Friday, March 28, 2014

Ten Tiny Breaths

Book: Ten Tiny Breaths
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #1
Author: K.A. Tucker

Review: "Just breath" my mom would say. "Ten tiny breaths. Feel them. Seize them. Love them."

Four years ago, Kacey's life was changed forever when her parents, best friend and boyfriend were killed in a drunk driving accident.  When her uncle becomes a little too interested in her younger sister, they flee to Miami to start a new life. Kacey has a difficult time opening up to people but tries to be a good guardian for her sister Livie. When she meets Trent, she is surprised when she starts feeling again for the first time in years. 

If you are looking for an emotional read, you will enjoy this book. Kacey survived a horrible accident and is suffering from PTSD. Although she is rather unlikable throughout the book, I still empathized with her because of what happened. It's unimaginable and heartbreaking. I really enjoyed the secondary characters, specifically her stripper/bartender neighbor (with a heart of gold of course), her boss at the bar and her landlord. Kacey's love interest is her neighbor Trent, who already recently moved to Miami and is hiding secrets of his own. I'll avoid spoilers, but I figured out the 'twist' pretty early, however that didn't detract from anything. Actually, I couldn't wait to see how it all unfolded, which was not how I expected. While the attraction to Trent didn't seem much more than physical (she falls in love with him quickly although mostly we know he's hot and likes to watch her work), I understand that certain people just 'click' and that's what she needed to break free of herself. My only complaint is that I did not enjoy the ending, which I thought was very unrealistic. I'll avoid spoilers, but I don't see how an mental health professional would support the conclusion. 

Overall-emotional read that I really enjoyed. The is the first in a series and I'll be reading the rest of them. 

Grade: 4/5

Perfect Lies

Book: Perfect Lies
Series: Mind Games #2
Author: Kiersten White

Review: Annie is working with a group of allies trying to fight the Keane Foundation while Fi is working with James to take down his father from the inside. Can the sisters somehow survive all this and be sure they are trusting the right people? 

After finishing Mind Games, I immediately bought this and devoured it. Once again, the sisters alternative narratives in different time lines. Annie was a much stronger character in this book (and she falls in love!) and her vision (which the book moves toward) was something I really looked forward to. Fi was beginning to unravel in this book and wasn't sure what James was hiding from her. I really enjoyed this, although I wished there was a more in depth look at James. 

Overall-super fun series. 

Grade: 3.5/5

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Last Call

Book: The Last Call
Series: Bill Travis #1
Author: George Wier

Review: Bill Travis is a financial counselor who helps people legally take care of financial problems (mostly problems relating to too much cash laying around). When a beautiful woman shows up in his office one day with a problem, he takes her on as a client. Their relationship quickly escalates into sex (as in literally a few hours after they meet) and things progress from there including shoot outs, murder and all sorts of mayhem. It's clear Bill's client/girlfriend Julie is not telling him the truth, but it's unclear when her motives are. 

This was a painful read. Long winded sentences, unlikable characters, a lot of Texas history (probably interesting for history lovers, anyone else...not so much) and completely unrealistic situations. Skip this one folks. 

Grade: 1/5


Book: Prey
Author: Linda Howard

Review: Experiencing tough times, Angie Powell puts her Montana hunting business up for sale. When she takes her last clients on a trip to hunt a bear, things don't go according to plan. Meanwhile, handsome rancher Dare Callahan comes to her rescue. 

This book was equally parts thriller and romance. There's a conniving conman, manly rancher, strong female rancher with an amazing will to survive and best of all-a man eating black bear. A man eating black bear who even has a few paragraphs written from his perspective. Fun! Overall, I liked it and realized I never, ever, under any circumstance want to be out in the Montana wilderness and get stranded during a storm. There is no way I would survive. 

Grade: 3/5

Mind Games

Book: Mind Games
Series: Mind Games #1
Author: Kiersten White

Review: When their parents are killed in a car accident, Sofia and Annie go to a school for girls that are "special." Annie is blind but is able to see the future, while Fia has perfect instincts. Told in alternating narratives and time lines, this book was a fun, enjoyable surprise. The school heads are using Fia for nefarious deeds and control her by using her sister as leverage. Fia is extremely damaged but smart. She knows she is surrounded by people that can hear her thoughts and feel her emotions, so she is constantly trying to block them. I loved all of her narratives and her complicated relationship with James, the elusive lead of the school's son. However, being in her head may not be enjoyable for all readers. Annie was not quite as enjoyable for me as Fia because she was so naive. The teachers at the school were written pretty clearly bad and it was surprising it took Annie so long to catch on (or perhaps they should have been written a little more grey). The ending of the book was fantastic. 

Overall-fun read, I really enjoyed it. 

Grade: 5/5


Book: Convicted
Series: Consequences #3
Author: Aleatha Romig

Review: Claire flees the United States and seeks asylum on a private island while Tony soon follows. They are preparing for the birth of their baby while also trying to find a way to bring down Catherine. The timeline alternates with flash forwards, where Claire is in a mental institution in Iowa and her sister is raising her child. How did Claire end up there? Did Tony attack her? Where is Tony? 

I had high hopes for this book. I REALLY liked the first book and the first half of the second book. The ending of the second book spoiled the 'will Tony and Claire get back together' plot in this book. Even knowing this, I still enjoyed the cat and mouse activities through Europe until they officially got together but once they were back together my annoyance for Claire was unbearable. Her relationship with Tony has never been healthy but she became so co-dependent he couldn't even take a walk on the beach alone without her freaking out. The events that lead up to her having a psychotic break are directly related to her co-dependency issues (I'll avoid spoilers but she makes some REALLY BAD decisions, with an infant in tow no less). I enjoyed the scenes when she was in the mental facility, although it was sad that her sister was written as almost the villain. The end...things were tied up a little too pretty for my taste. I understand that author views Tony and Claire as the one in a million who can get through their past to have a healthy relationship, but I just didn't buy it. Overall, I enjoyed the series but this was least favorite out of the books. 

One final note-Tony did redeem himself in this book, as he tried to take accountability for his actions. Props to Romig for making me actually like him somewhat, I didn't think that would happen!

Grade: 2/5

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Book: Truth
Series: Consequences #2
Author: Aleatha Romig

Review: Claire finds herself free and clear when the Governor of Iowa pardons her and purges her record. With few friends and a tense relationship with her sister, she moves to northern California to live with her college boyfriend's ex-fiance. Claire tries to put her life back together post-Tony, but she knows he will never truly let her go. We also learn there is another nefarious player in the game, who has both Tony and Claire in their sights. 

I really liked the first book and could not wait to read this. I read a few reviews on Goodreads and what intrigued me the most were comments that people were 'Team Tony' after reading this. I'm not a prude by any means, but how people can get behind a man who **spoiler alert, stop reading if you have not read book 1 and plan to** kidnaps, rapes, beats and then frames his own wife for attempted murder...well, I'm sure you can understand my apprehension yet also desire to see how the author tries to accomplish this. That is character rehab that I've never witnessed before. 

The first part of this book was great. After Claire is released from prison and moves to California, she tries to put her life back together by having normal friendships(including one with a handsome neighbor, Harry) and repairing the relationship with her sister. She also suspects Tony may have been behind more bad deeds than she initially thought, and she sets out as detective of sorts to research his past. She knows it's only a matter of time before Tony tracks her down and she is prepared to be a worthy opponent this time around. Oddly, there is no suggestion of therapy by any of her friends or sister-after what Claire had been through, I think this would have been a logical recommendation. 

As Claire researches Tony's past, she discovers he found his parents murdered as a young man in his early 20s and she feels sorry for him. Hey, I get it, it was traumatic but after all the stuff he put her through, it's amazing she was able to feel compassion towards him. When Tony finally tracks her down, he easily manipulates Claire back into a relationship of sorts and 'promises' he will win her back and not physically hurt her (I was impressed by his devious ability to start 'publicly dating her').  When she starts getting emotionally involved and her friends and family express their concern, Claire is very upset with them.  How dare they question her decisions? (She was only kidnapped and abused by this man for months, but hey, now she's making sound decisions).  It was at this point in the book, where Claire was choosing to be with Tony (I will admit she has more backbone in her interactions with him) that I lost respect for her. Of course, I couldn't stop reading to see where the story went! 

Another big plot point of this book were sections written in the past, which primarily followed Tony's grandmother's caregiver. She has a big role in the present day (easy to figure out who she is) and unbeknownst to Tony and Claire, she is also trying to use them for her own revenge. 

Although this book started strong, the second part was not as good. I still couldn't stop reading to see where the story was going. 

Another note-Romig has excellent quotes at the beginning of each chapter that really tie into the plot.  

Grade: 3/5

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Book: Raw
Author: Belle Aurora

Review: Lexi is a 26 year old social worker (of sorts) in Australia. She had a tough childhood, lived on the street at one point as a teen but has a heart of gold and is dedicated to helping kids in rough situations. She also happens to have a stalker who saves her from being raped one night. Their relationship quickly escalates into a romantic relationship. The author tells us at the beginning this is not a love story, but rather a story of a love gone wrong. 

**This review contains spoilers**

I know what you are thinking-a girl falls in love with her stalker and it doesn't end well? That doesn't sound shocking. Well, it wasn't. Although this was very 'readable' and I enjoyed the alternating narratives, the female protagonist, Lexi was so stupid I could not stop rolling my eyes at her poor decision making throughout the book. 
*Stalker saves her from being raped? What does Lexi do? She practically begs him to sleep with her. He complies and they have sex completely unprotected! (Apparently asking "Are you clean?" and an answer of "Yes" is sufficient for a total stranger)
*Her father was a drunk, her brother was a drug addict and she does not do drugs. She knows a drug test is happening at work. What does Lexi do? She smokes weed and does 2 lines of coke (first time ever doing coke)
*She allows one of the teens she is working with to take a job with Twitch, knowing Twitch is a big time drug dealer. What does Lexi do? I'll avoid the exact spoiler but she is shocked when this doesn't pan out well. 
*She cannot figure out who Twitch is, although there are so many hints it's mind boggling she doesn't know. 

