4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, N, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, Review Book

2013.42 REVIEW – The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

The Edge of Normal
by Carla Norton

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 316
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 30 – Oct. 7, 2013
Challenge: RIP VIII
Yearly count: 42
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley

The Edge of NormalBlurb: In many ways, Reeve LeClaire looks like a typical twenty-two year old girl. She’s finally landed her own apartment, she waitresses to pay the bills, and she wishes she wasn’t so nervous around new people. She thinks of herself as agile, not skittish. As serious, not grim. But Reeve is anything but normal.

Ten years ago, she was kidnapped and held captive. After a lucky escape, she’s spent the last six years trying to rebuild her life, a recovery thanks in large part to her indispensable therapist Dr. Ezra Lerner. But when he asks her to help another girl rescued from a similar situation, Reeve realizes she may not simply need to mentor this young victim—she may be the only one who can protect her from a cunning predator who is still out there, watching every move.

Review: This is another great book that grabbed me from the first page and spit me back out at the end.

But I just want to stop feeling like I have this ugly part of myself that no one can possibly understand. I want to have a normal life and be a normal adult. (p. 26)

From the very beginning you know exactly what has happened to Reeve. When she was 12 years old she was kidnapped. She suffered a lot of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse during the four years that she was being held by the psychopath who took her. And all she wants is to be normal. She can’t be faulted for wanting that more than anything. So she’s been seeing her therapist, Dr. Lerner. The reader can tell in the first few pages that Reeve is an intelligent woman who appears to have bounced back rather well from her past. Sure she’s got some issues still, but nothing that I would consider out of the ordinary considering what she went through. But you really don’t see who Reeve is until she is asked by Tilly’s family to come and meet with them. It is here that we are really introduced to an extremely strong woman. Stronger than she gives herself credit for.

This is really quite the suspenseful book. You know from the beginning that there is more to the story than the police officials are aware of. That made it even more interesting for me as far as all the questions being answered. It’s really interesting to see Reeve really put herself out there and investigate for herself. She makes a promise that she does not under any circumstances want to have to break, so she must do things her own way. I felt like that really made the storyline interesting … it was just one more insight into Reeve’s character as a whole.

I have to admit that there were more than a few times that I was a little suspicious of some of the main male characters. My suspicions were completely off the mark, but I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like had the author taken things a different route. Maybe I just wanted to make a mountain out of a molehill 🙂 There are some open-ended possibilities for Ms. Norton to bring Reeve back in another book. I like that there is an opening for that. It would be definitely interesting to see if Reeve goes back to school as Dr. Lerner has suggested to her.

Overall, I felt like this was a great book. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I don’t think that the author went into too much detail that it felt overly gratuitous in any way. I’m definitely looking forward to Ms. Norton’s future in fiction writing!

Highly recommended.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Edelweiss, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, Review Book, SERIES

2013.41 REVIEW – Darkness First by James Hayman

Darkness First
by James Hayman

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 346
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Sept. 27 – 30, 2013
Challenge: RIP VIII
Yearly count: 41
Format: E-Book
Source: Publicist/Edelweiss

Darkness FirstBlurb: In the dark shadows of a summer evening a young woman is brutally slain by a remorseless killer’s razor sharp blade. Learning that her closest childhood friend was nearly killed in the same incident, Portland Detective Maggie Savage rushes to the scene to join the State Police investigation. Maggie soon discovers the killer’s name is Conor Riordan.  There’s only one problem.  Conor Riordan doesn’t exist.

The only person who can provide a clue as to who Riordan really is, is the victim’s eleven-year-old sister, Tabitha. And now Tabitha has turned up missing.  Soon Maggie and her longtime partner, Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, find themselves in a desperate race against time to find the missing child before she becomes a vicious killer’s next victim.

Taut, twisting, and starring two unforgettable heroes, DARKNESS FIRST is a gruesome thriller about a small town rocked by a savage crime.

Review: I was made aware of this book through Danielle Bartlett, publicity director for HarperCollins. They are starting a new digital imprint: Witness. This is just one of ten books starting the line, which will focus on digital first suspense and thriller books.

Having had to put aside two books this month already for not catching my attention, I was really feeling the start of a slump coming on. All I can say is, thank goodness for this book!

I was enthralled with it from the first page. It’s a really good book. I must warn you, this is apparently the third in the McCabe and Savage series. However, it’s the first book that features Savage as the protagonist. I had no idea it was part of a series; it wasn’t until after I finished it and was looking online for information to write up this review that I discovered it. So obviously, it reads quite well as a standalone.

The pacing in this book was very well done in my opinion. It moved rather quickly, I was pushing the button on my Nook as fast as it would allow me to! The writing is exceptional and the characters very well-developed. Overall, definitely an author I will keep an eye out for in the future. I’m very interested in not only reading the back story of McCabe and Savage from the previous two books, but also finding out what happens in the future with Emily and Tabitha, McCabe and Savage, Harlan and their father. Overall, a great cast of characters I’m looking forward to meeting again.

The only reason I can’t bring myself to rate this book a 5/5 is that I had the bad guy pegged within the first 100 pages. While not necessarily a buzz kill for the book itself, it was a little disappointing to not have the big reveal at the end be a jaw-dropper.

Overall definitely a book that I would highly recommend and I am definitely looking forward to some of the other books Witness will be releasing in the coming weeks!

About the author: James Hayman spent more than twenty years as a senior creative director at one of New York’s largest advertising agencies. He and his wife now live in Portland, Maine.  He is the author of the acclaimed thrillers The Cutting and The Chill of Night, both international bestsellers.

Click here to go to Witness’ homepage.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, L, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.32 REVIEW – Top Down by Jim Lehrer

Top Down 
by Jim Lehrer

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 246
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: July 19 – July 23, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 32
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley

Top DownBlurb: In a riveting novel rooted in one of American history’s great “what ifs,” Jim Lehrer tells the story of two men haunted by the events leading up to John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

November 22, 1963. As Air Force One touches down in Dallas, ambitious young newspaper reporter Jack Gilmore races to get the scoop on preparations for President Kennedy’s motorcade. Will the bubble top on the presidential limousine be up or down? Down, according to veteran Secret Service agent Van Walters. The decision to leave the top down and expose JFK to fire from above will weigh on Van’s conscience for decades. But will it also change the course of history?

Five years after the assassination, Jack gets an anguished phone call from Van’s daughter Marti. Van Walters is ravaged by guilt, so convinced that his actions led to JFK’s death that he has lost the will to live. In a desperate bid to deliver her father from his demons, Marti enlists Jack’s help in a risky reenactment designed to prove once and for all what would have happened had the bubble top stayed in place on that grim November day.

For Jack, it’s a chance to break a once-in-a-lifetime story that could make his career. But for Van the stakes are even higher. The outcome of a ballistics test conducted on the grounds of a secluded estate in upstate New York might just save his life—or push him over the edge.

A page-turning historical novel with the beating heart of a thriller, Top Down could only have sprung from the fertile imagination of Jim Lehrer. Drawing on his own experience as an eyewitness to the events described, one of America’s most respected journalists has crafted an engrossing story out of the emotional aftershocks of a national tragedy.

Review:  I received a e-galley of this book through NetGalley.

Here’s the deal, guys, I am a JFK junkie to the core. It’s nearly an obsession, really. So with 2013 being the 50th anniversary of the assassination, you can imagine that there are a ton of books coming out this year that have to do with JFK and the assassination – both fiction and non-fiction. Already this year, not including this book, I’ve read one fiction book (The Man from 2063) and I have another non-fiction book lined up through Edelweiss. I am in hog heaven! Okay but seriously, I guess I need to get to the actual review of this book.

This book definitely has a different feel from any other book I’ve read recently. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to describe. Part of me felt as if I was reading a memoir at times. I actually had to look up the info on it after reading the first chapter to see if I was reading fiction or non-fiction. But don’t let that scare you off, because the book reads quite easily. And it is fiction.

The cast of characters in this book, oh what a great bunch. First you have Jack, who is a reporter who actually reported on the Kennedy assassination from Dallas. In the beginning he describes a conversation he had with a Secret Service agent, Van, the day of the assassination regarding the bubble top on the presidential limo. Van made the call that the bubble top was to be removed (I must add that this is where I originally thought I was reading a memoir). That was the beginning of the end for Van. From there you meet his daughter, Marti, who is convinced her father is dying because of that one decision and how it affected him. All she wants from Jack is to help her prove to her father that his decision had nothing to do with Kennedy’s death – Oswald still would have taken that shot and Kennedy still would have died.

