Monday, April 09, 2018

Book Review: One Breath Away - Heather Gudenkauf

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In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom.  Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town's children in her hands.  Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again.  Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care.  And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I didn't like the characters in the story at the beginning or the book really but as I read more of it and got to know them I like it.  The story unfold from several perspectives, Officer Meg, Will a farmer and grandfather, Augie a middle schooler at the school, Everlyn a teacher close to retirement and Holly, a mother recovering from an accident in AZ.  Holly is the mother of Augie and PJ, both at the school and daughter to Will.  I was very surprised when it was revealed who the man was but once revealed it seemed like everything made sense as to why he was there.  There was also some side stories to other characters that were possible suspects.  Overall a great story.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Book Review: This Heart of Mine - C.C. Hunter

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A new heart saved her life--but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless.  An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive.  However, this route only offers her a few years.  And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn't likely.  Living like you are dying isn't all it's cracked up to be.  But when a heart becomes available, she's given a second chance at life.  Except Leah discovers who the donor was--a boy from her school--and they're saying he killed himself.  Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realized she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself.  When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he's certain it means something.  While unraveling the secrets of his brother's final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose.  But life and even new hearts don't come with guarantees.  Who knew living took more courage than dying?

3/5 stars (liked it)
I saw a lot of Kylie in Leah and a lot of Lucas in Matt, characters from C.C. Hunter's Shadowfalls Series.  I liked the characters, even the secondary ones.  I thought it was a good mystery as to what really happened to Matt's twin and how he really died.  Also at the same time seeing Matt and Leah's relationship evolve.  It was a sad story but at the same time a romance and mystery all in one.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: Nanny Returns - Emma McLaughlin

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Ten years after the fateful night when Nan was fired, she returns to New York with her husband, HH.  Finally settling in to build a permanent home and get her consulting business off the ground, Nan's plans are derailed by HH's sudden desire to start a family-and her surprisingly strong resistance to the idea.

2/5 stars (it was OK)
So I didn't really feel like a sequel was necessary.  I felt like the first book had a happy ending and gave us hope for Nan.  This book totally ruined that hope.  Nan doesn't seem like she grew up at all.  She gets sucked into the family that fired her.  I think I would have rather read a book through Grayer's perspective and what his life has been like since Nan was fired.

Book Review: Hate List - Jennifer Brown

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Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria.  Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped created.  A list of people and things she and Nick hated.  The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year.  Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends, and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

3/5 stars (like it)
This story was not about the shooting itself but about the recovery from the shooting.  We start out with Valerie going back to school her senior year and through flashbacks we see life before the shooting.  We get to know Nick through Valerie.  We get to know him not as the person that decided to shoot everyone but as the unpopular kid that got bullied and how Val saw him.  We also get to know the people that did the bullying before the shooting and after.  I thought the story was well told and the ending was fitting.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review: The Program - Suzanne Young

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Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone.  With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment.  Sloane's parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they'll do anything to keep her alive.  She also knows that everyone who's been through The Program returns as a blank slate.  Because their depression is gone--but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can.  The only person Sloane can be herself with is James.  He's promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything.  But despite the promises they made to each other, it's getting harder to hide the truth.  They are both growing weaker.  Depression is setting in.  And The Program is coming for them.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I didn't like Sloane at first but grew to like her.  What I didn't understand is why suicide was such an epidemic among young adults.  But other than that the book was good.  Sloane is in the program and as she loves her memories, which happens slowly, we see a little change in her.  We follow her after she leaves the program and meets some people she knew before but doesn't know now.  I will definitely read the next one.

Book Review: Authority - Jeff VanderMeer

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After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X--a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization--has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach.  Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in compele disarray.

John Rodriguez (aka "Control") is the Southern Reach's newly appointed head.  Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X.  But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he's pledged to serve.

2/5 stars (it was OK)
This book was very confusing and didn't really answer any questions.  I didn't care for Control and really was sick of him by the end.  I really would have rather had this book been from the Biologist's point of view like the first book.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Review: Talking as Fast As I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, And Everything in Between - Lauren Graham

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In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood revelas stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood--along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelei Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, "Did you, um make it?"  She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood ("Strangers were worried about me; that's how long I was single!"), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway ("It's like I had a fashion-induced blackout")

In "What It Was Like, Part One," Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelei Gilmore.  The essay "What It was Like, Part Two" reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she's aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls ("If you're meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you've already set the bar too high"), and she's a card-carrying REI shopper ("My bungee cords now earn points!")

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and - of course - talking as fast as you can.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
So I decided to listen to the audiobook since it was read by Lauren Graham.  So glad I did, it was made the book so much better.  I love how she reflects on every season of Gilmore Girls and makes fun of her hair.  I loved the little bit of behind the scenes for the show and how she even started on the show.  Overall a great book.

Book Review: One Breath Away - Heather Gudenkauf

One Breath Away - Heather Gudenkauf In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary...