“Lucky Day,” “Career Day,” “Neutral Mask” and “Blood Boy” by Barry Lyga

December 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. “I Hunt Killers” (Jasper Dent #1) prequels. Little, Brown and Company (Hatchette Book Group).

Lucky Day (Jasper Dent 0.1, 2014): Sheriff G. William Tanner faces two murders in his little town of Lobo Nod. Both murders have similarities yet the killer didn’t leave any clues. As he works through the case, readers find out how he came to realize Billy Dent committed the murders.

Career Day (Jasper Dent 0.5, 2012): Facing the decision of what he’d like to do with the rest of his life makes Jazz feel ill. His father was a serial killer, so does that mean he is destined to carry on his line of work?

Neutral Mask (Jasper Dent 0.6), 2013): Connie enjoys her time with Jazz, but when she finds out his father is Billy Dent she wonders if her father can handle finding out her new boyfriend is not only White, not Black, but also the son of a serial killer. She is a strong young woman, refusing to let circumstances such as her father’s small mindedness or Jazz’s father stand in the way of their happiness.

Blood Boy (Jasper Dent 0.8), 2014): Howie, Jazz’s funny hemophiliac friend, is explored in more detail on Halloween night as he seeks true love.

JasperDentPrequels

All of these prequels are quick reads and take place before “I Hunt Killers.” None need to be read before beginning the Jasper Dent series.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.

“Finding Jake” Bryan Reardon

December 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published February 24, 2015. William Morrow (HarperCollins).

FindingJakeWhen Simon’s son Jake was born, he became a stay-at-home dad so his attorney wife Rachel could continue working. When his daughter Laney joined the family Simon’s life became fuller as he strove to be a good dad, take care of the household, deal with his feelings of insecurity and help his children become productive citizens.

Over the years, Simon obsesses about Jake’s withdrawal from the neighborhood kids’ play dates, sensing Jake’s need to be quiet and alone, but silently wishing he were as outgoing as Laney. With Rachel spending more and more time at the office, and Simon working hard with the children, they became as two ships passing in the night.

All changed the day Simon got a phone call that there had been a shooting at the high school. Afraid for Jake and Laney, he races to the school with all the other parents only to find out there had been a massacre and Jake is missing. As more and more children get taken away from the scene, Simon waits in the parent holding area holding Jake up to the light and thinking about his son.

As he recalls Jake’s growing up years, he wonders if there was anything he could have done to make a difference in what had just happened. Is Jake guilty of such a crime? Could Jake have partnered with his withdrawn friend, who Simon disliked from the beginning, to create such a horror at school? Fear, hope, dismay, anger, terror and determination course through Simon’s mind as he grapples with the events of the past and present. His steadfastness culminates in the goal of doing what no police officer has been able to do: find Jake. Perhaps then he can get answers to the questions gnawing at his mind causing him to doubt everything he’d once held dear.

This amazing book had me spellbound from the moment I started to read. Though told from the point of view of an adult, the subject matter is definitely one that needs to be discussed with high school students so as to help students see reasons why teenagers decide to become mass murderers at school and, perhaps, help to avoid future occurrences.

Highly recommended for ages 16 and older, including adults.

“The girl on the train” Paula Hawkins

December 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. To be published January 13, 2015. Riverhead Books (Penguin). 323 pp.

TheGirlOnTheTrainRachel is unable to reconcile herself with her inability to have children and her subsequent divorce from Tom, the love of her life. No amount of constant pleading and whining will jar him away from Anne, the woman who is now the mother of his child. As a result of turning to drinking to ease her pain Rachel has turned into a lonely, uncontrollable drunkard, managing to get fired from her job.

Not wanting her roommate to know of her joblessness Rachel continues to take her daily commuter train ride into London, pretending to go to work everyday. From her seat she regularly watches a couple who appear to be so in love on those brief train window glimpses that Rachel makes up her own version of their life. She is shocked when she finds out the woman has vanished and is feared dead. Rachel saw something the day before the woman disappeared and wants to tell the police, but would they believe her? Could a drunken woman at the end of her own rope make a difference in someone else’s life?

