Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review of Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

Almost Missed You by Jessica Stawser

Thank you to St.Martin's Press and Netgalley for a copy of this eARC in exchange for a fair review.

Violet is on vacation with her husband Finn and their son Bear, Finn takes Bear back into the hotel for a nap living Violet to enjoy herself on the beach for a bit on her own. This leads her to reflect how they met all those years ago on this very beach.

However, when she returns to the room it is like she is on the vacation alone. All of her husband's stuff and their son's stuff is gone. He is just gone, and Violet sinks into a bitter depression. Caitlin's has just returned from visiting Violet when Finn shows up on her doorstep. He threatens her into helping him hide with Bear while he figures things out.

 As the past unfolds and the present collides will Violet finally figure out what her husband is hiding? Will she be reunited with her son?

I want to rant about a couple of things, well at least one because spoilers. I will say this I am still pondering that ending and how to feel about it. I am going to say this I am not sure I loved how we were supposed to feel about Finn, I really don't. I am not going to spoil this, but I don't find him a sympathetic character at all. I know as we learn everything we are supposed to feel sorry for him. I really didn't at all. I think that contributes to my feelings about the end.

That being said I loved Violet and Caitlin, they struggled to do the right thing and to come clean and I wish the state of their friendship had been resolved a bit better in the book. This fell a little flat on the thriller aspect, possibly even the mystery. It was a darn good story, I could not stop reading it, even when I felt a little angry or frustrated I could not stop reading.  A fantastic job on a debut novel!  Bear broke my heart and I really just wanted to shot Finn, sigh I am sure others will feel differently than I do, but as a mother who loves her kids, I couldn't muster anything beyond disgust and contempt for him.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

An Editorial on S.J. Maas

Hello Readers and Followers. While my fellow reviewer has been uploading reviews for you all I've been over on our tumblr feed fielding a plethora of questions and "asks". It has come to my attention that there are a lot, and I mean A LOT of differing viewpoints on Sarah J. Maas's works. I would not normally use this review blog to answer these as I feel they take away from the works themselves and we do attempt to avoid spoilers whenever possible on here. However; the enormous amount of both Pro-Maas and Anti-Maas asks that I've received have prompted me to write this editorial. Now I do not speak for everyone nor would I presume to when I say that literature above all else should make you think. I will not be taking a stand on either side of this debate because in all fairness both sides have some good arguments that deserve to be heard. Rather this editorial is my attempt to show why I will continue to read S.J. Maas's work and review it on this blog. As you all know A Court of Wings and Ruin is due out on May 2nd and myself and my fellow reviewer are excited to read and review that book for you here. So whether your Pro-Maas or Anti-Maas I think we can all agree that her works are well written, well thought out and her characters are richly and graphically detailed. Regardless of how you feel about the actual stories themselves I hope this editorial will make all of you take a step back and attempt to view these pro and con arguments in a more objective light.

