Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: The Switch

Title: The Switch
Author: Sandra Brown
Date Published: 2000
ISBN: 9781455546435
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing


Summary:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown comes another masterful creation, a riveting novel of suspense, revenge, and unpredictable twists and turns...Identical twins Melina and Gillian Lloyd haven't considered switching places since childhood. So when Melina proposes that Gillian take her place as a media escort to NASA astronaut Col. "Chief" Hart, she refuses...at first. The following morning Melina receives terrible news: her sister has been brutally murdered-and Chief, though innocent, is the prime suspect. He and Melina are determined to find the killer, a megalomaniac whose horrific schemes require Gillian's replacement, her identical twin-Melina.


Rating & Review:
Sandra Brown was very close to a 5 star rating this time! Man, she really kept me guessing on this one. Usually I get a hint of what the end result might be on a novel but not with Sandra Brown. Dang it!! I really thought that I knew who the bad guy was. Hell, I really thought that I knew what was going on. I was totally wrong.

As usual, Brown really delivers on the character development within the story, she delivers on the premise (how in the world does she come up with this stuff?!?), she delivers on the descriptions, the convos between characters, the whole plot ... just ... everything!

I really can't sing this author's praises any more than I already have on every other review that I have done for her stuff. Here's the deal ... if suspense is what you want, then Sandra Brown might be the author for you. If you want a little romance, she is one of my faves. But if you want romantic suspense, she's top notch and I really don't like any author as much. She just can't be beat! 

Anyhow ... now that my weird adoration/gushing is over ... this book is great. Just when you think that the story is heading in one direction, you suddenly hit a brick wall  and you get spun around just to find out that you're upside down, your favorite cat is missing and you can't find your right shoe. Basically, she lets you think that you know what in the world is going on just so that she can rip it away and give you something else to believe in ... and then she yanks that away also. I'm trying to say that it's an awesome book. Guess I could have just said it's an awesome book ... but then you couldn't have come on this crazy little journey with me.
 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
ISBN: 9780141345659
Date Published: January 2012
Pages: 313


Summary
 
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.




Rating & Review 


This isn't one of my usual reads. Usually I don't gravitate towards books that are about cancer, it's just taken too many people from me. I don't want to go through that heartache again, even if it's for a fictional character. But when this book came up on the list for my book club, I was pretty intrigued. 


The book is pretty well written, the characters were well thought out and their path/destiny was an interesting journey. I thought that the naked honesty about facing and living with death was admirable. I appreciated the light humor sprinkled throughout and I also enjoyed the bittersweet moments of humor and sadness that really touched my heart.

I really liked the part whe
re Gus was saving the world (which is what two of my friends call playing military-ish video games) and he saved some kids in the game and said "my life bought them a minute and that's not nothing". That really resonated with me - every minute is so important. 


There was one character that drove me absolutely nuts. I didn't like this character at all and even though the book was based almost completely around him, I found parts of his involvement in the book to just be a waste of time. Why was the book hinged on this character? I keep thinking that if some of his interactions with Hazel had been different, it would have changed the tone of the book and it may have changed the lackluster ending for me. 

I'm always in constant search for a novel that has two things: I want a flawed main character, I want them to be so messed up that I almost can't stand them because you usually get to see this amazing character transformation/growth happen during a novel. I think it's pretty damn close to magic to watch those transformations happen and a great author can make it almost seamless. The second is for a book to make me feel. I don't care what it is... love, hate, disgust, admiration... it doesn't matter, just make me feel. This book delivered the first but I thought it fell short on making me feel. 


Now don't get me wrong, it was sad but it didn't break me down and I think I was waiting for that. I expected for this to have a gut-wrenching ending and when it didn't, I felt a bit let down. And that just kind of ruined ... everything for me. I think that an ending can make or break a book and this ending didn't do the book justice at all for me. 

All of that being said, it's being turned into a movie and while I don't feel compelled to see it now, I probably will get it on Netflix because I have to see how all of the characters are portrayed and see if maybe I was wrong about any of them. 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Allegiant (Divergent #3)

Title: Allegiant (Divergent #3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Date Published: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780007444113
Pages: 531


Summary:
One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?


The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.



