Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

Review
4 Stars
Feel Me Fall
Feel Me Fall - Christopher Fowler;Gary McMahon;Adam L.G. Nevill;Pat Cadigan;Paul Meloy;Ramsay Campbell;John L. Probert;Nicholas Royle;Simon Bestwick;Al Ewing;Conrad Williams;Mark Morris;Stephen Volk;Michael Marshall Smith;James Lovegrove;Natasha Rhodes;Joel Lane

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane that crashed in the Amazon. The plane was carrying 134 passengers; 37 of which were students, teachers and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. But she wasn't the only one who actually survived the crash. Six students were left stranded in the jungle. With each passing day their hope and strength dwindle. It's survival of the fittest and Emily is the only one left to tell her story.

 

We come to learn Emily's past and how she ended up on a plane to Paraguay. And what happened in the jungle. And how her guilt is eating her up inside. She did what she had to do to survive. Their fear and desperation were palpable. Throughout most of the book I really liked Emily. I thought she was a headstrong young woman who made the best of what she'd been dealt and tried to do the right thing. I really enjoyed the story. It was a page-turner. I had to know how Emily came to be the only one left. What happened to the others? I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as gruesome as I thought it would be. But the ending just didn't work for me. I did not like it even a little bit.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for a copy.

Review
5 Stars
Goodbye Days
Goodbye Days - Jeff Zentner

Carver Briggs is a high school student at Nashville Academy for the Arts. He makes up one fourth of the Sauce Crew along with his best friends Blake, Eli and Mars. Carver's talent is writing. The cruel irony is that he just killed his three best friends with a simple text that said "Where are you guys? Text me back." He blames himself but he's not the only one - Mars's father, who is also a judge, is pushing for a criminal investigation into Carver's actions. But Carver's not alone. He has supportive parents and a supportive older sister. He's become close with Eli's girlfriend Jesmyn. And Nana Betsy, Blake's grandma, is on his side. Nana Betsy suggests they spend a day together sharing their memories of Blake and to say a proper goodbye. The other families want Carver to spend a day with them as well, sharing a side of their son they never knew, but he's not sure it's a good idea especially when Mars's father tells him he wants to have a Goodbye Day.

I knew I was going to love this book before I finished the first page. The writing was good and made the pages fly by. I enjoyed getting a glimpse here and there of the Sauce Crew - just regular teenage boys getting together and laughing at stupid stuff and enjoying life and peanut butter and banana milkshakes. I liked the idea of getting together with the families and sharing memories. I think this book is very important in this day and age where most people's cell phones are glued to their hand and their eyes glued to their cell phone. I felt bad for Carver. I felt bad for everyone involved. What a tragedy - one that could have been avoided.

Thank you to LibraryThing and to Crown Books for Young Readers for providing me with a hardcover copy.

Review
5 Stars
The History of Hilary Hambrushina
The History of Hilary Hambrushina - Marnie Lamb

This is the summer before Hilary Boles starts junior high. Hilary and her best friend Lynn dream of becoming popular and being besties with the most popular girl of all Chanel Winters. But things don't go as planned for Hilary when Lynn leaves for the summer and Kallie moves in next door. She's very quirky - her room is black with constellations painted on her ceiling, she sleeps in a hammock in her room instead of a bed and she enacts fantastical plays in front of cute boys on the beach much to Hilary's embarrassment. But they become friends and Hilary knows Kallie is definitely not cool and not part of her plan to becoming popular. So when school starts Hilary has to decide if she wants to be part of the popular group who looks down on "losers" like Kallie or if she wants to hang on to a true friend and be seen as a loser too.

This is labelled as young adult on Netgalley but it's more middle grade - preteens especially will enjoy it. The same old story of wanting to fit in and bullies picking on someone simply because they're different. I thought the writing was strong. It was funny in places but was also serious when need be. Kallie was such a strong character. But poor Hilary is torn between doing the right thing by sticking up for her new friend and not being able to say anything because it wouldn't be cool. It's always funny thinking back to being twelve and realizing that the things that seemed important really weren't - needing the same shirt as so-and-so or liking a band because all the cool kids are listening to them. I'm glad those days are over!

Thank you to Netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for a copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: A Novel - Hannah Tinti

Samuel Hawley has spent most of his life on the run. But now he has somewhat settled down in Olympus, Massachusetts for the sake of his teenage daughter, Loo. Olympus was where his late wife grew up and while he finds work as a fisherman, Loo struggles to fit in at school. Loo's maternal grandmother, Mabel Ridge, is still living in Olympus and still hates Samuel Hawley. She thinks the circumstances surrounding her daughter's death are suspicious and thinks he's to blame. She gives Loo newspaper clippings and leaves her wondering whether or not her father killed her mother. After all, he has a criminal past and twelve bullet holes to prove it.

This book was GOOD! It alternates between Hawley's past - how he got the bullet holes, how he came to know and love Lily and what happened to her and how he carried on after she died; and the present - what his life is like now and what Loo's life is like. And their lives are interesting! Both past and present are equally compelling. There was never a dull moment. These characters really came to life and I hated for the book to end. I felt like I knew Hawley and Loo and I certainly didn't want anything bad to happen to either of them. This book uncovers Hawley's dangerous past but also shows how much love a father has for his daughter and how far he'll go to protect her. Their bond was really something special. I added this to my 'favourite' shelf!

Review
3 Stars
The Girl with the Red Balloon
The Girl with the Red Balloon - Katherine  Locke

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum and her classmates are visiting Germany. When she spots a red balloon, she tells her best friend to take a picture so she can show her grandfather when she returns to the United States. But by grabbing that red balloon Ellie is taken back in time to East Berlin in 1988. There she meets members of an organization who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the wall to West Berlin. But to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. Eventually it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history and Ellie wants to do everything she can to stop them, even if it means never returning home again.

There are three points-of-view: Ellie's when she briefly travels to Germany in present time then travels back to 1988 where the rest of her story is told, Kai's who is a Runner, someone who helps people get over the wall, and Benno's back in the 1940's in a Polish ghetto. This is such an interesting concept - using balloons to send people over the Berlin Wall. But there was something about this book that didn't quite make it as enjoyable as I'd hoped. I liked the characters, but I felt as though, except for Benno, we only scratched the surface of who they really were. The writing itself was just okay - sometimes the characters were overly dramatic. I think this book may appeal more to younger readers.

Thank you to Netgalley and Albert Whitman & Company for a copy of this book.

Review
4 Stars
Last Breath
Last Breath: A gripping serial killer thriller that will have you hooked (Detective Erika Foster Book 4) - Robert Bryndza

When the body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first on the scene, even though it's not her case. While Erika tries her hardest to be a part of the team officially, she can't help but get involved beforehand. She finds a link between the woman left in the dumpster and an unsolved murder of another young woman whose body was also found in a dumpster four months earlier and had the exact same wounds including the fatal incision to their femoral artery. Erika is finding this case tough to crack - the killer is stalking his victims online using a fake identity and a VPN. Another girl has been abducted and now Erika and her team have to figure out the killer's identity before he can kill again.

This is another compelling book in the Erika Foster series. As always Erika is strong and determined. She's not afraid to speak her mind and do whatever it takes to catch the killer. However, I'm not crazy about the romance part of her life. I liked the killer's point-of-view and his use of social media. This book may be a reminder for some who share a bit too much in their social media lives that we don't always know who we're talking to online and to be careful.

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

Review
4 Stars
Sisters One, Two, Three
Sisters One, Two, Three - Nancy Star

Glory Tangle and her four children were staying on Martha's Vineyard when something tragic happened. Afterwards Ginger and Mimi, the oldest sisters, are not supposed to mention what happened to anyone, not even to their mother, and their younger sister, Callie, is sent away to boarding school. Many, many years later Ginger is forced to reveal a secret when her teenage daughter overhears a comment. And so the Tangles' web of secrets and lies begins to unravel. When Glory dies and long-estranged Callie returns home, Ginger goes back to Martha's Vineyard to piece together what really happened on the day no one dared to mention in the Tangle household.

This is told from Ginger's perspective. It's a slow-moving book but I enjoyed reading about the Tangle's, especially in the early years. They're dysfunctional and have their quirks and I didn't always like how they handled things but you can't help but like them just the same. It's a realistic portrayal of how keeping secrets and not talking about memories and your feelings can damage relationships.

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the copy of this book.

Review
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.

Review
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.

Review
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.

Review
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.

Review
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!

Review
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.

Review
5 Stars
Pressure
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?!

Review
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.

Review
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.