Megan was bored with her life with Scott. She loved him but he wanted more than she was willing to give. He wanted children but she wanted to be free. She never meant for the affairs to go as far as they did, but soon things got out of hand with one guy after another. Scott is starting to get suspicious, but Megan knows how to handle him. She is used to being the one in charge, but one lover is making things very difficult. Neither Megan nor Scott like things to get difficult.

Anne was proud of her life with her new husband Tom and their little daughter Evie. She is all set to make him forget about his ex-wife, but finds it hard because she continues to stick her nose in their business. She is fed up with her interference, and Tom’s inability to make her go away. Anne has her own plans for how to handle women who interfere in her marriage, and what she has in mind won’t be pretty.

Rachel, Megan and Anne. Three women. Three lives. Each separate, yet connected. They have a story to tell. Reality is mixed with fantasy in their minds, but will the truth of the missing woman come out before it’s too late?

I was thrilled to be selected to receive an Early Reviewer’s Copy of “The girl on the train” from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer’s Group in November. I received it a few days ago, and began reading it on the 13th. It was so exciting I could hardly wait to finish it, as it’s a page turning whodunit with an ending that left me gasping in shock. This is Paula Hawkin’s debut novel, and she has entered the literary world with a BANG!

Highly recommended for Adults.

“Tunnel Vision” Aric Davis

December 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2014. Thomas & Mercer (Amazon).

TunnelVision

Betty Martinez is bored with her high school life. Despite being a junior, her two moms have grounded her for sending a bikini photo to Jake, a boy she doesn’t even really like. Betty just wanted some excitement when she sent the photo, but her moms don’t understand.

Betty and her best friend June love listening to Indie bands, and plan to have a great time sneaking out to attend a concert. However everything goes onto the back burner the day she learns June’s aunt Mandy, a prostitute and heroin addict, had been murdered fifteen years ago by her former boyfriend, Duke Barnes, who has been incarcerated for her murder.

Neither girl had ever been aware of the crime and, with the moms and June’s mom doing everything they could to keep it quiet, Betty and June decide to do the opposite. With their teacher’s help, they arrange to do a research project on the murder and search for clues, which will prove whether or not Duke is innocent or guilty. Knowing the crime is a cold case makes it more exciting, but meeting a strange new boy named Nickel who makes Betty’s pulse race is even more fun. Nickel appears to be very hardened, but neither girl questions his sincerity in also wanting this crime to be solved.

Little do they know that the further into the case they get, the more tangled will be the web of deceit that has been woven around Mandy’s death. As they get closer to finding out what happened to Mandy fifteen years ago, none of their lives will ever be the same. Betty will soon see that excitement is overrated.

With multiple suspects to keep Betty, June and Nickel’s heads spinning, Davis brings readers onto a roller coaster ride which will leave them gasping with incredulity when the mystery of Mandy’s murder is finally solved. Despite having a very boring cover which doesn’t do justice to the action in the story, and having Nickel managing to accomplish many acts which will leave readers scratching their heads since he’s just a teenager, “Tunnel Vision” is an excellent read.

This is only his second book, but Aric Davis is an up and coming author. Keep your eye on him! I look forward to reading an earlier book with more information about Nickel titled “Nickel Plated,” as well as any further offerings along this same genre.

Recommended for readers aged 16 and older.

“The Boston Girl” Anita Diamant

December 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. ARC. To be published December, 9, 2014 by Scribner. (Simon & Schuster.)

TheBostonGirlBorn in 1900 readers are introduced to feisty Addie Baum when she is 85 years old. At that time, her granddaughter asked her to explain how she got to be the woman she is today so Addie obliges and begins her interview with the year 1915. At that time, she lived on the North End of Boston with her Jewish immigrant parents and two older sisters.

Never able to please her mother, who always managed to find fault, Addie managed to stay sane through her love for reading, wanting to gain knowledge, the friends she made at weekly meetings of the Saturday Club, and the time she spent at the Rockport Lodge. Addie wanted to go to high school, but the times called for her to go to work to support the family.

