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review 2017-06-19 17:22
Here and Gone/Haylen Beck
Here and Gone: A Novel - Haylen Beck

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they're gone than she must have done something with them... Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

 

This book was quite harrowing, and had my nerves all over the place as I read it and became invested in the lives of all involved.

 

From the very beginning, I was scared for this family--the opening scene has Audra driving through arid desert with few inhabitants, looking over her shoulder at every turn. Surely enough, as we know it will, the worst happens. I couldn't put this one down--it sickened me and I was desperately anxious to reach the end and have good things happen to these characters.

 

This wasn't particularly a mystery novel as we knew throughout what had happened, how it had happened, and why. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to race through this book to find out what would ultimately occur.

 

Underneath the ultimate plot of kids disappearing, there were some interesting tropes. Abuse was handled well in this book, and Audra's background with her husband was sickening. A lady who she stays with plays a role I did not expect and had a fascinating personality.

 

I felt like Danny, the man mentioned in the blurb, was kind of unnecessary. I wish he hadn't existed or that he'd been better worked into the plot. Though this is not at all a romance, it felt very much like a knight-in-shining-armour trope. His background was interesting to read about though, and I would have enjoyed more of him instead of less.

 

There were two children who I felt received the unfortunate end of the stick and I would have liked to have seen this resolved; however, this might have been out of the scope of the book so I can understand why their ultimate fates weren't included.

 

Overall, this was a really engaging read that I recommend quite highly

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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-18 17:29
Bad Girl Gone
Bad Girl Gone: A Novel - Temple Mathews

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

This ended up being a very uneventful read for me. The premise felt really cool: a girl finds herself in a creepy orphanage, realises it’s actually a kind of purgatory for murdered kids, and tries to find out who killed her so that she can move on. The beginning was intriguing, especially since, like other ghosts in the orphanage, Echo first has to piece together memories of her death—reliving the trauma at once would be too shocking—, and investigating why you’re in an orphanage when last you knew your parents were definitely alive, well, that’s tricky.

The problem lied mainly in how all this was executed. Not particularly thrilling, for starters. Echo has a couple of culprits in mind, so she and the other kids go to ‘haunt’ them and see if they’re going to wield under pressure, or are actually innocent, but… it wasn’t anything scary or memorable, more like pranks, not like the really creepy kind of haunting you could get when adding children/teenagers to the mix (in general, I find kid ghosts scarier than adult ones). The mystery itself—finding the murdered—wasn’t exciting either, nor were the murderer’s reactions. Perhaps this was partly due to Echo’s power as a ghost: entering living people’s bodies in order to perceive their thoughts. The investigation part, in turn, was more about vaguely picking a maybe-potential culprit, scaring them, popping in their mind, then be gone. Then the story. And then Echo’s past as a ‘bad girl’ was revealed, and it turned out it wasn’t so much bad as introduced without much taste.

Definitely cringeworthy was the drama-addled romance. Echo’s living boyfriend, Andy, is all about moping and wanting to kill himself over her death, and… well, call me hard-hearted and callous, but you’re 16 and that kind of relationship is by far NOT the first one you’re going to experience in life, so pegging everything on it always feels contrived to me. Then there’s cute ghost boy Cole, who’s not about murdering the hypotenuse (thanks goodness), yet was strange, considering Andy is not aware of his presence, and so the triangle is… incomplete? (Its attempts at becoming a square later didn’t help either.) Also contains examples of stupid Twue Wuv/The One/soulmate 4evah/Doormat Extraordinaire. Such as Echo being so happy that her corpse was dressed in her favourite dress at her funeral… Favourite because her boyfriend Andy liked it. I still have no idea if Echo herself liked the pattern or colour or whatever. In any case, these are the kind of tropes I dislike in novels in general, and in YA even more. Why always make it look like couple love is the ultimate end, as if nobody (whether girl or boy) couldn’t have a good life in different ways?

In fact, I was more interested in the orphanage’s headmistress (whose back story plays a part for a chapter or so) and other inmates, all with their own murders to solve. These I would’ve liked to see interact more than just as Echo’s sidekicks. But we don’t get to learn much about them, apart from how they died. Too bad.

Conclusion: Nope

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review 2017-06-12 02:41
Here and Gone
Here and Gone: A Novel - Haylen Beck

She’s headed to California with her two young kids in the backseat, taking the backroads so she doesn’t get stopped. She’s almost there but she promised Sean a stop in the next town and like the good mother she is, she pulls in and shuts the car off even though she spots a police car nearby. Back on the road, Audra feels luck is on her side until she sees the blue and red lights flash behind her. He claims Audra’s car is overloaded, something about it being a hazard on the road. He offers to help Audra and begins to unload some of her boxes into his patrol car when he claims he found an illegal substance and now Audra’s nightmare begins. Audra claims what he found is not hers but now he must arrest her, he has to call a tow truck for her car and he needs to call someone to come take care of her children. His deputy arrives for the children. A tow truck arrives for the car. The sheriff takes Audra into the station. Audra asks countless times where her children are but she is ignored. Paperwork is completed on Audra and she is locked up, again she confronts the sheriff about her children but this time the Sheriff exclaims, “What children?” Her children! Shiver me timbers, what the heck is going on with this police department? The sheriff is acting like Audra has no children and now Audra is thinking her husband, whom she is separated from has something to do with this. Audra starts pacing in her cell and having a fit.

The police call in a special unit to help find the children as they think Audra had something to do with their disappearance. It’s like a circus, if you were an individual watching from home. Audra is telling her side of the story, the Sheriff is telling his side of the story, we have the special units called in to try to get their unbiased opinion, we also have the husband/mother-in-law thoughts. The story flashes back and forth to what is actually happening to the children and the story surrounding why they were taken. The older child Sean is resourceful in this story and you know where he gets his strength. There is also a character named Danny who makes an appearance and how he plays into the story does not become apparent until all the pieces are being laid out.

This is an intense, gripping story that I had a hard time putting down. With no lull, this book kept the momentum going until the very end. I liked how the author made one of the characters weak and I kept waiting for him to crack, just waiting for the moment when he would lose it and all would be lost. I thought Audra was smart and she had a lot of vigor and determination to get her children back. When Audra met up with Danny, the two of them together were dangerous. I could see how some of the pieces were coming together as I read but I enjoyed how everything came together in the end. I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it if you enjoy a good suspense.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-08 01:58
Here and Gone by Haylen Beck
Here and Gone: A Novel - Haylen Beck

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This book was really hard to put down. I knew that this was a book that I needed to read just as soon as I read the description. I love a good mystery thriller and the fact the it sounded like the local police couldn't be trusted was a very interesting twist. Once I started reading, I was immediately hooked. When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about this story and what I would have done if I were in Audra's place. I really enjoyed the time I spent reading this book.

Audra is driving across the U.S. on her way to California with her two children, Sean and Louise. She is pulled over by the police just outside a small town in Arizona called Silver Water. Before Audra even knows what is happening she is asked to step out of her car while Sheriff Whiteside starts looking through her trunk. Drugs are found and she is taken to jail. A deputy is called and her kids are taken away to what Audra is promised is a safe place. When she asks about her kids later at the jail, the Sheriff tells her that she didn't have any kids with her when she was pulled over.

The book's description does tell readers the basic set up of the story and I had a pretty good idea of where the book would end up but I had no idea how it would get there. The story really did make me think about a lot of things. I don't know how you would be able to prove your innocence in a situation like this. The media was another huge part of the story since they put Audra in a very unfavorable light. I also couldn't stop thinking about how Audra could get someone to take her seriously. Even though the events in the story weren't a total shock, the journey was entertaining.

I did like the characters in this book a lot and liked the fact that the book is told from different points of view. Audra really does care about her kids but is the first to admit that she has not always been a great mother. She is committed to being the best she can be at this point in her life. I thought that the part of the book that talked about her past were very well done. Part of the story is told from Sean's point of view. He is only 11 years old but has a certain maturity to him. He senses when things seem wrong and jumps into to care for his younger sister during the ordeal. There were also a few parts told from Danny and Sheriff Whiteside's point of views that added to the overall story.

I would highly recommend this book to others. This book moved really fast and I was never quite sure what would happen next. I found myself having a very hard time setting this one aside because I was completely invested in the story. This is the first book by Haylen Beck that I have read but look forward to more works in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Crown Publishing Group via NetGalley, Blogging for Books, and First to Read.

Initial Thoughts
This was a great book. Such an interesting set up that completely captured my attention and wouldn't let go. I had guess how the book would end but no idea how the story would get there. Definitely a serious page turner of a book.

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review 2017-06-01 13:00
End of an Era!
Long Time Gone (Rough Riders) - Lorelei James

This book was bittersweet for me.  It was the end of a series that really got me into reading erotica again.  When I found the Rough Riders Series I felt like a new world opened up for me.  The books were hot but they had a storyline and characters that I immediately fell in love with.  The McKays became a staple in my reading lists for the last seven or so years.  And I will miss them.  Miss them terribly.

 

It's one of the reasons I put off this novella for so long.  I read COWBOY TAKE ME AWAY finally after waiting quite some time, but I just couldn't bring myself to reading this final piece of the original McKays.

 

I couldn't put it off forever though and so I bit the bullet and read LONG TIME GONE and I wasn't disappointed in the least.  I thought the author stayed true to the characters and it just seems so interesting to the "parents" as young adults.

 

Kimi and Cal certainly didn't make things easy but I have a lot of respect for him in the fact that he let Kimi go spread her wings.  I loved that they were able to find their way back to each other.  I just wished that they were able to get more of a story once they got back together.  I had a smile on my face from what I did get of them and loved their story even though I was closing the book on the Rough Riders Series.

 

I listened to the audio at the beginning but wasn't a huge fan of the narrator so I ended up giving up about half way through and read the rest of the book.

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