Wilds Cards is, unfortunately, a prime example of an intriguing plot that had a horrible execution. Southern...moreThis review will go live on the blog09/19
Wilds Cards is, unfortunately, a prime example of an intriguing plot that had a horrible execution. Southern boy Derek has found himself in the headmaster's office after a prank-gone-wrong. The prestigious school have given him numerous chances and this is the last straw. After fessing up and taking all of the blame, Derek's told he has 48 hours to gather his things and leave. With his dad stationed overseas and a spacey 25-year old stepmother, Derek isn't exactly looking forward to heading home. Things go from bad to worse when Brandi announces she's pregnant and until Derek's father returns, they'll all be heading to Chicago to move in with Brandi's estranged family.
As the only girl on the high school football team, Ashtyn has developed a tough skin. She had to earn the respect of the guys and now she's considered one of them. Her boyfriend is the star Quarterback and it's all but guaranteed he'll be elected Captain come their senior year. Ashtyn's sights are set a little further in the future: she's aiming for a football scholarship and the chance to play on a college team.
While things have never looked better on the field, Ashtyn's home life has seriously declined. Her mother abandoned the family years ago, her sister vanished as well, and her dad just doesn't seem to care anymore. Now her sister has returned, bun in the over, and with her son and stepson in tow. They simply arrive at the door and announce they're moving in.
Wild Cards had two things going for it: its BLINDINGLY fast pace and football. The football plot especially interested me, even moreso that it was a girl who played. YES PLEASE! Sadly, that's where the good ends. This is a book that suffers from an extreme case of telling rather than showing. We're told Derek is a bad boy, we're told Ashtyn is some super awesome fantastic football player/tough chick. I never got a feel for just who these characters really were and their relationship was downright confusing.
It seems all Derek does is paint the shed and cut the grass. I wouldn't have batted an eye if he helped a little old lady cross the street or rescue a kitten in a tree. Yep. Real troublemaker there. As far as Ashtyn's football prowess goes, she never actually plays. Or, sure, she practices, but that's it. There aren't any games - the novel takes places during summer vacation - so that angle was a complete letdown. At one point Ashtyn goes to a week-long football clinic where only the best high school players from around the country go, but even there we only read about a handful of drills (of course each one is sabotaged by boys who aren't interested in having a girl play).
I read a lot of YA and am getting into New Adult. I know how it goes and I've come to expect quick romances if not flat out instalove. What baffled me about Wild Cards is that, while the character are in love (in a weird quasi-incestuous way - she's his stepmother's sister after all), they refused to voice their feelings for nearly the entire book and they aren't in a relationship at all. The dual narrative allows the reader to know exactly how Ashtyn and Derek feel and it's very love/hate. Ashtyn thinks Derek's hot. Derek thinks Ashtyn has a great body. Ashtyn wants Derek to hold her. Derek wants Ashtyn period. Ashtyn hates how Derek is flirting with her friends and thinks he's a jerk. Derek hates how guys look at Ashtyn. This went on and on the entire book and their only interactions were arguments. Somehow this was supposed to be romantic? I just couldn't get into it.
The ending really took the cake though. (view spoiler)[After all the talk of Ashtyn being an amazing football player - and not seeing any proof - it turns out that Derek is the one who is really the star. Prior to the death of his mother he took his team all the way to the state championship and had a really promising career ahead of him. In the end it was about Derek's phenomenal skills rather than Ashtyn's. (hide spoiler)]
Wild Cards was such a disappointment. I went in fully prepared to love every moment, but nothing worked for me. The characters were flat, the football plot just wasn't there, and the romance was borderline aggravating. This is the first in a series, but I'm tapping out of this one. I have no interest in seeing what's in store for these characters. If it wasn't for the easy-to-read pace, I doubt I would have finished.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I don't want to jinx myself, but I've been having insanely good luck lately with Young Adult Thrillers. Before I beg...moreReview goes live on the blog9/20!
I don't want to jinx myself, but I've been having insanely good luck lately with Young Adult Thrillers. Before I began blogging, thrillers were my go-to reads, but I never thought to try them in a YA flavor.
Wick Tate doesn't have a whole lot going for her: her felon father is on the run, cops are trying to squeeze information out of her, she's on her fourth set of foster parents, and her best friend acts like Wick no longer exists. The two bright sides to Wick's life are her little sister Lily and her hacking business - women hire her to get the dirt on their cheating boyfriends/husbands.
The morning following a detective's usual late-night stakeout, Wick finds a diary on the doorstep. Flipping through she recognizes the handwriting of her former best friend, Tessa. Scrawled on the cover however, are the words find me. That day at school Wick learns Tessa died - jumped off a building - and Wick refuses to believe the story ends there. The diary entries talk of more: a man Tessa was seeing, someone who learns Wick picked up his scent and now he's after her.
YA Thrillers might just be my new favorite thing. Find Me captivated me from the very first page and didn't let go until well after I finished. There's a sense of foreboding throughout the novel that I found riveting and more than once my breath caught and I lost myself to the scene. When I read thrillers or mysteries, I like to guess at Who Did It and I tend to be right. The same can be said for Find Me, but the way the mystery was revealed was so expertly done that I didn't mind one bit! I had actually been hoping for a different character to be the killer and was disappointed I was wrong, but the truth came out and when it did I immediately changed my tune; the bad guy was truly awful and I began to panic and had to set the book down. Having your reader experience such intense emotions takes some serious talent and Ms. Bernard let hers shine.
As per YA there's a romance involved, but what sets Find Me apart is that there was NOT a love triangle nor was this a case of instalove. Their relationship blossomed over time and it was such a welcome sight. Even better: the romance didn't take center stage. In the hands of a lesser author, this book about a killer-going-after-the-younger-sister could easily have turned into a starcrossed romance with a hint of an actual plot. No so here!
That this is Ms. Bernard's debut novel both impresses and excites me! Find Me enveloped me in its mystery - Who was this man Tessa was seeing? Will he get to Wick's sister? - and its hold refused to give. I highly recommend this book and you can bet I'll be waiting to see what Romily Bernard writes next!(less)
Sharon Creech was a staple of my grade school years, beginning with the Book Fair where I randomly came acro...moreThis review will go live on the blog8/22.
Sharon Creech was a staple of my grade school years, beginning with the Book Fair where I randomly came across a copy of Walk Two Moons. Since that day I have read and reread that book numerous times and it remains one of my absolute favorites. Earlier in the year I heard that Ms. Creech was releasing a new book and I knew I needed to read it.
The Boy on the Porch is an extremely slim story about a young couple, John and Marta, and the little boy they find. A note is attached to him saying John and Marta should look after him for a while and that the parents will return. The couple, bewildered and unsure, bring the child inside and allow him to nap and eat. As the days go by, turning into weeks, John and Marta begin to wonder if the parents will ever come back - and secretly hope they won't. Over time they come to deeply care for the boy, Jacob, and can't imagine not having him in their life.
Slowly they decide Jacob needs other human interaction. The animals on their farm are his constant companions, and Marta feels Jacob would benefit from more. He doesn't speak - he communicates by tapping - and through sheer patience and observation, John and Marta come to understand what each tap signifies. As he's introduced to people in town, including other children, John and Marta realize what a beautiful, brilliant boy Jacob truly is and each car coming up their driveway send shivers down their spines.
Just as this newly-formed family feels comfortable, however, Jacob's father arrives and that day impacts John and Marta in ways they can't imagine.
The Boy on the Porch was an extremely quick read - helped along by some chapters that were just a few paragraphs in length. Initially I wasn't sure how I felt about the book. The reader has something of an outside view to the story; there are no descriptors, and the setting itself is very vague. A young couple in a rural town discover a boy on their porch. As I got to the end, I realized that's really all I needed to know.
Creech knows how to pack a punch. I wasn't expecting to have such an intense and emotional reaction to the ending. It was beautiful and quiet and the perfect close. The Boy on the Porch feels to me like a Middle Grade book written specifically for adults. That's not to say children wouldn't enjoy it, but I know my 10-year-old self would have gotten something far different out of this story than the adult Leah.
The Boy on the Porch is truly a beautiful story that quietly moves along. If you're looking for action, this is not the book for you. However, if you're looking for an emotional hard-hitter than can be read in less than an hour, look no further.(less)
It's no secret I have a huge love of cozies. They're so fun and silly and make the perfect afternoon read. They're also fairly easy to follow which makes jumping in at any book in a series totally doable. So despite never having read the first five Home Crafting Mystery books, I leaped at the chance to review this newest addition.
The best thing about cozies is that they're so unique. My favorite series, for example, is about a psychic detective. There's a series about a White House chef, a cheese shop, you name it, there's a series for it. This series deals with organic farming and homemade products like soap and lip balm. An interesting fact about me: I'm actually really interested in learning how to make my own soap. This book only solidified my curiosity.
Sophie Mae lives with her husband Barr (a police officer), her best friend Meghan, and Meghan's 12-year old daughter Erin in a quiet rural community. The Turner family owns and operates a large farm and for a yearly fee members can collect a portion of the harvest. Sophie Mae helps out on the farm and it's there a body is discovered in a compost heap.
In the past Sophie Mae has helped out with cases and it's only natural for her to want to join in on the investigation. Ignoring the concerned advice from her husband and friends (particularly since Sophie Mae and Barr are trying to have a baby), Sophie Mae jumps in and winds up getting for than she bargained for.
Deadly Row to Hoe was a mere 250 and the pacing makes it feel like half that. Cozies are typically easy to figure out and this one was no exception (although early on I had suspected a different character of being the killer). The characters were fun and even minor characters like Sophie Mae's two employees were fleshed-out and I got a real feel for their personalities.
Whether you're already a fan or are completely new to this series, Deadly Row to Hoe will make for a great read. Lightning fast with lots of humor, it's definitely a book that will hold your attention and can be finished in one sitting. Throughout the story there were lots of great backstory details that not only helped me get to know these characters, but also piqued my interest in the rest of the series. :) Don't be surprised if you see reviews for the first five books soon!(less)
Linus and Ophelia had roped poor Walter into serving hors d'oeuvres with them, believing fully in the old adage that misery loves company. In other words, if you have something you'd rather not do, you might as well bring your best friend along and let him suffer as well.