As the years passed Addie shared her heartaches and fears, as well as the hopes and dreams she held for her future. Various female role models, who ignored the boundaries placed upon them by society, impressed upon her young mind the importance of achieving more than what was expected of females by society. All of her experiences combined to make Addie the woman she is today, and helped her raise a generation of females who had the freedom to make something of themselves that would lie outside the boundaries of what women could (or should) do.

Diamant’s well-researched, historical novel is a great read, and is highly recommended for Adult readers.

“The Boy” Madhuri Blaylock

November 30, 2014 2 comments

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. 2014. The Sanctum, book #2. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Publishing.)

TheBoyWith Wyatt dead from their portal travel to the land of the Ramyan, Dev becomes beholden to Qi to do all he can to return Wyatt to the land of the living. However, Dev doesn’t know that bringing Wyatt back from the dead will have unforeseen consequences which will cause both of them to question everything they hold dear.

In the meantime, while Dev and Wyatt fight their own battles, Ryker’s character is explored in more detail. After coming across as gentle, loving and kind it is a shock to learn he has been secretly killing Magicals. As readers struggle with Ryker’s behavior, Ava and Max Breslin continue scheming to bring down the Clayworths as Head of the New York Academy. Lastly Darby’s heart and various loves are explored in great detail.

I received “The Boy” as part of a promised book review for the Diverse Book Tours blog. I found it to be more blood thirsty and violent as well as more sexual in nature than book one. In addition I was left with a few unanswered questions such as “How did Darby figure out what Jedda was doing when all she had as a clue was her lover’s cryptic words?” and “How did Jools get close enough to Jedda to raise blood on his neck when, previously, Darby was furiously keeping everyone away from him with a very well aimed whip?” With the protective behavior she had been exhibiting, it felt inconsistent to have Jools be allowed to approach Jedda with knife in hand and not have Darby say or do anything about it.

I was able to look past some of the self published author’s usual spelling errors (such as writing “taught” for “taut,” and other errors) because the book had an interesting plot line. I would be interested in reading part three “The Prophecy,” so I could see what finally happens to the evil Breslins as well as to Dev, Wyatt, the Ramyan warriors and the rest of The Sanctum.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

“The Girl” Madhuri Blaylock

November 20, 2014 3 comments

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. (Also available in paperback). 2014. The Sanctum, book #1. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Services.)

TheGirlDev is half demon and half angel, and has been living in India while training to be a warrior. For years her parents have been in hiding from The Sanctum, a group of families called The Circle of Ten, who believe Dev will destroy their way of life. They have ordered Dev be killed on sight and, when they succeed in killing her family, Dev vows revenge on all Sanctum.

The Clayworth family is in charge of The Sanctum’s New York Academy where Wyatt, his sister Jools and his best friend Ryker learned their warrior skills. Wyatt and Ryker hold opposing views of the role The Sanctum plays in their lives. The gods created The Sanctum to protect humans and magicals (trolls, vampires, fairies, etc.), yet their original purpose is long gone because of one founding family’s lust for greed and power. Despite Wyatt’s and Ryker’s differences of opinion in what The Sanctum means to each other and to society, they are inseparable in their love and friendship for each other.

When Wyatt stumbles upon Dev after she escaped The Sanctum’s attack, their lives are forever changed. Little do they know the love they feel for each other, and the invisible bond that ties them together, will lead them onto paths neither had ever expected to travel. It is only a matter of time until they change the lives of all they hold dear.

I received this book to review from the Diverse Book Tours blog, and was a little leery since it was self-published. Readers of my blog know how squeamish I get around self-published books. However I am happy to report there were relatively few grammatical errors and, despite having many similarities to Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series, the storyline was very interesting. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next to Dev and Wyatt, as their star crossed lives seemed destined for heartache from the beginning.

In addition “The Girl” developed strong female characters through the persons of Dev, Jools and the vampire Darby showing them as well trained fighters who remained one hundred percent female and were not dependent on a man to complete their lives.

I was not happy with the title of the book, as Dev is not a girl. She is a strong, independent woman and I wanted a title which reflected that image. I also didn’t like the cover, as I would have preferred to see a photo of Dev, Jools and Darby in action ready to show readers all that a woman can be. I look forward to reading part 2 of the series “The Boy.” 

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

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