Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Audiobook Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult book cover and review
Here are my general feelings while reading Leaving Time: love, love, love, LOVE... oh no... disappointment...no way!... well,  maybe,  ummmm, well I guess this is okay.

Leaving Time is about an adolescent girl, Jenna, who has been searching her whole life for her mother who disappeared when Jenna was a  young child.  Her mother (and father) worked at an elephant sanctuary.

The story is told from multiple perspectives. Through Jenna's mother, Alice, we learn about her elephant research in Africa and how she ended up married and working at the sanctuary. The stories about the elephants are my favorite parts of the book. We learn a lot about elephant behavior, and it is fascinating.

Jenna enlists the help of a psychic, Serenity, and the washed-out detective who originally investigated the tragic events leading up to Alice's disappearance. We get their points-of-view also.

The reader is taken step by step down this path to discovering what happened, and then BAM! -- the huge twist.  I had no idea this was going to happen because I hadn't really heard anything about the book before I read it. I was stunned and disappointed at the "cop -out" I fell Picoult used.

However, I liked that the twist wasn't the end of the book. We still get more story, more explanation, and some closure for all of the characters, so I ended up being okay with it. But I still would rather it have turned out to be something else.

The audiobook is narrated by four different people, all of whom did a great job, and the multiple readers helped make the perspectives distinct.

Looking back, I really enjoyed Leaving Time and would recommend it even with the startling twist.

Published by Ballentine, 2014 (Random House Audio)
Audiobook obtained from the library
416 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Stacking the Shelves - A Few New Ones

Happy Weekend everyone! We are winding down things at school, so I'm hoping to up my reading for the summer -- but still have a lot of other plans, so we'll see!  Here's what I received for the past two weeks:

For Review:
Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz, book cover
Among the Red Stars, by Gwen C. Katz from Edelweiss

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski book cover
Dare Mighty Things, by Heather Kaczynski from Edelweiss

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden book cover
Crossing Ebenezer Creek, by Tonya Bolden from NetGalley

That's it for me.  How about you?  Anything good I should get my hands on?  Leave me a link in the comments.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit the hosts:  Team Tynga's Reviews. 





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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens book cover and reviewI would never make it through Charles Dickens without my Serial Reader app. I have tried to read Great Expectations previously but just couldn't do it. Taking it in 10-15 minute chunks daily is the only way for me.

I can't say I enjoyed Great Expectations, but I did get through it without any discomfort.

It really takes a long time for the story to get going.  It never moves at a fast pace, but it does pick up a bit at a point past the halfway mark.  I just didn't find the story all that compelling.  I was entertained by poor Pip's experiences but really could have read the CliffsNotes and been just as happy. The characterizations are great, and I enjoy visualizing them. There were some surprises that I didn't see coming and some that I did.

I readily admit I don't have the appreciation for the old terminology, slow pace, and very descriptive language used in many classical works. But now I can say I've read it. It will be a while before I tackle another Dickens.

Published by ??
EBook obtained from Serial Reader
544 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: Avenged, by Amy Tintera @amytintera

Avenged by Amy Tintera Book cover and review
I enjoyed Avenged just as much as Ruined and I'm really excited about this series!

Em has rescued her sister, Olivia, and they are now headed back to Ruina to rebuild the castle.  Things are not that easy, though, and Olivia is out for vengeance.  Em has assured Cas, who is now ruling their enemy, that Ruina will not attack and he has assured her he will leave them in peace.  But that isn't good enough for Olivia.

So things get complicated between the three kingdoms. Alliances are made and then broken.  No one trusts anyone.  And all the time, Em just wants to save her kingdom and keep everyone safe - including her enemies.  That isn't a popular opinion, however.

There is a lot of movement between kingdoms and in some books with multiple factions, I tend to get them mixed up.  But not in Avenged. Tintera does a great job of keeping them distinct.

I enjoyed the struggles and how Em is so strong in her beliefs. She's a survivor and a fighter, and I'm rooting for her and Cas to end up happily together -- but that isn't the case yet.

This series is shaping up to be a favorite, and as I said in my review of Ruined, teens who can't get enough of these female heroines who are trying to take over the world will enjoy Avenged.

Published by HarperTeen, May 2, 2017
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
416 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith book cover and review
I'm going to have to quit saying I don't like contemporary romances when I adore everything Jennifer E. Smith has written. I was, once again, captivated by Windfall.

The funny thing is, you will probably be able to guess the general story arc when you read the blurb.  Alice buys a lottery ticket for her best friend, Teddy, on his birthday.  She's secretly head-over-heels in love with him and has chosen this day to tell him.  Instead of that happening, he wins millions of dollars in the lottery.

There is much more to these characters. Alice lost her parents when she was nine years old and lives with her aunt and uncle and her cousin, Leo, who makes up the third person of the best-friend trio. Teddy's father left when he was young, and he and his mother struggle to make ends meet. Leo's boyfriend is a year older than Leo and is away at college. They are all trying to figure out what they will do after high school.

Smith is a wonderful storyteller. There's just no way that this mostly predictable story should be this good.  But it is. It isn't sappy, but it should be. The characters are genuine and tug at your heartstrings. They have life struggles to get through, and they do it without going over the top. Smith just has a way of sucking you in so that you can't wait to find out what happens, even though you pretty much know.

I thoroughly enjoyed Windfall, and I can't wait to hand it to some of my teens.

Published by Delacorte, May 2. 2017
eARC obtained from NetGalley
432 pages

Rating: 4.5





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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Stacking the Shelves - A Big Catchup

Once again, it's been a while since I did one of these, so I have quite a bit to report. Here we go!

For Review:
The Possible by Tara Altebrando book cover
The Possible, by Tara Altebrando from NetGalley
Love this cover!

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds book cover
Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds from Edelweiss

The Lost Causes by Jessica Etting and Alyssa Schwartz from Edelweiss
The Lost Causes, by Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting from Edelweiss

A Dangerous Magic by Donald Hounam book cover
A Dangerous Magic, by Donald Hounam from Edelweiss

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand book cover
The Afterlife of Holly Chase, by Cynthia Hand from Edelweiss

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano book cover
The Glass Spare, by Lauren DeStefano from Edelweiss

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris book cover
Behind Closed Doors, by B. A. Paris from NetGalley

Jane Unlimited by Kristen Cashore book cover
Jane, Unlimited, by Kristen Cashore from NetGalley

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook book cover
The Hanging Girl, by Eileen Cook from Edelweiss

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta book cover
Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta from Libraries Unlimited

When I am Through With You, by Stephanie Kuehn book cover
When I am Through With You, by Stephanie Kuehn from Libraries Unlimited

Those are all over the place, I know, but for some reason, these are the ones that caught my eye in the last couple of weeks.  How about you?  Leave me a link so I can add to my wish list! Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews.





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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: Bang, by Barry Lyga

Bang by Barry Lyga book cover and review
Lyga writes pretty edgy novels but somehow makes them relatable.  Bang is no exception.

Sebastian is fourteen years old but still suffers the trauma of an event that happened ten years ago.  When he was four, he shot and killed his 4-month-old baby sister with his dad's gun.

Needless to say, this has torn the family apart.  His father is gone.  His mother can't talk about that event.  Sebastian has been to therapy for years but isn't doing well.  As a matter of fact, he knows it's only a matter of time before he commits suicide.

Everyone in town and at school knows Sebastian's past, so when a new girl, Aneesa, moves in down the road, Sebastian finds comfort and companionship with someone who doesn't know him.  He realizes that at the end of the summer when she starts school she will inevitably find out, but he's going to enjoy his time with her until then.

Aneesa has her own issues, coming from a mixed racial marriage.  Her father is Muslim, so that causes her to be ridiculed by many.

They build a strong friendship and work together to create a unique business. Sebastian can't help but fall for Aneesa, and those voices telling him to end his life become quieter. The expected blow up occurs, and that's all I'll say about the plot.

I was happy that the book doesn't preach about gun control. The father made a huge mistake, and that's obvious, but really the rest is left for the reader to decide.

Bang is easy to read and relate to the characters. The pace moves and the secondary characters have a lot of depth. It will be easy to recommend this to my contemporary novel fans.

Published by Little Brown BFYR, April 18. 2017
eARC obtained from NetGalley
304 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Audio Book Review: Love May Fail, by Matthew Quick @MatthewQuick21

I loved Love May Fail. It's the right combination of characters and plot that kept me invested in the story.

Each section in Love May Fail is narrated by a different person.  They each tell a different part of the story, and it works well.  Portia is recovering from a rough breakup with her husband.  She goes back to visit her mother, who is an extreme hoarder (among other problems) and finds out that her favorite high school English teacher has run into some hard times.  Portia ends up wanting to help him get back on his feet.

She also meets Chuck Bass who lives with his sister and her son, Tommy.  All of these characters end up playing a huge part in the story, and they each take turns telling their part.  There are several coincidences -- almost too many to believe -- but I fell for it. I guess it makes you believe in fate.

I don't want to say too much more about how things play out.  The discovery of the story is part of the fun. Quick is a good writer, as most of you probably know, and Love My Fail is a wonderful ride.

The audio narrators are each excellent and add to the atmosphere created by the text. I actually checked this one out from the library, and when it was automatically checked in, I still had 1.5 hours to go! I couldn't check it out again (there was a wait) so I read the rest of the book. I would recommend either version.

Love May Fail is an adult book but would be suitable for mature teens.

Published by Harper, 2015
Audiobook (and eBook) obtained from the library
416 pages

Rating: 5/5





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