Guys, this series is growing on me. A lot. I had a few problems with the first book, Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I'm pleased to say those problems have all but vanished in this sequel. Twins Linus and Ophilia Easterday have been shipped off to live with their aunt and uncle (also twins) while their parents hunt butterflies on a remote island in the South Pacific. Their good friend Walter resides in the nearby boarding school after more than his share of picked locks back home in London.
Aunt Portia owns a bookshop and in its attic the trio discovered an enchanted circle that can bring literary characters into our world. Naturally this comes with some rules: they have sixty hours before they need to return, the circle only opens once a month, etc. In their previous adventure with the circle, they met Quasimodo. This time around they set the bar a bit higher: Moby Dick's Captain Ahab.
Meanwhile, Aunt Portia didn't care about the Moby Dick theme at all. She figured it was a water party and mermaids live in the water, so it stood to reason that she could fudge a little bit.
Every single character is great. They're funny, they're flawed, they have their own distinct personality and I love it. I'm also very pleased to say that Walter's love of exercising isn't shown to the extent it was in the previous book (during a pretty important scene in the first book, Walter randomly started doing push-ups.
Whereas Quasimodo was sweet and kind, Ahab is anything but. He's a man on a mission and is blinded by his revenge. He also doesn't take too kindly to being ordered around by three 14-year olds. That said, his fascination with modern technology (indoor plumbing, computers) is hilarious and I loved the scenes where he's wrecking havoc on message boards on a whaling website.
We also see more of Cato Grubbs, the mad scientist who previously owned the house/bookshop before suddenly disappearing. In Saving Moby Dick we discover a bit more about him and his relationship to the twins.
The only drawback to this book (and this series as a whole) is the narrator. Bartholomew Inkster works in the English Department of Kingscross University and while I enjoy him 90% of the time, his constant need to define words can be a bit grating. This series is targeted toward the 9-12 crowd. I highly doubt they need words like ingest, clear-cut, or fumble explained.
"Curse that foul tome!" he roared. "I curse the day it was ever written, this Herman Melville reaching down into my soul and displaying it for all the world to see."
Saving Moby Dick is a wonderful display of what a sequel should be. It's issues have all been ironed over and since the world-building and magical rules have already been introduced in the first book, the story can finally get down to business. Short chapters and a quick pace make this book a breeze. Also, one of the characters is a bounty-hunter-turned-hippie-priest. How could you pass that up??(less)
I love my cozies. There's something so fun about curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and discovering the identity of the murderer. I was ecstatic about receiving a copy of Hiding Gladys the first in a new series, and couldn't wait to jump in.
Cleo Cooper is a geologist. Super cool. She discovered a bed of granite on Gladys Walton's property and its excavation will make both women fabulously rich. Unfortunately for Cleo, a dead body is discovered and maybe that rattlesnake didn't find its way into her Jeep on its own. Add in two horrible spoiled still-living-at-home children, an ex-husband (who doesn't want to be entirely out of the picture), and a promising new relationship and you've got the makings of a great story.
The characters in Hiding Gladys were great. Robert Earle and Shirley, Gladys's adult children are absolute monsters. They grew up never having to lift a finger and expect things to remain that way. Naturally the giant check their mother is about to receive has them drooling. Nash is a fellow geologist and although Cleo had been on a date or two with him in the past, nothing more developed. That's not to say they wouldn't love to give things another shot, however. Cleo's ex-husband Bud hasn't yet grasped the idea of the ex part and still insists on coming around to her house. Unfortunately, Cleo's own children, Henri and Will, were a bit lacking. I couldn't get a good feel for the two apart from a few basic points the book told me.
As for the story, it was fun! It dragged a bit at times, but once the action started I was hooked. Looking back, I should have realized who the bad guy was, but while reading, I was totally absorbed and thought for sure it was someone else.
While I enjoyed Hiding Gladys, I have to say I had a hard time relating to the characters. Cleo's 23-year old daughter owns a boat. How someone younger than me could afford their own boat - and it was a fairly large one, not some dinky canoe - is beyond me. Also, my eyes nearly jumped out of their sockets when Cleo went to the bank for a $4 million loan. Who knew becoming a geologist could be so lucrative.
Apart from a few minor issues, I did enjoy Hiding Gladys, though I'm still debating whether or not to continue with the series.(less)
I'm not a particularly fast reader. I tend to average around a book a week, although if I'm really enjoying a book I can finish it in a few days.
This book? I read it in one sitting. Reading an entire book in a matter of hours is virtually unheard of for me, guys. The last time I read a book straight through was for a book tour and even then it was a struggle (and resulted in a LOT of skimming). Not so with Spark. I hung on to every word and loved every minute.
Spark picks up where Storm left off, only this time around, Becca & Chris are pretty much out of the picture. Especially Becca. (Confession: I totally didn't mind.) Instead, this book is Gabriel's story and his feeling of guilt over Nick's injuries.
While reading it became apparent to me that this is not a series where the reader can jump in at any book. Spark assumes you have already read Storm and therefore Know What's Up. Even when Gabriel is telling Layne about his fire ability it's all done off-screen. So a brief recap of the story for newbies to this series: in this world there are Elementals, people who can control certain elements. The Merrick brothers (Michael, Gabriel, Nick, and Chris) are able to control earth, fire, air, and water respectively. There are rare individuals who are able to control all of them and Becca (Storm's main character & now Chris's girlfriend) as well as Hunter (Storm's other love interest) are such individuals. A war has been raging for years with the Elementals, resulting in multiple deaths, including the Merrick brothers' parents and Hunter's father and uncle.
Even though I tore through Spark, it had the feel of a side story. In the very beginning the group meets up with Becca's father - a Guide - and they hatch out a plan to lie low for a while. After this scene, the plan is rarely brought up and the whole point of Storm isn't addressed again. Naturally this was a bit of an annoyance, but I was enjoying the book so much I let it slide.
Spark introduces a new character and right off the bat I really liked her. Layne is a super-smart girl who dresses pretty drab and keeps to herself. I was hoping this wasn't going to turn into a makeover story and I was very pleased that it wasn't (although there was a makeover scene featured..) The chemistry between Layne and Gabriel was fantastic and I adore everything about them. They're both hiding secrets and are longing for someone to simply be there. :) They were great and I'm hoping to see more of them in the next book.
The party scene felt a little too repetitive for my tastes (the same thing happened in Storm, right down to the assault) and I easily figured out who was the real culprit of the string of arson the minute the character showed up. Despite these issues, I lovedSpark! Much like I mentioned in my review of Storm, the chapters are extremely short and the pace doesn't let up for a second. Part of the reason I read the book in one go was because I couldn't find a good stopping point!
I'm so glad I put my initial reservations aside and started this series. If you haven't read these books yet, I urge you to do so. You will not be disappointed!
Parallel Visions is short. Real short. As in barely-past-short-story. I received an e-copy and it was a mere 60 pages.
Judging from the countless glowing reviews on goodreads, I seem to be in minority with this one, guys. I wanted to like it, but I have multiple issues with the story.
Taking place over the course of three days, Parallel Visions tells the tale of Kate, a teenage girl whose asthma attacks bring on terrible psychic visions. Two startling episodes reveal a classmate's suicide and her sister's abuse and with no one else able to witness her visions, it's up to Kate to save both girls.
Parallel Visions tried to do so much in such a short amount of time. We have a budding romance, deadly asthma attacks, hospital visits, an estranged sister and her abusive husband, a rape victim, bullying, depression and suicide, sexual identity, I could go on. Even with a full-length novel this would be considered overkill.
The story opens with Kate having an attack during gym. When gorgeous Gil rushes off to grab her inhaler, Kate has a vision: a girl who resembles Gil plans to kill herself by swallowing a handful of pills. Kate focuses her concentration and realizes this vision is still three days away. As Gil walks her to the nurse, Kate asks if he knows of a depressed girl and then tells him about the vision. Upon hearing of his sister's future attempt at suicide, Gil says "Crap. That's only three days from now." No shock or mad dash out of school and to his sister.
Kate also has multiple visions of her sister Jenna and sees her suffer through beating after beating. When she tries to ask Jenna about it, Jenna simply shrugs it off and her parents don't believe Kate actually has visions.
I can see a heartfelt message if I squint a bit: there's help out there for LGBT teens and abuse victims. However, the writing and pacing are so haphazard it's hard to make sense of anything.
In the end, everyone is happy, loving life and everyone around them. Gil's sister no longer wishes to harm herself and Jenna leaves Mason. Gil and Kate are in love and it's happy ever after for everyone involved. After extremely traumatic bouts of depression/beatings/asthma, the ending was presented so nicely I had a hard time believing it.
Unfortunately, this was not the book for me.(less)
There's no crime in copying a painting - obviously, as this is how I make the money I dutifully report to the IRS every April - the criminal part doesn't come until a copy is put up for sale as the original. Ergo, the seller, not the painter, is the crook.
A few years ago Claire Roth had been blacklisted by the art world. Once an up-and-coming artist with the very real opportunity of having her own show, she's now living in her tiny studio and making ends meet by selling copies of famous works for Reproductions.com.
One day she receives a visit from Aiden Markel, renowned art dealer and owner of the famous Markel G gallery. The two hadn't spoken in years - not since her plummet from grace. Markel offers her the chance of a lifetime: paint a copy of one of Degas' works that had been stolen in the 1990 heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Have her copy authenticated and not only will she receive a nice wad of cash, but Markel will also give her the show she's been dreaming of.
I'll be the first to admit I know virtually nothing about the art world - I can rattle off names like Michelangelo, Monet, The Scream, but when it comes down to it, I'm clueless. This book takes the very real theft (in 1990, over ten works of art were stolen and to this day, the pieces haven't been recovered and even with the $5 million reward, no one has stepped forward with any information) and uses it as the backbone of the story.
Claire had always been a Degas fan and when she was little her mother would take her to the museum and she would spent hours in front of After the Bath, staring at it, drawing it, marveling over it. Obviously she hadn't seen it since 1990 when it was stolen, so when Markel mails it to her door, she's more than a little shocked. Naturally she battles with herself over what to do. Markel assures her that after they sell her copy he'll give the original back to the museum where it belong. In the end, and multiple reassurances that she's doing nothing illegal, Claire agrees.
"We can only talk about the bad forgeries, the once that have been detected. The good onces are still hanging on museum walls."
Interspersed with the main story are two side-plots. One is Isabella Gardner's, told only through letters to her niece. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, so this story I really enjoyed. Isabella tells about her introduction to Degas, which eventually turn into lunches with Degas, trips to Degas' house, visits to the racetrack with Degas, and ultimately Degas' request that she pose for a painting. Not just any painting, but one in his Bath series.
The other story is one I also really enjoyed and would have loved to have seen a little more of: Claire's backstory and What Really Happened. When Claire was in grad school she was involved in a relationship with one of her professors. He left his wife for her and, for a while at least, they were happy. Every so often, however, Isaac would go into terrible bouts of depression. Unfortunately, one of these episodes happened to coincide with a deadline and he had neither the motivation or the inspiration to paint. Claire stepped it and painted 4D. Neither of them expected it to receive the attention it did. Isaac's career skyrocketed - there were trips to the Today show, shows in galleries, MoMA was even interested in 4D becoming part of their permanent collection. Everyone wanted to know more about Isaac Cullion.
At first Claire was thrilled for Isaac. After he broke up with her and returned to his wife, however, she decided the truth needed to be known. She was 4D's painter, not Isaac. Her accusation rocked the art world and split it in two, leaving only a tiny handful of people who believed Claire. It only gets worse when Claire discovers Isaac took his own life.
The main bulk of The Art Forger is equally fascinating! Claire eventually discovers the 'original' she had been copying from is itself a copy. Things swiftly move from bad to worse once the painting is sold - and discovered during an airport security check. The police and FBI step in and the trail leads back to Markel and Claire.
The only way to free themselves is to find out just what happened to Degas' original and time is quickly running out.
A writer friend once told me that when she walks into a library anywhere in the world, the smell makes her feel instantly at home.
Guys, seriously, The Art Forger is phenomenal. What's even more mind-blowing is that the author is not an artist! WHAT. Shapiro wasn't messing around when it came to her research.
Despite The Art Forger being a novel, this book isn't an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat nail biter. Even still, I devoured this book in just two sittings; it's that good.(less)
"So, Megan. The first thing you should know about me..."
"I don't want a divorce."
Megan Scott had her life figured out: she had her job, her apartment, and a potential sperm donor lined up after a horrible break-up made her swear off men for good. Unfortunately, life doesn't always go according to plan and after a particularly disastrous night in Vegas with her fellow bridesmaids, Megan finds herself waking up next to a stranger who claims to be her husband.
Harlequin recently announced their new Harlequin KISS line dedicated to fun contemporary stories. I suppose this is a year of firsts for me guys: I just recently read my first Goosebumps book and now I can say I've read a Harlequin.
It's no secret I work in a bookstore. I'm no stranger to series romances and ladies love their Harlequins. To be honest, I never gave much though to Harlequins other than to giggle at their ridiculous Mad-Libs-esque titles.
HOWEVER. There's always a however, isn't there? I've been craving a light-hearted romance, something to make me laugh and escape the dreary, oh-so-snowy Pittsburgh weather. A few bloggers have been discussing the new Harlequin KISS line, Waking Up Married was free to download, and I had a day off. Perfect combination!
Waking Up Married starts off great. There's no long, drawn-out beginning here. From the very first page you know all the details. At least, what Megan can remember (which is pretty much nothing). Instead Conner is left to provide the details and convince Megan to give this marriage a shot.
Now I can totally suspend my belief in favor of a fun story. But Connor's instant - and fierce - determination to stay married didn't sit well with me. If he was toned down a lot I wouldn't mind him, but he's VERY Christian Grey with his stalking (shows up on Megan's doorstep in Denver AHEAD OF the moving van coming from San Francisco), insistence on what/how much she eats, there's even a contract! No thank you.
Naturally Megan immediately wants to call up a lawyer and find some way out of this mess. Conner realized that after just a few hours, she was his perfect match - he even calls their marriage a 'partnership' - and insists they enter into a two-month trial. Megan will move into his giant mansion and Conner will spend the next few months trying to convince his wife they shouldn't divorce.
The secondary characters could have been cut and the story would have remained the same, that's how little of a role they played. The bride/bridesmaids are Mean and Spiteful. Conner's best friend (I can't even remember his name now! Something with a J I think) is There For Him. Of course Ex-Girlfriend shows up at a dinner party.
When all is said and done, I took Waking Up Married for what it was: a super-short contemporary romance. I knew exactly what I was getting into and for that I couldn't fault it too much. It kept me entertained - despite a few eye-rolls - and I'm genuinely interested in seeing what else Harlequin KISS has to offer.(less)
When I was little the doctors called me a hermaphrodite. It's got a lot of stigma, but as a word on its own I like it better. It's a thing. It's not between things. It's an ancient Greek word. It makes me sound old, like we were always around. I like that.
The Walkers are a perfect family. Steve and Karen are both highly successful in their fields, 15-year old Max is a straight-A student who would never dream of talking back to his parents or getting into fights, and 10-year old Daniel is perfect in that he isn't perfect. On the outside, the Walkers have it all; they're media darlings and everyone in town knows their names. Behind closed doors, however, the Walkers are hiding a secret.
Max Walker is the star of the football team. All the girls flock to him and he's just a few tests away from the top schools. No one would assume Max is anything other than a normal teenage boy. Sure he's a bit smaller than the other boys in his class, but his two best friends only just recently started shaving, and football has done wonders for Max's muscles. He goes on dates with girls and leads a normal life.
Max's secret never bothered him; it was who he was. After one of his closest friends does the unthinkable, however, Max suddenly becomes well aware of just how different he is. Max isn't like the other boys - Max is intersex. He has both male and female organs. Until now, he's managed to keep it hidden from the world; his dates with girls never went farther than kissing and while it's not what Max wants, it's worked so far. He's earned a reputation at school as being a Love-Them-And-Leave-Them type and he does nothing to refute the claims.
With Hunter's betrayal, Max is left in a whirlwind of questions, confusion, and anger. His father's recent campaign announcement only adds to his distress. The Walkers are supposed to be the perfect family; how could they possibly explain their son's pregnancy?
You hear about things going wrong during a birth, but when you're pregnant and in labor, you never think it will happen to you. No one thinks theirs will be the baby with the problem. And then it was my baby, and it made me worry all the more acutely for the rest of his life, because I had been right to worry at the birth, because when it had been time to give birth, to do the most important thing I could do for Max, something had gone wrong.
Oh, wow. WOW. Guys, I was so not prepared for Golden Boy. I'm always up for a good - and tough! - read, but I wasn't expecting this. That's definitely not a bad thing though; the author tackled an extremely sensitive subject and I thought she did a fantastic job. Also: SHE'S ONLY A YEAR OLDER THAN ME WHAT.
I don't get squeamish while reading and I rarely cringe at descriptions, so be warned: within the first few pages there is a VERY graphic rape scene. That alone could be enough to turn away many readers. Other triggers of note: attempted suicide, drug abuse, and abortions. So, yes, decidedly not a sunny day, sitting-on-the-porch kind of read. Despite this, however, I found myself absolutely captivated.
Hunter's betrayal was one I had not seen coming. I took the summary to mean he leaked information to the media, not that he would rape Max and get him pregnant! Max and Hunter grew up together, their parents were best friends. The boys considered themselves cousins in a way. For Hunter to do such a horrible thing to Max was appalling. He took advantage of Max and his trust and left Max a shell of a boy. This happens very early on in Golden Boy and the novel is spent with Max - and his family - dealing with the repercussions.
Golden Boy alternates between a number of perspectives. We see the events through the eyes of Max, his parents, his brother, his doctor, and his girlfriend. Each one had a distinct voice and felt authentic. Max is understandably terrified and ashamed, his brother is worried and angry. Sylvie doesn't know why Max's moods have changed so abruptly or why he's avoiding her. Karen blames herself for her son's 'illness' and tries to make it go away. Every character felt raw and open and real.
Golden Boy is definitely not a book for everyone, but I greatly enjoyed it. It was tough and thought-provoking and powerful. I have a feeling both the characters and issues the story raised will stick with me for months to come. If you're looking to step outside your comfort zone, Golden Boy is worth a read.(less)
Wren Gray has always been the classic Good Girl. She's followed her parents orders, studied hard, and swore off boys that would distract her from her schoolwork. An early acceptance letter to Emory was part of her parents' plan. What her parents don't know, however, is that Wren is hiding a secret: she withdrew her acceptance to college and made plans to do volunteer work in Guatemala.
Charlie Parker has had a string of foster families. His current family - foster parents Chris and Pamela and younger brother Dev - are perfect and accept him as their own, yet his past won't let him belong. His memories haunt him still, but with high school coming to an end, Charlie wants to make a change.
The Infinite Moment of Us is my first Myracle novel and I expected great things. The first half of the book was flawless. The second half however...that's a different story.
Wren and Charlie come from two very different backgrounds: Charlie is the poor foster kid whose family is struggling to make ends meet while Wren is the Perfect Child every parents wants. Wren comes to the realization that she's been living her life for her parents and wants to break away, become a new person in a new country. When Wren and Charlie first meet - though meet isn't exactly the right word; they had gone to school together and Charlie had a bit of a crush on Wren - it's sweet albeit a little too fast for my taste. Not instalove though.
Things aren't sunshine and rainbows for the couple - Charlie's sort-of ex is wildly possessive (even though they're no longer together) and sends him a barrage of texts and calls whenever Charlie's with Wren. She even goes so far as to call him with an 'emergency' in an attempt to get him away from Wren. Naturally Wren begins to doubt his feelings - why would he say he loves her, yet run off to be with another girl? There were even times when Charlie lied about getting calls from Starrla. He'd say they were calls from his family (Dev is handicapped and it's not uncommon for the family to make impromptu trips to the hospital). While Charlie is no longer in love or even infatuated with Starrla, his constant visits to her apartment bothered me. He justifies his action by claiming they're both broken and they know each other and their problems. No. Sorry, Charlie, you didn't win any points from me with that one.
A large part of this book focuses on sex and I'm all about sex-positive YA/NA. That said, a comment from Wren completely shocked me and it was at this point the book began heading downhill:
"I don't want my first time to be with a condom unless we have to."
Oh, Wren. Seriously?
The Infinite Moment of Us has an ending that's overly sappy and insanely selfish on Wren's part. To recap, Wren and Charlie began chatting their last day of school. So, what, June? They've been dating two months at this point. Wren is still determined to head to Guatemala and she's upset that Charlie won't come with her. She feels he spends too much time with his family and that he chooses them over her. She does acknowledge how selfish she's being, which is good, but she refuses to answer his calls and texts. The ending caught me off guard - and not in a good way. I had hoped for a different sendoff and the book let me down.
Despite its flaws, The Infinite Moment of Us was an enjoyable, entertaining read. The secondary characters absolutely shine and the dual narrative makes me so giddy. Whether you're a fan of Myracle or are looking for a quick beach read, The Infinite Moment of Us is sure to please.(less)
When you think about it, I'm like my 45. Liz is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side - not played as often, but the song's just as good.
Like I mentioned in my review of The Waiting Sky, I really shy away from Novels With Issues. Whereas with other genres I can pick up a sci-fi book or a mystery whenever I feel like it. That's SO not the case with books dealing with heavy topics. I need to be in a certain mood for those, but Beautiful Music for Ugly Children caught my eye and, like The Waiting Sky, I'm so glad it did. You know, I'm two-for-two now, so perhaps issue novels aren't something I should be so weary about.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children centers on Gabe Williams, a soon-to-be-graduate and, quite frankly, he couldn't be more eager to get out of there. Just a few months ago Gabe told his BFF Paige the secret he'd been hiding his entire life: he never felt like he was Elizabeth Mary Williams. He wants to undergo the transition to become the man he always felt he was. Unfortunately, when he came out to his family, he didn't have the same acceptance and support than he received from Paige. Since then, his brother has barely said a word (despite the two being close prior to his announcement) and his parents refuse to look his way - and insist on referring to him as Liz.
What's life without loud music in your car?
The only thing that gets Gabe through the week is the thought of his radio show, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. When he was 10 a new neighbor moved in next door and John quickly became a grandfather figure for Gabe. Gabe had always prided himself on being a self-professed music nerd, but John has taken it a step further. Their Friday Night Fights (topics include Johnny Rotten vs. Sid Vicious, for example) aren't uncommon and the two can spend all day going through John's 6,000+ LP collection.
John was a legendary DJ and the first to interview Elvis. He's secured Gabe a spot on the local community station and it's in those early hours of the morning that Gabe shines. For his first few shows he wasn't sure whether to introduce himself as Gabe or Liz - especially knowing numerous classmates are listeners. Ultimately he decides not to hide anymore and Gabe makes his public debut.
Got it, world? I'm a guy. A scared guy, though I try not to show it, and a guy with a long freaking road ahead of him. But, still. Just a guy.
I could seriously go on and on about this book. I loved Gabe and John and music played such a huge part in this book. I loved that Gabe doesn't scoff as "mainstream" music and plays Flo Rida and Prince right alongside 50s classics. Also, the chapter titles are so awesome and all involve Elvis: T-Pain is the new Elvis because he's on a boat, motherbeepers, and Elvis probably wanted a boat too, Rush Limbaugh can't be the new Elvis; he's too mean, Conan O'Brien is the new Elvis and he has the hair to prove it, etc.
One thing I wished would have been done differently in this novel is the romance. Not one, not two, but three girls are suddenly involved with Gabe and I just wasn't feeling it. My pick for him didn't work out, and one of the girls came out of nowhere. I couldn't understand why she was suddenly showing interest when she hadn't said a word to him before.
Another fault this book had was the ending. It was very After School Special in that everything wrapped up nicely and everything was resolved and the world was a happy, sunshiney place. There were also things that seemed huge to the story, yet were never mentioned again.
So despite its faults, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a wonderful, beautifully-written book that will stick with me long after I move on to other books.(less)
On a beautiful day in June, in front of literally half the town, wearing a wedding dress that made her look like Cinderella and holding a bouquet of perfect pink roses, Faith Elizabeth Holland was left at the alter.
With that first opening paragraph, The Best Man hits the ground running. Faith Holland, baby - and therefore, princess - of the famed Holland family (not only was the family one of the founders, but they also run an extremely successful winery) had the ultimate dream wedding. She first met Jeremy in high school when he carried her to the nurse's office after she suffered a seizure. For the next eight years it was as close to a fairy tale relationship as you can get. Gorgeous, football-superstar (he was even recruited by the NFL) Jeremy and sweet, kind Faith. No one was surprised when Jeremy proposed and nearly the entire town turned up for the wedding.
Jeremy would have gone through with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids his best friend Levi. Levi Cooper was a good football player in high school, but he grew up in the trailer park and it wasn't until Jeremy came around that Levi had a real friend. Jeremy's parents never treated him any differently and Jeremy always had a great time whenever he stopped by Levi's for dinner.
After graduation Jeremy and Faith both left for separate colleges but still maintained a long distance relationship and Levi headed for Afghanistan. He came back a decorated war hero and Jeremy announced he was getting married and wanted Levi to be his best man. Finally, at the alter, Levi managed to convince Jeremy to tell Faith the secret he had been hiding from everyone - including himself! - for years: he was gay.
Three years ago Faith found herself sitting in an airport in her wedding dress, heartbroken and determined to still take that honeymoon, albeit solo: she flew to San Francisco and started up a fairly successful landscape design business. Now, at the behest of her family, Faith is back in her hometown and not quite ready to deal with her past.
That's how it went, right? Love came when you weren't looking, except in the case of the millions who'd found mates on Match.com, but, hey. It sounded good.
Sometimes you just want to throw on a big hoodie and pj pants and read some chick-lit. I was SO in the mood for one recently and decided to give Kristan Higgins a shot; customers adore her books, so she must be doing something right. I received a copy of her latest, The Best Man, and dove right in.
Guys, apart from a few bumps, this book was so. much. fun. Faith comes back to town and tries to avoid Jeremy for a few days. Ultimately, however, they decide to get together for dinner and finally sort out their feelings. Jeremy turned down the chance to go pro and instead opted to stay in town where he launched his own practice. As the town doctor - and a gorgeous one at that - business is booming. I loved how Jeremy and Faith truly cared for one another, even after what they went through. They're able to maintain a wonderful friendship - though at times, it seems as though Jeremy had more screentime than Levi.
Levi was awesome. I loved him. He and Faith go way back and there's definitely a history between the pair (including a forbidden kiss their senior year). However, she was also Princess Super-Cute, going out of her way to be polite and change the world and, quite frankly, Levi couldn't stand it. Not to mention she was Jeremy's girlfriend. Now that she's back in town, old memories have resurfaced and Levi is starting to look past the Princess Super-Cute surface.
The characters shine in The Best Man. Higgins is such a skilled author when it comes to fleshing out her characters and each one felt like a real person, someone I could easily picture meeting. Naturally, a few were totally over-the-top (Mr. Blind-Date-From-Hell and Lorena, the gold-digger trying to worm her way into Faith's dad's heart), but everyone was so fun and fantastic.
Be warned though. There were a few scenes I definitely did NOT enjoy, such as the 'she-male' (yes, that word was used in the novel) scene. Certain attitudes rub me the wrong way, and the way this character was portrayed - as little more than a comedic tool - put me off. However, over all, The Best Man was a quick, delightful read and perhaps I'm being overly emotional, but I cried more than once while reading. (And, a quick note: Faith is described more than one as not being a tiny, petite woman. The woman on the cover is so not how I pictured her.)
The Best Man was my first Kristan Higgins's book and I can assure you, it will not be the last! This one is the first in a new series and I'm beyond excited for the sequel!(less)
Before I started reading A Greyhound of a Girl, I had assumed it would be your average coming-of-age tale - and in many cases it is. What I wasn't expecting, however, was the supernatural element. Ha, and I really have no idea what that is; I suppose I wasn't paying attention when reading the summary?
A Greyhound of a Girl is the story of four women: Tansey (short for Anastasia), who died when she was just 25; Emer, Tansey's 80-year old daughter who was just three when Tansey passed away; Scarlett, Emer's daughter; and Mary, Scarlett's 12-year old daughter. Although Mary is the central character, the other three play equally vital roles and reading about each one - particularly Emer and Tansey - was a joy.
Mary's very best friend Ava just moved out of their neighbor and into another part of Dublin. Understandably, Mary is distraught until an odd woman suddenly 'moves in.' She looks young, but gives off the impression she's much older. Her speech and dress certainly give Mary pause, though she finds it comforting. After a few meetings, Mary discovers this is her grandmother's mother. A real ghost has come to visit.
Although Tansey never left her daughter's side, it is only now she feels the need to make her presence known. She knows her daughter's time is nearly up and wants to help her through. The moments with Tansey and Emer were absolutely lovely. In fact, the entire books could have been solely about them and I would have loved it!
A Greyhound of a Girl executes the multiple narrative flawlessly. I'm actually one of the oddballs who enjoys multi POVs. Unfortunately, not all authors handle this well, but Mr. Doyle did a superb job. Not only were there dual narratives, but these women lived during different eras. Definitely my favorite aspect of this book.
Where the novel lost points was in the characters' speech. I lost track of the number of times Mary said 'like.' Sometimes she said it more than once in a sentence! Also, 'so' and 'grand.' Scarlett quickly became my least favorite character and it was her manner of speaking that sealed the deal. Nearly every sentence ended with an exclamation point. There were a few instances where Mary pointed this out, and the dialogue looked like:
"What happened to the !!!s?" said Mary. "What?" "The !!!s" said Mary.
"Even your whispers end in !!!s" Mary whispered back.
It came to the point where I no longer found it cute or funny.
Overall, A Greyhound of a Girl is a sweet story about mothers and daughters that can easily be read in a single sitting.(less)
I'm a firm believer in the idea that there's no such thing as a Girl book or a Boy book, that boys can read - and enjoy - a romance just as much as a girl can read and enjoy a sports novel. That said, I think Infestation would definitely appeal more to boys, though I enjoyed it immensely.
Andy Greenwood has been through multiple foster homes and the decision is finally made to send him to the Reclamation School for Boys - the other option is a juvenile center. He doesn't expect an easy stay ahead of him, but his reality turns out to be far worse. After a disastrous first encounter with the headmaster, Andy begins to have his suspicions about the inner workings of the school and whether or not law enforcement is turning a blind eye to the headmaster's rulings.
The Arizona heat, hordes of tiny ants scurrying about the building, becoming prime target of the resident bully, and bunking with a boy named Pyro are just the start of Andy's problems. A food fight results in a stay in isolation along with a few other boys: Pyro, Reilly, Shields, Hector, & the bully himself Joey. As if that wasn't bad enough, an earthquake shakes the foundation to its core and unleashes a terror unlike anything the boys had ever seen.
When he first arrived at the school Andy learned it was originally built as a lab of some sort. Unfortunately for the boys, the experimentation hasn't stopped. The earthquake upended massive containers of various chemicals and those tiny little ants aren't so tiny anymore. They suddenly find themselves the only ones left alive - along with a biologist Dr. Gerry. Somehow they'll have to find a way to survive both the deadly heat and the rampaging bugs.
Sometimes I'm in the mood for a fun, easy read. Infestation was just the book I was looking for. To me, this was Goosebumps-lite. A group of boys battling nightmare-ish man-sized bugs? What better way to spend an afternoon!
Readers looking for parents in YA might be a bit discouraged: once the bugs start attacking, there's only one adult left and for the majority of the novel he's unconscious. However, I was able to look past that and enjoy the ride.
Rapid-fire pacing, non-stop action, and VERY cool charts & diagrams will ensure Infestation finds many fans. Also, the epilogue hints at a possible sequel. If so, count me in.(less)
Astrid Krieger has everything: her family is wealthy & powerful beyond belief, she goes to an elite private academy, and she gets whatever she wants whenever she wants it. Unfortunately, her perfect life comes screeching to a halt the day she's expelled. Getting into trouble is nothing new for her - more than once she's spent the afternoon in jail - but this time her family decides they've had it.
It's time Astrid goes to a public school.
Naturally Astrid doesn't think this is a good idea at. all. and isn't shy about voicing her opinions on the matter. She's convinced she was set up, that someone intentionally had her kicked out of Bristol Academy and being stuck in a public school isn't how she planned on seeking her revenge. Now, instead of spending her time surrounded by stinking rich kids, Astrid sits next to Lucy, a constant hair-eater, Noah, a boy who isn't like the others, and Pierre who has been in love with her forever and transferred schools to be with her.
Going into Firecracker, I tried not to make assumptions. David Iserson, a writer for television's New Girl and Saturday Night Live, decided to try his hand at a Young Adult novel. So far, so good. Lots of actors/performers have been seeking to branch out a la Lauren Graham (Someday, Someday, Maybe). Unfortunately, it came to my attention that Mr. Iserson earned a spot on the Authors Behaving Badly list after a flurry of tweets came out attacking a reviewer for her honest review.
That said, I decided to give Firecracker the benefit of the doubt and see what it was all about. Right from the start however, it's clear Astrid is a brat - and that's putting it very lightly. She thinks she's God's gift to mankind and deserves to have everything handed to her. I'm sure we've all read books in the past that feature characters like her, only by the time those books end, said characters have a huge revelation and see the error of their ways. Not so with Astrid. Sure, she might have allowed herself to make a friend and save her sister's wedding, but the way she goes about doing these are so out-of-line. She thinks nothing of crashing someone's car, slamming a piano lid onto her cousin's nose, smashing a Twinkie into a girl's hair. I could go on and on, and sadly, not once does Astrid stop to think that maybe she's in the wrong. Instead she's fully convinced her actions are justified.
For a main character, Astrid's utter lack of character growth was disappointing. She's the same person she was in the beginning of the book with absolutely no redeeming qualities.
The supporting characters were all FAR more interesting. Lucy is a nerdy, unpopular girl who always has her hair in her mouth. She was one of the only nice people to Astrid and truly seemed to want to be her friend. Noah is another new transfer to the school and his absolute lack of interest sets him apart from the others. He was the character I found the most intriguing and once his story was revealed, I liked him even more. I would have loved for more chapters to have been devoted to his character. Pierre - his real name is Lukas but Astrid refuses to remember it - is from the Czech Republic and originally attended Bristol Academy with Astrid. He was hopelessly in love with her back then, writing poetry and singing songs every chance he got, and when she transferred he followed. I never quite understood why he loved her so much; she was absolutely horrible to him, yet he was completely entranced.
As for the plot, it just sort of moseyed along until reaching the end. I honestly wasn't expecting the betrayer to be who it was and I thought Astrid's last act of revenge a bit overkill. In the end, however, Firecracker was entertaining but I can see where readers from both sides of the fence are coming from. If you're looking for a quirky contemporary with redeemable and relatable characters, you should probably look elsewhere. That said, if you're looking for a quick and amusing afternoon read, Firecracker might just be the book you're looking for. (less)
2013 has been an awakening of sorts for me. After a disaster of an introduction to contemporary I had been a bit hesitant to try again and swore the genre off for months. Eventually I gave in and soon discovered some of my new favorite books.
When I heard about Love Overdue it sounded like a book practically written for me: small town librarian, hot pharmacist, the inevitable awkward-yet-hilarious moment when they realize they had a fling eight years ago. I was READY for this one. Unfortunately, Love Overdue left me frustrated more than giggly and irate when I should have been all starry-eyed.
Dorothy Jarrow - DJ - is introduced to her new staff and they're more caricatures than characters and left such a weak impression I forget their names already. There's the Cranky Old Woman who thinks she runs the place because she's been there for years and refuses to relinquish her hold, Overly Bubbly Woman is nearing 30 yet speaks like a 12-year-old, Wounded Soldier can't be healed (until, of course, when he meets a woman, then it's as if PTSD never existed), and James. James was by far the best character and he hardly had any screen-time. He's autistic and prefers to have things run a certain way. DJ's arrival and subsequent upheaval of the library's organization is too much for him to deal with but he has such a shining moment and I loved him.
The other characters in town weren't much better: Scott's mother was terrible. I hated her and was so put off by her actions. She hires DJ in order to set her up with her son. That's it. She had DJ move across the country because she wanted to play match-maker. A year ago she lost her husband and puts on an act. I never understood why she did this - she just lost her husband. It's okay to cry and grieve. There's no need to have the town see you as bright and bubbly and her obsession with purple (she only wears purple clothes, drive a purple Mini Cooper, and painted her HOUSE purple) was downright disturbing. She also spends the majority of the novel planning suicide only to have all thoughts of it magically vanish in one scene.
My other big issue was the Ending That Wasn't. Right from the start the reader knows all about the spring break hook-up - there are scenes interspersed throughout the novel and both DJ and Scott think back on that night quite often. When they first meet DJ instantly knows who he is and over the next few months Scott's totally oblivious. There are moments when DJ reminds him of that girl he once knew, but he never fully puts two and two together until the 'ending.' Eight years ago he bought her a belly chain and she kept it all this time. One night he sees it, the lightbulb goes off in his brain, and The End. There's a pitiful attempt at an epilogue and the book is over.
Extremely sexist dialogue (Scott boasts about how his women roll over and sit at the snap of his fingers), horrible characterization, and a frustrating payoff on a 400+ page romance simply didn't work for me. Judging from other reviews Love Overdue has found plenty of fans, but unfortunately I am not one of them.(less)
Jaycee's life was idyllic. She had a best friend, a boy who liked her, and a nice house in a quiet town. After what is...moreLink goes live on the blog9/17.
Jaycee's life was idyllic. She had a best friend, a boy who liked her, and a nice house in a quiet town. After what is declared a gang-related murder shakes things up, suddenly life isn't so perfect. Jaycee's best friend becomes more and more distant, hanging out with the wrong crowd and piercing nearly every inch of her body. As the two grow further apart, the texts become less frequent. Until the night of Rachel's death. The night where Jaycee chose to spend her time with Skyler instead of answering her phone.
Rachel's death turns the town upside down. Suddenly Rachel's Mexican heritage comes into play - despite the fact that Rachel spent her entire life with these people. Soon the mothers at church are whispering about Rachel and drugs and gangs and Jaycee doesn't know what to believe. She does know one thing though - she and Rachel broke into an old house and Rachel saw something. Something that changed her forever and Jaycee is determined to find out just what went on that night and who is really responsible for her best friend's death.
Okay, calling it right now: Dead Girls Don't Lie is one of my TOP READS OF 2013. It's that good, y'all. It had a distinct Pretty Little Liars vibe that I ADORED and a blindingly fast pace that kept me turning the page.
In order to solve the mystery behind Rachel's death, Jaycee first needs to come to terms with it. Naturally she's hesitant to visit Rachel's mother - especially as part of the clean-up crew the church organized (the drive-by left the porch and Rachel's bedroom in ruin). She's also unsure whether or not she should tell her secret: the night they were in the old house, Rachel left with blood on her hands.
When a video from Rachel gets sent to her phone, Jaycee decides something needs to be done. Under Rachel's instructions she teams up with Eduardo, much to the dismay of Skyler. With Eduardo - and occasionally Skyler - Jaycee pieces together the events leading up to Rachel's death and what she uncovers is shocking.
Dead Girls Don't Lie is one of those books I loved so much I can't fully put into words. Plot twists I genuinely didn't see coming and a constant parental presence were added bonuses to an already fantastic story. If you like smart - and delightfully creepy - mysteries, do yourself a favor and check out Dead Girls Don't Lie.(less)
You don't go through things with people and not love them more for it. It's like those guys in the army who fight in muddy trenches and drag each other out of harm's way and are blood brothers for life because of it all. Only in our case, my mom and I faced eviction notices and power shutoffs together.
