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review 2018-04-20 00:51
Debut author surprises with a clever YA thriller, one that I hope doesn’t fly under the radar
Lies You Never Told Me - Jennifer Donaldson

Well, this was a surprise. The whole book was a surprise just like the secrets and lies held within, all the way until the end. 

I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway some time ago and didn’t have the chance to get to it until just now, and I feel like it’s one of those books that’s going to fly under the radar and it shouldn’t.
Debut author Jennifer Donaldson has written a very cleverly crafted young adult mystery/thriller that for a good portion of it, reads like a contemporary novel, and is told through with the voices of two main characters, Gabe and Elyse, who seem to live very separate lives. There are also two other main characters central to the story, Catherine and Sasha. Gabe is a young Hispanic skater boy who tries to break up with a very possessive, but popular, high school girl called Sasha, and she is making it be known that she is not happy about this. He has a six year old sister Vivi, with special needs, who he cares very much for, and is close with his family. Elyse, on the other hand, lives a very different sort of life. She has basically fended for herself for years, even paying the household bills with jobs while she has been in high school; her mother is addicted to opiates and spends most of the time out of it lying on the couch. She has come to rely on nobody but herself, and doesn’t expect anything good of the world. Which is why, when she gets chosen for the lead in Romeo and Juliet, she can’t believe she has got the part over her best friend Brynn, but soon is swept off her feet by the school drama teacher, Mr. Hunter.
I generally try not to guess endings of stories, and I’m not one to skip ahead, so, at least for me, this novel cleverly gives you one wallop over the head when you realize what the big twist is at the end. I can not say one thing more, lest I give anything away, but this is one clever book and had me engaged entirely. There are some big topics involved here too - scary exes with major infatuation problems, and teacher-student relationships, not to mention addiction issues - but the two running storylines are excellently written and don’t rap you over the head with the morality stick (you get to think about those afterwards). I hope this gets picked up by a good lot of people who enjoy thrillers with a side of romance (there’s a lot of ‘sweet’ to go with the ‘salty’), and it’s super smart.
I’d be on the lookout for what Jennifer Donaldson writes next because I believe there are a lot more phenomenal books in her yet.
*Thank you Goodreads and Razorbill for the early copy of this book!
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review 2018-04-18 23:14
All For You by Jessica Scott
All For You - Jessica Scott

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

This really was a fantastic read. I have had this book for years but for some reason never picked it up until now. Let me tell you that this was a big mistake. Huge mistake. This book was really good and made me think. It made me feel which is always a good thing. I think that I had expected this book to be a more typical military romance before reading it but I was completely wrong. I am really glad that I took the time to read this powerful story.

This book deals with military suicide and PTSD which are some pretty tough topics. Most of the soldiers in this story are affected by their time in combat in one way or another. Reza is a Sergeant First Class and tries to watch out for his men while dealing with his own issues. He often has to spend a lot of valuable time trying to find out what is going on with his me. Time that could be spent in training before their next deployment. 

Emily, a Psychiatrist, is new to the Army and really wants to help the soldiers that come to her for help. Her family is not in favor of her decision to enlist in the army but she is determined to make a difference. She quickly learns that there are a lot of things that she does not understand in regards to what the soldiers have been through so she works to learn what she can. 

I really liked Reza and Emily together. They had such great chemistry even though they were not at all alike. They both seemed to be able to support each other in exactly the way that was most needed. I really appreciated the fact that the romance didn't overpower the other issues that the book was dealing with. If anything, I would say that the romance aspect of the book was secondary to turmoil with Reza and his soldiers. 

I really liked how this book was able to show such tough topics in a way that felt realistic. Reza's battle with alcohol was painful to watch. There were some pretty graphic scenes that really got to me. I understood how Reza and Emily were taking thing hard because I was right there with them. I also really appreciated the fact that the book ended on a very hopeful note because I really wanted to see both of these characters get their happy ending.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought it was a really well done story that was quite eye opening. This book is the forth book in the Coming Home series but I read it as a stand alone without any trouble. I would definitely read more from this talented author in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I enjoyed this book. The book had a very strong focus on suicide and PTSD for soliders that have been to war. I think that the romance was good but it wan't really the main focus of the story. I liked Reza a lot and thought he showed a lot of growth during the course of the story. Emily was a good match for him and I really liked how seriously she took her job. I am really sorry that I let this book sit on the review pile for over 4 years since I really ended up enjoying it.

