Tag: fiction

Book Review: The Dream Daughter, by Diane Chamberlain

 

TheDreamDaughter-cover
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Dream Daughter
Author:  Diane Chamberlain
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4 out of 5

Caroline Sears is newly-widowed by the Vietnam War and pregnant with her first child when she finds out there is something wrong with her baby’s heart. Carly is devastated because the baby is the only thing she has left from her husband. Then her brother-in-law, mysterious physicist Hunter, tells her he can help her—but his “how” is more than Carly can even imagine. Will she risk everything for her unborn daughter?

I don’t generally read books that I know will make me cry.  I risked it with this book, and I’m glad I did. I loved Carly, and her struggle for her unborn baby was both moving and heartbreaking. This was a good, emotional read.

Diane Chamberlain is a former social worker and a bestselling author. The Dream Daughter is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, by Don Zolidis

theseventorments
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:   The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig
Author:   Don Zolidis
Genre:   YA
Rating:   3.8 out of 5

Craig is awkward. He plays Dungeons & Dragons, which, in 1994 Wisconsin, does not make you part of the cool crowd. He’s had a crush on Amy for a while. But a geek with the super-smart student body president? That’s never going to happen. Until it does.

Then Amy breaks up with Craig. And gets back together with him. Then breaks up with him again. Over and over again. Seven times.

Senior year is hard enough without adding heartbreak—repetitive heartbreak at that—into the mix. Craig wants to escape his hometown and hopes to find a quirky college to feel at home at. Amy doesn’t know what she wants—she just knows it’s not what she has. It might be Craig. It might not. But both of them are fighting to figure out what really matters—and what they can do about it.

I liked Craig. He’s quirky and fun and definitely awkward. His group of friends are all nerdy but vibrant. Craig and Amy together, however…Well, I was Team Craig in this one. Except he was basically selfish and oblivious of what was going on around him, so focused on himself and what he wanted that it never occurred to him to think about what other people wanted. But he does grow and develops an awareness of others that is both fledgling and blooming, making this worth reading.

Don Zolidis is a playwright and former teacher. The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig is his first published novel.

(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: My Whole Truth, by Mischa Thrace

my whole truth
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:   My Whole Truth
Author:   Mischa Thrace
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Seelie Stanton has a mother who could not care less about her, but she has three best friends who have her back no matter what, so it’s okay. Even when the kids at school can’t stand her. She just sticks with her friends and minds her own business. Until Shane Mayfield shows up at her job high and attacks her.

Seelie never wanted to kill someone, but she had to kill Shane to save her own life. Now she’s being charged with murder, haunted by a night she never wants to speak of again.

Though her friends support her, most of the town turns against her. Seelie doesn’t want to think about that night, much less talk about it, but she’ll have to tell the truth about what happened—the whole truth—if she wants to survive.

The friendships in this book are the best thing. I loved the group’s interactions, even when they disagree, they still support each other. Seelie is a strong character, but she can’t see it for her grief and pain. A well-written look at a girl who survived the horrors of being attacked—only to face condemnation and hatred from those around her.

Mischa Thrace lives in Massachusetts. My Whole Truth is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Words We Don’t Say, by K.J. Reilly

words we don't say
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:   Words We Don’t Say
Author:   K.J. Reilly
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Joel Higgins has almost 1,000 unsent text messages on his phone. He can say whatever he wants there. He can talk to people he just can’t seem to find words for in person. Like Eli, the girl he has a crush on.

His best friend, Andy, is gone. The new guy, Benj, talks a lot but Joel doesn’t know quite how to take him. He failed the SATs. The only bright spots in his days are volunteering with Eli at the soup kitchen.

Then there’s the wounded vet Joel meets. The bag hidden in the garage. And the problem of all those Corvette Stingrays. Joel sees so many problems and has so many questions, but all he can do is type another text message he won’t send.

I really enjoyed this book, even though I sometimes have problems clicking with male narrators. That wasn’t the case here. Joel is such an honest character and getting inside his head was easy. You should definitely read this!

Words We Don’t Say is the new novel by K.J. Reilly.

(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Season of Wonder, by RaeAnne Thayne

seasonofwonder
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:  Season of Wonder
Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Dani Capelli desperately needed a chance to start over, so she took the job as a veterinarian at a clinic in the small town of Haven Point. With her two daughters, she leaves behind New York and the secrets of her past life. She just wants to make a safe home with no trouble.

But her oldest daughter has other ideas, and soon the deputy sheriff is knocking at her door. Dani didn’t want trouble, but she never really imagined trouble being quite so good looking, either.

Ruben never thought he’d fall for a big-city girl, but he’s attracted to Dani and her daughters. He wants to show them his family traditions to prove that life in Haven Point is all they need. No matter what secrets Dani is hiding.

Season of Wonder is a standard small-town romance. The writing is solid, and the characters are believable and likable. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author, but I would read more.

Raeanne Thayne is an award-winning author. Season of Wonder is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review Trouble Brewing, by Suzanne Baltsar

trouble brewing
Image belongs to Gallery Books.

Title:   Trouble Brewing
Author:   Suzanne Baltsar
Genre:   Contemporary romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Piper Williams is an anomaly, a woman brewer sticks out in the small craft brew community in Minnesota. But Piper is determined to make it. She wants her beer to be a success—and she’d like to own her own brewery instead of using her garage.

Blake Reed owns the newest gastropub in town, and he’s agreed to stock four of Piper’s brews, so clearly dating him is out of the question. No matter how attractive Piper finds him.

But their attraction is hard to deny, so Piper agrees to date Blake—if two other pubs will stock her beer. She’s on the verge of realizing all her dreams, and she can’t let a man get in the way. Then Piper gest a dream offer—one that will take her away from Minnesota, and Blake. Is living her dreams worth losing Blake?

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The snark between Piper and Blake is fantastic, and the secondary characters are just as enjoyable as they are. I had to resist the impulse to go track down some craft beer as well…

Suzanne Baltsar lives and writes in Pennsylvania. Trouble Brewing is her debut novel.

(Galley provided by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: After the Fire, by Will Hill

after the fire
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:   After the Fire
Author:   Will Hill
Genre:   YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

Before

Moonbeam has lived inside the fence as long as she can remember. Her parents joined the Lord’s Legion when she was very young, and this is the only life she’s ever known. Her father died here. Her mother was banished. Now Moonbeam is alone, except for the rest of her “family,” and Father John, the leader of the Legion and her future husband.

Every day is filled with labor, a fight for the Legion to survive. Rules govern every action, every thought. Father John is the Lord’s voice, so his words are law. No matter what. Less food. Stricter punishments. New rules. More wives. Disagreeing means banishment:  being forced to leave the safety of the fence for the dark world outside. Sometimes Moonbeam wonders if this is what life should really be like. But she can never let any of her family know she wonders.

After

Reeling from the destruction of the Lord’s Legion, Moonbeam struggles to stay true to Father John’s teaching:  never speak to outsiders! They are servants of darkness and speaking to them gives them power. But Dr. Hernandez seems to really care what happens to her, and slowly her defenses come down. Then Agent Carlyle starts asking questions about life inside the fence—and what really happened the night of the fire. Moonbeam knows she shouldn’t tell, but some wounds will never heal without being exposed to the light. Even if the truth means she must pay for her sins.

This book. Wow. I was intrigued by a character raised by a cult, and I loved how Will Hill handled it. Moonbeam is a fantastic narrator. The story follows her growth from a fervent believer in the Legion to a tragedy survivor who realizes the truth. The subtle way Hill weaves this tale together had me hooked from the beginning, and this vivid look at life inside a cult was completely engrossing.

Will Hill lives in London and calls himself a creative procrastinator. After the Fire is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: I Do Not Trust You, by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

I do not trust you
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  I Do Not Trust You
Author:   Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Genre:   YA
Rating:   3 out 0f 5

Memphis grew up traveling the world with her father, visiting archeological digs and learning lost languages and cultures. But when her father died unexpectedly, her life changed to boring, normal school with people who think they know more than she does under the watchful eyes of her guardians, friends she never knew her father had.

Until one evening she realizes a shadowy figure is following her. When she catches him by surprise, Memphis meets Ash, sent by an ancient cult to discover the secret her father might have been able to solve. Memphis finds out her dad is still alive, held captive by another ancient cult also after the icons to be found if the secret is revealed.

There’s no way Ash can decipher the clues and find the icons himself. And Memphis doesn’t know where her father is being held. They’ll have to work together for them both to get what they want.

I Do Not Trust You had such an intriguing premise:  adventure, ancient cults, archeological mysteries…but the delivery was a bit short on the adventure front. Memphis was a great character, just a touch naïve, which makes sense, considering she hasn’t had much interaction with people her own age. I loved her intelligence, and her determination. Ash…was just kind of “meh” for me. He wasn’t horrible, just kind of wishy-washy. But this was still a fun, quick read.

Laura J. Burns grew up on Long Island. Melinda Metz grew up in San Jose, California. I Do Not Trust You is the duo’s newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Matrimonial Advertisement, by Mimi Matthews

The Matrimonial Advertisement

The Matrimonial Advertisement
Image belongs to Perfectly Proper Press.

Website:  Title:   The Matrimonial Advertisement
Author:   Mimi Matthews
Genre:   Historical romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Ex-army captain Justin Thornhill needs someone to make his life a little bit easier. Orphaned and growing up in poverty, he’s spent 20 years paying back old grievances, making his fortune, and getting tortured in an Indian prison. Now he just wants to get along with the local villagers and have someone run his isolated household. A matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to accomplish that.

Helena will do anything to escape London, even traveling to the back of beyond and marrying a stranger. It’s a small price to pay for her freedom. She even starts to think she and Justin can be happy together. But when secrets from her past show up, will Justin keep her safe? Or will he listen to his own fears and walk away?

Occasionally I’ll read a book marketed as romance. Not often. And only if the premise and characters sound fairly unique and promising. Which is why I picked this one up. I’m glad I did. Helena’s secret was perfectly horrible and completely believable, given what I know about her era, but I loved her strength. Justin is deeply wounded, but so willing to help everyone around him. I loved how their relationship grew and developed.

Mimi Matthews writes about 19th century English history, historical romances, and she’s a lawyer. The Matrimonial Advertisement is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Perfectly Proper Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Plague Land: Reborn, by Alex Scarrow

plague land
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:   Plague Land: Reborn
Author:   Alex Scarrow
Genre:   Dystopian
Rating:   3 out of 5

They thought it was dead. They were wrong.

Two years ago, the virus hit London, wiping out most of the population. Leon has made it through two winters since then, and no one has seen the virus since. He lost his father, his mother, and his sister to the virus, and most of his hope as well. Until he finds a message about a rescue boat and sets out to see if the rest of the world has survived. But that’s not all he needs to worry about.

Okay, this probably wasn’t the best pick for me. Sometimes I can pick up a series book without having read the previous books in the series and be fine. Sometimes I can’t. This was one of the latter times. I didn’t have any problems following what was going on…I just had a problem caring. I didn’t have any emotional connection with the characters, so it was hard for me to get into reading this. Interesting premise with the virus, though.

Alex Scarrow currently lives in Norwich with his family. Plague Land:  Reborn is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)