Although the relationship wasn't well developed beyond the physical, Twitch was a much more interesting and layered character than Lexi. He had a tough childhood (his reason for initially wanting Lexi was ludicrous) and was really written as more of a sociopath throughout the first part of the book. He is surprised by the depth of his feelings toward Lexi and tries to incorporate her into his life, knowing full well things will not pan out well. Although the spoiler regarding her attacker was easy to figure out, I thought the ending of the book was very strong and I was surprised to be a little misty at the conclusion. 

Overall-I didn't care for Lexi, but this was an enjoyable read with a strong ending. 

Grade: 3/5


Book: Antigoddess
Series: Goddess War #1
Author: Kendare Blake

Review: The immortal gods do not appear to be immortal anymore. Athena is slowly choking on feathers and Hermes is wasting away. Teaming up, they decide to seek the cause of their ailments, while also trying to track down Cassandra-a seemingly ordinary girl with psychic powers who could be the key to everything.

This is my first Kendare Blake book and I really enjoyed it. This was a unique twist to Greek mythology-gods living among us who are losing their powers and slowly dying. I think it was a fun book to start a series with and I'm interested to read the next one when it comes out. One recommendation I would have for anyone interested in this book, is to read a refresher on Greek mythology because I couldn't remember anything (high school was a long time ago!). 

Overall, not a perfect book but a fun book with a strong, female lead (Athena) and potential for a great series. 

Grade: 4/5


Book: Consequences
Series: Consequences #1
Author: Aleatha Romig

Review: Claire Nichols is an out of work meteorologist in Atlanta, currently working as a bartender. When she meets a handsome stranger one night working, she breaks her own rule about not dating customers and goes out with him. Claire remembers going back to Anthony's hotel room and having fun, but then everything is blank. She wakes up badly bruised in a strange room and realizes she is being held prisoner. Her capture warns her to behave or their will be consequences. Claire doesn't realize that Anthony has been watching her a long time and their initial meeting was not chance. How far will Claire go to please Anthony? Will he fall in love with Claire, or will he keep viewing her as a pawn in his devious plan?

Okay, I realize reading that above summary that this book sounds like a Lifetime movie and....yes, this book unfolded like one! Let me be clear that this is not a romance novel, this is a psychological thriller. This book is not for everyone. There are difficult scenes, including vicious beatings, rape and psychological warfare. Anthony Rawlings is a brutal, controlling man and it is unsettling reading how Claire falls under his spell.  While the reason behind Anthony's vendetta is a little ridiculous, his actions are certainly well thought out and devious. Claire seems to develop Stockholm Syndrome throughout the book and after I finished it, I couldn't help thinking about what I would have done in her situation (I was literally dreaming about it!). The ending was unexpected and well executed.  

Grade: 4/5

The Storyteller

Book: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult

Review: Sage Singer is a 25 year older baker in a small town in New Hampshire. She meets an old man at her grief support group, Josef Weber, and they quickly become friends. When Josef confesses he was an SS Guard at Auschwitz and asks Sage to help him die, she is shocked. 

This book is divided into three parts with a fictional story written by Sage's grandmother spaced throughout. Part I starts with Sage. Both of her parents are dead, she is more or less estranged from her 2 older sisters, she is physically scarred (on her face) from a car accident a few years ago and she is having an affair with a married man (knowing full well he was married before they got involved). Sage is difficult to like (very much a victim mentality) and I found part I extremely boring. There were a lot of baking details (specifically regarding the process of baking bread) and I found myself skimming quite a bit. However, Part 2 was the saving grace of this book-it was excellent. 

Part 2 is Minka's story (Sage's grandmother). She takes us through her childhood in Poland, moving into the ghetto, her experiences in the camps. Overall her story of friendship, family and survival is fantastic. If you've read other Holocaust books or watched specials on the History Channel, there was nothing new here but Picoult succeeds in bringing Minka, her family, her best friend and certain SS guards to life. I could not stop reading until I found out how she was saved. 

Part 3 focuses on Sage and the Department of Justice (when Josef tells Sage about his past, she calls the authorities to report him). I'll avoid spoilers, but Picoult explores the idea of forgiveness. There was a 'twist' at the very end that I saw coming (those who do may be upset) but I thought it fit well with the book. Sage does a better job taking control of her life in this section and becomes more likable. 

Overall, although this started very slow, this was a very good book. I wish Picoult had spent more time developing the relationship between Sage and Josef (prior to his confession) but I really liked this. 

Grade: 4/5