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Review – The Truth About Alice – Jennifer Mathieu

16068341The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Review:
So I actually read this book earlier this year and marked it off as being reviewed, when apparently I only actually imagined doing that…lol! So some of my thoughts on this may be a bit patchy but there are also parts that really stick out (even 6 months or so later). I’ll be the first to admit that one of my guilty pleasures are lifetime movies (you know the ones, my daughter ran away and became addicted to drugs; my daughter got pregnant as a teen; my son is going to be a teen father and adopt the child type movies). They are like cotton candy for me, I get emotionally invested in them, and by the end of the movie, I’m happy that my life isn’t screwed up like that and I just move on to other things. The Truth About Alice kind of reminded me of one of those movies (and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

The book itself is told in an alternating POV from 4 different students at the high school where the title character was also a student. I found it intriguing how the author didn’t actually include Alice as a POV – maybe to keep up the idea of the perceived “truth” about her, rather than the actual truth…It was also interesting seeing how the characters devolved into the gossips and then evolved into more responsible young adults as the book progressed – although it was the person that I kind of least expected to stand up to the gossip that did.

My biggest complaint, I think, was the everything tied up too quickly – it was like alice is a slut, she did xyz and then all of the sudden, everything seemed back to normal…maybe that was how it was supposed to be – indicative of how gossip is hot one day and then not the next…but it left me feeling kind of empty in the long run. I wanted a bit more closure at the end…Overall, I gave the Truth about Alice 3.5 stars because it was something different (or at least that I’ve read) in the YA writing world.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Finding Fisher – Dakota Madison

finding fisherFinding Fisher
Author: Dakota Madison
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Franklin Smith was the perfect fiancé. He was at the top of our class at Stanford and had been recently accepted to Harvard Law. But Spring Break our senior year of college changed everything. He went back home to New Jersey and never returned. At his funeral I discovered a guy I never knew. His secret past. And a twin brother, Fisher, I didn’t know existed.

Review:
For me, this was one of those books where I went into it expecting something totally different than I got – not that that is entirely bad. When I was reading the description, I saw there was a note from the author stating that donations were going to go towards supporting a non-profit providing housing support to individuals with AIDS in Atlanta, so that combined with the fact that several people on goodreads had tagged this as a mm romance, rather than a mf one…I was quite surprised to find out that the main character was a college aged female named Chloe…(which even now reading the description gives no clues away). That being said, I really enjoyed the premise of the story – a significant other with a secret and what happens when it all goes wrong.

This was a relatively quick read (less than 200pgs), but I thought the author managed to pack a lot of plot into that relatively short period of time. There was a well-defined beginning/middle and end (which is often a gripe of mine when it comes to shorter novellas) and all of the characters seemed to be well-rounded and developed rather than one-dimensional. I found myself sucked into Chloe’s feelings as she discovered everything that she had known for the last few years had been a lie. I will say that I thought my biggest issue with the book was how quickly Chloe seemed to move on with her life – I get that she wasn’t married to Franklin, but even then, everything just seemed to go too quickly – I actually wish that there had somehow been a bit of a time delay – yet, at the same time, I think that would have potentially ruined the flow of the novel.

This was the first book that I have read by Ms Madison, but it wasn’t be the last. I found that her writing was solid and very relatable. Overall, I gave Finding Fisher 4 stars and found it to be a solid weekend read.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Take Me Home For Christmas – Brenda Novak

Take Me Home for ChristmasTake Me Home For Christmas
Author: Brenda Novak
Series: #5 in the Whiskey Creek series

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Too bad all memories aren’t pleasant. Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town’s Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.

But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he’ll never come back—until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he’s left her to face all the townspeople he cheated….

Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can’t bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved. He learned his lesson the last time.

Or will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness?

Review:
So I don’t know if i’m the only blogger out there that does a happy dance when popular/well-known authors ask me to review their books, but I was totally doing that when the email from Ms Novak showed up a few weeks ago (yes, i’m a dork and I admit it!). But I will admit to being kind of concerned that this was book 5 in a series that I hadn’t read yet – although the author assumed me it could be read as a stand-alone (which I both agree and disagree with – but more of that later). Anyways, after I read the description and also the novella that kicked the series off (you can see that review on the blog also), I decided to take a chance on the book.

My initial thoughts with the opening of the book was that it reminded me of the Ashley Judd movie, Double Jeopardy – where the husband disappears and no one knows what happens – what is planned/foul play etc. But more so, the story focused on the after effects…how the “golden boy” of the town deceived everyone and how, as is human nature, people want to find someone to blame, even if the person is innocent. I really felt bad for Sophia for about 70% of the book. Although, it was nice seeing her change and become stronger through-out.

I will admit that i had issues with Ted though – I thought that he came across as an arrogant jerk for a good part of the book (and now that i’ve read previous ones in the series, that belief has solidified a bit more). I really wanted Sophia to bitch-slap him a few times (what can I say…lol). He did get better – but you could still see that there was quite a bit of baggage between them. I don’t know if, ultimately, I fully believed their HEA – it seemed more of a HFN (happy for now) – but i’ll be interested to check up on them in future books.

As to my comment about being read as a stand-alone or not – it is book 5 in the series and while Ms Novak does a good job of filling in the back-story (and I didn’t feel really lost during the reading), now that I’ve gone back and read the previous four books, this would have been a much more richer experience. Having gotten to know all of the characters – many of whom were only really cameo’s in this book, came to life in previous ones.

Overall, I gave Take Me Home for Christmas 3.5 stars, but I have gone back and read previous books in the series. Personally, I would recommend people read the other books (or at the very least book 1) before this one, just to get more of a feel of Whiskey Falls – you find out so much more about the town and the people.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Inquisitor’s Key – Jefferson Bass

the inquisitor's keyThe Inquisitor’s Key
Author: Jefferson Bass
Series: #7 in the Body Farm series

Review Copy Provided by Authors via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book on Goodreads

Description:
Miranda Lovelady, Dr. Bill Brockton’s protégée, is spending the summer helping excavate a newly-discovered chamber beneath the spectacular Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France. There she discovers a stone chest inscribed with a stunning claim: inside lie the bones of none other than Jesus of Nazareth.

Faced with a case of unimaginable proportions, Miranda summons Brockton for help proving or refuting the claim. Both scientists are skeptical–after all, fake relics abounded during the Middle Ages–but evidence for authenticity looks strong initially, and soon grows stronger.

Brockton and Miranda link the bones to the haunting image on the Shroud of Turin, revered by millions as the burial cloth of Christ, and then a laboratory test finds the bones to be two thousand years old. The finding triggers a deadly tug-of-war between the anthropologists, the Vatican, and a deadly zealot who hopes to use the bones to bring about the Second Coming–and trigger the end of time.

Review:
I’ve been making my way through this series during the course of the year, mostly because I saw that book 7 was going to be one of the traveling books in Sisterhood. And I really enjoyed the vast majority of the previous ones, but I don’t know if it was the religious mystery in this one or what seemed to be the changing relationship between Bill and his mentee, Miranda, but I just wasn’t excited to finish reading this one. In fact, at one stage, I actually put it aside for a few days because I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to read it.

I’m not saying the writing style was bad, it just wasn’t working for me at the time. But I’m still interested in seeing where the series goes in the future. In fact, I’m reading the newest release by the writing duo right now, although its a prequel to the rest of the series. The Inquisitor’s Key (or The Bones of Avignon as it was released in the US) had the typically Bass writing style – its actually really hard to tell (unless you know prior to) that it is actually a writing duo. There is something that just flows smoothly – I honestly have no idea where one starts and the other ends. I also liked how while there is a significant amount of science-y type stuff in the storyline, it never really seems to get too deep/confusing or too geeky.

Overall, I gave The Inquisitor’s Key, 3.5 stars but I know I will be continuing the series in the future.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Heart Like Mine – Amy Hatvany

heart like mineHeart Like Mine
Author: Amy Hatvany

Review Copy Provided By The Author Via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again.

But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Review:
I don’t know if its because this is the third book I’ve read by this author in a short period of time, or something else, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as previous books. Maybe it was because I didn’t like how the story was approached, or just didn’t really connect with the main character…Don’t get me wrong – the writing itself was good and the story intriguing, it just didn’t work for me.

Like her previous books, in Heart Like Mine, Amy Havanty tackles a topic that shows up in social media, the desire to be childless. In fact, just this week, I realized that the most recent issue of TIME published in the US (although, not the other versions around the world) were discussing this issue (specifically, does that make people selfish, but that is a whole ‘nother story). But what happens when that desire is turned completely on its head when your significant others (in this instance, her fiancee’s) ex-wife dies and their kids end up living with you. Would you stay in the relationship? Would you decide that you can’t do it, no matter how much you love your SO? These are all questions that were faced by Grace during the course of the book.

While I think Amy did a good job exploring Kelli’s life (her fiancee’s ex-wife) prior to her death, I also felt that it was overdone. I wanted to know more about Grace and her decisions – which were key to the main storyline. Yes, it was mentioned through-out the book, but being told from her current POV, rather than the flash-back style that was used for Kelli’s story. I think that might have added to it – maybe duel chapters with both of their POV’s or something – maybe that was my biggest issue…

Overall, I’d give Heart Like Mine 3 stars – it was well-written and moving, it just didn’t quite work for me.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Classics Review – Dracula – Bram Stoker

draculaDracula
Author:
Bram Stoker

Narrators: Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley
Run Time: 15 hrs and 28 minutes
Producer: Audible, Inc

Description:
The first and most terrifying of all vampire stories.

Jonathan Harker has a job to do. The young lawyer must go to the mysterious country of Transylvania to work for a man he knows as “the Count.” At first, Jonathan is excited by the chance to travel and meet new people. But after his arrival in Transylvania, he begins to wonder what’s going on. People act strangely upon hearing he is going to visit the Count. When Jonathan arrives at the Count’s dark, deserted castle, he too begins to feel afraid. Soon after meeting his host, Jonathan begins to feel trapped in a horrifying nightmare. Only this nightmare is real and he can’t wake up.

Why Dracula?
Nowadays you can’t enter a bookstore without running into a vampire novel of some shape/size/description. From books like The Historian (literary fiction), to the Paranormal Romances of Christine Feehan, Kresley Cole and Kerrelyn Sparks. Each author brings their unique perspective to answer the question what is a vampire. So it seemed like a good idea to go back to the beginning (or at least almost the beginning). And so, here I am…lol!

Review:
So I went into Dracula pretty much blind – I knew the basic premise (I mean who doesn’t) and the fact that it was told in an epistolary type format (which, BTW, i love that word!) Other than a vague recollection of character names, I didn’t know anything else. I will admit that I was expecting more of a horror novel than what I got. It turned out to be rather…academic (for lack of a better word) in the telling of the story. There was some emotion at times, but ultimately, it was very stark. But that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it…in fact there was something almost addicting about the story – whether it was the writing or the narration of the audiobook, i’m not quite sure. I do know that friends of mine have had issues getting going with it – but I was pretty much sucked in from the beginning.

I can also see why Dracula won the best audiobook category for Multi-Voiced Performance this year. While it wasn’t the one in the category that I picked, it was in my top 3. i really like the cast of narrations – with some of my favorites like Simon Vance who was the voice of Jonathan Harker and Katherine Kellgren, to more well-known movie stars, like Tim Curry. Each voice was unique (because they were pretty much done all by different people). the quality of the audiobook was great – I know that I will be checking out more books produced by Audible in the future. Overall, 3.5 stars, but rounding up to 4.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Book Review, classics challenge

 

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Review – Lost and Found – Amy Shojai

???????????????????????????????????????Lost and Found
Author: Amy Shojai

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
AN AUNT searches for her lost nephew—and dooms her sister.
A MOM gambles a miracle will cure—and not kill—her child.
A DOG finds his true purpose—when he disobeys.

Animal behaviorist September Day has lost everything—husband murdered, career in ruins, confidence shot—and flees to Texas to recover. She’s forced out of hibernation when her nephew Steven and his autism service dog Shadow disappear in a freak blizzard. When her sister trusts a maverick researcher’s promise to help Steven, September has 24 hours to rescue them from a devastating medical experiment impacting millions of children, a deadly secret others will kill to protect. As September races the clock, the body count swells. Shadow does his good-dog duty but can’t protect his boy. Finally September and Shadow forge a stormy partnership to rescue the missing and stop the nightmare cure. But can they also find the lost parts of themselves?

Review:
I have to admit that at first I was skeptical about how much I was going to enjoy the book – because I felt upon reading the jacket copy that too much of the plot had been disclosed (don’t worry, I was partially wrong). And the first few chapters were a bit rough, for lack of a better word – it took me a little while to get into the feel of her writing which is very stark (for lack of a better word) as well as the one POV being from Shadow, the German Shepherd puppy (who I loved as a character BTW – reminds me very much of my big goofy baby). To say that the plot resembled a roller-coaster would be correct – it was a continual up and down through the entire thing – the last author I read who did such an on the go type plot was James Rollins (although Matt Reilly is a close second). The medical mystery plot was intriguing, but it wasn’t like it was new to me – maybe because I read a book not long ago that had a similar theme, but I guess it is hard at times to come up with something truly unique.

I think the one thing that I didn’t like was that throughout the entire book, the author alluded to something that had happened with the main characters husband/dog, but never really came out and said specifically what it is. That drove me nuts – I wanted to know – maybe we’ll find out in another book who knows. Also, the names of the main character and her sister just seemed a bit cheesy to me – named after the month they were born in and then their last name just happens to be Day…lol! There was also a bit of a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming that I felt just overdid the whole thing – it wasn’t needed (at least in my honest opinion) – it almost ruined the tension that was in the book for me…

Either way, I enjoyed the read, I would probably give it 3.5 stars overall, but would recommend it for people who like mysterys/suspense/thrillers, especially with a medical twist, and those who like books with animals).

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Book Review

 

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