Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Never List by Koethi Zan

Amazon Description:
For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.

Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.

Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors—who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.
My Review:
I could not put this book down! I read this 305 page book in one day and I wished it was longer. There were a ton of plot twists to keep you guessing. The characters were creatively developed.

The one criticism I have is that the main character, Sarah, starts off as completely agoraphobic and can't leave her apartment. Very quickly she is going places and doing things that even people who aren't agoraphobic would never do. I don't think this aspect of Sarah's story is necessary or believable.

There's a lot of intriguing details in every chapter. It went in a lot of directions I never expected. While the ending was somewhat predictable, how you got there was not.

I rate The Never List by Koethi Zan 5 stars and would recommend it for adults looking for an excellent psychological thriller.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Amazon Description:
Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

My Review:
I liked Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, but not as much as I was expecting to. The characters were relatable and the relationships were somewhat believable. I felt the pain of both Vivian and Molly as I was reading.

Yes, the storyline is predictable, but it was a heartwarming tale of two people of different generations going through life as orphans. I liked the way Vivian and Molly connected.

There wan definitely something lacking in this book. While the writing was beautiful, I really wanted more of Molly's childhood. Also, I kept waiting for a current conflict, but it never came. All the conflict was in the past by years or decades depending on the person. Molly had some current "stumbles" but nothing I could consider a real conflict.

I rate Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline 3 stars. It was a good read, but nothing I would read again. I would recommend it for young adults looking for an interesting piece of historical fiction.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

With Their Eyes by Annie Thoms

Amazon Description:
I could have died that day.
September 11, 2001
Monologues from Stuyvesant High School
Tuesday, September 11, started off like any other day at Stuyvesant High School, located only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. The semester was just beginning, and the students, faculty, and staff were ready to begin a new year.
But within a few hours on that Tuesday morning, they would all share an experience that transformed their lives.
Now, on the tenth anniversary of September 11th, we remember those who were lost and those who were forced to witness this tragedy. Here, in their own words, are the firsthand stories of a day we will never forget.

My Review:
With Their Eyes by Annie Thoms is written as a play. On September 11th, Thoms was the English teacher at the Stuyvesant High School which is just four blocks from the World Trade Center. The monologues were taken from a series of interviews with a number of students, teachers and staff from the school.

Reading the monologues was like reading short interviews from 9/11. There are no complete stories within the book. It was all small glimpses from different perspectives, just like the media got by pulling people aside on the street. There were also a tremendous amounts of "like's", "you know's" and "uh's" which may have flowed naturally in the play but did not read nicely at all.

What I really could not get over was that these monologues were played by actors telling stories that were not their own. In essence, it would be a reenactment of interviews. This is NOT a "first-hand account" as the description of the book states, but a second-hand, recycled and edited portrayal of interviews.

I did not enjoy this book. I wanted the stories of what these kids experienced on 9/11/01. The whole time I was reading, I hated the idea of this book and was disgusted that this teacher capitalized on these people's stories with a play and now a book. I only finished reading so I could write this review and warn people that they will not get what they are probably expecting when they purchase this book.

I rate With Their Eyes by Annie Thoms 1 star and would NOT recommend it. I suggest reading real stories directly from the survivors and families that were effected by 9/11.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher - Book Review

Amazon Description:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

My Review:
With all the hype over this book, I had pretty high expectations and I felt a  little let down. I thought the concept was interesting. Thirteen people in some way contributed to the reason Hannah committed suicide. Instead of a suicide note, Hannah gives the reasons on a series of cassette tapes that are to be passed from one person to the next on her list of those she holds responsible. If they don't pass it along, a second set of tapes that someone else is holding will be played for everyone to hear.

The book was told through Clay's perspective who is on Hannah's list and is currently listening to the tapes. The whole story would have been more compelling and impactful if told from the person who holds the second set of tapes. 

There's no urgency in the book. You know Hannah commits suicide, so her story is over. There's no saving Hannah. Some of the reasons she had people on her list were just ridiculous and was irritating that it contributed to the decision to end her life. Is this supposed to be a warning that people should watch what they say all the time? I didn't get it.

Overall, I rate Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, 3 stars. It was written well in that it does grab your attention, so I'd like to read something else by Jay Asher. This book just didn't hold up to the hype.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres - Audiobook Review

Amazon Description:
I've experienced a lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you'll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I've put together for you in this book. I think you'll find I've left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I'm saying is, let us begin, shall we?
My Review:
I was glad that the audiobook was read by Ellen. She infused humor in just about every chapter. There was a lot of inspirational words of wisdom about things like healthy eating, yoga and gaining the confidence to be yourself. Those parts were written quite well and Ellen's reading added to the genuine tone of the advice.
There were a few chapters that were completely nonsensical and didn't belong in this book. They were not funny, inspirational or even about Ellen. They added nothing but pages to this book.
I have not read the actual book and I don't think I will. The audiobook was okay but I don't believe the humor would be translated well in print.
I rate Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres 3 stars. I would recommend it to someone looking for a general self-help book that's not too "preachy".

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Long Walk by Stephen King - Book Review

In The Long Walk by Stephen King, 100 teenage boys are chosen to walk what would be the last walk for 99 of them. The must walk at a pace of 4 miles per hour, if they fall below the pace or break any other rules, they are given a warning. They get three warnings and if they break the rules again, they are shot right on the road. They have a canteen of water that can be refilled any time and each day they're given a good concentrate. They can't stop for anything.

I read a Stephen King novel about once a year. I go through what's listed on Amazon, reading all of the descriptions and convince myself that this time I am going to like the book...and I am wrong every time. The Long Walk bothered me by the third chapter. Only walking 8 miles and people are already getting shot. These boys are not randomly selected they WANT to be on the walk for they want the prize money and gift at the end. Why wouldn't they train so they could at least make it as far as a half marathon?

The whole book is walk, whine, warning, and someone gets shot. You only get to know a few characters and only on a surface level. It's never enough to actually care when they are shot. The ending was no ending at all really. It was more like Mr. King just didn't feel like writing the book anymore- not that I can blame him for that.

I listened to the audiobook which probably made this book all the more painful. The narrator's change of voices were great but the impossibly slow pace made me wish for my "4th" warning!

I rate The Long Walk by Stephen King 1 star and wouldn't recommend anyone...ever.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hooked by Catherine Greenman - Book Review

Thea is just seventeen when she falls in love with Will and everything seems perfectly in place ith her upcoming graduation. hen she becomes pregnant, she chooses to have an abortion but can't go through with it and decides to keep the child.

I chose to read Hooked because I thought it would be a realistic look at what life is like when a seventeen year old decides to keep their child. It wasn't even close. The relationship between Thea and Will rings true as time goes on but I was disappointed that 290 pages didn't even begin to describe how hard it can be to raise a child.

There are a few problems that Thea had to face but the solutions were unrealistic and seemed to glorify a fantasy teen-pregnancy situation. I kept waiting for a real problem that her well-off parents wouldn't bail her out of -  but it never came. The solution that Thea comes up with to support her new family was so unrealistic it made me cringe.

Overall, I rate Hooked by Catherine Greenman 2 stars and I don't see myself recommending it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Season of Lies by Monica Shaughnessy Book Review

Amazon Description:
Robin Calloway has always been "special"--a misfit who lives more in her own head than the real world. Some, including her father, even think she's crazy. So when her brother is found murdered, Robin's father suspects her of the crime and sends her to a mental institution for observation. With the help of Dr. G, Robin begins to untangle memories of the killing, but admits a terrible truth about herself in the process: she can both hear and speak to animals, and this cursed ability forces her to "sleepwalk"--or blank out--for most of her day.

Fearing both the local sheriff and the label of "schizophrenic," Robin escapes the hospital and flees into the Texas Hill Country. To survive hunting season in the woods, however, she must accept her unique senses and gain the help of a whitetail deer herd. But Robin soon finds herself in the path of a killer desperate to hide the truth.

My Review:
Robin can speak to animals in her head, or at least she believes she can. She is a resident in a psychiatric hospital and is accused of the murder of her brother while he was hunting. She knows she is innocent but can't prove it without escaping the hospital and using her gift of speaking with the animals to retrace her step of the night her brother was killed.

I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. Although the bulk of the book is too peaceful for me to consider it a "thriller" it as definitely suspenseful. Robin is believably portrayed as an innocent soul. The way her gift is written felt so realistic I wondered (almost) if it were really possible to speak to animals like Robin.

The ending was filled with some twists which was surprising considering how straight forward most of the book seemed to be. It as a pleasant surprise to see how the characters were connected.

My biggest complaint was the slang that as used in the narrative sections. Words like "nekkid" and "woulda" really bothered me and made Robin come off as uneducated.

Overall, I rate Season of Lies by Monica Shaughnessy 4 stars and would recommend it to someone looking for a unique read.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult Book Review

The Tenth Circle is one of my favorite novels by Jodi Picoult. The reactions of the town and students after Trixie accuses hockey star, Jason, of rape is honest and infuriating. Trying to piece together the evidence to determine if Trixie was violated was a big reason why I couldn't put the book down.

I loved the breaks in the storyline that have excerpts of Trixie's father's graphic novel. It is an interesting way to include his occupation and see how Trixie influences his work.

The best part about The Tenth Circle is the way all of the characters are connected. Everyone is involved in a complex web of circumstances which adds a great amount of interest to each character.

I rate The Tenth Circleby Jodi Picoult 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. This is one book I can read many times and find something new each time.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Book Review

I read this book after seeing the preview for the movie. Books that take place during WWII have always fascinated me and I was looking forward to reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

The characters are amazing. I loved Liesel and Max's friendship and seeing the softening of the mother's heart as time goes on. There's no doubt that the setting and characters are flawlessly developed.

I thought the idea of death as the narrator of the story was an interesting concept but poorly executed. The narration breaks the flow of the story. Every time "Death's" voice was heard, it was short little descriptions or definitions of specific words. When I was reading these parts, it came off as though it was a portion of the author's outline that he didn't know how else to write into the book.

Another problem I had with The Book Thief was that there was no conflict. There was some tension but every problem was so easily resolved, I couldn't get a real grasp on the story.

Overall, I rate The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 3 stars. With so many other books that take place during this time period, I don't think I'll be recommending this one.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Creation by Kat Mellon Book Review

   Creation by Kat Mellon was an interesting 92 page novella. People with different talents are taken to a place called "Creation" and their memories are wiped of anything from the outside world. They know nothing about trees, cities or even children and the elderly. Their creative talents are the only thing they can focus on.

Although I found Creation's concept very interesting, I can't ignore the fact that the story ended right where things were taking a particularly interesting turn. There were too many unanswered questions to have the story feel compete. The last few pages read like the author was forcing emotions that weren't warranted just to bring the novella to an end. I did ask the author if she planned another book on Creation considering all the plot lines that were left unfinished and she said she was not planning on continuing the story. This was a disappointment to hear as I think Creation is a beautiful introduction to a much larger story that we'll never hear.

Overall, I rate Creation by Kat Mellon 3 1/2 stars.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult: Book Review

Amazon Description:

One moment June Nealon was happily looking forward to years full of laughter and adventure with her family, and the next, she was staring into a future that was as empty as her heart. Now her life is a waiting game. Waiting for time to heal her wounds, waiting for justice. In short, waiting for a miracle to happen. For Shay Bourne, life holds no more surprises. The world has given him nothing, and he has nothing to offer the world. In a heartbeat, though, something happens that changes everything for him. Now, he has one last chance for salvation, and it lies with June's eleven-year-old daughter, Claire. But between Shay and Claire stretches an ocean of bitter regrets, past crimes, and the rage of a mother who has lost her child. Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love? Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy's dying wish?

My Review:

I am kind of torn when it comes to Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. There are things I loved about the book and things I really hated.

First, I'll get the negative out of the way:

1. There are some elements of this book that are obvious rip-offs of The Green Mile to the point where I even checked to see if Stephen King sued Jodi Picoult. (He did not.)

2. The big plot twist was predictable and the character's reactions to the twist was INFURIATING because no decent person would react in such a way.

3. The lack of information on the crime that landed Shay Bourne on death row was disappointing.

The good aspects that kept me reading on were

2. I enjoyed the relationships that developed throughout the book, particularly between Shay and his lawyer.

3. This novel had me thinking about different religions which I always enjoy. While Change of Heart has a explores a few religions, it was always in a questioning manner and I never felt like any belief system was being shoved down my throat.

Overall, I don't think Change of Heart is Picoult's best novel, but it wasn't awful either so I rate it 3 stars.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Forever Yours by Nicole Salmond: Book Review

Amazon Description:

Forever Yours is a journey about love and loss, two people from different walks of life united in unexpected circumstances. Life for Tristan was never dull, his celebrity status giving him more than he could ever have imagined, but his fame came at a price. His life was played out in the spotlight every day, and no matter how idolised and wanted he was, he couldn’t help but feel the torment of his loneliness. Stella was a no fuss kind of girl. She liked her boring life, her predictable future. She prided herself on her simplicity; no complications, no promises and definitely no relationships. A chance encounter leaves Tristan and Stella questioning everything they once knew. Feelings Stella had buried long ago were now all too real and now she was faced with a decision, a decision that forces her to face the painful secrets of her past, the secrets that changed her life forever.
My Review:
Forever Yours by Nicole Salmond is a love story like many others I have read. It starts off where a "Plain Jane" named Stella meets a celebrity where she works, but doesn't know just how famous this man is. She's attracted to Tristan, but his personality irritates her. Eventually they both are basically questioning who they are as individuals to determine if they should be together.
Let me begin by saying that I didn't hate this book, it just really irritated me. The beginning is so poorly written with conflicting statements every other paragraph that I didn't want to continue reading...but I did. About halfway through the book, the writing did get a little better but the storyline was still very predictable and the relationship between Stella and Tristan remained just like so many other "love" stories I've read.
When I went back to the Amazon page to read the description of this book, I noticed that Salmond has listed two editors for this novel. I honestly do not understand how two editors didn't pick up on some major weaknesses with the plot development in Forever Yours. There were portions of this book where it seriously dragged, and the most intriguing part (the twist) was rushed and I felt unsatisfied with the amount of information given. 
That all being said, the actual story of Stella and Tristan and what they went through is somewhat intriguing, it was just poorly executed. I saw the potential, which in my opinion means she just needs a really good editor who's not willing to hurt the author's feelings and tell her where she went wrong.
Overall, I give Forever Yours 2 1/2 stars.

Monday, July 8, 2013

44 by Jools Sinclair: Book Review

Amazon Description:

Last year after falling through the ice, seventeen-year-old Abby Craig woke up from death.

But she woke into a world she barely recognizes. She can't see colors, memories have been erased, and her friends all hate her. And then there's Jesse, who she loves, but who refuses to forgive her the one mistake she made long ago.

Just when she thinks it can't get any worse, the visions begin. In them, she sees a faceless serial killer roaming the streets. While the police believe that there have been a lot of accidents in town lately, Abby knows differently. And she soon realizes that it's up to her to find him.

But to stop him, she'll have to confront more than just the killer. She'll have to face something else that was lost in those dark waters. The truth.

My Review:

I quite enjoyed 44. The characters and plot are well developed and intriguing. I was pleasantly surprised at how fast-paced this mysterious and ominous book was to read.

The plot focuses around the faceless killer in Abby Craig's night-time visions and her close relationship with her best friend Jesse. While I found the killer storyline interesting, in my opinion, it was much too obvious who the murderer was.  There were one or two twists and turns that allowed me to look beyond the fact that I knew who the killer was before getting halfway through the book.

There are currently 7 books in the 44 series the author is working on book 8 and seems to be releasing them fairly quickly. All of the books are around 200 pages. I would like to finish the series that I'm assuming (based on the name) will be 44 books, but I will wait until all of the books are released because these are quick-reads and I think I would be impatient waiting for the next installment.

Overall, I thought 44 was an excellent start to the series and I rate it 4 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a paranormal series with a lot of action. This first book is free so definitely give it a try!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Host by Stephenie Meyer: Book Review

 The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Amazon Description:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST
is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

My Review:
I have never been a fan of sci-fi books before and I only wanted to read The Host because Stephenie Meyer is the author and I am a huge fan of The Twilight Saga. I was surprised at how little of the book can actually be considered sci-fi when the main character is a soul. Stephenie Meyer describes the book as "Sci-Fi for people who don't like Sci-Fi" and I couldn't agree more.

The best part of The Host is the may different aspects of love it explores. Love of family, friends, humankind, and the earth are all weaved in throughout the story. Wanderer is a soul incapable of hatred, even for Melanie who refuses to fade away and it is their relationship that is the most interesting in this novel.

I have read The Host many times since its release in 2010. It is my favorite book of all time. I was surprised at how easily I could relate to both Melanie and Wanderer. The emotions in this book always feel true and the relationships are all complex and beautifully developed.

I rate The Host by Stephenie Meyer 5 stars and recommend it for anyone looking for a good read.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wanderlust by Karen McQuestion (Book Review)

Wanderlust is an amazing sequel to Edgewood. Mallory, Russ, Jameson and Nadia travel to Peru under the protection of the Praetorian Guard to search for David Hofstetter who has been presumed dead for sixteen years. Although they know the search is going to be a challenge and quite possibly dangerous, they are ready to face whatever obstacles The Associates might put in their way to prevent them from succeeding. However, what will they do when they aren't so sure the Praetorian Guard truly has their best interests at heart?

Several questions from Edgewood were answered while creating more questions about what's going to happen next with these four kids dealing with much more than they should at barely sixteen years old. There was a perfect balance of supernatural and real-life emotions which allowed me to connect even more with these characters. This sequel is much more than The Associates vs. the Praetorian Guard. For the first time I got to see a little bit of Jameson's vulnerability and Mallory's manipulations. Nadia's insecurities and Russ's compassion are still evident but on a much deeper level than in Edgewood and I was incredibly pleased with the way they connected in this book.

While these four are on this mission to find David who might not even be alive, they are simultaneously deciding if they want to commit themselves to the Praetorian Guard. Some realize pretty quickly that they might not be able to say no even if they wanted to.

I devoured this book in a day. It's one of my favorite thing about Karen McQuestion's don't realize you've been reading for hours until the sun starts to set and are shocked when you look at the clock. I liked Wanderlust even more than Edgewood and I didn't know if that was even possible! I can't wait for the next book in the Edgewood series!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jimmy by William Malmborg (Book Review)

Jimmy by William Malmborg is a disturbing psychological thriller. Jimmy Hawthorn is in his last few months of high school and decides to act on an overwhelming urge to kidnap a girl and hold her captive in a fallout shelter. Before the week is over, he has two girls hanging from their wrists in the shelter.

I really liked a number of things about this book. First, it was well-researched. Jimmy is pretty demented in my opinion and the underlying cause of his urge to take these girls would have to be researched from a few different angles to understand what both Jimmy and the girls would be experiencing. I've read many books where the research was lacking and was pleased that this author really knew what he was talking about.

I also liked the change of perspective that happened, showing the same sequence of events twice. I thought it put a really interesting twist to the story and allowed me to understand the characters a little better.

I read all 267 pages in one sitting because I was so disturbed by what was happening, I had to know how it was all going to come to an end.

I feel like the ending was a bit rushed. There could have been a little more detail there I think. I also think there was a hugely missed opportunity to tell part of the story from one of the girl's perspective. It would have added to the twistedness of the novel and pulled more emotion for the ending.

I also think another run-through for the grammar/spelling would be beneficial. There were quite a few instances where one word was written instead of the correct word. (Scrapped/Scraped and Liter/Litter) to name a couple.

Overall, I really thought this was a great book and I will be picking up the other books Malmborg has written. I rate Jimmy 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to any adult looking for a really twisted read.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein (Book Review)

Pretty Amy is a contemporary YA novel centered around a girl named Amy who is hanging out with the wrong crowd. She's the quiet one of the group and tends to go along with what her so-called friends do just to fit in with them. Their prom night changed the course of their friendship and possibly the course of Amy's life.

Pretty Amy was highly recommended to me and after seeing the beautiful cover, I had to add this book to my collection and I am glad I did. Amy is a well-developed character who doesn't have such a positive attitude about her life. In general, she's a perfectly normal teenager trying to figure out who she is and when she falls into a sticky situation she has a hard time dealing with it.

Pretty Amy is written from Amy's perspective and a lot of times she is making a mountain out of a mole-hill but that is such a realistic teenage voice. Don't most teens feel incredibly lonely and frustrated when they lose a friendship they depended on? I know I did.

Lisa Burstein has a great way with one-liners that had me laughing throughout the book. I like how her characters are real and nothing is sugar coated with beautiful looks, money or straight A's. Amy could be the poster girl for the average teen in today's world.

There are some topics in the book that could be considered controversial so if you're sensitive to things like drugs and alcohol, you might want to choose a different book. That being said, I don't feel as though any of the issues are glorified and they made me understand Amy better.

One issue I did have with Pretty Amy was the pacing of the book. There were times where I didn't feel like it was going anywhere but right when I was ready to take a break from Pretty Amy, there was a new detail thrown in that made me keep reading.

I do feel like this is a great book for mother-daughter reading as it can open up conversations about things that aren't easily brought up around the dinner table. It is definitely one I will be reading again with my daughter when she's a little older. (She's only 10 right now.)

I rate Pretty Amy 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for any teenager who's looking for a main character they can really relate to. If you're out of high school or have trouble channeling your inner teenager, you might not be able to appreciate the book as much as I did, but it doesn't hurt to try the sample and see if you can relate.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Abducted (Lizzy Gardner #1) - Book Review

In Abducted by T.R. Ragan, fourteen years ago, Lizzy Gardner was kidnapped by a man she calls "Spiderman" because of his obsession with using poisonous spiders to torture the girls he kidnaps. She manages to escape after two months, the only victim of Spiderman's to live. Now, Lizzy is a private investigator and also teaches self-defense to help young girls if they are ever attacked.

