Friday, September 30, 2016

review: the light fantastic by sarah combs

April has hyperthymesia, which gives her “flashbulb moments” of events. On the day of her 18th birthday, which coincides with Senior Skip Day, she reflects on her ability as well as all the major events that have happened in the month of April (among others: the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Oklahoma City bombing, and the shootings at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech) while others around the country are plotting yet another devastating event for the month of April. Sarah Combs jumped around in these compelling narratives throughout The Light Fantastic, but failed to bring them together in a truly meaningful way. Despite that failure at the end, Combs expertly crafted incredible profiles of teens experiencing terrible pain because of various memories that haunted each of them. The development of characters who had only a few pages devoted to them was superb.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Candlewick.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

review: write to die by charles rosenberg

When entertainment lawyer Rory Calburton enters the office of a client only to find the man dead, he knows better than to touch anything. What he doesn’t know at the time is that his boss will soon be implicated in the murder and Rory will have to conduct an investigation to find the identity of the killer. With Rory as the main character, much of Write to Die focuses on the legal aspects and courtroom maneuverings of both the murder case and the original plagiarism lawsuit that caused Rory to discover the body, but these scenes are still lively because of how unconventional Rory and his colleague, Sarah, are. The murder mystery and how the potential plagiarism relates to it keep the reader guessing as Rory and Sarah pull out all the stops (and, in Sarah’s case, break a few laws) to learn the truth.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, MM Book Publicity.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

review: the never-open desert diner by james anderson

Ben Jones is driving his usual delivery route when he needs to make a pit stop (too much coffee) and comes across a never-built housing development where a woman seems to have taken up residence in the model home. Ben soon becomes infatuated with the woman, Claire, who plays the cello and has many secrets. The Never-Open Desert Diner is a quirky novel that mixes in some mystery and romantic elements, but the pacing is quite slow. The first 50 or so pages are used to establish the characters and setting before some of the “why” starts to be revealed and the action begins. Once it gets going, the necessary intrigue is there, but the plot still moves a little too slowly.
3/5
Review copy provided by Blogging for Books.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

review: crossing the bridge by michael baron

In a touching novel, Michael Baron brings a man named Hugh home after his father suffers a heart attack. Since the drunk driving death of his younger brother (which Hugh feels he could've prevented), Hugh has been a wanderer--never staying at one job or in one city for long. Returning to his hometown though finds Hugh reconnecting with his deceased brother's girlfriend, who Hugh always had a crush on. The characters here come alive through their flaws and frequently evoke an emotional response through their actions. As this is partially a romance, the male perspective provides an interesting insight into the interactions between Iris and Hugh.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, The Story Plant.

Friday, September 9, 2016

review: the yokota officers club by sarah bird

Bernie and her family have moved around quite a bit due to her father’s career in the Air Force—six moves in the last eight years, in fact. Now, in 1968, Bernie is visiting her family in Japan after completing her first year of college in New Mexico. It is a pivotal year as Bernie discovers a long-kept family secret and realizes the strong bond of her family.

In some ways Sarah Bird’s semi-autobiographical The Yokota Officers Club is simply a glimpse into the life of a military family, but there are amazing moments in that family life with fantastically drawn characters who feel very real. Bernie’s experiences provide a slice-of-life into sibling rivalry, the politics of life on a military base, and cultural differences while Bird’s vivid descriptions bring the scenes to life. The incorporation of music further establishes the setting and plays an important part as Bernie sets about Japan as a go-go dancer.

About the audiobook: The Yokota Officers Club is beautifully performed by Carine Montbertrand who skillfully gives voice to the characters. Each character is distinctive because of Montbertrand’s voice. It was a pleasure to spend almost 15 hours with her. Recorded Books released the audio version in 2016. It runs 14.75 hours.
5/5
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

review: the dread line by bruce desilva

Now that he’s involved in his mobster friend’s book-making business, recently fired newspaper reporter Liam Mulligan finally has the money for a house on the water and a new Mustang. He’s also occasionally writing for a local news website (one just can’t shake the news business) and working as a private investigator. All of these jobs come together for Mulligan in a number of fashions as he works on three cases—a bank heist, a background check on a potential NFL draft pick, and horrific acts of animal cruelty—during The Dread Line, the fifth book in Bruce DeSilva’s excellent Mulligan series. As the cases heat up, Mulligan and his associates find their lives being threatened. The stakes are high, especially when Mulligan finds himself committing an act that will forever change him. Mulligan then faces a moral dilemma that adds another layer to the character who has become so familiar. The Dread Line, which works as a standalone, is an intense journey with multiple threads that are worked out expertly.
5/5
Review copy provided by the author.