American Gods by Neil Gaiman (mini review)

 

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  • Title: American Gods
  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication date: 2003
  • Format: physical copy

Synopsis from Goodreads:  “Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming — a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path.

One of the most talked-about books of the new millennium, American Gods is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an American landscape at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. It is, quite simply, a contemporary masterpiece.”

Mini Review:

This is the second Neil Gaiman book I’ve read and I really enjoyed it! This book has a multitude of characters (old Gods and new Gods) which sometimes made it hard to follow but the story was really interesting and it held my attention to the end! I loved the idea of old Gods and new Gods battling for their place in America. I also liked the idea that people brought versions of their Gods with them when they immigrated to America. These Gods draw power from being worshipped by their people but, generations later, when a lot are forgotten.. they have to make do by blending in to society and living somewhat ordinary lives. It really humanised them. I want to learn more about mythology now!

Overall, American Gods was a great book with interesting characters. I will definitely check out Gaiman’s other books.

Rating – 4/5

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty (mini review)

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  • Title: Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1)
  • Author: Megan McCafferty
  • Genre: Young Adult
  • Publication date: 2001
  • Format: physical copy

Synopsis from Goodreads: ” “My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? … I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment—from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.”

Mini Review:

AHHH this book ❤ Jessica Darling is everything I wish I was when I was her age. Smart, athletic, snarky, witty, and just so damn cool (even if she can’t see it.) This is my first time reading a Jessica Darling book and even at the ripe ol’ age of 29 I absolutely LOVE it! The drama, the growing pains, the love interests, the bad boys & good boys, the friends turned frenemies… how do you not love this book? I wish I read this when I was closer in age to Jessica because I know I would love it even more back then. I am definitely going to check out the rest of the books in this series. I need more J.D. in my life! ❤

Rating – 5/5

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

  • Title: Dare Me
  • Author: Megan Abbott
  • Genre: Young Adult – Mystery
  • Publication Date: July 31, 2012
  • Format: Physical copy of the book. I own it.

From Goodreads:

“Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy’s best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they’re seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls — until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach’s golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as “top girl” — both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death — and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power. Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as “total authority and an almost desperate intensity,” provides a harrowing glimpse into the dark heart of the all-American girl.

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My Review:

When I think of cheerleaders I associate them with fun things like: cheering, boys, parties, best friends, carefree, etc. This book carried me on a dark roller-coaster ride of bullying, anorexia, bulimia, obsession, sexuality, and murder. Not at all what I was expecting but I was sooo intrigued. This sinister book had all the drama and “WTFs” to keep me hooked from the very beginning. And seriously – this book is a fast and mean roller-coaster ride! One minute you love the characters and next minute you cant wait to get far away from them. It is a battle between innocence and the consequences of growing up too fast. So dark. So entertaining.

This is my first Megan Abbott book but not my last!

I highly recommend if you are looking for something dark, mean, & ugly..yet still addictive.

Rating: 4/5

The Other Widow by Susan Crawford

  • Title: The Other Widow
  • Author: Susan Crawford
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
  • Publication Date: expected April 26, 2016
  • Format: Uncorrected Proof from HarperCollins Canada #HCCFirstLook

From Goodreads:

“The author of The Pocket Wife explores the dark side of love, marriage, and infidelity in this sizzling novel of psychological suspense.

Everybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs . . .

It isn’t safe. That’s what Joe tells her when he ends their affair—moments before their car skids off an icy road in a blinding snowstorm and hits a tree. Desperate to keep her life intact—her job, her husband, and her precious daughter, Lily—Dorrie will do everything she can to protect herself, even if it means walking away from the wreckage. Dorrie has always been a good actress, pretending to be someone else: the dutiful daughter, the satisfied wife, the woman who can handle anything. Now she’s going to put on the most challenging performance of her life. But details about the accident leave her feeling uneasy and afraid. Why didn’t Joe’s airbag work? Why was his car door open before the EMTs arrived? And now suddenly someone is calling her from her dead lover’s burner phone. . . .

Joe’s death has left his wife in free fall as well. Karen knew Joe was cheating—she found some suspicious e-mails. Trying to cope with grief is devastating enough without the constant fear that has overtaken her—this feeling she can’t shake that someone is watching her. And with Joe gone and the kids grown, she’s vulnerable . . . and on her own.

Insurance investigator Maggie Devlin is suspicious of the latest claim that’s landed on her desk—a man dying on an icy road shortly after buying a lucrative life insurance policy. Maggie doesn’t believe in coincidences. The former cop knows that things—and people—are never what they seem to be.

As the fates of these three women become more tightly entwined, layers of lies and deception begin to peel away, pushing them dangerously to the edge . . . closer to each other . . . to a terrifying truth . . . to a shocking end.”

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My Review:

My feelings towards this book are very mixed. I’ve been on a ‘Psychological Thriller/Mystery’ kick lately.. and I think that played a role in my mixed feelings towards The Other Widow.

Let’s start with the aspects I didn’t enjoy:
– I felt like there wasn’t anything original here. That might not be the fault of this book in particular but the genre itself is lacking originality.
– I found the story moved slow and then the end was like “BANG! Here is EVERYTHING!” The slow build up made it hard to want to pick the book up. And the ending felt rushed. Like there weren’t enough pages left to really get in to it.
– The cheating. Is this a requirement for mysteries/thrillers? It is boring and very been-there-done-that. Also – this is more of a personal reaction but I find it hard to feel sympathetic towards disloyal people.
– The dialogue felt awkward at times. The way it cut off/shifted/jumped all over the place was kind of annoying. It just didn’t flow nicely.

Now for the GOOD:
– I loved Maggie! She was the only character I actually felt genuinely interested in. Her story could stand alone (perhaps a book that follows her? I’m down for that!)
– I did enjoy the glimpse into the other characters personal lives. Seeing the way the lies and deceit affects those around the characters felt Real.
– Although I suspected one part of the ending I did not figure THAT out. Nice twist! People are not always what they seem…

Recommendation: If you’re in to mysteries that feel familiar then this book is perfect for you.

Rating: 2.5 to 3 / 5. I can’t decide…

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

  • Title: You Were Here
  • Author: Cori McCarthy
  • Genre: Young Adult + mixed media (comics)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2016
  • Format: eARC from netgalley

From Goodreads:

Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?

On the anniversary of her daredevil brother’s death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake’s favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother’s exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn’t bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

My Review:

What a surprise! This book is so much more than I thought it would be. Not a typical YA story. You Were Here deals with grief, friendship, falling in love, and falling out of love. It presents an honest look at the different ways people react to tragic events.. everyone grieves differently.

The characters are not perfect. They can be extremely immature at times. Isn’t this what being a teenager is all about though? Not wanting to completely grow up? I find the banter between them fun and true to the teenage language of today. There are cuss words, sex , booze, regrets, parties, etc etc. This isn’t the main focus of the story though. The core of the book has the reader follow the characters on a journey of reconnecting with someone they lost, rekindling friendships, and finding romance.

Side note – let’s talk about the visual aspects of this book. That cover! ❤ It’s eye-catching. Simple yet gorgeous. AND THE COMICS! I love mixed media formats. Throw in pictures, or comics, or links to interactive tools and I am HOOKED. The comics are fun! A nice way to compliment the story. This is a page-turner for sure! If you are looking for a quick read that isn’t quite like the others then I recommend checking this book out.

Rating: 4/5

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

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  • Title: Don’t You Cry
  • Author: Mary Kubica
  • Genre: Psychological thriller
  • Publication Date: May 17, 2016
  • Format: eARC from netgalley

From Goodreads:

“In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.”

My Review:

I loved The Good Girl.. so when I came across this book on netgalley I put in a request for an eARC because I MUST HAVE IT. The reviews for Don’t You Cry on Goodreads are all pretty positive. Based on my previous Kubica read and the positive reviews – I had high expectations for this book.

Unfortunately it fell a bit flat for me. There were parts/aspects of the book that I enjoyed and other parts that I didn’t enjoy.  I liked the side-by-side storylines of two very different characters that came together in the end to reveal a somewhat-shocking ending. It is only “somewhat” shocking because I definitely didn’t guess that this was how the story would end but I wasn’t blown away by the reveal either. My biggest beef with this book was how slow it moved (at least to me..) I was never on the edge of my seat.. I sometimes found myself bored. AND Quinn kind of got on my nerves. Her naiveté got a lot of eye rolls. She seemed quite dumbed-down for someone her age. On the other hand,  Alex was great. I found myself much more interested in his storyline.

All in all – This was a decent read. I would definitely recommend to those who enjoy this genre.. but it isn’t the best I have read. I’ve heard AH-MAZING things about Pretty Baby and plan on reading it soon (and I hope it doesn’t disappoint!)

What did you think of this book?

Rating: 3/5

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

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  • Title: All Lined Up
  • Author: Cora Carmack
  • Genre: New Adult Romance
  • Publication Date: May 2014
  • Format: Paperback – my copy

From Goodreads:

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated.

Dallas doesn’t know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn’t know that Dallas is his new coach’s daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.”

My Review:

This is one of my first introductions to NA (New Adult) books.

This book has all the things I love about young adult books BUT with an age increase: cute boys, finding yourself, friendships, drama, etc.

What I love about this book:
*Well.. the story is super hot. The romance scenes are VERY passionate. There is so much chemistry between Dallas and Carson you can FEEL it.
*Even though I know next to nothing about football (and thinking this was going to be an issue with liking the story) there is just enough detail about football to believe and care about the sport without feeling lost.
*I love college! I love stories set in college. So this is an automatic attraction.
*Most Importantly: Carson is great! Like all-around-good-guy but still managing to stay interesting (and hot!)

My beef with the book:
It almost seems a little too young. Not enough ADULT for me. The drama is somewhat juvenile.. straight out of high school. I wish the story was a little more mature. I guess that has more to do with my age than the book though.

Overall:
All Lined Up is an enjoyable book. It is entertaining, steamy, hot HOT hot, and loads of fun. I definitely want to read the next book in the Rusk University series!

Rating: 3.5/5

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

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  • Title: Summer of Sloane
  • Author: Erin L. Schneider
  • Genre: Young Adult
  • Expected Publication: May 3rd 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
  • Format: eARC from netgalley

From Goodreads:

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review:

There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed and parts that I didn’t. So I thought it would be easier to break it up in to the two sections..

I Liked:

I enjoyed how fun this book was! Ok – the starting wasn’t fun BUT setting it in Hawaii with hot boys, swimming, surfing, and beach hangouts made it fun! A great summer read.. it really sets the mood! It had a typical YA storyline – love lost leads to new love found – and I surprisingly didn’t find it boring considering. However, it wasn’t anything special either. It entertained enough that I kept wanting to pick it up and find out how it ends!

I Didn’t Like:

I disliked that it started off with the betrayal. Without any interaction between Mick and Mack as BFFs I had a hard time believing their friendship. Even with the reminiscing I couldn’t believe that it was that great because I couldn’t “see” it with my own eyes. Perhaps a few hangouts before the reveal would’ve been better. That could just be a personal preference though. Also, WHAT IS WITH THESE PARENTS? It’s like they don’t want to actually be parents so they indulge their kids and allow them to drink and party without caring. That really bothered me. I get that they are all around 17.. and 17-year-olds party BUT it doesn’t mean you have to act blindly to it or encourage it. The story had its share of drama but it wasn’t anything new or surprising with this genre. Misinterpreting things, overreacting, so self-centered you can’t see how it is affecting someone else, etc. It would be nice if something threw a curve in the typical plot course for this type of book..

Overall:

Although it doesn’t present anything new to this genre I did end up enjoying it! It was a fun non-serious book that allowed me to get lost in it pretty easily. I so want to visit Hawaii now!!

Rating 3.5/5