attempts at redemption are no match for the depth of his sins.

Thomas's first-hand account and Catherine's perspective from both then and now together reveal the details of their equally sordid and sweet history, bringing into question the black-and-white nature of good versus evil and just how blurry the line between the two can be.-Goodreads

Review:  This is a powerful book about first love gone bad. Catherine is young and ready to fall in love when she meets Thomas, a wealthy, charismatic boy with a troubled past and destructive behavior. She falls like most of us did when we were teenagers-full speed ahead. Catherine is so drunk with love that Thomas becomes the center of her world very quickly. She abandons her studies, disregards her parents rules and worst of all, excuses Thomas' erratic behavior. As he falls deeper into manic episodes and substance abuse, Catherine falls along with him. 

Written in alternating narratives, we see the relationship develop from their first meeting and see how Catherine reflects on things many years later to their daughter. It would be easy to hate Thomas for his bad deeds and poor decision making, but the Leavitt's did an excellent job humanizing him. That isn't to say I liked him per say, but it was clear he was damaged from events in his childhood and had a mental illness so I could understand why (on some level) he behaved as he did. 

Overall, this was a very good book. It was a little heavy handed at times referring to how Catherine misread his intentions as loving instead of manipulative, but I will definitely read another book by this writing team. 

Grade: 4/5

Dark Places

Book: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?-Goodreads

Review: I finished this book several weeks ago and my first instinct when finishing it was mild disappointment. I liked it but I was left wanting "more." Believe me, Flynn knows how to write disturbing characters and the multiple narratives (Libby in present day, her mother and brother the day of the murder) kept me reading non-stop but I felt a lot of the book was predictable. However, after thinking about it...and thinking about it...I realized this was better than I originally thought. Libby is perfection as an emotionally stunted adult after experiencing a horrible childhood trauma. She's a train wreck and it's hard to look away. I really felt sorry for her mother and the circumstances she was in and her brother's sections make me frightened about ever having teenagers. 

Overall, disturbing and well crafted. 

Grade: 4/5

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Book: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.-Goodreads

Review: Are you a fan of Arrested Development or satire? If so, you might love this book. This is about a group of wealthy Seattler's (not sure if that is an actual term) and their myriad of problems, including work, family and the drama of private school parental politics. While I found most of their issues eye roll worthy, this was cleverly written in a non-traditional format and I couldn't put it down. While the central character, Bernadette, was equally lovable and frustrating, I adored her relationship with her daughter. I also found myself loving a secondary character by the end of the book who I initially hated. 

Overall-loved it!

Grade: 5/5

Monday, December 8, 2014

What Alice Forgot

Book: What Alice Forgot
Author: Liane Moriarty

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.-Goodreads

Review: I really enjoyed The Husband's Secret and thought this would be another fast paced 'I can't put this down!' read. Wow, I was mistaken. Alice wakes up at the gym (the gym-wait a second, she hates working out) and thinks she's 29, happily married and pregnant with her first child. Surprise! She's actually 39, has 3 kids and is in the middle of a nasty divorce. She tries to navigate what happened in the last decade while trying to convince her husband to give the relationship another chance. She also realizes her relationship with her sister is strained and tries to figure out what is going on. Moriarty was absolutely spot on regarding married life and how small things can compound and result feelings of resentment. I think the premise of this book is good but the main issue for me was Alice. I didn't find her likable or interesting at all. Her 29 year old self was so clueless and immature, she read more like a 21 year old. The dialogue with her husband (when they were both 29) was ridiculous. The ending was not a surprise and I feel like at least 150 pages could have been edited out.

Overall-interesting idea and good premise but I was bored by the main character. 

Grade: 2/5


Book: Curtain
Series: Poirot #38
Author: Agatha Christie

The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara , Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington. So Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot's declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the ageing detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?

The novel features Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in their final appearances in Christie's works. It is a country house novel, with all the characters and the murder set in one house. Not only does the novel return the characters to the setting of her first, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but it reunites Poirot and Hastings, who last appeared together in Dumb Witness in 1937. It was adapted for television in 2013.-Goodreads

Review:  It's only fitting that Poirot's last case with Hastings is at Styles, where it all began. This book had almost everything I love in a Poirot mystery-Poirot is borderline obnoxious about how smart he is, Hastings is lovably clueless and I found myself taking notes as I read. It was quite sad seeing Poirot as a crippled old man but I loved how the story unfolded at the end. I'm sure many readers were upset with how it ended. I'll avoid spoilers but I will say Poirot said throughout the series that everyone is capable of murder given the right circumstances. My only complaint with this book was the murderer. While the individual was definitely creepy and there was a strong psychological aspect to the crime, he was kind of 'blah.' 

Grade: 4/5

Never Fade

Book: Never Fade
Series: The Darkest Minds #2
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?-Goodreads

Review: Wow-this was fabulous. Ruby has embraced her abilities although she still isn't comfortable with the power she wields. She is absolutely kick ass throughout this book. Several new characters were introduced that I enjoyed and even though Ruby spent most of her time on another cross country journey similar to book one (this time searching for Liam) this was fast paced and action packed. I absolutely love the addition of Liam's brother and cannot wait to read the next book. 

If you are a fan of YA science fiction, definitely check out this series. 

Grade: 5/5

One Plus One

Book: One Plus One
Author: Jojo Moyes

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.-Goodreads
Review: At its core, One Plus One is a love story about opposites who attract. Jojo Moyes does a great job crafting the story so it reads more like fiction instead of chick lit or a cheesy romance. Jess has a tough life but a great attitude and ends up on a road trip with Ed, a successful tech millionaire going through some major work issues. While this was well-written and I liked it, I never bonded with Jess or Ed. I liked Jess well enough and Ed grew on me as the book went on, but I never felt that vested in their relationship. I did really enjoy Jess's children, who dealt with a disappearing father and bullying. I kept waiting for a big emotional punch (her book Me Before You, one of the best books I've read all year, literally left me weeping) but while this book had it's sad moments, the overall tone was relatively positive. 

Overall-good read. 

Grade: 3/5 

Second Grave on the Right

Book: Second Grave on the Right
Series: Charley Davidson #2
Author: Darynda Jones

If you hang around with dead people, life can get pretty complicated. Take it from Charley Davidson, part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper. Complicated is her middle name. The deceased find her very sparkly. Demons find her irresistible. And one entity in particular wants to seduce her in every way possible.

When Charley and Cookie (her best friend/receptionist) have to track down a missing woman, the case is not quite as open and shut as they anticipate. Cookie's friend Mimi disappeared five days earlier. Mimi then sends Cookie a cryptic message telling Cookie to meet her at an nearby coffee shop. The coffee is brewing, but Mimi's still missing. There is, however, a clue Mimi left on the bathroom wall: a woman's name. Mimi's husband explains to them that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old high school friend had been murdered. The same woman whose name Mimi had scribbled on the bathroom wall.

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He's left his body because he's being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can't let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they'll have a portal to heaven...well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty.

Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Can she keep those she loves out of harm's way? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel her as she does?-Goodreads

Review: Ah, Charley Davidson. I'm glad I gave you another try because this was a fun read. She's sassy, sexy, funny and helping her best friend with a missing persons case. I enjoyed this more than the first installment in the series for one primary reason-Charley came across as a more genuine person instead of a walking joke machine. Don't get me wrong-I have no idea how she pays her bills as she is the least professional investigator/grim reaper possible and pretty ditsy, but she's fun. I enjoyed the primary mystery involving Cookie's missing friend, especially how Charley handled random men in her apartment in the wee hours (I laughed a few times). The only thing that didn't work is Reyes, the primary love interest who is a ghost/Son of Satan. There was no relationship development from the first book and Charley seems more obsessed with him than really in love with him.  I was also pretty frustrated with her actions regarding him at the end of the book. I'll avoid spoilers but she was extremely selfish. 

Even though I'm not a fan of the love arc, fun book. I'll continue the series for sure. 

Grade: 3.5/5

Monday, November 10, 2014

Burn For Me

Book: Burn For Me
Series: Hidden Legacy #1
Author: Ilona Andrews

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.-Goodreads

Review: A new book in a brand new series by the amazing writing team of Gordon and Ilona Andrews? Yes! I was so excited to read this and overall it was great. First things first-this is being marketed as a paranormal romance. I'm not sure why because this is urban fantasy with a dash of romance. Since this series is scheduled to be 3 books, the romance will burn hotter than Kate/Curran per the authors (if you are an UF fan and don't know who Kate Daniels is, read the series, it's fab) but I think there was maybe one kiss in the entire book. A lot of fans are griping over the cover of this book, which definitely screams 'cheesy romance' more than 'kick ass heroine and powerful magic man' (that's my cheesy tagline..). I had the opportunity to hear the Andrew's talk at a book signing about the cover and several people had to sign off on it. They had a great one with lightening shooting out of Nevada's arms but Walmart insisted on this cover showing 'more skin.' Anyway, don't judge a book by it's cover!

As for the book: the world building was great, Nevada and her family are hilarious and Mad reminded me a little bit of Barrons (don't know who Barron's is? Do you live under a rock?! Read the Fever series, you won't be disappointed). He's powerful, conceited and possibly a sociopath. I can't wait to see how this relationship develops in the next installment. 

Overall-loved it!

Grade: 4.5/5

Big Girl Panties

Book: Big Girl Panties
Author: Stephanie Evanovich

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape...and winds up getting her groove back--and a whole lot more! Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband's illness and death. Now she's alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief. Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she's met her goals--and other men are noticing?-Goodreads

Review: I'm a fan of the Stephanie Plum books and bought this during a quick layover at a book store in the Atlanta airport. I failed to notice this was written by Stephanie Evanovich, not Janet. Big mistake. This was terrible-unlikable main characters, stilted dialogue and fat shaming. The romance was not sexy and I was actually routing against a HEA. The only semi-likable characters were the secondary characters of Chase (a famous baseball player) and his wife Amanda. They had a spanking fetish which could have been fun, but just felt out of place with the rest of the book.

Skip this one. 

Grade: 1/5

The Darkest Minds

Book: The Darkest Minds
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Author: Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.-Goodreads

Review: While I was reading the 'Throne of Glass' series, I saw the author's (Sarah J. Maas) review of this book and she mentioned it was one of her favorite books ever. Since I overall enjoyed her ToG books, I figured I would give this a try and I'm glad I did. This was a dark, gritty read with a compelling main character and strong world building. Children are dying in mass amounts and those who survive only do so because there is something 'wrong with them.' They are sent to camps and segregated by their abilities (red, orange, yellow, blue and green). Ruby is able to hide her true abilities for years until she finds herself rescued from the camp and before long, she is on the run again. Strong secondary characters round out the cast and the 'big bad' (I'll avoid spoilers but I'd say there are technically two) was pretty intriguing. I was shocked that I actually teared up a little at the end of the book. 

I can't wait to read the next two books in this series and see where Bracken takes this-at this point, I cannot imagine a happy ending for any of the characters. Strong start to a series. 

Grade: 4/5

A Wrinkle of Time

Book: A Wrinkle in Time
Series: A Wrinkle in Time Quintet #1
Author: Madeleine L'Engle

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?-Goodreads

Review: First time reader here-I somehow never found this book as a child. My husband was excited I was reading this as it was his favorite book as a child. My best friend's husband also said this was his favorite book as a child. One of my girlfriends loved this book so much she named her cat after the author. I was expecting to love it-kids going on a time traveling adventure to save her missing father? Count me in, sounds exciting! Sadly, I was not entertained in the least.  Poor world building, unrealistic dialogue and I wasn't a fan of most of the characters. I did love that Meg, our main protagonist is a young teen who loves math. That is awesome and inspirational, especially for young readers. Her 4-year old brother Charles Wallace, who is some sort of genius with psychic abilities to read emotions, creeped me out. He was like a 35 year old man in a little boy's body and as a parent of a 4 and 6 year old, I didn't find him precocious in the least. Meg and Charles Wallace meet up with Calvin, one of Meg's classmates and they become 'insta-friends.' It was too fast and unrealistic especially considering he was borderline offensive to Meg. He had absolutely no role other than holding Meg's hand throughout the adventure. His character could have been eliminated completely without impacting the story in the least. The worlds the kids travel to were poorly developed and the bad guy "IT" wasn't that scary. I think having a physical body would have helped. There were also random Christian themes throughout the book, they could have been woven into the story better.

For those of you who loved this-sorry! Maybe if I read this as a child, I would have loved it.  

Grade: 1.5/5

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Heir of Fire

Book: Heir of Fire
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Author: Sarah J. Maas

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?-Goodreads

Review: I had high hopes for this book but sadly I was disappointed. 

The Good
World Building: Celeana spends most of this book in a new land where she can hone her magic skills. I really enjoyed the mystical elements here, this made the book seem much more 'fantasy.' 

New Characters: I really enjoyed two of the new characters introduced. First up, Fae prince Rowan who is tasked with training Caleana from a magical standpoint. He was fantastic. He actually challenges Caleana physically and mentally (instead of just getting her back in shape, which is what Chaol did) and she opens up like she hasn't done in the previous books.  While the training sessions were overly long and drawn out, I enjoyed their dynamic more than any other her friends and I appreciate that this isn't a romantic pairing.  Next up,  Aelin's cousin Aedion who balances a lot of responsibilities in this book while remaining loyal to his roots. Can't wait to see how the story unfolds for both of these guys. 

The Bad: where to start...?
The Witch Storyline: We are introduced to a new character named Manon and she's going to be competing in some competition on these things that are essentially dragons. Boring, boring, boring. I skimmed these sections and still almost fell asleep. I literally could care less about her, but I'm sure she will play a big role in the next few books and hopefully she'll be more exciting. 

Chaol: He was insufferable in this book and really turned me off to him ever being a serious love interest for Celeana. However, my fear is since this is YA and Chaol and Celeana have already consummated their relationship, they are 'destined' to be together. Ugg. He is so boring and his inability to take a stand throughout this book until the very end was insufferable. 

Maeve: for someone who is such a bad ass..she was underwhelming. 

Overall, my biggest challenge with this book is that if felt like a chore to read it. It seemed like a filler book that was poorly edited. I'm hoping the next installment is much better. 

Grade: 2/5

Crown of Midnight

Book: Crown of Midnight
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Author: Sarah J. Maas

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.-Goodreads
Review: Wow-huge improvement over the first book in the series. There was world building (yay!), character development across the board (yay! Especially Dorian, he was mostly a pretty playboy in the first book but had actual purpose on this book) and an interesting plot (yay!). While there was still too much time spent on the romance for my liking and the final reveal (I'll avoid spoilers) was not much of a surprise, this was a really fun read. 

Grade: 4/5

Throne of Glass

Book: Throne of Glass
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Author: Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.-Goodreads

Review: Overall, this was a predictable but fun read. The plot was rather simplistic and there wasn't much world building, but there is a lot of potential for future books. I had a love/hate relationship with Celaena, the protagonist who is an assassin fighting for a chance at freedom. I loved her big personality but I could never really 'buy' her as an assassin. She had zero patience, was not subtle and at one point, knowing a killer is on the loose in the castle, finds a bag of candy next to her bed and digs in. could have been poison! There was a (kind of) love triangle with Dorian (Prince) and Chaol (Captain of the Guard) which I hope is not dragged out throughout multiple books. 

Fun start to a new series!

Grade: 3/5

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Book: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Author: Laura Hillenbrand 

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

Review: I finished this book last month and I've been putting off the review because I have so many conflicting feelings about it. Almost of my goodreads friends gave this 5 stars and I thought I would love it too. I read Seabiscuit several years ago and though it was fantastic. Unfortunately, I was overall I was disappointed in this book. Let's dig in.

This is the story about a troubled youth who becomes a standout high school and college track star, Olympic athlete, Air Force bombardier and then POW in Japan. There is no doubt that Louis Zamperini experienced a crazy life and this should have been an exciting and emotional read. Instead, I felt like I was reading a textbook. It took several weeks to finish this (very unusual for me) and some nights I had to literally force myself to read it was boring. There are so many facts being thrown out and one dimensional characters (It was difficult to keep everyone straight) that I had no attachment to anyone. The only character that really felt real to me was Louis's brother. There is little dialogue in the book between characters, rather we are told 'he did this, he did that' etc. Several things in this book also seemed exaggerated, which didn't bother me that much but did induce eye rolling. Here is a quote from the book (talking about a fellow POW) that supports some of Louis' memories may not be 100% accurate: 

The curious thing about Harris was that while he was certainly a tall man—six foot two or three, according to his daughter—virtually everyone, including Louie, would remember him as a giant, by one account six foot eight, by another six-ten.
There is a claim of Louis running a 4:12 mile in SAND at one point and a lot of pages devoted to his time lost at sea involving sharks. Supposedly these pacific sharks had nothing to do all day besides circle Louis and his two comrades for weeks on end. And when one of the comrades dies and they put his body in the water, we are to believe that these starving sharks, who apparently had no other food supply, just left the body alone. Hmm, okay. And Louis, being starved, dehydrated and several burned after several weeks was able to punch sharks repeatedly to help repair the raft at one point. Hmm, okay. There is also a claim that he was moving 20-30 tons of material in a rail yard at one point. I've heard adrenaline can kick in at crazy times, so maybe that is what happened? 

