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review 2019-01-11 23:45
The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
The Year We Turned Forty: A Novel - Lisa Steinke,Liz Fenton

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

I really enjoyed this story. I found that this book grabbed my interest right from the start and was a rather solid read until the very end. I found that I wanted the best for these three women and hoped that the choices that they were making would work out for them. I wondered what I would do if I were thrust into the same situation that they were presented with and still haven't decided on an answer. 

Jesse, Claire, and Gabriela have been best friends for years and have always celebrated their birthdays together. The celebration for their fortieth birthday was one of the more memorable parties since it ended with Jesse going into labor with her son, Lucas. Fast forward ten years and the trio is celebrating their fiftieth in Las Vegas where they are given the chance to go back and relive the year they turned forty. 

I loved the concept behind this story. Who doesn't have things in their past that they would love to go back and change? I know I could compile a rather long list of things I wish I had done differently without a problem. These three ladies all of have major things that they want to change. Jesse wants to save her marriage, which fell apart after the birth of her son. Gabriela wants to have a baby. Claire wants to save her mother who died from cancer that year. The changes that they are making create such an impact that other unexpected changes start occurring and they have no idea how to handle everything.

I liked these three characters. They were all flawed and made some pretty big mistakes in their lives. I found Jesse and Claire to be my favorites of the group. Gabriela was so focused on her single goal of having a baby that she pushed everything else aside. Jesse wasn't able to change the biggest obstacle to saving her marriage but she could change how she handled things. I wasn't always happy with the choices she was making but I understood why she made them. Claire had a lot to deal with and I understood her desperation to save her mother and improve her relationship with her daughter. 

This was my first experience listening to Lisa Larsen's narration but I think she was a great choice for this story. She was able to capture these three characters along with all of the emotions that they were experiencing. I found her voice to be very pleasant and I had no problems listening to her for hours at a time.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a thought-provoking story of three friends trying to repair some of the mistakes in their lives. There were no easy fixes in this story and all of the changes they accomplished took a lot of hard work. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from this talented writing pair in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Atria Books via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. 

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this story. This book takes a look at three friends who get the opportunity at age 50 to go back 10 years and try to do things differently. It was a rather interesting plot that made me wonder if I would have made the same decision in their place. Of course, there are things in my life I wish I could change but if I did where would I be right now? Their 40th year was memorable, to say the least, and it was interesting to see how many things changed often unexpectedly. I thought that the narrator did a great job with the story and added to my overall enjoyment of the book.

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review 2019-01-07 12:41
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
The Girl I Used to Be - April Henry

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

I thought that this was really good. I have had this book for years but it somehow got lost in my pile at some point. I am glad that I decided to dust it off and give it a try because it turned out to be quite an enjoyable read. This was my first experience with April Henry's writing and I am rather impressed. This was a really fast read and I loved the fact that the mystery kept me guessing until the very end. I found this to be an overall enjoyable read. 

Olivia is a seventeen-year-old living on her own as an emancipated minor. She has spent years in the foster care system before going out on her own. Her life wasn't always like this. She had a family until her mother was killed when she was only three years old. She then lived with her grandmother until her death a few years later. Everyone always assumed that her father killed her mother since he hasn't been seen since that fateful day so many years ago. Oh, and her name was Ariel back then but that was really a lifetime ago. When new evidence that proves her father could not have been the killer, everything Olivia thought she knew is called into question.

I was really curious about what really happened to Olivia's parents. Olivia/Ariel was there that day but she was so young that she just doesn't remember. It was really interesting to watch her try to piece everything back together and figure out what really happened. There were so many possibilities and I never knew which way things would end up going. I have to admit that I didn't figure it out until everything was revealed which is just how I like it to go. There was a lot of excitement towards the end of the book and things were rather intense for a while but I was pretty satisfied with how everything was resolved. 

I liked Olivia/Ariel. Considering everything that she has been through, she really has a lot to be proud of. She is a hard worker and is completely self-reliant. She was very focused on her task in this story and wouldn't let herself be distracted by romance, even though there is a touch of that in this story. I really liked how she was with Nora, the older woman that used to live next door to her grandmother. 

I would recommend this book to others. I found it to be a fast-paced mystery that kept me guessing. This was the kind of book that can really hard to put down. I look forward to reading more of April Henry's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I really liked that this was a pretty fast moving story. I found the mystery to be very engaging. I liked Olivia/Ariel and thought that the way her past was described made her a bit easier to sympathize with. This was the first time that I have read any of April Henry's work and I really enjoyed her writing. 

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text 2018-03-23 02:59
Luck of the Draw - Kate Clayborn

Gah.

That's my official: akduirka;mv;l.

I just love stories of people with vulnerabilities and this has it in spades. These main characters moved me all on their own, and as a couple, I have to be honest--I loved them there too. I highly recommend the first in the series for the same kind of multi-layered, complex characters. For me, this one was so close and at times exceeding my feelings for the [book:Beginner's Luck|35717661]. It very much teeters on 5-star range. Sometimes the inner thoughts of the two of these characters made my eyes sting, which isn't easy. It was just that intense. The characters both were dealing with heavy grief and failed expectations of their own, thrown together as a result of Zoe trying to make amends for her prior evil corporate lawyer gig. What results is a distant, grieving brother thawing and being chipped away and a former corporate lawyer looking for adventure learning to forgive her past mistakes as part of herself. What I loved about Zoe is how hard she tried-always. Aiden was harder to pin down to just one thing other than his intensity. I felt Kate Clayborn deftly and successfully built a dynamic and intimacy between the characters without being heavy-handed. It was just a joy to watch unfold.

Really, as with the review for Beginner's Luck, I feel like this is just rambling gushy-ness. I really appreciated the slow growth for the characters as well as the relationship, and the sexy-times did not hurt matters one bit.

 

Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy of this book. 

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review 2018-03-22 15:20
Liked this the least
Takio #1 released by Icon Comics on May 1, 2012. - DC MARVEL MALIBU IMAGE DARK HORSE

In fact, I hated it.   Of all the Bendis free books, I found this one to have the most grating characters.  I flat out hated them, and wish there were a way to delete this from my Comixology account...

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review 2018-02-26 12:51
Skitter by Ezekiel Boone
Skitter - Ezekiel Boone

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

I am really enjoying this series. I have had a copy of this book for a long time. I had planned to read it around the publication date but for some reason it didn't happen. I am glad that I was able to get to it now because it really is a great story. This is the second book in the Hatching series which is a series that really does need to be read in order since this is a continuation of the story from the first book. I ended up enjoying this book just as much as the first book.

I really like the way that this story is told. I don't think it would work for every book but it does work well with this story. We get to see the outbreak from a lot of different points of view instead of following only a handful of characters. Sometimes we get a point of view and never encounter that character again. Other times, we get to see a point of view at various points in the story. All of these points of view helps to really paint a picture of the outbreak across the globe.

The spider outbreak in the first book was bad and many had hoped that would get better. It looks like it might be getting better. The spiders seem to have died off a bit and the pods are being taken care of. Unfortunately, things can get worse. Much worse. The spider outbreak takes a turn that is truly frightening and it was really interesting to see how things were developing and how the key characters would deal with it.

This was a really exciting story. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next with the spider outbreak and was also eager to find out what the authorities would decide to do to handle things. I couldn't imagine being responsible or having people look to you for answers during a time like this. Whenever I had a guess about how things would go, I would quickly find out that I was wrong so I just kept turning pages to enjoy the story.

I would recommend this series to others. This creepy crawly story was very original and entertaining. I ended up most of the book in a single evening because I had to see how things would work out. I am really excited to start the next book, Zero Day, very soon.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Atria/Emily Bestler Books via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I love the way this story is laid out. We learn what is going on in the world piece by piece. Some of the characters from the first book play important roles in this book and we meet some new characters. Lots of creepy crawly goodness here. 

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