Marlena by Julie Buntin

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Publication Date: April 4th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

This is a sort of coming of age story that centers around the main character Cat ,who is living and working in New York, but primarily focuses on flashbacks into her past in Michigan, and the time she spent with her former best friend Marlena. Marlena passed away within the year that Cat first met her; however, Cat remembers this year vividly as the year she experienced many of her ‘firsts’. Marlena gets Cat involved in the bad crowds, pill popping, smoking, alcohol, and promiscuous behavior. It is with Marlena, that Cat experiences her first kiss, first drink, first cigarette, and many more firsts. Bad decisions, and regrets become the norm for Cat as she becomes closer to Marlena. When Marlena is found drowned in the water in the woods nearby, (that is not a spoiler) Cat’s world is flipped upside down as she struggles to cope with what happened, and blames herself for not helping Marlena the way she felt she should have.

As for my thoughts, I really enjoyed reading this. This book definitely brought on a sort of nostalgia of my teenage years. I found myself reminiscing on the memories I shared with my best friend in high school and all of the crazy stupid decisions we made together at the time.

I really felt for Cat as she told her story about her time in Michigan with Marlena, and how she watched Marlena spiral out of control with her drug use. Cat felt like she was in the background, unable to do anything to help, because Cat was slowly getting more involved in that scene as well. I don’t think Cat was able to see clearly what was going on around her until after Marlena was found dead. I also really enjoyed the authors writing style, and there were a lot of beautifully written sentences that made you feel as if you were right there with Cat as she tells this story to you.

I am not sure if this is considered a YA novel or not. The majority of the story is told from the time period that Cat was a teenager, and if it is, it sure doesn’t seem like the typical YA novel. I found it quite ‘literary’, whereas you don’t see that often in YA novels, which is why I never read them.  I am definitely interested in picking up anything else that she writes in the future. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

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Publication Date: May 9th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

First off, I want to say that this book is extremely hard for me to talk about without giving any spoilers. A basic synopsis of this would be that our main character is Rachel, a former journalist, has went through something tragic while away for work that has caused her to become a shut in. Rachel never leaves the house, and has panic attacks every time she tries to leave, and she never used to be this way. Throughout some sections of the book, Rachel reflects on her life before she became a journalist, and after, and how she fell in love with her current husband Brian. Rachel ends up being dragged into a violent conspiracy that is filled with so many deceptive lies, that you are unsure of who or what to believe anymore. Taken from the synopsis from Goodreads, “Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his best.”

As for my thoughts, I was extremely disappointed. I felt like I just wasted my time reading 419 pages of this book for no reason. When I first started this, it seemed promising, and I really liked where I thought it was going; however, it seemed like the author was telling two separate stories, one in the beginning, and one during the second half of the book, neither having anything to do with each other. At the beginning, Rachel is on a quest to seek out her father who had left her and her mother when she was a small girl. I seriously thought the story would be more about the family aspect, and about Rachel finding herself amongst the struggles and emptiness she has had to deal with throughout her life; however, as we get further and further along, the author basically drops this aspect and goes in a completely different way, and I felt this new direction had nothing to do with how this story was first introduced. The author seemed to just start throwing the craziest most unbelievable things into the picture for a ‘wow factor’, and drama, but I think it completely ruined the story. The ending was also pretty disappointing because just….ended…..no resolutions, nothing.

I know this author is known for plot twists, for example, we all the the big twist at the end of ‘Shutter Island‘, whether you have seen the movie, or read the book, but I didn’t even see any twists or any thrilling aspects for the fact that I thought there were two completely different stories being told. It left me so confused…I want my time back. I rated this 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

Penny: Hands I Passed Through, Things I saw, Stories I Can Tell by Peter Davidson

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Publication date: May 7th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers

First off, I wanted to thank the author for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. This short but entertaining book of 188 pages, is written from the perspective of a penny….yes, you read that right, we are reading all about the life and adventures of the last penny to be made of 95% copper. After 1982, pennies were then created using primarily zinc, and hardly any copper. This penny tells us all about the different people who had once carried it along in their day to day life, or stowed it away for years at a time. This penny has lived more lives than anyone could possibly imagine, and has seen it all from criminals, priests, rockers, writers, you name it.

As for my thoughts, I was able to read this within a couple hours at the beach this afternoon. I definitely thought that this was a quick, and fun read that would be good for not just adults, but teens alike. I have actually thought about this premise before, only with a dollar bill instead of a penny. I can only imagine how many people my spare change and cash has been through, and not to mention the germs…yuck. Obviously this story doesn’t spend much time going in depth with the background of any of the characters we meet, but that is because pennies are passed around so much, that there is no time for much depth; however, if you are looking for something quick and humorous that you can get through in one sitting, I would recommend checking this one out.

My only complaint is that this title is not listed on Goodreads, and I can’t add this to my 2017 reading challenge. If it were listed though, I would rate it a solid 3 out of 5 stars. It didn’t blow me away, but it was good fun.

-Carissa

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

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Publication Date: April 18th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

This is a very detailed nonfiction book about the murders of the Osage people, or what is considered the ‘Osage Reign of Terror’ that occurred in Oklahoma in the early 1900’s. The Osage tribe, who were relocated from their ancestral lands in Kansas, and then transported to Oklahoma in the 1800’s, struck luck and became some of the richest people in the country when valuable oil was found on their new lands. The author mainly details the life of Mollie Burkhart, who was a full blooded Osage woman that dealt with many of her family members who were mysteriously murdered, and the investigations that followed. In this book, we find out all about why these people were getting killed off, and we learn about some of the prolific investigators who were apart of this case. We also learn about how corrupt the judicial system was in dealing with this case, and that many of the people who were supposedly their to ‘help’ these people, ended up against them the entire time.

As for my thoughts, this was definitely one of my favorite books of the year so far. I was extremely impressed by the amount of research that went into writing this story. It is obvious that this is a subject that the author is very passionate about. Like many people, I had no idea that any of these murders even occurred in the early 1900’s, and it is sad that the majority of the murders that happened at this time, were swept under the rug and completely ignored due to the crooked system in place. I don’t read nonfiction very often, but I might need to change that because I am normally very impressed with what I do read in the genre. I would definitely read anything else that this author comes out with in the future, as well as going back and reading his older works. Rumors are out that this is going to be turned into a moving starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I sure hope so!

I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Excellent, and I highly recommend!

-Carissa

Wish I Were Here by Erin Lavan

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Publication Date: May 15th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

Wish I Were Here‘ is a fairly short first novel written by Erin Lavan. Even though the story itself is short, you will experience all kinds of emotions while reading it, which is just what a good book should do.

At the very beginning of the story, we are introduced to Savannah Waters who is an artist living in Los Angeles who has recently found out that her ex boyfriend Axel has suddenly died from a drug overdose. After receiving the news, Savannah deals with a lot of inner turmoil and starts to question whether or not Axel’s death is her fault. Savannah gets drunk one night , and makes some stupid decisions which lands her in jail. After an intervention, and a few sessions with a local psychiatrist, she soon finds herself on the back of her doctors bike riding through the Alps in Switzerland, Italy, and France. What we find out, is that this trip is not what Savannah bargained for, and we meet some pretty interesting characters along the way. Will Savannah come to terms with her past and accept what lies ahead of her in the future?

As for my thoughts, I thought this was a very well written first novel. The author clearly has a talent for writing that many unfortunately do not. There were a lot of laugh out loud moments in this book which I enjoyed, because I don’t tend to read books that are humorous in the slightest. This is a very easy lighthearted read that anyone can finish in a couple days. I also love traveling, and I like the fact that this book was able to take me to countries that I have not been fortunate enough to visit yet. After reading this, you will surely want to taste some of the food that is mentioned throughout for yourself. Overall I rated this 4 out of 5 stars, and would recommend this to anyone looking for something light, but also looking for an escape to some great travel destinations.

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

-Carissa

One Lovely Blog Award

First off, I have never done anything like this, but I wanted to thank James J. Cudney IV for nominating me for this award. To be honest, I have no idea what it is, but I appreciate the thought. It is always nice to see that other bloggers appreciate your content. Check out his blog if you are looking for someone who updates daily and provides great book reviews.

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Rules:

  • Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in their post.
  • They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image.
  • Must add 7 facts about themselves.
  • Nominate 15 people to do the award!

Seven fun and interesting facts about me:

-I was in the US Coast Guard for 6 years.

-One of my favorites things to do besides read is hike! I have to take advantage of my   time living in Hawaii by hiking all the mountains! Here is a picture of me in my element.

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-I hate driving. Id much rather someone else drive me around for the rest of my life.

-I would love to have a farm filled with nothing but French Bulldogs, hundreds of them.

-I have been to 3 different continents. North America, Asia, and Australia.

-My favorite snack is Chester’s Hot fries, which you can’t find anywhere in Hawaii. 😦

-Even though I was in the Coast Guard, I am not a swimmer. I doggy paddle, thats about it.

My Nominees: (I only nominate 5 for now, I am still new around here!) 

If I nominated you, it is because I really like the layout of your blog, and think you have well down reviews!

Its a readers life

Maries Book Boutique

sherlockedinatardiswithron

itsbooktalk

bookdrblog

-Carissa

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

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Publication Date: April 25th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

Burntown‘ is written from multiple perspectives and time frames. I would say that the main character is Eva who we are introduced to as a kid, and then follow her story through to her young adulthood. Eva remembers following her dad Miles around his workshop as he built many different objects, including a strange machine that was built using the blueprints that Thomas Edison himself created. These particular blueprints were somehow smuggled and then passed down in the family. Miles finally decides to take it upon himself and see what this mysterious machine actually is, and builds it throughout the span of several years. One night when this machine randomly comes to life, and the words “Danger” are spoken from it, the story takes a dark turn, and we soon find Eva waking up next to her mother Lily on the side of a river. Utterly confused at what happened the night before, she discovers that her dad and brother are both dead, and the rest of the story follows Eva as she tries to put the pieces together and find out what happened to her family.

As for my thoughts, I think that Jennifer McMahon can obviously create intricate stories that make it seem as if you are there with the characters and experiencing everything that they are experiencing. She is easily one of my favorite authors, and this is the third books of hers that I have read so far. I have also read ‘The Winter People‘, and ‘The Night Sister‘, and all three books are well thought out, and you can really tell that she researched different elements that she put into her stories. I am amazed at how well she can weave in the amount of character perspectives that she uses in her books. The only thing I had trouble with was that ‘Burntown’ is written from so many different character perspectives and points of time, that it can get a little bit confusing at times. Keeping track of who is who, and where you are at in the story had me scratching my head and a bit lost at times.

I think out of the three books that I have read from her so far, ‘Burntown‘ would be my least favorite, just because I really enjoyed the overall stories of her others a little more; however, that does not mean that this book was bad in any way. I will continue to read anything that this author comes out with, and I still need to read some of her other books. I think this book is definitely worth a read, though I may be a bit biased towards the author.

Overall, I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.

-Carissa

The Fated Path by Greg Albright

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Publication Date: January 31st, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

This is a historical fiction tale that is told from three different perspectives, and takes place in California and Mexico when the hunt for gold became an epidemic in the area. We meet our first character, Joshua Miner , and the novel starts us off in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We soon learn that Joshua’s sister Ruth had been abducted right in front of him when they were children, and this all happened in the very same foothills that Joshua is traveling on when he decides that he must start his journey to find out what happened to his sister twenty years ago, and if she might still be alive. Not only do we get to see the journey Joshua takes to find his sister, and the characters we meet along the way, but this story also takes us far back in time to the late 1700’s, where we see little glimpses of how the gold in the region started to become highly sought after.

