Book Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight #bookreview #reconstructingamelia

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

4/5 stars

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kimberlymccreight.com

This book was a mystery, thriller, horrifying/intriguing-for-mothers read. Kate is a single mom of Amelia, an excellent student at a Park Slope area private high school. But early into the book, Amelia is found dead at her school, an apparent “impulsive suicide.”

This would all make perfect sense if Amelia had shown any signs of suicidal behavior, but she didn’t. That fact, along with the anonymous texts Kate receives after Amelia’s death lead her to believe that Amelia didn’t kill herself but rather was murdered. Using all of her extensive resources (Kate is a high-powered attorney), Kate attempts to unravel the mystery behind the daughter she thought she knew so well.

Reconstructing Amelia is composed of prose, emails, texts and blogs. There’s the usual cast of mean girls, tough cops, and Stepford wives. As a mom, it was a challenging read. Amelia is Kate’s only child, and as a single working woman, it seems like Kate is no longer a mother without her beloved daughter.

It’s definitely in the realm of murder mystery. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was behind the anonymous emails, who was “in charge” of the secret group to which Amelia secretly belonged, why certain characters behaved the way they did — even who was really Amelia’s birth dad.

Although it’s not my usual genre, I recommend it. However, if you’re looking for a better psychological mystery, I recommend Before I Go to Sleep and Defending Jacob.

Book Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff #bookreview #howilivenow #megrosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff 4 stars

Say there’s an anorexic American teenager who goes to visit her aunt in England and falls in love with her cousin who happens to have a form of ESP — just as world war breaks out.

You might think, what a weird premise for a book. But that’s How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.

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Daisy, who has been cast off by her father and stepmother, goes to England to meet her aunt. Daisy’s mother died at her birth, and she’s never met her British relatives. But her aunt travels often for work, leaving Daisy with her cousins and their strange customs and pets. She’s both intrigued and somewhat repulsed, having grown up in NYC and not in the countryside. But gradually she gets to know the empathetic, loving family, and just as she finds her place with them, war changes everything.

The dialect is pure self-absorbed teenager, even as Daisy faces starvation (not self-imposed) and separation during the war. That’s what makes the book amusing even as it Tackles Serious Issues (as Daisy would say/write). Yet Meg Rosoff also embraces a huge degree of anonymity. We know they’re in England and we know there’s a war. That’s ALL we know — although that may be a plot device (see: teenagers, self-absorbed). We don’t know the year or the time frame — there’s vague reference to internet and email so it must be current/future — and we don’t know much about Daisy’s family except what’s happening in the now. It works, as a device.

There’s enough detail and yet enough left to imagine that the pacing is fantastic — until the end, which felt incredibly rushed. Thank goodness this book isn’t 1 of 2, or a trilogy, because I’d hate to see it stretched out beyond the story. But the ending is abrupt and doesn’t do much for the storyline.

Highly recommend on basis of creativity and storyline (and editing) alone.

Also, it’s going to be released as a movie in the fall!

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I look forward to seeing it.

Cover Reveal: Facade by Nyrae Dawn @nyraedawn #facade #games

Heres a sneak peek at the cover and blurb for FACADE (book 2 in the Games series) by Nyrae Dawn. I really enjoyed book 1, Charade, and I look forward to reading this in March!

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No one knows who twenty-one year-old Adrian Westfall is behind his façade. After what he’s done, he deserves to live alone with his pain, even if he’d do anything to forget. Anything for a moment of quiet without his past haunting him.

Eighteen year-old Delaney Cross wants nothing more than to absolve her family from her father’s sins. To keep her suicidal mom off that ledge, and help her brother Maddox get the light back in his eyes. She thinks their road to freedom is through Adrian.

Adrian and Delaney are bound together by tragedy… Only Adrian doesn’t know it.

As their lives intertwine, they find a solace in each other they never knew existed. Laney knows she needs to tell him—to come out from behind her smoke screen, but to say the words could mean losing him.

Two people. Two disguises. True love.

Will it be enough to save them when all secrets are bared?

FACADE is a New Adult book and intended for mature audiences.

Put FACADE on your Goodreads to-read list!

Book Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

4 Stars/5

Sky is a girl who has been homeschooled by her Luddite (adopted) mother for her whole life; she begs to go to school for her senior year. Her mother reluctantly agrees, and thus Sky enters the world of mostly obnoxious teenagers. Unfortunately she has a bit of an undeserved reputation, but she doesn’t really care about that. She meets Dean Holder, another recipient of an undeserved reputation, who is sexy, funny, mysterious and sometimes incredibly angry. She’s intrigued (and attracted) but she doesn’t understand why he runs so hot and cold with her. He does, though, and it’s a secret that he keeps from her until she discovers the truth…

And I’m not going to tell you what it is.

I actually had to think on this one for about 48 hours before I could review it. I had to think about what I loved (most of it), hated (the subject matter) and felt indifferent to (which I can’t address without spoiling it).

The biggest problem was more with ME than with the book: I inhaled this book, and because of the TRICKY subject matter, it’s meant to be enjoyed more slowly and thoroughly. I need to go back and re-read so that I can give it proper credit.

 

My main criticism of the book itself is the sub-characters (if that’s a word). Holder, Sky and her mom were well-fleshed out. Sky’s best friend, her new school friend, and Sky’s mom’s boyfriend were much less so. Other relatives, practically nothing. Those outlying characters were more what they DO/DID/ACTED than who they were. I think the author attacked the subject matter so carefully, and she did such a marvelous job making it believable and real and heartfelt, that some of those lesser characters took a backseat to that. So it felt okay, overall, but I can’t help comparing it to The Sea of Tranquility, which managed to cover a lot of secrets and trauma and characters (and was a lot longer) with a bit more depth. This book was more straightforward. Sky was easier to relate to. She was intelligent and funny and… teenager-ish. She was very real.

Highly recommend.

Plus, the author, Colleen Hoover, is just wonderful and loves her fans and interacts with them regularly on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines

4 stars

Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines $3.99 on Kindle.

Hooray! We’ve left the sweet malleable Seabreeze girls behind in favor of a shotgun-totin’ badass chick heroine. Thank you for that, Abbi Glines. I appreciate a strong female who knows what she wants and goes for it.

And what Blaire wants is her hot, mysterious, sexy stepbrother, Rush. (Before you say eww, I have one word for you: Clueless.)

Also, she wants independence, although that’s a given, since she has no family other than her dad, who left her mother five years ago. Now that her mother died of cancer, she reluctantly makes her way to Florida to see him. Meanwhile, dad is on vacation with his new wife, Rush’s mom, but Rush grudgingly accepts her presence.

So Blaire gets a job at the local country club, where everyone is nice — except Nan, Rush’s sister. What is Nan’s deal? Blaire grows closer to Rush, despite his misgivings that can be summed up in the following phrase: “just can’t stay away you’re just so sweet I can’t help it I’m actually a sensitive tortured soul under my tattoos and random fuck buddies.”

It’s an alpha male schtick. But damn, nobody writes an alpha male like Abbi Glibes!

I actually loved the story and give that aspect five stars, but the editing gets three. Here’s why:

1. It was poorly Kindle-formatted, at least on my iPhone. I have no idea why or how, but it was a challenge to read.

2. Some comma issues, issues with possession and a few misspelled words.

3. The conversations between characters don’t use enough contractions. It reads clunky. I don’t think I’m that loose with conversation, but after reading every one of the Seabreeze books, I wondered if I don’t slur all my sentences. I do not. (See what I did there?)

That said, I’ve read all of Abbi Glines’ books and I think this is her best yet. It’s got the right amount of New Adult Romance formula so you know it’s going to have a hot Alpha, but the plot was surprising enough to keep me reading, not just for the sex scenes!

I look forward to the next book in the series. I know that all of the fans are saying that– but I hope the author takes her time and edits it thoughtfully.

Book Review: Gabriel’s Inferno

3 Stars.

Take 50 Shades of Grey, mix it with some original Twilight, literary highbrow and a huge amount of sexism, and you’ve got Gabriel’s Inferno.

I can only recommend it under the following conditions:

1. You’re a sucker for an ALPHA male.

Because Gabriel is the ALPHA-est of Alpha males. He’s disgustingly rich, overly-educated, strong and powerful, as well as tattooed. Also, he takes erotic photography, drinks like a carp, is an esteemed professor and of course he’s got a body like a god. You’ve got your typical Alpha here.

2. Likewise, you like your heroines quiet, shy, guileless virgins who lets the man lead her.

How else can I say this? Picture Bella Swan. Now picture her six years later. That’s Julianne/Julia/Kitten/Rabbit/Beatrice whatever name some male character gives her.

3. You can wait over 500 pages for sex.

Of course, there’s petting and stuff, but… yeah. After a while, it really drags.

4. You don’t mind pesky things like details.

He’s her professor! Yet nobody finds out about their “courting.” Paul (who plays the Jacob role in this one) simply accepts that Julianne/Julia/Rabbit simply has a boyfriend and gives up. While the Dante discourse is somewhat interesting, any discussion of Julianne’s/Julia’s/Rabbit’s/Kitten’s/Beatrice’s study is relegated to a few sentences about how she’s found a new thesis advisor.

It gets 3 stars because in a looooooooooong book, I only found one extraneous comma, and while the waiting for sex part dragged, it was still somewhat erotic. But mostly I rolled my eyes and found Gabriel really sexist and annoying.

Book Review: The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski.

5/5 stars

Camryn is still mourning her boyfriend’s death — and the subsequent unraveling of her life — when she decides to take road trip. With no particular destination in mind, she gets on a Greyhound bus (ew). A few stops in, she meets Andrew, who is traveling to visit his dying father. Camryn is initially wary of him, but when he protects her from a fellow bus-traveling pervert, she decides to trust him, and after visiting his dad they go on their own road trip in his Chevelle (apparently that’s some sort of car).

Andrew’s spontaneity and happy-go- lucky demeanor are in direct contrast to Camryn, who is very guarded (as you probably should be when you meet someone on a Greyhound). Eventually he challenges her to let loose a little, and to her credit, Camryn embraces it.

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I really enjoyed this novel. The beginning was slow moving, but once Camryn met Andrew, the pace moved along nicely. Though it may sound cheesy, Andrew’s zest for life was infectious. Camryn was reasonably cautious, but she couldn’t resist him for too long (who could?)

The author has written other books, and it shows. I don’t know how to explain it but to say that it was lot more cleanly written than many self-published or independent books I’ve read. And I’ve been reading a lot of those lately!

This book really won me over with its creative story, unusual characters and unique situations. It could have been really depressing but it wasn’t. Both Camryn and Andrew could have been one-not characters (depressed! Happy!) but they were written with a deft hand. While the language was simple, nothing flowery or over-wrought, the point came across well.

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