Friday, April 24, 2015

REVIEW: Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Title: Cop Town
Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June, 2014
Genre: Thriller
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Description: Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.

My Thoughts: I found Cop Town to be a major departure from what Karin Slaughter usually writes. She’s a very good suspense writer but this book is so much more than that. This book crosses so many sensitive barrier lines and is done so well, I didn’t have time to be shocked at the events transpiring in the book, though some of it was very difficult to read. This story brings issues of prejudice, bigotry, sexism, corruption and ethics to the forefront. This story centers on Maggie Lawson, an officer of the Atlanta Police Department and her new rookie partner, Kate Murphy. From the onset, the reader is given a very strong impression that women are not wanted or respected on the force. The level of hostility and harassment these women experience is very disturbing. Add in a serial killer who is targeting police officers and you have a very intense story that kept me anxious to find out what happens next and dreading it at the same time. The line separating the good from the evil is very blurry in this book.

I thought Maggie and Kate were interesting characters and though they are definitely a part of the ‘good ole boy’ network of Atlanta PD, they are definitely not part of the inner circle that Maggie’s uncle Terry and brother Jimmy are in. Maggie and Kate both feel like they have something to prove, not just to themselves but to the people around them. What I found interesting is the hostility that Kate receives from the female officers as well as the male officers. Instead of presenting a united front, the animosity between the women is a living, breathing entity. It takes all of Kate’s strength of mind and character to come back after her first day. I found myself wondering many times if either of them would make it to the end of this book in one piece.

Maggie’s uncle, Terry is a despicable character. He is a product of his time. Adjectives of sexist, male chauvinist pig, tyrant, bully, bastard all come to mind. He’s not above raising his hand against a woman and has no problem inflicting verbal and physical abuse on Maggie. Domestic violence was not viewed back then the way it is today and women had few rights outside the home. I would not have shed any tears if he had been one of the shooter’s targets.

Maggie’s brother, Jimmy was more likable but I struggled with his attitude initially. He is a redeemable character and by the end of the book most of his behavior made sense. I struggled with the ethics and moral compass of many of the characters but it was true to the time period this book is set in.

The story begins with Jimmy’s partner being gunned down and Jimmy barely escaping with his life. The entire department is out for blood and the “shoot first, ask questions later” mentally is in full swing. Maggie and Kate find themselves conducting a side investigation when they both individually realize that Jimmy’s account of what happened doesn’t make logical sense. This puts them in closer proximity to the killer and the stakes are raised when we discover that Kate is being stalked. The story continues to heighten the anticipation and intensity throughout the book. I thought the identity of the shooter was fitting and believable, though I was surprised that I didn’t see it or catch on earlier.

My Final Verdict: Overall, this is a very good story filled with heart racing intensity that will appeal to fans of the suspense and thriller genre, once the initial shock of the behavior and attitudes of the time period wears off.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Cop Town from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: Concealed In Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Concealed In Death (In Death #38)
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: February, 2014
Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Description: The incomparable J. D. Robb presents the latest moving and suspenseful novel in the #1 New York Times–bestselling Eve Dallas series.

In a decrepit and long-empty New York building, a man begins the demolition process by swinging a sledgehammer into a wall. When the dust clears, he finds two skeletons wrapped in plastic behind it.

The man is Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s billionaire husband, Roarke, and he summons her immediately. His latest real estate project is going to be on hold for a while, because by the time Eve and her crew are finished searching the premises, there are twelve murders to be solved….

After a little digging reveals that the place housed a makeshift shelter for troubled and homeless teenagers back in the mid-2040s, Eve tracks down the people who worked there. Between their recollections and the brilliant work of the force’s new forensic anthropologist, Eve begins to put names and faces to the skeletal remains. They are all girls. A tattooed tough teenager who dealt in illegal drugs. The runaway daughter of a pair of well-to-do doctors. They all had their stories. And they all lost their chance for a better life.

Everyone has something to hide. And when Eve discovers a stunning connection between the victims and someone she knows, she is even more driven to reveal the secrets of the place that was called The Sanctuary—and to find the evil concealed in one human heart.

My Thoughts: After 38 installments, I keep waiting for Eve to lose her edge; expecting it, somehow. I mean, seriously, how long can J.D. Robb continue to churn out story after story with Eve kicking ass and taking names and never missing a beat? I have never read a series that has continued as long as this one has and still manages to deliver a hard-hitting action packed story every single time. Not every story is perfect and not every story was keeper shelf material, but hands down, this series continues to deliver action and suspense in a rich character-driven setting. Throw in some romance and passion and humor and you have a series that brings the reader back book after book seeking the comfort of hanging out with Eve and her posse.

A very interesting aspect of Concealed In Death is the villain is not evil as I have come to expect from these stories. Eve expects it too and actually prefers it. She stands for the dead and what better way to bring them justice if she can deliver up some serious cage time off planet for the evil villain who destroys lives. She lives for it. I felt bad for Eve that she doesn’t get that. She catches the murderer, absolutely, but I found myself a little deflated, on Eve’s behalf, and feeling a lot of compassion for the murderer and empathy for the families, including the murderer’s. Sometimes justice isn’t black and white. Sometimes there are no winners, just survivors and the walking wounded from the fallout of the heinous crimes.

I especially enjoyed getting more of Mavis’s background story. I love the relationship she has with Eve and in this story, the reader can fully understand why they get along so well. They are truly kindred spirits. I also liked Quilla, one of the troubled teens at the group home who has a smart mouth and interesting outlook on what’s going on around her. She makes her presence known early on and often throughout the book and though Eve tries hard to keep her at arm’s length, I think Eve likes her. I hope we see more of her in future books. There is also a very heartwarming scene between Eve and Dennis Mira involving some fuzzy mittens and hat. I really enjoy it when Eve shows her softer, more sentimental side. It never lasts long, but it is always a treat to see. The jury is still out on Dr. Garnet DeWinter, the forensic anthropologist who is working with Eve to reconstruct the skeletal remains to identify the victims. My first impression of her reminds me of Nadine Furst. She’s very assertive and has a strong personality, but I don’t know if she will turn out to be a friend or foe to Eve at this point.

My Final Verdict: Concealed In Death is very mild on the intensity as compared to earlier books, but the story is solid and is a very good installment to the series. This book will appeal to fans of mysteries, thrillers and romance. The addition of the forensic anthropology angle to identify the victims is interesting. I highly recommend this book to the fans of this series and if you haven’t read any of the books in this series, you are in for a treat, but do not start with this book. Start at the beginning with Naked In Death.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Making Your Mind Up by Jill Mansell

Making Your Mind Up
By Jill Mansell
Sourcebooks Landmark
May 5, 2015
ISBN: 9781492604440
$14.00 Trade Paperback

Purchase Making Your Mind Up Here:
Amazon | B&N | BAM | IndieBound | Kobo

International bestseller Jill Mansell delivers a hilarious and heartwarming tale about falling in love when you have opinionated kids

Love is a complicated thing…
Lottie Carlyle is happy enough. Living in a beautiful cottage with her two adorable—sometimes—kids in an idyllic village, on good terms with her ex-husband, and with friends all around, everything is going just fine. But when she meets her new boss, her peaceful world is thrown into delightful, exciting, and frustrating chaos. Tyler is perfect for Lottie, but her kids do not agree. To make matters worse, the handsome and mysterious Seb appears on the scene, intriguing—and distracting—Lottie and charming her children, making it more and more difficult for her to make up her mind…

“Very nicely done… Jill Mansell’s chorus of sharp-witted youth, shaking sticks at the foibles of their elders, is delightful.” —Daily Express
“A smashing read that both delights and surprises the reader.” —The Sun

Praise for Thinking of You:
“Mansell is like a Michelin-rated chef: She may use common ingredients, but under her sure hand the results are deliciously superior.” —Kirkus
“Humorous, sometimes poignant... Her breezy style resembles that of Sophie Kinsella or Helen Fielding… readers will be delighted.” —Booklist
“Jill Mansell combines, humor, friendship, romance and betrayal... keeps you wanting more.” —Fresh Fiction
“Beyond the fun, faulted characters, Mansell has a gift for humorous and witty dialogue that will leave readers in stitches... Mansell excels at creating relationships that are dynamic and complicated.” —Savvy Verse and Wit

About Jill Mansell
With over 9 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. She worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol, and now writes full time. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

Connect With Jill:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

An Excerpt from MAKING YOUR MIND UP by Jill Mansell

The lane that ran alongside the garden of Hestacombe House was narrow and banked high on both sides with poppies, cow parsley, and blackberry bushes. Turning left, Tyler Klein worked out, would lead you back up to the village of Hestacombe. Turning right took you down to the lake. As he took the right turn, Tyler heard the sound of running feet and giggling.

Rounding the first bend in the lane, he saw two small children twenty or thirty yards away, clambering over a stile. Dressed in shorts, T--shirts, and baseball caps, the one in front was carrying a rolled--up yellow-and-white-striped striped towel, while his companion clutched a haphazard bundle of clothes. Glancing up the lane and spotting Tyler, they giggled again and leaped down from the stile into the cornfield beyond. By the time he reached the stile they’d scurried out of sight, no doubt having taken some shortcut back to the village following their dip in the lake.

The lane opened out into a sandy clearing that sloped down to meet a small artificial beach. Freddie Masterson had had this constructed several years ago, chiefly for the benefit of visitors to his lakeside vacation cottages, but also—-as Tyler had just witnessed—-to be enjoyed by the inhabitants of Hestacombe. Shielding his eyes from the glare of the afternoon sun as it bounced off the lake, Tyler saw a girl in a bright turquoise bikini floating lazily on her back in the water. There was a faint unearthly wailing sound coming from somewhere he couldn’t quite place. Then the noise—-was it singing?—-stopped. Moments later, as Tyler watched, the girl turned onto her front and began to swim slowly back to shore.

It could almost be that scene from Dr. No, where Sean Connery observes Ursula Andress emerging goddess--like from a tropical sea. Except he wasn’t hiding in the bushes and he had all his own hair. And this girl didn’t have a large knife strapped to her thigh.

She wasn’t blond either. Her long dark hair was a riot of snaky curls plastered to her shoulders, her body curvy and deeply tanned. Impressed—-because an encounter like this was the last thing he’d been expecting—-Tyler nodded in a friendly fashion as she paused to wring water from her dripping hair and said, “Good swim?”

The girl surveyed him steadily, then looked around the tiny beach. Finally she said, “Where’s my stuff?”

Stuff. Taken aback, Tyler gazed around too, even though he had no idea what he was meant to be looking for. For one bizarre moment he wondered if she had arranged to meet a drug dealer here. That was what people said, wasn’t it, when they met up with their dealer?

“What stuff?”

“The usual stuff you leave out of the water when you go for a swim. Clothes. Towel. Diamond earrings.”

Tyler said, “Where did you put them?”

“Right there where you’re standing. Right there,” the girl repeated, pointing at his polished black shoes. She narrowed her eyes at him.

“Is this a joke?”

“I guess it is. But I’m not the one playing it.” Half turning, Tyler indicated the narrow lane behind him. “I passed a couple kids back there, carrying off stuff.”

She had her hands on her hips now, and was surveying him with growing disbelief. “And it didn’t occur to you to stop them?”

“I thought it was their stuff.” This was ridiculous, he’d never said the word stuff so many times before in his life. “I guess I just thought they’d been swimming down here in this lake.”

“You thought the size ten pink halter--necked dress and size seven silver sandals belonged to them.” The sarcasm—-that particularly British form of sarcasm—-was evident in her voice.

“The sandals were wrapped up in something pink. I didn’t actually get a close look at the labels. I was thirty yards away.”

“But you thought they’d been swimming.” Gazing at him intently, the girl said, “Tell me something. Were they…wet?”

Shit. The kids hadn’t been wet. He’d make a lousy private eye. Unwilling to concede defeat, Tyler said, “They could have come down for a paddle. Look, did you really leave diamond earrings with your clothes?”

“Do I look completely stupid? No, of course I didn’t. Diamonds don’t dissolve in water.” Impatiently she shook back her hair to show him the studs glittering in her earlobes. “Right, what did these kids look like?”

“Like kids. I don’t know.” Tyler shrugged. “They were wearing T--shirts, I guess. And, um, shorts…”

The girl raised her eyebrows. “That’s incredible. Your powers of observation are dazzling. OK, was it a boy and a girl?”

“Maybe.” He’d assumed they were boys, but one had had longer hair than the other. “Like I said, I only saw them from a distance. They were climbing over a stile.”

“Dark hair? Thin and wiry?” the girl persisted. “Did they look like a couple of gypsies?”

“Yes.” Tyler was instantly on the alert; when Freddie Masterson had been singing the praises of Hestacombe he hadn’t mentioned any gypsies. “Are they a problem around here?”

“Damn right they’re a problem around here. They’re my children.” Intercepting the look of horror on his face, the girl broke into a mischievous smile. “Relax, they’re not really gypsies. You haven’t just mortally offended me.”

“Well,” said Tyler, “I’m glad about that.”

“I didn’t see a thing, little sods. They must have crawled through the bushes and sneaked off with my stuff when I wasn’t looking. That’s what happens when you have kids who are hell--bent on joining the SAS. But this isn’t funny.” No longer amused, the girl said impatiently, “I can’t believe they’d do something so stupid. They don’t think, do they? Because now I’m stuck here with no clothes—-”

“You’re welcome to borrow my jacket.”

“And no shoes.”

“I’m not lending you my shoes,” Tyler drawled. “You’d look ridiculous. Plus, that’d leave me with nothing to put on my feet.”

“Wuss.” Thinking hard, the girl said, “OK, look, can you do me a favor? Go back up to the village, past the pub, and my house is three doors down on the right. Piper’s Cottage. The doorbell’s broken so you’ll have to bang on the door. Tell Ruby and Nat to give you my clothes. Then you can bring them back down to me. How does that sound?”

Water from her hair was dripping into her clear hazel eyes, glistening on her tanned skin. She had excellent white teeth and a persuasive manner. Tyler frowned.

“What if the kids aren’t there?”

“Right, now I know this isn’t ideal, but you have an honest face so I’m going to have to trust you. If they aren’t there, you’ll just have to take the front door key out from under the tub of geraniums by the porch and let yourself into the house. My bedroom’s on the left at the top of the stairs. Just grab something from the wardrobe.” Her mouth twitching, the girl said, “And no snooping in my panty drawer while you’re there. Just pick out a dress and some shoes then let yourself out of the house. You can be back here in ten minutes.”

“I can’t do this.” Tyler shook his head. “You don’t even know me. I’m not going to let myself into a strange house. And if your kids are there…well, that’s even worse.”

“Hi.” Seizing his hand, she enthusiastically shook it. “I’m Lottie Carlyle. There, now I’ve introduced myself. And my house really isn’t that strange. A bit untidy perhaps, but that’s allowed. And you are?”

“Tyler. Tyler Klein. Still not doing it.”

“Well, you’re a big help. I’m going to look like an idiot walking through the village like this.”

“I told you, you can borrow my jacket.” Seeing as she was dripping wet and his suit jacket was silk--lined and seriously expensive, he felt this was a pretty generous offer. Lottie Carlyle, however, seemed unimpressed.

“I’d still look stupid. You could lend me your shirt,” she wheedled. “That’d be better.”

Tyler was here on business. He had no intention of removing his shirt. Firmly he said, “I don’t think so. It’s the jacket or nothing.”

Realizing when she was beaten, Lottie Carlyle took the jacket from him and put it on. “You drive a hard bargain. There, do I look completely ridiculous?”


“You’re too kind.” She looked sadly down at her bare feet. “Any chance of a piggy back?”

Tyler looked amused. “Don’t push your luck.”

“Are you saying I’m fat?”

“I’m thinking of my street cred.”

Interested, Lottie said, “What are you doing here, anyway? In your smart city suit and shiny shoes?”

There clearly wasn’t much call for city suits here in Hestacombe. As they turned to leave, Tyler glanced back at the lake, where iridescent dragonflies were darting over the surface of the water and a family of ducks had just swum into view. Casually he said,

“Just visiting.”

Gingerly picking her way along the stony, uneven lane, Lottie winced and said meaningfully, “Ouch, my feet.”

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Contest: Fat Chance by Nick Spalding and The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman

Sign up here for the chance to win a personally inscribed copy of Nick Spalding's Fat Chance AND Michele Gorman's The Curvy Girls Club. Once the competition is finished you can also be the first to hear about Nick and Michele's latest books.

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REVIEW: Weightless by Michele Gorman

Title: Weightless
Author: Michele Gorman
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Publication Date: January, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit

Description: Sometimes looks can be deceiving…

Annabel's not surprised when nobody recognizes her at her 10 year reunion. The spotty fat teen nicknamed AnnaBall by the school bullies is long gone. But standing on the edge of the popular crowd, she still feels like that girl. That is, until Jack, her teen crush, starts flirting with her. Much to her amusement, he has mistaken her for Christy Blake, Annabel's chief tormenter before she moved to France in their last year.

It's just a bit of fun at first, letting Jack believe she's Christy. After all, he was nuts about her before she said au revoir to England. And when he asks Annabel out, the fun becomes something even more interesting. The more they date the deeper they fall for each other. So what if Annabel has to fib a little to keep up the façade?

As the lies start compounding, and she realizes that they're falling in love, she has to tell him who she really is. But she'll lose the love of her life if she does.

My Thoughts: With Weightless, Michele Gorman offers a very short but fun story about a woman who attends her ten year high school reunion and is mistaken for her nemesis. Initially, Annabel does not correct him and figures she will let it play out and will eventually come clean. What harm could it cause? Unfortunately, as the lies increase, so do their feelings for one another. Annabel knows she faces losing the love of her life but also knows she cannot let the lies continue. The big question is does she come clean or risk being exposed and what will happen when Jack learns the truth?

I really enjoyed this story and empathized with Annabel’s predicament. Though she is no longer the overweight teen, as an adult, she still feels the insecurity she felt back then. She has worked hard to lose the weight and has redefined herself as a dietician, helping others battle their weight issues. I thought it was completely understandable why Annabel would be reluctant to disclose the truth when the man she had a major crush on would show interest in her. In her place, I don’t know if I would have handled it differently, either. This little book delivers a huge surprise when the truth is revealed and the bottom drops out for Annabel. I felt bad for Annabel and the charade she felt she had to play and I felt bad for Jack for the feelings of betrayal and loss. I liked them both and didn’t want to see either one of them hurt.

My Final Verdict: This book is filled with characters you will feel connected to and a story that keeps the reader engaged and interested. If you are in between full length books and looking for a fun and short read, I highly recommend giving Weightless a try.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Weightless from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 13, 2015

REVIEW: Love And Shenanigans by Zara Keane

Title: Love And Shenanigans (Ballybeg #1)
Author: Zara Keane
Publisher: Beaverstone Press LLC
Publication Date: May, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit

Description: Vows in Vegas...True Love in Ireland.

Three days before leaving Ireland on the adventure of a lifetime, Fiona Byrne returns to her small Irish hometown to attend the family wedding from hell. When she discovers the drunken vows she exchanged with the groom during a wild Las Vegas trip eight years previously mean they're legally married, her future plans ricochet out of control. Can she untangle herself from the man who broke her heart so long ago? Does she even want to?

Gavin Maguire's life is low on drama, high on stability, and free of pets. But Gavin hadn't reckoned on Fiona blasting back into his life and crashing his wedding. In the space of twenty-four hours, he loses a fiancée and a job, and gains a wife and a labradoodle. Can he salvage his bland-but-stable life? More importantly, can he resist losing his heart to Fiona all over again?

WARNING: This book features a crashed wedding, a labradoodle with attitude, sexy times, and love and laughter, Irish-style.

My Thoughts: Love and Shenanigans is the first book in the Ballybeg series by new to me author Zara Keane. This book introduces the reader to two wonderful characters, Fiona Byrne and Gavin Maguire and many other supporting characters in and around the charming town of Ballybeg. Fiona has come to Ballybeg to participate in her cousin, Muireann’s wedding to Gavin. Fiona has been in love with Gavin for as long as she can remember and after a drunken one night stand in Vegas 8 years before, Fiona knows that Gavin does not feel the same for her. As if that humiliation isn’t bad enough, Fiona experiences the ultimate fashion emergency which exposes her backside to Gavin. On the morning of the wedding, Fiona and her best friend discover that the drunken night Fiona and Gavin had in Vegas was actually a drunken wedding night. As soon as Fiona discovers she and Gavin are married, she tries to do the right thing, even when unforeseen events cause her to extend her stay in Ballybeg, postponing her world trip adventure to Singapore and Australia.

I really enjoyed this story. The story moves smoothly and I did not want to put the book down. This book had so many laugh out loud moments and also includes a little bit of a mystery surrounding Fiona’s grandmother’s last will and testament. Add in some very hot and sensual passion between Gavin and Fiona and you have a book that has it all.

The author does a fabulous job of bringing these characters to life. As a reader, it is important to me to feel connected to the characters. Fiona and Gavin were wonderful and easy to relate to. Ms. Keane takes it one step further and does a brilliant job of bringing the less desirable characters to life that elicited strong feelings of dislike. I could not stand Fiona’s cousin Muireann initially. I found her to be selfish, vain and spoiled. By the end of the book, I felt sorry for her, but not enough to go out of my way to help her. She may be redeemable in the future but not her father. Fiona’s Uncle Bernard is truly despicable and I wouldn’t wish him as a father-in-law on anyone. Fiona’s Aunt Bridie was wonderful and I loved the bond she and Fiona share. I loved that the characters in this book are not afraid to speak their mind, no matter how profane their thoughts or with fear of who they may offend.

My Final Verdict: This is a wonderful start to a series that will be a fun adventure in reading. I am looking forward to getting to know more of the characters and reading their stories, especially Gavin’s friend, Jonas and Fiona’s friend, Olivia. If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh and fan yourself at the same time, give Love And Shenanigans a try.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Love And Shenanigans from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Review: We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

Title: We Are The Goldens
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: May, 2014
Genre: Teen / Young Adult

Description: Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellayla. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it.

My Thoughts: We Are The Goldens by new to me author Dana Reinhardt explores relationships with two closely knit sisters at the center. Nell and her older sister Layla have always been close, more than sisters, they are an extension of one another. When Layla starts to change and become secretive and withdrawn, Nell notices and when she discovers that Layla is involved with one of the teachers, Nell struggles with what she should do. She loves Layla and wants her to be happy but she knows it’s wrong and knows she has to do something about it.

The entire book is written from Nell’s point of view as if she is speaking to Layla, almost like a letter. Through Nell’s recollections and perspective, we learn about Layla’s relationship with her teacher, Mr. B and about Nell’s infatuation with Sam Fitzpayne. We meet Nell’s best friend, Felix. I didn’t care for Layla. I felt she took advantage of Nell and put her in an awkward position by expecting her to keep her secret. I thought she was selfish and as the elder sister, Layla should have been a better role model. Where Layla falls short, Felix was fabulous. He is a wonderful best friend and the author touches lightly on them being more in the future. I would have liked to see more of that explored because I thought Felix and Nell had great chemistry as friends.

I felt bad for Nell. She loves her sister and wants to be happy for her but she struggles through the entire story to decide what to do. The entire situation is a Kobayashi Maru. No matter what Nell does, she will come out the loser. We learn at the very end of the book what Nell decides to do but there are too many unanswered questions with no closure. I would have liked to read the outcome of Layla’s situation, the condition of Felix’s dad, the budding relationship between Felix and Nell and what happens with Sam Fitzpayne.

My Final Verdict: Overall, I enjoyed this book but I do not care for loose ends in a stand-alone story. I recommend this book for the good writing and interesting story. It moves at an acceptable pace and Nell and Felix make the story worth reading. If loose ends and unanswered questions at the end of book bother you, this may not be the book for you.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of We Are The Goldens from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 03, 2015

REVIEW: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Title: 11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: November, 2011
Genre: General Fiction / Thriller

Description: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

My Thoughts: I am not a fan of the horror genre so I have not followed the writing of Stephen King and must admit I have not read many of his books. Stephen King has proven himself as a master storyteller over the years with his ability to weave a story outside the genre he is known for. I was intrigued by the premise of 11/22/63 because the concept of being able to go back in time to stop the most pivotal moment in our history is something many Americans have thought about. What if…? How would our world change if Kennedy had lived? What other tragic events would have changed as well? Would stopping Kennedy’s assassination make the world a better place or worse…?

The main character, Jake Epping, is a high school English teacher in Maine. One evening he reads an essay by one of his adult GED students named Harry Dunning about how he is the sole survivor of his father’s vicious murder of his entire family. Jake’s friend, Al, tells Jake about a time portal in his diner’s storeroom and asks him to help him stop Kennedy’s assassination, Jake is filled with doubt it could work. Jake goes back in time and arrives in 1958 and decides to stop the murder of Harry’s family first. Jake learns that the past doesn’t want to be changed and it will fight back to deter Jake from his goals. Jake is told that every time he uses the portal to go back to the past, everything is reset to the way it originally happens. After a few practice attempts involving many stops and starts, Jake decides to stay in the past to stop Kennedy’s assassination. He finds himself in the small community of Jodie, Texas going by the alias of George Amberson and teaching high school. He meets and falls in love with Sadie Dunhill, the school librarian. Meanwhile the clock is ticking forward to the infamous date of 11/22/63 and Jake is torn between letting history play itself out or following through on his promise to Al.

I really enjoyed this story and the suspenseful build-up of events leading Jake to his date with destiny. The author gives us a close-up into the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife. Life in Dallas and the surrounding area in the late 1950s-early 1960s is described with such detail, I got a very good sense of what it was like for Jake. I really loved the secondary characters, especially the people Jake meets in Jodie, Texas. I was torn as to whether or not Jake should continue with his mission or not. Loyal fans of Stephen King will also enjoy the references to his other work in this book.

I highly recommend this story if you enjoy books loaded with details and a storyline that sucks you in and keeps you guessing at the outcome. I thought the ending was very unexpected, but I wouldn’t change anything about this story.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

New Additions To The TBR Pile In March

Spring has sprung and what better way to welcome in new life and new beginnings than with a new book? What does spring mean for you? Bring in the new or clean out the old? I love both and, either way, both my to read pile and my reading passion will benefit. All of the new arrivals in March look wonderful and I am filled with much anticipation to dive in. Happy Spring!

Faking It by Leah Marie Brown
Description: Haven't you ever told a little lie in the name of love?

Vivia Grant couldn’t be happier. She has her dream job and is about to marry her dream man. Does it really matter that she’s led him to believe she’s a virgin? After all, being in love makes every experience feel like the first time anyway! But an unexpected encounter with an ex-lover is about to expose her embarrassing lie…

When Vivia’s fiancé discovers the truth, he ends their engagement—via text—and uses his connections to get her fired. Unemployed and heartbroken, Vivia begins planning her new future—as a homeless spinster. But her best friend has a better idea. They’ll skip the Ben & Jerry’s binge and go on Vivia’s honeymoon instead. Two weeks cycling through Provence and Tuscany, with Luc de Caumont, a sexy French bike guide. Too bad Vivia’s not a big fan of biking. And she’s abysmal at languages. Will she fib her way through the adventure, or finally learn to love herself—and Luc—flaws and all?

Looking For Charlotte by Jennifer Young
Description: Divorced and lonely, Flora Wilson is distraught when she hears news of the death of little Charlotte Anderson. Charlotte’s father killed her and then himself, and although he left a letter with clues to the whereabouts of her grave, his two-year-old daughter still hasn’t been found.

Flora embarks on a quest to find Charlotte’s body to give the child’s mother closure, believing that by doing so she can somehow atone for her own failings as a mother. As she hunts in winter through the remote moors of the Scottish Highlands, her obsession comes to threaten everything that’s important to her — her job, her friendship with her colleague Philip Metcalfe and her relationships with her three grown up children.

Milked by Lisa Doyle
Description: By and large, Amanda Keane makes pretty good decisions. Okay, she might not have the best taste in men, but she’s got great friends, a good job, and an independent spirit. That is, until her 30th birthday ushers in a whirlwind romance with a sexy Irish musician who leaves her, not at the altar as she imagined, but accidentally pregnant. And when he disappears, she’s downsized out of a job, her apartment is robbed, and lapsed health insurance coverage leaves her with a C-section to pay for, Amanda is launched headfirst into the life of a broke single mom. But her friend and uber successful ob-gyn, Joy, clues her in to an unlikely temp position with one of Chicago’s celebrity elite that just may be the answer to all her woes. Or could it be just the beginning?

It’s with serious trepidation that Amanda embarks on her surprisingly lucrative new career: underground wet nurse to the offspring of Chi-town’s rich and famous. Amanda must quickly understand how to live at the whims and mercy of the one percent as she deals with the irony of nursing – and loving – someone else’s child, while still making ends meet for her own daughter. And then there’s Cute Daycare Dad (aka Dan), who’s obviously interested in her. But can she afford to tell him what she really does for a living? Is her new job (something she thought went out with the 19th century) a shameful thing? Just another way of selling her body? Or does it have something to teach her after all?

A novel of motherhood, its many demands, and all the little triumphs along the way, MILKED is a warm and witty debut about making tough choices and traveling the roundabout road to happiness.

Sweet Girl by Rachel Hollis
Description: Max Jennings is in a bad mood. It’s not anything you did; it’s just that secrets from her past make it her natural state of being. But she’s not going to talk about it or share her feelings, so don’t bother asking.

Max’s bad mood means that very few people actually truly understand her or know that her secret dream is to be a pastry chef. When a rare opportunity to work for world-famous Avis Phillips presents itself, Max jumps at the chance. Avis and her staff aren’t stingy with the tough love, so Max spends every spare minute practicing her craft. As she bakes brownies and custards, cookies and galettes, she builds an unlikely friendship with a man she once loathed and finds herself falling into something she’s spent the last six years avoiding. Will she let her painful past stand in the way, or will she muster the strength to forgive herself and realize her full potential?

REVIEW: The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman

Title: The Curvy Girls Club
Author: Michele Gorman
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Publication Date: June, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit

Description: When the pounds start falling off Katie, founder and president of London’s most popular social club for the calorie-challenged, it seems like a dream come true. But as the overweight stigma recedes and her life starts to change, she faces losing more than the inches around her waist. Everything that’s important to her – her closest friends, boyfriend, and acceptance into the club itself – are at stake in a world where thin is the new fat.

A funny, heart-warming story about overcoming the prejudices we hold, no matter where we tip the scales.

My Thoughts: Initially I was drawn to this book because of the cover. It really spoke to me and the idea of a story where all of the major characters are plus sized was very intriguing to me. I love a story where the characters are not Hollywood starlet material living cookie-cutter perfect lives. The more flaws within the characters, the better. The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman delivers a fun but also very hard hitting story of a quartet of friends who are struggling with their weight and what happens when they decide to stop beating themselves up over being plus sized and start loving and accepting themselves for who they are. After a night out where Katie and her friends discover that finding fun venues and activities for the weight challenged is harder than they thought, Katie decides to start a club for overweight people to attend social events and mingle. Unfortunately for Katie, she learns that prejudice and bias travels on a two-way street when she begins to rapidly lose weight. I love how this story reminds us to treat people the way we want to be treated. Katie experiences this first-hand when her friends begin to treat her differently and Katie finds her position as president as well as a member of The Curvy Girls Club is in jeopardy.

Though I did not agree with the way Katie’s friends appeared to turn on her, I understood why they felt the way they did. I admired Katie’s spirit and her willingness to fight for what she believes in. Michele Gorman addresses the issue of women battling their weight and the many pitfalls we encounter with diets with a high degree of class, grace and humor. The story is a quick read and I had a hard time putting it down. I was so intrigued by The Curvy Girls Club and what was going on in Katie’s life, I was filled with a high level of anticipation waiting to find out.

My Final Verdict: You don’t have to be overweight or struggling to maintain your ideal weight to read this book and enjoy it. This story will appeal to women of all ages and sizes and is a good reminder to stop focusing on the outside. Until we can love and accept ourselves for who we are on the inside, we will continue to fight a losing battle.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Curvy Girls Club from the author in exchange for an honest review.


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at Happy Reading! :o)