Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hearts Under Siege by Natalie J. Damschroder

Hearts Under Siege by Natalie J. Damschroder
Entangled: Ignite Publishing
Publication Date:  February 23, 2014
Date Read:  February 15, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from the author for the purpose of providing an honest review.

5 stars

I loved this book.  The story grabbed me right away and I found myself having a hard time putting it down to do anything else.   I love a book that can cause me to miss my bed time because I start doing the "I am going to read just 1 more chapter" routine.   This book was that kind of book.

Brady and Molly have been best friends since childhood.  The story starts with them in their early 20's.  Molly has deeper feelings for Brady but keeps them to herself.  Brady and Molly are sent to pick up his brother's girlfriend at the train station and Brady falls instantly in love with Jessica.  Years later, Molly gets a call from Jessica that Christopher, Brady's brother, is dead.  Molly knows how to get in touch with Brady, who has become a secret agent, so she sets out to find him.  The pair work together to piece together what has really happened to Christopher.  Brady finally starts to see that Jessica may not have been the one for him after all and lets himself see Molly in a new way.

This book was very well written.  The characters felt three dimensional and their actions were very believable.    The plot kept me guessing and made the book really hard to put down.  I actually laid in bed wondering what had happened to Christopher.  The chemistry between Brady and Molly was intense and made a little sad to know that they waited so long to be together.  

I would highly recommend this book to all fans of romantic suspense.   I am actually hoping that this is the beginning of a new series.  I would love to see some more of these agents in future books and maybe catch a peek and this pair again.  This is the second book by this author that I have read and I have loved both so far.  I am becoming a huge fan of Natalie J. Damschroder.  I definitely plan to pick up some of her other works in the near future.

The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date:  February 25, 2014
Date Read:  February 23, 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.

1.5 Stars

I must say that I am rather disappointed in this book.  I have been a long time fan of Evanovich and have insisted that many of my friends and family read her books.  These books have had a history of being easy to read with some laughs, colorful characters, and silly fun.   Her books have suffered a steady decline and it make me very sad. 

This book is second in the Fox and O'Hare series.  I found the first in the series somewhat enjoyable and had hoped that this one would be even better.  Unfortunately,  it is not.  The characters felt flat throughout the book and I never cared about anyone in the all.  I had hoped that I would find something funny in the book...nope....nothing funny all.   I had hoped that there would be some chemistry between Nick and Kate....nothing going on here.  

The plot of the book can be summed up quite easily.  Kate is an FBI agent who has been paired up with a thief, Nick Fox to steal things.  They steal things in this book several times.  They almost get caught several times.  That is basically it.  

This book makes me sad.  I miss the days when I would be sure to go to the book store on the release day for any of Evanovich's books.  I would make no plans that day and I would spend a couple of hours laughing at something crazy.  Things started slowly declining and somewhere along the line I started checked these books out at the library and getting to them when I had a chance.  I actually have the most recent Stephanie Plum book sitting on my kindle unread months after its release.  

I do wonder who wrote this book.  Was it Goldberg trying to imitate Evanovich?  Was it a collaboration of efforts?  I also wonder what input the editor had on the book.  I really wonder how many naps this book will induce.  I fell asleep at least three times while reading this book.  I am the kind of person who stays up late reading one more page but with this book I repeatedly found myself falling asleep.

I really cannot recommend this book.  I do hope that Evanovich finds her spark again someday but it is becoming doubtful.  This is really one of those books that I am just glad I finished so that I can move on to something else.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Temptation of Laura by Rachel Brimble

The Temptation of Laura by Rachel Brimble
Kensington Books
Publication Date:  February 20, 2014
Date Read:  February 14, 2014

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

I give this book a solid 4 stars.  This is one of those books that will work for some readers but not for others.  I liked this book and found that it did work for me but many romance readers will not feel the same.  This is not a hearts and flowers feel good romance.  This romance is rather dark in my mind with characters who have had a tough life.

Laura is a whore and has been one since she was 15 years old.  She lives with her friend, Bette, and the pair have taken care of each other.  Bette is sick and Laura is doing her best to provide for the both of them.  She has always been drawn to the theater and decides to see if she can find work there.  She is able to find an honest job selling treats at the theater where she meets Adam.  Adam is an actor and aspiring playwright who knows that the key to the play that he has written is Laura.  Adam pursues Laura and convinces her to be in his play.  The pair become close and eventually Laura and Bette both move into Adam's home for protection from the neighborhood pimp.   Adam knows about Laura's past but is able to look beyond that and they both start having feeling for each other.

This book is darker than most historical romances, at least those that I have encountered.  Laura has been a prostitute in order to take care of herself and has a hard time believing that anyone will ever see her as anything but a whore.  Adam has been at the mercy of wealthy widows in order to find work.  They both have a hard time learning to be together without falling back on past behaviors.  This is not simply the story of two people falling in love.  It is really the story of two people who are hurting learning to love each other while learning to change their life.   It was a bit different and I liked that about the book.

I found the characters to be somewhat believable.  Not all of their actions were believable but for the most part it felt authentic.  I thought the writing was well done.  I really like that the author chose to let the characters mess up since it was really unexpected for me.  I would recommend this book to any romance reader willing to try something a little darker.  I plan to check out other works by this author.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  January 21, 2014
Date Read:  February 16, 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.

This book was a solid 4 star read.  Sarah Addison Allen definitely knows how to tell a compelling story weaving the past, the present, and a little bit of magic.  Grief plays a major role in this book but this is not a sad book.  Instead, I found this book to be one of hope.

The story starts with Kate waking up.  Kate is not waking up from a night of sleep but from a year of extreme grief.  She basically shut down when her husband was killed and has allowed her mother in law, Cricket to take over.  The day that Kate is waking up is in fact also the day that she is scheduled to move into her mother in law's house.  Kate's daughter, Devin, finds a postcard just before they are supposed to leave from Kate's great aunt Eby, the owner of Lost Lake.  Kate feels drawn to Lost Lake and decides to take her daughter and go right away.

When she arrives at Eby's resort, she learns that her aunt has agreed to sell Lost Lake.  At the resort Kate meets an interesting group of people and learns a few things about her family.  She becomes reacquainted with Wes, the boy she met when she visited the resort when she was 12. 

The author has created a story with wonderfully rich characters.  I would love to spend a summer at Lost Lake watching Selma work her magic with the men, Devin run around in her tutu and cowboy boots, Bulahdeen planning parties, and Eby taking care of everyone.  The way that Kate, Devin, Eby, Cricket, and Wes are dealing with grief was very realistic for me.  Each of the characters handled things a bit differently but in an authentic manner.   The only thing that the book seemed to be missing for me was a bit of unpredictability.  I had a basic idea of what was going to happen in the book early on and there were no surprises.

I would definitely recommend this book to other readers.  It is a great example of magical realism written by a wonderful author.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C Carleson

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
Random House Children's Publishing
Publication Date:  February 11, 2014
Date Read:  February 9, 2014

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.

This book was a solid 4 star read for me.  I thought the author did a wonderful job with a difficult topic.  The book was well written and I thought that the characters felt authentic.

Laila is a teenage girl that finds herself thrust into a new life.  Her family has been relocated to the United States after her father's murder.  Laila must learn to navigate school and her family's new status quickly.   She must learn to fit in with a new set of rules because every social aspect of her life has been turned upside down.  Laila learns a lot of things about the reality of her father's rule and what type of leader he really was.  She does make some American friends and begins to fit into American society.  She also spends time with someone from her country, Amir.  Amir is not someone that she would have spent time with back home but she learns a lot from him here.

This was the kind of book that made me think.  Laila did not know what kind of ruler her father was.  Are there cases like that in life?  How would the sheltered family of a dictator actually know what was going on?  Laila finds herself in a completely different social environment and actually does fairly well.  I wonder if I would have been able to adapt so easily.  I think one of the main things that Laila learns is to start questioning the information being given to her.  

I would definitely recommend this book for really just about any reader.  It is a YA book but I found it to be a wonderful read and let's just say that I am way beyond the YA category.  I plan to read other works by this author. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tangled Hearts by Heather McCollum

Tangled Hearts by Heather McCollum
Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date:  January 28, 2014
Date Read:  February 8, 2014
I received an advance reader edition of this book from Entangled Publishing, LLC and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

This book is a hard one for me to review.  I did not love this book but I also did not hate it.  At times I found this book easy to put down while at other times I flew through the pages.  I would have to say that this book was a 3 star read for me.

Ewan is a Scottish Highlander who just happens to be around to rescue Pandora from being burned at the stake as a witch.  Ewan is surprised to learn that Pandora, or Dory, is actually a which and controlling the weather is one of her talents.  Dory tricks Ewan into not only accompanying her to King Henry's court but also helping her rescue her pirate family that is currently locked in the tower.   Dory is not only a which but also a pirate and is the daughter of traitors to King Henry.  While working together to free her pirate family, the pair pose as a married couple and start falling for each other.

There was a lot going on in this book.  I would really say that it was probably a bit too much.  The villian at the end of the story seemed a bit of a stretch as well.  I did really like the romance between Ewan and Dory and felt that that was the strong point of the book.  The other major strength in this novel were the twist concerning Dory's pirate family.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something a bit different.  This book is definitely different.  I can not remember ever reading a book about Pirate, King Henry, Witches, Scottish Highlanders, and even a few scenes in King Henry's tower. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
William Morrow
Publication Date:  July 27, 2009 Hardcover; December 3, 2013 Movie Tie-In Edition
Date Read:  February 2, 2014

I received a copy of this book from William Morrow and Goodreads First Reads for the purpose of providing an honest review.

This coming of age story was a solid 4 star read for me.  It was a relatively short book that could easily be read in a single evening.   There is really of lot of story packed into those few pages.  This book has recently been made into a movie and I always like to read the book first before seeing the movie, although I rarely follow through with actually watching the movie.

The story is told from the perspective of 13 year old Henry.  Henry lives with his divorced mother, Adele.  They lead a rather lonely life.  Adele does not really like to leave the house and often sends Henry inside to complete errands while she waits in the car.  On a rare shopping trip to buy needed school clothes for Henry, they meet a man who asks them to take him home with them.  Adele agrees and the bleeding stranger comes home with them.  They soon learn that the stranger, Frank, is an escaped convict.  Frank is kind to the pair and a bond is developed.  As the book moves forward, we learn the background stories of both Adele and Frank which make their character both more likeable and relate able. 

I found the writing of this book to be superb.  The characters were very real for me and the voice that it was told in was authentic.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a slightly different coming of age story.  I will be looking for more works from this author.  I do think that this story could make an excellent film so I am more interested in seeing the movie after reading the book than I was before.  Now I need to see if I can get a chance to see this movie.

Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons

Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  February 4, 2014
Date Read:  February 1, 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.

I am giving this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.  This book took quite plot twist and turns which kept the pages flying.  While some readers may find some of the medical scenes a bit too realistic, I loved what those details brought to the story.  This book was written by a doctor and the surgery scenes definitely were authentic.

Dr. Steven Mitchell is the married father of 2 girls.  He is a senior resident at University Hospital and loves the surgical aspects of his job.  He and his wife Sally both hope that he will be able to continue working at University after he completes his residency.  Steve works with Luis at the hospital and the pair will also be working with a medical student, GiGi, for a period of time.  Early in the book, Steve has a remarkably bad day in the hospital that ends with one patient dead and another clinging to life.  As the death is being reviewed, Steve realizes that he may not be completely responsible for the death.   Steve tries to stay one step ahead of the culprit while holding on to the things he holds dear in his life and protecting the hospital's patients.

Steve is not always the most likeable character.  He starts off in the book with a bit of a cocky attitude which moves into full blown jerk mode at a point.  As he finds himself in the middle of a deadly game, he became more relate able.  He realizes that he has made mistakes, admits those mistakes,
and does his best to move forward.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who like a fast paced thriller.  There are some graphic medical scenes that could bother some readers and intrigue others.  I find myself in the second group.  I look forward to reading future works from this debut author. 
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