Thursday, July 28, 2016

review: the last good girl by allison leotta

Having gone home to Michigan to help her sister in A Good Killing, prosecutor Anna Curtis is still on leave from her job in Washington, D.C. when the daughter of the local university’s president disappears. The boy she was last seen with is the son of Michigan’s lieutenant governor, so it is a highly political situation that really needs to be investigated by outsiders which is how Anna gets involved.

In a new novel that clearly draws on the reality of the college campus rape epidemic, Allison Leotta again shows her expertise at handling sensitive subject matter in an authentic manner. From the random fraternity brothers at the house when Anna and her team show up to investigate to the missing girl’s heartbreaking video diaries, the characters come to life via Leotta’s excellent writing. Leotta also successfully keeps up the mystery of what exactly happened the night Emily disappeared so that the ending is truly shocking.
5/5
I purchased this book.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

review: living large in our little house by kerri fivecoat-campbell

After blogging about her experiences living with her husband and pets in a tiny house, Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell has released a book about her early years, how she and husband came to build a tiny house, and the life they’ve been living in 480 square feet. It definitely makes for interesting read as Fivecoat-Campbell dives into the practicalities of such a small space and how that drastic downsizing has allowed her and her husband to live fuller lives. It also makes you think—I live in an 800 square foot apartment with my cat and sometimes think the space isn’t big enough for the two of us. I immediately started looking at some of the space-savers mentioned like a loft bed, but I don’t know how practical that would be.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, FSB Associates.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

review: remember me this way by sabine durrant

Really all one needs to know about Sabine Durrant’s Remember Me this Way is this: A milquetoast woman marries an abusive, pathological liar. Although Durrant sets up a mystery in the opening chapters—who left the flowers at the site of Zach’s fatal car accident and did he fake his own death—the novel drags on for so long that the answers (and the identity of the person who left the flowers is easily guessed) no longer seem to matter. The only parts of real interest were the excerpts from Zach’s diary as they reveal just how little Lizzie knew about her husband and how twisted (one reveal is particularly disgusting) he actually was. The diary chapters also allowed Durrant to create the impression that Zach could still be alive and watching Lizzie as she suspected and feared.

About the audiobook: Having Daniel Weyman and Penelope Rawlins read Remember Me this Way made it far less excruciating to get through. Rawlins especially nails the voices; her interpretations of a privileged teenager and her disconnected mother were spot on. The audiobook version runs just under 12 and a half hours and was released February 2016 by Dreamscape Audio.
2/5
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

review: so close by emma mclaughlin and nicola kraus

Just in time for the 2016 election season, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (of The Nanny Diaries fame) have written a novel set against just such a background. Amanda was raised by a teenage single mom in a small town she was determined to escape. She was just scrapping by until an encounter with a pair of wealthy young men and a chance meeting with an up and coming politician’s wife leads to her getting fired. That day turns out to be more of a pivotal moment in Amanda’s life than she ever could’ve imagined. Amanda is soon climbing the ranks of the Tom Davis for Senate campaign while trying to help out her siblings back home and maybe have a bit of romance in her life. Although the romance is a little weak (Amanda and Pax just never really click despite how many times the authors throw them together), the behind the scenes of the campaign (which seems based on the John Edwards campaign) is excellent and the family drama is beautifully complex. The relationship that develops between Amanda who never had the mom she wanted and Lindsay who lost a daughter is absolutely wonderful and makes for a heart-breaking subplot.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, BookSparks PR.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

review: crushed by deborah coonts

In the middle of baking, Sophia receives a certified letter which she promptly puts aside to get back to the chocolate cake in the oven. As Sophia herself notes though, “good news never comes in a certified letter.” Her landlord is selling the property to the wealthy businessmen who are taking over the wine making in Sophia’s town. For a multitude of reasons, Sophia doesn’t want to move which seems to be the only possibility until Sophia’s daughter shares some of Sophia’s wine with a man named Nico who becomes involved.

The romance comes very naturally in Crushed with Sophia’s relationship with Nico moving at appropriate speed from slightly contentious to cautiously romantic. Both characters are fleshed out well with back stories that make their lives complex while the backdrop of wine making adds an interesting element for the plot. Deborah Coonts also expertly creates misunderstandings and tensions so that there’s never a dull moment in Crushed.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, Kate Tilton.

Friday, July 8, 2016

review: you will know me by megan abbott

Devon is a dedicated teenage gymnast whose parents are highly involved in making her a star. They fundraise and put all of their energy into getting her ready to try out for the next level in hopes of eventually making it to the Olympics. But then a crushing blow is dealt when the boyfriend of one of the coaches (who is also the niece of the gym’s owner) is killed in a hit and run.

You Will Know Me had its moments, but there were also odd notes. Devon’s younger brother popped in to make strange, sometimes prophetic statements while his parents mostly ignored him. Also, Devon’s father never felt fleshed out which was weird given his important role. The plot jumped around between the importance of gymnastics and the crime making it feel uneven at times. Megan Abbott created some red herrings by Devon’s parents failure to communicate with each other, but the outcome was fairly easy to predict.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, BookSparks PR.