Thursday, July 31, 2014


Book: Pines
Series: Wayward Pines #1
Author: Blake Crouch

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels off. As the days pass, Ethan's investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can't he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn't anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.-Goodreads

Review: This book was a fun, light read that surprisingly sucked me in quickly. Ethan spends most of the book wandering around injured and trying to figure out what is going on in the town. Admittedly, he doesn't do that much in terms of conversing with other people (there are a few side characters, that best being the town sheriff) and he literally spends over 50% of the book walking around, but I was intrigued to find out the mystery. The pace picks up toward the end of the book and  I did not guess the ending (which was slightly ridiculous but it worked). 

While overall enjoyable, the writing style of this book was grating. It was written in almost sentence fragments. This is being made into a tv show coming out soon and I will definitely be watching!

Grade: 3/5

Binding Arbitration

Book: Binding Arbitration
Series: Binding Arbitration #1
Author: Elizabeth Marx

Through the corridors of the Windy City’s criminal courts, single mother Libby Tucker knows exactly how far she’ll go to save her cancer-stricken son’s life. The undefeated defense attorney is prepared to take her fight all the way to the majors.

Circumstances force Libby to plead her case at the cleats of celebrity baseball player Banford Aidan Palowski, the man who discarded her at their college graduation. Libby has worked her backside bare for everything she’s attained, while Aidan has been indulged since he slid through the birth canal and landed in a pile of Gold Coast money. But helping Libby and living up to his biological duty could jeopardize the only thing the jock worships: his baseball career.

If baseball imitates life, Aidan admits his appears to be silver-plated peanuts, until an unexpected confrontation with the most spectacular prize that’s ever poured from a caramel corn box blindsides him. When he learns about his son’s desperate need, it pricks open the wound he’s carried since he abandoned Libby and the child.

All Libby wants is a little anonymous DNA, but Aidan has a magical umpire in his head who knows Libby’s a fateball right to the heart. When a six-year-old sage and a hippy priestess step onto the field, there’s more to settle between Libby and Aidan than heartache, redemption, and forgiveness.-Goodreads

Review: Even though I didn't care for the prequel, I was interested to read this because the plot sounded very intriguing. Libby's son has leukemia so she tracks down Aidan (the baby daddy who signed away his parental rights, now a rich and famous professional baseball player) and asks him to get tested to see if he is a bone marrow match. Almost immediately, Aidan realizes he wants to be in both Libby and Cass' life and tries to make amends. Since he abandoned her and signed away his rights without a backward glance, Libby isn't so quick to trust him. At least, that is what she tells us but he very quickly weasels his way into her and her son's life. Because I didn't buy into their love the first time around, it was hard to see them realize as adults that they never really knew each other, yet have this profound love. The book still kept my interest until they finally got together and then it stalled. I don't know if it was the subplots (and there were several), the six-year old who doesn't speak like any kid I know (I'm a mother of a soon to be 6-year old...believe me when I say Cass' dialogue was almost comical), the absolutely ridiculous one-dimensional ex-fiance (everything she said and did was asinine) and the minimal attention to their actual child's' illness. He was around, but when he *spoiler alert* dies, I didn't even tear up. No emotional response. He shows up as a ghost at the end and I found myself rolling my eyes. I really wish I cared more about him because he was a very sympathetic character. 

Grade: 2/5

Cutters vs. Jocks

Book: Cutters vs. Jocks
Series: Binding Arbitration 0.5
Author: Elizabeth Marx

On the idyllic campus of Indiana University, Little-Libby-Nobody runs into Band-Aid All-American-Athlete, and fireworks explode. Libby and Aidan spiral into a collision course of love at first sight versus lust you can’t fight. As the game plays out and their affection grows, they soon realize that labels like cutters and jocks can’t keep them apart.

But when Libby and Aidan find themselves in trouble they have to confront the reality of where they each fit in the others’ world. Libby believes superstar jocks don’t take cutters to Rose Well House, in the center of campus, at midnight and pledge their undying devotion beneath its sparkling dome. And Band-Aid imagines there’s no place for a pregnant, small-town waitress in his bull-pen or the major leagues. What happens when worthy opponents refuse to play their hearts out?-Goodreads

Review: Cutters vs. Jocks is the prequel to Binding Arbitration where a single mom has to track down the father of her child who needs a bone marrow transplant.  I was expecting a great love story between college students who find themselves in a tough situation and tearfully part ways. What I read was a relationship that can be described at best as flirting. They were not really friends, never had in depth conversations, never talked about themselves (truthfully) or their families. This flirting goes on for over a YEAR before Libby decides to sleep with Aidan when she doesn't get into Harvard Law (not that Aidan even knew she was applying to law school because heaven forbid they actually communicate). Next thing you know, she's pregnant and they both handle it with the maturity you'd expect-which is not that well. 

I didn't hate this, but since Binding Arbitration has such a heavy promise (kid dying of cancer) I was hoping this novella would have meat to it. I didn't read this book as two people who are madly in love with each other and didn't know how to handle it nor the pregnancy. The flirting was funny at times and it was cute. 

Grade: 2/5

Finding Cinderella

Book: Finding Cinderella
Series: Hopeless #2.5
Author: Colleen Hoover

A chance encounter in the dark leads eighteen-year-old Daniel and the girl who stumbles across him to profess their love for each other. But this love comes with conditions: they agree it will only last one hour and it will only be make-believe.

When their hour is up and the girl rushes off like Cinderella, Daniel tries to convince himself that what happened between them only seemed perfect because they were pretending it was perfect. Moments like that with girls like her don’t happen outside of fairytales.

One year and one bad relationship later, his disbelief in insta-love is stripped away the day he meets Six: a girl with a strange name and an even stranger personality. Daniel soon realizes the way he pretended to feel about Cinderella and the way he really feels about Six may not be so different after all. Especially when the two loves of his life end up being one in the same.

Unfortunately for Daniel, finding Cinderella doesn’t guarantee their happily ever after…it only further threatens it.-Goodreads

Review: This book is well written and funny but I didn't care for how this book starts. Daniel and some unknown girl have sex in a dark closet without knowing who the other person is. For those who didn't read Hopeless, it's not clear why she 'hates everyone.' For those of us who did, well, she hates everyone because she's slept with a few people and has a she does the obvious thing and sleep with one more person randomly. Huh? This didn't make sense to me. There was also an instant love connection between Daniel and Six that was eye roll worthy. I'll avoid spoilers, but a very important issue came up at the end of the book (I wasn't expecting it) and it seemed like it demanded more page time. 

Overall, this was okay. I think that if this was a full length novel instead of a novella the relationship could have been developed more and the ending could have been given the time it needed. I did love Daniel and his parents. 

Grade: 2.5/5

Friday, July 18, 2014

Me Before You

Book: Me Before You
Author: JoJo Moyes

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.-Goodreads

Review: This book is about so many things-friendship, hardship, family, life, dreams, love. The characters were real and I found myself completely immersed in the story after the first few chapters. I laughed and I cried (oh my goodness did I cry) and I still can barely talk about the book without getting emotional. The narrative did switch rather abruptly a few times which was odd, otherwise this book was perfection. 

Grade: 5/5


Book: Perfection
Series: Neighbor from Hell #2
Author: R.L. Mathewson

Zoe is used to taking care of herself and has long ago accepted that if anything bad was going to happen, it was going to happen to her. So when she loses her job over something most bosses would probably be happy with and her life starts going down hill from there she doesn't expect it to get any better. She certainly didn't expect any help from the loud jerk next door, but then again she has nothing to lose so puts her trust in him and hopes for the best. What she didn't expect was the once in a lifetime opportunity that he offers her through an arrangement where they both benefit and no one is supposed to get hurt, but she should have known better because her luck has never been that good.

Like most Bradfords, Trevor has a soft spot for food, but that's about all. He leads a pretty straightforward life and likes to keep things simple and that includes his relationships. He wants the perfect woman and knows exactly what she'll be like. So when he discovers much to his horror that he's thinking about his frumpy little neighbor he decides the best way to get his head straight is by working her out of his system. He'll keep her around, but only until he finds perfection.-Goodreads

Review: Unlike the first book in the series, Trevor really is a neighbor from hell. He takes his neighbor (and tenant) Zoe's parking spot, steals her newspaper, muddies up her welcome mat and has no qualms about using her laundry detergent. He thinks he is God's gift to women and strives to find the 'perfect' woman he can show off. I wish I could say he was endearing or funny in any way, but he's a total and complete jerk. Zoe was more likable-she's a hard worker with body image issues and in desperate need for a job. Trevor gets her a job working for his uncle and pays her to essentially be his maid (cook, clean, go shopping). They quickly move from a friendship to a friends with benefits situation. 

I didn't care for Trevor for the majority of this book. He slightly redeems himself at the end but I never warmed up to him. Because I couldn't stand him (there are several instances were the guys he works with make comments about Zoe's weight and he never sticks up for her), I really didn't care for Trevor and Zoe as a couple. Trevor (and Jason in the previous book) are from a family where the males eat a crazy amount of food and are banned from several all-you-can-eat restaurants and delivery places. This was a little funny in the first book but so over the top in this book it was ridiculous. There was also a *spoiler alert* pregnancy story line that was frustrating. Zoe is having constant sex for months and when she starts to experience all the early signs of pregnancy she writes it off as being sick from being on a low calorie diet. Come on woman, use some common sense. 

This was not my favorite romance but I will give the next book in the series a chance. 

Grade: 2/5

Playing for Keeps

Book: Playing for Keeps
Series: Neighbor from Hell #1
Author: R.L. Mathewson

Done with being the world's biggest pushover, Haley decides that things are going to change starting with the aggravating neighbor who has too much charm and not enough restraint. What she didn't expect was to be sucked into his world, but Haley has a game plan and she won't let herself forget just what the bad boy next door is capable of.

The last thing Jason expected was for his little shy neighbor to go Rambo on him over some ruined flowers. After he decides to take her under his wing he can't help but notice that she fits very nicely in his life. Now the only thing left is to convince her that this is anything but a game.-Goodreads

Review:  Don't let the name of this series fool you-this is not about dueling neighbors who end up falling in love. This is a 'best friends to lovers' tale and it's unfortunate I read this immediately after finishing a book with a similar plot. The neighbors in question-Jason and Haley, become almost instant best friends in the first few pages. They quickly start sleeping together in a platonic sense and can't stand to spend nights away from each other. I'm not sure if platonic sleeping is a new trend in romance books. Do men seriously believe women who strip down to their underwear and a t-shirt and then snuggle up to them are not interested in them? Attention men-if a woman does this with you, she is not just interested in being friends. Okay, back to the book. Jason and Haley quickly escalate from friends to almost lovers. You see, Haley will do all things oral with Jason but won't sleep with him because she is a virgin. She doesn't tell him this and when they finally seal the deal and he makes a disparaging comment, she flips out. This leads her to break up with him (in his defense, how was he supposed to know she was a 29 year old virgin when she was willing to do everything else). Anyway, Jason's attempts to win her back were my favorite parts of this book. 

Overall, this was a cute read. 

Grade: 3/5

Monday, July 14, 2014

Losing Hope

Book: Losing Hope
Series: Hopeless #2
Author: Colleen Hoover

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs.-Goodreads

Review: This was an emotional read. It was absolutely heartbreaking reliving Holder's sister's suicide and the devastation left in her wake. His perceived role in her death and the unresolved feelings of guilt and anger are tangible. He writes his sister journal entries throughout the book and I think this is where the book shines brightest. It was heartfelt and felt very real. The book was weakest when scenes from the first book were re-written from Holder's perspective. I don't think they added too much to the story and I found myself skimming them. The only exception would be when he sees Sky wearing Lesslie's bracelet and he has a breakdown of sorts-that was well written and provided a good explanation for his actions. 

If you liked the first book, definitely give this one a try. Warning-this is a more emotional read (I cried several times). 

Grade: 3.5/5


Book: Rhett
Series: Rhett #1
Author: J.S. Cooper

I’m Rhett.

I’m cocky because I can be. I’ve got it all: the looks, the money, the endurance. I’m the guy that every girl wants to be with, yet none of them have ever been able to tie me down.

I don’t do love. I don’t do relationships. And I sure as hell will never do marriage.