As for my thoughts, I really enjoyed the overall story I got from this. I really liked two of the three perspectives we got to read from, which were both Joshua and Ruth’s perspectives. I did however, think the 3rd perspective, which was from a couple different characters from the 1700’s wasn’t a big necessity, and didn’t really add anything to the story. When reading these sections, I kept wondering how most of it had anything to do with the plot of the story with Joshua and Ruth; however, you do end up seeing that some of the things you read about eventually tie in with the story of the main characters near the end.

I liked how this was an outdoor adventure tale that took me all over California and Mexico on foot, and on horse. The description of the location really made me feel like I was there experiencing everything that was going on for myself. I did run into several minor typos that I wish I could have edited out, but if you are looking for a story that is adventurous and unique, you might really enjoy this. I thought it was a solid, well thought out book that is worth a read!

I rated this 3.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

Starburst, (Women of the Grey Book 1) by Carol James Marshall

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This review does not contain spoilers

First off, I wanted to say thank you to the author who reached out to me for this.

Lisa may look like a normal person, but we soon find out she is not of this world. She is from a world known as ‘the Grey’, and is on a mission to become one of the ‘Mothers’, or ‘Women of the Grey.’ The women are known to be a breed of superior female species, not human, and all look identical to one another. When Lisa is sent to Feline Street, a small miserable neighborhood located in California, she has been given a task to gather four different individuals, knowns as her ‘marks’ to await the endpoint. Lisa has not been told why she is to find these particular people, nor what the endpoint means, but this mission needs to be completed in order for her to be accepted into the Women of the Grey. The endpoint might mean death for her marks, but Lisa does not want to find out what happens to the girls of the Grey who are unable to complete their mission. Craig, Maggie, Iggy, and Rafael are all those identified as Lisa’s marks, and Lisa soon realizes that she needs to build relationships with these people in order to gain their trust to gather them all together for what is to come at the endpoint. She soon finds out that this is no easy task. Lisa does not know how to act like a proper human, except for what she has seen on TV, and her marks show no little to no interest in her from the start.

As for my thoughts, let me just say that I am someone who never reads from this type of genre. I normally reach for realistic type fiction, but I thought I should give something different a try. I also like to try and show support for self published indie authors, because they definitely need more love. I thought this story was very unique, and obviously nothing like I have read before. I liked that this book was written in multiple perspectives, ranging from the main character Lisa, to all of her marks, and even some of the mothers in the Grey. I enjoyed reading from Lisa and Craig’s perspectives the best. I will say that I never quite understood why all of her marks were such depressed and unhappy people, and there were some things that happened in this book that I didn’t find absolutely necessary to be added, but I was able to overlook this in order to find out what happened. I also had so many questions in my head as I read this; however, I had to keep in mind that this is the first book in a series so there are more answers to find out.

I am unable to compare this story to the likes of anything like it, being that I am not the target audience, but I do think if you are into books that have dark, ski-fi, fantasy elements, this could be for you!

All in all, I would give this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

-Carissa

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

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Publication Date: March 7th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

‘All Grown Up’ seems to have been written as if it is a memoir. The narrator, Andrea who is in her 40’s single, childless, and living in New York City discusses the expectation for women to marry at a certain age, have kids, and settle down. Throughout this book, Andrea takes the reader back in time from her childhood, teens, and young adulthood. We see the struggles that she has encountered in her past relationships with different men, as well as her own dysfunctional family. Her mother, and her friends pressure her to find someone to spend life with, but Andrea is pretty sure that she never wants to marry. She is a failed artist, who has ended up in a dead end job she hates, her father was a heavy drug user, and her brother and his wife have a child that has been terminally ill since the day she was born. Life just isn’t anything like she had hoped for. We see Andrea pick up the pieces that is her disappointing life, and whether she can come to terms with  it.

I picked this book for my March ‘Book of the Month Club’ pick, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this; however, I really enjoyed this book. Had it not been for college finals, I probably could have read this within a couple days. The flow of the writing is easy and fast paced, not to mention the book is just short of 200 pages. I was always happy to pick the book up again once I put it down, and really enjoyed reading about Andrea’s life. I would definitely be interested to see what else Jami Attenberg comes out with in the future.

I rated this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa