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Review – All Bets Are Off – Marguerite Labbe

All Bets Are Off
Author: Marguerite Labbe

Review Copy Provided by Netgalley

Book Description
It only takes one night with Ash Gallagher to make Eli Hollister think he’s finally met the right man at the right time. Good thing he doesn’t bet on it, because Ash turns out to be a student in Eli’s class at the local college. Eli can’t deny he’s attracted, but now it’s complicated. He’s already in enough trouble with the department head, a man who would like to see Eli denied his tenure and fired.

Ash is looking forward to taking his life in a new direction. After serving one active-duty stint in the Marine Corps and another in the Reserves, he’s ready to put his military life behind him. The last new experience he’d planned for this semester was to fall in lust with his English professor, but the more Eli resists, the more Ash is determined to have him. Then he discovers Eli’s playing for keeps, and Ash is only interested in a fling… or is he? Between these two, when it comes to life and love, all bets are off.

Book Review
I was lucky enough to meet the author at a recent real-life get together of an online group, so when All Bets Are Off showed up as a review copy on Netgalley and since I had never read anything by this author, I jumped at the chance to read something by her. One of my favorite tropes in books is the forbidden student/teacher relationship, but they are so often hard to find in a way that seems believable. That is one of the things that I loved about All Bets Were Off, the trying to avoid the relationship and the building of sexual tension through-out rather than a quick fling.

The bantering between Ash and Eli was probably one of my favorite parts of the book, especially since they supported different sports teams. It made it seem more real than many relationships in books that just seem forced. The relationship between Ash and his Marine buddies was the other part of the story that I enjoyed – you could tell that the author had really done her research. Being in the military, I am very picky about how the military is portrayed, and I felt that the author did the relationships justice.

I did feel that between the mystery and the freaky department chair, that there was too much going on which took away from the developing romance. I kind of wish that just one of those elements had been focused on vice both of them. But that is just a small complaint. I do know that I will definitely reading more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Review – Quarantine – John Smolens

Quarantine
Author: John Smolens

Review Copy Provided via Netgalley by the Publisher
Expected Publication: September 15, 2012

Book Description
The year is 1796, and a trading ship arrives in the vibrant trading town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. But it’s a ghost ship–her entire crew has been decimated by a virulent fever which sweeps through the harbor town, and Newburyport’s residents start to fall ill and die with alarming haste. Something has to be done to stop the virus from spreading further. When physician Giles Wiggins places the port under quarantine, he earns the ire of his shipbuilder half-brother, the wealthy and powerful Enoch Sumner, and their eccentric mother, Miranda. Defiantly, Giles sets up a pest-house, where the afflicted might be cared for and separated from the rest of the populace in an attempt to contain the epidemic.

As the seaport descends into panic, religious fervor, and mob rule, bizarre occurrences ensue: the harbormaster ‘s family falls victim to the fever, except for his son, Leander Hatch, who is taken in at the Sumner mansion and a young woman, Marie Montpelier, is fished out of the Merrimac River barely clinging to life, causing Giles and Enoch who is convinced she ‘s the expatriate daughter of the French king to vie for her attentions–all while medical supplies are pillaged by a black marketer from Boston. As the epidemic grows, fear, greed, and unhinged obsession threaten the Sumner family and the future of Newburyport itself.

Review
I had previously listened to and reviewed Smolen’s book, The Schoolmaster’s Daughter, so when Quarantine showed up on Netgalley I jumped on the opportunity to read and review it. Having grown up outside of the US, I never really studied US history until college and then it was limited to very specific classes – so my knowledge of the fever that struck the east coast of the US in the late 1700’s is relatively little – most of what I know, I gained from reading Laurie Halsie Anderson’s Fever 1793

There were a variety of things that I enjoyed about the book – specifically the details about how the various medical practices from the time were incorporated into trying to save the town from the fever. I actually felt that if the focus had been solely on the struggle of the town and the quarantine, then the book would have been much better than it was. Unfortunately, it was the other story lines – the town surgeon and his fractured relationship with his family, the relationship between the women who could be construed as the town matriarch and her son and their scheming ways. I also have to admit, when I reached the last page of the book, I was confused with the outcome – yes, they managed to survive the fever and the town moved on, but all the other various plot lines, it was almost like the author had reached a page limit and decided to end it – I just felt like there wasn’t much resolution…

Overall, I don’t think I could give this book more than about 2.5 stars and while I don’t know of any fiction books similar to the subject, aside from the YA by Laurie Halsie Anderson, I would have a hard time recommending this book to many people, unless they were looking for this very specific event. That being said, I am more curious about the time period after reading this, so I am going to see about maybe picking up a non-fiction that discusses the period to read some more.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Book Review

 

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The Book Reviewer is in

Accepted Books / eBooks for Review:

The Gingerbread House – Carin Gerhardsen – Review Copy from Netgalley

In a short space of time, several bestial murders occur in central Stockholm. When criminal investigator Conny Sjöberg and the Hammarby police begin to suspect that there’s a link between the murders, Sjöberg goes completely cold. There is a killer out there whose motives are very personal, and who will not be deterred.The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen is the first in the Hammarby series, thrillers with taut, suspenseful plots and unexpected twists and turns.
 
 
 
Dead Ringer – Allen Wyler – Review Copy from Publisher

While speaking at a Hong Kong medical conference, neurosurgeon Dr. Lucas McCrae slips the cloth off a cadaver’s head during a routine medical demonstration, and is overwhelmed with the shock by what’s staring back at him: His best friend, Andy Baer.
Stunned, McCrae races back to Seattle to discover that Andy is in fact missing and may have been murdered by a gang of body snatchers who operate a legit funeral business and make a fortune by selling recovered body parts to medical researchers.
McCrae teams up with an unlikely pair—a beautiful but hardnosed female cop and a gang member whose family was victimized by the body parts ring—to try and expose a macabre web of corruption that involves law enforcement, politicians, funeral home curators and murdered prostitutes.
 
 
Timeless Desire – Gwyn Cready – Review Copy from Publisher

Two years after losing her husband, overworked librarian Panna Kennedy battles to distract herself from crushing Grief, even as she battles to deal with yet another library budget cut. During a routine search within the library’s lower levels, Panna opens an obscure, pad-locked door and finds herself transported to the magnificent, book-filled quarters of a handsome, eighteenth-century Englishman.
 
 
 
 
Cold Comfort – Quentin Bates – Review Copy from Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer Program

Officer Gunnhildur, recently promoted from her post in rural Iceland to Reykjavík’s Serious Crime Unit, is tasked with hunting down escaped convict Long Ommi, who has embarked on a spree of violent score-settling in and around the city. Meanwhile, she’s also investigating the murder of a fitness guru in her own city-center apartment. As Gunna delves into the cases, she unearths some unwelcome secrets and influential friends shared by both guru and convict. Set in an Iceland plagued by an ongoing financial crisis, Gunna has to take stock of the whirlwind changes that have swept through the country—and the fact that at the highest levels of power, the system’s endemic corruption still leads, inevitably, to murder.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Meme, The Book Reviewer Is In

 

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Review – What I Didn’t Say – Keary Taylor

What I Didn’t Say
Author: Keary Taylor
Publisher: Self-published/Createspace

Review Copy Provided by Author via NetGalley

Book Description:
Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat.

His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He’s been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it’s too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.

When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he’ll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn’t limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she’ll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she’ll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn’t say before, even if he can’t actually say it.

Review:
The first thing that caught my eye about What I Didn’t Say was the cover – I found the picture of the boy and girl facing each other, looking like they were whispering to each other to be intriguing. It made me want to know more, and then when I read the description, I was drawn in.

Drunk driving as a topic in YA books is always hard for me to digest because while I was growing up, my father was a fireman for the local fire service and he was often called out to car crashes, many of which involved drunk driving and while he didn’t often talk about it, I was able to gather enough information normally to form a picture of just how bad it was. So the images presented in What I Didn’t Say were really highlighted for me, I could visualize what happened to Jake when the car crashed and he was stabbed through the throat…and this is probably not an image that I want to see in my mind again anytime soon…

I loved seeing the characters grow and make mistakes through-out the book like normal teens do – it was refreshing to see. While I have been on a bit of a YA kick lately, it seems that either the teens in those books either have the appearance of being perfect or are so screwed up that nothing changes during the course of the book…so seeing Jake and Samantha develop and change over the course of the year was fun. I felt that the author did a good job developing the secondary characters – Jake’s parents, his siblings, friends at school…the only one that I truly wanted to bitch slap was Nora, the student body president – why is it that the popular kid that does a crappy job is always the one elected and not a quiet one who could do the job – I would have loved to have seen Samantha in that role.

However, no book is without its weaknesses, for me it was the fact that Jake was entering his senior year of high school and we knew that he wanted to join the AF and be a pilot…ok, well, from the descriptions within he was going to enlist…why was he not pushing to go to the Air Force Academy or ROTC…something which he would have had to have established prior to his senior year and that being said, why was he taking woodshop…that isn’t a class that would endear him to any college program where a strong science focus is needed – which is the way that most military programs are heading today (and yes, I say this from experience, I was in one of the last year groups where it was easy-ish to get a scholarship with a non-technical science degree..)

But that being said, after the accident and once the AF was out of the equation, I felt that the book was strong and engaging. I will definitely be looking for more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Book Review

 

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