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review 2018-04-15 19:00
BLOG TOUR REVIEW: 'In Her Skin' by Kim Savage
In Her Skin - Kim Savage

 

I'm host on a blog tour for another great new book, and this time it's for one you may recognize the title for, but not the cover; it had a bold cover change recently, and it's just in time for release day. I love suspenseful novels like this one so I was all in. Make sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book after you have read my review!

 

Thanks again to my bookish pals at The Fantastic Flying Book Club for including me on the tour!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, KIM SAVAGE

 

KIM SAVAGE is the author of three critically acclaimed young adult novels, After the Woods, Beautiful Broken Girls (named by Kirkus as one of the 10 Best YA of 2017), and now In Her Skin (releasing April 17, 2018), all with Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan. Her novels have been published in Spain, Brazil, and Turkey, and have been optioned for TV. Kim presents at conferences and book festivals nationwide; has been featured on NPR, Herald Radio, and on local cable stations; and she reads from her novels at bookstores across the country. A former reporter with a Master degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, Kim's stories are based in and around Boston. She lives with her family near Boston, not far from the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn't.  

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

In Her Skin

by Kim Savage

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

 

Book Synopsis:

A dark, suspenseful young adult novel about crime, identity, and two girls with everything to lose.

 

Fifteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain takes on her biggest heist yet—impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasnt been easy, and she hopes to cash in on a little safety, some security. She finds her opportunity with the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family tied to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

 

When Jo takes on Vivis identity and stages the girls miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. When hidden crimes come to the surface and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold on to an illusion of safety or escape the danger around her before its too late. In Her Skin is Kim Savage at her most suspenseful yet.

 

MY REVIEW: 

Wow. That will be the first word that comes out of my mouth (and therefore, my fingers)  in response to how this book made me feel.

In the same way that this book left me feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me a few times, it also left me feeling so desperately sad. I'll get back to that..

 

Jo Chastain, a young homeless teen, who basically wants a family of her own, assumes the identity of a missing girl (who would now be a teenager), in order to live in a wealthy household. Ignoring how hard I think it would be to actually assume the identity of a missing person and start living a new life, it takes a lot of tenacity and desire to want to rid yourself of your past and get yourself into a new situation, and risk being found out.

The home that Jo comes to live in is one where she now not only has the 'parents' she never had, along with the wealth, she also has the daughter of the Lovecrafts, Temple, who becomes like a sister and best friend to her.

 

As Jo (now Vivi) becomes lost inside this new identity of hers, and becomes attached to Temple, she has to remind herself of her truth because she starts to realize things are not quite as 'peachy' in the Lovecraft household as she once thought, and there's definitely an ominous tone. It takes a long while for the suspense to build and it's a slow burn that creeps up on you; the book is broken up into three different parts (of which, the first is the bulk of the book), and at the end of the first part the biggest twist comes.

Suspense in a book like this spells danger for a character like Jo, and the book is turned on its heels and at the same time it made me gasp (it's blatantly obvious I can't give you spoilers), this was very cleverly written.

 

What I felt is so sad about all this, is that we have one young girl wanting a family so badly she is willing to go to these lengths, and within the inner workings of this novel, there's another very sad tale going on for Temple too. This intimate friendship of these two girls starts to look very dysfunctional and you can't help but feel something's not going to end well unless...well, something.

 

Ultimately though, Kim Savage has written a very engrossing novel about a case of stolen identity, yet it's so much more than that; I read this book from beginning to end with hardly putting it down, and I now know I need more of her writing! 

 

 

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! 

Get your chance to win ONE COPY of 'IN HER SKIN' by entering through the link below! (US Only)

Starts: 4/10 Ends: 4/24

CLICK HERE for a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR! 

You can find the full blog tour schedule at this link: IN HER SKIN BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

 

BOOK LINKS

And after you have added the book to your Booklikes shelf, and your Goodreads TBR, this is where you can order and BUY YOUR BOOK!! 

 

 

BOOK LINKS

 

 

 

Good luck with the giveaway, and happy reading (as always)!!! ~ K

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-04-09 17:20
Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer
Lingering Echoes - Erica Kiefer

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

This book was just okay for me. I have had a review copy of this book for over 4 years but never felt compelled to actually read the book until now. I must say that I am happy to finally be able to mark this book off of my list of books to read. I found this to be a pretty quick read that held my attention but it was never the kind of book that totally grabbed me. 

My feelings are pretty mixed about this book. I think one of the main things that I didn't care for in this book was the fact that it was another teen romance featuring a love triangle. I am not usually a fan of love triangles. In the case of this book, Allie has two boys falling for her. Aaron is always there to support her and gets her through a lot of tough times. Damien is the dangerous older guy that drives a motorcycle and has a few stalkerish behaviors. Guess who she picks? 

I think that Allie's behavior was another major hurdle for me to overcome with this book. I am the mother of a teenager and not a teen so I do realize that I am probably not the target audience for this story but Allie was too much at times. She kept telling everyone that she was going off to college soon so she could make her own choices. Of course her father was telling her what she needed to do because on her own she wasn't doing too great. 

I had a few other issues with the story. I thought that Damien's past was way to easy to figure out. We do eventually get more details but even then I thought everything seemed a little too perfect. Allie has a moment towards the end of the book where she suddenly remembers something that she had forgotten for the past year and it just felt really odd. I also could not believe that Allie's father and step-mother never addressed her step-brother's behavior towards her. He was terrible to Allie and then suddenly they started getting along. 

There were some things that I did like about the story. Allie had a lot of grief and guilt to deal with from an event in the past. It has obviously had a great impact on her life and I did like seeing her work through those emotions. Allie and Aaron's friendship was a high point of the book. Aaron was probably my favorite character in the story and I liked his connection with Allie. While the big action scene at the end of the book seemed far-fetched, I still found it to be rather exciting.

I do think that a lot of readers will like this one a lot more than I did. I was entertained by the story even when I was questioning a character's behavior. I am glad that I read this book even though I feel like it was a pretty forgettable read.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Clean Teen Publishing via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay. It's probably not a book that will really stay with me long term but I was entertained. The book does pick up the pace towards the end with most of the excitement happening during the last 25% of the book. I thought that a lot of the story was predictable.

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review 2018-04-07 23:25
Horrifying and magical somehow, 'Unbury' Carol blends genres, brings us one of our worst nightmares, and shows us another side of Josh Malerman
Unbury Carol: A Novel - Josh Malerman

You know that nightmare where you're buried alive, in a coffin, the dirt just being piled on top, and you try and claw your way out, the air just gradually disappearing? Or how about the one where you're stuck in a coma, but you're still aware of everything around you, and everyone around you just carries on as if you're already dead, although you're screaming inside that you're still alive but you can't move and do a thing? This is that book. 

 

Carol Evers has an illness where she falls into death-like comas, something she has kept secret, save for just a special few, and her malicious husband, Dwight Evers has had enough of her having the limelight (because she’s a wonderful person) and passes her off for really being dead this final time. And so begins a gruesome tale set in the Old West that is ripe with myth, and is basically a story of long-lost love, crossed with a tale of planned murder. In 'Unbury Carol', Josh Malerman craftily brings nightmares of being trapped in a waking coma, and being possibly buried alive, onto the page, because Carol Evers lives that horror at just one heartbeat a minute.

 

But a couple of outlaws ride along the Trail to try and make it back to Harrows to face off against each other and they are the infamous James Moxie, who left Carol once before, and a horrific character called Smoke, who thinks nothing of pouring oil down people's throats and lighting a match. This is the man who Dwight has sent for, to stop Moxie from waking and saving our Western Sleeping Beauty. Moxie, however, is known along the Trail for the 'Trick' and has his own magic, but is haunted by haven't left Carol all those years ago, and has lived with years of regret.

All this time Carol waits on a stone slab in the cellar, she isn't asleep or even dead inside; she knows and sees what her cruel husband is doing and while Moxie rides the trail, she's desperately trying to move even an eyelid, just an inch. She's not done.

 

This tale takes a while to get into; the language seems otherworldly, and will immediately strike you as a book that you can't just skim though. The writing won't allow you to, as the prose is too filled with poetic language, the sort that would have been been heard well over a century ago. But it’s not just that; Malerman has written with a pace that builds tension and makes you wonder if Moxie will get to Carol in time, and suits the time period wherein everything was slower. I enjoyed how the chapters are descriptive of what’s happening within them, and not numbered, as though they had their own little story to tell within the whole. The characters are all so brilliantly crafted and written as well; especially Smoke, the villain, such a gruesome and horrific figure to imagine. 

By just tapping into a common nightmare and fear of being buried alive, and being ‘awake’ in a coma with no way to communicate or move, Malerman has tapped into something so primal and frightening, and to put it into a landscape that is so unique is genius. Along with a tale of spousal murder (well, planned), and long-lost love in the Old Wild West, this is a something to behold in terms of horror literary fiction.

 

And a MASSIVE thank you to the MAN himself, Josh Malerman, for signing my ARC of ‘Unbury Carol’ and my copy of ‘Bird Box’ at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle in March, and having a chat with me. You made my day! I DID enjoy my time on the Trail!

 

*I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review. Thank you!

 

 

 

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