Book Reviews

Book Review: Survive by Amber R. Polk

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Survive offers a good mixture of new adult romance, drama, mystery and humor. It moves along at a steady pace for the most part; however, there are a few pulse-pounding scenes. One of the more intense scenes happens during the last chapter, which ends with quite a cliffhanger, ensuring that I’ll be reading part two in this series.

The three main characters are well-developed and believable. I enjoyed the brother/sister dynamic between Jacob and Veronica, which is where most of the humor creeps in. It also warmed my heart to read about the blossoming romance between Veronica and Luke. I appreciate the way Polk slowly builds their attraction toward one another. Bottom line: No instalove! I really liked all three of these characters, up until the end, that is. Remember that cliffhanger I mentioned? Yeah, that has something to do with it…

The only issue I have with Survive is I wish it had more information about the plague and the state of the world. So I hope part two sheds more light on what things are like for other survivors.

Overall, a solid read that showcases elements of various genres. As I said, I look forward to reading more from Polk!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Amicable Divorce by Marla Bradeen

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“Divorce is like apple pie. It’s the American way of life.”

As expected from a novel categorized as chick lit, The Amicable Divorce was light and humorous. And to my surprise, it offered more than just a good laugh because the plotline was laced with mystery.

Out of nowhere and without sufficient explanation, Vanessa’s husband Brian announces he wants a divorce. As a result, Vanessa is left to figure out where things went wrong with the help of her thrice-divorced sister Beth. When Beth convinces Vanessa that Brian is having an affair, Vanessa is compelled to investigate.

The story flows nicely from chapter to chapter and is told from Vanessa’s POV. Her sarcastic, slightly bumbling personality is funny and paved the way for humorous dialogue. However, as amusing as Vanessa’s inner dialogue is, I found myself skimming those parts at times because I wanted to get back to the plotline. Bradeen certainly knows how to piece together a cozy mystery.

If you’re looking for light-hearted chick lit and a flawed heroine who comes out on top in the end, then this one might be right up your alley.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

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The Widow is a psychological thriller that captivated me from page one. It begins with a meeting between widow Jean Taylor and reporter Kate Waters. Kate is the first reporter Jean has ever agreed to speak with regarding accusations against her recently deceased husband, Glen Taylor. The whole world wants to know: Now that Glen’s dead, is Jean willing to reveal what she knows? Did she know about Glen’s habit? Did she know whether he did what people say he did? Did she lie for him? How could she live with him after what he was accused of? And Kate wants to be the the one to deliver Jean’s side of the story to the world.

But this brilliantly complex story isn’t told by way of Jean simply sitting down and spilling her guts to Kate. Glen’s alleged crimes are slowly revealed through alternating points of view (The Widow, The Reporter, The Detective, The Mother, and The Husband) that weave back and forth through time. The time hops and multiple perspectives were pieced together perfectly to create one heck of a suspenseful tale. My only gripe with the narrative is that I had to double-check dates several times to clarify the timeline.

Barton did a marvelous job of fleshing out all of the key players in this story so that I understood their behaviors and motivations. In fact, they became so real to me that I couldn’t sleep when I finished the book. It was nearly 3 a.m. and I was dead tired, but I could not stop thinking about real-life court cases that have been publicized to no end. I thought about the families of the accused individuals and about the accused themselves. And I got chills when I thought about the fact that people like Glen Taylor really do exist.

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Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Damaged by C. K. Green

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After suffering a traumatic event, Kiera tries to hide from her past. By doing so, she also hides from Ethan, the man who put his heart and soul into finding out the truth about what happened to her. When they are reunited, Kiera’s demons resurface with a vengeance, causing her to immediately push him away. Too bad their undeniable attraction toward each other throws a wrench in her plans…

I like how this story is told from alternating perspectives and how it’s laced with elements of suspense. While it’s extremely sad for me to imagine someone going through what Keira went through, I find it interesting the way Green conveyed this character’s PTSD. Part of me felt that she should have been further along in the healing process, but I know very little about the disorder, so my opinion could be way off. It seemed clear, though, that the way she kept everyone in her life at arm’s length stifled her ability to heal.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I have to say that I feel Ethan was a bit harsh and too forward with Kiera at times. The way he acted toward her in certain instances made me wonder if his intentions were what they seemed, but it was also kinda hot the way he was so crazy for her. Good debut, CK Green!

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*Many thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of Damaged in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

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“Hey, have you heard this one before? Two serial killers walk into a record store…”

Brother is a faced-paced psychological thriller. Its hillbilly serial killer theme reminded me of movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance, and The Hills Have Eyes. However, it wasn’t just about a bunch of degenerate killers looking for their next victim. As the title suggests, it was more about the relationship between brothers Reb and Michael and why Reb thrives on making Michael’s life miserable.

Ahlborn didn’t waste any time introducing the deranged family in this book. There’s Momma (the ringleader of the bunch), Wade (the dad and enabler), Reb (the psychopathic brother), Misty Dawn (the innocent sister), and then there’s Michael. While Michael is part of the family, he isn’t related by blood. And unlike Momma, Wade and Reb, Michael actually has a conscience and longs for normalcy. Ahlborn did a great job of making me like and sympathize with Michael.

