Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

(102)Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Ten Tiny Breaths

Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Pages: 256 

Kacey Cleary is a mess.  She knows it, her younger sister, Livie,  knows it and anyone who meets Kacey knows it.  Four years ago a drunk driver ruined her life.  She was in the car with her parents, her boyfriend, and her best friend when there was a tragic accident.  Kacey was the only survivor from their car.  She may have survived the accident, she may have survived rehab, she may have survived her uncle squandering away their inheritance,  but she is not living.   Rather than leave Livie in questionable surroundings she takes her younger sister and moves to Miami.  Even with the walls Kacey has built around herself it is not long before Livie and Kacey are part of a "family".    Their neighbor Storm and her daughter Mia have welcomed them with open arms.  Their co-works at Penny's have also taken Kacey under their wings.  And then their neighbor, Trent.  The hot guy who lives in 1D has sparked a fire in Kacey that she has kept buried ever since the accident. As things heat up between Kacey and Trent  she realizes that her past is the only thing preventing her from a happy future.  Will she face her past head on?  And what happens when she realizes that Trent is keeping something from her about his past?

Ten Tiny Breaths was a really quick read for me.  I had pretty much figured out the "twist" early on, but it didn't keep me from devouring the book.  Kacey is pretty hard core in a lot of ways and her "edge" reminded me a little bit of Lisbeth Salander.  Not the techy aspect of it, but the hard core aspect.  The "broken" quality that both characters possess.  And you know I can't say that I blame Kacey either. If I had to endure what she did I am pretty sure that I would be broken, too.  I really enjoyed the dynamics that Kacey and Livie had with Storm and Mia.  It was sweet and just goes to show you that "family" can be found anywhere.

Bottom line, while Ten Tiny Breaths is a bit predictable it is still a book worth reading.  The characters are multi-layered and interesting characters to get to know.   This book is considered a YA novel, but I caution parents of younger teens that some of the the scenes are not appropriate for younger readers, at least in my house.  Maybe read it for yourself first and let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Tuesday? -

There is a serious lack of "quality" titles being released today.  I am sure a lot of the books are decent and well respected, but not anything that I or most of my readers really enjoy.   So I thought I would take this time to remind you of some of my favorite books this year.

First up, Night Film the dark and gritty mystery that is takes you to the edge of your seat and at times pushes you over the edge.  This book stayed with me for so long that I even gave a digital copy as a gift to a lover of all things dark and gritty.

Me Before You - I think this was my most favorite book of the year.  Even though I read it clear back in February I still think of it often.  In fact a friend and I were talking about the sensitive subject matter the other day and I mentioned this book.  If you have not read this book, why not?  Really, I am serious, WHY have you not read this book?

The Fault in Our Stars  - I admit that I was late to the game with this one because it was on a lot of "Best of 2012" lists.  But after listening to it in audio form I understand why so many teens and adults fell in love with Gus and Hazel.  Soon to be on the big screen, this is one of those books that if not done correctly, fans will be on the doorsteps of the producers burning pitchforks.

Looking for Me - Beautiful.  This book was beautiful and lyrical in a way that I had been missing in books this year.  The characters, the scenery, the setting, the antiques all had a way of just blending together in a way that made it tough to stop reading.

You may or may not agree with me on what constitutes a "best of " moniker and these are just a few of mine, but I am curious what books made your "Best of 2013" list this year?

Monday, December 16, 2013

(101)Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Big Brother

Pages: 373
Publication Date: June 4, 2013

When Pandora hears that her jazz musician of a brother has fallen on hard times, she doesn't even think twice before sending him a plane ticket and money to come visit.   It has been four years since she has seen her big brother, Edison and a lot has happened since then.   For one thing, Pandora stumbled into a multi-million dollar business. And when Edison approaches her in the airport she is shocked to discover he has put on several hundred pounds.  Inviting Edison to her home  has disrupted the scheduled order that her husband demands and now having Edison there not only has put a strain on their furniture, but their marriage as well.  Pandora decides that she cannot let her brother continue on and offers him a chance to lose the weight.  Together they move into a small apartment with the sole purpose losing weight.   Is the love of a little sister enough to help a big brother change his life?

In my homesick state of mind, I was ecstatic to find that Big Brother is set in Iowa.  It was a unique middle ground as Edison is a "big dog" in the New York City jazz scene and they both grew up in the shadow of their television star father in Hollywood.  Iowa was the "normal" they visited when sent to spend summers with their Grandparents.  Pandora is the middle child of her family and as a middle child, I could see some qualities that I recognize in myself.  Like the way she was continuously trying to make peace between her husband and Edison. It was a tense situation, but she just wanted both of the men in her life to get along.  I could see both her side and her husband's side as Edison wasn't exactly easy to love at times.   Pandora's effort to help her brother went beyond the norm, she put her marriage at risk to try and save her brother.  I understand why she did it, but I also was fearful for her and felt sorry for her husband the way he was kind of cast aside during the process.   Ultimately, it was fascinating to watch the entire process in the story.   And while the outcome was not exactly what I expected (in fact it was a  bit shocking) it was much more realistic than what I first thought.

Bottom line, Lionel Shriver has been a fan favorite for book clubs all over the world for many years now.   Big Brother is just next in the line to capture the minds of readers and stimulate conversations.  Big Brother is a novel that focuses on family, struggle, hope and love.  Have you read Big Brother?  What did you think?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

(100)Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah

Comfort and Joy

Pages: 272
Publication Date: October 31, 2006

Joy Candellaro is struggling to make it through each day as it is, but the holidays adds a whole new level of pain,  Her world was shattered when she discovered her sister was having an affair with her husband.  With divorce looming Joy would rather just hide away from the world and all things holiday related.  And then she arrives home from work to find her sister waiting for her only to shatter her heart further.  She is pregnant and will soon be marrying Joy's husband.  She decides to run away and catches a last minute flight to a destination far away from her heartache.  But when the flight crashes, Joy finds herself a guest of a young boy and his father also recovering from a broken heart.  Will the magic of Christmas mend broken hearts or will the reality of the situation further break Joy's heart?

I am so thrilled for Christmas season that my house has been a non-stop source of Christmas music, Christmas movies, and this weekend I did some Christmas reading.  During the commercials of cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. I have had Comfort & Joy for sometime and this year I decided to dust it off and give it a read. As always with Kristin Hannah novels, I really enjoyed Comfort and Joy. I felt so bad for Joy when she has her encounter with her sister, I found myself angry on her behalf.  I wanted her to stand there and yell, but instead she ran away.   When Joy stumbles upon Daniel and Bobby I thought I figured out how the rest of the book would play out, but I was wrong.  I don't want to say too much and spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book, but let's just say it takes an interesting twist.

Bottom line, I know I am about seven years late with Comfort & Joy, but it was well worth the wait. As always, Kristin Hannah has written a beautiful novel with characters full of heart and love.   If you are looking a good read to put you in the holiday mood, you will enjoy Comfort and Joy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

(99)Once Upon A Lie by Magie Barbieri

Once Upon A Lie

Pages: 304
Publication Date: December 10,2013

Maeve Conlon is barely holding her life together.  One of her two teen daughters is determined to be a "wild child", her ex-husband is proving to be a better husband and father to his second wife then he ever was to her, her father is battling early onset Alzheimers and now her cousin, Sean has been murdered.  There is no love lost between Maeve and her cousin, but her large extended Irish family expects Maeve to keep up appearances, so she does. But it is not long before the NYPD are knocking on Maeve's door and questioning where her father was the night of the murder.  As their investigation continues more of Maeve's history with her cousin is revealed and you have to wonder, did her father kill Sean or was it someone else?

Once Upon A Lie was one of those books that I just could not put down. I can very easily say that it was one of the better books I have recently read. The characters are so well written and multi-dimensional it was very easy to connect with them.  I loved Maeve and the way she tried to stay on top of everything from her wayward father to her sneaky daughter.  I found myself laughing when she busted her daughter at the party and how she did so.  Her friend and employee, Jo is another character who really added some depth, and often comic relief,  to the story. She has had such a horrible time recently that when Maeve tells her story, you can see how much love she has for her friend.  Then there is Maeve's relationship with her ex, Cal. It is unique because while Cal destroyed their marriage by having an affair with her friend, he still has a fondness for Maeve that shows itself by his kisses on her forehead, stopping by her shop, and many other ways. It was just another facet of the book that kept you interested and hooked.

Bottom line, if you are looking for good mystery - a good suspense novel you will not go wrong with Once Upon A Lie. There are some pretty important underlying themes that would even make this novel a great selection for your next book club meeting. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

(98)Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Cover of Snow

Pages: 336
Publication Date: January 5, 2013

When Nora Hamilton woke up that morning she had no idea that her life was going to be forever changed.  The night before with her husband, Brendan,  had been practically magical.  But her world is shattered when she discovers that Brendan committed suicide sometime in the night. After Nora starts to come out of the daze she starts questioning why Brendan would do such a horrible thing. What was so bad that he didn't see any other way? Well it isn't long before Nora's questions start stirring up problems, especially with his colleagues at the police department.  When her questions start hitting a little too close to home, a lot of things start happening.  Like unexplained fires.  Will Nora ever find out why Brendan killed himself and if she does, at what cost ?

I gotta be honest, I was a little disappointed.  The blurb compared the author to Gillian Flynn and other bestselling suspense novelists so I went into this book with really high expectations.  Cover of Snow had it's moments of suspense, but generally I kept thinking "isn't it over yet?"  There were a few plot twists that were predictable and some that were surprising, but nothing as jaw-dropping as what I was expecting or hoping for.  There were a few moments when Nora was dealing with her grief that I got a bit emotional. My husband has been out of town for just over two weeks and I am losing my mind. I can only imagine the feelings of lonliness and loss that a survivor of suicide goes through. The people of Nora's community have a pretty big role in this novel, even the eccentric ones, but keep your eyes on Brendan's mother.  She is an odd one.

Bottom line, I need to be clear that Cover of Snow was not a BAD book, the author painted a great picture of winter in the Adirondacks, but  it just didn't live up to my high expectations once compared to Gillian Flynn.   If you are looking for a mystery that isn't too dark or twisty, then Cover of Snow might be for you.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

(97)The Living by Matt De La Pena

The Living

Pages: 320
Publication Date: November 12, 2013

In order to help his mom pay the bills, Shy took a summer job with a cruise line.  He is planning on spending the summer racking up the tips while getting some sun and meeting some ladies.  He did not expect the hard work, the man who jumped overboard or the man in the black suit who won't seem to leave him alone.  He also did not expect a tsunami to hit the cruise ship after "the big one" destroyed the entire west coast.   His dream summer of fun quickly turns to a nightmare when the ship is destroyed and he finds himself adrift at sea on a lifeboat with a dying man and a snooty girl.  Will Shy and Addie be rescued before they run out of water?  And what does all of this have to do with the man who jumped overboard? 

First of all let me say that The Living just reinforced my firm belief that I do not belong on a cruise ship. Ever.  The book started out a little slow and the build-up to the "event" went on for nearly 100 pages and then things started moving so fast I almost got whiplash.  Once I got to the end and realized that The Living is part of a series and I suspect that if read all at once, the build-up doesn't seem quite so long.  Shy is quite a resourceful young man and I enjoyed to seeing him springing into action to help those on the ship and also when they are on the lifeboat.   Even though he played a hero role he was still very much afraid and at the mercy of nature as the rest of the characters.  It made the story even seem more real.  And terrifying. 

Bottom line, Young Adult apocalyptic novels are one of my favorite means of escape from reality.  The Living was a quick and entertaining read.  I will likely read the following books in the series, but I may try to seek them out at the library instead of purchasing.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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