Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris ~ #BookReview

~Jennifer~ | 8:00 AM | 1 Comment so far

August 17, 2018 




Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Release Date: June 19, 2018  
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Thriller

Source: Copy for review from publisher 

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository



My Rating:  







Synopsis


Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax. 



I wasn't so sure about Bring Me Back at first. I started reading it right after The Breakdown, and that book was so stunning and amazing that this one didn't quite catch me in the same way, at least not in the beginning. I worried I wouldn't end up liking it, but I soon found myself caught up in the story. 

If you've happened to read any of my reviews, then you know I love unreliable narrators, and Finn definitely isn't someone I trusted all the way. I knew some of his POV was leaving out parts of the truth, and I spent a good deal of time thinking about what those missing parts in his story could be. 

Bring Me Back was going to be a three star read for me, but the ending was so surprising it made this book four stars. I loved Paris's writing and characters, just not as much as her first two books. But that ending though! I'm stoked to see what Paris releases next. She's become one of my auto-buy authors, and in the meantime while I'm waiting, I'll likely reread her books again. 

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The Breakdown by B.A. Paris ~ #BookReview

~Jennifer~ | 6:31 PM | Please comment!

August 16, 2018


Title: The Breakdown 
Author: B.A. Paris
Release Date: July 18, 2017  
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Genre: Thriller 

Source: Copy for review from the publisher  

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository



My Rating:  




Synopsis 


Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…





I wish I could give The Breakdown all the stars in the world. This book absorbed every fiber of my being from the first word on the first page, and the emotions the main character, Cass, was feeling were tangible for me. I could have reached out and touched her frustration, fear and despair.  

Starting right away with a murder, the story propelled me into the action and had me questioning the people around Cass. I suspected each of them for various reasons. Paris did an excellent job planting seeds of doubt in my mind about all of the characters, even Cass. She sometimes has problems with remembering things, even when people try to help jog her memory. She was also emotionally vulnerable and fraught with stress and anxiety.  

I empathized with Cass immediately, however, even as I wondered about her. I desperately wanted her to confide in someone about her drive home because I knew she'd continue torturing herself if she kept quiet. Her distress was suffocating, and it's meant to be that way to pull you further into her dilemma. It's strange to say this, but I loved that feeling of suffocation because it was what kept me glued to the pages, dying to know what was going to happen next. 

The ending doesn't disappoint. The plotting was so well done I want to read it again to see what I missed the first time around. I'm definitely a huge fan of B.A. Paris and can't wait to see what she writes next! 


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Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris ~ #BookReview

~Jennifer~ | 9:44 PM | Please comment!

August 15, 2018





Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Release Date: August 9, 2016 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press  
Genre: Thriller 

Source: Copy for review from the publisher  

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository  


My Rating: 







Synopsis


Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?




This is the second time I've read Behind Closed Doors, and I'm just as scarred by it as I was the first time. It's terrifying, especially when you imagine this happening in real life and start thinking about what some people are capable of. In the case of this novel, no one has any idea what goes on with Jack and Grace behind closed doors. 

The story is told from Grace's POV and alternates between the present and the past. She's in this marriage that at first seems like a fairy tale - Jack is charismatic, movie star handsome and successful, and he uses all of those qualities as ammunition to gain Grace's love and trust. It doesn't take long for everything to come crashing down around Grace, and by the time she realizes what kind of man Jack really is, it's too late. He has complete control over her and plays horrendous minds games with her just for his own sick entertainment. 

All kinds of emotions were brought out in me while reading this book, particularly my sense of justice. I desperately wanted Grace to get out of this situation and escape safely with her sister, Millie, who has Down's Syndrome. Their close relationship was a ray of sunshine through a dark storm, but the thought of Millie moving in with Jack and Grace was too much to bear.  

Jack was able to force Grace to succumb to his demands by making threats against her sister. He slowly revealed what he had planned for Millie once she moved in, and it was sick. He's truly an evil and twisted individual, and I hated him. 

I was glued to the pages and couldn't turn them fast enough. I was dying to know what was going to happen next and whether Grace and Millie would be able to escape or not. All I will say about the ending so as not to give anything away is WOW! I highly recommend this, although there is a lot of abuse that may be a trigger for some readers, so proceed with caution. 
        

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Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski ~ Blog Tour: #BookReview & #Giveaway

~Jennifer~ | 12:00 AM | | 2 Comments

August 2, 2018



This is my stop during the blog tour for Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and runs from 30 July till 12 August. Click here for the tour schedule.



Title: Everything Under the Sun 
Author: Jessica Redmerski
Release date: August 28, 2017 
Genre: Dystopian, Post apocalyptic, Suspense, Romance
Age category: Young Adult, New Adult, Adult 
Pages: 683 pages  

Source: Copy for review 


Purchase: Amazon | B&N


My Rating: 




Synopsis


Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about. 

Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them? 




Everything Under the Sun is a gritty read about life after the Fever, a virus that has killed most of the world's population. Everyone has been affected by this virus one way or another either by losing loved ones or somehow surviving it with injuries (such as losing one's sight), not to mention living in a new world where people are desperate enough to do anything it takes to survive.  

When I used to watch The Walking Dead, it didn't take long for me to realize that humans are much worse than the zombies themselves. The same can be said for this book. The people Thais and Atticus encounter on their journey are much more frightening and dangerous than the virus that caused all of this in the first place. 

I loved Thais, but I wondered how she could remain so naive and trusting of people after the many times she came close to death or torture at the hands of strangers and after all the death she's witnessed. I wanted to yell at her to remain skeptical of anything that seemed too good to be true because that means it is!  

In a world such as this, feeling sorry for others can get you killed. I'm not sure how I'd deal with it -- I'd like to think I could keep my empathy intact, but who knows? The fact that Thais hasn't become disillusioned with the world is what draws Atticus to love her and might just be what kept them trudging onward.

As for Atticus, I didn't think I'd like his character as much as I did. He straddles the line between being a hero and an anti-hero, and that's what made him realistic. He struggles with what they have to do to survive and his morals. Meeting Thais changed everything for him, giving him a purpose and a reason to search out a better life for the two of them than what awaits them in Lexington City. 

What else can I say about Everything Under the Sun? The cover is gorgeous, the writing is captivating, and the characters are worth getting to know. Read this book asap! It's an excellent post-apocalyptic romance done in a way I've been wanting to read for forever. I've heard there's a second book coming, and I'm so excited to hear that! 

About the Author 



Jessica Redmerski is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, international bestseller, and award winner, who juggles several different genres. She began self-publishing in 2012, and later with the success of THE EDGE OF NEVER, signed on with Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Jessica is a hybrid author who, in addition to working with a traditional publisher, also continues to self-publish. Her popular crime and suspense series, In the Company of Killers, has been optioned for television and film by actor and model William Levy.

She also writes as J.A. Redmerski.

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Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage ~ #BookReview #NetGalley

~Jennifer~ | 1:52 PM | | 4 Comments

July 17, 2018




Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press  
Genre: Thriller  

Source: Copy for review via the publisher 



My Rating: 






Synopsis 


Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.



At once horrifying and captivating, Baby Teeth was a story that will stay with me for a long time. It was so compelling, I couldn't look away. I hated having to put it down for reasons such as sleeping. Who needs sleep, right? 

This novel is told in third person alternating between Suzette's and Hanna's points of view and was a roller coaster ride between Suzette's anxiety, Hanna's disdain and hatred for her mother, and Alex's naivety. Their mother-daughter relationship is fraught with tension, exacerbated by Alex's unwillingness to believe their daughter is anything but an angel.   

Alex's character was frustrating. He wanted to stick his head in the sand and pretend everything was perfect rather than believe his daughter needed help. I wanted to yell at him! 

While Suzette isn't the best mother ever, I did feel bad for her. She was dealing with Hanna alone without the support of her husband, and that would drive anyone to the brink of a breakdown. 

Baby Teeth haunted me to my core, and I loved every minute of it. How can a seven-year-old child know how to be so manipulative at her age? I would have liked more mystery as to Hanna's thoughts and plans, but reading from her perspective was super creepy. I appreciate my family so much after reading this book! If you're an adrenaline junkie like me and love thrillers, Baby Teeth is the book for you.    


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Playing Her Secret Crush by Casey Griffin ~ #BookReview #NetGalley

~Jennifer~ | 11:31 AM | | Please comment!

July 7, 2018



Title: Playing Her Secret Crush
Author: Casey Griffin
Release Date: July 2, 2018 
Publisher: Entangled: Crush 
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance   


Source: Copy for review via NetGalley  



My Rating: 
  



Synopsis


All her life, Katie has been chosen last for everything: the last picked on the playground, the last picked by her absent father, and definitely the last picked by boys—even her secret crush, Alex, friend-zoned her. This senior year, Katie is determined to come first.

But then Alex asks her to help him find a date?!

Alex has been living life in the fast lane, but he's ready to slow down—with a girlfriend. The last person on earth he’d consider? The girl his brother developed serious feelings for before he died: Katie. The only way Alex is going to get over Katie is by falling for someone new. And who better to help him find his new crush than the girl he can’t stop thinking about?

What can possibly go wrong?




Playing Her Secret Crush was a cute story with a synopsis I couldn't resist. The fact that Katie and Alex are gamers had a lot to do with my interest in reading this book, I must confess. Plus I just love a good friends-to-lovers story! 

Playing Her Secret Crush is told in third person alternating between both Katie and Alex. I've read some reviews of this book in which it's mentioned that knowing both characters' feelings made the ending of the book too predictable, and I'm afraid I have to agree. 

Katie feels like she comes in last for everything with family, friends and school. She knows her father didn't fight to share custody of her, and that's where much of her insecurity lies; however, not much else is done with this knowledge. I think it could have been explored further because it played a huge role in Katie's unhappiness and her desire to change herself.

Instead of taking time to grieve his brother, Alex is busy living the way he thinks his brother would want him to by taking risks and becoming a player. His risk taking is out of such desperation, however, that it soon begins to spiral out of control, and there were several times when it becomes clear that Alex wasn't truly living life to the fullest like he thought. I hoped for more exploration of his grief and how it affected his decision making.  

When Lexi was introduced, I was so surprised that she and Katie became good friends. It's so easy to write female characters who hate each other, and it was refreshing to see a real friendship between these two. There was a subplot here that I won't spoil but will say I wish it had been delved into. So, would it be too much to ask if Lexi can get her own book??

So as I mentioned earlier, it isn't a spoiler to say we know from the beginning how Alex and Katie feel about each other, but I would've preferred to be kept in some suspense. Nevertheless, Playing Her Secret Crush kept my interest, and I enjoyed the gaming aspect of the story. I believe the characters will stay with me even if the plot may not. 


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My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick ~ Blog Tour: #BookReview & #Giveaway @MiaKerick

July 2, 2018 


Hey there and welcome to my stop on the My Crunchy Life Blog Tour organized by YA Bound Book Tours. I have a review and giveaway for you today, and if you'd like to follow along with the tour, a link to the schedule can be found at the bottom of this post. 




Title: My Crunchy Life
Author: Mia Kerick
Publication date: June 26th 2018
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press  
Genre: YA Contemporary - LGBTQ
Source: Copy for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon | B&N


My Rating:  





Synopsis 

John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.

After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.

When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.
 





My Crunchy Life is the third book I've read by Mia Kerick, and she's quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite authors. She does an amazing job with creating authentic characters you can root for.   

The story centers around Kale and Julian and is told in first-person, alternating between the two. Kale is trying out different identities while figuring out who he is and what he should do. He's gone through a few phases -- preppy, goth, and now hippie. It took me a while to realize he desperately wants to fit himself into one particular category, whatever that may be, and he was going to have to learn the hard way that isn't meant to be. 

Julian, on the other hand, knows who he wants to be -- he was born a girl trapped in a boy's body. (I'll refer to the character as Julian and use the pronoun "he" because that's how he was referred to for the majority of the book.) He didn't feel comfortable telling his mother the way he felt, but after a suicide attempt, she finds out and is incredibly supportive of him. 

I'm sure it didn't happen overnight, but the sacrifices she makes with working long hours to afford the counseling sessions and upcoming medical bills for Julian's transition to Julia made me love her so much. There were a few sweet scenes with Julian and his mother that brought me to tears because the unconditional love she has for her child is amazing. That's how a parent should be.  

Kale is self-absorbed, which is easy to be when you aren't sure who you are or what you should be doing, so I can't totally fault him for that. At the same time, it's difficult not to blame him for being so crappy to his cousin, Hughie, who is living with him and his parents. Hughie's mom is irresponsible and doesn't keep him safe, and it takes Kale SO LONG to realize just how bad his cousin wants stability and love. I still rooted for Kale and liked him because he grew as a character over the course of the story. 

Kale has a great dad, but a not-so-great mom. I tried not to judge her because she was obviously having a hard time adjusting after losing her job, but I wish Kale's dad had stepped in and told her she can't just give up on her responsibilities, especially being there for Kale and Hughie, who was in desperate need of a positive female role model since his mom wasn't taking care of him either.  

Julian seemed more mature than most teens his age. I can't imagine how much courage it would take to transition from one gender to another, especially as a junior in high school where bullying is rampant. He's already bullied considerably before anyone knows he's transgender, yet he's still committed to transitioning. I rooted for him to become Julia all the way! 

As a quick side note, I was happy to see counseling portrayed in a realistic manner. I can't tell you how many YA books present counselors as inept or a negative part of a character's life. In real life I know not every counselor is a good one, but unless it's a plot point, counseling shouldn't be shown as a bad thing. 

My Crunchy Life explores the chaos of adolescence, the possibility that a person can be attracted to another person regardless of gender, bullying, parental issues, and transitioning from one gender to another. I know this was a long review, but I wanted to give as much love to this book as I got from it. The title and cover don't adequately convey what's inside this book -- you get much more than what meets the eye. Kerick does her research and does it well, which shines through her writing. I wasn't prepared for how much I'd end up loving Kale and Julian/Julia's stories. 

I've previously reviewed two of Mia Kerick's books here on the blog -- Clean and Love Spell. Click on the links to read my reviews.   


About the Author



Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com.

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