Rating & Review:

I honestly never believed that the day would arrive when this book came out. It felt like I was waiting for forever to find out what happened to all of the Divergent clan. The whole experience started off a bit rocky because I pre-ordered the book from Barnes & Noble and expected (foolishly) for it to magically show up on my Nook at midnight. Well, that didn't happen. But it was there when I woke up (at 4am) and I immediately dove in. And let me tell you, I really struggled with just going to the end and reading the last page so I could find out what happened. I've never wanted to do that before this book. Oh, and I guess that it needs to be put out there that it is written in both Tris and Four's pov. Annoying? A little. But I can't imagine the story being written any other way. I think that it's important for us to get inside both of their heads at this point in the story and it really paid off for me in the end.

First of all, I love this series. I've loved it since I read Divergent over a year ago. I gave both other books in the series five stars for how amazing they were. But in Allegiant, it really slowed down for me about 1/4 of the way through. I really reached a point where I had to push myself through. That has never happened before with Roth. Now, it could be because I was resisting what was happening in the story. It was just falling really flat for me and I was hoping that the series wouldn't go out so ... blandly. 

But. Veronica Roth really reestablished my love and adoration of the Divergent story. I had lost my way in the big picture of this dystopian society but she pushed it back into focus for me. Man, she is an amazing author. And to think that she started writing this while she was in school ... I see amazing things to come for this lady and I'll be the first in line for any future works. 

Now, before I get too derailed on how awesome Roth is, there is this one quote that Tris says that I absolutely adore ...

"I fell in love with him. But I don't just stay with him by default as if there's no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me."

How awesome is that?!? I'm telling you, you've got to pick this book up. 

There's not much to say about character development, writing style or any of those other things ... Roth really sets up her stories beautifully and you become invested quite quickly in the outcome of the character's lives. 

Anyhow ...  I really can't say all that much more about the book ... there are too many things that could be given away. But I will say this ... I didn't latch onto this series because of the warm fuzzies I got while reading it. I like it because of the grittiness of the characters' feelings and the constant internal character struggle between what you should do and what you want to do. I wanted the last installment of this series to rip me to shreds and leave me just sitting there wondering what in the hell happened. Well, to say it plainly, it did. I'm still sitting here wondering how the series could be over and mulling over what took place. Now THAT, makes a great novel. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Title: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Author: David Foster Wallace
ISBN: 9780349111889
Date Published: October 1997
Pages: 288 


Summary: 
David Foster Wallace made an art of taking readers into places no other writer even gets near. The series of stories from which this exuberantly acclaimed book takes its title is a sequence of imagined interviews with men on the subject of their relations with women. These portraits of men at their most self-justifying, loquacious, and benighted explore poignantly and hilariously the agonies of sexual connections.



Rating and Review:

This is one of those few books for me that just did not click. I didn't get it. I didn't like it and I didn't agree with it.

I couldn't even finish the whole thing. I just couldn't. I tried and I just couldn't. And this wasn't like a gradual thing ... like the book was good in the beginning and then it started to taper off ... no. This was a bad experience for me from the very beginning.

The fact that so many people have given this book four and five stars just BAFFLES me!! I just don't understand how this was a good book. I get the short stories. I kinda like the darkness and taboo-ish-ness of the stories but I just didn't connect to them.

I actually reread some of the interviews because I was honestly wondering if I had missed something. Was I reading too fast? Skimming? Not paying attention? Oh, no. I was right the first time. I paid attention, the book just didn't do it for me.

The kicker is that the movie version of the book looks interesting. It looked funny and entertaining ... I just can't figure out how this book translated into THAT.

Not for me. But it might be the best book ever to you. Good luck.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: Newton Neighbors

Title: Newton Neighbors
Author: Suzy Duffy
ISBN: 9781612131634
Date Published: September 2013
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Pages: 377


Summary:
Crystal Lake—in the suburbs of Newton—is one of the most desirable places to live in Boston, and Newton Neighbors is a romantic comedy about its colorful residents just trying to “live the dream.” Things, however, rarely go as planned. The story starts with two fire trucks and a couple of cop cars getting called to the upmarket road, and that’s when things begin to heat up.

The Ladies of the Lake:

Maria’s best asset has always been her hot Puerto Rican body, but she sees the effect a new sitter has on her husband, so she decides to fight back the hands of time.

Cathi is Maria’s best friend and greatest admirer. Her own life is pretty good, too. Still, she can’t help being consumed with ambitions to live on the water. She spirals from persuasion to coercion to deceit faster than you can say ‘change of address,’ but will she succeed?

Noreen may seem like the nice little granny from next door. However, it’s the quiet ones you need to watch. While facing forty is a nightmare for Maria, Noreen’s living large at eighty. She believes “the only thing worse than a weak dollar is a weak martini.”

Jessica is in America to study. But when she takes a babysitting job in Newton, she gets more than she bargains for in the shape of fine-looking firefighter. We learn soon enough that not all heroes are good—but is bad better?

Thankfully we have Ely, Jessica’s crazy roommate, who keeps everyone laughing and partying, too.

There’s Botox, Bollinger, and a randy Bulldog. We have fireworks, fistfights, and family fiestas. It’s a story that stretches from Boston, to London, to beautiful Puerto Rico.

Welcome to the wet ‘n’ wild world of Newton Neighbors.



My rating and review ... 
Newton Neighbors was ... okay. I didn't feel really strongly about it either way. It wasn't horrible but it wasn't bad. I've had quite a few of these books lately. The great thing is that I think there is a really big chance that books later in this author's life will be pretty spectacular. The story is just missing that special something. That one thing that can transform that "meh" book into magic. 

The story that Suzy Duffy created was actually pretty good. Duffy must be amazingly perceptive. She really nailed her characters. They were so thought out. The conversations that went on in this book ... they didn't feel stiff or overworked. It really flowed well. This is not one of those books that you have to put down because it becomes too much or the descriptions are horribly long or the conversations are nothing that would actually happen in real life. This book just didn't have that. 

I was pretty entertained through the whole thing but it just left me wanting. It was just okay. But I really liked how the novel started. That actually made me look at how I feel when a babysitter comes to watch our boys. Those "mommy feelings" were really spot on. Duffy is really an artist when creating characters. 

As I was reading, I started to wonder if she just sat around recording actual conversations because there were quite a few that I've had with my husband and girlfriends. 

I think I just wasn't the target audience for this book. I love Real Housewives (that's what I thought this book would be like) but this isn't Real Housewives of New Jersey ... which is my favorite ... because of the epic arguments. I think I need something with just a little more drama and action. But this is perfect if you're looking for a lighthearted read while on a train, plane or automobile (great movie, btw). 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: Note to Self

Title: Note to Self
Author: Peter Ward
Date Published: September 2013
ISBN: 9781626811379
Publisher: Diversion Books
Pages: 262

Summary:
In a world where technology controls everything, sometimes your own handwriting is the only thing you can trust.

Richard Henley is an ordinary man leading an ordinary life, but when he finds strange notes in his own handwriting warning that someone is trying to kill him, he is sent on a journey to places he never knew existed. With an ominous and all-powerful organisation on his trail, his only hope is to trust unexpected allies, take control of his life, and uncover the truth about what happened to the girl he loved twenty years ago. A darkly humorous commentary on our app-obsessed culture, if Richard can stay alive, his world will never be the same again.



If I was rating this book on only the last half, it would have gotten 4.5 stars, easy. The beginning was just so slow for me. I really struggled. I had one of those, UGH feelings when I picked up my Nook. I just really wasn't interested. I'm glad that I pushed through, though. The payoff at the end was completely worth it. 

I don't think that there was one certain thing that made the beginning hell for me. In all probability, it was a combination of things ... it just dragged on like a nightmare family reunion. That's it! I'd equate the beginning of this novel to getting your cheeks (the ones on your face) squeezed for hours by that one old aunt that smells like mothballs and White Shoulders. 

Now, that's not to say that the beginning wasn't interesting. It was. It was just boring. Once it started picking up, I became excited about the book again and blew through it. 

The ideas that were brought up in the book were pretty spot on. The flat out accusation that our society is too focused on technology couldn't be more correct. I survived a childhood without all of these doodads and I mostly turned out okay and kids these days (mine included) just can't seem to live without technology. Anyway, so that was pretty interesting.

This book is a prime example of pushing through the reading fog. I've read some amazing books that got off to a rocky start. But this one is worth pushing through. It has an awesome ending, one that will stay with me for a while. Is this something that I would read again? Mmm, I don't know. But I don't plan on deleting it from my Nook anytime soon, if that means anything. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Velocity (Judd Bell & Corey Purchase #1)

Title: Velocity (Judd Bell & Corey Purchase #1)
Author: Steve Worland
ISBN: 9781921901102
Date Published: August 2012
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Pages: 344


 The MAN - an astronaut who has lost his mojo

The MISSION - to seek and destroy a hijacked space shuttle

The CARGO - enough weapons grade Uranium-235 to irradiate Manhattan

The STAKES - the woman he loves and the fate of a city

Strap in for a supersonic ride as 'Velocity' blasts off at mach speed. From NASA's Cape Canaveral to the Central Australian desert, screenwriter Steve Worland's debut thriller sets a heart-stopping pace. A cast of brilliant characters combined with explosive action make this hugely enjoyable novel a genuine blockbuster.




Before I dive into this review, I have a little story to tell about this book. I was looking for something to read last month and I came across this book on my "To Read" list. So I grab my Nook and go to download it. But it's not available! And I hate it when that happens. For some reason, I see it as a challenge ... OH, you don't want me to read this book, Barnes & Noble?!? Well, guess what, I'm totally going to use my Kindle app then!! That will show B & N! 

But it wasn't available on Amazon either. In ANY format. So then I started checking the web. I was going to read this damn book! I started perusing the web, looking for any place that I could buy this book. I found it on two sites. Yay!! And then I saw that the shipping was close to $30!! Boo! That's highway robbery! I guess that's what you get when it's coming from Australia. 

Wait ... Australia? And that sent me looking into the author, Steve Worland, to see what he's all about. Come to find out, he's written tons of scripts for TV shows but also for Bootmen! BOOTMEN!! (Bootmen happens to be one of my absolute favorite movies, it stars Adam Garcia (Coyote Ugly) and Sam Worthington (Avatar) - go watch it!) Anyway, so I found out that he wrote Bootmen and I damn near passed out. I had a bit of a flashback moment from when I met Matchbox Twenty ... on both occasions, I may have squealed and/or done a little dance. But I'll never admit it. 

At this point, I'm getting my hands on this book. I don't care what has to happen. I have to read it. My curiosity is eating me alive! So I decide to send (the amazing writer) Steve Worland a message and ask him where I can find his book in the United States. Embarrassingly enough, I even gushed about how much I LOVE Bootmen. I wanted to smack myself in the forehead because instead of a 33 year old woman, I sounded like an idiot teenager. For a moment, I even hoped that Worland wouldn't respond to my message. But thank goodness he did!! He is the nicest guy in the world and to my utter dismay and surprise, he even sent me a copy of Velocity since I adore Bootmen so much. 

Okay, all of that being said ... I am going to give a completely honest opinion of the book. My interaction with Worland and my love of Bootmen will not sway my thoughts or feelings on the book at all. It totally should, though. Bootmen kicks butt. 

So ... diving in ... Velocity took me a bit by surprise. I don't know what I was expecting but it definitely wasn't what I encountered on that first page. Reading a new (to me) author, I try to go in with an open mind ... no prejudgements or expectations. You get thrown into the story right away. There's no ... meet this character or here's some background info. No, you are right there in the middle of things immediately. And while it felt like being pushed into the deep end, I found it pretty refreshing. 

You don't know from one paragraph to the next what the end result is going to be with Velocity. Just when you think you know what is going on or whose side someone is on ... oh, no you don't. You're wrong. I grew attached to a few of the characters pretty early in the book ... I don't know why ... but there was this one bad guy that I was actually rooting for when he met an untimely demise. That was a bit shocking. I had to put the book down for the rest of the day on that one. And the kicker is that he wasn't even this super important character! I think it may be because Worland writes these ... lifelike ... characters that you grow attached to very quickly. 

I really found myself getting wrapped up in this book. It reads like a movie and by that, I mean that it reads in such an explosive and animated way that it's really brought to life as you read. The main character is named Judd and he's one of those characters that you can't get enough of - I have to read more about him. Man, is he messed up. Such a perfectly flawed character and I can't wait to see what he gets into in the next installment. 

So why didn't this awesome novel get five stars, you may be asking. Well, first of all, this is an amazing book. I'll definitely read it again and I'll be reading the remainder of the series. It only fell short because the first couple of chapters were a bit confusing with all of the technicalities of all this equipment that was being used and the large number of characters in the beginning ... there were quite a few and I did have a hard time keeping up with them. And all of the technical data ... did that make the book hard to understand? No. With all of the info that was given, you would think that it would read like a manual but it doesn't, it was just a little overwhelming at first.

But that's it. A great read - especially if you like the whole astronaut/pilot/military-esque book. Which I happen to love. I thought that I was going to have a huge hole in my future library where these types of books reside because on of my top 3 favorite authors passed away this year ... Vince Flynn. But it looks like Worland novels will fit right in. Sigh. Such a good book!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: Deeper We Fall (Fall and Rise, Book One)

Title: Deeper We Fall (Fall and Rise, Book One)
Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
ISBN: 2940016054926
Date Published: January 2013
Publisher: DRC Publishing
Pages: 453

 
★★★★★
Two years after her best friend was involved in a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, Lottie Anders is ready to start her freshman year of college. Ready to move on. Ready to start forgetting the night that ripped her life apart.

Her plans come to a screeching halt when not one, but both brothers responsible for the accident end up back in her life again.

Zack is cruel, selfish and constantly rubbing what happened to her friend in Lottie's face.

Zan is different. He listens to her awkward ramblings. He loves "To Kill a Mockingbird" as much as she does, and his dark eyes are irresistible. His words are few and far between, but when he does speak, she can't help but listen.

The trouble is, Zan was the driver in the accident, and now Lottie's discovered he lied to her about what happened that night. Now she must decide if trusting him again will lead to real forgiveness, or deeper heartache.



This is a really good book so we are just going to jump right into the review today! First of all, you need to know that this book is written from different point of views. This often just irritates me. Like, a lot. But not this time. I really loved the altering pov's. I can't see Deeper We Fall being written any other way. I don't think that the book would have worked if it was written in the "traditional" way. I really like seeing what is going on in the other characters minds - it offers invaluable insight into who they are and it really connects you to the story and the characters.

I was a pretty good chunk into the book and I was just itching for Lottie and Zan to interact in some way. I don't think I've ever wanted something to happen in a book so badly before. I'm pretty glad that our boys were at school when I was reading this because they would have been confused by my yelling, "COME ON!!". Unfortunately, I did that more than once. But it wasn't because I was getting irritated with the book - I can't say that enough. I just wanted it to happen so badly because Cameron had written these two characters in such a way that they had turned into my friends almost. She made them so realistic that it felt as if I was reading a diary.

I found myself becoming almost protective over Zan. The hand he was dealt really hit me. I've never known anyone involved in an accident like the one that the story was woven around, but it affected me. I wanted to jump into the book and shield him from any hurtful comments or actions and then maybe kick his brother's ass. 

Deeper We Fall was very, very, very close to getting five stars. There was only one thing that bothered me and it may not bother other people as much. It was the fact that To Kill a Mockingbird was brought up so much. Come on, I love that book as much as the next person but it was referenced constantly. To the point of being irritating. Now, that could just be because I have a 6 year old that incessantly repeats himself. Redundantly. It drives me up the wall. So I might be a little more sensitive to the repetitive references. On the other hand, the same thing that bothered me, really held the story together. I know, that doesn't make sense. But that's how it is. 

You know what ... after writing this whole thing, I think that I'm going to give the book five stars. It really does deserve it. When a book gives me a case of just-one-more-page-itis and keeps me up until 3am when I have to get up at 6am to get our boys off to school, you deserve five stars. FIVE STARS IT IS! 

I guarantee that this will not be the last you hear of Chelsea Cameron. Go grab some of her books before it becomes the cool thing to do. You don't want to be a follower, be the leader!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review: The Rosie Project

Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Date Published: October 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781476729084
Pages: 304

 ★★✰✰✰
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.



Meh. That's how I feel about The Rosie Project. This book received 4.11 stars on Goodreads. I usually really trust the star rating on Goodreads ... I use it constantly to give myself an idea of what to expect from a book and this time, I felt betrayed. I expected a four star book and I was saddled with a 1.5 star book. I decided to go ahead and give the book the extra half a star because at least the author was grammatically correct throughout the entire thing. 

When I first heard about The Rosie Project, I was really excited. I thought that the premise was adorable and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. To my surprise, I won an ARC of the book through a Goodreads giveaway and I would get to read it before everyone else (insert nana-nana-na-na). 

My excitement was quickly extinguished once I cracked open that book and read the first page. BORRRRING! Hell, I know that sounds so rude but it's what is going through my head. I would hate to sugarcoat things and spew sunshine and rainbows when that's not how I feel. 

The main character in this book is Don Tillman, this Don character was a freaking nut job. He micromanaged his life down to the second. He is so stuck in the routine of his life that he doesn't actually live. He just exists. That's fine ... be anal retentive. Be weird. I have no problem with that. I have a problem with it a book being written like the back of a shampoo bottle. It was boring and I just couldn't wait for it to be over. 

Every single person that Don met, he would calculate their BMI. Every. Single. Time. It got old. Really quickly. Don also pointed out a persons faults in his head. Every time he spoke to someone. I found myself saying, "OH, MY GOSH" quite frequently because after a while of reading about these weird things Don does, it just became annoyingly annoying (that's the worst kind of annoying). 

It makes me wonder ... are books like children? Do they just want attention, no matter what kind it is? Good attention, bad attention ... kids don't care one iota, they just want attention. Is bad attention for a book good as well? By writing this scathing review, am I sending people to pick up this book? Will I be held responsible if someone drops into a coma because of my review?!? I sure hope not. Because there won't be enough hospital beds for the victims. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: The Alibi

Title: The Alibi
Author: Sandra Brown
Date Published: January 1999
ISBN: 9780446618670
Publisher: Hachette Books
 Pages: 564

★★★★✰
Born into a fine old Charleston family, Hammond Cross is determined to be the city's next district attorney - without sacrificing his integrity. Prosecuting the sensational murder of a real estate magnate could be his ticket into office. Yet, while Hammond anticipates his success, someone near him is plotting his downfall. Is it Steffi Mundell, colleague, ex-lover and rival? Rory Smilow, homicide detective and Hammond's avowed enemy? Is it the dead man's widow, wily, beautiful and Hammond's lifelong friend? Or is it Hammond's prime suspect, the mysterious woman who shares the secret that would be fatal to Hammond's ambitions?



  
Oh, Sandra Brown!! This woman kills me. I just don't know what I would do without her books!!! I'm beginning to wonder if I have some sort of addiction problem. I just can't get enough of her novels. Okay. All gushing aside, lets rip this book apart and see what's going on within the pages. 

If you've read my reviews before, you know how much I love a flawed character. Sorry, but the more messed up they are, the more I love them. Come on, it's got to be easy to write the PERFECT character. Everything is great in their life and basically, lead a perfect, unblemished existence. How boring must that be?!? I don't want shit to go right for me all the time. Sure, I think that it would be nice sometimes ... especially when I feel like my world is spiraling out of control because our two boys are screaming at the top of their lungs while chasing each other around the house because one of them looked out the others window or some other nonsense. At those moments, I have a bad mommy thought and it's usually that they will end up running into each other and bop heads ... knocking each other out. Hey ... I love our boys but they are a bit much sometimes. Soooo ... uh ... I have no idea where I was going with that ... oh. I love that my life isn't perfect. I want all the trials and tribulations ... that's what life is for!! I just think that a truly flawed character would be the most difficult to write and I totally respect an author that is able to do that. Hats off to Sandra Brown for writing the most perfectly flawed characters every time. 

The book itself ... I loved. I know ... shocker, right? But can you imagine wanting to get away from your life for a night and then (what you think is) fate, drops the most perfect yin to your yang, right in front of you?? I'd like to say that this happened with my husband but if I'm being perfectly honest, that man annoyed the ever loving crap out of me the first day that I met him. He wouldn't stop talking and as if it couldn't get any worse, he only wanted to talk about Ozzy Osbourne! He totally had has a man crush on Ozzy. I mean, I love my husband now ... but back then, I would have happily karate chopped his Adam's apple in an effort to get him to quiet down. Okay, okay ... I'm getting back on track. Where were we ... oh ... meeting your better half and experiencing an instantaneous and all encompassing love ... yeah ... great start to the book!! I love how all of Brown's novels start with just dropping you into the middle of the story. 

The Alibi really kept me interested the whole time that I was reading. I didn't feel a lag or boredom and I didn't find myself skimming very often ... I do happen to do that quite a bit. I'm not proud of skimming but I've got to raise two children who don't leave me much sanity or patience to work with.

You can NEVER go wrong with a Sandra Brown book. Ever. Well ... unless you're talking about one that I haven't read yet and then you're on your own. But for the ones I've read, they're amazing. Pick it up. Now. And no, I'm not paid by Sandra Brown to say that. But I totally wouldn't turn down a few bucks if I was ... 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review: What Doesn't Kill Her

Title: What Doesn't Kill Her
Author: Max Allan Collins
Published: September 17th, 2013
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 9781612185293
Pages: 340

★★★★✰
Jordan Rivera is an ordinary kid with an ordinary family, until a vicious killer takes it all away, sparing her, but leaving her broken. The murders of her father, mother and brother destroy something inside Jordan, who spends ten long, mute years in an institution. Catching a glimpse of a news report about another family slaying, Jordan at last breaks her silence. Now she’s out, and she molds herself—body and mind—into an instrument of justice.

While a young detective pursues the case on his own, Jordan teams up with members of her support group, people like her, damaged by violent crime. They have their own stories of pain, heartache, and vengeance denied. With their help, Jordan will track down the killer before he can ravage any more lives. Her life – and her sanity – depend on it.



In a way, I have been waiting (not so patiently) for this book. Not that I had ever heard of this book prior to reading it, I hadn't. I didn't know that this book existed. But I had been waiting for a book to move me. And this one did. 

You get pulled into this nightmare from the first page. Being a parent, this one really freaked me out. I can't imagine my child having to go through that kind of experience. Listening to your family being brutally murdered? Absolutely terrifying. I have a VERY vivid imagination and I often picture in my mind, the events of a book - especially when the book is well written. This happened with What Doesn't Kill Her. I could hear Jordan's mother calling to her, I could hear each footstep coming down the hallway ... I was terrified for Jordan! 

I really liked watching Jordan transform from an emotionless mute to a very determined and angry victim. But I didn't see her as a victim. She is the definition of a survivor. Jordan was such a strong woman, just biding her time, waiting. I really don't think that she could have been written any better ... I love strong female characters!

Max Allan Collins is an amazing author. I had not read anything from him before this and that is going to change. Man, he's just awesome. The plot was absolutely perfect, the characters were so developed that I could relate to them as people and the book wasn't full of extra "fluff" (those unnecessary paragraphs full of info or descriptions that really aren't needed and usually just tick me off because they are a waste of my very precious reading time).

What Doesn't Kill Her is one of those books that you pick up and don't want to put down ... unless you have the flu while reading ... which I did ... and then you would rather die than get out of bed or crack your eyes open to read a page ... but if you don't have the flu you should totally pick this book up ... it would be great to read while sitting by the pool or by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate (I'm hoping hot chocolate / fireplace time is coming soon even though it feels like 900 degrees outside right now).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: The Transfer: A Divergent Story

Title: The Transfer: A Divergent Story
Author: Veronica Roth
Date Published: September 3, 2013
ISBN: 9780062285638
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 50

★★★★★
More Four! Fans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by "The Transfer," the first of four new short stories told from Four’s perspective. Each brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory, and relationships.



Oh, Veronica Roth. She just twists that knife. She knows that we have to wait until OCTOBER for the last book in the series and while I really love the idea of having little novellas about Four ... it makes the wait for Allegiant so much worse!!

I hated to love this little book. I really did. Not because it was bad or anything but because it was absolutely heartbreaking. In Divergent, you fall in love with this strong and powerful man who is in control of everything around him. In The Transfer, all I could see was a broken little boy that I wanted to help and protect. It really gives you some amazing insight into the depths of who Four actually is.

I really can't say much more because it was only a handful of pages long and I don't want to ruin it!

I can tell you this much, it made me feel like a gluttonous hefty lady standing on a mountain of Zebra Cake wrappers waving her hands in the air while screaming "GIVE ME MORE!!" ...

I. Want. More. Four. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: First Temptation (Covert Affairs #1.5)

Title: First Temptation (Covert Affairs #1.5)
Author: Joan Swan
Date Published: August 2013
ISBN: 9780985870126
Publisher: Joan Swan
Pages: 160

★★★★★
Counter-terrorist agent Taft Walker knows the Mexican cartel smuggling game. But posing as part owner of an adult store to ferret out the newest tunnel into the US is a first. So is Zoe Brooks, his partner, new to undercover and a sex-toy virgin. Taft’s up for the sexy challenge. At least until he sees the real Zoe beneath her tough fa├žade and realizes, for the first time in his life, he’ll have to risk his heart to win.

After the death of a teammate, Border Patrol Agent Zoe Brooks is ready to get off the front lines. She’s willing to tolerate a swaggering partner like Taft for a chance to work investigations with ICE. But she’s not prepared for the way he understands her deepest, sexiest desires. Or the fact that she’ll have to break her own rules to grab hold of the passion she’s always wanted.



I am really starting to wonder why in the hell I haven't heard of some of these authors that I'm reading lately!! Why have I never heard of Joan Swan?!? I'm just not understanding. Great authors should NEVER be kept secret! Who is it I need to be stalking in order to find out about these writers? All this lost time!! I could have been reading her books since last year!! Ugh. So frustrating. 

Well, at least I've found her now because DAMN. Swan is an amazing writer! This novella had me hooked from the first sentence. I love how you're just thrown into the excitement from the very first sentence. Being that captivating from the get-go must be difficult or all writers would have the same thing going on. 

I immediately fell in love with the main character, Zoe Brooks. This character absolutely commands your attention. It's great seeing such a strong female character. She's a strong, willful woman in a mans world and she fits right in. On the flip-side, she's sexy and funny and sassy. I just loved her. She was a perfectly messed-up character (the flawed kind that I adore). 

I really liked the interaction between Taft and Zoe. The verbal sparring between the two was awesome. It reminded me of my husband and I. 

The story was very well written. I was left with absolutely no questions or doubts about anything. The novella flowed so well ... this author is just amazing! I'll definitely be picking up some more of her books. Well, once I'm done with the pile that I have to get through. But Swan is on my radar and she should be on yours as well. If you like romantic-suspense books, you just have to pick this up when it becomes available ... which is soon ... right?!? (Nudge, nudge to the powers that be ...)

This is a super short review but I really don't have anything else to say ... I loved the book. I love the characters. I love the storyline. I love the cover. I love the author. Sigh. I really wish I didn't have other things lined up to read ... 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Foreverland is Dead

Title: Foreverland is Dead
Author: Tony Bertauski
Date Published: January 2013
Pages: 300

 ★★✰✰✰
Six teenage girls wake with no memories. One of them is in a brick mansion, her blonde hair as shiny as her shoes. The others are in a cabin, their names tagged to the inside of their pants. Their heads, shaved. Slashes mark the cabin wall like someone has been counting.

Hundreds of them.

There’s wilderness all around and one dead adult. The girls discover her body rotting somewhere in the trees. As the weeks pass, they band together to survive the cold, wondering where they are and how they got there. And why.

When an old man arrives with a teenage boy, the girls learn of a faraway island called Foreverland where dreams come true and anything is possible. But Foreverland is dead. In order to escape the wilderness, they’ll have to understand where they are.

More importantly, who they are.



I don't know what to talk about first. My head is still spinning from this novel and not exactly in a good way. My first thoughts ... sigh. Okay. When I first read the blurb on Foreverland is Dead, I was really excited. This sounded like a dystopian novel ... I LOVE dystopian novels lately. And this one sounded like it had some crazy twists ... I do love twists!

Then I started reading. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm expecting too much with books today. Maybe that's what it is, my expectations are too high. I want to pick up a book and be transported. I want to go to another time or place and be swept up in what is going on in these pages. I don't want to think, I want to be overwhelmed. I want to feel something towards these characters ... I want to hate, love, dislike, despise, adore ... I don't care what emotion, really. I just want the characters to come alive.

At the end of the book, there is a MAJOR twist. And if I'm being completely honest, this twist was totally lost on me because I couldn't remember exactly who a certain character was. Really?!? I wanted to throw a massive temper tantrum and go kick someone in shin. I felt like I was let down. Granted, that may be my own fault. Maybe I didn't pay attention. Maybe it was the beginning of the book that lost me. 

At the beginning, I was a little thrown off by the haltingly way that the book was written. It felt like the author was trying to use the least amount of words possible for each sentence. The sentences were cut off, not in a way that left a fragmented sentence, but in a way that I felt I was only getting part of the information. The book read like it wanted to be more ... does that even make sense?!? I have another one of my crazy analogies for you ... the book is like a balloon that was only blown up half-way. The balloon wants to be huge! It has so much potential! When it's only blown up half-way it's a waste.

The short, weird sentences never completely went away. It was hard to get the feeling of the story ... feel what the characters were going through or get a full sense of what was going on around them. Eventually the sentences lengthened but by that time, I had lost a bit of interest. I don't want to work that hard to figure out who characters are and what they are about. 

The story wasn't bad. It was actually really good and that is the only reason that this book received 2 stars from me. I wanted to know what was going to happen. I needed to know what was going to happen. And let me tell you, that's a really weird feeling when you only know about half of the characters. I wanted to know but then I would have to go back to the beginning of the book to figure out who it was happening to. 

Once again, I'm in the minority with this review score. A lot of people really liked it. You should give it a shot. If nothing else, you'll read a really great story concept.