Tuesday, October 28, 2014

review: christopher's diary: secrets of foxworth by v.c. andrews

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Cathy told her side of the story in Flowers in the Attic, now Christopher has his chance in Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth. On a visit to the burned out Foxworth mansion, distant relative Kristin and her construction worker father come across Christopher’s diary which miraculously survived two fires and many passing decades. Kristin soon becomes consumed by the diary which recounts the story well known to readers, but which has been distorted over the years for Kristin and the other residents of the town. Christopher reveals nothing new in his diary though the relationship between him and his mother gets a bit creepier. There’s more of Kristin than Christopher here, but Kristin’s reactions ally with those who read Flowers in the Attic so that she seems like a good friend you’re sharing the story with. This novel sets up the next in the Christopher’s Diary series, Echoes of Dollanganger, which will hopefully include more from the diary of what went on in the attic (disappointingly, Secrets of Foxworth doesn’t include aspects that would be great to hear from Christopher’s perspective such as what he saw when he explored the mansion alone) as well as delve deeper into Kristin’s budding relationship with Kane (the two K names have to mean something!).
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

review: the missing place by sophie littlefield

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In a well-researched novel (she even nails the changes to TV news production over the last decade) centered around the oil business in North Dakota, Sophie Littlefield creates a moving story about the love two mothers have for their sons and the dedication they show in order to discover the truth. The well-heeled Colleen doesn’t have much in common with Shay who has always had to work hard to provide for her children, but the pair comes together when their sons disappear at the same time. They suspect the oil company employing the young men is covering up the disappearance, but they have no leads and the local police department won’t help. Littlefield paints both women as tenacious and has them play to their very different strengths in order to solve the mystery that has quite the surprising outcome.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

review: the life list by lori nelson spielman

When Brett (named for Lady Brett from The Sun Also Rises) was 14, she created a Life List. Brett had long forgotten about the list, so she is all the more shocked when that turns out to be her inheritance instead of her mother’s cosmetic company. The Life List sends Brett on an incredible journey of self-discovery that is beautifully portrayed. The ways in which Brett ends up accomplishing her goals of the past is creative and touching, especially when she gets back in touch with her childhood friend.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Bantam Books.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

review: the barter by siobhan adcock

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I went into Siobhan Adcock’s The Barter expecting a chilling ghost story with the mother in the present day trying desperately to protect her baby, but that’s not what this story is at all. Bridget’s primary storyline is pretty ho-hum—a woman who gave up her career to raise her baby feels the conversation of the other moms isn’t stimulating enough. The other storyline, which is set a century earlier, was of more interest as Rebecca finds it difficult to go from doctor’s daughter to farmer’s wife. It is from this storyline that the ghost Bridget sees seems to develop from, but Adcock never makes clear exactly why this is. (My assumption is that Bridget’s house, which is said to be new construction, was built on the same land.) The Barter could work if the focus was on the struggle of these two women to be mothers in their respective time periods, but the introduction of the ghost threw the story off.
Review copy provided by BookSparks PR.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

review: cold calls by charles benoit

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Eric, Shelly, and Fatima go to different high schools, but they do have one thing in common—someone knows their respective secrets and is using that information as blackmail. The trio discover their link when they’re sent to a weekend bullying seminar after getting caught dishing out the torment as instructed by the blackmailer. At times it seemed a bit far-fetched, but the three teens came across as genuine. And it was great when they started working together to uncover the mystery of who was blackmailing them and why. Although the how of the blackmail was a little iffy, the why proved to be quite plausible.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

review: cinderland by amy jo burns

In a riveting memoir, Amy Jo Burns writes of her formative years in Mercury, PA (Burns and her classmates note that Mercury’s claim to fame is that Trent Reznor once lived there). After the steel industry collapse, Mercury is rocked by allegations made by seven girls against their piano teacher. Shockingly, many in town supported the teacher despite his guilty plea. As Burns recounts, she was among the “smarter” girls who lied and said the teacher never touched them. Cinderland is part childhood memoir and part confession to the brave seven who told the truth. Although exploring the implications of being one who lied is uncomfortable at times, Burns addresses the topic forthrightly and in unabashed prose.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

review: 29 by adena halpern

On her 75th birthday, Ellie Jerome blows out her candles and wishes to be 29 again for one day. When she wakes the next morning, her wish has come true! But being 29 again when your best friend lives in the same building and your daughter never butts out of your life proves to be difficult. While Ellie is off having an adventure with her granddaughter (the only one she confides in), her daughter and best friend worry endlessly about what happened to Ellie and end up having quite the adventure of their own.

29 was a primarily fun read with Ellie reflecting on her past giving some humorous advice (remember to moisturize!) though the parts with Frida and Barbara became annoying after a while. It was also in those Frida/Barbara parts where things didn’t always add up. Frida locks herself out of her apartment and waits for Barbara in the lobby, but it then becomes clear the doorman has a key. That detail becomes even more important a bit later, but Adena Halpern continues to overlook that fact so that Frida and Barbara can have even more trouble.

About the audiobook: Adena Halpern’s 29 is read by Lorna Raver. Raver’s reading was spot-on with Barbara having a particularly grating tone while Ellie, Frida, and Lucy sounded their respective ages. 29 was published by Blackstone Audio in 2014 and runs 9 hours.
4/5 Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

review: above the east china sea by sarah bird

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In two stories that eventually intermingle, two teenage girls live in Okinawa—one in present time on an Air Force Base and another during World War II—in Sarah Bird's Above the East China Sea. Both are stories of family, disappointment, and struggle. The novel was a bit uneven with the storyline split as the present day plot was much stronger and more emotional. Although Bird brings the two stories together, the World War II parts often felt like they were there as a history lesson. Fortunately the present day story makes up for those more tedious plot points.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

review: the good girl by mary kubica

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Appearances can be very deceiving in Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl. One would think Mia comes from a perfect family, but her father, a prominent judge, worries more about how the family will be portrayed in the media than Mia when she disappears. Fortunately for the missing art teacher, her mother believes Mia was kidnapped and a detective puts a great deal of effort into finding Mia.

Throughout The Good Girl the woman who the book centers on doesn’t tell her story until the very end. It was a bit puzzling (before the ending), but it worked well to have everything told from the perspective of Mia’s mother, Mia’s kidnapper, and the detective investigating the case. The shifting perspectives as well as the nonlinear fashion in which Kubica relayed created more tension and mystery than likely would have occurred otherwise.

About the audiobook: The Good Girl is read by Lindy Nettleton, Johnny Heller, Tom Taylorson, and Andi Arndt. As the novel changes perspective with each chapter, the different readers made it much easier to follow. Johnny Heller and Tom Taylorson were most enjoyable as they changed tone to distinguish between the dialogue of the other characters. The Good Girl was published in 2014 by Blackstone Audio and runs 10 hours and 38 minutes.
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

review: dark tide by elizabeth haynes

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Genevieve had a goal to quit her job and live on a boat. In order to do so, she needed to make some extra money. As Dark Tide opens, Genevieve has realized her goal and is now living on a fixer-upper boat called Revenge of the Tide. Unfortunately the same night Genevieve hosts a boat-warming party, she discovers the body of friend in the water. But Genevieve initially doesn’t tell anyone she knows the dead woman because she doesn’t want it getting out how she made the extra money. Eventually it all spirals beyond Genevieve’s control in a tense mystery from Elizabeth Haynes. The way the plot unfolds with past and present scenes allows the suspense to build slowly and create a gripping storyline. The downside though is that the revealed motivation is a little weak.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Harper.