Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Hexed, by Heather Graham

In his youth, Rocky not only had to deal with the death of a friend, he was the one who found her body.  Now a member of an elite FBI team that deals with unusual situations, Rocky has returned to his hometown area of Salem to investigate a series of murders identical to that of his childhood friend.  Are the murders are related to each other, and to the witchy past of Salem?

I was absolutely fascinated by this book!  I love that the story centers around a real historic area, and weaves a lot of historic fact into the plot.  I also like that the story did not take the easy way out, making the culprit someone obvious or simply blaming the paranormal.  The plot was very strong, and well written.  I was engaged from the first page.

The character development was good, but I would have liked to either see a little bit more development, or a little less characters.  I know we needed a large cast, to serve as red herrings, but some of the people who were not obvious suspects just seemed to muddy things a little, and make it hard to keep people straight.  Also, I could have done without the romance aspect of the book.  I think the thriller and paranormal aspects of the plot were strong enough to carry the story, the romance seemed like it was an afterthought to try to appeal to romance fans.  

All in all, I found the book really well written, and very unique.  I am looking forward to reading more from this author!

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Monster Realm, by Nara Duffie

For as long as she can remember, Lillian has loved mythology stories, and the "monsters" that appear in them. When her sister, Bluebell, goes missing, Lillian realizes that those stories may be more fact than fiction, and life as she knows it may change forever.

I cannot even begin to express how impressed I was with this book. The author, Nara Duffie, completed this book 11 days before her 11th birthday. Yes, you read that correctly! She was 10 when she wrote this. Actually, she started writing it much earlier than that, and took her time polishing and perfecting it. You can tell that this book was written with a tremendous amount of dedication and precision. The characters are very well developed, and the back story unfolds brilliantly in the middle of the present action. I thought the book was full of rich imagery, and I admire the author's imagination.

This book will really appeal to fans of books like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I think it is a wonderful book for both young adult and adult readers. Do not let the author's young age deter you; this is better writing than I have seen from may seasoned, adult authors. Bravo Nara!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Breathe: A Memoir of Motherhood, Grief, and Family Conflict, by Kelly Kittel

Kelly and Andy had a good life, living on the west coast near Andy's family, and making frequent trips to the east coast to visit Kelly's family.  They have beautiful children.  Then, in an instant, their life trajectory takes a turn, and a life is lost.  Less than a year later, the family suffers another loss, and this time, they want answers.  Sadly, in their search for truth about their loss, the find heart breaking other truths as well, about family, loyalty, and trust.

How does one talk about liking or disliking a book dealing with such raw subject matter as infant loss.  I struggle to put this review into words.  I simply cannot imagine having gone through all that Kelly and Andy experienced in such a short course of time.  This book deals with so many different kinds of loss- loss of children, loss of faith in medical practitioners, loss of familial support.  Just so much loss.  Yet there is such an air of positivity to it.  Kelly seems like such an incredibly strong person.  And her faith is evident throughout the book.

I found myself consumed with this story, and could not stop reading.  I wanted justice for this family.  I wanted healing for this family.  I wanted a happy ending.  But, this is not just a story, this is not fiction.  This family will forever feel the loss of their children.  And that is so hard for me to imagine.  What a brave, wonderful book this is.  I highly recommend it to anyone having gone through child loss or familial estrangement.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Moving Day, by Jonathan Stone

Peke and his wife are in their 70s, preparing to move from their home of 40 years, drive cross country, and set up a quieter, simple life in California.  Suddenly, all their plans are shattered when they are swindled out of all their worldly possessions by thieves posing as moving men. Most men would submit an insurance claim and buy new things, but not Peke.  Peke fights back, with a fire in his belly.  You see, Peke is a survivor, in more ways than one.

This book was unlike any thriller I have ever read.  When I realized what had happened to Peke and his wife, my heart sunk like a stone, as if they were real people.  I was that captured by the writing, from the very beginning.  The author took this very mundane thing, moving, and turned it on its end.  I simply could not read fast enough to suit me.  The characters of Peke and Nick, one of the thieves, are well written, and play well off of each other.  It almost feels like each is what the other might have been, had life taken different turns.

I love the strong emphasis on survival in this book, and coming to terms with what one is willing to do to secure that survival.  There were quite a few twists I never anticipated, and I was riveted the entire time I was reading.  If you are looking for a book full of action, and a plot unlike any thriller you have ever read before, then this is the perfect summer read for you.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sweet Tooth: A Memoir, by Tim Anderson

As a teenager, Tim started to realize that he was different, that he was attracted to other boys.  He knew he needed to keep this a secret, so he started daydreaming; just when he thinks he is beginning to deal with his sexuality, life throws him another curveball, when he discovers he has Type I diabetes.  Tim struggles to learn how to deal with this life altering disease, and along the way he suffers severe reactions when his blood sugar drops dangerously low.  People in his life learn how to spot the signs and take care of him, but between his disease and his sexuality, he spends quite a few years as a big, sloppy mess.  Eventually, however, he learns to manage life, as well as any of us do.

I am a sucker for a great memoir; real, personal stories are the ones I find most interesting. Which is exactly why I loved this book so much.  I felt like this book can really speak to people.  A reader needs to look past the specifics- one does not need to be a Type I diabetic, or gay, or a boy with curly swoopy bangs, to relate to this book.  One needs only to have struggled with something, anything, that made them feel different, defective, outcast.  And who among us has not, at some point, had such a struggle?

I found the book to be incredibly well written, a perfect balance of wit, self deprecation, and seriousness. The chapters are interspersed with vignettes of Tim suffering severe reactions, and I found those to be highly educational.  I never realized, despite the fact that I too have seen Steel Magnolias, the drastic shifts in personality and behavior that can occur when a diabetic person's blood sugar bottoms out.  I wonder how many times we think someone is drunk or high or crazy, when really, they are just a diabetic in need of some juice.

I found this book to be brave, and honest, and raw.  I wish more people had the courage to tell their stories the way Tim has.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Under a Silent Moon, by Elizabeth Haynes

Two women are found dead on the same night, one a clear homicide, the other what seems to be a suicide.   DNA evidence also seems to suggest the cases are linked, beyond the fact that they occurred in close proximity to each other.  As the investigative team gathers evidence, it would seem that the cases are not as open and shut as they initially appeared.  And as the investigation continues, it becomes clear that most everyone has some dirty little secrets that will come to light.

I have been a fan of this author for a couple of years now, ever since I read her very first book.  So it came as no surprise that I really loved this book as well.  What did come as a surprise was how different this was from her previous works.  While the crime and thriller aspects were just as on point as always, this book was rooted in a much darker, sexual place.

One of the dead women, Polly, is very open with her sexuality, almost pansexual in nature.  The message here is clear: a sexually open woman deserves to die.  And this is not the author's message; this is society's message.  In a world where rape culture influences so many daily interactions women endure, this message is always looming on the surface.  One need only to read the daily news to confirm this fact.

I thought the writing was on point, as it always is with this author.  I also liked the unusual format of weaving police paperwork, text messages, and other forms of communication into the story. It kept me on my toes.

Yet another winner by Elizabeth Haynes.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Outside In, by Doug Cooper

When a student dies in his classroom, Brad is ready to leave teaching forever.  At the very least, he is leaving St. Louis.  He travels to Put-in-Bay, Ohio, to spend the summer partying with friends.  Brad thinks he is running away from his problems, but perhaps he is just running toward his future.  But suddenly, the party spins out of control, and the future is forever changed.

I was completely sucked into this book, and I cannot fully explain why.  I mean, when a book opens with death, you know you are in for one heck of a ride.  I cannot help but feel sorry for Brad, he seems so lost.  And he seems a little to old for the party scene.  They all do really.  It seems like a bit of a modern tragedy really, and I pitied them.  I was also completely fascinated by them.

I was never into the party scene, mostly because I lived at home until I was in my 20s.  I worked my way through college and focused on my studies, even after I had moved out for graduate school.  So, you might say I was able to live vicariously through these characters.  But even living the party lifestyle vicariously was too much for me.  This book made me eternally thankful I never got involved in the party scene, but it also helped me understand how young people get sucked into drug and alcohol addictions.  Like Brad, we all find ourselves running.

I think this would make a good summer read, since it is set in the summer , and has sort of a resort-like feel to it.  But be forewarned, it is also pretty dark.  All in all, a very engaging book.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the review here.