What this book really and truly is about is human emotions. Van is a broken man after the assassination. He blames himself for Kennedy’s death. But it doesn’t just end there. It turns his wife into an alcoholic and his daughter gets pushed away to boarding school. One little psychological break doesn’t just affect the person who has had the break … the whole family is impacted. Guilt is a very powerful emotion. And being through something as traumatic as a presidential assassination would do a number on any person.

Overall I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys anything JFK. Those who like historical fiction would probably enjoy this one as well. Past that, it might not appeal to just everyone. But overall definitely a book that I enjoyed to feed my JFK obsession.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, Review Book, Virtual Author Book Tours

2013.37 REVIEW – Arctic Fire by Paul Byers

Arctic Fire
by Paul Byers

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 377
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Aug.18-29, 2013
Challenge: What’s in a Name Challenge
Yearly count: 37
Format: Print
Source: Author for blog tour

Arctic FireBlurb: Wealthy entrepreneur Nigel Cain has devised an efficient new way to bring the earth’s most precious resource to the masses – clean water – by transporting massive man-made icebergs from the frigid arctic and delivering them literally to the doorsteps of millions.

Gabriel Pike works at a small engineering firm that has been awarded the task of giving the final safety approval to pilot the first gigantic block of ice into New York harbor.

A consummate showman, Cain has built a fabulous 5-Star hotel and casino high atop the iceberg so his celebrity guests and media elite can cover this spectacle from beginning to end. Pike is whisked away from his work-a-day world and dropped into the lap of luxury where he’s expected to simply rubber-stamp his inspection.

A brutal winter storms ravages the iceberg and exposes structural inconsistencies and hidden agendas that fill Pike with serious doubts about the true intentions of the project.  But a grisly double homicide on the ice puts the inspections on the back burner and sends Pike’s life spiraling out of control when he’s accused of being the jealous murderer in a lover’s triangle.

But Pike soon discovers that there is far more at stake than just his life. He uncovers a conspiracy more heinous than anything he could have imagined – a plot that will level a city, change the political face of America, and whose shockwaves will be felt around the world. Fate rests in his hands – if he can survive long enough to take action…

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review as part of his blog tour.

I don’t even know really where to begin about this book. Overall, it’s a good read. Definitely thrill packed and a wild ride. However, that’s not to say it’s absolutely perfect.

I don’t even really know how to explain my big issue with this book. At 377 pages, it’s not a terribly long book. However, when at least 300 pages are spent with the lead-up to the double homicide and conspiracy mentioned in the blurb, it felt a little bogged down. I’m not saying that those 300 pages were unimportant or not enjoyable. However, it sometimes felt as if things were a little more drawn out than what was necessary for the book. I just felt as if too much time was spent on the lead-up to what was really at stake with the iceberg. There was a lot of technical information that I, personally, did not need to enjoy or understand this book.

Now that all of that is said … I really don’t think that it’s a bad book. The last 100 pages or so were a lot of fun trying to figure out how Pike was going to get out of the mess he found himself in. Would “The Blast from the Past” be able to manage one more rescue?

I thought Gabriel Pike’s character was really interesting. There was a lot more to him than met the eye. He was a nice guy, but he could get his hands dirty when necessary. It was also interesting to watch how a normal guy can be manipulated. It can happen so very fast and without his really knowing what is going on. It definitely doesn’t take much to inflate a guy’s ego 🙂 But I did have a problem with how cookie-cutter clean he appeared to be. I don’t know, it just felt forced to me that he was so nice. But it definitely worked in the situation that his character was in. But the one character that really surprised me the most was Mallory. What a character she was! Nice on the surface, but ruthless underneath. Whew. Definitely a surprise to me to some extent.

I would definitely recommend this book. I thought it was a lot of fun and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to give it a shot.

About the author: 

PaulByers_RSC0029 (2)Paul grew up in Oregon on the shores of the mighty and mysterious Columbia River, and spent endless hours daydreaming on the beach in front of his house, making up stories about the ships from exotic ports all over the world that steamed up the river – what secret cargo might they be carrying; did they harbor spies who were on dark and exciting missions?

Later in adult life, he moved to another mysterious and provocative city – Las Vegas, just outside the famous Nellis Air Force base. After work he would sit on his porch and watch the fighters take off and land, igniting his imagination with visions of secret missions and rich speculation about what could possibly be hidden at Area 51.

After moving back to his native Pacific Northwest, Paul worked for the Navy and took every opportunity he could to speak with veterans from WWII to the Gulf War, listening to them swap stories and relate the experiences of a lifetime.

So it is this combination of a passionate love of history, a vivid “what if” imagination, and a philosophy of life that boils down to the belief that – there are few things in life that a bigger hammer won’t fix – that led Paul to become a writer of exciting, fact-based action-thrillers. His greatest joy is leaving his readers wondering where the facts end and the fiction begins.

Author Website

Paul on Facebook

Paul on Goodreads 

Buy Arctic Fire:

Barnes and Noble

Check out the rest of the tour:

So Many Precious Books Sept 2 Review & Giveaway
Book Lover’s Library Sept 3 Review
Book Lover’s Library Sept 4 Interview & Giveaway
She Treads Softly Sept 4 Review
Books, Books, & More Books Sept 5 Review
Books, Books, & More Books Sept 6 Interview & Giveaway
Cheryl’s Book Nook Sept 9 Review
Butterfly-o-Meter Books Sept 10 Review
Butterfly-o-Meter Books Sept 11 Guest Post
 My Shelf Confessions Sept 12 Review
 My Shelf Confessions Sept 13 Interview & Giveaway
Room Without Books is Empty Sept 16 Review
A Book & a Lattee Sept 17 Review
Green Mountain People Sept 18 Review
Thoughts in Progress Sept 18 Guest Post & Giveaway
Romance & Inspiration Sept 19 Review
Bloggin Bout Books Sept 20 Review
The News In Books Sept 23 Review
The News In Books Sept 24 Guest Post
Sweeps4Bloggers Sept 24 Review & Giveaway
Tales of a Book Addict Sept 25 Review
Joy Story Sept 26 Review
fundinmental  Sept 27 Review & Giveaway
Recent Reads Sept 30 Review & Giveaway
DWED Oct 1 Review


3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Jane Rizzoli, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, SERIES

2013.39 REVIEW – Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen

Last to Die
by Tess Gerritsen

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 423
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Sept. 12-19, 2013
Challenge: RIP VIII; 2013 Sequel Challenge
Yearly count: 39
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Last to DieBlurb: For the second time in his short life, fourteen-year-old Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Orphaned once more when his foster family is murdered, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn – until the Boston PD puts Detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn vital skills of survival. But even behind locked gates, Jane fears that Evensong’s benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. And when she learns of two other students whose pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind. Joining forces with medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane races to stop an obsessed killer’s twisted quest – before an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate.

Review: This is the 10th book in the Rizzoli and Isles series. And I couldn’t help myself from comparing it to the TNT television series. The books and TV show are nothing alike. And having just watched all of the summer season, it was still fresh in my mind and that’s why I couldn’t help but compare them. I’m not saying that if you like one you won’t like the other, but just know that they are very different and you can’t really compare them.

Overall I thought this was a pretty decent installment in the series. But I couldn’t help but wonder how much longer Ms. Gerritsen will continue with this series. You finish this book with a big question mark, one of the characters appears to want a change in scenery … what will that do to the series?

Most of this book is set at Evensong, a private boarding school. I thought that it was a neat setting. Julian is back in this book and is very prominent in the plot line. That was fun seeing Maura and Julian back together. The Mephisto Club was also mentioned again.

There was a slight twist at the end that I wasn’t entirely anticipating. Part of it I was, the other part not so much. I can’t say much more than that without getting into spoiler territory.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. However, this is one of those that I think you really need to have read the previous books to fully understand all the dynamics (At the very least, The Mephisto Club installment.)

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, SERIES, Sookie Stackhouse

2013.38 REVIEW – Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark 
by Charlaine Harris

Copyright: 2001
Pages: 292
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 5-8, 2013
Challenge: Off the Shelf 2013; RIP VIII
Yearly count: 38
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Dead Until DarkBlurb: Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much. Not because she’s not pretty. She is. It’s just that, well, Sookie has this sort of “disability.” She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He’s tall, dark, handsome – and Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting for all her life…

But Bill has a disability of his own: He’s a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of – big surprise – murder. And when one of Sookie’s coworkers is killed, she fears she’s next…

Review: I am probably the only person on the planet who has neither read the Sookie Stackhouse books nor seen the HBO series TrueBlood. Why? Well, first of all, vampire books are not my thing. It just isn’t. But having read Ms. Harris’s Harper Connelly series a few years back, I knew that Sookie had to be worth a shot.

And it was a lot of fun.

There were a lot of times when I wanted to shake some sense into Sookie. I mean, I get that she has her disability. But then she gets involved with a vampire? Okay. But it’s everything that comes along with being involved with a vampire that I didn’t get. And then you find out about her boss, Sam’s, own secret? Yeah, I had to roll my eyes just a little bit about that one (actually, I thought he was the murderer…).

Overall, I don’t know what I could possibly say about this book that hasn’t been talked about a million times before. It’s not as if it’s a new book that no one has read. So I guess I should just state that it’s a fun, humorous read and that I enjoyed it.

And hopefully I won’t wait so long to get to the second book 🙂

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2013, X-Y-Z

2013.36 REVIEW – The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List
by Koethi Zan

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 303
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Aug.13-17, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 36
Format: Print
Source: Library

The Never ListBlurb: 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, 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, Sarah begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.

Review: When I first saw this book mentioned somewhere (darn it, why can I never remember to jot that down?!), I was immediately intrigued. You can imagine my delight when I saw that my library had two copies on order and that there were only two people on the waiting list!

When I began reading it, I was immediately hooked. I took to Sarah’s character right away. I couldn’t help but pity her and Jennifer after surviving that horrific car crash that claimed the life of Jennifer’s mother. You really couldn’t blame them for starting the “Never List.” They took every precaution … even going so far as to hiring a car service while they were in college so that they would never have to get into a cab with a strange driver. Unfortunately, one night they did indeed let their guard down. And that was the night they were abducted.

I must state that this book coming out so close to the time of those women in Ohio being rescued from that man’s house … just, wow. Just the parallels between the two stories, especially since Sarah and Jennifer were at Ohio State! Very strange, indeed.

I have to give big props to the author, though. This book could have been extremely gruesome based on the abduction and the characters’ time in that cellar. Somehow, Ms. Zan managed to keep the descriptions of their time in the cellar to a minimum, and when it was mentioned, it was done tastefully in my opinion. I know that sounds hard to believe, but it really is how I felt about it. And the language is actually rather clean, with just a few F-bombs scattered throughout. Nothing gratuitous, in my opinion.

I do have one slight issue with this book, though. Sarah’s character bothered me a little bit. First of all, I want to know how you can have someone so afraid of just going outside, manage to leave her apartment, fly across the country, drive at night and investigate something that has haunted her for years? It seemed very much at odds with everything I as a reader knew about Sarah. I mean, she wouldn’t even shake the hand of the FBI agent in charge of her case! How was she able to overcome all of that and go on that journey? It just didn’t really seem plausible that she would be able to cope with so much so quickly.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like it was a roller-coaster, thrill-a-minute ride from page one. I prefer to keep my comments here relatively clean, but I can’t help but tell you that when I finished this book, the first thing that came to my mind was “what a total mind-f*ck.” It’s the best psychological thriller I’ve read in some time.

Highly recommended.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.35 REVIEW – The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey

The Widows of Braxton County
by Jess McConkey

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 355
Rating: 4/5
Read: Aug. 6-11, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 35
Format: Print
Source: Publicist for review

The Widows of Braxton CountyBlurb: Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she married Joe Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn’t quite as idyllic as she’d hoped. It’s filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who – unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding – will be living with them.

As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krause family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death that haunts Kate as a dangerous, unexplainable chain of events begins.

Review: I was provided a copy of this book by Megan Swartz at HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of those books that I had to “sit on” after finishing it for a bit before I was able to really gather my thoughts on it. It’s such a complicated, yet simple, book. I have to say that when I was first pitched this book, I was really intrigued by the family secret aspect. That really got my attention. And what secrets they truly are!

The basic premise of this book is a city-girl who escapes her demanding grandmother for a man she met on the internet. She’s then thrown onto a farm with a mother-in-law who does not hide the fact that she resents her new daughter-in-law. Then you have some town gossips, a miscarriage, a death that happened in the 1800s that no one will talk about, some spousal abuse, another murder and friends in the unlikeliest of places. It all makes for a pretty interesting book.

I really liked how the storyline really switched between Kate’s time on the farm in 2012 and Hannah’s experiences in 1890 on the same farm. I couldn’t help but compare what those two were going through. Sure, there were over 100 years separating them, but they were almost like kindred spirits, really. It was very interesting I thought. But the majority of the story was really Kate’s. And while I originally felt sorry for her, then I was angry at her, I eventually came to admire just how strong of a woman she really was. She was stuck on that farm in an abusive atmosphere, and she was able to escape it. But then again, she suffered a great many losses as well in the short time period she was there. And Hannah … well, I obviously can’t give away the ending to her side of the story, but I can say that she was:

A voice not silenced. (p.355)

I felt like the storyline was fresh and exciting, it was well executed as well, and the characters were well-developed. Overall I thought that this book was a highly enjoyable read. I think this book would appeal to a wide variety of people, mystery lovers will enjoy it, as well as women’s/literary fiction readers too.

Highly recommended.

5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013

2013.34 REVIEW – Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Reconstructing Amelia 
by Kimberly McCreight

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 380
Rating: 5/5
Read: Aug. 2-6, 2013
Challenge: What’s in a Name 6 Challenge
Yearly count: 34
Format: Print
Source: Library

Reconstructing AmeliaBlurb: When Kate, single mother and law firm partner, gets an urgent phone call summoning her to her daughter’s exclusive private school, she’s shocked. Amelia has been suspended for cheating, something that would be completely out of character for her over-acheiving, well-behaved daughter.

Kate rushes to Grace Hall, but what she finds when she finally arrives is beyond her comprehension.

Her daughter Amelia is dead. 

Despondent over having been caught cheating, Amelia has jumped from the school’s roof in an act of impulsive suicide. At least that’s the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. In a state of shock and overcome by grief, Kate tries to come to grips with this life-shattering news. Then she gets an anonymous text:

Amelia didn’t jump. 

The moment she sees that message, Kate knows in her heart it’s true. Clearly Amelia had secrets, and a life Kate knew nothing about. Wracked by guilt, Kate is determined to find out what those secrets were and who could have hate her daughter enough to kill. She searches through Amelia’s e-mails, texts, and Facebook updates, piecing together the last troubled days of her daughter’s life.

Reconstructing Amelia is a stunning debut page-turner that brilliantly explores the secret world of teenagers, their clandestine first loves, hidden friendships, and the dangerous cruelty that can spill over into acts of terrible betrayal.

Review: What. A. Book. Undoubtedly this book will make it on my Top Reads list at the end of the year. It’s just one of those books that really sucks you in and spits you back out when you finish the last page. There’s just so much to talk about this book, I don’t really know where to start.

I will try to keep spoilers at a minimum, but definitely read this review with caution.

First, I guess I should talk about my experience as a teenager in high school. To a certain extent, during my junior year, I was bullied. For whatever reason there was this one girl who was absolutely out to get me. Looking back on it, I still try to figure out what on earth I ever did to her, and the only thing I can think of is that she was just plain jealous of me (why, I will never know, but whatever). However, it hurt deeply at the time. Luckily it started and stopped pretty much with this one girl, but for about 4 months it was non-stop. Then one day it stopped as quickly as it started. I never cracked under her pressure. I put on a brave face at school and pushed through it. But I was absolutely aching inside. I still had a lot of good friends behind me, but she sure did manage to wreak havoc. Having said all that, I know it could have been worse. I was in high school before the huge Facebook/Twitter/Texting explosion happened. We had cell phones (we all had those Nokia’s that had the changeable faceplates!) and MSN instant messenger. And yeah, things got around … but not in the instant that it can now. So for that, I was lucky. But I can definitely feel for those teenagers (or tweens) who are being bullied today. It hurts, no matter how it’s happening to you.

So for this reason, I take books about bullying a little differently than some might. I can definitely connect to the character being bullied more than other readers might. And it’s for this reason that I really loved Amelia’s character. When we first meet her she doesn’t care about what others think. She has her best friend, Sylvia, and a mother who, while somewhat absent, definitely loves her, and that’s all she needs. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that she’s super smart and on the field hockey team, too. She’s carved out a nice place for herself in her school. But all that changes when she gets tapped for a club. And as someone who wanted to be accepted and popular in high school more than anything, I can understand why she was curious about joining. But I felt bad for Amelia too when she got tapped. She knew something was off, she knew she had no business being there … she could have walked away, but she didn’t. And that was the beginning of her downfall. I felt like I was watching a really good girl change into someone she wasn’t as I continued to read the book. She started lying to everyone. She started doing things out of character. And then it all backfired on her.

I guess I should mention now that the book is told in alternating views between Amelia and her mother, Kate. And I felt really bad for Kate’s character. She got pregnant unexpectedly in law school. She chose to keep the baby. But something about her irritated me. I guess it was because she was so absent in her daughter’s life. I mean, I know she tried, and I know she loved Amelia … but you don’t become partner at a NYC law firm easily. She was putting in some major hours and I felt like her relationship with her daughter definitely suffered. You could tell that she felt guilty about it, and Amelia was too headstrong to ask her mom for help. Personally I don’t have an important career. Yes, I have a job outside of the home … but I work for my dad and my son comes first and that’s just how it’s going to be. I don’t really know what it would be like to try to juggle a demanding career and a family, but I can imagine that if you were a single parent, it would probably go the way it did for Kate and Amelia.

The remaining adult characters in this book. Just … wow. You would expect adults to act like adults and children to act like children. But it seems a lot of times those roles were reversed in this book. And as the book started to come to a close and things were finally revealed, it was absolutely shocking at times. I finished this book on Monday and I’m still reeling from some of the revelations.

Overall I highly recommend this book. I think it’s a really good read. But I must warn you, it’s not a sugar-coated, G-rated book. So take that into account if you have issues with reading foul language and sexual situations.

But I think that this is a book that all parents should read at some point. It’s definitely eye-opening, and while I’m still 14 years away from any situations like the ones in this book, it is truly something that we as parents need to be aware of so that we can hopefully guide our children in the right direction.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, SERIES

2013.33 REVIEW – Hour Game by David Baldacci

Hour Game
by David Baldacci

Copyright: 2004
Pages: 590
Rating: 4/5
Read: July 24 – Aug. 2, 2013
Challenge: Off the Shelf 2013; Sequel Challenge 2013
Yearly count: 33
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Hour GameBlurb: A woman is found murdered in the woods. It seems like a simple case but it soon escalates into a terrible nightmare. Someone is replicating the killing styles of the most infamous murderers of all time. No one knows this criminal’s motives … or who will die next.

Two ex-Secret Service agents, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, have been hired to defend a man’s innocence in a burglary involving an aristocratic, dysfunctional family. Then a series of secrets leads the partners right into the frantic hunt that is confounding even the FBI. Now King and Maxwell are playing the Hour Game, uncovering one horrifying revelation after another and putting their lives in danger. For the closer they get to the truth, the closer they get to the most shocking surprise of all.

Review: Wow, talk about a crazy roller coaster ride! Yes, this book is nearly 600 pages long, but trust me when I tell you that the pages fly by!

I read the first book in this series, Split Secondlast year and enjoyed it. I’m not entirely sure why I waited so long to get to the second book, but I’m glad that I did read it. Better late than never 🙂

This book was full of twists and turns. I was constantly trying to figure out the “who-dun-it” part, and while I had it halfway figured out, there was one twist that I never saw coming … one that definitely threw me for a loop to be completely honest.

I really liked the characters in this installment. Of course Sean and Michelle were enjoyable, but the supporting cast were something else! The Battle family … just, wow. I can’t help but laugh at just how dysfunctional that family really was. Mr. Baldacci sure did create a crazy family in that one! Ha!

The storyline was interesting. There were multiple murders throughout the book and Sean and Michelle had to figure out which ones were connected to the others and which ones were separate. It definitely made for some thrilling moments. I really liked the copycat serial killers aspect, I thought that was an interesting way to take things.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book. I must say that while I always recommend reading a series in order, I don’t think you would necessarily miss anything if you read this one before Split Second.