The History of Jane Doe, Michael Belanger

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Title: The History of Jane Doe

Author: Michael Belanger

Pages:  304

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date: June 5th, 2018

 

Summary:

Seen through the eyes of a youth that has already loved and lost, this story is cut into parts so that he can write out the history: Before Jane, and After Jane.  Struggling with the hurt feelings, guilt, unanswered questions and trying to find his place again; Ray is drowning and no amount of therapy, parenting, or friendship can reach him.  He always understood history, and wanted to write Jane’s; so that she wasn’t forgotten.  But how much did she know about the bright, quirky girl with the sad eyes and secrets?  And how does he figure out who he is after Jane?

My thoughts:

First, I adored the premise here.  Ray is a great character, well rounded and interesting.  He loves his odd little town with it’s “haunted house” and “green cows”.  He loves the history of it- and history in general.  When the pretty new girl, Jane Doe, begins talking to him, he can’t wait to be the one to show her all the oddities her conspiracy-theorist heart yearns for.  Along with his geeky best friend, Simon, they make a list of adventures and make a year to remember.

As feelings grow between Jane and Ray, though, he can’t help seeing little things.  She won’t talk about her past, her friends there.  Sometimes she is sad, distant, and won’t come around for days.  He loves Jane, and wants to help her, but what does a teen know about dealing with depression?  I actually really appreciated how the author showed Jane; and how Ray was “after”.  It seemed believable, honest.  He was in pain and confused, angry at having to seek help from a psychiatrist when he wasn’t even sure what needed fixed.  The slightly ridiculous interactions between Jane, Ray and Simon helped to lighten the mood; lending a bit of humor and whimsy to what would otherwise be a very heavy piece.  In this way it reminded me of John Green’s works, and I think his fans will really like Belanger.

My only complaint is that it followed no real time line.  Each chapter was “…Days before/ after Jane” and you had to stop and think.  Has this happened yet, do they know about this here?  If the memories went in order it would be easier, but one’s memories don’t come like that.  We are at the whim of what is important to Ray at the moment.  It makes for a choppier reading experience, but a more organic one.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, I am a bit torn.  There’s very light sexual content, and some language and drinking- all very minor.  But there are triggers here: teen depression and self harm.  My niece will still be offered this one, but I would definitely either save it for older teens or have an open discussion at the end to talk out their feelings on Jane and if anything could be done differently.  I give it a five.  Parental Guidance

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  first to read

The book comes out 6-05-18.  Be ready!

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

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Murder in the Mystery Suite, Ellery Adams

 

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Title: Murder in the Mystery Suite

Author: Ellery Adams

Pages: 304

Genre: cozy mystery

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book one of the Book Retreat Mysteries.

Published:  August 5th, 2014

Summary:

Storyton Hall has become Jane’s refuge.  Deep in the hills of Virginia, the manor-cum-literary hotel is exactly what she needed for her and her twin boys after her husband passed.  Now as acting Steward for her aunt and uncle, she takes her job very seriously.  It takes money to keep the place running smoothly and she needs to find it- fast.  What is a hotel with multiple libraries to do?  A themed week for mystery fanatics to dress up and solve imaginary mysteries.  The first Murder & Mayhem week is about to launch!

The scavenger hunt, their first event with a first edition book as the prize, goes well; if the prize was a bit more popular than imagined- even for bibliophiles.  With all the newcomers, though, there’s a lot of strange things going on.  Runaway horses, and a corpse in the mystery suite- missing his prize.  As Jane moves through the week she learns there’s more to her home than she thought- secrets that must be protected, treasure that must remain secret.  When things become dangerous, can this single mother really rise to the occasion?

My thoughts:

So there’s a lot to love here.  The plot is interesting, and I love the characters.  Fitz and Hem are fantastic little boys that add some much needed comic relief.  I also loved Muffet Cat and Aunt Octavia.  The story was a bit slow for me at first, as there was a lot of ground to cover, but once it hit it’s stride I couldn’t put it down.  I was definitely intrigued and wanting to learn more.

There was quite a bit, though, that was hard to swallow.  A secret library with a treasure trove of never before seen manuscripts?  The reader in me is on board…. but it’s a bit fantastical.  Just now realizing that her beloved uncle is a badass fighter that’s been protecting literary treasure…. I am starting to feel like this is a stretch.  Then, there’s the fact that they have stocked the place with mercenary badasses that have been protecting Storyton Hall for years.  We’re talking sword fighters, archers, poisoners, and a forensic lab.  It’s all a bit much.  You tell me I have to learn to fight, keep these secrets, raise two kids and manage a hotel…. I’ll tell you where you can stick your bright ideas.  Yet, for all of this, I was spellbound.  I loved this book- every crazy paragraph.  I will say, though, that this isn’t my favorite series I have read of hers, but it’s up there.  Seriously, it’s going to be hard to top The Secret, Book & Scone Society!  For me, this is a four star book.
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On the adult content scale, there’s some minor violence and the conversation gets a bit racy in areas…. but it is blessedly tame.  This is just good, clean fun and a super quick read.  I give it a three tops.  General.svg

The book came out 10-05-14.  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy reading,

Amber

The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze, Rick Riordan

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Title: The Burning Maze

Author: Rick Riordan

Pages: 448

Genre: children/ YA, Fantasy, Adventure

Is this part of a series?  Yes.  This is book three of the Trials of Apollo series.

Published:  May 1st, 2018

Summary:

Once the god Apollo, now a pimply mortal youth named Lester, is trying to restore the oracles that have gone dark and thus get back to Olympus.  With two down, he has three to go and time is of the essence.  California is dealing with far more than the usual draughts.  Wildfires are springing up everywhere and nature- along with their spirits-are dying off.  Underground, part of the labyrinth has become evil- more dangerous, with fires coming out of no where.

With the help of his demigod friends Apollo must stop the fires, rescue the oracle, beat a sorceress, fend off attack from a crazed talking horse and his crazier emperor while making time to steal shoes.  Fun times….

My thoughts:

Alright, I will say it.  This is not the best series ever…. it isn’t even Riordan’s best series.  The lead character, Apollo/Lester, is fair worthless in combat and constantly looking toward someone to save his ass instead of exercising and trying to actually learn combat.  All these characters that I learned to love in his other (*read: better*) series are falling all over themselves to protect him.  His weapon, an arrow that can only talk to him- and then only in Shakespearean English- is far often more annoying than useful.  I mean it gives him info and, when shot, seems to help with accuracy…. but it whines about it even more than Lester!  When compared to Percy’s sword, Magnus’s Jack, or even Meg’s scythes… it’s pretty pathetic.

So what keeps me coming back for more?  For starters, I adore the supporting characters.  Twelve year old Meg is awesome, loyal, and often funny.  I also like the fact that I can see characters from the other series’ that I loved.  Being able to actually see what happened with Grover, Leo and the others is a huge draw for me.  Also, the more time Lester spends as a mortal the less annoying he is.  He is beginning to show real character growth, honest regard for others, guilt.  In short he is becoming a decent human being.  I have enjoyed watching the process.  While I do wish he would get a bit better at fighting, this is enough to keep me buying the books.  My advice, read all the other series’ first- this includes Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard and the Kane Chronicles even though they don’t play into this series.  They’re simply better.  For me, this is a three star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there’s language and violence but nothing over the top.  This book is geared toward young readers.  Let’s give it a two.  General.svg

The book is out!  Have you read it?

Link to book:

amazon

Happy reading,

Amber

The Secret, Book & Scone Society, Ellery Adams

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Title: The Secret, Book & Scone Society

Author: Ellery Adams
Pages: 304

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Is this part of a series?  Yes, this is book one of the Miracle Springs, North Carolina series.

Published: October 31st, 2017

Summary:

People come to Miracle Springs to heal- taking in the hot spring and fabulous food.  If that doesn’t cure what ails you, there’s a book store for that.  You grab a “comfort scone” from Gingerbread House Bakery and head over to Miracle Books.  There, Nora listens to your story and gets you books customized to help you heal.  Burned down half her body, she understands what it is to find comfort in stories.

When a man that was supposed to visit her shop instead winds up dead it brings her together with a few other women in town and for the first time in a long time she has a group.  Bookish misfits, yes, but each with their own story and strength.  Knowing that Neil, the deceased, had come to make amends for something having to do with a current housing project, the girls don’t agree with the sheriff that this is a suicide.  Can four women find the real answer?  What happens when they begin to be targeted?

My thoughts:

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How have I not read this book before now?!?!  How is everyone not talking about it??  I am floored!

Okay… I may have a slight author crush on Adams now.  Even though I have hundreds of books (including half a dozen ARC’s) it didn’t stop me from buying this one and then inhaling it.  After that I visited every book store in town for the first books in her other series’.  I ended up getting two eBooks from Amazon that I will thy to hold off on until after ARC’s but I make no promises.  There was something enchanting about Adams’ writing style.  Her description of people and places, character development and interaction…. everything is phenomenal.

Nora was an interesting woman with a traumatic past.  When hospitalized with burns, one of the nurses tried to pull her out of herself with books, bringing in one after another specially designed to help her.  Having been a librarian in her past life, she decided that she needed to keep working with books… but, more than that, she needed to help others as the nurse helped her.  I loved that idea, and her obvious reverence for books.  Hester was both naive and an old soul, kind and loving…. I adored her.  Estella especially grew on me with her sass and the way she really saw the others.  This is a great cast of characters.  I didn’t want to let them go!  (Thank God there’s another book set to release in late November).  There were tons of book references that delighted the bibliophile in me.  Honestly, I feel like this book has something for everyone.  Five stars and one for creativity!  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating star-709689_960_720

On the adult content scale, there is language and violence as well as reference to sexual content.  Nothing too terrible.  I give it a four.  Parental Guidance

The book is out!  Run-don’t walk-to your favorite book store.

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

Cocky Nerd, Kayley Loring

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Title: Cocky Nerd

Author: Kayley Loring

Pages: 214

Genre: contemporary romance

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published: March 14th, 2018

Summary:

She is the sassy-mouthed Tiny Dancer.   Prima ballerina with a beauty, brains, and a never ending reserve of insults for me- her brother’s best friend John Brandt, known to her as Jonny B. Nerdballs.  I am no good at social interactions, usually too forward and direct.  Also, I spent way too long building my empire- a tech start up and a name for myself.  I was always coming back for her, though… Olivia was always the only one for me, ever since I saw her dance in a recital when she was far too young for me.  I have taken care of myself.  I think I am finally worthy of her… not all I have to do is convince her and not get killed by my best friend.

My thoughts:

I don’t often write reviews on the romance novels I read unless they are really, really good.  I am super picky.  I want it all- the meet cute, good character development, chemistry, good story line and, God help me, more story line than sex.  Don’t get  me wrong, I am not a prude and will read books that are more erotic in nature…. but I want to feel for the characters and to like them as people.  This book brought it all.  I was half in love with John from the word “go”.  He is determined, loyal, loving…. and awkward as all hell.  There were times where the whole “workaholic” thing was played a bit much, but I feel like it stayed in line with his character.  Olivia was a great character too, sassy and strong willed, loyal and loving.  Watching the two interact was brilliant.  For me, it was a four star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, I would give it an eight.  The sex scenes are pretty explicit and there’s some language.adult content rubber stamp

The book is out!  Have you read it?

Happy reading!

-Amber

 

Library At the Edge of the World, Felicity Hayes- McCoy

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title: The Library at the Edge of the World

Author: Felicity Hayes- McCoy

Pages: 339

Genre:  contemporary fiction, Irish culture

Is this part of a series?  Yes, the Finfarran series- book 1

Published: November 14th, 2017

 

Summary: 

Divorced, embittered and living with her overbearing mother, Hanna Casey can’t help wondering where it all went wrong.  Back in her mother’s middle-of-nowhere town, she leads the library and the mobile book van.  It isn’t much, but it’s steady.  That and her savings along with a generous loan starts her on the road to fixing the home her aunt left her years ago.  Working with the most high handed, obstinate man she’s ever met (and his dog) they make short work making the little place habitable.

Something’s in the works, though, that could tear the peninsula apart.  County council members have a plan for certain areas- and it will do no good for the townspeople or her library.  Having begun reclaiming her independence, Hanna doesn’t want to start over.  Her daughter Jazz is just building up her own life, and she doesn’t want to trouble her- they haven’t even told her the truth about the divorce!  Can she and her newly acquired rag-tag team including a barrista, a nun, and a bunch of senior citizens really turn things around?

My thoughts:

The writing style here reminded me of a cross between Fannie Flagg and Maeve Binchy.  It portrayed the close-knit rural towns to perfection, showing you the good, bad, and the hilarious.  Each character was well developed, and I felt that the narrative flowed well from one POV to another.  I do wish I had gotten a better feel of Mary, the cantankerous mother; but I got enough.  There was a lot of emotion here, and small town intrigue.  Personally, I adored it and cannot wait to dive into the other books from this author.  The gently mocking (and sometimes not so gently) tone of the interactions between characters was interesting and refreshing.  I constantly wanted to see what so-and-so would say next.  For me, this is a four star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content, there was some language but nothing over the top.  I would give it a three.  General.svg

The book is out! Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading!

-Amber

Wrap up for…. most of March

march for our lives

Hey guys!  So, my life has been pretty sedate.  I don’t really do anything but hang out with the husband/cats and go to work.  I do have some medical stuff going on, and a big decision to make, but for the most part I have felt tired but fantastic.  It seems I have hypothyroid, which could be the cause of some of my minor ailments.  I have been on meds for it about three weeks now and can see a vast improvement.  Mostly, though, I wanted to take this moment to speak about the recent marches.

Not everyone will agree with me on this, or really anything political.  I am okay with that.  I don’t usually get political on my blog because I have seen it get really heated and well, rude, to be honest.  I have to say a few things though, so I hope everyone will bear with me.

I am so very proud of some of the young people out there.  There are some strong, articulate and brave people heading the marches for better gun control and safety in schools.  I have heard very little of any acts of violence here, which I admire as violence has no place in a meaningful protest- a demand for change.  We have to use our voices, we have to be heard.  We also have to show at least the minimum degree of respect.  There is a story going around about a young man that wrote his congressman- in itself this is a brilliant idea.  In the letter he used inappropriate language, cursed at the congressman and told him to get off his ass.  Yes, many of us are thinking it, but actually saying it is something else entirely.  The story intimated that said congressman got the youth suspended.  Again, not sure if this is true… but it sounds like something that could happen.  We have to be sure we are being articulate, allowing for emotion, yes, but expressing ourselves in smart ways.

There is a book coming out in May 15th called How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation.  I preordered it last month as I believe it will be a very necessary piece for myself, my blog friends, and my niece who is in High School right now, going through all the emotions that teen years bring, along with the new political climate.  It is a group of essays, songs, illustrations and the like written by people who have been activists and fought their own campaigns.  If it is done well, and I firmly believe it will be, this could be a beacon of hope for our youths who are just now learning how to use their voices; and it could give good advice on how to do so in a smart and safe manner.

Let’s face it, we have had too many mass shootings.  At schools, definitely, but at night clubs, at music venues….. so many are saying that the school shootings are a bullying issue.  They aren’t wrong.  This is something I have always been passionate about, and something that has to be worked on.  Kids can be damn cruel.  We need to teach our young to behave better, to help and be kind.  At the same time it cannot be ignored that these bullies did not buy the kid a gun.  How did they get it?  How can we as Americans say that it is okay for them to have access to these types of weapons simply because they turned 18?  Seriously, I wasn’t a “responsible adult” until 24, and I still don’t always feel like one at 35!  That’s me, though, some are responsible gun enthusiast that take care to have their weapons locked up, away from young hands.  I don’t want to take away their rites.  I want stricter laws on buying, I want each weapon to have to be registered.  I want psych evals before purchase of freaking assault riffles.  I want classes on gun safety.  The life of my niece is worth so much more than the minor inconvenience this would cause.

Rant ended.  I love you guys.  Be safe.

Amber