3 Mini Reviews

Here’s something I’ve never done before … mini reviews.

I still have no blogging mojo. In fact, I’m typing this up quickly while my daughter screams fusses in her crib after only a 20 minute nap – momma needs more nap than that, darling!

So while I have little to no blogging mojo, I have been reading a bit. And I need to get these thoughts down before I forget everything.

So without further ado…..

Fates and Furies Title: Fates and Furies
Author: Lauren Groff
Read: Oct. 10-30, 2015
Pages: 392
Source: Book of the Month Club
Rating: 2/5

Thoughts:  This was my very first selection from the Book of the Month Club. To say that it was a disappointment would be the understatement of the year. To be completely honest, none of the October books really caught my eye, this one was just the one that seemed like it would be the most enjoyable for me. Oh how wrong I was on that! I struggled through this one. For 3 freaking weeks. I still don’t know why I bothered to finish it. I did not like it in the least. I can’t in good faith recommend this book, but hey, I’m sure someone out there would enjoy it … just not me.


Private BerlinTitle: Private Berlin
Author: James Patterson & Mark Sullivan
Read: Nov. 7-10, 2015
Pages: 448
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: I knew I had to have something fast paced after coming off of Fates and Furies, so of course I picked up a James Patterson book. Overall, I enjoyed this one relatively well. I think I prefer the Private books where Jack Morgan plays more of a role, but this one was still interesting. I can almost always rely on Mr. Patterson for a quick and enjoyable read, this one does not fail on that part. Recommended for sure.

 

 


 

The Alpine Advocate Title: The Alpine Advocate
Author: Mary Daheim
Read: Nov. 11-18, 2015
Pages: 240
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: What a cute little first in a series. Cozy mysteries are not usually my cup of tea, but for some reason this one really caught my eye and was an impulse order on Paperbackswap. I think a lot of the draw for me was the journalist/newspaper aspect of the storyline – I originally declared print journalism as my major in college. Anyway, like I said this was a cute little book. It kept my interest throughout. And I had no idea who the killer was until it was revealed at the end – I had missed all of the clues laid throughout the book. I am definitely looking forward to continuing this series in the future and would definitely recommend it!

 

 

 

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2015.32 REVIEW – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

Copyright: 2015
Pages: 316
Rating: 5/5
Read: Sept. 13-20, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 32
Format: Print
Source: Cruise Ship Library
Series: N/A

The Girl on the Train Blurb: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens.

She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses, “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see: she’s much more than just the girl on the train…


 

Review: When this one first came out it had so much buzz surrounding it. But I was intrigued. I wanted to read it so badly. But I usually end up hating buzz books. So I chose to hold off and let the buzz die off a little bit. When I went on my cruise recently, I finished the only two books I took with me. On the last night of the cruise, I decided I’d pop into the cruise ship’s library and see what they had. And I saw this book. I got so excited I nearly knocked my husband down to get to it. So I made a little trade with one of the books I had finished for this one.

I started reading this one on my plane ride home. I read 100 pages. Actually, I should say I flew through 100 pages, because that’s more accurate. What I really found about this book was that it was an addictive read.

Another thing that I found was that the characters are horrible. Actually, they’re probably a bit beyond horrible, they’re that bad.

I wanted to slap Rachel upside her head on more than one occasion. I could hardly tolerate her near the end – either make the change in life you need to or stop whining about it and deal with what you’ve gotten yourself into. I had very little sympathy for her. Anna irritated me to no end. She was too proud of herself for breaking up a marriage – not something that’s really brag-worthy in my opinion. Then you had Megan, Scott and Tom. They were all screwed up too. Every single person in this book was screwed up to the max, to be completely honest. It was just a little over the top in places, and I hated every single one of them. But yet, I kept reading. I had to know what really happened. It really was an addictive read.

I don’t know why I loved this one so much. It was irritating to me in so many places. I hated the characters. Yet I loved it. It’s such a strange thing to try to describe. But definitely a book I’d recommend.

2015.31 REVIEW – Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Blackberry Winter
by Sarah Jio

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 286
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 7-10, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 31
Format: Print
Source: Purchased New
Series: N/A

Blackberry WinterBlurb: Seattle, 1933. Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, good night and reluctantly leaves for work. She hates the night shift, but it’s the only way she can earn enough to keep destitution at bay. In the morning – even though it’s the second of May – a heavy snow is falling. Vera rushes to wake Daniel, but his bed is empty. His teddy bear lies outside in the snow.

Seattle, present day. One the second of May, Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge awakens to another late-season snow-storm. Assigned to cover this “blackberry winter” and its predecessor decades earlier, Claire learns of Daniel’s unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth – only to discover that she and Vera are linked in unexpected ways.


 

Review: I purchased this one new a few years ago and let it linger on my shelves for far too long. I picked it up to take on my vacation because it was a little shorter than most of the books I read. I am thoroughly glad that I did get to read this one, because I ended up loving it!

I was immediately taken with Vera and Claire. Their stories were so intriguing from the beginning that I wanted to know what happened with both of them. The pain that Vera went through losing Daniel just absolutely broke my heart. And then learning of Claire’s own loss was even more painful. As a mother to two healthy, vibrant children, I can’t even imagine the loss of one.

Overall, this is a book that I really enjoyed and am glad that I finally read. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Jio in the future. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a good story. This one has a bit of romance, mystery, and history. It is well written and I found it to be a joy to read. I couldn’t wait to get to the end just so I could find out what happened to little Daniel. And when it was finally revealed it was a shock as to how it all came full circle for Claire. Just a lovely book that I thoroughly enjoyed!

2015.30 REVIEW – Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne

Everything She Forgot
by Lisa Ballantyne

Copyright: 2015
Pages: 409
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 2-7, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 30
Format: Print
Source: PICT Book Tour
Series: N/A

Synopsis:

cover

Driving home, Margaret Holloway is rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage of her car. Just as she begins to panic, a stranger pulls her free and disappears. Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret feels that something’s wrong. Flashbacks to the crash are dredging up lost associations from her childhood. And somehow, Margaret knows that it’s got something to do with the man who saved her life. As Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very identity, Everything She Forgot winds through a riveting dual narrative and asks the question: How far would you go to hide the truth-from yourself?

Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review as part of a Partners in Crime Book Tour. The thoughts below are my own.

Once, her mother had taken her hand and smoothed it, saying, ‘Some things are best forgotten,’ and so she had forgotten almost everything. (p. 115)

That quote that I included above, “Some things are best forgotten,” is really the heart and soul of this book. As I was reading and watching everything unfold in front of my eyes, it really got me thinking about just how impressive the human mind truly is. What our minds can do with memories is shockingly unreal to be honest.

This was my first time reading a book by Ms. Ballantyne; but it certainly won’t be my last. I took this one on my recent vacation and I loved every page of it. It was easy to read in bits and pieces without getting lost. It kept my interest – in fact, at one point I wanted to just sit in the room and finish the book … not enjoy vacation! Oops!!

This isn’t a fast-paced thriller. Instead it’s a very intricate tale where the story is laid bare little by little. I loved getting to know Maggie, Big George, and even Angus (who was not my favorite character … I had a lot of issues with him after what he let happen to his poor cow). And as I said earlier, it really is interesting to see what the human mind is capable of.

This was a really enjoyable read, I loved watching Maggie’s memories come back to her bit by bit. And the way it all came full circle at the end was nice. Overall, a book that I would definitely recommend!


 

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 0062391488 (13: 978-0062391483)
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Critical Praise:

“Ballantyne’s effortless prose took me across the Atlantic and didn’t let me return until its surprising and satisfying conclusion. A tight story that comes full circle and keeps you reading.” — Bryan Reardon, author of Finding Jake

Author Bio:

authorLisa Ballantyne was born in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland and studied English Literature at University of St Andrews.

She lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there. Before being published, Lisa was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Her debut novel, The Guilty One was translated into over 25 languages, long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The Guilty One was also the Autumn 2012 Richard and Judy Book-club Winner. She lives in Glasgow.

Catch Up:
author's website author's twitter author's facebook

As always, I hope you take the time to visit the other stops on the tour:

09/14/2015 Showcase w/excerpt @ Books Chatter
09/15/2015 review @ A Fold in the Spine
09/16/2015 review @ Wall-to-wall books
09/17/2015 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
09/18/2015 review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!
09/19/2015 review @ The Book Divas Reads
09/21/2015 review @ Tales of a Book Addict
09/22/2015 review @ JulzReads
09/24/2015 review @ VicsMedia Room
09/25/2015 review @ Deco My Heart
09/28/2015 review @ Kritters Ramblings
09/30/2015 review @ Booked on a Feeling
10/01/2015 review @ From the TBR Pile
10/03/2015 review @ Marys Cup of Tea
10/04/2015 shawcase @ Writers and Authors
10/07/2015 review @ Books Direct
0/08/2015 review @ Lazy Day Books
10/09/2015 review @ Book Babble
10/10/2015 review @ Rockin Book Reviews
10/11/2015 review @ Bookalicious Traveladdict
10/12/2015 review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
10/14/2015 review @ Book Club Librarian
10/15/2015 review @ Curling up by the Fire
10/16/2015 review @ b00k r3vi3ws

2015.29 REVIEW – Coercion by Tim Tigner

Coercion
by Tim Tigner

Copyright: 2013, 2015
Pages: 304
Rating: 4/5
Read: Aug. 24-31, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 29
Format: Print
Source: TLC Book Tour
Series: N/A

CoercionBlurb:
After the Iron Curtain’s collapse, Russia appears to be finished as a superpower. But KGB general Vasily Karpov is working behind the scenes to restore Russia’s status by forcing Americans into traitorous acts of espionage and sabotage, with the aid of a new secret weapon. Meanwhile, his biggest target is within Russia, where Karpov is plotting to capture the Kremlin for himself.

Former US soldier and spy Alex Ferris becomes the first to fathom Karpov’s grand plans. Racing from San Francisco to Siberia, Alex must elude ambushes, assassins, and death from exposure as he wages a one-man war against a growing global threat and the resurgence of the Soviets.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free as part of a TLC Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. All opinions below are my own.

When I was originally pitched this book something about it really caught my eye. I’ve been trying to stay away from taking on too many review commitments because my reading has been severely limited since welcoming our second child in May. But this was one that I couldn’t seem to pass up on.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I found it to be fast paced and interesting. It held my attention throughout the whole book (something I struggle with these days). I came to really like Alex’s character – even if I did have a hard time believing that he was able to survive so much.

I’m always a little nervous when there’s a “Cast of Characters” list at the beginning of the book. It usually means I will have a hard time keeping up with things. However, once I got through the few first chapters, I had no trouble at all keeping things straight and didn’t even need to refer back to the list.

If I had to make a complaint, it was that I felt the ending was a little flat. There was no real big “show down” which I was hoping for. Endings are a very difficult thing – you can’t please everyone. But it didn’t affect my overall opinion of this book, so it obviously didn’t bother me too much. I am excited that there is a door open for Mr. Tigner to bring Alex back in a future book …. and I hope he does! I’d love to read more!

If you want a book that is fast-paced, interesting and a lot of fun, I would definitely recommend this one. The characters are extremely well-developed. The storyline is interesting. The whole idea of the Peitho implants is scarily realistic in this technological age, which kept things relevant in my opinion.

This one will attract a lot of political thriller fans, mystery fans, and historical fiction fans alike. Highly recommended.


About the Author:

unnamed-3Tim began his career in Soviet Counterintelligence with the US Army Special forces, the Green Berets. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tim switched from espionage to arbitrage. Armed with a Wharton MA rather than a Colt M16, he moved to Moscow in the midst of Perestroika. There he lead prominent multinational medical companies, worked with cosmonauts on the MIR Space Station (from Earth, alas), chaired the Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, and helped write Russia’s first law on healthcare.

Moving to Brussels during the formation of the EU, Tim ran Europe, Middle East, and Africa for a Johnson & Johnson company and traveled like a character in a Robert Ludlum book. He eventually landed in Silicon Valley, where like minds with wild ideas come to congregate around the creation of (nightmares and) dreams. Now he launches new medical technologies as a startup CEO, and devises devious devices for fictional characters who aim to change the world.

Tim grew up in the Midwest and Europe, earning a BA from Hanover College and then a MBA in Finance and a MA in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He now lives with his wife Elena and their two daughters in Northern California.

Connect:

Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

As always, I hope you will visit the other stops on the tour:

Monday, August 31st: BookBub Blog – author guest post – “Eleven Thrillers We’d Kill to See on the Silver Screen”
Wednesday, September 2ndIt’s a Mad Mad World
Thursday, September 3rdMallory Heart Reviews
Tuesday, September 8thBuilding Bookshelves
Wednesday, September 9thBooksChatter – author Q&A
Thursday, September 10thPatricia’s Wisdom
Friday, September 11thMockingbird Hill Cottage
Monday, September 14thTales of a Book Addict
Tuesday, September 15thFictionophile
Thursday, September 17thLife is Story
Friday, September 18thThe World As I See It
Monday, September 21stSJ2B House of Books Blog
Thursday, September 24thLazy Day Books
Friday, September 25thBooksChatter
Monday, September 28thA Book Geek
Monday, September 28th5 Minutes for Books
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2015.28 REVIEW – Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes by Karin Slaughter

Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes
by Karin Slaughter

Copyright: 2015
Pages: 67
Rating: 4/5
Read: Aug. 22-24, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 28
Format: E-Book
Source: Edelweiss via Publisher
Series: N/A

Blonde Hair, Blue EyesBlurb:
 A beautiful young girl was walking down the street?when suddenly…

Julia Carroll knows that too many stories start that way. Beautiful, intelligent, a nineteen-year-old college freshman, she should be carefree. But instead she is frightened. Because girls are disappearing.

A fellow student, Beatrice Oliver, is missing. A homeless woman called Mona-No-Name is missing. Both taken off the street. Both gone without a trace.

Julia is determined to find out the reasons behind their disappearances. And she doesn’t want to be next…


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

It’s funny, I used to avoid short stories at all costs. This is partly because I sometimes feel like you don’t get the character development that draws me into a book as much when the story is so short. But these last couple of months I have been drawn to them more and more because I simply don’t always have the time to commit to a full length novel. But that’s all besides the point of this review…

I was originally offered the chance to sign up for the book blast of this book a couple of weeks ago. I had stated in that post that I had yet to get to reading this one. I finally got to it … and I was hooked!

I guess I should have read the blurb to this one AND the blurb to her upcoming full-length novel, Pretty Girls, to know that this short story was actually a prelude for the later release. Which would explain the twisty ending to this short story. And it definitely left me wanting to pick up Pretty Girls ASAP!!

I really enjoyed Julia’s short story. I found her intriguing and believable. I enjoyed seeing her interact with her college friends as well as her sisters. On the one hand, I suppose I knew where this story was going to end up, but I was unprepared for the feeling of shock I had as I flipped that last page on my Kindle.  I would definitely highly recommend getting your hands on this short story.

Ms. Slaughter is a writer that I have only begun to just recently discover. I wish I knew why, but either way, she’s definitely caught my interest now! Highly recommended and I can’t wait to read Pretty Girls soon!!

2015.27 REVIEW – In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

In Search of the Rose Notes
by Emily Arsenault

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 369
Rating: 3/5
Read: Aug. 18-22, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 27
Format: Print
Source: Won from booktrib.com in 2011
Series: N/A

In Search of the Rose NotesBlurb:
 Eleven-year-olds Nora and Charlotte were best friends. When their teenage babysitter, Rose, disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the girls decided to “investigate.” But their search – aided by paranormal theories and techniques gleaned from old Time-Life books – went nowhere.

Years later, Nora, now in her late twenties, is drawn back to her old neighborhood – and to her estranged friend – when Rose’s remains are finally discovered. Upset over their earlier failure to solve the possible murder, Charlotte is adamant that they join forces and try again. But Nora was the last known person to see Rose alive, and she’s not ready to revisit her troubled adolescence and the events surrounding the disappearance – or face the disturbing secrets that are already beginning to reemerge.


Review:I won a copy of this book back in 2011 from booktrib.com. And I proceeded to do as I always seem to do … let it sit and linger. I finally picked this one up because of a Goodreads challenge.

Let me just start by telling you that me giving this book a 3 star rating is probably being a little bit on the generous side. You see, as the reader, I spent a good 300 pages with Nora and Charlotte on their quest to figure out the mystery of Rose’s disappearance. Through the “flashbacks”, I also suffered through their high school years. I spent those 300 pages practically dying to know what on earth had happened to Rose.

And then when it was finally revealed, 45 pages after the first 300 pages, it was such a disappointment that I honestly wanted to throw the book across the room in disgust. It was just a complete and utter let down. To be completely honest with you, it wrecked the book in my opinion. There were all these indications throughout the book (to me, at least) that something sinister had gone down and it was up to me to figure out the who-dun-it. Oh no, nothing sinister at all happened in the end. And as a mystery lover, the disappointment was just palpable.

If Ms. Arsenault had simply taken Rose’s ending in a different direction, this book would have been a home run for me. Seeing as how that didn’t happen, I have to leave this one with an “eh.”