Friday, May 19, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: ALL THE MISSING GIRLS by Megan Miranda

*  Book Review: BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
*  Book Review: THE MEMORY BOOK by Laura Aver
*  Book Review: FRACTURE by Megan Miranda

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ALL THE MISSING GIRLS
Megan Miranda
Simon & Schuster
Audio Book

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

MY REVIEW:

I've read every book written by Megan Miranda and have loved them all.  ALL THE MISSING GIRLS did not disappoint. It is sort of a murder mystery, a classic whodunit? but in a very unusual format -- the story is told backwards.

I will be honest that at times I had a hard time following the events as they moved from the last day to the first, because my brain naturally moves in a linearly forward motion. So it took a little bit of effort to keep things straight, but not so much effort as to distract from the brilliance of the story.

Megan Miranda is a powerhouse of a writer, and should be ranked right up there with the likes of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, though I've been a fan for years, long before these other authors became popular. ALL THE MISSING GIRLS left me guessing with every page turn. I found myself mulling over possibilities long after I'd turned off the book (I listened to it on CD) to do other things. I thought I had it figured out, but the ending had plenty of surprises. And it was all very satisfying.

And the backwards story thing is not just a gimmick. It is necessary. It's a story that really cannot be told any other way. Brilliant, Megan!

This is an adult book, not to be confused by Megan's YA books, which have far less profanity. (Note: What is the point of excessive profanity in any book? Sometimes I think writers use it to wave a flag signifying that their book is indeed for grown-ups. Still, completely unnecessary, in my opinion.) Otherwise, an engrossing and thrilling read.



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity: Excessively High
Violence:  Moderate
Sexuality: High (not graphic)

Monday, May 15, 2017

LAST DAY -- 'CONTACT' -- 99 CENTS!!

Today is the LAST DAY to grab my YA thriller, CONTACT, for just 99 cents!!! After today, the publisher will return it to regular price, still a steal at $4.99. But why pay full price if you don't have to?

If you have a friend who likes to read, please share this. And thank you from the bottom of my heart.

BUY CONTACT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BLKHLX6
 

Friday, May 12, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: THE MEMORY BOOK by Laura Avery

* Last chance to grab CONTACT for just 99 cents!
* Book Review: BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
* Cover Reveal: KEEPER OF SOULS by Casey L. Bond
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THE MEMORY BOOK
Laura Avery
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Ages 15 - 17

Sammie McCoy is a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as possible. Nothing will stand in her way—not even the rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly steal her memories and then her health.

So the memory book is born: a journal written to Sammie's future self, so she can remember everything from where she stashed her study guides to just how great it feels to have a best friend again. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime-crush Stuart, a gifted young writer home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood friend Cooper, and the ridiculous lengths he will go to make her laugh. The memory book will ensure Sammie never forgets the most important parts of her life—the people who have broken her heart, those who have mended it—and most of all, that if she's going to die, she's going to die living.

MY REVIEW:

I chose to read THE MEMORY BOOK because of the premise, a girl with a rare degenerative disease that robs her of her memory bit by bit. I remember reading FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON when I was a teen, how that story tore me to pieces emotionally and has stuck with me for more than 30 years. Still one of my top ten fav reads of all time. So I was hoping Avery's book would be like that for me.

Overall, it was a great read. I read late into the night, turning pages. The romance was sweet. The book sometimes humorous, sometimes emotional. The downside was that it could have been more. I think the story ended a little abruptly. I suppose I wanted to really experience the end of this disease with the character whom I'd fallen in love with over the course of the book. But she sort of disappears, which I guess is realistic, but I did not feel satisfied with the way the ending was written. I guess that's really it. My only other complaint is that I think there are way too many YA books where the protagonist is an outsider--a nerd or disabled or sick or fat or whatever. Not that this was really an issue with THE MEMORY BOOK. Samantha was a great character, but she made me want more books with mainstream teens who also face challenges in their otherwise "normal" lives. Got me thinking.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and do recommend it highly. Perfect for fans of books like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity - High
Violence - None
Sexuality - High (not explicit, but sex between minors does occur)

Friday, May 5, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: ASYLUM - THE NOVELLAS by Madeleine Roux

* Book Review: Asylum by Madeline Roux
* Book Review: Sanctum by Madeline Roux
* On Sale! CONTACT just 99 cents! Limited Time Only!
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ASYLUM: THE NOVELLAS
Madeleine Roux
HarperCollins
Ages 14 - 17


Three chilling novellas set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel Asylum, which Publishers Weekly called "a strong YA debut." For the first time, these three terrifying stories will appear together with new found photographs perfect for new readers or diehard series fans looking for new clues and insights into the thrilling world of Asylum. This collection also features bonus sneak peeks at Asylum, Sanctum, and Catacomb, the novels that first introduced the Brookline asylum's legacy of terror.

In The Scarlets, Cal is drawn into New Hampshire College's twisted secret society—one with a deadly initiation.

In The Bone Artists, Oliver tries to make a little extra money for college by working for a seedy organization that traffics in human bones.

In The Warden, a young nurse starts a new job at the Brookline asylum but soon becomes suspicious of its unorthodox procedures. . . .

MY REVIEW:

I've read the first two novels in Roux's series: Asylum and Sanctum, both deliciously creepy. These three novellas are no less compelling and eerie. Each gives a brief and terrifying glimpse into the early years of the mental hospital, Brookline, and the dark figures who inhabit it.

If you want stories that give you the willies and make you look over your shoulder, give the Asylum series a try.



CONTENT REVIEW:

Profanity: Moderate
Sexuality: Mild
Violence: High

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

CONTACT is on sale for 99 cents!

For two weeks ONLY my YA novel, CONTACT, is on sale for just 99 cents!!!

This is the perfect read for anyone who loves a good thrill. Best-selling author, Margaret Petersen Haddix (The Shadow Children & Missing series) calls it a "Page-turner!" Scroll down for sneak peek of the first chapter.





CHAPTER ONE

I’m alive?

Yes. Still alive…

Again.

A tube runs from an IV bag into my arm, the plastic needle burrowing under my skin like a tick. Thank God I was unconscious when they put that in. I cringe at the thought of being deluged with so many psyches at once—paramedics, nurses, doctors, all of them touching me.

Where are my clothes? They must have taken them off when I was out. This flimsy gown can’t protect me. I want to tear off the tape securing the IV tube to my skin, rip it off like a Band-Aid. I want out of here, but then I see Mama sleeping beside me, her body sloped in a plastic chair. I shouldn’t have done this to her again. But I had to try.

A plastic clamp pinches my finger, connecting me to a heart monitor. Three inches further up, my wrist is wrapped in gauze. Two months ago I would never have had the courage to do this—or any reason to. But now, feeling the staples beneath the bandage, I wonder how deep someone has to cut in order to die?
The curtain jerks back, the metal rings dragging across the ceiling rail. Mama snaps to attention. I half expect her to stand and salute.

“Miranda Ortiz?” says a woman in a beige linen suit and crisp white blouse. She is thin, stiff, and colorless. She reeks of gardenias.

“I’m Dr. Walsh from Mental Health,” she continues. The plastic laminated nametag hanging from her neck confirms this.
Dr. Walsh extends her hand, but instead of taking it, I grasp the edge of my sheet and pull it up to my chin. Other than this stupid hospital gown, it’s the only barrier I’ve got right now.

Mama stands up and reaches over the bed to shake the doctor’s hand. “I’m Mira’s mother, Ana,” she says wearily. She starts to sit back down, but Dr. Walsh interrupts.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you in person, Mrs. Ortiz. However, I’d like to speak to your daughter alone, if that’s all right.”

Dr. Walsh is insistent, in a polite sort of way. Mama leans toward me, and for a split second I think she’s going to kiss me goodbye. Though deep down I almost wish she would, instead she offers me her gentle smile and tucks the sheet under my shoulder.

“Please don’t go,” I whisper.

“It’ll only be a few minutes,” she says. “I’ll be just outside, all right?”

Mama brushes a strand of hair from my eyes with her manicured fingernails, careful to avoid contact with my skin. She smiles at me, but her eyes are wistful. As she walks out, my insides tighten up, and I suddenly realize how much I’ve missed her touch. My instinct is to cling to her like when I was small, but instead I press my arms stiffly to my sides like a corpse.

