Monday, March 31, 2014

Dazed by Kim Karr


Dazed by Kim Karr
Penguin Group
Publication Date:  April 1, 2014
Date Read: March 30, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.


4.5 Stars!

I went into this novella completely open.  Having never read anything by this author, I simply had no idea what to expect.  What I found in this book was a wonderful romance.  This novella is long enough to bring some depth to the story and yet short enough that it could be read in an evening.  I also liked the fact that the story was broken up into chapters.  I realize that may seem silly to some people but I rarely get to sit still for very long so I need chapter breaks!

Jagger and Aerie meet at a cupcake shop.  He playfully calls her Alice, as in Alice in Wonderland, and then buys all the cupcakes that she was wanting.  Imagine her surprise, when the same man who took her cupcakes is the same man staying with her best friends.  There is an instant connection and the pair quickly set off sparks.  

I really enjoyed this novella.  I found Jagger to be a wonderful character.  He was perfect.  Aerie was a bit insecure but her back story does explain how that came to be.  I found their romance to be completely believable although I would have liked to see Aeria not give up so quickly.  The secondary characters, who are from a book in this series, were wonderful as well.  The sex scenes in the book helped advance the plot.  

I would recommend this novella to readers familiar with the Connections series or anyone who wants to sample some of the author's writing.  I plan to read other works from Kim Karr in the future.

A Wayward Man by Erica Monroe


A Wayward Man by Erica Monroe
Quillfire Publishing
Publication Date:  February 10, 2014
Date Read: March 29, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Quillfire Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

3 Stars

I enjoy reading short stories on occasion.  Short stories are great to read when a reader wants to sample a new author's writing.  I also like to read short stories between books if I am having a hard time deciding what to read next.  This story was pretty short and quick to read.  

Daniel works at a shipping yard.  He hopes to marry the daughter of his employer.  Kate is equally smitten with Daniel.  Daniel is granted permission to ask Kate to marry him and is excited about his future with Kate.  Daniel soon finds himself in trouble with the law and realizes that his future may turn out very differently than he had hoped.

This story was written as a prequel to The Rookery Rogues.  I felt that this story was more of a character introduction than a complete short story.  Daniel and Kate only interacted directly with each other one time in the story and there was absolutely no resolution.  I was a bit disappointed that the story felt more like a teaser than anything else.

I would recommend this story only to readers who plan to read the series.  I would not recommend it to anyone looking for a true stand alone story.  I would be open to reading other works by Erica Monroe in the future but may stick to books instead of short stories.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tempting Fate by Jane Green






Tempting Fate by Jane Green
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  March 25, 2014
Date Read:  March 18, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

3.5 Stars

I had a really hard time deciding on a rating for this book.  The book was well written but I did not really care for the story that was being told.  In fact, I found that I was very uncomfortable while reading this book, especially the first half.  I wanted to reach into the book and just slap the main character, Gabby, repeatedly.  The fact that the writing could bring out strong feelings is good but the feelings that were brought out were not so good.  

The story focuses on 43 year old Gabby.  Gabby and Elliott have been married for quite some time.  They have 2 daughters together and their marriage appears to be solid.    Gabby goes out on the town with some of her friends while the rest of her family are on a camping trip.  She ends up spending most of the evening talking to a younger man, Matt.  Afterwords, Gabby and Matt stay in touch through email and decide to meet again.   As you may suspect, things eventually do get out of hand and lines are crossed.

Throughout the first half of the book, I wanted to slap Gabby.  Why would she jeopardize everything good in her life for this younger man?  The second half of the book focuses on the aftermath or her choices.  I actually liked this section of the book much better.  I guess I found it more appealing to watch the characters try to make things right than watching them destroy theirs lives with bad choices.  I did think that the conclusion of the book was quite optimistic and unrealistic. 

I do love Jane Green's writing and felt that the writing was solid in this book.  I just found the story to be uncomfortable and depressing.  I do plan to continue reading works by this author.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski


Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Random House Children's Publishing
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Date Read:  March 15, 2015

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Children's Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

2.5 Stars

I was disappointed with this book.  I do think that younger teens would enjoy this book much more than I did.  While I did not think it was horrible, I did not think it was good either.  The most exciting part of the book for me was when I finished because that meant I was done and could move on to something else....not a good sign.   

The basic premise of the story sounded really interesting.  A group of teens get a flu shot at school with a very interesting side effect, telepathy.  Who would not want the ability to read minds?  There are so many neat things that could be done with the ability to read mind.  One could solve crimes, stop wars, make peace, help those in need who have not yet asked for help.  What does our group of teens do with this ability?  They find out if their friends think they are fat or not, say the right thing to the cute boy they have a crush on, cheat on tests, and other things that are not really too different from other teens.