The end of the book left me feeling like another chapter was missing. After becoming an alcoholic and experiencing PTSD, he's cured after listening to Billy Graham speak for a few hours. At least that is what I inferred from what was written. What?! I can believe that this was the catalyst to stop drinking, but how they cured him of PTSD, I don't understand. 

Okay, you may be thinking..this is not the most positive review so far. While I was disappointed in this book, there were some things I enjoyed. I thought Louis's older brother was fantastic, a wonderful person who helped Louis get on the right path and realize his potential (in terms of running). I love the focus on Japan, since every other WWII book I've read talks only about the German side of things. I learned a lot about the Japanese military (wow, scary stuff) and the Japanese POW camps. 

Overall, a dry, fact-filled book but I enjoyed the Japanese focus. The movie for this comes out in a few months and looks fantastic. I will definitely go see it. I think that while I found most of the characters one-dimensional on paper, they will really shine on screen. If you are a WWII buff, you will probably love this book. 

Grade: 3/5

Invisible Monsters

Book: Invisible Monsters
Author: Chuck Palahniuk

Review: Have you seen Fight Club? It's based on a book by Chuck Palahniuk so going into this, I knew I was in for a wild ride. I'm happy to say it didn't disappoint. Our narrator is a nameless former model who was shot in the face and severely deformed. She meets a drag queen at the hospital and her life takes a wild ride. 

The book style is what I would describe as chaotic-the timeline is constantly shifting, several pages don't have page numbers and it seems almost like a play at times. Palahniuk likes to "flash" from scene to scene frequently. While this style may turn off many readers, it worked for me. There are a lot of shocking things in this book and while I didn't particularly care for any of the characters, I felt an overwhelming sadness at the wild conclusion.

Grade: 4/5

Perfect Scoundrels

Book: Perfect Scoundrels
Series: Heist Society #3
Author: Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the son of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting-or stealing-whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy-Goodreads

Review: Like the first two books in the Heist Society series, Perfect Scoundrels was a quick, fun read. Unlike them, it had a darker feel to the plot and seemed to focus more on just the 'heist.'  This was good as we delved into Hale's family dynamic and  we meet several new characters such as Kat's dad (loved him!). My only beef with this book is that the book starts with Kat and Hale as a couple and then they quickly break up. Um..I'm wondering when the relationship actually happened because it definitely wasn't defined in book 2. 

Grade: 4/5

Friday, September 19, 2014

Uncommon Criminals

Book: Uncommon Criminals
Series: Heist Society #2
Author: Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.-Goodreads

Review: Heist Society was fabulous and I was expecting to love this book, sadly I was disappointed. All the ingredients were there for an exciting caper and it was well-written but most of the characters fell completely flat. The exceptions were Kat, the 15 yr old mastermind behind a large art heist the year before and Maggie, her nemesis in this book. I liked Kat's character development in this installment (and her desire to prove herself after making some major lapses in judgement) and Maggie was just a great foe. Unfortunately, the other characters, including Kat's cousins Gabriella and twins (the twins do not seem capable of stealing a pack of gum, let alone assist in a major heist) as well as Hale were almost devoid of personality. Readers looking for major developments between Kat and Hale in a romantic sense (I was hoping for something...more) will be disappointed. 

Overall, not as good as HS but still enjoyable. 

Grade: 2.5/5

Defending Jacob

Book: Defending Jacob
Author: William Landay

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.-Goodreads

Review: What would you do if your child was accused of murder? Defend them at all costs or seek the truth? Andy finds himself in this situation when his 14 year old son is arrested for murdering a classmate.  I thought this would be a thriller in the sense of a murder mystery but this is more of a psychological thriller. The most interesting part is how Andy and his wife Laurie react to the situation as well as how the accusation impacts their lives, from both a professional and personal standpoint. There were several twists at the end (I guessed one of them, not the others) and this was an engrossing read. I also enjoyed the writing style, where a transcript of Andy testifying in front of a grand jury is weaved into the story. However, the best part of the book (or most frustrating for some people) was how this book ended. If you only like books that end with perfect red bows, don't read this. Otherwise, dive in!