A security guard opens the door and accompanies Mama out into the hall. Dr. Walsh takes Mama’s empty chair, crosses one leg over the other, and lays a clipboard on her knee. “So,” she begins, “you cut yourself last night. Is that right?”

Her voice is casual and smooth, as if she’s just asked me what I ate for dinner. She waits for me to respond. When I don’t, she glances down at her clipboard. “I understand it’s not your first attempt. You were here a couple of weeks ago, I see. Overdose, but no permanent damage done.”

She glances up at me, pausing in case I have something to say.

I don’t.

“Miranda—”

“It’s Mira.”

“Mira, what happened that made you want to die?”

Her perfume hangs heavy around her. I rub the sheet against my nose, trying to block out the overpowering smell and the awkward silence between us. It’s obvious she’s going to sit there for as long as it takes. I want her gone, so I might as well talk.

“My boyfriend wants to dump me,” I tell her, and it’s true. Sort of.

“I see,” she says. Her eyebrows lift a little. “Things aren’t going well between the two of you?”

“Something like that.”

Her eyes narrow as she looks at her clipboard again. She thinks she’s got me all figured out. She’s met a hundred kids like me, maybe more. To her, I’m just like all the rest.

Only I’m not.

“Mira, do you mind if I ask you some questions?” She looks up at me, a trace of a smile on her lips. “Your answers will help me understand what’s happening with you, all right?”

She begins with the same questions Dr. Jansen asked me the last time I was here: Do you have trouble sleeping? How’s your appetite? Do you feel anxious or sad more often than usual?

She’s so pale with her white skin and bleached hair. Craig’s skin is light like hers. I used to relish his touch and let his lips linger on mine as long as he wanted. My skin tingles just thinking about him, but I shove the memories back, burying them down deep inside me where they belong.

Dr. Walsh shifts in her chair, drawing my mind back to the present. “Mira,” she continues, “do you believe you have special powers?”

Beneath the sheet my arm jerks, and the clip on my finger pops off. The monitor lets out a loud, piercing beep. I pat around the mattress, but I can’t find the clip. Then I see it dangling over the side of the bed. I reach for it, but Dr. Walsh gets to it before I do.

“Here,” she says, smiling. “Let me help you.”

“No, don’t!” I say, grabbing for the clip.

Too late.

Oh God. Please God, not again.

I squeeze my eyelids shut, bracing for impact as she grasps my wrist in one hand and replaces the clip with the other. It takes only half a second, like those commercials where a crash test dummy rockets forward at high speed and slams into a wall. In that instant every thought in Emma Lynn Walsh’s head collides with mine—every thought, memory, hope, disappointment, and dream. They come at me like a hailstorm, assaulting me at random. I see her as a child falling off her bike and scraping her knee, and her father scolding her for forgetting to brake. I see the wedding ring slide onto her finger—her yanking it off and flushing it down the toilet. I feel despair at her mother’s funeral and relief at her father’s. She masks so much pain with poise and self-assurance, but beneath it all she’s a mess.

“Mira? Mira.”

I open my eyes to see Dr. Walsh peering at me, a puzzled expression on her face.

“Let—go—of—me,” I order though clenched teeth.

Dr. Walsh releases my wrist. I turn on my side, rolling up in the sheet, attempting to disappear into my cocoon. I hear the chair legs scrape against the floor as Dr. Walsh slides it closer to my bed.

I stare at the bottom of my IV bag, watching clear drops form, preparing to fall into the tube. One by one they hang there for a moment suspended in time, and then plop!

I glance over my shoulder and look at Dr. Walsh. Her smile is gone. Both feet are on the floor, and she’s holding the clipboard up now, like a shield. There’s a yellow Sponge Bob sticker on the back, staring at me with a goofy, wide-mouthed grin.

“Okay, Mira. Why don’t we get back to your boyfriend? You said he wants to break up with you. Why?” Dr. Walsh’s tone has changed. It’s softer now, more sympathetic, but what can I tell her that won’t sound crazy?

“I won’t let him touch me anymore.”

“So he told you he wants to break up with you?”

“No. He hasn’t said anything—yet.”

“Hasn’t said anything.” Her voice holds a note of confusion. “Then, how do you know?”

She dangles the question in front of me like the proverbial carrot, hoping to draw me out. I don’t want to talk anymore, but something inside me needs to. Maybe part of me believes there is a chance, no matter how slight, that this woman might be able to help. That’s how desperate I’ve become.

I open my mouth to say something, but I can’t. Instead, I just lay there wrapped up like a mummy, someone who’s dead inside. Only I’m not dead. I’m alive. Too much alive.

Just then a nurse comes into the room to check my IV. “Are you comfortable, Ms. Ortiz?” she asks. “Your father called a bit ago. I assured him that if you needed anything, anything at all, I’d see to it myself.”

The nurse, a plump middle-aged woman wearing purple scrubs, glances at Dr. Walsh and reacts as if the good doctor had just magically appeared there.

“Oh my, I’m sorry, Dr. Walsh. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Not a problem. We’re finished here,” says Dr. Walsh, offering a nod.

I hear the snap of the clipboard’s metal clasp as she tucks her pen into it. Walking around the side of my bed, she gives me a conciliatory smile. “All right, Mira,” she says. “I’m going to have a word with your mother about getting you admitted. I need you to be somewhere safe, where we can keep an eye on you for a few days.”

As Dr. Walsh turns to leave, I find my voice again. “If you hate them so much, why smell like them?”

“Pardon?” She turns, pausing at the door.

“Gardenias. You hate gardenias.”

Her lips turn pale as she presses them together. I don’t want to do this, but I need her to believe me. My voice chokes when I say it. “It’s your mother’s perfume.”

Dr. Walsh’s eyes glisten, and hurt and confusion fills her face. Without a word, she turns and walks through the door, taking the invisible gardenia cloud with her.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

BOOK BLITZ: WOUNDED HEART by L.L. Hunter

Title: Wounded Heart
Author: L.L. Hunter 
Genre: YA dystopian/ post- apocalyptic
Cover Designer: Desiree DeOrto
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb: They might have killed her, but they will never break her
After the death of Blossom, the girl she called her sister
Skye’s heart has been shattered and she’s out for revenge.
But not if Lukas has anything to do about it.
Skye is not only fighting the feelings she has for Lukas, but the deep rage in her heart.
A rage that will put everyone in danger if Skye can’t find a way to make peace with her demons.
In the much anticipated second instalment of the Molten Heart Saga,
War rages on.
Will Lukas heal Skye’s heart in time?
L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. 

She has been writing since her teens - everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog - http://llhunter.blogspot.com.au

Buy Links: Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2qq0otp

Friday, April 28, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL by Svetlana Alexievich

*  Book Review:  Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly
*  Book Review:  Micro by Michael Crichton
*  99 Cent E-books! - Limited Time!
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VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: THE ORAL HISTORY OF A NUCLEAR DISASTER
Svetlana Alexievich
Picador/St. Martin's Press
Translated from Russian by Keith Gessen

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown---from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster---and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

MY REVIEW:

I selected Voices from Chernobyl for my book club, which is reading award-winning books. The author, Svetlana Alexievich, was awarded the Nobel Prize last year for her body of work. This particular volume is a collection of first hand accounts by survivors of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, when a nuclear reactor in Belarus, Russia blew up and spread radioactive particles throughout the region and the world.

Perhaps in my American over-exposed-to-media-violence brain, I was expecting more specific details about the physical affects of the event: gruesome deaths of those sent to clean up the site, deformed babies, etc. There is a little of that, very little, but most of the stories of these people describe their impressions of the event itself: the odd color of the fire, the chaos of evacuation, the fear and lies that surrounded the "Chernobylites". More importantly, these narratives reveal the inner-workings of the Soviet mindset, the trust of the people in their government, the distrust in the scientific community, the "we" versus the "I" mentality--concepts that are so alien to the American way of thinking. This book also exposes how this absolute loyalty to the communist party began to dissolve, greatly in part to the truth behind Chernobyl. It's a history among histories, the story of the beginning of an end.

While Voices from Chernobyl is not the easiest book to get through (many of the narratives are repetitive of each other), it is an important contemporary historical document, and reading it left me with a pit in my stomach and so many questions. I wanted to know more, so much more. And isn't that what good historical literature should do, compel us to seek out answers to the questions that are left unanswered?



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity: High
Violence: Mild
Sexuality: Mild