Wednesday, June 29, 2016

review: first comes love by emily giffin

As the 15th anniversary of their older brother’s death approaches, Josie and Meredith are both at crossroads. Josie longs for a family of her own (which becomes a full-on obsession when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter becomes one of her 1st grade students) while Meredith hates her job and knows she was never really in love with her husband (who just happens to be her deceased brother’s best friend). First Comes Love is fraught with emotion as Josie pursues having a baby on her own and Meredith’s unhappiness causes her to lash out at those who love her. Emily Giffin tells the story of these two very different sisters by alternating the perspective of each chapter. This choice creates an interesting view of family dynamics. In the Josie chapters, Josie’s actions seem reasonable while Meredith comes across as a judgmental shrew; in the Meredith chapters, Meredith seems less of a malcontent while Josie appears to be a selfish brat. By the end, no one has shown any growth which was a disappointment, but Giffin’s latest novel does illustrate how one traumatic event can affect the lives of everyone involved forever.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, BookSparks PR.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

review: don't you cry by mary kubica

After kicking out the man (who is, ugh, much older than he appeared in the bar) she brought home last night, Quinn realizes her good girl roommate hasn’t completed her usual Sunday morning routine. Is Esther missing or just out? Esther’s room is in quite the state and her phone is still in the apartment, but the Chicago police tell Quinn that Esther can’t be reported missing yet since there’s no sign she’s in danger. Meanwhile, a recent high school graduate named Alex in a town not far from Chicago spots an attractive young woman he’s immediately drawn to.

The alternating storylines allow Mary Kubica to build the suspense, but also make the plot move a little slowly as much time is spent on Alex’s life. Of course, one expects these two storylines to come together, but the way they do is not quite what I expected. In retrospect, Kubica left a few hints, but too much elaboration would spoil the ending.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, BookSparksPR.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

review: party of one by dave holmes

If you were watching MTV during its transition from playing music videos to making TV shows, Dave Holmes’s memoir is a great trip down memory lane. But it’s much more than just his time at MTV (which sounds like a lot of fun), it’s a thoughtful telling of his formative years, struggle through college, and the multiple times and ways he had to come out, especially as someone who doesn’t fit the gay stereotype. His take on music (which was such a dominant factor in his life that a career as a VJ had to be his destiny) is hilarious even though I didn’t always agree with his opinions (hey Dave, the guys from Orgy aren’t that much older than you!).
5/5
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

review: read me like a book by liz kessler

As Ashleigh approaches the end of sixth form college, her life takes a number of turns. In emotionally shattering scenes, she falls out with her best friend, she worries she may be pregnant after having unprotected sex, and her parents announce they are splitting. Although Ashleigh’s never been much of a student, she’s started feeling a connection with her English teacher and confides her troubles in Miss Murray. In fact, Ashleigh is quite infatuated by Miss Murray—she even joins debate club because of her—and it is a conversation with Miss Murray that leads Ashleigh to the sudden realization that she likes girls not boys. This is the one element of Read Me Like a Book that feels a little off. The way Ashleigh’s coming out comes about makes it seem like she wants to be gay because her favorite teacher is. Liz Kessler tries to remedy this by having some of the people close to Ashleigh announce that they always knew she was gay, but all of the reactions feel like stereotypical responses. But Kessler also writes great scenes between Ashleigh and an age-appropriate female love interest that indicate Ashleigh’s sexuality has nothing to do with her obsession with her English teacher.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Candlewick.

Official Blog Tour Stops: 6/14 YA Book Central
6/15 My Mercurial Musings
6/16 Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
6/17 Mayor of Bookopolis
6/18 I Read Banned Books
6/19 Forever Literary
6/20 Word Spelunking
6/21 My Books Views
6/22 Kelly Vision
6/23 Swoony Boys Podcast
6/24 Reviews Comin At YA
6/25 Comfort Books
6/26 Satisfaction for Insatiable Reader
6/27 Just a Cat and a Book by her Side
6/28 The Reading Date
6/29 Forever YA
6/30 Musing Librarian reviews
7/1 Randomly Reading

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

review: good as gone by amy gentry

Having been disappointed by ABC’s cancelation of The Family, I was looking for something similar to read—Amy Gentry’s Good as Gone is that book. The family in Good as Gone is devastated when 13 year old Julie is kidnapped from her bedroom as her younger sister watches. Incredibly, a woman shows up almost a decade later claiming to be Julie. She says she was human trafficked to Mexico. Her story is suspicious, but the family wants to believe it’s her. But when a private investigator gets in touch with Julie’s mom, more doubts are raised. As the story unfolds, Gentry skillfully shifts time and perspective to build the suspense. Is this woman Julie or not? When the answer finally comes, Good as Gone becomes the most gratifying suspense novel I’ve read in a long time.
5/5
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

review: ink and bone by lisa unger

Lisa Unger heads back to The Hollows in Ink and Bone with a focus on Eloise’s granddaughter, Finley. Although Unger previously established that Eloise received her psychic powers after an accident, it seems that it is also an inherited trait as Finley has the ability too. Finley moved to The Hollows from Seattle to attend college and get away from a clingy boyfriend, who proved to be very clingy by moving across the country to The Hollows as well. Since moving, Finley has heard a repeated squeak-clink that only quiets when she gets involved in a case that private investigator Jones Cooper has brought to her grandmother.

Ink and Bone felt a little slower paced than some of Unger’s other novels, though that may be out of necessity since the crime is the kidnapping and abuse of a young girl. Unger also frequently shifted the perspective in Ink and Bone which made it difficult to connect to Finley who seems to be positioned to become the lead of Unger’s The Hollows books. Fortunately though, Ink and Bone has vivid descriptions and tight plotting that create a layered thriller.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

review: giving up the ghost by eric nuzum

As an adolescent, Eric Nuzum thought a young girl was haunting him. His memoir explores his reckless teenage years which resulted in him being admitted to the psychiatric ward and his friendship with the one person who gave continuous support during that time. Although Nuzum provides an incomplete look at his life by writing of only a brief period in his life, it is a vividly described (see the scene that costs him his DJ gig at the college radio station), cohesive narrative that is both enthralling and illuminating.
4/5
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

review: the assistants by camille perri

Tina had no intention of stealing from her boss, but cross communication lead to her being reimbursed for plane tickets the airline had already waived charges for and then the temptation to finally pay off her student loans was just too great. Of course, Tina was caught. But she was caught by someone who also had student loans and who agreed to not turn her in if Tina continued the scam and paid off Emily’s loans. In a bit of a twist, Tina and Emily actually become friends of a kind and the student loan scam starts spiraling out of Tina’s control.

The Assistants is an amusing romp even if it is a bit unrealistic that the theft can go on for so long. Camille Perri inserts plenty of fun pop culture references, but those references combined with Tina’s entry-level job made her seem younger than her stated 30 years. This light-hearted Robin Hood story indulges one’s fantasy of finally being free from student loans (a debt I know all too well!) in an entertaining narrative that explores workplace relationships.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, BookSparks PR.