Thursday, June 28, 2012

review: size 12 and ready to rock by meg cabot

This post contains affiliate links.

Heather Wells is back!  The fourth book in Meg Cabot's series about a former pop sensation is set over summer break at New York College.  Heather is supervising her band of misfits (students who had no place to go over the summer) in the infamous Death Dorm as it’s renovated.  There's immediately some much unexpected drama when the university president’s son brings Heather's ex and his new wife, Tania, over to shoot an interview for their new reality show after their bodyguard is shot.  Although they initially claim the shooting was random, Heather soon finds herself in the middle of another murder mystery.  Heather is further thrust into the mystery when Tania insists on not doing her scheduled teen rock camp without her bodyguard unless it moves locations to Heather’s dorm.  So now Heather’s not only looking into who shot at Tania, but also has to figure out how to keep the male basketball team fixing up the rooms away from the teen girls participating in the drama-filled rock camp.

Although I liked the first three books in the series well enough, Size 12 and Ready to Rock blew them away.  Heather has matured and no longer seems so insecure; she really is ready to rock.  This time Heather (and Cooper) completely won me over, especially at the end of the book when the couple had an adult discussion about having children.
Review copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Friday, June 22, 2012

review: blind sight by meg howrey

Blind Sight finds Luke meeting his father for the very first time while there’s another big change about to occur in his life—he’s applying to college.  While it makes sense that Luke’s free-spirited mother would allow him to go across the country to spend the summer in California with a man she barely knows and hasn’t seen in over a decade, I found it hard to believe his strict grandmother (who he also lives with) wouldn’t put her foot down.  Yet, Luke goes and is plunged into the Hollywood life.  It all goes fairly well, but then Luke finds out about a big family secret.

Said family secret actually did come as surprise; I believe this was mostly due to my mistaken belief that I had already figured out the secret because the hints were definitely there.  Even so, the revelation came too close to the end for there to be any satisfying conclusion.  Other downsides include how self-aware most of the characters were and an odd choice the author made regarding the narration.  It took a while for me to catch on to why Meg Howrey elected to alternate between first person and third person narration while still keeping the focus on Luke; once I figured out that it was to depict Luke’s college essays and real life, I was able to enjoy Blind Sight. 
Review copy from BookDivas.

Monday, June 11, 2012

review: the possibility of you by pamela redmond

Pamela Redmond tells an incredible story with The Possibility of You.  I did not want to stop reading this book.  I loved every single character and every single plot point in a book with multiple storylines over a few generations that finally end up tying together.  There are four women here:  Bridget and her employer, Maude in 1916; Billie in 1976; and Cait in the present day.  Each of these women becomes pregnant at some point (though Maude already has her child when she’s introduced) and their lives are forever changed, but not necessarily for the better as tragedy strikes the earlier generations and leaves Cait, who was adopted, seeking to uncover her heritage as she decides whether or not she wants to have a baby by the married man with whom she had a one night stand.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

giveaway winner: lucky in love

Congratulations to Maegan Morin who is the winner of Lucky in Love!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

review: objects of my affection by jill smolinski

This post contains affiliate links.

Somehow Lucy's life ended up a bit of a metaphorical mess, but she hopes to turn it all around when she's hired to clean up Marva's literal mess.  As someone who makes an exception to her "no reality TV" rule for Hoarders (Intervention is the only other exception), Objects of My Affection had an immediate appeal.  Jill Smolinski expertly contrasts the lives of Lucy and Marva by depicting how out of touch with reality both are in completely different ways.  Marva's faults are readily apparent given the state of her house and increasing reclusiveness while Lucy's are harder to see, especially since she serves as the narrator.  When Lucy states that her boyfriend dumped her by saying she had to make a choice between him and her son, the reader takes her at her word only to find out the boyfriend sees things differently.  Lucy also has a hard time grasping just how serious a drug problem her teenage son really has.  The subject matter is heavy, but Smolinski writes with a humorous approach that keeps the novel from being depressing even when it takes a bit of a morbid turn with one of Lucy's discoveries in Marva's cluttered home.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

review: the haunted by bentley little

Remember the Friends episode where they put The Shining (and then Little Women) in the freezer?  If I didn't fear damaging my iPod, I would've put the audio version of The Haunted in the freezer.  This was one creepy book, especially as I listened to it during my commute which is frequently in the overnight hours.  Usually a lot of the things that scare the characters can be explained away or might be the result of their own imagination (as teenaged Megan sometimes wondered herself), but Bentley Little makes clear that everything happening really is supernatural.  For example, Megan's text messages could've been intended for someone else (I can't even begin to count the number of times I've gotten a weird message that clearly was for someone else) until the messages start including her name. 

The Haunted starts out mundanely with the Perry family seeing their current neighborhood declining and deciding that the recession is a good time to buy since their income has been steady.  They look at a number of houses and narrow it to two, but the real estate agent insists she knows what house belongs to a family and shows them another option.  The house seems perfect, so they buy it.  But almost immediately unexplained things start happening like the laundry basket being in a different location and each individual has an unsettling feeling.  However, each writes it off and says nothing to the others until it is far too late and the supernatural entity is really making its presence known.

I did note a few discrepancies within the plot.  There were some minor bits regarding telephone technology/availability in the flashback scenes, but then there was a more major issue regarding the entity and how it gets its power (to say more would be a spoiler).  Despite those parts, I was enthralled by The Haunted.

About the narrator:  He definitely helped create a creepy sensation, but Dan Butler was not a perfect reader.  He did little to distinguish between the characters which made it difficult at times to know who was talking, especially amongst Megan's friends.  He also oddly pronounced a few words, such as variations of "settle."  Each time he did, it took me out of the narrative a bit.
Review copy provided by the publisher, AudioGO.