After Lizzy escaped from her abductor, Spiderman has stopped killing but has the need to find the "one that got away." She has betrayed him and now he seeks his revenge.

This "thriller" was incredibly disappointing. I was bored before even getting halfway through the book, and then I was annoyed at all of the problems with Abducted. I am just going to list them...

1. All of the characters seem to forget their cell phones in their car or the battery dies, just when they need it the most.
2. The common link between ALL of the victims is missed by the police and it's way too obvious to miss.
3. Lizzy is the WORST private investigator on the face of the earth. She ignores her intuition and ignores odd behavior every other scene. Plus, there's several times where she doesn't contact the police when any person would.
4. There are some really pointless characters in this book and I felt as though their mini-stories were just a way of dragging the plot along.
5. I read almost 400 pages, waiting for a twist that never came. When it was revealed who Spiderman was, I was not in the least bit suprised.
6. For a book released in 2012, I'm pretty sure it's common knowledge that you don't have to wait 60 seconds before a trace starts on your phone when set up by police.
7. Nobody ever takes Lizzy seriously besides her love interest.
8. There are dates and times (Law & Order style) which indicate a change of scene. In my opinion, if you're going to do that, add the place as well so you know which character you're supposed to be following at the time.
9. Anything exciting or action that happens is short and quickly cuts to a new scene and when the author goes back to that storyline I was always disappointed.

I don't understand why this book has so many five star reviews. There was nothing amazing about it at all. There was only one character, Hayley, that I actually liked and her storyline wasn't very long. She is the only reason I am rating this book 2 stars instead of 1.

Abducted is the first book in The Lizzy Gardner Series. Luckily, there's no huge cliffhanger at the end where you need to read the next one to find out what happens. Yes, there's some unanswered questions, but I don't care enough to find out those answers. I will not be picking up any more books in this series.

Overall, I rate Abducted (The Lizzy Gardner Series #1) 2 out of 5 stars. I would not recommend this book considering the amount of great thrillers out there.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Finding Hannah by John R Kess (Book Review)

Finding Hannah by John R Kess is centered around fifteen-year-old Dylan Beachley and his search to find his older sister, Hannah, after she is kidnapped as he slept just one floor away.  After the official search by volunteers and officers is called off, Dylan makes it his mission to find her on his own.  He is joined by Molly who eventually tells him about her life with a drug addicted mother and her abusive boyfriend.

The action started almost the second you opened this book.  While normally I enjoy books like that, I felt there wasn't enough of an emotional tie between the reader and Hannah to feel the pain of her absence. While you do get to know more about Hannah along the way, you don't feel the initial shock from her kidnapping. I think it was because of this that I didn't feel a sense of urgency to find her.

As the relationship between Dylan and Molly grows, I felt like the story became more about her and what she is going through.  This isn't a bad turn for the story. There's only so much you can say about Hannah who's kidnapped just a few pages into the book. Molly was my favorite character in the book because she seemed to have such a positive attitude even with an abusive home-life. I was taken by surprise at just how much I liked Molly and her story when I teared-up as Dylan read her a letter he had written.

This is listed as a children's mystery/thriller and I think that's the perfect way of describing it.  There's nothing too gruesome or scary. I feel like Finding Hannah is the perfect book if you are just trying out the thriller genre and not looking for something that might keep you up at night.  I would let my ten-year-old daughter read it without any worries. If you are someone who reads thrillers on a regular basis, you might be disappointed by the lack of detail surrounding the more painful aspects of the story.

Overall, I rate Finding Hannah 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part 2 Review (No Spoilers)

So, Alli and I went to see Breaking Dawn Part 2. I really liked it and now that I am home thinking about it, I like it even more and can't wait to see it again.  There is a part that they changed at the end. While I was watching it, I couldn't appreciate it.  I just kept thinking about how much they changed it and how were they going to turn it around to make it end like the book. I was really really mad about the change. Everyone in the theater was shocked and there were gasps and as soon as that part was over everyone went, "Oooohhhhhh" and I think there was a collective sigh of relief.

I thought the acting was a huge improvement from the last few movies. There was also a lot of humor in the movie that I wasn't expecting. One thing I wished was that there was more of Renesme and her "gift." There was only one part that showed what she is actually doing, the rest of the times she did it, it was just inferred that you should understand what's going on.

I also think there should have been a better description of what Bella can do. Alli didn't really understand it until I explained how it was in the book.

As far as the part at the end that was changed. As the books were from Bella's perspective (and some from Jake in BD) that part wouldn't be in the book anyway. That is how I am accepting the change, and I actually quite like it now.  At the time I couldn't accept what was happening because it was so far departed from the book.

Overall, I would rate the movie 5/5 stars. It's the best one they've done yet.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Audiobook Released!

I am very excited right now.  My book, Unbreakable, is now available on! It's a short story, so it's not even an hour long, but it was a lot of fun to work on with Amanda Friday.  The process was so easy on ACX.  I spent a couple days listening to demos of different narrators and I emailed the ones I liked the best.  Then, they read a clip of your book as an audition and you choose who you want.  It took Amanda about a month to produce the book.  It would have been less but she went on vacation.  She was my first choice and she did a really great job.

I am looking forward to having my other books produced as an audiobook.  It was a lot of fun!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Certainty by Eileen Sharp

After reading the synopsis of Certainty by Eileen Sharp, I had to read it. Ren can see the future through ghosts who speak to him. When he meets MacKenzie, the girl he knows he's going to fall in love with, things are complicated because of the information he knows about her brother's tragic accident. The cover made the synopsis even more intriguing and I really thought it would have a creepy type of storyline and a forbidden love thrown in for flair, but I was wrong.
Unfortunately, the story was weak. I was shocked at the amount of filler in this book.  A ton of unneeded information that built up to nothing. You are halfway through the book before anything actually happens.  Certainty is told in first person through the perspective of Ren and MacKenzie.  While I like this idea, it just didn't work out so well.  There were no defining characteristics between the two and when the internal personal monologue went on, I had to think about who's perspective it was.  In all honesty, it felt as though maybe this was meant to be a short story but the author decided to put more information than what was needed just to make the book longer. You could read the first 10, middle 20 and last 20 pages and not be lost as to what the story is.
Certainty needs an editor as well.  There weren't too many spelling or grammar errors but certain characters' actions were repetitive and not described any differently. Also, some of the language was not really convincing for any 16 year old.  I don't know any teen who's used the word "derriere" in today's society.
All that being said, I did see a glimmer of promise in Certainty. There were a few descriptions (mostly when there was raw emotion) that were flawless and the actual story without the filler is pretty good.  Really what this book needs is an editor not afraid to hurt the author's feelings and willingness to chop off about 100 pages of this 220 page book.
Overall, I rate Certainty by Eileen Sharp 2 stars.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Lonely Mile by Allan Leverone (Review)

It's fairly easy to guess what's going to happen in The Lonely Mile by Allan Leverone right after you read the synopsis on the product page.  A man named Bill Ferguson witnesses and stops a near kidnapping by the "I-90 Killer."  Although the girl is safe, the sociopath escapes and is seeking revenge on Bill and targets his precious, 17 year old daughter Carli.

I am sure if you think about it, you can figure out what happens, or come close to it.  That's okay, it is not what makes this such a great novel.  The intricate details of the story and the way Leverone manages to sneak twists into the story is part of the making of this fantastic thriller.  Bill Ferguson is determined to make his daughter safe and the way he tries to go about it had my hairs standing on end some of the time.  Also, you are put into the mind of the "I-90 Killer" which is incredibly creepy and made my skin crawl.

I do not normally read thrillers because (quite honestly) they aren't that thrilling to me.  I chose to read The Lonely Mile because I live just a few minutes away from I-90 and I thought it would add a little extra thrill factor to the read, but I don't think that extra bit is needed to feel the thrill of this novel.  I literally could not read this book fast enough for my liking.  I had to know what was going to happen next and there's no skipping a paragraph or you might just miss something important.

I am glad I jumped out of my comfort zone of YA fiction and tried out Leverone's suspenseful book.  I would recommend it to any adult who likes to go along with a fantastic thrilling read. I rate The Lonely Mile 5 out of 5 stars and I can't wait to read another of Leverone's books!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Edgewood by Karen McQuestion

Edgewood, the first book in the Edgewood Series by Karen McQuestion, features 15 year old Russ Becker who has a very hard time falling asleep.  He often goes for a walk around town late at night and it's during one of those walks that he witnesses a series of fast moving lights in the sky that fall to the ground in a spiral of blue and gold embers.

Shortly after this phenomenon, Russ realizes that he has supernatural powers and discovers he's not the only one who's been affected by the lights. Nadia, Mallory and Jameson have a little more information about what has happened to them but Russ is hesitant to believe any of it until certain events make it impossible to deny.

I want to preface my review of Edgewood with the fact that I read a lot of YA fiction and fantasy so I tend to be critical of this genre. It takes a lot to please me but Edgewood has more than met that challenge.  The way the book is written, you are discovering things along with Russ and are just as wary of the people who come into Russ's life as he is. All of the characters are intriguing and I couldn't help but want to know more about all of them including Jameson, who's not the most welcoming to Russ.

The dialogue and internal streams of consciousness felt extremely natural for a 15 year old boy.  There was never a time that I thought Russ's character was too adult for his age, even when faced with enormous obstacles. His sense of humor is fantastic and not over the top for the context of the story.

Although Edgewood is considered a YA paranormal fiction, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good read with strong character development and action sequences.  Even if you tend to stay away from any book labeled "paranormal" I think you will enjoy Edgewood. I read Edgewood in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. Even more exciting is that my 10 year old daughter also read this book and loved it just as much as I did.

I rate Edgewood 5 out of 5 stars and I am eagerly awaiting the second book in the series, Wanderlust, which Karen McQuestion is anticipating a February release.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Casual Vacancy (No Spoilers)

It was months ago that I heard J.K. Rowling would be releasing an adult novel and only the title ,The Casual Vacancy, was told. When I discovered that it would be available in September, I pulled out my calendar and marked the date.  There are a few authors I do this for, J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Jodi Picoult, and Karen McQuestion. I love when there's a book I am looking forward to reading.

I knew The Casual Vacancy was going to be nothing like Harry Potter.  I am actually very good at not expecting anything but the same quality of writing from an author. Crossing genres has never been an issue for me.  Karen McQuestion does it with amazing grace, not to mention the classic authors like Roald Dahl and Shakespeare. Even Stephen King crosses genres a bit with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

When The Casual Vacancy was released yesterday, I grabbed it and started reading. Here's what I will say about this book.  I was disappointed.  I am not against profanity and use my fair share in talking and even writing, but I really felt like it was overdone in this book. The F-bomb was dropped at least ten times in the first twenty pages or so and the nasty C word once or twice. It was as though Rowling couldn't think of another word and shoved the profanity in.

Also, I love description that brings you into the book, but I don't need a page long description of how someone unbuttons their coat. I want more description at the meat of the story, not the petty insignificant actions of a character.

The storyline itself felt like no more than a political lecture.  I can't think of another way to put it. I'm seriously not all that interested in politics but if you are, you might like this book a bit more than I did.

When I start a book, I read it to the end, even if I hate it.  I can't go as far as saying that I hated The Casual Vacancy, but I will say I was looking forward to not having to read it anymore and I will never pick it up again.  It's doomed to be on my bookshelf forever until someone asks to borrow it and doesn't heed my snoozefest warning.

I'm giving The Casual Vacancy 2.5 stars because I am feeling a little generous.

Just one side note...I know you're not supposed to judge a book by the cover but the plain artwork here is a perfect preface to the boring contents it covers.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Interview with J. R. Leckman

Please check out my interview with J. R. Leckman on the Interviews tab above. He gave some great answers and insight on his book The Legend of Kimberly:Inheritance. I will also be reviewing this book later this month so please stay tuned for that!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Interview with Judi Coltman

I had the pleasure of interviewing Judi Coltman for this blog. Check out the Interviews tab. I'd like to thank Judi for taking the time to stop by!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Interview with Cassandra Blizzard

I have posted the wonderful interview with Cassandra Blizzard on my Interview page so make sure you check it out!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Interview with Dianna Hardy

I have interviewed the lovely Dianna Hardy, the author of The Witching Pen. Check out my interview page!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


So, I am supposed to be taking a nap right now to be well rested for the midnight showing of Harry Potter. I've had my tickets for weeks now, just sitting in my wallet waiting to be pulled out. I am a die hard HP fan. I didn't start reading the books until the 5th one was out. To be honest, I thought it was just going to be a silly kid's book. Needless to say, I was wrong and I fell in love with the characters and cried like a baby for 2 days when Dumbledore was killed. Then when I came to terms with that, I decided that if the 7th book made Snape out to be a hero, I would hate JK Rowling. Well, that didn't happen because of the way it was written. JK Rowling is a genius.

My daughter is 9 and has grown up with HP. Luckily she loves HP as much as I do or she'd be mighty bored during my HP weekends! I don't know if she realizes how major it is that the series is done and over. I know I am going to cry my heart out during this movie, not just because of the story, but because this is it! I am going to miss the anticipation of the next book/movie.

Alright, I am going to see if I can get some rest. OH! Jake loves his new bed. Check him out: