Sunday, July 27, 2014

Before I Wake by C.L. Taylor

"Before I Wake" can also be found under the title "The Accident". It is C.L. Taylor's debut novel.

Susan's life is chaotic. Her fifteen year old daughter, Charlotte is in a coma after stepping in front of a bus. Her husband may be cheating on her --- again. Her abusive ex might be stalking her or she could possibly be having another mental breakdown.

Susan has a lot on her plate and when she reads a journal entry of, Charlotte's saying "This secret is killing me" she becomes obsessed with finding out why her intelligent, beautiful and popular daughter  has attempted suicide.

Susan slowly begins to piece things together by doing investigative work.  She interrogates her daughters friends, boyfriend and uses her  daughters phone and journal in order to learn about the days leading up to her daughters attempted suicide.

Taylor is quite clever in switching from present time to the past at pivotal moments. This keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages. "Before I Wake" is an entertaining read but the ending leaves this reader slightly irritated. It's all to coincidental and the plot is left unresolved.

Please note that this novel contains graphic scenes dealing with sex, domestic violence and assault.

Grade: B+

Thursday, July 24, 2014

That Night by Chevy Stevens

That Night is an engrossing read. Be prepared for an emotionally charged read.

Toni is thirty-four years old when she is released from prison for a crime she did not commit. She along with her boyfriend, Ryan were incarcerated as teens for the brutal murder of her younger sister, Nicole.

 Sixteen years have passed and Toni now has to face the outside world and her past. She returns to the little town she grew up in determined to start her life over but the challenges she faces might be more difficult than the time she spent behind bars especially when Ryan reenters the picture. Toni's only hope is for absolution.

That Night alternates between the present and past dating back to the time period before, Nicole's death.  The characters are well developed and the storyline is believable. This is a near perfect psychological read. My only issue which drove me nuts is how the author used the words prison and jail interchangeably. 

Grade: A-

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The One & Only: A Novel by Emily Giffin

EG normally writes books that you can sink your teeth it. Her characters tend to be believable and the story lines interesting however this book just doesn't measure up to her previous works.

Shea is a sports writer and deeply devoted to Walker Football.  She lives and breathes is. She works for the Walker University's sports department and her best friends dad is the coach. Shea has essentially known, Coach her entire life and (insert sarcasm) surprise surprise ....she has a major crush on him and he might just feel the same way!

Shea dates her old boyfriend, who coincidentally just happens to be a Dallas Cowboy Football player. The relationship seems to be headed in the right direction but then a series of events causes, Shea to question if this relationships is for her.

Seems interesting enough right? Sadly, it isn't. There are way, way, way too many football statistics thrown in and if I didn't have some knowledge of the NCAA, I would be lost. Things are predictable and the entire Shea --- Coach relationships borders on incestuous. I have an open mind but I just couldn't get around the ick factor.

The characters are bland and the NCAA investigation is never resolved, which was surprisingly the most interesting part of this entire book and I HATE football. Emily throws in some serious topics but it doesn't do much to help the story move along. If you're a fan of EG it is worth picking up but if it's your first time reading a novel of hers skip this one.

Grade: C-

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Then and Always: A Novel by Dani Atkins

"Then and Always"  also known as "Fractured" is just another book. There is nothing exceptional about it and it took me longer than average to read. The premise is great but it falls short along the way. It went from believable to far fetched rather quickly.

At age 18, Rachel is in  a terrible accident. It leaves her emotionally and physically scarred. Her best friend dies and all her dreams go out the window.

Five years later, Rachel falls victim to yet another accident. This one results in a parallel universe in which her best friend is alive, she isn't scarred and everything is seemingly perfect. Rachel's memory of the past five years are quite different from those around her and she combs the city in an effort to prove them wrong, only to end up where she would have, if the first accident had never happened.

Atkins, does an excellent job of giving, Rachel's universes distinct voices but the character development and plot are pedestrian at best.

Grade: C

Monday, July 14, 2014

All Fall Down: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner

Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic and the like many addictions the recovery process is arduous. Weiner, tackles this subject in her new novel, "All Fall Down."

Weiner gives an unflinching look into addiction. This subject is heavy for, Weiner and I wasn't sure if she could pull it off but she did. Despite the fact that it took me a while to get into this novel it is engrossing, however I had some difficulties believing aspects of the addiction and the easy access to prescription drugs.

Allison is a wife, mother, daughter, friend, blogger and the main bread winner of her family. The stress of everyday life and a heavy mortgage is weighing heavily on her shoulders. She uses prescription pills to push through the day and deal with stressful situations that pop up.  Things began to spiral out of control and Allison finds herself sitting inside a rehab clinic having to face her addiction.

Grade: B

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shanghai Girls: A Novel by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls is a spectacular novel. It is set in the mid 1930s. The main characters, May and Pearl are beautiful, sophisticated and leading the life of luxury but all of that is about to come crashing down around them.

They are forced into arranged marriages in order to pay off their fathers debts and their lives are about to change in unimaginable ways. The Japanese drop a bomb on their city and in order to seek refuge they must travel on foot across the county side in hopes to catch a boat to America. 

After much anguish and lost, they find themselves in, America. These newly arrived immigrants have much to overcome. Acclimating to their new surroundings and family proves to be difficult. They lean on one another but a long buried secret will test their family bonds. 

See is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Her writing is spectacular. She crafts vivid characters and story lines that tug at your heart. The narrative flows and your emotions will roll as the story is unveiled. This book stands out amongst historical fiction novels.

As a side note... I made the mistake of reading the sequel, Dreams of Joy first ( you can read that review here) and while it stands alone, I believe reading Shanghai Girls first will make a bigger impact on your reading experience. 

Grade: A+

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Vacationers: A Novel by Emma Straub

TheVacationers took a lot of fortitude to get though. To be honest, I'm not sure why, I continued to read it. I didn't like any of the characters, the storyline was bland. Nothing, happens. Really, NOTHING, happens.

This book is essentially about a bunch of over indulgent, spoiled individuals who go on a family vacation. There are seven characters but it is nearly impossible to tell them apart, there is no true distinct characterization. It appears that the author took characters from the TV show "Modern Family", made them her own and attempted to develop a story around them.

Reading this book is akin to watching paint dry. Skip this read and pick up a different book. It will save you time, frustrating and money.

Grade: F

Overview: [B&N]

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Perfected goes on sale today!

Perfected had me completely captivated. The idea of humans being sold and breed as pets is intriguing and scary. Ella lives in a dystopian world in which girls are genetically engineered and bred as pets. They are ideal, perfect and beautiful. They are thee stats quo for elite.

 Ella is purchased as a pet for Congressman Kimbal's, daughter, Ruby. Ella is whisked away to live the pampered life of a pet. Ella is naive and slowly learns about life, love and relationships outside of the kennels. 

Ella and Penn, the congressman's son form an intense relationship and their love can mean the end of life for, Ella. 

This story is told from, Ella's point of view. Do not expect background information on the politics and laws that made breeding humans as pets, possible. This dystopian novel is also quite different from other dystopians in that, there is no mention of wars, plagues or apocalyptic events that have caused this change to happen in society. It is about moral compass and ethics. 

The ending is heart wrenching and leaves you wanting more, more, more. I hope a sequel is in the works.

Grade: A

If you enjoyed,  Lauren DeStefano's, Chemical Garden trilogy and Kiera Cass's,  Selection Trilogy this book is PERFECTED for you!

The Embalmer by Caillé Anne-Reneé and Mullins Rhonda

The Embalmer is a short book around 80 pages or so. It's not as macabre as I was hoping but it is rather interesting. The book centers a...