Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

4 Stars
Here and Gone
Here and Gone: A Novel - Haylen Beck

Audra Kinney is fleeing through the United States with her two children, Sean and Louise, in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. All is going well until she stops in Arizona. She's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff who then calls for the deputy to come and take Audra's children to a safe place while she's taken into custody. When she starts asking about her children, the sheriff tells her he didn't see any kids when he pulled her over. It's two crooked cops against Audra and they insist she did something to her kids and left them in the desert. This becomes big news and catches the attention of a man halfway across the country. This sounds similar to what happened to him and his family five years ago - his wife was pulled over for something trivial and their daughter was taken. With someone else on Audra's side, they race against the clock to find her son and daughter before it's too late.

This was an intense action-packed thriller. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what happened to Sean and Louise. I liked Audra. I could feel her frustration, desperation and helplessness. Her husband and those cops made me so angry!

Thank you to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for a copy of this book.

4 Stars
The Girl Who Was Taken
The Girl Who Was Taken - Charlie Donlea

Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald have more in common than just being high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. They both disappeared from the same beach party at the beginning of summer. The police launched a search but no clues were found. Shortly afterwards Megan manages to escape from a bunker deep in the woods. Fast forward a year and Megan has turned into a national celebrity when her book detailing her time spent in captivity and her escape has landed on the bestseller list. But for some this is another painful reminder that Nicole is still missing. Nicole's older sister, Livia, is a fellow in forensic pathology and she expects that someday her sister's body will end up on her autopsy table. But for now, Livia's first clue about her sister's disappearance comes from another body that shows up in the morgue - a young man she's never seen or heard of before. After some digging around Livia is close to figuring out the truth. With snippets of Megan's memory returning, the pair will uncover something deeply disturbing.

This was suspenseful! It goes back and forth from the summer leading up to the disappearances and the aftermath. It was well-written and left me guessing until the very end. Livia has an interesting profession and I didn't find it too bogged down with the terminology that went along with it.

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for a copy of this book.

3 Stars
The Castaways
The Castaways - Jessika Fleck

Olive Gagmuehler is tired of getting picked on because of her name. While she's waiting for her best friend at the Castaway Carnival she runs into the trio of mean girls from school. She runs away into the infamous cornmaze, where kids go missing. She wakes up on an isolated island where a war between two teams of rival teens has been going on for many years. She's taken in by the Lions where she develops a strong bond with each of them and will do whatever it takes to protect them and help them win the war. Then hopefully find her way back home.

Poor Olive, not only does she hate her name, but she seems to always have a knot in her throat. Ouch. I liked the concept of this book - a Pirate Carnival with a cornmaze where kids disappear, an island of lost teens. It did kinda drag in parts, was a bit repetitious, full of clichés. And I didn't care for the ending because I just don't understand how that could happen. But overall it was a fun read.

3 Stars
Baby Doll
Baby Doll - Hollie Overton

Lily Riser was kidnapped when she was a teenager. For the last eight years, Lily has been trapped in a small basement prison where her and her daughter are being held captive. For her daughter, Sky, it's the only world she knows. Their captor prides himself in being clever - leaving the deadbolt unlocked and beating Lily when she tries to escape. But one day when he leaves the deadbolt unlocked, he's not there to punish her. Lily and Sky are finally free.

This book is more about how Lily, her twin sister Abby, her mother and her captor deal with the aftermath of Lily's escape and return home. It started off great. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. But then two things in particular started to bother me: 1. Abby!! Oh my God I did not enjoy reading the chapters about her. She was so overbearing. She drove me nuts! I can't remember when I've disliked a character so much. 2. Lily did some odd things when it came to her captor when she was free. I've never been kidnapped and I'm not an expert but she handled things quite well afterwards and seemed relatively normal. I don't know. It just wasn't the fast paced psychological thriller I was hoping for. It started off with such promise but ultimately left me unsatisfied.

5 Stars
The Couple Next Door
The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

The neighbours are having a dinner party. But they don't want your six-month-old daughter there. She's a fussy baby and they can't stand her crying. Marco Conti tells his wife, Anne, it will be fine. There's only a wall separating them from their daughter. They'll take the baby monitor and take turns checking on her every half hour. The last time Anne checked on Cora, she was asleep in her crib. But when they return she's not there. Someone has taken their daughter while they were right next door.

I had a hard time getting through the first chapter, but once I did I didn't want to put the book down. What happened to baby Cora and is she okay?! The writing was good, the suspense was good. I thought it was clever the way things all came together. I didn't care for the last chapter either, but what was in between the first chapter and the last was sooo good!

2 Stars
The Wanderers
The Wanderers - Meg Howrey

In four years Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov are going to spend seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created in order to prove they're the crew for the job.

Helen is retired from NASA. This is her last chance to return to where she feels at home, where she can be her best self. Even if that means leaving her grown daughter behind.. again.

Yoshi wants to prove himself worthy of his wife, even though he loves her completely but maybe he doesn't love her in the right way. (this is weird.)

Sergei is going to Mars so he can be tested beyond the point of exhaustion. He wants to prove to his father and to himself that he is not meek. He wants to set a good example for his sons.

Days turn into months and even though the astronauts are busy, the lives and people they left behind have a way of seeping into their minds.

I was so excited when I won this. And I was so excited when I finished it. Sadly this book wasn't for me. I hated the thoughts of picking it back up after setting it aside. It just seemed like there were too many words - it lacked warmth, it didn't flow smoothly, I couldn't envision much. There were too many characters. It would've been fine to include the astronaut's family in their own chapters, but I didn't want to read about their own lives. Yoshi's wife was very strange. I get that it's more focused on family and feelings and discovery but ughhhhh *yawn* I did like reading about Helen, Sergei and Yoshi together on their journey, but that seemed few and far between all the other stuff.

I won a copy through Goodreads First Reads.

5 Stars
Pressure - Brian Keene

Off the coast of Mauritius, the ocean floor is collapsing at a rapid rate. Carrie Anderson is a world-champion free diver and a marine biologist and she's going down there to find out what's happening and how to stop it. But what she uncovers is terrifying. She doesn't know exactly what it is, but she knows it's big, it's hungry and it's cold. The pressure builds for Carrie and her team to figure out what to do with this new sea creature as they must contend with a corrupt corporation - one that doesn't mind killing to keep things quiet.

Wow. This was interesting. At no point was the story boring. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. I either loved the characters or loved to hate them. I loved the setting - a gorgeous island with an underwater waterfall - why not put a monster down there?!

3 Stars
Masquerade of Lies
Masquerade of Lies - Wendy Hinbest

Hanna Clark has left her dark past in Deerwood behind her and has moved with her mother to a new town. But shortly after starting at a new school she finds herself a suspect in a murder investigation when the police find her beside the body inside the victim's home. Hanna did not kill anyone and she's on a mission to clear her name. While trying to find the murderer, she becomes friends with the most popular girl in school, Claire, and falls for her boyfriend, Josh. As Hanna and Josh get closer, not only does she face Claire's wrath, she also learns that Josh is a suspect in the murder as well. She also starts getting threatening messages but she doesn't know who they're from. Hanna just wants to clear their names and get justice for her friend.

This was a quick and easy read. It was full of suspense and surprises. I think a lot of younger readers will enjoy it. I did find it overly descriptive - the brand of their clothes and the colours, their hair, the shape of their face. And a lot of things were convenient to pull the story together. But overall I did enjoy the book.

Thank you to librarything and the author for providing me with an e-copy.

3 Stars
The Bees
The Bees: A Novel - Laline Paull

Not only was Flora 717 born into the lowest class of her society, she was also born bigger and darker than the best of them. As a sanitation bee, she is only fit to clean the hive while living to accept, obey and serve which means to do whatever is necessary for the good of the hive and the holy mother. It is discovered that Flora has many talents that are not typical of her kin and while most mutant bees are instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns. Then she is reassigned to become a forager, flying around gathering food for the hive. Flora eventually finds herself in the Queen's inner sanctum where she discovers secrets - some good, some bad. And Flora has a secret of her own, breaking the most sacred law of all.

This started off so bad for me that I wanted to give up and I hate DNFing a book! There were so many smells that it became monotonous and irritating. But I kept at it and while there were still quite a few smells throughout the rest of the book the overall story ended up being okay. It's creative for sure, but it wasn't a book I couldn't wait to pick up again after setting it aside.

4 Stars
Never Let You Go
Never Let You Go - Chevy Stevens

Lindsey Nash was young when she met and fell in love with Andrew; getting married after only six months. What started off as a great relationship slowly turned sour and ended with Lindsey escaping with their young daughter in the middle of the night. It's been eleven years and now her ex-husband is out of jail. Lindsey feels as if she's being watched. Her boyfriend is put in danger, her home is broken into and her daughter is being followed. And Lindsey truly believes there's only one person capable of scaring her like this - Andrew.

This page-turner had some pretty good twists. The characters and situations were believable and makes you wonder what truly goes on in other people's minds. Andrew made me so angry during their relationship! I felt so bad for Lindsey; her anguish was palpable.

3 Stars
So Much Love
So Much Love - Rebecca Rosenblum

Catherine Reindeer vanishes without a trace after work. Now everyone in the small town is left with unanswered questions, worst-case scenarios and tiny shreds of hope. While being held prisoner Catherine remembers the poems of a local female poet who had been murdered decades earlier. After being held for months against her will it's only after she suffers a devastating loss that she finds the power to make an escape.

We learn how this affects not only those closest to her but also acquaintances of Catherine's. We learn how her quiet strength and determination allow her to start to live her life again although it's different from the life she loved and lived before. The first chapter started off great! The book seemed so promising but sadly it kept going downhill after that first chapter and it isn't something that's going to be memorable for me. Maybe too many points-of-view.

