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review 2017-03-23 02:05
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
The Passenger - Lisa Lutz

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

I thought that this book was just okay. I have been a fan of Lisa Lutz for a long time and have a great fondness for her Spellman Files series. I knew going into this book that this was going to be a completely different kind of story and I was really looking forward to seeing what she would do with it. There were things that I did like about this story but other elements were not quite as enjoyable.

The book opens with the death of Tanya's husband. Tanya immediately leaves town and starts working on assuming a new identity. Tanya tells us that she didn't hurt her husband, Frank, but we have no idea why she feels like she needs to leave town. I was really curious about her motivation to run. That wasn't a small decision and she knew exactly what to do so it was very obvious that Tanya had disappeared before. Tanya changes her name several times in the story but for the purpose of the review, I am just going to stick with Tanya.

Tanya meets Blue in a bar when Blue figures out that she isn't exactly who she says she is. They find themselves in a serious situation soon after they meet and they form an interesting friendship. Both Blue and Tanya are on the run and are both hiding who they truly are from the world. Blue's character was one that I didn't quite trust. Blue just seemed to have a more criminal mind than Tanya did.

I did want to keep reading so that I could learn why Tanya felt she had to run in the first place. If she didn't hurt her husband, it didn't make sense unless she had something else from her past. The emails that were sprinkled in the book between chapters quickly hinted that there was something from her past that we hadn't discovered yet. I also really liked the humor that was sprinkled throughout the book. This isn't a funny story but Lisa Lutz's sense of humor is still very evident in the writing.

I was really disappointed by the ending of this book. Seriously disappointed. I read all of those pages eagerly awaiting a big reveal that caused Tanya to be on the run and it just didn't do a lot for me. The big twist that was supposed to shock me at the end just added another layer of disappointment.

I am not really sure that I would recommend this book. I do think that a lot of readers will really enjoy this book a lot more than I did. I did like the book and I do consider 3 stars to be a good rating. It just wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. I do plan to continue reading Lisa Lutz's work in the future and commend her for writing a different kind of story.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley and Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
Way late on reviewing this one. I must say that I am really disappointed by how this one ended. I would say that this book was okay overall but I feel let down now that I finished.

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review 2017-03-21 01:22
The Cutaway by Christina Kovac
The Cutaway: A Novel - Christina Kovac

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

I liked this story well enough even if I didn't love it. I think that the newsroom setting was one of the strengths of this book and it did add a rather unique quality to the story. Unfortunately, I was never completely hooked by the story. The mystery was interesting but I just never found myself truly invested in the story.

This story is told from the point of view of TV new producer, Virginia. When Virginia sees a missing poster for Evelyn, she knows that she has seen her face before. She remembers Evelyn being in another piece on the news station as a cutaway shot and she is drawn to her story. As Viriginia works to find out what happened to Evelyn, she soon realizes that the case may be much bigger than she originally thought.

This book actually had a whole lot going on. Probably too much if I am being honest. While Viriginia was working on this case, it seemed that her whole world was falling down around her. There is a big shake-up at the news station that makes everything tense. Virginia's personal life is also a major focus with past relationships, new relationships, and family making an appearance. These topics were interesting but it seemed to change the focus from the mystery so often that I had a hard time keeping track of everything and I don't think that it always added a lot to the overall story.

The overall mystery was rather complex. This book did take a lot of twists and turns that I didn't see coming but there was nothing that was truly unexpected. I thought that the mystery did make sense in the end. As the mystery really started to unfold, the excitement levels increased. I did enjoy the newsroom perspective and thought this felt rather authentic.

This is a book that I am glad that I read and I think that mystery readers will enjoy the newsroom point of view. I thought that this was a solid debut novel from Christina Kovac and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Atria Books - 37 Ink via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one even if I didn't love it. It was interesting to see a case solved by someone in a newsroom. This one took a few twists but there was really nothing that was completely unexpected.

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review 2017-03-19 16:18
The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper
The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin - Stephanie Knipper,Andi Arndt,Cassandra Campbell

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

This was really a great story. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started listening to this audiobook but I soon found myself hooked. The story touched on so many difficult topics and everything worked together in a way that I wouldn't have expected. I really liked that the story was told from multiple points of view and I thought that each perspective really added an important piece to the overall puzzle. I really ended up enjoying this book.

This is a book that is really about a lot of things. It is a book that tells the story of two sisters, Lily and Rose, mending their relationship. Lily and Rose have seen very little of each other in the years leading up to the start of the book but when Rose needs Lily, she comes to help. That is just one part of the story. This book also focuses on a little girl with disabilities who has a special gift.

Antoinette was a great character. She is nonverbal but she still says so much. She is her mother's world and the feeling is mutual. She is a caring child that doesn't want to see anyone or anything ill or in pain. She is willing to do anything she can to help take care of those that she loves. Unfortunately, Antoinette's gift comes with a price that those who love her work to protect her from.

I loved how so many different elements came together to tell this story. I loved the parts from Rose's point of view that really demonstrated her love for Antoinette. Lily's struggle to fit in and the things she struggles with in her life every day was very well told. Seth and Will both added to the story with their actions in the present and they both had really interesting pasts. I enjoyed the magical realism elements that helped to tell this story.

I loved the narration. I have listened to Andi Arndt several times in the past and have always enjoyed her work. This was the first time that I have listened to Cassandra Campbell and I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book that she narrated. I think that using two narrators really added to the impact of the story. Andi Arndt did narrate the bulk of the story but they both did an equally wonderful job. This was an emotional story and both narrators really did a great job expressing a lot of strong feelings.

I would recommend this book to others. This is the first book by Stephanie Knipper that I have read and I am really impressed by her ability to write wonderful characters dealing with a lot of difficult issues. I would definitely like to read from this author in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from HighBridge Audio via LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Initial Thoughts
I enjoyed this story. The narration was great. I really liked the little bit of magic that made its way into the story.  

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review 2017-03-10 13:09
Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
Never Let You Go - Chevy Stevens

This was a very solid mystery thriller.  I was hooked by this book from the first page and I had a really hard time putting it down.  I do have to say that the beginning of the story was a bit better in my opinion.  I liked the last half of the story as well but it just wasn't quite as enjoyable.  I picked up this book because I was looking for a change of pace and it definitely filled that need.  This book really turned out to be quite the page turner.

The book opens in the past and it does jump around in time for the first bit of the story.  Lindsey is the focus of this book and as the story beginnings we learn piece by piece what her marriage to Andrew is like.  There were some scenes that were truly frightening.  Eventually Lindsey is able to get away from her abusive husband with her daughter.  Her husband gets in wreck that same night that ends up sending him to jail for the next ten years.

Lindsey and her daughter, Sophie, have been moving on with their life.  Lindsey owns her own housekeeping business and Sophie is almost done with high school.  They have connections and are doing okay.  Sophie doesn't remember everything that happened between her parents and was shielded from most of it by her mother when it was happening.  She is curious about her father and reaches out to him while he was in prison.  Unfortunately, this means that he knows where they are.

This book took a few twists and turns and there were some things that happened that completely caught me off guard.  I thought that Lindsey's fear of Andrew was demonstrated remarkably well.  There were several characters that I didn't quite trust completely.  There were also more than a few moments that I really wished Sophie would just listen to her mother.  While I wasn't completely sold by the ending, I did really appreciate the fact that this book ended up in a direction that I would have never guessed.

I would recommend this book to fans of mystery thrillers.  This is only the second book by Chevy Stevens that I have read but I do enjoy her writing style.  I plan to read more of her work very soon.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley

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review 2017-02-23 18:58
Seven Days of You - Cecilia Vinesse

I liked this story.  I found it to be a really quick read and while it wasn't the perfect story, it did have a lot of things going for it.  I thought that the range of emotions that Sophia goes through in this story really rang true.  The book was a little different than I had expected from the description and while there was a romance featured in the story this book was about so much more than that.

Sophia is moving to the United States with her mom and sister in just one week.  She has spent the past few years of her life living in Tokyo and that is where all of her friends and her life is.  Moving is never easy but moving so far away where the possibility of seeing your friends is incredibly tough.  Jamie is moving back to Tokyo after spending a couple of years at a boarding school in the United States.  Jamie and Sophia didn't part on good terms when they last saw each other.   Sophia really wishes that he had waited until she left to come back.

Sophia soon feels a connection to Jamie like she hadn't felt before.  He seems to be there when she needs him and he somehow finds the right words for the situation.  It was fun to watch this pair open up to each other and make a connection.  It is really too bad that the time that they have together is so limited due to Sophia's upcoming move.

This book takes place in Tokyo and I was really looking forward to experiencing a bit of this area. Unfortunately, I didn't really get a feel for Tokyo from this story.  Sophia attends an English speaking school and her friends are largely like her.  There were some food items mentioned but other than that this story felt like it could have taken place anywhere.  

In addition to moving and sorting out her feelings toward Jamie,  Sophia is also saying goodbye to her friends in this story.  I felt like some of the drama between Sophia and her friends was unnecessary.  Another thing that Sophia has to figure out is her relationship with her father.  This was really one of the strong points of the book.  I felt really bad for Sophia and thought that the emotions portrayed were realistic.

I would recommend this book to others.   I think that the author was able to create an interesting story around a very realistic teen.  I am impressed by Cecilia Vinesse's debut novel and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Little Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley and TheNovl.com.

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