The role of literature in society
Ahhhh books, the smell of them, the feel of them, the looks of them on our bookshelves, in the stores, all around us. We love books. We love books for many reasons but did you know that throughout all of human history nothing has had an impact in change on human society like books. More specifically the thinkers and writers that wrote those books. 
There are many events that have shaped and molded the landscape of the world we live in today. Imperialistic countries like the Mongols, China, Rome, Britain, and yes America too have had a tremendous impact on the societies, cultures, and beliefs that many of us know today. Right, Wrong, or something in between there’s one thing that these imperialistic cultures did for all of us that can’t be denied. They spread knowledge. Of course they took it from the people they conquered first but I didn’t say they spread it “peacefully”. 
But how did they do it? 
Many of the greater philosophers, playwrights, and poets, or as we call them today WRITERS used this form of creativity to point out the problems in the societies in which they lived. It was a tried and true method to speak out without getting your head cut off and some of the most enduring literature are scathing commentaries of the political, religious, and cultural climates in which those writers lived. The Canterbury Tales is a classic example of this as is almost every one of Shakespeare’s plays and even some of the Sonnets. But it doesn’t end there. Want to know what Mark Twain thought about slavery? Read Huckleberry Fin. Want to know what C.S. Lewis thought of religion? Read the Screwtape Letters, even J.R.R. Tolkiens beloved novels of MiddleEarth are a beautiful high fantasy tale that deal with very real issues that Tolkien believed should be understood, discussed, and solutions found. Some of those issues we are dealing with even today. 
So why is it important for us to pay attention to themes in literature? Those themes ask important questions. They highlight injustices that would most likely be swept under the rug or ignored. Those themes deal with very real, very raw, very difficult to grasp concepts such as social justice, women’s rights, men’s rights, political abuses, and cultural and ethnic identity. 
Why am I bringing this post to light now? Why even bring this up on a book review post of all things? Well here’s why. There is a lot, and I mean A LOT of discussion going on back and forth about Sarah J. Maas’s high fantasy series’s. There are whole hashtags dedicated to nothing more than hating her work and by contrast whole hashtags dedicated to praising those same works. A lot of people feel very passionately one way or the other about these fictional works and before you go dismissing these people and their opinions acknowledge the reasons for them. Acknowledge that Maas’s works, while high fantasy and fictional, deal with VERY REAL social issues. In both of her series she shows how male rape is a very real thing and even goes so far as to show us the ugly, nasty after effects of said rape. Male rape is an issue that is not only not talked about in our society but it’s still largely believed to be a myth. As if only women are victims of rape. Maas dispels that belief in both male characters Fenry’s in Throne of Glass and Rhysand in A Court of Thorns and Roses. 
This is isn’t the only issue however, she also highlights through the main characters, both of which are female, issues of abuse. Not just physical abuse either but emotional, and verbal abuse as well. She uses her Arobynn Hamel in Throne of Glass to illustrate how an abuser selects, manipulates, and keeps their victims from speaking out. She uses Tamlin in a Court of Thorns and Roses to illustrate domestic abuse and she also shows us how both characters break away from their abusers. These are very pressing issues for women and yes, some men too in our society. How many times have you read of a women being murdered by an abusive spouse and wondered “Why didn’t they leave?” or seen or heard of someone who tried to escape their abuser only to be found dead, or even worse victimized AGAIN by the very laws that should have protected them. At the end of A Court of Mist and Fury, the main character Feyre, returns to her abuser to spare the lives of those she loves but how many times have you heard a woman say “she had no choice”, or “He would have killed my kids if I left”. 
Race is also an issue in these books. Yes all those people who are complaining about Maas ignoring the racial ethnicity and diversity of her books have a valid complaint. Here’s the thing though. She doesn’t ignore it. In Throne of Glass we meet Nehemiah who, based on her characters description, is of Asian Indian Descent. She is a Princess of her people and she is much loved and respected…..until she comes to the court of Adarlyn. It’s here in a mostly white, english speaking court that the wise, beautiful, Asian Indian Princess is viewed as uncivilized, unintelligent, and lacking in an overall manner. Among her own people, and even viewed from other countries she is none of those things but the minute she steps into the King of Adarlyn’s court she’s seen as inferior. The only one who doesn’t view her this way is Aelin and she’s not entirely human to begin with. So even here Maas uses this character to illustrate racism. Even her death serves a purpose and no I’m not talking about what it does to Aelin, I’m talking about the callous murder of people not of Caucasian decent. What do they do when she dies? Do they give her a funeral worthy of a princess? NO they just casually dump her body in a grave behind the temple as IF SHE WERE TRASH. What is that but Maas showing us the casual cruelty of white society toward those who aren’t? 
There are other issues that are debated, criticized, and defended in the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series and all of those debates, whether for good or ill all serve the same purpose. They make us AWARE of ills in our society. They make us THINK about issues that we’d rather ignore. They make us DISCUSS topics such as white privilege, race, ethnicity, culture, and sexuality. This, ladies and gentleman, is what literature exists to do. This is why fiction is such a powerful force throughout history. So no matter what side of this debate you’re on or whether your Pro-Maas or Anti-Maas you’re already doing what needs to be done. You’re discussing these very real issues and you’re generating more and more discussions that will, hopefully, lead to some very real solutions. In that Sarah J. Maas and her works are worthy and notable. Her works have achieved what literature has always sought to achieve throughout human history, they are making us think, they are giving us a vehicle in which to view these issues from different points of view and in doing so help us to understand WHY these issues should matter to us all.

Swinging at Love by Kendra C. Highley

Swing at Love by Kendra C. Highley

Thank you to Entangled Teen and Netgalley for a copy of the eARC in exchange for a fair review.

I reviewed the first book The Bad Boy Bargain on this blog, so check out that review first!!

This is the second book in the Suttonville Sentinels however, you don't necessarily need to read book one in order to know what is going on in this book.

Alyssa is a dancer, but once upon a time she played softball and she was really good at it. So it's no surprise that she loves working at Swing Away, the batting cages her family owns. However, things are going well and she is worried that her dad will have to close the business down.

Tristan is a big hitter, but lately, he hasn't been hitting anything and he is worried that he is going into a slump at the worst time of the year. The playoffs so when he wants to hide it from the team and yet practice he heads over to Swing Away because no one goes there. 

While he is practicing Alyssa comes over and helps him out, but after they part neither one can stop thinking of each other. Alyssa thinks he is stressing himself out, and Tristan is intrigued by the girl who knows so much about baseball.

Things run into a major problem when it is revealed that their best friends have a thing for them. Tristan's friend asks Alyssa out and Lauren tries to flirt with Tristan. Instead of coming clean about the start of their romance they try to hide it. Once Dylan catches them everything blows up in their faces. Will Alyssa be able to help her dad save the business? Can she help Tristan get out of his slump?

This was every bit as good as the first one, I read it all in one sitting. Alyssa is a great character, she is practical, solid and the kind of person you want to know for real. Tristan is sweet, hot and a rocking book boyfriend. Together they were unstoppable and I was so glad how things worked in the end.
If you are looking for a good romance to pass an afternoon away then look no further! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Review It Takes One by Kate Kessler

It Takes One by Kate Kessler

I won a copy of this in a goodreads giveaway.

Audrey Harte is a criminal psychologist, she studies kids who kill. She knows better than most since she has killed as well. When she was 14, Audrey and her best friend Maggie killed  Maggie's father. After serving time Audrey left after Maggie and Jake broke her heart and has only returned once in all that time.

Audrey has returned home before she can even arrive at her childhood home she has to make a stop and pick up her drunk father from the local bar. While she is there she sees not only Jake but has an altercation with Maggie as well. Audrey shoves Maggie and leaves with her father. The next morning a guest finds Maggie's dead body on the grounds of Jake's resort.

The only real suspect is Audrey, and she is the only one who can prove she didn't do it.  Audrey comes to terms with tumultuous relationship with Maggie and tries to figure out who killed her, all while dealing with the angry stares and gossip from a town that already knows she is a killer.

Audrey knows she is running out of time trying to unravel the lies of Maggie's life, and with someone watching her it might just end up being life or death for Audrey as well. All well getting closer with Jake.

I loved this book, I couldn't stop reading it, I say that a lot, but I am seriously on a good thriller kick and I totally adored this one. I really enjoyed the psychology aspect of this novel and the main character.  I will say this I think everyone in that book was messed up and that isn't necessarily realistic. However, on the flip side of that, the author did an amazing job exposing common problems with abuse. All too often a child isn't believed or nothing is done, people just pretend it isn't happening or they can't believe someone they know or like would do such horrible things.

I love Audrey and words cannot express how I was to discover that there are more books and one is already out! So I am off to buy book 2, now read this!!! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review of Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for a copy of this eARC in exchange for a fair review.

Anastasia has had a rough few years, after having a fight with her parents they were killed in a car crash, and now unhappy with the way her sister acts and the men she chooses. Anastasia walks out of their apartment and to the coffee shop. When she returns her sister is gone, and all that is left is a tub full of blood.

At that point, Anastasia shuts down for months, until Charlotte her sister's friend brings her the information that a video of Kiera has been found, and suddenly Anastasia knows that her sister is alive and she will do whatever it takes to find her. When her clues lead her to Italy, she knows it is time to leave the country and find her sister whatever it takes.

But all the lies she has been finding out make it difficult to figure out who and why Kiera was taken. When she goes to her parents old boss for money and he suggests Marcus join her, Anastasia knows things are going to get serious.

Will they be able to stay alive? Can they figure out all the lies? Will they be able to find Kiera?

I couldn't stop reading this, I admit that parts of it seemed more than a little far-fetched, but I for one adored this book. I can't wait to read book 2, and wow the twists and turns. Definitely an interesting espionage thriller!  Plus Marcus and Anastasia, swoon although I do hope there is a little more romance development in the next book.

I really enjoyed all of the characters that were introduced and I hope to see more of them especially Allen Cross, Marcus, Charlotte, Kiera and Anastasia. It will be interesting to see how all of the mysteries are unraveled. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Top Ten Shows that ended way too soon.

We do a lot of books on here, but I decided to add something a little different. Since my kids are on a two hour delay this morning I decided now was the perfect time to shed some light on some shows that ended with just one season and with major cliffhangers. It's a freaking tragedy in some cases and in no particular order here we go.

You can find this awesome show on Netflix, it is a teenage show but like all CW shows it is done well, with some minor issues. Very compelling and just 13 episodes. Yes, I just tortured myself and re-watched this the other week. It is a romance between a human girl and alien boy with major background plots going on. It deals with interspecies romances, treatment of aliens, and so much more!

This is an older one and a remake. The original show aired for much longer, but I don't care about the original. I am all about the remake and this one was awesome! I couldn't stop watching it and back in 1996 when it aired I didn't know it was canceled until after they aired the season finale. I was crushed.  A young woman is hired as a governess for the Collins family in Maine, but when she arrives she finds there are strange things happening there. Mainly Barnabas is a vampire, he was cursed by a witch and Victoria is the spitting image of his lost love. Somehow the witch casts another spell that hurtles Victoria back in time. Ahh cursed cliffhangers. I have watched this show more than once, I still heart it after all these years. You can watch for free on Hulu! 

Another CW show that ends after one season. Cassie moves in with her grandmother after her mother's death and soon finds out she is a witch. A powerful witch, with a soulmate in Adam and possibly Jake. Her circle of witches all navigate dark magic, and avoid witch hunters all ending with another cliffhanger. You can watch this on Netflix.
I mean Jonathan Rhys Meyers need I say more. Okay I will say more this is a more classic adapation of the beloved Bram Stoker novel. Wonderfully done and yup canceled after one season. However, I have some great news... while researching for this post I found that Netflix is doing a second season! so woohoo. Sadly as of now there is no place to watch the first season for free.
Now for a quirky gem. Jayne is retail clerk failing at life and quite happy about it when random knickknacks start talking to her. This show really grew into itself and was lovely. Sadly it's only available to buy on DVD.

In one of the cruelest twists of fate, VH1 introduced this amazing show, renewed it and then quietly dropped the second season without really informing the public. Sadly it appears to have been dropped into obscurity. Becca is on the verge of her second marriage to Andy, but she regrets that her best friend isn't there and we don't really know what happen. Becca wishes that she could change things and passes out in an elevator. When she wakes she is back in her old apartment to redo her life. I would say more that would give it all away.  Bad news not available for free anywhere, good news you can buy the season on Amazon! Which I think I just might do because I really need to torture myself and watch this one again.

Another dark show that ended way too soon. A young woman arrives in a New Jersey town and things begin to happen. We soon find out that she is the daughter of the devil and while people believe she is nothing but evil, we know that she can actually go either way...  This is like Wonderfalls is only available to buy on DVD.
I think I see a theme here. I definitely enjoy paranormal shows a lot! I have heard rumors that CW is working bringing back this show. Constantine actually showed up in one of their shows last season. That remains to be seen, but bad news is it only available to buy through Amazon
Probably the most iconic and most famous on my list. Firefly the space western that was hands down amazing. It had a huge fan following and was able to get a movie made because of that. You can see if for free on Netflix
Last but not least Invasion was another show that ended all too soon. This was a subtle invasion plan but aliens, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and more than a little miffed when it ended too. You can purchase this on Amazon... So I hope you enjoy some of mine personal favorites that I secretly wish would be brought back. What are some of yours?