Friday, December 23, 2016

review: into the dark by alison gaylin

After gaining fame as the "Head-Case Hero" for solving the Iris Neff case using her Hyperthymestic memory, Brenna Spector heads her own successful private investigator business. Although she swore never to work with Errol Ludlow again, Brenna finds herself sucked back in as Errol is investigating the disappearance of an Internet video star who seems to know much about the life of Brenna's missing sister, Clea. As Brenna and her assistant investigate the woman calling herself Lula Belle, Brenna discovers far too many connections to her sister for it to all be coincidence, but is soon dealing with life-threatening situations.

Alison Gaylin handles the flashbacks of long ago memories in Into the Dark far better than in And She Was, but they're still a little distracting at times. It sometimes seems hard to believe that Brenna is still so obsessed with her sister's disappearance, especially since Brenna has a daughter who seems a little neglected. Brenna's personal life hasn't made any substantial advances from the last book either. Fortunately, this second book of the series finally provides some answers about what really happened to Clea. Also, the mystery surrounding Lula Belle is pretty gripping even as the twists make it semi-complicated.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Harper.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

review: simply yours day planner

A new year is about to start which means it's time for a new planner.
My preferred type of planner has month-at-a-glance pages along with pages that let me write detailed notes for each day. The Simply Yours Day Planner from Bailey Craft Planners fit my needs. One great thing about this planner is the option to have either a vertical or horizontal layout for the daily pages. (I selected horizontal.) There's also a nice selection of different cover designs.
The planner arrived in beautiful packaging and the quality is excellent--the cover, spiral, and pages are all flawless. Furthermore, I can write with a standard ink pen without worrying about bleed-through on the 70lb paper. This planner goes beyond some of the other planners I've used over the years in that there are planning and goals pages sprinkled throughout and the calendar pages included "things to do" spaces.
Another nice touch is the personalized front page. The planner also has two pockets at the back for saving receipts or other important pieces of loose paper.
Despite being packed with useful pages, Simply Yours Day Planner isn't heavy and at 7x9 fits easily in the large tote I carry for work. The Simply Yours Day Planner is available from Bailey Craft Planners. The planners are made to order and ship in about a week.

Review copy provided by Bailey Craft Planners.

Monday, December 12, 2016

review: someone i wanted to be by aurelia wills

In Someone I Wanted to Be, high school student Leah Lobermeir finds herself trapped in a lie of her own making. Being the overweight friend of two skinny, popular girls, Leah longs for the same kind of attention her friends get from boys. So when a man who looks to be in his twenties talks to Leah to get information about one of her friends, she creates a new persona and poses as the girl he’s interested in on the phone. Of course it won’t end well. Unfortunately, Aurelia Wills also doesn’t create a satisfying ending for Someone I Wanted to Be. There’s a big build up to what should be a lesson in friendship, trust, and the dangers of skeezy older men, but Wills rushes the ending so that there’s little payoff.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Candlewick.

Friday, December 9, 2016

review: samantha sutton and the labyrinth of lies by jordan jacobs

Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies is the first is a series about a young girl who dreams of being an archaeologist like her uncle. Although it is the first book, it reads like a book from later in the series as it provides no backstory and simply plunges Samantha, her older brother, and her uncle into an adventure; there is no explanation as to why the older brother, who clearly doesn’t want to be there, is along for the trip. In a strange plot point (that’s really just to set up why Samantha has a crucial item later on), Samantha’s parents ask her to divert her attention from the dig in order to sell things for them—again with no backstory. Despite her age, Samantha is a very capable, quick-thinking protagonist and the family relationships ring true. Jordan Jacobs includes the fun element of pages from Samantha’s notebook at the start of each chapter, but the pacing is very slow for a middle grade novel.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

review: whitefern by v.c. andrews

Having survived significant trauma in My Sweet Audrina, Audrina Adare Lowe is now raising her sister in the family home while Audrina’s husband works for her father’s company. Despite all the progress Audrina had made, Whitefern sees her falling into the familiar trappings of the heroines created by the V.C. Andrews ghostwriter. Although Arden seemed to truly care for Audrina in My Sweet Audrina, he’s now furious with her at both her inability to conceive and her unwillingness to sign her inheritance of her father’s company over to him. Audrina does stand strong regarding the inheritance, but Whitefern finds her giving in to Arden’s increasingly controlling ways.

With My Sweet Audrina having been written by V.C. Andrews and Whitefern being one of the many novels written by the ghostwriter hired after her death, the stylistic differences are prevalent. The most notable being that whatever houses the novels took place in was always a character itself in the originals, but now Whitefern is simply a setting even though the novel shares its title with the mansion. Although it appears the ghostwriter didn’t spend much time reviewing My Sweet Audrina (Sylvia’s abilities in Whitefern are substantially more than they should have been and Arden has changed into a villain without explanation, Whitefern does evoke many of the feelings brought forth in the original work.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket.