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Goldfish – Nat Luurtsema

Goldfish by Nat LuurtsemaGoldfish – Nat Luurtsema
Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 7, 2016

 

Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema was a cute story that offered some really great moments. It also offered some moments where I was super frustrated with the narrator. Lou had everything going for her. A great best friend, a possible Olympic level swimming career, a coach who believed in her. So going into the qualifiers for a prestigious training camp should have been the best day of her life. Instead, it changes everything. Lou’s path has changed and the support she thought she had is gone. Now left with time on her hands she runs across a group of three boys with a plan to get on Britain’s Got Talent. A plan that involves her, a synchronized swimming routine and an aquarium.

 

The plot of Goldfish was unique. It’s not often you think of a YA story that involves a televised talent show, viral videos, choreographed male swimmers and shattered dreams all combined. I enjoyed the writing of Nat Luurtsema. She was able to combine so very disparate elements and make them all work together in a very cohesive manner. The pacing had a few issues. There were a few bumpy transitions and odd time jumps. The world built was good, but not great. We saw everything through the eyes of the fifteen-year-old narrator and she was so lost in her emotions most of the time that we never saw where she was. There were a lot of emotions in the read, but most of them turned me off. Lou was whiny and so wrapped up in herself that she bled negativity. I got very tired of her saying how ugly and worthless she was. It was draining as a reader. I did really enjoy the three young men in the story, they provided some nice comic relief and I really enjoyed their bond.

 

Goldfish had some really great moments and them some not so good ones. There was an odd side plot at almost the end of the book with Lou’s best friend that seemed just thrown in, and some “mean girls” who were not really mean. But the majority of the tale was very well done and I did enjoy the book as a whole. This was Nat Luurtsema’s YA debut, and while there were a few bumps, overall it was a success.

 

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/goldfish-nat-luurtsema

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge - Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge: A Novel by Paul Krueger
Published by Quirk Books on June 7, 2016

 

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger is a fun read that manages to tie bartending, demon fighting and fresh out of college angst together. It really should not work together, but it does and I enjoyed the ride the story took me on. Bailey Chen is newly graduated, in debt, living with her parents and jobless. Relying on an old friend she gets a bar back job at an old dive, The Nightshade Lounge. There she learns that demons might just be realer than she thought and that a well made cocktail may just save the world.

 

I really liked the plot of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. It was a very unique take on the girl fighting demon story and I enjoyed that the book had some of the cocktails included. The writing of Paul Krueger was on point. He was able to meld very different elements together to create a very real world where demon fighting bartenders did not seem out-of-place. I enjoyed his attention to detail and that he featured a very diverse cast. The characters were almost all great, I loved Bailey and the crazy bartender named Bucket. Some of the characters though seemed almost hyper comic and did not fit in quite as well as the others. As mentioned the world built was very strong. The author had a great attention to detail and I could picture the scenes quite well. The pacing did have a few issues where time jumped a bit too quickly for my liking, but it quickly would find a balance. The emotions were there, but not super strong in anyone other than Bailey. A few characters were supposed to have almost a zealot quality to them, but they felt a little flat. I did find myself laughing out loud at a few scenes and one bit made me quite upset, so there was a nice variety going on.

 

I did really enjoy Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. This was Paul Krueger’s debut and I think it was a strong one. I honestly hope this is the beginning of a series as I loved Bailey and I can see her leading the charge against a lot more demons. Now, there were a few small issues, but none that truly hampered my reading enjoyment. I can see Krueger doing big things as his writing career continues and I will be sure to keep an eye out for whatever he writes next.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/last-call-nightshade-lounge-paul-krueger

Meet Me Here - Bryan Bliss

Meet Me Here – Bryan BlissMeet Me Here by Bryan Bliss
Published by Greenwillow Books on May 31, 2016

 

Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss had some amazing moments and one giant tired trope. Set over the course of one crazy night, Thomas and his childhood best friend Mallory set out to see if they can complete their younger selves’ bucket list before Thomas leaves for basic training. Thomas is supposed to be Army, like his father and brother before him, but his brother came back from fighting different and Thomas does not know if he can go through the same thing.

 

The plot of Meet Me Here had so many great elements. A last hurrah night out for a teen boy, a veteran with PTSD, a long-lost friend re-surfacing; it could have been magical. And many parts of it were, however the ever-present horrible YA parents were present and I am just so over that. I did like the writing of Bryan Bliss. He was able to keep the action going and he was able to paint a vivid picture of small town life and the citizens in it in a really great way. The world he built was very real and I enjoyed seeing it through the character’s eyes. The pacing, once the story got started was great. Set over one night, the story ebbed and flowed in a very realistic way. There were plenty of emotions in this read, but at times they seemed disjointed. When I thought someone should be angry they were not and this happened a few times. I enjoyed most of the characters in this tale. Thomas and Mallory had great chemistry and I enjoyed their banter. I loathed the parents, and while the other cast members were there, none of them were stand outs.

 

Meet Me Here is Bryan Bliss’s début. I think it was a strong first effort, but the tired awful parents trope has got to go. I have said before that I really enjoy male leads in YA and I thought Thomas was done very well. Bliss created a character with real feeling and I enjoyed his journey. I also really enjoyed that the ending was very open-ended, as there are so many ways to picture what happened next. I will be interested to see what Bliss comes out with as a follow-up, because I do see true potential in his future.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/meet-me-here-bryan-bliss

Life Before – Michele Bacon

Life Before – Michele BaconLife Before Published by Sky Pony Press on June 7, 2016
Genres: Abuse, Dysfunctional Relationships, Runaways

 

Life Before by Michele Bacon is an engaging tale of a young man on the cusp of what he believes to be the best time of his life. He was a fantastic best friend, his dream girl is interested in him, and his mom is finally separated from his abusive father. Of course, drama needs to happen to keep up a story, and Bacon does not disappoint. I always like reading YA tales from a male perspective as I don’t think we see it enough. Sometimes it really works and sometimes it doesn’t. This is one where, for the most part, it worked. There were a few moments that made me hope that real boys would act differently, but the story stood up well.

 

The plot of Life Before was intriguing. A teen boy on the run from his family’s secrets armed with a fake ID, some cash and a hunting knife. I did enjoy the writing of Michele Bacon. She can really speak in a male voice and she was able to pull of some situations that should have been ridiculous well. The pacing had a few issues where it jumped around a bit. It did always catch itself up, but there were time where I was not sure what day we were in. The world built was nice and detailed once Xander left home. I enjoyed seeing the locations through his eyes. There were a lot of emotions in the book. Xander was portrayed well and I enjoyed that as a teen boy, he had feelings. There were a few times that his feelings did not quite match the situation he was in, but again teen boy. The characters were half and half for me. I like that this was told from the perspective of Xander, as I don’t think there are enough YA stories from a male perspective. At times I loved Xander and wanted to hold him and tell him everything would be alright, and then I wanted to shake him for being just stupid. It was pretty much the same with every character. They would have fantastic moments, and then just crappy ones.

 

While I was engaged with Life Before, I was also frustrated at times with the lead Xander. I understood his motivations, but I always get annoyed when a teen heads off to “fix” something on their own. The majority of times, if they went to an adult or the authorities the problem would be fixed. There would be no story or no drama either, so it is a careful balance that the author must use. At times this story tipped into the ridiculous and as an adult I was annoyed. This happens at times when, as an adult, I read a YA book that has a plot point that I just don’t get. I always try to temper my reaction with the fact that I am not the key audience for the read. This was Michele Bacon’s début, and I think it did work overall and I will be interested in seeing what she writes next.

 

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/life-before-michele-bacon

Ink and Bone – Lisa Unger

Ink and Bone – Lisa UngerInk and Bone by Lisa Unger
Published by Touchstone on June 7, 2016

 

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger so surpassed my expectations. I was thinking it would be a sort of twisty read with a little psychic juju thrown in. But man, I was not expecting to read a dark thriller steeped in hauntings and the pull of a small town to a young woman with true psychic powers. Finley is the granddaughter of Eloise Montgomery a renowned psychic. Finley has had apparitions surrounding her as long as she can remember. Raised by a mother who does not want to believe, when she is twenty, Finley moves to The Hollows, a small town in New York to live with her grandmother. There she meets a mother searching for her abducted daughter and she begins the hunt. What follows is a heart pounding search that may leave more than just the child missing.

 

I really loved the plot of Ink and Bone. It was different and really kept me guessing. At times I got the sense that I was missing bits of the story and wondered if it was a series. I found that the grandmother has been featured in books before, but never Finley. Lisa Unger’s writing is vibrant and conveys a sense of dread and hope equally in a fantastic blend. The pacing was spot-on and kept speeding towards the end at a rapid pace. The world had a few tiny issues for me, but that is down to it having been created in previous books that I have not read (yet). Damn, the emotions were off the chart at times. Love, hate, fear, longing and pure terror all mixed to an almost perfect blend. I loved Finley and Eloise as the main characters. There was a kindof love interest mixed in that I didn’t think fit with the rest of the tone of the book, but that’s just me.

 

Ink and Bone is just my kind of thriller. A touch of the supernatural, with a pulse pounding ending and a huge surprise at the very end. I can usually guess the “twist” end of a book, but not here and I loved that. While I could have done without the sort-of romance element thrown in, it did not make me dislike the read at all. I have not read anything by Lisa Unger before, but will be sure to snap up her others. I hope she continues to write Finley tales, as I am not done living in her world.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/ink-and-bone-lisa-unger

Frannie and Tru – Karen Hattrup

Frannie and Tru – Karen HattrupFrannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup
Published by HarperTeen on May 31, 2016

 

Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup was so much. Like, it’s actually hard to put into words the full depth of this story. A classic coming of age tale narrated by a teen girl, Frannie, who longs to experience the world. She gets that chance when her older cousin Tru comes to stay with the family one summer. Declaring herself his sidekick, she tags along on a journey of self discovery and discovers that the world may not be what she thought, but that it also has much more to offer than she realized.

 

Frannie and Tru was very rich. Seeing the world through Frannie’s young eyes, the plot took on a richness that I don’t normally see. The daily facets of life took on a fresh sheen and I loved how the focus remained true throughout. Karen Hattrup wrote with a gentleness that is not often seen. She was nuanced and wrote with a very consistent tone. I had a few small issues with the pacing where the story jumped a bit too far, but it did not hamper my enjoyment. The world built was nicely detailed and had many small touches that made it real. The emotions ran high, as any tale told by a teen girl is seen through her emotional filter. I loved most of the characters. Frannie was sweet and gentle, Tru had his issues but really cared deep down. The adults, however, were sadly typical YA awful.

 

Frannie and Tru made me feel so much during the reading. I really connected with the narrator and loved the journey she took me on. Karen Hattrup crafted a read that I enjoyed cover to cover. This is her debut and I can only see great things in her future. Hattrup is an author to watch and Frannie and Tru is quite a first effort.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/frannie-and-tru-karen-hattrup

You Know Me Well – David Levithan, Nina LaCour

You Know Me Well – David Levithan, Nina LaCourYou Know Me Well by David Levithan, Nina LaCour
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7, 2016

 

You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour is a touching story of first love, both found and lost. Mark and Kate have never been friends but on one crazy night at San Francisco Pride, they become an intrinsic part of the other’s life. Kate is running from the girl she has loved from afar and Mark is trying to tell his best friend he loves him. From dance clubs to crazy parties to school and dealing with parents, Mark and Kate become each others life raft through a few crazy days.

 

I really enjoyed the plot of You Know Me Well. Young love is hard to handle and it was treated with care and consideration. Yes, at times it was very obvious what was going to happen, but it all made sense in the telling. The writing of David Levithan and Nina LaCour was very well matched. Sometimes with co-authors it is very easy to tell where one author starts and the other one begins, but here, they were one cohesive voice telling two distinct but intertwining stories. The pacing had a few issues in the transitions, but nothing that affected my reading experience. The world built was great. Bright and detailed I could picture every scene. The emotions ran high in this story. Young love is always fraught with many feelings and they were on display here in a great way. I loved most of the characters. Mark and Kate were fantastic and they really played well off of each other. Kate’s school friends left me a little cold as they were only concerned with themselves, but they were also teenagers so it fit.

 

You Know Me Well is a sweet look at teen love that I really enjoyed. David Levithan and Nina LaCour wrote a touching story that made me smile throughout my reading. I love that the authors treated diversity with such normalcy, as it should be, and that they took care to show their characters with real feelings. Yes, I could tell what the ending was going to be and I didn’t care, as the path to it was done in such a fun and touching way.

 

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/you-know-me-well-david-levithan-nina-lacour

Never Too Real – Carmen Rita

 

 

Never Too Real – Carmen RitaNever Too Real by Carmen Rita
Published by Kensington on May 31, 2016
 

Never Too Real by Carmen Rita is one of those group friendship books. Where everyone’s life falls apart at just about the same time, no one tells the others about said falling apart because they can handle it on their own, and then they realize they cannot and turn to their friends which fixes (almost) everything. The reason there are many books (and movies and TV shows) following the same plot is that it really does work. At times you get frustrated with the characters, but the bond they share is so great that it makes you overlook the “If you just told someone they would help” issue. In this work, four friends – Cat, Magda, Gabi, and Luz are all powerful and proud women. But then (surprise, surprise) shit starts headed south with each of them. Their carefully created veneers begin to crack and they may have to worry less about appearances, and more about just getting through the next day.

 

I have read the plot of Never Too Real before. But as I said in the first paragraph it works, and that’s why it’s used. I enjoyed the writing of Carmen Rita. She was able to intertwine multiple story lines and characters in a believable way and have you root for them even when they are being just stupid. I did have issues with the pacing. There were a few unexpected time jumps back, showing hoe the main characters met, but it did not transition as a time jump. It took me until the next chapter to figure out that we had just been in the past. It did hinder my enjoyment as I was confused for a bit on what was going on. The world built was sparse, but that was okay, as the attention was predominately in character development and their feelings and thought and less on locations. There were some great emotions in this read. Any book that centers on four women friends will be chock full of the feels and this did not disappoint. The characters were half and half for me. I loved two of them, was meh about the third and disliked the fourth. I understand they were all in times of flux, but good lord the whining and self involvement of a few just turned me off.

 

Never Too Real was a good read, but not a deep read. Once I had the characters down and understood the lay of the land, I knew exactly what would happen, and I was right. That did not really bother me, as I enjoyed the writing style of Carmen Rita and did enjoy the emotional journey of the women. This was a good book, but not one I will return to in the future, as I know I will have others with the same premise come around soon enough.

 
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Source: http://125pages.com/never-too-real-carmen-rita

Author Tuesday Interview and Giveaway – Kenneth Logan

It’s time for my favorite day of the week, Author Tuesday!

 

This week we are featuring an interview with Kenneth Logan author of of True Letters From A Fictional Life publishing on June 7, 2016 (see my review here).

 

It currently has a 4.15 star rating on Goodreads and you can pre-order it from Amazon.

 

In addition to his interview Kenneth is giving away a copy of True Letters From A Fictional Life. So please enter away, using the Rafflecopter here (US only). Giveaway will be open till 11:59 pm MST Monday, May 30, 2016.

 

Please provide a quick intro about yourself and your writing.
truelettersfromafictioalife

I grew up in Freehold, New Jersey. Before moving to Brooklyn, I taught high school English in Vermont and San Francisco. I’m just finishing my third year of a doctoral program in literacy education at New York University. True Letters from a Fictional Life is my first novel.

 

1) Why should people read your book?

I’m told the story’s a funny and realistic portrayal of the quiet turmoil experienced by some gay high school kids. (The quiet turmoil’s less funny than other parts of the story.) Apparently many people still believe that gay people choose their sexual orientation. It’s a misconception that contributes to a lot of hate and misery. I hope this book goes at least a little way toward helping people understand what it’s like to grow up as a gay kid in a straight world. And for readers who closely identify with the main character, I hope it’s a story that gives them courage and makes them feel less alone.

 

2) Where is your favorite place to write?

At the moment, I don’t have a favorite place to write. I write anywhere I can whenever I can do it. I’m getting better at writing on the subway.

 

3) What are you currently working on (new book, remodeling your home…)?

I’m working on my second novel and my dissertation. The new novel involves a suburban cult and aerial drones and a couple of boys who are reluctant thieves. The dissertation explores the relationship between students’ reading comprehension performance and vocabulary knowledge. If anyone would like to finish the dissertation for me, please get in touch.

 

4) What is your favorite comfort book (the book you re-read because of how it makes you think/feel)?

I reread David James Duncan’s essay The Mickey Mantle Koan often. It’s just a beautiful piece of work. It brings me back to kicking the ball around in the front yard of the house where I grew up, and it reminds me why some of us spend so much time scribbling in the first place—there’s something we’re trying to get right.

 

5) What is the next book in your TBR (to be read) pile?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I’ve never read it. Shameful, I know.

 

6) Turn on your music player and hit shuffle – what song/artist comes up first?Logan photo

Pinocchio by Miles Davis

 

7) What’s your random talent (balancing a spoon on your nose, saying the alphabet backwards…)?

I can do a pretty convincing Glaswegian accent because my parents are from Glasgow, Scotland. When I was in high school, I listened to Billy Connelly’s comedy routines to hone the skill. I’m way out of practice at the moment.

 

8) Ask the reviewer – what question have you always wanted to ask a book reviewer?

Do you have a particular person in mind when you’re writing reviews—for instance, a specific friend or family member—or do you write for the general reading public? Laura – I write a review that I would want to read. I am always interested in the details of the book as a whole, not just the synopsis. That is why I include a brief overview of the plot, writing, pacing, world built, emotions and characters as well as my feelings and observations on the book.  

 

Connect with Kenneth – @KennethLogan14

Source: http://125pages.com/author-tuesday-interview-giveaway-kenneth-logan

True Letters from a Fictional Life – Kenneth Logan

 

True Letters from a Fictional Life – Kenneth LoganTrue Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
Published by HarperTeen on June 7, 2016

 

 

*Jumps up and down* Oh you guys, this book, this book. I was so intrigued by the synopsis that I read it as soon as I received it, in December 2015. Then I had to wait to share and it was awful as you all need to read it! True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan is just phenomenal. James is your average high school jock. He has a sortof girlfriend, decent friends and a secret. See James is gay and is deeply afraid to come out. He is afraid to express himself to those around him as they might not be okay with who he really his. His way of expressing himself is to write letters to those around him. Letters he never plans to send, that say the things he wishes he could say. Then things start happening. A fellow student is gay bashed, James meets a guy and his letters disappear. What will happen when his truth gets out? Will James be able to handle the outcome of his private thoughts?

 

Kenneth Logan crafted an amazing story. Full of emotions and heart, I couldn’t put it down. The world created was very real, and the story made sense within it. The pacing was great, not too fast and no dragging. The plot was unique and layered; it was not a standard coming out story, it dealt with social issues as well as emotional issues. The characters were special. It is rare to see high school characters depicted with such emotional depth. The writing is what set this apart. Logan was able to layer emotion, social issues, humor and heart in a YA novel. I normally do not see this combination of feels in one book, especially a book that leans towards a teen audience.

 

Books like True Letters from a Fictional Life are so important. As people read about the pain and struggle with coming out, I hope it will normalize it. Sexual orientation is an intrinsic part of who a person is, it is not a choice. The more exposure people, especially young people, have to this information, the better and more open I hope each generation gets. Kenneth Logan has amazing depths and a true future as an author. I hope he continues to write books with such amazing story lines. I will sign up to read anything Logan writes and will champion True Letters from a Fictional Life to everyone I meet.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/true-letters-fictional-life-kenneth-logan

The Wedding Sisters – Jamie Brenner

The Wedding Sisters – Jamie BrennerThe Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7, 2016

 

The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner sounded like such a cute read. Three sisters get engaged the same year and a triple wedding is planned. I expected hijinks and cute situations and fun. Instead I read a tale of selfish people and an intense need to be seen as high class. Meryl, the mother of Meg, Amy, and Jo, is determined to throw her daughters the perfect wedding and will not accept help from anyone else. Oh, except from People magazine and some PR folks. Her husband, a seemingly sweet academic, decides to make an odd stand and potentially screw his family with no care for them, and Jo and Amy get engaged for all the wrong reasons.

 

The plot of The Wedding Sisters had such potential. Instead it was like reading a script of Bridezillas featuring Momzillas on the warpath. The writing of Jamie Brenner had some really good moments. There were a few very funny parts and some real emotion, but the plot just dragged the great moments down. The pacing also had some issues. The time would skip a few months at a time, it was stated at the start of the chapter which was nice, but it still felt like there were some holes in the timeline. The world built was very limited, to mainly the home of Meryl, but this was primarily a character driven tale so it wasn’t detrimental to the story. There were some great emotions, however they were overshadowed by the intense need to be seen as important. The characters were all pretty awful. Greedy, selfish and so obsessed with how they were perceived, I disliked them all but Meg. She was a least a shining light in the story and I was glad I could latch on to her to follow through.

 

The Wedding Sisters could have been amazing. Jamie Brenner had some great moments but the arc she took the family on just didn’t work for me. I didn’t hate the story, I was just turned off by the actions of the characters. That made this an average read for me; not great but not awful.

 

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/the-wedding-sisters-jamie-brenner

People Who Knew Me – Kim Hooper

 

People Who Knew Me – Kim HooperPeople Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 24, 2016

 

People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper is a unique work. It goes from the present and then flows to the past in alternating chapters telling the distinctly different lives of Emily and Connie. They are in fact the same person but a decision directly after the events of September 11, 2001 split them. I enjoyed the tale of Connie, ahard-working single mother, and understood her motivations, but Emily was a spoiled young woman who took advantage of a tragedy to reform her life. This was a read that I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. Hooper writing style embraced the two distinct characters and really shaped the worlds they lived in.

 

The plot of People Who Knew Me was an interesting look at what a person will do to escape their current situation. Set with the backdrop of 9/11 as a catalyst, the plot ebbed and flowed from past to present in a very logical way. The writing of Kim Hooper left little out. She was able to bring an understanding of a person who most would dislike from the get go. I enjoyed that she kept the reader at a distance as it made me continuously guess at the outcome. The pacing had a few small glitches with the back and forth but nothing that disturbed my overall reading. The world built was strong in NYC and more nebulous in California. It actually worked in the scope of the story as a whole as the CA chapters were meant to lead you and not show you. The emotions were a bit lacking as the main character was a bit cold and calculating. She rationalized her decisions very well, but that left little room to really feel with her. The characters were an interesting mix. Emily was very distinct from Connie and I enjoyed their differences. However it also made it a little difficult to connect with her on a deeper level.

 

People Who Knew Me was an interesting read. I never fully connected with the main character, but I totally knew where she was coming from and understood her motivation. It was like looking into her life as an impartial observer. I enjoyed Kim Hooper’s style of writing, she was able to blend the past and present in a cohesive way that never made me wonder the why of what was happening. This is Hooper’s début and it was a very strong one. I expect great things in the future from her, and will be sure to check out her next book.

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/people-who-knew-me-kim-hooper

Before the Fall – Noah Hawley

 

Before the Fall – Noah HawleyBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley
Published by Grand Central Publishing on May 31, 2016

 

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. I was thinking it was a standard disaster tale but that is not at all what I got. I instead read a story that started with a plane crash but soon spiraled into a web of lies and assumptions. The plot took us back into the lives of the plane passengers and possible reasons behind the crash and then into the present where a vicious media firestorm paints the hero as a possible villain. Then throughout the book you understand how he could not be the hero, how one small act can alter many lives and how the obvious answer may not be the whole truth.

 

The plot of Before the Fall was a twisty turny wonder that took all of my expectations and threw them out the window. A tale of a heartbreaking disaster, the two survivors, the investigation and the media piranhas was itself a dense plot, but then when you add in the mental anguish and the truly unforeseen ending, it was immense. The writing of Noah Hawley was spot on. He was detailed, thoughtful and really kept the plot flowing forward at all times. The pacing had a few minor blips, but nothing that hindered my reading or enjoyment. The world built was not very detailed, but that did not detract as the emotions and characters built the scenes. Speaking of the emotions, this was not an easy read as the events setting off the story were truly tragic. The emotions mirrored this and really struck me as almost a character in themselves. The characters were, for the most part, great. I really liked Scott and his journey. However, there were a few characters that felt more like caricatures. It actually worked well in the scope of the story, but they left me underwhelmed.

 

Before the Fall is an intense read that will stay with you for days. Noah Hawley created a thriller out of a tragedy that left me guessing the entire time. I read this in the airport waiting to fly home from BEA and I do not recommend that. Every time the plane shook I wondered if we were going down. Hawley is an author I have not picked up before, but I really enjoyed his writing style and cannot wait to dive into another of his worlds.

 

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/fall-noah-hawley

Jerkbait – Mia Siegert

 

Jerkbait – Mia SiegertJerkbait by Mia Siegert
Published by Jolly Fish Press on May 10, 2016
 

I went to BEA knowing I would meet some authors at signings and not expecting much past that. Then at the Friday night Book Blogger Dinner, I went to go say hey to Lauren and struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to her. As we spoke I casually glanced at her name tag and then tried not to freak out. It was Mia Siegert! Holy crapsticks, it took all I had not to go full fangirl on her and be an actual adult holding a conversation. I first heard of Jerkbait from Jana’s Debut Authors Post in March. I loved the sound of it and added it to my TBR right then. I checked a few times and thought it came out on the 17th of May, but after talking to Mia realized it had come out the 10th. Needing to read it right away I grabbed it for my Kindle and read it that night.

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Jerkbait is a one sitting read that will suck you in from the first paragraph and not let you go till you close the cover. The tale of identical twin brothers, living out their parents’ dream of becoming hockey superstars. But Tristan just wants to act and Robbie just wants out. So when Robbie tries to commit suicide and Tristan is instructed to watch him at all times, their lives turn down a path neither ever expected.

 

The plot of Jerkbait is detailed, intense and dense. It mixes so many genres in a very unique way. The writing of Mia Siegert is very well structured. She is able to mix themes and add in the necessary emotions to tie it all together. Speaking of the emotions, they were very strong. I found myself gasping and crying and cheering, sometimes in the same chapter. The pacing and world building were the only two slightly areas that were a bit off. The pacing had a few minor times that it jumped and through me off, but not enough to detract from the overall read. The world built also had a few very small issues. The character development and emotions were front and center and it made the locations not stand out. The characters were all intense in their own ways. Tristan and Robbie were stand outs as they carried the entire tale. Everyone circling around them was there for a reason and they all had a distinct place in the storyline.

 

Jerkbait is an emotional rollercoaster that you need to ride. A powerful tale that brings together homophobia, racism, abusive parents, bullying, online predators and sports. Now those all sound like they should not go together and normally they would not. However, Mia Siegert was able to make an extremely cohesive tale that blends them all together beautifully. So do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It is an immense read that will put you through the wringer in the best way. This is Mia Siegert’s debut and I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Source: http://125pages.com/jerkbait-mia-siegert

The Children – Ann Leary

 

The Children – Ann LearyThe Children by Ann Leary
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 24, 2016

 

The Children by Ann Leary took a bit for me to get into. I was unsure if I liked the story for the first third as the narrator was doling out very small pieces of a large puzzle that I was not aware of. As the pieces began to fall into place, I was intrigued then I was invested then I was involved. The tale of a blended family told by the introverted Charlotte, a 29 year old who still lives at the home she rarely leaves and writes a “mommy blog” despite not being a mother. Charlotte tells us the history of the family, her mother and sister, step-father and two step-brothers, and how everything changed when Whit, the step-dad passed. As the lives of the children begin to intersect in very interesting ways the addition of a mysterious woman amps up the drama.

 

I really ended up liking the plot of The Children. It contained drama, twists and humor in a way that had me engrossed by the end. The writing of Ann Leary was fantastic. She was able to weave a complex tale of family drama, love and humor in a unique way. I did have some issues with the pacing as it would switch to flashbacks suddenly and it would take me a bit to figure out when we were. The world built was very well done. Set in essentially one location, I could picture the rooms as the players moved through them. The emotions were there, but they were more of an underlying feature. Charlotte was introspective and as we saw the story unfold through her eyes we felt her emotions as well. The characters were a high point. All were nuanced and fit perfectly within the scope of the tale.

 

The Children was a read that I did not expect. It was a fantastic blend of drama, humor and family that all worked very well together. Once I could see the outline of the puzzle, I enjoyed seeing each piece put into place. There was only one character who did not get the comeuppance I wanted, but that actually tied into the storytelling well. Ann Leary was able to weave a delicate tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/the-children-ann-leary

It’s Okay to Laugh – Nora McInerny Purmort

 

It’s Okay to Laugh – Nora McInerny PurmortIt's Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort
Published by Dey Street Books on May 24, 2016

 

It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort is a poignant look at young love tempered by the ever present shadow of death. Nora loses a pregnancy, her father and her husband within a six week time frame. What should be an emotional juggernaut is instead a celebration of love, family and strength. Nora and Aaron marry soon after his diagnosis with a rare form of brain cancer and conceive while he is undergoing chemo. Their love burned bright and what was left behind was a widow and mother with the ability to cry and laugh and rise above her pain.

 

The writing of Nora McInerny Purmort was raw and honest and gave you a true glimpse into her world. It’s

Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) explores what is left behind after the passing of someone much too young. The heartache and pain but also the joy in his life that was well lived until the end. Nora really reached inside herself to offer up a string of essays on what life looks like before, during and after the death of a spouse from a ravaging disease.

 

While I found myself more on the cry side than the laughter side with this memoir, I still enjoyed the read. Nora McInerny Purmort was open and honest about some very difficult things. Her tone was steady the whole way through It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) and I was truly immersed in her world. Not an easy read, this was still a read with true heart and a view on hope that definitely resonated with me.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://125pages.com/its-okay-to-laugh-nora-mcinerny-purmort