Guys, I wasn't at all prepared for The Waiting Sky. I went into it expecting a super fun book about storm chasers with maybe a little issue-story in the background. Instead, The Waiting Sky was like a punch in the gut, an unapologetic view of the self-destruction of an alcoholic and her teenage daughter left to hold it all together.
Let it be known that I am not a fan of issue novels or books dealing with heavy topics (this is most likely the reason why I tend to shy away from contemporaries). However, I ADORED this book and completely devoured it in no time.
I can click my heels together all I want, but there's just no place to go.
Jane lives in Missouri in a tiny apartment with her alcoholic mother. Despite only being in high school, Jane's role is reversed as she is the one who has to step up and get a job in order to scrape enough money together each month to pay to rent and other bills. Unfortunately, her mother has a way of finding Jane's money stash and it's not uncommon for her to come home from school and discover the power or water has been shut off.
SO many times throughout The Waiting Sky I wanted to reach through the pages and comfort Jane. Ever since her older brother left she's only had her mother and that makes it even harder for her to attempt to get her mother the help she needs. Jane gives in and believes every single lie and half-hearted promise from her mother and it broke my heart.
Cat shook her head slowly, her shock beginning to fade. "No, she's not fine. This is not fine. It's not okay. You-you almost killed us. Because you were drunk. You picked us up and you drove the car drunk."
The final straw - at least as far as Jane's best friend Cat is concerned, happens when all three get into a car accident. All because Jane's mother was driving drunk. After that Cat, perfect, rich Cat, writes a checklist of things Jane needs to accomplish in order for the pair to remain friends.
Not long after, Jane finds herself in a van alongside her brother and his group of storm chasers as they drive throughout the midwest tracking tornadoes. As emotionally invested in Jane's home life as I was, I loved this part of the story just as much, if not more.
Jane's brother Ethan is a part of Torbros - Tornado Brothers, a chaser group founded by, wait for it, two brothers. I loved every last member of Torbros and my only complaint is that I didn't get enough. I wanted to get to know them more (especially adorable, nerdy Mason!). While I don't believe The Waiting Sky is the first in a series, I certainly wouldn't mind reading more about these characters. Each one was wonderfully fleshed out and they had their own personalities and traits - not at all like the cardboard cutouts that litter the majority of YA today.
Also tracking the storms are the Twister Blisters, a rival team and one that has been picked up by a television channel. Their whole entourage - complete with camera crew and shiny, black Escalades - travel from town to town, a constant reminder to Torbros of what they could be one day.
Sometimes I think it's easier for me to see things, period, if I have the camera in my hand. It's borderline magical to me, the way a camera can take something that's ugly - a pile of bills on the counter, say - and just by adjusting the tilt, the zoom, turn it into something beautiful.
After a tornado touches down in a town (and a member of Torbros receives some really awful PR) both groups find themselves working together in order to provide aid and a helping hand. Jane finds herself getting closer and closer to the Twister Blisters' young intern, Max. Their relationship was a bit rushed, but I didn't mind it, and it never became overwhelming. Not once did I feel the romance took centerstage while Jane's relationship with her mother and brother was tossed in a corner.
The ending was also a little rushed and everything was wrapped up a bit too nicely, but ultimately I really, really enjoyed The Waiting Sky. (less)
People jog at dawn for a reason. If they wait, their brains will wake up and convince them there are things they'd rather do. Like have oral surgery.
The first book in the series, Royal Street was something I picked up on a whim. I'm a total sucker for pretty covers and, although I'm not a big fan of the genre, paranormal/urban fantasy tends to have SUPER SHINY OH-SO-PRETTY covers.
To my complete surprise, I loved it. Much to my delight I didn't have to wait long at all for the sequel - less than a year! Guys, I'm extremely pleased to announce River Road does NOT suffer from Middle Book Syndrome. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it's even better than its predecessor!
River Road takes place three years after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans in Royal Street. I was a bit surprised by the time lapse (I'm not used to such large gaps between books!), but from the very first page the book is off running.
If you're new to the series, Drusilla Jaco - DJ - is a Green Congress wizard, meaning that while she can do magic, her abilities are limited. Alex Warin, shape-shifter extraordinaire is her ex-enforcer partner and his cousin Jake is a recently-turned loup-garou: the biggest, baddest breed of werewolf. Add in the centuries-old undead pirate Jean Lafitte and you're set. Especially when all three men are unsure of their feelings for DJ (just as she's equally unsure of her own feelings for them).
Jean Lafitte informs DJ of an odd illness afflicting mermaid clans and upon investigating, two bodies of Green Congress wizards are discovered. It's up to DJ and crew to find out what's going on and just who is behind the attacks.
The plaque on the enormous clock claimed it has been hand-carved of mahogany in 1909, about 130 years after the birth of the undead pirate waiting for me upstairs. They were both quite handsome, but the clock was a lot safer.
Needless to say, I love this series. With the first book, I was a little worried about how the author would handle Katrina's aftermath. After reading, I realized I had nothing to worry about: Suzanne Johnson took a painful subject still fresh in mind and approached it delicately and respectfully. River Road is no different: New Orleans is still struggling to regain its footing and Johnson tells it like it is. No sugar-coating here, folks.
River Road introduces a few new species (mers, nymphs) and I loved getting to know them! That said, even though there are plenty of new characters, all the old ones get plenty of screen time, so to speak. I especially enjoyed Jean's scenes (I'm totally Team Lafitte, by the way!) and absolutely cannot wait to see him again!
Having three super-hot, though not exactly human, love interests might seem like overkill, but I loved it. Jean Lafitte, eternal flirt and gentleman, seems to genuinely care for DJ; Jake has made no secret of his feelings, though his inability to control his loup-garou form makes him hesitant; and Alex is definitely changing their "we're-much-better-as-friends" relationship. I loved seeing the interactions with each guy and I actually GASPED at that final paragraph! Oh man. Talk about an ending!
Guys, seriously. If you're looking for a fun, funny urban fantasy, look no further!(less)
Mobile Intel Lifelike Android. MILA. Until a shocking secret changes her life forever, Mila never had any reason to doubt she was anything but a normal 16-year old girl. After her father's death and Mila's subsequent memory loss, Mila and her mother pack up and leave Philly behind for a quiet and unassuming town in Minnesota. Her mother takes care of a ranch and the horses while Mila goes to school, makes friends, and meets boys. Until the accident.
Mila is thrown from the bed of a truck and only has a scrape on her arm to show for it. Unfortunately, that scrape reveals wires and no blood and later Mila's mother confirms her suspicions: she's a military-build android. A weapon. Once her secret is out - and word gets out at school - Mila and her mother find themselves on the run.
MILA 2.0 was enjoyable, but not nearly as exciting as I had anticipated. I wanted edge-of-your-seat non-stop-thrills and instead got Teenage Girl Obsessing Over Boy She Barely Knows. Now we've all dealt with Instalove, but Mila 2.0 takes it a step further: the new boy at school (Hunter) takes to Mila for a matter of minutes one day at lunch and suddenly they're planning a date at the fair. There's not even a kiss; it's an almost-kiss (which Mila constantly refers to throughout the novel). These two hardly know each other, yet Hunter is all Mila thinks about while she's on the run. Even after a HUGE death the only thing that crosses her mind is Hunter's ~lop-sided smile~ I have to admit though, I was pleasantly surprised there was not a love triangle. Yay!
The other problem I had was the cookie-cutter personalities. Kaylee and Parker are Mean Girls, General Holland is Evil, Hunter is the Mysterious New Boy. Even Mila herself couldn't quite escape the stock personality she was given - and no, her blandness was not her android self shining through.
I've been seeing a lot of Team Lucas love and was intrigued. Having read the book I'm left to wonder what I missed. Sure he was an okay character - perhaps my favorite in the book - but I just don't see where all the love comes from. Lucas is an MIT grad working for the military in order to help his brother (?? it's never fully explained). His purpose in Mila 2.0 is to administer Mila's tests. And to have his car stolen. Sorry guys, I'm not seeing where all the love comes from.
On the plus side, I thought the fight scenes were really well done as well as the entire military compound arc. Everything else fell flat and left me wanting more.
Overall Mila 2.0 was an okay read. I found my focus wandering a few times and the lack of excitement was disappointing. However, I seem to be in the minority and from what I hear the book is being turned into a television show. Personally, I think this would work a bit better as a show than it did as a book.
As for whether or not I'll continue the series, I'm still undecided. Mila 2.0 wasn't awful at all, just boring.(less)
Even though this book has all the makings of a paranormal romance novel - hello, living woman from the present and dead man from the 1860s fall in love - it doesn't read like one. In fact, if it weren't for the constant reminders Tristan's dead, Spirit of the Rebellion could easily be hailed as a regular ol' romance novel.
I'll keep this one short and sweet: our two main characters, Shae and Tristan, meet when Shae takes a position translating Civil War documents. She moves back to the United States (she had been living in Norway for the few years prior) and is given temporary residence at the Starling Plantation.
It's no secret Starling is home to multiple spirits. People don't enjoy spending time there and anyone who attempts to settle in has been driven out quite forcefully by a particular spirit. Unfortunately for him, Shae is as stubborn as they come and having papers scattered about her desk isn't nearly enough to scare her off.
As Shae comes to know the spirits (I loved how she introduces them to modern technology - they have movie nights, for example, and 12-year old Timothy is particularly intrigued by Lord of the Rings), she uncovers the truth regarding Tristan's past and the cause of his death. History branded him a traitor and as she translates documents, she discovers what really happened.
I have an extremely large interest in the Civil War and was eager to read this novel. Its faults are few and the writing is gripping. The story moves very quickly and the chapters are all fairly short (around 10-ish pages). Unfortunately for me, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. lol multiples times I fell for the trap of "I'll only read one more chapter!" and, because the chapters are so short, wound up sneaking a couple more in. Before I knew it I was halfway into the book!
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but little girls usually fared much better.
The Secret Keeper is one of those wonderful - and rare - books that latches on tight and stays with you long after you've turned the last page. I'm a relative newbie to Kate Morton; I've only read one other book (The Forgotten Garden) and I've been aching to read more ever since.
Despite its length - nearly 500 pages - The Secret Keeper is a fairly fast-paced novel. Told with dual-narratives (which seems to be a thing with Morton), the book travels through time (2011 and WWII-era England) as a daughter tries to uncover a mystery that has haunted her for fifty years and a mother makes peace with her actions as a young woman.
Fifty years ago, Laurel told a distant patch of stars, my mother killed a man. She called it self-defense, but I saw it. She raised the knife and brought it down and the man fell backwards onto the ground where the grass was worn and the violets were flowering. She knew him, she was frightened, and I've no idea why.
Within the opening chapters a man is murdered and young Laurel - sixteen at the time - witnessed the entire episode. On the day of her brother's 2nd birthday Laurel hid in her treehouse and watched her mother stab a man, ultimately killing him.
Fifty years later, Laurel is a world-renowned actress and, along with her sisters and brother, has returned to Greenacres for her mother's ninetieth birthday. Dorothy's healthy is rapidly declining and Laurel is eager to finally find out who the man was and what he could have possibly done to make her mother react in such a violent manner.
It was strange indeed, to find herself within this place of childhood memories and see her grown-up wrinkled face staring back at her. Like Alice falling through the rabbit hole; or else falling through it again, fifty years on, only to find herself the only thing changed.
Again, The Secret Keeper is told through a dual-narrative (though, technically, I suppose it's more of a dual-era). If you're not a fan of more than one POV, Kate Morton will definitely change your perspective. She's absolutely brilliant when it comes to dual-narratives and executes this technique flawlessly. The only complaint is that, just when you're this close to uncovering a clue, the chapter ends and suddenly you find yourself back in 1940s.
Normally I'm all about spoilers in my reviews. I'm someone who loves spoilers and they naturally come out in my discussions of books. However, The Secret Keeper's final chapters were so shocking and unexpected that I'm determined not to ruin it for anyone. Everything falls so smoothly into place - it all makes sense why Dorothy was the way she was as a child and why the change was so drastic as an adult and her reasoning for killing a man is understandable.
Laurel found him on the Internet, though. Opposite problem there - one couldn't disentangle oneself from that net for all the love and money in England. Henry Jenkins was one of millions of ghosts who lived inside it, milling wraithlike until the right combination of letters was entered and they were briefly resurrected.
Writing multiple POVs isn't Kate Morton's only area of expertise. Countless sentences were so beautifully written I got chills reading them. Whether it was a sentence about trying to track down an author online or a chapter about air raids, Ms. Morton's writing never lets up. I felt myself sitting beside Laurel in her treehouse, I felt the fear coursing through the veins of everyone running for the safety of fallout shelters. Morton's writing will never cease to amaze me.
One of the things I have come to know most surely in my work is that the belief system acquired in childhood is never fully escaped; it may submerge itself for a while, but it always returns in times of need to lay claim to the soul it shaped.
After having read two Kate Morton books now, I'm confident enough to say she's among my favorite writers. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm someone who can recognize a plot twist coming from a mile away. That said, The Secret Keeper's reveal came out of nowhere and it hit me like a truck. I was not expecting it in the slightest, yet it worked. Lesser authors would have failed, but it was an entirely believable situation in Morton's hands.
If you haven't read Kate Morton before, I highly recommend doing so and The Secret Keeper is a wonderful starting point.(less)
Nora was just like any other woman in her late 20s. Okay, so her dissertation was slowly snowballing into an utter disaster and her boyfriend abruptly dumped her to marry another woman - and had the nerve to send Nora an invite! - but apart from that, she led a normal, happy life. That is until a weekend trip found Nora is a much different world, one where magic ruled and faeries were not the sweet little sprites from storybooks.
Unaware she has crossed over to a new land, Nora meets to glamorous and gorgeous Ilissa. Ilissa quickly takes Nora under her wing and soon Nora is attending party after party with breathtakingly beautiful people. Over time, Nora is delighted to discover that she even looks more beautiful. After meeting the charming and devilishly handsome Raclin, Nora finds herself falling for the man. She learns he is Ilissa's son and the two are quickly engaged. There's a part of Nora that knows this is ridiculous, that wants to say no, but she's just so happy.
Nora soon finds out Ilissa, Raclin, and their friends are not who they seem. They're Faitoren - fairy folk - and have used their magic to not only lure Nora in (Prince Raclin needs an heir), but also to glamour their entire landscape. The large house, the land, even the Faitoren themselves are enchanted to look beautiful. A chance meeting with a magician leads to Nora's escape and it's at Aruendiel's estate that she begins to learn about magic and what chance she has of returning home. All the while Ilissa is eager to get her revenge.
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Magic is NOT a lazy weekend read. No, no, no. This is a big, thick book (563 pages) with a pace that's in no hurry to reach its destination. I spent two weeks with this story and by the time I finished I was shocked by how upset I was. Not because of the way the book ended, but that it did end. I came to deeply care for these characters and this world and I simply wasn't ready to leave it behind.
While the book is largely told from Nora's perspective, there is the occasional glimpse into Aruendiel's thoughts and I loved these scenes. No longer did I see him as a stiff old magician. He felt real and by the time he told his story to Nora he was one of my favorite characters. He has a past, people, and it's not at all a pleasant one.
The secondary characters - Mrs. Toristel and Hirizjahkinis especially - were all so expertly drawn that I knew them, whether they were around the entire book or just a few chapters. It also doesn't hurt that throughout the novel there were many references to Jane Austen and poetry.
This is the kind of novel where I don't want to talk about it too much (for fear of saying the wrong thing), but I simply can't stop rambling. Really, it's that good. After finishing, I realized that little details in the beginning made sense; everything came full circle.
The ending might not appeal to many readers - the open-endedness of it forces the reader to reach her own conclusion - but rest assured I'll be highly recommending this one any chance I get. Don't let the length put you off - The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is so worth it. The story was stunning and the world-building was fantastic. Ms. Barker announced on twitter there will be a sequel and let's just say there was much rejoicing on my end. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic exceeded all expectations and you can bet I'll be awaiting the sequel with grabby hands!(less)
On a seemingly ordinary day, a Hello Kitty lunchbox is washed ashore on Ruth's small island in Canada. Inside she discovers old letters and a diary written in Japanese along with a few other mismatched items. At the prompting of her husband Oliver, Ruth begins to translate the diary and soon both husband and wife find themselves deeply invested in the life of a sixteen-year old suicidal Japanese girl.
Nao used to have a good life. Her father was a hotshot programmer and provided a wonderful childhood for Nao in Sunnyvale, California. Unfortunately, when the dot-com bubble burst, Haruki Yasutani was let go and the family moved back to Japan. Because she had been so young when the family took off for America, Nao never fully considered herself Japanese and to say her classmates treated her horribly would be putting it lightly. It started out small: pinches and hurled insults. Things quickly escalated and Nao found herself dealing not only with her fellow students, but also with her teacher. Even when they pretended she wasn't there they were still cruel, going so far as to stage a funeral for her. One particularly heartless attack led to Nao nearly being raped. With each attack videos were posted online and Nao's parents had no idea just how harsh the bullying became.
I don't mind thinking of the world without me because I'm unexceptional, but I hate the idea of the world without old Jiko. She's totally unique and special, like the last Galapagos tortoise or some other ancient animal hobbling around on the scorched earth, who is the only one left of its kind.
She decides her best course of action would be to commit suicide (and get it right, unlike her father's multiple failed attempts), but before she does, she wants to share her great-grandmother's story. Now old Jiko spends her days living the life of any other 104-year old: she's a nun and maintains her temple. However, before she took her vows, she was a novelist, an anarchist, an independent New Woman. She outlived her children and her son's death hit her especially hard. Haruki Yasutani #1 (Nao's father had been named after him and dubbed #2) was a brilliant student studying philosophy and reading French literature while the second World War played out around him. He was eventually drafted and quickly learned he would be a Sky Soldier - a kamikaze pilot with a guarantee to never return home alive. Despite his certain death, Haruki continued with his studies and, as Ruth and Oliver learned through his letters, he remained a gentle, peaceful man to the very end.
"I got confused," she said. "In my mind, she's still sixteen. She'll always be sixteen." Oliver sat down on the edge of the mattress and put his hand on her forehead. "The eternal now," he said. "She wanted to catch it, remember? To pin it down. That was the point." "Of writing?" "Of suicide." "I've always thought of writing as the opposite of suicide," she said. "That writing was about immortality. Defeating death, or at least forestalling it."
As Ruth and Oliver learn more and more about Nao, they begin to care deeply for her and her well-being. They anguish with each new bullying attack, become angry with her parents' blindness. Through it all, the question remains: how did that Hello Kitty lunchbox reach their shore? Oliver's theory is that it's the first in a wave of debris from the 2011 tsunami that is heading toward Canada. In the end, they never find an answer, and I like that. Normally I prefer concrete answers - no open endings for me. But A Tale for the Time Being and Nao's story can only have an open ending. What eventually became of Nao? Did she go through with her plans to commit suicide? Is she still alive? What about her father? It works and I can't imagine any other way for the story to be told (although I'm sure Oliver would kindly remind me of Schrödinger's cat and that, in fact, there are numerous other outcomes).
Print is predictable and impersonal, conveying information in a mechanical transaction with the reader's eye. Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.
I usually finish a book in a day or two. With A Tale for the Time Being I wanted to keep reading, but I also wanted to spend as much time with these characters as possible. I learned so much from old Jiko, I wanted to hug Nao and take her away from the awful children in her school, I wanted to sit down and have a conversation with Haruki Yasutani #1. When I finished the book, I held it close as though by doing so I could hold on to the story inside.
Normally with dual-narratives I tend to favor one narrator over the other. That definitely was not the case with A Tale for the Time Being. I yearned for Nao's chapters just as much as I craved Ruth's and devoured every single one. Just like Ruth and Oliver, I soon found myself emotionally invested in Nao's life and - again, like Ruth and Oliver - can't picture her as anything other than a sixteen-year old girl.
Just a few chapters into the novel I started singing its praises and didn't let up for a moment - especially now that I've finished. A Tale for the Time Being is a book I've already forced upon others and will continue to do so for many, many years to come. Ruth Ozeki created a tale that's absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out (I will never get enough of that cover! Breathtakingly beautiful and velvety soft) and I feel honored to have read it. With one single story, Ms. Ozeki has earned a coveted spot on my extremely tiny Auto-Buy Authors list and rightfully so. A Tale for the Time Being is so much better than I'm able to express and I know it'll stay with me long after I move on to other books.(less)
When I first heard about The Paradox of Vertical Flight I was intrigued: an 18-year old & his 21-year old ex jus...morereview goes live on the blog9/16.
When I first heard about The Paradox of Vertical Flight I was intrigued: an 18-year old & his 21-year old ex just became parents, the baby is named Socrates, and they take off for Grandma's house. That's certainly unlike anything I had ever read before! I allowed curiosity to get the better of me and was horribly let down.
Jack and Jess were a summer fling. Once her college friends came back into the picture, Jack was cast off to the side and it wasn't until she found out she was pregnant that she got back into contact with him. Now the baby has been born and Jess made the decision to give him up for adoption. Initially Jack was on board. Once he saw his son however, his feelings changed and he jumped out a hospital window with his newborn baby.
Whatever. I can totally get with wacky, slightly unrealistic plots. While Jack's extreme irresponsibility made me cringe (leaving his HOURS-OLD son in a sink while he uses a public restroom, for instance!), what ultimately made me put this book down 45% of the way through was the writing:
"Overthrowing the patriarchy is not incompatible with romanticism, Jack."
This gem is taken from a conversation Jack and Socrates have. Socrates the baby, not the Greek philosopher. Also, Socrates is the one who offered up this statement.
Existential angst about the pointlessness of our mundane existences, case in point, the immutability of school schedules.
These are just a few examples of the overly-pretentious writing. At first I thought it was just how the book was written, but after seeing the author's 'review' on goodreads as well as his blog, I've realized it wasn't the book. I also learned the author is only 22. Hopefully he'll cut the crap soon and simply write. He definitely has potential - this novel could have been so much better! - but for now, I have to walk away.(less)
To say Rainbow Rowell is something of a rock star in the literary world would be putting it lightly. Her work has expl...moreLink goes live on the blog9/26!
To say Rainbow Rowell is something of a rock star in the literary world would be putting it lightly. Her work has exploded and I can't recall any new releases in the past few years that have received as much excitement as Rainbow's. Just watching all the buzz is intense and being a part of it is nothing short of magical.
It's a little embarrassing it's taken me two years to (finally!) read her debut, Attachments. I remember when it came out and I waited and waited for it to come in to my bookstore. Sadly it only came in once (ONCE, PEOPLE!) and was immediately snatched by someone who wasn't me. A few weeks ago I decided enough was enough and tracked down a copy at my library.
Attachments takes place in 1999, that frantic year of the Y2K scare when everyone was terrified that computers would have a huge meltdown come 2000 (sidenote: a classmate of mine + his friend cut off power at his house just as the ball was dropping and completely freaked out his parents and family. To this day I still giggle like crazy and wish I had thought of that). Beth and Jennifer work for the local newspaper and are close friends. Lincoln is still living at home with his mother - much to the dismay of his older sister - and works a nightshift doing e-mail security. Office e-mail had only recently been implemented and the word filter isn't foolproof; it's Lincoln's job to double-check any flagged e-mails.
With Beth and Jennifer's e-mails chock full of filter word goodness, Lincoln has a lot of reading material. Initially it was all business, but overtime he develops a fondness for the pair and feels a close connection to them despite never actually having seen either woman. The more he reads the more he realizes he's in love with Beth Fremont. The only problem? He has no idea how to tell her in a way that doesn't make him sound like a massive creep.
A little-known fact about me: I love office settings. LOVE them. If a book takes place in an office there's a good chance I either have already read it or have my eye on it. Douglas Coupland's JPod was my introduction to this awesome niche and I keep returning to this genre anytime I need a feel-good read. I knew from the start I'd be all over Attachments and it didn't let me down!
Told mostly through e-mails, Attachments lays claim to being the only epistolary novel I've read that I've enjoyed. There's simply something about the format that doesn't work for me, though I love it in theory. Here, however, it was fun and engaging. Rainbow's talent shines in her characterization. Even though I only came to know Beth and Jennifer through their e-mails, I felt as though I really knew them. There was never a moment where I felt a disconnect or that they were nothing more than stock personalities. Even the minor characters were all beautifully unique. Rainbow knows what she's doing and she does it well.
The only time my enjoyment faltered was a brief scene where Lincoln's ex-girlfriend came back to town. The two began dating in high school and went to college together. Unfortunately, while there, Lincoln caught her with another man and has been haunted by that moment ever since. Her sudden arrival struck me as unnecessary and confusing, though it was quickly over and done with by the next chapter.
Attachments is the kind of novel I could gush over for hours. Apart from being an epistolary novel I liked, it was also one of the only books to actually keep me awake. It's been far too long since I've ignored sleep for a novel, but I can proudly say Attachments was worth it. It made me heart swell, it made my heart break, and it made me think back - fondly! - on the end of the 90s. Do yourself a favor and read this one.(less)
At first glance, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer might come across as a spin on the Pride and Prejudice and...morethis review will go live on the blog10/11
At first glance, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer might come across as a spin on the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies-esque books that have been fairly popular over the past few years. Upon closer inspection, however, this book is far different - and extremely entertaining!
After Colette's father recently took off, she moved into a tiny apartment with her mother and younger brother. Once used to the best of everything, Colette's wardrobe now largely comes from thrift stores and vintage shops and the only way she's still able to attend her prestigious all-girls school is with a scholarship. For the past year she's been keeping her new life a secret from everyone - including her two best friends. Hannah in particular is the classic definition of a Mean Girl: if she thought for a second Colette could no longer afford expensive shoes she'd do everything she could to make Colette understand she was no longer part of the In Crowd. Or any crowd.
A class trip to France provides Colette with the opportunity of a lifetime: travel, experience new cultures, meet cute Parisian boys, see masterpieces of art and architecture. What Colette doesn't expect, however, is the arrival of a serial killer. A serial killer who might not be entirely human.
Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer completely surprised me! Going into it I assumed it'd be an easy read but ultimately forgettable. Instead I got an incredibly quick story that had me eager for more. Ms. Alender isn't afraid to get down and dirty - and gory. If you're familiar with the way Marie Antoinette died you'll be able to guess how her victims were killed. For those of you who aren't, let's just say it ain't pretty.
I'll admit that for the first half of the book it felt like I was reading two different stories: an American-in-Paris contemporary and a dark historical fiction. Colette was having a grand time traveling abroad and taking in all the sights and sounds Paris has to offer. A ghost was seeking revenge. It wasn't until the two storylines met (with the explanation of Colette's and the victims' families and their ties to the monarchy) that everything came together to feel like one book.
Apart from that, however, I had such a great time with this book! Everything from the romance (no love triangle!) to the action to Colette's character growth and her confrontation with Hannah was entertaining and beautifully well-done. Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is a perfect one-sitting read that has something in it for every reader: romance, murder, mystery. If Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die trilogy is anywhere near as captivating as Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, I have a feeling those books will find permanent residency on my shelves!(less)
You know how, sometimes, you'll read a summary and completely misread it? You'll think the book is totally di...morethis review will go live on the blog9/10
You know how, sometimes, you'll read a summary and completely misread it? You'll think the book is totally different than how it actually is? That's what happened with me and Cherry Money Baby. Somehow I got it in my head that Cherry and Ardelia were switching places, that Cherry would go off and play the celebrity while Ardelia would hunker down as a normal person.
While I can't fault the book for my clear lack of reading comprehension, I have to admit I think it would have been fun to read that story. Instead the story focuses on a small town thrust in the public eye when a production crew rolls in. Cherry Kerrigan is a master burrito-roller and she couldn't care less about some famous people invading her town. She's not the type of girl to follow the lives of celebrities and she's only able to tell them apart from other people by their far more expensive clothing. The day Ardelia stops into Burrito Barn Cherry was simply focused on work. When Ardelia began choking, Cherry started acting on auto-pilot; the rest of the crew - and customers - were too stunned to do anything. One single moment changed both Cherry's and Ardelia's lives in ways they couldn't imagine.
Cherry's life wasn't perfect, but it was hers and she loved it. She lived with her dad and stoner brother in their too-small trailer, her childhood friend-turned-boyfriend lived in the trailer next door, and she had a great bestie. So what if she slacked a little on her schoolwork: Cherry was happy. The incident with Ardelia suddenly made Cherry a national hero. Youtube clips and newspaper articles appeared like magic and everyone at school wanted to talk to her. She was still Tough Chick Cherry, but with the added bonus of being a hero as well - everyone wanted a piece of her.
A surprise visit from Ardelia didn't help matters, nor did the awesome vintage Alfa Romeo Spider Ardelia gifted her. One chat led to another and Cherry began to realize there was more to this movie star; she wasn't just a gorgeous rich girl. Soon Cherry was spending her free time with Ardelia and her movie star friends, leaving Cherry's friends to wonder just what happened to the Take No Crap girl they used to know.
When Ardelia comes to Cherry with a job proposition - along with a check for more money than Cherry's family could ever dream of - Cherry has to decide what she really wants out of life.
So Cherry Money Baby was a little different than I expected, but this time that's not a bad thing! I really enjoyed this book and it went so quickly. Short chapters, a plot that zooms right along, and great characters definitely made reading this one a fun ride. My only issue was that Cherry and Ardelia's friendship happened so fast. I get that Ardelia was grateful - Cherry did save her life after all! - but it seemed that they had just (properly!) introduced themselves before getting busy making plans for hanging out at this club or partying with that person. Over time their friendship began to feel real to me, but that initial stage was a bit jarring.
Also, the ending was a bit too Family Sitcom for me. There were huge, life-changing events and no one really batted an eye or give much thought as to what the future held. I can appreciate a Happily Ever After, but this one was a little too happy for my tastes.
I suppose it's really saying something when the biggest qualms I have with a book are a fast friendship and super happy ending. If you're in the mood for a fun contemporary with believable characters, Cherry Money Baby is the book for you!(less)