Tag Archive | ARC

REVIEW: Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Read: February 2 – 19, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Genre: Humor

Pages: 288

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Complete with painfully wry observations and delightfully caustic wit, this novel is a gritty exploration of what it’s like to feel incomplete in the world. All five fingers up for this bitterly satisfying tale.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Aaron is not a man on a hero’s journey. In the question of fight or flight, he’ll choose flight every time. So when a car accident leaves him suddenly asymmetrical, his left arm amputated, looking on the bright side just isn’t something he’s equipped to do.

Forced to return to his boyhood home to recuperate, Aaron is confronted with an aging father (a former Olympic biathlete turned hoarder), a mother whose chosen to live in a yurt with a fireman twelve years her junior, and a well-meaning sister whose insufferable husband proves love isn’t just blind, but also painfully stupid.

As Aaron tries to make the world around him disappear in a haze of Vicodin and medical marijuana, the only true joy in his life comes from daily ninety-second radio spots of fun science facts: the speed of falling raindrops, batteries made out of starfish, and sexual responses triggered by ringtones – all told in the lush, disembodied voice of commentator Sunny Lee, with whom he falls helplessly, ridiculously, in love. Aaron’s obsession with Sunny only hastens his downward spiral, like pouring accelerant on a fire. Pressured to do something – anything – to move his life forward, he takes the only job he can get. As a “fish counter” at the nearby dam, he concludes that an act of violent sacrifice to liberate the river might be his best, final option.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Some of the books I win from Goodreads get relegated to the DNF pile so quickly they don’t even get reviews. This is not one of those books.

Amp’d by Ken Pisani is a real treat. Take one 40 year old man, recently sans-one arm, force him to move home to live with his dad (who may have a mild hoarding problem) and his pet alligator (who lives in the bathtub) and you’ve got a recipe for hilarity.

I’ll admit, the beginning of this book felt a little too literary for me, but I chuckled a few times so I kept with it. Soon enough I’d completely fallen in love with this story. I had no clue where the plot was going until the very end, but I was eager to read more about what was going to happen to Aaron next. Everything was so over the top and cartoonish it was hard not to love it. There’s a lot of drug humor, and I’m so not a drug humor kind of person, but these characters are just so charming. Besides, it was just medical Marijuana.

Honestly, this is the kind of book I have a hard time reviewing. A lot of things happen. Most of it was funny. Maybe not fall over crying with tears funny, but consistently garnering chuckles funny. I mean, Aaron befriends a little boy with cancer, who he refers to as Cancer Boy in the narrative. He gets a job counting fish. Yes. Counting fish. I refuse to expand upon this, you need to read the book to find out more. He has a friggen alligator living in his house!

That’s not to say the book doesn’t have any heart. There is quite a bit of emotion at the end. I didn’t cry, but the story literally came full circle and left me with a solid sense of closure that I feared I wouldn’t get from a book like this.

I’m glad I read this book. And I know this review is pretty abysmal, but I highly encourage those who enjoy humorous tales to read this as well. Amp’d is a hidden gem.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

 

If this were a book you’d know that the guy you meet on page 1, shattered and mutilated and staring into the abyss, would by the end of the story transcend his terrible circumstances to become a better man. But this isn’t a book, this is just me talking… and I’m not the guy who beats the odds and overcomes adversity; I’m the guy who wakes up in the hospital to find out his arm has been amputated and says, Fuck me.

 

“There’s an alligator in your bathtub.”
“I thought you knew.”
“If I did, I’d forgotten.”

 

“This is why I worry about you, honey. When things are bad, you pour accelerant on them.”

 

That’s how Dad finds us on his return, both picking our noses in his kitchen, his bottle of Fleischmann’s a guilty accomplice.
“Right,” he finally says. “There never was anything to do in this town.”

 

“What are you doing now?”
“Learning Chinese.”
“See? I just learned a sentence: Kway-UR yin-UH chee. Happy baby eat. Or it could be Eat happy baby. Yes, that’s better! The next time I see a happy Chinese baby, I can tell his parents to eat him.”

 

Her glare wilts, no match for my status as object of pity, an awesome power I should probably use for good, not evil, but know I’m going to milk like dairy farmer.

 

“If there was a future in bullshit, Aaron,” she says, “you’d be unstoppable.”

 

“I don’t remember what you wanted to be when you grew up—”
“Pretty sure it was a guy with two arms.”

 

As any hockey player could tell you, it’s harder to score after repeated blows to the head, rendering future offspring unlikely.

REVIEW: Risuko by David Kudler

 

Last night at work I was alone folding laundry and able to finally finish this book!
Seriously you guys, the text to speech function on the Kindle is the greatest invention EVER!
Multitasking at its finest.

I was also able to do a little outlining on my novella due next year. Unfortunately, my Bluetooth keyboard wouldn’t connect to my Kindle so I couldn’t actually write. I’m hoping the keyboard just needed charging. Fingers crossed it works tonight!

Now that wedding season is calming down, there’s a little more down time at work so I actually take breaks. When things are busy, I just don’t take a break at work. At least, not one that lasts longer than it takes to eat something, and even then I’m ready to run to the front desk if someone walks in. I don’t mind though, I love my job.

And now, my review!


Risuko by David Kudler

Series: Seasons of the Sword #1

Read: October 5 – 26, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Risuko.

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this cover art. It’s amazing, right? I’ll admit, I requested this book from NetGalley all those months ago because this cover is amazing. So pretty. Plus there was a little girl called ‘Squirrel’ who is supposed to unite Japan? Sounds awesome!

Unfortunately, I found the story lacking. I couldn’t really connect to the characters on a deep enough level. For example, in the beginning, Risuko is taken from her village after being purchased by Lady Chiyome, and she digs in her heels a little at first, but it really didn’t take much for her to seemingly “get over” being taken from her mother and sister. Sure on the outside she accepts her fate, but I find it hard to believe that a little girl would not even have any internal dialogue resenting Lady Chime or missing her family. She just kind of goes through the motions as if this is all normal.

Now, that isn’t to say that all characters were difficult to understand. The exception is Kee Sun, the Korean cook working for Lady Chiyome. He was fabulous! He has his own nicknames for everyone and just a very vibrant personality.

As far as pacing and plot, it took a really long time to figure out what the plot really was. Things were happening to Risuko, but it was almost like she was a bystander. Her actions were the result of people telling her what to do. It took a long time before her own actions began to drive the plot forward. By the time it ended, I liked where things had gone, but I just didn’t get enough sense of Risuko’s growth as a character. And while I can’t think of any scenes that should have been cut, I just didn’t see most of them really driving the plot forward.

There were some really cool things in this book though. I learned a little about ancient Japan and the Takeda empire. I loved the concept of these women being trained as shrine maidens, but also spies and killers. There was some interesting information about herbs that I enjoyed reading about. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)

Also, the tag line – Can one girl win a war? – is a little misleading. Because really, not much happened in this book. I can see maybe in future books this being a true catch line, but not this one.

So, would I recommend this book?

In the end, I think this book is just written for too young an audience for me. I think it reads more middle grade than YA and tweens and younger teens will probably get more from this story than older teens and adults, like myself. For those interested in ancient Japanese culture, this may be a good intro into the topic/culture. I’d say read the sample online to decide if the book is right for you.



Get the Risuko here:

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QUOTES


“…Some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be
a very special kind of woman. All I want to do is climb.”

 

Kee Sun fussed with the platters, placing a bunch of watercress at the end of each, then he turned to us, gravely, and said, “If any of yeh drops year platter, I’ll skin yeh with the dullest, rustiest knife I’ve got, yeh hear?”

REVIEW: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

 Read: October 2 – 5, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.

Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.

Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

One Was Lost is my second Natalie D. Richard’s novel and will not be my last.

First – look at that cover! That screams thriller. I actually get kind of a Blair Witch vibe from it, which isn’t too far off the mark. The basic premise is a group of kids (and two teachers) lost in the woods with a killer on the loose. They’re drugged, wake to have words written on their arms, and nobody knows who to trust.

The way this book starts, we’re thrown into the story. Sera is on a “Senior Life Experience” camping trip with 4 classmates and two teachers. Early on the group gets separated, leaving Sera with Mr. Walker (a teacher), Emily (a girl with unexplained bruises), Jude (a rich boy with a set of gay dads and a chip on his shoulder), and Lucas (the boy Sera has history with, that she’s been trying to avoid for months). In the other group are Ms. Brightman (another teacher), and Madison and Hayley, who are sort of interchangeable to Sera.

Richards doesn’t info dump like a lot of authors do, spending pages at the beginning explaining backstory and characterization. Instead, we’re thrown in with these kids and slowly get to know them over the course of the novel. Immediately we know how Sera feels about each of her classmates, though we don’t really know the why’s just yet. It isn’t until the end of the book that I really understood all of the characters. By the end I’d also felt like I experienced this ordeal with them, and it was interesting to see how their experiences changed them.

The mystery in this novel is awesome. Just like the kids in the book, I had multiple suspects in mind as I read through. My theories of whodunnit fell on each of the students and teachers in turn, and even at one point went to, “this is all planned by the teachers to mess with the kids.”

I think this story possibly could have benefited from starting a touch sooner, to include the ghost stories told around the campfire that are mentioned throughout the story, but we as the reader didn’t experience. But I really don’t think the story lacked anything not including that scene. It just would have been nice to have more “on camera” time with the other group who Sera is separated from early on.

As with the previous Richards book I read, My Secret To Tell, she shines at characterization. She throws little pieces of the characters back story at the reader, giving them time to absorb before handing over another piece of the story. We know from the beginning that Sera’s mom left, but it isn’t until the end that we know why. We know Sera has a history with Lucas, but we don’t know what that history entails and who was at fault. By the end I completely understood Sera and why she acted the way she did throughout the story, and I appreciated where her character development left her by the last page.

I also give props to Richards for including a diverse cast. Sera is Lebanese. I believe Jude is African American, and Emily may be non-caucasisian as well. The way Richards writes, skin color is not a top priority. The characters are just people, three-dimensional characters. Sera may not be of European descent like me, but I could put myself in her shoes and relate to her.

Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! This is a fast paced, mystery thriller with well-defined characters. I know I’ll be getting my hands on the rest of Natalie D. Richard’s publications.



Get the Truthsong here:

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~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

(RE: Lucas’ height) I have no idea what you have to eat to grow like that. Corn? Eggs? Small children?

 

Whatever script we’re following out in these woods—this is my role… and I’m supposed to die out here.

 

Something snaps in the distance, and I flinch, scanning the darkness. Leaves rustle, and then I hear the scrabble of tiny claws on a trunk.

 

Nothing has ever hurt like the peroxide he pours over my hand. It hits my tender flesh like lava, flashfire painful and leaving a loud throb in its place.

 

…thinks he’s guilty because I kissed him? My desire did this. I followed my heart, and it might kill him.

 

I close my eyes and feel my heart slow even as my stomach rolls. A mourning dove coos softly. Sadly. Rain drips. My hand burns. Nothing is different, and nothing is the same either.

 

I went sixty-two days without looking at him after the first time we kissed, but that was then. And now it is very different.

 

 

 

REVIEW: Silence of the Lamps by Karen Rose Smith

I’ve been slacking in all departments lately.

Blogging, writing, my publishing job, life.

I started a new job at the beginning of September in the hospitality industry and I LOVE it. It’s a part-time job, but these past two weeks I’ve been given full time hours to compensate for just how crazy busy it’s been. No complaints though, who couldn’t use a little extra cash in their bank account, right?

Things have started to slow down a bit now, which means more time to get stuff done. Including reading. When it’s super slow at work and I’m all alone I can fold laundry and listen to my Kindle read to me. That’s how I got through the book I’m reviewing below. Hopefully that means I’ll be posting more reviews more frequently! (I do have 5 other reviews written and ready to post, plus a couple to be written.)

So that’s what’s up with me. What’s up with the rest of you? Leave a comment below, I’ll make time to reply. 🙂


Silence of the Lamps by Karen Rose Smith

Series: A Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery #5

Read: September 12 – October 2, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars

Genre: Cozy Mystery

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Caprice’s house staging is disrupted by Drew Pierson, a caterer who opened Portable Edibles, a business in direct competition with her sister Nikki’s Catered Capers. Nikki turned down Drew as a possible partner and he seems determined to undermine and bury her. However his successful launch of a deal for his blackberry barbecue sauce must have stirred up his enemies.

When Nikki visits the house where Drew lives with his grandmother to resolve differences, she and Caprice find him dead—murdered with the base of a valuable Tiffany lamp.
Caprice discovers clues about Drew’s sly business dealings—from stealing recipes from another chef, to friends who hold grudges, to a sister who will now inherit half of her grandmother’s estate since Drew is dead. In the midst of her own romantic relationship upheaval, helping her uncle set up his pet sitting-business, assisting a friend care for a pregnant stray cat, Caprice follows the suspect trail, inadvertently putting herself in danger once more.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Earlier this year I read my first Cozy Mystery – Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott. I loved it. It was like, murder mystery-lite. A quaint small town and a regular gal trying to solve a murder mystery. After that, I went on a binge entering to win more cozy mysteries from Goodreads, and even requesting this cozy mystery from NetGalley. However, like all books, no two are created equal, and unfortunately for me, Silence of the Lamps did not reach the bar that Kernel of Truth set.

Now, I’m jumping into this series late. This is book 5 in the Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mysteries. Right off the bat, Caprice attends a family event and the reader is bombarded with details of her large family. At first it was a little difficult to keep them all straight, but I caught on quickly enough. It’s possible that the characters were introduced gradually in book 1, so I won’t fault the author/book too much for this because as book 5 it would suck for those who have read since the beginning to have to go through the introductions all over again.

The writing in this book is fine, I can’t complain about that, but the content is where I had issues. This book is so full of mindless filler I actually had to put the book down a few times and read something else. I was just bored. If you’re not an animal lover, you’ll hate this book. Caprice is absolutely obsessed with animals, which is all fine and well, but she’s to the point where she constantly has people “babysit” her dog. Every chapter. It’s fine that she does this, but as the reader, do I really need to constantly hear about it? And don’t even get me started on her outfits. I got it after the second clothing description, Caprice has her own sense of style, she only wears vintage, that’s cool and all, but after half a dozen times I’m ready to throw my Kindle at the wall. I really don’t need a head to toe description of every pair of bell bottoms the woman owns.

Onto the murder—there were so many possible suspects that by the end, when the killer was revealed, I had already forgotten who that person was. I still can’t recall the interaction with the killer prior to the ending.

I did like the ending though. It was dangerous and suspenseful. I really feel that with a lot of the unnecessary filler cut out (especially about Caprice’s family, pets, and her damn wardrobe descriptions!!!) this book would have been stronger. I thought I was reading a mystery surrounding a home stager, but that ended up being an aside to pet side plots.

So, would I recommend this book? Probably not unless you really love animals and want to read more about them than murder.

I would consider reading the first in this series to see how it compares, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim.



Get the Silence of the Lamps here:

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REVIEW: The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

Read: June 9-13, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: New Adult – Modern Pride & Prejudice

 

I received an ARC of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

When I saw this book up for grabs on Penguin First Reads, I had to have it. Pretty girl in a dress? Debutantes? Yes and YES!

And then I received the book and started reading. Wait a minute…. She’s in college? Wait… How could her parents FORCE her to do this whole debutante thing if she’s a legal adult no longer living under their roof? I was confused.

Early on there is a legitimate reason for Megan going along with her mothers desire for her to make her debut among Texas society, but it still felt like sort of a stretch.

As I read in another review on Goodreads, the targeted audience for this book is confusing. It’s listed as a young adult novel, but it deals with a lot of adult themes that I don’t think most high school kids would identify with. There’s also a lot of sex talk, nothing too graphic, but also really not something all that appropriate for teen books. (Yes, I believe in clean teen reads! I don’t like casual sex in books at all, especially teen books!)

Anyway, once I was able to get past the whole NOT REALLY A TEEN BOOK thing, I started to enjoyed the book. It’s not one that’s going to stay with me forever, but I certainly enjoyed looking for the parallels between this book and Pride & Prejudice. I thought the chapter headings were the best part of the book, witty little one liners such as, “In Which Megan Takes a Long Look in the Mirror” and, “In Which Megan Puts Away Serious Groceries.”

I did appreciate that Megan, who was incredibly prejudiced in the beginning, looking down on the debutante society and all they stand for, was able to gain a new perspective in the end. As I said before, this story won’t stay with me forever, but I always appreciate when the protagonist of the story grows into a better person, and that was very much the case here.

The other thing that bothered me was the lack of interaction between the “Elizabeth” and “Darcy” characters. I wanted more interaction between them, especially earlier on, to really base their relationship/interactions on.

So, would I recommend this book? Yes and No.

I would not recommend The Season to younger teens, but those nearing 18 and through their early 20’s would probably enjoy this book.

Special thanks to Penguin Publishing for the chance to read an advanced e-galley for review.


The Season goes on sale July 12, 2016

~ Add to Goodreads ~

Preorder:

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QUOTES

 

Several girls used this pause for a dainty sip of tea. Prissy bitches.

 

If I had to put myself in someone’s hands, better this French lunatic than my mother.

 

I ran for hours, lifted weights, rode my bike everywhere, and now this broad was threatening me with standing for five minutes? Bring it on!

 

“NO! I AM NOT OKAY!” Was I shouting? I couldn’t hear very well because my ears were frozen, but my voice sounded really loud. “I am cold and wet and I look like road kill!”

The douche bag laughed.

 

REVIEW: Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

So, last Thursday I got to meet my all time favorite author, Richelle Mead. It was amazing. I actually recorded all 20 minutes of her speaking and Q&A which I keep forgetting to upload to YouTube, but when I finally remember, I will share it with you all. Until then, check out this fabulous Instagram post I made that night.

 

 


 

Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

Series: Thunder Road #2

Read: May 1 – 7, 2016

Format: ARC Print Book

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary YA Romance

 

I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, even in YA books. (Though, I feel like I have been reading more lately…) And I really have no interest in motorcycle clubs, I tried watching Sons of Anarchy but it didn’t hold my interest. So imagine my surprise when I sat down to start reading Katie McGarry’s Walk The Edge with the intent of “just one chapter” and ended up reading the first six instead. And I would have kept going, had it not been so late at night. This book is a page turner.

Despite being a book about a guy in a motorcycle club, something I don’t really ‘get’, I loved this book. The characters, Thomas aka “Razor” and Breanna, are both so real. They’re flawed and relatable and I was rooting for them the entire time.

 

“There are lies in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss, or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.”

Razor is “the boy everyone sees but nobody knows.”

Born to ride with the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, Razor is one of the newest members, but the club is keeping secrets from him. They say once he’s proved he trusts the club, the club will then trust him in turn with its secrets. This doesn’t sit well for Razor. His mother drove off a bridge years earlier and everyone in town says she killed herself to get away from Razor’s father and his club. Razor wants the truth, and he’s afraid the Terror played a role in his mothers death.

 

“I’m overjoyed by their faith in me, but on the inside I’m a rose wilting fast forward on the vine.”

Breanna is “the girl who everybody knows, but nobody sees.”

She refers to herself as “5 of 9” because she is the 5th child in a family of 9 kids. Her older siblings do their thing, her younger siblings do theirs. Then there’s Breanna, alone in the middle. She’s the responsible one, often left to parent her younger siblings. She’s never fit in due to her uncanny ability to remember and regurgitate random facts. Once a puzzle is in her head, she can’t move on until she’s solved it. She’s a freak and has been treated as one by everyone her entire life, including her siblings. She just wants to be accepted.

Razor finds Breanna’s brain remarkable, but she’s too good to be with a guy like him.

Though he starts as just her bodyguard, Breanna quickly realizes there’s more to Razor than meets the eye, and she’s falling for the boy her parents would never allow her to be with.

When these two unlikely people come together, will they find what they need in one another?

 

“Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to be this twenty-first century woman and obsessed with a man desiring me for my massive intellect. I am woman, hear me roar, and all that stuff, but once, it would have been pretty freaking awesome to be the girl in the pretty dress let alone with the gorgeous bad boy who wants to kiss me.”

 

 “She should be worried,” he breathes into my ear.

“Why?”

“Because you’re alone with me.”

 

If you’re in the mood for a realistic romance between total opposites who compliment each other perfectly, this is the book. If you’re looking for a romance that also has a bit of a mystery to uncover, again, this is it. If you’re looking for a book with characters who grow and change as the story progresses, look no further.

This is the second in a series, and I have not read the first. Everything was set up so the book can be read as a stand alone. I plan to get my hands on the first book eventually, as well as the third book when it releases sometime in 2017.

So far, this is one of my top picks for 2016. Go grab a copy!

 

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads First Reads.

 

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REVIEW: Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

GUESS WHAT! In 3 hours I’m meeting my fav author – Richelle Mead!!!

To keep me occupied until then, I’m posting this review for your enjoyment. (I’ve been putting off writing it for a few days now. Along with another review.)


BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM GOODREADS:

Award-winning author Tracy March follows up Should’ve Said No (“Wonderfully quirky . . . a pleasure to read!”—Laura Drewry) with this enchanting novel set in Thistle Bend, Colorado, a magical place where old wrongs are righted, and adventure leads to true love.

Real estate lawyer Holly Birdsong’s hike in the Rockies takes an unexpected turn when a smokin’-hot stranger tumbles off his bike and into her path. Turns out he’s purchasing the abandoned Lodge at Wild Rose Ridge, and Holly agrees to take him on as a client—despite her family’s traumatic history with the previous owner, who shamelessly abused the town’s goodwill at every turn. But when their professional relationship turns personal, Holly must reconcile the past with her hopes for the future.

Adding the rustic lodge to his portfolio of adventure properties isn’t just a business decision for Bryce Bennett. The rugged mountains also offer a killer setting for his extreme-sports camps for at-risk teens. What’s not in the blueprints is finding a kindred spirit in his irresistible lawyer, even if she seems apprehensive about getting involved in the deal. Bryce’s plan to ease her mind just might work, as long as no one discovers his secret. Yet he can’t stand hiding the truth from the woman who makes him want to build something permanent: a happily ever after.


REVIEW

Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

Series: Thistle Bend #2

Read: May 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Last September I had the privilege of reading Should’ve Said No, book 1 in Tracy March’s Thistle Bend series. I was impressed with a romance novel full of likable characters and a mystery to boot!

I was excited when Just Say Maybe appeared on NetGalley because why wouldn’t I want to follow up that fabulous 4-star book 1 with the sequel?

Well, I think I liked book 1 so much that I was let down by book 2. While book 1 featured the mystery as the center plot, this one is very much romance centric. Sure, Holly says she doesn’t want to be with Bryce if he’s not going to stay, but it was barely an obstacle. There was a misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions that had me rolling my eyes as well.

I did like the characters, they were interesting and believable. The hotel storyline was somewhat interesting, but I would have liked this book more if that was the central story, and not the romance.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like the romances to be built around the plot. If that makes sense. And this book felt like the plot was built around the romance.

I think those who like traditional contemporary romances will enjoy this book. I’ll probably read book 3 as well, but I doubt it will live up to book 1.


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REVIEW: Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

Read: April 24-26, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:
After witnessing the devastating events of September 11th firsthand, Olivia Van den Berg turned to drugs in hopes of burying the horrifying memory of her parents’ deaths. Nine years later, she’s sober and back in New York for the first time to visit her dying grandmother. With no other heirs, the family business will fall on Olivia’s shoulders, but is she strong enough take her rightful place at the head of a multi-million dollar corporation?

Duncan McMurray is a FDNY firefighter and a hopeless mess. He lost so much that fateful day – his family, his department brothers, his will to live. Years later he’s still struggling to come to terms with his survivor’s guilt and he does it with any substance he can get his hands on. One thought keeps him going … the girl with the chestnut hair he saved as hell crashed down around him, the only proof he wasn’t a complete failure.

A strange encounter reunites Olivia and Duncan once again and the two feel an instant connection. As Olivia falls in love with the man from her past, doors to her future begin to open and she must decide which path to follow. Who I Am With You is a story of love, fear, addiction and coming to terms with who you are and who you are supposed to be.


MY REVIEW:

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Who I Am With You is not a typical romance novel, it’s far more.

Olivia and Duncan are both broken people. It’s been 9 years since the Twin Towers fell on September 11th and both are still dealing with the trauma of being at ground zero. Olivia was meeting her parents, who were in the second tower. Duncan was a firefighter, rescuing people from the towers. On that tragic day, Duncan saved Olivia.

In the nine years since the towers fell, Olivia ran away to California, abandoning her responsibilities as the heir to her families company, and turned to a life of hard drugs to numb the pain of her PTSD. Clean and sober (for the 2nd or 3rd time — I can’t remember which) for a little over 10 months now, Olivia is forced to face her past and return to NYC when she learns her grandmother, the only relative she has left, is dying of cancer and doesn’t have long to live.

Duncan has remained a NYC firefighter, dealing with his own PTSD and survivors guilt with prescription drugs and a hero complex, taking chances on the job he shouldn’t. His actions in the years since 9/11 have distanced him from his family, he’s now separated from his wife and doesn’t spend much time with his two children.

But when Olivia has dinner with her BFF and Duncan walks in, everything changes. He’s never left her mind, nor she his. They never thought they’d see one another again. It was like fate, like they were meant to meet again. And so they begin a relationship. But is it healthy for Olivia to be with a man who is still so angry and broken, when she’s doing so well on her path to sobriety? Will he lead her astray, into yet another relapse? Or perhaps, can she save him, just like he saved her all those years ago?

This story is so beautifully written. I’ve been a fan of Missy Fleming for years now and I’m always so excited to read her next book. Her teen Savannah Shadows series is toward the top of my all time favorite books, so when she offered me a chance to read this book I jumped.

This book has a beautiful love story with twists and turns along the way. There’s sadness and joy, grief and anger. I don’t recommend reading most of this book in public. I cried more than once. Anyone personally affected by 9/11 will probably have trouble as well. It’s obvious the author did a lot of research. I felt like I was at the base of the towers, watching the aftermath. I felt the dust and ash on my skin as I read the words, I felt Olivia’s fear and pain.

I can’t recommend this book enough. So, go grab it. It’s currently free on Kindle Unlimited, or only $1.99 to buy. That’s a steal.


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AMAZON KINDLE  |  GOODREADS

 

REVIEW: Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

Fifteen Lanes by S. J. LaidlawFifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

Read: March 31 – April 4, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

When I requested this book from NetGalley, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. I like a certain type of book and I don’t often deviate. When I deviate, I usually end up disappointed. So, while I have no clue what made me think I’d enjoy this book, I’m glad I clicked the REQUEST button, because this book will stay with me for a very long time.

 

“There is a whole world of possibilities beyond our fifteen lanes”

Fifteen Lanes is a story of two girls in India, told in dual perspectives. Noor is a a young teen girl living in a brothel in the slums of India. Her mother is a sex worker and she knows it’s only time before she herself is sold off into the sex trade. Until then, she attends a school where nobody knows her true identity, and she cares for her younger sister and brother. She dares to dream that maybe someday she can escape this life and rent a room for herself, her mother, her siblings, and all of her friends who are slaves to the brothel.

Meanwhile, across town, there’s fifteen year old rich, white girl, Grace. She has problems of her own when she becomes the victim of malicious bullying. Her problems may not be as bad as Noor’s, but we all have our limits, and Grace has reached hers.

 

Can two girls from two completely different worlds save each other?

Side by side Noor and Grace are night and day. They live in completely different worlds and are going through completely different ordeals, but together they form a friendship. I wish the book had given more time to develop their friendship, as they met after the 50% point in the book and probably only saw each other on two separate occasions before the books climax.

You would think that Grace, who has never gone hungry, never slept on the streets, would be the stronger of the girls, but it’s Noor. Noor has been through hell, it’s all she knows. Of the two, she is the strongest and in the end, they have to save each other.

 

I think the book could have worked (possibly better?) just telling Noor’s side of the story, however giving the reader Grace’s POV may help some readers who are either unable to identify with Noor, or hesitant to even start the book because they’re afraid to dive into a culture so different from their own.

Remember when I said that I read what I know I’ll like, and I’m not sure why I requested this book?

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to identify with Noor, being that she’s from the slums of a third world country and I’m middle class American. I was wrong, she was so easy to empathize with. That in itself is a true testament to an authors abilities.

I was afraid that the subject matter would be too dark—and it is—but the way the book is written, it doesn’t feel so dark. That’s not to say the author sugar coats things, she simply gives as much detail about the horrors of Noor’s world as a young reader needs. I cried more than once reading this book and I know if the author had chosen to go darker with more details, I would not have been able to finish, and I would not have been able to expand my world view via this book.

 

I would love to see Fifteen Lanes in schools. This book sheds a whole new light on #firstworldproblems. This book makes me want to do more for the world.

 

To sum it all up, my final status update for this book on Goodreads when I reached the end: In tears. Wow.

REVIEW: Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott

No Tidy Up Tuesday today. I’ve been slacking. I have done little things here and there, like putting books on a shelf that were piled in front of it, but nothing worth blogging about. Hopefully soon I’ll find the motivation to dive into a bigger tidying project and really work to get this done!

I have been getting editing done on my teen vampire/witch novel (tentatively titled Blood & Magic) and hope to be done with the third draft soon. This is a story that began in my head back in 2008, was first drafted during NaNoWriMo in 2013, and has been somewhat neglected ever since. 🙁 This project is my baby though, and I intend to give it my all before I release her to the world.

I did finish a fabulous book last night though. This is one of the ARC’s I won from Goodreads First To Read and I’m absolutely stoked to share it with you all. So, read on!


I’m not crazy about the cover, but it’s appropriate.

Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott
Series: Popcorn Shop Mystery #1
Read: March 3-7, 2016
Format: Print Book ARC (Goodreads First To Read)
My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery

I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads First To Read and Penguin Random House, Berkley Prime Crime.

I loved this book from page one.

“The caramel sauce was almost three hundred and fifty degrees when the screaming started.

I wasn’t proud that my first instinct was to ignore it. The screaming that is, not the sauce.” (Page 1)

I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a cozy mystery before, but if they’re all like this book, sign me up!

Rebecca Anderson is home again. After her rebellious teen years after her parents death, she ran away to California to attend a culinary arts school. There she met the infamous Antoine, fell in love, and got married. Eleven years later she’s divorced and, with the help of her beloved mentor Coco, has started her own gourmet popcorn shop, called POPS, on main street in her small town. Things are looking up for Rebecca, until Coco is found dead in her shop, Cocoa’s Coco, next door to POPS. Rebecca and Coco had plans to start a joint business venture together.


The cast of characters in this book is great. There’s Rebecca of course, who always seems to find her way into trouble. Dan, Rebecca’s best friend since forever and the town sheriff, who also happens to be married to Rebecca’s sister Haley. There’s Jessica, Coco’s niece, who has hated Rebecca since forever. We can’t forget Allen, the skeevy mayor who has his sights set on owning Coco’s storefront property. There’s Annie, another store owner on main street and close friend of Rebecca’s. Plus Jasper and Tom, a couple of panhandlers. Garrett is new to town, he’s Dan’s college friend and a lawyer. And Sprocket, Rebecca’s dog, who is practically human in his mannerisms.

Page 262

Page 262

I love character driven stories, and this was absolutely a character driven story. Every character was brought to life and had flaws and quirks that made them real. I want to live in this small town! I figured out who did it early on, though there were some red herrings thrown in. Even though I knew who did it and was waiting for the big reveal, I enjoyed every second of this story.

My only complaint is that at times the writing was overly simplistic, and I feel there should have been more commas used, but once I got over that and into the story I had a really hard time putting it down. Just one more chapter would turn into three more chapters. Before I knew it, my midnight bedtime had turned into 2 am.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Will I read the next book in the series? Most likely!