The chapters flow together seamlessly and rotate between Michael’s perspective, Reb’s perspective, and flashbacks that clue readers in on why Reb hates Michael so much. The vivid characters combined with the brutal acts carried out by several of them scared the crap out of me, and most of the twists and turns blew my mind.

If you like serial killer books and don’t mind gore and a bit of torture, I highly recommend this book.

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AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Bright Side by Kim Holden

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I don’t know what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. I loved it. I loved the characters. It was amazing. It made me think. It crushed my heart and made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me want to be a better person. Has all of that already been said? Pretty sure it has. So, what to say, what to say…

One of my favorite things is finishing a book and feeling so emotionally drained that I have to sit and reflect on what I just read. That’s exactly what happened when I finished this book. I sat there. I reread the last paragraph. And then I sat there a little longer. I felt sad and a little bit happy at the same time. I wanted to hug the author and every single character in the book (except for one). Dammit, I didn’t want it to be over!

But that’s life, right? Things suck sometimes. Things change. Things end. And that’s what I loved most about this book. It was so real. Too real. That’s why it made me cry. But even if I didn’t have first-hand experience with the primary theme in this book, it still would have made me cry because Kim Holden did a masterful job of depicting what it’s like.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Playing House by Mira Day

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Playing House is a fast-paced, contemporary romance with several hot and heavy scenes and a couple of twists.

Hannah is a waitress/bartender with aspirations of being a chef. Caleb is a successful lawyer and regular customer where Hannah works. Sparks fly between them despite the fact that Hannah is in a long-term relationship. By the end of chapter three, I thought I knew what to expect from the rest of the story . . . Likeable young woman in a relationship with douchebaggy guy meets the man of her dreams. Woman doesn’t realize just how douchebaggy the guy is so she wavers between the two men. Eventually, douchebaggy guy shows his true colors, making woman’s decision to end the relationship a no-brainer. She lives happily ever after with the man of her dreams. Was I right? Sort of, but mostly no. There’s a lot more to this story.

Early on, I thought I understood what the title meant. It was simple, straightforward. But then a twist was revealed, and the title meant a bit more. Then after reading a little further, another possible inspiration for the title occurred to me. So one thing I really like about this book is the clever title. I also like the ending, but there are definitely some unanswered questions!

If you like contemporary romance with just a bit of spice and a new adult feel, you might enjoy Playing House.

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Book Reviews

Time for Books 2016 Review Team

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One of my favorite things about being a writer is that reading a good book is considered research. That’s one reason why I spend just as much time reading as I do writing. πŸ˜‰

Last year, I vowed to read and review 21-40 books as a member of Jo Michaels’ 2015 Review Team. Mission accomplished! I read 60 books, and contributed reviews for 43 of them to help the team achieve a grand total of 540 reviews. Holy cow! That’s a lot of reviews!

This year, I have pledged to read and review 41-60 books, which means you can expect four to five reviews from me per month. As always, if you have a book recommendation, please let me know. I am open to any genre, and I especially love books that make me cringe, cry and/or laugh out loud.

I am so excited to be a part of this review team again and look forward to spreading the word about some great reads in 2016!

If you are interested in being part of the Time for Books 2016 Review Team, visit Jo’s blog for details.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Up and In by Deborah Disney

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Up and In offers a hilarious yet surprisingly thought-provoking look at the the pressure moms often feel to fit in with other moms.

The story, which shifts between present and past events, is told from Maria’s perspective. For several years, Maria has managed to successfully fit in with the hoity toity mothers of her daughter’s private school friends. Unfortunately, one false move puts her on the outs with the alpha female of the bunch, Bea. As a result, both Maria and her daughter, Kate, suffer the consequences.

At first I was skeptical that I’d be able to keep track of the large cast of characters, which consists of seven girls and seven sets of parents. However, Disney did a spectacular job of bringing each character to life with distinctive personality traits and quirks. I was actually surprised by how well I felt I knew most of these characters by the end. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I could relate to Maria and her experiences as a mom, a wife, and an adult trying to fit in with other adults for the sake of her child.

I love Disney’s conversational tone and her style of humor. Some of the things these characters say and do and so many of Maria’s thoughts had me in stitches!

If you’ve ever tried to fit in with a group of parents you don’t exactly relate to and enjoy funny chick lit, I recommend you give this gem a read.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge

 

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Few things make me happier than finding an author I can count on to deliver one satisfying read after another.

The Doll’s House is book #3 in Arlidge’s Detective Helen Grace series. Like Eeny Meeny and Pop Goes the Weasel, I became engrossed in this suspense thriller within the first few pages. And like the first two novels in the series, this one lives up to Arlidge’s characteristic style, which I’ve come to know and love.

In this installment of the DI Grace series, a serial killer kidnaps and traps women in a soundproof room that is custom-designed to resemble the interior of a dollhouse. Why does he do it? How does he choose his victims? How many women have lived in the dollhouse? Only DI Grace can provide you with the answers. πŸ˜‰

If you’re a fan of suspense thrillers that involve serial killers, M. J. Arlidge’s Detective Helen grace series is my number one recommendation for you. All of these books can be read as standalones so you don’t necessarily need to start with book #1. However, a lot of DI Grace’s past is revealed in Eeny Meeny, and she’s definitely a complex character worth getting to know.

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A big thank you to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy via NetGalley.