I’m all about the fast life and everything that entails. There’s a different woman in my bed every week. My friends are jealous of me. My enemies envy me. Everyone wants my life. And everything in my life is absolutely perfect.

Until the day she told me she was moving away. She’s my best friend. She was my first kiss in grade school. We share everything with each other. We never dated because I don’t love her. I don’t care that she’s moving. I don’t care that she’s moving for a guy. I don’t care because I don’t love her. I don’t do love.

I’m Rhett and I don’t let anything get me down. Then one night changed everything and everything I thought I knew was called into question.

All of a sudden, being Rhett didn’t mean so much anymore.-Goodreads

Review: An arrogant, womanizing guy falls in love with his sweet, sheltered, virginal "best friend."  There is nothing new or exciting here. This was poorly written with unlikable characters, eye rolling dialogue and a predictable plot. Rhett, the narrative is constantly talking about how good looking he is but it isn't funny or endearing. Clementine, his best friend from childhood and love interest, is supposed to be a 21 virgin who is saving herself for marriage. However, after hooking up with Rhett once she is all of a sudden ready for sex and wants to roll the dice and do it without protection because "she trusts him to pull out." Hmm...okay. The ending scene when he tries to win her back is beyond cheesy. 

Please, save yourself some time and skip this one.

Grade: 1/5

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rusty Nailed

Book: Rusty Nailed
Series: Cocktail #2
Author: Alice Clayton

Playing house was never so much fun—or so confusing. With her boss on her honeymoon, Caroline’s working crazy long hours to keep the interior design company running—especially since she’s also the lead designer for the renovation of a gorgeous old hotel on Sausalito. So with her hotshot photographer boyfriend gallivanting all over the world for his job, she and Simon are heavy-duty into “absence makes the heart grow fonder” mode. Neither has any complaints about the great reunion sex, though! Then Simon decides he’s tired of so much travelling, and he’s suddenly home more. A lot more. And wanting Caroline home more, too. Though their friends’ romantic lives provide plenty of welcome distraction, eventually Caroline and Simon have to sort their relationship out. Neither wants “out of sight, out of mind,” but can they create their own happy mid-ground cliché?-Goodreads

Review: Alice Clayton is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. As Simon and Caroline settle into their new couple status, they have to deal with their evolving relationship, demanding work schedules and crazy friends. While most of the drama in this book surrounds Sophia and Neill (their back and forth was annoying), I still love Caroline and Simon. I especially enjoy Caroline's voice, I find her very funny and I laughed out loud several times while reading this. 

Overall, not as strong as Wallbanger but this was still a really fun read that I devoured quickly. There is a third book coming out in the fall (main character will be one of Simon's high school friends) and I can't wait. 

Grade: 4/5

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War II

Book: The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz: A true Story of World War II
Author: Denis Avey

The almost unbelievable story of Denis Avey, now 92, began in 1944 when he was captured and sent to a POW work camp. He was put to work every day in a German factory, where he labored alongside Jewish prisoners from a nearby camp called Auschwitz. The stories they told him were horrifying. Eventually Avey's curiosity, kind-heartedness, derring-do, and perhaps foolhardiness drove him to suggest--and remarkably manage--switching places with two of the Jewish prisoners in order to spend a couple of harrowing days and nights inside. Miraculously, he lived to tell about it.

Surely deserving of its place alongside the great World War II stories, this is an incredible tale of generosity, courage, and, for one Jewish prisoner whom Denis was able to help, survival. Amazingly, breathtakingly, it is told here for the first time.-Goodreads

Review: Reading this book is like listening to your grandpa tell you stories about his youth. I really enjoyed Avey's experience in Africa as well as how he and his fellow POW's attempted to sabotage the Nazi's war effort in the work camp. Avey had an impressive mental toughness that allowed him to survive. I think one of his biggest acts of bravery was helping a Jewish soldier by securing cigarettes for him. It turns out those cigarettes saved that man's life by allowing him to buy new boots and survive the death march.

The weakest part of the book is how he supposedly 'broke into Auschwitz.' I realize publishers try to come up with snazzy titles to generate sales but this was really misleading. Avey claims to have swapped places with a Jewish prisoner (Hans) for 2 separate nights so he could bear witness with his own eyes and confirm what was going on (this was maybe 3 or 4 pages in the entire book). Now-I say 'supposedly' and 'claim' because it didn't seem believable that any of this happened (several researchers and experts on WWII also dispute his claims). Assuming he did swap places with Hans, his reasons were extremely weak (he could already see what going on) and he put Hans as well as everyone in Hans' block at risk. I'm not sure how someone could mistake him for a prisoner (the POW's were fed much better than the Auschwitz prisoners) and one of the prisoners should (would have?) turned him in for a favor.

After the war was over, it was very sad to learn about his PTSD but inspirational to learn how he was reunited with Ernst's (the man he helped save with the cigarettes) family.

Grade: 3/5


Book: Hopeless
Series: Hopeless #1
Author: Colleen Hoover

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…
That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.-Goodreads

Review: Wow, this book was a wonderful surprise. I was expecting a light, high school romance but this was SO much more. The relationship development between Sky and Holder was well done and the additional issues they had to deal with were extremely hard hitting and sad. This book really had an emotional punch and while it's quite cheesy at times, I loved every minute of it.

Grade: 5/5

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Devil's Closet

Book: The Devil's Closet
Series: CeeCee Gallagher #2
Author: Stacy Dittrich

Multiple Amber Alerts for missing girls bring Detective CeeCee Gallagher onto the case of a serial child abducter and murderer. Time is running out as Gallagher and her partner race to save the girls, their lives and apprehend the killer before he can strike again-Goodreads

Review: Once again, Dittrich crafts a very disturbing case (loosely based on a case she worked) involving a predator who sexually abuses and murders young children. This isn't for the faint hearted as the subject matter is pretty awful.

Like the previous installment, I really enjoy the investigation aspect of this book. It freaked me out and I was on edge to see who the killer would eventually be stopped. As for our lead investigator CeeCee...I'm not a huge fan. Dittrich's writing style is very dry and non-emotional so it's hard to get a well rounded/realistic view of anyone. We are told she's a brilliant investigator but she seems to whine, cry and act unprofessional quite often. It's amazing anymore has any respect for her. There was a lot of drama involving her love life (as well as her boss/friend) that I didn't care for. I will definitely continue to read this series even though because I love the actual cases and 'the hunt' for the killers.

Grade: 3/5

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Murder Mountain

Book: Murder Mountain
Series: CeeCee Gallagher #1
Author: Stacy Dittrich

When a young woman disappears from home without her personal effects, Detective CeeCee Gallagher is determined to find her – only to discover she was not the first to vanish. CeeCee and FBI Agent Michael Hagerman follow the trail of chilling clues deep into the West Virginia woods, and a dark world of drugs, torture, and cannibalism. With her family in grave danger, CeeCee will have to risk everything if she’s to bring justice to ... Murder Mountain.-Goodreads

Review: This is my first Stacy Dittrich book and I overall enjoyed it. Good pacing, great detail about a police investigation and a disturbing case that gave me the chills at times (I detest rodents and there was a scene involving rats toward the end that was nightmare inducing). The writing style was very direct and there was little emotion written into any of the characters or scenes. Because of this, it was challenging to care about any of the characters or relationship issues that arise. 

I'll definitely be reading more of this series because I enjoy the level of detail about the police investigation. 

Grade: 3/5

Orphan Train

Book: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.-Goodreads

Review: This book is written in alternative narratives between foster-child Molly and the elderly Vivian. I never knew about orphan trains and really enjoyed Vivian's sections. My heart melted for those children and the (sometimes) tragic situations they landed in. Vivian's journey really came alive on the pages and I was immersed in her story. I feel terrible for even writing this but I just didn't care for Molly. She's a sympathetic character but she just irked me. She's had a tough life and she's currently living with foster parents who are only in it for the money. Her foster mother was written so cliche (right wing conservative who refuses to acknowledge Molly's vegetarianism among other things) I was constantly rolling my eyes. Molly is well behaved except for stealing literature from the library (really?!) and getting 50H of community service work. Okay-50H for a $10 book? That seems excessive but it was necessary to set up the relationship between the characters. The ending was a bit rushed but overall I enjoyed this book. 

Grade: 3/5