Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Lie Lay Lain by Bryn Greenwood

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Lie Lay Lain is the story of Jennifer and Olivia, and of the  people in their separate and shared orbits. The two know each other at the outset of the book, as they attend the same church, but their lives are completely different. Jennifer is engaged, part of an extended social circle, and has a good job. Olivia is single and lives at home with her parent and older brother, who suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident and cannot live independently. She works in the church that her family has always attended and has no life outside of home and church.

I think that people generally expect to be prepared in life for the big decisions that change everything (choosing a career path, who to date, where to live, etc), but neither Jennifer nor Olivia could have imagined the changes that they would experience as a result of the lies that they tell. In doing a kindness for a dying woman, Jennifer feels a sense of responsibility to see that promise through, although only Olivia seems to understand why Jennifer wants to check up on Shani, daughter of the dead woman. Jennifer becomes invested in Shani’s welfare, at times paying less attention to her job and her relationship with her fiancé. Olivia’s sense of guilt over lying makes her turn a small untruth, that she is dating a paramedic, into reality. Asking Rindell out on a date is her first step toward becoming an Olivia she never suspects could even exist. Her new romantic relationship confuses and excites her, but helps her find the courage to be less passive with others in her life.

This book is engaging and gripping, and I skipped working on an this awesome hat that I’m knitting to keep reading it. Respect. Even if the story had been only so-so, I would say that this book is worth reading just for the perspective on truth, lies, and honesty. Who could fault Jennifer for helping to ease a dying woman’s mind, or Olivia for trying to keep people out of her business? While there are some pretty blatant bad lies in this book, most instances of dishonesty are less clear-cut in their right or wrongness. Amazingly, as if encouraging heavy rumination on the nature of truth isn’t enough of an accomplishment, Ms. Greenwood also manages to squeeze in a nuanced perspective on race and identity in the midst of all of the other things happening in this book. Although this book is relegated on Netgalley to the Women’s Fiction ghetto, I would recommend this book to any lover of well-written fiction.

 

Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

Title:Full Measures
Author:Rebecca Yarros
PublisherEntangled Publishing
Publication Date:February 10, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionThree knocks can change everything…

"She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead."

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.
My rating:****

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I really enjoyed this book. Ms. Yarros did a great job depicting the agony experienced by Ember’s family in the wake of her father’s death, and of showing how each family member coped and moved on. Ember was a great character; she was strong for her family and for herself, and I totally understood why Josh liked her so much. This novel was heavy, but the emotions presented always felt genuine, and not just there to up the novel’s emotional ante. I highly recommend this book to fans of new adult, military, and contemporary romance in general.

I received this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn Frank

Title:Full Measures
Author:Rebecca Yarros
PublisherEntangled Publishing
Publication Date:February 10, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionThree knocks can change everything…

"She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead."

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.
My rating:****

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Xe Sands did a great job of narrating this BS, but I still feel gross for having listened to it.

I didn’t listen to this book until months after I’d purchased it, so I no longer remember why I got it. I can’t say what, exactly, made Hunting Julian seem like something that I’d enjoy reading. The blurb makes the events that take place sound very different from the way they actually unfold. The fact that should have been repeated several times throughout is that Asia is not a willing visitor to Julian’s planet. She doesn’t accidentally stumble onto another world. Julian forces orgasmic pleasure on her and then brings the unconscious Asia to his home dimension. Oh, okay then.

Asia gets to Beneath, the imaginative name of Julian’s dimension, and suffers just about every possible misfortune at the hands of the awful people on Julian’s supposedly great society. Julian takes pride in saying that he never lies to her, but he withholds information and generally takes advantage of her complete ignorance of his planet.

Asia is Julian’s kindra, some sort of mystical soulmate who, when joined with Julian, has an ability to generate a huge amount of the energy that the people of Julian’s world need to survive. This isn’t bad. What sucks is that Asia is mistreated by just about everybody she encounters on the world that she never chose to go to. Julian and her own sister call her selfish for not immediately giving up everything she has ever known or wanted in order to nourish the people of the dimension TO WHICH SHE WAS KIDNAPPED. What the everloving hell is wrong with these people

Why do so many of the characters, including Asia, buy into the idea that she’s selfish for not immediately falling into line with what her kidnapper, his people, and her kool-aid drinking sister want from her? There are suffering people everywhere, but if somebody kidnapped me and used this as an excuse, I’d still be pretty pissed off about the whole thing.

On this dimension, women who commit crimes are punished by being imprisoned and possibly raped (there will definitely be sex, it’s just up to her and the man who buys her to determine what type of relationship they’ll have) by a man who has bought the right to do so for a period of five years. It’s okay, though, because this world has suffered plagues and the population is dangerously low (still not low enough for me). The rapist/sugar daddy/gross dude’s turn is over if they have a kid. Which, of course, the dirty prisoner mom won’t be able to see or interact with. Also, there’s a stigma against being the child of one of these female prisoners. But hey, if she doesn’t get pregnant during a particular five year period, some other lucky a-hole gets to pony up some dough and repeat the process all over again. By the way, on this dimension crimes that merit this punishment include self-defense and mental illness, yet the sentient beings there continually talk smack about Earth. Pot, meet intergalactic kettle.

No big deal, but Julian doesn’t even offer Asia a real apology until 75% of the way into the book. By real, I mean that that is the first time he apologizes for bringing her Beneath and doesn’t immediately offer an excuse. But psych, he only does this because she hurt his feelings. HIS FEELINGS. The kidnapped woman hurt her kidnapper’s feelings and everybody gets judgy about it. So if some dude kidnaps me for the good of his people, tells me that we’re fated to have some great romance, and I don’t immediately fall into line, I’m a selfish person? Thanks for clearing that up, Ms. Frank. Thoughtfully, the author somehow manages to contradict everything that happens at the beginning of the book and makes the kidnapping Asia’s fault? If only the determined woman hadn’t tried to find out what happened to her missing sister! It’s all her fault for tracking down the last person to have been with Kenya! Oh my god I can’t even

Sorry guys, I wish I could tell you exactly what I hated about the end of this book, but I couldn’t listen to anymore of this crap. I just had to stop. I called Audible and got my credit back. I’m still in too fragile of a mental state to choose another book right now. Although it scarcely feels possible, I might somehow find something that I’d enjoy less than this.

Impasse by Sylvie Fox

Title:Impasse
Author:Sylvie Fox
PublisherPenner Media
Publication Date:November 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHot nights, huge consequences.

Divorced and done with her dry spell, Holly Prentice is ready to get back in the game. But with two conditions: her future mate can’t be married to his career, and he has to have a couch. Nick Andreis loves his job, and his only furniture is a king-size bed. He’s also single, sexy, and six years Holly’s junior. Any guy this hunky and carefree can’t be serious about the future.

After one spontaneous and explosive night, Holly decides that her search for Mr. Right can wait. Nick can be Mr. Right Now.

Nick has waited years for Holly. Now that she’s dating again, he’s determined to be the only man in her life. He wants what Holly wants: forever. Convincing her of that won’t be easy, but Nick agrees—with fingers crossed behind his back—to Holly’s idea that they can be bed buddies until someone serious comes along. His plan: use the time between their passionate nights to convince her that he is the one.

Will Holly’s unexpected pregnancy change the rules of their games? Or can they both decide to play for keeps?
My rating:**.5

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I loved the first 50% of this book, and then hated almost all of its second half. Initially, Nick was a great character. He’d carried a torch for Holly for a couple of years, and was excited about getting back in touch with her after she’d distanced herself from everybody during her divorce. He made a serious play for her, then recalibrated his strategy once he recognized how hesitant she was to enter into a relationship with a guy six years her junior. I’m Holly’s age, and while I felt that her initial concerns about dating a 26 year old man in LA were valid, I thought she did Nick a disservice, treating him more like an age than a person. Nope. As it turns out, Holly was so, so right.

Nick, whose unspoken thoughts were about how much he loved Holly, who made grand declarations of love, and repeatedly stated his desire to commit totally let her down when she told him that she was pregnant. Nick, the same Nick who confidently said that he was ready to accept whatever came of them not using protection the first time they had sex, dropped the effing ball and turned into the worst caricature of manchild unwilling to grow up and accept responsibility. Although still disappointing, this would have made sense if he’d been the person in the relationships to express doubts about its longtime viability, but he’d spent the entire first half of the book trying to convince Holly that they belonged together, and that he was serious about her. With serious like this, who needs deadbeats? His wishy-washy attempts to justify his awfulness just made me angrier.

Since this is a romance novel, I knew that Holly would end up with Nick, but I really wish that some non-asshole love interest would have shown up and illustrated to Drew and Nick exactly how badly they’d each messed up when they mistreated a great person like Holly. I really respect how Holly was able to pick herself up each time life knocked her down, and how she didn’t allow the selfishness of Drew and Nick to embitter her. I really didn’t believe Nick’s change of heart at the end of the book. What finally made him really what a jerk he was being to Holly? I was pretty much done with Nick during the conversation where he told his father Dominic that Holly was pregnant, but I only started to hate him around Thanksgiving.

Sophie and Dominic were the only two supporting characters who had distinct personalities. I really respected how Dominic managed to express his disappointment but still offered his son the emotional support needed to turn Nick back into a semi-decent human being. Sophie was mostly a good friend, although I felt that she gave Nick more credit than he deserved. Drew was more of idea than a person, and even when he showed up, he felt more like a plot device than a legitimate concern. Helena served no purpose that I could see, save to annoy me every time she was on a scene. Asha, Ryan, and Hayes were like so much background noise.

My dislike of the second half of this book greatly affected my ability to enjoy the work as a whole. Also, I wish that the title had stayed In the Nick of Time. I’m pretty sure that having such a cheesy pun for a title would have dissuaded me from reading this book, which might have been for the best. 26 year old men of the world: lose my number.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Molly Gets Her Man by Julie Rowe

Title:Molly Gets Her Man
Author:Julie Rowe
PublisherEntangled: Ignite
Publication Date:January 27, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionWhen flaky Las Vegas hairdresser Molly McLaren overhears hears a Russian hit man planning to kill a US congressman and take out Hoover Dam in the process, she becomes a target for murder. Now, on the run from the assassin and a dirty cop, she winds up in an eighteen wheeler with an ex-cop sporting a bum leg, a bad attitude, and a body built for loving.Grey Wilson just wanted to be left alone. No more Las Vegas. No more casinos. And no more floozy women like the one his best friend sent him to pick up on the side of the road. She talks fast, but her endless curves and sensuous nature make him want to slow down. Which is not in the cards. Grey knows he needs to unload his excess baggage. And quick.But when someone tries to kill the Vegas beauty, Molly captures his heart with her backbone of steel, and brains to boot. Now in order to grasp the future that had once seemed impossible, Molly and Grey need to keep Hoover Dam, the congressman, and their love from being blown sky-high.
My rating:*.5

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From the description, this book sounded like something that I would really enjoy, and I’m sad that this did not turn out to be the case. Molly was an interesting character: she spoke several languages fluently, kept a cool-ish head in dangerous situations, and had overcome a lot in her life. I didn’t have a very high opinion of her decision-making skills, though: who tries to nonviolently negotiate with people who’ve twice tried to kill you?? That’s not optimism in humanity, that’s idiocy.

There were so many things in this book that didn’t make sense to me, as a person with at least a passing familiarity with logic. For instance, would any reasonable politician or his staff go forward with an event when a credible death threat had been made against him? At a specific event? By a suspected murdered? No. There’s idealism, and then there’s stupidity. I don’t always have the greatest opinion of electorates, but I have to believe a man this dumb wouldn’t have made it into office. The entire third act of this book makes no sense, in light of events that took place in the middle.

I get the feeling that Grey is kind of a terrible cop. He doesn’t seem to understand strategy well (Molly’s plan is kind of terrible, but it’s not her fault, since she’s not actually trained to do this stuff) and a person sharing the same hotel room as him is able to GET UP FROM THE SAME BED, GET DRESSED, AND SOMEHOW LEAVE THAT ROOM WITHOUT HIM KNOWING. Forget police work, how did he survive Afghanistan with such lackluster instincts? After reuniting with Molly, why doesn’t he do something productive with the bit of downtime that they have like, you know, confirm the identity of the different law enforcement officers who Molly had encountered since initially going to the police? This is why cameraphones and email attachments were invented. He is seriously like the worst. cop. ever.

Likewise, his buddy Mike seems like a terrible brother. How is he the one who tries to convince Grey that using Molly as bait is a good idea? Wouldn’t a brother be at least as unwilling to offer up his sister as bait as a guy who she hasn’t even known for one week? Aside from finding somebody to pick up Molly and being far too interested in her sex life, Mike doesn’t seem overly concerned about his sister.

I didn’t find Molly and Grey’s relationship to be believable. I’ll admit, the “we fell in love in three days” stories are always a tougher sale, but plenty of authors are able to pull it off. I wasn’t convinced here. At all. I have no trouble believing that they really like each other, but I wouldn’t place bets on their odds of still being together five years in the future. I figure that they might break up once they get to spend a solid month together.

Also, what was up with all the unprotected sex? They didn’t have one conversation about health or birth control Knowing somebody’s brother or fellow soldier doesn’t tell you anything about that person’s sexual health or birth control methods. Not unexpected, given these two dim bulbs, but still disappointing.

Overall, I found this to be a pretty underwhelming book.

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