5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 438

Read: May 25-June 2, 2018

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchased New

 

Blurb: Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska – a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.


Review: This is not a book that I normally would have picked up on my own. In fact when it came out I actually passed it up on Book of the Month. I had never read anything by Kristin Hannah and I wasn’t sure about the Alaskan setting, so I figured it was better to be safe than sorry and I chose something else. So when I saw that it was going to be June’s selection on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s book club, I was a little nervous about it. I couldn’t access it from my library in time to read it for the discussion, so I purchased a new copy. I was all in by that point 🙂

And holy moly was I immediately sucked in by this! I mean from like the first page I was in love with the story. I immediately took to Leni’s character. She’s a wonderful voice in this story. The things that she has to see and live with can be heartbreaking at times. And let’s be honest – it would not be easy at all to be stuck in the Alaskan wilderness with no electricity and no running water in your house. I cannot even begin to imagine that! So it was no surprise just how strong Leni ended up becoming by the middle of the book – she had no real choice, if she wanted to survive.

This book deals with some pretty heavy hitting things. Domestic violence is at the heart of it. It was very difficult reading at times. I’ve been extremely lucky in that I have never been directly or indirectly impacted by domestic violence, but I know that’s not necessarily the norm. I felt like Ms. Hannah handled the situation in a very respectful manner. It was stomach churning at times, but it was also riveting.

At the end there were multiple times that I actually cried. Like legit cried my eyes out. It was that powerful to me. It made me feel things about a book like I haven’t felt in a very long time. I am not usually that attached to a book like I was with this one. And ugh, the book hangover – it’s real!

I just cannot say enough good things about this book! Like I said this book is way outside my comfort zone. And I devoured every single page. It was a great book with wonderful characters and an amazing setting. Just a wonderfully powerful book that really made me think.

HIGHLY recommended!

[Honestly, joining the MMD Book Club has been the absolute best thing I have done for my reading. June marks my 3rd month as a member and the three selections so far have been amazing in their own way for differing reasons. I have expanded my reading in ways that are way out of my comfort zone. It’s been wonderful and I am always looking forward to the next book!]

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3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, K, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: A Risk Worth Taking by Brynn Kelly

A Risk Worth Taking
by Brynn Kelly

A Risk Worth Taking

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 400

Read: May 22-28, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: TLC Book Tours

 

 

Blurb: He can’t outrun himself…

Legionnaire Jamie Armstrong lives in the shadows. A medic haunted by his mistakes, he knows better than to hope for redemption. But his latest mission brings a threat he doesn’t see coming—an attraction as irresistible as it is dangerous. Hacker Samira Desta is a woman he swore to forget, but as a key witness to a deadly conspiracy, Samira is his to protect.

But the woman he rescues might be the one who saves him

After a year in hiding, Samira’s worst fears come true when her cover is blown and the unlikeliest of allies comes to her aid—the secretive Scot with whom she shared one unforgettable night. Hunted by lethal forces and losing the battle against their desire, Jamie and Samira make a desperate play to take the fight to their enemy—but those at greatest risk of ruin may be 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 first accepted this book I knew it was part of a series, but was assured that it read well as a standalone. I’m not sure I can entirely agree with that. For a good chunk of the early part of the book I had trouble understanding what was going on. Why was Samira is hiding? What was she hiding from? Who was coming after her? There were a lot of references to something that had previously happened that I had no idea about. A little more background would have been helpful in my opinion.

I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense. So I was pleasantly surprised that there was a little more suspense than romance. I found it to be a really good balance for my personal tastes. But I fear that people who prefer more romance in their romantic suspense will not be as pleased.

Overall the book was an exciting and thrilling ride! The pacing was really good, it kept my attention throughout. My one and only complaint is that I felt I needed a little more background at the beginning of the book. It did finally come together, but a little more info would have been better. This was a good book and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Kelly’s books in the future!

Recommended.


 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

Connect with Brynn

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, N, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton

What Doesn’t Kill Her
by Carla Norton

What Doesn't Kill Her

Copyright: 2015

Pages: 367

Read: May 11-15, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased New

 

 

Blurb: Reeve LeClaire is not a victim. Not anymore. After four years of being held captive by Daryl Wayne Flint, Reeve is finally getting her life back on track. Little does she know that Flint – imprisoned at a top psychiatric hospital – has been watching, waiting, and meticulously planning his getaway. And he’s ready to seize his chance.

Flint’s escape is Reeve’s worst nightmare. Less than twenty-four hours later, Flint is already on another killing spree … and as he evades capture, baffling authorities and leaving a bloody trail through the forests of Washington State, Reeve is struck by a sudden realization: She knows this psychopath better than anyone – and only she can stop him. But what is she willing to risk to save lives, including her own?


Review: This is the second book in the Reeve LeClaire series. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book, The Edge of Normal, back in 2013. I remember I purchased this one a few years ago when I saw it was out in paperback. And then for whatever reason I let it sit on my shelves. I wish I hadn’t done that because I really enjoyed this one!

It was interesting to see Reeve use her knowledge of Daryl Wayne Flint to track him down for capture. At one point Reeve is told that she has a knack for criminal investigation, and I definitely agree – I’d love to see her brought back as a profiler or something in the future!

This book was full of twists and turns. At times my stomach was in knots trying to see if the characters would get out of the jams they were in. I really enjoyed it a lot. It could definitely read well as a standalone (it’s been 5 years since I read the first book, so I was going in pretty well blind anyway). Definitely recommended! A great read!

3/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What I Saw and How I Lied
by Judy Blunder

What I Saw and How I Lied

Copyright: 2008

Pages: 281

Read: May 3-8, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

 

Blurb: When Evie’s father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just war stories. Movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company, shows up, and Evie finds herself falling for him … until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family breaks her life in two.

As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between loyalty to her parents and feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is … who?


Review: This is the May book selection for the MMD Book Club. I was excited to see it available at my library and immediately fell in love with that cover! I was really looking forward to it. Young Adult isn’t necessarily a genre I’m overly familiar with, and I had never heard of this book, but I was really looking forward to digging into it!

And … it fell a little flat for me. It was very readable but I had trouble reconciling the fact that this was a National Book Award winner. I think I expected a little bit more out of this book just because it had won that award. But my feelings overall are kind of …. scattered?

As I already stated, it was extremely readable. But I couldn’t exactly figure out what the author was wanting to do with the book. Young adult, historical fiction, romance … yes! All of the above. But then near the end Ms. Blundell added in a murder mystery and that’s the part that didn’t really fit the whole book. It also didn’t help that we had at least 3/4 of the book with all this build up and then BOOM here comes the mystery part and she wraps it up in a very short 1/4 of the book. It just felt almost as if she needed something to “happen” and that’s the direction she took? I don’t know. I just felt like that entire part of the book didn’t really fit in with the vibe of the rest of the book. At least that’s my opinion on it…

Maybe it’s just because being a 30+ year old woman, I’m not really the targeted audience for this book. Maybe it’s because coming-of-age stories are not my forte. I don’t know. It wasn’t bad. Not at all! It was a fun and easy read. Ms. Blundell made me feel like I was right in the 1940s with Evie and her parents. I really loved the post-war setting. My “problem” was really with the murder part of the book. It just didn’t work for me in this book.

2.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Never Never by James Patterson

Never Never
by James Patterson & Candice Fox

Never Never

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 316

Read: April 27 – May 2, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Grandmother

 

 

Blurb: Meet Detective Harriet Blue of the Sydney Police Department.

Harry is her department’s top Sex Crimes investigator. But she never thought she’d see her own brother arrested for the grisly murders of three beautiful young women. Shocked and in denial, Harry transfers to a makeshift town in a desolate area to avoid the media circus. Looking into a seemingly simple missing persons case, Harry is assigned a new “partner.” But is he actually meant to be a watchdog?

Far from the world she knows and desperate to clear her brother’s name, Harry has to mine the dark secrets of her strange new home for answers to a deepening mystery – before she vanishes in a place where no one would ever think to look for her.


Review: This is the first in a new(ish) series from Mr. Patterson. It sounded good and I’m a sucker for series books, so I was excited to give it a go.

Unfortunately it fell flat for me. I’m not entirely sure if it was the storyline …. I didn’t like the setting … or if it was the fact that I pegged the killer entirely too early. It just didn’t work for me to be honest.

As I stated this is the first in a series. Part of me wants to read the second book just to see if we get any closure to Harry’s brother’s case … the other part of me doesn’t want to waste my time. So the verdict is still out on that. It’s not often that I’m this disappointed by a Patterson book, but this one was not up to par to some of his others.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, P, PICT Book Tours, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book

Review: Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts

Hiding

by Jenny Morton Potts

on Tour May 1-31, 2018

Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts

Synopsis:

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Published by: Cahoots Publishing

Publication Date: February 2018

Number of Pages: 323

ISBN: 1976862817 (ISBN13: 9781976862816)

Check out Hiding onAmazon | Goodreads


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

I was immediately drawn into the blurb of this book – it really caught my attention immediately. And I really love the cover too … so I was excited to get a chance to read this book!

Overall, I enjoyed it. However, it did have a somewhat slow start for me. But let me just saw that once a certain something was revealed (maybe around 15-20-ish percent on my e-book copy?) it was like a corner had been turned and from there on out it was a race to the finish for me! I can’t go into too much detail here, because I don’t want to spoil anything.

The story that Ms. Potts weaves was intricate and intriguing. The writing was really enjoyable. That slightly slow start is my one and only negative thing I can say about this book. I have never read anything by Ms. Potts before this, but I am certainly going to keep an eye out for her works in the future! I really enjoyed this one and definitely recommend it!


Author Bio:

Jenny Morton Potts

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realised she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gĂ®tes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.

She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Catch Up With Jenny Morton Potts On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, U-V-W

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 340

Read: April 16-21, 2018

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Book of the Month

 

 

Blurb: In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea.

At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo hears what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers and crew members remain accounted for – and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read i n The Woman in Cabin 10 – one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.


Review: This was my August 2016 Book of the Month selection and I’m kicking myself that I’m just getting around to it….

The twists and turns in this one kept me guessing until the near end. I personally was not so fond of the main character, Lo. She spent so much time drinking and not doing her job  that it irritated me to no end. It definitely added somewhat to the intrigue of the book, but at one point I seriously considered the possibility that she was in an insane asylum!

I don’t want to go into too much detail on this book, because I firmly think that the less you know the better. Overall, I really did enjoy this book, but it was just slightly below being a 5 star read for me. But still one that I’ll recommend to anyone who loves a psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive
by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive

Copyright: 1989

Pages: 307

Read: April 9-15, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: When Kinsey Millhone first arrives in Floral Beach, California, it’s hard for her to picture the idyllic coastal town as the setting of a brutal murder. Seventeen years ago, the body of Jean Timberlake – a troubled teen who had a reputation with the boys – was found on the beach. Her boyfriend, Bailey Fowler, was convicted of her murder and imprisoned, but he escaped.

After all this time, Bailey’s finally been captured. Believing in his son’s innocence, Bailey’s father wants Kinsey to find Jean’s real killer. But most of the residents in this tight-knit community are convinced Bailey strangled Jean. So why are they so reluctant to answer Kinsey’s questions? If there’s one thing Kinsey’s got plenty of it’s persistence. And that’s exactly what it’s going to take to crack the lid on this case.

As Kinsey gets closer to solving Jean’s murder, the more dirty little secrets she uncovers in a town where everyone has something to hide – and a killer will kill again to keep the past buried…


Review: It’s been forever since I visited with Kinsey Millhone and so I was glad when this book popped up on my April call-out on a Goodreads challenge.

I had a lot of fun working the case with Kinsey. It definitely ended up going in a direction that I never saw coming, although there was a couple small instances that should have clued me in had I been paying more attention.

Jumping back in with Kinsey definitely made me want to read more of her and soon! I don’t remember her being so badass, but I definitely enjoyed it! She’s smart and strong, a good (and sometimes rare) combination in female protagonists. I definitely appreciate that aspect of her character.

I did jot down this quote from the very end that resonated with me:

If love is what injures us, how can we heal?

I’m seriously bummed that Ms. Grafton passed away a little while ago. I’m disappointed that the alphabet now ends with Y … but I am satisfied with the decision to not use a ghost writer to finish the series out (I hate, hate, HATE when that occurs.) I’m looking forward to getting around to G sooner rather than later!!

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018, S

Review: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire
by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 274

Read: March 31 – April 6, 2018

Rating: 5/5

Source: Library

 

 

Blurb: Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When Parvaiz surfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then handsome, charismatic Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined.

Internationally acclaimed for her riveting and ambitiously imagined novels, here Kamila Shamsie explores how secrets and family loyalty can both bind lives together and threaten to spin them out of control. Searing and suspenseful, Home Fire asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?


Review: This is not the type of book I normally read. Not even close. But when I saw on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s site that it was her book club’s April selection I dug deeper into the book. I previewed the first page on Goodreads and knew immediately that I had to join the book club for this discussion and immediately get a copy of that book. (You can find that intro here if you’re curious to know what was so compelling to make me fork over money to join a virtual book club and head straight to the library.)

I had seen on the MMD website that this is actually a modern retelling of Antigone. I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what Antigone was even about. It was all I could do to not Google it before I finished the book! I’m ultimately glad that I avoided doing so since I think it would have definitely affected the way I viewed this book.

This book has so many different themes that are explored, but family and country relationships are definitely at the core. It brings forth a lot of feelings and made me really wonder what I would do in those situations. Let’s be frank: I’m an upper-middle class white woman who has no idea what the real world is really like to more underprivileged people. This book made me think more about what it would be like to be a woman trying to do everything in her power to avoid bringing attention to herself lest people think she was a terrorist. It made me think about what it would be like to be so driven in life that I would essentially deny my entire familial background. It made me think about what it would be like to be so driven in my grief that I would willingly manipulate seemingly innocent people in order to get what I ultimately wanted. It made me think about what it would be like to want to know who your father was so badly that you would (inadvertently?) join a terrorist group in order to get the answers you so desperately wanted.

Yeah, it’s that kind of book.

This book really made me think. And I’m not used to books like that. I’m used to murder mysteries where I just have to figure out who the killer is. This book opened my mind to a lot more things than I ever imagined. And it’s stuck with me. I finished this book nearly 2 weeks ago and am just now sitting down to write this review because I’ve been in a book hangover trying to wrap my mind around it.

I still do not think I can adequately put into words my feelings on this book. All I can say is that I was enamored by it. I was enthralled by it. I was engrossed in it. It’ll be in my mind for quite some time.

And I would recommend everyone to read it.

2.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Art in the Blood by Bonnie MacBird

Art in the Blood
by Bonnie MacBird

Art in the Blood

Copyright: 2015

Pages: 336

Read: March 24-29, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Barnes & Noble Serial Reads

 

 

Blurb: London. A snowy December, 1888. Sherlock Holmes, 34, is languishing and back on cocaine after a disastrous Ripper investigation. Watson can neither comfort nor rouse his friend – until a strangely encoded letter arrives from Paris.

Mlle La Victoire, a beautiful French cabaret star writes that her young son has vanished, and she has been attacked in the streets of Montmartre.

Racing to Paris with Watson at his side, Holmes discovers the missing child is only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. The most valuable statue since the Winged Victory has been violently stolen in Marseilles, and several children from a silk mill in Lancashire have been found murdered. The clues in all three cases point to a single, untouchable man, an art collector seemingly beyond reach of the law.

Will Holmes recover in time to find the missing boy and stop a rising tide of murders? To do so he must stay one step ahead of a dangerous French rival and the threatening interference of his own brother, Mycroft.

This latest adventure, in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sends the iconic duo from London to Paris and the icy wilds of Lancashire in a case which tests Watson’s friendship and the fragility and gifts of Sherlock Holmes’ own artistic nature to the limits.

 


Review: This was Barnes & Noble’s March selection on their Serial Reads program. I was really unsure about reading this one. While I do enjoy mysteries, Sherlock Holmes has never really been a huge draw for me. I posted the introduction to this book here, and based on the comments it was split whether or not my visitors would continue reading the book based on the intro. To be honest, the first few pages didn’t really immediately draw me in either, but I eventually got interested enough in the book to continue on.

Overall, this wasn’t necessarily a bad book. It just wasn’t really a home run for me either. It fell somewhere in the “eh” category. It felt a little convoluted and I didn’t like how the storyline kept switching from the missing boy to the art theft and back to the missing boy, constantly… I think it was a little too much. I wanted Holmes to concentrate on one or the other cases.

I’m not entirely sold that this book was really written in the Sherlock Holmes “way.”  It didn’t feel entirely authentic. Not that I’m an expert in Sherlock Holmes, but I just felt like something was missing from his character. It didn’t feel like an authentic Sherlock Holmes character in this book.

To be honest, this book didn’t do much for me in the end. It was a decent enough read for   a freebie. However, I don’t really feel the need to read the second book in this series. I’m not even entirely sure I would recommend this book. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to hard-core Sherlock Holmes fans … but I suppose the casual mystery lover may find something in this that I simply didn’t.