4 Stars
Everyone We've Been
Everyone We've Been - Sarah Everett

Ever since Addison Sullivan has been in an accident, she's been having a hard time concentrating, a hard time sleeping, and she starts talking to a boy that no one else can see. She's worried she's going crazy. She doesn't feel as though she can talk to her parents or her brother, so in order to understand what's going on she visits a local medical facility that promises to help with memory. As she's leaving the clinic she finds out this wasn't her first visit - she's already had certain memories erased. Addison had a boy erased from her memory. Now she's determined to figure out who he was and what happened that she felt like her only option was to have him erased from her life.

This was a quick and easy read. It switches between before Addison was in the accident and after. I liked getting glimpses of how things were before. I thought when she started seeing someone no one else could it was going to go a completely different way than it did, but that's okay, it was still enjoyable and interesting. I liked Addison, and I liked Zach for the most part. But the medical facility - what happened there with Addison.. really? I just didn't like anything about it.

4 Stars
The Most Dangerous Thing
The Most Dangerous Thing - Leanne Lieberman

Sixteen-year-old Sydney is secretly fighting a battle against depression. She has a fog that settles around her that makes it hard to be around people, make eye contact and even get out of bed in the morning. Her outgoing older sister Abby is planning to do a version of The Vagina Monologues for school. Sydney hates to talk or even think about sex, so she basically wants to crawl in a hole and not go to school that day. And now her classmate Paul has started sending her texts and pictures. Sydney doesn't understand why someone would like her, and she's even more nervous about her own feelings. Despite being uncomfortable about sex and relationships, with the help of her family, friends and her therapist, she takes small steps out of her comfort zone to learn about what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex - female desire.

This was a quick and easy read. The whole book flowed well and had great characters. I could relate to Sydney and was definitely rooting for her! She had a great support system. I loved how important family was. Although I'm not religious I did like that the family embraced and celebrated their Jewish customs and traditions. I thought The Vagina Monologues was an interesting touch and it brought everything together nicely.

1 Stars
Human Acts
Human Acts - Han Kang

A young boy named Dong-ho is one of many who have been killed in the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea. Interconnected chapters tell the stories of the victims and the bereaved - Dong-ho's best friend who has also been killed; Dong-ho's mother; an editor struggling against censorship; a prisoner; a factory worker. Each one of these people are suffering from their own traumatic memories.

This is a fictional account of the 1980 Gwangju uprising. It is told in six chapters from six different points-of-view. I did not like how the first chapter was written. The second chapter was pretty good. I didn't make it all the way through the third chapter. I found this book jumped around too much and I wasn't interested enough to figure out what was going on. It was tedious and a chore to read.

DNF @ 44%

3 Stars
Swimming Lessons
Swimming Lessons - Claire Fuller

Ingrid Coleman has been writing letters to her husband, Gil, and sticking them inside books he has collected over the years. In those letters she writes about the truth of their marriage; her side of the story. And after she's written her final letter she disappears, leaving behind Gil and their two daughters, Nan and Flora. After many years have passed, Gil is looking outside a bookshop window when he spots Ingrid outside, but she's gone by the time he gets outside and to make matters worse he takes a bad fall. Their youngest daughter Flora returns home to look after her father and to hopefully get some answers about her mother; little does she know that the answers to her questions are stuck between the pages of the books surrounding her.

This book is character driven. But sadly I found these characters and their lives boring. It goes back and forth to how Gil and Ingrid met, their early days together and the course of their marriage to the Coleman's lives without Ingrid. I liked the past more than the present. The concept is interesting and I liked the setting. But there's nothing to make this book stand out.

5 Stars
My Last Continent
My Last Continent: A Novel - Midge Raymond

Deb Gardner feels at home when she's at the end of the world. She does her research on the penguins that live there and enjoys the solitude the continent has to offer. Then one day Deb finds her world shifting like the icebergs around her when she meets Keller Sullivan, a dishwasher eager to learn all he can about the penguins Deb is studying. Soon they're spending as much time together as they can before returning to their separate lives up North.

With a new research season beginning Deb will be travelling and playing tour guide to the passengers on board the small ship that will take them to their destination. Deb can hardly wait to see Keller again, but he never shows up. Shortly into the journey, Deb learns that Keller is on board the Australis, a massive cruise liner that she can see not far off in the distance from the ship she's on. Deb knows that cruise liner shouldn't be coming this way, and soon the ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis - they're in desperate need of help. Deb sets out helping as many people as she can all the while searching for the man she loves.

Oh my God. This book is perfect. The beautiful, descriptive writing makes everything come to life. You really feel as though you're in Antarctica watching those cute penguins and then scrambling around trying to get to safety and help those who need it. It was intense. But it was refreshing to travel someplace different. It's a book that made me think about our impact on the environment and how our choices can be so life-altering. An amazing book. Definitely have tissues handy.