This book was told from the "we" perspective which was really a little strange.  At times it did work, but overall I really did not like this perspective.  I can understand why this was used since everyone in the group had this ability so they all knew everyone's secrets.  

I do think younger teens may enjoy this book.  I would not recommend it to adults or even older teens.   I do have other books by this author that I do still plan to read. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs


Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
Penguin Group
Publication Date:  March 11, 2014
Date Read:  March 12, 2014

5 Stars!

What a great installment to a wonderful series this book turned out to be!  Let me just say up front that I am a huge fan of Patricia Briggs.  I think that the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series are two of the very best out there.  Yesterday when I realized that it was the release day for this book, I invented a reason for my family to take an outing so that I could come home with this book.  All family members were then warned to leave me alone until I was done with this book!  Sometimes when I get this excited about a new book, I end up feeling let down when the book is good but does not quite live up to my expectations....this book exceeded those expectations.  

Adam's ex-wife, Christy, seeks the pack's help when a stalker endangers her life.   Christy quickly moves into Adam and Mercy's home as the pack tries to deal with the stalker.  Of course, there is conflict with the ex-wife and wife in close proximity and Mercy handles things much better than could be expected.  As it turns out the stalker is more than they bargained for and the pack finds that they are up against an enemy that they may not be able to beat. 

This is book 8 in the series so the world building has been solid for a very long time.  Patricia Briggs does a phenomenal job of creating characters that are tough, smart, likeable, and yet imperfect.  I would recommend to any reader looking to start this series to please go back and pick up the first book Moon Called.   This book was very exciting and I actually found my heart racing at one point. 

I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys urban fiction.  The series is still going strong with this eighth installment with no signs of slowing down soon.  I plan to re-read the series in the near future.  I am already waiting for the next book to be released.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh






The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date:  March 11, 2014
Date Read:  March 8, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Solid 4 Star Book!

When I saw the description of this book, I was more than intrigued.  Since I live in Missouri, a book focused on two mysteries a generation apart set in the Ozarks sounded pretty entertaining.   While I do not live in the Ozarks, I do live close enough that the location sparked a bit of interest as well as the plot.  As it turns out the tiny town of Henbane that the book is set in is somewhere that I have never been and most likely will never go but interesting anyway.  

As I actually started reading the book, I was pulled in right away.  The two mysteries are told from different points of view and are connected not only by the small town of Henbane, but the characters, and events surrounding each mystery.  Lucy has grown up without her mother, Lila, who went missing when she was very young.  Lucy's friend Cheri also goes missing for about a year before her body is found.  Lucy starts trying to find out what happened to her friend and she is the primary voice for events happening in the present.  We also spend time with Lila, Lucy's mother, a generation earlier where we learn about the events that lead to her disappearance and possibly Cheri's murder.

The author does use other points of view in the book but Lucy and Lila are the primary story tellers.  Many of the characters are integral parts of both plots.  Everything ties together by the end of the book with everything being interconnected.  

This was one of those books that starts strong, pulls you in and really does not let go.  I found myself having a very difficult time putting this book down and could not wait to get back to it as soon as I could.  The subject matter was difficult and I think the author realistically represented many people's inclination small town or otherwise to look the other way and not get involved.  

I would definitely recommend this book!  It is really hard to believe that this book was written by a debut author since it was so well written.  I predict many wonderful works will be written by Laura McHugh in the future and I plan to try to read as many of them as I can. 

Swim that Rock by John Rocco & Jay Primiano


Swim that Rock by John Rocco & Jay Primiano
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Date Read: December 15, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Candlewick Press and Net Galley for the purpose of an honest review.

4 Stars

I enjoyed this book and felt that it would be a perfect book for young teens. It may have a stronger appeal for boys with the strong male protagonist. I would rate this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Jake Cole lives with his mother in an apartment above their diner. His father is presumed dead but Jake still holds out hope that his father may someday return. Jake live in a fishing town and the diner caters to the fishermen who work the waters. Jake works with his father’s friend, Gene, clamming or quahogging. He finds out that the diner owes $10,000 to loan sharks. This debt has to be paid by the end of the month or they will lose the diner. Jake is determined to come up with the money to save the diner. Gene offers to use all the money they can make to pay back the loan. Unfortunately, Gene is injured and unable to work shortly after the agreement is made. Jake spends time working with “captain” earning money in questionable ways.

An area is being opened for clamming, that has been long closed and all of the local fishermen cannot wait. Since Gene is injured, Jake decides to take his boat and go out by himself. On this fishing trip, Jake learns who his true friends are and how tough he can be when needed. He also proves that he is willing to help others even when there is nothing in it for him. His friends and family work together on an event at the diner to help raise money. In the end, Jake’s good deed saves the diner.

This story was very well written. The characters were all very likeable. I found myself hoping that Jake could find a way to save the diner. The supporting characters were wonderful: Tommy and Darcy were both flawed but genuine. This is a great coming of age story where we see a boy struggling to come to terms with his father’s loss who refuses to give up on his home and livelihood. We see a true friendship with Tommy and Jake and with Darcy and Jake. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a realistic coming of age story.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira


Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Publication Date:  April 1, 2014
Date Read:  November 17, 2013

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher for review purposes.

5 Stars!

I just loved this book. Even though I was a teenager half my life ago, this book is one of the reasons I still choose to read YA novels. There are no silly sparkly vampires seen here. There is really nothing sparkly seen here at all. This book is real. This book makes the reader feel.

Laurel is just entering a high school at a new school. She is given an assignment in her English class of writing a letter to a person who is dead. While Laurel never turns in her assignment, she spends that year writing letters to famous dead people as a way of journaling her very troubled life. Through the letters, the reader learns everything that troubles Laurel but we learn them piece by piece. The biggest piece is the loss of her older sister and the subsequent effect on her family. Many pieces of the story do not come until the end of the book when Laurel is ready to deal with them. We watch her deal with pain and grief in stages as she is ready.

The letters are address to people that I know well since I am older than the intended audience. I do wonder if the average teen reader will know who Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, River Phoenix and Janis Joplin are and whether than will have any effect on their enjoyment of the book. This book will probably be best for an older teen as drinking, drugs, and sex (plus other sensitive topics) are part of the story.

We do see Laurel grow and deal with everything that has happened in her life. I have hope for her future. This is a story of a girl having the strength to overcome what life has thrown at her.

Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine


Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine
Forever Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date:  March 4, 2014
Date Read: March 9, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Forever Grand Central Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

5 Stars!

I am shocked by how much I ended up liking this book.   I went into the book not expecting much but I ended up loving this book.  The plot was a lot more complex than I had expected.  I found the characters to be wonderfully done.  I found myself really wanting to see them work everything out by the middle of the book.  

Pixie, Sarah to most people, has moved into her aunt Ellen's inn to work for the summer.  She is in the same wing of the hotel and the other live in worker, Levi.  They start out seeming to dislike one another and arguing quite a bit.  As the book progressed their history together was slowly revealed so that you learned that there was a lot more going on between these two people.  Both Levi and Pixie are actually in a lot of pain and as that pain comes to the surface they can start to deal with it.  Since the book is told from alternating view points, you do get to see what each is thinking and feeling.  These were two characters that belong together.  

I think that this book dealt with some tough issues quite well.  The guilt that each character carried with them seemed very genuine and not at all overdone.  The chemistry was fantastic but the book was not one sex scene after another which is truly what I had feared it would be before reading the book.  There are a couple of steamy scenes and those are very well done.  In the end I found this to a plot driven book focused on healing and growth with characters I found myself caring about.   

I would definitely recommend this book to others.  It looks like this book is the first in a planned series but there were no cliffhangers and for that I am incredibly thankful.  I plan to read future books in this series and other works by Chelsea Fine. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen


Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  December 3, 2013
Date Read:  February 16, 2014

4 Stars

I found this free short story on Amazon and decided to read it prior to reading Lost Lake. The story is very short, 38 pages according to Amazon. The majority of the kindle book is a excerpt from Lost Lake.

In this short story we meet Kate and learn a bit about her marriage. She is intrigued by a TV news report she sees and believes that the elderly man looks familiar. She is surprised to find that man walking down her street and introduces herself to Mr. Donbeet. They have a conversation over a cup of butter coffee before Kate returns home.

I loved the writing in this story and it made me eager to read Lost Lake. I believe that this short story gives some insight to Kate's character but it is not necessary to read this piece to enjoy Lost Lake.

I would recommend this short story to anyone planning to read Lost Lake. I would also recommend this to anyone who is thinking about reading some of Sarah Addison Allen's work. It is a nice example of her style of writing. I have already read Lost Lake and plan to read additional titles by this wonderful author

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell



Sleep Donation by Karen Russell
Atavist Books
Publication Date:  March 25, 2014
Date Read:  March 2, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Atavist Books and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4 Stars

This was an enjoyable novella.  This novella has an interesting and unique premise.  The loved the writing.  This is the first time that I have read any of Karen Russell's work and I was quite impressed. It is really quite amazing that so much story fit into this short novella.  The author created wonderful characters to tell her story and a whole culture regarding an insomnia plague.

Trish works for the Slumber Corps. The organization that collects donations of sleep that will be passed along to save people dying due to insomnia.  Trish lost her sister Dori to the epidemic and uses her story to help enlist donors.  Trish is excellent at her job and is the person responsible for finding "Baby A".  Baby A is the only known universal donor and her father is quite protective.  The Slumber Corps must also deal with the problem caused by "Donor Y" which is now plaguing sleep donation.  Trish starts to question everything Slumber Corps stands for by the end of the book.  

I loved the world created within this novella.  This was such an interesting concept.  A plague of insomnia that can be cured by a donation of sleep.  It was unique and very well done.  I did feel that the end was a bit abrupt and would have liked to know just a bit more.  

I would recommend this novella for anyone looking for a unique story to fill an evening.  The story is about 110 pages so it can easily be read in one sitting.  I plan to read other works by Karen Russell.  I also plan to keep my eyes open for future works published by Atavist Books since this is the first work from a brand new publisher.

Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen



Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen
Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date:  February 25, 2014
Date Read:  March 2, 2014

*Please note that this book was originally published in 1994 as Peggy Sue Got Married.  According to the Author's Introduction the book has been updated for today's readers.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4 Stars

I really liked this book.  This is the first book by Tess Gerritsen that I have read even though I have had her books on my ever growing to be read list for quite some time.   When I first sat down to read this book, I will admit that I was a bit disappointed to learn that this was in face an older book that had been updated and re-released.  I do dislike it when I see books being re-released especially with different titles because I have bought books I already owned more than once.  I was safe with this book since I have not read anything by this author before.  

I found the book to be very enjoyable.  I really liked the writing style of Ms. Gerritsen.  The plot was not overly complex and the characters were not only likeable but believable.  Romance did play a major role by the end of the book but not so much that it overwhelmed the rest of the plot.

Kat Novak is a medical examiner who finds a matchbook with a phone number clutched inside a corpse's hands.  When she calls the number it starts a chain of events, she eventually meets Adam Quantrel.  They end up working together to solve a string of deaths connected to a new unknown drug and find Adam's step-daughter.  There was plenty of mystery to keep you guessing throughout the book.  While I can not say that I was shocked by the ending, I did not have everything figured out either.  

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining quick read.  That being said this is a very early work by Tess Gerritsen  and I would suspect that her current books are even better as her writing skills have developed.  I have not read any other book by this author so I am unable to make any comparisons.  I definitely plan to read other books by this author and may been to bump her Rizzoli and Isles series closer to the top of my TBR list.

The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian


The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
Penguin Group
Publication Date:  March 18, 2014
Date Read:  February 28, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4 Stars

What an exciting book!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I went into the book seeing lots of comparisons to The Hunger Games.  I loved The Hunger Games but was worried that any book drawing so many comparisons would be too similar.  I have found that many times the books that I like the best are completely different from anything else that I have read so I was a bit hesitant regarding the comparisons.  I hoped to see the excitement of that book in a unique way.  I think that this book was able to deliver.

Evalyn is on her way to the Compass Room as the book begins.  The Compass Room is a new part of the justice system that analyzes a person's thoughts while in the room.  Each person will either make it out and be released or will be terminated within the game.  Evalyn enters the Compass Room with quite a few other young adults and teens.  They must face multiple obstacles as time goes on as the number of participants continues to drop.  The characters of Evalyn, Chase, Tanner, Valerie, and Jace really stood out in this book.  I found myself rooting for this unlikely group of heroes.

We learn about the events that brought Evalyn to the Compass Room through flashbacks spread throughout the book.  Each flashback added a piece of the puzzle regarding her crime and made me empathize with her more and more.  As the book progressed, I found that many of the prisoners within the Compass Room were there because of their reaction to horrible events.  This book shows the main characters working together to make the best of a bad situation.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes an exciting read.  One point that I feel that I should mention is that this book does contain sex.  With all the comparisons being made between this book and The Hunger Games, I feel it is important to remind everyone that the audience for this book is a little different.  I think my daughter would love to read this book but she is probably a bit young right now.  I am sure that parents out there will make the decision regarding this book that is right for their family.  I plan to continue with this series and look for other works by this author.
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