Grade: 4.5/5


Book: Unspoken
Series: The Lynburn Legacy #1
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?-Goodreads

Review: Wow-what a fabulous surprise! I read this for book club a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. This book has all the ingredients for a good tale-interesting characters, creep/isolated town, secrets galore as well as some mystical elements. Our heroine, Kami Glass, has a strong personality (readers will either love her or hate her) and I found her very amusing (I actually chuckled out loud several times). The book lost a little steam in the final chapters but ended on a strong note. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. Super fun!

Grade: 4/5

The Line

Book: The Line
Series: Witching Savannah #1
Author: JD Horn

Mercy Taylor, the youngest member of Savannah’s preeminent witching family, was born without the gift of magic. She is accustomed to coming in a distant second to the minutes older, exquisite and gifted twin she adores. Hopelessly in love with her sister’s boyfriend, she goes to a Hoodoo root doctor for a love spell. A spell that will turn her heart to another man, the best friend who has loved her since childhood.

Aunt Ginny, the family’s matriarch, would not approve. But Mercy has more to worry about than a love triangle when Aunt Ginny is brutally murdered. Ginny was the Taylor family’s high commander in the defense of the bewitched line that separates humankind from the demons who once ruled our realm.

A demon invasion looms now that the line is compromised. Worse yet, some within the witching world stand to gain from a demon takeover. Mercy, entangled in the dark magic of her love spell, fighting for her sister’s trust, and hopelessly without magic, must tap the strength born from being an outcast to protect the line she doesn’t feel a part of...

In this riveting contemporary fantasy, Horn delivers the full betrayal, blood, and familial discord of the best of Southern gothic.-Goodreads

Review: There is a lot going on in this book. 

The Good: great world building and I love the focus on witches. Mercy has a lot of potential for the series based on how this book ended.

The Not So Good: The book read like a YA novel and I'm hoping this changes in the next installment. There was almost no character development for Mercy's twin sister or Jackson (Mercy's sister's fiance who she is secretly in love with). There were a lot of twists at the end..I'll avoid spoilers but Mercy should re-evaluate some of her familial relationships. 

Overall-enjoyed this and I'll read the next one. 

Grade: 3/5

Chasing Darkness

Book: Chasing Darkness
Author: Jill Falter

Muriel Chase is like any other young woman who's 17th birthday is just weeks away. Her life is simple: she likes going to the beach, she enjoys working out, she loves to go shopping with her mom . . . and she hunts demons.

As part of a secret group, she is sent around the world to face the demons that are so dangerous that even the Vatican can't handle them.

Along the way to learning the secrets of the fight against true evil, she meets Michael - her protector, sworn to keep her safe. As they start to fall for each other, their world is turned upside down by monsters and evil creatures lurking in the darkness. But Muriel has a very dark secret, and if discovered, it could threaten more than just her relationship with Michael . . . but all of humanity.-Goodreads

Review: There were a lot of good ideas in this book but overall, it was just 'okay' for me.  I couldn't get past the idea that Muriel's mother was okay with her going on last minute 'church retreats' and coming back repeatedly injured. I also wasn't convinced the Muriel was this bad-ass demon hunter, her 'technique' seemed lacking.  The 'big reveal' at the end surrounding Muriel's heritage has potential for the next book in the series. 

Grade: 2/5

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Book: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.-Goodreads

Review: Love. If I had one word to describe this book, it's love. I loved it. It's a short, feel good story with quirky characters and so many wonderful quotes. If you are someone who loves to read, try this one. It's a short, sweet book with adorable quirky characters. I

Some of my favorite quotes:

“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”

“We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.”

“The words you can't find, you borrow.
We read to know we're not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone.”

“We aren't the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are, only love. The things we lived. The people we loved. And these, I think really do live on.”

Grade: 5/5


Book: Hidden
Author: Catherine McKenzie

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son as well as contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members, and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother, who was her ex-boyfriend. Tish volunteers to attend the funeral on her company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life.

Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish, and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, the repercussions of our personal choices, and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.-Goodreads

Review: What leads a person to be unfaithful? McKenzie does a good job showing how strains on Jeff and Claire's relationship result in Jeff's "friendship" with Tish. Readers looking for a dramatic reason for Jeff and Tish's behavior will be disappointed because neither of them had 'big' reasons for straying. Tish, especially, seems to live a charmed life and has no reason to be unhappy. But just because someone has it all doesn't mean they are fulfilled. I think this is exactly why this is so realistic and it's uncomfortable to read at times because the characters are so selfish. The "mystery" of the book is whether Jeff and Tish graduated from an emotional affair to a physical affair. While I thought the ending was fairly obvious, I did like the way it was addressed. 

While the overall story was good and the multiple narratives were necessary to see the characters motivations, reading the narratives was challenging. Specifically, the 'voices' of Tish and Claire were almost identical. It was very frustrating. 

Grade: 3/5

Friday, August 22, 2014

Puddle Jumping

Book: Puddle Jumping
Author: Amber L. Johnson

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.-Goodreads

Review: This is a cute romance about Lilly, a teenage girl prone to accidents and Colton, an artistic genius with Aspergers. Lilly is a believable protagonist and Johnson nails her teenage narrative. I think adding Colton's narrative would have made this story stronger as well as some chapters highlighting them doing more things as a couple. It was too short and needed more 'meat' to the story. 

Overall, sweet story. 

Grade: 3/5

Say the Word

Book: Say the Word
Author: Julie Johnson

"The heart isn’t like the liver. It doesn’t regenerate, no matter how much time passes. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. I’d left mine with Sebastian when I walked away that day, and I hadn’t seen it in the seven years since." — Lux Kincaid

At eighteen, Lux is forced to make a choice. One that nearly destroys her.

She breaks a boy’s heart.

She breaks her own, too.

Seven years later, Lux never expects to see Sebastian again — especially not when her career as a journalist is hanging by a thread and she’s stumbled onto the story of a lifetime. As she chases down leads and explores the dark underbelly of Manhattan, Lux will put her life on the line. But after crossing paths with a still-unforgiving Sebastian, it’s her heart she’s most worried about.

Amidst the blame and the betrayal, the hurt and the heartbreak… can two lost lovers ever find their way back to one another?

Lines will be blurred. The past will be unearthed. And Lux will find out that some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…-Goodreads

Review: Oddly enough, I just finished a book where the main character had a twin with terminal cancer. So imagine my surprise when this book featured a similar story line (although this was not the main theme of this book). Imagine my further surprise when I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. Told in alternating timelines, we follow Lux as a teenager and Lux in present day. As a teen, Lux is a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks who finds herself in love with a Senator's son. I really enjoyed their love story as we well as the friendship with her brother. They have a breakup fueled by secrets the devastates both of them. Present day, Lux lives in New York and works for a popular fashion magazine. She hasn't so much as googled Sebastian in the last seven years but her feelings for him have never changed. When they find each other again, they do not immediate reconnect. Bash is still very upset with Lux and she feels that she cannot be honest with him about their past. I really enjoyed the cat and mouse between them, the tension and their intensity. There is a plot involving sex trafficking that was slightly ridiculous but good fun all the same. I wish there was more 'romance' between Bash and Lux, but overall I loved this. 

Grade: 4.5/5

Loving Mr. Daniels

Book: Loving Mr. Daniels
Author:  Brittainy Cherry

To Whom it May Concern,

It was easy to call us forbidden and harder to call us soulmates. Yet I believed we were both. Forbidden soulmates.

When I arrived to Edgewood, Wisconsin I didn’t plan to find him. I didn't plan to stumble into Joe's bar and have Daniel's music stir up my emotions. I had no clue that his voice would make my hurts forget their own sorrow. I had no idea that my happiness would remember its own bliss.

When I started senior year at my new school, I wasn’t prepared to call him Mr. Daniels, but sometimes life happens at the wrong time for all the right reasons.

Our love story wasn’t only about the physical connection.

It was about family. It was about loss. It was about being alive. It was silly. It was painful. It was mourning. It was laughter.

It was ours.

And for those reasons alone, I would never apologize for loving Mr. Daniels.

-Ashlyn Jennings-Goodreads

Review: Wow-this book was such a wonderful surprise. From the description, I thought this was simply a forbidden romance between a high school student and teacher. In reality, it's a story about two people who have experienced extreme loss and find each other. It was funny, heartfelt and heart breaking. I laughed, I cried and I really hoped for Ashlyn and Daniel to heal. I loved how the book ended and the epilogue. I think my only complaints were how flowery Daniels' language was sometimes (he's an English teacher, so he has a way with words but he was over the top cheesy) and how he was able to talk his way out of a few situations (I'll avoid spoilers but there is the possibility of a confrontation with Ashlyn's father and it's resolved off page). 

Overall-very good book that I couldn't put down. 

Grade: 4/5