4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, T

Review: Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy

Monkeewrench
by P.J. Tracy

Monkeewrench

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 404

Read: May 13 – 24, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: People are dying for the new computer game by the software company Monkeewrench. Literally. With Serial Killer Detective in limited release, the real-life murders of a jogger and a young woman have already mimicked the first two scenarios in the game.

But Grace McBride and her eccentric Monkeewrench partners are caught in a vise. If they tell the Minneapolis police of the link between their game and the murders, they’ll shine a spotlight on the past they thought they had erased – and the horror they thought they’d left behind. If they don’t, eighteen more people will die…


Review: This is the first book in the Monkeewrench series. I have had this one on my shelf for quite some time so I was excited to finally get to it.

For the most part I enjoyed it. But it had a pretty slow start for me. I’m not sure exactly why, but I struggled to get to the halfway point. I think it was the bouncing back and forth between two distinct storylines that kind of held me up. They were completely different and I had no idea what on earth was going to tie this two plot lines together. But then it finally came together as to what the connection was. And from that point on it was a race to the finish to find out exactly what had happened and why.

I am on the fence about whether or not I want to continue on with this series or not. Part of my issue is that this one felt like a standalone, the storyline wrapped up nicely. I assume it’s because this book was not written with the intention of being the first in a series.

Either way this particular book was enjoyable enough. Once you get past that slow start the book itself is enjoyable and I liked it.

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4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Non-Fiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: John Adams: A Life by John Ferling

John Adams: A Life
by John Ferling

John Adams-A Life

Copyright: 1992

Pages: 454

Read: April 20 – May. 19, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Abebooks.com

 

 

Blurb: John Ferling’s masterful John Adams: A Life is the most comprehensive single-volume biography of the man who succeeded George Washington in the presidency and shepherded the fragile new nation through the most dangerous of times. Drawing on extensive research, Ferling depicts a reluctant revolutionary, a leader who was deeply troubled by the warfare that he helped to make, and a fiercely independent statesman.


Review: This is my 4th book on John Adams. And I have to say, if you are looking for a really good single-volume biography of Mr. Adams – read this one! I wish I had read this book first, because it was extremely readable and provided just the right amount of information to give a pretty good broad overview.

I personally thought this book was easier to read than David McCullough’s work. But I think that is just my personal preference – I struggled that McCullough’s book kind of jumped around here and there at times. Ferling’s book was linear in the timeline and I just preferred the writing style of this one.

For the most part I found Ferling to be quite fair in his analysis of John Adams. I was glad that I finally read a book where the author finally called Adams out for basically being an absent husband for a good 3/4 of his married years. I wouldn’t say that he was over-critical of that, but it was refreshing to finally have it pointed it, not just swept under the rug like it was no big deal.

The book itself reads easily. I personally struggled to get through the diplomatic years. But that has nothing to do with this book. I struggled with those same years in the previous books I’ve read. (Just like I struggled through the war years in the George Washington books I read).

Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It’s well-researched and well-written. I think it can appeal to casual readers as well as students of history. This one is definitely going to be a stand-out for me as far as the John Adams books I’m reading go. And like I said – if you’re looking for an easy-to-read single-volume biography on John Adams, I would highly recommend this one.

2/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, N, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Bat by Jo Nesbo

The Bat
by Jo Nesbo

The Bat

 

Copyright: 1997

Pages: 331

Read: May 11 – 18, 2019

Rating: 2/5

Source: Library e-book

 

Blurb: The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbo’s detective, Harry Hole.

Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case. Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.


Review: I have been wanting to try this series for like EVER. I was thrilled to see that my library had an e-book copy that I could easily get and I had a Goodreads challenge callout that would be perfect for this book – so I knew it was time to finally get to it!

And then … I was really disappointed. Like to the point where had I not been reading this book for a challenge I would most have most likely DNF this one. 😦

But I stuck it out … and while it did get better there for a little bit, Harry went on a ridiculous drunken binge and I was just about done. Luckily he straightened back out but  to be honest, I was a little bit over it by then.

From what I’ve seen on Goodreads, the first book in this series is definitely not indicative of how good the books later in the series are. I do know that my grandmother gave me the 7th book in the series with a GLOWING review of it – maybe I’ll get to it someday. Or may be not. The verdict is still out, but this one did not work for me.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, May 27, 2019

Mailbox Mondays

Only one book in my mailbox this week – an ARC that I’m super excited about!

Things You Save in a Fire.jpgCassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

The Far End of Happy
by Kathryn Craft

The Far End of Trouble

 

Copyright: 2015

Pages: 336

Read: May 6 – 9, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Postal book club

 

Blurb: Ronnie’s husband is supposed to move out today. But when Jeff pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned.

The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage – and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie’s fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family’s lives depend on the choices she will make – but is what’s best for her best for everyone?

Based on a real event from the author’s life, The Far End of Happy is a chilling story of one troubled man, the family that loves him, and the suicide standoff that will change all of them forever.


Review: So this book was a selection for my postal book club. I had never heard of it or the author, but when it came in the mail I was excited to give it a go. And for the most part it was pretty good. But this is for a suspense/thriller postal book club – and this book definitely did not fit that bill. So in that respect it was a little disappointing.

As for the book itself it was an interesting story. It’s heartbreaking to know that this actually happened to someone’s family in real life. I personally have never been directly impacted by suicide, but I have a close friend who lost a family member to suicide. I definitely applaud the author in being able to put her story down on paper. I’m sure it was in a way therapeutic, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to relive that story and put it out there for the world and all it’s criticism. That takes guts.

I thought it was a good book and it kept my interest, I was eager to get to the end to see how it all turned out. Although as a reader you pretty much “know” how the standoff will end it was still an interesting journey getting to that point. Overall I enjoyed this one.

Book Blitz

Book Blast: Lying Next to Me by Gregg Olsen

Lying Next to Me Nerd Blast Banner
Lying Next to MeSYNOPSIS
 

No matter what you see, no matter what you’ve heard, assume nothing.

Adam and Sophie Warner and their three-year-old daughter are vacationing in Washington State’s Hood Canal for Memorial Day weekend. It’s the perfect getaway to unplug—and to calm an uneasy marriage. But on Adam’s first day out on the water, he sees Sophie abducted by a stranger. A hundred yards from shore, Adam can’t save her. And Sophie disappears.

In a nearby cabin is another couple, Kristen and Connor Moss. Unfortunately, beyond what they’ve heard in the news, they’re in the dark when it comes to Sophie’s disappearance. For Adam, at least there’s comfort in knowing that Mason County detective Lee Husemann is an old friend of his. She’ll do everything she can to help. She must.

But as Adam’s paranoia about his missing wife escalates, Lee puts together the pieces of a puzzle. The lives of the two couples are converging in unpredictable ways, and the picture is unsettling. Lee suspects that not everyone is telling the truth about what they know—or they have yet to reveal all the lies they’ve hidden from the strangers they married.

 
Praise for GREGG OLSEN‘S NOVELS

“Gregg Olsen‘s Envy is a riveting page-turner that I could not put down. Like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, Envyexplores a serious topic–cyberbullying–in a fantastic, well-crafted story. Can’t wait for the next Empty Coffinnovel!” ―Nancy Holder, New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked saga, Dear Bully contributor

“Gregg Olsen‘s Envy offers an interesting view on the devastating effects bullying can have, not only on the individuals involved from both sides, but on the community at large.” ―Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine trilogy

“Sure to spice up your reading repertoire!” ―GirlsLife.com

Olsen‘s characters jump to life and his plots are so intricate you never see the killer coming….a definite hit!” ―RT Book Reviews

“Dark and addictive…” ―Jordan Dane, critically acclaimed author of In the Arms of Stone Angels

Olsen writes with authority, drawing inspiration from actual headlines and crime…” ―Publishers Weekly

“WICKEDLY CLEVER! TWISTED.” ―Lisa Gardner

OLSEN WRITES RAPID-FIRE PAGE-TURNERS.” ―The Seattle Times

“GRABS YOU BY THE THROAT.” ―Kay Hooper  


 
Gregg OlsenABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances.

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, nine novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on Dateline NBC, William Shatner’s Aftermath, Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, FOX News, CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, CBS 48 Hours, Oxygen’s Snapped, Court TV’s Crier Live, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, and A&E’s Biography.

In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in Redbook, USA Today, People,Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture. His Young Adult novel, Envy, was the official selection of Washington for the National Book Festival.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker spaniel) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

 
PHOTO CONTENT FROM GREGG OLSEN

–> GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY <–

Gift Card Giveaway Banner

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter | Ends June 11, 2019
Winner will receive a $25 Dollar PayPal/Amazon Gift Card.
Please click HERE for the giveaway.

 

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things
by Julie Buxbaum

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Copyright: 2016

Pages: 336

Read: April 29 – May 5, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library e-book

 

Blurb: What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week as a junior at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short) offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?


Review:

My mom once told me that the world is divided into two kinds of people: the ones who love their high school years and the ones who spend the next decade recovering from them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, she said.

But something did kill her, and I’m not stronger. So go figure; maybe there’s a third kind of person: the ones who never recover from high school at all.

–p. 12

This book is the May selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I thought it sounded like a decent read and I saw that I could get it in an e-book through my library. I figured if I didn’t like it after so many pages I’d just turn it back in and that would be that. But what I wasn’t expecting was to be really taken by this book! I don’t know why I say that – more often than not I really enjoy the books selected by Anne.

This book took me right back to high school. I personally didn’t have the greatest high school experience (I moved schools in 7th grade and the day I graduated high school I was still known as “the new girl” even though I had been there for over 5 years at that point). So I totally understood what Jessie was going through with that new school thing. I only wish I had had a “Somebody Nobody” to guide me through those early few days, weeks and months.

Enough reminiscing about high school, back to the book. I found it to be easily readable. And even though I am far removed from high school I still enjoyed the book. I was anxious to see who SN ended up being – and I had it totally pegged correctly. So while that part wasn’t necessarily a surprise, I personally thought the ending was just right.

It’s a cute book. I’m glad I gave it a shot. And I still find it amusing that every time I read a young adult I enjoy it – even though I never would have touched a young adult book when I was actually part of the target audience for that genre. It’s a fun and easy read. It’s really just a cute, sweet book. It didn’t feel fake – the teenage voices felt “real” to me. So yeah, I’d recommend it!

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph May 14, 2019

First Chapter

This week I’m featuring a book that surprised me. It’s the May selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy online book club:

V23 new typeface tagline.indd

Seven hundred and thirty-three days after my mom died, forty-five days after my dad eloped with a stranger he met on the Internet, thirty days after we then up and moved to California, and only seven days after starting as a junior at a brand-new school where I know approximately no one, an email arrives. Which would be weird, an anonymous letter just popping up like that in my in-box, signed with the bizarre alias Somebody Nobody, no less, except my life has become so unrecognizable lately that nothing feels shocking anymore. It took until now – seven hundreds and thirty-three whole days in which I’ve felt the opposite of normal – for me to discover this one important life lesson: turns out you can grow immune to weird.

I really thought this was an interesting intro. It definitely made me want to continue on and see what Somebody Nobody had to say and how things would end up for Jessie in her new school. I sure hope you come back on Thursday to see my final thoughts on this book!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell

The Shadow Writer
by Eliza Maxwell

The Shadow Writer

 

Copyright: 2019

Pages: 341

Read: April 24 – April 28, 2019

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: TLC Book Tours

 

Blurb: Every writer has a story. Some are deadlier than others.

Aspiring author Graye Templeton will do anything to escape the horrific childhood crime that haunts her. After a life lived in shadows, she’s accepted a new job as protégé to Laura West, influential book blogger and wife of an acclaimed novelist. Laura’s connections could make Graye’s publishing dreams a reality. But there’s more to Laura than meets the eye.

Behind the veneer of a charmed life, Laura’s marriage is collapsing. Her once-lauded husband is descending into alcoholism and ruin and bringing Laura nearer to the edge.

As the two women form a bond that seems meant to be, long-buried secrets claw their way into the present, and the line between friendship and obsession begins to blur, forcing each to decide where her loyalties lie. Running from the past is a dangerous game, and the loser could end up dead.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

When I was originally pitched this book for review one phrase stuck out most of all in the blurb: “influential book blogger.” I mean, I felt like I wouldn’t be a very good book blogger myself if I didn’t read a book about a book blogger, right? So yeah, that’s basically what drew me to this book to begin with.

Overall, I found this book to be a really interesting read. My number one “complaint” (if I can even call it that) is that really it was almost 150-175 pages before I felt like anything of value had really happened. It was readable and enjoyable to that point, but I just didn’t feel like things were progressing like they should have been by that point in the book. Of course now that I have finished the book I realized just how wrong that assumption was (!!) – those first 150-175 pages were a lot more important than I realized at the time.

This book was a slow burn book; things were revealed little by little until the conclusion rushed at you and practically left me with whiplash. I never really did care for any of the characters, but that really didn’t affect my overall thoughts on the book. I knew there was something strange about Graye, there was enough information about her past to really leave me with a lot of questions, but I had no idea just how off Graye really would end up being.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It read easily and I found it to be a thrilling ride. Don’t let the first half of the book stop you from reading this one to its conclusion – it’s definitely worth the wait to find out just how crazy some things can end up being! Definitely recommended!!


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Eliza

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours, U-V-W

Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

About Only Ever Her

Paperback: 298 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 7, 2019)

It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.

Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?

Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?

As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?

While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.


Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

When I was pitched this book for review I was really taken by the cover. I’m not much of a cover person, but I just felt like this particular cover was just so pretty! Plus the storyline sounded interesting, so I eagerly snatched up this opportunity.

I found this book, overall, to be a fast read. It was quick and enjoyable. However, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters who had a voice in this book. I struggled at first to keep them all straight. What made it even worse was that I never really felt like any of the characters were fully fleshed out.

Speaking of the story, I was a little bit let down by the overall storyline. When it was finally revealed as to what happened to Annie, it just didn’t feel necessarily “right”. I felt like the author was going one way with the story and then a hard left turn was made and it went another direction. It wasn’t necessarily a bad direction, just not one that I was really expecting. And that hard left turn made me really scratch my head trying to understand why one particular character was even included in this book at all.

So my overall thoughts? I’m kind of torn. On the one hand I liked it. It was a quick and easy read. And yet, I don’t feel like it really lived up to what it could have been. I’m not entirely sure to be completely honest. It was good, but not great. A decent read that kept me entertained. But it definitely had way too many characters for less than 300 pages. And unfortunately it’s probably not a book that I will remember anything about in a few months. Decent enough, but not outstanding.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of When We Were WorthyThe Things We Wish Were True, and five previous novels. She speaks to women’s groups around the United States and is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site She Reads (www.shereads.org). Marybeth and her husband, Curt, have been married for twenty-seven years and are the parents of six children. Marybeth divides her time between the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the coastline of Sunset Beach, North Carolina. You can find her at www.marybethwhalen.com.

Connect with Marybeth

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

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